Wednesday, March 31, 2010

frontal enhancing technology

I was looking through a gay magazine recently and came across an add that I found amusing. It was for Andrew Christian brand underwear, the "Shock Jock eXXtreme" with "frontal enhancing technology". Yes, it's what you think - underwear to make male genitals appear larger than they are. The ad doesn't explain how it does this - is it padded, or it there plastic in there to make the crotch of the underwear stick out more? The add has a photo of a model in a boxing stance with his hands wrapped for boxing, and the crotch of the underwear sticks out very noticeably. So is this the male equivalent of a padded bra? My husband David made a comment when I showed him the ad, something like "So they added padding - why not just stuff a sock in your underwear if you want to make it look bigger?" Yeah, and I'm not buying any of that underwear. I've been with David for almost 19 years, he knows my real size and isn't complaining. Why pretend to have something that you don't have?

I have to add that I saw the ad in Out magazine. No, I don't subscribe to Out, I used to subscribe to The Advocate, which was a gay news/entertainment/lifestyle magazine. Before the internet, and before gay sites such as 356gay, Towleroad, Queerty and others, The Advocate was the only source for gay news that didn't make the mainstream press. I can remember back in the 1980s when I was living in Georgia where the only place that would sell it was the local porn shop. Now it's been bought by the publisher of Out and has been folded into Out. Don't know if I'll resubscribe or not.

Friday, March 26, 2010

solo parent for four days

My husband David is in San Diego rowing in the San Diego Crew Classic, his big rowing event for the spring. So I'm a single parent for four days. Well, not really, since Millie, my mother in law, is helping out. I have to be at work before I can drop Leo off at school, so I take him over to Millie and Phil's house, and they later take him to school. They also pick him up after school and take him to their house. Yesterday she even fed him dinner and brought him back to our house. He was showering when I got home, and it still took an hour and a half to get the staller to bed.

David must think that I can't handle Leo on my own, or that I'll forget one of his meds, because he left a list titled "Care and feeding of our son". I'm not clueless, although a reminder of when he takes which med is helpful. Leo's on seven prescription meds and other vitamins and supplements. I know that sounds like a lot for a six year old, and it is, but he has two for his allergies, two for asthma, two for ADHD, and one fluoride supplement.

I'm planning to make it a fun weekend for Leo. He has swimming lessons Saturday morning and a birthday party on Saturday afternoon. I'm planning to go out for pizza Saturday night. I'm thinking about a movie for Sunday afternoon, but as of last weekend there weren't any G rated movies showing in town. I thought about Alice in Wonderland, but I was told that it's not for a six year old. I need a Disney or Pixar movie, but none seem to be playing now. We'll probably go out for Chinese on Sunday night. We honestly rarely eat out, but Leo is hard to cook for, and I don't want to cook and have him look at the food and decide that he won't eat it, which he's done before. Besides, I'll probably need a break after entertaining an energetic six year old all weekend.

I realize that this posting may not be interesting to many of you. But I guess that I'm not here just to entertain, but to share. I do realize that I could be the first out gay man in a long term relationship with a kid that some of you have come across. I know in talking via email to two of you, this is what you want in the future - a husband and a kid or kids. So you can see that my life is routine, but routine can be good, happy and rewarding.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

how can parents do that?

Lately I've been reading about Constance McMillen, who wanted to bring her girlfriend to her prom in rural Mississippi. Her school cancelled the prom instead, and now it's in court. I wasn't surprised - I grew up in the South, and change comes VERY SLOWLY there.

Then I read about Derrick Martin, who was allowed to bring his male date to his prom in Cochran, Georgia. I was quite happy about that, thinking progress had been made. Then Evan from (I can't get blogger to make that a link, sorry) alerted me that Derrick's parents had kicked him out of his house due to the publicity. I was so discouraged to read that. How can parents do that to their child??? I'm a parent myself, and when you decide to become a parent, it's a lifetime commitment, no matter what. You can divorce a spouse but you don't divorce your child. In this case it seems that it was the publicity that caused his parents the problem. So they're kinda OK with their son being gay, as long as he doesn't get any publicity, but once he does he's outta there? Is that "Don't ask, don't tell" in the home? What bullshit!!! Now I'm mad. I looked up Derrick on Facebook, but there are six. So I sent them a message, hoping that Derrick responds. I want to see what I can do to help. The parent in me wants to offer to let him live with us, but I'm not sure if that's the best option.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

in your new life...

When a gay man or lesbian comes out, friends and family sometimes ask lots of questions. Many of the questions are fairly innocent and just want clarification or explanation. When I came out, no one asked many questions. In fact, my best friend from high school had the typical response "I know."

My husband David's grandmother had a different type of question. To give some background, David and I started dating the summer between his junior and senior years of college. The next spring, his grandparents said that they were driving from their retirement home in coastal North Carolina to California for David's graduation. David didn't want a scene if they figured out our relationship, so he wrote a coming out letter to them in the spring. As is so typical of his stoic German family, nothing was said about the letter or his coming out (come on people, don't just brush issues under the rug again, get things out there and talk about them!)

The trip and graduation seemed to go well. Then his grandmother got David alone and pounced with her question. She asked "In your NEW LIFE, who does the cooking?" The question confused David, and he thought "Why does she care about cooking?", so he answered the literal question she was asking by saying "Whoever is hungry." She got a puzzled look on her face but didn't ask anything more. A day or so later David thought back to the question and realized what she was really asking. He thought 'Oh, she wasn't really asking about the cooking, she wanted to know which one of us was "the woman" in the relationship and therefore does the cooking, and who is "the man"'. Because for a woman of her generation, there had to be a man and a woman in relationships, so one of us had to be a man and the other had to play the role of a woman. She was the dutiful housewife, doing the domestic work and supporting her husband's career. She couldn't conceive of the much more equal relationship that David and I have. I think David's answer was perfect, since we don't have roles like that, and we do share the cooking.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

do you know what this is?

Do you know what this is in the image on the left (I'm not very good about making photos go where I want them to on blogger)? I found it on my son Leo's bedroom floor last night. I thought that it was an old juice box that he hadn't thrown away. So I picked it up, only to find this (right image, held by Leo).

I asked what it was, because an empty juice box taped to two tubes from the centers of large rolls of paper must have been something else to a six year old's imagination. He informed me that it was his hockey stick. I turned and stared at him. First because he has been ice skating once, for less than five minutes, and has never seen or played hockey. (Note to parents or future parents - don't take your son ice skating for the first time at the end of the day when he spent the morning and afternoon skiing for the first time. He was exhausted and it went very badly.) Secondly because we live in California, and there are two ice skating facilities in a metro area of about 1.7 million people - and I only know that because I looked it up, since I didn't think that there were any here. Thirdly, because I thought "I never really thought about hockey until a few months ago and now it's showing up everywhere it seems." It all started with Mikey of I read a one line note on back in November, followed the link, found a fascinating story by an articulate, funny, nice guy and got hooked. I also discovered other blogs and decided to try it myself. And here I am a few months later, reading blogs by hockey players, runners, pilots, students, middle aged guys like myself, a woman who loves horses, etc. The blogs I read are from Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Australia, Germany, the UK and perhaps other countries. It all started with hockey, and now my son is talking about hockey. But I don't think that he really knows what hockey is. When I asked him to demonstrate his hockey stick, he held it like a bat up in the air. I tried to show him how I think a hockey stick is held, but what do I know, and he wasn't interested. Here's his best attempt.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

"Tibet!" at 5 AM, and "You're a cheater pooper-head!"

Today has been interesting. At 5 AM I was awoken by David calling upstairs to Leo and saying "Tibet!" My sleepy brain couldn't figure that out. I wondered "Did some war start in Tibet overnight, or a natural disaster happen? And why discuss it at 5 AM with a six year old at the top of your voice?" Then I heard Leo's bedroom door shut. It took a few more moments as the sleep cleared for it all to make sense. David was leaving to go to his rowing practice, and Leo had awoken. What David had said was "Go back to bed!" (for the fourth time, it turned out), and I had awoken to hear "to bed" which I misinterpreted as "Tibet." Leo did go back to his room, but not to sleep, so we've had a tired boy all day. He took a nap, which is very rare. It became obvious later that he's ill.

Leo has a game that he likes to play with me. I think that it's common with first grade boys, and he calls it "Lolli, Lolli-POP." He uses his index finger to draw circles in the air right in front of my eyes while saying "Lolli, Lolli", then brings his other hand up and claps them together while saying "POP!" The natural reflex to a surprise right in front of your eyes is to blink, and when I do he says "That shows that you're afraid." It only took one time to learn the game, and it's not hard to suppress the blink reflex, so I don't blink now and that frustrates him. After he unsuccessfully tried it on me, he let me try it on him. But instead of circling around his head, I circled around his belly, as if I were about to tickle him. That's when he said "You're a cheater pooper-head!" I've never been called that before.

We also went to the birthday party of Edward, our "godson" - what else do you call a child that you've agreed to raise if both of his parents die? We're not religious, and his parents aren't either, but what other word in English is there for this situation? It was at our local children's science museum. It was a fossil theme party. We looked at fossils, timelines of fossils, and got to pet cockroaches and a snake. It's a nice place and we hope that Leo might wast to have his next party there. We're hoping his party is somewhere indoors since his party is in August, which is too hot here for an outdoor party.

Friday, March 19, 2010

a visit from Otis the giraffe

My son Leo's classroom has a class animal/mascot, a toy giraffe named Otis. Otis spends a few days with each student, and he has a journal in which the kids can write Otis' adventures while he is with each kid. The last few days Otis has been visiting Leo and our family. Leo has written journal entries about sharing tea with Otis at his desk at his grandmother's house, with an attached photo, and about napping with Leo and David, with a drawing of all three of them in bed. Otis has to go to another kid's house today, which I didn't realize until this morning, so no photo of Otis unfortunately.

I also want to add that David, my husband, will no longer be commenting on or reading my blog. We had a misunderstanding that turned into an argument, in part because of my blog. He apologized once he realized his mistake, but it lead to a tense 18 hours or so around our house. We talked about my blog and how I feel restricted in what I say and write about, knowing that he will read it. So he agreed to stop reading and posting.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

wearing green

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone. My mom's family is about half Irish, and I grew up in Savannah, Georgia, which has a big parade and party on St. Patrick's Day each year. The last time that I was there, over 20 years ago, it just seemed to be an excuse for everyone to get drunk though.

So today I'm wearing green - socks, pants, shirt, tie, all in totally different and clashing shades of green. (My husband David told me that if I was wearing green underwear not to show anyone - I once showed my purple underwear when a coworker commented on her purple bra. Do something once and you're labeled forever.) The tie even has shamrocks. Why not go all out?

Speaking of shamrocks, the one thing that drives my mother crazy is people confusing a shamrock and a four leaf clover. The shamrock has three leaves, not four. She's normally quite but anyone who confuses the two gets a lecture from her about the difference and the history of the shamrock. I won't go into it here but you can probably find it on Wikipedia.

I think about my Irish ancestors today. Imagine leaving your home country, never to return, because people were literally starving. But the unbelievable part of the Irish potato famine is that Ireland exported food during that time. The English land owners exported the food grown on their farms, even as the natives were dying. Even today there are areas with large unmarked mass graves from what I saw on a documentary. But there wasn't a mass uprising and war about the situation. Why not? Were my ancestors too meek? Maybe someone who knows more about this can enlighten me.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

three Olympic champions

During the recent winter Olympics, my son Leo came home from school one day talking about the Olympics. He said that one of his classmates' grandfather came into his class to talk about the Olympics and gave everyone in the class some Olympic items. He brought home a "USA Olympics" pin, an Olympic towel/rug/wall hanging (not sure what to call it or what to do with it) and a signed photograph of his classmates' grandfather. The photo had the name Bill Toomey. The name seemed familiar, and the photo was of a track athlete running a race. So I went to Wikipedia and found out that his classmate's grandfather won the Olympic decathalon in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. I was impressed.

About a week later, Leo said that the same classmate's grandmother came in to talk about the Olympics. The classmate's grandmother was Mary Rand Reese, who won Olympic gold, silver and bronze in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. She and Mr. Toomey had been married but were divorced. So Leo met two Olympians within one week.

The only Olympian that I ever met was one some of you might have heard of, Eric Heiden. Yeah, the guy who won five gold medals in one winter Olympics in 1980. We worked for the same organization for about two years. He's a nice guy, not huge like I expected him to be, and just a regular guy.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Do I wish that I was a teen? NO!

I've been thinking about teens lately, probably because I've been reading the blogs of several gay teens, including Mikey, Jon, Joe, Tommy, Charlie, Jon, Manu, Arodomon, and Tyler (who I just found today). It brings back memories of that time in my life and how unsettled it was. There are so many opportunities for people that age, but so many choices and so much hard work to do and hard times to get through. Being gay makes that time much harder, especially for those who aren't yet out or feel that they can't come out and realize their dreams (that's for you, Mikey.)

But I was talking to someone at work yesterday who lamented his age - he's 35! He complained that he can't stay up all night anymore without being tired the next day, and he's having trouble keeping up with his son when they play sports together. I asked him if he exercised regularly and he gave me a dirty look and said no. I thought "Use it or lose it." If you don't exercise and remain active you won't be able to keep up with your kid.

Personally, I'm happy to be 45. I'm settled, with a husband that I love very much, a son that we love, a job that I enjoy (at least most days I enjoy it), a house, and the freedom to make my own decisions. I would not want to go back to my teen years or to be a teen today. I've been there, done that and have NO desire to go back. I don't know why some people think that high school was so great - it was pretty miserable for me. I am glad that it is easier for gay teens today, but "easier" still means that it's very hard.

I don't want to sound negative on being a teen. It can be a great time in life. But it wasn't for me, and I have no nostalgia for it or desire to do it again. So for the teens out there, especially the gay ones, I can say that life can get much better. It certainly has for me.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Adoption Day

Today our family celebrates Adoption Day, the anniversary of the finalization of our son Leo's adoption. Here in California, the adoption process takes six months, so for the first six months of his life we were his foster parents.

We went to family court on this day six years ago to finalize his adoption. The family court judge was a family friend of David's family, so he enjoyed having us there. From what his assistant said, adoptions are the only nice or fun part of family court, that all of the other cases are sad or upsetting. We had Leo's grandparents, great grandparents, great aunt and "godparents" (for lack of a better word for non-religious people who are designated to raise him if both David and me die). It was a somewhat sad day for his "godparents" - the day before their adoption plans with a pregnant young woman had fallen apart. But later that month another young woman chose them to raise her child, and their son will be six later this month.

So tonight to celebrate Adoption Day the three of us plus David's parents will go out to eat at Leo's favorite restaurant. Our gift to Leo will be a necklace like the one that I received for our San Francisco anniversary last month. His has "heart symbol" in the smallest disk, "Daddy" in the middle disk, and "Papa" in the largest disk. It was what he asked for, but he doesn't know that we bought it for him.

I think about his birthmother today. I hope that she's doing well, but the last we heard she was losing custody of the set of twins that she gave birth to two years after Leo was born. Child Protective Services was in the process of removing them from her custody for neglect.