With a Whoosh and a Schuss!

Even though I have spent 39 years of my life in the Midwest of the United States of America, most of those years in Wisconsin, I have never gone skiing.

Until now.

This weekend I am making the trek up to my home state with a group of my friends to purposely hurtle myself down a mountainside and hope to heaven that I don’t end up crushed in a pile at the bottom.

Now of course, I’m not going to be stupid about it.  I’m going to take lessons and start on the proverbial “Bunny Hill,” or whatever they call it at Alpine Valley Ski Resort.  And I can pretty well guess that the “mountain” at Alpine Valley will look nothing like the photo at right, with jagged cliffs and deep gorges.

Still, I’m a tad nervous.

And I won’t be alone, either.  There are a bunch of us in the group who have never skied before, so at least I won’t be the only one learning how not to break my nose.

But if I come back in a complete body cast, you’ll know why.

Heaven help me.

Advertisements

Frozen, but still here!

Just wanted to pop in and say, yes, I’m still here. And I’m sorry I haven’t written much lately. I just haven’t really had that much to say.

After all, how many posts about the weather can one bear?

To sum up…

It’s fucking freezing out there.

This winter has been one of the worst I can recall in years. Aside from the practically nonstop snow, this cold is ridiculous. Right now, the temperature is -16 outside. My car is buried, not only in snow but now, ice.  I’ve been taking the train every day to work (which really hasn’t been that awful, except for the past few days when it’s been so brutally cold).  I’m sorry, but this is just not right. Penguins are meant for temps like this, not people.

Yesterday the Chicago Tribune ran an article on the front page of their website titled, “Why do we live here?” It was funny that they did that, because I’d been asking myself that same question all week. In fact, I’ve asked myself that question all winter.

So what is my answer?  Well, there are a few good reasons.

First, I’ve lived in the Midwest all my life. Born and raised in Kenosha, WI and now in Chicago. I’ve never lived anywhere else.

Second, my family is near here. I’m an hour or so away from home, and if I need to be there, I’m a quick car ride away.

Third, I don’t live here for the winters. I live here for the other seasons. Winter lasts all of three, maybe four months, tops. It’s miserable, but it turns into spring. And spring around here is really quite nice. And then of course, spring leads to summer; which can be painful if it’s too humid, but for the most part is still worth the wait through three or four months of cold, hard winter. And then, Autumn is beautiful with the colors and the crispness of the air.

I thought about what it would be like to live in warmer climes, and heard all kinds of suggestions from people who live in those climes. Florida, right now, is wonderful; but come summer, it’s so humid that I wouldn’t be able to breathe. And I’m enough of a basket case when we get an occasional thunderstorm, so hurricanes would not sit right with me at all.

Arizona, right now, is amazing. But come summer, I’m sorry, 120 degree heat is 120 degree heat; and I don’t care how friggin’ dry it is.

California is a great place to visit, but I’ve known far too many friends who tried to “make it” there, only to end up back home to the midwest after a while. Some claimed the people were not to their liking; others couldn’t deal with the inflated cost of living (especially in desireable places like San Francicsco).  Still others hated the earthquakes (that’d by my downfall). Whatever the reason, they always seem to end up back home again.

And then there was another factor that I didn’t consider, that more than one person reminded me of:  Bugs.  And I don’t mean the occasional spider or centipede… I’m talking mongoloid monster bugs, like flying cockroaches, hairy spiders and (*shudder*) scorpions. Seriously, folks… the fact that those monsters can’t survive up here because it gets as cold as it gets up here is enough reason for me to want to stay.

But really, the main reason why I live here is due to family. And not just my blood relatives, but the friends that I have here as well. Sure, the idea of trying out a new location is exciting. There’s something to be said for getting a “Fresh start” somewhere new.

But I know me. And I know that after a while the excitement would die off, and I’d be incredibly homesick. Despite all of the bitching and moaning I, and people like me do about the weather here, I do love it here. And in the end, I would not trade this place for anywhere else in the world.

So I guess I’m going to stay.

Well, I have to go start mummifying myself to catch a train.

Happy Friday! 🙂

Rick has avoidance issues…

OK so I’ve been avoiding my blog.

It’s not because I dislike it or anything… I don’t.  I just dread writing lately.  I worry that I may start a post and never finish it (because that’s NEVER happened before.  Ha ha.)  I worry that I may write too much and nobody would want to read it.  And I worry that I really have nothing to say, after all.

Well, that’s a lie.  I have plenty to say.  In fact, there have been numerous subjects on which I could have said volumes, including Proposition 8, Obama asking Rick Warren to do the invocation at the Inaguration, the holidays, New Year’s Eve and much, much more.  But as time wore on, those subjects either got old or compounded upon each other, and were relegated to the column of “old news.”  

So I’ve decided to sum up some of those things here, and maybe — just maybe — I can start 2009 with a clean slate and go on from here.  So here we go….

Proposition 8 – Clearly, this was a disappointment, and clearly, the GLBT community spoke up and spoke up loudly.  I was touched and moved by the uprising, but I did not participate in any of the protests.  Why?  Well, I missed the first one in Chicago because I already had plans to see my mom that day.  And the second one (which protested the Cinemark theatre in Evanston for its CEO’s contribution to the Yes on 8 fund) was right after the funeral of a dear friend and I just wasn’t up for it.  But the real reason is because, in my heart of hearts, I just didn’t feel the same.  All this clamoring for the title of “marriage” to be used across the board doesn’t sit well with me.  Yes, I want the same rights for all people, and yes I want that equality whether I’m gay, straight or anything… but I feel like we are so focused on the word “Marriage” that we can’t see any other possibilities.  I’m hoping that something good comes of all this in the future … and the possibility that Prop 8 (and the other props in Florida and Arizona) is overturned is still out there — but until then, I wish we could regroup and really think about what we want… and do it right this time.  

Rick Warren – No sooner than this announcement was made, GLBT people were shouting “FOUL” and “BETRAYED” and calling Obama a traitor, worrying that he would do to us what Clinton did with “Dont’ Ask, Don’t Tell.”  I, however, looked at it as a positive.  Yes, the man is evil and has said some terrible things about our community… but the fact that he is there, among Democrats who believe and want everything he doesn’t… is significant.  I truly think his presence there will not have such a profound effect on anything at all.  It is merely a presence.  It actually speaks louder to his ability to see other views than anything else.  Obama isn’t going to alienate what he believes in because of who he asks to give an invocation.  So I kept silent on the issue– until now.  I know my view is not popular amongst my peers… but that’s just how I feel.  

And now on to more fun things…

The Holidays were a joy.  Christmas Day with the twins was full of laughter and love, and the girls were absolutely adorable.  They’ve reached the age where they can actually laugh and enjoy the holiday… and to see them with their toys was so much fun.  For those of you on Facebook, I have pictures up of them opening their gifts and playing with them, here and here.  

And finally, New Year’s Eve was a great time.  I went to my friend Ricardo’s for dinner, and we all shared our goals for 2009 and what we learned in 2008… it was an emotional and sweet moment when each of us professed our love for each other, as friends and as family.  I’ve said it before – I have some of the most wonderful friends a guy could ask for.  I love them dearly.  Afterwards we proceeded to Sidetrack to ring in the new year — the first time I had been to a bar for New Year’s Eve in many years.  I had a great time, and I think 2009 will be a really wonderful year for all of us.

So that’s about it.  Here we are, the first Monday of 2009.  Everyone is back to work, and life continues on from this point.  I’m grateful to be employed, and thankful to be alive and well.  In this day and age, what more can you ask for?

So to all of you, a happy and healthy new year.  It’ll be DIVINE in 2009! 🙂

The weather outside is spiteful, but the year was fairly delightful.

Christmas in my Living Room

It’s December 23.  Christmas Eve Eve.  And it’s only one day into meterological winter.  

But you’d never know it with the way things have been in Chicago lately.  

No dreaming about a White Christmas this year.  We’re gonna have one.  Plain and simple.  We’ve had more snow and cold already… pre-winter… than in any year I can remember.  It’s caused tons of accidents, a few cold-related deaths, and lot of bursted pipes and radiators throughout the city. 

But thankfully, around here it’s been pretty nice.  The radiators work great, the hot water flows freely, and everything is warm and cozy.  

I guess there isn’t too much to complain about then, is there?

Truly, this winter – and the year that preceded it, has been pretty good.  Oh sure it had its rough spots (as all years do), but for the most part I look back on 2008 with a sense of happiness and fondness.  

As the year started, I decided it was time to concentrate on friendships.  I felt that I had not been a good friend to the ones I had, and did not open myself up to new friendships nearly enough.  As the year closes, I feel closer to my friends than ever before, and am proud to include a new group of people in my life as friends.  I have also reconnected with a lot of old friends (thanks mainly to Facebook), and have rekindled some friendships that never really died in the first place– but were just on hold for the past 10 or 15 years.  

Family has become even more important as well.  With the birth of my twin nieces, Abby and Emily, in February, my family has found a new reason to celebrate and love.  Their presence in our lives has given us such great joy, and watching them grow has already been so much fun.  As a result, my family is closer than ever, and it’s been incredibly rewarding.  

With the collapsing economy, I have become ever more thankful for the presence of work in my life.  I am thankful I am employed, and by such a good company.  I am treated fairly and paid well.  I can’t complain about that at all.  It’s a blessing to be employed.  

Money, however, has been my one major shortfall this year, and that is of my own doing.  In the next year, I need to trim the fat and live leaner and more within my means.  It’s going to be hard, and may require a lot of sacrifices, but I absolutely need to do this in order to survive into the next year with my head above water.  

All along, this blog has been there.  And while I haven’t been writing as much as I used to, it’s been a comfort to know that I can put my thoughts here and share them with you.  Thank you for all of your kind words and encouragement over the years.  I really appreciate you, too.

So with that, I am signing off for 2008.  There’s lots of things going on between now and the New Year, so I don’t anticipate that I will post again until 2009.  

I wish you and your families and your friends a safe and wonderful holiday season, and a delightful new year.  Salute!


Happy Halloween!

I’ve never been much for dressing up in costumes for Halloween, but it’s so much fun to see the creativity that goes on each year.

My friends Marc and Fausto of Feast of Fools invited our friend Michael Lehet to join them to dress up as pandas this year, and they are having quite a lot of fun with it.  They’ve been doing some really great videos this week on the Feast of Fools website while dressed in their panda outfits and makeup.  Here’s one of all three of them doing the “Panda Dance” to the song “Jung Hwa Ban Jum.” I have no idea what it really means, but it’s hysterical to watch.

And while I’m at this, if you would be so kind as to vote for the Feast of Fools gang for the annual Podcast Awards, I’d greatly appreciate it. They are up for Best GLBT Podcast and People’s Choice (Podcast of the Year) this year. They’ve won Best GLBT Podcast for the past two years, and I really want them to win BOTH awards this year!!! I’m an occasional guest on their show (here my most recent appearance), so this award would mean a lot to me as well. Vote every day, once a day!

And if pandas and podcasts aren’t your game.. here’s something you might enjoy: My nieces, Abby (the flower) and Emily (the kitty), dressed in their first Halloween costumes. If that doesn’t tug at your heartstrings for all that’s CUTE in the world, I don’t know what will!  Happy Halloween!