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…

 

 

 

When Did THAT Happen?

I constantly have to remind myself that time is always in motion – minutes turn into hours, hours turn into days, days to weeks and so on… It is easy to forget how time keeps turning – then I have weird “OMG” moments like I had today at work…

On Monday, 17 June 2013, I sent my SBF (Sweet Boyfriend) Martin the pic below. It was my way to share with him my “hard work” in getting the planter watered outside our store. We had planted it together a few days earlier and I wanted to let him know it was still green and alive and well. I was pleased.

Planter Pic early summerIt’s not like its any sort of exotic planting, or any crazy, lush “moment” but Martin helped me plant it and we had fun doing it together. I thought it looked great – and hoped that maybe it would grow over the summer and “fill in” a little bit.

Fast forward a little over twelve weeks – this is how that same planter looks today, Saturday, 21 September 2013 –

Planter pic early Fall 13I know, right? The planter is now like this insanely overgrown “forest” – and as I looked at it, I thought to myself, “When did THAT happen? I have to take a pic and send it to my Sweet Boyfriend. It will make him smile.”

Then I thought to myself again, “And when did THAT happen? Martin is no longer my SBF, he’s now my legally-married husband/spouse/partner.” And that thought made ME smile.

I think we all too often forget that every day is a singular, beautiful moment in our lives – moments that usually just get “lumped together” to make a week, or a month. We look forward to “special days” when we should realize that every day is special. And we – me! – sometimes forget to be thankful for every day we are/I am given, to celebrate even the smallest joys and to never, ever take any day for granted.

Seeing those flowers today – really seeing them, and how big they had gotten – made me realize that maybe I have just glossed over quite a few days these past few weeks.

I am gonna’ have to start paying closer attention – I’d hate to miss something awesome…

With Apologies In Advance to My Fair Lady…

On Thursday, 08 August 2013, at 1:30 PM, I will be marrying the man of my dreams in a small, private civil ceremony. It will be the happiest day of my life – pics and stories to follow.

In the meantime, with all due respect to gay men and musical lovers everywhere, please enjoy this slightly (I hope!) humorous pictorial treatment of one of the greatest songs from the timeless musical, “My Fair Lady.” Enjoy!

I’m getting married in the morning!

morning

Ding dong! The bells are gonna chime.

Chiming bells

Pull out the stopper! 

Stopper

Let’s have a whopper!

Whopper

But get me to the church on time!

In time

I gotta be there in the mornin’ 

Rooster

Spruced up and lookin’ in me prime. 

????????????

Girls, come and kiss me; 

Kissing Booth

Show how you’ll miss me. 

Crying eyes

But get me to the church on time! 

final carriageAgain, I apologize to every musical lover out there, but I couldn’t resist!

In less than twenty-four hours, I will be legally married to the man I want to share my forever with; at times, I thought I would never see this day. Now that it is here, I can hardly believe it. Thanks in advance to all our loving friends and family – my Sweetie and I could have NEVER made it this far without your constant love, caring and support. We appreciate it! Now, time to get some beauty sleep!

Martin? I love you with all my heart. Details to follow. Wish us luck…  😀

Enjoying Today

I have a friend leaving for vacation in a week. She cannot WAIT for the coming week to be over and her vacation to begin. She knows vacation will be awesome.

I have two friends leaving Cleveland and moving to a large, southern city in two weeks. They keep reminiscing/thinking about their lives here, wondering if they have made the right decision about the move, remembering all the great times they have had here in the past.

My beloved and I keep watching the mailbox, waiting for a document to arrive that will set in motion an entire chain of events that will (finally) make our lives secure and stable – but it will take weeks, probably months, before everything is totally settled. Until that happens, well, we just keep thinking about the future.

Three very different stories/situations, yet all have one thing in common: each person mentioned is not “present,” not living in and enjoying THIS moment.

This pic pretty much sums up what I am (finally) coming to understand:

todayI am as guilty as anyone of “wishing my life away,” of thinking some point in the past was better or thinking that the future will be brighter. Maybe they were/will be, but the reality is this: I am here. Now. In this moment, and this day.

I am not suggesting that we all erase our memories or stop dreaming/hoping/working towards a better future – no, what I am suggesting, and what I am challenging myself to do, is to learn to savor and enjoy each day as it happens. I will – hopefully – no longer “discard” any day, simply because I was grocery shopping or running errands or filling out forms – whatever. I am coming to understand that each day is unique and special, just like snowflakes (cheesy analogy, I know, but apt). I have to stop discounting my normal “everyday’s” and begin enjoying them for what they are – beautiful, singular days of experiences that can never be enjoyed again.

snowflakesFor example, I am writing this post on a quiet, peaceful Sunday afternoon. My beloved is talking with his family via computer, and I can hear them laughing and chatting in the next room. Previously, I would have labeled today as a big zero day but not anymore. My Angel is enjoying family time, I am enjoying some private writing time (in addition to this post, I also completed three snail mail cards to be mailed tomorrow) and the day is cool and sunny. To be honest, the day is turning out to be completely different than originally planned; we were supposed to go to the beach, and/or to a concert with friends tonight. Those activities are not going to happen. In fact, nothing monumental is happening and that is OK. The day is turning out to really great anyway. I am enjoying a peaceful day with the guy I love and that is really much MORE than just OK.

I hope everyone can come to see the beauty in “nothing days,” just as I am coming to see it. I know you will be happy when you do… Promise!

My Eyes, My Eyes!

OK, OK, – so, hot on the heels of my crab-tastic post yesterday, bitching about Cleveland’s sixteen (seventeen?) consecutive days of rain, today the sky/weather looks like this:

Blue Skies with SunThat is NOT an actual pic of the Cleveland sky today but close enough.

I have to share that, as someone of a somewhat “paler complexion,” I typically look forward to bright, sunny days with dread – usually dressing/looking more like this guy,

Invisible Man STill

but today it actually felt really, REALLY good to feel sunlight on my face. I did feel a little like Ray Milland’s character from the classic sci-fi thriller, “The Man With the X-Ray Eyes” today though – I walked out and uttered that now-classic line – “My eyes, my eyes!” – when I saw all the sunlight and blue skies. It was bright – and glorious!

I hope you all have a chance to feel some sunlight on your faces today. It is amazing how uplifting it can be for the spirit. I also hope this “sunny weather trend” continues. I am OFF work tomorrow and hope the sunny weather stays with us; I am planning on taking my beloved SBF, Martin, to a fruit farm about 30 minutes outside Cleveland to so some “sweet and sour cherry pickin’ in the orchard.”

C’mon, Universe – do me a favor: Please let the sun shine tomorrow, too! Thanks in advance!

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…

 

Guilty Pleasures Saturday

Today has been a “Guilty Pleasures” day for me. HOORAY!

I woke up early and went for my weekly Weight Watchers weigh-in. I suppose it goes without saying that the scale was “less-than-pleased” with my efforts this week. Sigh… The holiday, a picnic, dinner not once but TWICE at our best friends’ house – including delicious red velvet cake last night at like 10:30P – well… I can hear Richard Simmons saying “…no one is holding that fork but you” but OMG, sometimes it is hard to make a wise decision when the food is just so damn good. Anyway, my weigh-in was like at 8:30A today. After a few errands – and some shame – I returned home and my “Guilty Pleasures Day” officially began.

I grabbed my Sweetie and we walked the farmers’ market on the square where we live. It is quite large and filled with lots of Amish baked goods, buffalo meat, cheeses, fresh fruits and produce, a truck that makes hot, fresh mini-donuts with powdered sugar (I resisted!) and lots of other good stuff. We bought a small loaf of moist-and-delicious-looking pumpkin bread from one of the Amish vendors, then walked 3-4 blocks down to the Larchmere Street Festival, which was happening today.

Larchmere Boulevard is a cute street lined with antique shops of various calibers, LOTS of barber shops (I know, right?) and assorted other retailers and small galleries. Martin reminded me that we had attended the festival last year but I don’t remember (old-timer’s disease setting in I guess!). So we walked the street twice, opted to grab a late breakfast at Big Al’s Diner – huge omelettes that took FOREVER to get but were so worth the wait – then decided to come home. On the way, we stopped in a small cafe called Flying Cranes and got Martin a piece of mango mousse cake for tonight…

mango mousse cake

This is NOT the actual cake but it looks almost exactly like this – no flowers but with a dollop of whipped cream – and it is delicious (Martin let me take a small taste). The consumption of this cake – along with the last remaining peanut butter banana cupcakes from our Fourth of July picnic – are on this evening’s schedule (Weight Watchers be damned – I’ll start “tracking” in earnest tomorrow!)

Once we got back, I was a little sleepy so I managed to indulge in a three-hour nap. It was supposed to be a 45 minute quick snooze but I tricked my Sweetie into “…laying down with me for just a minute” when he tried to wake me up and viola! three hours later, there we were…

Rumpled sheets

I’m not sure why people don’t nap more – it is such a guilty pleasure for me. I always feel like I have done such a naughty thing, stealing away hours from a day just to sleep.

So now it is well into the early evening. We have decided to respectfully decline an invitation to a karaoke party from our friends (the awesome chefs – we figured they needed a break from our faces, plus me, karaoke? not pretty!) and are just staying home instead. We talked about renting a movie but all the pics we really wanna’ see are being released Tuesday (damn you, Redbox!) So instead, I suspect we will enjoy a bit of this tonight – no sporting events but reality TV instead…

watching TVAnd that is just fine with me. The thing is – much as I love our friends, and love being out and “doing stuff” – there is nowhere I would rather be than home with my beloved. We have had an eventful, busy couple of weeks and it feels great to just chill out at home and relax, doing nothing but just being together. I love that…

Hope you all are having a great weekend. Indulge in some guilty pleasures of your own!

A VERY Happy Fourth of July!

I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Fourth of July today. As a follow-up to yesterday’s post (posted today due to some “technical difficulties” last night), it did indeed wind up raining at last night’s concert but, thanks to the intuitive foresight and preemptive actions of our friends Scott and Joe, we all remained fairly dry…

I have attended many holiday concerts and fireworks displays in my life but last night’s was special. Since the overturn of DOMA by SCOTUS a week or so ago, for the first time in almost five years I can now see a future for my SBF (sweet boyfriend) and me here, in America. I am sure there will still be a few additional hurdles to overcome (legal and financial, mostly) but it sure does feel good – really, REALLY good – to finally “exhale” and begin to see a clear path for our future here in the states.

Fireworks always make me cry (I’m a softie!) and, as a former tuba player, nothing stirs my heart like a march. One march in particular always makes my eyes fill up with tears – “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa. (Learn more about Sousa and the march here, including a link to a recording from 1909 of the march played by the John Philip Sousa band). I don’t get misty because I am sad but because that march touches my heart and soul. Sure, I know it’s corny and expected but honestly? I think this one musical piece embodies the spirit, hope and optimism that is America. And I was overjoyed to hear it again last night…

Lady Liberty and fireworks

Click above to hear the US Army Field Band play “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

As the music stilled and the sky became brightly lit with fireworks, I squeezed my beloved’s hand and felt – for the first time in a long, long time – that we were finally safe and home free in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Thanks, America, for not letting me down and thanks, too, for the best Fourth of July. Ever…

i-i-i-i, It’s Here!

Once again, my life has received an “upgrade” – our brand new iPhone 5’s arrived yesterday, in all their chic, slim, shiny black glory…

iphone5blackThanks to my diligent, resourceful – and quite persuasive – sweet boyfriend, we received these new, state-of-the-art beauties at NO COST (OK, we did have to agree to a new a two-year contract but no big deal). To be honest, we actually MADE money on the exchange; after we sell our old phones back to ATT, we will come out about $30 ahead. Additionally, since I am an “…ATT customer of long standing,” they waived the standard contract fee (again – my SBF told me to call and ask/complain and they would credit our account – he was right!) The phones arrived yesterday and they are slim and beautiful – that’s the good news…

The bad news is that, were it not for my Martin, my phone would have never been activated. I swear, I believe that people of a certain age – MINE – are just incapable of  “clicking this” or “backing up that” or whatever the instructions are. Ugh. I get so frustrated –  my patience is very limited with technology in general. I mean, left to me, we would have four remote controllers at home – one for the TV, one for the cable box, one for the “standard” DVD player and one more for the DVD player coded for European DVD’s (and who even knew that there was a special code for European DVD’s?) Even Martin had some difficulty activating my phone; his was super easy, but mine? He “backed me up” and “sync-ed me” four times before everything – or almost everything – finally “migrated” to my new phone. (Maybe it’s just me?) Anyway, I guess I wished Apple would remember that we are not all “Geniuses.” I am just happy Martin is one!

So it’s only Day One for me with my new phone; so far, it has been sitting on a shelf all day at work, hooked-up to the stereo playing a Song List from my iTunes Library (again, put on my phone by Martin). I’ll keep you all posted as my “personal technology-knowledge upgrade” continues. For now, so far, so good…

Bitch Slap Weekend

My Beloved and I often whine to each other that we need more friends, or that we never “do” anything. Then, in an action I like to describe as a bitch slap from The Universe, we are reminded that we are blessed with MANY great friends and always seem to have something going, schedule-wise. Suddenly we will have a 24/7 schedule of events with two – or more! – things all happening at/around the same time. This is a “bitch slap” weekend…

I worked this past Friday evening till 5:30 PM. It was a kinda’ busy day for me at work and my Angel had been volunteering at a fundraising car wash for around four hours in the hot sun for an organization he belongs to/is an officer for so Friday night was a pretty laid-back evening.

Then the weekend started…

I was up yesterday at 7AM to go to my Saturday AM weekly weigh-in for WW (not good – “up” 0.8 pounds!). Boo!

scales1(Definitely not my feet and MOST definitely NOT my weight!)

After WW’s, I drove home, stopping on the way to grab some McBreakfast for me and my Beloved (and I wonder why I was “up” at weigh-in!), which we ate quickly and were then on the road to Columbus, to visit with my little sister, her family and my oldest niece and her family that were up from Tennessee. It was my first chance to meet my great nephew, Emmitt, and OMG – I am in love with him –

emmitt cheescake shot edit

(I mean, look at that face – he makes my heart melt…)

So anyway, my sister had planned a pool party and cook-out at her house and it was AWESOME! So awesome, that my SBF and I hated to leave. We left at almost 10PM, driving for over two and a half hours to arrive home Sunday morning at about 12:40AM.

Today, my Angel is at a picnic for another organization he belongs to, at one of the Metroparks about 45 minutes from our house. When he gets back, we will have an hour or so before we have to leave to attend the 50th birthday party/BBQ (good God, MORE cake and food – WW’s be damned!!!) for one of our best and dearest friends. It will (again) be another really chill, awesome evening with plentiful, delicious food, ample “adult beverages” and great, great friends. I suspect that, even though it is a school night, it will be another late one. And that is OK…

I am OFF again tomorrow but my Sweetie and I have a few projects scheduled already: hair cuts, some house cleaning and maybe (hopefully) this movie –

World-War-Z-NewPoster(Click to see the trailer – I DO so love a great zombie flick!)

So, yeah – I guess we have a LOT of great friends and a pretty busy social calendar. And I am OK with that. Friends are one of the best blessings in life, so we are lucky. Sometimes I do feel like this though:

Go To Bed(Click above to learn about the origins of Savoyard dialect.)

  Hope you all have/had a weekend as fun as mine! Have a GREAT week!