Monday, June 30, 2008
This past weekend was gay pride in Chicago. The streets were alive with anorexic boys in little underwear. The alcohol poured freely, and music filled the streets. Prior to the actual parade on Sunday there was a sort of street fair that occurred on Saturday. In order for my partner and I to avoid the rain and large crowds on Sunday for the actual parade we opted to just attend the street fair. News cameras filled the streets and reporters sought out only the most flamboyant men to interview. In the mix of it all several b list musicians performed on the main stage. The one wonderful exception was singer Tiffany. Yes I said Tiffany. For those of you not familiar with her she was a late eighties teen queen. Do you remember "I Think We're Alone Now"? She was the last performer of the evening. Now I have never been one to follow the normal gay stereotype. I do not worship Madonna or Cher. I don't sing along to Bette Midler and own Judy Garland Albums. It's just not me. However, this was Tiffany in all her former glory. I remember as a tween, sitting in my bedroom with my five pound cassette player and headphones replaying "Could Have Been" over and over. I recall staying up to watch Dance Machine on Friday night to catch her performance. I remember reading a teen magazine and discovering she was dating Jonathan Knight from New Kids On The Block. Yes, I truly do remember. She sang all of her songs pitch perfect. She wore a fringed black skirt, halter top and white high heeled platform shoes. Her hair was curled short and tight with sunbeams highlighting her beautiful red tresses. If all this were not enough she grabbed my hand twice, not once like she did with all the other bitter queens, but twice. It was as if we had a connection. It was as if she was saying "David you are my favorite". It was as if she knew me and I knew her. It was meant to be this chance interaction with Tiffany. It is what the universe intended.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
If I could pick one person in my life besides my mother whom I believe to be a great influence on me it would be my Aunt Velma. As a child she cared for me as if one of her own. One of the advantages of this was that she was not that much older than me. Yes she was alive when the first man walked on the moon, but not much older. I spent many nights sleeping in her house, and eating her food, so much so I regard her children as siblings. I was taught a little about cars from Uncle Peter, and played endless games with my three cousins. Much more than this she was a maternal figure in my life that provided me with advice and comfort. There was and is always a door open at her house. She is gentle yet bold at the same time. This characteristic is what I admire most. She could be asked to leave a local convenient store for making a rude remark to the cashier, yet give a homeless person money in the parking lot of that same store as security escorted her out. This is Velma. A woman who along with her husband raised three kids while working full time. A woman who mastered the art multitasking. She could cook an enchilada dinner from scratch on the same day as she stained her wood floors by herself. Much more than this she could love her children unconditionally and her nephew at the same time. This duel love is what I live with, the love I have for her and my mothe is one in the same. This person whom I am privledged to know is one of many who shaped my life. She cries when I cry and laughs when I laugh. As sappy or sugary as all this may sound the fact is it is the truth, and I am lucky that this thruth is sappy.
I will admit I am not the most compassionate person when it comes to someone taking an uninjured tumble. I have mentioned this before, so I will not elaborate. However I cannot keep this to myself any longer. It has pained me for two days deciding whether or not I should mention yet another fall I witnessed. The victim is familiar but the circumstances are different, he was not drunk this time. As I mentioned in my prior post I was lucky enough to attend a family reunion at a rented beach house in Florida. It was beautiful and picturesque. The drive down was long and wrought with wrong turns and exhaustion, but we finally found our way there. During the course of the trip my wonderful partner Dalton seemed to be cursed. During the drive he somehow sprained a toe. I don't how people. He didn't stub it on anything. Nothing fell on it, it just started to hurt him and we discovered it was sprained. This was just the beginning. On the trip back he became car sick. He was nauseated and could not eat anything. He has always had a delicate stomach at times, it just seemed that after the toe incident he had suffered enough. In between these two incidents something else happened. Yes people he fell. On a dark moonlit night in a beautiful beach front house he and I decided to join my family on the sand to listen to music and talk. The back of the house was designed with a large second story porch with wooden stairs that led to the bridge to the beach. On our way down we talked about how much we were enjoying the trip. As I turned towards my gentle giant he missed the last wooden stair from the porch. Down he went again. He fell to his knees as if praying to God for mercy. His face reddened with embarrassment because although I was the only one to see it happen he knew by the end of the night everyone else would be informed. He rose limping on his sprained toe with his knees dusty from sand. His face expressed a longing for me not to tell. But alas he must know me by now. I decided to forgo my story to my family. All except for one. The one from whom I inherited this gene. My Aunt Velma. We both laughed. As my guy approached us on the porch my Aunt asked Dalton what happened to his knee, he looked down unaware that I had told. He stopped short of his explanation when he saw our faces. He mentioned that we should shut up and walked away. I will be shopping for a bubble for him to live in tomorrow.
Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to go to Destin,Florida for a family reunion . It was a wonderful privilege to see my entire family present in one house. There was good weather, food, and a great deal of conversation. We all gathered to celebrate my grandparents fiftieth wedding anniversary. The wine poured free and the week was spent lying on the beach and catching up with everyone. The journey although tedious was well worth it. Everything was as it was before I left for Chicago. My uncles and aunt offered their many opinions and jokes on family matters. My mother, the mother hen of the group, took care of everyone. My sister and I traded witty banter, or at least it was witty on my side. I caught up with my brother and forgot how much I missed him. My grandparents remained close to the house soaking in the love and marveling at the accomplishment they had produced, keeping the family intact. On the trip back I stopped at a book store to find a way to pass the time during the long drive home. In between my turns at the wheel I read an incredible heart wrenching biography of a Holocaust survivor. His family had been torn apart and murdered, like countless other families during this dark period. As we all know, or at least should know by now the tragic unthinkable loss of these families and generations of people is unimaginable. There are countless lessons to be learned from such stories of horror and family. The lesson I learned is one that I shall never forget. At times I must admit I take my family for granted. I do not call them as often as I should. I let important days in their lives go by without even an email. I regrettably do not visit as often as I should. My reasons are selfish and self pitying. I think if I do not call them I won't miss them. The fact is I will always miss them, but I am lucky enough to still have them available to me, alive and living life. I am lucky to still be able to share a silly joke with my sister, or hear my mother's voice at the end of a phone receiver. I am fortunate that I have an aunt who still pushes me to move back to Dallas. I have the privilege of watching my niece grow up and see what an amazing father my little brother as turned out to be. These things I will no longer take for granted. these things are what makes me who I am. These things are the blessings and gifts my God has given me. These things are why I live.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
It has been my experience that most people judge a book by its cover. I know that I am guilty of it myself. When I see someone of a particular height, dress, etc. I initially assume that they are of a certain race or religion. In addition I assume they speak the language of their native countries that I have assigned to them. So it should come as no surprise that I when I experience the same assumptions placed upon me I should accept it as it is. However, this was not the case the other day. While working a temp job a man approached me in the lobby of the hotel I was working at to ask me about a particular car service he was waiting on. His first question was ..."Do you speak English?". I was insulted and a little embarrassed. There were several people around me and they seemed to be just as shocked as I was. To the gentleman's credit he meant no ill harm by his question. I don't think he even thought about what he had just asked me. Nonetheless it was a humbling experience. I replied by saying I speak better English than Spanish. He smiled and continued on with his inquiry. After all was said and done I was a bit angry, but the question remains if I do the same thing do I have the right to be upset if someone does it to me? I would never ask such a question. however I would think it. Is it any worse for him to ask it than me thinking it? I guess in the grand scheme of it all it is the same. I do not speak fluent Spanish and I have experienced the same inquiries about my language speaking skills by people of my own nationality. It seems that this judgement about myself will continue on forever. English is my first language, but some people outside my nationality will assume I speak only Spanish. Meanwhile people of my nationality will assume I speak fluent Spanish. It is a stereotype I will always live with, but I have to tell myself judge not lest ye be judged. With that note I must say I am really craving a taco right now.
Monday, June 2, 2008
The other day as I was smoking a cigarette outside, a person came up to me and asked me for a quarter and a square. Long ago when this request had begun making its way throughout the streets I thought a square was a drug term. It is actually a cigarette. In the beginning I always obliged. Then I realized it was becoming a frequent occurrence. Still I obliged, for a while. Currently I am financially in limbo so I began to tell people that I was out of cigarettes but still would give them the quarter. Then I realized the money request began to sky rocket. It was now a dollar. I like to think of myself as a kind person, maybe even gullible, but a dollar and a square? People cigarettes are expensive and a dollar is down right insulting. If you need to beg for a dollar you should not be smoking. If you are a drug addict and need the dollar for crack, smoke the crack instead because its cheaper than cigarettes. Also if on a really good day I give you a cigarette do not stand there and smoke with me. You will ruin my cigarette smoking experience because I will be wondering what your going to ask for next, five dollars and a triangle. Leave me alone!
For the past few day I have been working with a temporary agency hoping to find my new calling. It seems somewhere in between my initial interview and the first assigned job a communication error occurred. Throughout the years I have been fortunate enough to be employed with two great companies. These careers afforded me a comfortable lifestyle. Prior to this I was in college and worked in a factory during the summer to make ends meet. During my factory days I was a young kid working towards a college degree and didn't seem to mind the endless hours standing and working an assembly line. I didn't know any better, all I knew was that I received a check on Friday and it was good money at the time. However, I became spoiled. I finished college and spent my days making too much money at a new job for sitting in a desk chair all day. My breaks were not scheduled and I didn't have to wait for a whistle to eat lunch. In the eleven years since my college degree took me to this place I lost a certain vision of the blue collar working person. I always held respect for him or her but lost sight of what they actually do. In regards to the miscommunication, you probably guessed it, I was sent on manual labor jobs. The temp service business is apparently slow and all that is left for temporary employment are jobs that are less appealing to the average young professional. In these rough times we are forced to take positions that once seemed unthinkable to the spoiled office worker. This is both a negative and a positive. The negative being you have to work harder and longer for less pay. The positive is the point of my current rambling. Did we forget how to appreciate the hard working man? In my case I know I did. I stood on my feet all day with scheduled breaks this weekend. A personal accomplishment I had not done since my factory days. To make it clear the job was a cake walk mentally, but physically tiring. I realized while standing there in the sun working that I had become much more soiled than I thought. I giggled as my supervisor told me what time I could take a break. I laughed at the fact that I was not allowed to eat lunch when I wanted too. The normal eight hour day most of us are used to is a ten plus hour day for others. I made it home with enough blisters on my hands and feet to last me a lifetime. In this troubled economy we are doing what we have to do. I am confident that I will once again be back to the spoiled conditions I have been use to for so long, but I am more than confident that next time I see a man or woman working a construction sight, or digging a ditch I will take the time to appreciate the hard work they do to put food on the table. It is my belief that if every person at one time or another has the opportunity to work a manual labor job for one day you will learn to appreciate those people that do it everyday, and learn a little more about yourselves.