Saturday, October 14, 2017

Going in Circles

It’s amazing the odd collection of stuff that goes around in circles in my steroid addled mind at 4AM on a Saturday morning.

My wife wants false and removable backs on the window boxes that I had to rebuild so that everything you put on a shelf doesn’t end up falling way back where you can’t reach it. I’m trying to figure out how to do that while keeping it removable, attractive, and functional.

The screen door on the back of the house was relatively cheap and fell apart. Should I buy a new screen door or I wonder if I might be able to actually build something attractive? If I try and make it myself, how do I join the horizontal and vertical pieces, because I don’t have a jointer or a dado blade, just a table saw. Should I use the table saw to remove half of the ends on the horizontal and vertical pieces so that I can glue them together and have the thickness of one board, or should I try and tongue and grove it? Can you do that with a table saw if you have patience?

The side door to our garage has been collecting water for 20 years and the frame is rotted out to the point that you can put your finger through it. This is a reoccurring theme in this house. How hard will it be to replace that damned door frame? How do I keep it from happening again? Gotta build some sort of roof over that side door to keep the water off of it. How the hell do I do that? How much of the structure behind that door frame is rotted out too and will require rebuilding? Why in the HELL did I sell a 100 year old house to buy this piece of garbage – what was I thinking?

The exterior wall of my upstairs bathroom rotted out years ago because the previous owner or builder of the house did a shitty job building the shower. They didn’t use the right drywall and didn’t seal things properly, so the water was leaking into that wall for decades until the wall rotted away. On the second floor, that was all sorts of fun. So we ripped the shower and tub out, and rebuilt the wall and the structure of the floor. Years later, that bathroom is still gutted, no proper flooring, the wall is still drywall, no tub, no shower. The floor has sagged and has distinct ridges and humps  in it that to my way of thinking, will make it impossible to put down a proper floor unless it is flexible linoleum or carpet. Ever heard of carpet in a bathroom?

If it weren’t for all of the lives that could be lost, I could almost hope for a tornado as it truly would solve many of my worries.

The 1967 Mustang wont start. It gets driven so rarely that the battery has died and wont hold a  charge. Should I replace that battery? What’s the point of spending the money for a car that goes nowhere? What the hell was I thinking when I bought that car? Keeping an antique car going is the hobby of either a very passionate person, or a wealthy one, and I, alas, am neither.

The nodules on my darn legs refuse to go away. Normally they last about 6  months and then go away for about a year. This round has been going on for about 18 months now with no sign of going away. Every time I stop taking steroids, the stuff comes back with a vengeance. I’ve taken more steroids over the last 18 months than a cyclist team prepping for the Tour De France. It makes it just a bit harder to rebuild an entire house when it hurts to walk, and when your brain is so soaked in steroids that you can’t fricken think straight and clear anymore. I wonder if I should try and increase my life insurance just in case? Is that taking money away from my family that could be better used, or is that putting money away for them if this shit turns out to be a symptom of something serious?

I wonder how my son William and his family are doing? Proud of him for making a family and taking care of them. Sort of wish he wasn’t in the Navy so we could be closer and be a part of their lives, but I’m also proud of him for doing the smart thing and staying in the Navy.

There is a large hole in my daughters bedroom ceiling where my poor wife fell through it trying to get Christmas stuff outta the attic while I was away. I wonder where that should be on my priority list.

My wife wants false and removable backs on the window boxes  . . .
Can I make my own screen door? If I try, what method/design should I use?
The side door to our garage is rotted out . . .
The bathroom is STILL gutted. . .
Would a tornado be a good thing or a bad one?  
The 1967 Mustang wont start . . .
I wonder how Billy is doing?
Is my sister all right?
My wife is kind of quiet lately. I wonder if we are OK?
My daughter is 14 now and starting to demand  some independence. This causes a bit of friction . . .
My 8 year old son spends all his time in front of the idiot box. His father is gone on the road all week and then spends every weekend working on the house and doing laundry. At 52 years old, I'm a bit old for teaching him to ride a bike and playing at the park. Boy did that kid get screwed . . .
I should call my mother. Nope, scratch that. Mom has been gone for years. You would think I'd have that through my thick head by now. 

My wife wants false and removable backs on the window boxes  . . .
Can I make my own screen door? If I try, what method/design should I use?
The side door to our garage is rotted out . . .
The bathroom is STILL gutted. . .
Would a tornado be a good thing or a bad one?  
The 1967 Mustang wont start . . .
I wonder how Billy is doing?
Is my sister all right?
My wife is kind of quiet lately . . .
My daughter is 14 now . . .
My 8 year old son spends all his time in front of the idiot box. . .

Over, and over, and over, and over . . .  

So yeah, here I sit at 430 AM writing my thoughts, slurping coffee, and wondering if I can listen to a record without waking up everyone?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Someone is broke in the head around here . . .

I sometimes think my family is just broke in the head. I just sent my 8 year old upstairs to take a shower. He's up there for a moment and then comes back downstairs.
"Dad, I think I need to mention that there is a very large and strange looking bug in the bathtub." he tells me, in a very serious and adult tone.
"Oh really? What does said bug look like?" I inquire with a raised eyebrow.
"He is quite large, has claws like a preying mantis, and looks extraordinarily aggressive" is his concise and detailed reply.
I swear I'm not making this shit up. This was the conversation word for word.
"Well all right then, let's go take a look at it." I told him, then went to the garage to get the little hand held and battery powered vacuum I have stored there. After all, if this thing is "extraordinarily aggressive" there is no point to going in unarmed. So my son and I, the great and fearless hunters that we are, both made our way to the bathroom and cautiously peeked around the shower curtain to observe this monstrosity. Sure enough, he's pretty big and looks intimidating to me.
My son looks at the bug.
I look at the bug.
My son and I look at each other.
"Let's go get mom. . . " says I, much to my sons agreement.

Now don't get me wrong, I hate bugs but I WILL do my "manly" duty and take care of them. The rules are simple though: if I take care of it - it dies. If mom is feeling kindly and wants the thing to live, she squares it away.
Now my wife peeks around the shower curtain to look at it.
Then my 14 year old daughter looks at it.
My wife and daughter both look at each other.

“It’s a leaf footed assassin bug” my wife sagely informs the crowded bathroom. My son and I lock eyes and I give him a nod of acknowledgment and respect.
“By God, ‘assassin bug’  does sound pretty aggressive to me little dude! Good call!” I told him.
“Naw, he eats other bugs.” My wife laughingly assures us, but I aint buying it.
“So – you gonna take care of him or am I?” I ask while raising the cannon . . . err . . .  vacuum into the air to make my point clear.  I guess I should mention that my wife and daughter were ‘doing their facials’ when I so rudely interrupted them, so I guess she didn’t want to be distracted.
“Go for it.” She replied with a wave of her hand toward the tub. 
A hush fell over the bathroom as I turned and slowly approached the tub with my weapon at the ready. . .
Suddenly, the silence in the bathroom is shattered when my daughter shouts “NO!” so loudly that I almost peed my pants. Next thing I know, she is shoving me aside, reaching down into the tub, and picking this bug up in her hands to carry it outside. The whole way, my son is right behind her, asking over and over "is it biting you? Is it biting you?!"
Like I said, this family is broke in the head, I’m just not sure which one of us is crazy . . .  

September sucks . . .

So September totally sucked for birthdays.
Two days before my birthday, my niece died.
Two days before my daughters birthday, my mother-in-law and my daughters grandmother had a major stroke.  Yeah, I’m glad September is over.

Fire Any Bites
Fire Any Bites
I’ve been in pretty poor health this last year and so a lot of stuff has piled up around the house and yard, and I’ve just started to make my way down the list. This weekend I was out working in my backyard, which has gone completely wild. About four hours into it, I conceded to myself that I was in very poor shape, and so I got down on my hands and knees to continue yanking weeds.  Any half-wit who has lived in Texas could have told you that this was a remarkably bad idea, but I was exhausted and not thinking straight. Anyway, about an hour later I realize the magnitude of my mistake when I start feeling these sharp little pains all over my stomach and hands.  I’d had to remove my glasses because they were getting so coated with dust and sweat that I couldn’t see through them anyway, but I didn’t need to see them to figure out that I was covered in fire ants. Now I’m a fairly shy person, but I didn’t hesitate at all – I ran like hell for the back porch and ripped all of my clothes off faster than a prostitute that had just been offered a thousand bucks. Yup yup, my clothes and I were both covered in hundreds of the little bastards and I got the snot bit out of me. I still can’t believe that I forgot to watch out for them . . .

I had a bit of a paradox when it comes to height. My 14 year old daughter Audrey had a checkup with the doc, and I guess she kind of surprised him when it came to her height. According to my daughter,  he pointed at her chart where it showed her height steadily increasing through the years, but then tisked when he showed that it had leveled off at just under five feet.
My five foot two inch tall wife laughingly explained to the doc that most of her family was relatively short, and that Audrey’s dad (me) was “only” five foot eight inches tall.
“Sweetheart, you might be done growing!” the doc told my daughter with a grin.
Ok, so later in the week I was picking out an outfit for my trip to Denver, and showed my wife a killer pair of heels that I thought would be perfect for the outfit, but they were four or even five inch heels and I feared the attention that might bring. I don’t recall her exact words, but she basically said it didn’t matter, that I was so damned tall that I was going to attract attention regardless.
What the hell??!!
One minute my daughter is doomed to be short since mom and dad are apparently both considered runts, and the next moment it doesn’t matter what heels I wear because I am so damned tall that I’ll draw attention in any case. Grrrr. . . .

I’ve always tried to be real in my blog and share the good with the bad, and so I think most of y’all are aware that my confidence, and hence my attitude, morale, and spirit are all suffering. I’ve noticed that this is a common thread with many of the TG’s that I know lately – they don’t appear to feel confident, safe, or welcome these days. Now we can argue all day long about whether this feeling is justified and reasonable or not, but in the end it really doesn’t matter. Justified by the current backlash in America or not, reasonable or not, the fear, depression, and anxiety that so many transgender people feel these days is very real. I don’t know where I am going with this, and don’t really have a point – I’m just yapping I guess. Really, I can’t blame my own recent depression and lack of confidence on US politics though. Mine is due to a combination of advancing age, retreating health, and increasing weight.
Not much that I can do about getting old and the damage that it brings with it; the bags under my eyes and the wrinkles all over my face.
The weight I am just starting to work on again, as I am getting up at 5 AM every weekday morning to jog and am paying more attention to how much I eat.
My health I hope to at least influence by trying to stay in decent physical condition, but all of the jogging in the world isn’t going to make the large and painful nodules on my legs go away. Sigh . . .

So as I was boarding the flight to Denver, I ended up stopped in line on the airplane right next to a flight attendant. She was about my own age and turned out to be a bit of a chatty Cathy. At one time, I would have had fun with this and enjoyed bullshitting with her, but refer back to the above paragraph denoting a lack of confidence on my part. Anyway, she went out of her way to tell me that she loved the color of my hair, and when I turned to thank her, she exclaimed about my eyes.
“You have the brightest and prettiest blue eyes that I have ever seen! Now me, I got stuck with brown eyes.” She said, with an exaggerated pouty face.
Here was my big chance to make a good impression for the TG community.
I could have chatted with her.
I could have made her laugh.
I could have told her that her brown eyes were beautiful.
No, I just smiled, thanked her, and slunk to my seat. I’m kind of ashamed of myself for that . . .

Thursday, September 21, 2017

“Gay Tech Love”

Quite honestly, I’m getting tired of my own dreary and sad blog posts, but I guess for better or worse this is the way that life works. 

After taking steroids for my legs for the better part of 8 months, I’m finally off of them. Did you know that you suffer withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them after so long? I didn’t know this and so was caught completely off guard when I found myself even more of a wreck than I had been – hands shaking really bad, super irritable, chest hurt every night, and couldn’t think straight to save my life. I was scared to death that yet something else was going wrong with me until it occurred to me that it was awful coincidental that it all got so much worse right as I quite the steroids and so I started looking at the after effects. 

My Sister and Niece
I’m afraid that the month of September got off to a shitty start for me. At about 530AM on the first of September, I received a call from my big sister in California and she was sobbing so violently that I couldn’t understand her. All that I could make out was that someone had died, but I couldn’t make out who it had been. Both my aunt and my brother have been in questionable health for years, and so I fully expected to it was one of them, but I was wrong. When I finally got her to calm down enough that I could understand her, she told me that her daughter (my niece) had died. She had gone to the ER that night for a sinus infection, been treated and released, and returned home. At about 1:30 AM, her husband woke to find her dead . . .
I felt like I’d been hit by a sledge hammer – this was completely out of the blue and unexpected, because as far as I knew, she had been a perfectly healthy 30 something year old. My sister had had her when she was only 16 and so I more or less grew up with my niece Sunshine as part of my entire life. With my having grown up as the youngest of three children, Sunshine was the first person that had ever looked up to me, both metaphorically and literally speaking. She was the first baby that I had ever held, and she was the first baby, toddler, and child that I had ever babysat. I loved and adored that little girl, and with absolutely no warning, she was now gone. 

I’ve never before heard the kind of anguish and pain in someone’s voice as I heard in my sister that morning, and I hope like hell that I never do again. My big sister was always the one that took care of everyone else, always the one who was strong and tough for everyone else, and here she was – absolutely broken and crushed. That hurt almost as much as the thought of my niece did. By the time that I got a hold of my manager and the customer that I was supposed to be working with, all good options for a flight that day to Phoenix were already booked and so I tried to rent a car. I've no idea why, but I found that for some reason none were available. I kept hearing the heartbreak in my sisters voice in my head though, and knew that I couldn’t wait another day to get there, so I said “Screw it”. I threw a bag together, threw it into my 15 year old F150 pickup with 220,000 miles on her, and headed out alone for the 18 hour drive from Austin to Prescott Arizona. I won’t dwell too much more on this as I am sure that most of you have lost someone that you love and probably have some idea what happens to a family when this happens. 

My birthday was on 3 September, and so I found myself surrounded by a heartbroken family as I turned 52 . . .err . . . I mean 29. As we had a lot of people to feed, birthday or not, we decided to go ahead and get the makings for a BBQ and take the entire group to a local park for a cook out/ birthday party. Even in the midst of our pain, we managed to find some humor and some fun. My nephews wife had graciously volunteered to buy all of the food and supplies for the party, but she totally forgot that kids like ketchup with their hotdogs, and everyone gave her complete hell for forgetting it all night long.  So there I am, eating a bratwurst (without ketchup) when she sneaks up behind me and whispers in my ear with a very threatening tone.
“You better eat that thing without ketchup, and you’ll fucking LIKE it!”
I hadn’t even known she was behind me, so it came so unexpected that I laughed so hard I almost spit my mouthful of food out. Such a silly thing, but we laughed about this for several days after.

The following morning we had an informal remembrance for her at the local VFW. I’m 52 years old and have managed to duck everything funeral-like until now, but I couldn’t duck this one. I did however do my best to try and start things off on a light note with a practical joke. On my way to the event, I went to the store and bought an entire gallon of ketchup, and four smaller bottles of it, and piled it all on the table that everyone had to walk by as they entered the room. The extended friends and family that hadn’t been at our cook out had no idea what it was for, but everyone that had been there, including my sister, Sunshine’s brother, husband, and children, all laughed hysterically when they saw it. It’s the little things, ya know?

Antique in Atlanta
At the moment, I’m sitting in a hotel in Atlanta Ga where I’ve just completed the service call that I had had to cancel when my niece died. My trip here was fairly uneventful, with very little of interest to share. My company has ended our relationship with Avis and we now use National Car Rental. As I was checking out the car, I handed her my Texas ID instead of my drivers license. I use this ID when I am traveling because even though it still has my male name and gender on it, it has my female photo. Needless to say, when you are renting a car, the ID is not acceptable and you must show a drivers license, so she handed it right back.
“That’s an ID. I need a driver license please.” She said politely.
“Sure. Sorry about that.” I said as I took back the ID and handed her my license. “I try not to hand that one out!”
When I checked into the hotel, the lady behind the counter made a big fuss about my “status” with the Holiday Inn, and embarrassed the hell outta me.
“Oh, you are Spire! Thank you SO much for staying with us and God bless you!” she loudly proclaimed. Then, much to my horror, she reached below the counter and pulled out a bell, sat it on the counter, and proceeded to ring it – over, and over, and over. I wanted to curl up into a ball and disappear, but she kept making a fuss, and generally dragged the whole check-in process out for about twice as long as it should have taken.  Eventually I had my keys in my hand and headed down the hallway, dragging my baggage behind me. Along the way, a young woman told me that my blouse was beautiful, so there is that. 😃

When I got into my room and started reading the news, I realized something that I had totally overlooked; I was going to be working at Georgia Tech – the university where a young LGBT activist had more or less committed suicide just a few days ago. Odd how I hadn’t put that together until then. I ended up eating lunch with my customer less than 100 yards from where this young person had died, and I’d have to admit to more than a little sadness at the thought.  Both of the PHD’s that I was there to train were from South Korea, and so we had an interesting conversation once they found out that I had lived there for a year, though many moons ago. It must be a very hard time for Koreans right now, with childish lunatics in charge of both, North Korea AND the United States. Scary times if you have family in South Korea.

One good laugh. I was working in the Georgia Tech Love building, and so when I programmed the address into my GPS, I saved it as “Ga Tech Love”. This had the unanticipated result of my GPS telling me that I had arrived at “Gay Tech Love” when I arrived. Again, it’s the little things . . .