Missed connections – years apart

Missed ConnectionsIn the past few days, I’ve had a couple of missed connections return into my life after many years.

The first was a guy I talked about in a post on this blog, and in my brief life as a podcaster. We met at a bar and hit it off great. We were going to get together for a date, but one roadblock came up after another, and we never did go out. We did remain friends though, and he ended up in a relationship.

A couple of days ago, I found that old podcast file and listened to it again. First, I thought how glad I was that I didn’t continue as a podcaster— It really wasn’t my forte. But second, I got to wondering about this guy and what was up with him.

The next day… the VERY next day… he signed up for an audition with the chorus.

Now is the universe telling me something? I don’t know. But I’m interested to see what happens here.

The second missed connection was a guy I met on gay.com many years ago. He lived in Chicago and then moved to Hawaii for a while. I found him recently on a, ahem, gay-related site, and we chatted and texted back and forth for most of the day. We might be getting together soon.

What’s with all these years-apart missed connections coming back into my life? I’m intrigued by this latest universal intervention. We shall see how it all plays out.

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Red Red Line

Red Red Wine
Image via Wikipedia

Preface:  I have a CTA tracker app on my Android phone, and on the menu, the CTA Red Line shows up as “Red Red Line.”  I’m not sure why this is, but I can’t help but think of the classic Neil Diamond/UB40 tune “Red Red Wine” every time I see it.  So one day, I came up with some words for that song:

Red red line
Riding the train
Homeless and businessmen
Riding together

Red red line
Going to work
Everyone looks as if
They just woke up
They just woke up

Pay my fare
Catch the train
Monotony of the morning
Read a book
Read the news
It’s the same thing every day…

Red red line
I hope I find a seat
Why does this train move slow
I’ll be late for work
I’ll be late for work!

Do you have more verses for the song?  Add them in the comments.  How about the rap portion of the UB40 version?  That’d be funny. 🙂

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! 🙂

I was a witness to Change

**UPDATED** with a new video from my friend Paul (see below!)

The day started early.  I got up, got dressed, and walked to my polling place to vote.

A Walk for History

It was a beautiful Autumn day. It was warm and the sun was shining. It had to be 70 degrees already at 9:30 in the morning. Perfect day to vote.  There was something special in the air.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I just knew that this was going to be an historic, amazing day.

Walking to vote

When I got to the polling place, as expected, there was quite a long line. I figured I’d wait an hour, maybe an an hour and a half. So I put on the iPod and waited.

In Line

After a few minutes, one of the judges came out and asked if there was anyone there voting for Precinct 14. I wasn’t sure, so I gave her my address and she went to check. When she came back, she informed me that I was in Precinct 14 and that my line was inside. INSIDE! That meant a short line. So I followed her in, and sure enough, I walked right up to the table. Sweet!

I got my ballot and filled it out, making sure to be extra careful when I drew in the arrow for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. I completed the ballot, gave it to the judge, got my receipt and I was on my way.

I was going to go with a friend to a bar to watch the election results, but just before I left for work, I found out that he got a chance to go to the Obama Rally with someone else, so I was feeling left out. I had registered for a ticket over a week ago, but I never heard anything, so I figured I wasn’t going to get one. So I made a tentative plan to go to the overflow rally — or, as I called it, the “steerage section,” after work. It was better than nothing, and I’d still get the experience of being there.

As I left for work, I decided not to bring my camera with me.  I wasn’t sure what was going to happen that night, and I didn’t want to lug my camera around if I had no reason to use it.  

Work was pretty slow – everyone had the election on their minds, but we still had work to do. I was feeling kind of bummed because I had no plans for that night to watch the election results. 

At about 1:45PM I checked my home Email, and I saw a letter from “Democratic Party” that was titled, “Your Printable Election Night Ticket.” I jumped out of my chair. “OH MY GOD! I got a ticket!” I started singing “I Got A Golden Ticket” from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I couldn’t help it. I was so excited! I clicked on the Email, printed it out, and from there the day went super-fast.

The boys at the RallyI Emailed some friends and found that they, too, were going to the rally, so I planned to meet up with them and we’d all walk over.

We met up, ate at Jimmy John’s, and walked to Grant Park en masse.  Along the way we met up with other friends and they joined us.  It felt like this impromptu parade through downtown Chicago.  All along the way we met other Obama supporters in T-shirts, buttons and other paraphenalia, and we grew more and more excited.  

USAAs we neared Michigan Ave. and Congress Parkway, the official entrance to the rally, we could see how huge the crowds were growing.  We had no idea just how huge it really was.

There were numerous security checkpoints.  The first was at the entrance, where they checked tickets and IDs.  The next was, I guess, and Electronics checkpoint.  All electronics had to be turned on and visible.  Once through there, we were herded into holding areas, and kept in groups of maybe 200 or so at a time.  Finally, after 3 or 4 checkpoints, we made it to the metal detectors.

Waiting to get inOnce past the detectors, we were in.  And we high-tailed it to the rally area.  We picked our spot on one of the softball diamonds and stood firm.  We guessed we were about a football field’s length away from the stage or more.  We could clearly see the actual stage when we got there, but surely that would change as time went on.

JumbotronThe crowd kept filtering in, and a palpable sense of excitement was in the air.  Straight ahead, next to the stage, was a massive Jumbotron screen, where coverage from CNN was playing.  As states were announced, the crowd erupted in cheers or loud boos.  But clearly we could tell that Obama was already well in the lead.

Amanda and GarrettSuddenly I heard a woman’s voice shout, “RICK! RICK!”  I turned, and I saw my friend Amanda approaching me.  How she found me in that enormous crowd I will NEVER know, but I was SO happy to see her!  We hugged and she told me she was there alone, so she stayed with the rest of our group throughout the night.  I had invited my friend Garrett to come along with me as my “plus one.”  Garrett recently moved to Chicago to go to Architectural school at IIT, so I figured this would be a wonderful chance of a lifetime for him to enjoy this historic moment.

Behind usThe crowd grew even more enormous.  There were people as far as the eye could see.  And we were all there to witness history- together.  We struck up conversations with complete strangers, trading stories and expressing our excitement over what was to come hopefully very soon.

And then, it came.  At 10:00 PM Central time, Wolf Blitzer was on the screen, counting down the seconds before the West coast polls closed.  And when they did, it was announced that Barack Obama was elected President.

The pandemonium was amazing.  Cheering, crying, hugging, screaming, jumping, clapping, fist-jabbing and chanting “YES WE DID!” and “O-BA-MA!”  It was the most exhilirating experience of my life.  

This video is from my friend, Paul Mumberger. Watch it… and live that moment with us. It was AMAZING:

President ObamaThen, of course, it came time to hear from Obama himself.  When he arrived it was just amazing.  And his speech was so wonderful.  And as I looked around the field, I could see people hugging, crying, and holding their heads in amazement.  We all had to be thinking the same thing: This is HISTORY.  This is a life-changing, WORLD-changing moment, and we are HERE to witness it.  Nothing like this has ever happened before, and nothing will ever happen like it again.  It was hard to contain the tears of joy.  

Leaving the RallyAfter the speech, we began to file out of Grant Park. But the excitement of the crowd never diminished.  We walked toward Michigan Avenue, which had been closed off completely to traffic, so everyone walked down the street.  It was a parade of joy.  Black, white, hispanic, and all colors.  Walking Down Michigan AvenueFamilies, men, women, gay, straight, lesbian, bi and trans.  Young and old.  Some in wheelchairs.  Some with babies and small children.  Every single person was cheering and smiling.  The noise echoed from the ground to the buildings above us.  And as they went down side streets to catch trains and buses, the canyons reflected the cheers and chants.  It was the biggest, loudest, most amazing parade, and everyone was featured.  This was our time and our celebration.  And celebrate, we did.

Chicago witnessed an historic moment that night.  We were witnesses to Change.  And change is a powerful and beautiful thing.  O Happy Day!

Memorial Daze

Memorial Day never lasts long enough. No sooner than it starts, it’s over.

But thankfully, I got to fit some really fun activities into my beloved three-day weekend.

The big question when this weekend rolls around is always, “What am I going to do?” It’s like planning for a major event for some; for others it’s a welcome time for rest and relaxation.

In Chicago, an obvious solution is to participate in some way in the festivities at the International Mister Leather (IML) event. This event happens every year and draws a very colorful–in dress and in behavior– crowd that is perfect for people-watching as well as participating.

But I didn’t participate in the IML festivities this year. Most of my friends took off for other locales. I didn’t feel like doing the leather thing alone, since I’m not much into the scene to begin with; so I had to make some different plans. I chose a much more leisurely approach to the weekend.

My friend Matt and I both got new cameras in the past year, and we’ve been talking about going on a photo excursion somewhere in the city for a while now. The weather was nice and was looking to stay that way all weekend, so I thought this would be a great time to go on our first excursion.

Needless to say, I am pleased with the results!

Arthur Caldwell Lily Pond Swim, Duck, Swim!
Skyline from Lincoln Park Lagoon Arches
Enter here Pink Crabapple

On Sunday night I headed north to Kenosha to pay mom a visit.

As I went home Monday night, I realized there was one thing we didn’t do– we didn’t visit dad’s grave.

I don’t think we decided to do this consciously. We certainly talked about dad over the weekend, and other relatives who have passed as well.

It seems to me that people pay tribute to those they love in their own ways. I think if Mom could get around better we would have made a point to go to the cemetery; but we chose to remember him in our own way. We certainly don’t love him any less; it just was easier for her to do it this way.

I cut up old branches that had fallen the yard, and cut down some tree saplings that had begun the grow in the flower beds. I went out in back of the garage and picked an enormous bouquet of lily of the valley and plucked a few sprigs of lilacs and put them in vases on the table so she can enjoy them. I brought up her laundry, I changed light bulbs and did other odd jobs around the house that she couldn’t do for herself.

And we cooked and talked and laughed and just enjoyed each other’s company. In all, it was a really nice visit. I think Dad would have been pleased with that.

Now the week is all messed up. Tuesday should be Monday and Wednesday should be Tuesday. It’ll be like that til Friday- which will come faster than expected, and that’s a good thing. But it was worth it to have that extra day to spend with my mom. I’d gladly take a hundred more of those days than have to work five days in a row! That’s better than any vacation.