Beacon

Since we have no kids and my brother doesn’t either, we are very lucky that C’s brother and his wife produced two amazing young women, Samantha and Allison. The sisters are ten years apart, and yet somehow, really really great friends. We’re really close to both of our nieces (Sam actually lived with us for about five years). Sam lives in St. Paul with her husband and two kids and we visit them when we can. Allison is a teacher and has moved from Cortland (where she went to college) to Syracuse and ended up in Beacon, purely by coincidence the town where her sister Sam got married (and I put together a brass quintet for the ceremony, which was a lot of fun).

A few weeks ago, we had a zoom call with them, where Allie gave us a video tour of the new half-of-a-house she and her new gentleman friend had just moved into. And after that call, we were like, “OK we need to take a weekend and go up and see her and see this house and meet the boyfriend and visit with our other friends up in that direction.” So this weekend we took Friday and Monday off to give us our ‘functional weekend days’ and traveled on Saturday and Sunday. I picked up the (unusually expensive) rental car (I remember reading that rentals were really expensive now, but I also realize that I totaled an Avis car last year, so maybe that’s why…) and we headed up north. Not a long drive, not particularly trafficky once we left the city, although there were delays here and there.

Got to Beacon, found their house. Greetings and hugs. J, the gentleman friend, is charming and clearly a keeper. A and J’s half-a house is really really cool -it’s a Victorian house they share with their landlord, and it’s all dark wood and weird little nooks and alcoves and stained glass and views of the Hudson. It’s charming and lovely and has personality to spare – they are very lucky.

C still having walking issues, we did a little more driving than we otherwise would have. We went to lunch at The Beacon Daily, which was great except for the unusually loud music playing. I had a Banh Mi sandwich which was delicious, and a chocolate cookie. J had a cubano, Allie had a Double Double, and C had the KFC. (next time I need to try a fried chicken sandwich, I think) Then we went to Main Street and walked around as much as C’s leg could stand. I bought some craftsman soaps (“They’re very mild, you can take them right in the shower!” the proprietress chirped, to my bafflement.) A giftie store yielded a little vase that looks like a Harry Potter magic textbook – I’m going to use it for pencils, I think.

To my delight, the antique store up the block had a couple of brass instruments in the front window, so I lunged for the door, but they were just closing, oh well. So up the street to the Big Mouth for coffee drinks, then dropped A and J off at their house with plans to pick them up later for dinner. Off to our hotel in nearby Fishkill for some downtime. Discovered from FB posting that my good friend Ori had lived basically across the street from our hotel for several years as a kid, that was a fun discovery.

Back into town for dinner. Allison had made quite a few suggestions, and one of them was Isamu. Sushi sounded amazing to me, so I pushed for that and there we went. A and J had bento boxes, which looked like fun, and C had a specialty roll and shrimp tempura, but I just got one of those big-ass sushi/sashima platters, scarfed the whole thing down and made a mess with my poor chopstick skills. (You’ll be happy to know that the soy sauce came out of the slacks just fine.) I’d never tried mochi before, but we had green tea mochi ice cream and it was delicious.

Wrapped up our evening, very nice. Back to the hotel for Olympics and sleep.


Sunday morning, we lazed around, basically. I fetched coffee and our bags of continental breakfast from the lobby and we just hung out until we had to check out at 11:00. First stop, Ori’s childhood home across the street so I could take a picture (picture looks so different that Ori’s betting they tore the old home down and rebuilt). Then to check out the main street of Fishkill, which looked nice enough, but almost everything was closed, so we didn’t stop and walk.

Back to Beacon to see if I could get into the antique store this time. We could, and I asked to see the instruments in the window. Both looked old, but the baritone horn actually looked like it was in decent shape – two of the three valves were working, which meant the third probably just needs oiling. No dents. The other one was a… well, I’m not sure what they’re called, possibly a mellophone. Sort of a bargain-basement French horn with right-hand fingering and piston valves. It was in sad shape, so I handed that back. The proprietor also showed me a beautiful and shiny (but useless) old drum corps bugle with one rotary and one piston valve, plus a metal clarinet. But I bought the baritone! (well, maybe it’s a euphonium) It was not expensive, it will be a fun fixer-upper and something I can play at Tuba Christmas.

Crafty soaps, magic textbook vase and baritone horn (euphonium?) of indeterminate provenance.

Delighted with the purchase, (well, I was, C was looking at me askance), we headed off to Heritage Food and Drink to meet up with Patti and Peter and Alyssa. Patti is C’s best friend and former roommate, Peter is her husband and the gentleman who performed our wedding ceremony, and Alyssa (who we had not met before) is their son’s lady friend. Alyssa had demanded to come along because, apparently, she’s been hearing “Charles and Eric” stories for years. We had a delightful brunch, getting caught up, although both C and I were less pleased with our entrees than we thought we’d be – more of a case of ordering the wrong thing than anything the restaurant had done.

Warm goodbyes (I insisted on showing them the baritone before we left) and then we drove back to the city. Got a parking place right across the street from the building and then had a ‘turn into slugs’ evening, leftovers for dinner and Olympics. I feel asleep at 9:30 – I don’t drive much and I’d done all the driving. And then I brought the car back this morning.


As it turns out, niece Sam and family are coming into town to visit Allison next month, so it looks like we’re going to do much the same thing in a few weeks! I’m fine with that.

Ya know, I almost forgot, but wanted to stress that all of these people who we spent time with this weekend, who I love dearly, are in my life because of Charles. I am blessed to have them, and especially him.

Cohabitation

The first time I lived alone was my two years in grad school, in Baltimore. I had a cute little studio in a building with a lot of other Peab students. I loved it (only downside: we weren’t allowed to practice there) and since I was going through a lot of growing pains, especially coming-out-of-the-closet stuff, I was grateful for the lack of witnesses and commentary.

Out of school and off to Philadelphia, I spent two years in what turned out to be a not-ideal roommate situation and swore up and down I’d never ever have another roommate, unless he was my lover. No lovers on the horizon, but I got another apartment by myself, in the Italian Market area. I loved that situation too. I love living alone, never ever crossed my mind to live with someone else just because of loneliness. I was used to that.

But four months after I moved to NYC, I met this guy and we hit it off so well we were spending most nights of the week together right from the get-go – and that was exhausting. Shut up, not because of shenanigans, but because you were always either a host or a guest in each other’s apartments and there was very little chance to recharge. But we’d established quite soon that living together would be our goal if this thing kept working, and it did.

C got what turned out to be an amazing deal on an enormous apartment in Queens, and closed on it in early June, moved in ASAP with very little furniture, planning to buy all new. I was spending Pride Month marching in parades, and my parents were coming to town themselves to march in NYC’s parade (and stay with me), so I stayed put until that was done. After the parade, Mom and Dad and I found each other, got cleaned up, then went to this gigantic new empty apartment for an outdoor concert in the garden, and a cold supper served by this man who they’d just met.

Anyway, a week later, July 4th weekend, me, my cat and all my stuff moved to Queens, and suddenly we were living together. In some ways this made our lives much much easier, but of course it also revealed all the things that it had never occurred to us to discuss before, like ‘how do you like your laundry folded?’, and ‘what do you mean, you don’t have a table in the hallway just to dump things on when you come through the door’ and ‘why wouldn’t you have a trash can in every room’. Well, we worked all that out, pretty much.

C spent four years (!), one room at a time, scraping painted moulding down to the wood, then staining it, and painting the walls. It wasn’t until the end of that whole process that we truly had the showplace that C had envisioned. I had a large check from my company and the opportunity to buy a baby grand, which I did as the final piece of pulling the living room together. We now had an entertainment center, and a china cabinet and an enormous dining room table and a highboy and a chest of drawers and a four-poster bed and on and on. (Also we soon had a niece living with us, which gave us a new dynamic for about five years.)

We remodeled the kitchen in 2003. My kitty died in 2006. We completely remodeled the bathrooms and the butler’s pantry in 2014 (the same year we got married! Insanity) and did some more painting and moulding-staining in 2015.

We’ve been through at least three fridges and three dishwashers. We’re on our second clotheswasher/dryer unit. The sofa and loveseat I’d brought from Philadelphia got replaced a few years ago by a very similar sofa and loveseat. The dining room chairs were replaced a couple of years ago.

We have hosted a hundred dinner parties, where sometimes the family social tension made it more of a funny story afterward than an enjoyable evening, but where the food has always been fantastic. We had the routine down to a science to install/uninstall the air conditioners every year, until we bought a couple of portable ones recently. We know how we decorate for Christmas. The division of labor we set up at the beginning (I do laundry and ironing, he does cooking and grocery shopping) continues to work very well. Tensions about messiness vs order continue to plague us, and always will.

And I bring him coffee in bed every morning.

Twenty-six years and counting.

A Gay Outing

A while ago, my friend Marisa let me know that a New Jersey theater group she was involved with was soliciting coming-out stories for a theater piece they were building for Pride. I submitted one, then immediately forgot about it. When the director contacted me a few months ago to get me to sign a release form to use my story, I was delighted, and then couldn’t remember (or find) what story I’d submitted. Well, InterACT Theatre productions presented This Is Our Story these past two weekends, and we went to see it, so I could remember what the hell I’d submitted.

I don’t live anywhere near there, and don’t have a car, but Marisa assured me that some performances were essentially right next to the Maplewood train station, and it would be easy-peasy by public transportation. Fine as it went, but I wanted to bring C and C is not walking very well now. My friend Susan wanted to come too, and she has a car, but she’s shuttling between her apartment in Queens and her late parents’ home in (southern) NJ and it wasn’t sure whether she’d be able to drive us in either direction. Then our buddy Tessa, who we had dinner with last week, wanted to come too, and she’s not that mobile either.

So this was a big first post-pandemic outing, fraught with logistical issues, and of course I had no idea what the show would be like, either. But, well, here we go. First effort was to get tickets, which I didn’t think would be a problem, except when I ordered them online last week, turned out they were enforcing social distancing by not using half the seats, and not allowing you to buy multiple tickets unless they were in the same row as a group. Since the matinee was almost sold out, and only individual tickets here and there remained, I decided to try getting 4 tickets against the wall, one behind the other, that were all available. But they weren’t in the same row, you see, and in order to buy them and get past the UI rules, I had to buy 1 ticket at a time in 4 different transactions, ugh.

I was very aware of the possibility for catastrophe – what if we missed the train we wanted? What if C and T couldn’t walk even the small amount we needed to? What if there was a problem with the tickets anyway and we came all that way for nothing? What if Susan had problems getting there, or the car broke down, or the train broke down, or … any number of things that we couldn’t control. But I planned as much as possible, with contingencies, and reminded myself that this was very much not a big deal in the Grand Scheme of Things, even if it all fell apart.

But… it actually was fine! C and I took an Uber to Penn Station. It was traffic-y and we were running behind, but Tessa got there first and picked up the tickets for us. We didn’t have trouble finding her, and I had enough time to run (and I mean “run”) to the john before they posted our track. Train ride was very pleasant, and we got in about an hour or so before curtain time.

We of course disembarked on the middle platform and there was no way to get out of the station in either direction except down and then up stairs (two not-mobile people here). Taking a guess, I led them out in what turned out was the wrong way. But I had a mental picture of where the theater was (and also a Starbucks and some other restaurants we could park at) and they should have all been right there, so I put C and T on a bench and said, ‘let me go find everything, and I’ll come back and get you’. So I did. Turns out that we could get to the other side of the tracks without doing the staircases, if we just walked down the hill, and then I found the Starbucks and then the theater – and yes, we had tickets, and show was at 3:00, not 2:00 and everything was fine. So I fetched C and T and we made our slow way to Starbucks and had a little lunch. Meanwhile Susan arrived and texted and called me with great detail about finding a parking space and she’d meet us at the theater. But then she met us at the Starbucks, whatever. And I got my little crew to the theater on time.


The show itself was really terrific, both in concept and in experience. First, it was just delightful to be in a real audience for a live theater thing again, first time in a year and a half. Second, this sort of community-led experimental theater featuring actors of all sorts (and talents) is the sort of thing I used to go to (and participate in) all the time in my YOUNGER DAYS, and haven’t in forever. Third, I’d been worried about the seats, but they were just fine, and since they were on the aisle and sort of pointing sideways, lots of leg room. Production-wise, it was very simple. It being a warm day, there were fans going and that interfered a lot with hearing the dialogue – some actors were a lot better than others at project, but you got most of it.

Large cast: old, young, men, women, all colors. Various vignettes, some monologues, some staged scenes. Narratives about what it’s like to be a bisexual woman, an ace woman on the spectrum, a trans woman. Men who were HIV positive and long term survivors. Men who were addicts and did not survive. The various reactions of parents and family. Coming out later in life, when you’ve already been married and have had kids.

My favorites were the bisexual woman, the woman with kids who came out later in life, and the Indian guy coming out to his family (that actor was delivering his own story) – and of course, my own.

I can’t find my original submission, but it was of a couple of stories I like to tell, how to come out at the office by putting a picture of your beloved on your desk.

1996: I start working at a small software company. C and I had only been together a year or so. I put a picture of him on my desk.

RUSSIAN IT GUY, doing a install: Is that your father?

ME: (huge guffaw) No, he’s my partner

RUSSIAN IT GUY: translates answer into Russian in his head, looks confused. Business partner?

ME: (laughs again) We live together.

RUSSIAN IT GUY: Oh. OH.

(the staging of this was excellent, and Mike, the actor, nailed the guffaw, went on to describe co-worker’s reactions as word spread across the office, which was staged, a lot of people in the scene, very funny)

2019: another new job, this time the picture is very obviously a wedding picture.

STRAIGHT YOUNG COLLEAGUE: That’s a great picture… um, how long have you been married.

ME: Five years, but we were engaged for 18 years on top of that.

COLLEAGUE: Oh… why did it take so long?

ME: Well, it was illegal. Well, not ‘illegal’, but you know… (I go on to tell him about DOMA and Obergefeld and all that)

Anyway, it was fun to watch on stage, they got it exactly right, and if I get a video of it, I’ll share it.


After the show, I said hi to a cast member I knew, then had her introduce me to the director/writer who’d put the script and show together, that was great. They have hopes for a future for the show, either as a published script or as something that gets redone and updated periodically. I also introduced myself (and C) to Mike, who played “me”, with “Hi, I’m Eric, I’m the picture on the desk guy.”, and we had a good chat.

Anyway, it was terrific that they did it, they thought my story should be part of it, and that we got to see it.

Susan drove the four of us back to Queens, and I cleverly managed to use Opentable to get us a reservation at Bistro Eloise, a fairly new local restaurant right by Cannelle, the fantastic bakery that made our wedding cake. Susan and I had each been there once, C and T had not. It was an excellent meal across the board, for everyone. C started with escargot, then had bouillabaise. Susan started with French onion soup, then had the beef bourguignon. Tessa started with baked brie, then had mussels. I started with a caesar salad, then had octopus and chorizo with fingerling potatoes. Everything was fantastic. There were also kirs royale and a martini and a glass of scotch, and then dessert – two floating islands and one banana crepes with nutella (mine). Only downside is although the waiters were really good and friendly, the actual mechanics of getting more water or bread (many requests, little action) or clearing the table was poor. Maybe it was a bad night ,not enough bus people showed up? But fantastic food – not unreasonably priced, but pricey overall because we all turned off our filters and got a whole buncha food and it was absolutely worth it.

And that was it, except for everyone agreeing it was a lovely day and hugs and kisses all around, and me collapsing in bed pretty much ASAP.


I’ll have more pridey-pride stuff later, I think, but HAPPY PRIDE DAY and month and life!

Put a Pin in That

Since I haven’t been practicing piano, or doing much of anything besides working and reading, I should probably be writing more. Things that have floated through my empty head to blog about:

  • Is “none” singular or plural?
  • Pride month stuff
  • Media consumption
  • Fear of aging/losing capability
  • How I fell in love with wind instruments
  • Nothing matters and it’s all pointless

Yeah, some are big and some are small.

Y’all know that my bugaboo from TV or media over the last few years is those who pronounce “divisive” with the same short “i” vowel for all syllables. Makes me twitch. It’s “div-EYE-sive”, like “divide”. But today, someone used the phrase, “none is” and I was like, ‘what’? In the kitchen at the time, I turned to the ether and said, “Alexa, is the word ‘none’ singular or plural?”. Her opinion was that it was singular, but sometimes used as plural. Not helpful.

I guess, technically “none”, which indicates a zero number of things, is neither singular (one of something) nor plural (several somethings). But it feels like it should be plural. “how many of your shirts are purple?” “None of them are.” It’s connotating a negative characteristic of a group of things. The opposite of “none” is “all”, which is certainly plural. Anyway, I vote for ‘none’ being plural, although it’s really just coming from my gut.


Who knows which topic I’ll pick next? It’s a mystery.

Crunch

So… A week ago, I fell off my bike and fractured my collarbone.I had started writing a huge blog post about it, and in excruciating detail, got as far as my first urgent care visit, and then went, “this is boring“ and stopped. So here’s the highlights version.

Memorial day Monday was the first nice day of the three day weekend I was riding in somewhat new territory, and saw a soft right turn to a Street with very well marked bike lanes. So I turned, and immediately hit a speed bump I hadn’t seen. Not a nice gentle speedbump, more like a curb. Bike stopped, I went over, landed on my right shoulder.I pulled myself together, pulled the bike off the road, found my water bottle which had gone flying, then had to figure out how to get an Uber with a car big enough to put the bike in the back. Got home, had C check me out, took some pills. That afternoon, I went to urgent care around the corner, but they could not see me until the next day. Next day, I went – because my pain wasn’t too bad and my mobility also was OK, doctor didn’t think I had broken anything (although the bruising was impressive and got more so), but set me up for an x-ray on Wednesday. Went for the x-ray on Wednesday, the doctors had me stay until they could look at it, then called me in worriedly. I had a fracture, it was displaced, it might stab me internally, this was bad, go back to urgent care right now. Urgent care sent me to the ER, where I stayed until 2:30 AM mostly sitting around, but got more x-rays and more checks.

Bottom line: yes the collarbone was fractured, no, I didn’t need surgery, but I just need to immobilize the shoulder for 6 to 8 weeks.Both urgent care and ER gave me an arm sling as a temporary measure, but told me to order something called a figure 8 brace, which would actually work better and give me more mobility. Magic of Amazon, it should have shown up on Friday. It did not. Had to order order another figure 8, which showed up late Sunday. In the meantime, had a follow up with urgent care.So, the second figure 8 brace did show up and it works great. I have a follow up with an orthopedist on Friday.

Pain level has not been too bad – they gave me a prescription meds which worked pretty good, and I was icing my shoulder with a bag of frozen mixed vegetables every morning – but this morning it doesn’t seem to be necessary. Every night I seem to sleep better and better.Although it’s annoying, it’s not actually as annoying as the hand fracture was two years ago – for instance I don’t have to cover my arm when I shower. I have laid off the piano for now, and canceled the horn gig I had, but I am needing knitting a little bit.

The end, except I think I will try to blog a little more, since my practice time is not being used right now. Apologies for typos, formatting, weird word usage, etc. – I am using the wordpress iOS app and voice dictation, and it’s not the best.

That Dinkum Thinkum

So, I like audiobooks just fine, but I use them mostly to reread books I liked the first time around (I have a bad habit of skimming when I read – audiobooks force me to not skim). One of my favorite M/M authors turned me on to Chirp. Their regular prices are about par with audibles – that is, pricey and not-worth-it to me, mostly – but every day they send out an email with daily deals. So when suddenly they offer “Red, White and Royal Blue” for $2.99 or whatever, sure, I’ll grab that. And one day they offered “Starship Troopers”, so I was like, oo, absolutely. Turns out they had a bunch of Heinlein for cheap, so I bought several of them.

I’d just finished Andy Weir’s “Artemis”, and John Varley’s “Steel Beach” was my favorite SF novel for years, so clearly I have a thing for “moon colony” stories, but that was probably engendered by The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, one of my favorite Heinleins. And you better believe I grabbed that one when Chirp offered it for cheap. So it’s now my current audiobook, turned to usually after I finish some long podcast, and it’s awesome. The book is hella entertaining, and I’m realizing now that it was probably also somewhat responsible for my lifelong love of computers. The protagonist, Manny, who uses a lot of Russian slang, is given a Russian accent in the narration, and I thought it would be super-annoying, but actually, no, it works fine, particularly since the other main characters (Mike the computer, Wyoh) don’t have accents. Anyway, I’m enjoying the hell out of it. Not sure if I have a point, except getting the Chirp daily email is worth it for the opportunity to pick up entire audiobooks for real cheap, and that if you haven’t read “Moon” or “Steel Beach”, you absolutely should.

(side note: I was reminded recently of, and astonished all over again, that they made a movie of the Heinlein short story “All You Zombies…” called Predestination. It’s pretty good! Spoiler alert: through the magic of time travel, the protagonist is his own parents, creating a teeny little genealogical loop.)

My current print book is a history of the D’Oyly Carte company, which I’m enjoying reading in small slices. And on the Kindle, I’m still rotating through books like “Nomadland”, “Motherless Brooklyn”, and a reread of the Baroque Cycle (which I also picked up for cheap as an ebook, already having it in hardback and audiobook form). And I read a shit-ton of M/M books over the last two weeks, like one a day. It’s starting to feel like I need to cut down… not that it’s an expensive hobby, more a matter of time management.


My schedule is filling up! One thing I really need to do this weekend is update the calendar. People are coming into town, we’re doing the French Horn Nation thing in a few weeks, lots going on. Yeah, I need to switch from piano to horn for my practice slot of a few weeks – haven’t played since last June. It’s fine, I miss it, and I’m in a good spot to take a break from piano for a bit.

What else? TV-wise, we finished “DCI Banks” and am giving “The Good Doctor” a try while waiting for the complete season of “The Handmaid’s Tale” to finish dropping. We both really like Good Doctor, we haven’t watched a medical drama in a while. (I often have to hide my face when they show surgery or needle stuff.) And we finished season 4 of “Kim’s Convenience”, just a tad too early because season 5 doesn’t drop until next week. But season 2 of “Special” is now available so we’re doing that. Then we’ll finish KC (can I just remark again about how wonderful KC is? You should totally watch it.) and then I think finish what we haven’t seen from “The Kominsky Method”.


Hitting the start of summer with things being in basically a good place feels like some sort of milestone. I took myself out for a special lunch yesterday: went whole hawg with a glass of prosecco, a nice salad, penne a la vodka with shrimp, tiramisu and cappuccino. Yeah, it was a lot of money, but, you know, special, and I will have to remember to do that once or twice a year, it was really nice.

Of course, my hope is by Labor Day, which starts our cycle of once-a-month special events that are worth going out to nice restaurants to celebrate, things will be fully open and C will be moving well enough to not have to think about the logistics of it.

Happy summer!

Unreliable Narrator

Someday, maybe, I’ll have actual themes and essays to write. This is not that day.

Things have been fine here, mostly. C has been having health problems, but we finally, after vaccination and the two-week wait, got him to a doctor. Waiting for test results now, but he’s basically fine, except for this leg and balance issue. I’m nervous about him going out on his own alone, so went with him to the doctor’s and to the radiologist, but he went out on his own this weekend to buy a new phone and that went OK. But we do need to figure out what’s going on here, so he can move again.

Work continues to be very busy and I have yet to get ahead of my deadlines in the way I’d like to, but I’m mostly being successful and learning more every day – half the battle is having to stop and figure out stuff, and the more I figure out, the less that will slow me down. And again, I have to keep reminding myself, no one is breathing down my neck, irritated that I just can’t do everything now now now.

The weather’s getting warmer. I still haven’t been on the ice at all, and will probably wait until restrictions are lifted enough that I don’t have to make a reservation to be part of general skating or coffee club or whatever. But I’ve been out on my bike a couple of times and it’s been glorious. I’ll keep going with that every Sunday, I hope, taking longer and longer rides. I should make a list of the routes I want to repeat and the ones I haven’t done yet and want to. I also have this idea of riding to a neighborhood (such as Greenpoint) and then getting off the bike and walking around and exploring, but while that seems like fun, it doesn’t seem like exercise. Maybe if I gave myself a longer time slot and didn’t worry so much about getting other stuff done on the weekend.


So… we were vaguely considering a trip south, which would involve visiting my dad and brother in North Carolina, with stops there and back and maybe a couple of days at the beach. But my brother revived our tentative plan, put on hold due to COVID, of chartering a boat on the Chesapeake and spreading Mom’s ashes. Mom and Dad were avid sailors in their prime and were out on the Bay or the Patuxent River every weekend when I was growing up, and Mom loved it so much. So the tentative plan is to gather in whatever Maryland shore town has the boat charter, us four plus specific relatives, do like a sunset cruise, then have dinner on shore and spend the night in a hotel. That shouldn’t be onerous for any of us, and C and I can head to Cape May after that. (all very up in the air, and not sure when this is happening, but we will see)


Media consumption: I don’t do this deliberately, but managed to pick two movies this weekend with unreliable narrators who’d lost their children in car crashes. The first was The Woman in the Window. I didn’t particularly like it, but a great cast, I must say. Also, the author of the book is famous for having this batshit New Yorker bio.

The other was Wander, starring Aaron Eckhart and Tommy Lee Jones. It’s terrible. Not because of its story or premise, which is quite similar to Woman in the Window in that you have a crazy person trying to convince everyone that crazy things are happening, but they’re crazy so no one believes them. But in the delivery: inaudible dialogue, a constantly intrusive score, shaky camera work. I get that this is supposed to make you empathize with the lead character, who’s crazy, but it’s just completely off-putting. I love looking at Aaron Eckhart, even when he’s playing someone who almost certainly smells bad, and the acting is fine, but it’s a very irritating movie. Also, clearly, a labor of love from those who made it.


I recorded another invention this week, and then realized I didn’t post the last one here. So, here are two inventions. I’m past the halfway mark now, only seven to go!

Fie then, why sit we musing?

Hey, it’s May! Still chilly, but sunny out today for now.

It’s Mother’s Day, the second without our Mom. She never cared much about it – happy to receive the cards and flowers and so on, but if we’d forgotten or gotten them there a day late, there would have been no blowback or guilt applied.

I had a dream about her a couple of weeks ago, and she was just as frail as she had been her last year or so, and in the dream she tried to stand and fell. It was anxiety-producing and awful and another reminder that I have to build up more skills and internal resources to deal with my loved ones’ aging – and my own.


The last couple of weeks at work have been nerve-wracking, preparing test plans (and then using them) for my new product focus. Very much building the plane while flying it – even as recently as Friday, learning new and interesting facts about how things work that somehow had never come up in the weeks of meetings we’d had before. Or, more likely, had come up, but I wasn’t in a place to understand what that had meant yet. Anyway… still very busy, but passed my first big hurdle and it seemed to work out OK.

This past Wednesday, they brought some of us in for an office tour – people like me who had started after the office shut down. I got to meet three layers of my management chain, excellent, and some co-workers and see the space. The office part of the office is purely functional, and that’s fine, but the crown jewel is the place where we deliver the training we provide (or did pre-COVID, and will again). Very big fancy training room, with the ability to split in half so two classes can happen at once, and lots of backstage technology and creature comforts for the students and faculty and so on. Very cool, something we are all rightly proud of.


I’ve mentioned before, I have a dear friend who lost both her parents last year, one after the other and has had to deal with two estates, a house two hours south of the city and two extra cars in the face of overwhelming grief and all the COVID shutdowns. I’d gone down to her house twice last year to help her with stuff – this year, now that we’re vaccinated, a mutual friend suggested we go down together. So that happened last weekend.

Susan (the one with the house) had just had a birthday, Renee (the mutual friend) has a big one coming up. So there were a couple of really spectacular meals. And some shopping and exploration. Part of why we were there was just to reconnect with each other and help each other process – all three of us had lost a parent last year. So there were lots of really good discussions over coffee, or cosmos, or food or whatever.

But we did actual work too. There was some really heavy awkward bulky stuff up in the attic, and we got that down – one up in the attic, one on the floor, one on the fold-out stairs. And then we took an old particle-board kitchen cabinet/hutch thing out to the backyard and just hammered and crowbarred it into little bits, which was cathartic. We also spent some time cataloguing and bagging up clothes from both parents. Renee got some of Susan’s mom’s stuff – I got a nice leather jacket and a camelhair coat from her dad. I also co-opted all the unclaimed hats, gloves and scarves to donate to my charity.

So it was a very successful and delightful trip. The cherry on the sundae is that Renee and I talked about nothing but books for the entire two-hour drive back.


Media consumption: we did see “The Father” the night before the Oscars, it’s excellent. I was not at all surprised or displeased that Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor.

We’ve seen some other movies since then, including “Inherit the Wind”, which I’d never seen all the way through before. And last night, we watched “The Mitchells vs. the Machines”, which is a hoot.

Bookwise, I finished “Artemis” by Andy Weir, which I enjoyed a lot, and have started a history of the D’Oyly Carte company.

m/m-wise, I finished Tal Bauer’s batshit-crazy but very fun Executive Office and Executive Power series, which got more and more over-the-top as far as ‘the world falling apart’, as first the American president and then the Russian president each fall in love (for the first time) with a man. There are submarines and spaceships and weaponized biological agents and spirt journeys and explosions and … they’re insane. I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Harper Fox also dropped the last (I think) of the ‘psychic and his cop boyfriend in Cornwall’ series that I’d read most of a couple of weeks ago, so I tore through that. Wraps it up very nicely. That whole series will need a reread as it involves multiple alternate timelines and can get very confusing.


Ok I have banana bread to bake and calendars to update and a haircut to give (I got mine from an actual barber this past week for the first time in a year, but C doesn’t want to do that yet). And UMGASS’s “Cox & Box/Trial by Jury” to watch. Enjoy the sunshine!

Oh, yeah, this always happens

Ah yes, the return of the anxiety of “why am I tired all the time? Why can’t I concentrate? Why can’t I get anything done”. Followed eventually by the dull realization that this might be connected to “why am I sneezing all the time? Why are my eyes burning? Why are my glasses covered with pollen?”. Yeah, that. Of course I take allergy medication and it works fine, for the most part. But this is the ‘hordes overrunning the battlements’ level of pollen, where it’s time to bring out the big guns (the neti pot) and perhaps even to surrender. The problem is, of course, is that it really gets worse and worse, and longer and longer, every single damn year and I’m not sure what to do about it. C is equally affected, and he refuses to even take Claritin. So.. probably time to order another big box of Kleenex boxes, huh.


Not a lot to report on the life front. In my job, I’ve been co-opted by a new team, somewhat disorganized and I’m trying to figure out not only how to do what they want (build test plans) and how things work at all, but where things are coming from, what the deadlines are and so on. We have all these meetings and I’m like ‘does this thing we’re talking about now relate to the thing we had meetings on yesterday? it all sounds the same’. And the project is unfocussed enough that often the meeting’s stated agenda gets swamped in favor of the crisis du jour.

This sounds like complaining, but no one is seriously upset or bitchy and it’s fine, really, I just need to be more aggressive about saying, ‘wait, what are we talking about? Give me background here…’

It’s also about marketing, and I have never ever been interested in that as a field to concentrate on, but the tech is just yet another flavor of designing workflows and decision trees and that’s actually pretty cool. Anyway, I always hate it when I’m not sure what’s going on, but it just requires overcoming my natural hesitancy to bother people and poke some colleagues to get answers. Again, as always, everyone is perfectly willing to be helpful – I just still need to shake off the residual fear (from my last job) that simply asking a question or the wrong question will bring on the scorn and derision. That’s not this place at all.


I guess there’s a lot of media consumption to report on. We’ve seen some more Oscar-y movies and some others as well. That new Melissa McCarthy movie (Thunder Force) was mostly dumb and sloppy, but had some laughs and a great cast. And we must have watched something a couple of Sundays ago, but i don’t remember what. Last weekend I bit the bullet and signed up for Hulu so we could watch The United States vs. Billie Holiday and Nomadland. I didn’t love the Lady Day movie, although the acting and singing was excellent. I found it hard to believe (although it may be absolutely true) that the FBI targeted her so specifically, almost like a Batman villain. Nomadland is wonderful, although very melancholy. It’s the sort of movie that you’ll think about for a long time, makes you wonder all sorts of things – how does that work? how did they get there? what happens when….? McDormand is excellent as always. I thought the score was a huge part of what’s wonderful about the movie and was surprised it didn’t get an Oscar nom.

I suppose this weekend we’ll probably pay the hefty fee and watch The Father on Saturday and then the Oscars are on Sunday. There are some biggies we haven’t seen yet, but it’s not a big deal.

We’re watching DCI Banks for our British crime drama fix, and mostly like it. It’s set in Leeds, which I’ve been through on a train, and I keep waiting for scenes in Harrogate (there have been one or two, but nothing recognizable). And we’ve really gotten into Kim’s Convenience, which is a pure delight. Often it’s just a silly sitcom, but it also often touches on some really great truths. The cast is great across the board, but Paul Sun-Hyung Lee (the patriarch) is a hoot and a half. (he’s also a bear – rrrowr – which you don’t necessarily see a lot in Asian men) It’s been charming me in a way that feels really special.


Books – I finished the third Jasper Fforde dragonslayer book, which was entertaining with no sticking power, and am now reading Andy Weir’s Artemis. Weir wrote The Martian, which I loved, but I vaguely remember seeing not-good reviews of Artemis. Not sure why, I’m loving it. It feels like a flashback to Heinlein and Varley ‘living on the mooon’ books, which I love, and it’s definitely more of a fun time than a slog to read.

Lots of m/m on the side, of course. I read a book by Tal Bauer, The Night Of, about a presidential assassination and the wild ride to solve the crime and keep the country going as the vice president (now president) and the lead secret service agent fall in love (again). Hugely entertaining. Then I realized that Bauer has a whole series about a completely different fictional president/secret service agent falling in love while they try to keep the world from completely falling apart, and I’m working through that now. It’s even more batshit crazy than the first one and I can’t put it down.


Enjoy the weekend! If all goes to plan, I might be on an ice rink for the first time in over a year. We’ll see how that goes, and whether the knees put up with it.

Waiting for my microchip to connect

C and I got our 2nd Pfizer shots yesterday. Same drill: Uber to the Bronx, a not-bad wait outside in line at Lincoln Hospital (which then became a wait inside). They sort of had two lines, one for 1st and one for 2nd doses. Once inside and through the paperwork, they put us in various lines that made absolutely no sense that I could see. Example: C and I stood in line A, where we were at the back of the line. A medical guy came out and took C. ??? Then I got shown to another line, B. Where I was at the back of the line. And then someone grabbed me. Were they just grabbing the oldest-looking person they saw? Possibly.

We’d both taken the day off in case of side effects, but the only one I had is that I zonked out in my recliner for about an hour and a half. Desiree: “You take afternoon NAPS now!” That could have been equally to the shot, to hay fever or the pizza I had for lunch.

Morning now and still nothing but a sore arm. They had told everyone to drink a lot of water – well, I’ve been hella thirsty, so I guess the body agrees. That also could have been the pizza, or the Chinese food we had for dinner.


Oo, let’s see, what’s been happening? Work’s been pretty low-key, been catching up on a lot of stuff. Downloading unlocked digitized vinyl like no one’s business, such as this one. Will often have thoughts like, “do I have all the Vaughan Williams symphonies?” or “every recording of The Mikado” and go hunting. They do have a lot of operas I don’t have, but the tracks tend to be digitized as large 20-minute chunks, which doesn’t suit my tastes. I get tons of free opera downloads all the time from Opera Depot, so don’t really need to worry about it. Have been grabbing very specific recordings because I’ve heard interesting things about them, like the “Don Giovanni” where Marilyn Horne sings Zerlina.

I also get very caught up in my ‘clean up the metadata on Itunes’ project, particularly with all these new albums coming in. For instance, I downloaded an album of church-type music, and the tracks were mislabelled and I had to do quite a bit of sleuthing to figure out what stuff was. Also running into things like ‘there are two Jean-Baptiste Loeillets’ and multiple Gabrielis and Scarlattis, which have to be looked at. Keeps me out of trouble, I guess.


I’ve been doing a dry April. It’s not hard, but it just makes life a little less delightful. I emailed my neighbor, who did a dry March, and mentioned how weird it was to have a meal at the local Mexican place and not come home buzzing from margaritas. And she said, “The hours of 5 to 9 were long and boring that first two weeks. It made me realize how much I thought of it in terms of I have worked very hard and now I get my reward.” And I was like, THIS THIS THIS.

I’m doing it to see if (a) it kickstarts some weight loss and (b) whether it will help my skin clear up. #TMI So far, no weight loss, but Easter candy and so on… I do have my bike back now, though, and will be starting skating again in a couple of weeks.


Easter happened. C’s on keto still, so didn’t want candy, wanted pistachios. I got him a party tray from nuts.com of six different varieties. I took the opportunity in the same order to get myself two treats. One was mint chocolate malted milk balls, which aren’t as good as they sounded – although I’m still eating them. The other were horehound drops which I thought would be kind of spicy, but didn’t taste like anything, so I tossed them. For Easter dinner, C made rack of lamb, asparagus, artichokes and couscous, with carrot cake cupcakes for dessert. He gave me Ferrero Rochers and cards were exchanged. I also got an Amazon gift card, will have to figure out something extra silly to get with it.


Media consumption: I read and reviewed two different ARCs for a couple of favorite M/M authors, and am waiting for the cliffhanger-resolution book to the ‘psychic and his cop boyfriend in Cornwall’ series I tore through a couple of weeks ago to drop.

Last weekend we watched, not necessarily intentionally, two movies about people taking in unwanted children and then forming a bond with them. One was the Oscar-nominated “News of the World”, with Tom Hanks, which is very good. C said it wasn’t a Western, but it totally is. The other was “Ideal Home”, about a bitchy rich gay couple taking in their grandson, who they’ve never met. The gays (played by Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan) are such awful people it’s borderline offensive, but it’s actually a fun movie and ends very nicely. Rudd, in particular, gives a really delightful performance.

For TV, we saw the four episodes of “Collateral” (eh) and have moved on to “DCI Banks” for our ‘grim crimes in the UK’ slot. We saw all of WandaVision, which C didn’t hate even after it stopped being setups of sitcoms. I didn’t love it, reminded me of why I don’t usually see comic-book movies, but Kathryn Hahn’s performance alone is worth the price of admission.

Movies this weekend: more Oscar stuff (especially if they’ve dropped in price), and probably that new Melissa McCarthy/Octavia Spenser movie that I think just dropped. Speaking of MM, C, who has the TV on all the time during the workday for background noise, has been tuning in to Gilmore Girls reruns, and every time I walk in the room, I’m reminded how much I loved that show and those actors.