Just wow.

I do my best to remember that, despite the fact that some of my days can be frustrating or unhappy, I actually have a pretty amazing life compared with most of the other humans who live on this planet. But I still take so much for granted…

Then I see something like this, which reminds me to not only never take my wonderful life for granted – but to do what I can, large or small, to express and encourage the humanity that we all share.

Happy New Year!

So long 2010! It’s been a year filled with happiness, grand adventures, the love of my amazing family and friends (new and old) and super-cute shoes. And the Giants won the World Series. Can’t ask for more than that, really…

How I Ruined Christmas

Spent Christmas Eve with my father and stepmother, sister and brother-in-law and my two nephews, one of whom brought his girlfriend to the celebration (she’s clearly a brave soul, agreeing to attend an event Chez Cohen-Glick). And it was a wonderful evening. Dinner was fantastic as always – a giant rib roast was devoured (and my prize for helping my stepmother serve is that I got the first slice, all crusty and fatty and extra-delicious). Plus, she’d whipped up some homemade French macarons (I know!) to go along with the other desserts of profiteroles and coconut cranberry cake. Which came after the cheese course (duh).

There was also the traditional opening of Christmas crackers, so we could all don our paper crowns. This year’s crackers were music themed – we each got a whistle with a different number. The conductor (originally assigned to me but I couldn’t understand the instructions, so my sister was put in charge) uses the supplied baton and sheet of music to point at each numbered reveler, who then blows their whistle. The idea is that a lovely Christmas tune will be performed; in actuality, we spent our time whistling loudly and randomly while shrieking at my sister that she was ruining everything. Needless to say, this was a highlight of the evening.

Then we gathered ’round the tree for the festival of disappointment exchange of Christmas gifts. And actually, all went well. Everybody seemed pleased with their loot. Champagne continued to flow. Dad took his traditional stance, seated with a Hefty bag at his knees to fill with discarded wrapping paper, in an effort to eliminate all traces of Christmas the moment each gift was opened. I got a truly excellent portable speaker for my laptop and a handsome watch I’d been eying for months – very cool.

But then there were the electronic robot bugs. My step-mom got them as just a little impulse buy for the cats. And I made the mistake of opening one and turning it on – and it was horrifying. They are like over-sized, brightly colored cockroaches that go skittering around in a frighteningly realistic manner. They were seriously freaking me out. I think at one point I jumped up on chair squealing in terror like a cartoon housewife who sees a mouse.

So, at some point the bugs were reactivated and one of them came right at me like it was going to run up my pant leg, so I yelled, grabbed it and tossed it across the room – where it promptly managed to find the one tiny crevice in the fireplace hearth and  burrow its way in, until it was lodged deep inside.

All manner of picks, tweezers, magnets, duct tape, goose-neck pincers and various combinations of said tools were put to use in an effort to extract the still-buzzing toy. All succeeded only in lodging the beast further into place.  And the worst? We could all still hear the faint buzzing emanating from the hearth. I likened it to a live re-enactment of The Tell-Tale Heart.

My one prayer is that the battery wears out soon. Otherwise, my father will never sleep again.

Oh, and it was also during the failed robot-bug-extraction efforts that I realized my favorite new boots that I was wearing had left black scuff marks all over the floor from the kitchen to the dining room to the living room. I guess it’s a good thing I enjoyed myself so much this year, since I’ve likely been banned from all future celebrations.  Merry Christmas!

And here, by the way, are the terrible and freakish robot insects. Seriously, they are the stuff of nightmares…

The day after…

Slept in until 7:00 this morning. Considering that I’d been waking up at 4:30 most of the week, thanks to crossing the international date line last Sunday, I am delighted with this turn of events.

Had a marvelous Thanksgiving dinner with my dad, step-mom and all of the families. Dinner was excellent, desserts were copious, wine flowed like water… It is the best holiday.

Of course, the only drawback is a long-standing tradition of my step-mom’s: the post-Thanksgiving Friday night leftover extravaganza. Since it’s served buffet style, the size of the dining table doesn’t limit the number of guests, so it’s a big fun crazy house party. The only drawback? It means I don’t get any leftovers to take home until Friday!

Lucky for me though, another tradition is that my sister is forced to cook dozens of pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving – and I got a whole one to bring home last night! So, breakfast is served…

Thanksgiving

Yes, I’m still a crabby old craberella crabby crab-erson. But I honestly do give thanks every year on this day. The last year started off rather difficultly…  Yet here I am. And I am so lucky and grateful to remain surrounded by my loving and stalwart family; to come home every night to a joyful ball of fur who wants only to jump into my arms for nothing more than a scratch on the head and a bowlful of kibble; to keep on traveling far and wide; and, probably to my biggest amazement, to have a galaxy of friends, both near and far, who have touched me every day with their caring, their humor, their kindness, their joy and their beauty (and yes, I even mean the cranky old bitter ones like me).

I love this holiday – if only for reminding me how much I really do have to give thanks for… Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

It Gets Better

In Minnesota and Indiana, two fifteen year old boys committed suicide after being subject to unrelenting anti-gay bullying and harassment. The rate of suicide among gay teens is four-times that of their straight peers.It’s a distressing and sobering statistic…

Dan Savage just recently started a campaign on Youtube aimed at LGBT youth called It Gets Better – gay men and lesbians telling the stories of their own difficult years as teenagers. And reminding kids to stick it out – because it does, in fact, get better.

Looking back on my own childhood and adolescence, I suppose I was in some ways lucky. I grew up in San Francisco, which made the process of coming to terms with my sexual orientation easier – I knew that I wasn’t the the only queer on the planet; I have a family that loves me (though those years were not a cakewalk for any of us – I mean, I was a teenager!); and by the time I got to high school, I’d managed to carve out a niche for myself with all the other misfits who gravitated to drama and choir.

But I still remember being called “faggot” on a regular basis in the hallways; getting shoved up against lockers; having my books scattered on the floor by some smirking dumb jock; avoiding certain areas of my school (not to mention the bathrooms! I think there were one or two “safe” ones); and getting hit or punched a few times, though never actually beat up. All of it was terrifying – people who I didn’t even know wanted to hurt me or be cruel to me based solely on their perception of my sexual orientation (an orientation I didn’t really figure out until I was 17).

But after high school, it did indeed get better. Once in college, I became more and more comfortable in my own skin. I gradually came out to my family (none of whom were particularly surprised by my revelation – and all of whom responded with the fact that their love for me remained unchanged). I made friends, straight and gay, who were interested in me as a person and unconcerned with my sexuality. I had boyfriends, good and bad – when I was in my 20s, I even moved to NYC with one of the good ones for a couple of years. And happily he remains a good friend, even these many years after we finished being boyfriends…

And now I’ve been back in SF for nearly 20 years, my beautiful hometown, living a life that is by no means perfect, but that is pretty gosh-darned swell.  My family are all close by and keeping me happy; I’m still amazed by the friends I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself with and who bring me joy and laughter (and who get me when I complain); and I keep meeting new people from far and wide who teach me new things and remind me that getting older and wiser can be pretty freakin’ great. So, yes, it gets better…

My Modern Cat

I first saw the ModKat litter box months and months ago and fell in love with it. Yes, that’s right – I fell in love with a litter box. Seriously – just look at it. For whatever reason, ordinary litter boxes are apparently required to be hideous – and they always come in the worst colors (almond, dusty rose, powder blue) with lots of superfluous edges and surfaces – adding not only to the ug but making them more difficult to clean.

The ModKat is quite lovely to behold – though even better is its top-entrance design, which is purported to keep one’s cat from tracking litter all over the floor (the bane of every cat owner’s existence).

So, nice looking and excellent design – what’s not to love? The breath-taking price. But with a combination of birthday loot and a recently-settled insurance claim, I decided to treat myself to a bit of luxury (sigh – I guess the fact that I think of a cat box as luxurious reflects poorly on me).

The results so far are quite promising. The kitty seems to have adapted (he’s taken a couple of leaks, but the proof is in the pooping, I think) and the tracking of pebbles onto the bathroom floor has been virtually eliminated. Still less than 24 hours since the switch, but thus far the ModKat box appears to be all it’s cracked up to be.

UPDATE: He pooped in it! The transition to ModKat is now complete.