wwcitizen: (Stone Angel)
We lost an angel last night. Joe DiMuro, a friend born in NYC roughly 60 years ago, died peacefully at home. He was at home with his husband of 25 years, in his favorite recliner, under his father's blanket. How wonderful to pass in peace without pain!! As his husband, Carlos, put it, "We should all be so lucky." I hope I am that lucky!

My post here is not a solicitation of sympathy, but a gentle, firm reminder to each of us that life is short. We must cherish our moments with each other for as long as we have each other, as friends, family, spouses, or even colleagues. Part of the human experience is to experience each other, everyone's personalities, our likes and dislikes, our discourse, our joys and pains, and our silence - in the presence of one another.

Joe, Carlos, my friend, Joseph, and I met on a dance floor in Philadelphia in the fall of 2002. Joe & Carlos at that point had been together for about 12 years, at about the same time where Matthew and I are in our relationship now. Since then, Joe and Carlos helped to open up my world of friends in the Bear Community. Through those two, I, and Matthew and I, have met, I would say, 100s of people in the NY, CT, and PA area.

Joe and Carlos have always been warm, welcoming, and generous. They opened their home to everyone with open arms and GREAT food!!

Granted, because Joe knew that I didn't really like the Beatles and he was a MASSIVE fan of them, he and I would banter for days online about their music, their lyrics, and... well, meh (<-- I know he's scowling at that right now! That makes me smile...). Truth be told, for the last 13 years, and now forever more, I will always think of Joe when I hear a Beatles song - guaranteed! Joe always glared at me with incredulity when I sang along with a Beatles song, him knowing that I don't like them. Surprisingly, I know almost all the words to the biggies. It always made me laugh when he flashed me that incredulous look with the subtext of, "How DARE you!!". I will always think of him flashing me that look from now on and I love that.

I love knowing that I made Joe smile and made him dance - even ever so slightly after his stroke a few years ago. He'd always shake his booty a little around me - even after his 2007 surgery - and that made us smile and giggle. He loved telling people how and where we met.

Joe, I will miss you. We didn't spend as much time with each other in person as we should have. Life got in the way and I hate that. I'm so happy that we got to know each other, get under each other's skin as we did for the time you allowed us to, and I will always cherish the memories we have. You were the Italian mother I never had, and the Italian grandmother I needed at times. Best of all, you were my friend.

I will miss you, my friend. Can't wait to see you at the concert.

wwcitizen: (Face-Serious)
Saturday night I lost my wallet. I lost my wallet in the WORST.POSSIBLE.PLACE.EVER.  Union City, NJ.  Well, granted, probably not THE worst, but not the best place, either, which could have probably been Fort Lee, NJ.  I'm sure that whoever would have found it in Fort Lee, Edgewater, Weehawken, or Englewood Cliffs would most likely not have done what the finder of my wallet did: Racked up $1000+ worth of fraudulent charges on my credit cards. 

There was already about $250 CASH in the wallet. Why not just use $5 of that to throw the wallet in an envelope and send it back to me with no cash? You still net $245 from the "good deed".  Still, if I had found that wallet, I could never have brought myself to run around from Union City to Jersey City to Elizabeth and Secaucus, NJ, spending someone else's money who I don't even know. That sort of activity and mindset reflects a dark, dark soul IMHO. And they've probably done this sort of thing before. I mean, if they'd bought groceries at a local grocery store, I wouldn't feel such negativity, but they drove to Wal-Mart, Target, IKEA, a hair salon, Dunkin Donuts, and other places before 10AM on a Sunday to buy as much as they could with my credit cards. Shameful.

I'm a strong believer in karmic energy; i.e. what you give to the world and universe, the world and universe give back to you. Matthew has been wonderfully supportive throughout this whole thing, even though one of his cards was also used fraudulently and we've both been traumatized and stressed with the knowledge that someone out there in the ether has our home address, email addresses and goodness-knows how much other info that possibly could be used against either of us in some fashion. What's even kind of creepier is that this person knows what I (and possibly Matthew) look like, but we don't know what he looks likes. He could see me walk across the street and I wouldn't even know.

And I do know it was a "him". One of the charges was made for gift certificates at a salon that has surveillance cameras.  When I submitted the police report, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. That's not to say that I necessarily think that the police will be able to find the guy and arrest him or that whatever case is mounted will achieve any level of prosecution, but at least the crimes are being reported.

The salon's owner has given the tapes to the police and the police have already followed up with me on the guy's activities, including possibly finding the guy's address from an online purchase.  I mean, truly, how stupid do you have to be to make an online purchase with a stolen credit card?  The IP address alone tracks where purchases originate.

It's just all so sad to think that someone out there really needed to go and spend that money (not mine - but my credit cards' money) on things. What could they possibly have needed from IKEA or Target or Wal-Mart?  Another sad thing is that those gift certificates will lead to either someone else's disappointment or arrest because now the salon knows not to honor the certificates.  Another innocent victim of this guy's criminal rampage.

My own "glass-half-full" ideology, that people are generally good people, has truly been tested, too. All day Sunday and part of Monday (until visiting the police station), I was fighting off negative thoughts and feelings of dread and anxiousness. But because I want to fight and maintain the "glass-half-full" and optimistic realism in my heart and soul - as well as the karmic energy perspective - one of the first things I did with my new credit cards was donate to charities. I felt the need to give back in the hopes that someone else can be blessed by the blessings I've been given, without having to steal it. (I also bought a few pairs of glasses from an online vendor (for way LESS than the price of ONE of my newest pairs from Pearle Vision - meh), but who doesn't need a little shop therapy now and then? Especially after such a bad experience!)

Suffice to say, I have been granted a lot of peace of mind from my Matthew, in my credit card fraud departments, from the police, and with the hair salon surveillance cameras. I'm still gonna get ID security from my bank. They will monitor my credit activities, potential fraudulent activities (including if a credit card somewhere without my knowledge has been opened in my name - they will take care of everything for me), and keep my personal information more secure.  Looking forward to making that investment!
wwcitizen: (Santa Steve)
Here's hoping that this post backfires in a positive way! Given positive outcomes in other holiday goings-on, this issue might be resolved today! Here's hoping!

On Dec. 13, I sent out a package priority mail with the USPS (with a 2-3 day turnaround), who we always use for any of our packages - domestically or internationally. Usually, their delivery windows are the best for the price point. In contrast, FexEx, DHL, and UPS are terrible. The package was destined for Brooklyn. Another package I sent out on the same day got to NC within 3 business days. I fully expected the same with the package to Brooklyn because, after all, it's basically just over a couple of bridges.

Using Track & Confirm, the last update status after "Sorting Complete, December 17, 2010, 10:29 am, BROOKLYN, NY 11217" was, "Delivery status not updated as of December 18, 2010, 12:39 am".

I was shocked! I'd never seen any update like that on the USPS tracking site. I contacted customer service on Monday, Dec. 20, after 9AM. Even they said they'd never seen anything like this either! Let me reiterate: The USPS Customer Service said they'd never seen an update like that either!

A little later our local NJ PO contacted me about the package. I'd been trying to call the Brooklyn PO all day and got a constant busy signal. Our local PO had no further information and was also having trouble getting through to Brooklyn. Although I fully expected to hear on the news, "The Brooklyn Post Office at zip code 11217 was blown up today in a terrorist plot initiated by postal workers who were denied their pensions...", I kept trying to get through to the Brooklyn PO.

On Tuesday, Dec. 21, I got through to the Brooklyn PO after lunch! The guy I spoke with was fully 1) trying to get me off the phone, 2) did not want to help me, 3) couldn't have cared less about my problem, 4) came up with all sorts of excuses about why the package hadn't been delivered, and 5) took about a full 10 minutes to locate a pencil to take down my information. He still hasn't called me back and now my friend, for whom the package was intended has gone over - on Christmas Eve - to hopefully retrieve the package. He just called and the post office in Brooklyn couldn't locate the package.

This whole thing is soooo frustrating!! Most likely, the package was lost and no one wants to claim responsibility. Other stuff has made it to Queens and Brooklyn (other POs), but not this one little package.

Here's what's in the package along with a card:

We had missed their tree-trimming party, the first one we would have ever been to, because Matt was pretty sick with a cold. We were both so very sad to miss it. I had made these ornaments especially to give them for their tree. They are inscribed on the back of each ornament for 2010. UGH!

Well, here's hoping that at some point during the year, someone finds the package and actually delivers it to them. I've heard about packages that are lost around the holidays might not turn up for years. Years. So, here's hoping that someone finds it soon! This is really the only sad thing that's happened for us around the holidays this year, and I hope it stays that way!
wwcitizen: (Face-Serious)
The other day, my father sent me an atrocious video link to sensationalist propaganda about Obama - a different one than the others in times past. The claims made in the video were easily debunked by a few clicks onto different news agencies. Sent those to my dad and asked him to remove me from mass distributions, but to include me on family business only. I'm tired of hearing brainwashed, misinformed, conservative, dominionist rhetoric. Last night, because I'd CC:'d my siblings on the email to my dad, my brother wrote a vehemently worded email agreeing with my father's point of view and all the Obama smack talk. That made me sad.

It's not that I absolutely love Obama; there are many things he could be doing better.
It's not that I want people to believe that Obama was born in Hawaii, that he has school records from Indonesia, or that he has an actual law degree and is a Christian.

Obama is our president. End of story. Man up (as I said in my email, which pissed off my brother tremendously, apparently). Get over it and move forward.

I wish people would focus on the important stuff. We have departments, commissions, and watchdog groups in our government whose sole job is to vet our potential candidates. If anything - truly anything - doesn't measure up, then it will stop the process and the person won't be on the fracking ballot, folks!

It's ever more saddening to see whack jobs like Christine O'Donnell and Sharron Angle winning their states' primaries.

It's disheartening not to see Democrats rising to the occasion and REALLY getting out there to campaign - MAKE HISTORY AGAIN - and KEEP OUR DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY in Washington!

It's so frustrating that many Republican folks are just following their Senators and "Representatives" so blindly. Their sheep aren't noticing that filibustering is not only childish, but counterproductive - working toward bi-partisan consensus is more productive. Even when Republicans say they agree and support something the Dems put forth, when it goes to a vote, the Republicans (lacking integrity) filibuster and/or vote "no".

It baffles me that conservatives - in general - aren't listening to both sides and making well-informed decisions.

I barely have an interest in mentioning Tea Baggers because they and their ideas are all so insane. Political candidates, like O'Donnell, actually believe in and preach on abstinence. In 2010. Abstinence is a (misguided) practice, which has proven DISASTROUS in Texas. Political candidates, like Angle, actually believe that illegal immigration is on the rise and oppose abortion even in cases of rape & incest; wonder if that would apply to one of her daughters or grandkids?

The problem with the Tea Baggers is they may be the next "viable" party that puts people into office. When I used to wish for more political parties in America, I wasn't talking about conservative ones; that wasn't even in my thought process at all. Next time I speak to my blue genie, I'll have to be more specific.
wwcitizen: (Stone Angel)
It's funny when people die, I'm always filled with a myriad of questions about them - as if the information is fleeting or I need to know much more about them to remember them. I remember someone saying once, "A person never really dies as long as someone keeps their memory alive."

I will always remember Bea Arthur. She's an icon of the 70s and 80s, feminism, women's rights, and was an active supporter of gay rights. She was a woman I always looked up to for some reason and strangely felt I knew, though I'd never met her - always wanted to. I suppose because I grew up sneaking episodes of Maude before my dad caught me and made me turn off the TV: "I can't stand that woman and don't want her in my house!" he'd balk. I guess for good reason "back in the day," too: Her character had an abortion on Maude - in the 70s!!

In the 80s, I didn't catch as many episodes of the Golden Girls as I wanted, but loved it when I could watch (we didn't have Tivo then, don't forget); it was a guilty pleasure. I remember seeing Bea Arthur walking down Madison Ave. in NYC back in the 80s during one of my first trips to the city. I will certainly be catching up on my Golden Girls now!

Rest in peace, Ms. Arthur; I'm glad your fight ended peacefully in the presence of friends and family, but you will be sorely missed.
wwcitizen: (Strange Feelings)
Fire destroys 'Lost Colony' buildings, costumes
By Orla Swift, Staff Writer
MANTEO - A fire ripped through the theater that hosts "The Lost Colony" outdoor drama early this morning, destroying two buildings and hundreds of costumes and artifacts.

The amphitheater and its sets were saved. But the costume shop yards away was destroyed, including 70 years of costumes, fabrics, sketches and other artifacts and memorabilia.

A nearby resident saw flames at the Waterside Theatre at 12:35 a.m. and alerted firefighters, according to the show's publicist.

The cause of the fire has not been determined, but it appears to have started in a maintenance shed, according to production and costume designer William Ivey Long.

Many valuable costumes were saved by chance, Long said in a telephone interview this morning from his home in New York. The ornate queen's costume and jewels had just gone to Wilmington's Cameron Art Museum about a week ago, to be part of a retrospective of Long's work.

And the courtiers' costumes are at the dry cleaners and in Raleigh, where they will be included in the N.C. Museum of History's forthcoming exhibit,"Mysteries of the Lost Colony and A New World: England's First View of America from the British Museum."

Long, a former Raleigh resident and five-time Tony Award winner, said this morning that he was less upset about losing his own designs than those that preceded him -- particularly the Native American costumes, which provided a 70-year overview of how historians and designers viewed Native Americans.

"The Lost Colony" is the nation's longest-running outdoor drama. It tells the tale of British settlers who came to Manteo in 1587, decades before their more famous counterparts at Plymouth Rock, but who mysteriously disappeared. The production celebrated its 70th anniversary this summer.

Long said he probably will have to work all year to create new costumes before the outdoor drama reopens next summer. He had not yet estimated the value of what was lost. But he said the theater did not have insurance on the contents of the buildings because it could not afford the cost.


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Stephen Lambeth

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