Tuesday, October 7, 2008

No, Thank You!

Back in August, the Husband and I went to a Bar/Bat Mitzvah for two of his cousins' children. You might recall that a good time was had by all.

About a month later, we received a thank you note that made me laugh so hard I cried. Just like the invitation to the event itself, the thank you note was addressed to "Husband and Guest." That was funny enough, but it really made me laugh when the card itself said, "Dear Husband and Guest ..." I joked with the Husband that this was his mother's doing. I imagined the following conversation between the Husband's cousin and mother:

The telephone rings. Mother stops putting pins in the voodoo doll and answers the phone.
I had a quick question for you. What is the Husband's partner's name? There were so many people at the party I think I missed his name.
I have no idea what his name is.
Oh. Really? I thought they'd been together for five years.
I choose not to know his name. And you'll make the same choice if you know what's good for you.

That's perhaps an exaggeration, but she does seem to make a point of misspelling my name.

But that's ancient history!

Yesterday, a card arrived in the mail. It was addressed to the Husband and I, correctly using both of our names, from the other cousin's child. Inside, it started out with great promise:

Dear Husband and Mark,
Thank you for the gift. I have used most of it. I'm glad you were able to come to my Bar Mitzvah.

The gift was cash, so it shows incredible forethought that he's kept such careful track. Perhaps he has a future as an accountant. But then things went horribly, horribly wrong.

It's signed, "Love," but then "Love" is scribbled out and replaced with, "From."

It made me remember what it's like to be thirteen, when you'd think that people would care if you signed a note, "Love," to someone who, when you get down to it, you probably don't love.

I can see the young man writing the card. He's in a groove, signing all these cards to members of his family, and then he accidentally signs "Love" on the one to some cousin he's never really met. He envisions the following scene:

There are lots and lots of wallpaper borders. Everywhere. Mark and the Husband are opening the card.
Oh. My. God. "Love?" He said he loves us?
Seriously? What is wrong with him?
He seemed very awkward at that Bar Mitzvah.
Yeah, but doesn't he know the difference between "Love" and "From?"
Apparently not.
I'm going to send him pink stationery for Hannukah.
I'm going to drive to his high school and tell all of his friends that he loves us.
That's a good idea.

I really don't miss high school.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Under a Pile of Boxes

Help! I'm trapped under a pile of boxes! Send food!

Well, maybe not, but it sure feels that way. The last two weeks have been a whirlwind, but we've made some progress toward inhabiting our new house. The kitchen is unpacked, at least, so it's not like camping any more.

There's a lot to share, though. First, the closing. It almost didn't happen. I got a call at 5PM the day before the closing, telling me, "It looks like it's not happening." The sellers had some sort of problem with the title, and they hadn't bothered to fix it in the two weeks we'd known about it. Now they were being obstinate about letting the closing attorney dictate how it was to be handled. Eventually they realized that selling a house was better than acting like fools, so the closing was back on.

There was a very special gay married moment at the closing. There are mountains of documents to be signed, and you eventually get into kind of a rhythm of signing one and passing it on to be signed by the next person. When we needed to sign some federal tax forms, though, the Husband and I had separate forms. I was briefly confused, more by the breaking of the rhythm than the reason, but the Husband and the attorney reminded me that I'm not married in the eyes of the federal government.

The attorney said something like, "That's one way that DOMA complicates things."

"Yeah, it complicates a few things," I laughed.

At this moment, the seller decided that she needed to prove her street cred with the gays, or something. So she started to tell a story about her cousin, who shares the same first name as the Husband.

"He's the nicest, sweetest guy," she said.

Ah yes. All gays are nice and sweet. We smiled and nodded. But ... there was a "but" coming!

"But I just had to draw the line at him flirting with my husband on our wedding day."

I think the attorney snorted a little, but she quickly buried herself in mortgage paperwork. The Husband and I were stuck, though. There was no obvious route away from this conversation.

The seller started explaining how her cousin thought her husband was "really hot." And she's fine with that! But the wedding day just seemed like inappropriate timing.

I hoped she was done. The Husband hoped she was done. The attorney hoped she was done. The seller's husband seemed oblivious.

The seller, however, was not done. And it was at this point that the uncomfortable conversation became a really uncomfortable conversation.

The seller started to explain how it wouldn't have bothered her, except that her husband seemed mildly interested in gay cousin's advances! Her husband kind of nods, as if to say, "Yup."

Finally the attorney lifts her head, and pushes a stack of paper at the seller. "You need to sign these."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Guest Post

I recently reconnected with a friend from college, Allie of AlliesAnswers.com. She's got a great blog about earth-friendly solutions to everyday living, and she's been incredibly supportive about my blog. She recently asked me to write a guest post while she's taking a well-earned vacation. (Well, "vacation." She's probably mothering orphaned seals or testing out her new solar-powered aircraft.)

In any case, my post went up today. It's about trying to keep an eye on the green while moving.

Thanks for the opportunity, Allie! I really appreciate it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Not Ready to Make Nice

The Dixie Chicks had it right.

Barack Obama thinks that "family should be off limits." He's right. Family should be off limits. But if Sarah Palin's family is off limits, mine should be, too.

How does that sound, Governor Palin? You stop using my family for your politics, and stop trying to legislate religion, and your family will immediately be off limits. Deal? No, I didn't think it would be.

And that's why I'm not ready to make nice.

My family is dangerous. It says so right in the Republican party's new platform. They support an amendment to dissolve my family.

But it's not just gays like me who need to be afraid. Sarah Palin wants an America where no one except Sarah Palin has any freedom.

Women are dangerous, and shouldn't be allowed to make their own choices. Sarah Palin opposes abortion in all cases, even when the mother is a victim of incest, or has been raped. (And once young women are forced to carry these pregnancies to term, Sarah Palin will help to ensure that they are homeless!)

Jews are dangerous, and they put Christians at risk with their refusal to accept Jesus as their savior. Sarah Palin attends a church which believes that terrorism is God's way of punishing Israel for not converting.

Science is dangerous. It teaches people how the world works, and helps them make informed, intelligent choices. Sarah Palin seeks to undermine science education and enforce religion in our schools by teaching creationism.

We've seen what happens when an ignorant leader tries to force his morality on America, and it's not pretty. John McCain's age alone means that a Palin presidency is a serious possibility.

There's too much at stake to make nice.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fly Your Freak Flag High

My best friend and I often find that we share a brain. We've known each other since early childhood, so I'm usually able to predict what she's thinking, or what her opinion on a given topic will be. We often alienate others with our connection, so we don't tend to have many friends in common. It makes sense -- no one wants to feel like the third wheel, and we're not very good at helping people not to feel that way.

One of the things that drew me to the Husband in our early relationship was that he didn't seem intimidated by our friendship in the least. To him, it simply was what it was. That's a fairly stark contrast to my best friend's husband, who, after twelve years, is only just beginning to feel comfortable. When I moved to California in 2003, I think he was relieved that there would be some distance.

A few years later, and I have to laugh that he's upset we're moving. We're moving about half an hour away, so I don't think it's really going to have much of an impact. But for a guy who nearly threw a party when I moved three thousand miles away, being upset about twenty miles seems ironic.

Back in early 2002, I was surprised to see a difference between my best friend and myself. We're different in plenty of ways, but I generally know what those ways are, so I'm taken aback when I find an unexpected difference. In this case, I hadn't thought that I would see an American flag inside my best friend's apartment. It was not long after September 11, and American flags were suddenly everywhere. They were taped inside the windows of cars, they were hanging on antennas, and they were outside so many homes.

To me, all the American flags felt like jingoism or artifice. Most people, I assumed, were using the flag as some sort of fad. And I think I was right -- those flags have been replaced by silicon bracelets for causes and Crocs. Those who weren't using the flag as a fashion statement I found even more troubling. It seemed to me that they were using the flag to usher in a new era of American backwardness -- rushing to war and constitutional amendments would soon follow. Again, I think I was right. The Bush Administration capitalized on the "You're either with us or against us" sentiment to lead the country down a very destructive path.

Voicing my concerns, I questioned why my friend was displaying the flag.

"You're absolutely right, Mark," she said. "I hate how people are using the flag, and what they want it to represent. And that's why I have a flag."

I didn't understand.

"Someone has to display the flag for the right reasons. I fly the flag to represent what I think America represents, and what I think it means to be an American. If we let every flag represent the Bush Administration, then they win."

She was right, of course. She almost always is. But it's taken a long time for me to return to a comfort with the American flag. I'm not sure that I'm there yet.

On my morning jog, I pass by a small monument next to a dam. It's inside the fence that keeps people from falling into the water. It looks like a tombstone, and there are two small American flags flanking it. I don't really know who the memorial, or the bridge which shares the name, remembers.

This morning, while going past the memorial, I noticed that one of the flags has fallen over. It was under some dirt, and obscured by grass and weeds. Wondering if any of the other joggers would notice, and think I was desecrating the memorial or terrorizing the local water supply, I climbed under a broken part of the fence. I picked up the fallen flag and brushed off the dirt on my t-shirt. Satisfied that the flag looked pretty good, I put it back into the ground, once again flanking the monument.

I don't know what the monument is for, but I know what the American flag is meant to represent.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wallpaper Borders and Paint Treatment Dreams

It's been a busy week! Last weekend, the Husband and I went to the Rhode Island International Film Festival, to see the absolutely adorable film Were the World Mine. Since the showing was fairly late, we planned to spend the night at my parents' house, just north of Providence. It's a good thing we did, because the film didn't start until nearly an hour late!

I drove down to my parents' house on Friday afternoon, with the dog. The Husband took the commuter train, and I picked him up at the station. When I picked him up, he said to me, "You know, it took almost exactly the same amount of time for me to get here as it does for me to get home from work most days."

We'd been looking at communities along the commuter rail lines, but we hadn't wanted to look quite as far outside Boston, thinking it would make his commute longer. Apparently we'd been miscalculating, and it opened up some new possibilities! No longer were we tied to properties represented by used car salesmen real estate agents.

We looked at some houses, and found one within walking distance of the train station. The price was right, and all of a sudden we were making an offer, going to a home inspection, and learning about the potential for ancient boilers to shoot through the roof. (A small, but exciting possibility.) The house is in great shape ... physically. The owners have made some interesting interior design choices, though. The dining room, for example, has a paint treatment that is best described as "Malibu Barbie's Tuscan Dining Room Retreat." It's pink and white, with blue and purple stenciled squares. I'm going to hold off on posting pictures until everything is finalized, but I'm hoping that my gay powers of family destruction can be directed toward my gay powers of increasing property values, and that before and after pictures will produce appropriate amounts of ooh-ing and aah-ing.

The rooms that don't have horrifying paint treatments tend to have their own little ugly accents -- wallpaper borders. I've been trying to find stores where one could purchase these atrocities, but my Google searches for "wallpaper borders that look like failed oil painting concepts" have turned up nothing. I'm especially partial to the border in the kitchen, which depicts straw hats used as planters for flowers. Aw. Maybe kitty cats playing with balls of yarn was sold out?

I'm hoping that my powers of interior design will quickly manifest. (Wait! What if they aren't genetic? Maybe they were a choice I've forgotten to make!)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"That's Permanent!"

On Sunday, the Husband and I went to five open houses. Some of them had some potential, but all of them had serious drawbacks. One house was large, but had a terrifying little kitchen that looked like Typhoid Mary had been the live-in chef. Another house was tiny, but awfully cute, and the upstairs looked some sort of museum homage to 1968. I think one of the dolls was following my movements.

The worst house was also the one where we spent the most time. When we arrived, we stepped in through the open door. I called out a couple of times, but no one seemed to be there. We went back out the front door, and that's when things started to go south.

The real estate agent was approaching the house. As he said hello, I immediately noticed that he was wearing a Republican National Committee pin on his blazer. I wouldn't advertise my political affiliations in a business capacity -- especially in sales! -- but to each his own, I guess. I also question the wisdom of advertising your Republican status in the suburbs of Boston. Seems like you're more likely to turn people off than impress them.

After introducing ourselves briefly, he said, "So are you brothers? Good friends?"

I held back my snort. "We're married," I offered.

"Oh," he paused. "Well, good luck to you."

"Um, thanks?"

This real estate agent must have been a used car salesman in a previous career, because he was big on the hard sell. I half-expected him to say, "What would it take for me to get you to drive this house off the lot today?"

The house is awful. The floors have just been replaced, but the flooring is buckling and bubbling. It's almost hard to walk. The house isn't helped by the fact that the guy who is doing the work is temporarily living there. There are little signs of human presence in scattered corners, and it looks as if someone has broken in and is squatting there.

We escape out the front door, but the used car salesman Republican National Committee real estate agent is laying in wait. He springs forward to attack:

"Have you seen the backyard? You'll really like the backyard."

As he leads us to the back of the house, I notice that the vinyl siding is in particularly poor shape. It's discolored, it's warped, and it looks like it's about to fall off in segments. The backyard has a lovely huge tree -- it's the only redeeming feature so far.

Now the agent begins his real hard sell on this awful house. He points out how sturdy the back porch is. This makes me wonder why a large stone seems to be holding the steps in place. He says that the roof is in excellent condition, and since I don't see any obvious holes, that might be true.

Then he tells us about the vinyl siding. "It's one of the great features of this house. That's permanent! You don't ever have to worry about replacing it."

Really? Even that part that's about to be on the driveway? It still protects the house? Fascinating.

As we finally escape, the Husband turns to me and says, "That part about the siding being permanent. Did he mean that as a threat?"

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Excuse Me, Mr. Edwards ...

Hey! John Edwards! I'm sure you read my blog, so I'm hoping we can have a little chat. Just briefly. Nothing huge. I won't even ask about your girlfriend's baby, if that makes it easier. I mean, I'm a nice guy, and I don't want to be rude.

Ok, so now that we're here, I've got to talk to you about something. You and I need to have a chat about sanctimony. You've probably heard by now, but your affair is all over the news. That must be stressful, to have your marriage discussed by everyone, and examined by the media. To have the talking heads on every channel talking about your marriage must be infuriating. I can't imagine.

Well, actually, I sort of can imagine. I mean, talk of Proposition 8 in California has really put gay marriage front and center in the public spotlight again. I expect we'll be hearing even more about it as we approach November. And since my marriage is a gay one, every time someone talks about gay marriage in the abstract, they're talking about my marriage. On the news. Or in protests. Or in ridiculously failed boycotts of McDonald's.

Enough about me, though. Let's talk about you. I spent a lot of time talking about you in 2004. Talking about why you'd be an excellent choice for president, and then talking about what you'd bring to the table as vice president. That was kind of a waste of time, wasn't it?

So when you ran again in this cycle, I was glad. You were someone I respected. I admired your policies. Well, most of your policies.

See, there's a major issue about which you and I disagree. Last year, the Logo network hosted discussions with each of the Democratic candidates. At the time, I remember you saying that you weren't ready to support gay marriage. I believe you said that you "weren't there yet," whatever that means. At the time, I asked my partner, "He's not there yet? What is that supposed to mean? Is he on some sort of metaphysical bus to gay town? And the gays are alien creatures until he gets there?"

At the time, I assumed -- foolishly! -- that perhaps the experience of gay and lesbian Americans was just still outside your experience. You have a lovely wife, a lovely family ... maybe you just didn't understand. And then your wife made public her battle with cancer. And suddenly, your family was under the microscope. Your private decisions were discussed in the media, examined for public consumption. Surely that must have made you understand.

Here's what I don't understand, though. If marriage is some sort of transcendant human experience, to which gays should have no claim ... If it's so special, and so unique, that gay and lesbian couples asking to be a part of it don't really understand what they're asking for ... If marriage is so goddamned perfect, then why in hell were you fucking around on your wife while she was fighting a very public battle for her life? Can you try to explain that? And while you're explaining it, please do me the favor of explaining why you should be allowed to marry, and I should not.

You'll probably change your mind now. I bet that you'll support gay marriage now. Now that your political career is over. Now that it won't make any difference, it's a safe enough choice. Now that your metaphysical bus to gay town broke down in shame city, you won't have to worry what people think about you.

Here's the part that's truly infuriating, though. Gay and lesbian people will still accept your support. We're still begging for scraps from the table, so we still need you. And if you've got anything at all left, then we still need it. But don't be confused. We still know that you are nothing but scraps from the table. Hypocrite.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Family Ties

Most of the Husband's family lives out of state, but he has an uncle who lives nearby. We sometimes visit this uncle, who also happens to be gay. This weekend, the Husband's entire extended family was in town for a combination Bar/Bat Mitzvah of two of this uncle's grandchildren. We attended the religious ceremony on Saturday night, and a large brunch on Sunday morning.

This was the first time I've met anyone in the Husband's family aside from his parents and the aforementioned uncle. The good news is that my mother-in-law seems to be the only member of the family with an open, burning hatred for me. So that's nice. The bad news is that the large family occassions of other families are just as dreadful as the large occassions in your own family.

The temple we attended didn't seem to have air conditioning, so the lengthy ceremony was a little painful. I don't recommend wearing a suit in a crowded, airless elevator; a crowded, airless subway train; or a crowded, airless temple. Another thing lacking at this temple, and this is going to seem a little obvious, was nuns. I was raised as a Catholic, and I had never fully appreciated nuns until I spent two hours sitting next to a large group of Hebrew school students. If I had behaved like these kids, a nun would have pulled out a shotgun.

"It's very nice of this temple to offer shelter to the local orphans," I whispered to the Husband.

He gave me a blank stare.

"Well, it's obvious that none of these children have parents."

It was hot, I was sweating, and the 12-year-old sitting next to me couldn't stop tearing strips of paper from the evening's program. Once his own program ran out, he moved on to the programs of the kids sitting next to him, and eventually my program. Shhhhhhhhhhwit! Shhhhhhhhhhhwit! Shhhhhhhhhhhwit!

The next morning, we were invited to a brunch. The Husband had led me to believe that this was to be an intimate affair. And I suppose it was, if a 250 guest wedding is an intimate affair. Maybe my experiences are just limited, but when I am invited to brunch at eleven in the morning, I expect to attend brunch at eleven in the morning. Instead, we attended some sort of disco-DJ-in-a-spangle-vest middle school dance at eleven in the morning. There are not enough mimosas on this earth to make me ready for the macarena at eleven in the morning.

I had also been led to believe that something Jews and Italians had in common was eating. This is clearly not the case. As I previously mentioned, when I am invited to brunch at eleven in the morning, I expect -- naively! -- brunch at eleven in the morning. I do not expect an hour and a half of childhood stories, lighting of candles on a cake, restaging of candle lightings for the professional photographer, and then brunch at half past twelve. If you invite me to brunch at eleven in the morning, I'm going to skip breakfast. And apparently, I'm going to regret it.

The Husband does get major bonus points for introductions this weekend. Often, when we attend an event where he knows people and I do not, he forgets to introduce me. At one recent event with his coworkers, one of his new coworkers walked up to me and said, "Hi! Do you work here, too?"

But this weekend, not only did the Husband remember to introduce me, he consistently said, "And I'd like you to meet my husband, Mark." So that was nice. And now that I've been fed, I'll try to remember the introductions instead of the hunger pangs.

But the image of the woman with the giant rat tail on the back of her head is forever seared into my eyes. What was that about?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Hate Being Right

On Monday morning, while driving the Husband to work (well, to the bus stop) there was a snippet of a news story on NPR. A man had opened fire in a Unitarian Universalist church in Tennessee, killing two. We had been talking over the radio, so the Husband hadn't really heard the whole story.

"Do you think they'll blame the gays for hating Christians?" he asked.

"Wait, didn't they say it was a UU church? The shooter probably went in because he saw that little rainbow flag icon on the sign outside," I said, only half joking.

Of course, a few hours later, I found out I was right. And not surprisingly, the shooter's reading list included Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage. Did these hate-mongers drive him to kill? Probably not, but they sure as hell didn't tell him that gays and liberals are fellow human beings.

This story has really reminded me that I'm always on the lookout. Does Neighbor X look at us askance when we leave the house in the morning?

I'm of two minds about it. On one hand, being aware of my surroundings is a good idea. I've always been aware of what's going on around me. I'm constantly annoying the Husband by saying, "Did you hear what the couple at the next table just said?" or "Did you see the bright pink hair on that old lady?" They are really unintentionally rhetorical questions, since the answer is always: "No."

But the observations never go away, and they are frequently coupled with questions of safety. Are they relevant? Probably not. I live in liberal, suburban Massachusetts. We're not even the only gay people on the block.

I've previously told the Husband that I want a house with a big yard with a big fence around it, set back from the road. Ostensibly, this is so that our neurotic dog can safely enjoy herself in the yard, and so that we'll have a little privacy. I haven't told him that I'm also hoping that it'll give me a little break from constantly observing.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

For the Birds!

Last weekend, my dog caught a bird in the backyard. It was flying low, flew past her head, and caught her full attention. She gave chase, caught up to the bird, and leapt into the air, successfully snapping at the bird. The bird fell out of the sky while I watched in horror from the kitchen window.

The bird lay prone on the lawn, and the dog began to lunge excitedly. Two more birds appeared, and they began circling the dog, chirping wildly. I hurried outside and shooed the dog back into the house, quite certain that the bird was dead.

I ran upstairs and woke the Husband. "Buffy killed a bird!" I shouted. "She plucked it out of the sky and killed it. Now it's in the yard and I don't know what to do with it. Do something!" (The Husband and I have an arrangement. He doesn't have to deal with spiders or insects, and I don't have to deal with any higher-order creatures.)

By the time the Husband got down to the yard, the bird was sitting up, chirping. He was miraculously not dead after all! As the Husband approached the bird, the other two birds returned, circling him and making a lot of noise.

"Leave it alone and come back inside!" I yelled out the window. "This is starting to be like The Birds! I don't want these robins going all Hitchcock on you!"

Later in the day, the bird was gone. I figured that it must have been a young bird, and that its parents were smart enough to take it away from the yard. We were going out of town, so there was plenty of time for this bird to finish learning to fly and get away from our dangerous yard.

We got back from our trip to Provincetown yesterday. (Spending a week with a bunch of other gay men has made me feel very fat, but that probably deserves its own post.) By the time we had gotten home, I had completely forgotten about the birds.

Buffy, it turns out, has not forgotten about the birds. This afternoon, she launched another offensive. The Husband was quick to pull her away, but once again he was convinced that the little bird was dead. Apparently this little bird is very good at playing dead, because a few minutes later, it was once again sitting up and chirping.

But now I have absolutely no idea how to proceed. I don't want Buffy attacking birds. I can go out in the yard with her on a leash, but that will get old quickly. How do I get this little bird to go away?

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Hunted

In our constant quest to undermine the American family, the Husband and I have decided that perhaps we've been going about it all wrong. Maybe the best way to undermine families is to undermine the American economy. So we thought long and hard about it. We're just two people -- how could we really have an impact on the economy?

Then I realized that we were being foolish. If our marriage can destroy the institution of the family, certainly our financial decisions can cripple the global economy. So we decided to buy a house, and went house hunting this weekend.

I know what you're thinking! "But Mark, doesn't buying a house help the economy?" Not when the gay marrieds do it! Then it's destructive!

Actually, that's not quite how the decision came about. On Saturday morning, there was a knock at the front door. A man was looking for our landlord. I explained that he longer lives here, and that we're renting from him. He asked for contact information, I declined to provide it, but I offered to give a message to our landlord. So he gave me his business card.

The Husband looked up the information on the business card, and the man works for a real estate firm that bills itself as a "pre-foreclosure services" firm. Apparently, they are contacted by banks, and they try to contact homeowners to get them to sell their homes before they are foreclosed upon.

Buying a home was on our list of near-term projects, but I think it just moved up the list a little. The Husband, the puppy, and I would prefer not to come home to an eviction notice from the bank on the door.

Apparently the home mortgage crisis isn't impacting some local real estate agents, though. This morning while I took a walk around a nearby pond, I noticed a "For Sale" sign at a very cute house. Since I'm officially looking at houses now, I decided to call the number on the sign and find out the list price. Not as easy as you'd think:

"Good morning, I was walking by a house and noticed your sign in the yard. I was hoping to find out the list price."

A very cheery young woman assured me this was no problem. "Do you mind holding for a moment?"

I listened to their music for a minute or so before she returned.

"Actually," she said, "the agent who's listed that house is on the other line right now. Can I have him call you back in a few minutes."

"Oh, I don't really need to speak to him yet," I said. "I'm just trying to find out the list price."

"Right," the receptionist replies, "But I don't have that information."

My jaw dropped. "Seriously?"

"Well, I'm not an agent, sir, so I don't have access to that kind of information. Can I have the agent call you back?"

"Don't worry about it. I'm out right now, so I'll call later."

When I got home, I typed the address into Google. After the link to Google Maps, the next hit was the listing, on the website of the firm I had just called. So what information was she unable to access? The internet? Yesterday's newspaper, which contains a small ad for the property?

A suggestion to real estate brokers -- before you complain that you're having difficulty selling homes in this market, please try to train your staff to provide basic customer service over the phone.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Caring Is Sharing

One secret advantage to being in a relationship with another man is sharing clothing. It can range from blatant theft (taking a shirt from his side of the closet and hanging it on mine) to a more organic kind of sharing(we only have one sock drawer).

While driving the Husband to work yesterday morning, he swore.

"Shit! I left my wedding ring on the bathroom counter."

I laughed, "You spent five days in Florida, and you completely forgot we're married. I predicted this."

Then, a little light bulb flashed on above my head. I pulled off my wedding band, and handed it to him. "Here. Take mine. They're the same. I'll just grab yours when I get home in ten minutes."

We haven't switched back yet. Am I supposed to be sentimental about having the correct one, or pragmatic? I mean, they're exactly the same.

Monday, July 14, 2008

My Devious Plot to Destroy the American Family

John McCain is multi-faceted. In addition to being the cornerstone of all American marriages -- he's the cornerstone of many of those marriages presumably because he is a member of them -- he's also a groundbreaking sociologist. You thought he was busy campaigning? In his spare time, he conducts new research on adoption:

Mr. McCain, who with his wife, Cindy, has an adopted daughter, said flatly that he opposed allowing gay couples to adopt. “I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no, I don’t believe in gay adoption,” he said.

Since none of the reputable sources on parenting information support this outrageous claim, I can only assume that John McCain has been conducting his own peer-reviewed studies on same-sex parenting. Obviously, though, John McCain is right and science is wrong.

In honor of this new information, I've compiled a short list of the ways that I behaved destructively toward the institution of family this week:
  • Baked a birthday cake for my nephew's first birthday.
  • Drove to my hometown to visit extended family.
  • Helped my parents move furniture to my grandparents' new assisted living facility.
If I keep this up, there won't be any families left for me to damage by next week!

UPDATE: John McCain isn't as opposed to gay adoption as he was yesterday. We're a marginally better option than abandoning children on the streets.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I'm Too Conventional, I'm Destroying Marriage!

My marriage to the Husband is my first marriage. It's his first marriage, too. In fact, we're both the first men with whom the other has cohabited. Nor has either of us cohabited with a woman.

Who cares, right? I mean, this is boring stuff.

Well, John McCain cares. Right on his own website, he's got articles proclaiming his anti-gay marriage street cred:

Senator McCain supports traditional marriage and is opposed to same-sex "marriage." He voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, and publicly endorsed and campaigned for the Arizona marriage initiative in 2006.

Defending marriage. Presumably, he is defending marriage from the likes of my husband and I. I mean, we are out to destroy marriage and society, with our monogamy (not that there's anything wrong with deciding not to be monogamous -- that's just not for us!) and consideration of real estate purchases. When we go to Williams-Sonoma and buy a 4,000 pound cast iron pan for $12,000, we'll probably use it to bash in the heads of an elderly married couple, or a baby, or something.

But who is going to defend marriage from John McCain? It's certainly not news that John McCain has been married nearly as many times as Elizabeth Taylor. But the LA Times would like you to know that McJohn McDefend McMarriage McCain obtained a marriage license to marry Cindy nearly a full month before his divorce from his previous wife was finalized. That's not just classy, it supports marriage. John McCain loves marriage so much that he had more than one marriage at the same time.

So just to make sure that I understand the situation, I'm going to recap what I understand:
  1. My marriage, by virtue of the man-loving, flies in the face of tradition.
  2. Flying in the face of tradition devalues society, and makes the baby Jesus cry.
  3. John McCain can marry as many women as he wants, and ditch them whenever he meets a pretty young thing. Especially if she's rich.
  4. ???
  5. John McCain values the American family.
Whatever goes on in step four must be really complicated, because I don't get it at all.

[McCain was still married to his wife when he got married to his mistress -- AMERICAblog]

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Harkening Back ...

Apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ...

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Harry Ney Stearns,
On the seventh of March, in nineteen thirteen;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

Section 11. No marriage shall be contracted in this commonwealth by a party residing and intending to continue to reside in another jurisdiction if such marriage would be void if contracted in such other jurisdiction, and every marriage contracted in this commonwealth in violation hereof shall be null and void. Mass. Gen. L. ch. 207, § 11 (2005)

Back in 1913, the Massachusetts legislature gave a big ol' blowjob to the rampant racism running roughshod through the nation. Although interracial marriage was legal in Massachusetts, the legislature decided to protect the racist values of other states and bar out-of-state interracial couples from marrying in Massachusetts if they could not be married in their home state.

But times change, and the 1913 law eventually became obsolete. Racism became less trendy, and no one wanted to be seen actively participating anymore. Since interracial couples could now be married in every state, the 1913 was no longer relevant, and had probably been long forgotten.

Ah, but then we all received a lesson in why bad laws must be removed from the books with all haste!

In 2004, while people of conscience everywhere were celebrating the newly affirmed right of gays and lesbians to marry in Massachusetts, Governor Mitt Romney decided that digging up old racist laws wasn't beneath him. (He is a Republican after all. Nothing is beneath him.) Since even the ancient bigots of 1913 had the good sense to pretend they weren't bigots, the law didn't mention interracial marriage. It just said that couples who couldn't be married in their home state couldn't be married in Massachusetts.

Grasping at straws, feebly unable to see that society was moving forward and leaving them behind, Governor Romney and his team of biggoty nitwits (like Brian Camenker, the Clown of the Daily Show, and Rep. Elizabeth Poirier, who should be known as Bigoted Betty, the Bitch of Bristol) dug up the old law and used it to prevent out-of-state same-sex couples from marrying in Massachusetts. Using racist old laws doesn't bother people like Bigoted Betty, she's a Republican, and nothing is beneath her.

Maybe things will finally change! Don't let Bigoted Betty steer you wrong.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Independence Day

I have a secret. Well, not really. But the Husband does. He hasn't told my in-laws that they're ... well, my in-laws. Their relationship with the Husband is pretty strained. They live in New Jersey, and in the last five years I've seen them twice. Once, during the year we spent in New Jersey, and once a few months ago.

My mother-in-law won't call our house, because she's afraid that I will answer the phone. So she makes her husband do the calling. He's not much of a phone guy, so the conversations usually go like this:

The telephone rings. I answer.
Me: Hello?
Husband's Dad: Hi, is [the Husband] there?
Me: Yep, let me get him.
I call the Husband to the phone.
The Husband: Hello?
Husband's Dad: Hi.
The Husband: Hi, Dad. How are you?
Husband's Dad: I'm fine. Here's your mother.
The Husband: Ok. Bye, Dad. ... Hi, Mom.

That's not an exaggeration.

Actually, I do have a secret. I am the only reason The Husband has a relationship with his parents at all. That one visit in the last year? It was because I told him that he needed to invite his parents to see where we lived. Those monthly phone calls they receive? He'd probably only remember to call them about twice a year if I didn't tell him to call his mother.

But I've kind of given up on them. After their visit, I told the Husband that I was pretty much done with trying. I'm not going to tell him to invite them. I'm not going to tell him that it's time to call his mother. I've declared my independence.

In happier notes, we actually had a lovely Independence Day. We had a picnic with my almost one-year-old nephew and some friends. There's a great ballpark nearby with a view of the Boston fireworks. They have some live music, and then when it gets later, they have a screen where they run the tv coverage of the Pops concert. It's not quite the same as when my friends had an apartment on the Charles with a balcony facing the fireworks, but it was very nice.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Did We, or Didn't We?

The Husband and I have a couple of relationship memory disagreements. We've never been able to agree on the date that we met. I believe it was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and he believes it was the following day. We've agreed to disagree, mostly because it isn't a very relevant piece of information.

Recently, we had a larger memory dispute while having dinner with friends. We were talking about our wedding, and I casually mentioned that we had tried to get married when we lived in San Francisco, back in 2004, when Gavin Newsom began allowing same-sex couples to wed. I explained that we had made an appointment, but since we had procrastinated, the courts stopped the weddings before we reached the day of our appointment. I had complained at the time we made our appointment that city hall seemed to have an express lane for people like Rosie O'Donnell, who flew in from New York to get married, while actual San Francisco residents had to wait in line.

The Husband cocked his head and looked at me half-smiling. Then he said, "No, we didn't."

"Didn't what?"

"We never made an appointment. We talked about doing it, but we never actually did it."

"Um, yes we did."

He laughed, "Well, it's like we did, except that we didn't."

Our friends were looking at us strangely, so we kind of let it drop.

I am, of course, convinced that my recollection is correct. It wasn't a hard sell. I'm always right. But the Husband wasn't buying it. Apparently, he thinks that sometimes, he is right instead of me.

I had to bite my tongue so that I wouldn't say, "Well, if you forgot the first time we tried to get married, why should I believe that you'll remember the time we actually did get married?!"

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Take Action -- Contact Advertisers!

After being alerted by GoodAsYou and Dan Savage about GLAAD's Media Alert regarding yesterday's episode of 30 Days on FX, I decided to compile a list of the advertisers who supported last night's bigoted broadcast.

The most surprising advertisements to me were from Subaru of New England and Bacardi. Bacardi aired the same ads that I see running on Logo every night during Queer As Folk, including a "Drink Responsibly" ad that features gays and lesbians.

Here's a boilerplate letter I've written:

I was disappointed to see your company's advertisement during the June 24th broadcast of '30 Days' on FX. Despite repeated contact from GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), FX refused to alter the content of the episode.

In the episode, a woman opposed to gay and lesbian parenting spends a month living with a gay couple who are raising four children. Early in the episode, there is an "expert" interview Peter Sprigg, of the Family Research Council. Mr. Sprigg is the only "expert" presented in the episode, and he had the following to say about gay and lesbian parents:

Homosexuality is associated with higher rates of sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse, and those are all reasons for us to be concerned about placing children into that kind of setting.

All credible scientific information disagrees with Mr. Sprigg, but FX refused to air any balancing commentary from experts at organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, the Child Welfare League of America, or any of the many other child health and social services authorities who support parenting by qualified lesbian and gay parents and dispute Sprigg’s claim.

Your advertisement supports the production of this defamatory content. Your company's presence lends credence to the bigotry set forth by Mr. Sprigg.

Does your company believe that gays and lesbians are dangerous people from whom children should be protected? Based on your advertising, I can only assume so.

Should gay and lesbian families (and those who support their existence) avoid doing business with your company? I don't want my hard-earned money being spent on advertising that supports the creation of more hate-filled content like this.

The advertisers during last night's broadcast were:

Buffalo Wild Wings

Bacardi (2 Ads plus "Drink Responsibly" PSA)

Get Smart's Bruce and Lloyd DVD

Miller Lite
Miller Brewing Company
3939 W. Highland Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53208

Cadillac (3 Ads)

Pizza Hut

Absolut (2 Ads, plus one sponsorship announcement: "30 Days is brought to you by Absolut Vodka.")

KFC (2 Ads)

Country Crock

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army

Subway (2 Ads)

Smirnoff (2 Ads)

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Vantage Point
Columbia Pictures
10202 West Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232-3195
United States

Verizon FiOS
Verizon Communications
140 West Street
New York, NY 10007

Dave and Buster's
Dave & Buster's World Headquarters
2481 Manana Drive
Dallas, TX 75220

Coor's Light
(2 Ads)



And here in Massachusetts, we had a couple of local ads:

Subaru of New England

Boch Collision Center

Write to these advertisers, especially if you use their products!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Life is full of contradictions. I'd like to lose a little weight, but I don't want to eat any less. I want an iphone, even though I know that I hardly ever use my cell phone. These are simple contradictions, though. I'll either start a new diet, or I won't. Neither will dramatically alter my life. I'll probably keep my sad little cheapo prepaid cell phone, but if I decide to get an iphone, it won't be because I've convinced myself that I'm going to start talking on my cell phone more often. It'll just mean that I've decided the fun factor is worth the cost.

But there are bigger contradictions in life, and I'm never quite sure how to look at them.

I have an uncle who does work for Focus on the Family. I consider FotF to be a rabid hate group. But my uncle is one of the kindest people I've ever met. He's certainly nicer than I am. When my uncle and aunt first met The Husband last Christmas, my aunt gave him a giant hug and told him how glad she was to finally meet him. I feel like my uncle has made it his life's work to undermine my rights and attack my family. But he's never said anything even remotely approaching that sentiment to anyone else in my family. I've only ever been treated with love and respect, and The Husband has been lovingly welcomed.

In 2005, I made the mistake of visiting KnowThyNeighbor.org and searching through the names of people in my hometown who had signed the petition to amend the Massachusetts constitution. I found only three names that surprised me -- my father's parents, and my aunt's mother. My aunt's mother has always been friendly to The Husband and me. We've celebrated holidays and birthdays with her. My grandparents have been wonderful to me, and wonderful to The Husband. He feels comfortable with them, and they've always made him feel like a member of the family. But at the same time, they signed a document asking to take away my rights, asking to make sure that The Husband and I would never truly be family.

I made the same mistake today, while writing this post. I searched the petition list, looking for people who live on my street. I've found seven names on my small street. What am I supposed to think when I walk by those houses? Do I need to be careful of these people who wear their bigotry so proudly that they make it a matter of public record?

Friday, June 20, 2008


The first surprise yesterday was the phone call from my father. He called to speak to the Boyfriend (now, the Husband!) to officially welcome him to the family. I really didn't expect that, and especially with the Husband's strained relationship with his own parents, I know it meant a lot to him.

The second surprise was the second call from my best friend. We had planned to announce the wedding to our friends at dinner, but I dropped some hints when she called in the afternoon, saying that the Husband had taken the day off, and then we'd "gone out and done some things" that morning. About forty-five minutes later, she called a second time, and said, "Wait! What exactly did the two of you do this morning?!" I guess my hints had been too big.

The third surprise was another one for me. We had a lovely evening with our friends, and afterwards, at home, I was reflecting on the day. Intellectually, I had known how important marriage is, as a word. I knew that it was important for the gay community in terms of making progress toward full equality. But I hadn't realized how important it was for me, or for my friends, or for my family.

There is a wedding band on my finger. The man with whom I share my life is no longer "boyfriend" (which made the relationship clear, but seemed to minimize his impact) or "partner" (which, depending on the day of the week, sounded like a business venture or a cowboy movie). He is now my husband. To me, he was already my husband. We had made a commitment to each other before getting married was an option. And once we returned to Massachusetts, we procrastinated, because we already knew what we meant to one another, and on some level it felt silly to get married. Really, weren't we already married? But it wasn't silly at all. And that was something of a surprise.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gay Marriage on WBUR's On Point

The second hour of today's broadcast of On Point on WBUR is all about gay marriage. It was an interesting discussion, mostly about the particular's of same-sex marriages and how they are different from their heterosexual counterparts.

Not surprising to me (or anyone else, I suspect!) the biggest differences Tom Ashbrook's guests could find were that same-sex marriages tend to involve two women or two men, while more traditional marriages generally have a man and a woman. It sounds funny, but it was actually a pretty valid discussion about the way two men or two women might interact that would be different from the way a man and a woman interact.

There were a couple of calls in to the program that I thought were noteworthy. One was from a woman in a long term relationship with another woman. She found it "amusing and a little insulting" that gay relationships were being looked at under the microscope. When questioned about why she found it insulting, she backed off a little, saying that she understood why the issue was receiving so much attention. Tom Ashbrook even suggested that perhaps the caller was misidentifying the issue. He asked if marriage on the whole isn't constantly being discussed and looked at.

Of course marriage is a constant topic. It's an important facet in the lives of most human beings. But when the marriage is being discussed as a general topic, there's never -- or nearly never -- the implication that marriage should be questioned, never a question about the validity of the institution as a whole, and certainly never the expectation that every married couple be a representation of all marriages. People laughed about Britney Spear's one day marriage, they didn't say, "See?! This is why straight people shouldn't be allowed to marry."

The second noteworthy call was from a man questioning the results of Nanette Gartrell's study. (Dr. Gartrell is a professor of psychiatry at U.C. San Francisco, and has been studying lesbian couples for more than two decades.) Dr. Gartrell said that her study was unable to find anything that one gender parent was able to do that a parent of the other gender couldn't provide. This caller said that he knew better, and that obviously Dr. Gartrell was only seeing what she wanted to see. I thought Dr. Gartrell's response, that the caller had asked a "very good" question, was ridiculous. This isn't a study she's been conducting at casual dinner parties. It's two decades worth of university research, and presumably peer-reviewed. If it was biased or clearly lacking, don't you think someone would have noticed that by now? The caller should have been laughed off the air.

We need to stop justifying anti-gay bias when we see it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Get Married, But Don't Be Flamboyant?

A particularly disturbing story has appeared in the Los Angeles Times today:

Gay couples are emphasizing low-key weddings

Now, as one half of a gay couple that's about to have a very low-key wedding, I began reading with interest. The headline suggested to me that perhaps gay couples were having low-key weddings for a variety of reasons. I know that personally, marriage is only a fairly recent option, so when the Boyfriend and I were first a couple, it wasn't an option. This meant that we had to define our relationship for ourselves. While marriage is a wonderful right, the idea of the wedding has lost most of its significance for me.

But that's not what this article is about.

No, this article is about encouraging gay couples to avoid "flamboyant" weddings, so that opponents of same-sex marriage won't have inflammatory images to use in their campaign to amend California's constitution.

Images from gay weddings, said Lorri L. Jean, chief executive of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, could be used by opponents in a campaign designed to persuade California voters that gays and lesbians should not have the right to marry. Those getting married, she cautioned, should never lose sight of what they might be supplying to the other side.
Would Ms Jean like us to abstain from sex until after the election, too? Perhaps gay men should marry women this summer, and hope no one finds out that same-sex marriage is even an option in California.

Hey, Lorri L. Jean, here's a question. Have you ever seen an offensive or inflammatory image of a gay wedding? I haven't. Couples have been getting married in Massachusetts and Canada for years, and even longer in parts of Europe. Where are these offensive weddings taking place? Who are these gay men and lesbians who have "lost sight of what they might be supplying to the other side?"

It seems to me that your request, Ms Jean, has insulted all of us, and attempts to reduce our relationships to a category "less than" that of our heterosexual counterparts. Does Focus on the Family keep you on the payroll?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Waiting Period

Handguns, abortions, flood insurance, initial public offerings, divorces ... and in Massachusetts, marriages. Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin have been waiting since 1953, which makes the three day waiting period that the Boyfriend and I are facing pale in comparison. But we counted correctly, so we're able to get married on Thursday, which is my 30th birthday. I guess I didn't want to be a spinster.

We went to our suburban Massachusetts city hall this morning, and went to the city clerk's office. I was prepared for a stand-off, or for someone to refuse to help us. (Truth be told, I even had a backup plan. I was ready to drive to Cambridge if there were any problems.) If the justice of the peace wasn't in the office today, I was going to ask if he or she had performed a same-sex wedding before. I didn't want any surprises in the form of religious objections on Thursday.

Quite a waste of time. The folks in the clerk's office couldn't have been nicer. I'm pretty sure that the woman who filled out the paperwork with us is the same woman who did the paperwork for our dog license last year, which is kind of quaint. We laughed about that on our way out of city hall.

It was a complete contrast from twelve years ago, when as a college student in upstate New York, I needed to have a form notarized in order to go to my first gay bar. (They needed a notarized form if you were under 21. It's worth pointing out that none of the straight bars and clubs felt they needed to protect themselves with notarized paperwork.) Never one to plan ahead, I picked up the form from the gay bar on a Saturday. My school had notaries in the registrar's office, but they didn't work on the weekend. So my boyfriend (lower case 'b,' he's long gone) and I drove out into the wilds of upstate New York to find a notary public who worked on Saturday afternoons. We found one, in Cortland, New York. A woman who worked out of her home, a little white farmhouse. She was very polite, until she saw the form I wanted to have notarized. "Oh no," she said. "I don't notarize those forms. I'm not going to help people like you." I was speechless, but my boyfriend had the presence of mind to tell her that she could fuck off and go to hell, for which I will be forever grateful. It's something I'll never forget, and it's made me somewhat wary. I don't like to need the cooperation of strangers, so I'm always ready for them to be adversaries.

I didn't really see the necessity of a waiting period until the city clerk handed me a copy of the marriage ceremony he usually uses. Really, it's perfectly nice. I've been at perfectly lovely weddings that probably used the exact same language. And he's willing to change whatever we'd like, or substitute any other script we'd like. But reading through this, all I can think is, "Isn't there a version for cynics? I'd like that one, please."

I'm going to have to look around on the web, but I doubt that my google search for "marriage ceremony cynical utilitarian" is going to turn up very much.