May flowers or something

Haven’t done this in a while:

May 2015: Working on my tenure portfolio and spending a weekend in DC.

May 2010: My fixed-term position became my tenure-track position.

May 2009: Buying an extra house.

May 2005: Preparing to vacate San Francisco.

May 2000: Random food and rants.

May 1998: Visitors and sex.

By the numbers

Things insomnia made me count. In my life I have:

  • Owned 3 houses and rented 5 apartments.
  • Lived in 3 states (4 if you count a vacation home).
  • Had 2 roommates (not counting a few temporary situations of less than a month).
  • Had 1 (common law) husband.
  • Owned 9 cars.
  • Had 6 traffic accidents, 2 of which were ruled my fault.
  • Spent time in 3 countries, including 45 U.S. states and 6 Canadian provinces.
  • Had sex in at least 24 states.
  • Had phone numbers with 5 area codes.
  • No brothers or sisters, but 14 first cousins (approximately 12 of whom are still alive).
  • Spent 2 nights in a hospital (not counting when I was born).
  • Been to 0 high school class reunions (with plans to attend 0 more).
  • Had 5 primary home computers (all Macs, which is why I had each one for so long).
  • Had 3 full-time employers (though I had multiple positions in multiple locations for the first two, plus a ton of part-time and freelance employers).
  • Had 4 medical procedures for which I was put completely under.

Decades

If you were to group my life into decades, I guess they would line up as follows:

  • The 1960s: The “I don’t really remember anything about this” years (not because of drugs but because I was kinda young)
  • The 1970s: The “I was a really weird kid” years
  • The 1980s: The “I remember this time less fondly than I thought I would” years
  • The 1990s: The “pop culture and I got along really well” years
  • The 2000s: The “married and domestic” years
  • The 2010s: The “gay divorcé” years

As the “gay divorcé” years end, I’d like to say that they were a lot more fun than I expected them to be early on, and I’m looking forward to whatever is next.

Twenty years of “that used to be a Safeway”

Twenty years ago today, this post laid the groundwork for this site, which has very dramatically surpassed Otherstream in traffic (really, does anyone even come around here anymore?) and also led to a whole new career for yer humble host.

Read the self-indulgent anniversary post here.

On the QEW in 1979

This is one of my favorite pictures of my dad. He didn’t particularly like to be photographed, so he very often made some kind of goofy grin or hid his face. But this one actually looks like him, which is kind of nice.

I also like it, though, because he’s driving and it makes me think of all the road trips we took when I was a kid (he didn’t like to fly any more than he liked to be photographed) and because in this shot, we just happen to be on the way to Toronto.

It’s weird, though, for me to realize that my dad was about a year younger than I am now when this photo was taken.

I’ve always thought I was more line my mom than my dad in general. We have more of a family resemblance and we maybe shared a few more interests overall. But as I get older, I see more of my dad in me too, or at least the things I romanticize about him, like his love of driving and exploring and the way he always had some little diner tucked away in whichever town we were in.

And his sense of humor.

And the fact that we both ended up a little, uh, endearingly impatient. Yeah. That’s a diplomatic way to put it…

Anyway, I miss him.

Happy Father’s Day.

On living in the past

Robert Plant tell fans to stop living in the past and hear new bands:

All these magazines and internet platforms should be supporting new music and help new musicians to find an audience, instead of dwelling on the old crap all the time. It’s like there is nothing new and exciting out there any more, when in fact there is. So stop living in the past. Open your ears and your eyes. It’s not that difficult, is it?

This. Precisely. And really not just about bands.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the past; in fact, my whole career is pretty much based on preserving and studying the past, and making it easier for others to do so. But for me, the past is a place to visit and to use to build context about the present and the future. It is most decidedly not a place that I consider to be a permanent abode. While I may want to take a little vacation in noir-era Los Angeles (preferably with a digital camera with a lot of storage), it’s not somewhere I’d actually want to live out my days.

Music is actually a good example here. I think this whole notion that “all good music stopped being created the day I turned 25” is an idea that largely began with the boomer generation. It subjected us for decades to a proliferation of dismal “classic rock” radio formats–which I call “music for white people who refuse to move on (and by the way, get off my lawn, you millennial trash).” Now, I’m seeing it happen to younger people who should know better but still think that all “good music” ended in the 1980s. Or 1990s. (Hint: It didn’t.)

I get it. It’s easy to look back on certain music and memories and convince yourself that the past was a simpler and more idyllic place. But was it, really? You couldn’t pay me enough to make me relive high school or my first years in college in the 1980s. I was miserable most of the time, though I started many lifelong friendships (at least in college) as well. I lived my own past; I don’t feel the need to do so again. Granted, I do want to preserve my memories of it, both for context and on the very remote chance that someone else might care, but an obsessive focus on one’s own past seems like a symptom of depression. I’m comfortable with my past. As I often say, I have no regrets because everything I did up to the present contributed to who I am today, and I pretty much like who I am today.

Interestingly enough, I’m now much more interested in “alternative pasts” in places and times that I didn’t really experience firsthand, be it Los Angeles in 1949 or the Lower East Side in 1910 or Montréal in 1966. I’m at a point in my life where I need adventure and new things, even if some of them are new old things. And again, I really only want to visit.

And yes, there’s a lot of music from my past that I still really like, but it’s not the only fucking thing I ever listen to. While I can no longer stomach some of the most grating new wave synthpop from 1982, I do get excited when I catch a 1979 episode of American Top 40 on Sirius or a good 1990s alt-rock set. Most of the time, though, my radio (or alternative means of music delivery) is pushing out new indie bands, or francophone chanteuses, or old punk and jazz and standards I missed the first time around. There’s way too much interesting stuff out there to limit myself to listening the two hundred or so songs that “define” my teens and twenties over and over again.

I do not want to live in the past. I still have too much present and too much future.