Sunday, December 21, 2014

Not off to a great start

Had a great flight, it was SO nice to get a zillion hugs from TH!  He was missing me badly enough to let down enough in public to give me a two armed bear hug!!!

To say I was shocked when I came in the door, would be putting it mildly.  TH moved us into a smaller cheaper apartment, and told me that he put the furniture (what we didnt store) into place, dropped the boxes and bags and whatnots where ever there was room and quit.  I thought he as joking, turns out he wasn't. 

Tuesday morning he took his sister to her doctors appointment, she has been having trouble walking and standing.  When the doctor saw her weakened condition, off to the emergency room!  Where after a load of x-rays and yet another MRI and an IV with some steroids, was given the bad news.  They had to operate on her ASAP or she could be in a wheel chair for the rest of her life. 

This is where living in a state with a very low population has extreme drawbacks.  There is only one surgeon in the entire state who can do this tricky neurosurgery, and he was on vacation.  So, to the tune of $180,000 dollars they medevaced her to Seattle.  She is scheduled for surgery on Tuesday, and has been spending her time since with yet more MRI's, more x-rays and a procedure to install a marker for her surgery.

Wednesday feeling a big overwhelmed by what is occurring with his sister, it was a pure pleasure to have grandson come and spend the day.  He was a mite fussypants, but still a joy to be around. 

By 3:30 my insides didnt feel so well, I had caught some sort of intestinal flu thingy.  Today, I'm on the mend, finally!  But TH came home from work feeling puny, and the poor dear he now is suffering.

Hopefully the rest of our time together will be better!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas in Arizona

It rarely snows in the great Phoenix area, yeah that shocked ya back a bit didn't it!  Last year we did have a brief snowstorm, but it was in late January, not around Christmas.  Every year the Tempe Marketplace Mall has a snowstorm from daily from 7-8 pm. The kids run around trying to catch the flakes, it really is festive.  Its really amazing, to watch it snow at 60F!  I tried to capture a picture of it, but some how I just couldnt get the snow to show up with the camera in my iphone, so here's a snap I found on the webby.
These next two are my photos, snapped at the Tempe Marketplace on a Meetup movie night.
There are festive Christmas lights everywhere, but the malls really go all out with their decorations.  So, even if it doesn't have that Christmas card look of glistening snow laying around and about, it does lift ones spirits.

Tomorrow, the 15th, I fly back to Alaska for 2 weeks to celebrate with the family.  Without a doubt I am going to die of cold.  Today while doing laundry, which is on the patio, the cold was biting into me quite firmly.  Convinced that the temps had to be hovering around freezing, I did a quick check on my phone to find out it was all of 53......sigh.  I have turned into a weather wimp!  The high today at my Alaskan home was 7. 

This will be me on the way to the grocery store!  Gotta watch out for those polar bears, dontcha know.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book Review: Two views of Military life under DADT

I have a tendency to binge on one topic, and I some how got off on the lives of men in the military under DADT.  Most likely it was a suggestion from Amazon based upon the topics I enjoy reading. 

While these two books are an enjoyable read, they come at the topic of how DADT affected their lives from two totally different directions.  The main focus of the books aren't from the same vantage point either, something that I found interesting and really rounded out the experience of serving under this stupid policy.

Brett Jones 
PRIDE:The Story Of The First Openly Gay Navy Seal

                                                                                In Danger

"I hung up the payphone with my head hanging towards the ground.  "Fuck. Fuck, Fuck! How could they possibly have found out that I am gay?  I am always so careful.  I am always really careful.  Somebody must have informed on me...but who?  Who do I know that would do such a thing?  Take a breath, Brett, and just breathe.  Just. Breathe. Dammit."  I thought to myself while exhaling deeply.  I looked over to the gate and saw that my flight had already started boarding."

This is how his book begins and it takes the majority of the book to cycle back around to this point in time.  What fills the rest of his book is his journey to become a Seal.  And while I knew it was an arduous ordeal where most of the men who start the training wash out, I literally had no idea just how grueling the training actually is.  He is open and candid about his flaws and his weaknesses. 

When his parents found out he was gay, they had his older brother drive him to a cheap hotel, gave him $300 and told him never return.  He was a senior in High School, yup a good "christian" woman and his Air Force father thought it was acceptable to toss out their son.  He finished school and at some point between his being tossed out and joining the Navy his parents let him move back home. 

The primary focus of this book is Brett's fight to excel in the Navy and become the end all and be all to him, a Seal.  His relationship with the man which caused him to be released from the Navy is only touched on.  He is open about being gay and different hookups but this portion of who he is really takes a back seat to Brett Jones, Seal.  He has an epilogue letting you know how his life after the Seals has been.

This book was a page turner for me.  I was engrossed from the the first paragraph to the last word.  I will admit that I wish he would have included more about the relationship with the fella he was living with while a Seal, but then again, maybe he didnt want to invade his privacy. 

Stephan Snyder-Hill  
Soldier of Change: From the Closet to the Forefront of the Gay Rights Movement
Forward by George Takei

You might remember this video from the Republican Debate September 22, 2011, where a serving soldier on active duty in Iraq was booed by the audience.

                                                 1 A Leap of Faith

"We boarded the plane.  I sat down and closed by eyes.  I looked down at my watch, December 4, 2010, 22:16.  Could this be happening again?  My mind was like a film projector, flickering backa nd forthe between thought - my first deployment to Iraq twenty years ago for Desert Storm, my boyfriend Josh, my parents, my brother, my pets- then back to Josh.  We had been dating only a few months, but I knew this ws the person I wanted to spend my life with.  We'd had to say goodbye underneath an escalator, where no one could see us.  Knowing I was leaving for war,  knowing I might not ever see him again, I held him tighter than I'd ever held anyone.  All around us husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, hugged and kissed each other in plain sight, without sexrecy, without shame.  Josh and I wiped our tear dry and left our hideout in opposite directions so people didn't notice.  This is the real fact of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Stephan's book while talking a great deal about his life in the Army focuses more upon how restrictive his life was while serving under DADT.  How he would race around to remove photos of him and his boyfriend.  How he made sure never to be overheard on the phone while talking with Josh.  The whole game of changing Josh's gender by using feminine pronouns when talking about his love life.  How he hated having to field questions about why he isnt married, or has pictures of his "girlfriend", until he finally had a female friend pose for pictures with him to hush up the whispers.

The last part of the book was talking about his lawsuit and the advocacy work him and his husband Josh have been a part of.

There were times I felt this book lagged a bit, but was a solid read.  When the book was finished, you know who Stephan Synder-Hill is, and he is a very likeable chap.  What I found the most interesting how life under DADT was miles worse than before it took effect.  After DADT it became a witch hunt for gays and lesbians in the military, and people were prying constantly for personal information,  checking for facts that didn't match up with previous telling of the same story.  It was hard for Stephan to come out, and he wasn't planning on showing his face on camera, even after DADT was repealed.  How his company reacted to his coming out was a very strong portion of the story, and at times surprising to me as a reader.

Monday, December 1, 2014

World AIDS Day

Today over at Joemygod's blog, I had a very interesting conversation and thought I'd share it here.

Jim: "Perhaps my biggest disappointment with gay culture is how many men have continued to play Russian roulette with their health despite the virtual fool-proof insurance of simply using a condom. I haven't had "unprotected sex" in almost there decades but frankly couldn't imagine a more fantastic carnal history. And it's included a lot of positive men - the same ones so many others want nothing to do with once they turn positive. In fact I'm turned-off by anyone who demonstrates such open contempt for themselves and their partners by not using a condom. They can otherwise be the hottest conquest I've ever contemplated, but if they want to sell me some BS about how I should take their calculated risk... forget it. Because just like someone who wasn't wearing a seat belt when they had a life-changing car accident, I've never met a HIV positive man who thinks the partner who gave him HIV was somehow worth it in the end. (pun intended) There are plenty of incredible men who hold themselves - and YOU - in higher regard. The rest are selling themselves - and YOU - something so much less. Get with the program already."

Biki: "Wonderful! You hit the nail on the head, perfectly. I often wonder if some of the refusal to use condoms is having to grow up hidden and believing there is something wrong and vile about being lgbt? If we can ever normalize sex across the board as an act that as innate as breathing and as important, no matter what gender(s) your partner(s) are, then maybe at that time we will learn to care more about ourselves and others?"

Jim: "You bet I think it's a manifestation of self loathing, and/or a belief their life won't be worth much when they get older anyway. Why else would someone live like they're that worthless. It's acting-out exactly what the haters and homophobes have been selling all along. Now that I'm past my 50s, I realize more than ever how much my healthy survival is perhaps the wisest personal decision I've ever made, and the greatest triumph against those who'd rather see me sick or dead. And all I had to do was follow a simple protocol that took NOTHING of any real consequence away from an amazingly rich and fulfilling sex life - that continues today. Don't buy into the hate. Take care of yourself. You really ARE worth it after all."

If I had unlimited funds I would blanket this country with bill boards quoting Jim's words.

Don't buy into the hate. Take care of yourself. You really ARE worth it after all.

Words I think we all need to embed deeply within ourselves and believe.   It doesn't matter if we are LGBT or straight, which gender if any, skin color,  or if we are gifted or disabled.  We are all worth it.
All of us.