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Two Gays, a Prius, and a Powerpointed Plan

Finding someone who tolerates my quirks and finds most of them endearing was hard enough.

Combining households, thus subjecting him to my neurotic OCD-ADD-informed organizational structures and unyielding design aesthetics, was fraught with the usual hiccups when any two people move in together.

(Okay, so not everyone has to deal with a partner who has OCD or ADD or both or squirrel!)

So. Deciding to drive across the country together hasn’t really seemed like a big deal.

I mean, sure. It’s across the country. Like, from here to there.

Here to there and back again...

Over mountains, through woods, to a rusted-out bus in the middle of the Alaskan tundra.


At least about the bus.


We’ll have ups and downs and plenty of turnarounds and screaming matches with the GPS and little spats and possible tears as we pass through Oklahoma and Texas to New Mexico without Starbucks.

Still, we’ll have an amazing adventure. Something we’ve both wanted to do individually, but are now fortunate enough to do together.

And while I know that we’ll have plenty of moments that’ll make others pale in comparison, I’ll still savor the quiet moments, no matter how brief they’ll be.

Like the sun slowly warming the car.

Like me reaching over to rest my hand on his.

Like the exhilaration of passing into another state we’ve never visited.

Like eating great food at random holes-in-the-wall.

Like catching up with far-flung friends.

Like laughing at our fleabag accommodations along the way, and dreaming of the amazingly beautiful, swanky California hotel rooms that await us.

Like making a peanut butter sandwich on the side of the road while contemplating a visit to the Grand Canyon.

Like making macabre references to Thelma & Louise.

Like forgetting all of the work-related bullshit that’s been weighing us down.

Like sleeping in until 7.

Like a threesome in The Standard’s rooftop pool with Joseph Gordon-Levitt or Ashton Kutcher. (Hey, it could happen!)

Like enjoying life a little bit.


Maybe I’m less concerned about the what-ifs because I’ll have a copilot.

A copilot with a printed Powerpoint presentation of our trip.

(Yes, I’m a lucky bastard.)

Regardless, I know we’ll be fine. We’ll make it work. Because we’ve made far more stressful things work before.

And this time around, we’ll have the wind behind us, the music blaring, and the knowledge that we’ll be free for a few weeks calming our nerves like a vodka tonic.

With nothing but open road ahead of us and a dust cloud in the Prius’s rear-view.

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I’ll go ahead and admit that I have road rage.

Every now and then.


Most of the time.

Still, as someone who drives nearly 180 minutes round trip every single work day, I think I’m entitled to it. In fact, I even get a cool moniker: Extreme Commuter.

*Creepy giggles*

Okay, so being an extreme commuter isn’t cool. In fact, I revile it.

Because not only do I encounter every type of driver out there—tailgaters, slow-goers, texters, weavers, excessive speeders, cell phone talkers, drunks—but I have to try and keep myself in check to ensure I don’t become one of them.

Sure, we’ve all been stupid more than a time or two—tried to steer while Instagramming a sunset, docking the iPod, and daydreaming about what we’d do if Joseph Gordon-Levitt appeared at that exact moment.


Most of the time, though, I keep it at 2 and 10, and get myself from Point A to Point B.

Driver's side sunset...not smart...

And yet, despite cooling myself down, remaining vigilant, and taking the higher road, morons still find me.

Like the geriatric driver with the suspended license who destroyed my Camry on a very rainy, extremely cold Halloween.

All trick and no treat...

And then blamed me for it.

Because I really wanted to ruin my paid off car by veering into the turn lane and hitting him. Because I loved dumping $400.00 into it two days before, just to watch my car’s grill–two lanes over–be pummeled to pieces by passing drivers.  

Or, the idiot who jacked up my “new” (not paid off) car because he felt like running a light to go up an off ramp.

Keanu couldn't save this Matrix a rhinoplasty...

Now, I’m not super proud to admit that I’ve flipped-off drivers, blared my horn at weaving texters, and screamed my share of expletives.  

And I’ll throw a PSA out there: “Kids, road rage is no laughing matter. Although laughing about it really pisses off the bastards.” Okay, so maybe leave that last part out. 
Because some people get ridiculously lost in it.
So, to avoid all that–and anger management classes–I do my best to let it roll off.
But then I find myself driving along on a Friday, humming Pink’s “Let’s Get This Party Started,” when a speeding car hydroplanes,  ricochets off a car in front of me, spirals into oncoming traffic, and hits two drivers there before crashing into a ditch.
So much for a quiet Friday night. Brought to you by idiotic driving!
Because now I’m standing in the rain (why, why always the rain?!) comforting the undergrad who’s freaking out in the middle of traffic and assuring her that she’ll be fine if she gets out of the middle of traffic.
At least being a crash veteran equips you with coping mechanisms. (Like envisioning the speeder being hit by a passing 18-wheeler. Kidding!) 
So there we are, standing by her car. And while she calls her dad, I watch other speeding cars merge, then speed around the wreckage.
But I also watch rubberneckers slam on their brakes for a better view. 
“We may want to step onto the shoulder,” I whisper to the undergrad. “These drivers are going to cause another accident, and I’d rather not be crushed by your car should they smash into what’s left of it.”
(So maybe I could’ve been a bit more empathetic.)
She snuffles a response before grabbing her purse and stepping off into the grass.
About three minutes after we plant ourselves well off the road, a Camry full of rubberneckers smashes into the back of an SUV.
Just a few feet from where we’d been standing.
Smoke billows out from the car’s mangled front. The driver and passengers fall out of their respective doors, punching airbags as they do.
And I just stare.
The police officers across the road stare.
And we almost synchronize our face-palms. 
Now, I’m not the only one who’s ever experienced some car-related misfortune. Or caused a little accident myself.
And even though you don’t like hearing about people getting into accidents, or like getting into them yourself, you do learn some useful things.
Like how to deal with an epileptic driver who’s smashed into a power line and continues to seize. And a group of sorority bystanders.
Me: “Okay, you go call 911!”
Sorority Girl 1: “AHHHH!”
Seizing Driver: *Slams foot on accelerator. Pushes car through fence.*
Me: *Hanging out door, pulling SD’s foot off accelerator*: “I’ve got this. Y’all go get help!”
SD: *Smashes head into horn*
Me: “FINE! I’ll call 911!”
SG 6: “Oh, I called them.”
Me: “Where in the hell did you come from?”
Me: *Pulls SD away from steering wheel and turns off car*
Or laugh. 
Like when my dad took his brand new truck to a car wash and ended up incurring nearly $3,000 worth of damage in four simple steps.
Step 1: Hug a pylon.
Step 2: Freak out, then back into another pylon, breaking out a tail light.
Step 3: Cuss excessively, floor it, and rip off a side panel with another pylon.
Step 4: Scream even more, back up, and knock off a side-view mirror.
Or, when my paternal grandmother waved to a neighbor, then drove right into a ditch. After which my grandfather turned with a rolled newspaper and tapped her on the head.
But think about it. We’re all just fleshy blobs hurtling through space in metal- and plastic-molded shells. So it’s simply a matter of probability that we’ll bang into each other. 
It’s not fun, but it happens.
And then we’re launched back into space. Trying to find our way through the chaos.
Back to that spot on the horizon.
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I Don’t Care About Your Terrific Kid

It was a slight against nature itself.

And me.

And every other person in the coffee shop.

Perhaps it was because I was still waiting on my mocha, and thus not yet properly caffeinated. But I couldn’t really acknowledge the banshee wreaking havoc in my favorite coffee shop as human.

Now, now.

Not your cherub.

I mean the hellion running around screaming, picking his nose, knocking over glass bottles, and jumping off things.

And what, pray tell, was his parental unit doing?


Corralling the little darling?

Apologizing to the man whose pants became a Kleenex?

Of course not.




Even as the baristas stared daggers at her, along with every single patron who’d retreated to this caffeinated oasis for that necessary early morning pep in their step.

Sometimes, I just need a quick, uninterrupted moment with my coffee...

And maybe a scone.

And croissant.



Parents reading this are probably already switching to Apartment Therapy or some other, cooler blog (god, I hope so for your sakes), all the while rolling their eyes at me, the nasty mo disparaging The Children.

But I’m not against children.

Just the lackadaisical parents who enable their disruptive behavior. Because the minute I’d have politely asked the parent to manage her child, I would’ve received a scoff and possibly a subpoena in the mail for emotional damage.

How dare I, The Childless Wretch, insist that she, A Parent, subscribe to social morays whilst sharing public space!

Maybe I’m just a little touchy because I’m now of an age where, if I don’t have a child, I’m immediately suspected as being (1) Delusional; (2) Damaged Goods; or (3) Gay.

(And bless the hearts of those who really have to suspect Choice 3 with me.)

But I have several friends with kids—well-behaved, cute kids because their parents are responsible. (Okay, so cute is just a fortuitous byproduct of genetics and good wardrobes.). Still, they don’t expect me to treat them differently, other than understanding that they might not be able to pop by for a quick drink. And while I acknowledge that having kids changes things like that, it doesn’t have to change how you treat people in general.

Now, Choice 2 is one of those nastygrams parents project onto singles who want kids. You know, the whole Oh-you’re-still-single-there-must-be-something-wrong-with-you message. In lieu of a more understanding, truthful Oh-there-are-a-lot-of-assholes-you-have-to-meet-before-someone-good-comes-along-and-wow-I’m-fortunate-I-found-someone-in-this-wreck-of-a-dating-poolwho-didn’t-give-me-crabs-and-sometimes-remembers-my-birthday.

And Choice 3 isn’t really a disqualifier. Although LGBT parenting is much more legally complex, which might dissuade some. (Hey, that’s the truth. If you don’t think so, ask yourself “Do my spouse and I both have legal rights to our child?” Yes? Then count yourself fortunate that the American Theocracy tilted in your favor.)

But you know what?

I don’t want kids.

Not even one.

And it’s not because I don’t want to go through the legal hassle, or identify a surrogate, or initiate the painstakingly long adoption process. And it’s certainly not because I’m a damaged gay.

I just don’t want children.

And I’m not going to be guilted into having them.

Do I respect those who have children and provide responsible, safe care for them?

Sure I do.

Just like I respect anyone who excels at their chosen profession. Good for you.

You wanted this. You’re doing the best you can. Bravo.




That “bravo” just doesn’t seem to cut the mustard. It seems that we all require little reminders of your Precious Moment. (Or, as often seems the case, your That-Time-We-Forgot-To-Strap-On-A-Rubber.)

Like your chalkboard family. (Because fellow motorists care that you chose to have five children. And the girls like Cheerleading! And the boys like Fishing! Even though you’re not engendering your children!)

Does anyone care?

Or your tacky “Baby on board!” sign. (Because that’ll stop an inattentive driver from smashing into you.)

Or your neon, turtle-shaped “Slow!” sign in the public right of way fronting your house. (Because I’m not going to intentionally swerve and take out that aesthetically offensive, unnecessary traffic hazard.)

Because we all secretly want children and should craft our lives around yours.

You just know it.


Here’s the thing: I’m pretty laid back about kid stuff in the public domain.

I don’t care if you breastfeed. We’re all primates; the tiniest ones require feeding at inopportune moments. And I’d much rather see a feeding curtain than hear a screaming child.

I don’t care if your kid is crying and you’re trying to quiet it and are taking a lot of time grabbing the stroller to escort your kid out of the theatre, room, immediate vicinity of me. Because you’re trying.

I don’t care if you’re watching your child walk around unobtrusively, watching as s/he putters around.

But when I’m going about my day, and your lil’ bit continually gets in my way, or others’ ways, or disrupts the path of a special needs dog, do the right thing.

Don’t be a-wholes.

And be cognizant of the fact that, while you may think children are the best things ever, I may not, and that’s just fine.

Because the last time I checked, two stick figures, or one with a martini glass, are just as good as three, or four, or five.

Actually, just nix the stick figures.

They’re fucking annoying.

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“Well, I didn’t know it was an adult magazine!” my saintly mother insists, folding the black-veiled porno rag, tucking it inside the garbage can. “I thought it was, you know, stuff.”

While Mom dumps lunch leavings on top for safe measure, I picture her ordering the rancid publication from the door-to-door seller’s list.

And wonder how the person kept from cracking up.

“I can only imagine what the mailman must think!” she adds, shaking her head and toting the can outside.


Porn aside, we’re all attached to our stuff.

The most seemingly insignificant tchotchke can be layered with so much meaning that it physically hurts when it shatters across the floor. (And more so when it’d received a little nudge.)

And yet, it’s just stuff—tangible reminders of experiences, the memories from which are far more valuable than the physical things.

Still, we have so many things. Like security blankets, our stuff buffers us against the things we try to avoid thinking about every single day—that things could fall apart; that we could be left with nothing; that all of this is transitory; that there’s really no point in having all of it.

And in a very basic way, it all anchors us to a place we may no longer want to be.

Yet, we’re still hesitant to part with any of it.

It’s like we want to stay shackled to a place.

Get larger and larger spaces to fill, only so the voids in our lives seem less expansive.

But, why the stuff?

For some sense of stability? Or rootedness?

I mean, who hasn’t yearned for both?

As a shovel bum, I once believed tranquility follows stasis. 

And yet, post-shovel bum days, I’ve found myself moving constantly, like a hummingbird to flowering plants—flitting here and there, my thirst never being quenched.

So I’ve started to wonder if this is normal. If, like Earth itself, everyone keeps moving. Even if we’re standing still. (And not in the Jewel sense, either.) 

If I’ll fluctuate from one extreme to the other—maximalist to minimalist with one fell load of a Penske truck—and not even notice.

Or care.


We’ve been conditioned to measure our success in life by how much stuff we’ve accumulated. That if we have little, we are little. 

But I haven’t changed for the worse when I’ve shed a ton of junk.

In fact, I’ve felt freer. Even more enlightened.

Still, Andy and I have three bedrooms, a dining room, a kitchen, a bathroom, three closets, and a living room chocked-full of stuff. (And we won’t even talk about the emergency escape–the back staircase.)


Sometimes, though, it just makes sense to let go. Being less encumbered affords mobility.

And right now, that seems pretty damn desirable.

At least until we land somewhere where our jobs aren’t draining us; where we can breathe a bit easier; where we have the same rights as our neighbors.

We don’t want much, and we don’t expect the world to be fair.

But I do know that the cut glass punch bowl won’t help us achieve these things. I’ve never made punch in it. And probably never will. (Hence, why it’s full of cars.)  

Punched out

Neither will the cool hexagonal chair I bought because it was cool and hexagonal. And that we rarely use.

What a hex...

Nor will the lot of carnival glass–my first auction purchase–that we use sparingly.

Glassed over

Neither will my first refinishing project: the chair I once used to facilitate a life-saving self-Heimlich maneuver. Its payment for being so generous? The closet. It deserves better.

Life saver...

Nor will a bazillion wine and martini and juice glasses. Because there’re only two of us. And when we actually do have time to throw a party, we’re probably not going to feel like washing them all. (I can attest, it sucks.)

Hangover enablers...

Nor will more chairs. 

A fierce dust collector...

And certainly never will the things I only bought because they were cute or pretty or interesting and have never used. (Yes, little milk glass salt and pepper shakers, I’m looking at you.) 

Shake, shake, shake...on out of here

It’s all here.

Clogging space we don’t really need.

Trapping the memories that we do.

Preventing us from leaving and making more.


As both a physical place and mental concept, home is fluid.

So why shouldn’t its composition change every now and then?

Especially when the most valuable possession I have is right beside me, holding my hand. 


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Isn’t it fascinating how we change?

With every degree until the full 180, we undergo infinitesimal augmentations before casting quizzical retrospective glances at that stranger of yore staring back through the mirror.

Alright, so that made me sound too much like Don Quixote.

Even if I’ve tilted with a few windmills.


Like a lot of kids, I had a penchant for spending chunks of time outside, and equally as many in front of the Nintendo—banging on its top when Duck Hunt froze mid-quack, or blowing on the game cartridge until, miraculously, the Blue Screen of Death disappeared.

Those activities were enough for me. Throw a pet dog and cantankerous parrot into the mix, and I was set. So I spent very little time poring over books, losing myself between the pages. I left that to my sister, whose love of books rivaled that of our parents. 

Soon enough, though, my friends got more involved with sports, shed their baby fat, and left me for a soccer ball or pigskin.  

Still, I tried. Coupled with an accident-prone nature, my soccer playing resulted in bloody noses, jacked glasses, and busted lips—all collateral damage from misguided kicks by my team’s largest member. It didn’t help that my Boost bar consumption added pudge to my baby fat instead of transforming me into a muscled, testosterone-fueled jock.

So, I self-relegated myself to the bench. Which would seem like the perfect segue to a bookworming future, right?

Meh, nope.

Not until Book It! sensationalized the appeal of reading (and Pizza Hut’s personal pan pizzas) did I entertain the thought of reading for pleasure.

Reading for fun? I can dig it.

Overcoming a general disinterest in reading, and a profound rebelliousness toward my parents’ slightly overbearing book-pushing, was a very gradual process. Because even if I toted a thick book around the house, my reading became a spectacle, accompanied with, “Oh, look. You’re reading!”

If that patronized praise had been accompanied with a biscuit, then maybe I’d have responded positively. But I wasn’t a dog, and I resented the slightly barbed undertones with every book-inspired insinuation.

So I started hiding the fact that I was reading.

Mostly because I felt profoundly stunted and ashamed.   

That is, until I was introduced to Brian Jacques and his Redwall series. Book after book, I lost hours winding through the vivid details about banquets and battles; it wasn’t until a decade later that I learned that he wrote for blind children.


Much later on, well into graduate school, I became enamored with memoirs.

Some of my favorites. And an awesome bowl.

Reading personal stories about how people figured out their lives, or at least tried to do something with them, struck some sort of chord. It made me think about all of the journals I’ve kept since I was nine—from my very first journal entry, which revolved around Zack from Saved by the Bell and a blue sequined suit (clues, clues everywhere!), to the family stories I’ve collected.

Something in my journals captures so much of who I am. And not just because they include crazed ramblings about my latest personal experiences.

The whole act of writing calms me—makes me feel like I’m doing something right. I just don’t get that from work, or anything else that I do.

That alone should tell me something.


Last weekend, while Andy and I perused one of my favorite local bookstores, we both remarked about how great it’d be to write a book.

I’ve mulled it over before—books and history and humor and life, and synthesizing them all. So I figure, what the hell?

I may as well try to do something that’ll make me feel like I’ve captured something about life, experiences others can relate to and laugh about.

Even if I once hated to read, maybe something I create can become some kid’s Redwall-like retreat.   

So, I’ll do it.

I’ll try my hand at writing a memoir.

And even if I don’t succeed—don’t ever take a dust jacket photo, don’t deliver a reading like some of my favorite authors—I’ll recount some pretty good memories.

And laugh hard along the way.

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And All That [Gay] Jazz

Something happened to me between the self-revelatory statements “I’m gay” and “WHY DON’T I HAVE A BOYFRIEND?!”

And not just jar after jar of Nutella. (But who’s counting?!)

Valentine's Day 2012

It was more of a self-realization about the dating scene. A realization that a lot of people are having in this iPhone-driven, text-heavy age.

Let me preface this by writing that a few of these problems aren’t necessarily LGBT-centric. But since I’m a flaming mo, my perspective’s a bit skewed.


From best friends and family members, to colleagues and angsty passersby, I’ve developed more than a peripheral knowledge of the most effective dating [avoidance] strategies.

Avoidance strategies, you ask?

Well, yes.

Because (1) It’s damn difficult to click with people in person. Like the time I tried to flirt with this one guy, pivot on a dime, and walk away confidently. Instead, I stuttered a goodbye and whipped around so quickly that I slipped, overcompensated, and knocked over a lube display. Classy lady.

And (2) It just gets exhausting writing profile after profile after profile on the most cutting-edge, most widely used dating sites “Proven to get you a date is less than a month!” or “At least get you laid.” Because then you turn into that person whose profile reads, “I HATE EVERYONE. THERE ARE NO REAL PEOPLE LEFT!” with an accompanying profile picture of a pixilated torso.


It just became easier to throw my hands up after a few bombed dates, blame it on the economy draining the last of an increasingly shallow dating pool, and sidle up to my computer for a Golden Girls marathon.

Alright, so I hadn’t quite spiraled to the point of a Goldie Hawn Death Becomes Her cat mo—mostly because I’m allergic, and can’t stomach that much frosting. But I did break out the hole-ridden jeans and stained hoodie to venture to Harris Teeter for a sweet treat.

Or treats.

At least self-checkout stations make eye contact avoidable.

Most of the time.


Maybe I’d just become so far resigned to the fact that I wasn’t going to find someone that I finally did. When I least expected it.

I know, I know. I hate that saccharine “It happens when you least expect it!” bullshit. Because I’d recited that to myself time after time (whenever I took my head out of my chocolate-covered pretzel feedbag).

But I ignored the fact that entertaining that very thought meant that I was still seeking out that ever-elusive complement to myself, even if I told myself I wasn’t.

Then, boom.

Andy happened.

So I figured, “Finally! I’m set. Relationship maintenance can’t be too demanding. The hard stuff is over!”

Oh, naivety.

Now, before I have to sleep in the guest bedroom, I’m not saying the effort involved in maintaining a relationship is bang-my-head-against-the-wall bad. Quite the contrary–it’s made me more mature, more patient, and (hopefully) more empathetic.

Still, there’ve been unexpected issues that’ve challenged us. Issues that I think other LGBTs encounter and, sometimes, can’t quite reconcile.


Andy and I hadn’t been together two months before I got horribly sick and had to go to an urgent care clinic, then to the hospital. I could barely keep both eyes open, and had to deal with filling out mountains of paperwork.

Then I got to a page I’d seen plenty of times before when I was single–one I’d never panicked over or had to think intensely about. It was the “right to medical information” page–where you list out who’s able to receive your medical information or request it, and their relationship to you.

The ink blot started to grow larger as I wondered, hesitating about broaching the topic for fear of freaking out Andy and making him think I was moving too fast.

Did I list him?

Should I tell him that I’m listing him?

What if I don’t list him and they run me to the E.R. and he’s not “privileged” with the information regarding my whereabouts?

Would they acknowledge a gay relationship?

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t danced through my sleep-deprived mind.

But one good side-effect of feeling crappy is that you give less of a damn about dating etiquette than usual. And while potential hospitalization isn’t a desired litmus test to see if you have a keeper by your side, it does the job.

We cleared the hurdle.

Even if the “A” was more of an inkblot than a letter.


Albeit thankfully short, that situation made me think about my LGBT friends, and the whole topic of “gay relationship time” versus “straight relationship time.” Sure, the latter are good topics for poking fun, but I think there’s a little something to it.

For a lot of LGBT couples, it’s hard to avoid heavy-hitting topics like healthcare, end-of-life decisions, housing issues, and property rights. In fact, like Andy and I learned, you have to broach them much, much earlier than some straight friends. That’s not to disparage our allies, or presume that heterosexual couples don’t have to engage in such intense dialogue. (The latter is clearly not true.)

By and large, though, most LGBT Americans don’t have the luxury of a temporal cushion to lighten the blow of such charged topics; we can’t assume that we’ll be afforded particular rights just because we have a partner of the opposite sex. So, a few months in, Andy and I were well-versed in familial histories, medical issues, end-of-life decisions, health and life insurance providers, and general contingency plans.

But for every story like ours, plenty of others don’t go so well–and not necessarily because of ill-suited matches. Heavy conversations have a way of exhausting a relationship speedily, smothering the initial flames of exuberance with overwhelming, sudden responsibilities and stressors. Pressures specific to LGBT relationships aren’t often understood by the general public. To everyone else, on the surface, it’s yet another failed LGBT relationship; it’s easier to default to that stance rather than think about the heteronormative, theocratically-legislated context in which LGBT relationships are established. Instead of attempting to change that context, though, ignorant people are more content to buy into the crazed, Santorum-ish perception of the “inherent instability” of LGBT relationships—and use that fallacious argument to continue LGBT-based discrimination.

Traversing bumpy relationship terrain early on does have a bonding effect, too. Even if conversations along the way don’t exactly come easily, and may shave off a few weeks from the honeymoon period. Because very few want “More peas?” followed by “Cremation or burial? Organ donation?”

Still, in the span of a few weeks, Andy and I jumped from hesitant-to-fart to peeing-with-the-door-open. Because with other, more pressing matters at hand, who really cares?

(Other than visitors.)

Olympians, sort of

So, while Andy and I aren’t Olympians, we’ve cleared a number of hurdles.

Not without a few stumbles or scuffs.

But we’re still going strong.

And if we can do it, plenty of y’all can, too.