13 August 2019

That Time I Discovered Sharon Tate

I was ten years old in 1969, the year Sharon Tate and others were murdered. My parents always had on the evening news during dinner, so I remember vague references to the murder, the search, the trial, etc; but the details never really registered with me.

About ten years later, I discovered the 1967 film Valley of the Dolls starring, among others, Sharon Tate. Love that movie. I bought the novel and read it. Love the book.

A few years later, I got the non-fiction book Helter Skelter about the hunt for the killers of Tate and the others. I was about half way through the book when my mind clicked into place that the “Sharon Tate” mentioned in this book was the same as the “Sharon Tate” who starred in the movie.

From that point forward, it was pandemonium: I wanted to know everything I could about Tate, her life, her films, her death. It was such a tragedy that the woman who made such an impression in the movie had been killed.

I have to admit I’m still a little fixated on Tate. She may not have been the best actor in the world, but there was something electric about her on screen. At least we still have that.

11 August 2019

Time Travel

In 2001 our house was broken into. They stole only a few things, but they got our VHS player (although kindly took out the cassette and left that behind). It was at that time we decided to step into the future and invest in a DVD player. We have watched only DVDs in the past eighteen years.

Over time, we began to notice that some of the movies we wanted to see were not available as DVDs – either they had never been issued as DVDs or had been and then dropped out of production.

Clearly this wouldn’t do. So, my intrepid husband went out and found a nice used VHS player for us. We’ve been picking up odd shows and movies on VHS at various places, including thrift stores, to watch programs that we can’t see elsewhere – DVD or streaming.

There are times when modern technology just isn’t good enough!

16 July 2019

You Are Who You Are

I believe that every person should have the right to live his/her life as h/she wishes – as long as it does not include injury of any kind to any other person. Basically, the “your rights end where my nose begins” philosophy. It is certainly not my place to tell any person how to live his/her own life. 

Being gay was not a decision I made: it was a realization that occurred after I was faced with an overwhelming amount of evidence. If I act on being gay, that is my choice and no business of yours. Choosing to live my life as a gay man was a difficult transition, but one I am glad to have made. 

Recently, my husband and I watched the two-part “Medical Center” episode from 1975 called “The Fourth Sex.” (S7E1-2) In it, a successful surgeon has come to the realization that he is a woman living in a man’s body and decides to make the changes necessary to align his body with his feelings. (It is a situation now called gender dysphoria.) The doctor (played by Robert Reed, who was nominated for an Emmy for his performance) must deal with doubting colleagues, a disbelieving wife, a hate-filled son and an evil sister-in-law all of whom resist his plans. I imagine it is a situation that was all-too-true then and remains all-to-true today.

I don’t understand why people are so afraid of any person making this kind of decision in his/her own life. It’s a perpetuation of the ages old discrimination: first, we hate you because you are a different religion; then, we hate you because you are a different skin color; then we hate you because you want to be in a same-sex relationship. Now, we hate you because you want to change the sex you were born with.

That hatred is fueled by any official organization (ahem, catholic church) that dismisses gender dysphoria as a “trend.” Getting a tattoo is a trend, not undergoing painful hours of surgery to change your physical body.

Personally, I think gender dysphoria is the most difficult life-changing situation to deal with, and it must be miles more difficult than my choice to live life as a gay man. I can’t imagine being in a situation where I felt that I was the wrong sex, and then having to deal with the necessary changes. My hat is off to every person who has traveled that road.

01 July 2019

Neatness (Sometimes) Counts

A friend of mine recently posted on FB that she was feeling taken advantage of because she did something really well. That reminded me of something that happened to me when I first moved to California and got a job at a bank in Berkeley.

I was assigned a teller cage. I put my stuff down and looked through the drawers and was absolutely appalled by the messes therein. I’m not a neat freak, but I like things organized. I mean, a place for everything, etc. So, I set out to clean and organize the drawers between customers. It took a while (teller stamp ink is pretty hard to get off surfaces), but in a few days I had the cage looking splendid – good enough to be featured in a spread in Better Homes and Teller Cages magazine, if you know what I mean.

About a week later, I was assigned to another cage. I moved my things to the new, even more disgusting cage and set about cleaning and organizing. I didn’t really catch on to what was happening until I was moved for a FIFTH time in as many weeks. At first, I thought they were trying to position me where I could do the most good (I was easily the fastest and most accurate teller on the line); then I realized I was the only person cleaning and organizing my drawers because, obviously every time I moved I landed in a pig’s sty. Of course, by then, I had been moved through the entire line and cleaned and organized every cage.

From that point forward, I have spoken of the “curse of competence” – where you do something so well, the “powers that be” begin to take advantage of you. That same thing happened to me in pretty much every job I’ve ever had: same ends, different means. It got to the point where I had to act like I was only as competent as my co-workers to make sure my bosses didn’t keep piling work on my desk. I hated the deception, but I was picking up the slack for a number of my co-workers who I KNOW just said, “Eh, I’m not going to bother because I know Christopher will do it.”

22 June 2019

Anesthesia and Me

I have always been ultra sensitive to medications of all kinds. This includes anesthesia. There are stories I could tell you… I had a kidney biopsy last Tuesday and I am still reeling from the effects of the anesthesia. Four days later I still feel drugged and drunk, like a perpetual hangover that refuses to go away. There has been vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, etc – all of the things my body is doing to try to rid itself of the poison.

I called and talked to nurses at the hospital about this and they say it cannot be the anesthesia, that the body rids itself of the chemicals in a couple of hours. In my case they forget that I have diminished kidney function that would slow down that process. In research I’ve done, I discovered that older people have a harder time getting rid of the chemicals.

One of the drugs they gave me this time is fentanyl – an opioid that people abuse on purpose. All I can say is that if these are the effects they desire, then they are idiots.