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February 2019

You Cannot Be Erased - Christina Makeyeva

As I approach my 55th birthday on March 9th, I have, like most other people my age, started to look at my life in terms of "did I make a difference" and "will I be noticed when I'm gone". I think it's fair to say that these aren't abnormal thoughts; we all have them. 

I think it's also, then, fair to say that you don't have to have cured cancer for you to have made a difference in the lives of the people around you... and, therefore, yes, you will be missed when you're gone. 

I'm not going to necessarily wrestle with this in depth today, but I did want to post to help you get your thoughts cookin. Drop a thought in the comments or send me an email via FB, LinkedIn or my gmail if you have it (I think it's up on the upper left hand side of this blog somewhere btw). 

Cannot be erased

How To Be Happy




Good morning and Happy Tuesday!

Today, February 26th marks 5 years since I retired my fundraising Bingo nights. How time flies.

Every week from February 16th, 2005 - February 26th, 2014 I produced and emceed 457 two hour fundraising events that featured a range of guests from drag queens to soap stars to burlesque performers, activists, writers, singers, and much MUCH more. It was truly a highlight of my life and, well, I do miss it.

But, at the time, I had an intense corporate events management job and I just couldn't maintain the weekly show no matter how hard I tried. I produced another baker's dozen shows in 2015 (how I had missed it!) but I think the idea had run its course, and that's OK. I'd been emceeing and producing events in and around LGBT nightlife in multiple cities for about 20 years non-stop at that point so I think a bit of 'time off' was more than due. 

Fast forward five years and find myself missing working as an emcee. So I'm am putting that out in to the universe these days to see what will happen. 

So, this day reminds me of that cliche - do what makes you happy. Don't let others tell you who you are based on their very limited view of you. Nice to get feedback, but take it with a grain of salt. Only you know you. I didn't really have any nay sayers in my life telling me not to do Bingo, but that's mostly because, by that time, in that niche market, I'd proven myself as someone who could successfully produce ongoing events.

But there will always be people who are only too happy to be Debbie Downers in your life - "you'll never do this", "you'll never do that". It's up to us to tell them to their face or, in the case of a boss at work who clearly has zero belief in ones abilities despite evidence to the contrary, tell them in your head that they are simply full of sh*t. They don't have a crystal ball. They aren't running your life. They are only projecting their own crap. It's up to each of us to weigh the truth and dismiss anything and everything that isn't constructive or helpful, no matter who it is saying it. 

Have a great day today and remember, only you can do you. Be nice to you!




Johns and Marys 4: The Swing Set

Johns and Marys v2This is the true joy in life: being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

George Bernard Shaw (as quoted by Mary S. on LinkedIn)


I have said many times in my life - sometimes humorously, sometimes when I'm in the depths of emotion - that my life should serve as a "Don't Let This Happen To You" warning. There's the time I found myself halfway between Reno and Salt Lake in a dead Hyundai with a car load of stuff including a computer monitor owned by my best friend who was, at the time, moving from Chicago to San Francisco. That's a story for another day. If I continue to do this chronologically, that'll be awhile, but worth it, I think. It's one of my favorites. 

And, you know, today's blog is also one of my favorite stories that speaks to the DLTHTY theme - the story of The Swing Set. 

You see, we had a big backyard and although we mowed the grass, we didn't really didn't do a lot of upkeep on our garage, the pink blocked patio, the metal swing set, the sand/needle box and other things like a metal shed that I made it one of my young life's missions to keep organized. My other projects, btw, of this kind were in the attic and the basement. The treasures I have found over the years in our attic included an envelope with the negatives from my mom's and dad's wedding reception in 1953 and some cool self help books from the late 60s. (BTW try as I might I cannot remember if Dr. Tec's "Fear of Success" was in our bookshelf, but if I ever made my childhood into a movie, I sure would have me thumb through it. Because foreshadowing and stuff).  I guess it was like most big backyards in the Midwest - a rusting this or that somewhere on your property, scattered bikes or toys, and a general ease about the life being lived there. It's not like east coast backyards that are, comparatively, virtually English gardens. 

Anyway, I have a sort of flap on my tongue that stems from an early childhood moment of Stupid. Here goes. 

Linda was my best pal/playmate from an early age. She lived in a large rambling house with her mom and dad and several older brothers and sisters. They had an enormous yard and a creek (which we all called "The Crick") next door where all the kids from the neighborhood would swim in the summer. There was a bunch of kids on River Road where I grew up but she was the only one exactly my same age. 

64cd3f43e8ef2f793b83c1c7279dac91Anyway, most times, I (and everyone else) would go over to Linda's house to play, but this one time during a very cold and grey winter day when I was 4 or 5, Linda was over and we were running around in the snow playing on the swing set. Like all kids we teased each other. Well, she was kind of hogging the one and only swing. At one point, I suggested we go over to the sand/needle box, and, so, she got up and we raced over to it... except I was convinced she was going to double back and retake the swing, so I doubled back and lurched towards the cold metal swing set, tripping ever so much that I went head first into one of the supporting poles. And, as I gave a 'yelp', my tongue found itself lodged on the cold metal. 

When you're 4 or 5 and your tongue finds itself lodged on any surface, the natural reaction is to yank it off. 

Yeah, I did that. 

... and then the pain began and the blood started to pour out, filling my mouth, and then, when I opened my mouth, creating a stream of red in the fresh snow. As I ran towards the house in a panic, I looked back at a dumbfounded Linda and a definite trail behind me.  Yeah, it was pretty awful. 

I don't remember much after that. Not sure if I passed out or what but the next thing I remember, I was laying in my dad's bedroom with the TV on. I think there must have been an ice pack on my tongue to stop the bleeding and I was pretty freaked out. My sister, Lynn, created a little paper doll puppet show from a book of Cinderella paper dolls she had. It was pretty cool. She'd loved the version of Cinderella that had been on TV a couple years earlier which starred Lesley Ann Warren and Stuart Damon. Damon would go on to portray Alan Quartermaine on General Hospital for over 30 years. 

Not that this needs to be said - but I'll say it anyway - when your tongue gets stuck on a metal surface, don't yank it off. And, also trust your friends. Also: don't play on the swing set in the winter, why would you be doing that anyway? LOL

And although my sister and I have had our share of good and rocky times, I never will forget that act of kindness. 

Why, you might ask, is this one of my favorite stories? Well, mainly because when I tell it, I'm able to enjoy the look of horror on the other person's face at the thought of it happening. There is a weird pleasure in that. LOL 

So that's today's story, please leave a comment if you feel so moved. 

In the meantime, I'll be back tomorrow and throughout the week with more thoughts and stories. 




This Song Is Gonna Get Stuck Inside Your -

OK so Sunday morning truth telling here - I am one of the legions of fans of THE LEGO MOVIE. I first saw it with my best pal Matthew from San Fran (not to be confused with Matthew aka "The Mister" who also happens to be my boyfriend) at an afternoon matinee here in New York when it first came out a few years ago. Now, five years later, the sequel is upon us and we have plans to see it again when he's in town in a few days.

None of this matters, really, because what's right in front of us here and now is the sequel's new "Everything is Awesome" which was an ear worm in and of itself. Get set for the aptly titled "Catchy Song" aka "This Song is Gonna Get Stuck Inside Your Head". As one You Tube comment reads, 'move over, Let It Go, you've met your superior" and, well, yes, yes it has. 

Below the tune - you're welcome! 



Johns and Marys 3: The Gasoline

Johns and Marys v2I grew up on a country road two miles out of the 'city' of Mosinee. The road hugged the banks of the Wisconsin River and we sat on a couple acres with an ample front and backyard. Our backyard meshed in with a large pine forest which gave way to fields and the River itself. This space allowed my imagination to run wild and I felt as though I had the world at my beck and call. I could climb trees, explore the wild brush (one year I discovered wild black raspberries), the base of an abandoned silo, and so much else. 

The backyard itself had a metal swingset, a patio with a large oak tree growing out of the middle of it, and a rarely used sandbox that someone somewhat unwisely thought to place under a cluster of four tall pine trees thus making it more of a pine needle box than a sand box. Later, I would be the one to mow all that grass but I seem to remember rather enjoying it especially the year we got a riding lawnmower. 

I'll get to an 'adventure' I had on the swingset in another post, and the sandbox holds no stories (sadly) but the patio was the focal point of my first big childhood emergency - the day I drank gasoline. 

This patio was made up of these pinkish rectangular tiles, and on the patio sat a rusted lawnchair and a semi rusted grill. I don't remember the family using it very much, so it was kind of a big occasion when my dad would fire it up. I remember it being a particularly hot summer day and I was doing my thing - I had playmates with kids from the road, but I always felt a little silly sharing my 'pretend' with them especially since it would include me creating a TV schedule of all the shows I liked the most. I dreamt that I could create one station where all the best stuff was on..... I created a logo and everything and would do promos in my head. I was very much a child of the TV generation. 

Anyway, on this particular day, I had been running around and, as is normal on a hot summer day, got thirsty. Dad was grilling and I noticed that he had a bottle of 7Up on the little shelf on the side of the grill. I saw him step away and figured he wouldn't mind if I "snuck" a swig of his soda. 

7upI glug glug glugged and then stopped. It didn't taste right. So, I did what anyone would do when they taste something that doesn't taste right - I glug glug glugged some more. 

That's when it hit me that what I had just drunk was gasoline. 

For some reason, rather than having a can of lighter fluid, my dad poured some gas into an empty bottle of 7Up. I never did find out why but there it was, bubbling around in my stomach. 

In a moment of blind panic, I tore across the gravel driveway that circled the house and raced in through the back door of the house and into the kitchen where everyone was making conversation. 

Once they found out what had happened, my mom grabbed me and we dashed off to the car. The Mosinee clinic was, at the time, just over the bridge in a tiny office on the main street.

My mom suffered from some nervous conditions, but on that day and in that moment, she was calm, cool, and focused on getting me to the doctor's office.

Someone had called ahead and once we arrived, they rushed me in and got me into a tiny room. Soon, plastic tubes were being inserted up into my nose. I could feel them snaking down the back of my throat. 

And then they started to pump. 

Well, it all came up fairly quickly as tears wear streaming down my face. 

Afterwards, we went next door to Mueller's Drug Store and mom let me pick out a coloring book. I chose one with an owl dressed as a sheriff (how I remember that, I'll never know). 

In later years, when my sister and brother would tease me about it, I would point out that the gasoline was in the 7Up bottle, but they'd come back with 'yeah, but you drank it TWICE!" 

I cannot argue with that, unfortunately! LOL 

Johns and Marys 2: The Things Before We Wake

Johns and Marys v2Everyone has stories of things that they are told happened to them during the early years of ones life that one doesn't/cannot remember, in that time before our consciousness 'wakes up' and we start being aware of our life. 

For me, these include, being obsessively protected by our family's big black lab Licorice (who died, while I was still a baby, I think, by being hit by a car on the highway just outside our house), being present at a party my parents threw and exclaiming "OH HELL!" for some unknown reason, and the time I stuck my hand out to stop a slamming door with a glass pane in it that caused a scar on my right arm. I remember none of this. 

I was also told at a young age that I had been an unexpected third child after my mom had had some problems carrying to term. My sister, born in 1956, was supposed to have been a twin, and I seem to remember hearing from her that mom had been pregnant twice between my brother being born in 1960 and my birth in 1964.

So, from a young age, before I was 'awake', my mom doted on me as I was not only a 'whoops' but it was clear that I would be her last child. I can't, of course, know what that must feel like, to know or suspect that you can't have any more children, but it can only be a sad thing (whether or not she and my dad even would have wanted more kids is not important). 

ThelmaXmas1966aWhen I tell people that my mom and dad were my best friends growing up, some look at my like I'm crazy, some look at me as though they pity me... and some understand. My parents weren't perfect, but, they were perfect for me. My mom was loving and kind, creative, smart and funny, and my dad had a wealth of knowledge about pop culture, world history, and a mind for exploring interesting subjects (such as visitors from other worlds and things of that nature). They would each leave me, in their own way, over time, but I think that they armed me with a better tool belt than either they or I realized. That I have lived in many cities, have a large number of friends, and have had the pleasure of a variety of super cool experiences comes from parents who taught me the right things. I'm certainly not perfect either, but I have them to thank for a lot of things that have kept my life full of life. 

Anyway, the first image that I have always remembered clearly, was the image of the back of a woman's legs, standing at our kitchen sink washing dishes. She was wearing a dress and short heeled shoes. I know it wasn't my mom but was probably our housekeeper, Mrs. S.

Mrs. S. was hired to help my mom cope with three kids and a big house. As my mom suffered from agoraphobia (something that would only be named after my dad passed away in 1981) we all just accepted that my mom needed companionship in the house and when driving and it was Mrs. S who would cook meals, do laundry, iron, and, to some degree, the disciplining. Later, after Mrs. S left, Mrs. K joined our household and would threaten us with "the stick" - a large wooden spoon. She called me "Charlie" as in "Charlie Brown" and I would stay at her house in town on occasion when my parents would go out of town. I don't really remember Mrs. S at all, but would later "meet" her briefly. It's a strange thing to meet someone who took care of you but you don't remember them. 

The image up above is of a Christmas card I salvaged from one of my usual childhood raids of boxes in our attic. It's certainly one of the things I wouldn't remember getting at 2 years old. I am thrilled that it somehow survived until I could, during college, put it in a photo album for safe keeping.

ThelmaXmas1966bThe card is from my grandma and grandpa Hansen, my mom's parents who lived in Milwaukee. My grandma refers to herself as "Nonna" in the note but I know I never referred to her as that, although I do remember my sister doing so.  As a side note, this grandma, Thelma, was always a very big part of our Christmas as she would bake the most delicious sugar cookies and put them in fancy tins, sealed with heavy tape and sent to us not to be opened until Christmas day. She was quite a positive influence on me and, aside from my parents, she is the person from my family that I miss the most (she passed at nearly 100 years old in 2004). 

That's all for today, more soon! 

originally posted 12/19/18 Noon. 

edited for additional clarity 12/19/18 3:30pm

Johns and Marys 1: The Lucy Show

Johns and Marys v2

Look to this day:
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence.
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendour of achievement
Are but experiences of time.

For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision;
And today well-lived, makes
Yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day;
Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!

- Kalidasa

I was born in a paper mill town called Mosinee, in the central part of Wisconsin. My parents' house sat on the edge of a thick woods just a few minute walk from the Wisconsin River. We weren't on a farm, but we didn't live in town either. We were in between and part of both but neither at the same time. I have found that this has been sort of symbolic of my life. Thankfully, I grew up on a country road with a bunch of other kids. We were all of similar ages and had many adventures throughout our shared childhood. In many ways, I felt/feel closer to them than I did/do my own siblings. But I'll get to that eventually. 

My story really begins on March 9th. The possibly apocryphal story of my birth is that my mother went into labor during an episode of The Lucy Show and about an hour and a half later, I was born. I only couch this as a possibly apocryphal story because Lucy was on at 7pm and I was born around 8:30. That seems pretty fast but I don't know if she was already in the hospital at the time or if she went from our house to the hospital and to birth in 90 minutes. My mother would have enough trouble with me throughout my life so, if true, I'm glad that it sounds as though my birth was a fairly easy event and that at least she went into the delivery room laughing. 

I was also a 'whoops'. My mom didn't think she'd have any more children so I was apparently a surprise. Perhaps this is why she and I got along so well. Knowing that you weren't planned is a kind of weird feeling as you realize that you almost weren't anything at all. It's also weird for me to know that my parents tenth wedding anniversary was June 20th, 1963 and that I was born 9 months later. It's nice to know that I was probably conceived during a celebratory time. :) 

BabyPictureThis photo is the earliest one of me that I have. Taken in March 1965, I would be one year old. It doesn't look like my parents home nor does it look like either of my grandparents' homes.. so I'm not sure where I am. But, it does look like I was comfy and clearly they were worried that I'd just wander away (probably a reasonable concern given my eventual peripatetic ways). I really love that pillow, by the way. It's super cool. I also kind of like the art deco green lamp behind me and the 'genie' bottle on the table. If I had to guess, I might think that I might be staying at a woman's house who had been our housekeeper (Mrs. Sinkhofer) in my early years. She would retire by about the time I was 3 or 4 and Mrs. Kasmirski ("Mrs. K") would be with us up until my dad passed away in 1981. 

Interestingly, later on in life, when I was with a boyfriend who was a serious snorer, I would spend a lot of time sleeping on the couch. It never bothered me. I guess it's because I had been a couch surfer from early on. :) 

Anyway, I think that's a good start. I'll be back with a few more bits and pieces.