The Scattering

So, this is how it’s supposed to work. I’m sitting on my hotel balcony with coffee looking out at the ocean. It’s a little chilly, very cloudy, supposed to rain today, but the al fresco-y setting to sit and write is what I should always have (in my head, anyway) and don’t at home.

Anyway…


We’d had a 3-day weekend to get ready for our trip, so we were pretty much ready to go (I thought). After breakfast and cleanup, I walked to the Avis lot where, once again, they weren’t set up for Preferred people and I had to Wait in Line, but at least this time it moved quickly. The rumors about rental cars being scarce and pricey are true – and it turned out they didn’t have any cars in the class I ordered and had to give me a silver Chrysler 300. Very nice. (driving to Atlantic City, C discovered that it had a sunroof, that was cool)

Found a not-far parking space at home, but far enough that I’d have to go get the car and bring it around to load it. (C’s leg is still effed up, he can barely walk, let alone schlep.) Wasn’t sure the space was entirely legal — depended on whether alternate side of the street parking was suspended, which I was pretty sure it was. Come back home expecting to turn right around as soon as we could get the luggage out the door, and C wasn’t even dressed. ARGH. I very calmly asked him how long it was going to take him to get ready (“oh, a half hour or so’) and then did some checking to make sure my parking space was indeed legal (it was).

You see, The Scattering involved everyone being in Atlantic City at 5:00 pm on a particular dock at the Golden Nugget marina ready to get on a boat. And we were all coming in from different directions. Aunt Joyce from suburban Philly (the easiest), us from NYC, Sam and Dad from Durham (an 8 hour drive) and Tom (Dad’s best friend) from Savannah – flying, probably? But I didn’t want us to be casual about getting down there as soon as we could.

So finally we were ready, and I got all the luggage down to the curb, and went and got the car, and we loaded up and headed out. Drive wasn’t too bad – the Brooklyn/Queens expressway leg, at the beginning of the trip, was the most tedious, but it never came to a complete stop. As always, we hadn’t taken the time to really figure out the car’s audio system, particularly with the phone connected, but I eventually got it playing music and audiobooks, although Google Maps still refuses to talk to us.

We got to the Golden Nugget about 2:00. I’d already gotten texts from Tom that he was there as well, and that Dad and Sam had arrived 10 minutes before we did. (The lady at the registration desk reacted when I said “checking in? Peterson?” with “Eric?” without even looking it up, so I was like “Aha, I see you’ve met my dad.”) Went up to the room on the 20th floor, two doors away from Dad and Sam. Sam had texted – he was taking a nap and Dad and Tom were conferring in Tom’s room. So I went and fetched the luggage, which was harder than it looked (two separate elevator banks – one for the parking garage and one for the hotel, and it took a while to figure out which levels you wanted). Plus it was too much luggage for one trip, but I made one trip anyway because I was determined.

By this time it was almost 3:00 and we hadn’t had lunch, so we went down to the roofside pool, which had a poolside restaurant, and had acceptable (but not at all good) coconut shrimp tacos and caesar salad. Then back to the room (for C) and me to explore. I wanted to talk to the restaurant to adjust our reservation, and also walk the path from the hotel to the dock to see how long it was and how it worked. Once I did that, it was clear that, for C, we were going to need Mom’s wheelchair, which Dad and Sam had brought up with them for our use. So Dad and I met up, went to the parking garage again to get the wheelchair out of the trunk. I kind of had to drag him around because he hadn’t yet twigged how confusing the whole setup was, and doesn’t like to be led. So he was like, ‘wait a minute, which way…” and I was like, “Dad, just follow me, I just went through all of this an hour or so ago.” Turns out they were parked two spaces away from us. Anyway, back with the wheelchair and now it’s like 4:40 and we’re supposed to be at the dock at 5:00 and I haven’t even changed, arrrgh. So I was a prickly bitch from this point on, with no time for anyone’s lollygagging.

“Dad, we’ll meet here outside our rooms in five minutes, ten at most.”

“”Oh, so we’ll see you in the lobby…”

“NO DAD” I point to floor “MEET RIGHT HERE ON THIS SPOT”

“Oh”

So that happens, and meanwhile Tom is calling me because he ‘s waiting for us in the lobby and no one has shown up.

Get C in wheelchair and out the door, quick hellos to Sam and Joyce, hustle hustle hustle everyone to the elevators and thus to the lobby, picking up Tom.

My family: “So… uh… which way…”

Me: THIS WAY EVERYONE I WALKED IT EARLIER

Tom: So did I.

Me (in my head): Tom, I love you.

Me: ALL THE WAY DOWN THAT WAY. NOOOO AAAAAALLL THE WAY DOWN GO GO GO

Sam: Bossy!

Me: Well, we’re late, and you don’t know and I do!


After all that, of course, we got there and Captain Stu still needed 10 more minutes. We confirmed that Dad had the cremains with him, and I pulled out the photo book of Mom that I’d had made and passed that around. And after all that, it really turned out that there wasn’t a time crunch at all and it was a lot faster than I thought it was going to be. We had Captain Stu and Captain Tom and they were both really nice guys.. We were on a little fishing boat called the “T-Wrecks“ that could take about 20 some people, but of course we were only 6+ the two guys. they gave us a little life preserver talk, told us which side would be the “wet side“ as we went out. At some point, Dad pointed out that at least four of us were experienced boat people, so they wrapped up the safety talk a little bit early, and we’re more willing to open up the throttle on the way out.

It in fact got quite choppy when they opened up, and very bouncy, but we were all either under the canopy, or on the benches clinging to something so no one fell overboard. We had a nice time chatting with the guys and with each other, and it really didn’t take all that long to get out to where we needed to get. We needed to be three nautical miles offshore to get to the point where it was legal to cast the ashes, but I hadn’t really had a clear picture of my head of how big that was. It turned out that once we were at the right spot and had anchored, we really were still quite close to Atlantic City, the entire boardwalk shoreline was very visible and right there.

Dad started the ‘ceremony’ with a story of one of their sailing adventures, which had taken place off the coast of AC, essentially right where we were. (Tom had been on that adventure, so they tag-teamed the story). A sudden squall had come up and they actually broke a boom – and it kept going from there. But this led into stories about how brave my mother was, in sailing and in her somewhat-dangerous career, and in life. I shared about how Mom had introduced me to completely-age-inappropriate literature, like detective novels, when I was a kid, because she thought I’d like it and she was right. Sam shared a piece that he had written. Dad read a poem. I sang Finzi’s “Proud Songsters” from Earth and Air and Rain. Capt. Stu read a poem.

He’d also supplied a dozen roses, and we each tossed a handful of ashes in the water along with a rose or two. I think Dad had it in his mind that he’d empty the bag of what was left, but Captain Stu had Charles do it and it wasn’t a big deal. And we were done.

It was short and sweet and lovely. And then we pulled anchor and headed right back. It was great being on the water again, I must say, I can’t remember the last time I had been on a boat that small, and I really enjoyed it. We got back to the dock at seven, way earlier than I thought we would. I’ll have to post a link to Captain Stu’s operation later, because it was really great and I would recommend that for anyone.

We still have an hour until our dinner reservation, but I asked if people wanted to go back to their rooms and freshen up, or whether we wanted to try just to get in right then. People were fine with going in right then, and they were able to seat us, so we all went in, sat, and then immediately went back out again to use the restroom. The Golden Nugget has a couple of nice restaurants, and I had wanted to eat at the Chart House, but it was not open on Tuesday nights. So we ate at Vic and Anthony’s which is a steakhouse, and it turned out to be excellent. Most of us got a filet mignon special that came with spinach and mashed potatoes and chimichurri, and that’s what I had. They were also quite a few people who ordered oysters (yuck), and I had lobster bisque which was amazing. There were some sides of wild mushrooms and potatoes au gratin. Charles and I had cocktails, some had wine. It was a lot of food, but dad and I agree that we should have dessert too. Dad had cheesecake with blueberry sauce, I had the “pecan roll“ which was simply ice cream Rolled in pecans with sauce. You could get caramel ice cream and caramel sauce, but I went with basic vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, and it was simple and perfect.

Sam had left the table early because he and dad had to leave early the next morning. I had been hoping that at least everyone could have breakfast together but as it turned out, the only person available was Joyce. So we made ready to go… And then! The casino had a fire alarm! Alarms going off, recordings of voices asking people to proceed calmly to the nearest exit, etc. The waiters told us that it wasn’t real, don’t worry. But it kept going and when we left the restaurant and went to the elevators, they’d shut them down and we couldn’t go anywhere! And we’re all exhausted and some of us are elderly. So after standing around for a while, Joyce said she needed to sit, and I led everyone over to the nearest lounge. I then excused myself to use the men’s room, then checked on the elevator situation again – ok, everything’s cleared up now. So finally we headed up, made our goodbyes and went to bed. Where C and I slept like the dead we were there to honor.

Putting Paid to Summer

Lots going on, actually.

Two weekends ago (Friday, actually), C and I went up to Beacon, NY to visit our family. Back up, actually, because we’d just been there a month earlier to visit younger niece Allison. But older niece Samantha, with husband and kids and Rusty the dog, were coming in from St. Paul to visit her parents (C’s brother, Richard, and sister-in-law, Dottie) in the Catskills, and the whole crew was coming over to Beacon to visit A. So we came up on the train.

It was a really nice gathering. Allison and her gentleman friend live in half of this funky Victorian house with a view of the Hudson, and we spent most of the day hanging out on the porch, eating snacks and watching the kids play. We eventually moved inside for pizza and cake. There were two cakes presented – one for Rich’s birthday and one for our anniversary! (both in a week, and one day apart).

So that was pretty awesome!


Our actual anniversary was yesterday. We celebrated by going to a really terrific local Italian restaurant, first time since COVID. We got talked into ordering a special for two – lobster and seafood fra diavolo. It was good, but I kinda wish I’d stuck to my original ordering plan. We also had fried calamari and a caesar salad, tiramisu and bread pudding. Then home for gifts. The 7th anniversary is “copper”. He got me a copper heart ornament – it’s a little big for a Christmas tree, maybe hang in a window? I’ll have to figure that out. And three really beautiful roses made out of copper – one has a leaf that says “happy 7th!” I got him a copper bracelet and a copper watering can for the plants. I think he wins, though.


Next week is Mom’s ashes-scattering. I spent a ton of time last weekend reviewing every single damn photo on my hard drive and curating photos for a memorial album, which is being printed and should show up tomorrow. I’m sure I made mistakes and it’s not going to be 100% perfect, but oh well. If it’s super-egregiously bad, I can edit the design and order another one. But I like the flow of the pictures, going from childhood and college to marriage and kids, career, sailing (she adored it), travel (ditto) and retirement.


What else? We finished the 4 seasons of “The Good Doctor” available for streaming (we really like it) and are in the middle of “Mare of Easttown” now. I reread the first two of and then finished John Scalzi’s “Collapsing Empire” trilogy, which I really enjoyed.

Work is very busy, because I have a lot of testing that needs to happen before I leave on vacation, plus we got a new QA person who I’m training. That part is excellent, because I’ve been doing the QA up to this point, and getting her up to speed means I can concentrate on the job I was actually trained for. We’re going to be “returning to the office” the week after Labor Day, but that’s really only going to be (a yet-to-be-determined) one day a week, and I’ve been doing that anyway.

I’ve been practicing horn for the first time in a year – I’m playing the first QUO concert in October. Notable because we’re doing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and despite it being one of the most famous classical music pieces in the repertoire, I’ve never played it before! It will be fun, I think. Tricky to count, just like the 3rd was, but not as challenging (also, I’m not playing 1st this time). We’re also doing Jennifer Higdon’s “Fanfare Ritmico”, and that part looks pretty tough – I haven’t delved into it yet. Our first rehearsal was supposed to be tonight, but it’s been cancelled due to residual hurricane. I think we’re doing to do some sort of sectional on Zoom… that should be a learning experience in all senses of the word.

My rescue baritone is still in the shop – I’ll probably go get it on Friday, when it stops raining. The guys at the shop thought that it wasn’t a good instrument and not worth throwing money at, but I do at least want to get a case for it – gotta be stored in something, and it deserves more than a duffel bag and being wrapped in junk towels.


I was very sorry to learn yesterday of the passing of Bruce Dworkin. If you’re a “Will & Grace” fan, he’s the guy who offered Will a light beer at the hockey game – and he’d pop up in guest spots on other TV shows, including memorably on “Norm” as a recovering necrophiliac. (!!!) I first saw him as Hajj in Wildwood Summer Theater’s 1983 “Kismet” (one of the orchestra members was the daughter of a guy I worked with at my summer job). I decided to audition for Wildwood’s “Applause” the next year – Bruce directed it. And then I ended up as music director of 1985’s “Fiddler”, and Bruce was an excellent Tevye. (One of the reviews pointed out that, despite his age – all Wildwood folks are under 25 – Bruce was one of the best Tevyes he’d ever seen.) Bruce was larger-than-life, extremely talented and very funny. He will be missed by all of us.

Summer proceeds apace

Apace of what, I wonder?

Hmmm, been a while. What’s been going on?

Work has been busy, and there’s definitely some imposter syndrome going on, but I hit my first year anniversary this week and then got some very validating news, so that makes me super happy. We’re going to be ‘back to the office’ starting mid-September, but that’s really only going to be one day a week, not sure which day yet, and i’ve kind of been doing that anyway.

Our current setup to work from home is to remote/vpn into our workstation at the office, and that works fine, except I haven’t figured out how to get the remote session to work over two monitors. However, they are replacing the desktop workstations with laptops, and have been handing out new equipment. So not only do I have a very handsome new laptop, they sent me a gigantic monitor without asking. So now I have two gigantic monitors, it’s a nice setup. (but I also had webcam problems all week and finally gave up and ordered a new one)

Also, most people spend time to carefully curate their web conference background (or use a fake one), but I don’t and it’s kind of a cheerful mess at my back. We use MS Teams and Zoom interchangeably and Teams let you blur the background, which is great, but Zoom does not, not sure why. I don’t need my teammates focusing on the kleenex box or the knitting basket or whatever over my shoulder.


C continues to have problems with his leg, which is really getting in the way. He’s had a series of tests (and has more coming), but no diagnosis yet. It’s very frustrating, for both of us really.

I had my two-month followup for the broken collarbone – it’s not healed yet, but healing just fine and my mobility is good. I continue to ‘listen’ to it, in that I don’t worry about protecting it particularly, but if I go to pick up something heavy, or move in a certain way and there’s pain, I’ll just stop and go in a different direction. One more followup in a couple more months and that will be done, I hope.


I’ve put in some time and TLC on my new horn, which I’ve been referring to as the ‘rescue baritone’. It’s now at a point where I need to bring it to the shop – the third valve has gunk on it, which makes it stick, and the main tuning slide is completely stuck. So I’ll bring it to the local repair guy to fix those things and get it evaluated and also to buy a case and a mouthpiece. This will run some bucks, but I actually have a saved stash for exactly this sort of thing. (I’d vaguely targeted it to get my bassoon overhauled, but that can wait.) Once it’s really playable, I’ll post a video – and make plans to hit at least one Tuba Christmas this fall.

I haven’t been keeping up with the media consumption tracking. We are really enjoying “The Good Doctor”, and have seen some of “Hacks”. Oh, we watched a movie (“the Vault”) with Freddie Highmore last week, where he also plays a super-bright young man, although not autistic and not American. Movie was boring, though. And I think we saw something before that… argh, guess it wasn’t memorable. We watched some Olympics, of course. I really want to get set up next time (next year, wow, for Winter Olympics) with some sort of streaming service or whatever that you can really watch an event with all the competitors, in order.

Looking forward to things coming up. Another trip to Beacon next Friday, and then the Labor Day week trip to scatter Mom’s ashes (and then go to the beach). I’m going to put together one of those printed photo books to pass around on the boat, I think, need to get that done soon. I also want to sing something, and need to get that ready too. (I guarantee you that no one in my family is anxious to have me perform at this thing, but I would like to. It will be short.) Then 40th high school reunion in early October and then visiting Dad and Sam for Thanksgiving, we think.


In general, I’ve been really happy, and I think I’ve mostly come out of the years-long funk of the Trump administration, professional setbacks and so on. I’m sort of suspicious, actually, it feels almost like tending towards the manic side of a very slow manic-depressive cycle. and I know from vast experience that the happier and more confident I get, the cockier I get as well, and that can bring out an assholish side of me I’d rather keep squelched. So I need to keep an eye on that.

And I think I’m getting to a point where not only am I ready to deal with my weight problem, I kind of have to. So there’s that.

Feel like I’m missing stuff, but honestly, that would be just an impetus to blog more, and I should.

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!