Wonderful Day

I’m burnt but happy.

Dave Owen lives with Maurice and Don, a gay couple who have been together for 30-odd years (correct me if I’m wrong, Dave!). They took him in when he was 17.

A few weeks ago, Maurice called and invited us to an “Elevens-at-Eleven” party. We, of course, accepted.

Dave, Don and Maurice all are wonderful hosts. None of the food they served was prepared at the store; the guys lovingly prepared all the food there. And yummy? Wow. You have no idea how these guys can cook.

The garden looked fabulous. As always, their place was a shining example of how to make a house look like an absolutely fabulous home.

Noel, Jamie and I spent the time talking to Dave and a lovely couple (whose names escape me at the present… I get worse the older I get!) and all of us had a thoroughly enjoyable time.

Noel bumped into a few “ghosts” from his past, people who were on the scene when he started on the scene, and I think it might have given him a bit of a shock. I guess you remember these people as they were years ago, not taking into account the fact that if you age, they age as well.

One scary bit was how many “Asian brides” there were there. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I guess what I mean is I personally didn’t expect that. As Noel so graciously put it, it looked like a Ting Tong convention (for those of you who don’t know who Ting Tong is, please see Little Britain Season 3 for more information).

Another scary bit was there were couples there who were not talking to anyone… not even each other. I can’t imagine Noel and me getting to that point; we’re usually too busy joking around, pretending to be a couple who are bitchy at one another than to not talk!

But major kudos to Dave, Don and Maurice for such a wonderful party with such wonderful food!

(Note to self: even on very very very cloudy days… wear sunscreen to avoid that embarrassing tan line appearing!)

Soulful

She shocked me by what she’d just said.

I was 11 or 12 at the time, in 6th grade at Saint Paul Lutheran School in Mount Prospect. Our class was talking about heaven and things like that, and the teacher had asked us what we were looking forward to seeing in heaven. (Looking back, it was a very morbid conversation!) Classmates were saying things like their grandma or favourite aunt, but I hadn’t had any close family members who had died at that time.

Now, when I was growing up, we had an Irish Setter named Cindy. She would follow me around faithfully. When I got too close to the chain-link fence, two German Shepherds barking and snarling on the other side, Cindy would wedge between me and the fence, pushing me away from danger. I even remember, being very young at the time, staring out of my crib at night, the room dark but the door open, the light in the hallway streaming in across the floor, shining on Cindy lying on the floor, her brown eyes gazing up at me to make sure I fell asleep safe and sound. I only have fond memories of Cindy.

So when this discussion came around, and it was my turn to say who I was looking forward to meeting again in heaven (again I still think this was a morbid conversation for 11 and 12 year olds), I said, “Cindy”.

The teacher was a bit perplexed and asked who Cindy was, so I explained. And, quite flatly, with a scoff and a dismissive air, my teacher proceeded to tell the entire class in a mocking sort of way, “But dogs don’t go to heaven.”

Being the rational-minded person I am, I asked why. Why, if dogs are God’s creations, don’t they go to heaven when they die?

Because, she said, dogs don’t have souls. No animals have souls: only humans.

This greatly upset me and angered me. It rocked my foundations to the core and started me questioning my faith.

Up to that point, whatever teachers had said was the truth; I don’t believe I ever questioned anything up to that point. But her comments I questioned. It started me diverging from the Christianity of the masses to the Christianity I believe in today.

Jenah, as some readers may know, is our big dog. (We do have two Chihuahuas, Levi and Nyota, and I can use examples on all three, but Jenah is the easiest.) She has personality plus. When she found out she wasn’t a human — she looked in the floor to ceiling mirror with Noel and me standing behind her, looking down at her face, then up at us, then down at her own again, then walked away slowly with her head down and her tail down — she was depressed for weeks.

When I cry, she comforts me. She even tries to cheer me up! When I’m happy, we play with her toys or joke around. When she and I are tired, she lays down with me and we fall asleep. She plays games with us. She learns words quickly. She knows peoples’ names and knows when they are coming over. And each person, she treats differently. Noel’s mother for example: Jenah is very attentive, very loving but very careful around her (as she is 90, you know).

Looking into her big brown eyes, there is intelligence and personality in her. She is loving and caring towards all the other animals and us and every person who has walked in our door bar one. Even right now as I type this, she’s staring at me, big smile on her face, with her ears up and her tail wagging.

I love her, and she loves me.

So, with all that in mind, how can she not have a soul?

Anniversary of Steel

I still can’t believe it’s been 11 years.

Everything was a blur when I arrived in New Zealand at 9 February 1996. After a 14 hour flight from LA to Sydney (and this was after a 5 or 6 hour flight from Chicago to LA), losing rings my grandparents and best friend Anne had given me and searching Sydney airport high and low for them (and thanks to a nice elderly English couple finding them), and then another 3 hour flight from Sydney to Christchurch, I was so tired. Flying in over the Southern Alps and then over fields of the Canterbury Plains, my eyes fell upon farms, more farms, sheep and more farms. What HAVE I come to? I didn’t know the city was on the other side of the island.

After being nearly the last person off the plane and through customs — and Christchurch airport has changed very much in those 11 years, so the arrival hall I went through most likely no longer exists — I saw Noel waiting for me. We gave each other a big hug and it was great.

During that day, I met Robin, Bob, Marg and Molly (Noel’s mother). Christchurch, in some parts, reminded me of Florida. It took us a few hours to get the milk from the service station across the road. All parts I remember albeit in a bit of a haze of tiredness mixed with excitement and wonder.

For many years, though, Noel remained the cornerstone of my life here. The foundation of building my life here. Out of all the things that have remained constant, he is the sole thing. And I felt guilty for a long time being so dependent on him.

(Just to justify the comment — I feel I am finally making friends and a name for myself here, and I feel more secure now. Dave Owen, Adam, Jacqui, James and Marg are all great friends who have helped me feel more settled here now and not feel so dependent on Noel all the time because I can talk to them as well as to Noel. I hope that makes sense!)

There was him and me, this strong house weathering any sort of troubles heading our way. Sure, there have been changes, people who have come and gone in our lives but the two of us remain constant.

We are so much a part of one another. Quirky jokes, pet names, routines we’ve settled into, our “fur children” and now Jamie… we have and continue to work so strongly as a relationship. I think people are surprised how easy-going and strong our relationship is, and I am sure some people are jealous of that. One person I know in particular (who is not on MySpace but shall still remain nameless) and Noel butt heads quite a bit (and others have noticed this) but I think this is partially due to her marriage crumbling before her eyes and how dare a gay couple be together longer than her marriage and be stronger and more durable and more successful. Her problem, not ours, I am sure, but it struck me that people are jealous or envious of our relationship. Flattering in a weird sort of way, I guess.

So what makes a successful relationship? I don’t know because so many people have different success stories. Noel and I talk. We joke all the time, have the same tastes, and he’s my best friend as well as my lover and husband. He makes me feel good in times I feel low. What more could I ask for?

Our relationship is one of steel and quite coincidentally, 11 years anniversary is one of steel.

So I end this blog on two notes…

Here’s to 11 wonderful years and hopefully a lifetime more of anniversaries together; and…

Oooh, 12th anniversary is silk or linen. Can we get kinky stuff for the bedroom then? (Just kidding!!!)

Not an Old Fogey

Okay, I think my life is getting stranger as I get older.

Years ago, as a teenager, my parents annoyed me at times. They would repeat themselves and I’d get around to doing that when I had the time. God forbid they overhear my conversation on the phone; it wasn’t top secret but they were adults… they couldn’t possibly remember being my age. That pile of clothes on the floor would get cleaned up soon but I knew where everything was so why change the status quo? Yeah, my Mom would nag me if I had done something, repeating herself every time I saw her, i.e. “Did you speak to Mrs Smith about the wrong mark on your algebra test?”

I just didn’t think they understood.

Now, about 16 years later, I feel like I’m in the same role as my parents.

For those of you who don’t know, Noel’s nephew Jamie is living with us part-time, i.e. weekends although this week he has been with us from last Friday to this Sunday (of course he is more than welcome to stay as long as he likes). He’s 16, very well brought up and very well mannered. Unlike some teenage boys, Jamie answers questions and doesn’t grunt them: in my book, a big plus. He’s a really nice guy, and I have plenty of time for him.

Today, I was folding laundry in our bedroom and I got the giggles. Jamie was in his room, door firmly closed, talking to one of his friends on the phone. I thought, “Boy does Fate or God or whoever or whatever have a good sense of humour or what?”

I’ve been nagging him about his locker at school. Has he got it yet? No? Why not?

“I didn’t go through the pile of clothes on your floor to see if you had any more laundry because I didn’t want to pry.”

“Make your bed in the morning.”

“Help me with the dishes.”

And then it occurred to me.

Holy God, I so sound like my parents when I was Jamie’s age. Should I be scared? Am I an old fogey? Is it funny? Will it get worse? Will I lose my patience? Will I overstep the line? Where is the line? Will he tell me, get stuffed, you’re not my dad or mum?

(Well, on that last note, he would not say that. He’s too well brought up to say that.)

It’s scary. I don’t know how far to go. And then I realise, is this how my parents felt as I pushed into the teenage years? Should my parents be nominated for sainthood?

So I wrote my parents today to say…

“OH MY GOD I SO UNDERSTAND YOU NOW!!!”

The Joke

We were laughing so hard we were nearly crying.

Sometimes, Noel and I get into some really immature moods. And, to be honest, having Jamie here doesn’t help!

So, while James, Jacqui, Charlotte and Nicole — collectively known as “The Andersons” (or “The JAndersons”) — our neighbours across the street were out on what we thought was James taking in a flying lesson, a prime opportunity came up for playing a prank.

Now, years ago, Noel bought some walkie-talkies. I’m not really sure why to this day, but he bought them nonetheless. So Noel and Jamie got this idea that we should put one walkie-talkie into the Andersons’ mailbox and then scare the daylights out of them when they went to check their mail.

Only one problem with that plan, Jamie said. It’s Sunday.

With no mail delivery leading to no Anderson checking the mailbox, we decided hiding it in the bushes would be best. So Jamie (God bless him) decided, being the youngest and probably most agile of all of us, would plant the walkie-talkie near their front door.

(This didn’t work so well, so Noel and Jamie went back over and planted it in some tall grasses near the garage.)

Their return seemed to take forever, so we took turns shouting over the walkie-talking to people passing buy.

A teenage boy running by on his paper run: “Don’t run around the pool!”

A trio of Asian ladies: “Hey! Hey you! Don’t walk away from me!”

A middle aged woman: “Wow, baby, you are sexy!”

Another middle aged woman speed walking: “Walk faster! WALK FASTER!” (to which she started laughing)

So, finally, the Andersons got home. Two kids were riding their scooters down the footpath, so James though they were saying something to him, but, it was my voice coming from the great bunch of long grasses, saying (in the darkest, most evil, Cobra Commander raspy like voice I could), “James. Jaaaaaames.”

But James is brighter than he appears. Mind you, he would have to be; he is breathing. (Just kidding James. No, really, I am.) And so he told the girls (Charlotte, 7 going on 17, and Nicole, 5) to find the walkie-talkie in the grasses.

Now, Charlotte says she wasn’t scared but I started to say her name and she backed off a bit. Mind you, I would too with a Cobra Commander raspy voice coming from the grass. Nicole, on the other hand, charged in, stuck her hand in and found the walkie-talkie.

Jacqui’s turn to get in on the fun. She started throwing abuse (that nice, proper English abuse though) down her end of the walkie-talkie. And she showed Charlotte (still not very trusting) the walkie-talkie, holding it face out towards Charlotte.

Charlotte regained her trust, obviously, and wasn’t too scared of it, so approached cautiously. She got right up near it, put her hand out to take it from her mum…

“Charloooooottte…. this is the devil speaking!” I was trying so hard not to laugh as Charlotte backed up about 20 feet in 3 steps. Yeah, kinda mean scaring the crap out of a 7 year old, but it was fun.

Jamie and James continued to see who could make the grosser noise on the walkie-talkies — and by this point, if any of our other neighbours were on this channel, they’d think we were nuts (if they didn’t think that already) — with Jamie making a noise like a boy peeing in a toilet and James making a noise that cannot be described in this blog without it going R18. Let’s just say we call him this all the time and he proved he knows how to make the sounds to confirm he is one LOL.

Anyway… it was a great bit of fun that we all enjoyed and thank God James and Jacqui took the practical joke so well!

Today

“Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known…”

Taking lyrics from the Smashing Pumpkin’s song “Today”, I find myself wondering about the beautiful day today.

Not only was it warm, but it was a day for bonding and finding out more about the people I love. Jamie, Noel and I headed to Riccarton Mall to buy Jamie some clothes. Well, some of my choices were great and some where not so hot, according to Jamie, although I thought I do have a pretty good dress sense when it comes to casual stuff. But, we picked out some pretty nice clothes for him and bonded pretty well in the process.

He ran into two girl classmates from his elementary school and they walked up (supposedly… I was not witness to this) and said hi and talked to him for a little bit. And then I realised, here I was, talking to him as if I was his peer and joking with him, even though I am twice his age and gay. But there was some sort of bonding going on there, and I realised it was the same thing I did with friends my age when I was his age… a natural thing I guess, no matter if one is straight, gay, bisexual or even asexual.

I got some Adobe books for my newly installed Mac programmes on my computer, which helped heaps, even getting a few lessons in before we went on a BBQ to Marg’s.

Signed a bank agreement I was supposed to sign when we first bought the house which makes me liable for lots of money if the school goes under, which, as Noel said, makes me liable for more than Don is at the moment… and I don’t even own the place. So I guess some serious discussions are going on about that.

Jamie was so good that I took him to EB Games to buy a few PS2 games. Ended up walking out with a PS2 guitar, a game related to that and another SingStar game… about $250 later. He did keep hinting he’d like the game, and I feel guilty that he’s not had much, and here he is now, as I type this, faithfully playing the game… so that means a lot to me.

James, Jacqui and the girls followed us to Marg’s place, even with me joking to them about their car — we ran into them at the Northlands car park building with their car broken down — breaking down and how would they race us in such a heap.

When at Marg’s, we had a bit of a talk and had fun all around. Eventually, Walshie (Marg’s husband) and Shalamar (Marg’s granddaughter) showed up, and we had a great time. Jamie had, by this time, disappeared to see his girlfriend, who lives around the corner. I’m still not sure if he was kidding or not about what he was doing with her — and, to be honest, as his “uncle” and a surrogate father-figure on the weekends, I don’t feel it’s my place to know as long as he takes our advice about safe sex and precautions and all that jazz — but he came back and wasn’t blushing which means God knows what.

So today has been full of learning curves and curveballs and all sorts of things… but it was a very satisfying day full of achievements and accomplishments!

A Beautiful Day

I wasn’t too sure I’d be feeling up to going out.

That damned chicken sandwich I’d got from the Mobil station/convenience store across the street from work came back to haunt me. It’s my fault; Noel told me he’d been sick before from a sandwich from the Mobil — incidentally chicken, just like I’d had — and I thought I’d be okay. But by 1 AM on Saturday morning, the sandwich I’d bought for Friday’s lunch kicked back.

We were supposed to go to Adam’s for a BBQ lunch today (Saturday) but I still wasn’t feeling too hot. The plan was to drink lots of water and have a bit to eat even though I still wasn’t feeling 100%.

But the day today was beautiful. The sun was shining down, the sky was pretty clear, Adam’s yard was full of trees and shrubs sheltering us from any wind there might be and the temperature was not too hot and not too cool. So Noel, Jamie (Noel’s nephew) and I sat outside with Adam, his friend Grant (who, incidentally, was born about 2 hours after me literally) and Adam’s flatmate Max. We proceeded to bask in the sun, talk about a variety of things, eat BBQ stuff and drink vino.

What was supposed to be a lunch turned into an afternoon of fun and delight. We sat around talking about so many different things, and , by the time we looked at the time, it was dinner. So we decided to go and get fish and chips. (I was good. I had chicken nuggets LOL).

The day was wonderful. I feel a glow on my cheeks from the sun kissing them. Adam called our mutual friend Eliot, a wonderful wonderful person (with a lovely boyfriend Dean — both of them make you feel so at ease around them, like you have known them forever… I felt so at ease going to Rarotonga between what Noel and Eliot both had described to me), and I got to talk to him for a little while, which was great because honestly I probably don’t talk or text him enough and he really rates highly in my books. Jamie and I were texting each other while sitting next to one another: so hilariously funny (I won’t tell you what we were texting about but it was funny and probably a bit of a bonding experience for the 21st century surrogate father-figure). Grant and Adam were both in fine form, which was great. And Noel and Adam did their usual jibbing back and forth: not for the faint of heart, but you can tell how much the two of them love one another.

I’m glad I went out in the end. I came right, felt a zillion times better, and had a great time.

Good friends, family, good food and wine, and just a wonderful day. What more could anyone ask for?