Getting Into Washington, DC: 1979

When Bobby, Scott and I got into Washington, DC, it was July 10, 1979, hot and sticky. We’d run completely out of money, not having one idea what to do next. We went into our separate bathrooms on the Mall, near the Washington Monument (which was stunning, by the way).

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There were many people in there, but I picked the sink furthest from the open door and pulled out my paper bag of supplies: shampoo, soap, a razor and toothpaste with my toothbrush. First brushing my teeth, afterwards, I immediately felt more human. Then shaved my pits (why in the holy hell I did that is beyond me now), washed my face with soap and my hands and then leaned wayyyy over and washed my short hair (which may or may not have been fuchsia at the time).

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I ran my fingers through my dripping wet hair, gathered my supplies, dropping them back into the crinkly brown paper bag and walked outside past the gaping-mouthed women and girls. Outside, Bobby loaned me his brush and I brushed my hair until it was at least not dripping everywhere.

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Then we stood looking at each other. What now? We walked around looking for a pay phone to call family to ask for help. Scott’s family would help him, but not us… neither Bobby’s nor my family would help us, either. Scott was being sent a Western Union money order that would take 2 days to get there, so until then, we figured, we were on the streets together.

Looking up at the Washington Monument, I lamented we would not be able to get up there to see out the windows.

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See the teeny windows?

I then got the bright idea to try and schmooze the Park Services Ranger selling the tickets to go up and within minutes, Kevin had become our new gay friend.

He not only gave us tickets, but told us about Lynn up at the top, giving information to the tourists… that Lynn was known to take in strays and we were well qualified.

Up we went in the elevator. Dang, that Monument is much taller from the inside than the outside! When we got off, Lynn was there to greet us, giving us hugs and telling us about where she lived. I was craning my neck to see out the window, hardly paying attention until Bobby nudged me hard and I hit my head on the thick window.

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Rubbing my head, I turned just as Lynn was taking a key from around her neck and putting it over Bobby’s flowing red mane. Huh? Apparently, Lynn had just given us the key to her apartment where she lived with Risa and told us to shower, eat whatever was there and take a nap!! She told us where the quarters were for the laundry, where the laundry soap was… that we could play her albums if we wanted… to just make ourselves at home.

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It was rather stunning.

While still up in the Monument, we discussed what to do with the car, which had zero gas in it. The decision to leave it where it was, near the Ellipse, until we got some money.

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This left us with no way to get to Lynn’s house! So, before we went back down the elevator, Lynn said that Kevin had Metro tokens for us and the directions to her house, so down we went, over to Kevin’s kiosk again, got the tokens and headed off to Lynn and Risa’s place in Arlington, Virginia.

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After having been in the New York City subway, this one was pristine. Our stop was the Rosslyn stop, one that was a mere 2 years old, and was really was amazingly beautiful.

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Taking the Metro was awesome. And deep! When we got off on our stop, we went up an escalator so long, I had never seen one like it before, it taking several minutes to get up to the street.

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As we exited, all we had to do was go caddy-corner across the street and into the concrete building, up the elevator and into the really large apartment our new friends’ lived in.

We were immediately drawn to the enormous balcony. Leaning over the rail in one direction, we could see the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building and in the other, we could see the Iwo Jima Memorial. All of which looked very small from where we were, but look how huge the Iwo Jima Memorial is!

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Here is an image at night and you can see the Lincoln Memorial easier as well.

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How incredible is that? Our balcony gave us the scope of the buildings, minus the Lincoln Memorial.

Once we got showers and scarfed some food we found in the refrigerator, we three fell into someone’s bed, curled around each other, and fell asleep for several hours.

 

 

Running Away from Home: 1979

I was living with 5 gay friends in a condo, way back in 1979. I was 18 and out on my own for the first time. Going to the Parliament House, the big gay bar in our city, was The Priority in our lives… above eating and, of course, paying our rent.

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So when rent was due and we only had $500 between the 5 of us, 3 of us decided to take our winnings, er… rent money… and head to New York City. Living in Orlando, that was quite ambitious thinking, but we were all young and stupid and believed anything was possible.

We stopped by my dad’s house so I could grab the Oldsmobile Delta 88, an enormous light blue wonder that had one back window that wouldn’t go down, another that wouldn’t go up, a trunk that would not open and a hood tied with metal wire to keep it down. I had to dig around for the keys and license plate, but found those and we were off, in my dad’s now-stolen car.

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It looked about this good, but was a powder blue with a white hard top.

We packed that car with all of our belongings: clothes, shoes, books… and for some reason, several jars of peanut butter and jars of grape jam. (Jars were glass back then, no plastic ruining the environment in the olden days.)

I remember Bobby taking the first shift in the back seat, laying sideways on all the stuff, his shoulder hitting the roof resting on the huge pile. We tried to open the trunk 100 times, to no avail, so finally resigned ourselves that sleeping like the Princess in the Pea was a part of this adventure.

Bobby, a bright-red redhead, curly hair down around his shoulders, ached to be a drag queen, dancing and miming songs at every chance. Even up on his back seat perch, I laughed hysterically, seeing him in the rear view mirror, holding a hairbrush and lip synching to “I Will Survive” on the radio.

Bobby was a liar, telling us, with complete conviction, that the Oscar Meyer little boy was his brother. At first we were awed, then the lies built onto each other and when it took a teasel to figure one truth from another, we just shrugged and laughed no matter what he said.

The other roommate who came with us was Scott, a gay guy I had known since junior high. Scott was so smart and clever, but more of a book nerd than either Bobby or I; he was a good balance for us. Scott found his way into laughing for the sake of laughing on this trip, which makes me so happy since he died of AIDS not 3 years hence. I was very glad to witness his joy. Bobby also died of AIDS a couple of years after Scott.

During our trip of 1979, AIDS was an unknown. Sex was with utter abandon. The worst sexually transmitted disease one could get was herpes and that seemed like a social death sentence. Little did we know then, herpes would be almost benign.

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The first person I knew of who died of the Gay Cancer was Fat Matt. I was fat, too, and Fat Matt and I talked a lot about dieting and trying to lose weight. Being fat as a gay man was not good… being fit and being gorgeous were (and are) a gay thing. So when Matt began losing weight, he was ecstatic. He had no idea what he was doing to lose so fast, but he was thrilled. His sex life picked up, his self-esteem soared… and then he passed through thin, from healthy to gaunt in a few weeks. Matt was gone 6 months after he began losing weight. None of us knew what happened. He was such a dear, fun friend, the bar seemed odd without his flouncing around, showing us his hippo dance from Fantasia.

Then there were others, not fat men, who began losing weight, then their lives. I remember standing in the drag bar, being told two dear club friends had died during the week and reeling with complete confusion about what was happening. It would still be 6 months before the words “Gay Cancer” would be said on the evening news.

Being gay in the late 70’s and early 80’s was still taboo. No “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” no gays in the military, no gay marriage. Homosexuals (and I, the fag hag) clung to each other when our parents changed the locks after throwing our belongings in the front yard. So when our gay friends were dying, we were never invited to the funerals, but held our own memorials at the bar. We would drink to our friends, huddle together, giving each other love and comfort. When there were so many of these bar memorials we’d become numb, we realized we had all run out of tears at the exact same time.

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Forgiveness

Mom and I sat at the vet the other day, in that tiny side room with the dogs hiding under our feet. We wept together, apologizing for all our past hurts and wrongs. It was extremely freeing to know my mom forgives me for all those horrible kid things I have done… and she has heard that I also forgive her for her own parental difficulties.

I hope to know that with my own children one day.

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Snatch with Prompt

This was the Prompt:

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This is what I wrote in 30 minutes (unedited):

When Colors Run

Deep inside my colorless cocoon, I have a vague sense of other lives nearby.

I slither through their reality; where is my own? Surrounding myself with the darkness of my depression.

My mirror’d existence bursts into color, fireworks exploding with energy that drains my body, but never my mind.

Having Bipolar Disorder 1 is, quite literally, opposing colors of my brain. I see auras anyway, but during a manic episode, the colors scream off my body, tsunamis of energy crashing into my brain again and again. Voices screech… or whisper… I, never knowing which will be next… raging about how I look, feel, need to act, need to fly, need to find this or that, things that are elusive even after hours of mentally and physically searching.

Exhaustion never comes.

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When the electricity finally dissipates after months of zapping me, I collapse into that dark world once again, struggling to keep breathing and not smother myself with the thought that this will go on forever.

Reaching outward, always outward, needing several hands to keep me alive, I am fed my medication, waking only to swallow, then sleeping yet another 23 hours.

Writing is my emotional gauge. By how many words I write in a day, I’m able to see where I stand psychologically.

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Not writing for days, weeks, months… I am in that dark place and need help. Too often, because I am alone, I do not recognize the need for many weeks and, by then, am buried by the pain.

However, when I write 20,000 words in a day… several blog posts for me, blog posts and essays for work… long emails to friends and family… run-on sentences with divergent topics… it is they who sense my need for help and their well-rehearsed phone calls are made to see who can get me to the doctor the fastest.

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Walking the tightrope, umbrella in hand, I teeter, side to side, always searching for that inaccessible balance.

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NaNoWriMo Redux

National Novel Writing Month kicks my arse!

After getting off to a blazing start, I petered out a little past mid-month… which, it seems, is pretty common. Instead of the 50,000 word goal, I ended up with 35,111 words, which is, admittedly, about 35,000 more words than I have written in the last 6 months. My goal was not a novel, since I do not write novels, but to do a slew of posts for here. Hey, I did that! I still have 8-10 in drafts, waiting for pictures before popping out whole.

However, around Day 6, a fiction story started pouring out of my fingers. Huh? Where did that come from? I have no idea, but sharing it with my audience of one (another besides myself), it seems to be coming out as a pretty decent story.

Not having written complete fiction before, I knew I was making horrendous mistakes, including with dialogue. A group in Second Life (My NaNoWriMos!) suggested several books and I quickly acquired those. Poring through those, I am able to write more clearly than the earlier pages.

My writer friends also suggested Scrivener, a program specifically for writers.

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I loooooovvvvveeeee Scrivener. I did not start learning it until after midnight on December 1, but, so far, it has helped me so so much with my organization and being able to put things down on paper that I am usually carrying around in my head.

This is the synopsis of what I am writing.

Witness Mistress Lara’s training of Esmé , a natural submissive, to her eventual collaring by her new Owner, Master John. The path is not without its obstacles, Esmé requiring not only gentle guidance, but sometimes harsh punishments… neither of which are what they might seem at first blush. Everyone, from Dominants to submissives, learn what it means to maintain their roles and when it might be necessary to cross the lines.

(Title of Book [still unknown]) exposes the intertwined connections between BDSM, sex and love.

How far would you go to prove your innate worthiness to someone you desire?

Dang, I can write a decent synopsis! Hopefully the book is as yummy.

Re-reading it, I can already see the changes I have made because I learned I needed a Villain or three. A Villain?! Really? So I found her (the first?) and am doing her backstory. She seems so tender and was so hurt in her youth, you can hardly help but care for her. Oooo, until she does naughty things to Esmé.

I’m really having fun watching this story unfold. I have some idea of where it is going, but am much more a Seat-of-the-Pants kind of writer… not much of a planner it seems. I can’t wait to see what, if anything, ends up with what I have written. For all I know, it could be a short story instead of a novel.

We shall see.

Second Life (for me!)

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I’ve written before about being “Cyber-ly-Abled“:

“I love being able to have unencumbered sex with my sweet osezno, relieved of the logistics that real life would dictate. And what’s wonderful is he, too, is able to suspend reality, allowing me to be free… outside my body… and flying inside my mind. It is a gift he allows me that is completely dependent on the mechanism with which we communicate; the computer. Together, we tangle, we swirl together, we move around as if we were two feathers dancing on a current of air. Real life sex was never so uninhibited. It is a joy to be in this luscious place without my lifelong concerns… and occasional anguish… revolving around my body size, history of sexual abuse or even (seemingly) illogical psychiatric issues.”

This was written before I knew anything about Second Life.

Second Life is a virtual world. Mind you, I have never played a video game past Pac-Man nor done anything with virtual reality. In fact, when someone tried to get me into Second Life, I balked, thinking it was a religious thing. She finally dragged me to screen share with her, to show me what it really was, and within moments, I was hooked.

I was able to make myself into an Avatar… and Avi or AV… and I could make myself anything I wanted. Not just a woman, nor just a man, but Second Life has an endless array of creatures from vampires to mermaids to fairies and elves. If you feel like being a tiger one day and a transgender space person the next, you can do it! Easily and all but free of charge.

I, however, created my AV as a woman. An adorable blonde woman with a bit of flesh on her (and I know she looks small, but believe me, there are plenty of women with stick legs and enormous breasts in Second Life). I have my girl’s hair short almost always, but look! She has hair! After being bald for years, it is delicious having a choice of hairs to wear.

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I am also able to wear clothes that are lovely, classy, dressy, sloppy… whatever I want, I can find it in the Marketplace. Yes, I have to buy most of my clothes, but many things can be had for very, very inexpensive prices.

 

And the SHOES!

The shoes.

I can wear the highest heels every single day if I want. I can dance for 6 hours and my feet never hurt and I am not crippled with pain the next day.

 

I can wear angel wings and be amazingly sexy if I want to be.

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I have not been in Second Life for a year yet, so I have not explored a fraction of what it has to offer. I have not ridden horses, driven a car, been a mermaid in the ocean, gone sailing, ridden a surfboard… even role played… which is a huge offering of Second Life.

I have also not had SLex… Second Life sex. I decided to be there for at least a year before having any sex or doing anything kinky. I am certainly a weirdo for it, too, but so be it. I have 3 more months until I am 1 year old (in Second Life time) and have to make any decisions. For now, I am having a blast with what I have done.

I hang out at a Commune.

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I have flown while dancing.

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I found an enormous writing community that is extremely supportive of everyone’s writing progress. It is with this group with whom I am participating in the NaNoWriMo challenge and doing the Snatches and Dashes.

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We even have workshops where published authors and professional editors come in and teach us wonderful new skills.

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And Live Music!! Who knew there was live music online like this! I have found all kinds of genres from ballads to Bagpipe Rock to amazing folks music.

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I’ve also gone on a date to France.

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And the museums! So many museums.

And a million parks to go to… to have fun on playgrounds, to meditate in Japanese Gardens, to wander the Botanical Gardens… just so, so many places to enjoy.

There really is so much more than I can even express. I am glad to share my experiences with anyone asking.

I am purposefully not sharing my name because I also love the anonymity of Second Life. I want to create my own community of people that do not know me in real life. At least yet.

Are you in Second Life?

 

Vegetarian Experiences

When the kids were younger, we were all lacto-ovo vegetarians. Except when well-meaning (annoying) friends and family didn’t respect my choices. Once the kids were old enough to make their own choices, they ate veggie at home, but could eat whatever they wanted out of the house.

Choosing Vegetarianism

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I initially became a vegetarian when I was 18-years old after a beloved friend was killed by a drunk driver. I wanted to do something purposeful that would keep her in my heart and mind as time passed. 15 years later, when I explained it to a Certified Nurse Midwife I was working with at a birth center, she looked at me, smirking, “Was she killed by a cow?” I couldn’t help but laugh, hearing my explanation through another person’s ears. No, no… no cow involved.

Half-Hearted Vegetarianism

As the years passed, I wanted to be a vegetarian because I was fat and saw how thin most vegetarians were. The lacto-ovo got in the way of that, however.

Eating gobs of cheese, meals made with gobs of cheese, cheese and crackers, cheese, cheese, cheese!

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And then there was the delightful change in McDonald’s fries (in 1990) from using beef tallow to using vegetable oil in their fryers. I would eat 2-3 super-sized fries a day far too often. My mind was screwing with me, justifying eating the fries… “But they are vegetarian!”

I also ate a concoction of potatoes, onions, cheese (of course!) and sour cream on almost a daily basis. Now, of course, in the depths of diabetes, I know how incredibly glucose-spiking potatoes are. It’s amazing I didn’t become diabetic before the diagnosis when I was 34-years old.

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Okay, Let’s Be Vegan Then!

Then there was the stint as a vegan. I still did not lose weight (probably those “veggie” fries?), but tried hard to eat as healthy as possible. I discovered the veggie section of the supermarkets (in the refrigerated section? What’s up with that!) and began eating tofu, tempeh, seitan, veggie hot dogs and made vegan burgers from scratch. During that time, (and it lasted about 10 years) I easily had 20+ vegan cookbooks and also checked out vegan books at the library constantly, wanting to be a thin vegan. It never happened.

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Veggie Kidlets

Way back in the day, public schools were baffled about what to feed vegetarians. The kids told me they were eating cookies and drinking milk, sometimes having potatoes or pizza, but that was rare. I was darn tired of hearing these stories so tromped down to the school and talked to the head of the cafeteria. She expressed her confusion about vegetarianism, but said she would find a way to accommodate the kids. What ended up happening was my kidlets got to eat 2 salads and anything else they wanted. (Salads were brought in for the kids.) Blessedly, today, kids have many more food options. (I am sure it drives the cafeteria mad, though… veggie, vegan, food allergies, gluten-free, etc.)

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When the kids went to live with their father, they began eating meat… mostly chicken… but meat appeared in their diets. Interestingly, Tristan and Aimee are vegans and Meghann does not make meat dishes all that often. I smile knowing my weirdness did rub off on them just a little.

And Today?

I eat very very little red meat, no pork, a bit of chicken, fish a couple of times a year (unless I come across catfish!), but still am eating plenty of cheese. Rarely potatoes, though.

I’m glad I had the veggie experiences (and have several more stories that hinge on my being vegetarian), but it was, for me, a fad… a way to stand out in the crowd. It was a fad that lasted a darn long time!

Oh, and even in my vegan years, I had one turkey sandwich with Miracle Whip a year, the day after Thanksgiving. (I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving now, for what it’s worth.) I haven’t had a turkey sandwich in over 3 years now.

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