San Francisco – 2010

Although I’ve never been a fan of the city, I just got back from an extended weekend in San Francisco with Bill where I grew to appreciate it more (thanks honey).  The trip out there didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked (lack of coffee and good customer service were not helping) but once I arrived it was nice to see Bill there waiting for me.

We stayed with one of Bill’s friends, Dorothy, who has a great view of the city and if it’s not foggy a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Our first night there we went for a walk in the Golden Gate Park, which was beautiful, the weather was just about perfect and the company really was. It had been a long day so we were in bed pretty early.

Saturday Bill was kind and made sure we were up and about early so I could get to a coffee shop, we found a nice little place and the coffee was just right. Afterwards we spent the rest of the day with another friend of Bill’s, Patrick and a few of his friends touring the city. We hit Twin Peaks, Japan Town, Cable Cars, Zachary’s Pizza, Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream (where I tried several of the flavors but settled on “Elvis (the fat years)” which was quite good) and many shops in the Castro.

Sunday, we again went out for coffee early, intended to go to the Folsom Street fair early, but ended up napping (and snoring if you believe Dorothy – Bill and I both deny we snore) while Dorothy, a nurse, went off to volunteer her skills at the first aid station at the festival. That afternoon Bill and I did get to the fair, briefly, before walking to the Castro and just being touristy until that evening when we went to the Castro Theater to see the classic film Metropolis which, despite being made in ancient times, was really quite good.

Monday morning we went out for coffee and breakfast before heading off to the church where we plan to be married in June, The Interfaith Center in the Presidio. It’s perfect, cozy, sweet and just right…. I know, I know… but it really just felt like the right place to come to get married. Bill and I met with Sandi, the director there, and made arrangements for the day, we also asked her to officiate the event. She was wonderful and we hope you will think so too.

After our visit to the church Bill and I drove up to Bodega Bay, CA where Alfred Hitchcock shot the film The Birds. If you didn’t know, Bill is a big movie buff, and this was always something he hoped to go visit, so we did. We  used my phone for it’s GPS and by the time we arrived my battery was dead so I don’t have photos to post from there, but we did have a really nice time there and the cooler weather was a nice change (it was in the upper 90s in SF most of the visit and remarkably cooler on the coast). Then we drove up Highway 1 for a bit before stopping in a very gay friendly town near the Russian River for Ice Cream and then headed home through some wine country.

Then, sadly, I headed for home on Tuesday morning. Bill will be there visiting friends for another week. Fortunately, I’ll get to see him in San Antonio in just two more weeks :-).

Reflections on a Starr

My sister Amy asked me to post some fond memories of my Grandmother Starr the other day on Facebook. At the time I couldn’t recall any pleasant memories as I have a particularly unpleasant one that happened during one of our last communications.

My Grandmother is old, but not dying to the best of my knowledge, but there was a recent scare and everyone got all sentimental. Well, I’ve kind of distanced myself, so I didn’t… I’m just mental everyday. She must be in her late 80s or early 90s at this point and I haven’t seen her since my mother died, which I think was in 2004, but I can’t recall, at my Mother’s funeral and Grandmother didn’t even know who I was, so I can’t imagine that she’d remember me today either.

I was told that my Grandmother provided food and shelter to my mother, my sister (Dawn) and I when I was a newborn – as my father was always drunk (or so they say). She often provided food for my family in later years when my mother was always drunk.

When Dawn and I were fairly young we would join our Grandmother at Nuclear Protest rallies where she would take up her guitar on the large stage and sing protest songs, songs that she had written and speak out against nuclear power. Dawn and I would sing together songs that were familiar to us (Barbara Mandrell, Oak Ridge Boys, Alabama… mostly country stuff) on the stage to much fanfare while Grandmother played the guitar. It could have launched our careers and turned us into 1980s version of Justin Beiber, but alas – I was a big old drama queen and would throw fits if Dawn started the song on the wrong beat or sounded off key… yes, on stage. Me? I was always on. 😉

The family curse (that when you become a teenager you can’t live with Mom anymore) sent me to live with Grandmother. I was horrible to her, often stealing money from her purse, cutting the screen windows to use the screen as a filter for bongs, burned bibles (one I understand was a Family Bible – whatever that means) and just being a general shit head. She tolerated a lot of shit from me and my friends while I lived there, she should get recognition for that if nothing else.

I will always remember her bringing music into my world, exposing me to the Dulcimer, the Guitar, the Piano. She’s the one that got me writing, she kept a diary and wrote her own songs and stories. She really was/is something special.

In 1998, when I came out of the closet after I had moved to Washington, DC, I received a letter from her basically damning me for my “choice” to be gay. That’s the most current memory I have of her and it’s not a pleasant one. Since that letter I’ve had very little to do with her or her other children – truly I’m probably better off.

I hope that in this life those who got to know her, got to know the parts of her that inspired, taught and sang to me and not the parts that led her to condemn me to hell.

iRead, iWork, iPlay – iPad

I am just continuously impressed with my iPad and how much it can do with such ease.

First, I love the size and weight of it. It weighs so little compared to my Macbook, image of iPadbut a little more than my Kindle weighs and fits in the smallest of carry on bags for me to take with to the airport. I’ve bought a nice little bag for it which also is big enough to carry other travel essentials – it has a pocket for my iPod.

I bought the 64GB iPad, the largest size available, and don’t keep my music on it as that would take all of my memory – I can’t pick and choose which music I might want to hear traveling across the country. Whereas my iPod has over 5000 songs and room for more at present.

I’ve rented and downloaded a movie and some TV shows that I’ve watched on my iPad while on a plane trip to San Antonio. The sound, the picture quality and the large screen are just wonderful to have with me.

In addition to being able to read my Kindle books on it, I can also read digital comic books from Marvel, DC and Image (there are other comic companies but I read primarily from these) all of which have an app specifically designed for the iPad. Let me tell you, its beautiful to see the characters on this screen – absolutely love it. The price for some of these comics is a little extreme and hopefully it’ll come down as we progress into the future.

I have apps for news (Huffington Post, Cnet, ABC News), games (Jumbline2, Slice It and more), work (from Apple’s iWork series I have Pages and Numbers – if Microsoft was smart they’d get an app out for Word and Excel soon), music (Pandora and iTunes) and photos.There are also some that are just cool, Wikihood, Starwalk, Netflix… I could go on and on.

It’s just an amazing tool that allows me to do all of these things on such a small, light device. I know it might seem like an expensive toy, but it’s really a very effective tool for all aspects of life. I’m glad I spent the cash on mine and suggest you give it a shot yourself.