Escapes

Sep. 18th, 2013 02:51 pm
wwcitizen: (Rollercoaster Red)
There are many different times in my day or week when all that comes to mind is the strong desire to escape. Somewhere else or some other time draws me into daydreams and longings for being and experiencing something other than the present.

It’s critical to be present and live in the moment as much as possible. It’s those present moments that create the future daydreams and nostalgia, longings and memories of other times, happier or more interesting places, and people.

This escape is nothing specific to me right now or necessarily a reaction to anything going on right now, except that I’d MUCH rather be anything else than sitting at a desk.  I’d rather be out hiking, watching nature do its thing, walking around a lake in upstate NY or down a street in Boston, or sitting in a train in Europe heading someplace I’ve not visited before.  Perhaps it's the ensuing change of seasons that makes me dream.

But, my sitting at my desk right now is a moment that needs to take place in order for those other, better moments to happen and more interesting places or times to be. My present work day will allow me, for instance, to visit another place that Monet painted or where a Vivaldi violin concerto was first enjoyed. Putting in my time now will result in time off and freedom from corporate bounds for a little while.

Would that I were a business traveler again. I used to LOVE to travel for work. It was exciting to visit and discover new places or get to know a particular place far away from home. I loved having special places in other towns that I discovered and would visit when I was “in town” for a business trip.
Most if not all the places I used to frequent for dinner, lunch, drinks, or over-nighting in Brno, Prague, Budapest, Bratislava, and Ljubljana, and even Vienna, Linz, or Salzburg – work trips – are most likely gone and part of history. The same is probably true in Leipzig, Berlin, Chicago, Houston, and Winston-Salem.
Having visited Ephesus and many ruins in Greece, Germany, and Italy, I often wonder how many cities I've visited in my lifetime will be relics and ruins of my time five or ten centuries from now. How will the earth’s surface or climate change that defines the future earth?

For those people who painted pictures in their kitchen in 300 BC, what did they daydream about? Did they ever want to escape and see or do something different than they were doing?  I wonder how many kids or artists with whimsy wrote their names on the inside of tiles before placing the tiles in a mosaic in their houses, like I used to do when I helped my dad build rooms or fix a wall. 

All over the place from Singapore to Kaua’I, Hawaii, I've planted my initials somewhere, all the while thinking, “Who will find this? What will they think? Will they look up my name and try to find out anything about me? What else will I leave behind that they will be able to find?”

It seems part of human nature to want to leave some kind of stamp on the world for future humanity. Is that all humans or a select few? It’s a select few whose existence echoes through the centuries – like Homer. Of course, not the “Homer” of Springfield, but will Matt Groening’s work survive the centuries?  Will school kids in AD2357 watch those shows in awe of “the way things were”?  Or will Space Balls inordinately be the societal ruler by which our generation’s Weltanschauung will be measured?

See?  All I wanna do is escape and be elsewhere doing something else, but simultaneously leave my mark somehow, somewhere, someway.
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
Aside from the tummy issues, we did have a great time in Ptown for Bear Week. I mentioned the events I hosted in a previous post (that took me a while to write up for some reason...).

We met TONS of new people and got to see people we hadn't seen in a long while, such as [livejournal.com profile] texwriterbear, [livejournal.com profile] slothel, and [livejournal.com profile] delmarmar Also in attendance were [livejournal.com profile] profundis (apparently - didn't get a chance to meet up), [livejournal.com profile] thetarnishedowl, [livejournal.com profile] mat_t (I think), [livejournal.com profile] faghatesgods & [livejournal.com profile] mondragon (Matthew saw them  both on separate days from afar),
We got to meet [livejournal.com profile] dewittar and [livejournal.com profile] fishfin for the first time in person!!  Very happy we were able to meet up and connect.  When I first encountered Rodney and Allen, they both looked so different in 3D than in 2D. Plus, I hadn't expected such pleasanly homey southern accents to come out of them like they have!  Very enchanting couple.

The day we were together at Vorelli's for bloody Marys, the power kept failing throughout the Cape from allowed brownouts. One of the cooling towers at the nearest nuclear plant wasn't cooling as quickly, so they diverted all the power for cooling to one cooling tower and shut the second off, which took some time and created brownouts.

Even still, we got to see some shows, including Miss Richfield 1981, one of our favorites! Those tickets were for Matthew's birthday gift. And we were both well enough to have a nice dinner at the Crown & Anchor and then head to the show! She never disappoints and always brings in some fresh, unexpected stuff. Very fun!
So, yes, we got to experience a lot of what makes Bear Week great: friends, shows, dinners, Tea Dance, and evening dances. But, we just took it all a lot slower than in years past. PLUS, the ultimate greatest thing was that I had no back pain like in 2012.

On the second and last Saturday of Bear Week, we decided to stay till around dinner time. The previous times we had been to Ptown in the off season, we discovered that leaving later in the day allowed everyone else to get off the highway. Our drive went from 7-9 hours (with everyone else leaving the Cape) down to a normal 4.5-5 hour drive home.  We spent the day shopping around, which we didn't do during the week, and spending time with a couple of friends of ours from NYC.
Fun times were had by all! Yay for vacation, Bear Week, and GREAT FRIENDS!!  We're already looking forward toward next year's Bear Week in 2014!!
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
Bear Week 2013 is over. Well, at least the in-person experience.

The Beginning of OUR Bear Week
Our vacation started off with the "exciting", long, soul-sucking drive through Connecticut, as usual, no matter what time we leave on Friday. There are always road blocks, construction sites, traffic, delays without explanation, and then SUDDENLY everything clears up around exits 72 or 86 right around a nearby prison (there are 93 exits in CT on I-95 and WE start before exit 1...).
IMG_4814
In the car ride, we munched on baked sesame sticks (YUM!!), grapes, pork sandwiches that Matthew had made the night before (EXTRA YUM!), rice chips (blech), Chinese crackers, and peanuts. We brought only filtered and seltzer waters with us to drink all the way up, but didn't drink a lot of it. Matthew was happy that we didn't feel the need to stop to go to the bathroom, since we weren't drinking that much.  We checked into the Gifford House for the Friday night by about 8:30 - a 7-hour drive for what should normally take about 5 hours.  Thanks, Connecticut!  We were mellowing over a martini at the Porch Side Bar at the Gifford House by 9:15PM and stayed there till about midnight. We were tired, so went to bed; Matthew had a small tummy ache when we got to the room.

Matthew's Birthday
At 5 AM, Matthew woke me up to tell me to call for an ambulance. He hadn't slept much the previous 2 hours because of major abdominal pain that had woken him up. He felt that he had an abdominal obstruction. The EMT who heard Matthew's description said, "It's probably his gall bladder," which seemed really off - Matthew's never had gall bladder issues and our regular diet is perfect for a healthy gall bladder.
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By 5:30 AM, distraught and bleary-eyed, I stood watching the love of my life get into the vehicle, knowing he'd be on the road for no less than an hour to the nearest hospital down the Cape. I had to stay behind to move our stuff from the Gifford House to the condo across the street and get things settled for the week, which I did. We wouldn't hear his prognosis till about 9 or 10. It took them 2+ hrs to admit him and then he went for an ultra-sound. They found gall stones, but nothing to report in his abdomen; there was no infection and he had no fever - just pain. The doctors from hell didn't prescribe any pain medication for him or anti-biotics. Nothing. They wanted to remove his gall bladder - FOR NO REASON! So, he promptly grabbed the CD from his ultra-sound and made a mad dash back to Provincetown in a cab.

Three Cheers For Equality!!
I will say this: I was greatly encouraged by the Massachusetts health care system and the level of equality/acceptance I experience in MA - on a regular basis.  At about 10:30 am, I called the hospital to check up on Matthew, because the last text at that point from him was, "I'm running out of blood, TTYL!" I called and said, "My partner was admitted there at 6:30 this morning and I would like to speak with his nurse about his status and why his blood is running out." They put me right through to Matthew's nurse, Frank, who gave me an update.

Once I hung up, Frank went to Matthew and introduced himself and relayed my information; Matthew had not met his nurse until I called asking for information - WHICH I GOT WITHOUT QUESTION!! But, because I, his partner, called to check up on Matthew, his nurse got more on the ball - Matthew wasn't alone. I can pretty much guarantee that that experience would not happen in any of the states that currently do not recognize same-sex couples as equal in the eyes of the law - no matter what the hospital employee-patient manuals say.

My Matthew was safely and soundly back in my arms by 3 PM. I had gone shopping for all our food, including vodka and rum. I had everything set up for him for his birthday - all the decorations throughout the house - and set up his suitcase, hanging shirts, and our Internet for the week, so that we'd be WiFi-enabled.  He didn't have to lift a finger. Instead, we both took a nice, long nap and went to Tea Dance by 5:30.  Then we had dinner at the Red Inn and enjoyed a slice of cake that I had delivered from Relish Bakery down the street.
BEAR WEEK 201322-smaller
Steve's Events
For this Bear Week, my Facebook group suggested some get-togethers and I picked two to host: One on Sunday for the Facebook group at large, and one on Monday for the "Bear Week Virgins" to meet some veterans.  The Sunday morning coffee house get-together went over GREAT. Matthew and I wore t-shirts that we had made with the logo of the group that Matthew constructed. I had also gotten a huge banner made up for the events and hung that up, too.  Over the course of about 2.5 hours, about 50+ people made their way by us for the get-together out of about 200+ people who'd responded as "Going!". A 25% turnout is pretty successful.
IMG_4907 1373812870920 20130717_171909
Monday's turnout at the Aqua Bar was about the same and I was very happy to introduce people to a bar that seems to get lost in the shuffle between all the other bars in town. The Aqua Bar has great views of the bay and the wharves, as well as other bars' decks.  For this event, we wore the t-shirts, I hung the banner, and I passed out Pride beads; I had bought 4 bags of 6 dozen beaded necklaces; I gave out 1.5 bags at the Monday event, which was about 85-100 necklaces.  That means about 33-50% of the people who responded came!!  Even more successful - and some people from the Sunday event came to the Monday one, which was even better.  The bartenders (Brecken and Morgan - loving their names) made up a summery, fruity cocktail special for the event.  But, I didn't drink any alcohol on Monday, which I'll explain next.

Steve's Tummy
Sunday evening after Tea, we went out to dinner with some friends. I was playing it "safe" by ordering mussels, a salad, and a Provincetown staple: fish soup. That dinner at 7:30 pm was practically all I had eaten all day except some store-bought hummus late in the afternoon.  Sunday night I could tell something wasn't right and it seemed that I had eaten something bad.  By Monday around noon, just before my "Like A Bear Week Virgin" event, I started feeling odder and a little queasy. By the time the event was over, I really needed to be back at the apartment because I was getting delirious and dizzy.  So, we went back and we took a 2-hour nap, skipping Tea.

We had dinner reservations for 7 pm at one of our favorite restaurants, Ross' Grill.  Every hot appetizer or entree I saw on the menu made me feel nauseous.  So, we ordered the raw bar (which for some reason didn't disgust me) and I got a salad as an entree.  Matthew got the mussels and chicken (he felt fine) and I ended up not finishing my half of the BEAUTIFUL and delicious raw bar or my salad. The waitress brought me ginger ale after ginger ale and then THAT made me ill.

When we got home, my tummy was really bad, but nothing was moving. I got a fever in the restaurant and it got up to around 101.8 at one point in the evening. I dozed off and on for 3 hours and went to bed around midnight. The fever broke around 2:30 and I ended up sleeping till around 9 AM Tuesday and napped from 11:30-1:00.  I didn't feel like eating anything at all and by no means was I drinking alcohol.  I ended up not having any alcohol for three days!

Matthew's Tummy
Matthew started getting my symptoms from Sunday by Tuesday evening after dinner of Greek salad with chicken. That night we had another salad and chicken gyros because we were both kind of hungry. His tummy ache and fever kicked in later Wednesday afternoon. We both made sure that his tummy aches were definitely not the same as the ones from Saturday. We were quadruple-booked for Wednesday evening events and parties. I went to Tea on his insistence, and came back with a light dinner for us both at home by 6pm.  Matthew insisted that I go out and have fun with some folks, so I went out for about 2 hours, checking on his temp from time to time, which held steady at around 100 degrees (thankfully, less than mine). I brought him back some Tylenol and by midnight, his temp was down to almost normal.

A Godsend - All Tummy Issues Aside
In the end, Matthew and I spent a lot of time together this last vacation, making sure the other was on the mend and back on his feet. Since I got my new job in May, we've both been feeling lots of separation anxiety and the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) of each other's presence.  We haven't spent this much time apart for almost the last 5 years!! So, having time together on a vacation, where we usually are out and about all day in town spending time with friends, we would have felt like we spent no time together. In a way, it was a godsend that we got food poisoning.

It might be strange to say, but there's no one I'd rather be sick with than Matthew and he feels the same way. We take care of each other and know each other's needs. The main thing I never want to experience again is watching him leave in an ambulance by himself.  That was probably the worst and most helpless I've felt in a long, long time.  No matter how much he insisted that we had to do it that way and no matter how it all turned out, it was awful. Seeing my love, in pain, leaving without me to an unknown place with unfamiliar people was awful.

All in all, we relish in the fact that we did, actually, have a great time!!
wwcitizen: (Bavarian Bear)
I choose to reject the concept of rain or clouds for the upcoming first 5 days of Bear Week in Provincetown. Reject it, I say!!  The winds are going to come from out of nowhere, baffle meteorologists all over Massachussetts, and sweep away all the bad stuff. The temps will remain tame between 80 & 85 degrees every day with evening lows between 72 & 75.  I think that'll make for a beautiful WONDERFUL vacation. That's the story and I'm sticking to it!
WeatherPtown
wwcitizen: (Car in the Country)
Well, we're off tomorrow for a second round of Ptown in the off season. The trip should be fun and still pretty low-key in town. Last weekend was the event, Out of Hibernation, which is a bear run during the St. Patrick's Day weekend. I heard it was pretty fun and they had some great fundraisers around town.  We're done packing and getting ready for everything, including our hair cuts, which we'll get tomorrow morning.

Matthew's hair has to be at about the same length as a month ago.  He's doing a scene this time that precedes (in the story's time line) that he shot a month ago.  Between walking from the street into a bar, his hair can't all of a sudden appear shorter than it was outside. That would be really funny! Never know, though; I might be called in last minute to be background! That'd be cool.

Here's the weather forecast for the next few days.  I'm hoping that it's not as wet as is predicted; last time was snowy and wet enough!!  I'm also hoping that maybe we could get into a different town, say on Sunday, like Wellfleet. They have GREAT oysters from there this year. They're HUGE and delicious.
Fullscreen capture 3202013 80634 PM.bmp
One of the best things about this trip is that we're leaving on Thursday this time, so will have Friday in town and then the weekend. Traffic (knock on wood) will be better than on a Friday through Connecticut going up and returning in the evening should be a breeze; at least it was last time.
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
For those who know and love Provincetown or others who are intrigued, here's a collection of photos I took last weekend whilst up there with Matthew, who was shooting an episode of Off Season (which is a TV show about Ptown without tourists).  It was a FANTASTIC time to be there!!  Relaxing, interesting, light, and very fun!  We really enjoyed the 6 days we were there. Funny enough, it didn't feel like we had been there for 6 days. For Bear Week, we're there for about 8 days... and even then it doesn't feel like 8 days. But, being this was Off Season, you'd think it would have been ultra boring and hard to get through. But, on the contrary, it was really interesting. Totally different view of the town, area, and people for sure.  Enjoy!!

https://plus.google.com/photos/113791141813573302132/albums/5848084701895808737
wwcitizen: (S&M In Ptown)

The subject covers two aspects of Ptown: 1) Provincetown, MA, in the winter when tourists aren't around... and 2) Matthew acting in an episode of a TV show called Off Season.
It's exciting to be in Ptown in the winter! We had a big, blustery, SNOWY winter storm Sunday - all day. And we made the absolute best of the day. We got up late and played on our pads for a while. The snow outside piled up to about 10"!!  Eventually, I dug us out to the road. Not a big deal, since the snow was fresh and light. But I had a small, trunk-ready shovel, so I had to be careful not to throw out my back. :-)
On Saturday, we drove around and took pictures, but it was dreary and rainy. We had our postponed anniversary dinner at Ross's Grille, which was fantastic! To drink, we had a bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé Chardonnay. For dinner, it was raw oysters first, then locally sourced, sauteed mussels & clams - delicious broths! Our entrees were the Cape Cod Seafood Stew.  The Off Season dictates what restaurants stay open throughout the season, and which ones close for a while after the tourist season and WHEN they close before the tourist season starts up again.  Ross's Grille closed the day after our meal and we were served the last mussels, clams, and stews that they had. We really lucked out!
Sunday night, our dinner was at the Bistro @ Crowne Pointe, which is less than a block up the hill and has GREAT views of the Pilgrims' Monument, the Town Hall, and other historic buildings. We had Cake Chardonnay with deviled eggs, Italian bread, steamed mussels, and New England clam chowder for apps. Then, of course, we HAD to have a New England steamed lobster. Really great dinner, too.
Both nights we took in the "leftover" Ptown nightlife, which was light but fun and totally cozy. Most bars have a warm, cozy and glowing fireplace. The fireplaces reminded me of places in Germany, Austria, and Prague.
All throughout the weekend and in the weeks leading up to today, Matthew & I have been running over his lines over and over again.  It's been really fun.
Monday, we relaxed and got Matthew ready for one of his scenes. The shoot started at 3pm, so I drove around Ptown on my own to take pictures of the town with the snow. It was a bit disappointing because the incessant high winds blew away most of the snow in the course of the day.
I think I got some really great shots that capture the winter Provincetown, which most of the people that come to Bear Week every summer never see or can imagine.  Matthew hadn't messaged or called that he was done, so I went to the Governor Bradford pub for a glass of Chardonnay.  I had never been in that bar before; it's quite old and charming in its own right but I think there's no A/C in the summer, which is always the first and major deterrent.
While sipping my wine at the bar, I had probably the funniest experience ever by myself in Ptown - EVER!!: 4 fishermen in from their boats at the corner of the bar trying to outdo each other with their impressions of the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. It was so difficult not to even crack a smile in the hopes that they wouldn't stop on my account and that they might take on other characters with their (pretty decent) impressions.
I made my way to the location of the shoot taking place in a restaurant that was new to us, Sage. Matt did an excellent acting job; members of the crew were very impressed and came to me tell me they were. *happy dance*
So, this trip we went to places and areas of town that we'd never visited before. We went to the Shipwrecked Lounge, the Porchside Lounge, The Little Bar at A-House, the Governor Bradford bar, the Squealing Pig, Sage, the town's US Post Office, the very end of Commercial St, and areas of the Province Lands and National Parks that were new to us.
All in all it's been amazing trip and it does not feel like 6 days. Given our druthers, Matt and I would probably want to stay until Sunday but he has to get back and teach on Thursday evening. Can't wait to review and post some pictures of Ptown in the winter!










wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
Tonight on the way up the Cape to Provincetown, we both saw  a very bright falling star off in the distance.  It was really romantical and stuff.  We both sent out our separate wishes, but I'm fairly certain they weren't too different.  :-)
wwcitizen: (Airplane Travel)

Almost two weeks ago, we had a quite literally "shitty" flight down to Florida.  We had also been denied nut-containing products from their snack selections because someone in our rows 3-6 apparently very sensitive nut allergies.

This week, our flight was delayed by about 45 mins. Why? Because the plane had flown in from Bogata and needed to "clear customs"... aka "get fumigated and cleaned out of drugs", I'm sure.

When we did board the plane and got to our extra leg room seats in row 5 (I was on the window and Matthew in the middle), our aisle-seated neighbor was a full-grown young woman who happened to be about 2.5 feet tall. Yes, a midget. Yes, a midget, who paid extra for more leg room. Why would a midget need extra leg room?  She treated the space like it was her apartment. She hopped down to organize her stuff in the pouch in front of her, reached into her grocery bag, pulled out some snacks, and hopped back into her seat.  As we were deplaning and walking carefully over her, she was in the middle of folding a tiny pizza whilst laying on the seat with her ankles in the air.

Then Matt went to turn on his TV on his display. The first channel that displayed a show was presenting the Wizard of Oz!!  And which scene exactly??!  Yes. The Munchkin scene where Glenda is saying, "Come out, come out! Wherever you are!" Matthew nudged me to look at the screen, we both looked at each other startled and he changed the channel quickly.

Of course, Matthew and I during the flight couldn't discuss these things because that would have been rude and inappropriate. But we were confused. She seemed like a nice enough woman, but didn't have much to say. The only time she needed assistance was from the flight attendant with her tray table and from Matthew to hit the flight attendant button; standing on the seat, she still wouldn't have been able to press that button. :-(

Before we landed, one of the flight attendants ran up to the front and said, "Is there a doctor on board? We need a doctor in row 5 immediately!"  THAT WAS OUR ROW!  Of course, Matthew and I side-glanced toward our neighbor who was as happy as a clam laying on her ENORMOUS seat, as if it were a chaise lounge, playing with her iPad. Then about 10 people behind us said, "NINE! ROW NINE!"

As we were descending, something happened to one of the passengers and had to be evacuated once we landed in a sit-up stretcher. We overheard an EMT or police officer say, "Yeah, we have a possible code 16."  We found out later that code number meant that there was something to do with alcohol abuse, medication overdose, and/or mixing of the two combined with the cabin pressurizing and depressurizing.  So, even though the pilot did get us landed safely 15 minutes late instead of 45 minutes late, we all waited about 15 minutes while the sickly passenger and his wife got off the plane. 

While we waited for everything to settle, I called our driver just to confirm that we'd just landed and they hadn't updated our new flight from when I'd called the week before. So, they thought we were supposed to arrive at 2AM on Monday!  Needless to say, I said, "Well, we probably have about 20-30 minutes before we have our baggage and are ready to get in the car, which should be enough time to get to La Guardia from NJ."

The driver made it (somehow!) to the airport in 15 minutes from across the George Washington Bridge.  We were amazed as was his dispatcher, and we made it home in one piece by 10PM, just in time to place the last order from our local Chinese place.  It was a long, adventurous day to say the least.

wwcitizen: (For realz?)

OMG!! POOP!!!  It happened while I was asleep on the tarmac leaving NYC on the way to Florida.  Somebody simply had to use the bathroom and she couldn't hold it any longer. There was a small, round spot on the floor next to me and I thought I was helping folks by warning them about the spot.

 

 

 

Alas, later in the flight I stood up and looked toward the back of the plane. Someone really lost their shit.

 

 

 

The flight attendants poured coffee grinds all over the center aisle, which really helped with the smell and covered it all up. 

 

 

 

I really like JetBlue, but Matt swears the airline is going to shit.  Now, literally more today than ever.  He'll call it JetPoop from now on.  :-)

 

wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)

We came across this little ice cream shop called "Ü" (the pic might not upload from LJ Mobile - ugh).  We decided the drive-thrÜ dialog must go like this :
Ü Speaker: What would Ü like?
CÜstomer: ¿Que?
Ü Speaker: What would Ü like?
CÜstomer: ¿Que?
Ü Speaker: How can I help Ü?
CÜstomer: I would like some ice cream.
Ü Speaker: Ü pay tÜ dollars at the window.
CÜstomer pays...
Ü Cashier: Thank Ü! Hope Ü come back!
CÜstomer: ¿Que?









wwcitizen: (S&M - Hawaii)


For the last 8-9 months we had been planning a trip with some friends ... somewhere.  First, France, then NC, then, DE, and then we finally decided on Puerto Rico. I'd been wanting to bring Matthew here for the last 8 years and this was a perfect opportunity.
The flight down couldn't have been better. Smooth the whole way and we were essentially in Business Class on JetBlue. Perfect. Check.
Getting to the hotel and checking in were a breeze. Check... check.
It had started to rain a bit, but we figured we'd take a nap first.  We got into the room, turned on the A/C... only pseudo-cooler air. Uh oh.  The front desk suggested we wait a bit because the room had been empty for a couple of days. Fair enough.
Under the ceiling fans,  we took a 3-hr, sweaty nap. Then we started the process of switching to another room with a broken A/C unit, checking other rooms, calling Hotels.com to see what other options we had.
Within an hour, we had a new unit, a MUCH better room, a 35% discount at the restaurant, and a free round of drinks at the bar. It turned out good.
We had a good dinner, walked around a bit, and got caught in a couple of showers. We ended the night meeting the hotel drunk from FL, who calls herself, "Monkey!" because she likes to mount her boyfriend (of 28 years) and jump around on it.  As she so graciously demonstrated for us, "Eh-eh-eh-eh-eh!!" while gyrating around on her stool.  Classy.
Looking forward to more Caribbean adventures today!  First off, I'm jumping in the jacuzzi!







wwcitizen: (Airplane Travel)
Here's hoping we can get to this house (1619 Pine St):
Hasn't changed much since 1982, has it?  Just need to pick up the right suspenders.

Neither of us has ever been to Denver, although I've flown through. I have a friend from college out there, who's getting married there, a friend from grade school, and my pseudo sister-in-law (my b-i-l's sister) - what do you call those folks - the in-laws?

Anyway, looking forward to going out there. Also, hoping that we can run into [livejournal.com profile] zedsled whilst in town for at least a beer or martini!

Should be an interesting weekend.  I haven't seen the friend who's getting married except in FB photos since he moved out to Denver from DC.  His mother was my manager back in college at a store and I really liked her. Can't wait to see his sister and dad, either - they're a very nice family.  His mother really challenged me to think about things - even whilst at work - about where I was going, what my future would look like, and where I'd end up.  She totally knew that neither my friend nor I would have gotten married before we were 40.  Who knew my reason would be that marriage for me wouldn't be legal??! 

I'm really looking forward to a little Rocky Mountain High... in Colorado...


wwcitizen: (Bear Flag)

My sciatica is still ever-present, but I'm making the best of the week. I'm still on a therapeutic cocktail of meds to get through the week not completely bed-ridden or handicapped,  for which I'm very thankful.

 

On the way home from a dance party, though, (alas, I can't dance this week) a friend of mine from Montreal saw Matt and me walking down the street. Normally, during Bear Week, I'm really playful and very active.  This year, I'm not.  :-(

 

My friend from Montreal didn't know about my sciatica.  He started to charge me. Matt moved to the side not thinking about the outcome until I started screaming, "NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!" The guy's impact wasn't that great, but I'd tensed up at the same time that Matt was trying to pull the guy away.

 

The guy felt so bad, when he realized that I was serious.  Wasn't his fault; he was being friendly as normal. No harm to existing problems was done but my left side was in slight pain from tensing up quickly.  :-(

 

All in the name of fun and frolic, but I really hope I wake up without new pain.  Could have been worse had Matt not been there.  :-)

wwcitizen: (Disney - S&M - Castle)
Matt reminded me of his most favoritest and most magicalest day ever at Disney this past May.

Matt, his sister's family, his aunt, and I had a character breakfast one morning at the Crystal Palace. Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger come out to visit everyone during breakfast, take pictures, and sign autographs for the kids. It's a lot of fun for everyone, though.

At the end of breakfast, Matt's sister started getting the kids ready to go run around the park. Matt and I got ready to leave and he had to go to the bathroom.  I waited for him outside in the vestibule of the dining hall.

Matt's prim-and-proper, 82-yr-old aunt, who looks like she could be Betty White's mother, made her way to the bathroom about 3 minutes later.  About 5 minutes later, Matt comes out of the bathroom motioning for me to get up and go.  I said, "Don't we need to wait for your aunt?"

He said, "Nope! She's fine! And I'll tell you why she's fine. Just go outside."

He told me that he was sitting in one of the stalls when he heard his aunt's voice saying, "Oh. There's a man in here. Oh, there's urinals. Oh, where's the nice couch?  Where am I?"

Matt sat there on the toilet silently with his hands covering his face.  The other man at the urinal finished his business and told his aunt patiently that she was in the men's room.  "The ladies' room is the next door over," he explained as he began washing his hands.

"Let me see what it says on this door here," she said, as Matt heard her open the door thinking to himself, "Does it really matter what it says on the door? There's a row of standing urinals against the wall."

He heard his aunt then shuffle out the door muttering to herself and the hallway, "They need better signs around here," in her best NJ Italian accent.

Bless her heart.

When he heard her muttering voice fade into the distance, he quickly lifted his face from his hands, pulled up his pants, and rushed out to tell me about the scene.  Of course, I quickly texted his sister about the scene, who said, "Nice!"
wwcitizen: (US - Gay Politics)
Since the passing of NC's Amendment One, I've been doing a LOT of research into states that allow certain rights to same-sex couples.  The HRC and Lamda Legal provide a TON of information that's, while helpful, remains outdated in light of recent attacks on gay rights across the nation. 

At least Illinois recognizes the importance to reflecting the evolving American social mores: Same-sex marriage supporters take their fight to Illinois courts

I wish more states and people would accept facts, educate themselves, learn from the past, and exert more compassion in their every day. It's disheartening for me daily to have to search, read, research, and get a picture of how unequal in our relationship's current status Matthew and I are throughout this country. It's ultra sad to know that prior to any vacations or trips to other states, we now more than ever have to find out which hospitals would allow visitation rights to each other at the very least.  This sort of information isn't listed on their websites, either - you have to call to see whether you'd be treated with respect and compassion or if even your legal documentation would be recognized at the hospital to make medical and/or financial decisions for each other.  Some people find this kind of info finding stuff to be demoralizing. 

I'm starting to find this type of "confrontation" on one level empowering. Empowering because it helps me make informed decisions about where we're going to spend our money and take our vacations. If a place doesn't recognize us or allow visitation in a hospital, then we won't recognize the place; we don't have to visit it.

On another level, it's just sad to have to hunt and peck around to find places that legally affirm us and our relationship.  "Oh, can we go there? No. How about here? Maybe... just don't get into legal trouble.  How about there? Nope - no visitation rights at the hospital without a PLETHORA of legal docs, which might still not be recognized or allowed as proof of our legal bond. Oh, we can go here!! They do recognize same-sex partnerships and allow hospital visitations, but the state doesn't currently have any laws against hate crimes; that means no PDA, including holding hands.  :-("

Family has little or nothing to do with our qualms or our burgeoning apprehensions to traveling to particular locations in the US (like NC, VA, or SC where my family might want to go on vacation).  One of my sisters, in fact, asked about our trip to Disney; Orlando, FL, as a city has specific provisions for same-sex partners, but the state doesn't recognize same-sex partnerships. An issue with a lesbian couple in Miami was the impetus for federal mandates of hospitals to allow same-sex partners to visit each other in the hospital.  In any of these places where my family would want to vacation, Matt couldn't go with me; I wouldn't be able to make any health-related decisions for him and that would break my heart. In NJ, we're afforded the "luxury" of greater civil rights.

I hate feeling that we are being forced into a NJ civil union when our ultimate desire is to be legally married.  It's unfair that we have to be put in that position. Elsewhere throughout the nation (not in NC now, since Amendment One, btw), if an opposite-sex couple had cohabitated as long as we have (8.5 years thus far!!), we'd enjoy a common law marriage.

Even still, throughout the US Southeast, Midwest, and parts of the Northwest, when we get our NJ civil union, it most likely will not be recognized in most of those states, including NC, SC, and VA. It doesn't have to be like this, but it's what we as a couple have to deal with. Same-sex couples don't have to go throughout this level of crap and take soooo many things for granted.
wwcitizen: (Disney Steve - Pooh)
This 5-day trip to Disney was a lot of fun! We did Epcot for 3 days till we were so full of the park that we didn't have anything left to do. We did all the movies we'd never done (Canada, France, etc.) and discovered parts of the pavilions we didn't know existed like in Morocco, Norway, and Japan.  We didn't do everything in Japan or China, so we did leave some things for later visits. Plus, Epcot is always changing up stuff in Futureworld (at the front of the park).  They had a really cool educational Piggy Bank game to play.

Next time, I think we want to spend more time in Hollywood Studios. We did one 3/4 day there, as usual, and that's never enough; we've never done the outdoor shows or The American Idol Experience. Hollywood Studios is more geared for older kids and adults than the Magic Kingdom.  We spent one full, full, full day in the Magic Kingdom - till like 1AM.  When you stay on Disney property, the parks provide extended hours so you can be in the parks - either before/after the parks are officially open; they're called "Magic Hours".  During the Magic Hours, the ride lines go down and you can get on EVERYTHING till your heart's content (you have to flash your hotel/resort key). We went on It's a Small World 3 times, I think, and Space Mountain 2 times (well, Matt did - my back was out). In Tomorrowland, we were all able to go through Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin (a definite precursor to Toy Story's Midway Mania) about 5 times.
It's always fun to do the parks with the kids, too. They know the parks really well, too. Michael (11) and Samantha (13) have been probably 25 times and Gianna (5) has been probably 7 already; Gianna got her first haircut there - at about 8 months old!! We always do at least 3 character meals (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) where characters come to your table for pictures and autographs. Yes, the characters sign these little autograph books - great marketing for Disney!! 
Disney is always starting up new collecting schemes. The one that Michael and Samantha slowly got me into was the pins and lanyards. All over the parks and in all the Disney stores, there are these great quality pins of all the characters (hard to find Winnie the Pooh, though), signs, vintage signs and park names, elements of the parks - like Cinderella's castle, the monorail, a turkey leg (it's a thing at the parks), the rides, the areas of the parks (Adventureland or Tomorrowland, etc.).  Some of them are so cool, but stepping outside the Disney frenzy and fervor, you realize they're absolutely wasteful.  Still, I've bought like 12 of them over time. The kids have EASILY 100s of them. 100s.  OH!  And AT the parks, the characters (any employee working around the park) will have their own lanyard with pins that only characters can purchase. The characters have them to trade with the kids running around the parks. Then the kids get the coveted "character pins".  It's a great marketing scheme.  The pins that the characters get from the kids, then go back on the shelf for sale!  They're making money hand-over-fist at the parks.
One thing that's always fun to do - for us - is to wear our Pride Mickey. When we wear those, everyone comes out of the woodwork. We strike up conversations we'd never have otherwise. Sometimes, we also get a little special-er treatment, such as getting a roll of  stickers to win the kids' sticker contest or get seated in a restaurant without reservations (happens more often than we realize, actually). We also found "family" throughout the parks on rides with their families or at the tequila bar in Mexico - that was a fun evening for sure!  We were told every time we came across a "family" member that we were there a week early.  LOL  Gay Days are June 2-4 this year.I catch myself feeling the pull of the Disney fervor more and more. And by the end of each trip, I'm sick of Disney stuff but still wanna look at it and shop around.  It's a love-hate relationship.  The Disney stores spread around the country's malls and outlet centers provide very different stuff than you find at the parks. That stuff is not nearly as good as what you get in the parks, either - from quality, quantity, and selection. They want you to be at the parks because they make SOOOO much money off every person or kid that goes there.

They even make money off the seniors that go. Matt's Aunt Jenny (who loves Donald Duck - below at Chef Mickey's) went with us this time without her daughter - she's probably 83 now. Matt's sister rented her a little scooter that she could use every day and get recharged overnight for the next day. She drove that thing around the parks all day. Granted, you have to have a little finesse to drive them and park them, but at least she wasn't thoroughly exhausted every day and could keep up with the clan more easily. At the parks those scooters rent for $75 a day - on top of all the other fees - hotel, food, park entry.  This scooter Tricia rented was about $25 a day and was really sturdy. Thing is, if your scooter's not Disney property and your battery dies in a park, you're really screwed. But, thankfully, that never happened!Notice the sidewalk pic (above)? That picture was taking moments before Jenny almost whacked off her head on a chain!  Yeah, that's the picture of Jenny entering what we now call, the "Death Trap For Scooters". She rounded one of the inner corners and got spooked when the scooter jolted a bit. Instead of releasing the accelerator, she clamped down, speeding the scooter INTO a section of chain! It took FOUR BIG BURLY MEN - including Matt and me - to move her on her scooter and the scooter away from the chain to a safe place. Jenny had grabbed her neck, releasing the accelerator (thankfully) and one of the men quickly threw off the scooter key (so it wouldn't move anymore). From where I was standing with the kids, it looked like Jenny was having a seizure and we all jumped into action. She's OK, but beyond her purchases for the weekend, she's got some pretty bruises on her arm, shoulder, and neck to prove she had a fight with a chain and won!  That was surely a scary Disney moment!

Getting there and being in the hotel alone is pretty pricey. You can get a meal plan which is - in the grand scheme - economical (I think you can get this even if you're not staying on Disney property - somehow tied to your park passes). If you're paying to be on Disney property, you can take advantage of lots of "free" things - like Disney's Magical Express (AWESOME!), which takes your bags when you arrive in Orlando and transports them to your hotel room within 3 hours of your arrival, and when you arrive at the airport, they transport you to your resort. Same when you leave, but you can check in for your flight at your resort and you don't see your bag till you're at your home airport. Matt and I did that and took off to Epcot for almost the full day before we boarded the plane to come home!  We squeezed in a couple more things - like lunch in Morocco (EXCELLENT!) and a couple of beers in England.  We found out this time around that the restaurant in the Japan pavilion is AWFUL! AWFUL! AWFUL!
Very memorable trip indeed. I took many fewer pictures this time around, too, than in times past, because I've now got them all - except the new goofy pictures of us in the parks, with each other, with the kids, around the characters, etc.  Oh, but at Epcot, this weekend we were there was the last weekend of the Epcot Flower Festival! Many, many Disney characters were highlighted around the park and World Showcase as topiaries.  They were (most times) really well done. The peacock under the Epcot ball was hard to photograph, but was really breathtaking.  I was pretty disappointed with the Bambi topiaries in a butterfly net house, though, because they weren't made of any flowers or plants at all!  But all the major ones were pretty good. There's also a Mickey topiary at Hollywood Studios that I captured and show at the end below.

When I'm at Disney, my inner kid comes out - fully.  Even the kids told me that I'm a bigger kid in Disney than they are!! LOL  I think that's fun.  When I get on the plane to go to Disney, I completely shut off from work and any stress around town that I've been feeling leading up to the trip - it's all gone.  It's truly always a de-stressing trip!!

We probably won't return to Disney World until 2014, when they finish the NEW FANTASYLAND!  They removed Toontown, which is probably good - it was very much a little kid's place. The new Fantasyland looks like it's going to be really cool!  They're also expanding a section of the Grand Floridian Resort, where we've not stayed yet. The picture below shows the expansion. There's also a video of our time in Spaceship Earth at Epcot and here's a link to our game you can play that we posed for (if our game doesn't show up, enter the code KQCQ2FMXMMRH8Q for our game). Enjoy!
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)

Every time we come to Disney, we have a sticker contest with the kids. I'm all into it because I like stickers too! It's usually Michael (11) and me against everybody else!  The last 2 times, we were essentially tied.  This time was different.

See, we got a guy on the inside, see. And he really hooked us up!  dude sauntered back to his drawer... and whipped out this roll for us.

Duh! Winning!

I'm ripping off some of the stickers for me and giving the rest of the roll to Michael.  Yay for Uncle Steve!

EDIT: Corrected "role" to "roll". Remember: Auto-correct on a "smart" phone is NOT your friend. Especially if you have fat finger syndrome.  :-D
wwcitizen: (Popeye - With Ciggie)

Welcomed to our first day by birds in the courtyard behind a white crepe myrtle tree. There's a pretty white bench along a path out there that's so inviting!

I called the front desk to find out our breakfast options in the hotel. Took four tries on the phone to speak to someone; the system got to a point in the automation and hung up on me. When I did finally get someone, they said, "There's nothing in the hotel for breakfast. Have a magical day!" rushing me off the phone.

I walked out of my room and around the corner to find a coffee/breakfast kiosk with fruit, bagels, cereal, and assorted pastries.  How's that for "nothing in the hotel"??

Have a magical day!

Cruisin'!

Apr. 24th, 2012 11:38 pm
wwcitizen: (Cruise Ship)
Here are pictures from time we spent on board the Brilliance of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship (no destinations are covered here - this is simply a brochure for the trip, if you will).  The ship is pretty old, but it still has a lot of charm.  Enjoy!   

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Stephen Lambeth

May 2017

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