A Follow Up to the Post Gay Blog

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After a weekend of fun in Houston and going out to several night clubs (I rarely night club any longer. It holds no fascination and unless I’m dancing, or karaoke-ing there’s not much going on for me), it was interesting to see the mix of folks at at least 5 places we hopped to.

These were all ‘gay’ establishments. Places known to be gay bars, or where gay folks predominately mingle.

Except.. where were the gays? They were there to be sure, but hard to pick out among the heterosexual couples and the bride-and-her-maids parties. It sparked a conversation with one of my travel companions about the disparaging state of night club gatherings.

My argument was this. We can’t have it both ways. Sure, we can long for the days when a gay bar, was a gay bar. But, we would be up in arms if a night club labeled itself ‘straight’ and discouraged gay customers from entering. Such is the reciprocity in a post gay world. Bars are just.. bars.

Sure, there will be establishments that cater to a gay clientele but it probably won’t be much bigger a distinction than this one plays hip hop music, and this one plays electronica.

I suppose it will make it more challenging for those who go to bars to make a love connection, but I can assure you – the pickings there have always been slim. Now, they’ll just be slimmer :)

Post Gay and the Freedom to be H

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Sometimes, we are ahead of our time.

I’m revisiting a topic that first came up over a decade ago. While researching this subject, I was surprised when I entered in the term Post Gay into the google machine, one of the items that came up was a quote from me in the media. That always trips one out, and it would appear that it was a topic that told of a future of living a life beyond the definition of sexuality. I would now argue 12 years after that quote we have caught up to that foretelling and are entering a new era in the evolution of civil rights for the LGBTQIA Community.

Here’s the link to that original story from my days living with Rob, in Citrus Heights, CA when I was the Director of the LGBT Resource Center at the University of California Davis. A lifetime ago!

 http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/post-gay/content?oid=10951

 If you don’t have time to read through the whole article, here was the part that was attributed to me:

“Eagan and Kennedy are openly gay. But must all gays be committed to changing the views of others, to contributing to progress, as defined by the gay activist community? Yes, said Christopher Solis, coordinator of the LGBT resource center at UC Davis. He’s currently organizing a leadership retreat focusing on the topic of apathy in activism. He’s heard of the post-gay movement, and views it as a symptom of the very apathy he’s trying to fight.

“It sort of describes their emotions, that gays are tired,” he said. “They’re tired of being in the LGBT community. They want to blend into mainstream society.”

Solis admitted that the LGBT community has become, by definition, fragmented. “Allowing people to self-identify has benefits and drawbacks,” he said. “We could get to the point where we have letters for everyone.” He also identified with the post-gay notion of not being defined by sexual preference alone.

“I’m not just about sexual orientation,” he said. “I have a career, cats, a family, religion. To be constantly bombarded by the sex thing is challenging at times.” For instance, he and his partner of 12 years are thinking about adopting children, but Solis has gay friends who say such family values are incompatible with homosexuality.”

What’s most fascinating about revisiting a topic is the hindsight of how much one changes over the years and evolves. Even though I wouldn’t go far as to slap 1999 Solis (I was Christopher Solis then), I wouldn’t have said this quote today.

 To be fair, at that time I was surrounded by a demographic half my age, and my struggle was to infuse in them the reason to care about the civil rights movement. To those who know me personally, you might guess, that apathy as defined by inaction is an affront to my personal values. Much of my life has been defined as being a ‘do-er’, and so those who choose to sit on the sidelines and reap the benefits of others struggles and efforts have always offended me. Oh, I agree with their right to do so – I just suspect we have little in common. (ß Insert shrug here).

But in my memory when this reporter had called me that day, I couldn’t even really envision the idea of Post Gay. For clarity let me define what I mean, when I speak of Post Gay:

Post-Gay: The era where LGBTQIA community members are predominately viewed or identify by affiliations other than their sexual identity.

So, the reason I view us entering into this new phase of the civil rights evolution is the personal reaction I and Rob receive as a couple, or the reaction I get when the topic of family comes up in introductions or among newly introduced folks.

The proliferation of Gay marriage in the U.S. across the country has given the general population a sense of lessened anxiety about the subject – about living alongside LGBT people in general.

All of a sudden, I find my role as a member of the community being more of providing educational moments when they arise, or continued efforts at dispelling stereo types, but this is far from issues of basic human dignity and acknowledgement.

Certainly there will be ongoing education.

If I were to take an informal poll of my co-workers at the University of Texas, a group I consider to be highly intelligent and educated, many would still assert that because Rob and I are married in New York, certainly Texas recognizes that marriage, right? Wrong. But that’s because it’s common sense that we would. But because they are not confronted with these legal obstacles and it’s not in their direct vision but rather on the periphery, they can be forgiven for such naivety.

It’s been a while now since someone cocked their head at my use of an unexpected pronoun, or correcting someone when they ask if I’m married and they ask me a simple question about what is my Wife’s name and I respond my Husband’s name is Rob.

Basically the idea of Post Gay is an idea that we live in a time that topics that were such a big deal for such a long time, just aren’t as big a deal any longer.

I for one – am THRILLED with this evolution.

However I see others in my community who struggle with this new found identity – the identity of freedom.

It would be natural to think that after years and for some, a lifetime, of struggle for simple acknowledgement should be happy that in many ways we’ve achieved that. Now the challenge is to self-determine what now defines us. That is the identity of freedom I speak of.

The drawbacks I spoke of in 2002 were the fracturing of our society by the freedom to self-identify into sub-segments of one large community. Are you an L? G? B? T? I? Or an A? The benefits I spoke of are the acknowledgement that I fit somewhere in that community and thus can cross-advocate for others.

Certainly the aforementioned strides do not include the same degree of progress in areas such as Transgender freedoms, which means there’s plenty of work to do. But the idea that I can now focus my energies and efforts on advocating for animal rights, lower taxes, improved government, solving homelessness and other social ills and just being plain free (mostly) from harm and bullying is by itself cause for celebration.

So, while this transition that lies out before us seems daunting and scary. The principles behind self-identification still apply. Now I get to self-identify what matters to me beyond the boundaries of sexual identity.

I’m not advocating anytime soon the dismantling the acronyms we use or the term queer as an umbrella term, but maybe I’ve evolved to be just an “H” – for Human. I’ve never felt like such a smaller part of a larger whole.

Worth the “Weight”

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For many years, my husband Rob and I have had a running joke. At times – during mock distress – I’ve exclaimed “well, if I had a ringgg, I’d take you seriously” – or something of the ilk.

In years spent together, it’s been our (mostly) private source of a grin as many a picture of us were snapped together with me holding my left hand over his chest. He wondered many years ago, why I often posed that way and I informed him “to mark the years I’m going without this ring – of course”.

 

We had rings that I purchased for us years ago, as part of our wedding ceremony – but even that I was able to hold over him in a jovial manner, that I had a ring, but that I had to present it to myself.

My time together with Rob has been more valuable than a ring, or even more treasured than any significance that the presentation of a precious metal might bring. As we approach our 25th anniversary I suspected one might be coming because he had begun his annual inquiry about my ring size. This has been the 25-year long game of cat and mouse, I pretend I really want one, when it holds not as much significance as I pretend, and he pretends he’ll get me one, but mostly in a feeble attempt to raise my anticipation for one. Truth be told, we’ve gotten far more fun and mileage out of the joke than the actual ring might have brought.

But this year, our 25th year, I suspected his joke might be backed up with an actual ring. But the surprise truly was on me, when he presented it last night instead of waiting. And, I must say – it is beautiful. It’s particularly special because he designed it and had it custom made when he was staying in New York over the summer. In it he had a triangle cut diamond placed in the center, set into a white gold circle to signify something very important to both of us.

 

“It truly wasn’t necessary.”

But, that being said, having it is such a treasure. Something I’ll always cherish and will always make me smile and think of Rob whenever I look at it. It’s a wonderful gesture that while may bring this particular joke and banter to an end, I’m sure we’ll find something else to humor ourselves with. Such is the nature of our relationship. I often tell my friends who wonder what characteristics might make a good life partner – at the top of the list, I implore, please find someone who is funny! Someone who is funny can take you through life and walk you through even the darkest times lighting the way with their laughter.

With humor you can reminisce about the worst of times and laugh that they are the past. You can lay in bed and in unison look at the ceiling and giggle when those tough times are something you’re currently experiencing because you know someday (hopefully soon) you’ll have walked through the other side of them. The light heartedness that comes from having a fun or funny disposition is far more valuable than any carat weight, or platinum.

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This ring signifies not that we will stand the test of time, but that we already have. And, in that regard, it’s was definitely worth the wait. And, now I suppose I’ll have to continue to pose with one hand over Rob’s heart to show that the ring exists.

 

When There’s a Death in the Family…

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Alright. The title is a little dramatic. I get it.

However, there are moments in life when the passing of somethinggg can hit you hard. Perhaps, albeit, not as hard as the loss of a pet or person – and rightfully so – because it’s just a thing.

But it hurts nonetheless.

I got sober in 1988. My whole attitude and outlook upon life was changing. A transformation was taking place. I was mostly discovering happiness and I’ll never forget the meeting I was sitting out front with friends in San Jose, California. They smoked, I chatted. Rick Cornelia pulled up in a brand new-for-1989 Dodge Dakota Sport Convertible Pick up Truck. It was red.

Now, I’d already long since started my love affair with convertibles. I was currently still driving my first one. America stopped making convertibles in 1976, when the “last” Cadillac Eldorado rolled off the assembly line. Auto makers thought the convertible was doomed because of high insurance rates, poor safety perception and declining interest. When Chrysler reintroduced the convertible in 1982 with the K Car. Not long after that I was in the Navy stationed in Detroit, Michigan.

My 1983 Convertible. A Dodge 400 I brought on the spot.

My 1983 Convertible. A Dodge 400 I brought on the spot.

While driving through Detroit, these Chrysler convertibles were new! And precisely, just like this white one you see above, with red interior, white walls and hood ornament is exactly what was sitting on the lawn of a dealership. They had placed sand around it and umbrella. The mannequins around it made it appear that they were having a lovely day at the beach. This was Detroit. I looked left – I looked right. No beach here. But it reminded me how homesick I was for California and I drove right up, practically on the sand next to it and asked the salesman how much. $6,200. “I’ll take it!”.

It was that car I was driving when Rick pulled up in that convertible truck that spring day in 1988. I loved my Dodge 400 and had no desire to part with it. But, I remembered that truck, such an oddity – a convertible truck! And, I vowed I’d get one someday.

What I didn’t know was how rare those trucks were to become. Chrysler only made about 3,000+ of them. And, many years later, when I tried to search for one – it was difficult to find. You never saw them on the used car lots and so I mostly let it go. I drove other Chrysler convertibles instead.

I’d been searching on and off for years when just down the street, a neighbor pulled one out of his garage! It was beat up for sure, but there it was! This was 2006 and I squealed when I got home and said I’d found “it”. 

My husband, bless his patient heart, has heard one form or another of finding “it” for many years. He has learned to grunt from behind a book, maybe roll his eyes, maybe pat my hand, but I have helped him over the years become the master of patient patronization. We were preparing for our move to Texas. I had my Chrysler convertible, a VW Bug convertible, and a 1979 Chevrolet Camaro (another story entirely – that Camaro)

The neighbor placed a for sale sign on the truck. I had driven by it for months wondering why it merely sat in the driveway and now here it was for sale! I gave it half as much thought as I’d given that first convertible on that sandy dealership lot. Which is to say NONE. “I’ll take it!”. 

To say Rob was perplexed when I brought the truck home is a kind way of saying… he was mad as *#@!. My direct assignment from Rob was to get rid of all the cars (I could keep one). 

Rob declared it one of the ugliest trucks ever. How could you say that about anyones baby? Truth was it was somewhat worse for wear. Bad paint, and original wheels that were pitted, and overall worn out look. 

 

My beloved 1989 Dodge Dakota in its original condition. Here it is getting new shoes. The original wheels were pretty bad, but not as bad as the paint.

My beloved 1989 Dodge Dakota in its original condition. Here it is getting new shoes. The original wheels were pretty bad, but not as bad as the paint.

But like any crazed-convertible lover, I saw potential. I declared in a month, when we were scheduled to depart for Texas, he’d not recognize it. We started with new wheels, and a stereo upgrade. It was going to need new paint too. 

After the wheels and stereo and before the new paint. It was oxidized and red. Not a particularly pretty red either.

After the wheels and stereo and before the new paint. It was oxidized and red. Not a particularly pretty red either.

I brought it home and parked it next to my other Chrysler convertible. They were beautiful together. I wanted to keep them both, but Rob said one, and the Truck wins. The truck always wins.

The Sebring and the Dakota. Just fresh from the paint job. Silver and black themed, like the Raiders football team an homage to my brothers' suggestions.

The Sebring and the Dakota. Just fresh from the paint job. Silver and black themed, like the Raiders football team an homage to my brothers’ suggestions.

We set out for Texas on a late May-day. We loaded what we could in the truck (way more than we’d ever fit into that Bug Convertible), and set out for our new life in Tejas. There were some delays. Our first introduction to the Lone Star constabulary was less than an hour into our Texas adventure. Rob was driving 90 miles an hour on Interstate 10. During the only hour I’d not drive on that trip. I was so mad when I found out how fast he was pushing my baby, I had no sympathy for him. I looked around for my own book to throw at him! I texted his photo to all our friends back home as retribution instead.

Rob and I, driving through LA on our way to Death Valley, Arizona, New Mexico and ultimately - Texas!

Rob and I, driving through LA on our way to Death Valley, Arizona, New Mexico and ultimately – Texas!

Rob, driving the Diamond Dog Dodge too fast for any roads. Get him officer!

Rob, driving the Diamond Dog Dodge too fast for any roads. Get him officer!

It was the perfect vehicle for Texas! Many didn’t know Dodge ever made such a contraption. Of the 3k or so made, hardly any were sold in the Lone Star state. Most of them were in California, and Florida the rest spread throughout the south. Rob even grew to appreciate the practicality of something you could take to home depot and load with sod, and then put the top down and drive by Lake Travis and through the Hill Country on a lovely spring day. Although, admittedly, it was somewhat hot in Texas for top down driving as he illustrated for me once with a picture he doodled in a meeting.

Rob's commentary on top down driving in Austin. Yes the air conditioning wasn't the best, but thisss is riding in styleeee

Rob’s commentary on top down driving in Austin. Yes the air conditioning wasn’t the best, but thisss is riding in styleeee

My introductions to my fellow Texans, in the beginning, until I started purchasing additional cars was me and my truck. While retrospectively somewhat dangerous to allow a thing come to define you or be so closely associated with your personality, this truck fit me perfectly. A little bit butch a little bit.. me.

Hudson Bend, near Lake Travis Texas. A great day for top-down driving.

Hudson Bend, near Lake Travis Texas. A great day for top-down driving.

And, I drove it everywhere, El Paso, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas. It wasn’t the most comfortable, but it was the classiest – in my mind – of all the cars I’ve driven (35+ at last count). I drove it to car shows and gatherings of gear heads through out the area and state. And it made me so mad that the Dodge never got the respect it deserved. This was primarily because most folks just presumed I’d pulled a ‘bubba’ and taken a chain saw to a random old Dakota. They hadn’t realized that this car was manufactured at an odd time in Chrysler history, when they were trying to follow GM’s model of brand-marketing-manufacturing. The circumstances that led to the creation of this unique truck, were not likely to be repeated again (well, until Bob Lutz when from Chrysler to GM and tried to recreate this formula with the Chevy SSR the only other truck, post Model-T to be a factory convertible).

The Diamond Dog Dodge at the weekly Car Cruise in Buda TX. Everyone at Cabelas looked. Mostly odd looks, but looks nonetheless.

The Diamond Dog Dodge at the weekly Car Cruise in Buda TX. Everyone at Cabelas looked. Mostly odd looks, but looks nonetheless.

The truck had its shortcomings. It’s the first classic car I’ve held on to and you can see how repair bills can start to mount (easily). It needed a new transmission. It needed new wheel bearings. It needed engine mounts, it needed, it needed, you get the idea. But through all that, I recognized how much joy it brought to have an interest and to go out and live life doing fun things in fun places. Isn’t this why I got sober in the first place? To insist on enjoying life. This truck represented my independence and I loved that it was around as long as my first recovery chip was. 

The first and only time the Diamond Dog Dodge was ever on the back of a tow truck. LOL -- ok. Wellllllll

The first and only time the Diamond Dog Dodge was ever on the back of a tow truck. LOL — ok. Wellllllll

You couldn’t help just feel like a celebrity driving the truck. It garnered comments wherever I went. It became annoying to Rob, because when he’d borrow it, he’d have to memorize the script.

” Yes, it’s a Dodge Dakota. No, I didn’t chop it. Yes, they really did make them. I know you’ve never seen one. I don’t know why they didn’t sell many in Texas. No, I think they should have made a lot more of them too. Yes, it is pretty isn’t it. No, I’m not interested in selling it today. No, I’m not interested in selling it tomorrow. No, I’m pretty sure I’m not interested in selling it.. ever. Yes sir. Thank you”.

 

Once I searched "Dodge Dakota Convertible" in Google searching for parts. Up came this photo of me driving down Congress Avenue at Christmas time. There were many more times I found random pictures of my truck on the internet. It was like that Drag Queen Leslie. This truck WAS Austin

Once I searched “Dodge Dakota Convertible” in Google searching for parts. Up came this photo of me driving down Congress Avenue at Christmas time. There were many more times I found random pictures of my truck on the internet. It was like that Drag Queen Leslie. This truck WAS Austin. She’s famous!

In our time on earth we have milestones which remind us we’re finite, not infinite. Now that I’m in my 50’s I feel pains that I didn’t feel before. My neck aches. My ankles swell. and all these serve as a reminder that time is passing. I’ve seen my friends pass off the seen. Sometimes their life comes to an end, or sometimes a friendship just runs its course. But material possessions, in theory, continue on. It’s not like I’d ever ‘break up’ with this truck. Rob and I often jested that the order in the event of a fire was Rob you grab the dogs, the photo albums, the wedding silver, the wallets and phones and I’ll meet you at the corner, because I’ll be headed for the garage to move that truck!

But the constancy of material possessions aren’t permanent. Even friends in the form of familiar surroundings change. Going home I see how the neighborhoods have evolved. And in AUSTIN – buildings that were once there, the Alamo Drafthouse South, the Trailers on South Congress, the numerous places to park downtown are all disappeared. And, so why wouldn’t something such as a truck be spared the ever evolution of change. But the familiar brings a sense of happy. Of continuity. Of permanence. And, change is an unknown thing. Change is .. scary.

But not necessarily hard. Only resistance to change is. Every time I’ve walked through change, hand in hand with God, I’ve been spared the difficulty of fighting against it, the inevitable. In the end the Truck doesn’t always win. — Time does. Change does. Life does.

The Diamond Dog Dodge is so named because it’s everything I love wrapped into metal. The preciousness of diamonds. The hugability of a dog and it is a Dodge, a Chrysler product – a brand I’ve always found a fondness for. It’s also, for reasons known to me and my husband and we smile when we think about how much joy this thing has brought me, and by extension us.

I knew someday I’d have to let the Dodge go. But in my minds eye – it was when I was simultaneously handing over my drivers license from old age and infirmity. I didn’t know it would be just a month after I mused, “I think I should get special insurance for it.” It’s far more valuable than the number displayed on paper in a blue-book.

A lovely Fall day outside of Bastrop Texas. I love taking a random drive on a fall or spring day and observing change, leaves, winds,  evolution and life.

A lovely Fall day outside of Bastrop Texas. I love taking a random drive on a fall or spring day and observing change, leaves, winds, evolution and life.

So last week, when I had that slow-motion moment, I hit the brake so hard I may have fractured my ankle, and I saw the metal of my truck hit that car, I knew it was not a good thing. I didn’t know to what extent it was a bad thing. From outward appearances I had hope. A slightly bent fender. I little crush on the bumper. And a flat tire. I didn’t know that much like internal organ damage that the wheel had been pushed back into the frame and there may be frame damage. Short of the synonym of rust and cancer, there’s no more fatal diagnosis for a car than frame damage. Even an engine is more easily replaceable.

So perhaps it may be time for it to pass of the scene and out of my life. And, maybe I’ll be ok. Maybe I’ll find a new interest and maybe these photos will serve as a reminder of fond days past, but not to the exclusion of fond days present or future. I’ll always remember my excitement the day I found “It”. And how it bridged my California life and love of convertibles, to my Texas life and love of Trucks.

It really was the perfect Texas truck. I hope some part of it is salvageable. But, I’ll survive if it’s not. But, for my heart, the Truck always wins.

California meets Texas with my 1989 Dodge Dakota Sport Convertible Pick Up Truck

California meets Texas with my 1989 Dodge Dakota Sport Convertible Pick Up Truck

What the F is cool anyway.

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Right handed.  Brown eyes. Uncool. As time goes on and I’ve seen my hair move from brown to ash, and I see these lines form across my forehead I’ve accepted certain things about myself there once were, that are not now.

It’s harder sometimes though to accept things that were not then, nor now, nor likely ever to be.  Cool is one of those things.

I suppose it’s hard to define, and I imagine most people believe they are not (cool). Some folks certainly do though. And, to a degree, they may be correct. Perhaps it’s an air one carries, or the ability to set a trend, or that mystic quality people are naturally drawn to – I possess none of those things.

It’s all right. I’m not in self-pity about it. Not entirely anyway. It’s probably a good indicator that if you’ve been striving to be cool, you probably aren’t. Much like the aforementioned disposition of right handed versus left, you either are or you aren’t. Ambidextrous assertions aside, cool is a state of being that is difficult to define. It has no precise measurement or characteristic. But, you know it when you see it.

Growing up with perpetually low self-esteem, one can find they always feel like they are on the outside looking in.  Even over the years, developing friends, associates and loved ones who bring a sense of worth and purpose, cool still remains elusive.

It bothers one less and less I suppose, until you experience a reversion. A step back into the painful memories of what it was like to be distinctly uncool.  Awkwardness, lankiness, sense of out of place is often left behind with adolescence. But, not always. Sometimes being in an atmosphere that harkens to those days can bring about all those feelings once again. It wasn’t fun the first time around; it’s no more so in succeeding times.

Sometimes in my dreams I would be at a high school dance, and noting that everyone was laughing at me. This was actually welcome to a small degree as it was a step up from them yelling or sneering. But, in the imagined scenario, I look down to see myself in a cotta over cassock, altar boy outfit. I feel like such a nerd, and outcast.

Growing up trying to be good – Catholic was what I imagined I was supposed to do. But it appears at times it was another reason to be segregated from others as weird or different. This was not my goal. Well, I suppose it’s no ones goal really. Even Goth kids in school or those professing the intentionally manufactured attempt to be different clearly displayed the hurt, which comes from being an outsider.

Sometimes going into a bar atmosphere, especially one where gear, leather or other garment accouterment are preferred, I feel like I’m in a cassock. I’ve not really embraced that subculture and as a result am excluded. The question becomes is it important to feel ‘included’? To what degree? At what cost? I’m pretty sure someone who is important to me has friends that don’t think I’m cool.

Service in recovery, much like service in the church from my earliest recollections of being an altar boy, and in the catholic youth organization has always made me feel good when I was doing it. It feels like what I am supposed to be doing., what God would have me do.

I think sometimes folks feel like do-gooders, aren’t cool.

So, I’ll pray about it. Maybe God thinks I’m cool. Maybe that’s really the ‘in crowd’.

 

On the Eve of a Milestone

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So, I’ve been contemplating entering another decade on this earth and what that means. As time goes on it’s inevitable that one starts to think about mortality and looking at that hour glass and trying to visualize how much sand remains. Even though we are vibrant and live longer than we ever used to, at what point does the quality of living start to decline?

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I hear people beyond my age complain about aches and pains and immobility which prevent them from doing the things that they used to do. I see people who are haunted by regret for either not completing things that they wanted, or living up to expectations that they placed on themselves.

  • Also too there’s a class of folks who, looking at that hour glass with more sand in the bottom, than the top – have regrets for spending so much time and energy focused on what others thought of them or living in fear of judgment of others.

Much of my life, through necessity, and through conscious choice has been spent in service to others. It’s brought me tremendous joy. I’m far from a saint, and I’ve had my share of selfish fits – fits that would certainly would rival anyone’s I know – but dedicating myself to opportunities and commitments in my life has kept me positive, has reenergized my spirit, has affirmed my humanity and has many times kept me sane.

As I move into a new decade, with my eye peering that hour glass I wonder though, if it might be time to find a new kind of balance. What do “I” want out of life? Where will I go with my physical, emotional and spiritual health that remains?

The battle cry that is heard universally, once one reaches adulthood anyway, is that there isn’t enough time. Each day I can hear myself saying this as I run through the list of accomplishments for the last 24 hours, which inevitably leads to the list of matters that I didn’t attend to (usually a substantially longer list – because, well – there isn’t enough time). So, what would my life look like if I treated time like the precious commodity it is? What would I step up? What would I cut out? What would be rearranged in my list of life’s priorities?

 

Certainly Rob and my family remain at the top; those are not likely to move. But looking at other matters my commitments to service, friends, social functions, etc. What must stay, what can go?

Moving forward, I’m still not sure – but, there is a sense that some things could change. One at the top of the list is letting go of what others think. This is a character defect that has vastly improved over the last 20 years. But, there’s room for improvement still. At a recent spiritual panel discussion I attended I was heartened to hear some specific things in that forum. It was a panel made up of people over 60, some over 70 and there were about 5 or so on the panel. Men and women who had been friends for years, some for decades. I so appreciated their perspective.

One of the things they universally agreed upon when asked what was their favorite age. All of them said that their decade in their 50’s were there best years. Their physical vitality remained and they had established themselves already in their careers and relationships. They had a vision that began to shift about what life might look like in retirement (or what they wanted it to look like) and accordingly became invigorated by laying out plans for that. They began to care less about things like clothing labels, material accomplishment, appearances such as going grey in their hair, or gaining a new wrinkle in their skin. They saw life with a new clarity that can come only from spending a half of a century on earth. And, the new vision incorporated how to make use of that life-experience without being condescending. How to balance humility and God’s gifts with lessons that one can now help teach as well as continue to learn. They discovered in that period of their life, that they were happier than they’d ever been. Because there is a freedom which comes from letting go of such trivial matters of social standing, material acquisition, and seeking approval of others. I was energized by attending that workshop.

My own vision is in flux.

I don’t have a clear vision of what I’m heading towards. But, then again, when it comes to matters of God’s will, I rarely do. I more often get a vision of what it’s ‘not’. The things that used to be acceptable become less so, Behaviors which I had once approached with a cavalier attitude, take on new significance. So, if you notice a change in me – don’t be surprised. Nor alarmed.

It’s me – molting.

It starts this morning with a new head of hair. That sounds trivial doesn’t it? I don’t care if you think that. Ha.

I sat in the chair of my favorite hair salon last evening and I said we’re doing something different. “How different” Stacey asks. She can hardly contain her excitement in matters of hair-experimentation. Very different. “Let’s go blond”.

“Really?”

“Really”.

Why? Because I’ve always wondered how’d it be and why not today. Of the times it’s crossed my mind the immediate second thought was a dismissal. I branded it as a ridiculous notion. And, what would people say? They’d likely laugh. Maybe pay me a tongue in cheek compliment, or maybe shake their heads. Maybe they wouldn’t notice at all. Each of those reactions carries a consequence for the person consumed about what other people think. But, because I’m entering a decade of change, I’m going to let that go.

The hair is just a silly symbol. It’s an act for me, for myself to announce to the world, that I’m doing this for me. It’s just a small inconsequential thing that represents the larger steps I may take for myself. It may last only a week, it will likely be back to being dark in a month, but I’m doing it to mark this moment in my life. So, when I see a picture of myself, years from now I’ll recall how I felt at this moment in my life. How much possibility and hope lay ahead for me. Will I go to school? Will I embark on a career change? Will I learn to play a musical instrument? Will I write a book?

It all remains a question mark, but the possibility is there.

If God’s will for me is to be happy, joyous and free, I am that today. I enter the decade where all things are possible as long as I trust in the infinite and have faith that I’ll be OK if I cease relying on the finite.

Right now however, in this moment, I will smirk as I barrel down the Mopac in Austin Texas, top down on the truck, with my ridiculous golden fake locks of inconsequential symbol waving in the wind. How does it look? Wait. That’s right. In this instance, your opinion is not necessary. Thanks for having or not having one though.

Watching Time Pass. Watching Years Pass. Watching Friends Pass.

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I’ve been having lessons in acceptance throughout my life. Much of it, has been a struggle. Mostly because somewhere along the way I adopted a confused thought. (This is not uncommon. I have many confused thoughts).

  • Acceptance does not = Liking.

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Somewhere along the way, I confused acceptance with “liking” something.

There is war. There is poverty. Crime and harm done others. While I don’t like any of these, I accept that they are the reality. As sad as they make me. As cruel as they come across. Injustice perpetuated by others is not something any of use will ever like. And, by acceptance, I’m not resigned to inaction. I can become an advocate for any cause. No, acceptance merely equates to my acknowledgement that it exists. It’s true. Even if it’s horrible – or stupid.

It’s like I think that the my realization of the truth somehow equates to my condoning. This is a typical un-humble thought. I’m full of those. (This idea that somehow my endorsement of something is a requirement  before something becomes truth).

Simple = Good

I have been thinking on the topic of this late after the passing of my friend, self-proclaimed ding-a-ling and always-laughing Tom Delgado. Or, as I knew him.. simply.. Marissa-Endora-Carol-La Luna-Tome. (So named for the string of drag numbers and icons, no less memorable than Tom himself).

I don’t know if it was because we were the same age. Or, that I just saw him on my last trip to California – or that it happened so fast. One day he was with us. The next day he was not with us.

I’ve experienced death of those I love. You can’t have been on earth as long as I have and not have this as part of your experience. But, it never gets easier.

  • To the contrary – I suspect it will get much harder.

It’s an inverse equation. Although I’ve had a long enough time on earth to get used to the idea of death, it’s also because I’ve had these folks in my life for an extended period that it hurts that much harder.

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Of course, all this reminds me of the subject no one ever really wants to talk about. The idea that my own mortality is finite. That none of us really knows that if we go to bed this evening if we’ll wake to greet the morning. And for the last few evenings, those have been my thoughts as I drift off to sleep. What if this were the last time I moved the puppy Ganso because he’s hogging my pillow and snoring in my ear? What if this were the last time I’d reach over and grab Rob’s hand only to have him grunt, roll over and mention how hot the room is? Have I done all that I hoped to do by now? Are my affairs in order? What about that proverbial ‘bucket list’?

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No. Acceptance in this instance is that I will NEVER have my affairs in “order”. I will NEVER have completed all that I hoped to accomplish. I will never have an empty bucket list. These are as futile at this moment while I lay in bed typing as Ganso no longer keeping my pillow from me. Some things just are.

Tom showed me that rather striving to seek an enlightened approach, perhaps it was just as good to seek the simplest one – because often times they are one in the same. Many times in meditation and spiritual conversation we often wax on about big concepts, and complex notions. But the truth often is, simple is best.

It’s like a conversation I had with Ms. Delgado right after she was sprung from jail for hitting a pedestrian (to be fair, the pedestrian ‘refused’ to move, and Ms. Delgado warned her). It seemed to be the peak of Tom’s streak of rage. And, we talked openly how we hoped that this was the cherry on his anger cake and that he could find peace through God and letting go.

Tom devised his own approach to anger management. He decided that whenever he got angry, he would sing a song. Any song. (He knew lots, he was a music trivia and karaoke master!). But, he favored show tunes and anything Ethel Merman might sing. Because his simple thought was you cannot hang on to anger, AND sing a show tune at the same time. It just wasn’t possible. And prior to that conversation I hadn’t thought of that simple idea. Tom described it as ding-a-ling. I would say inspired.

So sing that song. Anger is anger. Injustice is injustice. Pain is pain. Accept it. Move on, or get into action to change it. But until it’s changed – it just ‘is’.

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