Posted on December 22nd, 2019
The holidays are nigh but there's still something to be happy about, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Movies? Does anybody at Apple actually use their shit? Because not a damn day goes by that I don't find bugs or serious problems. Just now it's trying to find a movie in the TV app. But everything is so fucked up that you really can't. Even worse? When you try to browse for it by selecting "movies," they show you a bunch of shit THAT ARE NOT EVEN FUCKING MOVIES...
Such a waste of time. iTunes may have sucked, but at least it wasn't a useless pile of shit.
• Remember. It's weird watching this and knowing EXACTLY what's happening. Not remembering, but not wanting to admit you don't remember. Not understanding, but being polite and pretending anyway. Not having any clarity of who, what, when, and where, but dismissing your confusion. Then an occasional moment where the dots connect and there's a spark of... something... in their eyes...
Hardest days of my life.
• a-ha! No, it's not as refined as the version that came after... but it's still a brilliant, beautiful, haunting song here...
It's so sad to me that a-ha is considered a one-hit wonder when they had so many remarkable songs following Take on Me. That first album is brilliant. But so are the ones which followed.
• Cuteness. I could spend hours watching raccoon videos on YouTube. I'm trying to cut down, but... man... BABY raccoons...
Nature is so amazing that it hurts.
• Retirement? Reality is a harsh mistress...
The future is scary, yo.
• Transcript? I'm just... it's just... I mean...
WHAT. THE. ACTUAL. FUCK?!? The transcript LITERALLY PROVES THAT PRESIDENT TRUMP IS GUILTY. If everybody willing to testify says he is guilty... and everybody who says he's innocent refuses to testify... doesn't that say ANYTHING about what's happening here? Does the truth even matter? Talk about reality being a harsh mistress. The future is terrifying, yo.
• Mystery. How Wrabel manages to keep churning out such beautiful work song after song after song is a mystery. This is a Christmas song for heaven's sake!
Happy Christmas, if that's your thing!
Have a great holiday...
Posted on December 1st, 2019
Snow may have arrived here, but Blogography will go on as usual, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Who's Watching... ... the Watchmen? Welp, tonights episode was genius. As was every episode prior. So long as Damon Lindelof doesn't screw this up at the end (as he has a history of doing) this will easily be my favorite show of 2019...
I love a show that's able to jerk the rug out from under you with each new episode. Watchmen excels at this. Probably because HBO doesn't force a 21 episode season and is happy to let the creators determine how many episodes they need to tell the story they want to tell.
• Mando! And then there's The Mandalorian over on Disney+... which is vying for the No. 2 spot in my "Best of 2019" list. I love that Disney spent the money and got all the right people to make this show work. Friday's episode was filled with action and, of course, more scenes with the terminally-adorable Baby Yoda...
Interesting to note that there's this massive social media explosion going around where Werner Herzog saved Puppet Baby Yoda from going CGI. The truth it more interesting. But, then again, the truth usually is.
• Asshole Implosion. On behalf of my friends and co-workers who died from AIDS/HIV-related illnesses... and all those persons, INCLUDING CHILDREN, who have perished thanks to the inaction of those who came before you... those who wrote off AIDS as "a gay disease" while laughing in the face of all who were left behind begging for action to be taken... fuck you, Donald Trump Jr., you inhuman piece of shit...
You and yours are absolute garbage with no redeemable qualities. Nothing more than a blight on all humanity possessing neither compassion nor empathy while recklessly using your power and influence to diminish, discard, and persecute people... all in the name of drumming up book sales. If there is any justice in this world or the next, then you'll be burning in a hell of your own making. I hope I live to live long enough to see these kinds of people in power implode with their homophobia, racism, bigotry, and general assholery. This reprehensible bastard has had every possible privilege handed to his worthless life and this is what he chooses to do with it? Disgusting.
• Festivo Doble. This year Hallmark is introducing a new Christmas movie which also has Hanukkah in it called Double Holiday. Needless to say, the "Real Christians™®" are having a field day. How dare Hallmark acknowledge other beliefs at Christmastime!! HOW. DARE. THEY! DECEMBER BELONGS TO CHRISTMAS AND NOTHING ELSE!!! My favorite comments are not the outright hate... those are too easy... it's the passive aggressive "Über Christians" who have Jesus as their profile picture. THOSE comments are priceless. This one is my favorite so far. The movie is Double Holiday so they say "We are looking forward to Christmas Holiday!" Just to let you know that they will not so much as acknowledge that other holidays could possibly exist and have no plans on watching a movie that implies otherwise...
How weak these people's faith must be that they feel the need for this kind of nonsense to prove just how "Christian" they are. Well, don't worry. Hallmark developed the movie for a year where Hanukkah is late enough in the season that they'll barely have time to repeat it. This year, anyway.
• Sweetness. And speaking of Hallmark Channel... every once in a while I am completely knocked back by how good some of their movies can be. While eating my Thanksgiving dinner of bread stuffing, cranberry jelly, mashed taters with butter, steamed green beans, baked butternut squash with maple brown sugar, and chunky applesauce crumble, I put on the movie Like Cats & Dogs (from 2017)...
You can read my write-up on my Hallmark Movie Page for 2017, but suffice to say that I enjoyed it quite a lot.
• Later, Tater. And speaking of Thanksgiving mashed taters... that $35 Instant Pot Clone mis-mark that I got makes pretty amazing mashed taters...
Two Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered with a cup of water. Pressure Cook 12 minutes. Drain. Add a half-cup of sour cream and a quarter-cup of butter. Mash... then whip... with a table fork. Add a pat of butter, a little ground salt, and a lot of freshly-ground pepper. Cost me under $1 and is fantastic. The only mashed potatoes I've ever made have been those dehydrated boxed flakes. These are a magnitude better. And cheaper! And, to be honest, easier. Seriously, no need to drag out the hand-mixer. All you need is a fork to mush them up!
And so the snow goes on...
Posted on November 19th, 2019
I honestly don't know where I land on all the impeachment stuff.
I mean, yeah, the president abused his office for personal gain. There is no debating this. It all really happened and there's a preponderance of evidence that it happened. Of course the president denies it happened... but then, like every other time he's accused of something he did, he tries to suppress evidence and tell lies to convince people it didn't happen. Then real evidence is uncovered, proof is found, and he starts screaming "Fake News" so his supporters will look the other way. This has been happening since he assumed office. And it's obviously a strategy that works for him because he should have been thrown in jail long ago.
Except... don't all politicians do crap like this?
The issue at hand here is that President Trump's corruption is so much easier to see. Because. He's. Just. That. Damn. Stupid. And he surrounds himself with fucking morons like Rudy Giuliani who is happy to go on live television interviews and admit everything. And, oh yeah, President Trump's crimes run bigger, badder, and worser than most politicians, so there's that. He is effectively giving this country to billionaires, special interest groups, and foreign countries (many of them our enemies)... all while eradicating small business and the middle class to do it. People who benefit him get everything. People who cannot benefit him get fucked.
Same as it ever was.
Same as it ever was.
So, yeah, sure. Impeach him. Remove the president from office. Let bat-shit crazy insane Vice President Pence eradicate what few personal liberties remain and start World War III by nuking all the non-Christian nations (it's the jihad he's been masturbating over for decades). Or let President Trump continue his term... possibly get a second term... and run this country so far into the ground that it can never recover. Either way, we're fucked. The world is fucked.
The only way that impeachment will actually mean anything for the rest of us is if ALL the crooked politicians get thrown in jail. ALL of them. Then we can establish term limits... eliminate gerrymandering... abolish lobbyists... curb corruption... strive for equal representation... nurture personal liberties... repair our environment... protect our wildlife... set our clocks to permanent Daylight Saving Time... and work towards being a country that lives up to the ideals of who we want to be. Who we really want to be once all the slime has been eradicated and our government works for everyone and not the few.
Make that happen and I would gladly tune into the hearings.
In other news... I hope Netflix is offering Aamer Rahman a pile of money for his own special. I've shared a video from him before, but here's some more...
Some of his stuff is wonderfully insightful, flipping the script on race to illustrate exactly where we're at...
I don't find anything offensive in truth. If people do, then that's probably a good thing.
Posted on August 22nd, 2019
I'm just going to put this out there... I had to think long and hard about getting the "Apple Card" credit card because the bank behind it, Goldman Sachs, is a fucking piece of shit. They have been plagued with scandal and are run by assholes. Why in the hell would Apple pick them to partner with? And why in the hell would I touch anything to do with Goldman Sachs?
Well, it's Apple. And the card has some compelling features I wanted to try out.
And I just wanted to have one of the things. There's no fees and it's laser-etched titanium, for heaven's sake...
Except you can't really do much with it. Apple says it scratches easily and shouldn't be stored in anything leather or denim or it will discolor. YOU MEAN LIKE MY WALLET OR MY POCKET? WTF?!??
Not that it matters. You only get a pitiful 1% cash back when you use the physical card. If you buy something with your card via Apple Pay on your phone, you get 2% back. If you buy anything from Apple or Uber using Apple Pay on your phone, you get 3% back. Which is all so unimpressive. I'd rather use my WorldPerks Card or my Alaska Air Card because I earn airline miles, and that's more valuable to me.
There is a unique Apple benefit for the rewards though. Whatever money you get back is added to your Apple Cash daily... immediately after your payment clears! Nice! Most banks make you wait until the end of the month. Like Amazon. But with the Amazon Card I get a whopping 5% back on Amazon purchases, so I ain't complaining.
Applying for the card is a piece of cake. I did it right from my iPhone Wallet in minutes. Next thing I know, I've got a digital Apple Card that changes colors based on my purchase categories...
So... what did I buy to try it out?
Last night I decided to buy one of the gorgeous prints from The Night Sky. You pick a date, time, and place and they draw a constellation map of the sky at that moment...
I picked the night my mom and I were looking at the Milky Way when we were in Zimbabwe, which is the last trip we took together...
To Mom with Love from David was what I wrote in all the souvenir photo books I made for her after our trips, so I thought it was perfect for my print.
The Night Sky accepts Apple Pay via Apple's Safari browser, which means I get 2% cash back on my purchase. With that in mind, I ordered it framed. Sure it doubles the cost, but sometimes you just gotta spend money you don't have for something that will mean the world to you...
If you pay in full at the end of the month then you pay no interest. And here's the weird thing... Apple actually wants you to pay as little interest as possible. When you make a payment they have tools to show you how the amount you pay affects the interest you're charged. That's a very nice feature that seems insane considering every bank on earth is trying their best to gouge you for absurd interest charges.
Apple Card will send you a payment reminder notification, which is great, but I wanted to have my total balance automatically paid from my credit union checking account each month. I am not going back into credit card debt if I can help it. I also don't want to put any more money than I have to into Goldman Sachs' pockets. Fortunately, that's easy to set up...
There are numerous tools on the iPhone app which help you to track your spending, assist you in figuring out where charges come from, report disputes, and get immediate assistance. They also have some smart security features to help minimize credit card theft and fraudulent charges. This is the future of credit cards and I am impressed with what Apple has done here. Very impressed.
The first thing I did when I got the card was click the "message us" link for customer service so I could reject the arbitration clause. Forced arbitration is an abhorrent condition of card ownership which is 100% evil... and obviously comes from the pig-fuckers at Goldman Sachs. I'm surprised that Apple would have a card attached to their name which has forced arbitration, but I guess it's easy enough to get rid of if you know you must get rid of it...
If you want to know how to reject arbitration on your Apple Card... and why you should absolutely do it... here's an article at The Verge for you. And don't forget to do it at your very first opportunity so the scum-sucking bottom-dwellers at Goldman Sachs can't fuck you over more than they have already fucked over this country and everybody in it.
So let's sum things up, shall we?
Ultimately while I love the idea of having an Apple Card, it likely won't get much use. The best reward you can get is 3%, and that's only with Apple & Uber. Everything else is 2% or a pitiful 1%. This is insane. I can get 5% back if I buy my Apple products from Amazon using my Amazon Card! Another reason I'm likely not going to use it is that I don't want to contribute wealth to the gaping asshole crooks at Goldman Sachs. They are a blight on humanity with their many scandals, and the significant part they played in the financial crisis is rage-inducing. I remain flabbergasted that this is the bank that Apple decided to partner with. It's just so utterly mind-boggling and shitty.
But how cool is laser-etched titanium?
UPDATE: I got a notice that my big $2.40 was deposited. Boy oh boy. Whatever will I spend it on?
Posted on August 15th, 2019
With work and Janet Jackson complete, it was time to fly back home. Yeah, it might have been nice to add a couple days vacation and relax by the pool or something, but Vegas is very different when you're alone as opposed to when you're hanging out with friends, and I'd rather just go back home to my cats (no offense, Vegas).
When I landed on Tuesday, my work hadn't gotten a hotel arranged for me yet. This is not entirely unusual for Vegas where pricing changes based on occupancy. Charities try to save money wherever possible, so waiting to see if there's a deal on a mid-week stay is just being responsible. Since I couldn't leave the airport until I knew where I was going, I decided I might as well have lunch. Burger King was right there, so I decided to see if they had the "Impossible Whopper" available. This plant-based burger is apparently the closest thing to a real burger. I dunno about that (I haven't eaten meat in 33 years, 3 months, and 24 days) all I know is that I do enjoy a good veggie burger.
Funnily enough, the wrapper says "100% BEEF" on it, so they kindly put a sticker on it to let you know that they didn't accidentally give you a meat patty...
Sure enough, it looks exactly like a Whopper...
The taste is fantastic. Not sure it's worth $7.89, but I liked it a lot and would gladly order it again.
When I ordered, the lady at the register asked if I was "vegan" because apparently they cook the Impossible Burgers on the same flame grill that they cook their meat burgers. I guess if this bothers you they can microwave it or something? All I care about is that a cow wasn't slaughtered on my behalf, so I had no objections.
After loving the burger, I researched how it was made.
The original was wheat-based. The new "2.0" version is soy-based (making them gluten-free, if that's your thing). This is nothing special, as there are plenty of burgers that are soy-based. What makes Impossible Burger so good is that they use "heme" as an ingredient. From what I understand, "heme" is the red-red component of blood that captures oxygen and is responsible for giving meat its meaty flavor. Obviously they can't use blood in a veggie burger, so they are manufacturing their own Franken-Heme in a laboratory by genetically engineering yeast to have a soy hemoglobin. They then extract the plant-based "heme" from the yeast and that's why their burgers are impossibly good.
So... if you're hardcore non-GMO, then this is not the burger for you.
It totally IS the burger for me, however, which is why I had another one before I flew home, this time with cheese...
And that's that. My plane leaves in and hour and then it's good bye Las Vegas.
But before I go, a look at what makes Vegas so totally Vegas...
My hotel room? $30. The stupid-ass "resort fee?" $35. Why the fuck they don't just be honest and charge you $75 for a room is assholery at its finest. Especially since the "resort fee" is just a scam. It includes access to the fitness center (who the fuck cares?), phone calls (doesn't everybody have a mobile phone now?), and internet access (which I could get for free by tethering to my phone). So, basically, we're paying $35 for nothing. But that's Vegas for you.
Until next time, Sin City.
Posted on June 6th, 2019
D-Day... the day that the Allies invaded Nazi-occupied France during World War II in order to liberate the country and secure victory on the Western Front... is a landmark event in world history. The United States, The British Empire, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Norway, Poland, and Czechoslovakia came together to fight a great evil to escape from an unthinkable future against incredible odds. That the Allied Forces were victorious is a testament to cooperation, courage, and sacrifice. On this somber day of remembrance, it's our duty to pay respects those who risked everything, including their lives, in service of all humanity. You will not be forgotten.
According to President Trump, it's also a time to air your petty grudges by calling Robert Mueller a "fool" and Nancy Pelosi a "disaster"...
Well, if there's anybody who would know something about being both a fool and a disaster, it would be our president... the pathetic, loathsome, disgusting, moronic, vile, horror story that he is. Boy it would be nice if he could go just one damn day without embarrassing us in front of the world, but I guess that's too much to ask.
Anybody, anybody at all, with even the tiniest amount of humility and decency would have declined to discuss this kind of ugliness on this day... especially when you are sitting across from the Normandy American Cemetery Memorial which honors those US soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. All he had to say was "I'm sorry, but now is not the time or place to get into that... I'm here to pay my respects and honor the memory of some truly great American heroes and nothing else." But, of course, we all know that humility and decency are two traits that President Trump doesn't possess, and so here we are.
Can you imagine... can you even fathom... what the reaction would be at FOX "News" if President Obama had unloaded this kind of petty sniping under the same conditions? Can you?!?
If not, just Google it. Theirs was a non-stop parade of condemnation for far, far less offensives... or nothing at all... for the eight years that he was in office. As propaganda ministers for the Far Right that's their job, after all.
Posted on May 15th, 2019
Can I please just have a day off from this insanity?
Every time some heinous new political bombshell drops, my brain explodes and I have to pull my head back together so I can get through another day. Whether it's idiot politicians being idiots, ignorant people being ignorant, or the nonsensical being presented as common sense... it seems every single day is another assault on my sanity, and it's getting harder and harder to pull myself through it.
As I've said many times, I do not support abortion outside of special circumstances. But that's my personal belief. This being AMERICA and all, everybody gets to live by their beliefs and for their conscience. I fully, unequivocally support a woman's right to choose. President Clinton said that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare"... and that pretty much sums it up for me. But in order for abortion to be rare, people must be educated and have free and easy access to birth control. Until that happens, our society endorses "abortion as birth control," and the people who are strongest against abortion seem to be the people most responsible for it. Their only solution is to just make it illegal... problem solved.
Except not really. Because banning abortion isn't going to stop abortion! The collapse in logic here is mind-boggling. No way to get a safe, controlled abortion? Oh, okay... bring on the coat hangers and back-alleys. Then some 12-year-old pregnant rape victim ends up dead because her parents didn't want her childhood (and possibly her entire life) ruined, so they risked an at-home procedure that went terribly wrong. THAT's what constitutes being pro-life?!? Who in the hell are these sadist pieces of shit running Alabama?
Meanwhile, all these politicians and their wealthy backers will STILL have access to safe abortions and suffer absolutely no consequences because of it. As always, the law only applies to poor people.
How the fuck do I get off this planet?
If only I had a portal guns from Rick and Morty. Which, by the way, is finally coming back this November...
Isn't it sad when the best thing you've heard out of the news all day is that a cartoon is returning?
Welcome to life in these United States.
Or on this earth, really.
Posted on March 27th, 2019
My ideal presidential candidate is an intelligent, young, artistic, Black, atheist, lesbian woman who served in the military. And I'm not even joking. I want somebody in The White House who understands that freedom and liberty are more than just words... and what it's like to be marginalized by society so they will fight for everybody. Not just stupid, old, white, Christian, straight male billionaire trust-fund assholes. EVERYBODY.
If I can't have that, I'll take anybody... anybody... who checks as many of those boxes as possible and can beat President Trump in our next election.
Because right now this country does not belong to its citizens. It belongs to career politicians in the pocket of the absurdly wealthy, and they don't represent us. They don't even care about us. All they care about is (more) money and power... and re-election, of course.
Right now the candidate I like is Pete Buttigieg...
He's young, in the Navy Reserve (served in Afghanistan), gay, married to his husband, and knows seven languages (one of which he learned because he wanted to read a book in its native Norwegian). He's a Harvard kid, yes, so his professor parents have money... but he was president and valedictorian of his high school class and graduated magna cum laude from college as a Rhodes Scholar, so he knows hard work.
His political experience is not great, but I see that as a definite plus. Especially since what experience he does have is stellar.
Of course, it's still early, so who knows what else there is to know about Pete Buttigieg. Just my luck he's a serial killer or something equally heinous.
The big question is... can he beat President Trump in an election fight?
I honestly don't know.
For me, all he would have to do is show up to a debate, smile, say nothing, and let Trump be Trump. But for the majority of Americans, the fact that he's actually smart means he's not somebody they want as president. He's also gay, which too many people don't want to even exist. Apparently people want somebody who says they're smart when they're a total dumbass. And who is a serial adulterer and misogynistic asshole (so long as they're straight) and terminal liar (so long as they are lying about being a Christian).
I'd hope for a scandal that will send Trump's approval rating spiraling, but the numerous scandals he's already been involved in don't seem to hurt him, so that's a lost cause.
I suppose I just have to hope that the American people will smarten up and vote for somebody who actually has their best interests at heart...
So I guess we're doomed then.
Posted on March 24th, 2019
After a week of sunshine, of course it's raining on my birthday weekend. But I'm not complaining... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Change. This is my first birthday without my mom. It's also my first birthday without one of my oldest friends. I thought I would be overwhelmed with sadness, but I just feel numb. I guess you reach that point in your life when your friends and family start to go and that's just the way it is. You can either trudge on in life and make the best of what you have left... or you give in to the sadness and stop living altogether. I'm trying for the former. And if being temporarily numb to everything is what it takes, then I guess you do what you gotta do. For five decades death was a rare event for me and I suppose I'm thankful for that. Now that I'm on the back-end of my life, that's changing. I'm doing my best to accept this new reality. I'm doing my best to find new ways to be happy. I'm doing my best to keep doing my best every day. It's the least I can do to honor those I care about who aren't here any more. Life shouldn't be wasted on the living.
• Anti-Social! Stepping away from social media after having been completely submerged in social media is a weird place to be. The majority of my friends don't live anywhere near me, so things like Facebook are how we keep in touch. What I've learned these past weeks of being anti-social is this: Being in constant contact with people conditions you to take them for granted. It's a sobering realization, and something I am vowing not to forget. When I return to my social media life next week (or whenever), it's not going to be like it was. I want contact with friends to be meaningful and engaging... not empty and boring. Maybe posting less... reading less... doing less... will make my online relationships special again. Like they were back when we were all blogging. Or so I can hope.
• Dana! One of my all-time favorite shows was Sports Night, the brainchild of Aaron Sorkin (who would go on to create The West Wing). It was incredibly good television that I became obsessed with. A big reason for that was Dana Whitaker, played by Felicity Huffman. The same Felicity Huffman who is currently embroiled in a college admissions scandal. Apparently she paid a bunch of bribe money to have her daughter's SAT scores improved, thus paving her way to college acceptance. I am sure this will be spun into a heartwarming story showing the lengths a mother is willing to go to help her child... but fuck that. Her money already provided a life of unimaginable privilege for her kids. But she felt the need to shove somebody aside who actually worked hard to earn their SAT score? This is a shining example of everything wrong with this country (and the world in general). If you have money, you get to do whatever the fuck you want. Well... hopefully not this time. Hopefully, if she's found guilty, she goes to jail. How else is she going to learn?
• Dumbfuckery! Of course, not all parents learn anything from a tough lesson. Take this story, for example: It Took Two Months and Nearly a Million Dollars to Save an Unvaccinated 6-Year-Old From Tetanus. The key takeaway from the story is in the last paragraph... "The story ends mostly happily for the boy. A month later, he was completely back to normal, running and using his bike again. But it seems no lessons were learned on his family’s part. Despite the brutal ordeal and pleading by the doctors, they again chose not to vaccinate him for tetanus or any other diseases." At what point do child endangerment laws kick in? After I was run over by a shuttle van in France and arrived home, the first thing my doctor asked me after saying I fractured a rib was "Are you current on your tetanus vaccination?" When I said "I don't think so," he laid out a horrifying picture of what death by tetanus is like. It wasn't pretty. Why anybody would risk their kid's life with such a horrendous fate escapes me. Thank you, Jenny McCarthy.
• Inappropriate! It is so wrong that I nearly peed myself watching this clip?
Probably. But that's some funny shit right there.
• Off! And now I'm loading up my car for a trip over the mountains to spend my birthday with friends. I've had enough of being numb for a little while.
The End. THE END!
Posted on September 20th, 2018
I remember the AIDS crisis very well.
The first time I was exposed to it was when a guy a few years behind me in school was rumored to have the disease. Eventually he just... disappeared. No news. No nothing. I have no idea what ever became of him. I do know that his younger brother deflected it by telling unfunny gay and AIDS jokes.* I guess he was intent on making sure nobody thought he was gay too. At the time, I didn't know much about AIDS (there wasn't much to know) but it still seemed incredibly sad. If the guy did have AIDS, then even his family was ridiculing him as he was struggling.
I grew up in rural America where homosexuality was so deep in the closet that it was virtually unheard of outside of gay jokes and people like Boy George becoming famous. I'm sure gay people existed here in the 80's when the AIDS epidemic was beginning, but they were invisible in our community so far as I knew. Probably out of necessity. I heard more than one story of people being run out of town (or, more likely, being threatened with being run out of town) for whatever reason (like having the wrong color skin, for example). So if you were gay and still wanted to live here knowing how some of the natives are, you probably didn't talk about your sexuality openly.
Heck, I had a hard enough time growing up here when people just thought I was gay.** I'm not the most masculine of guys, and apparently that's enough. Never mind that I've only ever dated women and am not sexually attracted to men,*** it's what people think that matters.
Anyway... where was I? Oh yeah.
And then I graduated high school in 1984 and found my way to the real world.
At this time people didn't know much about HIV and AIDS. It was still very much thought of as a "gay disease" even though it had spread far beyond that. I remember seeing protests on the news because people didn't want to send their kids to school if another student had AIDS. Ignorance and fear were rampant and there was a huge amount of misinformation about how you get the disease. Everybody was in a panic, and our government seemed uninterested in helping matters. Despite this horrific failure by President Reagan and our elected officials, people had become better-educated by the time I was finishing up community college in 1986-87. But the stigma was still there. As were the deaths.
My occupation in graphic design is a highly creative field. For whatever reason, creative jobs attract a higher-than-average number of gay persons to their ranks. Which meant I had to set aside my sheltered upbringing and go from barely knowing homosexuality exists... to working with gay people on a regular basis. Luckily my parents provided an atmosphere of tolerance growing up which made this an easy adjustment. What was not easy was living from day to day wondering if any of my friends and colleagues were going to end up missing due to an AIDS-related illness. I'd call to speak with somebody I had been working with just the week before... only to be told that they were no longer there. They were too sick to work. You knew it was coming. They would tell you it was coming. But it was never an easy thing to hear. Sometimes I was able to make it to Seattle or Portland or San Francisco to visit them. Sometimes I wasn't. Sometimes I made it to their funeral.
After a while it became difficult to get through the week without AIDS being a part of the picture. If it wasn't news about somebody you knew, it was somebody known by somebody you knew. As we reached the 90's you'd find yourself becoming numb to it. You had to. It was the only way to stay sane. Usually hearing that somebody died is like a bomb being dropped. Even if you didn't know them very well. But now it was worked into passive conversation. You'd find out someone was gone while eating dinner. It would be "Can you pass the guacamole? Oh... did I mention Bryan died last week?"
It's almost impossible to describe what it was like if you weren't there.
And I'm straight.
I'm filled with despair trying to wrap my head around what it was like for the gay community. I had friends who told me that they spent years in hospitals. Years. Not because they were sick, but because everybody they knew was sick or dying. I am aghast if I have to attend a funeral once a year. If you were an integral part of a large gay community, you might end up at a funeral every month.
Due to the AIDS epidemic, the 80's and early 90's were a tragic time of sadness and loss for a great many people.
As I said, I remember it very well. Too well.
Which is why reading this morning that President Trump's administration has removed $260 million from cancer research, HIV/AID prevention, and other programs is hard to take. AIDS hasn't gone away. AIDS is still here. I know people living with AIDS right now. There still is no cure for AIDS. And the minute we lose vigilance, it could explode all over again. Sure, AIDS is survivable now... it's not a guaranteed death sentence as it once was... but it's still a horrible disease which can have dire consequences. And we want to take money away from making sure it doesn't become a massive health crisis all over again? I don't get it. And if people aren't completely outraged, they don't get it either.
Towleroad published an article yesterday called Wasn't That Long Ago which collects tweets by Tucker Shaw about what it was like to lose somebody back in the day. And here it is in case you didn't know or have forgotten...
I overheard a young man on the train on the way home today, talking to another young man. Holding hands. In college, I guessed. About that age anyway. Much younger than I am. He was talking about AIDS, in a scholarly way. About how it had galvanized the gay community. How it had spurred change. Paved the way to make things better, in the long run.
The long run.
Maybe he’s right. I don’t know. It’s not the first time I’ve heard the theory. He spoke with clarity and with confidence. Youthful, full of conviction. But. Remember how terrible it was, not that long ago, during the worst times. How many beautiful friends died. One after the other. Brutally. Restlessly. Brittle and damp. In cold rooms with hot lights. Remember? Some nights, you’d sneak in to that hospital downtown after visiting hours, just to see who was around. It wasn’t hard. You’d bring a boom box. Fresh gossip. Trashy magazines and cheap paperbacks. Hash brownies. Anything. Nothing. You’d get kicked out, but you’d sneak back in. Kicked out again. Back in again. Sometimes you’d recognize a friend. Sometimes you wouldn’t.
Other nights, you’d go out to dance and drink. A different distraction. You’d see a face in the dark, in the back of the bar. Is it you? Old friend! No. Not him. Just a ghost. At work, you’d find an umbrella, one you’d borrowed a few rainstorms ago from a coworker. I should return it, you’d think. No. No need. He’s gone. It’s yours now. Season after season. Year after year.
One day you’d get lucky and meet someone lovely. You’d feel happy, optimistic. You’d make plans. Together, you’d keep a list of names in a notebook you bought for thirty cents in Chinatown so you could remember who was still here and who wasn’t, because it was so easy to forget. But there were so many names to write down. Too many names. Names you didn’t want to write down. When he finally had to go too, you got rid of the notebook. No more names.
Your friends would come over with takeout and wine and you’d see how hard they tried not to ask when he was coming home because they knew he wasn’t coming home. No one came home. You’d turn 24. When he’d been gone long enough and it was time to get rid of his stuff, they’d say so. It’s time. And you’d do it, you’d give away the shirts, sweaters, jackets. Everything. Except those shoes. You remember the ones. He loved those shoes, you’d say. We loved those shoes. I’ll keep those shoes under the bed.
You’d move to a new neighborhood. You’d unpack the first night, take a shower, make the bed because it’d be bedtime. You’d think of the shoes. For the first time, you’d put them on. Look at those shoes. What great shoes. Air. You’d need air. You’d walk outside in the shoes, just to the stoop. You’d sit. A breeze. A neighbor steps past. “Great shoes,” she’d say. But the shoes are too big for you. You’d sit for a while, maybe an hour, maybe more. Then you’d unlace the shoes, set them by the trash on the curb. You’d go back upstairs in your socks. The phone is ringing. More news.
The long run. Wasn’t that long ago.
No. No it wasn't that long ago.
To me it seems like it was only yesterday.
How long must it seem to the people running this country?
*The only joke I remember hearing him tell had something to do with a ferry rear-ending a sailboat in Puget Sound and now they both have AIDS. Yeah, hilarious.
**Many people still do, I'm sure.
***Though, if I'm being honest, I think I have better relationships with men. I'm not sexually attracted to men. I've never had sex with a man. But building a healthy relationship with women is apparently not something I'm built for because they never last. Even when the sex is great. Which is why I'm guessing I'm still single. Meanwhile, I've had non-sexual relationships with men whom I love on a near-spiritual level that have lasted decades. So... never say never, I guess. I've had sex with women whom I wasn't sexually attracted to, so maybe one day I'll meet the right guy and everything will change! If it happens, dear reader, you'll be the first to know.