September 27, 2006

Our own version of the "Gayborhood"

My fellow blogger and friend Kelly Stern has a beautiful photo of a rainbow flag on the front of his home in Richmond, and on his blog page. I tried something similar and came up with the picture above. Our little slice of the gayborhood in Toano...
I will be missing the first Pride event in this area since coming "totally" out last year. I feel bad in a way, well.... Maybe not that bad... Jim, some (straight) gayborhood friends, and I are all heading down to Nags Head this weekend for some R-and-R. We rented a house for the weekend and since none of us (except Jim) have been there before, we are all looking forward to discovering the area on our own.
It's a little early to think and have too much to say here. I have a dentist appointment later, then car inspection after that. I am looking forward to neither... I work Thursday, a 12 hour stint, then Friday I will try to get off early so we can head down to NC. My daughter has agreed to watch the dogs for us while we are gone... I think they will all three enjoy the time together.
I will post what I can when we return... But you know what they say... "What happens in the OBX, stays in the OBX" hehehe...
Over and "Out" from Toano

September 25, 2006

Down on his knees

Jim and I got home from a fantastic dinner last night at a neighbor's house, and he seemed a little "odd". I couldn't put my finger on what it was that was different or out of sync until I joined him as he had a cigarette on the deck off our master bedroom... I sat in a chair next to him as we started to talk some, he finished his smoke and come over to me and got down on his knees and started to hug me and put his head on my filled tummy. He was obviously struggling for words, which he does not do often, and said something like: "You still haven't gotten your last birthday present". My mind went a-wondering and ended up in the gutter (as usual). I mean make a mental picture for yourself, two gay guys, in love, both decent looking, one in a chair and the other on his knees... Didn't take me long to think I had this prelude all figured out... Or did I?
I worked my hand down lower, and Jim said "What are you doing"? I said I thought I knew what my final birthday present was, and why didn't we go get comfy rather that get rug burned on the deck. As I said that he reached into his pocket and pulled out a little white jewelry box... This is getting interesting I thought, as he said that we had not shared with each other anything to signify our commitment to each other. He opened the box and showed me a beautiful white gold and diamond ring, and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him...
I was so overwhelmed I had no words (a total oddity for those that know me well). We hugged, kissed and played with each others' rings until falling to sleep in the others' arms.
More to come... Over and "Out" for now from Toano, VA

September 23, 2006

Friday Nights

Another (retail) weekend draws to an end... I was off Thursday and Friday and had a couple of productive yet relaxing days off. Last night (Jim's Birthday) we went out to dinner with some neighbors and friends to celebrate his and mine, which was Monday... Yes the Mexican restaurant made us wear the silly sombreros while they (the waiter and owner) sang, first a Portuguese version, then a Mexican solo of a birthday song. Texas margueritas abounded... A good time was had by all. Thank you Sheila, Henry and Adam...

I did my own text message last night to my son... He got it, and knows what it said...

Now on to a busy weekend of selling furniture. I work today, tomorrow and Monday. Hopefully business will pick up some. It's been really slow since Labor Day (it does that every year) but usually bounces back by the end of the month. I like the customers in Newport News, and I am getting used to my fellow sales associates. I hope they are getting used to me!

Not much else happening in my neck of the woods...

Over and "Out" from Toano, VA

September 20, 2006

McGreevey's got nothin...

After reading about and listening to Jim McGreevey's woes over the past several days, I tried comparing what he went through to what I am still going through... Hard to do, but I think I still win.

McGreevey would still be in the closet (on the old DL) if it wasn't for the extortion attempt. I made a cognizant decision to: 1) Tell my wife before we were married, and: 2) To "out" myself to the rest of the world on my own terms, without a relationship (ie: lover) in the wings, or someone trying to ruin my name by blackmailing me.

I certainly can't imagine how his wife or children feel about him, but I do have a pretty good idea how mine do... After almost a year there is so much anger and hate still that it is like a poison. Contaminating people around us like the E. coli spinach scare.

My youngest son (19) has taken it (the hate) to new limits over the past few days... He has text messaged me 3 times, twice on my birthday (Monday) to tell me what a "piece of worthless sh*t" and "mother-f**ker" I was, and to tell me that he "hopes I die in a fire". Tonight, after getting home from work, I get a message on my cell that says: "Every time you think of me I want you to know how much I hate you, and wish death on you every day" or something along those lines...

He suspected I was gay probably 2-3 years ago after finding a chat window up on the family computer. He went to his Mom with the information, and after discussing it with her I made a choice to lie to my son. Now, mind you, the only offense that ever warranted a "spanking" for my children, was if they lied, and here Daddy was telling the biggest lie of all. I never forgave myself or my wife for talking me into that. I wanted to come out then and there and have it done, I think she thought she could buy a few more years in hopes they may be more tolerant. Either way, it was MY decision to manufacture the lie and deliver it to my son, something I will always regret and be forever sorry...

So Mr. McGreevey, I salute your coming out... I hope your family accepts your new station in life with more grace than mine.

I would not change anything about my past (with exception of the lie described above)... I love my children and never regret having them... I wish sometimes they would realize, that if I had made a decision to come out earlier in my life... They wouldn't even exist...

And that's all I have to say about that (for now)...

Over and "Out" from Toano, VA

September 18, 2006

Fifty-one and Counting

I made it to 51...

My daughter came down and spent the weekend with us. We had a grand time, although she was hurting from an accident of sorts, a few scrapes and a really sore body.

I woke up this morning to... well... nothing... nothing other than a regular Monday morning when I am not working, just another day really (other than the fact that I woke up laying next to the man I love). I went downstairs and got some coffee, let the dogs out, fed them, then walked back upstairs to check my email. There were a couple of shoeboxes and a card laying on top of my waiting laptop. Jim got me a beautiful dress shirt and tie, and a pair of casual khakkis from Banana Republic, one of my newest favorite places to (window) shop. I opened and read the card and started to cry. He knew exactly what to say, or more so... Exactly what I needed to hear. I met him at the bottom of the stairs and was crying as I hugged him... I think his words went something like "You're not gonna get all choked up on me now? are you?"... Oppps too late...

My brother, from Atlanta, emailed me and wished me a happy Birthday. As did my insurance agent... My brother followed his email up with a phone call though which was very nice. Then I heard from our neighbor and my cousin, the weatherman, as he drove up to Lake Anna for a day on the boat... Ahhhhhhh that is the life...

Worked 2.30 til 9pm and felt blessed that I made it through another birthday unscathed..

Lots more to think about, little else to say but Over and "Out" from Toano, VA

September 17, 2006

Countdown to 51

My 50th year on this planet has been a wild ride... Moving out, Coming out, and Jumping out... Not to mention the people I have met along the way, a few of which were instrumental in helping me find the "me" hiding inside.
Thanks to all of them, I could not have made it this far without...
As a treat to myself and some of my fellow bloggers I am reposting my Skydiving adventure post from this past year:
For my 50th birthday this past year I decided to not only come-out, but also chose to jump-out of a perfectly good airplane. Thanks to the staff down at West Point Skydiving Adventures, about an hour from westend Richmond) it was one of the most awesome experiences of my life.
After arriving early Sunday morning, we sat down and, in triplicate, signed and initialed our lives away on the company release waiver (I have not signed that many documents since my last home closing). I perfectly understand why the releases are necessary however, to the faint at heart, they may have been somewhat intimidating.
Since my friends and I had chosen to do tandem jumps, where we would be strapped tightly to the front of our instructor (A few of us felt there was nothing wrong with that picture), the training was somewhat abbreviated. We were shown the proper way to walk while strapped together, the correct way to exit the aircraft and arch our backs once in free-fall (again this back arching thing came naturally and more easily to a few of us). The instructor then gave us an idea of what we would encounter during the free-fall, the deployment of the chute, the rest of the ride, and finally the landing. None of us chickened out through this process so it appeared we were good to go.
The plane used that day was the size and shape of a Henrico County school bus. Not as air-worthy appearing a I thought it should be, but then, I had made the choice to leave it in mid flight, regardless of it's flying abilities. Picture that school bus with benches running it's length on each side, then picture the entire senior class at Hermitage High School climbing aboard all with their 40lb book bags strapped to their backs. As tandem jumpers, we got to board first and sat on a bench in what we later referred to as first class. The rest of the plane filled up very quickly. By the time we were ready to take off there were bodies everywhere. Oh and just an FYI, since we all had parachutes, I assumed the seat belt laws did not apply, so I didn't expect myself to be not only strapped onto my instructor but strapped into my seat too.
We reached our jumping altitude of 14,000 feet after about 15 minutes. The climb up was very noisy as the ramp on the back of the plane was partially opened. The experienced skydivers used this time to practice their mid-air version of pilotes and periodically glance over and make frightening gestures our way (I guess it's always fun to tease the new kids). Once we got to the right altitude the pilot lowered the ramp so that we could start our deplaning. The experienced jumpers wasted no time as they exited in groups, I imagine to execute some difficult formations using their arms, legs and heads while falling at 120 miles per hour. The tandem jumpers go last, I suppose so as not to get in the way of those wanting to go 125-130 mph. Before deplaning, our instructors cinched up all the straps holding us together, we then spend an awkward 5 minutes trying to stand from a very uncomfortable sitting position. Once on our feet, we aim for the rear of the plane and the ramp leading to nowhere.
That last step was interesting. As we fell, legs first, into the baby blue Central Virginia sky, the air flowing under the plane caught our legs and flipped us end over end. The instructor levels us out and taps me on the side to signal me that it was time to arch, which I promptly did. Now let me try to describe what you hear while all this is going on. When you have a chance, go over to your TV, tune it to channel 3, turn off your cable box and VCR/DVD, and turn up the volume on your 500watt surround sound system, with your head between the front two speakers. There is absolutely no vocal communication while free-falling, everything is done with pre-determined hand gestures. After what seemed like about 10 minutes, our 30 second free fall came to an end as the instructor tapped the altimeter on my wrist and I pulled the cord on our chute. You can feel the fabric start unfurling from the case on the instructors back, but until it opens and catches the sky, you have no idea what it feels like to be stopped in mid-air. You also rethank your instructor for checking and tightening those straps one last time before exiting the plane. What started out as a blur accompanied by a mind deafening noise, suddenly became the most tranquil, heavenly experience. The instructor tells me (yes you can hear at this point) that he is going to loosen the straps now, and that it may feel like he's letting me go (he actually said that to me) but it would be more comfortable for the remainder of the jump if the straps were loosened. The balance of our ride was like nothing I can describe. It had all the thrills of an "E" ticket ride at Disneyland (which by the way also turned 50 last year) and all the serenity of sailing in Biscayne Bay on a clear cool Miami autumn day. The flight after deployment of the chute probably didn't take more than 5-10 minutes but it seemed (in a very good way) to last 3-4 times that. As we got closer to the ground the instructor reminded me to lift and hold up my legs as we land (once again some men do this easier than others) so as not to get in his way as he tries to soften the landing. I held them up as we came down and in for our landing, which started out as a 2 point, on his feet, landing and ended up with both of us on our bums.
I could not have asked for a more enjoyable 50th/coming out experience. Thank you Lee, Philip, Tim, Andre, and the wonderful staff at West Point Skydiving Adventures, you guys all ROCK!
If you ever thought you'd like to try skydiving, JUST DO IT, you won't be sorry!

September 13, 2006

Kelly's Whadda Ya Want Wednesday

I posted a question on a friend's blog today (for which he asks we answer ourselves first), and felt it was something I wanted to include in my own post:
"Ok Kelly, looks like I am the first today...
Here's my question: Have you ever (with persons from your past or with Jeff) fallen in love (not lust) at first sight or rather on your first meeting?
Here's my answer: Yes, twice.
1) I was married in my "Old" life. I met my soon to be wife when I interviewed with her for a part time position at Burdines Department Stores (now Macy's) in Miami. I knew the moment I laid eyes on her and talked with her that she was my soul mate. She was married (as was I at the time) and I kept my feelings to myself. Five years later, we ran into each other again (and were both single), I found out that she had the same feelings about me from day one... We were married for almost 20 years (even after I told her of my sexual preference prior to getting married)..
2) After my totally coming out, and leaving my soul mate, I thought I could never love like that again... I was online one evening (yes, and got a private message from this guy that lived in Williamsburg. We started a chat (which I normally do not do with people without a picture). He invited me to dinner a few days later, we met, and well... The rest is history. I moved down a few weeks ago and plan on spending the rest of my life with this guy.
It's reassuring to know it can happen twice in a lifetime. And for those skeptics my only advice is: TAKE A CHANCE every now and then... Jim took a chance by sending me a private message, and I took a chance by driving 50 miles to have dinner with a guy without knowing what he looked like..."
Life is a generous thing if you be true to yourself and the people you love...
Over and "Out" from Toano, Virginia and "My New Life"...

September 12, 2006

Another Missed Opportunity

President G.W. Bush missed another opportunity last night to humanize the tragedies of September 11, 2001. Instead, he chose to try to resell his pack of lies to the American people and the world. I do not have deep political convictions, but I do think what we needed last night was re-assurance that we are safe, and for our elected leader to share our grief and condolences for the citizens that truly lost something and/or someone as a result of our government's ineptness (not that I expected him to ask for forgiveness, although that might have been a better strategy) on that horrible day, and since.

My friend and fellow blogger Kelly Stern, has a post today that I whole heartedly agree with. There is a time and place for everything, and I just don't think last night was appropriate for his reiteration of lame excuses for our being in Iraq or the middle-east at all, for that matter.

Disney/ABC put their political necks on the line by airing their dramatization of the events leading up to 9/11. While covering their behinds by insisting it was based only loosely on facts, they made me wonder how loosely? There seemed to be alot of indisputable realities and events, so how many of the disputed events and facts could be real as well? Seems that most affected negatively are doing major "backpaddles" up their respective creeks.

Elections are a wonderful thing, aren't they? We'll see how the American people feel about things in a couple of years, if it's not already too late.

Another missed opportunity? Not for me... and not for you to speak out and let your voice (and vote) be heard.

Over and "Totally Out" spoken, from Toano, Virginia

September 10, 2006

Five years later...

It seems like just yesterday that I was watching "Good Morning America", at my comfortable home in Richmond, and chatting online with a friend of mine from Miami on September 11, 2001. My friend asked if I had seen the news on the fire at the World Trade Center, which I had. As he typed the next message Charlie and Diane were commenting as video of the fire filled my TV screen. The pair of newscasters was superimposed on the tube with the video of the smoldering tower as the 2nd plane ripped into the twin of the burning building. I actually jumped when I saw what happened behind the news team. It took them a moment to realize what had transpired.
Five years later? No way...
So much has happened in my life, yet it pales in comparison to the events that began for tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of people on that day, that continue today: The occupants of the towers and other buildings (including the pentagon) and their surviving families and friends, the Fire and Police professionals (and other unknown heroes) that risked their lives trying to save complete strangers, the brave souls on flight 93 and their spouses, children, parents and friends... and that's just the start. Every soldier sent to the mid-east that lost his or her life has a family and friends too... Just how many people did this affect???
Five years later? No possible way...
I plan to watch the fictional production of the events leading up to 9/11 on ABC tonight and tomorrow, using it only for supplemental color. Based on what I understand to be the findings of the 9/11 Commission, someone (some politician) needs to take responsibility for not doing their job. We, as taxpayers and voters, pay their salary and selected them to protect us. Someone failed... Was it the elected officials? or was it the low voter turnout? or was it??? I suppose we will never really know...
Five years later? And no-one to blame, or is there?
"And that's all I have to say about that"...
Over and "Out" from America, God Bless everyone touched by 9/11/2001

September 7, 2006

Can you say "OH SHIT"?

OH SHIT it is... I got home from work last night - after a grueling 12 hour shift - to find my bank account frozen (I do my banking stuff online, as I'm sure most do these days). It appears there is some kind of judgment against me (personally) for a business/corporate credit account with Capital One from like 2 years ago, that I thought was all resolved back in June... What a disaster... I called CapOne and got the "gee we're sorry but there's nothing we can do until the garnishment expires on October 2nd". What a line of crap that is... Someone can always do something, but after being on the phone with them for almost an hour, talking to several "account specialists" that hadn't a clue what I was talking about, to a person in the "fraud" department - that was also unsure of my plight, to someone in the legal department that, while pleasant and courteous, was also quite short and abrupt, like she was reading from a script. Finally asking for a manager, I was told that there was nothing they could (rather than would) do until the expiration date on the court order. I never could figure out why some people do not have bank accounts, now I know why... I have a couple of weeks before the mortgage/family payment is due, and I am not quite sure how it's going to happen... I guess there's always a way... I just haven't thought of it yet.

Otherwise, life is grand. Today is "honey do day" a list (I love lists) of things to do around the old homestead. It should keep me busy and my mind off the financial woes for the time being, at least until I have a brainstorm, or a stroke!!!
Over and "Out" for now, from Toano VA

September 6, 2006

New Faces - New Challenges

Well... I managed through the first day at the new store in Newport News. It's a 35 minute drive from our house in Toano - compared to the 10 minute commute I had in Richmond - to Newport News. I guess I took it for granted that I was accepted for who I am at my old store, not that my new team-mates don't like me, it's just I have to "come out" all over again to a new group of people. I don't want to hit them over the head with it, but I do want them to know that being gay is part of who I am. The sales staff - at least on my team - are a little more mature than the group I worked with in Richmond. Their tolerance/acceptance seems a little more hesitant in coming. Oh well...
Otherwise the store is very nice. I need to get used to the "operational" differences, but that shouldn't be that difficult. My feet hurt like heck after 12 hours yesterday. The floors are tiled over concrete, versus the floating hardwood at the Richmond store. It makes for some very hard stepping over a full day of chasing customers.
I would post some pictures I took this past week, but for some reason I can't get any photos to upload on to If anyone has a suggestion or work around, leave me a comment. I am using IE6.0 and would prefer to stay with it and blogger, but I miss being able to put pictures up here every now and then.
From Toano, VA ... Over and "Out" for now!

September 5, 2006

The First Day of...

Today is the first day after Labor Day, the first day of school for most in our area, and the first day for me, at my new job in Newport News. This past week has been a whirlwind of sorts, with my move, family visits, and the remnants of Ernesto moving through. I suppose if JD and I can manage through something like - three days without electricity - and your parents visiting, we can weather any storm... And we did!! The first day through the last...
It will be good to get back to the rhythm of our everyday lives... I start this week with two 12 hour shifts, then off Thursday and Friday. I ended up on the same schedule as I had at the VCF in Richmond, so when things get slow, at least my old team-mates will be working and I can call and get the "scoop" on things in the old neighborhood.
JD and I went out shopping for a spa this weekend. He has some back problems and has always wanted to add to our deck and include a hot-tub when he did. The adventure begins... We will build a platform for the tub about 4-5 feet below the existing deck, install and use the new tub, then build a 600 square foot deck around the tub, in the spring - I built a similar sized deck at my old house around a swimming pool, so we should be able to manage a relatively simple, square deck...
Not much else happening in this neck of the woods... I will write more on our families visits on future posts...
Over and "Out" from Toano, Virginia...