Happy Mother’s Day, Penny

As we approach May 12th, I tip my hat to all the hard working women out there who do a job that would make me crazy: being a mother.

Penny (of TRAVELS WITH PENNY…. fame) worked all her life.  She loves to tell the story of her early jobs: the time when she fell asleep babysitting for a neighbor and slept so hard nobody could wake her.  The fire department was called….ladders were involved… ask her. She’d love to tell you.  Or the story of her job at the ice cream joint where she filled the milkshake machine while wearing 6 inch heels.  Or the story of her job skip-tracing for the phone company.

Through all these jobs, she raised two kids, kept a marriage together and dealt with all the usual day-to-day tasks.

Now, in retirement, I find myself lecturing her to sleep.

“I’m bored!” She’ll say.

“Too bad.  Read a book,” I’ll tell her.

“I did that already. Maybe I’ll….” her voice trails off. Now I know I’m in trouble.  I tell myself that I should just let her go do her thing. She’s earned it. She deserves it. But, DAMN! When will that woman rest?

Then I remember all those Moms out there working, dealing with kids, a misogynist culture, sexism, partners….

….go, Penny.  Do your thing.  I’ll be here if you need me.

Happy Mothers Day, ladies.

 

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Join me in Olympia, Washington. Eat candy

I’ve been invited to join a group of Northwest Authors and participate in the Capital Indi Book Con in Olympia, Washington.  Join us on Saturday, May 13th from 11 am – 6 pm.  Here’s the press release:

Small press Clockwork Dragon has booked bestselling and award-winning authors and publishers from all over the Pacific-Northwest to participate in the Capital Indie Book Con! Over 40 authors in attendance, including AJ Downey, Raven Oak, Nikki McCormack, Lee French, and Jeffrey Cook, plus TANSTAAFL press, Writerpunk Press, and the Northwest Authors’ Co-op. Shop in Downtown Olympia, then scavenger hunt your way to autographed books and prizes at the Olympia Center!

The address is:

The Olympia Center, 222 Columbia Street Northwest, Olympia, WA 98501

 

I’ll have candy.  I’ll have jokes.  I can tap dance for you if you’d like.  See you there!https---cdn.evbuc.com-images-30573456-174259865682-1-original

Not Gone, Not Forgotten

(Above: Michael J. Teufel, Jennifer Clevenger, me: Marv Gray and myself in THE NORMAL HEART, 2017)

When I first came out, I heard rumor of some odd “Gay Disease” that infected men.  Not much was known about it. It was referred to as GRID: Gay Related Immune Deficiency.  Later, a virus was found to be the culprit and was called HTLV.  Still, not much was known about GRID or the HTLV.

A couple years passed with not much forward movement.  The early ’80’s were a dangerous, yet joyous time, though.  Despite the concern over this GRID and its devastating effect, the Gay Community pulled together to battle a more dangerous foe: President Ronald Reagan. This fight against his ignorant, selfish policies drew the community together – through both pain and struggle the bond of “community” was forged.

Eventually, GRID was renamed AIDS and the HTLV was now called HIV.  Much was discovered about the disease and how to avoid becoming affected. The numbers of infected in the USA declined and treatment became more humane.  I know several men who live healthy, productive lives despite their diagnosis. With healthy lifestyles and medication, they keep their viral load to undetectable levels.

Fast forward to the new millennia.  HIV infection rates are up. Young men seek out unsafe sex with infected men. These “bug chasers” have stars in their eyes of being somehow “special” due to the infection.  While medications are out there, the cost is becoming prohibitive.  The fight against keeping HIV/AIDS under control is not over.

Thus I welcomed being cast in Twilight Theater Company’s production of THE NORMAL HEART, by Larry Kramer. Kramer is a founding member of Gay Mens Health Crisis and ACT-UP.  He is a novelist, author, activist and personality.  The play is dated in spots, but ultimately presents an accurate history of what gay life was about in the early ’80’s and the onslaught of the disease. It’s a must read for anyone interested in governmental response to a plague, Gay Culture, Public Health, Politics or students of Queen Studies. The events are fiction but the story real.  You will be dumbfounded by the idiocy of our government.

Or maybe not.

Syren: Queen of Haters

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A long while ago, I wrote a blog piece about my cat, Syren, entitled “My cat hates me.” In it, I shared all the reasons I knew my cat was plotting against me.

In early February, I woke up to something unusual: silence.  Normally, Syren screams at the first sound of my alarm and doesn’t stop until I leave – if then.  That day, there was nothing but quiet.  It raised my curiosity, so I went to look for her and found her on the kitchen chair, curled into a ball.  When I pet her, she barely moved.

Not normal.

I came home that night and checked on her. She hadn’t moved all day.  Nor had she used the cat box. Nor eaten.

Not normal.

When she was still there that night after rehearsal, I took her to the ER.  I arrived at the ER vet approximately 9:30. For the next 4.5 hours, tests were run, blood drawn, IV’s connected, x-rays taken.

The vet had no definitive answers.  It could have been one of three things: kidney failure, blockage in her intestines or cancer.  The choices I had: exploratory surgery, regime of medications or wait-and-see.  All of which would most likely result in a prolonged and painful demise.

I chose the only option I felt I had: let her go while she was still healthy enough to remember a long life of hating me.  Let her cross the rainbow bridge with the fresh memories of driving me insane.

The vet let me hold her while he gave her the injection. It took less than a minute for her purring to stop. She appeared asleep, although her eyes were still open.

“They do that sometimes…the eyes,” the vet said.  “I can take her.”

“Just another minute.”

It wasn’t just a minute. It was more like three or four, although I can’t say exactly.

Finally, I handed her over to the vet.

“This is a delicate question,” he began.  “Regarding her body-”

“Yes,” I said. I already knew what he wanted to ask. “You can take her to the school.”

Veterinary schools use deceased animals like Syren to practice sutures, surgical procedures and so forth.  To some, it seems barbaric and callas.  I disagree.  If we want vets who are competent and trustworthy, we must allow them the opportunity to practice their craft.  The love we feel for our four legged family members is not lessened by what happens to their bodies after their spirits are gone.  Why should they suffer at the hands of an ill prepared veterinarian, when it is a problem easily remedied?

Please consider where you stand on this issue.

I don’t know if Syren approved of my actions or not.  I’ll guess she’ll tell me, though, soon enough.

Syren: May, 200 – February, 2017

The fire drama continues…

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“You’re obviously under-insured,” the account liaison from Amica insurance told me.  “I can see already it’s going to cost more than $10,000 to replace everything.”

Odd, as when I purchased the insurance several months previously,  $10,000 seemed like a TON of insurance.

As the days following the fire droned on, my days ran one into the other.  I remember rising every morning, going to work, answering the phone…the usual.  I don’t remember much of what I spoke of, nor to whom I spoke.  But I do remember Chris, my liaison saying she needed to meet with me.

After taking some pictures and telling me I was underinsured, we talked about replacing my most treasured items.  Without further ado, I began pricing SCUBA equipment.

Holy shit, have the prices gone up.  It would run me almost $5,000 to replace what I had – lovingly displayed in the picture above. It became a game of “lucky/unuckly”

Lucky: I had insurance

Unlucky: Half of it would be spent on SCUBA gear

Lucky: I didn’t own much

Unlucky: I don’t have anything

Lucky: I can replace almost everything

Unlucky: I don’t even have a FREAKING BED

This will eventually be over. I know it will end.  Some things can’t be replaced. The things that can be replaced will be, albeit perhaps a lesser caliber of what I want.

Until then, life kind of sucks.  Living in a hotel out of a suitcase sounds really romantic and adventurous.

It’s not.

For fuck’s sake: buy A LOT of renter’s insurance.

…now for something completely different

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“Dave! Your apartment is on fire!”

She owned the restaurant beneath my apartment. We are on good terms and see each other often – her milkshakes rock.  But most of our communication is via text. So I knew something was up when her number appeared on my phone. I knew I could see my apartment from work, so I raced over there on foot. As I rounded the corner, I saw flames leaping out of the windows of my second story abode.

The next few hours were a blur of activity: firetrucks, water hoses, police reports…

…end result: a near total loss. I managed to save my passport (thankfully), my air tank (how did that not explode?) and a file with my birth certificate. Other than that….nada.

I do miss some things: my DVD collection, the books I have yet to read, my beloved SCUBA equipment, pictures…the list goes on.  The trade off for these material things was something unexpected: the knowledge of the extent of peoples’ generosity.  Despite the doom and gloom of today’s political stage, people can (and did) surprise me in their graciousness, kindness and sympathy.

Don’t wait for a tragedy to happen. Delve the depths of your friendships with fearlessness and earnest passion.  Ignore the “socially appropriate” bullshit of polite society.  Find out where you stand with the people around you and those you see everyday.

And for Goddess’s sake: buy renter’s insurance.

Author to Author

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“Ah! The student becomes the master!”

She meant it, despite the laughter in her voice.

Stevie was a student of mine back in 2007, during a particularly dark time in my life. Although we kept a healthy student / instructor distance, we nonetheless set the foundation of what would become a friendship.  A few years later, when my first book RESCUING AWEN was released, Stevie was there to chat it up with her daughter’s classmates, do some PR work with parents of middle-grade students and even got me a “guest speaker” gig with a young writer’s workshop.  In return, I did my best to help her with her first book, RING OF FIRE.

Our journey has now come full circle. We sat in the Denny’s recently chatting about life, the universe and Quail eggs.  Eventually the conversation became a discussion of generational differences and she took on the roll of teacher as she patiently walked me through the intricacies of ….Twitter.

“So….this ‘hashtag’ thing…”

“Enables your Tweet to be found by categorizing it along with other-”

“Stevie….just tell me what to do.”

“Hashtag.  Hashtag Everything.”

“How, Stevie! Where do they come from? Is there a giant Hashtag Universal Data Base which tells you-”

She sighed with (semi) silent restraint and took my phone.  “This is a hashtag…”

The series of lessons accomplished two things: first, renewed a friendship that had been put on hold for far too long, and; second, reminded me how important it is for all authors to talk to each other. Not just use time to drop names and slip in new release dates, but TALK.  For long after our books are shelved, there will be the need for renewal, friendship and connection.

Twitter be damned.  I’ll figure out the @ symbol soon enough.