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Overlooking [Jun. 22., 2018|10:53 am]
Da
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I won't say that hosting Monshu's West Coast memorial "closed a chapter" of my story of mourning or anything since life is not a movie. Rather, it confirmed my impression of where I'm at already. In the twelve days I was on vacation, I only cried three times: when emptying the last of his cremains into a smaller bag for eventual scattering in Europe; when listening to Arcade Fire's "Afterlife" while high as fuck; and when viewing a Japanese cultural display at the Burke Museum. I had plenty of other moments of, "I wish he were here for this" but they passed over me without completely shifting my emotions.

I hadn't originally planned to keep any ashes at all. His sister requested a small portion for an artist friend to make into glass beads and it occurred to me that it might be nice to keep a bit myself in case I ever make it to the Clan Campbell seat in Scotland. I knew I'd spill some in the transfer so I chose a spot on their property of significance to me: the foundation of the former deck attached to his mother's old house where I knew he'd spent many tranquil mornings over the years during his annual trips to see her. We'd stayed in the house during my only other trip out there (for her funeral) and I insisted on taking a walk through it, though it's only used for storage now.

It was beautiful perfect day at the overlook in Crescent City where we did the scattering. I hadn't slept well (and got myself so dehydrated that I passed out waiting on a lighthouse tour), which tends to make me lachrymose, but I was dry-eyed even when comforting his sister. I thought I might need to tap someone else to read the Heart Sutra; I got through it easily. (Not only did I practice it for the previous memorial, I read it aloud sometimes for comfort when I have a bad night.) It touched me to discover later that Monshu's nephew had insisted on his boys (7 and 10) being present; I think it was probably their first memorial service.

But probably the best indication of where I'm at now is, sad to say, my impatience with other widows. I nearly left one online group because of a dust-up over conceptions of the afterlife. (One of the members accused me of being deliberately cruel.) At the recommendation of a Friend, I joined another, but I scroll past the posts. Everyone seems stuck at stages I passed a long time ago. I keep reminding myself this is because of how privileged I was: plenty of warning, Monshu cogent until the end, easily fulfilling his last requests, etc. Regardless, I find myself without much to say to those in deeper grief right now.

We'll see what it's like when I see my brother's mother-in-law this evening. She's coming up on her one-year anniversary. Her family didn't want her to be alone while they visited the Grand Canyon so she's visiting [personal profile] bunj and e. and she specifically requested to spend some time with me. I suspect it will be much different relating to someone about these things in person.
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SEA-food [Jun. 21., 2018|05:13 pm]
Da
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My meals during the trip ran a considerable gamut. Quite a few were fairly simple preparations where I happened to be staying--a vegan patty at my in-laws', a simple stirfry at Chez LeRouge in Seattle. Probably the most interesting of these was the pasta dinner my first full day in Seattle because it was my virgin foray into making ravioli. (I had the easy work, rolling out the dough; Gaffer did everything else.) My Eastside hosts served me dungeoness crab, but it was simply boiled with butter for dipping.

Lies mehr...Collapse )
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New Northwest [Jun. 20., 2018|04:43 pm]
Da
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I hate to make another placeholder entry, but so much happened during my twelve days in the PNW that it's hard to know where to start. Compounding the issue, the chief reason for spending a week in Seattle was to catch up with some good friends I made via LJ and I KNOW THEY'LL BE READING THIS. [personal profile] bitterlawngnome and [personal profile] danthered made jokes about it from the first night we were all in the house together.

What a house, btw! I arrived at twilight in a Lyft not really knowing what to expect, so when the driver asked, "This is the place?" I said, "I'm not sure" and doublechecked the address before venturing forward to ring the doorbell. It's a gorgeously-preserved midcentury modern manse on a lot-and-a-half in a hillside residential neighbourhood of Seattle with spectacular views of Lake Washington, the Cascades, and--on good days--the Mountain[*]. Nothing would draw you there if you didn't know any residents, but once ensconced I easily found excuses not to head downtown. The bus service is pretty good given how far out it is, but an hour on a nice bus in a lovely neighbourhood is still an hour on a bus.

Still, I did make it out, taking in such sights as the Seattle Public Library, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, the Pike Place Market, the gaybourhood, and the UW Bookstore, each of which was rewarding in its own way. I was especially thrilled to get a whole day with [personal profile] clintswan and it was a long one, beginning with a ferry ride from downtown Seattle to Bremerton about midday and concluding with a Lyft back from homo hotspot Diesel more than twelve hours later. (I'm not sure how much of my money Lyft captured during my week there, but it was no trivial amount.)

It was a good trip for my personal growth. In particular, I made the decision to accept Monshu's family as my own, which was anything but a foregone conclusion before heading out there. I understand why he had the conflicts with them that he did, but I don't have to keep carrying around the baggage for him; I can accept them for who they are and form relationships on that basis.

I also had my first experiences with edibles. I'm not sure I really enjoyed the intensity of them but I learned that even a massive dose isn't enough to make me lose control, which is reassuring and makes me more willing to experiment until I find something more comfortable. Even while "high af", I'm reportedly coherent and still able to pack and plan for my imminent departure without forgetting anything important. Go me!


[*] Rainier/Tahoma
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More adulting [Jun. 4., 2018|10:59 am]
Da
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Well, I just did a grown-up thing. I texted Eyefields, as I do occasionally these days to make sure he's not dead, and foolishly rubbed a sore spot. He responded by reminding me I'd been kind of rude to him once and my kneejerk reaction was to remind him of all the times he'd been rude to me. Fortunately I recognised what a dead end that was and instead simply apologised and moved on. Baby steps.

I'm reaching the emotional stage of preparing for my trip out west. Last night I was looking for a couple prints I wanted to take with me for his family and I came across an unopened package. It was a shikishi with a nandina design. I'm not sure when Monshu purchased it or why it was unopened. When possible, I tried to bring these things to him in the hospital and opening up the few I hadn't was one of the things we did during his brief final visit home.

I go back and forth between wondering if three-and-a-half days with his family is too much or too little and I question the wisdom of tacking on a week in Seattle afterwards, particularly given that I'm likely to be spending the first day or two in an unfamiliar house with an unfamiliar person. I'm assured the time will fly by and it probably will. And in the end we're all dead anyway so what does it matter if it doesn't?
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Role reversal [Mai. 31., 2018|02:22 pm]
Da
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So I had my first dust-up with the new boy. We were bantering via text and he asked, "Are we role-playing now?" to which I responded, "Honey, we've been role-playing this whole time." He was miffed. I'm not exactly sure why, since he wouldn't tell me, and I eventually managed to talk him down by reassuring him I wasn't mocking him. I considered attempting an explanation, but I was bone-tired and didn't feel like doing that much texting, especially given the likelihood of compounding the misunderstanding. Maybe if we have what kids today call a "voice chat" I'll give it a go.

It was a flippant remark, but it was rooted in something he'd told me near the end of our brief time together:
On the way there, he struggled to put into words what the day had meant to him I realised that I'd been for him what men like Flying Pig had been for me; after all these years, the daddy hunter has become the daddy.
Maybe he thinks that whole mention of "roles" implies that some degree of fakery is involved? But there's no escaping the fact that we all employ certain scripts when attempting to interact with other people. We were each trying to be the best version of ourselves for each other that day, whatever we thought that was. That's not the same as pretending to be someone else entirely.

It's not that I think he's fragile, but a 28 year-old singleton in a small town is in a very different position than a middle-aged man in a LTR in a major metropolis. When Flying Pig and I were communicating afterwards, I was very concerned about not coming off as too needy. Above all, I wanted to respect his relationship (and protect myself from falling too hard for him). Now my concerns are striking a balance between not leading someone on while also not causing them more anguish than is completely unavoidable.

You could call that a "daddy" role, but it's actually very similar to the position I'm in with Ginger Farmboy, who's ten years my senior. Because it's not about age, it's about privilege and the burden of responsibility. I'm in a more privileged position in many ways (experience, financial security, emotional maturity, etc.) and ethical action consists of not abusing that position, either deliberately or through neglect.

Of course, how do you explain any of that without coming off condescending as fuck? I'm not sure, which is why I didn't ask it of myself at a time when my resources were low. I'm just going to do my best to recall how my mentors treated me and hope what worked in my case will work here.
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Plus ça change, plus c'est les mêmes ours [Mai. 29., 2018|11:18 am]
Da
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Bear Pride is still dead, Bearfest is basically stillborn, but the Mem Day weekend traditions live on. Sort of.

I didn't go to any parties all weekend. I didn't really go out in the evenings at all. I considered it Saturday night after a leisurely supper that stretched past what would've been my bedtime on a school night but I still ended up in bed (alone) before midnight. I also didn't make it anywhere near the IML host hotel or the leather mart. Last year it just seemed so sad and there wasn't anyone there I was anxious to meet up with.

Saturday was the event at the baths that Miss Cleveland and BigBones dragged me to last year. It's still a shadow of its former self. I had lunch with the lads, who were leaving for Santa Fe the next day, and didn't arrive until about 2:30. Used to be if you came that late, there'd be a line out the door. Now there was a bit of one, but it seemed as much due to the doddering nature of the attendees as anything else. Not auspicious.

I wasn't expecting anything of the magnitude of last year's Flying Pig, which was good, because the one daddy who really grabbed my attention wanted nothing to do with me. I attempted to do something with a local who I've been promising to nail ever since HiBearNation, but the scene got too weird and I fled. I was beginning to question the wisdom of even coming, but eventually another local who I'd fooled around with back in...February? coaxed me up to his room and we had a pretty enjoyable time.

I left with a warm glow, but that faded the instant I got home and discovered the destruction wrought by my plant-hostile condomates. That plus the late dinner made for a terrible night's sleep and an anxious morning waiting to confront them. That all worked itself out better than I'd hoped for, but it left me physically exhausted (from four hours gardening on by far the hottest day of the year so far). Still, I was determined to go to the beach and I did.

Supposedly, there was an official "Bears at the Beach" event being organised, but again so haphazardly that as I was preparing to leave hours later, I ran into two guys visiting from Milwaukee who'd been there all afternoon and never managed to locate the gathering. I'd very quickly found my way to the Rogers Park Bear Crowd, who were arrayed in their usual spot. There were a couple new faces and I quickly made time with one of them. We goaded each other into diving under the water and would have stayed there making out in time-honoured Hollywood Beach fashion if it hadn't been so gosh-durned cold.

So instead I took him home. Not immediately, of course. I still wanted to greet some other friends and faces, which I did (most awkwardly the Clueless Furball just as I was leaving), though it was so crowded that I still missed several people I'd really hoped to see. He was an out-of-towner staying with mutual friends, and they were pleased to have him off their hands for a few hours.

We spent at least three of those hours in bed, which despite the circumstances came as a surprise to both of us. He had an honesty and vulnerability which was touching and refreshing. (Despite being two decades my junior, he's already seen some of the shit gay life can dish out.) Eventually we had to eat so I took him to Nori, which was completely off its game, and then walked him to the el. On the way there, he struggled to put into words what the day had meant to him I realised that I'd been for him what men like Flying Pig had been for me; after all these years, the daddy hunter has become the daddy.

I hope I followed the campsite rule with him. At least I saw him the next day and he didn't seem broken up or clingy. That was at Sidetrack, which finally had a glimmer of its past glory. I credit a past Bear Pride chair, who actually got people to come out. I managed to start conversations with at least two different people by telling them, "Facebook wants us to be Friends."

Now three years ago at the Farewell Party, something happened that I never wrote about. It involved a hot man and a basement apartment in Portage Park but it ended badly for reasons that were mostly my fault. It had occurred to me fleetingly that there was a chance I'd run into the guy again and fortunately, when I did, it wasn't until after my second drink, so it happened quite naturally: he checked me out, I checked him out and walked away, then I went back and said, "I think I know you".

He didn't recognise me at first and there was no Aha-Erlebnis where it all came back to him. I shared some details, he surmised some others, and we left it that we'd arrange to have a proper date and hash it all out without the distraction of disco and alcohol. Only after I was back at home did it occur to me that he might have been lying, that he might not want to get together again and was only putting me off. I don't think that's likely, but past experience has taught to me expect anything, so we'll just have to see how this all goes.

All in all, it felt like my expectations were pitched about exactly right. I had some moments of intimacy without getting too attached, I was gregarious without (I think) being obnoxious, and I've made the transition back to ordinary life without (I think) coming down with anything awful. Twenty-four years of this nonsense and I've finally got it about figured out.
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Listen to the whiskey [Mai. 25., 2018|12:49 pm]
Da
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If last year's theme for Monshu's birthday can be summed us as "not as bad as I feared", I think this one deserves the name of "surprise success".

This time around I didn't have any plans to fall through because I didn't have any plans. My allergenic distress lasted a full two weeks. It had lessened enough by last Sunday that--much to my relief--I was able to get through four hours of Aristophanesathon without too much strain, but I basically went straight home to bed afterwards. But I was still wary about being up to much this week or this weekend, so I held off even on feeling anyone out.

This led to a predictable scramble yesterday, when I decided I felt good enough that staying home moping was not a viable option. I started out first asking the couple across the street, who I knew had friends in town; they put me off due to uncertainty. So I contacted a reliable buddy for last-minute rendezvous, but he was spoken-for. In desperation, I tried one last pal who I haven't seen in months and when he begged off, I decided I was beat.

Moments after giving the cat his food, however, I spied the couple out walking their dogs, so I decided to run out and say hello. That coincidence reversed the whole evening: They were only taking the dogs out for a quick stroll; everyone else was sitting on their back patio, why not join them? Oh, and we're all going to dinner later, why don't you come along?

So I did. The choice was Uncommon Ground, which was up to its usual nonsense ($18 for an overcooked, oversalted burger with sketchy mesclun) but thanks to the Derryman's generous pours I didn't care. It was beautiful weather for sitting outside, the company was first-rate, and I was so relieved at not being abandoned to my own devices that I literally wrested away the check so that I could play the big man and treat everyone.

I didn't have the day off today (I'll need all the time I can scrounge for next month's PNW odyssey) or I might have been tempted to go out last night. I suspect it will be an especially low-key Mem Day weekend. No out-of-towners have gotten in touch let alone come to stay ([profile] aadroma was a possibility but sent regrets this morning) and locals are still negotiating the post-Bear-Pride order, so it's hard to say where to be to meet anyone. I might be better off staying at home and winning some battles for the forces of order over the forces of chaos and neglect.
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Fuckboy updates [Mai. 15., 2018|09:59 am]
Da
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So the honeymoon is over with Ginger Farmboy. It did last for a full month, ending one week after my return from the Southwest. It was Bear Night again and this time I actually made it out to the bar but it was uninspiring and I came home early for a soak in the tub. I drunktexted him and made the mistake of trying to get too deep into my conflicted feelings, leading to an awkward misunderstanding when apparently all he wanted was some steamy sex talk. I ended up apologising for killing his boner and he eventually replied "Apology accepted".

In essence, that apology was a test question with no single correct response, but taking it at face value was definitely the wrong answer. I spent most of the day seething but eventually got Nuphy on the phone for a chat (I wanted to talk to GF but he kept putting me off) and he helped me talk through it. I realised I was expecting way to much from what Diego referred to as my "spring fling" and did a full reset of my expectations. Me and D did dinner the next day at the revamped Hon Kee and I was able to burble about my trip with almost the same enthusiasm I'd mustered the week before.

So after teetering on the edge of something more intimate, we're now back down to an almost fuckboy level of communication. I promised to shield him from my "difficult emotions" and I've held to that. I did bitch to him about the awful earache the kept me home last Friday and he was solicitous enough, then vanished for four days. I vaguely remembered he had an upcoming trip but it said a lot that he could go that long without sparing a thought for me. The message that arrived this morning was the equivalent of a blank postcard from Vegas.

Meanwhile I'm unexpectedly back in communication with the previous fuckboy, Clueless Furball due to a very dumb move on my part. I'd heard nothing from him in over a month but he still has a book I lent him so I typed up a terse message requesting it back. Before sending it, I came across the bitter text I'd draughted in the depths of disappointment during that day wasted waiting on him and decided to delete it only to inadvertently send it instead. Mortified, I immediately followed up with "that wasn't meant for you" and--as a testament to just how clueless he really is--he took it at face value.

Then he did something I didn't expect at all and said "I was looking at the book thinking we need to get back together again soon tho". That, of course, was my ulterior motive in lending it to him in the first place but I'd long since concluded it was a failed gambit. So I guess he did enjoy riding my rod despite all evidence to the contrary? I swear these boys exist only to confound me.
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A bed of spines [Mai. 2., 2018|03:10 pm]
Da
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My Santa Fe adventure was everything I could have wanted it to be. So much so that at one point I told my big ginger farmboy about the time I broke my foot and ended up riding to my bus stop on the same bus as the varsity female lacrosse team. "I felt like I was in someone's fantasy, but it sure wasn't mine. But this here is absolutely my fantasy."

We fooled around every morning and evening, and usually during the day as well. We made a game of it: How many rooms can we have sex in? (And there were lots of rooms.) The second day I came up with the idea of strip eight-ball and we played it every evening. We took long indulgent showers and lounged in the outdoor hot tub in the light of the noontime sun and the full moon.

I tried not to think too hard about the environmental impact of a house halfway up a mountainside on the edge of town. The views were too incredible. I stumbled around the hillside evading prickly pears and cane chollas to photograph "moss rocks" and cacti in bloom. We drove through incredibly austere landscapes to national monuments to hike up dusty canyons and back down again.

We geeked out about everything. I wanted to know the names of all the plants around and he wanted to tell me. We took self-guides at the sites and stopped at every marker to read the entries. He couldn't wait to show me the stars and broke out an app to locate constellations. We sat up one evening reading about serial killers on Wikipedia.

We hardly spent any time in town. Cocktails off the plaza one night, dinner in a strip mall another. All the museums and galleries couldn't compete with the pleasure of not having to put on pants. He relished the chance to sleep in. For my part, I was never getting enough sleep and always hoping to catch up.

I managed to keep reality from biting until our last night. As Monshu would say, there were "echoes" all along but that last night it seemed they superimposed themselves to the point where I could no longer ignore them. I cried and hoped he didn't notice. I weighed every word I said to him.

We avoided putting a name to what we were doing. But on the drive to the airport, he seized the bull head-on and said, "You asked me if I wanted to fall in love. I'm getting tired of playing the field. But I think you need to do more closure." The relief at having him articulate what I felt was immense. All weekend I'd be dreading the moment I'd have to disappoint him.

He didn't want to let me go before nailing down a future meeting, but there are too many unknowns. Maybe in July, after he makes a trip home. It won't be easy to come out and visit him again, not while his roommate-cum-ex and he still have a no-hosting-when-I'm-around rule. He'll come to see me. Maybe we can arrange a rendezvous someplace we both want to travel.

Did I question the wisdom of running across the country to get busy with someone I'd met only once? You bet I did. We both did--so we were able to joke about it. (Thus that business with the serial killers.) But I knew I would do it and I knew why: because this life is too goddamn short.
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Deserted [Apr. 25., 2018|11:45 am]
Da
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Contrary to my expectations, the detective assigned to my burglary case actually did call to ask some questions. Despite the apparent professionalism of it all, he still thinks it's more likely to be have been a juvenile who was just looking for some stuff he could turn into quick cash rather than an attempt at identity theft (although he did admit the possibility of the latter). I hope he's right, but I know I'll have to proceed as if he isn't anyway.

This all makes me a little more nervous about leaving for Santa Fe tomorrow, but I suspect the anxiety will fade as I get caught up the thrill of a new world. Oh, right: I forgot to mention that I'm flying out to see my furry farmboy, didn't I? It is a little unlike me to be this impulsive, but this is the year of living just a little more dangerously.

He himself admitted that he was surprised I'd already agreed to come out, even though he'd been urging me to from the start. I laid out my thought process for him, which was basically:
Is this something you would enjoy doing? It is.
Is this something you can afford to do? It is.
Is there a good opportunity to do this coming up soon? There is.
So why wait?
The "good opportunity" is his ex being out of the house. Maybe I would find that weirder if Eyefields hadn't been in the same situation when I met him this time last year. It must be a bugger, having a place you love and not being able to buy out your former partner. Worse, from what he told me the other night, the former partner seems very much in denial about the end of the relationship. In fact, one of the chief reasons for seizing this opportunity is that his ex reportedly asked to be included in any meals and outings during my visit. Now that would be too weird.

Of course, there's always the possibility that I'm being lied to about the current state of the relationship. At a gut level that seems unlikely. Moreover, it seems like a difficult lie to keep up over a four-day weekend, so the visit strikes me as a good way to suss out the lie of the land.

The other reason not to wait is, well, things change and people lose interest. I alluded to this in our conversation but didn't come right out and say it. It seemed like when I was younger I was more likely to carry a torch for someone for years and years. Now I increasingly find myself saying, "What did I see in him again?" I'm much less worried about "getting carried away" and more concerned with striking while the iron is hot since who knows any more how long the fuel is going to hold out.
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