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! 🙂

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!


The Parade-less Pride

This past weekend was Pride Weekend in Chicago.

I was really looking forward to the weekend’s festivities.  In addition to the parade itself on Sunday, there was the CGMC concert on Saturday night, and my friend Tracy in Sweeney Todd at Loyola University on Friday night.  It was definitely looking to be an action-packed week and I was ready for it.

The show on Friday was wonderful.  Tracy was awesome and I hung out with her afterward and met some of the cast.  Later I joined the Feast of Fools boys at Big Chicks and we did a bar crawl through Uptown, Andersonville and Edgewater that ended with me getting home late and a bit drunk, but still happy that I had a great time.

Saturday was recovery day (thanks to Friday!) but I was still able to get out and do a little shopping.  Then of course, Saturday night was the CGMC show, which was absolutely wonderful.  The chorus changed its Pride concert venue from the Athenaeum Theatre to Lakeview Presbyterian Church for this show, and it allowed the chorus to perform “Naked” – without any audio enhancement.  The result was a rich, wonderful show that the audience (and chorus) enjoyed immensely.  I wished I could be up there singing with them.

I joined a group of the chorus members out for a drink or two after the show and we were all psyched for the Pride Parade.  I was planning on joining them as we marched our annual march from Belmont Street to Diversey Parkway.  The Chorus was teaming up with the Illinois Lottery this year and we were planning on bringing 100 people to not only show our support but to sing out, loud and proud.  It was to be very exciting.

But for me, this was not to be.

When I awoke on Sunday morning, I felt my chest burning and my lungs heavy.  It was difficult to breathe.  I started coughing continuously. And the more I did to try to get ready, the worse it got.  I knew this feeling, and I knew it well.  I was having an asthma attack.

Foolishly, I thought maybe I was just hungry, so I started making breakfast.  I drank some orange juice and things seemed to settle a bit, but as I kept working and preparing my food, it got worse again.  I had another attack.

Defeated, I grabbed my Albuterol inhaler and took a couple of puffs.  The attack subsided but my heart was racing.  I knew this was a bad sign.  I ate my breakfast and tried to calm myself down, but it was too little, too late.  I had another attack.  So I puffed again and sat down.

By now I was running late for the parade, but I also knew there was no way I could do it in my current condition.  I sent messages to our chorus General Manager and another fellow member, letting them know I couldn’t make it, and got back into bed.  I slept for about four hours.

This was the first time since I attended my first Pride parade in about 1993 that I didn’t attend Chicago’s Pride parade.  If I had a different excuse I suppose I would feel better about it, but I guess my health is as good an excuse as any.  One thing  I knew for sure- my asthma is no longer just something I “might” have to worry about in the future.  It’s something I definitely need to worry about — NOW.

My mom had asthma throughout most of her life but let it go untreated and unchecked until it was almost too late.  Granted, she smoked throughout most of her life, too– but chances are she would be in the same boat she’s in today — with COPD/Emphysema— whether she smoked or not, simply because she let her asthma go for so long.  I don’t want to end up like that, and I know she doesn’t want me to end up that way, either.  So I’m doing something about it today.  I’m calling my doctor and we’re going to get me scheduled for a pulmonary exam.  I can’t deny the obvious any longer.  Asthma is a hereditary disease.  I have it.  I have to live with it.

I just want to live with it — and not die because of it!

So my pride weekend was a bit marred; but it wasn’t without its good moments.  And if I had to take something away from the weekend that was positive, it’s that I learned something important about myself and I will do something about it.  I guess that’s part of taking pride in living your best life.

Sex and the City? Sex IN the City? How about just SEX?

Sex and the City castEver since Sarah Jessica Parker first strode upon our screens in her mile-high stilettos and poufy, crazy outfits, I’ve trying to figure out why everyone is so crazy about Sex and the City.  

I have friends who have seen every episode.  Twice.  Some have seen it even more than that.  They quote lines and recite scenarios as if it happened to them just yesterday.  They rave about the fashions and the sex and the boyfriends and the dialogue. I honestly think they believe they are living the lives of these four women at times; and certainly if they aren’t living their lives, they WANT to live their lives.

So when the Sex and the City movie was released this past weekend, it was as if the second coming had occurred.  All over Chicago, “Cosmo Parties” were being held in celebration of the event.  Women are said to arrive at the theaters showing the movie in stiletto heels and wearing bright pink.  It’s as if the red carpet were rolled out across the land and Kim Cattrall were stepping out of a limo.  

And today I was with some friends who had seen it and they were gushing– literally GUSHING– about the fashions, the hairstyles, and the shoes.  They talked of crying more than once during the film.  

Crying. Really? 

Folks, I don’t really get it.  I mean, it’s a cute show, and I’m sure it really is a good movie.  I’ve always enjoyed it, but it was never required viewing for me.  When it first started (when I lived with roommates) I watched it fairly regularly, but after I moved into my current apartment I went for about 3 years without HBO or any sort of cable, so I fell out of practice with all cable shows.  As everyone started buying the DVD sets, I stuck to good old fashioned TV.  

It’s not that I don’t relate with these four horny ladies.  I mean, I like sex as much as the next guy or girl.  I like it a lot.  But watching someone else get laid on a semi-regular basis when I’m going through a dry spell is not my idea of fun.  It just makes me bitter, and honestly, I’m tired of the bitter scene.  

So I’m on the fence about whether I want to see the Sex and the City movie.  I suppose I’d better make up my mind quickly or else I’m going to have to shut myself off from the rest of the gay world for a while.  Either that or I’m gonna have to get myself laid, and soon.  

Or maybe I should see what all the fuss is about and actually start watching the show.   Hmm…

Rachael Ray: Terrorist?

Rachael Ray in the cancelled Dunkin\' Donuts AdYou know it’s a slow news day when Fox News a/k/a Faux News is claiming that Rachael Ray is a terrorist.

Squeaky-voiced, perky, and–to some–intensely annoying; Rachael Ray is certainly the last person I would peg as a terrorist.  Certainly the last person I would have pegged to promote terrorism.  Thank goodness the brilliant minds at Faux News took time out of their busy schedules to come up with this important story.

Uh-huh…

The scoop is this:  In an ad for Dunkin’ Donuts that aired on websites this week, Rachael Ray is shown wearing a scarf that conservative commentator Michelle Malkin claims looks like a kaffiyeh, which is traditionally worn by Arab men.  Another report says it looks similar to the scarf worn by the late Yassir Arafat.  Because of the flak from Ms. Malkin and other conservative critics, Dunkin’ Donuts pulled the spot from the airwaves.

I never saw the commercial, and this image doesn’t show the scarf clearly enough for me to decide one way or the other, but please.  What a crock of shit.  It’s a scarf.  I doubt very highly it was placed to imply anything at all- certainly not in support of terrorism.  Does this mean that Dunkin’ Donuts is going to bomb us all with Boston Cremes and Coolatas?  Please.

So this is what Faux news has come to:  McCarthy-like attacks?  And on Rachael Ray of all people?

Hold on, folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride from here until November.