Furniture City/Beer City

Grand Rapids is known as “Furniture City.” So is High Point, North Carolina.

Grand Rapids is known as “Beer City.” So is Asheville, North Carolina.

Grand Rapids is very different from either place. It sort of fascinates me, because it’s never really seen the depopulation that most other cities in the Upper Midwest have. There have been decades where the population declined a bit, but current estimates show that the city is currently at its highest population ever. And it reads like a much bigger city than it is, in some ways. The downtown area is aided by the presence of a major medical facility and several universities and colleges.

There are a ton of craft breweries and some interesting neighborhoods. The main public library rocks.

This is the first time in quite a while that I’ve spent a significant amount of time in a city I’d never visited before. And best of all, I got to hang out with a friend I hadn’t seen in almost 13 years. Bonus all the way around.

For the record, I’m home

You may not have known I was gone. That’s OK.

Some stats on this year’s October Canadian adventure:

  • 3600 km.
  • 7 states, 1 province.
  • 1 graduation.
  • 1 new border crossing point (Sarnia ON/Port Huron MI).
  • Dinner and assorted socializing with friends in Buffalo, Toronto, and London.
  • No recreational (nor any other) marijuana purchases.
  • 4L of assorted craft beers imported into the USA.
  • 19 books, 3 DVDs, 1 CD.

There may be more details later. Or there may not. I can be enigmatic like that…

True north and all that

So this conference that is keeping me from being in Canada for Thanksgiving and also making me miss The Bandicoots is now redeemed by the fact that I will actually be there for this (which I’ve missed for the past year or two) and for a friend’s graduation from library school in London (the one in Ontario that actually has its own Thames). Pretty good tradeoff all in all.

Also on the agenda:

  • Groceteria research in Detroit, maybe Toledo, and Niagara Falls
  • Quality time in the Toronto Reference Library
  • Falafel Queen (just discovered it’s now closed and I’m depressed) and all my other favorites
  • London and Windsor for the first time in twelve years
  • Seeing friends (I hope) in Toronto, Detroit, and Buffalo
  • Maybe another side trip yet to be determined

More later…

Valentine musings

Random thoughts on that most annoying of all holidays:

  • Other than the years when I was long-term coupled, I can only remember one time in my life when I was actively dating someone on Valentine’s Day. I was 20 years old at the time, and didn’t much care for it. I don’t even remember how he and I celebrated the big day.
  • I have a friend with whom I spend a lot of time. We’re often told we seem like an old married couple. When I think about it, I realize that (1) we frequently eat at the cafeteria, (2) she criticizes my driving all the time, and (3) we never have sex. So yeah, we pretty much are just like an old married couple.
  • As Valentine’s Day civil disobedience options go, this one was a pretty cool (if soggy) one to be part of.
  • The suckiest thing about middle age is that no one gets crushes on you anymore. I don’t care about the romance particularly, but the ego boost was always nice. Not that it happened all that often even before I hit middle age…
  • At least I’m not having a Valentine’s Day colonoscopy this year.
  • Screw the candy. Give me pie. And apple fritters.

Still a little numb

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I lost a very close friend this week. it was sudden, it was unexpected, and it fucking sucks.

Dan Cherubin and I officially “met” on 26 June 2000 via email, as was the custom at the time:

My old roomie has been pestering me about your page for a bit. She said she’d give up her dyke-ness for you and that you and I were oddly similar. (Which makes me wonder what she was thinking about when she & I lived together…)

So, I have been meandering about your pages and there’s definitely some coincidence, though I think my pal was hoping we’d become eternal fuck buddies and invite her along on our misadventures as we tour the country and solve crime and help the with-it kids.

You can check out my webpage. There are assorted rants on various pages.

Pretty much from the very first minute it was like we’d known each other forever.

I realized pretty quickly that we had already crossed paths before on a queer punk mailing list I’d subscribed to for several years. Over the next few years, we corresponded regularly (daily at some points) and became quite good friends. Dan had a sense of humor and snark that mirrored my own, but he somehow always seemed nicer and less misanthropic about it all than I was (although he would have denied that). It was all but impossible not to love him. we probably should have had a torrid affair at some point, but that would have ruined everything, so I’m glad we didn’t.

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We stayed in touch over the years–sometimes more successfully than others–through failed marriages for both of us, and through graduate school for me. Oh yeah. Did I mention that Dan was a librarian? A very well-regarded librarian? And (on occasion) a queer ska librarian? Well..he was all of these things. And he was probably more responsible than anyone for the fact that I’m now a librarian as well.

He was also a musician, an amazing cook, a tireless activist, and a lifelong learner beyond compare. Just for the record.

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Anyway, we finally met in person in San Francisco in 2005, and then way too few times after that, though in recent years, I had visited him (and eventually his new partner) in New York on several occasions where we ate terrifically unhealthy food and visited bookstores upon bookstores, not to mention the occasional supermarket. Despite the fact that we were only ever in the same physical space maybe four or five times over seventeen years, I thought of Dan as one of my closest friends, especially in more recent years. Eve Arden and Kaye Ballard we were, in some perverse staging of The Mothers-in-Law (inside joke).

Dan had surgery to remove a malignant tumor about a month ago. He seemed to be doing pretty well at first and I was quite certain he would wind up cancer-free. I’m still pretty sure he would have. But that didn’t mean he was immune to a complicating infection that put him back in the hospital early this week and deprived me of one of my favorite people on the planet two days later. I don’t think anyone saw it coming.

I’m pissed off and sad and having a lot of trouble with this, as are all of Dan’s many, many friends. seriously, it seems like everybody in the fucking universe loved him.

This sucks.