And Now a Word From The Sponsor

Welcome to my site and thank you for reading. After many times thinking, if only I had a blog, well-- here we are. This blog will feature writings on a variety of topics from roadside food, to leadership in the fire service; politics; culture- gay, straight, and indifferent, my experiences in Ohio, New York and beyond; and much much more. It's my hope that you will find it interesting and that it stirs at least some thought and discussion. I am certain you wont always agree, but that is what its all about right? Oh and one more thing: The views expressed on this site are entirely my own. They do not reflect in anyway the views or positions of my employer.



Friday, September 16, 2011

From New Orleans

I have to say, at first thought, its kind of like every place I have ever been and liked, merged into one compact space with more than a few drunken tourists thrown in for good measure.  Kind of like Buckeye Lake (ask someone from Ohio) meets Montreal.  I have even met more than my usual show of characters-- ranging from an elderly lady on a streetcar who I am certain put a curse on me (more about that later, but how the hell do I know where the hospital is?) to a creature of the night that was an amalgamation of nearly every troubled soul I have ever dated in one sinewy frame.  Don't worry kids, I am not moving him back to NYC to live with me.. I have learned something over these past few years. 

But I have to say its a great town place. More inspiration than should be possible in such a small geographic area.  Today I was not surprised when I gave birth to a fully formed poem somewhere near the french market, while having coffee at a sidewalk cafe watching this blend of tourists, and locals-- transients and thieves-- musicians and the deaf. 

I leave you with these prophetic words.. uttered in the midst of a male review the likes of which would make Caligula or Bruce Vilanch quite proud: 

"This is Rome"

You don't say..

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Eighty-One Ounces of Steak (Or.. Questions and Answers of Perspective)

These nights have been happening more and more frequently of late.  A random call;  an unexpected text or maybe just walking into the right place at the right time.  New York is finally living up to its potential or maybe I am living up to mine. 

Tuesday night it was a birthday event for a new friend.  One of those souls you have known forever but who resides in a body you have just met.  The person with whom the sentences are finished before they are started, the experiences of each other’s lives both similar and complimentary.  Even better, the whole group was this way. The singer; the incredibly intelligent guy sadly unemployed; the “younger one” and one of my best friends—who was my pathway to the group.  The conversation moved in huge gentle waves, lifting from topic to topic, maybe depositing one rider out for just a minute- but then, shortly after, lifting everyone back up into one fold of ex’s; drunken nights barely recalled; places we have all been; and places we dream of going.    

It continued-- long through the oysters and the cheese plate and the inevitable “Am I allergic to that?” concerns. Steaks that totaled 80 plus ounces were delivered and devoured in what I would imagine a medieval feast felt like, only we were missing the sword, the dragon, and a requisite number of paupers.  The Oatmeal stout, even with its bitterness, was liquid gold and the experience grew more rich by the moment, aided by bottles of wine and the revelations of unknown connections between us.

It was a miracle night.  

“So what’s the problem then?”

The right side of my face twitched in surprise, anger, frustration; and resentment at the question.  It came from the direction of the youngest member of the group.  Who really doesn't look as much like Jake Gyllenhaal as I first thought, but he's an impressive guy none-the-less. This person didn’t know me well enough to know that the look I returned is normally interpreted by the more knowing as ABORT—NOW.  Instead he explained himself.  The hunter having landed his arrow in the deer never bothers to explain himself.  I guess it’s a function only required when we mortally wound fellow members of the human species.

You’re a good looking guy………. You’re smart……..… You’re funny…. I like you… Why……then……are……you…………………………..………………………..single?

I checked myself for visible tumors first, then for some foul odor that I had not previously noticed.  My first reaction, of course, was to go inward.  Immediately consult that list I keep of my failures. Annotated, and stored in some Devil’s Card Catalog, run by a librarian of the damned.  Happy to explain exactly why St Peter hit "no sale" upon your arrival to the Pearly Gates.  Right back to day one I went in an instant—all those faces flooded my mind—the names like news in time square—an endless ticker tape of horrors that I would never believe had I not lived them.  Had my jaw not taken two years to heal.  Had my last New Year’s night featured one come to confession.  As though hearing of his trials in life after me would make me feel better or happy.  Focus Damn it.  Focus.  I searched for a way to explain all that they had taught me. I tried to present my side of the case—searched for the evidence that I could use to get this person to understand it wasn’t me.  It really wasn’t. But it was me.  I needed to learn those things.   
 Be in the same relationship… be true to myself…. Compromise often but not on the core things… love… trust… all things at some point fatal to one relationship because of their invisibility… but now as essential as air.  For myself and for who will be my next one.  The list was only 2/3 of the way done I was almost back to equilibrium when the follow up came..

You…..just……have…..to…put…….yourself…….out………………..there. 

I nearly choked on my tongue.  Put myself out there?  HUNDREDS of dates—relationships from DC to Toronto to Ohio to NYC.  And that was just one week! (Kidding…. Sort of….) The summary of failure and my truths ground to a halt.

For that moment beaten...I used my lifeline.  Across from me someone who has ridden nearly every wave.  Who has seen the successes and comforted the failures.  And as soon as I called out, and repeated my charge, I didn’t have to wait for a reply to know I was not guilty. I could see it in my friend’s face and I felt it in my soul.  The search for a romance to make me whole was revealed for what is always has been—more than it ever should have been.  That this evening with these friends-- even ones who don’t know me that well—are a sign of the good—not of the bad.  I will serve no jail time, and I don’t want anyone else too either.  I have learned from all of them, no matter how short, nor long.  Every tear was a chapter and now, just now, I am thankful.  For being single, for having friends who know the stories behind the scars, and for being ready for the one when he does arrive. But till then I will not hide my head in shame.  For where I am now is not a mark of failure in my thirty-seven years—but of hard earned, hard fought success at learning to understand just what is important—in my friends—in my partners—and in myself.

I simply smiled then.  Looked at my new friend and my old one. Then I took a nice long breath. The answer came from someplace I cannot know or see, but it is someplace I am fortunate to have…   

“What makes you think something is wrong?” 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A word about luck

.. It doesnt exist. Sorry.  It just doesnt.  You either bring good things into your life by your thoughts and actions, focusing on your instinct and intentions to create and build the life you desire, or you ignore those things. You shut off the inner voice, ignore history and all the other things that teach us that amazing phrase  "now I know better" and repeat mistakes only to be surprised when you have something happen to you that isnt quite what you desired. 

The final lasting permament revelation of this truth was provided, as all eternal truths are, by a status update on facebook the other day. It went something like this: 

 "During a torrential downpour I went outside to secure a loose downspout on my house and fell and broke my ankle-- I have the worst luck."  

To my friend who experienced this, I feel bad for you I really do and I hope you have a fast recovery.  If we lived closer I'd bring you food every day and help in anyway I could. 

But I have to say I think something other than luck is at work here.  The odd thing is how many of us do this-- paint luck as this great external force that controls our destiny-- more than God or ourselves.  More than a few souls I have encountered along the way lay the blame for everything good or bad that has ever happened at the feet of luck, apparently satisifed at what little role they have in the play of their own lives. 

Perhaps the words of Richard Bach offer a lesson here for all of us, who even occasionlly, fall into the luck trap:

"If it's never your fault, you can't take responsibility for it. If you can't take responsibility for it, you'll always be it's victim"  

From Messiah's Handbook- Reminders for the Advanced Soul  (c) 2004  

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Great Night Out..

Just had to say a few words about a great night out last night that speaks to the beauty of this place I call home and the power of connections.  It was my great honor to show around a new friend, Laura, who is in town for the Police-Fire Games.  A firefighter from London, she met one of my coworkers through other friends and, when she asked about gay clubs, was immediately referred to me for guidance.  Can't possibly imagine why.  This led to use meeting at Chat and Chew Last night for dinner, along with another newer friend of mine (who is originally  from Colombia). 

Following a dinner of Roasted Turkey (me) and thirty-six pounds of fried chicken we stopped by Old Town for a pint or two.  Horror of Horrors- to find that my nice English girls favorite beer is.. well... Budweiser??!!  I was drinking Guinness of course.. Fernando had a Long Island Ice Tea.  After some exposure to the surly bartender, we made our way the Rodeo Bar.  (The NYC country music institution) for whoever happened to be there.  It was the exceptional rockabilly band The LoneSharks- a Long Island based act that should be performing in far larger venues, probably ones that charge a cover.  However, it was at the bar, having another Guinness, with the Colombian and the English Lesbian firefighter, that it struck me just how amazing things can truly be.  As the band belted out Cash's "get Rhythm" and I tapped with the beat, a large group came to the bar to get their drinks.  I assumed they were from India (based on the headgear and attire) and smiled even more broadly-- that at that precise moment I was in the midst of the most diverse possible place on the planet.  The only thing missing was a penguin and we would have had cultural overload. 

After Rodeo, as all good things must come to an end so you can find something better, we took off for the east village.  Sparked by the glee in Laura's eyes when I asked "What do you think about 80s Music" we made our way to the Pyramid-- to spend over an hour on the dance floor as a crowd ranging in age from 21 to well over 70 bounced and moved to Rick Astley, Blondie; and more.  The only missed element was Culture Club on the gay 80s dance checklist.

Exhausted from fun, we bounced out of the club and towards the car.  I dropped Laura off, then my other friend, and made my way home.  Across the Brooklyn Bridge, and past all the other symbols of what makes NYC such a place-- Statues, islands, and the like.  The things the kids in Missouri, or Kentucky or Oregon read about and plan their high school visits around.  But for me, what makes this place great, what makes my life great, is a pint of beer in an old old bar; some rockabilly music as summer fades into fall; a good meal and melt in your mouth red velvet cake; and the people who I have come to share this place with.  Some new, some old; some well known; some only passing in a bar- but all reflections of the miracle that life can be  is  when you just take some time to live it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Holly

I still remember it.. my mother and father calling me into their bedroom.  6323 Rygate Drive North, Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068.  614-866-8735.  The limeish greenish siding, the white cinder block wall that held the front steps in place; the backyard with the dog kennels.  The Amish shed would come a little later, as would a new fence, different cars; and much later on- the different faces that would occupy this home. But at this point I was still preoccupied with my matchbox cars; reruns of Adam-12 and Emergency; new episodes of Chips, and trying to decide if I wanted to be an FBI agent when I grew up.  I was six years old, and I had everything a boy could ever want.  Most of all, I had my parents to myself. 

But that early spring morning they called me into their room to tell me some news.  Then, as now, I often assumed incorrectly.  I was convinced I was about to be told a trip to Sea World was in the offering for my spring break.  Giddy with entirely reasonable excitement I sat down on the bed, across from the mirrored dresser and they broke the news.  News that would alter my world-- as much as if my own personal globe took a leisurely tumble off the Empire State Building.  I was going to have a brother or sister. 

My parents were so thrilled.  You could see how happy they were.  Only later would I come to understand just how hard it had been for my Mom to have children.  Just how much pain she had endured in the quest for a child.  A path that led them first to Franklin County Children's services and the surprise acquisition of yours truly a few years hence; and a later, even more shocking surprise that my Mom was able to have a child the old fashioned way.   And on August 28, 1981- Little Holly Nicole Carver came into the world at the Old St. Ann's Hospital on Bryden Road in Columbus.  She was as beautiful as most.  And things went quite well until, only a few days in, I discovered what all siblings ultimately do.  Much like North and South Korea today, a subtle battle began-- never all out, just some occasional jabs here and there in an attempt to establish roles and dominance. Given that her favorite thing to do from about two on was to run behind me and tackle me to the floor; or run out the front door to hide in the front bushes while my mother organized search parties and chartered helicopters, I suppose you could say she was a challenge. 

But it was never a bad challenge.  I defended her honor at school when my class read "Sister for Sale" by Shell Silverstein and my seven year old self decried the horror of such a thought.  She returned the favor years later-- by calling out a fellow student in speech class who had decided to do a presentation on why gay people should never have the right to adopt children. My sister dismissed her bigoted speech directly and proceeded to speak of her real love-- manatees.  

We faced challenges together as well.  My mother's illness and passing at the age of 60 in 2005 being probably the most lasting, and most revealing.  My sister lost her best friend and her mother in the same instant-- but she gained a brother, even more than before.  And I listened to the stories of the bad boyfriends, and the frustration and pain at trying to find love in a world that does everything it can to kill it.  I offered advice (and more importantly an ear) as she pushed her way through college and EARNED her degree-- becoming the kind of teacher that children are lucky to have, and that, perhaps, our Mother should have been all along. 

Through every trial I cried silently with he.  And I cried in joy that April morning when I loaded her and her wedding dress into a rented mini-van for the short drive to a Spanish chapel and a beautiful wedding to a man that I still sometimes think doesn't realize how lucky he is. 

I almost didn't get to talk to my sister on her birthday this year.  Hurricanes have a way of doing that.  But the great thing about family is that no matter whether its the passing of a loved one, or the landfall of a storm; or the end of a love; or the celebration of one-- family is still family.  And I am very lucky to have been able to watch my sister from day one.  To be there for the smiles and the tears.  And to be able to be there, in one short month, when she will give birth to little Emma.   I cant help but hope that she is not an only child.  I am glad I wasn't. 

And by the way, Id still punch Shell Silverstein the mouth for that poem.

Holly Nicole Carver-- Ireland June 2010