Friday, October 22, 2021

Long Day

Today is going to be a long day. While I won’t go into work until 9:30 am (I am usually there by 7:30 am), I have to be at work until 8:30 or 9 pm. The Board of Trustees is having a dinner at the museum tonight and somebody from the museum staff has to be there. I’ve mentioned that before. However, when I mentioned it before, I had not planned on going into work until noon or so. Then, I found out that I was supposed to co-teach a class at 11 am, so, I was planning to show up just before 11 to teach the class. It would have still been a long day, but just an extra hour at the office. After I left work, my boss texted me to say that he’d been meaning to tell me that he couldn’t help me teach the class (he has always helped with this class because it’s one of the [few] things he knows more about than me). Apparently, he is being interviewed by one of the television stations from 10 am to noon, but he’d leave me talking points to get me through the class. I said, “Fine. I’ll be there at 10:30 to review the materials and get set up before the class at 11.” I also told him that if they send the cute gay reporter from this station, he’d better introduce me. He then texts me back to say, “The class is at 10 am.” What the hell? He’d put 11 am on my calendar, but apparently, that was a mistake. Do you see the type of dumbassery I deal with on a daily basis? So now, I have to be at work not at noon, not at 11, not at 10:30, but I have to now be there at 9:30 and teach a class I know nothing about and have little time to prepare for, so he can get his dumb looking ass on TV. Regardless, I still have to be there until 8:30 or 9 pm.

Just a side note: my boss is every shade of dumbass because he won’t take a few minutes to think before he says anything. It’s because he’s in way over his head in his job. He was promoted far too soon. Maybe one day he’d have made an effective administrator, but currently and because he’s also a tight ass, he is very good with the budget. He’s also good with donors, but that’s it. With that said, he really has a heart of gold and would give me the shirt off his back if I needed it, but that’s not enough to make him a good manager.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Pic of the Day

Only In Vermont 🏳️‍🌈

I often say, “Only in Vermont,” and when I say it, I am often rolling my eyes. While I said it this time, it was a very good and heartwarming statement. Vermont is a unique place. The state is 49th in population among the 50 states and ranks below Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. It only beats out Wyoming among the states and the territories of Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa among the territories. The state has the smallest state capital, Montpelier. While it may have a small population, it’s a very vocal population who loves a good cause to get behind. The state also loves its eccentricities, which is evident by the number of “Keep Vermont Weird” bumper stickers you see on cars. While the state ranks third in the largest percentage of LGBTQ+ adults at 5.3 percent (higher than the national average of 4.5 percent), there are no gay bars in Vermont, though there are plenty of gay-friendly establishments.

 

So, it is not surprising that a crowd went wild at a Vermont high school homecoming football game as they cheered on a halftime show that transformed the field into a fabulous drag ball. Both faculty and students from Burlington High School strutted across the field as drag queens and kings. They wore colorful wigs, sparkly ensembles, feather boas, knee-high boots, and more. For the highly anticipated event (it was all over the news in Vermont), the spectators packed into the stands were dressed head to toe in rainbows and waved Pride flags as they excitedly chanted, “Drag Ball.”

 

Each of the approximately 30 performers had their moment to spin and twirl for the crowd. The group also performed a lip sync to “Rainbow Reign” by Todrick Hall. “Things went amazing,” Ezra Totten, student leader of the Gender-Sexuality Alliance, told The Associated Press. “The stands were completely packed. … It was just so heartwarming to see.” The drag ball was the brainchild of English teacher Andrew LeValley, an adviser to the Gender-Sexuality Alliance.

 

“I was just really hoping to give our students — who are both out and the students that were in the stands who are not out — a moment to shine and feel loved and know that there is a place for them in public schools,” LeValley said. LeValley felt it was important to hold the event at a football game to send the message that everyone should be welcome in all types of spaces. “We have to assume that there are LGBTQ folks everywhere, which include[s] really masculine spaces,” LeValley told local Vermont publication Seven Days. “Why does this space have to be one way or the other? It can be both, and there’s beauty and benefits in having it be both.”

 

Adalee Leddy, a student at Burlington High School who attended the game, told Seven Days the show was “absolutely amazing.” Totten added that now that they have seen the joy it brought, the group hopes the drag ball will happen annually. “It shows the Burlington community is there for each other,” Totten said.

 

Vermont loves their drag shows, as evident by the number of people who pack in to attend the annual Winter Is a Drag Ball. The Drag Ball is the social highlight event of the winter season. Bringing in drag queens and kings, musicians, dancers, and performance artists together raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support local HIV/AIDS-related organizations. Though it was virtual in 2021, a lot of Vermonters are hoping it will be back in-person in 2022. Until then, I was happy to see that Burlington High School put on their own successful Drag Ball. I’m happy that I live in a state where a Homecoming football game featured a much appreciated Drag Ball, and that the highlight of the winter social season is also a Drag Ball. Let’s not forget, the Burlington area also elected one of its most popular drag queens, Nikki Champagne, aka Taylor Small, to the state legislature where she has done a remarkable job representing all of Vermont.


Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Pic of the Day

Question of the Day

If you have Twitter and you follow many gay men, then you have probably seen the image below. It’s obviously all in good fun, but I have to say, there is some accuracy there. I’m not going to say which one I fit under, but it is remarkably accurate for me. I wear a variety of styles of underwear, but one of these is my preferred choice. I’m not asking you to tell what underwear you prefer, but I’d love to know in the comments how accurate it is. I’m also going to put an anonymous poll at the bottom, just to see where everyone falls, if you don’t mind clicking on the underwear that you often wear.






Also, here’s a fun video from The Underwear Expert explaining the different types of underwear. I’m sure there is nothing new to any of you in this video, but Jared North is a hottie and fun to watch.

 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Pic of the Day

Fall Leaves Fall

Fall Leaves Fall 

By Emily Brontë - 1818-1848

 

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away; 

Lengthen night and shorten day; 

Every leaf speaks bliss to me, 

Fluttering from the autumn tree. 

-

I shall smile when wreaths of snow 

Blossom where the rose should grow; 

I shall sing when night’s decay 

Ushers in a drearier day.

 

About the Poem

 

Here in Vermont, the height of fall foliage has passed and “stick season” is encroaching on us. I chose this poem today because most of the fall leaves have fallen here. The higher elevations of central Vermont have some trees hanging on to their foliage, contrasting with the dark green evergreens, and the soft gray hillsides where the leaves have fallen. The most foliage color right now is found in the rolling hills of the Champlain Valley, including the Lake Champlain Islands and the Burlington area, and in the valleys of southern Vermont. 

 

Nature is surely the most noticeable themes in “Fall, Leaves, Fall.” For the narrator of the piece, presumably a voice for Brontë’s consciousness, the transition from the autumnal equinox to the winter solstice is one of the best times of the year, when the days grow increasingly shorter, and the nights grow longer. In each line of the two quatrains, Brontë’s word choice emphasizes her own emotional connection to the season, and its own unique beauty, even as she describes such occurrences as the death of leaves and other plants due to increasing cold.

 

It is likely that “Fall, Leaves, Fall” constitutes one of few existing commentaries on who Emily Brontë was as a person. In her life, friends and family described her as a shy individual, but most of what is known about her come from the posthumous commentaries of her older sister, Charlotte Brontë, whose neutrality cannot be assured. It is understandable to think that her elder sister would want to paint her in a positive light, especially as her novels and poems slowly cemented themselves within the history of English literature. In “Fall, Leaves, Fall,” Emily Brontë seems to be free to discuss herself, and depict herself as a quiet individual who sees life, beauty, and bliss in things that a great many people do not. Even if all she wishes to say is that she loves fall and winter more than summer and spring, it is something worth saying, especially for someone who can express it so well in such a short poem.

 

About the Poet

 

Emily Brontë was born in Thornton, England, on July 30, 1818. She and her five siblings grew up in Haworth, where their father, the Rev. Patrick Brontë, was the church curate. Their mother died in 1821, and in 1824, Emily and three of her sisters were sent to the Clergy Daughters’ School in Lancashire. When her two oldest sisters died of tuberculosis, Emily returned to Haworth with her sister Charlotte.

 

After leaving school, Emily continued her studies with her two surviving sisters, Charlotte and Anne, and their brother, Branwell. With access to their father’s library, the Brontë siblings read and wrote extensively, producing a family magazine that featured their stories and poems.

 

In 1837, Emily became a teacher at the Law Hill School, but she left the position after several months. After teaching for a brief period at the Pension Héger in Brussels, she returned permanently to Haworth in 1842.

 

In 1846, Emily, Charlotte, and Anne self-published a collection of poetry under the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. While The Poems of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell (Aylott and Jones, 1846) reached a very limited audience, the three sisters each went on to publish novels soon after. In 1847, Emily published her sole work of fiction, Wuthering Heights (Thomas Cautley Newby), which is widely regarded as one of the great novels of the English language.

 

Emily Brontë died of tuberculosis on December 19, 1848. The Complete Poems of Emily Jane Brontë (Hodder and Stoughton), a posthumous collection of over 200 poems, was published in 1923.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Pic of the Day

Another Busy Week

Today is the start of what looks like it will be a busy week. I’m at the office by myself today, and tomorrow we meet to decide which of the job applicants we’ve been interviewing will be brought up for in-person interviews. I’m taking off tomorrow afternoon to take care of some stuff I need to do at home. Wednesday, I have my quarterly doctor’s appointment, and there is a lot I need to discuss with him. I also have several things I have to do at work this week. Thursday, I have a meeting of a committee that I’m on, which I find incredibly tedious. Friday, I have a class to teach and that night they are having a dinner at the museum, so I have to stay to keep the museum open while the muckety-mucks eat. Supposedly, I’ll get fed too, and thankfully, I don’t have to attend the actual dinner. I can eat in my office. I’m just praying that all goes well this week. It’s just another week to get through, but I can do it. I just have to persevere.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Pic of the Day

Stop and Smell the Roses

That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Your wondrous works.
—Psalm 26:7


“Stop and smell the roses” is an idiom that means to relax; to take time out of your busy schedule to enjoy or appreciate the beauty of life. Whether you think of “stopping to smell the roses” as a metaphor, or an actual act of admiring roses, the benefit is the same. Slow down and appreciate the world surrounding you is the message.


Origins of the phrase are not clear. Although the quote, “Stop and smell the roses,” is often attributed to golfer Walter Hagen in the 1956 book “The Walter Hagen Story” but he didn’t mention roses. The quote: “You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” Some people argue that this passage was soon paraphrased as stop and smell the roses, but this can’t be easily verified.


While this expression refers to roses, it can be anything rather small or even commonplace. These things may seem small but they can give us great joy.  The difference in well-being, happiness, sense of elevation, and level of connectedness to other people, can be significantly higher for those who spend time noticing and savoring these moments of clarity and relaxation.


The expression “stop and smell the roses” is not just about flowers or nature, but an encouragement to be mindful, take time for your self and live life with deeper gratefulness for the world around us. It is a reminder to us all to slow down and take notice of the world around us, and to be present in every moment.  It means consciously directing your mind to be aware and attentive to the present moment to be able to experience and enjoy more your surroundings. 


“Stopping to smell the roses” is a pleasant experience that slows us down, but sometimes there are unpleasant experiences that force us to slow down. Think of those unpleasant moments like a speed bump in the road. While speed bumps can be annoying, they force us to be cautionary and become aware of our surroundings. Don't let your days be like driving on freeways, fast and thoughtless. The next time you go over a speed bump, soak in your surroundings and find one thing that you can appreciate for the day.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Pic of the Day


This pic is dedicated to the cute guy from Grindr who says he knows me but refuses to tell me who he is and won’t show his face when we chat on Grindr. For some reason he says he’s had a thing for me for several years. He came by to see me yesterday. Yes, I know who he is, even though he’s been trying to conceal it. For some reason he’s being shy towards me. I kind of understand why he’s being shy and is keeping his cards close. After yesterday, I’m pretty sure he knows that I know. We’ll see what happens next. 👀

Mental Health Day

With the fact that I have to conduct four job interviews today, I had to take a mental health break last night when I would have normally written this post. I had to get to bed as early as possible. I wish I’d had a glass of Prosecco to calm my nerves before bed, but I rarely drink, so it’s ok that I didn’t. We’ve done two previous interviews, and I swear, I feel more like the head of the search committee than my museum director who should be leading the process. I had to take the questions he put together after soliciting questions from all the committee members and edit them down to a reasonable number. He just combined all of them together without doing any editing of them. I’m literally having to fix everything he’s fucking up about this job search process. Ok, enough of this. I have to go to bed, and I can’t continue to think about all of this. If it means I have to step up where he’s failing in order to get the best candidate because he can’t seem to be bothered, then that’s what I’ll do. [End internal dialogue.]

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Pic of the Day

Exhausted

With the day like I had yesterday, I just wanted someone to rub my feet, pamper me, and let me lay my head in their lap. I would have settled for a nice hug. This week has been so stressful and there is still today and tomorrow. I’m just so tired right now, and there is so much more to do this week. I’m not sure how I’m going to get through all of it, but I know I will. I just have to take things one step at a time.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Pic of the Day

What a Week!

This week started out with a bit of a bang. I’m not sure how things will progress with my nephew. I talked to him again last night, and I’m trying to get him to understand that while I fully support him, I also want what’s best for him. It’s all very complicated, and I’ll be on his side, but he also needs to understand that he needs to try to work through this with his family. There are options for him, whether it’s his aunt or his great aunt (my aunt), while I don’t think she will fully understand, my aunt won’t let him be put out in the cold. She has a good heart. If she knows my nephew’s parents are mistreating him, she’ll step in where she’s needed. I’m pretty sure I need to do some research on how to best handle the situation myself. I’ll be honest, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by all of it, and I want to do the right thing. He does not need to have to go through what I went through when I was his age. At least he understands what his feelings are. I didn’t until much later, or at least I didn’t acknowledge my feelings until much later.

Besides dealing and trying to help my nephew, I am also very busy at work. I have a public program today in which I’ll be moderating a panel of experts. I have to decide first thing this morning what I will wear. I always take time to be very thoughtful about what I wear to things like this. However, I’m running out of clothes. The dryer at my apartment building is broken and can’t be fixed until the twentieth, so I’m running low on clean clothes. Thank goodness I’m a clothes whore, and I have plenty of clothes to choose from, but let’s just say, they better fix it on the twentieth because it’s going to come down to the wire, and I despise going to the laundromat. Also, some of my clothes are now too big because of the weight I’ve lost.

This afternoon, we will interview the first of six candidates for our open curator position. Apparently, I’m leading off with the first question. For the rest of the week we will be conducting interviews, and I believe the last one is Monday. We’ll meet on Tuesday to decide who we’ll invite on campus for final interviews. I find this hiring process very stressful. I have a huge fear that we’ll pick the wrong person. I just have to have faith that through the interviews and the judgement of the hiring committee, we’ll find the right person.

In addition to all of that, I also have to prepare for the next public program set for November 3. I’ve been so busy that I’m a bit behind on the preparations. Monday, I had to teach a class, and yesterday I had two medical appointments. The first one was for blood work ahead of my quarterly doctor’s visit next week. The nurses stuck me four times before they could find a vein. My arms are so sore and somewhat bruised. Thank goodness I’ll be wearing a long sleeve shirt today to cover up all of that. My other appointment was with my neurologist to discuss the sensitive and embarrassing issue I spoke about last week. Thankfully, she understood the issue and came to the same conclusion as my PCP. She’s adjusted my medicines to try to take care of the problem. Poor woman, she’s seeing patients virtually but she looked a bit rough. She was definitely not as put together as usual. Whatever is wrong, she’s out for a couple of weeks, but still seeing patients virtually from home.

My neurologist is also trying to help me with some issues I’m having with my sleep medicine people. Because of that, I got some snarky (i.e. bitchy) messages from the sleep clinic, which ignored much of what we’d discussed at my last appointment or the notes from the respiratory therapist I saw last week. I’ll respond to the messages, but I need to calm down first. I am also going to ask my PCP if it’s possible to send me to the sleep clinic at the University of Vermont. While I have every confidence in the people at the Headache Clinic at Dartmouth, I barely have any confidence in those at the Sleep Clinic down there. They never followed up after I initially got the CPAP, and when I contacted them about the issues with my trigeminal neuralgia, I was told I was supposed to have seen them four times before then. Not only did that not inspire confidence, but the way they are jerking me around about trying out various sleep masks seems a colossal waste of time.

So this week, I seem to be destined to be worried, aggravated, and busy all week long. I hope and pray the week improves, but I don’t see my prayers being answered on this.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Pic of the Day

An NCOD Update

There is no poem post today. I have something very important to tell you about. I will likely post a poem tomorrow. 

National Coming Out Day (NCOD) turned out to be more emotional than I could have expected. My niece, now my nephew, came out as trans (FTM) on Facebook. I don’t have the habit of checking Facebook often, but for some reason, I did check it first thing yesterday morning. At the top of my timeline was a post from my niece. While I was reading it, her name changed to his new name. I was immediately concerned for two reasons: 1) if this were true, this would not go well with his parents, and 2) if it wasn’t true, my niece was an insensitive jerk making a bad joke. I kept an eye on his Facebook page, and in a few hours, the post was gone. The name had reverted to the old name. No one commented on the post, so I am not sure how many people saw it. He’d posted it after midnight when presumably his parents had gone to bed, and I’m sure as soon as they saw it (my sister is always on Facebook), they made him take it down. I had a feeling it might be true since the terminology used was correct and the timing of the post as soon as it was officially NCOD. But I had to know for sure. I didn’t want him to be alone and scared if this was true.

 

I called my mom to find out what was going on, but she was in the dark about the whole thing. My mother’s response was, “I hope it’s not true.” I then told her the statistics of trans suicides and reminded her I had tried to commit suicide when I was a teenager. I told her she had to lend her support and that my sister needed to know what the consequences could be if she denied this child the necessary support. My mother told me to call my niece and ask her what was going on. My mother did say, “Don’t encourage her in this.” I said, “Mama, I will give her all the love and support she needs. I am not going to discourage her. She needs to know she is loved, accepted, and supported 100 percent.” My mother didn’t say anything more after that.

 

I hung up with my mother and called my niece. The phone was answered and immediately hung up. I then received a text asking if I was ok. I replied, “I was calling to see if you were OK.” He said, “Uh, physically yes.” I told him, “I saw your Facebook post. Please know you can always talk to me about anything.” He said his mom and dad freaked out, and I said, “Is it true? If it is, I love you and support you 100 percent.” He confirmed it was true and thanked me for supporting him. Then, I did something I had not planned to do until this kid went to college and was away from my sister and her husband. I told him I’d come out as gay twenty years ago and lived as an out gay man here in Vermont. He was shocked but thought that was “amazing.” How anyone doesn’t realize I am gay always boggles my mind, but he is 14 and sees me about once a year. We texted back and forth for a while, and I told him how much I supported him. I said he could always talk to me and count on me. I would do anything I could.

 

The good thing is that his aunt, my brother-in-law’s sister, was the first person he came out to in the family. She is, and has been, very supportive. He has always been closer to his aunt than with me probably because she lives near him. I rarely lived close by except for the six years when I moved back to Alabama after graduate school. However, my sister has never let her kids be around me unsupervised which has always made me think she suspects me of being gay and doesn’t want her children around me. My nephews both love their Uncle Joe, and you can see the excitement, joy, and love on their faces when they see me. I am glad he has his aunt as a strong ally. She is a force to be reckoned with and has always lived her life as she wanted to whether her parents liked it or not. I am glad my nephew has her support.

 

My nephew said it’s been getting more difficult the past two years with his parents, and he is hoping to find someone to take custody of him if he can convince his parents to sign custody over to someone. Hopefully, his aunt can be that person. She was in the legal field and has many lawyers as contacts which I am sure can help. I hope she can get custody of my nephew and give him the help he needs. I wish I had the financial ability to take him in up here. If he’d been kicked out, I would have gone and gotten him, but thankfully, they did not kick him out. I just hope he has the support network he needs. I told him if he needed anything from me to just let me know. I told him I loved him, and I thought he was a very brave boy.

 

Yesterday turned into an actual Coming Out Day for my family. Not only did my nephew come out to me, but I came out to him. When I wrote yesterday’s post, I had no idea that NCOD 2021 would be such an emotional day. I am so proud of my nephew. At fourteen, not only did I not understand I was gay, but I would have never been brave enough to come out to anyone.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Pic of the Day

National Coming Out Day

Every year on October 11, we celebrate National Coming Out Day (NCOD) to celebrate our coming out as LGBTQ+. NCOD was first celebrated in the United States in 1988. The initial idea was grounded in the feminist and gay liberation belief that our personal experiences are rooted in our political situation and gender inequality. NCOD emphasizes the most basic form of activism as coming out to family, friends, and colleagues to live life as an openly LGBTQ+ person. The foundational belief is that homophobia thrives in an atmosphere of silence and ignorance. Once people know that they have loved ones who are lesbian or gay, they are far less likely to maintain homophobic or oppressive views. In reality, this is not always the case, but the hope is still there that one day it will be. Whether you're lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, we should be proud of who we are and our support for LGBTQ+ equality. 

 

Twenty years ago last spring, I came out to someone for the first time. It had taken me a long time to just come out to myself, and honestly, I had never verbalized my own coming out until I did it that night. It was not planned, and when I did it, I was scared to death. I have probably told this story before, but I think it is important to tell it again. I was in my first year of graduate school, and I saw an accepting world around me for the first time. You wouldn’t think that would be the case because I was living in Mississippi at the time, but the History Department and my new friends were different than anything I’d ever been accustomed to being around. I felt for the first time like it might be okay to tell someone my “deep dark secret.”

 

It was the Friday before our first spring break in grad school, and many of the grad students had gone out for drinks that night. We often got together on Friday nights, usually with a group of our professors. We had gone to a bar downtown instead of our usual bar near campus, if I remember correctly. After being there for a while, everyone decided to go to one of the professors' houses to continue socializing, i.e., drinking. I will admit, I was probably pretty drunk that night, and a lot of my courage had been liquid courage. A good friend, her boyfriend, and I were sitting on the professor’s couch, and it was really late. I’m not sure why we were alone sitting on the couch, but we were. I think the subject of one of the professors being gay came up. I am a little fuzzy on what was said up until that point, but I know we were talking about gay people and how someone we thought was gay was actually straight, or something like that. Anyway, however the conversation had gone, I remember saying, “Well, you know, I’m not.” My friend replied, “Joe, we know you’re not gay.” To which I clarified, “No, I’m not straight.”

 

She and her boyfriend said they were proud and felt honored that I had confided in them, and they would not tell anyone. They said it was my truth to tell when I was ready. I just remember that they hugged me and were so loving and kind. I hid my gayness for so long, and it was like a weight off my shoulders to finally say it out loud and to someone else. Soon afterward, everybody started going home, and we went home too. She was my neighbor, and I believe her boyfriend had driven us that night. With her living in the apartment building directly behind me, there was never any reason to take more than one car, so we went to a lot of things together. She and her boyfriend never once made me feel like a third wheel.

 

After we got home, we went our separate ways, and I left for the beach the next day for spring break. I met some of my family in Pensacola. Coming out to my friend was on my mind the whole time. We had been drinking, so I was terrified that she would not remember the conversation, and I’d have to do it all over again. It had taken an inordinate amount of courage to come out the first time, and I didn’t know if I could do it again, even if they had been completely accepting. I knew many people forget things when they have been drinking, even though I remember everything when I’ve been drinking, granted details get fuzzy after 20 years. I was a nervous wreck that she wouldn’t remember. When we got back, our schedules were hectic because the end of the semester was drawing near, so I could not get her alone to see what she remembered. 

 

Finally, either the Friday after spring break or the following Friday, we all went out to the same downtown bar again. I was able to get her alone in the bar’s courtyard. I don’t know how I broached the subject, but I remember I finally came out and asked her, “Do you remember what I told you at [that professor’s] house?” Thankfully, she did. It was another weight off my shoulders. I remember we sat out in the courtyard for a while discussing cute guys at the bar that night. Never in my life had I had the chance to talk to someone about what guys I thought were cute. It was one of the most blissful moments of my life. For the first time in my life, I was able to be me. I didn’t have to pretend I was checking out some hot girl when I was actually checking out the guy she was with. I have always enjoyed people watching, but I had never gotten to openly watch and comment on guys with anyone else before. It had always been an inner dialogue in my brain. To this day, I still love to point out hot guys to my friends when it’s appropriate.

 

It was probably another eight months until I finally came out to the rest of the people in my graduate school, but that’s a story for another time. While I am still closeted to much of my family, my parents do know although we never discuss it. Happily, I can live openly and proudly as a gay man in Vermont. Isn’t that what National Coming Out day is all about? The ability to live authentically as ourselves and show others that we are human beings just like them. As Shylock says in Act 3, Scene 1 of The Merchant of Venice, “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.” Shylock was talking about being a Jew versus a Christian, but does that not apply to all groups that are discriminated against?

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Pic of the Day

The Need to Serve

“And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
—Matthew 20:27-28

Do you ever go through days that seem like something is missing? We work so hard to accomplish goals in our life so that we can provide a better life for ourselves and our families. But this can also focus our attention on the "things" we have and more importantly don't have. Where we direct our focus can lead us to that feeling of void. Instead of focusing on ourselves, direct your focus on someone in need. You may not see the immediate impact on your goals but in some way and at some time, God will honor your actions.

 

Sadly, too many people in this world forget this simple directive. We are not here to be served but to serve. We need to protect the needy and less fortunate. There is too much selfishness in the world today. Whether it’s those who don’t want the government to enact legislation to help the less fortunate, or those who won’t wear masks when it’s called for or even get the vaccine. These are simple things that we can do to help and protect others. Yet people resist out of their own selfishness. Many have various excuses, but very few of those excuses are valid.

 

Think of how wonderful this world would be if everyone let go of their anger, greed, and hatred of the unknown or the misunderstood. If we lived in a world of love, giving, and acceptance, we could live in a peaceful and joyous world. Instead, too many people feed and nourish and encourage the anger, greed, and ignorance of those they want to control and gain their support. The problem with feeding this negativity is that at some point you lose control of those masses you’ve cultivated and they become an unruly and angry mob.

 

If we just served and supported our fellow humans, then we would be glorifying God and we’d receive our own reward. When we follow the fear and ignorance of man, we drift further and further from God. Sadly, many of those who’ve drifted away from God the most are the ones who claim they are doing God’s work. Being a good Christian doesn’t mean shouting it from the rooftops and hating those who don’t believe the same way you do, but it is in our actions. James 2:17 tells us, “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” We have to live in a way that honors God’s love for us. James 2:26 says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” if you don’t live in a way consistent with your faith, then you do not really have faith. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

Pic of the Day

The Sleep Clinic, AKA A Medical Bitch and Gripe Post

I am sure I have mentioned before that I have sleep apnea and I wear a CPAP to sleep. I have always hated wearing that thing, but I’ve gotten so used to getting a great night of sleep, that I really can’t go without it. However, I’ve also mentioned my trigeminal neuralgia. The straps on the CPAP mask aggravate my already damaged trigeminal nerve. Therefore, I go to sleep in pain, and I wake up with pain. I have spoken to the Sleep Clinic about the issue and have discussed with them a surgery that would implant a device, much like a pacemaker, that would have the same effect as the sleep mask, but not be as intrusive. However, the Sleep Clinic wants me to prove that the CPAP failed before they will let me be considered for the other device. Partly, this is because of insurance. I went to the medical equipment specialist that handle my CPAP supplies for a fitting for a new mask a few months ago. The mask they gave me is just as bad, plus I can’t breathe well enough through it, so I had to go down to the Sleep Clinic yesterday for them to try and fit me with a new mask.

That was an ordeal and a waste of time. First of all, the clinic is at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital in the same building as the Headache Clinic, so it’s about an hour’s drive. Second, I don’t have the same confidence in the Sleep Clinic as I do in the Headache Clinic. When I first got the CPAP, they were supposed to follow up with me every three months, yet they forgot about me. It was only because I was having trouble with the CPAP mask and trigeminal neuralgia that they took notice of me again. That had me annoyed when they told me this three months ago. I got a call a few weeks ago wanting me to do a mask fitting before my appointment with the Sleep Clinic’s nurse practitioner on October 26. So I made the appointment and went down.


After trying on several masks, I told the respiratory therapist (RT) how much they hurt. All of which caused me to be in quite a bit of pain for the rest of the day. The RT I met with sent me home with a new mask to try, but I don’t hold out much hope it will work any better. It hurt to wear it for a few minutes down there, just like the others. I don’t know what she thinks it will do to sleep in it that’s different? What really aggravated me was that I had to pay $55 for basically the “pleasure” of visiting a showroom with a hospital bed in it. What bullshit! The lady was nice, but I really don’t think they should have charged me for this. The supply place didn’t charge me for their mask fitting, but because this was done in a clinic, they charged me, even though they did the exact same thing, I had to pay the higher copay to see a “specialist.” I’m also sure they will charge me for the mask they sent me home with.

I have told the Sleep Clinic people that my neurologist has already said that as long as I am wearing a CPAP at night, it will continue to prevent my trigeminal nerve from healing. It told the RT the same thing yesterday, to which she replied that maybe I should ask my neurologist if she has another solution to my sleep apnea. She said it in a very nice and “concerned” way, but I still felt like she was being somewhat dismissive of the advice I’d received from my neurologist. By the way, if I do qualify for the surgical implant, Dartmouth can’t do it (they have no one trained for it), and I’d have to go to the University of Vermont (UVM) instead. At this point, I wish I’d been referred to the UVM in the first place for my sleep apnea. I wasn’t originally sent to them because my doctor, who works for UVM, knows what a pain in the ass they can be. I see my neurologist Tuesday, so will talk to her, and then on the 26th, I’ll see what the Sleep Clinic has to say.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Pic of the Day

Six Years Ago…

Six years ago today, I arrived in Vermont. It had been a hellacious trip up here from Alabama. My plan had been to drive to Blacksburg, Virginia, the first day to see a friend who was a PhD student at Virginia Tech. Then I’d drive to Albany, New York, for the second leg of my trip getting up the next morning and drive to my new apartment in Vermont. The trip did not go as planned. In Knoxville, Tennessee, while blocked in on both sides by semi trucks, I had no choice but to run over something in the road. Whatever it was punctured my gas tank. I pulled over on the side of the interstate and watched as gasoline poured out from under my car. I had to call 911 and they sent police and a fire truck to make sure everything was okay and put some type of absorbent over the leaked gas.

Close to tears, I called my dad. All of my possessions to begin my new life in Vermont were inside my little car. One spark or a lit cigarette from a passing car and it would have all gone up in flames. My dad called the insurance company and they found me a mechanic, a hotel, and a rental car because it was going to take at least several days before the mechanic could get a new gas tank. The police called a tow truck who loaded up my car and drove me to the mechanic. The tow truck driver was kind enough to wait as the mechanic and I did whatever we initially had to do, and then he drove me to my hotel. He was so nice and kind; he made the whole thing a little more bearable.

I checked into the hotel and waited for my rental car to be delivered the next day. Only one restaurant was nearby, a Mexican restaurant, so that’s where I ate dinner and had a huge margarita. Luckily, I got a call from the mechanic saying they’d been lucky and were able to locate a gas tank at another mechanic in town. They were able to get it late the next day and install it the next. I was stuck in Knoxville for two and a half days, but my car was ready around 11 am if I remember correctly. 

Off I was again to see how far I could drove that day. The remember driving through the Shenandoah Valley and thinking I’d never get through Virginia. Finally, I did and continued north. Late that night, I was so tired, I could not drive any further than Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I pulled over at a hotel only to be told there was no room at the inn. In fact some major convention was in town and few hotels had any vacancies. I finally found one, checked in and quickly crawled into bed and fell asleep. I got up early the next day and drove the rest of the way to my new apartment. That last eight hours and 500 miles was rough, but I did it. 

October 7, 2015, I started my new life in Vermont.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Pic of the Day

Crazy Week

I was sitting on my bed last night trying to decide what to write about today. My week is a lot of miscellaneous stuff. Yesterday, I taught a class that I usually teach once a year and then had a meeting to discuss the applicants for the job opening we have at the museum. Today, I really only have one thing: a doctor’s appointment. I think I am having an adverse reaction to one of my headache medicines, and I need to talk to my doctor to see if he thinks it is the medicine causing the problem or something else. It’s a sensitive and embarrassing issue, so it won’t be easy to discuss, but thankfully, I do feel comfortable enough with my doctor that I can discuss anything with him. But boy do I dread this conversation because it is going to be embarrassing. Then tomorrow, I have an appointment at the sleep clinic about my CPAP machine. Luckily, I don’t seem to have any appointments either away from work or at work. It should be an easy day (knock on wood).

Next week is going to be the really crazy week. Monday, I have a class that I’ve never taught before coming to the museum. I’m really not sure how that’s going to go, but I think there is a good possibility that it will go well. Tuesday, I have two medical appointments. One here in town for blood work, and one down at Dartmouth with the Headache Clinic. Wednesday, I am moderating a panel discussion, and you can never really know how those are going to go. In my experience, they never go quite like I hope they will. They have a life of their own. Then, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons and Friday we will be conducting the virtual job interviews for the applicants we chose trying to narrow down five candidates to two or three to bring to campus.

Hopefully, all will go smoothly, and no major problems or issues will arise.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Pic of the Day

Thinking of Frost


Thinking of Frost

By Major Jackson - 1968-

 

I thought by now my reverence would have waned,

matured to the tempered silence of the bookish or revealed 

how blasé I’ve grown with age, but the unrestrained

joy I feel when a black skein of geese voyages like a dropped 

string from God, slowly shifting and soaring, when the decayed 

apples of an orchard amass beneath its trees like Eve’s

first party, when driving and the road Vanna-Whites its crops

of corn whose stalks will soon give way to a harvester’s blade

and turn the land to a man’s unruly face, makes me believe

I will never soothe the pagan in me, nor exhibit the propriety

of the polite. After a few moons, I’m loud this time of year,

unseemly as a chevron of honking. I’m fire in the leaves,

obstreperous as a New England farmer. I see fear

in the eyes of his children. They walk home from school,

as evening falls like an advancing trickle of bats, the sky

pungent as bounty in chimney smoke. I read the scowl

below the smiles of parents at my son’s soccer game, their agitation,

the figure of wind yellow leaves make of quaking aspens.

 

About This Poem


“Of late, I’ve been actively recording my responses to the seasons. Fall is particularly spectacular in northern New England; the countryside of Vermont hits my bones like warm bands of neon; there’s that palpable change in the air, electric and mysterious. However, in late autumn, one senses the impending, long wintry gloom overtake all reason. At some point, I began to understand Robert Frost and what critics such as Lionel Trilling and Joseph Brodsky argued, which is the darkness that hits the spirit. I think the poem is also an attempt to get out from underneath the shadow of the poet who looms in New England and to trouble the iconicity of the ‘quaintness’ of Vermont.”

—Major Jackson

 

About This Poet


Major Jackson is the author of five books of poetry, including The Absurd Man (2020), Roll Deep (2015), Holding Company (2010), Hoops (2006) and Leaving Saturn (2002), which won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize for a first book of poems. His edited volumes include: Best American Poetry 2019Renga for Obama, and Library of America’s Countee Cullen: Collected Poems. A recipient of fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, Major Jackson has been awarded a Pushcart Prize, a Whiting Writers’ Award, and has been honored by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. He has published poems and essays in American Poetry Review, The New Yorker, Orion Magazine, Paris Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, Poetry London, and Zyzzva. Major Jackson lives in Nashville, Tennessee where he is the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in the Humanities at Vanderbilt University. He serves as the Poetry Editor of The Harvard Review

Monday, October 4, 2021

Pic of the Day

Interesting Times…

This weekend has been both interesting and frustrating. Saturday, was just frustrating. I drove down to Middlebury, Vermont, because I wanted to take a drive and had the time to do so. I also wanted to check out a store that’s down there, and I’d found a restaurant while looking online that I wanted to try. First of all, Middlebury is not an easy place to get to from where I live. I won’t bore you with the details about the routes to get there. I took the safer and longer way to get there, and it was not an unpleasant drive, even though it was a dreary weekend. When I got to the store, it was nothing like I’d expected, and it was a bit disappointing, but I thought I’d be able to salvage the day by having a good lunch. I got to the restaurant only to find a note on the door saying they were closed that day due to a positive COVID case. My other lunch options were limited because in Middlebury most places don’t open for lunch on Saturday. The few places I did find had very long waits for a table. Finally, I gave up and headed back home thinking I’d find a place on the way back. No such luck. I was halfway home when I finally found a place, and by then, I was very hungry. At least that meal was very good. I got home and watched football for the rest of the day. One loss, two wins. Not too bad.

Yesterday, I was chatting with a guy on Grindr, and it turns out that he’s a fellow southerner. It was a chilly and dreary day, so we decided to get together and just cuddle. Of course, it tuned into more than just cuddling, and I did something I’d never done before. I’ll be honest, there isn’t much I haven’t tried before. I’m not going to go into detail because it’s personal, but I will say this, it was surprisingly enjoyable. He seemed to find it very enjoyable too, though it was something he’d done before, I just hadn’t. Anyway, let’s just say, it was very interesting and something I’d definitely do again. I also very much enjoyed the cuddling and holding him in my arms. Sadly, he couldn’t stay too long, but he stayed a good little while. Here’s the frustrating thing: he has a partner and is in an open relationship. Apparently, they are ok with each other hooking up with other people, but they don’t seem to see a person more than once, at least that was the impression I got. It’s frustrating because we seemed to connect and have a great time, and I’d have loved to just have him as a friend, but I guess that’s not how these things go.

Grindr can be a very frustrating thing. You meet people and have a great time chatting with them, and then nothing ever materializes. The guys on there seem to fall into a few categories, at least in my opinion. One, they are closeted and they can discuss their fantasies, but when it comes to meeting up, they just don’t have the courage to do so. Two, they are married and want to cheat on their spouse, whether they are married to a man or a woman, it doesn’t matter, I am not going to fool around with a married man behind his spouse’s back. Three, they are in an open relationship, and they aren’t looking to establish any other type of relationship. Four, they are one of the catfishes (usually African or Eastern European), and they are the worst of the lot. It seems impossible to find a single, unattached guy who wants to see how things go. They exist because I’m one of them, and I can’t be the only unicorn* in the bunch. I don’t mind hookups, in fact, more often than not, I find them quite enjoyable, but I am receptive to something more if it comes along.

Just to make clear, I am fully aware that Grindr and all of the other “dating” apps are really just hookup apps. I know when I log on that mostly it’s just guys who want to get their rocks off and move on to the next guy. I told one guy the other day when he asked me, “Have alot of luck with this app?” and I said, “Mostly flakes to be honest. Guys beg to get together and when we set something up, then they all of a sudden can't get together.” Honestly, it’s amazing how often that happens. He also asked the inevitable question, “What are you looking for?” I replied, “I would really like to just find a friend who I can fuck around with….I wouldn't mind something more than a fuck buddy, but I'm being realistic. That's so hard to find.” It really s hard to find. I am a shy person so it’s hard to meet someone outside of one of the apps, but sometimes it does feel like I’m the only single gay guy around.


*Urban Dictionary defines a unicorn as being “the rare creature who is able to give you the thing you always wanted but thought you could never have.”