Category Archives: Uncategorized

Very Big Things

On Monday, we put our cat Sol to sleep (he was Very Sick) and my sister moved  into my basement.  Both Very Big Things.

My sister got a job here in town – she’s leaving her husband, being evicted from her home there, and bringing her two high school-aged kids to live with us next week while we wait for her apartment lease to begin (which, to everyone’s horror, doesn’t have an exact date yet.)

RR hates her new camp.  It’s loud and busy and all she wants to do sit in the corner by herself and draw, sing, or play make-believe with some stuffed animals… or some rocks. She does NOT want to do your Obligated and Scheduled Fun, thankyouverymuch.  She DOES want you to leave her the fuck alone.  She’s on week two (out of three) of being off from That Particular Camp That All Children But Mine Love, will head to a half-day camp next week, and then back to TPCTACBML for five consecutive weeks, before starting her New Expensive School That I Hope She Loves on 8/29.

For the past two weeks, though, we’ve been two peas in a sometimes cranky and sassy pod.  It’s been a combination of her coming to work with me, staying with Granny (overnight, no less!!), and some days, we sneak into our bathing suit, head to the pool, and she shows me how much progress she’s made in Not Drowning.

We had a memorial for Sol last night, complete with tequila and chicken thighs.  He was loved.  He will be so missed.  I, however, already do not miss wondering if he’s dead on the back deck in the sun, or just laying still and shallow breathing.  13 years is a long time to have a cat, and nine years is a long time to have the same three animals in your house.  Talk about family.  They are our family.  His urn will go next to my mother’s.  True story.

I’m feeling better despite all this, thanks to the medication finally working its way into my brain.  Music is going amazingly well – I’m writing more and more. I’m playing with my bandmates, who are so generous, lovely, kind, talented, and I’m often at my happiest surrounded by them.  I’m making time for friends.  I’m knocking through my work with efficiency.  I need to eat better and exercise more, but don’t we all?  Except you – you look fabulous and don’t need to change a thing.

I am sad.  For my cat.  For my wife’s busy schedule.  for the delicate balance of my household which is totally being shaken up.  For my iPad battery, from which this blog post should be sponsored because it’s my last resort of keeping RR entertained at work.  We’ve done a lot of work today – the real work, the lunch work, some Montessori math work, and now the screen time work.

I am happy to see RR dance in ballet class.  To snuggle with my Alive Animals.  For friends and plans and music.  For my wife to have some days off and some down time.  To watch RR swim and to think back to memories of us at the beach.

Mid-July is hot and humid in Virginia, and it is not disappointing.  Here we are, chugging along despite the stifling feelings everywhere we turn.

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Anhedonia

I think instead of writing here, I’ve been processing so much through songwriting.  Which sounds fucking pretentious, but is true.  Songs about depression/mental illness, gay marriage, growing up poor, hell, the damn bird who nested on our house.

I did write one song I released to the world, but everything else is waiting its turn for the next time I go into the studio.

 I was up early this morning, scrolling around the internet, and found myself looking at the word “anhedonia,” which appeared in an article I was reading.

noun, Psychology.
1.
lack of pleasure or of the capacity to experience it.

Well shit.  There’s a name for this crippling and suffocating experience that happens every so often to me.  It’s not all the time.  It’s not every day.  But it’s prompted me to fuck around (with Bob and my doctor) my brain medicine because I hate that feeling so much.   Imagine you’re Mr. Finger Guns, without your fingers!

It’s the one, lingering, relentless symptom of my brand of mental illness.  It emerged sometime about six months ago.  I tweaked my old medicine a bit, and it got better.  It went away.  I was laughing and high-fiving.  I was also shouting at my kid a lot.  The other times during the day, I was always threadbare with my patience.  It wasn’t working.  It wasn’t balanced.

I’m in week two of the new pills, and for fuck’s sake, tweaking with your brain chemistry is so tricky.  Some days are good.  Some days are really bad.  I’m going through the motions.  I’m at the bar, singing songs.  I’m in the woods on a hike.  I’m making pancakes and drinking coffee.  I’m trying to be in the now, in the moment, but that’s proving hard when the moment feels like it is so awful, despite no actual awfulness, or cause to the effect.

Next week, we’re going to the beach.  I can’t breathe when I think about feeling like this on my week off of work, where I plan on sitting in the sand in the sun all day, on my favorite place on earth.

Today, I’m making my packing list.  My vacation grocery list.  Prepping my brain for a good time.  Hoping for stability and balance.  Hoping the sand and sun and waves can help recalibrate my inner self.

1 year, 4 months, 1 day

So it’s been a while.  Sorry about that.

If you’ve been reading my wife’s blog, then you’re probably up to speed on most things.  If you haven’t, then SHAME ON YOU.  She’s amazing and hilarious, so stop patting me on the back for writing again and go there now.

What have you missed in 1 year, 4 months, and 1 day?  Not much.  And everything.

RR is 5 and almost 1/2.  She draws a lot – her amazon.com wishlist has 100 packages of Crayola markers on it, and that’s all.

I’m playing music again.  And performing it, even.  To the public.  I’m recording a full-length album with some amazing local musicians.  Starting this past March or so, I’ve been staying out at least two nights a week until 11pm, playing music and making friends.  Rewarding AND exhausting and amazing and mostly exhausting.

My father-in-law has terminal brain cancer.

I’ve gained some weight.  The part I’m the least happy about is the fact that I have to buy some new clothes.  I’m not all that unhappy about my appearance, just unhappy to spend money on pants.  PANTS!  #beer #cancer #stress

I cut my hair short last August.

I got promoted at work, which means I work a LOT (and blog a lot LESS) and one day they will maybe pay me more for doing it, too!

Our animals are getting OLD!  Two cats, aged 14 and 12.  Moses the dog is turning 9 in March and has had two major surgeries since we’ve last talked: an ACL replacement and some cancer removed from his…. uhh, butt.

Everything and nothing.  I’m not only back on anti-depressants, but on a higher dose than when my mom died.  *sad trombone*

I’m coping with the endless waves of potential change and grief and coming to terms that this is just fucking life.  Right?  It’s just life.  Love, loss, repeat.  Bob (he says “hi!”) explains about the numb feet forward walking.  Just keep moving.

I read an article last night about a cyclist who received some advice once about “not needing to ride fast, just needing to not stop” in regards to long-distance cycling.  I had my first suicidal thought a few months ago, told my wife, got some help, and this could be my new mantra.  This (life) is not a race, in which I am eager to get to the finish line (death).

I’m making time for friends.  Learning how to stay out late on a weeknight (and live to work efficiently the next day!).  Singing, writing, sharing every chance I get.  Saying “thank you” and “I’m sorry.”  Gazing at my wife.  Laughing with RR.  Listening and watching.  Being so grateful… for said wife, RR, friends.

I’m here, with my numb feet.  Shuffle shuffle.  Sorry for the radio silence.  I’ll include y’all from here on out – promise.

Duncan Update, 3.1

(TLDR?  The dog failed dog training.  Has prescriptions for his anxiety.  Has moved into the house with M’s parents as of last night.)

Oh, right.  I totally forgot to tell you how Duncan got kicked out of the Feisty Fido class.  KICKED OUT.

He and I went last week to class together.  Although he was kind of stressed out in the car (not unusual), when we got there he was BATSHIT CRAZY.  Panting, pulling, lunging, barking, tornado-on-a-string.  Me?  To quote Death Cab for Cutie, I held “a smile like someone would hold a crying child.”

Awkward.

OK – a diagram, to help picture the scene.  Deal?

donx1

So we start the class off in Yellow Starred little room.  The other three dogs (and their owners) are quietly hanging out in their own little rooms.  While class is kind of starting, the trainer is in the big room talking to us all in our little rooms with our bad dogs and I’m slowly peeking out of my door because Duncan is jumping up and shouting and barking his brain off at anyone’s voice or even a jingle of another dog collar.

Reenactment picture below.

donx.fw

Then, they ask me to close the top part of my half door – a) in the hopes that he would calm down, and b) to make it so that everyone else could hear.  Two minutes later, we get moved to the Shun Room (aka the waiting area).  Then moved to the tiny gated room WITHIN the Shun Room in the hopes that he would Shut Up.

Eventually, I got my own trainer lady to myself.  Duncan stopped barking, but by then was so keyed up and panting, he was too far gone to do anything.

Long story short (too late), I took his crazy ass home, he stopped panting frantically around 10pm (we left class at 8:30pm), and M’s mom took their advice which was to take him to a special vet in town who specializes in especially asshole dogs.  Pharmaceuticals.  Something.  Anything was needed to get his brain to stop freaking out before we could address the feisty part.  FUN!

How Duncan Came To Now Live In His New Home was a suggestion by Awesome Behavior Vet, who discouraged us from taking him anywhere but his new permanent location, training classes included.  Get him settled, give him drugs, and some simple home training.  So last night, we ALL got home from the vet appt, had some fried chicken, and packed up the little yellow man and sent him on his way to the farmhouse. (Isn’t that what you tell children when a dog is put down?  They moved to a farmhouse?  That’s terrible.)

This morning, the house was back to how it was before this shenanigans started in December.  Five months of upheaval.

Would it surprise you that it also coincided with successfully bribing RR with pieces of chocolate to get her to put on panties and sit on the potty two times before 8am?  TWO FUCKING TIMES.  That’s two times more success than we’ve had since… oh, January?  Crazy talk.

THEEEE end.

Resiliency (aka Carsickness!)

RR has thrown up exactly three times in her whole life.

Once, she was really little – maybe a few months old?  The second time about a year ago after overindulging in grape tomatoes.  The THIRD time was this past Saturday, on a gravel pull-off on the side of a winding road that was leading us to The Maple Festival.

To her credit, the road looked like this:

winding.fw

And really.  Could you blame her?

She’s not a carsick kid.  In the car, she usually only chats about needing snacks, or something that’s fallen down where she can’t reach it, or for you to turn the radio volume up, but she’s content to look out the window and just ride along.

Somewhere on one of those turns (you’re getting carsick looking at it, aren’t you?), she complained that her tummy hurt.  Well, first she said it was hungry, so she had an apple and some apricots.  She may have been confusing hungry, though, with nauseous.  Fun with feelings!

Finally, she started crying.  That… cry.  That… “something is WRONG MAMA!” cry.  M’s dad pulled over at the nearest gravel patch.  I unbuckled her, M hopped out of the car to fetch her out, and as soon as the door closed… well, you can imagine.

RR cried afterwards, mostly because she was sad that she was now WET.  M’s coat, M’s hair, RR’s hair, RR’s … everything was covered.  We were all relatively calm, and opened the back of the car to clean everyone off with baby wipes and towels.  I gave M my jacket and we put RR’s spare pink jacket on her with no shirt on underneath.  M’s dad had some old rags in the back.  We calmly got everyone cleaned up.

She quickly fell asleep in the car and napped until we parked next to the All Things Maple Festivaly, only a few miles later.

She woke up with a start and a smile.  The color returned to her face, and she told us that she felt better.  Only about ten minutes later, she was sipping on a Capri-Sun, munching on some popcorn, taking a bite out of my BBQ sandwich, and playing balance beam with another little girl nearby.

RRFriend

The face of resiliency looks like this:

2014-03-08 13.55.10

I’ll also add that my wife should get major resiliency points, too, for spending the afternoon with bits of digested apple in her hair.  Oh, and the washing machine gets two points deducted for having to take two loads to get everyone’s clothes clean.

A Cabin in the Woods

That sounds kind of like a horror film, hm?  Anyway.

In nine days, RR will be three years and seven months old.  In all that long time, my wife and I haven’t spent a night together without her.  Sure, there have been trips when one of us has been away (conferences, sick/dead mom, etc.), but in three years, and nearly seven months, if we’ve spent the night together, RR has been close by.

Apparently grandparents do things like… watch your kid while you go away for a weekend.  WHO KNEW THIS?!  And furthermore, if you knew this, why didn’t you TELL someone?

So one weekend in February, we’re headed to a cabin about 45 minutes north of town, but by ourselves.  Just me and my wife.  It’s like a hybrid Valentine’s Day/Anniversary mini-vacation.  We’ll go up after bedtime on Friday, and come home Sunday afternoon.  I’m ridiculously excited.  The last time we went away together was March 2010, just a few months before RR was born when we went to the beach for a week to celebrate our anniversary.

Alone time, especially in the wake of having people at your house ALL THE TIME… well, I just can’t fathom it.  “Whaaaat?!  No way!” as RR would say.

Speaking of people in your house all the time, the in-laws have been spending a lot of time fixing up their new house. Which would be totally more exciting if they did this while we were home, but they do this all during our 9-5’s. Somehow, someway, they make it home before we do every night.   Curiouser and curiouser…

It’s a lot.  It’s hard to be your best self all the time.  Sometimes, I just wanna come home and not be my best self.  It’s exhausting.

But then again, M’s mom hugged her last night when she got home from work, and I was kind of (really) sad that I can’t hug MY mom anymore (sad trombone) so I suppose all of this family time is good.  Plus, RR hugged both of them last night before bedtime, which was the Very First Time she’s hugged her grandfather.  Slow to warm, that one.

It’s day 15 of the Whole30, so I’m technically halfway through.  Notable discoveries include the fact that I’ve learned that I like brussel sprouts and it is feasible that I can actually tire of eating eggs every morning.  Thank goodness for Primal Fuel and smoothies.  And bacon.

Also, exercising willpower is actually a THING.  As in, the first five days, it was hard to pass the rice at the dinner table, but yesterday it was actually pretty easy to carry down a huge tray of leftover sticky danishes and pastries for another office to devour.  Oh, and I’m beginning to like the taste of black coffee.

In other news, my Christmas lights are still hanging from my gutters.  Gotta get on that.

TMI

Today I’ve:

  • Let the dog out at 3am for a random, but apparently urgent need to pee
  • Woken up to horrible cramps and heavy flow
  • Tried to coach (while soothing and encouraging) RR through a constipated bowel movement
  • Given RR half of a suppository due to said constipation
  • Put ear drops in my wife’s ear because she has an ear infection
  • Dropped RR off at school, where she refused to walk in on her own, due to feeling sad (I don’t blame her)
  • Dropped my wife off at the doctor’s office for ear infection (her) and constipation (RR) remedies and treatment suggestions
  • Took my cat to the vet for a vaccine and post-nasal-infection check-up
  • Drove to work
  • Biked from my parking spot to a local sandwich shop, where I bought lunch for myself and my wife
  • Sat down at my desk (now, here at noon)

No one on Facebook needs to know all of this, and Twitter is just too damn limiting in characters.  That said, I need a drink.  Criminy.

I didn’t know this little girl.  But I know a lot of people who did – schoolmates, friends, parents.  She was the victim of an unfortunate accident the other day here in town – after stepping past a parked car, she was hit by a truck and died later at the local hospital.  She was six.

How many times does RR drop my hand and dart in front of me… too many to count.  This could be any of our kids.

Death is expensive, y’all.  If you have the means to donate, even the smallest amount helps a lot.

Untitled-1.fw

Butch Voices (the work! and so much of it…)

So aside from being interested in the conference as a participant and attendee, I started my Butch Voices involvement journey when I submitted my resume back in October of 2012.  Eons and eons ago, it seems.  They were looking for a logistics co-chair, and dude, event logistics?  That’s like… my JOB, man.

Since I graduated college in 2000, I’ve been doing some form of event logistics.  Scheduling, coordinating, managing spaces, audio/visual support, staff from students to full-time worker bees.  J-O-B.

Now… screeeeechhhhh back it up a minute.  This does NOT mean I am an event planner.  These are different things.  Event Planners help you pick out your finger sandwiches and color schemes for your linens.  I make sure that your caterers can find where they’re going, that your attendees have chairs, and that your linens have tables.  Doors are unlocked.  The A/V dude knows you forgot your dongle.  Bathrooms are clean and ready.  People know where to park and how to get to where they’re going.  I don’t really care what you’re having during your continental breakfast as much as I want to make sure you have enough trash cans for your empty coffee cups.

OK, that’s a lie.  I DO care.  But that’s only because, when I meet you at the start of the event, I’m only a little bit looking for you to say, “Oh please help yourself to those mini cheesecakes!”

Don’t mind if I do!

I am the invisible behind the scenes person that makes your event seamless.  My job, really, is to go unnoticed because everything worked so well that no one ever looked around and said, “Can you find someone to bring us more chairs?”

So the job details of the logistics co-chair was totally in my wheelhouse.  Except for that part when I was put in charge of ordering continental breakfast items.  Did you know that butches really like lemon poppy-seed bread?  Less so with the blueberry kinds.  But MAN can those folks drink some coffee.  Hoo-boy!  New skills, for the win!

My job was a little of coordination and planning, plus being the go-to person for the Marriott conference manager (the “me” at the conference).  Also, little other duties as assigned here and there.  Nothing too uncomfortable, by any means.

So the WORK was awesome.  I ran around like a headless chicken all weekend, looking for fires to put out and presenters with whom to shake hands and introduce myself.  “Can I get you anything?  Everything look OK?  Questions?”  Less fires to put out = I did my job well.

So every morning, around 6am (PST – THAT was an easy adjustment), I would wake-up and watch the local news, where the blinking and complicated traffic report made me think that they were suggesting routes out of the city DUE TO THE APOCALYPSE.  But no, apparently that’s what the traffic looks like in the Bay Area on any given morning.  Weird.  Then I would go nonstop until about 11pm or midnight.

The adrenaline of the environment and the FEELINGS (coming soon!) meant that I didn’t mind the lack of sleep.  I went to sleep hard every night, and up with a bang every morning until I found myself on a red eye back East on Saturday night.   Then, of course, I promptly slept for, like… three days straight.  It was one of those things were work feels GOOD.  It felt great to use all parts of my brain, myself for four days.  I can’t wait to do it all over in 2015.

Keeping the Faith

I was raised Catholic, and have yet to actually struggle with reconciling being gay and Catholic until RR came along.  Even before she was born, I was plotting ways to get her baptized.  Plotting, you say?  Well.. see, those Catholic churches won’t baptize a baby being raised up in a same-sex parental household because, well, baptizing your kid is saying, “Hey!  We’ll bring her up good and Catholic.. thumbs up!”  And bringing her up good and Catholic with two mommies is contrary, at the least.  So my first plot was to have her baptized in a private ceremony up in DC by the Dignity folks up there.  Then, my other plot was to have her baptized in my hometown church, which is thankfully, liberal enough to overlook the whole gay thing long enough to dunk and bless her.  In her eight months of existence, neither has materialized, for one reason or another.

That said, it’s left me with more than enough time to rethink this whole religion stuff.  Not that I feel any less Catholic these days, but I don’t want RR to be brought up in a religion that will insist that her moms fundamentally suck.  And are going to hell.  Handbasket optional.  That will so wholeheartedly disapprove of her family.  Our family.  My family.

So what was sheer laziness in getting her baptized Catholic has come to a screeching, squealing, intentional hault.

So now what?  I suppose church-shopping is a good word for what’s next.  See, I like church.  I like the weekly services.  I like praying.  I like the pews, the quiet, the singing, and the smell of candles.  I want RR to go to Sunday school.  I want her to make friends who aren’t just the kids in her class.  I want her to have a supportive community of people who know her family, and approve.  Here in rural Virginia, it’s even more important that she have these things.  I also want to make friends.  Non-work friends.  Non-gay friends.  So joining a church seems to be a good idea, right?  Sure.

I did some research last week, and set forth yesterday morning in the pouring down rain to the local Unitarian Universalist church.  From what I read, it looked promising.  But… well, I couldn’t get into it.  I sat for the hour and fifteen minute long service, and then was pounced by a couple of new-people-greeters right after the service.  They were all super friendly, and talked to me about their religious education classes for toddlers through high school, and I got a tour of the nursery.  For an 11:15am service, I got into my car just before 1pm.

Without going into a ton of gory, religious details, I wanted to like the UU service, mainly because they’re super gay friendly and inclusive, and that’s super nice and awesome.  At the same time, I didn’t feel 100% comfortable, and left feeling a little hollow.  I grew up in a house with a crucifix on every wall and a statue of Mary on ever surface.  I was even an acolyte at my church when I was a kid.  So maybe it was a bit too much like going cold turkey.

That said, I think I might need a little more “church” in my church.  So here is where the church-shopping begins.  When did I turn into such an adult?  When my wife and I are spending our Sunday nights doing research on the differences within all of the Protestant churches.  Rumor in town is that the local Presbyterians are just as gay-friendly as the UU’s.  But the “Which religion are you?” quizzes online say I’m a closeted Episcopalian!

So I’ve set forth to try out all of the potential gay-friendly churches in town.  Or, at least, not the gay-shunning ones.  Here’s hoping that one fits.  I’ll even go back to the UU church, just to give it a chance to grow on me, but I’m afraid I’m gonna need at lease one or two crosses in my church.  It’s becoming increasingly important to have a church in my life, but more importantly, in RR’s life.  And if that means a little faith-reassessment, that’s OK by me.  Wish me luck!