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Even Dream Boats Can Spring Leaks

For the longest time, I got lost in the realm of the grandiose — those wonderful dream worlds where everything magically happens with little to no work on my end; just a flick of the mental wand and I’d have everything I’d ever wanted.

A big, cool, old house.

Dream house.

Some dogs.

A man.

Constant financial security.

And then I grew up.

And things got hard.

Life sort of takes a meat tenderizer to those dreams, and beats out all of the drippy leavings until you’re left with a damp, bloody cloth and wondering how you’re going to use it to clean up your wrecked reality.

But then, something funny happens. Amid all of the hubbub and disgusting experiences requisite of trying to figure things out comes something great: an idea; a different course; a life-preserver to get through just one more day of a horrible job. You gut up, take a deep breath, and soldier on.

It’s no secret that I’ve been slacking with writing lately. There’s something pulling at me — something I can’t really describe. Whether or not it’s apathy isn’t really the question I’m trying to answer; I think I’m just trying to polish my dream of publishing a book — but I’m using that damned bloody rag and getting nowhere fast.

When I started writing down my everyday musings — from childhood stories to crazy happenings in the day, to glitter bombing my office — I had this end goal of what exactly it was all for. It wasn’t anything major, just something to be proud of and to laugh about; something that’d help propel us forward and onto the next fun thing.

Somewhere along the way, I lost some momentum and remembered that all of that “one day” talk will forever be “one day” as opposed to “here and now” — that is, unless I get my shit together and keep working.

It’s always hard to admit when you stumble, or your dreams don’t quite pan out the way you thought. That degree doesn’t translate to an amazing job; that second glance at a grocery store doesn’t lead to an awkwardly amazing first date; that big risk you took didn’t quite pay off in the ways you’d imagined it would.

The other day, I sort of came a little unhinged and lashed out at a troll who lives in the building next to ours. Granted, she’d upset Andy and the dogs, and I’d just been waiting until I had a moment to tell her what a vile creature she was, and relishing how horrible I’d be to her. And my moment came. And I said some horrendous things — much to the delight of another couple in our complex who’d been in the process of receiving her wrath when I saw what was going down and let my emotional Italian self take over. When the dust settled and I huffed inside, I told Andy what I’d done, and was a little proud of myself.

And then I started thinking about how angry I was, and began wondering why I’d held onto that when there’s been so much going right these days. Amid the intensely horrible things happening around the world — bombings, plane crashes, shootings — Andy and I are starting to make headway toward some of the goals we’d set for ourselves late last year. But still, I chose to hang onto the most negative aspect of a given week and let it fester until I exploded at a complete stranger — who, according to another resident, “got the shit scared out of her.”

I’d stopped listening to myself, to the part of my daily mantra I always repeat on my way to work: “I will not let negative people or any negativity I may encounter today get the better of me.” More importantly, “I will always be cognizant of the fact that I’m incredibly fortunate to have what I have, and to experience the things I experience, and to be able to share them with family, friends, and loved ones.” The latter part, my friends, is the kicker: the smack in the face that I need every now and then to bring me back.

To make me realize that childhood is childhood, and that adulthood can be pretty great.

Things may not have happened in the order I’d planned. But I’m pretty damn happy with how things have turned out so far.

With him.

Wedding Day 106

With them.

Her ladyship. His highness.

And even our little slice of West Hollywood. (Even with the trolls.)

Home.

***

There’s no one way to make lemonade out of the lemons our childhood dreams may have turned into. Hell, sometimes it’s even hard to find a cup to fill. The only thing any of us can really do is hold our heads up, keep smiling, and raise a glass of whatever we squeeze through our mental juicers — pulp and all.

And at least imagine our glass is halfway full.

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Don’t Make Me Towanda Your Ass

Have you ever had one of those days where your collective rage for humanity bubbles out just when that last wee straw flutters down from the great above to break your back?

Like this afternoon, after a horrendously long day, I see an unattended, unaltered dog without a collar shuffling along Santa Monica Blvd — you know, just one of the busiest streets in California — when a random passerby stops me.

“Is that your dog?”

“No, I think he belongs to that guy in Hamburger Mary’s.”

A complete and utter oaf stands gawking at his phone while this dog riles up Pearl and Toby. But the passerby isn’t having it.

“Hey, is this your dog?”

Oafy plasters on a goofy grin and thumbs through his phone.

And y’all. That’s the straw that makes me go Towanda on his ass, clutching one dog under each arm as I stomp over to him.

“IS THIS YOUR FUCKING DOG?”

“Uh, yeah.” He tries to play it cool in front of his twiggy friends.

“YOU’RE A FUCKING ASSHOLE. TAKE CARE OF YOUR DOG!”

Which is when the passerby stops and stares slack-jawed, and I cross Santa Monica, screaming “ASSHOLLLLLLE!”

***

For fear of sounding like an ancient fossil, I’ll just write that I don’t understand younger generations. (Yes, I fail mightily at not sounding like a fossil.) Mostly in the realm of how many of them are choosing to enter the employment pool. (I know, worst segue ever — but the dog douche was the age of the people I’m writing about. Stick with me.)

Hiring someone takes so much more work than I ever imagined. Reviewing resumes. Setting up interviews. Doing the interviews. Assessing the candidates. Offering the job. So. Many. Steps. And still, you have to do your job.

I’ve found that there’s this insanely bizarre sense of entitlement that I find pervasive and utterly baffling. It’s like early twenty-somethings just expect to flutter to and from some job at a whim when they don’t feel as though their skill-sets are being utilized to their highest potential. They just cut and run without the slightest sense of professional decency.

So, to make myself feel better, I cobbled together my personal do’s and don’ts for job interviews.

(1) Avoid asking basic questions that’re clearly answered in the job announcement. Spending time on those during an interview communicates that you haven’t taken the time to read what you’re applying for.

(2) Never ask about compensation or benefits during the initial phone interview, unless broached by the employer. If you have to ask yourself, or preface a question with, “This may not be the time to ask, but…” go with your gut.

(3) After every phone conversation or in-person interview, always send a follow up thank-you email. ALWAYS. If communication is key to the position (meaning, yes), it is a clear red flag if you don’t thank the interviewer.

(4) Answer questions as succinctly and directly as possible. I don’t care about your life story.

(5) Avoid the overuse of “like.” Unless you’re a Valley Girl. In which case I will give you a tour of our zombie pen.

(6) Extend a hand. I will not allow my dog to bite it off. Unless you’re a zombie.

(7) Dress professionally for your age. Don’t go for “edgy” or your idea of “chic.” Bump Its are never chic.

(8) Avoid being overly familiar. We’re both gay. I get it. Move on.

(9) Avoid pointed questions. Such as, “So what do you do?” You are not interviewing for my job. I will cut you for my job.

(10) Visit the organization website more than once. If they don’t have a website in this day in age, they’re  probably planning to kidnap or eat you.

(11) Always proofread your resume. And pay attention to the file name. “Draft resume.docx” or “LOLresume.doc” does not convey professionalism.

(12) Don’t copy and paste your resume into the body of an email unless expressly requested by the employer.

(13) Cover letters should be doubly proofread. This is where you’re selling yourself. Or sailing yourself downriver.

(14) During an in-person interview, maintain eye. During a phone interview, avoid long pauses. If I have to ask if you’re still on the line, it’s not a good sign.

(15) If you’re wanting to transition into the “nonprofit realm” then expect to make less, regardless of what you do. That’s part of the package.

You’re welcome.

Now, go get hired and stuff. And take care of your dogs.

(And I swear I’ll actual write a real blog soon. Not just ranty stuff.)

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Marriage, Symbolism, and Farting Dogs

“Honey. HONEY!

I’m paying more attention to my stubble than my side view mirror. And the Prius pays the price.

*Khrrreachhh*

The sound from the pylon-Prius contact makes me cringe.

I get out to assess the damage, but a nearby imbecile distracts me.

“Don’t worry about it!” he hoots, his over-sized Hawaiian shorts billowing in the wind, “I’m sure your parents will just be happy that you’re okay!”

He follows with a har har har, which is when I reach over, grab his head, and slam it into the car hood repeatedly while screaming, “I’M 30 FUCKING YEARS OLD! MY PARENTS ARE THE LEAST OF MY PROBLEMS!”

Or at least that’s what I wish I did. With the sickening scraping noise reverberating between my ears, I scowl, mutter, and get back in.

Then stare out at the steady traffic and sigh.

“Is this day over yet?”

Andy sighs in agreement and pats my leg.

Soon enough, we’re picking up cupcakes and wedding cake and coordinating a shopping trip that goes slightly according to plan, albeit tinged with a modicum of requisite family drama. But hey, with North meeting South on the West coast, I’m just glad we all managed to survive with someone being shanked (my side doesn’t play, y’all).

Kidding!

The two sides!

By go-time, we’re all gathered in our small apartment and sweating slightly. Our friend Amanda rocks an awesome dress, and holds the iPad with the ceremony proceedings as Andy and I step up to our places.

The dogs are milling about underfoot, and the sun is setting, throwing light behind us. We’re all together — both sides finally together and sharing in a symbolic day that so many take for granted.

And as I stare through tear-welled eyes to Andy, I know that all of the stress and exhaustion and traveling and hard work have been worth it. That we’re damn fortunate to be surrounded by our supportive families in a state where our “I Do”‘s stick legally.

“I do.”

“I do.”

We do!

Then, Toby farts.

Gassy sausage

And everyone’s eyes well with tears.

And then it’s over. We’re husbands — as beautifully alien sounding as it is familiar.

Now, it's time to drink.

***

Dust devils twirl along the plains, whipping up bits of trash and desiccated plant life. We pass a deserted, ghoulish mining hamlet dotted with windowless clapboard shacks and decapitated, dead palm trees. An audiobook version of Deception Point plays as Andy dozes. The landscape around us is like that of another planet, which is fitting given our audiobook choice.

With the pups boarded hours ago, their empty crates rattle slightly from the backseat. We pass Palm Springs, and I wonder if we’ve made a mistake as Arizona draws closer. After all, we’re not even heading to Sedona. Phoenix is firmly fixed in our sights – an unlikely destination for a honeymoon. But we’re not exactly accustomed to doing the expected.

Andy nods awake and smiles over at me. And I inhale deeply, knowing we’re going to have a wonderful time rescuing antiques from the hellacious heat and lounging at the historic resort.

Fiesta time!

***

The drunken man slumping down in the overstuffed eat-in movie seat next to Andy wheezes and grunts before deflating into an intoxicated stupor.

“Muhumf. uhuhahhhh.”

Annoyed, Andy stares at me over his milkshake and inches closer to the edge of his seat. The plushy cushions make farting noises every single time I press the button to recline, drawing attention from neighboring viewers slopping quesadillas and nachos down their vodka-lubricated gullets while wiping their hands across the pleathered arms.

As if sensing the question bubbling to my lips, Andy leans over.

“I wonder if they disinfect these seats.”

I nod, then punch the recliner button one more time.

Pffft.

The opening scene of Tammy reminds me of the time a deer slammed into the side of my dad’s truck on his way out to our property to hunt. With no other humane alternative, Dad returned home with a kill without ever having to fire a shot.

The drunk smacks his lips and adjusts himself, and the teenage attendant asks if he wants anything.

“Lotz ah beeeer,” he slurs.

A heated conversation ensues, during which Andy nearly claws his way over the table rest between our seats. With the teenager gone, the man reclines a bit more.

“Oomphah.” Pffft.

Minutes later, he stands up, turns, and lets loose a yowl as he tumbles headlong down the stairs. No one moves to help him. Somewhere from the back, an inebriated woman sums it all up.

“Well, shit.”

He never returns. Andy relaxes, and we watch one character chastise another about hustling and working your ass off to get to be where you are, and how, as lesbians, she and her partner didn’t have anything handed to them. A row back, a man sighs and smacks his lips is dismay. And I’m reminded we’re not honeymooning in a blue state.

***

Pearl and Toby snore loudly on the sofas as we watch Orange is the New Black and unwrap our antiquing spoils. My ring slips on my left ring finger, and I nudge it back with a smile.

And think about the long, long roads we’ve both traveled to get to this point — and how grateful I am to have learned from the past few years and everything that’s come with them.

And how excited I am to embrace and shape what comes next.

Together