Anyone with a minuscule amount of common sense knew this day would come in NC. I wish I could say that I feel bad for the 1.3 million homophobic, bigoted, hateful residents of NC that voted YES to Amendment One in 2012, but I can't. Those individuals (yes you Thom Tillis) chose hate and in the end, love has WON out. Joe worked so hard for this back in 2012 even though he was undergoing chemo. As I've said before, he would have chemo in the morning and demonstrate at the state legislature building in the afternoon. It worried me so, but I was and still am so proud of him for being so dedicated to his convictions. It came too late to help us, but regardless, WE WON, Baby!
Friday, October 10, 2014
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
"Same-sex couples are able to marry in 26 states, and will soon be free to marry in an additional 9. The marriage states are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia. Additionally, because the Supreme Court denied review in a case seeking the freedom to marry, the freedom to marry will soon come to all states in the 4th, 10th, and 7th Circuits, including Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has also affirmed the freedom to marry, meaning that barring further action from defendants in Idaho, same-sex couples will soon be free to marry. The ruling would also be binding in Alaska, Arizona and Montana. Marriage licenses have been issued to same-sex couples in Arkansas and Michigan following court orders, but those orders are now either on hold or being challenged as they are considered by appellate courts."
This means that barring some unforeseen change, within a matter of weeks, same-sex marriage will be considered legal in 35 states & the District of Columbia. Even without the above mentioned 9 that are coming, 26 of 50 states now recognize this fact. That's more than 50% of the USA. The tide is not only changing, it is high tide and rolling ashore! Wake UP UMC! Adapt or go the way of the dinosaur. Your numbers are already dwindling to a desperately low number. If you can't justify a change faithfully, religiously or through your narrow Biblical views, maybe looking at it economically is the best way to see it. Like many if not most Christian denominations, you are dying on the vine. Set yourself apart any way you can. What do you really have to loose? Reduced membership? It's already happening. Reduced income/contributions? It's already happening. Bad press? You've got that by the boat load! It's 2014. Act like it!
Joe- Look at me! I'm political AND controversial!!!! Well, maybe not that controversial, but I'm speaking up. Silent no more.
Sunday, October 5, 2014
It's only been a little more than a month, but it seems so much longer since my last post. At that time I was trying to figure out if I would be able to go to the beach for the Labor Day weekend. It seems like so long ago. I think that is what pain does. Time moves much slower when you are hurting. I didn't go to the beach, I went to the hospital instead. The pain got more intense and I had a bad reaction to one of the antibiotics. Not a long visit mind you, just long enough for the nausea to be managed and the pain to subside. I was out by the evening of Labor Day Monday after having slept a lot for a couple of days. But here we are five+ weeks later and the discomfort remains. Not pain, at least not constant, just a general discomfort most often after a meal. I remember it taking a long time last year for the discomfort to go away, but I don't remember it taking this long. But then again, pain makes time move slower.
Next up, work. Mostly good. I am still really enjoying being at our corporate office two to three days a week. It's nice to have specific tasks/responsibilities to take care of each day and work toward getting them completed without constant interruption. Much nicer than having to be a jack of all trades and answer question after question (and they are almost always the same questions over and over) which is my Chapel Hill office routine along with biting my tongue not to say something when pulled away from what I'm doing to "problem solve". There were two perfect examples last week: Agent 1 comes and tells me her computer says she isn't connected to a device and won't do anything. I go into her office to discover that her monitor is on but she hasn't turned the computer on. Agent 2 comes and tells me she thinks she broke her email (yes she said that) because all her email is old and only stuff she wrote. Nothing coming in. I go to her computer and yep, you guessed it. She is in her "sent" folder. Geez. Oh well, I'm gainfully employed, that's something!
The next two subjects are ones that I am very hesitant to write about. I feel it necessary to pick my words very carefully and that is something that I'm not very good at. During Joe's illness, the blog served as such a source of release because I said what I felt and didn't worry about it. I don't feel that I can do that any longer. Many people will not understand where I'm coming from; where my head is at; where my heart is at. I have written a number of posts, mostly when I'm feeling very upset, very frustrated, very emotional and they have never been published but just sit on the blog as drafts...never to be read by anyone. But here goes, in as delicate a manner as I can muster.
The United Methodist Church. I'm talking the UMC as a whole. Not a local congregation. No individuals. My perception is that everything in the UMC seems to move at a glacial pace, but I've never been a patient person. I've listened. I've read. I've thought. I've prayed. I've stressed. What do I do? How do I as a gay male, reconcile my association as a member in good standing with the UMC, when the governing bodies of the UMC do everything in their power to disassociate from the LGBT community. Or to those wanting reconciliation with the LGBT community- do everything to "talk" or "committee" the issue to a quick death. Please do not get me wrong, I DO appreciate the efforts of those in favor of a change to the language in the Book of Discipline. I just truly do not see why there has to be discussion after discussion, pandering after pandering, negotiation after negotiation which inevitably leads to capitulation. I understand the system of quadrennial General Conferences. No change this big can happen outside of General Conference. However, I honestly don't see any progressive movement with regard to the Church. Maybe I'm too close to it but the "issue" is pretty basic and uncomplicated. Either the UMC removes the verbiage in the Book of Discipline with regard to ¶ 304.3 "The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching"; ¶ 613 "The [conference council on finance and administration] shall have authority and responsibility to perform the following functions: 19. To ensure that no annual conference board, agency, committee, commission, or council shall give United Methodist funds to any gay caucus or group, or otherwise use such funds to promote the acceptance of homosexuality or violate the expressed commitment of The UMC"; and "We affirm the sanctity of the marriage covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between a man and a woman. We believe that God's blessing rests upon such marriage, whether or not there are children of the union. We support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman." If these passages are not removed or changed, they are once again reaffirming their belief that gay persons are "less than" heterosexual persons. Rejecting the denomination's stance on gay rights and same-sex marriage were important issues for at least 15 United Methodist annual (regional) conferences this summer. United Methodists from Washington and the northern panhandle of Idaho approved legislation supporting the Marriage Equality Act. See ARTICLE As progressive as those 15 UMC annual conferences are however, there are more that do not feel the same way. How long before the conservative aspect of the Church realizes the emotional harm that is being inflicted on those of us within the UMC by the Book of Discipline? HRC watchlist article Or is that the point? Drive us out? Without a change, "Open hearts, Open minds, Open doors" is nothing more than a catch phrase with no substance, meaning, or truth behind it. So much time is being spent talking about a schism in the UMC. Will the issue split the Church with conservatives or progressives leaving the UMC depending on the results after General Conference in 2016? Do I care if a split happens? All this talk about the institution and so very, very little talk about the idea and the teachings of Christ and his inclusiveness of those perceived as "less than". What is more important? The institution (UMC) itself or the teachings of faith and discipleship that the institution is supposed to stand for. Shouldn't it be the faith and discipleship? So why am I still a Methodist? Believe me, that is a question I have asked since General Conference 2012. Joe and I were so hopeful heading into that summer that there would be a change. But every proposal was shot down, or not even heard at all. At the first PGUMC staff meeting after the 2012 General Conference, Jay asked Joe if I was going to come back to PGUMC. The three of us had discussed at length our hopes and Jay knew it was important to us. I did come back and have been faithfully attending, tithing, and working on several committees ever since. I love PGUMC. Maybe I should say I love Pleasant Grove. It's the UMC I can do without. But at what point does my conscience take over? At what point do I say, "I love the people of PGUMC, but in good conscience, I have to find a denomination where I am accepted as equal to". I struggle with that weekly. Do I just say I'm sorry and walk away to a local Church of Christ, Presbyterian or Episcopal church? I think about it a lot. I have an emotional attachment to PGUMC. The church was very important to Joe. But do I need to go to a church because Joe went there? As much as Joe loved PGUMC, had he not gotten sick, I think he would have actively sought out a job at a different denomination. We talked about it several times. He really wanted a full time Director of Music job but at that time, there was no hint of a possibility from PGUMC. He was very unhappy with the UMC stance following the 2012 General Conference. He became quite political with regard to LGBT issues the last 5 years of his life. I complained loudly and vigorously when he repeatedly insisted on going to Raleigh to protest against Amendment One outside the General Assembly. Chemo in the morning and protest in the afternoon. Recent Supreme Court decisions are bittersweet as it changes very little for me personally but maybe it will improve my psyche. So do I wait and see what happens in 2 years in the UMC? 2 years of frustration with only a slight glimmer of hope at the end. (I know that is a pessimistic viewpoint & statement) Or do I cut my loses and try to find a denomination more accepting now? I recently filmed a 2 1/2 minute video and submitted it to the Connectional Table’s Human Sexuality Task Force live stream event to be held on Saturday 11/1/14. They are selecting 3 videos to be shown and discussed as part of the program. I have no reason to think my video will be selected, but then I have no reason to think it won't. Here is a link to my video: http://youtu.be/HLa2mFKjIug. My heart just isn't in trying to hold on right now. But my lack of heart could be a sign of something else.
Something else. My doctor says I need to try to get out more. See friends, go see movies, have people over to my house. Seclusion is only making things seem worse. Problem one: Friends are busy with their own lives. Problem two: I don't like to go to movies alone and there's nothing I want to see lately anyway. Problem three: One friend has been to my house two times since Joe died (20 months), two families from church one time, out of town friends have been twice. That's five visits in 20 months (not that I'm keeping count or anything <G>). Obviously I don't exactly have people begging to come to the house. I get it. I'm sure most of my friends associate the house with Joe. They haven't been here since he died and probably don't want to. Heck, if I didn't live here, I might not want to come here. But I do. I sleep here. I get up, shower, go to work, come back home, go to bed. Then the cycle starts over. Then the thoughts start over. Then the grief starts over. Then the sun comes up and the next day begins with the same outcome. What's the Narcotics Anonymous phrase, "The definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results." Maybe that's me. Same behavior and expecting (or not) things to change. Possibly change only happens when I change. I'm supposed to "set realistic expectations about myself and for myself and others." Hmmmm. Food for thought for me on this Autumn evening.
So what now. The last thing I want is for anyone to think I'm not appreciative of everything that PGUMC did for Joe and for me. They have been my lifeline for the last four years. They have been my friends, my family. No amount of thank you's could ever be enough. What I want is for the UMC to change. What I need is acceptance. But would that acceptance really change the way I feel most of the time. Alone. Separate. I just have to weigh the "wants" and "needs" and decide which is more important. Maybe when I get my head straightened out I can make decisions on a variety of topics including the UMC.
Last night I had the strangest experience. Maybe experience is the wrong word. I'm sure most people would just say dream, but if a dream, it was unlike any I have ever had. I don't typically dream about Joe except when it's really just a replay of an actual event that has happened in our lives together. But last night, in the middle of some random dream that I don't even remember, there was Joe, looking at me from across a room. I knew it was a dream, but I ran to him, put my arms around him and hugged him. I said, "I've missed you so much." He replied, "I know baby, it's just hard for me to manifest here like this." I pulled back from the embrace and looked at his smiling face just inches from mine and his features dissolved away and I woke up. I can still feel the embrace. It was so vivid. So tactile. I of course immediately tried to go back to sleep but couldn't. But it has left me with the strangest feeling all day. Another explanation of the feeling could be only getting 3 hours sleep and my cold. Even in the wake of feeling so odd, I can be a realist.
But let me close with a question, "When is Thom Tillis going to claim that Kay Hagan is responsible for ebola?"
Thursday, August 28, 2014
What a week so far. But hey, I shouldn't limit it to just this week as this latest episode really began last week. On Monday the 18th, I wasn't quite up to par but there were no specific symptoms. On Tuesday, once again nothing specific, but that was my anniversary day and I was all wrapped up in my head so unless there had been some very pronounced sharp pains, I probably wouldn't have noticed anyway. Then came Wednesday and the GI issues began. I'll admit, I ate more cake than I should have on Tuesday night, but it was very good. So it was no surprise that my tummy didn't feel great the next morning. But by lunch time and the constant uncomfortable feeling was continuing to linger, I had to admit to myself that this might be more than a poor meal choice. So beginning on Wednesday, I started a modified BRAT diet. Now if anyone has done BRAT, you know that after just 24 hours, the idea of another banana is downright disgusting. But I persevered. Wednesday: 3 bananas, cup of applesauce, 2 pieces of toast. Thursday: 2 bananas, white rice, baked potato, plain Greek yogurt. Friday: 1 banana, baked potato (with butter), white rice, cup of applesauce. Saturday: grits, 2 pieces of toast, 1 banana, baked potato, 2 boiled eggs. Sunday: grits, 2 boiled eggs, baked potato, grilled chicken breast, 1 banana, white rice. Monday: 2 bananas, banana sandwich, Hershey's dark chocolate bar, 2 boiled eggs. Tuesday: 2 bananas, banana sandwich, Greek yogurt. Wednesday: saltines & pimento cheese, mashed potatoes, sweet potato, green beans. Thursday: mashed potatoes, Mac 'n cheese, green beans, grilled chicken breast. Please note that the items that were actually cooked were seasoned with just a little salt. I can't have anything spicy. The pain remained at pretty consistent level until Tuesday night when it ramped up somewhat so I saw the doctor the next morning. I'm on two antibiotics (500mg Ciproflaxin 2xday: 500mg Metronidazole 3xday). So after 48 hours my pain level has increased instead of decreased. Go figure. One of the side effects listed on the prescription for the Metronidazole is stomach pain. But I'm taking it for stomach pain so how do I know if it's working if it causes stomach pain? Do I just wait the 10 days til the pills are gone to know? I know I don't have to. Doc has given me three days for improvement or I might be visiting Duke again. Oh joy! I haven't visited what Joe called the "Duke Spa" since last falls bout with the big D.
All of this going on when I have plans to go to the beach for 3 days. Trying to figure out how best to accomplish this-- I can't sit for long without having to either lay down or stand up, neither of which is conducive to driving the 3 1/2 hour trip to Holden; while on the Ciproflaxin I can't be in the sun which makes sitting on the beach less appealing however, that's what umbrellas are for and we have several; sitting in a beach chair is never high on the comfort scale so not sure about that given my current sitting issues anyway; last, nervous Nellie here can't help but think about the possibility that I could get to hurting and need medical care...Wilmington?...I don't think so...Fayetteville?...H#LL no. They killed my momma and almost killed Aimee. So what to do? Relaxing on the beach could be so wonderful and maybe just what the doctor ordered,... errrr no, he ordered antibiotics. But you know what I mean. I guess the best course is just to wait and see. I'm such a patient person, that won't be a problem. . JOE!! Where are you? You are supposed to be here taking care of me. That was the plan and you promised!
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Joe stories.......or "Joe-isms"
-The morning that Joe's mother announced at our townhome that she felt like she had spent the night in "a house of debauchery"
-The time that my family was visiting and we were putting the backyard swing together on the patio. Joe had REALLY bad gas. He was not shy about letting one rip in front of my family, although he would always put his hand up to his mouth like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar every time he did. On this occasion, he let out the loudest fart imaginable and the odor wafted through the air and literally hung over the patio, no breeze could blow it away, even outside it would not dissipate for 30 minutes. To this day it was the foulest odor I have ever smelled. We all laughed, complained and fussed at him for the rest of the night.....and for the next 10 years we would bring it up every time he farted! And Joe would just grin.
-Jeff Whicker's version of the story about seeing Joe on WRAL and an Easter bunny (Joe did not find it as amusing as everyone else)
-Joe and I form a cradle by interlinking our arms to carry Joe's mom across 7th Avenue in NYC to get her into Carnegie Hall. Then just left her there for three hours.
-Joe took my family for a ride around Jordan Lake for "fun" with the three of them in the back seat of the VW Beetle....but it was drought season and Jordan Lake was a huge dried up mud puddle.
-Every time a new road opened in the triangle we had to ride on it for "fun"
-Joe had a student steal his credit card number while a student in his class. He had her removed from class but she was performing a vocal number for a different class. Joe was accompanying the students but told the teacher he would not play for her. When she came out to sing, Joe just sat there and stared at her. After a minute or so she finally realized he wasn't going to play for her and she tried it a cappella.
-Joe got mad at me one night and grabbed the keys to his car, stormed out the garage door and backed the car out to leave. Only, 2 minutes later he drove back in and linked into the house. I had to ask him "why did you come back so quick?". His answer, "I couldn't think of anywhere to go". He was so defeated. We both laughed about that temper tantrum for some time.
-Speaking of tantrums, he caused me to have two. One was while I was driving home from Winston-Salem where I had been training a store manager for the company I worked for at the time, he tells me he bought the piano....and charged it on his credit card...a five figure piano on a MasterCard. I yelled and screamed the whole way home and when the piano was delivered, I sat on the steps like a petulant child and wouldn't even tell the delivery men where to put it. I made them wait until Joe got home. "It's not my damn piano, it's his" was all I would say. The second tantrum was when he surprised me with the purchase of the full 8 piece setting of the China & flatware that we had looked at. I wasn't going to allow him to go with me to see my family at Christmas over that one. Aimee had to call me and beg me to let him come. After that second incident, he was put on a $25 budget without my approval.
-Everytime that Sara visited, he would slip a few cuss words when we would be in the car. Just enough to make me yell at him, which would make Sara laugh. I think he did it just to hear her laugh.
-Joe's belly laugh when he went to a comedy in a theater....he wasn't shy about enjoying himself.
-Joe's ability to amuse himself with his own wit when no one, except Hannah Lingafelt, found him funny
-Joe saying something really inappropriate SO LOUD that he practically broadcast it to the world (myself and Jill shushed him so many times)
Got a "Joe-ism" or Joe story? Please share.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
July is a month of reflection I guess. Should I be doing this? Purposely reflecting? Maybe not, but sometimes you just have to go where the brain and the heart tells you to and let the chips fall where they may. Plus, I’m at an “all time favorite” location, Holden Beach, to start the month so I have lots of extra time and lots of emotions bubbling around just beneath the surface.
Now the emotion part is not anything new as anyone who knows me can attest. However, the last few months it has been bubbling more and more. I’m short tempered, my sleep rhythm is non rhythmic, and I can go from smiling to sobbing in .05 seconds. This was one of many topics when I visited with my physician last month for my annual physical. At that time he suggested, very gently, that I consider seeing a psychologist. Starting back therapy was not in my grand scheme of things but something has got to give. We went into a little more depth as to the why’s and how’s of what might be going on with me but I’ll leave that for another time.
So here I am. At Holden Beach with my family. As of the writing of this sentence it is me, Phyllis and Woodie. Tomorrow, Aimee and Sara are to join us. Several things happened yesterday that were important. I had dreaded the drive over the bridge onto Holden as in the past that was when Joe would perk up and start with, “we’re here!!!!” The saving grace for that expected sadness was the extreme traffic jam stretching back a couple of miles ahead of the bridge. What could have been a sad moment turned into an irritating 45 minutes of sitting in traffic, moving less than 5 miles per hour. That occupied my mind long enough and strong enough to keep me busy. The arrival at the house, where Phyllis and Woodie were waiting, the unpacking and the tour of the house kept us all busy for the next couple of hours. Then we ventured down to the beach where Phyllis & Woodie sat for awhile and I went for my run/walk. I have pledged to get in a good long run/walk everyday that we are here. I have GOT to get back into the routine of actually doing something and what better place than at the FLAT beach!!! So I ran a couple of blocks, then walked a couple of blocks, then repeat the process. It felt good, until this morning. My calves are exploding! No pain, no gain.
Morning number one has brought me up predawn but not early enough for me to climb up on the widows walk to watch the sunrise. I will do that one morning before this is said and done though. But back to the reflection. this was not meant to be a day by day by hour by hour account…well not only that.
the waters pour
Cool and warm and clear and red
How can I be alive?
and Joe be dead?
Switch places with me.
Let me rest on the brink of that ancient flight.
You sit here and wait.
Where would you go.
You know nothing of the world beyond this dirt.
Nothing now, but I’m willing to learn.
This sanctuary is all I have.
I’m grateful for it.
Grateful to have some place to wait.
Wait for the waters to recede.
My path now visible.
Visible to lead me away from here.
Walking up the steps to the church.
Each step bends and creaks from my weight.
Each step is a guardian deciding if I may enter.
Will they break in half and swallow me whole.
How ironic, that’s how I already feel.
Swallowed up by the earth.
I just need a place to hide for a few minutes.
Dinner time end of day one. 7 beach hours. Pink chest, pink feet, pink legs, pink face. Good day. Good breeze, a little cloudy keeping the temperature just right. Huge crowds today. I’ve never been down here and seen so many people but then it is the end of the 4th weekend. Phyllis is cooking dinner (actually right now she is playing on Facebook) but it’s CHICKEN night! Woodie is firing up the grill. What am I doing? Not much of anything. I’m so lazy.
After chicken night was cube steak night and then Taco Tuesday. It’s now sausage Wednesday after 3 days of sun, wind and MORE wind.
Loneliness should be the stranger
when you are alone.
Friends, family filling the space that is left vacant.
Alone and lonely are close cousins.
Their relationship can not be denied.
But they are also quiet different from one another.
Loneliness resolution requires company.
Alone can be a crowded room.
Sara and Aimee left to return to their lives today. Sara prepares for the move to her college apartment in a couple of weeks. What a change that is going to be. I’m not ready but then I have learned that I am not a fan of change. At least not anymore. Right now I have one change that I am hopeful for, although not expectant of it happening. If you don’t get your hopes up too high, it’s not such a painful fall when/if it doesn’t happen. Would it be a cure all fix? Absolutely not, but it would be a step in the right direction. One I have sorely missed for the last 4 years.
Tears are running down my face.
Where do I run?
I need to escape.
I'm trapped inside, my thoughts flow.
I'm broken, so alone.
Traveling through fog, needing to be found
I'm cracked like glass.
I'm hurting inside.
I try to hide so nobody sees.
God, answer me.
Falling into darkness being clouded by lies.
I need to get out.
Slipping and tumbling into things that are unseen.
I need to escape.
Vacation ends tomorrow. Long drive home. Then hopefully a good rest in my OWN BED. It was a great week. Restful. Peaceful. Jovial. Family.
I feel no interest
Just force a smile upon.
I see no color
But, I am not blind
I see, the world is black.
What is this?
This emptiness I never felt before
Life of mere glass that can shatter
Shatter at the slightest touch.
I am breathless
As if someone is following me
How do people smile so easily?
Live so freely.
What is this?
I feel alone, separated, anxious.
I am scared.
I want to live.
No perhaps I don’t.
No matter where I search
Whom I ask
They give no reply.
What is this?
I am eager.
I want someone to share my feelings with
I searched here and there
Tried to open up to many.
Why is life bestowed upon us?
Why is it taken?
I am alone
I call out with all my might
But no one listens
I am tired.
I am really afraid
I am as if bound by invisible chains of
No perhaps emptiness
I am alone
In this darkness days pass
But no one comes..
This life is itself,
Having no reason to exist.
Is there an afterlife?
A happy one?
A deep, deep week. Home, safe and sound. The drive wasn't terrible. Good tunes playing. Traffic moving. I even stopped for the BBQ burger at Burger King that I kept seeing advertised on TV all week. (Don’t bother, it isn’t very good….at least not to me). Tomorrow, back to the routine. Back to the drudgery. Back to this life.