29 April 2009

One identity of many

There's something to being out and proud. I thought I was, mostly. Then I started watching these vlogs I mentioned yesterday: Brunch With Bridget.

Bridget McManus takes out and proud all the way. In the first episode of Brunch With Bridget that I watched, she said:
We're just trying to make things better. I never, I don't want someone in twenty years still freaking out about telling their parents they're gay. There is nothing wrong with being gay. Being gay is awesome. It's the best part of my life, so it's makes me so sad when I get these young people writing me on MySpace about, like, "I don't know how to come out. They're going to be so disappointed." Why should people be disappointed when myself and Jill and all the vloggers at AfterEllen and all these wonderful women in Hollywood and all over the world are proud of who they are? It's just infuriating. So, love each other ladies.
[Damn, Bridget talks fast when she's passionate about her subject.]

So, the thing. A few things actually. All my friends know I'm bi (or feel certain I'm a lesbian, another story that), and I'm out on the blog though it only comes up in stray posts. My family, for practical purposes, does not know. (Unless they've found the blog. Hello!)

In my defense, I tried to come out to them back in grad school. I made a film about a bi woman coming to grips with her sexuality and invited my parents, brother and his wife down for Thanksgiving dinner while I was still living with my ex-fiancee as friends. I figured I'd show them the film and that would lead to discussion and, "Yes, I'm bi."

They watched it and didn't say anything when it was done. I asked them what they thought and they said, "It was good." The following day, my mom made a point of saying she thought my actors were really good. And that was it. Their non-reaction put me completely off my game. Given my past outspoken liberality, it was possible they thought that I made a film with gay characters just for the heck of it.

On the flip side, when the school had its end of semester screening, I effectively came out to that entire packed auditorium. OK, I can't be certain everyone made that assumption, but all my classmates who didn't already know did, as well as professors, actors, and people in administration. It was kind of a big deal for me. It was new to me to have that information be public in that way, particularly to people I didn't like. I didn't have any problems with anyone because of it (well, except for some location issues with the film even though it was totally PG. I was after all in the South.).

A bi friend of mine from undergrad told me my family did know, they just didn't say anything. Also possible, but inconvenient. Of course, a year or so later, I was home for a funeral and my brother made a comment wondering why my roommate (aka ex-fiancee) had moved to Florida. I was so surprised that he was that clueless. "Because I was there," I said, with sarcasm and without thinking. I still don't think he got it, though I think his wife did, maybe.

Why don't I just say something then? It has long been my opinion that if you make a big deal out of something, it becomes a big deal. My sexuality is just one aspect of my persona, not an overriding influence on every decision. Besides, I'm not the sort of person who talks about boys to my family either.

But... while writing this, it occurred to me that I'm away from all my friends who know right now while being close to my parents who don't. There have been times I changed my behavior, e.g., didn't say something that I would've in other company, constrained my voice. Why?

For the record, I'm not worried about disappointing my family. I don't want them to disappoint me. For now, there are practical considerations which must be taken into account.

However, the Brunch With Bridget vlogs--as silly as they tend to be--have sparked a desire to be a better version of myself, to have a different, more fulfilling life. So no more internal gay editing, insomuch as I'm able to control my own brain. I know I've already made much progress on this front but there's further to go. Right now, I can say the gay-themed DVDs will stay wherever they are no matter who visits. I didn't move them when my brother's family was up for Christmas, but I did think about it way too much. No more!

A year ago on TTaT: No more state dropdowns!

28 April 2009

Best DVR frak-up to date

So I've started watching The L Word regularly. I know, just two months ago, I scoffed at the idea, but I've mostly come around. I say 'mostly' because I still prefer to watch it from a recording so I can fast-forward through certain dramas.

Last week, however, the ending got clipped off. LOGO shows it a bunch of times during the week, so I set my DVR to run for an extra five minutes or so after 2 AM Friday night/Saturday morning.

This time the network seemed to clip the ending a hair early skipping the end credits entirely. Immediately following, there were two women in bed talking. I figured it was a promotional bump for the network and wasn't paying too much attention until I recognized one of the voices, an English accent. Her hair was lighter, shorter, and straighter than what I'd seen her in recently--a show she plays with an American accent--so it took me a minute to place. And then I had it: Lena Headey.

And then the interview abruptly stopped because my recording ran out. I rewound to figure out what the show was but its intro had been clipped as well. A little web hunting revealed that the show is actually a vlog called Brunch With Bridget.

The Lena Headey episode wasn't online yet (now here), so I checked out this one:

Brunch With Bridget episode 13

And I was hooked. I've seen several episodes now, starting from the beginning, and they've all made me laugh hard. The host Bridget McManus is a comedian and lesbian who is funny, proud, stunning, and an enthusiastic supporter of her guests.

There are moments when in response to something her guest has said that her face has the greatest look of surprise or mock-shock; I can't help but grin. I am undeniably captivated.

What I didn't expect from watching Brunch With Bridget is how much it would lure contemplation of my own sense of identity to the fore.

More on that later.

For now, go check out the lovely Bridget McManus and Brunch With Bridget. (After work probably preferable.)

3 years ago on TTaT: The beast, And another thing or two...

Tags: ,

25 April 2009

Record breaking

84 degrees here today breaking the 1942 record high of 78. In the same month we'd had snow no less. Pretty sure that's a first for me without travel.

A year ago on TTaT: National Day of Silence

24 April 2009

Out looking for distraction

I mailed a couple bill payments and then stopped by the store with the friendly owner looking for distraction. The store had been rearranged some since I'd last been in 5 months ago. I'd stopped by in February but it was closed. This time the door was wide open to let in the lovely, sunny low 60s air.

A blonde with thick, short, straight hair was behind the counter in its new position. Not who I was looking for as far as I could recall. A few 12ish year old girls, a younger boy, and presumably a mother were spiraling around various displays. The girls discussed what to buy next with enthusiasm.

I gave the store a cursory survey with an eye for Mother's Day options and postcards. None of the lawn sculptures grabbed me and the handmade jewelry was sure to be more expensive than I could swing. There was a small rack of art postcards for the area but they were $2 each, a bit pricey for an excuse to visit.

As I walked out the door, the blonde said, "Thanks for stopping by."

"Thanks," I said.

I stopped by my car and picked up the books for the library. As I approached the building on foot, I noticed the head of the library exiting a side door. He walked down the ramp towards the sidewalk and I was relieved when he veered off without seeing me.

I paused in the foyer scanning notices while getting a glimpse of who was working the desk. It was someone I knew.

As I stepped up, she said, "Well, hello, madame."

"Hey." I handed her the bag of books with the note. There was a brief moment of eye contact, but I broke it off. Usually I would stay and chat for a few minutes, but I didn't want to explain what's been going on with my brother. I don't know anything definitive at this point anyway. "See ya," I said.

"Bye, Claire."

As I stepped back into the foyer, I heard the cute guy who works there emerge from the back office. Oh well, I thought to myself.

On my way back to my car, I picked up lottery tickets and walked the long way through town. As I turned into the parking lot where the store I'd visited was, I saw the blonde clerk sitting on the front steps with a glamorous (at least from 30+ feet) brunette wearing a great white and blue geometric dress--quite likely the owner I'd been hoping to chat with. They were talking and enjoying the sun.

If I'd parked in that lot, I would've been in proximity to exchange hellos with them, but I'd actually consciously decided not to park there for reasons that no longer made any sense to me.

I cut across the far side of the lot to get to the one with my car. I just didn't have it in me to walk over and interrupt them to say hi.

By the time it occurred to me that I could compliment the dress wearer, I was a few feet from my car and it would've required a hugely obvious backtracking.

So now--amongst other things--I could use some distraction from my social ineptitude.

A year ago on TTaT: You don't know sweet, McD

20 April 2009

So this is you being 'helpful'?

I was online doing some banking when the phone rang. I considered ignoring it but it was 7:43 pm and I had shows to watch starting at 8. If I didn't answer, they'd probably just call back during my shows.

I walked into the next room to grab the phone and saw that it was my parents calling.


"Hey, honey," Mom said. Then she started sobbing, "I just thought I'd call to give you an update. Your brother has been thinking about his mortality a lot."

My heart dropped to my stomach and I wondered if I needed to get on a plane.

Still sobbing, Mom went on about guardianship for my niece in case anything happened to both my brother and his wife. Mom said she wanted to forewarn me that he was probably going to call to ask me.

Time ticked by as she talked and I tried to read a disclosure agreement so my banking window wouldn't time out. She still had yet to update me on his condition.

When she finally paused from crying and talking, I said, "So he's all right then?"

"No, he feels really terrible." She sounded surprised. "He has pneumonia and is going to have to stay in the hospital three or four more days. He's really not happy about that."

"But he's going to be OK?"

"It's going to take time for him to recover, but yeah, he should be fine."

"'Cuz you made it sound like he was going to die tomorrow."

Somehow this had not occurred to her.

"I just wanted to forewarn you that he's going to call about guardianship. I didn't want you to get hit out of the blue."

"Yeah, thanks. This has been so helpful: you in tears telling me my brother's thinking about his mortality. So much better than getting 'hit out of the blue.'" The sarcasm needle maxed out the gauge and broke it.

"You know how I am."

I did. She tears up at the most inconsequential things at times with no warning. If something actually seems legitimate, forget it: there's no stopping that wave.

She apologized and later Dad sent me an email apologizing again. He'd heard her side of the conversation and said it sounded pretty scary. What the fuck, dude? Take the phone out of the sobbing woman's hands next time.


Not TB, huzzah

Just a nasty chest infection for my bro so far as I know at this point. He's been out of isolation a couple days though and may get to go home today.

A year ago on TTaT: And now some quiet time; Damn you, Fluff!

15 April 2009

All in the details

My brother's lost thirty pounds and they have him in an isolation room. My parents had to put on hoods with fans in them to see him, but they said he sounded better than yesterday.

Up next, about the sixth test to rule out TB. (Or it has been ruled out and they're looking for something else. Got 2 phone calls and mixed messages this evening.) This time a bronchioscopy: a camera on a tube shoved down his gullet to look at his lungs or some such. Ouch.

If I were in the hospital, I'd be hip to the isolation, but my bro's a social guy, so I'm sure it's wearing on him. Healthy thoughts, my boy, healthy thoughts from me to you.

Where is my compassion?

The title's been in my head a few days, and yet I've been reluctant to write. Fuck it.

Last week, my mom told me that my brother's x-ray during the course of his physical showed a spot on his lung. I said, "Figures." I was more surprised that his physical actually included an x-ray.

For over two decades, I chided, scoffed, informed, berated, and cajoled my brother to quit smoking. Even I got tired of doing it though, so for the last few years, I'd just say, "You know that's bad for you, right?" from time to time. He and his wife did quit when she was pregnant, although I gather he didn't completely. I was so disappointed when I heard that telltale inhale over the phone sometime after my niece was born five plus years ago. That sound is such a dead-fucking-giveaway, and he didn't deny it when I called him out for it.

When they were up for Christmas a few months ago, he and his wife were both taking medication to quit, and haven't been smoking since. I can't claim any influence on them finally making that decision.

Anyway... my brother's doctor said he has an abscess on his lung and set an appointment for him to see a specialist this past Monday. I was expecting worse frankly.

Getting home after dinner on Monday, there was a message on the machine from my sister-in-law. The specialist told my brother to check into the hospital. They don't know anything. They're going to run more tests. She was barely able to say all this without seriously busting into tears, and all I could think was: Pull it together. You've got a five year old. They don't even know anything yet.

She's been hospitalized for asthma related stuff before. She needs to chill the fuck out until they know something.

This is when I started really pondering, where is my compassion?

Mom chalks up everything between us to sibling rivalry, but for me, that has so little if anything to do with it. There'a a lot of unseen history from her perspective, and I have no plans to explain.

My parents are driving down as I type. They were going to visit family anyway, a trip I'd already declined to join; they just left a few days earlier. I'm holding down the fort, waiting for third hand news.

Last night, I asked myself, in spite of everything, what would I hope to get from him under similar circumstances? Even if I don't feel like he's there for me, if I'm not there for him, I'm no better. I drew him a get well soon card and wrote: Let me know if there's anything I can do to help. Love, Claire

A year ago on TTaT: Let the wild rumpus start

14 April 2009

To sum up

bear MWS
BearWatch '09:
49 photos
shot in 2 minutes 51 seconds

BearWatch '08:
33 photos
shot in 3 minutes 2 seconds

I'm getting better at this. Now I just need a longer lens.

4 years ago on TTaT: tip du jour-how to obtain a free credit report

13 April 2009

The moment I've been waiting for

After doing a sequence of no-crunch exercises designed to flatten the stomach, I was still feeling motivated so I went downstairs to get the five pound weights to use when the eight pounders strained too much.

"Love at First Sight" by Kylie Minogue was still playing when I returned. Instead of clicking to its beginning to hear the whole song, I decided to play it on DDR after my little weight lifting routine and be really good as far as exercise was concerned for the day. Then I noticed something fall over outside. It was a small stand used for holding birdseed when filling the feeder. I saw a dark piece of a jacket behind the tree trunk next to it and didn't think anything of it even though I knew the bird feeder was already down for the season.

Then I saw the bear walk out from behind the tree. It felt like an awesome karmic reward for deciding to do extra exercise.

"Bear!" I yelled facing the window. I quickly put down the weights, opened my door and yelled again, "BEAR!" to be sure I'd been heard. I looked back to the bear out the window and briefly debated whether I should try to shoot, afraid he would move off before I had the chance. This is what I've been waiting for. I tore off my weight lifting gloves, grabbed the camera, switched it on, and threw open my window. Cold air rushed in: twenties with the wind chill. I zoomed to the camera's max focal length and started clicking. Considered switching to movie mode but decided against it.

The space by the window was narrow so the reach was awkward, but I leaned out as far as I could and kept snapping while sucking in my stomach muscles to support my aching back.

And now, before I deal with photos, I'm going to make good and play some DDR. Truly, had I not been standing to exercise, I would've missed the bear.
30 minutes of DDR and some stretching later... here we go:

Just prior to this shot, the bear was looking up to where the bird feeder had been.
dejected bear
In its place, she saw this caged rubber duck.
WTF, Claire? Where's the food?
bear looking
Sorry, buddy. I'm on the second floor.
bear coming for me
bear and wire vase
MS bear
At least there's some art to check out.
bears like art
Time to head home.
into the woods

A year ago on TTaT: Another note to self

12 April 2009

06 April 2009

Unintentional odds

I forked some tuna onto a saltine and then set the fork on the edge of my plate while I looked out the sliding glass doors. Through the treetops the sky was gray. The trees were gray too, no signs yet of buds.

Some motion in my peripheral vision drew my attention. I looked down to see my fork swaying into equilibrium. After a moment, it stopped, perfectly balanced on the edge of my plate.

What are the odds of that? I wondered.

A year ago on TTaT: Cities viewed from orbit at night

05 April 2009

Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence

6. Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence by Geoff Dyer (4.5/5)

I thought I was off the hook for a review since I've read this book before, but alas I've only mentioned it in passing on the blog. Fittingly, the book is largely about the struggle to write: in this case, a book about D.H. Lawrence. Dyer retraces Lawrence's steps, making the book part travelogue as well.

This time I was struck by a place that Dyer revisits during his travels, a place I have been and would very much like to see again: Petrified Forest National Park. I spent too much time on my second day marveling at views I'd seen the day before, so I ran out of time for the final section of the park. (There are a lot of longer hikes I didn't have time for as well.)

Also, Out of Sheer Rage was just in tune with my mood of late. At the beginning of the year I was writing and editing regularly with determination and purpose. Then... well, it was like skiing when the weather's warm. If you're not careful and hit a patch of grass, your skies will abruptly stop while you hurtle forward face-first to the ground. Except I imagine there being gravel this time.

Not that it was abrupt in a painful way. I got my application in the mail and then felt like I deserved a break to recharge. And now it's two months later and I haven't worked on my writing much at all. Still, as much as Dyer didn't feel like working on his book about Lawrence, he did manage to finish it. And that ties so deftly to my theme this year, Begin Anyway, that I can't ignore it.

Begin anyway, and when you falter, begin again.

3 years ago on TTaT: Nickerblog's Mystery Hotel

04 April 2009

iv, quattro, 4, four, quatre !!!!

Four years of TTaT.

Thanks for reading.

And special thanks to those who comment, those who make me laugh--here or elsewhere, and those who inspire me to write and draw.

A year ago on TTaT: A wild, inspiring, disturbing journey; iii, tre, 3, three, trois !!!

03 April 2009

Karaoke challenge

"Along Comes Mary" by The Association.

Seriously, just listen to it sometime. The vocals would be on the hardest rating if they had it for Rock Band. If the song were all in my range, it'd be my mission to learn it well enough for karaoke. Now I want to see someone else do it justice.

A year ago on TTaT: Bears are like crack, 20 & 21 (damn, I'm way behind on my reading this year)

02 April 2009

Second breakfast...

...just with desks.
writing desk WSwriting desk MSDesk hutches have often appealed to me but never seemed practical since I often place my desk in front of windows. However, when adding this particular desk to my storage-limited setup became a possibility, I claimed it.

Recycling at its best, my grandfather built it out of leftover pieces of wood. Finding his embossed name, carved initials and the year he made it on the back when I moved it was a delightful treat. Now to figure out where everything should go...

A year ago on TTaT: Omissions piss me off, Sheep do say baa

01 April 2009

No more tattoo guy?

Night before last I heard tell that the place where I get my hair cut at the mall has gone out of business. As a recent post indicated, hair's been on my mind lately. I was working out how to explain what I wanted to the stylist I've been going to for most of the past three and a half years. I was going to wear it down so he could see it in its natural curly state instead of pulled back as I always did, so it wouldn't look shaggy en route. I hoped this would help him figure out what would be best.

I will miss your skill and quiet demeanor, tattoo guy. Over the years, I discovered that your name is Jack, you have a little boy, and the salon was yours. Whatever you're doing now, I hope it's going well. I'll keep an eye out for you at the place you worked before because I really shouldn't try cutting my own hair. Guess I should've gone to see you more often.

A year ago on TTaT: Well, shucks