Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Puzzle Wrapped In An Enigma...

In the dream, she looks like a black man who rides on my bus about once a week.  He's a puzzle wrapped in an enigma wearing a fake leopard skin skirt, blouse and hat.  He boards the bus laden with grocery bags.  He tends to wear blue eyeliner and brushes his cheeks with glitter.  He makes no attempt to sound like a woman.  He is who he is, which is clearly a fixture in the community.  I have yet to see anyone roll their eyes when he gets off the bus; in fact, he and the bus driver get along famously and he's good at striking up conversations with riders.  We now say hello, although I favor the back of the bus and he sits up front.

In the dream, his face is on the new preacher at the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg.  Dream Center has made the Unitarian Church into a large-ish, stadium seated, semi-circular auditorium which, if you knew what it actually looks like, you'd appreciate the change (Dream Center has a sense of humor).  Dream Center has retained the glass front and the rood screen in the sanctuary, the halls surrounding it, and the location.  The idea that it has the not-quite-mega-church appearance is wonderfully ludicrous.

Anyway, this guy is the new minister, a black, sassy, heavy-set woman who peppers her conversation with "honey"s and "child"s and "I know that's right"s.  I love her.  She has clearly blossomed.  She's concerned that I no longer go there.  I tell her that the matter is well behind me, as is the minister responsible.  In point of fact, the congregation is overjoyed that he's gone and are tentatively happy with her as the new minister.

She asks me to help with the kids and sends me into a room behind the rood screen.  The former minister is leaving.  He looks at me; I don't know what kind of face to wear, so I nod and walk on.  A bunch of tween boys look at me and line up.  They know what's going on, even if I don't.  They line up and sort-of march out the door and walk across the front of the auditorium without mugging very much, which surprises and delights me.  We're outside and walking on a city sidewalk.  Other groups of shepherded kids approach from the other direction.  One of the adults tells me that it's not there, "it" apparently being what we're walking to see.  I have no idea what she's talking about, but I think that means we might as well return to the church.

I don't know why any of this is important except for the assignment of characters.  Why would the man who always wears the fake leopard skin outfit on the bus become the new minister as a woman at the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, which is as white as any church in the burg?  Did Dream Center need a black character and he was available so he appeared?  I tend to think not, but I certainly come in contact with black women that any of them could have been tapped...so why him?  Did Dream Center want to make a casual comment on UCH?  And why did it even bother to set a dream there?  OK, I still have issues with how I was let go there, and I'm actually rather happy that the current minister has decided to leave.  But I find it interesting that Dream Center has placed the fake leopard skin wearing guy in charge.

Dream Center's been nice to me lately.  I've actually ridden on a roller coaster...usually, I just see them and if I get on, something happens so the train doesn't move, but this was a good ride.  I've been in a play in which I have a role I do well, don't forget my lines, don't show up in the wrong cast...just have fun doing well acting.  I've been able to put Queenie at the broadcasting stations in her place with logic.  That might be the most satisfying recent dream.  (Spell Check wonders if I mean "weenie"?  Interesting.)  Usually there's at least some anxiety in dreams set there, but this one came off just fine.

So a dream set at UCH with a new minister is an interesting way to spend the night.  "A dream is a wish your heart makes/When you're fast asleep."  Disney's Cinderella?  Whatever.  It's rather delightful.  Thank you, Dream Center.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Dream Center Presents Carol Burnett

"Dream Center" is what I refer to as that which creates my nocturnal entertainments.  It's not uncommon for Dream Center to conjure up an actor or other celebrity.  If it were in the credits, it would be "Special Guest Star."  If it were written about, it would be "making a special guest appearance."  The most frequent to make a special guest appearance is Carol Burnett.  I don't know why that is, but I certainly don't mind. 

I've admired her since her weekly Saturday night series.  I got a letter from her once...the content was pretty specific, so I don't think it was a form letter.  Of course, it was probably written by one of her many assistants; "Oh, why don't you tell him..." and the signature may or may not have been machine-generated.  In my letter to her, I told her that I worked on the crew at a public television station.  In her letter she said that she always happy to hear from a "colleague."  That she would refer to the stage manager for a public television crew as a colleague impressed me greatly.

As I mentioned earlier, it's easier to write about dreams in the present tense.  Thus:

Ms. Burnett is directing a production I'm involved in.  I'm not sure how I'm involved.  I feel I may be producer or maybe sound designer.  I'd just seen a newspaper article announcing her as a Tony nominee.  The picture had her in a curly blonde wig, a picture from her nominated performance.  She declares a break in the rehearsal and I walk up to her.  We know each other.  We don't see each other for a long time and then we pick up naturally when we're back to work.  She makes some suggestions to a cast member.  I wait until she's finished with everyone who wants to talk to her or she needs to talk to, and then she turns to me and smiles a somewhat weary smile.  I congratulate her on her Tony nomination.  She gives me a blank look.  "What Tony nomination?" she asks.  I know she's not kidding me.  I tell her I saw an above-the-fold-with-color-photo article about it.  She's completely surprised and denies knowing anything about it. 

The dream veers off into another direction.  I'm supposed to go on location of a concert being recorded in a far-removed rural part of the state.  Many of the people are network suits and I treat them gingerly.  My friend and former roommate Jim is also there.  He's rather curt with me, and I realize he's in his New York TV mode.  It's not a problem; I just don't like the change in him, much preferring his less-stressed person.  I walk away to look into something and, on a tree stump converted into a table, see the article about Ms. Burnett and her Tony nomination.  It's exactly what I remember seeing and I wonder if I might steal it and take it back with me to show her.

Thank you, Dream Center.

Of all special guest stars that Dream Center brings in, I'm happiest, I think, with Carol Burnett.  She's not an imposing figure and we always get along just fine.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Am I My Brother's Brother?

As my binge reading continues, I came across a passage in which the main character wonders if maybe he was adopted.

I'd forgotten that I used to think the same thing.  The character saw so few similarities between him and any member of his family.  I, too, felt as if I were plopped into the same situation.  The thought continued until the resemblance between my brother and me became too pronounced.  Then I sought solace in the fact that neither of us particularly resembled anyone else in the family.  On the other hand, he fit into the family completely hand-in-glove.

Later, when I finally understood that I'm gay, the difference made complete sense.  Odd that one aspect of a person should make me feel so utterly unlike anyone else under our roof.  I was not the only left handed person.  Blue eyes were a family trademark.  Most of us were blonds, one way or another.  We were not strangers to the arts, although they weren't our family's strongest suit.  But gay?  How very, very odd.  Queer, even.

That one aspect of me made me determined that I wanted to get out of there.  That conviction changed somewhat through the years, but I don't live where I was raised and now I don't have a reason to return...certainly not to live there.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Rabbit Died

That's an expression most people of a certain age may not be familiar with, but that's what one said when one was preggers.  It's something I avoided saying last autumn when our rabbit Rosie died.  She was a good companion, always reasonably happy to greet Jack or me when we came home or even when we just entered into her space, a space she fiercely defended from the cat.  I'd never heard a rabbit bark before Rosie, but that's pretty much what it sounded like when she'd charge the trespassing cat.  The trespassing cat wasn't quite sure what to make of it, so she'd leave, somewhat bemused, somewhat confused.  Ultimately, the two shared space pretty well.  Odd that the rabbit would be the alpha.

Rosie gave us more years than we'd expected to have with her, more than seven.  It was apparent when she started to die.  When she died, we weren't sure what to do.  We have no lawn space to bury her.  We couldn't afford cremation.  I suggested that we return her to nature by placing her in the nearby Swatara Creek.

We waited until twilight.  Neither of us wanted to be obvious either in our plan or in our grief.  Several cars zipped by us as walked to the Swatara.  As we arrived, an egret flew overhead.  It took my breath away.  It was October.  I'd assumed the great white egrets that grace our region in the summer had migrated.  I hadn't seen any for a while.  It's a bird I'm particularly fond of.  I like seagulls because of their shape, especially the arc of their wings when the glide.  I like the red wing blackbird because of that striking red epaulet on the otherwise shiny black feathers.

The great white egret always catches my eye and, whenever possible, makes me pause, stop dead in my tracks.  It is never not graceful, it is never not beautiful.  To me, it is the most elegant of birds.  I'm not a birder and don't know much of anything about egrets, but I'm in awe of them.  They stand serene as they wait for a fish.  The shape of their body intrigues me, both when they stand and when they fly.  Their huge wingspan, large wings grabbing at the air, legs back, neck in an incredible, supple curve.  For a moment I feel I'm in an ancient Asian painting.

And there it was, gliding upstream overhead as we approached the place where we'd return Rosie to the earth.  I couldn't believe it.  I'm not sure what my religious beliefs are, but I don't believe in coincidences.  For whatever wonderful reason, the egret flyover was meant to be.

Jack later asked me if I saw the egret.  I told him I did and how good it made me feel.  He is devoted to Quan Yin.  He told me that she is frequently represented by egrets and cranes and that she has a special place in her heart for rabbits.  He knew it was a sign from her.

One thing I did for Rosie was find grasses and dandelion leaves for her, which she'd gobble immediately.  We referred to that as her salad.  When I took a walk I'd look around.  It was ideal if someone hadn't mowed their lawn and I could grab a handful of grass.  As the season progressed, dandelions would grow large and their leaves could be huge.  Of course, the salad would have to end over winter and she'd have to make do with her store bought alfalfa.

It took a while last fall not to look at grass and grab some for Rosie's salad.  Now it's spring and grasses have started to grow.  I see her favorites.  I look at other grasses and wonder if she'd like them.  I smile at a dandelion until I remember.  It's something I don't like to remember.  She's no longer home to bark at the cat or munch on her salad.  How hard it is to look at the beautiful green on the ground and not think about her.

Monday, April 15, 2013

I Want It All...

...and I want it now!

The other day, Joe My God asked us to fantasize about what we'd do if we won the lottery.  I was heartened by how altruistic many of my fellow gay people are.  I'm somewhat more selfish.

Since it's a fantasy, I will have won both the Mega Millions and the Power Ball in the same week, both when they're just about at record levels.  I'll take the cash.

1.  Whether I follow through on 2 or 3 below, I'll buy a large ranch house on a huge property, preferably one already built.  It will have a couple of additional buildings...one for Jack for his library/work space, one for me to have a music studio, one a small house for the groundskeeper and/or housekeeper.  The spread will be an animal safety zone.  We'll have a large porch on which we will make friends with the wildlife.

2.  With what's left, I will start a movie production/distribution company.  We will produce gay-themed movies, both original stories and adaptations of books I've been reading.  While not despotic, I will have at least a corps of full-time techies and actors.

3.  On a vacant lot on 3rd and Verbeke streets in Harrisburg will rise 3SPAC, the 3rd Street Performing Arts Center.  It consists of five, possibly six, auditoriums.  One is a not-quite 300 seat proscenium theater, one is a black box theater seating 150, and one is an acoustic recital concert hall seating no more than 125.  All of these are under one roof and connected to a 500 space parking garage that is always open.  The two or three other auditoriums are in an existing building and are movie theaters:  one is a large screen theater; the other, regular theater(s) which show(s) classic or special interest movies not in competition with the indie theater down the street.  The large screen theater is not an IMAX.  Rather, it is equipped with a screen large enough to show Cinerama, CinemaScope, Todd-A-O and other large format films the way they were intended to be seen.

I've also thought about building the first LGBT retirement complex in our region.  Rainbow Ridge.  Yes, I know that has some bad history to it, but it's also a really cool name.  And I can't imagine having to retire in some place where we can bullied for the rest of our lives.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"And maybe tomorrow..."

Line from an old theater tune..."Who Can I Turn To" from either Stop The World, I Want To Get Off or The Roar Of The Greasepaint, The Smell Of The Crowd.  Probably the former.  "Feelin' Good" was the song the lounge lizards sang from Greasepaint, and that most assuredly isn't how I feel.

"And maybe tomorrow I'll find what I'm after./ I'll throw off my sorrow,/ Beg, steal or borrow/ My share of laughter."  But there's an end to tomorrows at some point.  One can think "rah rah" thoughts for only so long; I'm not sure how much longer I want to hang on to that.  What if you honestly look at the situation and conclude that there's really nothing more you can do?

I have failed yet again.  Not only did we run out of money before Social Security, not only can I not afford to buy us one of those under-the-bar refrigerators because the one we have has died, not only can I not seem to keep up with the phone or cable/internet bills, but I came home to find a notice from the electric folks that they're turning off the power in a couple of days unless I can find -- oh -- $2000 or so.  I'm kind of preparing myself for attitude from Jack, which he has justification for giving.  I'd probably get some from the cat, too, if she knew what was going on.

I've been the grasshopper rather than the ant.  Now I'm paying for it.  We've gone through the savings, what little there was.  The inheritance from my father was considerably less than what I'd been told it would be.  Of course, that was before we stopped talking, but the will was still pretty well divided.  We're supposed to get something when his widow dies, but she's pretty spiteful, so I'm not expecting her cooperation anytime soon.

I don't have the money to play the lottery.  I also don't have the money to pay the electric bill.  Not having money is wearing on me more than I can say.  Having to be the provider has taken a toll.  I'm not just tired out, I can't even see that anything's going to get better.  I'd love to believe that it will.  I was and remain squarely behind Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" crusade.  That's something different, however.  I'm approaching 67.  My shrink tried to make an appointment for me with Vocational Rehab yesterday and never got through, and I haven't heard anything today.  I need a job and won't do any lifting because I've already had three hernia operations, thank you, and don't care to have to go through that again.  I need a job and can't find one.  What I do to keep busy is a volunteer position.  I love it, but aside from the personal satisfaction, there is no gain from it.  Personal satisfaction don't count for squat with the electric company.

I'm running out of tomorrows.  Hell, I feel like I'm running out of today.  My failures are overwhelming.  "who can I turn to?"  And who the hell cares?

Those straight boys...

Two straight guys were my heart's desire, one in my late teens and one in my mid-twenties into my thirties.  Obviously, there were the high school boys.  Raised in the wilds of Lancaster County, we grew a fine crop of farm boys and small town guys who made my loins twitch.  Two were friends-I-have-sex-with, one rather frequently in the rarely-locked church.

The first real ass-over-tea-cups crush-on-a-straight-guy (I don't know where these expressions-with-hyphens are coming from) was Jim.  We met at a summer camp...both of us were counselors.  He, a year younger than I, had family in Pennsylvania but lived in Florida.  He was something of an outsider, not unlike yours truly, and I decided to get to know him at first glance.  A bar not far from camp understood that underage counselors needed beer in great quantities to cope with the urchins in our charge, so we got drunk together a lot.  (Of course, I also got drunk with other actual, real straight guys who loved show tunes.  No...honestly.  They sang the Buffalo Bills "Lida Rose" to my Barbara Cook "Dream of now, dream of then" counter-melody from The Music Man.  We did that practically every night we were there.)

Jim was enrolled in Davidson College and couldn't stand it.  We wrote lots of letters and he frequently took a bus north to spend the weekend with me -- I was never invited to Davidson.  Our weekends together were usually spent drunk, with him trying to escape being a non-Davidson guy and me being gay in a small-christian-college-for-small-christians.  He decided to transfer to my college in my senior year.  We roomed together, much to my delight.  But he'd rarely let me touch him and always told me that he just could never see himself having sex with a guy; he loved women.  He married before the year was over, divorced her and re-married before he graduated.  He knocked up the daughter of the headmaster at the school where he taught, which cost him his job and his second marriage.  By that point, we'd kept in touch only by rumor and I haven't heard from him or his then-wife since.

Early in my time on the crew at the public broadcasting station where I spent too much of my life, my crew chief introduced me to Jeff.  Jeff was freshly out of high school.  Actually, he was freshly kicked out of high school because of his long, red hair which hung way the hell down his back.  (Yes, there was such a time.)  He got his GED shortly after he was expelled.  I did not get a gay vibe from him, but he was friends with my crew chief, who was openly gay (not common at that time), so I figured he'd be cool.  The two of them met at the community theater...my boss designed lights and Jeff helped him hang units and run the board.  We were instant friends.  In fact, we were inseparable for about a decade.

I'd never known anyone like Jeff.  He was straight, about which there was no question, but he didn't make a big deal out of it as Jim did.  He had no problem with gay men and admitted he was flattered by the attention.  My boss and I shared an apartment (just friends); Jeff and another guy about Jeff's age (who became my boss/roomy's lover) spent much of their time there.  Jeff and I got high together.  He loved to listen to show music and rock and jazz.  We frequently went to movies together.  We nearly always watched The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and The Carol Burnett Show on Saturday nights and then go out.  Many people considered us an item.  A co-worker thought it was neat that Jeff and I shared the same first letter in our last names so we wouldn't have to change our monograms.

Jeff and I were a couple without the sex.  We started saying goodbye at the end of the evening with a handshake.  One night we kissed and, honestly, I don't know who started it but that's how we parted every time thereafter.  His mom, first very protective of him and apprehensive of me, grew to make me part of the family.  For Jeff, I was ass-over-tea-cups and then some.  And, I suspect, it was so intense for so long that it just sort of ended.

As long as care is exercised, I think I'd recommend a crush on a straight guy or two.  It's probably unavoidable at first, especially if one is raised in the country or in a small town.  The rejection is hard to take. Still, it's reasonable to assume an intense crush (and a stupid rejection) will happen.  Just be ready for it, understand why he can't return your favors, and enjoy the friendship, frustrating though it may be.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Goodbye, Annette

Annette was 70 when she died; she would have been 13 or 14 when I first saw her on The Mickey Mouse Club.  She was perky, she sang well, she wasn't my sister.  Many of my third grade male friends noticed her right away.  I'm not sure what heterosexual sex ideas are like for third graders.  I didn't inately know what Annette's appeal was to my friends, but they talked about her leeringly, much as I'd later hear Eric Idle talk in the "Wink Wink Nudge Nudge" bit on Monty Python.

For myself, I wanted to spend the summer on the ranch with Spin.  I wasn't sure why, but I knew we'd be friends and, since I already knew how to ride a horse, I could help him with the new guys.  Or I could lean against the corral fence and wonder why he looked so flipping wonderful in a white T-shirt.  Maybe we could even share a sleeping bag when the two of us camped out.

A couple of the girls in my class thought Karen and Cubby were cute together, although they never seemed to talk about Cubby by himself.  I was good with Cubby.  Bobby interested me when he danced.  The Hardy boys were smart and cute.  None of the girls talked about Spin, which pleased me, because it meant I wouldn't have to compete for his attention.

I was not at all pleased with the storyline that had the girls move in to a nearby camp.  I knew they were actors, I knew it was a story, and in a way I knew that they had to introduce the neighboring girls to widen the story's appeal.  But I was pissed off at Annette.  Did she really have to be in that?  She was a good as a Mouseketeer; she most certainly did not have to branch out in her duties, as far as I was concerned.  I thought she'd be good as Darlene Gillespie's friend in something, although I wasn't sure why.  But I wanted Spin all to myself; girls always get in the way.

On the other hand, I did enjoy her singing, and when she started her recording career, I wound up buying many of her 45s.  She wasn't worth the money for an LP, but I could justify buying her 45s.

And then her movie career began.  It's not that all was forgiven for hogging Spin, but I did like her new shirtless friends on the beach.  I recall a discussion with my sister (with my mother listening in either amusement or confusion) on the relative dreamboatiness of Paul Anka and Fabian.  My sister thought Paul Anka was the dreamboat; I much preferred Fabian.  So, Annette may have played bingo on the beach blankets with Paul Anka, but his friends looked more like Fabian.  Some of them already had fur.  The good thing about Annette was that she still had a squeaky clean reputation.  This meant I could go to Annette's movies and enjoy the 50-foot high hunks with no suspicions from my mother.

So, thank you Annette.  We may have had our earlier differences, but I appreciate your helping me out in my later teens.

OMG.  Does that sound like Suddenly, Last Summer?  Where's my shrink?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Dream, Dream, Dream

When you write down your dreams, write in the present tense, I was told.  I wrote down my dreams for years.  Not that my dreams are particularly interesting to anyone other than me, but I'm sometimes surprised by them.  Mostly I like that I came up with them, suggesting I still have some creativity, if I'd just tap it.

For a long time, I dreamed about being in college and realizing that I haven't been to class in a long time, that I don't know what courses I'm taking or where the classroom is.  It had been that I felt guilty about that, because the parents were paying for it.  At some point in this ongoing series, I realize that I already have one degree, so dropping out of college this time won't be all that bad.  I have roommates.  They tend to change with each dream.  So does the dorm room.  I frequently hope that the college won't kick me out before the end of the semester, even if I haven't been going to classes, because I have nowhere to go.

Last night, the dorm room combined with the site of another frequent dream, a large motel, practically a resort.  I look around the motel room.  I have roommates and it's apparent there are three of us because there are three beds as well as three pretty distinct decors.  I want to make coffee (it's been my responsibility throughout my life...in real life) and can't find the necessaries.  I look around to see if I can make do with anything.  It becomes apparent I can't.  I know that there's a strip mall nearby and the rear of it has a few small rooms and that I saw a coffeemaker in one of them.  I go there.  Nada.

Leaving the mall, I round the corner and walk by a room that's had the outside wall blown out.  Two young women sit on the floor.  I say "hello" to them; one of them replies.  I tell her I'm trying to get it together to make coffee.  She walks with me back to the motel room.  As we walk across the strip mall's parking lot, she suggest trying the hardware or grocery store.  I don't have the money.

Back at the room, I find something that might work...a long pipe (metal, not smoking) and I fill it with coffee grounds, then pour hot water through it.  The hot water heats up the metal and the coffee grounds become dislodged and everything pours through.  I'm not pleased.  The young woman expected coffee and I'm not about to give her what I collected from this disaster.  I look around and try something else and this time put a sieve over the bottom.  This actually works.  At least the liquid that pours into the mug is brown.  I tell her we don't have milk.  She says she doesn't need it.

OK, so maybe not my best effort, but at some point I think I want to write more about my dreams.  I've tried a couple of times to write about them generally and maybe this will make it a little more precise.

Or not.