Giving Thanks, 2014 Edition

It’s Thanksgiving Eve. Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, a day to consider how we are blessed (in a fortunate way/not simply a “Christian” way) and a day to consider – honestly – just how lucky we are.

It would be easy for me to say that 2014 has sucked so far, and ask The Universe just where the hell my “blessings” are.

In August 2014, I closed my business after almost seven years of (literally) blood, sweat and tears. Mostly tears. The closing of my business was a bit devastating emotionally and certainly was, and continues to be, somewhat crushing financially as well. With the closing of my business came my return to the employment market as a job SEEKER – I hadn’t “filled out an application” in more than probably twenty years; each of my jobs before opening my own business was the result of scouting by my then-future employer – I got ASKED to work with them. Reciting my high school GPA and “Other Interests” was something very alien and foreign to me.

The summer and fall of 2014, I stood by and watched as state after state achieved marriage equality, while my state CONTINUES to maintain an almost pre-Stonewall attitude around this issue. And earlier this month, somehow my state granted the madman that is our governor the power of four more years to destroy our state. And don’t even ask me about what happened in the Senate.

Probably saddest, in October of 2014, I lost my father, my beloved Pop-pop, to a long and valiant battle with cancer. I lost Grammy (my mom) six years ago and, during the time since, my Dad and I had become closer than ever; in fact, it was like getting to know him all over again. I called Pop-pop every day. I miss him, and I miss my Mom. A lot. A well-intentioned friend called me an “orphan” upon finding out my Pop-pop had passed away. I am NOT an orphan. I have two AMAZING parents – they are just away from me now, for the time being. They are now two amazing guardian angels.

Those are just the “highlights” of 2104 for me but – you know what? The year has been pretty great to me as well…

While I closed my business, I embarked on not one but TWO new endeavors, one at a cherished public institution in my adopted hometown and one in a new design venture with a new partner who is, in fact, my husband. Both careers look bright and, while I am “starting on the ground floor” at both, good things are already happening at each. Two days ago, I got promoted at “my day job” and assumed a new position within the organization, a position that suggests career growth and a stable, secure future. As far as my new design venture goes, working with my life partner/husband is a joy and our new firm is already developing a following. Hooray!

Even though Ohio (my state) is in The Dark Ages as far as marriage equality goes, I am legally-married to my husband and we will soon be celebrating the one year anniversary of his Green Card approval (that was a L-O-N-G journey/struggle, chronicled in many previous posts here on this blog). If it is possible, I think that guy loves me more every day – and I love him more, too. Eventually, Ohio will “see the light” and finally join the 21st Century with regard to LGBT rights and equality.

Finally, while I miss BOTH my parents every day, I am happy to know that they are reunited and happy. And contrary to what I feared, being “parent-less” has not left me feeling rudderless or adrift. Rather, I feel empowered and almost a bit reckless (but in a good way). The state of answering only to yourself for your actions (and your spouse, of course!) is actually a very liberating one. I like it. I miss Grammy and Pop-pop terribly but the freedom they have given me is a great, great gift.

So all in all, 2014? Maybe NOT so bad so far… Sure, heck – I hope 2015 will be even better but we still DO have almost a month of 2014 left. Who knows? It may still turn out to be the best year ever…

It’s funny. I was looking for a profound, “deep” quote about being thankful and ran across this sage advice from Oprah Winfrey herself. Who’da ever thought I’d be sharing inspiring Oprah quotes on my blog? Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thanksgiving Oprah

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Friday Was Great

All in all, my Friday was great:

1. Today was my six-year anniversary with my beloved Martin, and it was a beautiful day.

gay anniversary

2. I was offered a small promotion at work today, the next step in my plan for total domination  (the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, right?)

èäàÞ

3. My Dad had a good day, well, after an early AM trip to the emergency room. Sigh, but YEAH, too…

2_thumbs-up

 

4. I lost a total of 3.8 pounds over the last two weeks on my “Journey to Release the Thinner, Inner Me.” Thanks, Weight Watchers!

one-size-fits-all

I’ve had an awesome day, and have a great weekend planned up ahead. I am a lucky guy, all ’round!

08-08-08 (Happy Anniversary)

Tonight is the eve of my sixth anniversary with my beloved Martin. It is also the eve of our one year wedding anniversary (yup, we are two of “those” – gay men who are legally married). We also celebrated five years of being “registered domestic partners” in early May of this year – he’s “got me” every way possible…

hearts

It is a significant day for us – my Sweetie loves ANY reason to celebrate (and I do, too!) but our anniversary is special. It is significant that we are in a committed relationship bound not only by our love and commitment to one another, but also by law. I never thought that, in my lifetime, I would be legally married to the man of my dreams. I was wrong…

We will probably observe the day quietly, just the two of us, having a simple dinner out and/or maybe a movie in… See, there is no one on earth I’d rather be with than Martin – and I like to think he feels the same way about me.

I have to admit, I definitely imagined my life being a little bit different at my age than it actually is but the ONE thing I got right was marrying Martin.

Martin is the joy of my life, and I thank The Universe every day for him. Happy Anniversary, my Angel. Lots of love to you…

Me Talk Polish One Day

My husband is Polish. Like so many non-native Americans, he speaks not only his native tongue fluently but also has pretty darn good English language skills as well and – as if that weren’t enough – he is modestly conversant in German. Maybe a little rusty in the German department, but he could manage… Me?

I speak American English and – if pressed – could dust off that 3.5 years of Latin I took in high school and translate some church ceilings for you, if you wanted.

I know, right? Pretty mad language skills here…

The reason I am thinking about all this today is that my Sweetie’s younger sister is taking English lessons, and we help her with lessons from time to time. Thing is, the English they are teaching – weird tenses and structures and composition rules – are NOTHING that I ever remember taking, or even know how to help her with. English is complex. English is complicated. English has rules and exceptions to those rules. English is hard.

Grammar rulesI don’t even remember “learning” English, although there must have been lessons and lessons and lessons all through school. It is hard for me to help my Beloved or his sister when, I guess, I would never speak the way the lessons are teaching. I mean, I guess I wouldn’t. Maybe I do and just don’t realize it?

I am reminded of the brilliant essay by David Sedaris, “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” It’s like my yet-to-be-started-in-earnest journey to learn Polish. I hope you will take a few minutes and read it – it conveys my exact reservations about learning Polish. No one wants to look sound silly.  But unless we try, we cannot learn, correct?

So my Angel and I did all we could to help his sister convert spoken English into reported English, whatever the Hell that even means… I think we three ultimately wound up with a passing quiz score; I hope so. It would be pretty embarrassing for me if I helped her fail an English test, right?

I want to visit Poland with my husband in 2015. I keep putting off my lessons but know I must begin soon. Much like David Sedaris, my hope is that me talk pretty Polish one day. Życzcie mi szczęścia!

National Coming Out Day

coming out day

Today is National Coming Out Day, a holiday encouraging gay and lesbian people to “come out” and stop hiding their sexuality. Originally celebrated in 1988, National Coming Out Day is observed annually to celebrate coming out and to raise awareness of the LGBT community and civil rights movement. The holiday is observed in a wide variety of ways, from rallies and parades to information tables in public spaces. (source: Wikipedia – National Coming Out Day).

As an openly gay man, I tend to smile at the notion of a “national” coming out day – but then I remember that in an embarrassing number of states one can still get fired simply for being gay. There is also the uncomfortable, escalating number of gay bashings and attacks – a brutal one recently in Pittsburgh and one here in Cleveland as well. And finally – as happy and pleased as I am to be married to my husband, we had to travel to another state that HAS marriage equality for the ceremony. Still-in-the-Stone-Age Ohio does not have married equality. And while my marriage is recognized at the federal level for some benefits, at the state level, my spouse is still a “legal stranger” in the eyes of the law. It is beyond irritating.

So, yeah… I guess I need to remind myself I live in a bit of a bubble. I mean, while Ohio is a back-ass state in the marriage-equality department, Cleveland is a reasonably comfortable city to “be a gay” in. I am fortunate to be self-employed so I have the luxury of being “out-n-proud” without worrying about consequences. And I have an amazing family, both nuclear and extended, as well as the most fabulous circle of friends, gay and straight. I am blessed…

So I forget that there are people not as lucky or fortunate as me – people that still speak in gender-less pronouns when they share stories (“We really didn’t do anything – we just sorta’ hung out.”) There are people living where it is not safe for them to be openly gay, part of cultures that are not at all gay-friendly. There are people worrying about getting fired for simply being who/what they are. There are people being bullied for “being different.” There are people forced to hide every day in plain sight for all of the reasons listed, and more. It makes me sad.

Hiding in plain sight

So today, on National Coming Out Day, instead of taking my life for granted, I will appreciate it and commit to helping others achieve a similar life. I promise to work to make the world a safer place for all of us, gay and straight. And I will push for a future where National Coming Out Day is a faint, nostalgic memory, no longer celebrated or necessary because we will have FINALLY achieved true LGBT equality.

Ready? Set? GO!!!

Today, my Beloved and I started the process of applying for his green card, with the ultimate goal of him becoming a United States citizen at some point in the future. Our more immediate goal is that we can be together here in The States as a couple free from the tremendous emotional and financial worry that comes from being part of a male, bi-national couple. We took the first step about six weeks ago –

wedding bandsWe got married. Today, we signed on with a law firm that specializes in immigration law and will petition the US government on my behalf to issue my husband a marriage-based green card. We had our initial intake interview today –

ChecklistAnd we still have (I fear) a LOT of paperwork and filing to do in our future. I suspect at some point the computer room in our apartment may look like this –

paperworkand that everything we submit will be reviewed and scrutinized with a keen eye –

detectiveFinally, at some point my Angel and I will be questioned by uniformed government officers as they review all the materials we have submitted, vetting our relationship and documenting that it is “legit.” According to our legal team, and based on anecdotal information I have received from other couples going through the same process in different cities/states, this can be an intimidating part of the process – but I am not worried…

interrogationSee, I am reminded of two pieces of wisdom, shared with me by two people I loved and admired. One of my old bosses, Mr. Pearl, always said, “If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember what you lied about.” And my Mom always said, “You never have to be afraid when you are honest and tell the truth because the truth is always the right thing to say.”

Here’s the truth –

After five years together, weathering challenges no regular couple – straight or gay – should ever have to weather, I love my SBF, I mean my HUSBAND, more than ever… 

We are ready to “get the party started.” I’ll keep you all posted. Thanks for coming on this journey with us…

 

 

 

30 Days Already

Number 30Today is the one-month anniversary of my marriage to Martin – 30 days since our “big fat gay wedding.” It has been an awesome month for me, all-in-all, and I think my Sweetie would agree. I feel like I should do a small re-cap of our first thirty days of wedded bliss, an accounting of events since we “tied the knot.”

Let’s begin by looking at what has happened every day since Martin and I got hitched.

To begin with, the sun has continued to rise every day; in fact for me, every day has been even better and brighter…

SunriseWe get up every morning and have coffee together to start the day…

Coffee Foam ArtIt never really looks like that but we keep trying. After our coffee, I usually go to work…

time clock… and Martin heads off to school.

school suppliesBut it’s not all-work-and-no-play for us. Sometimes we take in a movie or two…

movie theater…and we frequently get together with our friends for dinner and/or just to hang out.

Buffet TableSo, yeah, all-in-all, our lives went from being pretty great to near fantastic. We are gathering resources for the next step in our journey but we have a clear picture for our future and are very excited and happy to be married.

Next, let me tell you what DIDN’T happen because we got married.

Life as we know it did not cease to exist…

WorldSomehow – mercifully – our love did NOT unleash The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse,

The Four Horsemennor did our marriage cause the world to crash and burn…

World in FlamesSo that pretty much sums it all up; no end-of-the-world moment, things stayed essentially the same or got better and every day is bright with hope for our future.

I guess I just cannot understand why marriage equality continues to be such a big issue in Ohio, and in America in general. If someone can explain that to me, I’d appreciate it; till then, I’m going back to being on old married fuddy-duddy.