A Big Announcement

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Well, I have big news.  We are moving to New York.  Rhinebeck, New York.  I hope I can spit out all the details before those 1.5 Xanaxes I just took render me unable to type sentences. Enjoy these typo-free first paragraphs now because it’s liable to get a bit sloppy.

Yes, Eric and I are moving to Rhinebeck. Nevermind that we don’t have jobs there, nevermind that we don’t have a place to live. Also, nevermind, for the moment, that I haven’t yet told Eric about my plans for our little family.  Actually, he sort of knows, we talked about it briefly over dinner at the Cheesecake Factory at the Grove last night.  We sat on the balcony, overlooking the trolley route.  It’s views like that that we’re really going to miss when we are living a simple, but fulfilling life just miles from the Hudson River.

It might sound like a pipe dream to you all, but I want you to know that I spent over an hour looking for jobs and apartments and even houses on hudsonvalleycraigslist.org today.  I found a 1 bedroom for $750.  I wish I could say that it was some “Washington slept here” old Colonial, but I have to admit, the 1980s was totally a good decade to build apartment buildings, too. Also, a Friendly’s and two “family restaurants” are hiring servers right now.

Nevermind that I’ve only been to Rhinebeck once, for the wedding of my friends Michele and Stan. And nevermind that I was drunk 40% of the time I was there and really insanely, open bar at a wedding drunk for the other 60%. Alcohol brings out our true selves and my true self loved all those little towns like Rhinebeck and Staatsburg and Hyde Park and Peekskill. Also, just the idea of living that close to where Blair and Jo and Natalie and Tootie lived really appeals to me. Does that sounds like a creepy thing for a 47 year old man to say about a group of 15 and 16 year old boarding school girls? (Don’t answer that.)

Nevermind that the first thing out of Eric’s mouth when I suggested our move was, “Millie would hate the cold.”  He’s probably right.  The one time I took her to my parents in winter, while there was snow on the ground, she did not pee or poop for four days.  Not outside, anyway.  I figure if we load and leave by this weekend, we’ll get to our new home in upstate New York early enough to give her time to adjust to the new environment before the first snowfall.

I have to be honest, Millie is part of the reason we are moving.  About three weeks ago, we came home from Marie Callender’s to find Millie’s little butt bleeding.  It was a scary, uncertain thing to witness so we bundled her up and took her to the 24 hour vet clinic.  They informed us almost immediately that she had an abscessed anal gland.  I won’t go into all of the details of the last three weeks, but it’s taken a bit longer to heal than we expected.  And now, we are at a point, that even though she seems on the mend, I can’t stop worrying about her.  I look at her butt about 40 times a day, checking to see her progress.  When I am at work, she is all I think about.  When I am home, I am never at ease.  Even now that her energy level is pretty much back to normal, I can’t turn the worry off.  That’s where those Xanax come in.

It might seem whimsical, even impractical, to decide so capriciously that we are moving to Rhinebeck, but I made a big decision like that once before.  For years, while I lived in New York, I toyed with the idea of moving to Los Angeles, but the moment I decided was sudden and irreversible.  I was standing in front of a mirror with a breathtakingly handsome guy I was dating, our arms snaked around each other. Though we stared at each other through our reflections, I knew in that moment, that he really didn’t like me as much as I liked him.  I doubt that I will ever recall what we even talked about but I’ll always remember that epiphany. I thought to myself, I am moving to Los Angeles. 45 days later, I did.  I packed everything I owned into 5 boxes and two suitcases and I moved west.  I did not and do not regret it.  I might always be wistful about Manhattan, but I made the right choice.  I love Los Angeles and every blessing she has brought me.

Of course, as you might suspect, 45 days from now, you probably won’t find Eric and me, walking Ricky and MIllie down main street Rhinebeck, looking like a gay L..L. Bean print ad.  We’ll still be here in LA, same apartment, same jobs, same friends, same lives.  To be honest, most nights when I dream the occasional dream that I am moving to another city, my first thought when I wake is, I’m so glad I don’t have to do all the unloading and packing and yard saling and giving away of the stuff I’ve accumulated in the 21 years since I moved here.  Long past are the days that all my cherishable possessions could fit into 5 boxes and two suitcases.

That’s not to say that we will never move. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t move.

But I think it’s really okay, comforting even, to spend an hour or two thinking about what life would be like somewhere else.  Because as long as it’s a fantasy, the new chapter will only bring a great job, a beautiful home, neverending pet health, boundless creativity, a consistent exercise regimen, the ability to be filled up with just one slice of pizza or just a bite of chocolate cake.  I am 98% sure that in Rhinebeck my favorite meal will be salad without dressing, merely tossed with a squirt or two of fresh lemon.

Maybe in Rhinebeck, I will be so overwhelmingly happy, I won’t have need or desire to close my eyes and let my imagination run wild.  But for now, I am here, not completely miserable about being here, but still, wondering. Drowsy from the Xanax and tired from so many days of worry, soon, I will stumble into bed and drift to sleep.  I wonder what dreams await me.

Willie’s Redneck Rodeo

912spnDSGJLIt was one of those jaw dropping, did I really just see that moments. I was on Facebook, per usual, scrolling through posts and I stumbled upon a picture of someone’s kids in long grey beards and bandanas. That really can’t be what I think it is. And I read the attached caption. This person’s children had been at Duck Dynasty Vacation Bible School all week. I had no idea such a thing even existed.

I did a little research when I saw it, a few weeks ago. Apparently, there is a Duck Dynasty curriculum for everything: Vacation Bible School, teen programs, adult programs. That family really knows how to make money. Wow! If you go to a Christian publishing website, you’ll see how many Duck Dynasty created items are out there. I guess I didn’t quite realize the depth of their influence.

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

Now, I really try to keep my blog as clean as possible. I seldom swear here, I don’t talk about sexual acts, of any kind. That quote above, you most likely know, is from a GQ interview Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson gave a few months ago. It ignited a controversy, which I believe he, and the family, too, knew would erupt in the way that it did. My Facebook newsfeed was full for days, weeks, even still, with folks weighing in on the interview and the subsequent interviews. Most of my friends, obviously, expressed disdain, discouragement, disappointment. And also, a handful of people I know expressed pride. “I’m with Phil!” was posted by a guy who I only remember as being a jerk in high school and the last time I saw him, sometime not long after college, made fun of me to my face about being gay.

This family, they have struck a chord with the American public. Whether or not I like them or watch them is irrelevant. What is relevant is that they are influencing people and probably not in the best ways. The whole fallout over this initial interview was to position themselves as Christian martyrs, suffering for their faith.

In all of the interviews, snippets of episodes, merchandising, I have seen nothing that deters me from my initial reaction which is Money is their God. There is nothing they love more than making money. I don’t think living to make money is such a bad thing, sometimes I wish I was a little more money motivated. If I was, I would probably have more of it.

As a whole, I do not think they are good role models, for anyone, but it especially scares me that what they are selling is being sold to grade schoolers. This particular VBS, Willie’s Redneck Rodeo is nothing more than a rehash of the Parables of the Gospel, the implication being that the Bible itself is not interesting enough to be taught as is, so one must put a beard and bandana on it.

They proclaim that their message is not anti-gay, but it is. I am not alone in that observation. I don’t believe in talking to children about adult topics, that they should be shielded from certain life realities for as long as possible. There is just something about choosing these people who are so famous for their polarizing lifestyle that doesn’t sit well with me.

I am sure not everyone who reads this will agree with me. I wasn’t going to write about this, I generally tend to avoid political stuff because I’m no expert about anything, except maybe The Brady Bunch, The Facts of Life, and shamefully, Big Brother. But, hey, it’s been on my mind, on my heart, and I wanted to express it.

Ultimately, I guess that family reunion this weekend is still on my mind. Maybe it’s because I was raised in the church that I was a little surprised by the way my family wholeheartedly embraced Eric with such open arms, from my 7 year old cousin Angelica to a distant 80-something cousin who when Eric and I were leaving whispered in my ear, “I like your friend.” We just want to be part of the family.

Valley Girl

vgs1I watched the film Valley Girl today. It’s the first time I’ve watched it in its entirety in probably 25 years. It’s not a perfect movie, but I still love Elizabeth Daily as love starved Loryn and Colleen Camp and Frederic Forrest as Julie’s parents and my favorite, Joanne Baron as the teacher who gives perhaps the best monologue in film history as she presents West Valley’s Prom King and Queen. “I remember my prom. I wanted to be queen. I wasn’t.”

I can’t hear the music from Valley Girl without thinking about my own high school years, when the thought of shopping at Sherman Oaks Galleria or eating French fries at Dupar’s or cruising down Hollywood Boulevard in a convertible was a pipe dream. Do I live here because of this movie? If only I’d watched Footloose a few more times, I’d have never left home.

In high school, I had a friend who brought the California to Independence. I’ll call her Cindy. She’d attended part of grade school in Independence, but spent several years in San Diego. She moved back to Independence in the beginning of our sophomore year. She had short dark brown hair, but had a little rat tail that she braided. (It looked cooler than it sounds.) If I recall, as the year wore on the braid grew longer and at some point she dyed it maroon. We formed a friendship over our mutual love of “New Wave” music and she introduced me to her favorites like Depeche Mode, OMD, Bow Wow Wow and Yaz (she LOVED Yaz!). I had a tendency to quiz her about all things California. For the life of me, I couldn’t get it through my head that San Diego was over 2 hours from Hollywood. Do you know Molly Ringwald? Have you ever been to a Facts of Life taping?

Sometime in the winter of that year, February perhaps, Cindy told me in the hall that she was moving back to San Diego. I was heartbroken, and more than anything, I wanted to flee Independence and move to Hollywood with her (I REALLY didn’t get the geographical difference). She told me that someone was throwing her a going away party and then invited me. One important detail which makes me sound totally arrested development-y to even point out: Cindy was popular, I was not. Cindy went to fun parties every weekend, Kansas versions of the ones in Valley Girl. I stayed home and watched Dallas and Falcon Crest or Love Boat and Fantasy Island, depending on the night. I was a little apprehensive about going and I should have been. It was a wild party, several people were drinking (alcohol!) and it made me very nervous. Also, almost no one talked to me. Cindy talked to me a little as did a few others, but mostly I sat in a corner wondering why I came in the first place. I didn’t belong. Late in the evening, there was a commotion. A few guys started shoving each other. They were both drunk and unfortunately, they were also near me. One of the guys, if I remembered his name, I’d tell you, looked at me, and thinking I was someone else, punched me in the eye. When I came to, there were a handful of people around asking if I was okay. The rest of the evening was a blur, I think someone might have driven me home. I don’t remember if it was that night or the morning after when my parents found out about the attack. I wouldn’t have been able to not tell them because I ended up with a black eye that lasted for 2 or 3 weeks. Ah, high school. I actually never saw Cindy again. We wrote occasionally and she once sent me a rad mix tape.

And now here I sit on my Los Angeles couch in my Los Angeles apartment with my Los Angeles life. And when I watch the movies of my youth that called to me like a beacon, “What’s your dream? Everybody comes to Hollywood with a dream,” I think about the 15-year-old boy who dreamed of a life beyond the intersection of Penn and Main. And I’m glad I didn’t feel like I belonged at that party, because if I had, maybe I never would have left. Fer sure.