Not quite Ice Road Truckers

Breaking from our usual routine of doing yard work, we set out on a short adventure for the day.  The weekend was going to be rainy anyway so it was the perfect opportunity to take a road trip.  We packed up some Fudge Stripe cookies, Cheetos, a six-pack of Cokes in the bottle and a Boar’s Head ham sandwich.  We grabbed the bear spray, bug spray and rubber boots just in case we decided to venture off the trail.  We set off in the truck to explore.

As usual, we quickly got into our habit of discussing everything and anything.  We never tire of being together, talking about things that have been and things to come.  Before we knew it, about an 45 minutes into the trip, we came to the spot that we’d had to turn around at the previous year.  Chris has been pining away to do this trip since we got here about this time last year.  The fire was nowhere to be found but the smoke was so thick that it obscured the road.  The fire fighters encouraged us to turn around as so we did.  This day though, the air was clear.  The only white we saw were the low clouds.  The burned trees were shiny black and spindly.  We fell silent, taking it all in.  Looking at the deep scar on the earth.

Out of the dimness emerged the pipeline snaking up the side of a hill before it dropped back underground.  I pointed it out and reached for my phone to snap a grainy pic through the windshield.  It’s just a pipe but it never ceases to amaze me.  It reminds me that we’re in Alaska.  I think about the men and equipment that it took to erect it.  It’s truly a wonder of the world.


It wasn’t long before we were on the actual Dalton Highway.  The same highway that the Ice Road Truckers use.  We were ecstatic just at the idea of being someplace we’d never been before.  Before we’d moved to Alaska, we’d watched the Ice Road Truckers series.  I asked why it was called that since we were clearly on pavement and Chris replied that there must be portions of it that go over ice in the winter.  We’d drive for long periods of time without seeing another vehicle.  We mostly passed semi-trucks who were going so fast that I feared they would tip over on the turns.  It was so shocking to see them coming roaring at us after not seeing anyone for such long periods.  I wondered if I should’ve called Mama before we set off to tell her what we were doing.  Being in Alaska, it was often advised to do so since there’s such remote areas that if something did happen, it could take weeks before they’d actually find you.


Just as quickly as we reached the highway, it dropped off to dirt.  Well, on a dry day it would’ve been dirt but it was a sloppy mess.  Chris started laughing.  I joined in, wondering how our new truck was going to hold up and picturing us washing it.  It needed a good coat of wax before winter anyway.

The temperatures stayed in the 50’s all day.  Winter was coming.  We fell silent for a bit, the radio having long ago gone to static.  I tried scanning but got nothing.  Chris said to plug in her phone.  I did and began to remove all the songs of mine that she hates, taking a break from being on the lookout for critters.  She said that we’d turn around once we hit a half a tank of gas.  I leaned over and took a look.  We’d used just over a quarter of a tank.  There was nothingness all around us.  Spruce and birch, thick at times and then spots of open tundra.  I wanted to see a lazy bear or a munching moose but then again, I didn’t really for fear of them running out in front of us.  I always think of that as a “careful what you wish for” thing.

When the Yukon River came into sight, it was exciting.  We’d made it to the Yukon.  It just sounded fun.  Crossing it however proved to be anything but.  We clunked down this pretty steep bridge over the swollen river.  Chris asked what the bull horns were for that were mounted to it.  I wondered if it was single lane.  It was super narrow.  We hadn’t even checked if anything was coming but luckily nothing was.  Chris said that the bridge was wood.  I sat up on the edge of my seat, thinking that I could somehow help.  She said it was slippery with all of the mud on it.  It didn’t seem slippery to me so I chalked it up to her being nervous about driving the bridge.  At the end of the bridge, we squealed at the sight of the services sign.  We pulled in and sat in the truck staring at the dilapidated trailer that had a huge FOOD, LODGING, GAS sign.  There were two motorcycles parked out front and several big trucks.  We’d passed two other motorcyclists with Chris saying how sorry she felt for them and me admiring them and wanting to do the trip as well.  I spoke up and said that I wasn’t going in.  It was a place of nightmares.  Chris wanted to top off with gas.  I thought we should try and go further.  We had to pee.  We left but found that across the street was a park information hut an toilets.  We shot across the road and once we’d parked, I popped the door open.  It was suctioned closed with mud.  We laughed and were so proud of ourselves for making such a mess of the truck and being on such an awesome adventure.


It wasn’t as fun going to the bathroom.  It had seen better days but served its purpose.  We hopped back in the truck and then discussed whether we should try the place across the street to get gas.  I was afraid to go in.  Chris was afraid of running out of gas.  It was a single pump with an above ground tank.  I told her we shouldn’t use it.  We started back on the road and I changed my mind.  She pulled over and then decided to go back.  We pulled up and hopped out again, tippy toeing into the trailer so as to not cover ourselves in mud.  When we entered, there was only two guys sitting at a table eating.  Not the crowd of rowdy men I’d pictured in my head.  A young girl with the sides of her head shaved but long in the middle hair, greeted us.  We asked about gas and handed her a twenty.  We had just under three quarters of a tank so it wouldn’t take much to fill it.  She took the money and wished us a nice day.  As we walked out, I felt stupid.  Chris said she was glad we stopped.  We pulled up to the pump, and I heard Chris say “Gross”.  We kept having to wipe our fingers off from the slop of mud when opening the door so I figured she was trying to get the gas door open.  I hear her explain “Oh my God”.  I lean over and see the $5.49 on the pump for the gas.  The $20 didn’t get us quite to a full tank, but it was ok, it would be enough to get us there but more importantly, to get us back.

We were quickly on the road again, with the pipeline at our side as it had been for quite awhile.  At the top of a hill, the landscape changed.  The trees disappeared and large formations of rock grew up out of the ground.  We found a pull off and decided to snap a few shots.  We walked up a short trail with signs of native Alaskans hunting caribou and describing the tundra.  We marched up to the top and took in the surroundings.  Then it started to rain.  We jogged back to the truck and hopped in, a skill we were acquiring as to not get mud on the back of our pants from the bottom of the door jam.

We fussed with our hair which was wild and crazy looking from the run and the rain.  I popped the visor mirror open and saw the curls forming.  My hair is getting long because I’ve been struggling with stylists in the area.  I saw Michael in the mirror as I always do when the curls appear.  I snapped the cover down to close the mirror and popped the visor back up.  We hopped back on the road and I saw a spot of tundra that was turning red.  It was too late, the camera was wet and we wanted to get back on the road.  The colors of fall in Alaska would show every so often and I would still wonder at the fact that it’s just August and fall is here.  I’ve not even harvested the garden yet, what little we can harvest since the summer was pretty wet this year.

Chris began to get worried that we’d somehow missed our ending point where we’d turn around and head back.  I told her I didn’t think we had.  And no sooner had we just about given up hope, our gas gauge reaching for the half-way point itself, that we saw the Arctic Circle sign.  We cheered as we pulled in “we made it”.


We hopped out of the truck again, hiking up our pants.  I asked Chris what the arctic circle was.  She laughed and said it was some map thing.  I said it was the top of the world but didn’t really know what significance that meant.  We laughed and took pictures of the sign.  Chris said, “there we are!”  I didn’t get it.  She could tell and said, there’s Alaska.  I still couldn’t find it but finally found it and realized there was a star on it.  Duh.


We checked out the signs that were similar to the signs we’d seen on our last stop.  Look for caribou, fox and waterfowl.  As we were getting into the truck, I heard another couple exclaim “we made it!” and I smiled.  We weren’t so unique but it was fun to think that there are others like us.  I climbed in and again proud of myself for not mucking up my pants.  My floor mat was quickly getting sloppy however.  Chris climbed in and looked at me.  I didn’t want the adventure to end.  I asked if we could go to Coldfoot, the next town up.  It was another hour or more away.  We turned on the GPS and tried to find it.  We’d not researched it.  The GPS couldn’t find it.  We questioned whether it was even in Alaska.  Maybe it was Canada.  We didn’t bring our passports.  How big was it?  Could we get gas there?  We decided we wouldn’t risk it and headed back.

We drove about 5 minutes and I asked Chris if she wanted me to drive.  I hadn’t driven all day.  I kind of wanted to be able to say I drove the ice road too.  So we pulled over and switched.  I was pretty slow at first because I wasn’t used to the four wheeling on the road. It was sloppy and slippery and rutty at times.  Then the trucks would roar by with very little room for mistakes.  The road went from slop to pavement every so often and like most of Alaska, there are no guard rails or any such thing.  I believe the mantra of Alaskans is “Good luck”.

We pulled out our sandwich and had lunch on the road back even though it was around 4:00.  We’d been snacking the whole way up.  It was great.  We  had to stop at the same place we’d gotten the gas from to pee again, before the wooden bridge to cross the Yukon River again.  I sat at the edge of the road, looking both ways for a minute and then gunned it.  I shot up the bridge, gripping the steering wheel for dear life, hoping that a giant semi-truck wouldn’t meet me at the top.  As I approached the end, I felt the rear start to weave.  I thought I was going to throw up.  Chris put her hand on my leg and said to slow down.  I eased off the gas and made it onto the road with a thud off the bridge.  Shew.

We continued to keep a watch out for wildlife but never saw a single animal.  That was the only disappointment.  When dusk started to settle in, we switched back.  I don’t see so great at night so Chris took over.  We talked about some hard subjects.  My cousin recently passed away and I cried for her.  For her mama.  I thought about us as kids, running around.  I don’t understand the selection process of why some people go and why some people stay.  I cried about Michael.  I usually go there.  I miss him.  I cried about my dad and the life he’s chosen to have since his stroke.  And all I could think on the trip and the trip back was that I want to write.  It’s been too long.  I miss it too.  I may not be great at it but I love it and want to write again.

We looked up Coldfoot.  It’s in Alaska and so is Deadhorse.  I’m not too keen on going to a place called Deadhorse but we’ll do it.  I want to go to Prudhoe bay.  Maybe next year.

Something’s rotten

When I moved to California, one of my requirements when looking for a home was that it have fruit trees.  I wasn’t greedy by wanting every kind of fruit possible.  I simply wanted a lemon and a lime tree.  I love lemons and limes.  I used lemons all the time but thought that limes were so exotic and smell so incredible that they were always a treat for me.  Being in a warm climate with very little freezing weather, it was a no brainer to me to have some citrus trees right in the yard to walk out and grab some fruit from.  When we moved into our house after a few months of searching for just the right place, I was so excited that the yard had several fruit producing trees.  There was not only a lemon and a lime tree but also a pomegranate, orange, avocado and apple tree.  It sounds excessive, I know but let me just clarify that they were new, little trees so the pomegranate and avocado had yet to produce fruit.  But the lemon, lime and orange trees all had fruit on them.  I’d never had fruit trees before and the only thing that had come close was that my dad had a couple fruit trees in his yard when I was growing up and I hated them!  When I’d cut the grass, the bees were so bad that it was terrifying to go near the trees for fear of getting stung.  Luckily, with these trees being so small, I don’t have that worry.  What I didn’t know was how the fruit trees work.  I guess I thought with the weather being warm, the trees would just constantly produce fruit.  That’s not true!  I picked and used all of the lemons within the first few weeks and then that was that.  I moved on to the lime tree but I don’t like limes in the same applications that I like lemons so I didn’t use them as much.  I picked the three oranges that were on the orange tree and then that was that as well.

We moved in at the beginning of November.  It was getting cooler but not cold.  By the beginning of the year, we did have a couple of freezing nights to which I covered and protected my precious trees.  In the spring, the lime tree immediately got buds on it and is now once again full of key limes.  I thought at one point I was going to lose the lemon tree but nurtured it and just got the first lemon off of it a few weeks ago.  There’s four or five more lemons on it.  The orange tree didn’t bud or bloom and has no fruit on it as is the same with the avocado and pomegranate.  I’ll be patient with them.  I hope that they produce before we end up moving from here.  The apple tree did bud and bloom and get a bunch of apples on it.  I picked them all, ate them and made applesauce out of them.  It was awesome.  We ended up buying a cherry tree as well to which I hope will fruit one day too.

Now, to the reason that I wrote this post.  I took some pumpkin muffins over to my neighbor on the left a few weeks ago and she gave me a grocery bag full of giant lemons from her tree.  I mean, those things were the size of grapefruits and had such a great flavor.  The ironic thing is, I’m not crazy about the lemons that my lemon tree produces.  I think they’re meyer lemons but my neighbor says hers are meyer lemons and they’re not the same so maybe mine are something other than meyer.  They’re like a cross between a lemon and an orange.  They have a strange taste to me.

Anyway, I loved that my neighbor gave me lemons.  I didn’t even realize she had a lemon tree.  It’s a massive tree in her backyard.  Not like my little tree that comes up to my waist.  She used a ladder to get her lemons.  Now, that’s my neighbor on the left.  My neighbor on the right has a huge orange tree in the front yard that is overloaded with oranges.  When we first moved in, I was excited that I’d be able to get fresh oranges once we got to know one another.  There’s also another fruit tree out front that my neighbor across the street informed me was a kumquat tree.  I told her I’d never used kumquats before and she said that unless I was going to buy them, I still wouldn’t be using them.  Apparently that neighbor, the one to the right of me, won’t share their fruit.  My neighbor across the street had asked them once, many years ago, if she could have a couple of their oranges and they simply said no.  I understand, or at least I thought I did.  It’s their fruit.  They can do with it what they want.

We’ve lived here for a year now and I don’t understand.  The oranges fall on the ground, rotten.  The tree is so overloaded with oranges that the limbs are sagging and they will not share them.  It is obvious that they don’t use them just based on the look of the tree.  What’s awesome is that the kumquat tree has started to grow around the fence so since it’s on my property, I pick the kumquats on my side.  I’ve not gotten any protests so I think everything is still kosher with them.  As I sit here, I can see a towering persimmon tree over the back fence in the neighbor’s yard that must have 100 or more persimmons on it, many of them rotting on the tree.  What a waste.  Why would people want to be that way?  Is it a, ‘I don’t want them but I don’t want you to have them either’ scenario?  What is that?  I think if I had that much fruit, I’d either have a fruit stand or I’d be bartering for other goods from more neighbors.  Not to mention that the homeless would probably love some fresh fruit.  It just drives me crazy and when things drive me crazy, I write about them.  I think I’ll go make me a limeade.

Celebrating the Good

Early on in my relationship with my partner, we decided that every good thing needed to be celebrated.  It actually started with monetary increases.  If we got a raise or a bonus at work, we celebrated, usually with dinner.  If we applied for a job and got a call back, we celebrated.  It got a bit complicated when going on an actual interview because if the interview went bad, we weren’t sure if we should celebrate or not.  It was awesome that we were picked out of many to be interviewed and we wanted to celebrate that but if it didn’t go well, we didn’t want to celebrate something bad.  It’s all about karma and noticing the little things that make life better.

After awhile of our newfound tradition, we noticed we were packing on the pounds from celebrating every little thing by eating out.  Cutting back meant meeting weight loss goals.  We couldn’t eat out for those so we did other things like going to an event or show, taking a mini vacation or buying something nice for ourselves.  It doesn’t have to be extravagant all of the time and we learned to match celebrations with events that were cause for celebration.

We don’t go overboard on celebrations either.  If our car passes an inspection, we don’t celebrate.  It’s more of a personal thing.  If we “survived” something, we would celebrate.  If we were rewarded, we in turn, rewarded ourselves.  If there was a life changing event, such as quitting my job to write a book, we celebrated.  It has worked so well for us over the years.

We just got back from our first trip to Disneyland.  It was the reward I chose for publishing my book.  At first I thought it was a little over the top but it really was a big deal.  Pouring my heart and soul onto pages and then letting the world read it, was not only terrifying but constricting in terms of feeling like I was having a panic attack at every moment of every day.

Disneyland was the perfect place to go to relieve myself of the stress and self-doubt that I’d been carrying around since publication.  I did the best I could on the book, it’s out there and I’m working on my next one.  That is definitely worthy of a celebration such as an extended weekend at the Happiest Place on Earth.


Rocks and Trees

Over the past few years, my partner and I have been drawn to places known for their rocks and trees.  This time, we made a trek to South Lake Tahoe.  We stayed in a town named Heavenly.  But it wasn’t about where we were staying, it was where we were.  We drove the windy roads into the mountains and loved the miles and miles of tree covered hills and that we finally got to see some massive rocks.  When we saw the recent devastation of a wildfire, it was quieting.  We stopped talking and tried to take it all in.   A forest fire isn’t like burning a piece of wood in a fireplace, a fire pit or a wood stove.  In those cases, there’s nothing left but ash.  In a forest fire, the trees remain standing.  They turn brown and the land turns black.  The enormity of the fire amazed me.  Thinking about the pinpoint that was us in our car and looking over the thousands of acres that were consumed by the fire was bigger than I could comprehend.  I thought about the firefighters and just how small they were, just like us.  There were signs along the highway thanking them.  I can’t imagine how anyone couldn’t have compassion and admiration for our heroes.

I wondered if the burn on the land was like a burn on our skin.  It hurts but it heals.  It’s never quite the same in that area but it rebuilds itself, mending the pain.  We love trees.  They’re so massive and majestic.  They have a story to tell, they clean our air, they stand tall and proud.  Combine the trees with the rocks and we tend to find where we fit in best.  Rocks and trees hold this earth together for us to live on.  We listen to them, we cherish them and we respect them.

What’s it called?

I was reading an article yesterday on the difference between a memoir and an autobiography.  I’ve questioned that myself, so found the article to be helpful.  It basically said that a memoir covers an event in one’s life whereas an autobiography covers ones entire life.  Makes sense.

Then, at 4:00 a.m. this morning, my mind decided to re-review this theory.  I could say that my book covers a single event.  That event would be described as the struggle of life.  But not my whole life.  Just some points in my life.  So, it’s a memoir.  Is it too broad?  There could be a follow-up so that definitely means it’s not a whole life.

I think of whole life as someone, an author, writing the story of someone else’s life.  An autobiography of that person.  Do people really write their own autobiography?  Then it wouldn’t be a whole life because they’re writing which means something is happening.

I look at the clock.  4:15.  Two more hours before I get up.  I think back to the last book I read, “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed.  It’s a memoir.  She writes about her trek on the Pacific Coast Trail.  But interspersed was parts of her life outside of the PCT.  That sounds like my book.  Some things happen and while they’re happening, I write about other things happening.  Yep.  I wonder if Cheryl will come out with a follow-up?

The book I’m reading now is “Alcatraz 1259” by William G. Baker.  During a visit to Alcatraz – probably my 3rd, taken while a family member was visiting – 80 year old William G. Baker sat in the gift shop surrounded by stacks of his books.  I was so excited for him.  I grabbed one off the stack and stood in line to have him sign it.  I love talking to older people.  They have such a different view of things.  I eased up to him and said “hi”.  He stuck his hand out and I shook it as he said “hi” back.  He then picked up a bucket sitting next to him and spit in it.  I thought of my granddaddy who, embarrassingly, does this very loud snort, hawk and spit whenever he’s outside.  Usually in a very public place.  I smiled, feeling uncomfortable, not knowing what to do.  He reached out to me again and I handed him my book.  He asked my name so I told him.  He wrote “To Michelle  William G. Baker  Jan 15, 2014”  I smiled and thought I should probably ask him something since that was the whole purpose of meeting the author.  I asked “What did you do to end up in Alcatraz?”  As I said it, I felt this fear come over me.  I was standing there talking to someone that had been in Alcatraz.  He could’ve done something horrible.  He could be a very mean person.  I looked back at him and saw the little old man.  He said he stole a car.  Stole a car?  Damn.  Alcatraz seemed pretty extreme for having just stole a car but then again, Al Capone was just a tax evader, right?  I felt bad for William.  He slid the book to me and I took it from him.  He picked up the bucket again as I walked off.

That’s a memoir.  He writes about being in Alcatraz and reflecting on his life.  I have a memoir.  I have a novel.  Wait, what’s the definition of a novel?  4:35.  Is a book a novel?  I’ll have to look that up.

I think about the post I put on Twitter last night of when I met RuPaul.  It went viral.  Yay!  But I didn’t get any new followers from it.  Booo.  I remember meeting him.  He reminded me of Michael.  Super tall, skinny and fabulous.  For just a minute I stood next to my brother again.  He even smelled nice like Michael would’ve smelled.  I love Ru.  So even after our photo, I was elated to be near him, not just because he’s famous but because he’s a good person.

I wondered what I could write a blog post about today.  I didn’t write one yesterday because I was combing other blogs seeking out book review blogs to review my book.  Then it hit me, whatever keeps me awake should be a blog post.  Brilliant!  It’s so much better than those ideas that are genius that I have just before I fall asleep that I can never remember in the morning.  I wonder how many scientists have cured cancer in their head just before they fall asleep and then can’t remember it in the morning.

5:00 a.m.  Time to get up and write.

The Game of Life

My mom was a guest at my house for a few days last week.  I saw it as an opportunity to pull down my board games.  I’ve loved playing games since I was a kid.  I grabbed the two that were easiest to get to – Life and Monopoly.  We started with Life and I was shocked that I couldn’t remember how to play it.  I went to the directions and still struggled.  The first time through, we missed the STOP to get kids and it really bummed us out.  But we both had really good jobs but I failed to land on a single PAYDAY so I ended the game owing the bank $280,000.  It was such a let down that I wondered how I found the game fun when I was a kid.  It all looked good on paper though.  I had a $100k salary, a farm house.  It’s almost like it was too real to be fun as an adult but loved it as a kid.  Maybe it was the prospect of it all when I was little.  The glamour, the uncertainty.  Now, I just found it too real, too telling, too serious.

We decided to give it another try.  I thought I’d try the college route this time rather than the career route.  It was ridiculous.  It started off in debt and didn’t get a payday until much later so I changed my mind and went back to the career route.  I figured why start off so far in debt with no guarantee of grabbing a career card that would offer a nice salary.  It just didn’t make sense.  It was mimicking my actual life.  I grabbed my career card and was so disappointed by the $20k salary.  But we stopped for kids this time.  I ended up with a ginormous house which was very uncharacteristic for me but the best part was that I ended up writing a novel and won the Nobel Peace Prize.  How awesome.  And I won the game that time.  Not like life at all.

We moved on from there to Monopoly which took so many hours that we basically threw in the towel.  Monopoly reminds me of my brother.  He was a pro at the game.  I think I beat him once which I’m sure he let me.  Early on with mine and Mama’s game, I was able to buy Park Place and Boardwalk which was also very reminiscent of Michael as well.  I ended up winning.  Thanks Michael.

Coming Out

In honor of National Coming Out day (Oct 11, 2014), I thought I’d write about my Coming Out experiences.  I write in my book about first coming out to my brother.  I wrote him a letter.  I was in my late teens so not all that comfortable with verbal communication.  I wasn’t sure how he’d take it but he was ecstatic.  It made us just that much closer.  It opened up a world of Gay Pride Celebrations, learning to become comfortable with myself and living a life out of the closet, not having to look over my shoulder or conjure up stories of “roommates” or “female friends” and why we’d lived together for years or went out together every weekend.

It wasn’t always happy times though.  There was a lot of anxiety to begin with along with the fear of rejection from my family and friends.  When I was a young adult, I decided, along with some pressure from my brother, that I should tell my mom.  She took it ok.  She grieved some over me having a “normal” life but in the end, she was resolved to just wanting me to be happy.

It took a few more years before I was able to come out to my dad.  I guess I knew that my mom wouldn’t reject me but I wasn’t so sure about my dad.  As with my mom, he said he’d known all along but his struggle was with how to introduce me and my partner to his friends.  We went through some practice scenarios until he was comfortable.

I was beginning to be comfortable, wearing my Keith Haring Coming Out t-shirt, but still not truly out of the closet.  My employer didn’t know and the majority of my straight friends didn’t know.  It took even more years to get through to them all.  When we decided to move to another state, it forced us to come out to our employer.  I quit my job and needed to be on my partner’s insurance so it was imperative to not only come out to them but to ensure that they offered domestic partner benefits.  It was a huge hurdle to overcome but it was so necessary.

What made things a bit easier was that me and my partner ended up working at the same place so it sort of forced people to face the fact that they worked with gay people.  It was a bit of forceful acceptance.

What’s funny is that when Facebook first came around, I was terrified to join because I knew that I’d have to come out to more of my old friends from school.  I’d already come out to both of my parents, my only sibling, co-workers and employers but still faced the fear of rejection from lifelong friends.  I expressed my concerns to my partner and heard her when she explained that if those lifelong friends couldn’t deal with the fact that I was the same person that they’d known for our entire lives, then we didn’t need to continue to be friends.  It was loud and clear and I even agreed but I didn’t want to lose my friends.  And I haven’t.  Most already knew, just as my parents and my brother knew and the others that didn’t know, didn’t really care.

I live my life now, not even giving being gay a second thought.  I have an incredible person that I share my life with.  We don’t put a label on ourselves so we don’t expect anyone else to.  We’re just who we are.  We do the same things that straight people do.

I know it hasn’t been this easy for everyone and I don’t take that for granted.  My brother is actually gay as well and I thank him and all those that have come before me.  They paved the way and made the first, crucial breakthroughs that have allowed others to walk after them, with our heads held high.  Having come from a small, rural, southern town, my brother was actually shot at.  He had bullet holes in his car.  That is inconceivable to me today but I know that it still happens and it’s just ludicrous.  How one human being can want to harm another human being just over the person they love is just stupid.  There is no longer room for narrow minded people in this world.

Differentiation is what makes the world goes round.  If there’s anything I could offer to anyone that has yet to come out, it would be to find someone that you trust and are comfortable with and talk it over with them first.  It will allow you to try out your words and find your voice.  Don’t be afraid to stand up for who you are.  And know that you’re not alone.  We’ve all faced the same fear to which I hope you find resolution and comfort to.

Work Backup

Have you ever just wanted to send someone in your place for the day?  It could be to the office or just as a fill-in for whatever you do every day.  In our case, it’s just the two of us so the only logical substitute is the dog.  We paint the picture by discussing him trotting into the office, going down the hallways, with little glasses on that we feel he needs in order to make him look more professional.  He could hop up into our chair at our desk, putting his little paws on the keyboard and looking at the computer screen like he’s perfectly comfortable and confident in what he’s to do.

For me, I’d have him write blog posts about getting to fetch fluffy toys, how to properly discover and roll in stinky things in the yard, best practices for reminding your owner of when it’s dinner time.  He could research Twitter members to help promote my book.  He knows if he helps his mamas, he gets more cookies.  He’d look up Lassie and Bub to follow, like minded pets and people that he can relate to.  He’d take a break every so often to get a drink of water and ask to be put out for some fresh air.

For my partner, he’d drive to work, honking the horn and barking at everyone that cut him off or for the horribly long traffic lights.  He’d sit in meetings, play on his smartphone, interject every so often with a sigh and a growl before retreating back to his open office, adjustable desk.  He’d shake all over flinging dust and hair onto the neighboring desk but since it’s just a guy, he barely notices.  Before heading to lunch, he lets out a big yawn causing half of the office to pass out.  It’s all a part of his plan to get in front of them before the caf gets too full.  He grabs a slice of pizza, eats it right on the floor and retreats back to his desk where he curls up and sleeps for a few hours.

Upon waking, he heads outside again before heading to the next meeting where he tries to draw his plans on a white board but can’t reach so he just scribbles on the wall below it.  He drops the marker on the floor confident he’s made his point, knowing that he’s a genius and under-appreciated everywhere he goes.  And with that, he hops back in the car, drives home with the windows down so the wind can blow the hair from his face.  He arrives home exhausted, pleads with his mamas not to make him do that again, has some dinner and retreats to his fluffy bed where he can curl up with his plush toys and sleep through the evening.

My partner and I discuss if anyone would actually even notice the substitute.  Would he end up biting the people we didn’t like in the office or growl at them?  Would he get distracted and end up peeing on the floor or try to mark every desk and pee on each one?  Or worse, get frightened and poop right in the middle of the hallway.  We think it might be too much for him but want him to succeed.  Just then, he lifts his head to peek at us from behind his bangs.  We’re stare at one another for a moment as if he knows we’re talking about him.  He flops his head back down on his bed, down for the count.  We face the realization that there is no backup.

Coastal Motorin’

Driving along the highway, through a small storm cloud, I felt the tiny needles of rain pierce my jeans and spatter on my helmet. The moisture rich air smelled clean and warm even though my nose was getting cold as I drove toward the northern hills.  Taking the exit started the series of sharp turns, narrow streets, and bottlenecked cars with drivers too busy looking at the cavernous hillsides and streets lined with eucalyptus trees shedding their bark and casting shady shadows on the road.  The scent of eucalyptus washed over me as I passed by.  I breathed deep, wanting to take the smell with me on my journey.

Once I’d made my way over the mountain, I maneuvered through some downtown streets and then started on the coastal roadway.  Within minutes, I was cruising high up on the road with the sea far below.  The cliffs were stunning and the see was a blue-green against the powdery blue of the sky.  Up and down hills, around corners and I was suddenly at sea level with white-capped waves crashing on white sand beaches with the orange, brown and green cliffs in the background.  The sea salted air filled my helmet and the tiny particles of mist covered my shield.  It was beyond beautiful.

As the road flattened out further up, it was green for as far as I could see.  There were manicured rows of fruits and vegetables. I always love to see the anal retentiveness of farms.  It smelled of manure and fertilizer which wasn’t pleasant but it was so amazing going between the extremes that I didn’t mind.  I could see the sea just beyond the rows of green.  I thought that it must be magnificent to own a farm right on the ocean.  It’s the best of both worlds.

I continued my journey for over 100 miles and finally wound my way back home, tired but exhilarated at the same time.  It was my new favorite thing to do.  I felt fortunate for the opportunity to experience something, a ride, a site, an area, that some may never get to see.


I woke up last night in the middle of the night because I had an uneasiness about me.  As soon as I came to enough to realize what was going on, I felt the migraine pain squeezing my head.  I tried to figure out why it decided to wake me up out of perfectly good sleep.  I laid there for a few minutes and felt the familiar nauseousness.  Luckily, I nodded back off to sleep.  That never happens.  I’ve been pretty wiped out the past few days because it seems like every other night, I can’t sleep.  It was my turn to sleep last night but for whatever reason, I had to be awoken.

Next thing I knew, it was time to get up.  I really didn’t want to but I did and while having coffee, I reflected back on the dream I was having, that pulled me back to sleep.  I had returned to my techie job.  I’d been asked to return as a consultant.  I was sitting at some unfamiliar table with the team that I last left.  I was talking the talk with them, their faces, mannerisms, voices, all just as they should be.  My boss was there along with the other leads.  For a moment, I couldn’t quite realize why I was there.  I felt confused.  When I tried to insert my thoughts, the knowledge was already there.  I said to them “You’ve got this”.  In the dream, at that point, I felt the pang of discomfort in my head.  I laid my head down on the table for a minute and when I picked it up, a guy, from not my previous job but the one before that, was standing there with a sandwich in his hand.  I thought back and could see myself just moments earlier giving him my lunch order.  He always went to the sub shop up the street and was willing to grab mine too.  I asked for my usual steak and cheese with lettuce and tomato.  When I opened the paper on my lunch, it was a breakfast sandwich with eggs and hash browns on texas toast.  I wondered how he got that out of my steak and cheese order.  But I took a bite.  It was horrible.

He returned just then and said that he’d given me the wrong sandwich, holding a different one in his hand.  I looked at the sandwich that was clearly not mine, but now with a bite taken out of it.  I pushed it in his direction and said “Sorry” through my mouth, full of his food.  He smiled and said that it was ok.  We exchanged sandwiches and I once again unwrapped a new meal.  It was a shrimp salad salad with lettuce and tomato.  I was stymied.  Did I not speak clearly?  Did “Steak and Cheese” sound like “Shrimp Salad”?  I took a bite.  It was odd.  I’d never had a shrimp salad sandwich before.

My friend and teammate asked me what I was having.  I told her.  She curled her lip.  I just said “Yeah” and realized I was at my desk.  I took my sandwich and walked down the hallway.  I had to use the bathroom.  When I got close enough to see the entrance, I looked for a trash can to throw away my sandwich but then realized that I no longer had it.  There was a line to the bathroom but there were men and women both waiting.  I asked what was going on.  They all spoke at once, complaining, there was only one bathroom and that we had to share it.  A woman would go into the stall and the man would enter as well but use the urinal.  I wanted nothing of it but had to go.  When it was finally my turn, I could hardly hold it any longer.  I entered and saw the uni-sign and thought there never were two restrooms.  There was standing water on the floor that my feet sloshed in.  I opened the door and saw the man that came in behind me standing at the urinal out of the corner of my eye.

I was awoken.  It was time to get up.  Headache explained.