Christmas came and went. I was happy to be around our big, antique dining room table with family and friends, eating off the good china with the good silver. That helps to give the meal special meaning, to think we are eating on a table that goes back two generations and how many generations are around the table. That has more meaning for me than all the gifts under the trees.
I’ve become quite practical (some call it Scroogy) about gifts. Seems like the whole gift giving thing has gotten way out of control and in my opinion, we Americans don’t really need anything. Isn’t it enough to be happy with what you have and who’s around you? Why do you have to mess it up with a bunch of useless crap? Why do children need so many gifts?? They’re over stimulated from all the toys that bog down the family room on 25 December and in the grand scheme of things a kid would be happy with one gift. You know Joan Crawford was right–she gave darling Christina and siblings a choice of one gift and the rest went to other children in need. Let’s have more Crawford Christmases!
My father was the king of useless, tacky gifts. My brothers and I always feared what lurked in those packages he haded to us on Christmas day, all of us thinking "just give me the card with the money". I’ll never forget the year he announced excitedly that he did all his Xmas shopping at a big new store called Shell World. I never knew that shells could take on such life! Well, my older brother Mike has inherited the tacky, yet meaningful, gift giving gene. When he asked me this year what I wanted for Xmas, I told him not to get me anything. Looking at the box of See’s nuts and chews in his arms, I told him if he really wanted to give me a gift, just give me the See’s candy (I never say no to a box of nuts and chews). Cool, a gentlemen’s agreement, right? No. On Xmas morning as we sat opening gifts, I noticed the absence of a familiar rectangular box under the tree. Instead of the See’s, Mike got me some cheesy frames with cat stuff on it, a Chinese cat figurine and a cat toy. HELLO!!!! Did anyone hear my plea/request the day before??? I have three cats and a basement full of crap, why do I need more? (Although the cat toy is going to good use). He means well I know but me the practical person was in a lather. My mom, on the other hand, got it down right–she got me the few things I really need: swim flippers (she also threw in goggles and a bathing cap). I really shouldn’t complain should I? But when faced with lugging things across the country, you don’t want a bunch of crap in your suitcase. Really a nice bottle of wine, good food and conversation, as I’ve said before, is all I need at the holidays to be happy.
Christmas morning in San Diego is always sunny and beautiful. I always hated getting sweaters for Xmas because you never can use them it’s so damned hot. Before driving up to Manhattan Beach to my oldest brother’s house, we popped out to say HI to my dear departed dad in the cemetery at the end of the point. This has become a new family tradition as has me wearing my dad’s class ring from King’s Point Marine Academy. The ring is something he wore all the time and in his last days in the hospital I tried to get him to take it off for fear the nurses would steal it. He refused as expected for the stubborn patient that he was. Anyhow, after he died, I took the ring, my other less outlandish brothers not having any interest in wearing it. I pull it out on family occasions such as Christmas. Before coming here I was frantically looking for it in my basement, not remembering where I put it. I finally found it in a box by my bed that I didn’t put away in storage. Thank God I have trustworthy sublettors!
People in San Diego crack me up. They complain about how cold it is, running around in fleeces, UG boots and scarfs, cranking up the heat, etc. "Honey, you don’t know what cold is" I tell them. Yes the ocean breeze does add a wet chill to the air but I’m sorry when it’s in the 60's and 70's, you just have no reason to go "BRRRRRRRRR!" Call me old fashioned. Everyone here is so nice and friendly, quite the opposite from the cold stone looks I get in Astana. I’ve refrained form divulging lots of information about my work in Kazakhstan just because the majority of the population here can’t wrap their brains around things past the county line so it just leads to frustration on my part. I mean really, how difficult is it to look at a map and get a sense of the world. How hard is it to figure out that Kazakhstan is NOT in the Middle East, is not unstable and that Borat is not from there. Hey Nazarbayev, I’m becoming quite the spokesman for that great and glorious country of yours–maybe we can take this on the road. In conclusion, when discussing Kazakhstan and/or the rest of the world, Americans are stupid!
Christmas in Manhattan Beach was happy as Christmas with kids running around should be. It was hot that day and I was wondering why I didn’t bring my suit for a quick dip in the ocean. The kids rattled with their new PlayStation and other gizmos, and we shoved more food in our mouths. After all that gluttony (well part 1 at least) we took a stroll down to the beach as per tradition. So nice to be out of snow for awhile. Unusually warm for December 25th and I put all my fears of global warming aside and just enjoyed it. Post walk we had some roast beast for dinner, to cap off the ultimate day of gluttony in the American holiday calendar.
Sped out of Straightsville later on to hang out with my dear gay friends Danny and Ruben in Santa Monica. Oh so nice to get back in the fold of gay normalcy! Just an aside, and I don’t mean to offend, but after awhile, being around straight people with children gets a bit tedious. No witty conversation, no ribald, off coloured remarks, no innuendos. I always feel I need to keep a tight lip around the relatives and can’t let loose. So going back into the homo fold is always a sense of relief. Anyway, D and R are fabulous friends I’ve know for almost 20 yrs, as long as they have been together. They are always great to hang with and being movie buffs, I always catch up on my films with them. They were an intermediary point on my big road trip up to see my brother in Mammoth in the Sierra Nevada mountains. In the short time I was there, we managed to see "Dreamgirls" (run don’t walk to see this) and have some good meals.
The trip to Mammoth never happened due to a big snowstorm and 100+ mph winds. As much as I wanted to go be with my brother and his wife as they gave birth to their second kid (a boy–Mazel Tov), I didn’t want to risk my life and limb to get up there (well I did because I love my baby brother) but when he said two semis blew off the road and his friend’s trailer blew off the side of a hill, I nixed the idea of driving in my little rental car up the I5 into treacherous weather. So back to San Diego to hang with the alcoholic I went.
Call me Mother Theresa, I went to tend to the needs of my mourning friend Christopher who grieves the loss of his partner Brian less than a month ago. As angry as I am about his alcoholism and as much as I’ve talked to him about it, all it does is gets him riled up. So, thanks to my wise mother, I took a different approach, I just didn’t bring it up and focused on the day-to-day stuff. His house is a filthy, stinky mess, he has no money since he’s not working and like hell I’m hanging around there while the sun shines. So I took him out to lunch, to the movies (Black Xmas–a slasher film he wanted to see) and provided some support while in town. I so wanted to throw out his 20 yr old couches which stink to high heaven and dismantle his entertainment center but he would have none of it. You can’t rush people I guess. So let him drink his vodka, take his pills and mourn the loss of his boyfriend in his own way.
Think I’m ready now for a change of scene and flying back to NYC for 10 days is just what I need. Blogging in the fresh air, under the sun is nice but I need the verve of NYC to keep me rolling. Plus, there’s not a lot of places here with WiFi. Besides the corner of my mom’s couch(thanks to "tadhome") not many places in SD where I can chill in a café and blog, check email, etc. And fuck all these people who put locks on their wireless arrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggg!!! So get me out of this place–back to my home with my cats and friends, my other family. Hello Jet Blue, let’s go!