Two weeks ago, it seemed like life pulled the rug out from under me, and then still had the audacity to kick me in the nuts. Ouch.
Okay, maybe I'm being a bit dramatic, but it was a tough week at work, having gotten pulled onto a major project with a tight turnaround, which entailed working late at the office, crawling home, working until midnight, crawling into bed, and then being back at the office by 7 a.m. And while I was able to get done what I needed to do, I needed the following week to catch up on all of the other stuff that I had had to put by the wayside, hence the lack of (personal) writing/blogging. So today, I took a personal day to recuperate a bit, which included a good run this morning (even with the bit of rain that fell during my last lap around the park), and about 12 miles on the bike.
Here's a rundown on some of the things that have happened of late.
I am not known for having a green thumb. In fact, I've been known to even kill bamboo. Yes, my lucky bamboo that sat in a vase in my office - I managed to kill it. (It went from a beautiful green to mushy yellow with black spots, so I figured it was a goner.) So it's a frakkin' miracle that this year's vegetable plantings have not yet kicked the bucket under my watch. I'm not a huge fan of summer (because the humidity makes my hair stand on end even more than usual), but I do love the annual ritual of planting flowers, vegetables and herbs, and watching them grow. This year's crop includes three tomato plants (heirloom, cherry and grape - I think), a green pepper plant, basil, mint, rosemary and thyme. Two of the tomato plants are growing like weeds, and are even outpacing the round cages we installed to support them; the third seems to be a bit stunted in growth, but is already bearing six beautiful cherry tomatoes that we're hoping will ripen soon. The green pepper plant is showing five little buds that I hope will all turn into peppers, and the herbs are flourishing to the point that I've been sharing with colleagues. And while I have no designs on being a farmer at any time soon, I have to admit there's something tremendously satisfying about watching nature at work and being able to say that we grew our own produce.
On my route home, I occasionally have to share a bus with an older, stout woman, probably in her 60s, with grey, greasy hair. I first saw her about two years ago on a different bus line, but now she seems to have migrated to my current route. I call her the screamer because, well, that's what she does. She speaks in some type of Eastern European language (as far as my non-Eastern European ear can tell), usually in a very loud voice to herself, and then - she screams. Literally, she screams, sometimes at the top of her lungs. And even though I'm sure she must suffer from a mental illness of some sort, it's very disconcerting to hear, especially since I'm on tenterhooks the entire ride, waiting for it to happen.
Two weeks ago, when I was coming home late from another slog fest at the office, it was raining cats and dogs, and the screamer got on the bus. (I was behind her in the line, and hadn't boarded at this point.) The bus driver, who must have known who she was from prior experience, immediately ordered her off. She wouldn't listen at first, and began screaming at the top of her lungs in protest. It was - in all honesty - quite horrifying. Eventually, after about five minutes, she got off the bus, and the bus driver took off without her.
I do feel sorry for her. I don't know where she comes from, or where she's going. I used to work for a social service agency that helps people with mental illness, so I like to think that I have an understanding of how debilitating mental illness can be. Still, it's hard not to be alarmed when I see the screamer approaching, because I don't know if she'll be calm or agitated. And when I'm coming home from a tough day at work, it's hard not to want a quiet, uninterrupted ride on the bus home. I guess it's one of the perils of public transit.
This past weekend was Pride in Chicago, with the parade on Sunday. In the past few weeks, we've seen the first civil unions to be performed in Illinois, and the gay marriage bill that passed in New York just last week. And my blogging guru, Nofo, has a great post about why we - as a gay community - have much to be proud of. And it's thanks to the gay activists, advocates, volunteers, and trailblazers who have led the way for the past fifty years that I am able to live my life openly - with my family, at work, in my neighborhood, on the WWW.
Still, I haven't been to the parade in years. I'm not good in large crowds or in direct sunlight (no, I'm not a vampire), so I've tended to avoid the parade for those reasons. But when I did go, what used to mean the most to me was not the glad-handing politicians trying to curry favor with the gay community, the gyrating muscle boys in skimpy trunks (even though they're nice to look at), the sequined drag queens, or any of the attention-getters who seem to find their way into the newspaper/media. To me, the most meaningful of the parade participants are groups like PFLAG, the gay and lesbian associations of police and medical professionals, and the advocacy organizations that have worked so hard to win us the equal rights and acceptance that we deserve as gay men and women.
To me, pride is about having my partner's picture on my desk at work, letting others know how important he is to me, bringing him to the office holiday party or other events, and never feeling like I need to hide who I am. But I'm glad that we have a parade - in Chicago and around the world - because pride is worth celebrating. I guess I consider my pride to be a bit more subdued than a once-a-year-on-a-parade-float event. My pride is 365/24/7.
So even though I know that my increasing infrequency of postings has led to dwindling readership, I was surprised to learn over the weekend that my dad reads my blog. Hi, Dad!