Always “Someone” New

This post is from “the road.” Martin and I are visiting my younger sister and her family for Labor Day. We always have a lot of fun – four of my nieces are here as we’ll as one of my nephews, so it’s a good time. More on our visit later.

I will say that one of the reasons I enjoy visiting my sister so much is to see what new animal/s she has adopted since my last visit. This trip, it is a pair of twin kittens, Arial and Captain Nipples (not a typo – long story) that were found abandoned in a box in a field near my sister’s house. They are so CUTE but they are ROTTEN. I think someone (MSW) would like to bring them home.

I must admit, it is a tempting thought…


It’s “Labor Day Weekend Eve…”

It’s that time again. Labor Day Weekend. The last “big” holiday of the summer – traditionally the weekend that signals that summer is over and we all have to become “grown-up” again. Back to school. Vacations over. Winter coming. Ugh…

I really, really don’t want the summer to end…

Summer is overSummer can’t be “over” yet – there are still too many summer things I want to do: I want to go to Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island with Martin, I want to lay around and read magazines on a beach, I want to finally take our dilapidated bikes and get them “tuned up” so we can ride them. I want to have a “Summer Party” on our porch and pay back all our friends for all the times they have had us over. I want to have an outdoor reception with our friends to celebrate my recent wedding to the man I want to spend my forever with…

I want to take a road trip with Martin and go somewhere neither of us has ever been before. I’d like us to take a ride on the “Maid of the Mist” at Niagara Falls (I owe Martin that from a trip a few years back!) I want to wake up one day at noon, roll over and go back to sleep until I am “…too rested to sleep any more.” That is definitely a summer thing…

I want to go see new movies five days in a row. I want to “pretend” I have a bunch of different jobs and take a brown bag lunch to Wade Oval, eat a yogurt and munch on an apple on Public Square at noon and eat greasy fast food in my car at Huntington Beach. I want to pretend those are my “summer lunch hours” at all the pretend jobs I will never have…

Mickey D'sI want to spend more time with my Dad. I want to visit my nieces and nephews, both here in Ohio and in Tennessee. I want to “work on my tan.” I want to start writing a book and draft the syllabus for an adult education class I want to teach at our local community center. I want to clean out my underwear drawer, get all my sweaters dry-cleaned before winter and organize everything so we can go to an attorney and begin the process so my Beloved can stay with me here, forever. Those are just a few of my as-of-yet unrealized summer goals…

I hate to sound like an old person but where DOES the time go? Every day, I get up, move rapidly through the whole day, fall asleep and then do it all over again. It’s what I call “The Shampoo Cycle” – you know, like lather, rinse well and repeat? My days are get up, get out, get through and do it all again tomorrow.

I have a fun end-of-summer weekend planned: Saturday and Sunday I will see my siblings and many of my nieces and nephews, along with my Dad and two of my favorites aunties. Sunday evening Martin and I are enjoying dinner with four of our closest friends. Monday is still kinda’ up in the air but I am sure something will come up – the beach, a movie double-feature, something.

Sigh. I used to think money was the most precious of commodities; now I am beginning to understand that it is time. I mean, I never have enough of either, but…

feet in grass

How To Work With an Interior Designer

I love my job – I really do. But I often think that clients assume interior designers possess some sort of paranormal abilities beyond our innate color sense and our desire for only the finest of everything. I think clients believe we can somehow magically “divine” their level of taste and style – heck, even their favorite color!

iamreadingyourmindAt our initial meeting with potential design clients, my business partner and I typically spend an hour or two just visiting with them, getting a feel for their taste level and trying to get a gauge on their expectations, desires and – most importantly – budget. You cannot believe how many times we go through a conversation like this:

Me: “So, if you had to describe your design style in one word, would you say you are traditional, transitional or contemporary?”

Potential client: “I don’t know – that’s what I need you for…”

Me: “Well, would you rather live with The Brady Bunch, The Addams Family or with one of the Modern Families?”

PC: “I don’t like any of those shows.”

Aurgh. And if that type of potential client is challenging, these guys are even worse:

Me: “You seem to have a lot of clean-lined furniture already; would you say you like modern things?”

PC (who has a room full of Crate and Barrel-ish furniture): “Sigh – I don’t know. I guess you could say I am sorta’ Arts and Crafts with a little Art Deco thrown in – I like it all.”

Me: “So then it’s safe to say you have more eclectic taste?”

PC: “No, I definitely do NOT like anything too Shabby Chic-y.” 

What the heck? At this point, I usually shove a pen in my eye so I have en excuse to leave the meeting. I mean, I get it. People hire me – hire interior designers – because we are educated in design, have often trained in several disciplines as a result and just (generally) have the oh-so-elusive “good taste.” And that is OK. But sometimes I feel like clients expect some sort of mystical intervention when they hire us – I mean, we have to have something to work with, right?

No one would go to a doctor and have this conversation:

Doctor: “So, tell me why you are here today. Do you have a specific pain? Nausea? Headaches – anything?”

Patient: “I just don’t feel right.”

Doctor: “Well, can you share some of your symptoms with me?”

Patient: “I don’t know. That’s why I came here. Make me better”

In a way, interior designers ARE a lot like doctors – we can “diagnose” what’s wrong with a room, suggest a “course of treatment” and “prescribe the medicine or therapy that will make everything better.” But, please – you gotta’ at least meet us in the middle. Do not FEAR us – we are on “your side.” Again, to use the doctor analogy, you would never NOT tell a doctor you were suffering from blinding headaches for fear he would be mad, am I right? No. Like doctors, interior designers need all the info you have UP FRONT so we can work effectively and efficiently to help you realize your dream spaces. Sometimes it is as simple as just telling us your favorite color…

Mind reader cartoonSo please, continue to use interior designers – I love the work! – but help us help you. We can help you enjoy your homes and offices more. We can make your environment great. It may sound a bit arrogant but it’s true:  Interior designers make the world a more beautiful place. We do – but we need your help and input to do it.

Think of us as your best friend, but with taste. Tell us everything, step back and leave the rest to us… We’ll make you happy. Promise.  


Dream-ing Today

I have written about the power of words before, and today is an especially important day in support of that belief. Fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his now legendary “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, DC. Five decades later, that speech and that moment in time are still held in great reverence by people the world over.

I choke up each time I hear Dr. King – his message is powerful, heartfelt and honest. It is inspiring, insightful and incite-ful.  That speech renews peoples’ spirits and moves them.

It is oratory perfection.

I like the “word cloud” below – it presents Dr. King’s speech in a visual format:

word cloud I Have A Dream speechFor a person like me, one obsessed with words, their meaning and their power, word clouds are the personification of speech. They let you experience spoken words in a visual way. The cloud above allows you to see Dr. King’s “dream.”

I hope you all will take a few minutes and either read or listen to that speech today. I also hope you will recognize how far we have come since its initial delivery, and acknowledge how far we still must go to fulfill Dr. King’s dream. We all must continue to dream… 

click on the image above to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver “I Have a Dream” 


Today, one of my FAVORITE sales reps, Kim WB, stopped by the studio. It is always great to see her; she is more like a friend than a rep (although she is great at BOTH!) Today we were laughing and swapping stories and – oddly enough – looking at pictures. I commented on one image of myself that I looked “…nice and round and boob-y.” Kim told me to be quiet, said I looked great and reminded me that each of us are always our own harshest critics.

I love her for that…

I have never had a great body image. Even when I was in my 20’s, taking amphetamines every day (under a doctor’s supervision, of course!) and had a 32″ waist, I was unhappy with myself. I always feel like the pale, bloated, redheaded kid hiding in the shade at the pool, wearing a t-shirt so I don’t “burn.” (It’s a bitch being fair, LOL!) Anyhow, now comfortable in my “later years,” I have made peace with my complexion – in fact, lots of people envy my wrinkle-free, un-sun damaged skin. I have accepted the fact that I am, by genetics and birthright, a “bigger guy,” although I am trying to release the thin, healthy me inside.

Part of my insecurity insanity is that, among my circle of friends, two are pretty successful on Weight Watchers. two just enjoyed great success on a 21 day “cleanse,” one – now – and one more in a week, will be protein-sparing and of course, my beloved Martin looks like a super model. Sigh. Then there is me.

The good news is, Martin loves me just as I am – and supports me trying to release the thinner me. We have AMAZING friends that love and support us, too, so I consider myself very lucky. And I also definitely believe that I will be thinner when I am ready – I lost 85 pounds before on Weight Watchers and so far have lost 25 (granted, that 85 came off in ten months like fifteen years ago and this time, it has taken two years to get to that 25. Oy!) Plus, I absolutely believe a big part of what makes people beautiful, men or women, is the fact they love and accept themselves as they are – confidence and security emit good-lookin’-ness in spades.

Anyway, I get home from work, check Facebook and the lovely Kim has sent me this quote,

BW Butterfly…along with a little note that says something to the effect that this was what we had been discussing earlier this afternoon. It actually made me tear-up a little…

Thanks, Kim, and thanks to ALL my friends that love and accept me just as I am, that support me as I try to better myself and and remind me that I am pretty good already. Thank you, Universe, for Martin. You know, at some point in my near life-long weight-loss journey, I remember doing an exercise where you were supposed to stand naked in front of a mirror with a bag over your head – I guess the thinking is that by detaching your face from your body, you are able to be more critical and objective.

I am now wondering if, by not being able to see our faces, we are not able to see the true, genuine “us,” just like a butterfly cannot see their beautiful wings. Screw that bag thing…

Me and Goldfish

I like goldfish – they are beautiful, they are fun to watch and they always make me smile when I see them. And apparently, goldfish and I have a lot more in common than I was aware of – see, I have always heard that goldfish have like five second memories. Five seconds. I’m starting to think I also have a five second memory. Let me explain…

GoldfishFor probably about the past week and a half, I have mentioned to virtually anyone who would listen that I seemed to have a lot of extra money in my checking account and I couldn’t understand why – I had checked my register and everything “balanced” according to my records, yet I had an extra $574.30 in my account that seemed to have just magically appeared there. (I was perplexed but secretly hoped it was some sort of addition/subtraction error in my favor. Yeah, right…) Anyway, yesterday I printed a copy of my online banking statement, going all the way back to 01 June 2013. I had resolved to find the error and lay honest claim to that extra money. I mean, who doesn’t want/need an extra $500+ dollars?

So, armed with a calculator, six and a half pages of transaction records, a pen, some correcting tape (so I could “Wite-Out” any errors) and a fresh Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, I began double-checking each and every transaction. The way my bank posts transactions, combined with my slightly lazy record keeping habits, forced me to be about four pages into the reconciliation (early July, LOL!) before I realized that four bills I had paid online about two weeks ago didn’t seem to appear anywhere on the statement. Hmmmm. Equally impressive – or distressing – was the fact that those four payments totaled the exact amount my bank said I had “extra” in my account. Uh-oh. But I KNEW I had paid those bills online – I knew I had.

Turns out I hadn’t. UGH! My online bill pay service has what I call the “Are You Sure?” screen at the end of every bill pay transaction. You enter the amount you want to pay to which utility or whatever – In this case, FOUR credit card companies – then before the transactions are finalized, one more screen pops open and asks you to double check that you want to send these amounts to these accounts. It became evident, after a call to my “Anytime Banker,” that I had neglected to complete this step. A missed “Enter” keystroke made me $574.30 richer… Sorta’.

Me and goldfish – five second memories…

You know, I have no one to be angry with but myself – I was careless and failed to do what I was supposed to do. And fortunately, the credit card companies were pretty understanding – only two payments were technically late, and both companies removed the late payment charges (thanks AmEx, thanks Capitol One!) In the end, it was all good and everything “worked out.” But, I am still sad…

Am I developing early onset of Alzheimer’s and/or some other senior senility?

Do I really have – as I so often joke about – some degree of attention deficit disorder?

Can I not remember that old warning: “If it seems to good to be true, it probably is…” I mean, who wouldn’t hope to find an extra $574.30 in their checking account?

Goldfish, that’s who – by the time they got their little fins together to open that checkbook, they would have totally forgotten why they were even looking there. Plus, they could never remember their previous balance anyway. Five seconds, right?

Goldfish Bowl

Tick Tock, Time to Rock a Lullaby for Bedtime

I can’t put it off any longer – I must go to bed. Now. I have to be awake in a little over six hours…

tick tock clockIt’s not that I don’t enjoy sleeping (I do, believe me, I do!) it’s just that, well, today was pretty dang awesome so I kinda’ hate to see it end. I spent the whole day with my beloved Martin, first swimming in Lake Erie on the private beach at the home of a dear friend, then we “ended up” the day with burgers with two other friends – our besties – in their amazing backyard.

Today was stellar – I got to spend the day with four people that I love (including the ONE I love the MOST!), got to swim for almost 4.5 hours (thank The Universe for sunscreen with SPF 50 protection!), got to eat delicious grilled burgers (and DAMN they were good) and mostly just got to relax and live in the moment. It was fantastic – FAN.TAS.TIC!

So I really don’t want to fall asleep ‘cuz then this special day will be over. Sigh… Good news is, I bet there are at least a few more special days ahead for me. Whew! ‘Nite y’all!

HRC and Me – Ramblings of a Former “A” Gay

Tonight is the Twentieth Anniversary Gala of HRC Cleveland. For those unaware, HRC is shorthand for Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest civil rights organization lobbying for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) equality. I feel like I should be at the anniversary celebration tonight but, as always, I have an issue with big fundraising events.

HRC Gala Date

Don’t get me wrong – this boy LOVES a throw-down party as much as the next guy. And I also acknowledge that people working tirelessly for social change sometimes need to get together and celebrate their efforts, bask in the love and support of others and just have fun. The thing is, I guess that in my heart of hearts, it all seems like a big, expensive pat on the back for the organization – and I am DEFINITELY not singling out HRC with that remark. But – to buy two Gala tickets at $175.00 each, plus rent two tuxedos (I know, I know – I should own one by now), the evening is already at $600.00 without valet tips, cash bar, silent auction item bids, etc. I have always had a personal issue with that – if one really SUPPORTS the goals and mission of an organization, why not just DONATE the $600.00 directly to the group? That money would go a LOT farther (and you wouldn’t have to suffer through some dry salmon or boring chicken dinner).

Salmon DinnerI guess maybe am slightly jaded with the whole “not-for-profit” thing. A decade or so ago, I was an “A” Gay – I went to every fundraising event for every LGBT-focused organization that I could. I supported as many different organizations as my wallet would allow. I was, to borrow the nickname from my dear friend Jan, a “professional gay.” I was out and about and, with each new event, each new dinner, ANOTHER cause emerged, ANOTHER organization came courting my support (dollars). That’s probably when I should have bought that tux, LOL!

After a while, I needed to step back and recharge, both my bank account and my emotional batteries. And of course, priorities change. I will admit that for the past five years or so I have been essentially a one-issue activist (LGBT-inclusive immigration reform), with a slight undercurrent of support for marriage equality as well. Those issues, especially LGBT-inclusive immigration reform, seemed to take a back seat to the larger issues of LGBT employment discrimination, DADT repeal, bullying, transgender rights and and hate crime legislation. So, I stepped out of the “A” Gay spotlight, moved a bit underground and lobbied as hard and as long as I could for issues that really mattered to me personally. Again – I TOTALLY support the work of HRC National and ESPECIALLY our outstanding local Cleveland chapter but they weren’t a good “fit” for me at the time…

So here we are today/tonight – Section 3 of DOMA has been repealed, I married my longtime partner (five years) a little over two weeks ago and now immigration law applies to us just like any other married couple. Whew. And who’s to say that HRC didn’t play a huge part in the DOMA piece? Anyway, regardless, I find myself sitting here now, wondering if Martin and I shouldn’t have tried to make that dinner. I hope the evening is glorious for everyone.

Will I ever be an “A” Gay again? I doubt it, or at least in the same way I was before. I used to think that being an A-Gay meant throwing a lot of money around, being out, visible and “PC” in public. I have come to understand, finally, that being an a-gay (lower case on purpose) is not about being public, it is about being committed and driven, giving money as well as other resources (time!) to support social change for LGBT peeps. Maybe instead of striving to be an a-gay, I will instead aspire to be a more well-rounded i-gay: involved, invested and immersed in the battle for social change, specifically as it applies to LGBT people but also as it applies to ALL people. Now that is a label I could get behind…

I think my hero, Hillary Clinton, said it best:

Gay Rights are Human RightsWow! Now I see the connection: gay rights are human rights, human rights = HRC.

Today Only?

So, I wanna’ apologize for a few of my previous posts this week; in review, some of them seem to be a little too “the-world-pissed-on-me-today” for my liking. It made me stop, think and evaluate my attitude about how and why things happen.

I have had a few challenging “situations” at work this week, a few scheduling and financial “things” happen. But – I mean, I was not swallowed up by some sink hole. My business was not destroyed by some fire-nado (still trying to process that through in my head). I wasn’t diagnosed with some obscure terminal illness.

I had a couple crappy days in a row – who doesn’t, right? So I promise to have a better attitude going forward…

Free happiness

As much as the image above makes me smile, I have come to realize that joy can be limitless, if we allow it to be. Happiness is not a “One Day Only” deal.

I have always liked/believed this list of “rules” for living a happier life:


I especially needed to remind myself of points 2, 3, 4 and 5 (OK, at least I was good with 1, LOL!) So today, I spent the day with the man I plan on spending forever with, my mind totally empty save for the task of grabbing flavored coffee creamer before we came home and was just “in the moment” all day long. Among our assortment of amazing, loving and generous friends, we have one that has an extraordinary house, right on Lake Erie. We spent the day there – doing nothing at all but laughing, reading, splashing, being silly, getting sunburned (me, at least) and just being happy.

Being happy. That felt really nice. I suggest that everyone give it a try; I know I plan on revisiting happiness as soon as I can. Probably tomorrow…

Work-Related Troubles, Then and Now

Tonight I was reading my Beloved’s blog entry for the day and he mentioned going back to school and was thinking back to kindergarten. Wow. Kindergarten. I am almost ashamed to admit that my first day of kindergarten was more than a few decades ago but it made me start to think about how life was complicated then and now. 

I mean, remember when something like THIS was a tough “work assignment?”

Color by NumberRemember when the hardest task we had to do was “stay within the lines?” Doesn’t it seem crazy how we as adults STILL battle whenever we draw outside the lines? Or how about this one?

WorksheetShapes and colors BOTH? OMG, I WISH every day I had tasks as hard as these. and yet, I remember these sheets DID seem pretty hard all those years ago. 

It made me smile to look at different kindergarten worksheets online, and to remember how hard life seemed then, and how hard life sometimes seems now. It’s all about place and perception, I suppose. It gave me some perspective.

I guess that while my adult life sometimes feels more than a bit challenging, I remember that not having a red crayon was the end of the world as a kindergartner. Thank The Universe I made it to adulthood and have 128 in my arsenal…