Boxing Day

Had lunch with the Bosnian refugee family my mom has “adopted”. They’re really nice people, although there was a pretty significant language barrier. Why is it that children who were raised by non-American parents seem so much better behaved than those born and raised (and coddled and spoiled rotten) here? I guess I may have answered my own question…

 

Tonight, we headed next door to my aunt’s house. No badly behaved brats to complain about here either. I was relieved.

Christmas

 

Christmas Day. Gifts this morning and long drives this afternoon. My dad’s side of the family came over tonight, then I headed out to the Palms to hang out with Jeff and several ex-mistakes from my past, all of whom I managed to avoid.

Highlight of the evening: watching “King of the Hill” with a distant relative who could easily have qualified as a cast member.

 

After the festivities, we made the traditional drive downtown and around the city to see the lights. For all its bleakness during the day, I have to say downtown Greensboro came across pretty well when “wrapped” for Christmas.

 

Home for the Holidays

So here I am, about to spend my second Christmas in a row at home in Greensboro.

Sitting in the waiting area with 90 minutes left before my flight. What a crazy 24 hours it’s been. I realized last night that I wouldn’t be receiving my ticket in time to make it home for Christmas. So one was sent to me on a plane from Charlotte at 11:00 this morning. I grabbed a $30 cab to the airport after doing ALL my Christmas shopping last night. I’m exhausted. And mildly hungover.

At least there’s cute boys to look at here. Most of them cuter even than the guy I chowed down on last night at My Place. He was cocky and shot all over my head and face. The onlookers were pleased.

It’d be nice to have a laptop on this trip, but I’m Ok using pen and paper for a week or so, although it’s a little strange getting used to writing prose in longhand again. I seem to be unsure which of my 7-8 different handwritings to use.

It must really suck traveling with children. I often wonder if I was as bad as rugrats today are. Actually, I think children were better behaved when I came along; parenting was more about teaching discipline and responsibility than “self-esteem” and “creativity”.

Scored First Class on the flight. It’s worth it!

Extended Family

It was not until I was in college that I really started to realize that there were people other than my family who I still wanted to see over Christmas. Maybe this was because for the first time I knew people whose primary residence was not Greensboro, North Carolina. When my friends went home for Christmas, I felt a little lost.

Those of us who stayed in Greensboro for the break (I did so because I lived there), we’d compensate by doing things like opening the campus radio station for the day, and making road trips to see the people we missed.

When I moved to Charlotte, going home for the holidays was an easy day trip. I could be in and out in 36 hours or less. More time was not really required because I was able to come home once a month or so.

Then came the move to San Francisco. I spent my first four Christmases on the west coast, due to the logistics and economics of the trip. I visited at other times, but never made the holiday trek. And I was never really bothered by this, although I’m sure my parents were disappointed.

Here, I had my friends and my bars and my alleys. I was never alone for the holidays except once in 1994, after I’d just broken up with my longest-term boyfriend.

Last year, though, having just become unemployed by choice, I made the trip home on Christmas Eve. The plane was crowded, every passenger looked as if they were going off to war, and the movie sucked. Once I got home, it was a nice visit and all, but I’d just as soon have made it at a less insane time of year.

So it looks like I’ll be going home again this year, thanks to a family friend who works for USAir. I’ll fight my way onto a crowded plane at an unusual time of day, since we “freebie travelers” have to take what we can get, spacewise. I’ll arrive in the cold of North Carolina, be glad to see my parents and friends, eat lots of food, gain still more gut, and have a thoroughly nice time.

But I’d still just as soon do it some other time of year.

North Carolina

Today brought visits to the relatives in Reidsville. This is always nice even though it means being trapped in a non-smoking environment for three hours or so, and I’m usually a bit edgy by the end. Now I get to go over to my aunt’s house and finish hooking up her new VCR. I’ll probably miss “The Simpsons” again…

 

I also did my traditional run downtown to see the shadows of what we had instead of malls when I was very young. I peered into the old stores, most of them closed and boarded up, and thought about the crowds which used to roam the streets, and Santa Claus at Meyer’s, and eating at the S&W Cafeteria, and movies at the Carolina Theatre, and popcorn at Kress’s. I’m sad that it’s all gone now, but at the same time glad that I’m just barely old enough to remember when downtown was still the center of things.

I may try to hit Myrtle Beach tomorrow. I lived there for four months eleven years ago. Haven’t been back since. It’s changed either dramatically or not at all, I’d imagine. We’ll see.

***

Seems my dad developed a serious kidney stone in honor of the Tour. Thus, my biggest single frame of reference for the Greensboro leg as been the emergency room at Cone Hospital. Spent pretty much all of Saturday there waiting for something to happen. Fortunately, surgery finally ensued with no complications and my dad is home and quite normal now. Except for the string. Let’s not discuss that…

So I got to relive another aspect of my childhood by hanging out at Cone Hospital. From about age four to age eight or so, I had an awful lot of relatives die there and I remember playing on the steps in front of the main entrance many nights while my parents worried. I finally found those steps again last night while prowling around looking for a smoking area. They look much smaller now.

 

In the process of lurking about the hospital staring at the cute orderlies and interns and reading all about the architecture of Pittsburgh, I managed to miss my cousin’s wedding. At least I was spared the repetitive “I guess your next” comments of my more distant and less savvy relatives.

As yet I haven’t gotten in contact with half the people I planned to, due in part to the above-mentioned semi-drama. I have one day left; it might be a bit tough now.

I did, however, run into several old friends by accident Friday night when I realized that I’d had it with fags and Babylon’s rave children and instead checked out the band at ZooBar. The drummer for the trio on stage turned out to be Roy, a former co-worker from Kinko’s. The sound “man” was his wife Emily. And then I ran into an old WUAG cohort, Lynn Blakey, and found out that her new band, Glory Fountain, had opened. CD received; review forthcoming. I’m prepared to like it.

So as not to be completely removed from queers, I checked out opening night at the new bar in town, the Jokers 3. This is actually a straight club which has fallen on hard times and is now attempting to woo the fags on weekends. As of Friday, the strategy seemed to be failing miserably. And the bar is from hell. Surly staff, $3.25 for a Rolling Rock, and no crowd. Except for the straight redneck holdovers who looked as if they’d been clustered at the same table for the past ten years or so. I opted for a hasty retreat.

 

Drove to the Raleigh and Durham with mom on Friday as well. I’d probably have seen more and done more alone, but it seemed a good “quality time” moment, and was actually a nice break between trips to the hospital.

Tonight brought the big family gathering and dinner. Tons of food and most of the assorted relatives. It was nice, and I’m impressed that my mom managed to pull it off after yesterday.

Today also brought the first mild debauchery of the trip. I’ll skip that detail for right now, but suffice to say UNCG did it for me again…

    

The day before I left, we headed to Mt. Airy, birthplace of Andy Griffith and model for Mayberry. Oddly enough, I’d never been there before despite living most of my life about 45 miles away. Neat place, but they are completely shameless in their exploitation of the Mayberry theme. There’s a Snappy Lunch (which actually predates the show and was really one of Andy Griffith’s hangouts), as well as a Blue Bird Diner, Floyd’s Barber Shop, and Goober’s Filling Station (all “after the fact”).

 

Leaving Greensboro was rough. I have to admit to suppressing a few sobs as I headed for I-85; it’s rough leaving Mom and Dad. Unlike many people who move to SF, I wasn’t running from them. I actually like my parents. It’s Greensboro I was running from. The place just bugs the crap out of me for some reason. No doubt there will be more on this subject later.

So of course I never got in touch with Adam or Daniel and I feel most guilty, but it was a bit of a crazy week. There’s still Christmas, I guess…

Greensboro

It’s as surreal as ever being at home with Mom and Dad in Greensboro. Understand that I have the good fortune to have completely sane parents, which is quite a blessing, but it’s still a bit odd being back under the childhood roof. Among other things, I immediately feel about fifteen years younger — all in all, I guess this is a plus. But there are adjustments: I have to close the bathroom door when I piss, I feel odd about staying out late, I’m mildly uncomfortable about smoking in the house, etc. Plus, there’s no place to go should I meet the man of my dreams…

 

The older I get, the more time I devote to actually spending time with the parents when I visit home. I guess it’s due in part to the fact that I’ve realized they’re not immortal (at ages 67 and 72), and in part to the fact that I’m not as excited by the idea of spending every night lurking around in bars. Of course, last time I was here I felt safer at home anyway.

Mind you, I’m not completely averse to nightlife. Last night was fun. Jeff and I met some friends at New York Pizza, which was one of my old “trouble spots”. This is a strange little bar with a strange mix of people of all sexual, social, and cultural persuasions. Ran into an ex-something from many years past (“boyfriend” would be too strong a word…) who recently has had a heroin problem, was flirted with by another friend, and had generally good Christian fellowship. And pizza…

  

There have also been the obligatory trips to new subdivisions and shopping centers. Greensboro seems perpetually under construction, as perfectly good and relatively new homes and retail buildings are deserted for still newer ones farther out, a result of overabundant cheap suburban land.

But hey, the cable TV is great here; I’ve even been watching Nick-at-Nite’s TV Land. I didn’t think ANY cable companies carried it.

And it’s raining! I’m so excited…

 

Flirtations and relatives and barbecue and clean laundry. All is well down Carolina way. But I now remember that a trip home is no vacation. There are far too many responsibilities for that. There’s this relative and that relative to visit, friends to see, “quality time” with Mom and Dad, etc. I sort of feel like I’ve been on a schedule ever since I got here, even though I really just wanted to sit around watching TV and eating myself into oblivion.

 

It will be odd if my only debauchery of the entire trip occurs here. There have been flirtations, one that I wouldn’t have turned down Tuesday night, and one less enticing one last night. Tuesday’s wasn’t to be at the time, but was fun all the same. As for Wednesday’s, it went as follows (keep in mind that I had given NO signal that sex was a possibility):

“Can I be direct with you?”

“Sure…but I’m really beat and it probably won’t do much good.”

“So how do you feel about HIV?”

Now you see, I hate when it starts like this. I live in San Francisco. I’ve slept with people who have HIV. I’ve dated people who have HIV. Even though I’m negative, I pretty much assume everyone else is positive. But when this is the first part of a pickup line, it makes it hard for me to respond in any polite way. If I say no, it seems as if it’s related to the HIV rather than the fact that I’m just not interested in the guy, when in fact the latter is the true reason.

 

But I got out diplomatically and finished watching the drag show, although I was being stalked by someone else throughout. All this other guy would do was stare at me and try to make me uncomfortable. No conversation. He didn’t even buy me a beer.

RIP

 

Mable Apple died Sunday 29 June 1997.

Nina Flynn died Thursday 19 June 1997.

If ever two women had very little in common, it was these two. They did not know each other, they lived on different coasts, and were of different generations and mindsets. Their only “bonds” were the facts of my acquaintance with both and the fact that they both passed away in the past two weeks.

Mable Apple was my aunt — my father’s sister. She died this morning after suffering three strokes in a short period of time. Aunt Mable possessed a wonderful sense of humor with a slightly ironic edge despite the fact that she lived her entire life in a small, conservative Southern town. She was a hard-working woman, but also a generous one, and she never had a bad thing to say to me. She was also deeply religious, but was also able to look at the inconsistencies and the silliness of church life with a wry humor that I always found refreshing. I’ll miss her tremendously. She was a definer of the term “unconditional love”.

Nina Flynn was a recent acquaintance, so recent in fact that we hardly knew each other. She was a Fellow Kinkoid and a Planet SOMA fan and correspondent and was eagerly awaiting the publication of her first story on these pages. We met briefly on two occasions, both times within the insane context of Kinko’s. I wish that we had been able to spend more time together; I think I would have liked her brand of humor and her outlook on life. Nina died suddenly and unexpectedly last week in her sleep, the victim of an apparent seizure.

Again, these two women have nothing in common, except that I will from now on be denied their presence in my life. For this, I am truly sad.

Home for the Holidays

  

Aah…Christmas morning. This is the first one I’d spent at home since 1991. It wasn’t quite the same as when I was a kid, but it had its certain charms. We had breakfast with my aunt and her family next door, and dinner with my dad’s relatives in Reidsville. I’ve reached the point in life where few of my family members know enough about me to give me anything other than money, which is fine.

It was a foggy Christmas, and the weather for my whole trip was unseasonably warm (until the day I left when the ice came). I had a bit of a hard time getting used to the fact that places are actually heated in North Carolina. This is sadly not the case in San Francisco, where no one admits that it ever gets cold. Of course, Christopher in Minneapolis tells me “you don’t know the meaning of cold.” Jeff had to work Christmas night; he tends bar many nights. Not a good thing for him, but it was very nice for me…

  

Greensboro bars are even more depressing than I remember, with the exception of Babylon, which is really happening despite the overabundent and annoying rave children on certain nights.Suffice to say, I didn’t get laid the whole time I was in NC, and never even felt really inspired to attempt it. There was a cute boy named Brian at the Palms one night (pictured above) but our association never got near the point of sex. Todd (above right) supplied his boyfriend for my “amusement” last visit, but only took pictures of Brian for me this time.

 

Believe it or not, I spent New Year’s Eve at home with mom and dad, despite the festive decorations at the Palms. It seemed the sanest thing to do in a town where (a) cars are the only mode of transport and there are all of three cabs in the whole city, (b) I was stationed in the ‘burbs, and (c) concealed weapons are legal.

  

I made the annual pilgrimage to the trailer park to visit Anthony, Jeff, and Jeff’s new beau Dave and trade Christmas presents and drink beer. Jeff showed me his affection for Dave’s size 17 (?) boots, Dave worked on a model of something I can’t remember, and hideous pictures were taken of me. The we left, ‘cuz the cat was giving me fits.

 

There were the usual tours of the city, “what’s new”, “looks ‘big city’, doesn’t it?”, the trip to Virginia to buy lottery tickets, a jaunt to Winston Salem, where I found this sign which was of interest to a certain fiendishly cute webmaster. I saw the old schools, all the buildings which had been torn down, the monster malls, etc. And food at all my favorie places. Then it beacme time to rent a car and leave my real home town for my adopted home town, the land of all night diners, the Hornets, the Panthers, NationsBank, First Union, and other world class attractions.

 

In Charlotte, I stayed at the nifty new home of my nifty old friend Duncan. We did lunch at Gus’ Sir Beef, always a damn near religious experience, and sampled other Charlotte food as well. Tours of the thrift stores, aimless driving through the city (always a favorite pastime when Duncan and I convene), and more. Friday night started late, but we still hit a few bars (and Duncan got hit on by an adorable boy, while alas I didn’t). Saturday night, we made the trek to Columbia (and back), always one of my favorite road trips when I lived there.

  

On Sunday, much to the chagrin of bigger sports fans than myself, I got to see the Panthers/Cowboys playoff at the new Erickson Stadium. We tailgated next to the most beautiful redneck boy in the world (or at least in the parking lot). Good game, great stadium, cute boys, no tearoom scene (inside joke). Alas, Green Bay kept the Panthers out of the Super Bowl the following Sunday.

Sunday night took me to Oleen’s and back to Scorpio, and Monday morning took me back to Greensboro for one more day. Now I’m home. While it’s good to visit my family and friends, and while I miss having them nearby, I’m not itching to move back. If only they’d come out here…

Maybe It Wasn’t a Cold

It was most definitely a restful holiday. Much of that, unfortunately, had to do with the fact that I couldn’t drag my ass out of bed except for the few hours of the wonderful Thanksgiving feast Chez Rae (pictured) and Michael. I was planning to include pictures, but two things stopped me. First, my energy level didn’t allow me to do it. Second, I decided to take a holiday break from chronicling and preserving every aspect of life. So there.

Spending the holidays far from “home” has never been as disorienting or as unpleasant for me as it’s supposed to be. In four years in San Francisco, I’ve spent one Thanksgiving back in north Carolina and this year’s Christmas will be the first one I’ve spent there. By and large, I’ve had some pretty good holidays here. The big difference, of course, is that in the absence of a family, with whom you’re “supposed” to spend the holidays, you get to actually choose your companions. It’s pretty cool, actually. This is not to say that I don’t like my family. I’d just prefer, given the choice, to be with them at times other than the insane holiday season.

Anyway…today was a good Thanksgiving, spent mostly among disenfranchised Kinkoids. Food was great, company was good, and the football game was not the main focus of attention! The only problem was the nasty bronchitis which has overtaken my lungs and is doomed to make me a miserable whiny wretch throughout the holiday weekend. And I thought I just had a cold. Y’know, I thought strep was bad, but this bronchitis shit is the most unpleasant malady I think I’ve ever experienced. It’s made me damn near useless for almost two weeks now. Oh well…thank God(dess)(es) for Codeine.

I have decided that Friday will be the day that I become a functioning human being again. Wish me luck.

Random Updates

Just for today, I’m not going to rant or rave about much of anything! The only thing on the agenda is an update of what’s going on in my life at this point in time, in case anyone cares…

A few carefully lit fires — no pun intended — have started getting a bit of reaction out of my insurance company in relation to the pile of ashes which used to be my car. I’m expecting a settlement any day now. I think informing them that they’d be paying for a rental repalcement of my choosing until I have a check in hand may have helped a bit.

No job yet, but so far I’m pretty much convinced that giving Kinko’s the heave-ho was quite the right thing to do. Today was especially convincing; the yuppie slimebags were as annoying as usual. Yesterday I taught an Internet class at one of the outlying San Francisco stores. I was amazed at how different the neighborhood atmosphere was. People were actaully smiling and walking down the street at a normal pace. No one had the perpetually constipated look of the Financial Distrist corporate automatons. It was really nice. It’s a sad thing that so many people let work rule their lives to the point of making them such unbearable substitutes for human beings. Note to the Financial District crowd: take a Valium or at least take a break once in a while!

Side note: a rumor is floating about that Kinko’s is advertising on Pat Robertson’s Family Channel (formerly the Christian Broadcasting Network). I cannot confirm this rumor. Has anyone seen commercials on this highly offensive, rabidly anti-gay and pro-enforced childbirth network? If so, please let me know, and I’ll keep you informed of how my complaints are received.

Had dinner last night with my ex David at the new IHOP South of Market. It is, without question, the creepiest IHOP atmosphere I’ve ever seen. It’s in the basement of an old commercial building and is just too damned well-lit and pastel-tinted. It’s located next to Moscone Convention Center, but the crowd seems to be more “downtown drug dealer” than “conventioneer executive”, although one middle-class mother with teen-age son was inside and looked a little horrified when David and I began discussing watersports. Denny’s is scheduled to open a few doors down very soon. Should be fun to watch.

Ran into Ron, a guy I “went out” with a few times, at lunch today and found out that his band (which was one of two whose debuts I attended recently, the other being Lucifag) is fizzling. We did the “lost your number…give me a call” routine. I never know when that’s meant sincerely or not (sometimes I really DO mean it); we did have fun…

Speaking of bands, I’ll be seeing The Third Sex at Faster Pussycat tonight. It’ll be kinda cool seeing a band on the midwestern end of a tour and then at home on the same tour. Love them…they’re great. (Note: missed ’em…the show moved…found out too late…hate life…)

As for the weekend, I’m geeting back together with this guy named Rob who I recently met in a dark back corner somewhere. He’s terminally cute, fun, shares some of my perversions, and is a pretty danged OK kinda guy, despite being from L.A. He follows orders well, and he scores major points for suggesting — without prompting — Jack in the Box as a food stop on the way back to his apartment Sunday night. More points added for being suitably worshipful about Planet SOMA…I’ll work on pictures soon.

Mom and Dad’s anniversary yesterday. Forty-seven years. Scary. I somehow doubt I’ll have a relationship last quite that long.

Gotta run now…food calls.

Thanks for checking in…