Friday, September 22, 2017

Irmapocolypse and its Aftermath

I'll be the first to admit to some post-Irma-traumatic-hysteria.  But before I get to that I want to address the pre-Irma-hysteria that occurred prior to the largest, most powerful Atlantic storm on record. I would say that a lot of it was ginned up by the Mass Social Media Hysteria Complex that exists in this country.

My corporate headquarters is in a quaint office park squeezed between the Everglades, some mcmansions and a golf course in northwest Broward county.  Several of my co-workers,  who had never been in a hurricane before basically broke down in tears....on Tuesday....almost 5 days before the storm....more than 35 miles from the coast.  It's like somebody told them they had 5 days to live. I blame the Mass Social Media Hysteria Complex that exists in this country.  If you are so so hysterical that you can't find a rock to hide under, a tank of gas, a couple of gallons of water and five days of junk food, five days before a storm you really need to move to Brazil where there are basically no natural disasters.

By Wednesday the hysteria was peaked that people were hauling ass to South Carolina, I had a friend flee to Missouri. Driving 20 hours to be "safe".  If you need to drive 20 hours away you could just as well find a shelter and spend 40 hours there...I mean 20 hours driving in a car and 20 hours back or sitting in a high school gymnasium is about the same level of discomfort.  Of course well heeled evacuees could always stay in of thousands of hotels that exist in the Orlando area. But hey, the media said that this was basically an Irmapocolypse so yeah, get the fuck out while you can. 

As usual the Mass Social Media Hysteria Complex got a lot of it wrong. Storm was a category 3, which while bad, is not "flee to Missouri" bad. I've been to St. Louis and upon reflection, a high school gymnasium with cots doesn't seem so bad. Most Native Floridians would settle in for a gathering of friends in a safe house and get drunk for a cat 3 storm because sobriety is not necessary for the big bad cat 3 storm blowing palm fronds against your lanai and screened in pool.

The Aftermath.  As with any apocalypse, the Irmapocalypse is about getting back to normal. I'm not ashamed to say that two nights in September without power is my limit.  Tears and wishing for death crossed my mind as the humidity pressed on me throughout the day and night.  Endless showering and changes of underwear. The inability to wash clothes, cook food, have a cold rum and coke finally broke me. In my delirium I evacuated to a  friend's luxury condo on South Beach that had electricity and A/C but no internet.

Internet/Cable deprivation syndrome.  I realize the whole system is rigged, we are force dependent on our cable companies and internet service providers. I actually have an HD antenna hooked up to my TV.   The signal was pretty crappy and it made me rethink my commitment to PBS since that was the only signal that has a very sad show lineup. Masterpiece Theater is nothing without Downton Abbey. My internet is connected to core functions of my home: A/C, security system, entertainment, porn.  All almost unavailable without an internet signal.  Thank god for my mobile phone, but even that had some spotty connections and even delayed my cries for pity on Facebook. 

But all is good again and lessons learned will soon be forgot. The Irmapocolypse is now just two weeks of our lives that reminds us of the price of living in paradise. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Nazis? Really, Nazis. In pressed polo shirts.

I grew up in a time where Nazis were Sergeant Shultz and Colonel Klink, bumbling fools being hoodwinked by American POWs.  Everyday after school we'd watch Hogan's Heroes and the Rat Patrol and watch American's outsmart the Nazis every time. On PBS there were endless documentaries about WWII and the different offensives.  The documentaries about the sieges of St. Petersburg and Stalingrad showed civilian populations reduced to eating wallpaper glue. On the big screen we could watch Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List and understand that in popular culture Nazis were both dim and evil.

What changed? When did it become cool for Nazis, KKK and white supremacists to just show up, faces exposed?  How can the president of ALL Americans say there were "many fine people on both sides?" attending. One side was Nazis fascists and KKK.   Sadly, a tiki torch, a very gay haircut, and a new polo shirt is now the "look" for fascists these days. 

Trump's full throated defense of the "alt right" to the point of creating a new enemy "alt left" (where do I sign up?) is deeply, deeply troubling.  Yet at the same time he reminds me of the sweet bumbling Sergeant Schultz, who was so easily swayed by whomever was standing closest to him, and the exasperated Colonel Klink who would gesticulated in anger at being hoodwinked by the Allies at every turn.

What the president has done has given ambiguity to the White Nationalist cause.  That in those rallies there could be "good people" who have a legitimate beef with immigrants and people of color.  He has created a door into public discourse for ethno-nationalism. We used to think of Nazis as the "bad guys" in  Hogan's Heroes under this president they're not "bad" they're actually victims too.
Let's just reaffirm: Nazis are bad. Fascists are bad. Racists are bad.  There are no "fine people" on their side. None. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Hello, My Name Is "LIBERAL" and I'm a Trump addict. It's been 20 minutes since my last fix.

I love watching Russian dashcam videos on YouTube.  I mean if ever there was a metaphor for this White House it is Russian dashcam videos.  You're watching people chatting in their car driving on a stretch of road and BOOM out of nowhere a truck, a Range Rover, a bear, a stroller, or another car careens across the road. Sometimes you can see the bodies flung outside the car just like  Reince Preibus being cast out of the White House. It's not pretty, but it sure is mesmerizing.  They are also a good metaphor because each clip is short, cruel and really unexpected.  Yet there is a detachment, knowing this is happening in a far off place and knowing that type of driving is just not so commonplace in America.  

Every night I rush home to watch the "Trump Reality Show".  I once watched a Spanish language telenovela before DVRs were invented. My husband and I would run home every night to be sure we didn't miss an episode. Every episode seemed like a little cliffhanger, pushing the plot further. The storyline moved incrementally with the requisite drama, theatrics, and plenty of emoting.   I swear this is what I see on MSNBC and other news outlets every night.  

My brain in its wish to see the end of this administration, is now ironically addicted to this it. Just when things were starting to get tedious,(come on Mueller, get this done already!) Anthony "the Mooch" Scaramucci, THE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT, uses the terms: fuck, cock sucker, suck his own cock and go fuck themselves in HIS FIRST INTERVIEW!  My neurons are completely and totally growing dependent on this kind of vitriol.  It's like Dynasty meets Dallas meets Face The Nation meets The Apprentice. I am getting an endorphin rush thinking about all the possible combinations of infighting and possible random occurrences that happen on the Trump show.  It's like that polar bear in the first season of Lost....very random, did we ever see it again? Of course Lost was very random, but then again so is Carter Page. 

So do I want to go back to the quaint old days of  just "ramming health care down our throats"? To the staid days where a scandal meant being on a Washington madam's client list, which  happened maybe once or twice in an administration?  Or the daily cerebral wash of endorphins I get when another Republican literally cannibalizes another?  Can I go back to the days of Chuck Todd opining on "government shut-downs", which seems almost quaint in comparison to "The Mooch" saying "he doesn't stab in the back, he stabs you in the front."  My Trump addicted physical body says: "yes, just one more hit, it'll be a quick high."  However, like any addiction, my spirit and psyche knows that this addiction, like any other, will leave a broken shell that will need a whole lot more than a 12 step program to fix.

"Hello my name is ___________ and I'm a Trump addict."

Monday, July 17, 2017

When the Spouse is Away for a Long Assignment OR Why Are There Clothes All Over The Floor?

Honey, but my career...
So my hubby recently accepted a four month assignment in Brazil.  We both agreed it was something we could do and it felt that it would give his career the boost it needed.  What I didn't anticipate were some of the challenges of being on my own again.  So we've lived this shared life for over 20  years, and roles, responsibilities, friendships and rituals are all kind of baked in.  So having to tease all of that out and figure out what I need to do to get on with the business of life is a challenge.

Well, they're not going to pick up themselves!
"What the hell are all of these clothes doing all over the house?"After my hubby left, I found myself tripping over socks, workout clothes, shoes, pizza boxes and such.  I was thinking: geez a real pig lives here and the person who normally picks up all this shit must have a lot of patience. And then it hits me: picking up shit must by synonymous with loving me.  So for the last week, I've done some self love and picked up and maintained the house until the housekeeper comes back on Tuesday. 

All of "our" friends are having such a great time going to parties and having dinners....and not inviting me. Social Media betrays all bias in friendships. They probably sit around reading my hubby's Facebook feed and and look at all the cool friends he's meeting in Brazil, who will also ignore me when he's not around. If this sounds bitter.....well okay. You realize, that in several relationships, people really only put up with you to hang out with your husband. They must have the same conversation you have with your spouse "My friend is such fun, pity he made such a poor choice in a spouse."  

Dogs are awesome!
Your dog is really your best friend. Who had a Sushi dinner with me on Saturday? My dog.  Who had a hip gay brunch with me on Sunday? My dog.  Who is sleeping in my bed now? My dog.  Never in my life have I realized, that canine affection can be the sole thing keeping us happy and well balanced. How welcome the touch of a cold nose to the back my knee is. The sheer joy of a barked greeting when I walk in the door can mean so much. 

With technology you never really need to get up off the sofa. I leave my door unlocked and tell the Ubereats guy I'm disabled, and needs to actually come into the house to the sofa.  Through Ubereats I  can choose just about any food I want, and not really move. Internet at my fingertips, remote controls, Alexa all work in concert to keep me on the sofa for as long a stretch as possible....there's even a new dog walking app.....but hey...there are limits. 
Big Mac, fries, large coke

So to summarize, being home alone without your significant other basically sucks.  Technology, domesticated animals, and self discipline take out the sting, but at the end of the day my spouse is my best friend, comrade, confidant and workout partner.  Life feels pretty dull without him.

Monday, June 26, 2017

When Pride Intersects with Fear.

So let's say hypothetically I have a good friend in the security business.  He is privy to lots of information, let's say he calls me and says "hey, I've heard some chatter and that giant gay mega-Pride you're going to in Madrid is a target, be careful".  What are you going to do? Cancel your European vacation?, Stay away from the event? Or go anyway and take your chances? 

So as gay men and women what do we do?  I mean I'm still a part of a generation that remembers police raids on gay bars and massive arrests for no reason other than hanging out with our friends.  I can remember an underground world of parties that were spread by word of mouth in secret locations for fear the authorities would descend and ruin lives for simply wanting to be with your own kind. I remember being threatened by a police officer to "pay the fine, or we'll put your name in the newspaper."(I didn't.) 

I am still part of a generation where government inaction and homophobic prejudice led to the death of 500,000 gay men from a pretty horrible disease. A generation of people who had to hide their relationships from the world for fear of eviction, shunning or public shame. 

I also come from a community that overcame each and every one of those battles so I could marry the man I love, live a life of prosperity and face my community with dignity.  I fully hope the "chatter" is not true, that all the gay pride events continue to be safe, fun and meaningful.  I believe in the western ideals of democracy, of equality for all individuals and freedom of expression.  I believe in this because I have fought for it in court, at the ballot box, in the streets, in the dying rooms of hospitals.  I will not let events like what happened at Pulse nightclub last year stop me from celebrating my hard won freedoms.

So I'm going to celebrate my victories at International Gay Pride in Madrid.  I can only hope the security services are there to protect my right to assemble, to speak out, to be a citizen of a great western democracy and understand we cannot be afraid of "chatter".  We can not bow down to fear. Why? because I come from a generation of gay men where fear was worn like a very comfortable coat that hung in a very dark closet. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

What Father's Day Means for a Gay Dad

Parenting was never a goal or dream I set out for.   I don't think it was because I was gay or anything, I just didn't really feel any desire to procreate or extend the species. Being the middle son of three battling boys, I didn't feel the need to replicate the general emotional and property damage propagated by kids.  However, fate had a different idea and 21 years ago gave me a wonderful single dad who in turn gave me the opportunity of fatherhood.

So today I'd like to thank that man who gave me the opportunity to raise his son as my own. I still remember the romantic date where he dropped the bomb about being a father....a single one at that....and that choice I had to make about dating a someone who was already a parent, and by extension possibly making me one too.  I was young at the time, already working in a field with kids, so I blithely accepted the opportunity to be one of the men who would raise his six year old son.

So being with a father and by extension being trained to be one was interesting and exciting and somehow natural. Earning "parent" status from father and son was one of those roles that you both take and earn.  Just like the evolution from boyfriend to life partner and finally husband, little by little you wake up and realize you're "Dad" and no matter what happens, you know it's your title forever. 

As I learned to be a father, I learned to fight for my role, because or myself or others who are so quick to deny status to a "step parent" or "co-parent". My own reticence to explain who I was in scheme of things. Like being at the pediatrician and saying I was an "uncle" because I didn't want to explain the awkward "no I'm a gay dad" and having been chastised by my eight year old son to say "Why didn't you tell him you were my Dad!!!!"  After that, I said unequivocally to anyone who asked who I was, I'd say: "I'm his father" and I was secure and certain in that role. It was that certainty that made me understand that at last I was an adult and for a long time this boy became the center of my life, to the exclusion of many of my own wants or desires. 

From the gay man's perspective, raising a son made me chafe at the female chauvinism that "only a mother can raise a child", which is just as damaging to the kid who doesn't get to chose his parents, to the parent who is doing the best they can with cards they are dealt.  Secondly, it made me angry at "allies" who still to this day refer to gay men as "boys" because  of  their childless lifestyles. Kids are not in the cards for everyone and it is not a comment on their maturity because children are amazingly expensive for childless couples regardless of sexual identity. 

So to my son, thank you for letting me your dad, you have made me proud beyond measure and my life without you would have been poorer for not having you in it.  To my husband, you taught me to be the father and man I am today. I am so lucky to have these two wonderful men in my life who make me so proud of them and how they helped me be a better person and even a better Gay.  Happy Fathers Day!

Monday, June 5, 2017

LGBT Athletes Take A Backseat at Outgames, Scandal and Cultural Events Dominate

IGLA Championships in Miami

So perusing social media and media in general, coverage of last week's "failed" Outgames was limited to scandal, scandal, and a few short paragraphs about a LGBT swim meet and fawning of the cultural events that accompanied the sports.  The Miami Herald's coverage was particularly dismal and pretty clear that had no scandal occurred, there would have been no coverage whatsoever. Same can be said for local gay media.  Which is a shame because it was the 30th Anniversary of International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics, an organization dedicated to elevating LGBT swimmers and ensuring that gay and lesbian swimmers are respected for all of their accomplishments in the water. Outgames are about competing with dignity, about fighting homophobia in sports. 

It was a real shocker when Outgames cancelled on the opening day of the 10 day sporting event. Naturally, being funded by the City of Miami Beach, a scandal ensued, especially since thousands of athletes had already arrived and were told that their events were cancelled.  Rightfully, media pounced on the ensuing scandal and began coverage.

What was clear to me however, is the local media, gay or otherwise, had no intention of covering the sporting events at all. Sadly, it was clear that no reporters were going to cover swimming, field hockey, soccer or volleyball. It was clear that our "LGBT special correspondent" Steve Rothaus was unable to leverage a single line from the Miami Herald's sports desk, not one photographer to take some shots of athletes doing amazing things, even breaking records!  

From an LGBT athlete's perspective it's more of the same homophobia.  Sports is the one place that is still not welcoming to LGBT community, to the point that we have constructed parallel organizations that let us compete in safety, with dignity.  The homophobia that reigned in the locker rooms of our youth, extends to the gay community denigrating sports in general. Secondly, the messages sent to athletes in the closet are loud and clear, don't expect much support from the LGBT community either. 

I want to say that Miami's  LGBT swim team, The Nadadores, and water polo team,The Miami Vice, distinguished themselves in the water and on the pool deck. Hosting the largest swimming event in Miami in years, over 600 swimmers from 36 countries. Volunteers stepped up with the collapse of the Outgames and helped show how amazing Miami is.  The Swedish team , Dolphins SwimClub, set a new Swedish national record for their medley relay.   All of this happened in Miami and Gay Miamians should be proud of it. It 's a story that should be told. 

Miami Vice Polo Team, 5th place out of 20 teams at IGLA event

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Last Year of This Blog

So next year will begin the "Miami After 50 Blog" but before we go there I have a year to wind down my 40th decade.  I haven't been blogging lately because my mind has been clouded with election fever, followed by election depression, political withdrawal, grief, anger.....and hopefully acceptance and adaptation to new political circumstances.  That being said, this is not a political blog and I want to spare you more of that.

I also stopped writing over personal attacks on my phone and email about disclosing my HIV status in this blog. Apparently reaching almost 50, being happy, healthy, married and affluent was too much for some very sick individuals who anonymously sent several nasty texts to my phone.  Fun is my driving force, and anonymous texts at late hours make you think twice about what you write down.  

So I'm back at it again just wrapping up some things and topics in my last year of my 40s.  Things I've learned, things I've observed and hopefully give everyone a chuckle later on.  So here are some topics that you'll being hearing about over the course of the next few months:

We are going to discuss plastic surgery. Complete overhaul or just a nip and tuck?

 Exercise and the proliferation of yoga pants.....I love them. 

I work with Millennials now.....why do they keep food in their cubicles and not in the kitchen? and so many other questions....

Is 50 the new 40? 

Did I become my Mother/Father? Is there still time?

Why did my friends all plan to retire at 52 together, but didn't include me?

Is owning two dogs a slippery slope towards animal hoarding?

Of course I'll continue extol and shout about this great city both in joy and frustration! This and many other topics I'll explore in this blog over the coming year. Keep your eyes on this page.