dinsdag, november 30, 2004

A hello

Welcome to your new world, Colin Bryce Gann.

Welcome to our world, Colin Bryce Gann.

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And a goodbye

Can it possibly have been 15 years ago that I met Larry?

He auditioned for a play I had written about people with AIDS and internet support groups. This was back before there were live chat rooms; back when "People With" was always capitalized when followed by the word "AIDS".

The internet was different then. So was knowledge of it. The characters in the play wrote to each other on-line; we had to explain during the show how people could hook their computers up to phone lines and "talk" to each other through a screen. The concept was startlingly new.

Larry gave a beautiful audition.

The play was angry, but it was also filled with love. I admired Larry, a married man living in Wichita, Kansas, for having the courage to portray a gay man with AIDS. We ended up touring the show a bit, and over its run he played two characters. I think he was in every performance.

Until Larry had a major heart attack (his second) not long after one of the shows ended, I had no idea his heart was not in good shape. He mentioned once that he figured he would probably not survive another attack.

You would think that after having some practice, accepting that you've had all the conversations you're going to have with a person in this lifetime would get easier. It just doesn't.

One of the characters Larry played was called "Upper Westsider". After his character died, one of the other characters ended the play with this monologue:

This morning I logged on and read that Upper Westsider has moved on to the other side. I cried, and I wanted to scream.


And I will, in my fashion.

I went back to the Survivor archives and renewed my relationship with this man I had come to love yet only knew from the glow of the screen. Here's some of what he wrote, from three years ago, July 19, 1987:

“I was ready to write an answer back, when the sun began to set. Now you should understand that since I was diagnosed, I don’t miss a sunset. I watch it. Every day.

“I want to tell you about today’s sunset. You can take the description as allegory.

I was sure that the sunset was over. By this time the whole sky was red. But I was wrong. It found a place between clouds, and the entire disk, now smaller, was dense and whole. I put on my sun glasses to watch.

"It hung there, not moving. For the longest time it was moving down, and then it just stopped. It didn’t go. It just wouldn’t go.

"And then, later, it did."

Goodnight, Larry.
Larry's Obituary


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donderdag, november 25, 2004

More pictures from work

I spent my Thanksgiving at work, along with the rest of the people who work in this country. No holiday here.
Ian's in Belgium at a conference, so when I finished for the day I came home to a very nice bottle of wine and a microwave-in-four-minute-meal.

It was really cold this morning - the bridges were frosted over on the way to work. It was also very foggy. Remember this picture of the view from my office window?

Today, it looked like this:

As I was taking this picture, I suddenly realized I have a corner office. That obviously doesn't mean the same thing to the Dutch it means to Americans or I wouldn't have one. I still like it, though.
Until today I hadn't thought about exactly where in the building the office was, if you looked at it from the outside. The stairs confuse me, and there are twists and turns to get to where I work. Anyway, today I thought about it. See the windows the arrows point to? That's me. Up in the tower. And no, I absolutely will not answer to Rapunzel.

I'm not sure who picked the interior colors of the office, but it wasn't a gay man. At least not one my age. It's all so . . . Swedish, or something. I've seen this color a lot over here. It's usually complemented by cantelope orange.

And finally, I had my camera with me, so I took a picture of this bike. Luckily not mine. I've never actually seen anyone in the act of putting a bike over a bridge, but I've seen lots of bikes hanging precariously from the bridges. I think it must happen at night...

I hope those of you who remembered it was Thanksgiving today all had a happy one.


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zaterdag, november 20, 2004

How to remind me that I love you.

He says that when the urge comes over him it's overpowering, and that after the urge is fulfilled he becomes serene and calm. Sounds like an addiction to me. As addictions go, I suppose Ian's isn't all that bad.

He cleans. By that, I mean: He. Cleans.

When the urge will hit and require him to indulge himself in his addiction is anyone's guess, but it's generally on the weekend. This morning it happened before I had finished my first cup of coffee.

Although I've at times lived with various monkeys on my back, none of them have ever whispered in my ear that it was time to clean. Everything. NOW. And I've never lived with anyone who had this addiction. I just don't understand it.

What I do understand is that this morning the cleaning monkey not only jumped on Ian's back, he also pulled on Ian's hair and yelled in his ear. He would not be ignored.

What you will understand is that I did what any reasonable person must do when faced with a loved one in the throes of indulging an addiction: I physically removed myself from the premises until the monkey calmed down.

It didn't help that shortly after I left and got on my bike to go to the store, I rode right into a hailstorm. This is not a metaphor. I mean, I ran right into a hailstorm. I made it to the store and tried to do some shopping even though I had left my list at home (where it had probably already been "cleaned up" to some notebook or drawer or maybe even the trash), but the store was inexplicably out of everything I wanted to buy.

Once the sky cleared I left, empty handed, and rode to the next nearest store. Annoyed. When I got to the other store, I found they had rearranged everything. Nothing was in the same place. Even the aisles had moved - those that used to face North/South were now East/West, and those that . . . well, you get the idea. Not a big deal, normally, but when you don't speak the language, it's a big deal when your supermarket rearranges. Everything.

Even. The. Freaking. AISLES.

I got what I needed, although it took me about four times longer than usual to find the things I needed, and then, although my head was pounding and every nerve in my body was frayed, I rode home. I was very depressed, and had was one of those feel-sorry-for-myself moments that everyone who moves from their homeland has every once in awhile.

I got home and nervously climbed the stairs to our apartment, and was met at the threshold by this:

As I read the message from these letters on the floor, each cut from a page of the phd Ian's writing, I was instantly reminded just how much I love this man, even with the monkey on his back.

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donderdag, november 18, 2004

Pictures from work

It's good to be working again, although my stamina isn't what it was when I last worked, 4 months ago. And no, I'm not spending my time at work taking pictures and blogging. Well, ok, I took a couple of quick pictures from the window, but I've suddenly got so much work to do that I'm wondering how people who work have the time to write and post anything at all. Ever.

The work is at least as interesting as the views. And I'm in love, too. However did I get this lucky?


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dinsdag, november 16, 2004

Wedding Announcements

We're trying to figure out how to do the wedding invitations, and although there is probably no area so filled with etiquette as a wedding, there is no established etiquette for weddings celebrated by two men. I have always thought that one of the strengths of gay relationships was that we have the ability to decide for ourselves what is important. There is some freedom that comes from not modeling our relationships after heterosexual ones. Given this, can you please explain to me why I have spent the last week numbing my brain by looking through page after page filled with heterosexual wedding etiquette?

Why do I care how do we do the invitations? Still, one has to start somewhere, I suppose. Generally, I've learned, wedding invitations are sent as though they are from the parents who host the wedding. Sometimes both sets of parents host and announce a wedding. My dad died several years ago. Do we mention him? If you've been down this wedding road, you won't be surprised to hear that there's an answer to that question. It can be found at Weddings in Bliss! - The Weddings Magazine - Wedding Invitations/Stationery. (Natalie, my best . . . woman, directed me to this site.) It turns out that the invitation should read:

Mrs. John Robert Smith
requests the honour of your presence
at the marriage of her daughter
Barbara Ann
The wedding invitation should not have the name of the deceased parent. Instead, the wedding program is a nice place to put a prayer or poem in rememberance of your parent. Or perhaps a special lighting of the candle or displaying of a floral arrangement.

So there you have it.

I thought that in the wedding announcement we could have a little paragraph that explains, "Scott's father said that Scott would be married to another man over his dead body. The candle on the altar is here at the wedding representing . . ."

For those of you who didn't know my Dad, he was a great guy, and I think he would laugh at the above paragraph until his eyes crinkled up. I wish he were here. He would love Ian. He wouldn't say it like that. He would probably say that Ian was "just a real nice guy." That was about the highest complement Dad was able to give anyone, and if you heard him say it, you would know there was a sincere depth of feeling behind his words.

We've decided that the wedding itself is going to be rather traditional, with some twists. Of course. And there is a theme. "To have joy, one must share it." Lord Byron wrote that, and Ian and I both thought that although it's a broad theme, it's a good one. We're also looking for things that exemplify our relationship. Things simple, yet intimate, meaningful and beautiful. Once we came up with the overarching themes, everything else has pretty much fallen into place without too much effort.

Well, except color schemes, as Jancy (my sister) reminded me a couple of weeks ago. We still haven't decided on that. And maybe we won't. I don't think Jancy really cares, but she did say, "And nothing with big bows on our butts please." Oh the power...

We went to a wedding a month or so ago and the women were all (not just the wedding party) requested to wear hats. It was pretty cool. I don't think we'll request that, though.

Mom thinks maybe red tulips with purple delphinium would be good. Spring flowers, mixed colors. The hall is huge, so I'm not sure what to do. There are tapestries along the walls, but I think anything smaller will be dwarfed by the space. Maybe we'll concentrate on the raised portion around us.

I'm excited about our musical choices. I wish Kaaren could play violin at the ceremony, but I didn't ask her because I don't want her to feel obligated. I thought the other night about asking Martina McBride to sing (we were in a band that toured around the Midwest back in another life), but then I thought that might take some of the focus off of Ian, and you know how he gets about that. (Actually, that's not quite true. He's not one who lives for the limelight. Besides, he had never heard of her until I played one of her cd's a month or so ago for him, so he doesn't think anyone else has heard of her, either. Maybe he's right, who knows?)

We're changing the venue for our after dinner party. As romantic and appealing as having it in the Catacombs sounds, I think we have too many people. It only holds 170, and I think we're at . . . well, more. I don't think we'll get our deposit back, but oh well. The place we'll probably go with is much nicer. It's not the catacombs, but on the other hand, it does smell better. It's also on the old canal and is as a ballroom dance hall. The lower part of the building is on the canal,

The dance hall and bar is upstairs.

DJ booths have apparently changed in the last 20 years. Surprise. They're now computer driven and us CDs instead of vinyl. Or at least this one does.

Tomorrow we talk with the caterer. For some reason, caterers here don't let you try their food before you decide whether to use them. That frightens me a bit, but I'm told it's normal. Then after that, we're going to a dance studio. That's right, we're going to get some lessons. Ian already dances. I, on the other hand, have fun. When we got together, Mom told Ian that she was very glad. "It's time," said she, "that his wings were clipped."

Whatever, Mom.

But ok, I will learn to dance...


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A job!

I got a job today editing some legal text for Ian's University. I haven't started working on it yet, but I'm looking forward to it. It'll be good to use my mind a little bit, and I enjoy editing. American English is a little less formal than British English, so it will be interesting to see if I'm able to keep the tone they want. I always feel, as someone once said, that if I had more time I would have written less. Most written legal text doesn't follow this philosophy, and British legal text is so convoluted it makes my head hurt. Oh well. I don't think I'll have a problem. How hard can it be to make the heads of others hurt?


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zondag, november 14, 2004

A trip to Arnhem

This post is mainly pictures of our trip to the open air museum in Arnhem yesterday, so those of you with slow connections may want to skip opening the "Continue reading" link.

On our way to the train station, we went to the flower market here in Utrecht.

The flower market is well-used by the locals. Bikes everywhere. After getting their flowers, they put them in the bags on the back of their bikes and pedal home.

Frequently, one or both of us will get flowers on Wednesday or Saturday to put around the apartment. Those are the two days you find good flowers at the markets. Generally, we end up spending aboput 10 Euros and bring home would be about hundred dollars worth of flowers if you bought them from Sam's, for instance.

Today we did something a little different. Instead of getting cut flowers, we bought some bulbs to force.


After getting our bulbs, we went to breakfast at a little cafe. We ordered one breakfast and split it.

We got to the station at just a little before noon, put up our bikes, then waited on the platform for the fast train to Arnhem.

It's about a 40 minute ride, so we played some cribbage to pass the time.

Arnhem has an outdoor museum that is kind of a little village.


There's also and indoor museum. We went there and enjoyed an exhibit called "Clothes make the man/woman." You be the judge...

After entering the open air museum, you see the farm land and animals that have traditionally been used in the Netherlands.

The museum is primarily made up of houses that have been relocated from all over the Netherlands. Most of them are at least several hundred years old, so there's quite a bit of architectural diversity. The majority have been made without nails - wooden pegs were used to hold them together.

A detail of the painted window.

A modern farm house.

Lots of windmills from the verying areas of the country.

This buggy was hidden away in an outbuilding. All of the houses are open during the summer months (they will be in April for those you you coming to the wedding), but they're closed for the winter. We could look through the windows of the houses, but couldn't go inside.

The museum is in a forested area, and there is a tramline with a working tram that connects the different areas of the museum.

Cafe & Tramstation

And across the street from the cafe and station is this Pall-Mall court.

There are formal herb gardens - closed while we were there. Just as well. The sky started getting dark, and a few minutes later it was pouring.

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