Regrets, I’ve had a few (but these are not among them)

They say you only regret the things you don’t do. That may be true up to a point (who am I to argue with “they”, after all?) but there are some things I’ve never done that I don’t regret at all. It’s good to try new things, but there are some new things I can pretty much determine with no ambiguity whatsoever that I won’t ever enjoy doing (and never would have).

For example:

  • Cocaine
  • Camping out
  • Going to the prom
  • Watching reality shows
  • Hunting and/or fishing
  • Playing little league
  • Living in Florida
  • Voting for a Republican presidential candidate
  • Going to the ballet or the opera
  • Reading Atlas Shrugged
  • Karaoke

Nothing really wrong with most of these things, per se. I just know they’re not my cup of tea, and don’t feel the need to waste time on them.

So what’s on your list?

Every five years

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I bought my first car in 1980 and I ended up driving it for about five years. Apparently, that seemed like a good amount of time for me to hang on to a car, because it’s become my average over the past thirty-seven years. I’ve had seven cars since 1980. (Actually I’ve owned ten cars, but three don’t count: the one I totaled a week after purchasing in 1992, the one my ex signed over to me so I could dispose of it in 2011, and the one I inherited from my dad and quickly sold in 2013.) The only time I was ever completely without a car was for about six months in 1996 and 1997 in San Francisco.

Of the seven that count, two died very violent deaths, one in a collision and one in a fire. All but one of the others I pretty much dove until they either died or would no longer pass inspection. I actually bought and paid for four of them and assumed custody of three from my mom. One of those I acquired from her, a 2009 Sonata, turned out to be the best car I ever owned. I haven’t actually bought a car myself since 1997, when I bought the Toyota I owned longer than any of the others. And I only ever bought one brand new; it turned out to be one of the worst of the bunch. The rest I bought used.

So yesterday, I bought car number eight. It’s a very slightly used 2017 Sonata. it’s pretty and roomy and has Apple Car Play and all sorts of fun things. I thought it might be nice to buy one before I had to for a change. It’s also the first car I’ve ever paid cash for. I’m hoping we’ll have a lovely relationship. In much the same way I no longer stay at Motel 6, I have also decided I’m allowed to have a slightly more comfortable car now. I’m never going to be a spendthrift (I spent way too long being way too poor) and I don’t care about high-end luxury, but I can afford to part with a little money at this point in my life.

An exciting slideshow of my history with cars follows:

My Ella story

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One night in 1996, I picked up a very adorable boy at a bar in Sacramento (the Wreck Room, I believe) and we went back to his flat a few blocks away. All night long, we made out to the sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, which made me like that adorable boy even more.

The next morning, as I was driving back to my room at the Motel 6 or wherever, I heard on the radio that Ella had died the previous night while we were curled up in bed listening to her. It made me very sad. I never heard from the boy again either, which also made me sad.

I loved Ella even as a child, and I have very sketchy memories of seeing her on the Ed Sullivan Show when I was really young (maybe this one?). In that proverbial game of dead celebrities you’d like to have at a dinner party, she makes my list every time.

Happy 100 and rest in peace, Ella.

Benefits

Prerogative of being middle-aged and single with no dependents (human or otherwise): after discussing the idea for 30 seconds with a friend at dinner, I just decided to have a long weekend in New York in about three weeks. I will visit friends, buy books, and see this. I got a great deal on a room in a very nice hotel centrally located between two subway lines. From decision to execution took all of 30 minutes.

Another prerogative: I can change my mind just as easily as I made the decision in the first place, with no repercussions or arguments whatsoever.

La vie c’est bon!

Valentine’s Day fun

I think there’s nothing quite so romantic as a nice colonoscopy on Valentine’s Day. And I got the bargain rate because no one else wants to schedule one today. (Yes, that was an alternative fact.)

Random things to keep in mind:

  • Not eating for 36-plus hours sucks.
  • Jello is disgusting and should be avoided. Ditto anything lemon or lime favored. And lemon or lime Jello is the worst of all.
  • Italian ice is your friend.
  • So are flushable wipes and petroleum jelly. Trust me on this.

It’s been a sucky two days, but as someone who has already lived through one flavor of cancer, I’m all about prevention and/or early detection of any others.

I’m also incredibly hungry. Only four more hours till solid food!

Love isn’t…

I’d think this was pretty cool, but:

  • I’m no longer in my 40s.
  • I no longer live in Winston-Salem.
  • I’m so very not looking for love.

That said, it ties in with something I was thinking about this morning. I could never love anyone who:

  • Makes a line of cars wait while he backs his monster SUV into a small space in the parking garage.
  • Shoots video using his phone in the vertical (portrait) mode.
  • Could ever justify supporting the Trump regime for any reason whatsoever.
  • Does not understand when to use “your” rather than “you’re” or vice versa.
  • Owns no books.
  • Thinks he has the right to listen to the Eagles (or Nickelback, or Twenty One Pilots) in my presence.

I think this will be enough bullet lists for one Wednesday.

America first (alternate interpretation)

As some of you may know, I was awarded Canadian permanent resident status several years ago. My ex and I had applied before we parted ways; he was granted status on points and I was approved as his common-law spouse (marriage not being an option in the US at that point). As Canada actually operates under a sane and rational immigration policy, my status was not affected by the fact that we subsequently ceased to be a couple.

I eventually opted against emigrating. There were several reasons. I had a very good job which I really loved (still have it and still love it) and I was unable to find anything remotely comparable in Canada. I had family commitments here. I also had a firm belief that, no matter how bad things got, America would ultimately end up on the right track. I felt it was important to stay here and be part of the process, and to lead by example–as presumptuous as that may sound. For many of the same reasons, I have stayed in North Carolina as the political climate here has grown increasingly grim in the past few years.

My faith has really been shaken since the election in November. As I’ve watched the horrors that have unfolded over the past few weeks, I’ve questioned by decision not to abandon my country many times. But I don’t regret my decision. I still believe that America will ultimately do the right thing, and I believe this will happen because reasonable people (the majority of Americans) will stay here, will speak up, will resist at what ever level they are able, and will remain visible and vigilant against a paranoid and exclusionary minority led by a very noisy sociopath

We are currently entering one of the darkest periods in American history. If any good can come from this, it will be that reasonable Americans (again, the majority of us) will recognize how important it is to participate in our governance, whether by active protest, by financial support for theguardians of freedom for all, or even just by becoming more actively involved in the electoral process

Not everyone has to march, but everyone has to do something if we’re going to get out of this with our country intact.

Reading is good

For the record, by “reading” I mean “reading more than just the inflammatory headline and then sharing it to display your sense of moral outrage and to ‘prove’ your point.”

I came along at a particularly lucky time in American history. Despite the fact that i grew up in a small-to-medium city in a moderate-to-conservative region, I always had access to good reading material and usually took advantage of that fact. It’s what helped me survive my teen years and make it to my senior year in high school (1982), which was the point where I realized for the first time that I could successfully invent the person I wanted to be and that I deserved better than the losers I’d been hanging around with up to that point. By the semester I graduated, I’d finally seen that it was OK to be smart and to have friends who were smart too.

A decade or so later, when Borders and Barnes & Noble became major retail forces, to criticize the way these chain bookstores were destroying local, independent stores. I was very conflicted about this because I remembered growing up in a place that didn’t really even have viable independent stores that sold the kind of books i wanted to be reading. Most of the independent stores around here were either religious in nature or were of the “books and stationery” variety, which meant that they sold primarily inconsequential and uncontroversial titles.

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(Waldenbooks, Thomas Hawk, CC BY-NC 2.0)

In fact, it was the Waldenbooks branch at the mall where I found books about cities and about subcultures, and (gasp) books and magazines that told me it was OK to be the homosexual I was…ahem…practicing to be. Without the big chain store and its broader perspective, there’s no telling how long I would have had to wait to read messages that challenged the everyday bullshit of the early Reagan-era South. It’s all well and good to criticize the chain bookstores when you live in a big city located in a region with options. The chain were the only option here at the time, and I’d argue that stores like Borders and Barnes & Noble were extremely important in providing this function for the generation who came along in the pre-Internet 1990s.

Of course, the library was important as well. In the early 1980s, the Greensboro Public Library had a surprisingly large collection of titles from among the “gay liberation” classics of the early 1970s. When I look back at them now, I find a lot of this stuff sort of cringeworthy (though many of these books presented a much more open-minded and diverse notion of what a gay person could be than much pf the “gay culture” crap that followed) but it was precisely what I needed to be reading at the time. It goes without saying where this love for the library took me, although it was a rather long and circuitous route.

Reading (and realizing that doing so was a good thing) was also what prompted me to seek out used book stores like the original Browsery, which was on the second floor of a dumpy building near UNCG and only seemed to be open at night, and newsstands like the International in Charlotte, tucked away in the back of a mall hidden in an apartment complex off Providence Road. It was harder to find the things you needed then, but it was not impossible…assuming you cared enough to bother.

I’m sort of babbling and don’t really have much of a point here, I guess, other than to reiterate that I was luckier than a lot of people my age and older who grew up in less urban and bookish areas. My parents did not read a lot of books but did read a lot of everything else, so they were good role models. Being in a sort of college town (though not a college-dominated town) also helped. Having access, though, and the desire to seek things out, was the key.

There’s a lot of access now too, which is amazing and wonderful, but I wish there were more propensity to filter out the crap and be selective in a world with a major signal-to-noise deficit.

Today’s lesson

Today’s lessons from a very productive day that also involves a new dishwasher and getting these damned stitches out of my gums:

  1. Do not speed in or around Emporia, Virginia. It’s a pretty notorious speed trap, and a minor violation in Virginia can become a major one hack home in North Carolina.
  2. If you ignore rule #1, it apparently helps a lot not to have had any convictions for moving violations in the past 25 years. But you still probably need a lawyer.

Not that I’ve gained any of this knowledge firsthand or anything…