Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Me, I love it. I moved in here when I was 27, just about the age of those of you who are establishing nests as I speak. Previously, I had lived all my life in some version of a four room apartment (with a couple of years out for a college dorm room). Having my own house turned out to be liberating. For one thing, owning your own home means you can do anything with it you want and I am a theatrical designer. Do the math. For another, inside this world-traveler, urbane opera-lover and bon vivant there beats the heart of a highly domestic guy who loves his man; his morbidly obese collection of opera and musical theater LPs, CDs, open reel tapes, audio cassettes, and video tapes; his garden and the ability to throw a good-sized candle-lit gay dinner party in his own dining room whenever he likes. These activities are all best accommodated in a house so, guys, all kinds of wonderful possibilities are opening up for you.
I got half a dozen Big Boy Beefsteak tomato plants put in yesterday (for the butch name alone!) along with sweet basil (lots of salade provencale, obviously) and got the flowers and herbs spruced up for the summer. A pair of mocking birds has nested in my lilac bush, which is great. They tend to sing far into the night--as I was reading in bed after midnight, one of them went through his or her entire repertory. Yes, they really do imitate other birds in their immediate area and it's quite something to hear. I'll put my gladiolus bulbs in this morning and then head up to the monthly gay lunch at MIT.
Fritz and I were supposed to have left on our vacation driving around the U.S. tomorrow but that's been scrubbed by his unexpected surgery. We're surprisingly happy that things turned out as they have now that he's recovering so rapidly. We'll take day trips and, eventually, overnights out of the area to see things and visit people we love and then we'll come back home, bake our bread and make our garden grow.
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
But I scored something over at the video rack for $2 that I would not normally have expected to find in Raymond. Christopher Marlowe's EDWARD II is a big bear of a play by one of the (many) contenders some scholars have put forward to have been the "real" Shakespeare. Several English monarchs over the centuries are known to have been homosexual (Richard I "the Lionhearted," Queen Anne) but Edward II has the biggest reputation and the most scholarship on his life and relationship with his young lover, Piers Gaveston. Marlowe's play, in the accepted Elizabethan manner--in fact, in the accepted manner of Hollywood and theater everywhere--mixes known fact with lots of dramatic license. Edward's official wife, Isabelle, was only twelve years old when Edward was murdered by his own Barons, one of those official marriages made for political reasons years before anyone would have considered having it consummated. In the play, she is a fully mature, glamorous and wonderfully dangerous political woman fed up with having to share her husband with a beautiful young man. She and the king have a pre-teenaged son--and she has as her lover the leader of the revolt against Edward.
The video is Derek Jarman's highly homoeroticized movie adapted from the play. The text is cut to less than half its length, and Jarman plays fast and loose with narative sequences as well as the text itself. In the common post-modern manner, time periods are mixed in the setting, costuming and props. There's a lot of violence and torture in the movie, as there is in the play and was in history; Edward's murder by having an red hot iron rod thrust up his ass is not avoided or prettied up. If you know Julie Taymor's TITUS (adapted from Shakespeare) you will have an idea, but the design of EDWARD II is far more austere, disciplined and beautiful than that of Taymor's film. The earring wordrobe of the strikingly beautuful Tilde Swinton as Isabelle is almost worth the price of admission all by itself. Annie Lennox makes a cameo appearance as a court singer. All the men in the movie, even the extras, appear to have been chosen, like the Gothic invaders in TITUS, with an eye to physical beauty as well as acting talent. The movie is very gay, from the opening sequence where Gaveston, exiled in France, talks about his ambitions to be back with Edward while two hunky sailors have sex on the bed behind him, to the end of the movie where Edward and Isabelle's son fantasizes about the day he will become king, while decked out in earrings and lipstick.
The story of EDWARD II has continued to be of enormous interest to queer artists, audiences and scholars. In a recent issue of the Gay and Lesbian Review, one scholar floated the theory that there may actually not have been a physical relationship between Edward and Piers after all, the story possibly having been the same kind of invention used to justify the deposition and death of Richard III who almost certainly did NOT have his little nephews imprisoned and killed. One of my former MIT students and his then boyfriend produced the play here in Boston a couple of years ago in a rare stage revival. And Scott Eric Smith, an American composer who used to live in England until his boyfriend could get a green card to come here (and whose user name used to be Gaveston), is almost finished writing an opera on Edward II. There's a web site where you can listen to fairly extensive sections of the music performed on synthesizer, read the complete libretto, and access other information about the project.
Monday, June 28, 2004
I live in a 145 year old house. It's built like a fortress as buildings from 1860 tended to be. The basement walls are two feet thick of granite stone and they stand on a sub-foundation base that is four feet thick of granite ashlars. But our dear little woodland friends, as the old Bugs Bunny cartoons called them, do manage to get in. I've had a lot of little visitors over the years, the most spectacular being a boa constrictor that must have been kept as an exotic pet and escaped from a tank in some neighbor's house. There have also been two bats that I am not ashamed to say absolutely scared the shit out of me, and a large number of mice.
I have had cats, singly or in pairs (mostly), and three on one occasion, ever since I moved in here in 1972. My first cat, Cornface (she was marked and colored exactly like Indian corn), was a great huntress who bagged quite a few mice but never ate any of them. She wouldn't eat anything that wasn't cooked and there are limits to my adoration of cats. After the ritual torture and racing around the house with them, she would kill them, come into my bedroom and drop the cadavers into my shoes. After a couple of really bad incidents while getting dressed, I have upended and shaken my shoes every morning without fail ever since.
More typically, my various cats have eaten the mice they catch and left strange looking groups of remains for me to discover while vacuuming or when just walking around the house. Usually I get a miniature spinal column with a neat little package of intestines left perfectly untouched, both clean as a whistle in some corner or under some piece of furniture.
The political documentary "Farenheit 9/11" has been the talk of Boston this weekend and ended up dominating the movie box office sales reports on this morning's news--the first time a documentary has ever done so. The guys at the book group last night who live in the ultra-chic, ultra-gay South End said they had to go down to Dedham, well south of where I live in Roslindale (the last neighborhood to the southwest within city limits) to find available tickets. The movie was playing not at the big Dedham Showcase multi-plex but at the wonderfully eccentric Dedham Community Theater, an old 1920s movie house now divided into two screens and dedicated to indies, foreign films and other really good stuff that's so intelligent and/or arty that the big chains won't go near it. "F9/11" was playing on both screens and they said the place was packed.
The Community is clean and comfortable and has a permanent rotating exhibit from the little-known Museum of Bad Art on the walls of the stairwells and in the lounge area downstairs where the restrooms are. The Museum is the labor of love of a guy who loves to go around to thrift shops, yard sales, etc. and buy paintings people have done that are too bad to keep but too personal to throw in the trash. Most of them are not so aggressively bad as to provoke real hysterics (that experience was reserved for a painting called "Stalin at Home" that I saw in Moscow in an exhibit of Soviet Era art in 1987. Stalin was sitting in a red chair in a red-walled room on a red floor with a red rug reading Pravda with his feet up on a red foodstool, smoking a pipe whose tobacco glowed--what else?--red. A beloved dog (a red setter--did you wonder?) was curled up at his feet). No, these paintings are intrinsically uninteresting and have no resonance; but they were just as obviously done with some care and meaning (no matter how bad the technique) that they sometimes become touching and even endearing.
Sunday, June 27, 2004
Last night was the Sweat Lodge for June. We had eight men altogether--Fritz sat this one out but did come to the lodge to greet everyone and join the circle just before we went in. Each Sweat has its own profile--this one was the "Political" Sweat with discussion of "Farenheit 9/11" as well as the state of the effort to unseat the incumbent president, etc. One of the men was new to us and took to the ritual and comradeship with real enthusiasm.
One of the side effects of having our vacation cancelled is that I will have a garden again, so today I bought tomato and sweet basil flats as well as some very showy zinnias, marigolds and ever more impatiens. I seed my own sunflowers from year to year and my day lillies are in bloom everywhere along with my year-old astilbes that I am hoping will grow even thicker with time.
I ended the day meeting for the first time with a gay men's book group that I think I'm going to enjoy very much. Small world that even a large gay community like Boston's is, there are men in the group from two separate sides of my life: guys who come up to Fritz's for the Sweats, and guys who are part of the circle of S. and G. who got married about a week after I did and who wouldn't be caught dead "dancing naked in the woods," as S. puts it, if their lives depended on it. There were also, of course, a lot of men I didn't know which was the whole idea of checking the group out. The back list (to 1995) of books the group has read and discussed is impressive and very intelligent. I had wanted to connect with some sort of gay community in Boston itself and this looks like it will work for me very nicely.
Saturday, June 26, 2004
However, among the notes he had made was to ask about the continued dry cough that can keep him awake at night. It was supposed to have faded away as he lost weight from all the extra fluid caused by his operation, and he's been losing that water weight rapidly, the rat (I can't get below a floor weight that's ten pounds higher than I want to be). So they x-rayed his chest and discovered that while he's draining water from everywhere else, there was fluid in one lung, more than they would like. No problem, we were told, they would just stick a needle through his back into the lung and draw off the fluid, thereby ending the cough.
Now one of the things I have been blessed and cursed by in my life is an ability to visualize things in my head just from verbal descriptions, aided and abetted by an estremely active imagination. I know we have just been through open heart surgery and all that means, but the idea of having a needle poked through a full half of ones torso into an active, working lung didn't seem appetizing, particularly with the warning that the lung collapses in about 2% of the cases, requiring hospitalization to reinflate it.
We talked it over. We trust the hospital completely, the surgeon had stressed that it really was a low-risk, routine procedure, etc. After a moment of silence, Fritz looked at me with mischief in his eyes and asked if I had noticed how hot the doctor was. I said yes, indeed, and that I had scoped out no wedding ring and far too sexy a haircut for southern New Hampshire. At moments like this I know our survival instincts are working just fine. We were making life decisions based on how cute the doctor was. The procedure went without incident and last night he slept through without being wakened even once to cough.
Friday, June 25, 2004
This is obviously not your usual opera plot although contemporary opera is definitely breaking all the traditional barriers. As the performance went on, it occurred to me that Tony Kushner’s ANGELS IN AMERICA and gay composer John Corigliano’s opera THE GHOSTS OF VERSAILLES may have been strong influences on the play and the opera made from it. In the former, the hospitalization of a man afflicted with AIDS inspires a series of variations on life, politics and the human condition. In the latter, the execution of Marie Antoinette is a central incident in a gay-themed work. DuBarry’s execution is central to the acceptance of the inevitability of death by Lewis, the main character in GRACE. DuBarry becomes the angel of death who leads him out of life and into the world beyond.
Composer Rudenstein is an accomplished orchestral composer and the pick-up orchestra of twenty Boston-area free-lancers played the often beautiful score superbly under Tim Steele’s direction. Vocal writing comes less easily to Rudenstein and there was virtually no differentiation of characterization in the vocal lines. I found out from co-librettist Carmichael that the opera had been trimmed from two and a half hours to one and a half, while a friend in the cast told me that Music Director Steele had worked mightily to make the vocal score useable by the singers. The result is uneven but improves markedly as it goes on. Act one is still too long by about ten minutes. Act two, from its lovely prelude featuring wonderful woodwind solos and proceeding strongly to a powerfully moving final ensemble, is markedly better and very well worth waiting for.
An ensemble cast of six excellent singers performs strongly under Billy Butler’s direction. Co-librettist Langlois designed the serviceable set and quite extraordinary
costumes. One performance remains, Saturday night the 26th of June. Tickets are available by calling the Cambridge Y or at the door.
Thursday, June 24, 2004
The last three weeks, with Fritz's surgery and recuperation and the trip to San Francisco, have been densely packed--I was rarely home and never had a chance to look at the property when I was. You may remember that my apple trees and blueberry bushes has been stripped to winter bareness by caterpillars and I thought they might even die. Today I finally had a chance to water my flowers and look at things. Lo and behold, both apple trees are covered with new small but strong bright green leaves, and the blueberries are even further along. Also the ivy that looked to be completely gone is now putting out leaf buds everywhere. There are no signs (yet?) of a second crop of flower buds on the apples and berries, so I may not get a crop this year. But I might--the way things are going, I would'nt be surprised.
We had a lovely good-bye party today for R., the dynamic young man who has been head of LBGT activities here at MIT for the last eight years. Working with him and the entire crew on the big Gay Life at MIT exhibit was one of the most enjoyable things I have done here recently. He's going off to become Dean of Student Life at Brown University in Providence, RI. It's a big loss for MIT but a huge opportunity for him and also for his long-time partner and very recent husband (a week after Fritz and me), A. They found a condo just eight minutes on foot from R's office and A. will be joining the faculty of the famed Moses Brown Friends School just opposite the University. There was a beautiful moment when R. thanked everybody, announced the recent wedding and the two men, handsome, in their early 30s and with horizons opening up all around them, kissed to warm and enthusiastic applause.
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
uncalled for. I replied that one of the major facets of postmodernism is a full recognition and inclusion of the social and political realities of everyday life, and that everyday life in the U.S. at this time in history is very violent and, yes, sadistic.
I brought up the Laci Peterson trial that is local news to them, the lady in the Carolinas who strapped her children into the back seat of her car and shoved it into a pond to drown them, the current epidemic of spousal abuse, our torture and even murder of Iraqi prisoners, Matthew Shepherd, etc. etc., and my profound discomfort at walking out of Davies Symphony Hall the night before and walking with well-fed, relatively affluent audience members around and even over the bodies of homeless men and women sacked out for the night on the sidewalks of the city. I said that to portray life as it is on stage, rather than to merely entertain, is a political statement and that art is ALWAYS political, disturbing and controversial in some way if it is really to be art. There's a lot of resistance to "bringing" politics into art in this country among audiences (the standard expression used to be "leave the messages for Western Union to deliver") and that's one reason why I developed my current speaking topic.
One man reacted quite negatively when I mentioned the Iraqi prisoner abuse issue but he was more or less shouted down by the others. They got the point. Exactly who it is in San Francisco's government who has to get the point concerning the homeless I don't know but it's going to have to be soon.
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
As I unpacked, I gave Fritz Dan Savage's "The Kid: what happened after my boyfriend and I decided to get pregnant: an adoption story." It had been my plane reading out and back. I fell hard for Savage's cocky, politically incorrect, extremely funny style when I read "Savage Love," a collection of his sex advice columns. "The Kid" is the story of how he and his boyfriend decided to adopt, the adventures they had, the crap thay had to take at times, the astonishing fact that they got picked for a placement before any of the straight couples in their group, and how it all worked out. Which is to say just fine. Along the way Savage shoots his zingers at at the hypocricy of straight society, fundamentalist religious types, the government and anything else that happens to engage his sense of the outrageous at any particular moment.
Of course as a gay man who had raised two adopted Korean daughters solo, I was very much on Dan and his boyfriend Terry's side throughout, particularly after reading of their rather unconventional courtship (endearingly, Terry was 23 but passing himself off in the bars as 24 to seem more mature).
And then a most interesting thing happened waiting at the airport to fly out of San Francisco. I was sitting reading the book when a well dressed woman of about 65 years settled in next to me. Opposite us, a woman in her late 20s was playing with her very lively and intelligent 2 year old son. With the freedom and ease with which conversations begin on the west coast, the older woman leaned over to me and started a lengthy rant. "Isn't that just lovely, to see a mother and child bonding like that? It's so special with mothers, men never do that with their children, they don't care and can't do it." I looked at her hard, finally deciding to let her talk herself out. "Motherhood is so sacred, that's why the mothers always get the clildren in divorces, never the fathers, they are never there for their children and don't know how to love them." There was more in the same vein. When I was certain she had come to an end, I did about two minutes very calmly and reasonably giving it to her right between the eyes. WITH pictures of the girls and me to prove it. She found she had something compelling to do in the Ladies Room. And I went back to reading how two T-shirt, jeans and baseball cap-wearing gay boys made a home for a baby boy and transformed all of their lives.
Sunday, June 20, 2004
The purpose for my being here, the talk to the Wagner Society went very well yesterday afternoon. The audience was around a hundred people and , this being San Francisco, they were a lively and extremely intelligent crowd. Most stayed for forty five minutes of question and answer afterwards which turned out to be the most exciting and stimulating part of the afternoon. There was immediate talk of bringing me out here to speak again.
Earlier in the day I had spent time with a very interesting man who had made a multi year progress from Philadelphia to here, founding gay activist groups and become a community leader everywhere he went. Because gay pride is next weekend, the city is hung with rainbow flags.
I fly home tomorrow.
Saturday, June 19, 2004
Last night on my way to the Mahler Second Symphony concert I ate at a crepe restaurant I had had my eye on and next to me was a couple--straight mezzo soprano and gay tenor--and when he said he couldn't remember whether the Mahler Seventh has choral parts, I also jumped in and we wound up finishing dinner together. He said that the S.F. Symphony had staked a lot on these performances, nine in all with the middle three next week being recorded for CD release, and that it had paid off handsomely with nine sell-outs.
Louise M. Davies Hall is very modern and very handsome. My seat was just where I like it, up in the top tier of seats dead center. Surprisingly, very little wood is involved in the interior, principally sheathing the low walls surrounding and backing the orchestra. Above that wall were more seats that faced the rest of the audience and in which either more paying patrons or the chorus could be sat. Above those seats again and rising to the top of the hall are the pipes of the organ and suspended in front of them are the acoustical panels that are so much a part of modern concert hall interiors.
But there's an important difference--these panels are squares of clear, salightly convex acrylic, each one suspended on each corner by a very slender silver wire. The wires and acrylic pick up ambient light from around the hall in combination with the glint of light off the organ pipes and shimmer softly like the aurora borialis making a halo over the players.
The performance was first rate and very different from those I had most recently heard in Boston under Seiji Ozawa and Ben Zander's direction. Michael Tilson Thomas favors a more restrained, consciously controlled approach earlier on, particularly in the first movement, the better to unleash an overwhelming finale. He also loves to explore the more grotesque episodes in the orchestration. There was an enormous chorus, well over 200 in strength so there were only two small sections of the seating behind the orchestra for the public. I wondered what twenty five people sitting there on house right must have felt like having sixty five tenors (one of whom was digesting crepes Florentine, red bliss potatoes and field greens with raspberry vinaigrette) directly on their right and four french horns immediately behind them during the finale.
Friday, June 18, 2004
It hit me yesterday as I was heading into the city from the airport that Fritz and I were suddenly a continent away from each other one week after I had brought him home from the hospital. Such is the wonder and the stress of modern life. While I'm away he is surrounded by people, including a gaggle of gayboys who love us dearly whom I signed up to spend time being with him in case he needs things or just to keep him company.
Some of our friends have asked if actually getting married, legally married, has made a difference in our relationship. I thought, no. After all we had been together for seven years as the morning of the lovely little ceremony. But then I realized that the reality of what could have happened during Fritz's surgery didn't fully hit me until he said, "I could have made you a husband and then a widower in just two weeks of marriage." It also hits when I speak of my husband and the effect is exactly like Fritz had always hoped it would be--people are startled, then they think a bit, and maybe it will make a difference in their attitudes from now on.
I thought it might subtly make a difference in how we feel about each other. I didn't think we could be closer than we already were but we are, although there's probably that really scary Saturday and the following week in the hospital at the root of that one. I did made a joke to someone at the end of our first week of marriage that I could tell we were married because he'd stopped taking out the garbage and we weren't having sex any more. Of course it wasn't true, but then he was suddenly in a position where he COULDN'T do anything and we most certainly weren't going to be having sex for at least some time. I feel very secure now that he's going to be fine, but I'm going to watch what I say from now on!
Thursday, June 17, 2004
Signs of the times: the planes are restaurants now--you pay for what you want to eat, no more food included in the ticket price. There's an a la carte menu and a complete meal price. You can still get a small bag of mini-pretzels and juice, soda, coffee and tea for free. But that's it.
San Francisco is as beautiful as ever. Every time I visit, I wonder why I don't live here. I went out tonight for good Chinese--crispy roast duck that's almost an obsession for me--and the setting sun on the French Baroque City Hall, the Asian Art Museum, the opera house and the modernist Davies Concert Hall etched them in sharply focused rays of amber light. I have arranged brunch on Saturday and something on Sunday with a couple of guys I know via the internet opera chat rooms, so I won't be completely without good conversation and companionship while I am here. But I want so much to be back home with Fritz looking at those rings!
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
The Busoni is rarely encountered in the U.S. He was of mixed Italian and German parentage and his musical style has a foot in both camps--the southern lyricism and the northern philosophical complexity. FAUST is a big bear of an opera. The title role is being sung by American baritone Rodney Gilfrey who has a strong, virile voice and who's also a major hunk (he created the role of Stanley Kowalski in the opera made from A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE). I, of course, am going only for the music. The Janacek is a radiant opera on death and rebirth in nature and life. Janacek took the subject from a cartoon series that appeared in a Brno, Moravia newspaper and made something very moving of it. His music is quirky and highly personal, one of the major reasons I have been so drawn to it.
Incredibly enough, the two San Francisco bloggers I have corresponded with are actually on the east coast this week and weekend. I have been in contact with another friend who is on my opera chat group but he's not in the best of health right now, so we may not be able to get together, either. I may be on my own for the bulk of the three and a half days that I'm away, but since the city is so beautuful and the weather report is so fine for the next five days, I should be OK. I can't think of a city in the U.S. I would rather explore on foot.
If I can find a way to get on line, I'll post from out there. If not, I will be back on Tuesday the 22nd.
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
By coincidence I got an email over the weekend from a guy in San Francisco that reminded me all over again just how politically and historically unaware many (indeed, I fear, MOST) Americans really are. I tend not to blame them personally, because I know our educational system, to say nothing of our popular culture, discourages in-depth awareness of politics and history. But this guy, a friend of a friend, had written a balancing response to a glowing portrait of Reagan that had been published by a gay man on my friend's mailing list. He had been attacked for saying anything against Reagan, and couldn't believe it.
I wrote to him that his memory of those times was 100% correct and urged him to continue spreading the word. He replied with a story of walking down the street in the Castro behind a young lesbian couple who stopped to read a poster advertizing
some event in memory of Harvey Milk. They had no idea who Harvey Milk was or why anyone should be interested in him. This, in San Francisco--this, in THE CASTRO! No wonder the George Bushes and Dick Cheneys of this world get away with what they get away with.
Sunday, June 13, 2004
Quiet day for us and one where Fritz is showing more and more vitality. One friend stopped by just after lunch, a dear, very funny man who is a major conservator of historical sites and an expert at dating and restoring early Colonial-era houses. Then two other guys came for tea, great men who have been part of our circle for years and have just begun exploring a relationship.
I thought it a good occasion to make a little celebration of Fritz's return home, so I laid on a full English Tea--cucumber sandwiches on crustless bread with butter and a hint of crumbled blue cheese, a "little cakes" platter with plump, ripe strawberries, and almond vanilla tea. I broke out the ceramic cow creamer and some of Fritz's ancestral china. At moments like this he always looks at me and says "and to think there was a time when you thought you weren't gay."
Saturday, June 12, 2004
I'm up here in New Hampshire at Fritz's place for the weekend. Biker Week has begun today in the Lakes Region, centered at Laconia. Motorcycles from all points of the compass are flooding into the area. The event gets bigger and bigger every year--this year's estimate is in the nature of 350,000 people. Last year they dropped $240,000,000 into the local economy. Mototrcycle convoys have passed by the house here all day. Big, hunky guys on big, butch choppers. Beautiful sight.
There is a wedding reception at Fritz's center tonight. Nice kids, very young, and all supposedly in "medieval" costume. They are having a lot of fun dancing to loud rap and disco. The Bee-Gees live, at least here, tonight. The wedding cake is vile--tasteless cake with crisco and confectioner's sugar frosting. No flavor, just cloyingly sweet. I'm checking in every now and then to empty trash cans overflowing with soft drink cans and Corona bottles. A couple of the groomsmen help me occasionally and are really nice guys. Hot, too. I didn't mis-spend anywhere near enough of my youth.
Fritz has gone to bed for the night, having had a pretty good day. We may go out for a drive and a bit of a walk tomorrow.
He has been overwhelmed by the volume of cards and emails that are coming in for him. This is a man whose former students from his first teaching job in Las Vegas decades ago fly cross-country to attend his birthday parties regularly and the 30th anniversary of the center, and he still doesn't get how dear he is to so many people. I think he has the biggest soul of anyone I've ever met. Like Walt Whitman, he contains multitudes.
Friday, June 11, 2004
The last major tubes were removed today--the big, nasty chest drain and an annoying IV tube inserted into a neck vein. Tomorrow we take the post-discharge coronary class together. Fritz eats so well (skinless chicken, fish of all kinds, fresh fruits and vegetables, no junk or processed foods, cooks in olive oil, drinks only wine--no hard liquor, etc.) that eliminating all salt for about three months is the only dietary adjustment we'll have to make.
I'm deep cleaning the house so there is much less chance of bacterial infection in the immediate post-discharge weeks. (He may get out tomorrow but no later than Saturday). This morning I worked hard on the bedroom. When I got to his night table--a gay guy's toy department--I made some interesting finds. All the usual gear--leather with snaps, leather with an adjustible sliding clasp, some really good print material, a 1998 Naked City wall calendar with photos that will NEVER be out of date--and some things that even after seven years I hadn't seen or had used on me. Yet.
In one little cubby was a bottle of ID Glide and when I took it out to dust it, behind it was a picture of me! Every time he wants a bit of Glide for *ahem* some purpose or other, he sees me smiling at him. Now, is that romantic or WHAT?
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Fritz had as good a day today as he a=had a bad one yesterday: focused, with his wicked sense of humor back in action, he was very much the man I fell in love with. We did learn that we won't be going on our July road trip across the U.S. and back. They will have him on a coronary rehabilitation program that lastsa about two months. Most of all, I will miss getting to sleep with my man in my daughter and smart-ass son-in-law's guest room now that we are married and "respectable."
With credit to Jeff (Jeff and Moe) from whom this was lifted:
1. What time do you get up?
I don't need much sleep. I wake up 5:00 to 5:30am and am very "up" at the time. But get out of bed no later than 6am. Yes, it means what you think it does
2. If you could eat lunch with one famous person who is living, who would it be?
3. Gold or silver?
Silver--it's my metal
4. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
5. What is your favorite TV Show?
One of the Law and Orders
6. What do you have for breakfast?
Fruit, toast, yogurt or an omlet
7. Who would you hate to be stuck in a room with?
George W. Bush. I would become uncontrolably violent and the little s.o.b. isn't actually worth doing a minute's worth of hard time over. Second choice, Fred Phelps
8. What is your middle name?
9. Beach, City or Country?
Country, but with access to a city for my fix of #20
10. Favorite ice cream?
11. Butter, plain or salted popcorn?
Popped in olive oil infused with mild Indian curry (and to think there was a time when I wondered whether or not I was gay)
12. Favorite color?
Earth tones--rust or deep saffron orange in particular
13. What kind of car do you drive?
Jeep Cherokee for the butch side of me
14. Favorite sandwich?
15. What characteristic do you despise?
16. Favorite flower?
The warratah. It's Australian
17. If you could go anywhere in the world on a vacation, where would you go?
18. What color is your bathroom?
Deep burgundy hand sponged over limestone gold (see #11, above)
19. Favorite brand of clothing?
Anything in a totally natural fiber that doesn't look like the uniform du jour that everyone else is wearing. In a pinch, a quirky thrift shop find. Or something I have rebuilt and embroidered my self (hit #11 again)
20. Where would you like to retire to?
Somewhere in walking distance of an opera house, several theaters, a great museum and a world-class library. But New York City is too crowded, so--Fritz's place.
21. Favorite day of the week?
22. What did you do for your last birthday?
Dinner on the deck of a wonderul seafood restaurant on the New Hampshire coast with Fritz under a full moon
23. Where were you born?
New York, NY
24. Favorite sport to watch?
25. Who do you least expect to send this back to you?
26. Person you expect to send it back first?
Waiting to be surprised
27. Coke or Pepsi?
Great Western Chardonnay Grape Brut Champagne
28. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Morning, with a night owl extension (see #1, above)
29. What is your shoe size?
9. It does not indicate the size of anything else. Fritz is a size 13. It does
30. Favorite quote or philosophy in life?
"I live through risk. Without risk there is no art. You should always be on the edge of a cliff about to fall down and break your neck." Carlos Fuentes
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
We had laughed over the onset of these on Sunday when he was in Intensive Care.
They had given him a pillow to cover his chest so he couldn't hit the incision.
Once the truly horrible lung tube was removed so he could talk he told me he had looked down and seen the Chinese Emperor's terra cotta warriors marching up his chest to attack him. The pain killers frequently cause these visons. They started off today by shifting him from an intravenous pain killer with traces of morphine to a very different oral medication. So his body was dealing with a completely different chemistry.
We got him up on his feet several times today, the nurses walking with him and I trailing behind with the catheter bag and the chest drain reservoir (I mean, what's a husband FOR?). Before I left him for the night I got him cleaned up and into a fresh hospital johnny, sat and talked for a while, kissed him a lot and stroked the sensitive little place at the top of his nose and between his eyebrows until he drifted off to what seemed a very peaceful sleep. God, how I love this man.
I am back in Boston for the night and to attend the retirement breakfast tomorrow of a colleague I have worked with for all of my 29 years at MIT. Then I'll go right back to the hospital and spend the day with him. I'm hoping we can play some cribbage or some Rummikubes--our two favorite games.
It's still possible he can come home on Thursday--we'll see how it goes.
Monday, June 07, 2004
Last night I emailed the Board of Directors of Fritz's not-for-profit, the big list of guys who are part of the gay community around Fritz's place, and my MIT colleagues and friends. It occurred to me suddenly that I was doing all this exactly two weeks to the day after our wedding. Notes of support and best wishes are pouring in, stacked up this morning when I opened my email.
I have begun to process all this and it occurred to me that not for one moment did it seriously occur to me that I might lose him. Part of it was the speed with which everything was working itself out. There were too many things to do and decisions to be made, and the one thing he didn't need was to have emotional upset around him. Another part was the unfailing professionalism,
skill and warmth with which everything was being done for us by the two hospitals that cared for him. But the major part of it was certainly a small voice that I keep hearing in the back of my mind whenever anything comes up that could be a danger to us. It says simply that I am not ready to see the most wonderful thing that has happened to me in this life end, and that while it inevitably will one day, that day is NOT going to be today.
I talked with his doctors about the next several weeks. He won't be allowed to drive and certainly not to fly. So we won't be going together when I deliver a talk in San Francisco on the 19th. I'll be spending a lot of time up at his place "doing" for him as the British say and assisting with running the center. I think it's going to be a lovely time.
Sunday, June 06, 2004
We decided I would go back to Fritz's house and spend the night there, with a call from the surgeon when the operation ended. He estimated 3am. The call came at 2:58am, that it had turned into a quadruple bypass, with reconstruction of a heart valve that was stretched, leaking and causing a murmur. Vital signs were rock solid, Fritz didn't need any blood during the procedure. He is in top condition!
He is in intensive care recovery and will be transferred to a room where I can sit with him all day at about 9:30 or 10am. Projected day of discharge is Thursday. I want to thank Karl and Matt so much for their lovely comments to yesterday's post and, as fellow Bostonian bloggers, their offer of any assistance. It means a very great deal, guys. Fritz and I were supposed to be doing the AIDS Walk today. That will wait for another year and I bet he'll be one of the fastest walkers of all when it happens.
The media today are full of the passing of Ronald Reagan. I know that many of the guys who read this are young men who didn't experience the Reagan years and the onset of the AIDS epidemic first hand. There are huge tributes going on and great public grief. Among gay men, the situation is inevitably different. The unstated but clearly understood policy of the Reagan Administration on gay men and AIDS can charitably be described as "Let the faggots die." And die or sicken drastically we did in hundreds, then thousands, then hundreds OF thousands. I understand that the majority of the American people loved and respected him and are deeply affected this morning. But not in this household.
Saturday, June 05, 2004
I said I needed to see Fritz and was asked my relationship to him. I replied without hesitation, "Here we're called partners, but in Massachusetts we're husbands." I was ushered in immediately and we were both beautifully treated by the entire staff. He was admitted after a battery of tests in Emergency with a preliminary diagnosis of an attack of angina. He has NOT had a heart attack, of that they're certain.
They will do further work to determine if any blood vessels leading into the heart muscle are blocked and, if so, they may do an angioplasty or put in a stent. When I asked if it would be a plain or medicated stent, I got the cardiology unit on my side right away. Worst case scenario is a bypass operation but right now nobody expects anything like that--he's in superb shape,
never smoked, eats intelligently and exercises regularly.
I'm changing my schedule completely for the next couple of days, making the necessary phone calls to family and friends, etc. We
both said "in sickness and in health" two weeks ago, but we never thought sickness would come so fast.
Friday, June 04, 2004
The short formal ceremony ended with a big clinch by the newly weds. I had my digital camera going and the T.C. graciously took pictures with it of the whole group so I could be in the shot. Afterwards, we all went to their condo apartment for a wonderful spread, including an all-chocolate and strawberry wedding cake. Neither of the boys is Italian but you wouldn't have known that from the abundance and quality of the food and drink. After just getting married myself, it was very moving to see it happen for others. I'm still getting used to casually dropping some item about "my husband" in conversation, and some of the people I deal with regularly are still getting used to it, too. I get some odd looks until the penny drops and they realize the situation. For a man to casually mention his husband in public is the new coming out. Brave new world!
We thought (hoped, prayed) we had heard the last of the horrendous list of inconveniences and major problems the Democratic National Convention will mean for this city, but this morning it has been announced that delays getting into and/or out of Logan Airport will probably run to about four hours. It has more or less been admitted, as well, that far from enjoying economic benefits from having the Convention here, Boston and a large number of surrounding cities and towns will probably suffer big losses.
Among the closures is North Station, next to the Convention site and terminus for all rail traffic from the populous northern suburbs and on into New Hampshire and Maine, 24 hours a day for the entire duration of the Convention. Major streets anywhere near the site and the entire great Central Artery through the city will be closed completely from 4PM until 11PM. Now what gets me is that Pennsylvania Station in New York City is directly UNDER the Republican National Convention site and it will not be closed, nor will any of the surrounding streets. Since the Bush-dominated Secret Service is in charge of all this, I can't help wondering if we aren't being "punished" for hosting the opposition party's party.
Thursday, June 03, 2004
I'm not particularly photogenic and I really like maybe one in five or six of the pictures that are taken of me. I'm relatively sure that bad past photo experiences have led me to become stiff and overly guarded in my expressions, which just adds to the problem. Fritz came down at noon and G. arrived a little later to set up equipment. As Fritz and I both have or, in his case, had theatrical production in our careers, we had agreed on using our design and production center as the site. Against a whitewashed rough brick wall hung with rows of paintbrushes, snap lines, pots of feathers for marblizing , color swatches and bits and pieces of previous work we set up a couch from prop and furniture storage and did the shoot.
The idea was to be informal and affectionate, which is our live together anyway and which put me at ease immediately. But even if it hadn't, I like and trust G. so much and he has such a sweet, slightly ditsy manner overlaying his rock solid professionalism, that it's impossible to be tense anywhere near him. He doesn't have any of the cliche chatter, the "make love to the camera" crap that many photographers use. When you have your man's arms around you, his cheek against yours and your photographer says quietly, "You know you have the most gorgeous eyes," everything is just FINE. He shot six rolls of film, both color and b&W, using two locations--the couch and part of the costume room. He gets part of his advertising spread and we'll have excellent professional pictures of us together, something we haven't had previously.
Afterwards we drove him back to his place and he showed us his portfolio, some wonderful experimental work, portraits and "art photography" of past lovers, close friends and and nature while we were entertained and explored by his two stunningly beautiful abyssinian cats, Trevor and Aiden. The results should be ready for viewing this Friday and I can't wait.
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Fritz and I love to cook for each other. We both use dinners and other food-oriented events to bring friends and relatives together for talk or business. We cook from scratch, using as few processed foods as possible and fresh fruits and vegetables are very important to us. Food even helped bring us together. Our first date began with a great lunch he made. I could tell that the preparation and enjoyment of a good meal was important to him because he actually let me finish dessert, just barely but he did let me finish, before laying the moves on me. How can you not fall hard for a man like that?
Good food (that is, fresh ingredients creatively combined with no junk) was more of a tradition in his family than in mine. My mother's side was English, then among the worst "cuisine" in the world for fat, starch (we now say "carbs") and meat boiled to gray tastelessness. My English grandfather died of serious heart disease at far too young an age and I think my grandmother probably cooked him to death. I saw her steak and kidney pie recipe once; the crust part--and there was a LOT of crust involved--began with "take three leaves of lard and . . ." It could be eaten or stuffed directly into the heart valves.
My elder daughter and her husband (my wonderful smartass son in law who tells me now that Fritz and I are married and "respectable" we can stay in their apartment this summer when we visit. This boy is every father's dream son in law) gave me a gift certificate for a bread machine at Christmas and I haven't bought bread since. I love being able to eat whole grain and out of the ordinary breads without preservatives and with real taste and texture. I do a lot of experimenting and almost always add coarsely chopped walnuts and/or dried apples or apricots, sunflower seeds, etc. etc. to the recipes.
I have copies of most of the Julia Child books but use them rarely because they seem to me to unnecessarily complicate what should be a happy and creative process. "Joy of Cooking" is far more to my liking as are the Italian cuisine cookbooks of Marcella Hazan. But most of all, I think a real cook--and Fritz is a real cook, as I try to be--has the ability to improvise based on what's available, either seasonally or on hand in the kitchen at any one time, and make something wonderful of it.
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
The cold and damp have returned after a really beautiful weekend. This is the time of year that I begin a transition into Italian Gentleman Farmer for the summer. Even before I met and joined Fritz for life, and began planting and establishing an orchard with him on his land, I gardened heavily on my property--fruit trees, vegetables, decorative plantings, and luxuriant English ivy beds. Unfortunately, the brutally cold, snowless January we had did a huge amount of damage. Most of the ivy is gone. It goes back at least 25 years, all of it started from six clippings I took from a friend's front yard. There are a few signs of life here and there but mostly big patches of bare, dead branches. Opportunistic weeds and vines have moved in very quickly in the heavy rains we have had this spring. The azelia's gone. Then the caterpilars arrived, stripping both apple trees, the blueberry bushes (including all the flower buds, so no crop this year) and anything else they took a fancy to. Luckily, they had no taste for gooseberries.
I did a little blogsurfing yesterday during breaks from the heavy yard work and have added a few links some of you might find of interest. Gay Athiest is the work of a yong man trying to establish a forum for various issues of interest to gays and lesbians who stand outside religious tradition. It seems to have been up only since this past April and is actively looking for members. I got a very nice welcome from the site owner when I left my first couple of posts. The gay Spirituality and Culture site is a group venture a couple of whose contributors are friends who have offered workshops and programs at Fritz's center. The site has a valuable link list. Lastly, Jake's NoFo blog is a real find; Jake's a Chicago-based writer who is literate and entertaining, has a refreshingly self-deprecating sense of humor and who has NOTHING to be self-deprecating about when you follow a couple of links to his pictures and profile.