Happy BD To Me, 2014 Edition

Today is my birthday. I am 56 year’s old today. Five-Six. Wow… That seems like the half-life of carbon or something, LOL! As I reflect over the past 365, a lot has happened, mostly good, some OK and some, frankly, a little challenging…

cupcake

Last June, about two weeks after my birthday, Section 3 of DOMA was repealed. As a result, I was able to marry the man of my dreams in August 2013. Like that event wasn’t great enough in and of itself, that marriage license allowed me to sponsor my spouse for permanent, lawful immigration to America. In January of 2014, MSW received his green card. And in a little over two weeks, he will be traveling back to Europe for the first time in over three years to see his family – and I will, for the first time ever will be sending him off on a plane and not worrying if he will be able to get back in the country. For that I am forever thankful.

plane-at-night

I woke up beside that guy today – and for that love and caring, devotion and commitment, I will also be forever grateful. Plus, he made me a kick-ass birthday cake. He is so good to me.

My family has been OK over the past year. My Dad has been having an ongoing health issue but he is battling like a trooper and I think he is finally on the right treatment path. I love that old curmudgeon and know he will be fine. All my siblings and nieces and nephews are well, although my niece Erin FASTB (First and Still the Best!) has her OWN child now, my great nephew Emmitt, and there is nothing like watching someone you held as a baby hand you THEIR baby to remind you that time does indeed march on. I am blessed with many children in my life – nine nieces, nephews and a great nephew, from 30 years old to 14 months, and I love them all.

HAPPY-CHILDREN

Work? Now that is a mixed bag for sure. While the interior design component of our business continues to grow, our retail “division” might as well be closed. It is hard for independent retailers in the present economy, to be sure. My business partner and I are examining who we are today compared to who we were almost seven years ago, when we started. I can foresee some future changes/re-shaping coming – not necessarily bad, but you know me: change is never easy.

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My personal health? Well, my Beloved has me eating better and healthier than ever before (I told you – he is so good for me). I am now two+ year’s out of treatment for prostate cancer and, so far, so good. I have to share that I am slightly embarrassed; when I started this blog in January of 2013, one of my goals was to lose 55 pounds (check out my original post and that will make more sense). The embarrassing part? Since that post I think I MAY have lost about 10 pounds, totes, but as long as I am going DOWN I guess I need to stay the course.

spuds

My Angel is almost done with school, and I am thinking about going back to finally finish my degree/s. Or maybe I will just take a foreign language – perhaps German, and get in touch with my “roots?” Who knows?

German Flag

Our local friend circle is great, and we also have a national network of friends from east to west. I am blessed with much love and support in this area – in fact, not to boast, but when I last checked, I had over 225 “Birthday Wishes” on Facebook (I may not get to personally respond to all of you, so know that your thoughts and wishes are really appreciated!)

coast to coast

Ridiculous thing that just happened? I got a free lunch for my birthday from our local Jimmie John’s. Sandwich, Thinny Chips AND a large drink. Matt and his crew are fantastic!

jimmyjohns-logo

In the challenging category is the fact that – much as I resist (resent?) it – I am in my “Second Fifty.” I think I need glasses, readers at least. My Sweetie – and a few others – have commented recently that I am talking louder and louder. My God, am I losing my hearing? And as a “youthful-minded” fifties-ish person, I am challenged by fashion. I am not ready for Ban-Lon “slacks” with non-roll, elastic waistbands yet, but me and Banana Republic are not friends, either. And I think people over fifty should never wear “graphic tees.” Sigh…

glasses_628

All in all, however, my life is pretty sweet. I am blessed. So, “Welcome, 56!” I am looking forward to 57…

Happy-Birthday

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2013 – A Brief Review

Here it is, the first day of 2014. Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a fun New Year’s celebration and that we are all blessed with a great 2014! As it is the first day of the new year, I feel like a bit of reflection on the past 365 is in order…

ListNo need to grab a pencil and paper – note-taking is not necessary, LOL!

One year ago today, I began my year-long 365 Blog Project, the goal being to blog at least once a day for an entire year. I am happy to report that I met that goal, with a few additional posts along the way. An entire year of my life, documented in words and images, for posterity to enjoy (as long as WordPress exists, LOL!) I must admit – 2013 was quite a year for me…

My opening blog entry described my beloved Martin as my “life-partner.” I am now pleased to share that he is LEGALLY my HUSBAND. Through a serious of long-overdue legal events in 2013, Martin and I were finally able to legally wed in New York state in August 2013, on our fifth anniversary of being a couple. It was – without a doubt – the single, most significant event of 2013, and my life, period. I love that guy…

heart feetThe day of our wedding, my feet left and Martin’s right, standing on a heart-adorned manhole cover in Jamestown, NY, 08 August 2013 – minutes after becoming husband and husband!

And as a result of those legal changes, we are in the final stages of acquiring a green card for Martin, so we no longer have to fear being torn apart because of America’s ridiculously outdated and discriminatory immigration laws. I thank The Universe every day that these changes happened. It truly was a blessing and life saver for couples like us.

In 2013, my business partner and I also relocated our design studio and office. That was a hella’ pain in the ass, but necessary and, so far? A good decision.

Opening PicOur signature green on a wall, me sporting some serious googles and my business partner manning the U-Haul Truck, That’s right – we got swagg…

I am hoping that The Universe will continue to shine on BOTH these endeavors for me and that 2014 will be the best year, both personally and professionally, for me ever. Now, a few more highs and lows from 2013.

In 2013, I lost two friends who had never met one another but were both special to me. Both passages left me stunned and opened my eyes to how quickly life can change. It reminded me to never take one minute of living for granted. Wendy, Dan? I will miss you and remember you always.

That said, to prove The Universe is fair and just, I welcomed two NEW lives into mine in 2013 – my great nephew, Emmitt, and Martin’s first niece, Amelka. Both are beautiful, amazing children (aren’t ALL children beautiful and amazing though?) and these two little boogers reminded me to always see the beauty in every moment. To watch a baby discover that s/he can, I don’t know, clap or laugh or talk – it is moving, it is amazing, it is a miracle. I am thankful for these two new little miracles in our lives.

two flowersThese flowers represent the two new flowers in our lives, Amelka and Emmitt.

My family and friends continue to be loving and supportive of my relationship, my business and me, so I don’t know if I could ask for more.

I did suffer from an extended period of deep depression from late July thru mid September of last year. I think there were a number of factors that prompted that episode but I managed to (finally) pull out of it and am now as positive and optimistic as I have ever been. Thanks to everyone that helped me through, especially my dear Martin. He is my guardian angel on earth.

My goal to lose 55 pounds in 2013 was, as they say, an epic failure. All told, I have a net weight loss for all of 2013 of 2.4 pounds. Not my best effort but I have recommitted and am confident that 2014 will be a banner year in “healthy living” for me. Stay tuned…

feet on scalesNot my feet (although I wish that were my weight!) And could this guy use a pedi or what?

While I know there will be more reflection and thoughts on 2013, that is enough for now. As far as the whole 365 Blog Project goes, I feel I succeeded 100%+ – and actually have come to love blogging. It is relaxing and definitely a bit cathartic for me. Going forward in 2014, I am not sure if my blog direction will narrow, maybe being more design or relationship focused, or if I will continue to be scattered around all over the place.

I’m thinking scattered…

In any event, THANK YOU for being on this journey with me. THANK YOU for helping change the world thru your actions and commitments (I like to think that I generally inspire others). And most of all, THANK YOU for just being. One of my personal resolutions for 2014 is to acknowledge that I am unique and rare and special. We are ALL unique and rare and special – give that to yourself, own it and embrace it. We are all in this together so let the journey into 2014 begin…

start

L.B.B.’s – Two, Please

Yesterday’s blog was about an empty box; today’s post features a box of a different kind:

Tiffanys-Little-Blue-BoxOh yeah, that’s right – a little blue box. A very specific shade of blue box. And – to be correct – there will be TWO little blue boxes. They should arrive at our house on Tuesday by 3PM and, if we are lucky, we will be putting them into service less than a week from today.

I’ll be filling you in on more details as they become available but I have to say that I am probably happier now than I ever have been in my entire life up until this point. I love my SBF very, very much and very soon, FINALLY we will have a legal document that “legitimizes*” that union and will help/protect us as we continue on together.

I am excited. My beloved SBF is, too… Thanks for sharing this weird and wonderful moment with us – more details soon. uh – WOOHOO!

* By legitimizes, I mean to say that one $45 piece of paper will effectively bestow 1,138 legal rights benefits and protections to us as a couple, and to my SBF as a person. The best $45 I ever invested!!!

 

And So It Begins…

For people that follow this blog, and friends that are close to my partner and me, I am sure you know that the recent SCOTUS DOMA decision reshaped our future in a very significant way. Now, finally, my beloved SBF (Sweet Boyfriend) and I have a clear path ahead, one that does NOT include us moving to a foreign country where I would be teaching conversational English. And – as romantic as a mid-life move to Portugal sounds – I am SO glad things have worked out they way they have…

Today our journey began in earnest – we submitted our background profiles to the prominent and well-established immigration-focused law firm, Masliah & Soloway, founders of Stop the Deportations: The DOMA Project. My beloved and I had our initial meeting with one of the firm’s principals, Lavi Soloway, today via Skype. Yes, THAT Lavi Soloway.

On a Sunday afternoon. While he was on vacation. Pretty amazing, right? I am still blown away by it all…

Light at the endFor a long, l-o-n-g time, I wasn’t totally sure how the future would look for my beloved and me. I mean, I always knew we would be together, I just wasn’t sure where. Or if we would ever be able to “…buy a house and settle down.” And get a dog/have a real yard. And just feel safe being at home – you know, all the things most people take for granted. Now it all seems possible…

I like the image above because it represents the start of our journey, One step at a time, moving along a straight, defined path and out into the light. As someone that has spent almost five years now cowering in the shadows, it sure does feel good to have “light on my face.” Thanks in advance to Lavi Soloway and his firm. Thanks to all our friends and family that have supported us and boosted our spirits when they were low, defeat after crushing defeat in the past. And most of all, thanks to my beloved partner for never, ever giving up on me/us, or on hope. He steadfastly refused to believe that anything but the best would happen for us. He always has been my rock and always will be.

I’ll be posting updates as we move along the path. Please, cross your fingers for us and hold good intentions for a quick, easy journey. I’m not a religious guy but hey, prayers never hurt, right? We’d appreciate it…

 

Yes, Beyonce, I plan to “Put a ring on it!”

For no particular reason, I have jewelry on my mind today.

I guess maybe I am thinking about this because hopefully, in late June, when the planets magically align and SCOTUS (The Supreme Court of The United States) magically grows some balls and FINALLY repeals DOMA – with all due respect to all the female justices – I would like to “officially” marry my significant other.

And it occurs to me that such an event needs to be finalized and marked with a significant piece of jewelry.

Now, as a gay man, there IS no other jeweler besides Tiffany’s. I mean, I remember ordering a $65.00 key chain from Tiffany’s in my late 20’s, just so I could have a “blue box.” Anyway, I was online today and narrowed my choices down to three:

The Etoile – platinum and diamonds. A classic!

Etoile Men's Ring

Or Paloma’s  – as in PicassoZellige Ring in infinitely more affordable sterling –

ZelligeOr finally, the classic (and obviously status-seeking) 1837 Ring

1837 RingAll these rings are fantastic – I love them all and wish I could shower my sweet boyfriend with one of each. We have looked at the 1837 Ring before, so…

Who knows? Come late June, we may take a trip to NYC or Chicago and buy these guys. It seems like an event that merits a trip, rather than ordering them online, would you not agree?

(all images courtesy Tiffany & Company)