Hello, yeah, it’s been a while…

Last post: October, 2011.

Yikes.  I really gave up on this place, didn’t I?

At least this is still here.  I somehow managed to keep it alive, even though I haven’t posted anything.

So I guess my first question is, what’s the purpose of having a blog anymore, especially if you’re an independent, personal blogger?  Blogging is very different today than it was in 2004, when I first started blogging.  Back then, it was the “new thing” that everyone was doing.  This was pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter, heck even pre-MySpace.  There were no Social Networks around to keep everyone connected.  They were in development, to be sure — I think Friendster was just starting out at the time (remember that?) — and old-time bloggers will remember Tribe, which was a very early precursor to all that came later.

When Facebook started, you had to keep your posts to the (fairly common) standard of 140 characters, just like Twitter.  However today, you can post full articles.  Most bloggers prefer to do their blogging on Facebook– it’s easier to maintain, all of your readers are already “friends,” and you don’t have to republish anything.  The drawback, of course, is that you can’t attract new readers from outside your friend ‘circle’ unless you make your posts public and hope that it gets shared to the point it goes viral.  It’s a rare thing, but it does happen from time to time.

I decided to use Facebook in this way for the last year.  I grew tired of having to bounce back and forth from platform to platform when I wanted to get long-winded about something.  My friends who read this blog (there aren’t many of you left) will probably back me up when I say I let my long-windedness fly free on Facebook lately, and that’s exactly why.

But all the while, I thought about my lonely blog, sitting here, still getting hits (occasionally) and waiting for me to come back and write again.  I tried to restart it a few times.  I currently have seven draft posts that never made it past the third or fourth paragraph sitting my in my drafts folder.  Titles included:

  • Dusting it off
  • Re-Launching… AGAIN.
  • I still own this blog.
  • What Whitney Meant (started right after Whitney Houston died)
  • Back on the wagon (about starting back at the gym)
  • 2011 – A Better Year (a year-end post that got way too long-winded, so I gave up on it)
  • 41 (about my 41st birthday)

So I guess I didn’t completely abandon this blog– I just never really got through a post to get it going again.  I’m hoping that I finish this one.  It’d be nice to hit “publish again.

After I lost my job in July, I figured it’d be good to restart the blog so I could write out my frustrations and feelings.  Or just have a place to let my creative juices flow again.  Didn’t quite pan out that way at the time, but now, six months later, I need it again.  So here we are.

So where will we go from here?  Hard to say.  Now that the writing cherry has been popped (sorry for the visual), hopefully ideas and words will flow more freely.  I’ll take less space on Facebook and more space here, and simply express myself.

And hopefully, I will figure some things out in the meantime.

Oh, by the way… Happy New Year!

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2009: The Year In Review

2009. What a year.

In many ways, this was probably the most tumultuous year of my life.  I’ve had some harrowing experiences in previous years, but this one just kept ’em coming, one after the other.  I’m amazed I got through it with my sanity somewhat intact!

But there were a lot of really great moments, too.  They were special moments that I never could have planned for.  I started the year in a bad place, and I ended the year in a pretty damn good place.  So 2010 is starting out on a better note than 2009 started.  I think that’s progress.

So here’s a timeline-based review of the year, with a little rating system, just for fun.

January

Barack Obama Inaugurated as the 44th President. After all that hubbub in 2008, our next President was now official.  Everyone waited with bated breath to see what would happen next. A year later… well… we’re still waiting.  I’m not saying I’m 100% disappointed, but I would like to have seen a few more  tangible results.  The economy is improving, and that is probably the best thing to happen since last January… but we’re still at war, we still haven’t passed health care reform, and the rights of LGBT people are still being infringed upon.  Let’s hope 2010 sees some more of that change.  I’m still hopeful.

Rating: Thumbs up for the change… Thumbs down for the progress.

February

RcktMan’s Launching Pad shuts down… for a while. I was really ready at the time to just say goodbye and let that be it.  I talked about going out with “dignity,” but what I didn’t express was how much stress I was already under.  I knew I had to move out of my apartment, but I was afraid of how that was going to go, and I didn’t know how to deal with that fear.  So I started to shut down.  And I wasn’t just doing on the blog… I was doing it elsewhere, too.  Eventually I formed a plan.  I thought it would work.  I would be wrong.

Rating: Thumbs down for jumping the gun entirely too early.


Plans to move are made. Things were looking pretty good with the moving situation in February.  I found a roommate and we started to explore options for our new living situation.  I was getting more and more excited about moving.  I started to pack and make plans.  Little did I know what lurked around the corner to dash all those hopes and dreams.  I couldn’t have written the story any better than it actually played out… and it was playing out like a souped-up melodrama.

Rating: Thumbs up for the initial good news.

March

Moving Plans dashed, panic sets in. Here is where things started really going to hell, and fast.  On March 1, I received an Email from my potential roommate, saying he was backing out of the plan.  My moving date was April 1.  In that moment, everything went sour.  I never felt such panic.  I knew my financial situation was bad, and my prospects of finding another roommate was even worse.  I blanketed every possible connection with Emails, looking for possibilities.   A few came in, but none of them worked out.  Finally, toward the end of the month, when my stress levels were at their absolute highest, I decided to go it alone.  I looked at some of the most dreadful apartments I have seen in years, and the ones that looked hopeful were way out of my price range.  I settled on a place I hated, just for the sake of having something.. and that went sour, too.  I was at the end of my rope, and finally asked for an extension to stay another month.  It was the best thing I could have done.

Rating: Thumbs down… WAY down… for a lot of really bad bullshit.

April

Blog resurrected… for the sake of my sanity. After a tumultuous March, I was a wreck.  My stress levels were unbelievably high. I wasn’t eating.  I couldn’t concentrate on anything.  But I did need to vent… so I resurrected the blog.  By now any semblance of a readership that I had probably left because they thought I was cuckoo.  They were probably right.  I was cuckoo at the time.  I needed to pour out all of my thoughts, and I did just that.  It was the best thing I could have done.  I formulated a plan, and stuck to it.  And then… good luck finally struck.

Rating: Thumbs up, for doing what I should have done two months earlier.

Apartment FOUND! Thanks to a chorus friend on Facebook, I found a place.  It meant moving further away than I had hoped, but I couldn’t pass it up.  It had everything I needed and much more… including more room… for less.  In addition, the neighborhood was nice, attractive and quiet.  I couldn’t be happier with how things ended up.  After some dealings with the landlords and lots of questions and answers, I signed a lease.  All of the panic I had felt instantaneously vanished.  Next step… moving day!

Rating: Thumbs up, for the kindness of friends and good fortune.

May

Moving Day! The weather really blew… and rained… and blew… and rained… but I really didn’t care.  I was moving, and that’s all that mattered.  Thanks again to incredible friends and a couple guys I hired, we finally got everything– well, almost everything– in.  OK I lost my sofa, but I didn’t care.  It was just good to be moved into a new place.  A new beginning.  I never felt so optimistic.

Rating: Thumbs up, for finally feeling settled.

June

I meet a boy! All the while everything was going on at home, I was still active with the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus, attending rehearsals and serving on the Membership Council.  In February I was elected Membership Council President, which was a good thing… but added even more work to an already-full plate.  I was concerned how things would go, considering everything else that was happening… but once everything got figured out, I settled into the job.

In May the chorus started rehearsing for our Pride show, “Over the Rainbow,” and we decided to take new members, which we don’t normally do for that show.  There was one in particular I thought was really cute, but I didn’t really think anything more of it… until he made a move on ME!  Talk about unexpected.  So we started dating.  And it was really quite wonderful.  It was especially fun being with him at the Pride Parade.  June was definitely busting out all over… and I was having a really great time.

Rating: Thumbs up, of course.

July

Apartment broken into, computer, camera stolen. Yeah there were a few too many green, happy thumbs for a while there.  July was a very rough month for me.  If you have never been burglarized, it’s hard to describe what it’s like to discover that a stranger has been through your things; been in your house; and taken things that belonged to you.  It’s one of the most awful feelings one can feel.  I don’t want to necessarily equate it to being raped, but that’s as close as I can come to that violated feeling.  Thankfully, nobody was hurt, and everything taken was replaceable… but that feeling of safety can never be replaced.

Rating: Thumbs down for assholes making other people’s lives miserable.

August

Rebuilding begins, while other things fall apart. August was a very transitional month for me.  I replaced the computer with a laptop that was generously donated (and soon to be purchased from) a friend, and I got back on track with everything else in life.  I wasn’t going to let the situation at hand break me.  I’d been through too much and was too happy with things to let that happen.  I did, however, re-secure my apartment, and became much more aware of my surroundings.  I wasn’t going to let what happened in July happen again.

But some things were not meant to be, and I once again became a single man.

Up until the last week, I thought things were going great.  But then I noticed the silence on the other end of the line.  Phone calls weren’t returned, Emails and texts were not responded to… I knew something was up.  To make matters worse, I was nearing the point where I was either going to totally fall for the guy or end it; and I realized I was totally falling for him.  So when I finally got in touch with him, I told him we had to talk, and I didn’t care that it was on the phone.  You see, we never officially said anything about our dating situation.  We weren’t boyfriends, and we certainly weren’t in a relationship.  We were just… dating.  And that’s how we both wanted it.  But after all that had happened and as wonderful as it had all been, I knew I wanted more.  He didn’t.  And we talked about it and agreed that it was for the best.  No harm was done, no bridges were burned.  And we remained friends, which makes things even better.  In the end, while it still hurt, I am glad we went about things the way we did.

Rating: Thumbs up, for the rebuilding; and Thumbs down, for the ending.  Final rating: A wash.

September-October

Chorus starts up again. The beginning of the chorus season is always a positive thing in my life, because it means I get to see all my friends at least once a week and I can get back to singing again, which is always a positive thing.  September was a busy month, particularly in terms of the chorus, because of my position on their Membership Council.  But I always have said that I like being busy… so that was a good thing, too.

Rating: Thumbs up, for a continually positive force in my life.

Also during September, I finally let my account lapse with DreamHost and The Launching Pad was gone for good. Although I had already copied all of the posts to this site on WordPress.com, I still hadn’t transferred my domain name, rcktman.com.  So I kept the blog quiet until everything was in place.  That wouldn’t come for another two months.  So I took that time away and paid attention to everything else for a while.

November

Rick’s Launching Pad Opens. It seemed like it took forever– and it took the better part of 2009– but by November I finally got my domain transferred and the new blog was officially open and online once again.  I still had a few bugs to clear up (like that crazy ping echo… thank goodness I figured that one out), but getting rid of that hosted account was worth the wait.  It would have costed me $140 to renew that site, and that was money I simply did not have; and it just wasn’t worth it when I looked at the small amount of traffic it generated in the first place.  So I transferred my domain to Network Solutions for a much smaller fee and applied it here.. and viola, rcktman.com now leads you here.  And if you read this paragraph and cared about what it said, you are obviously a blogger, too. 🙂

Rating: Thumbs up, for one more thing falling into place.

December

A crappy year ends on a high note. December is always a very busy month for me.  Of course there’s always Christmas to contend with, and that’s usually enough for any one person, but I also have my birthday, my annual holiday/birthday party, and a chorus show.  I read a post from a few years ago where I also had ANOTHER chorus show to prepare for in addition to the CGMC show and I almost died all over again just thinking about what a crazy year that was.  I don’t know I survived it.  Thank the Lord I came to my senses and cut a few things out!

But all those things are good things, and they helped me realize that no matter how bad things get, my family and friends are there to help me through it all.  I can’t help but think how lucky I am to have those people in my life.  They are truly the best.

Other good things– I replaced my stolen camera; the first stolen item to be fully replaced since the burglary.  Finally, it seemed, I was on the road to recovery from that nightmare.

As 2009 rolled to an end and I looked back on the year (and I started writing this post, which has now officially taken me three weeks to complete, and probably took YOU three weeks to read!), I realized that 2009 wasn’t as bad as I thought.  Sure, the bad moments were REALLY bad… so bad that I almost resorted to prescription medications to deal with the stress… but in the end, things came together, and all was well with the world.

So what’s ahead for 2010?  Well… keep reading and find out!

Rating: Thumbs up, for looking ahead and keeping things positive.

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 New Year!

I’m back from my little holiday break– finally!

It wasn’t supposed to last this long, though. I was sick again over Christmas with a really terrible cold/flu/whatever. I think I caught it on Christmas Eve because the next day I woke up with a terrible sore throat and cough and was sneezing like mad. Merry Christmas to me!

Beth and Geoff, side viewBut that didn’t stop us from celebrating Christmas at my sister’s house. I loaded up my car, mom included, and drove to Round Lake. We had a really wonderful visit. Beth is (now) at 28 weeks and is, quite literally, huge. But it’s a good huge. She’s been keeping her own blog on MySpace where she has been recording her experiences with her pregnancy, and she wrote that when Mom entered the house, and Beth went to give her a hug, Mom hugged her belly first and said hello to the babies. “I have no problem with playing second fiddle to our babies,” she wrote. “These are my mom’s first grandchildren, so I completely understand her excitement.” I missed this because I was outside bringing things in, but I really wish I had seen it.

The gang at the start of the partyFor New Year’s Eve I went out to dinner with my friends, then to my friend Adam’s place for a crazy and awesome New Year’s Eve bash. I had a really great time. It was one of the best New Year’s Eve celebrations I can recall in recent years. I consider myself lucky to have such great friends and a pretty darn good life. Click here to see the pictures I took that night. My friends are so crazy. 🙂

I’ve been playing with my new camera and taking some really fun pictures. A sampling of them are included with this post, but you can click over to my Flickr account and see more. I can’t wait to get out and take some really great new shots. I’m getting the hang of it pretty quickly, and I’d like to do more “semi-professional” photography in the future. We’ll see what 2008 has in store for me in that area!

Be sure to visit and listen to the Feast of Fools Podcast today and tomorrow– I taped two shows with them where we talked about my upcoming Hustle up the Hancock, New Year’s Eve, 2007 in review, and whatever else we could think of. It was a really fun time!

Me on New Year's EveFinally, I want to thank you for joining me here at the Launching Pad for another crazy year. 2007 was definitely a better year for me than 2006. There have been a lot of good things in the last year, and I feel like 2008 has a lot more of them in store.

So I hope the new year brings you all joy, prosperity, health, and exciting new things. And hopefully, since it’s an election year, things will go well in that department as well!

Happy New Year, everyone!