Category Archives: birthdays

My 60th birthday

~Friday, 10/13/17~

Birthday day countdown

Here are 4 highlights of my life that stand out over these last 10 years. I just couldn’t narrow it down to 3—too much has happened this decade.

50 – 59 years old (2007 – 2016)

CELEBRATING TWO MILESTONE BIRTHDAYS. For my 50th birthday, I went to 3 places in Australia that were listed in the book, “1000 Places to See Before You Die.” One was in the Blue Mountains just outside of Sydney, one was Seven Spirit Bay on a private island in the outback that you had to be taken to by private plane, and the third was Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef. For my 55th birthday, I saw Barbra Streisand in concert in Brooklyn. It’s something I’d wanted to do all my life and had been willing to spend up to $1000 for a ticket. You can just imagine my delight when I scored a seat for $399.

RETIRING (THE FIRST TIME). On my October 13, 2014, I gave myself the birthday gift of a lifetime—I retired. My boss and my team were so gracious and supportive of my decision and they gave me a wonderful send-off, complete with limericks, haiku, and love. I enjoyed being retired for one year and three months, and then as it so often will, life happened. Eventually, I’d have the second biggest coming out in my life, coming out of retirement in February of 2016. You can read why if you’re interested.

LOSING A PARENT. On Tuesday, September 8, 2015, I had the hardest conversation in my life with my dad about entering him into hospice. He died three days later.

LEGALLY MARRYING A PHENOMENAL HUMAN BEING WHO JUST HAPPENS TO BE A MAN. On June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of same-sex marriage and that night, I asked Robert Anthony McVeigh to marry me, which he did on November 28th. With Bob’s family of 14 siblings, I picked up a cool 108 in-laws in one day, while he inherited a grand total of 8. We had an unbelievable November weather day and married in our backyard with heartwarming support from family who traveled near and far to be there, including my ex-wife.

Other reflections: Birth – 9 years old | 10 – 19 years old | 20 – 29 years old | 30 – 39 years old | 40 – 49 years old

The penultimate day leading up to my birthday

~Thursday, 10/12/17~

Birthday countdown

As I countdown to my 60th birthday tomorrow, here are 3 highlights of my life that stand out for these years.

40 – 49 years old (1997 – 2006)

CRUISING THE GREEK ISLES. In 1999, I toured the Greek Isles on the now-defunct Renaissance Cruise Lines. Our itineary consisted of two days in Athens, port calls in Santorini, Rhodes, Kusadasi, and one day at sea cruising The Dardenelles. It ended with two days in Istanbul.

A SURPRISE PARTY FOR MOM AND DAD’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY. In September of 2003, my sister and I organized a suprise party in Orlando for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. We had invited several of their brothers and sisters to join us there, offering to pick up their 3-day, 2-night hotel tabs and dinner the actual anniversary night. We hadn’t told anyone that we were eating at Emeril’s Orlando , and since some of them came to the event from Fall River, MA, and my parents were born and grew up in that city, and that’s where Emeril is from, and we’re all Portuguese… well you can imagine how excited everyone was when we arrived there. I picked up the tab, which to this day remains the most I’ve ever paid for a dinner at $1503.00, which included the $364 tip. Worth every penny. Read about the details, including the exquisite customer service.

CRUISING ALASKA WITH FAMILY. In 2005, I went on an Alaskan cruise with my sister, my parents, my aunt and uncle and their daughter, and my aunt’s sister and her husband. The itinerary included: one day cruising the Inside Passage, a Ketchikan port call, a Juneau port call, a Skagway port call, a Wrangell port call, and a final day at sea.

Other reflections: Birth – 9 years old | 10 – 19 years old | 20 – 29 years old | 30 – 39 years old | 50 – 59 years old

The antepenultimate day leading up to my birthday

~Wednesday, 10/11/17~

Birthday countdown

As I countdown to my 60th birthday on Friday, here are 3 highlights of my life that stand out for these years.

Note: The coincidence is not lost on me of this post falling on National Coming Out Day.

30 – 39 years old (1987 – 1996)

TOUR OF EUROPE WITH OUR PARENTS. In 1987, my wife and I treated both sets of our parents to a 13-city bus tour of Europe with stops in London, England; Paris, France; Italy (The Italian Lakes, Rome, Ostia, Florence, Venice, and Verona); Innsbruck, Austria; Germany (Munich, Heidelberg, and a Rhine River Cruise); and Amsterdam, Holland. It was challenging at times, but so worth it as my mother still gets a charge out of saying, when someone mentions one of those European cities, “Oh, I’ve been there.” As I write this, it occurs to me that that was 30 years ago this year, and my parents were 5 years younger than I’ll be on Friday.

QUITTING IBM AND WORKING ON MY NOVEL. In 1993, IBM offered the first “package,” in which they paid employees to leave the company. Since my wife worked there, too, and we were DINKs (double income, no kids) making a ton of money, I applied for it and was accepted, taking a $30,000 payout to do what I wanted to do anyway—leave. For the next year, I worked on a novel, got as far as chapter 9, and then couldn’t figure out a believeable way to get my protagonist pregnant. Shortly after that I came out.

COMING OUT. One day in 1994, on my way home from IBM to our quarter-of-a-million house, in our BMW, I wondered, “Is there any way I could drive this ‘ultimate performance machine’ into that roadside ravine in such a way that I could be sure I wouldn’t have to live with an ‘intending to die’ for the rest of my life?” That’s when I knew it was time to start living my authentic life here. My beautiful, loving, and incredibly generous wife’s response to my coming out? “I’m so sorry that we live in a society where you’ve felt like you couldn’t be who you really are your entire life.” As we were packing to sell the house we’d custom built, we glanced at each other from the rooms on opposite sides of the upstairs shared bathroom while Whitney sang, “I Will Always Love You.” I can still tear up when I hear that song today, especially the lines, “Bittersweet memories – That is all I’m taking with me. So good-bye. Please don’t cry: We both know I’m not what you, you need…”

Other reflections: Birth – 9 years old | 10 – 19 years old | 20 – 29 years old | 40 – 49 years old | 50 – 59 years old

60th birthday trip day 6: Hyannis morning, home in the evening

​~Wednesday, 10/11/17~ I got up at 8 o’clock. I had breakfast across the street at The Coffee Table Café, having a sausage, egg, and cheese bagel and a cup of coffee.

Back at my room, I wrote out a couple of postcards and worked on my blog entry about the three highlights of my 30 – 39 years decade, arguably the most significant decade of my life until this past one, the 50 – 59 years decade. The three 30 – 39 years highlights were: 1) touring Europe with our parents, 2) quitting IBM and working on my novel, and 3) coming out.

I had asked for a noon, instead of 11 o’clock, check out and did so right at noon.


LUNCH

On my walk to the free shuttle at The Steamship Authority to take me to the park-and-ride to catch the Plymouth & Brockton bus to Logan Airport, I passed a place called Spanky’s Clam Shack & Seaside Saloon.

I decided to go in and have lunch to avoid the over-priced food at Logan airport, and I opted for the clam chowder and two stuffed quahogs, both of which were delicious.

Menu description:

Cape Cod Clam Chowdah: House made, New England style. Cup $6.49 Bowl $7.99

Clam chowder

Menu description:

Stuffed Quahog: Cape Cod favorite, house-made quahog stuffed and served with lemon.
$5.99 for one, or two for $9.99

Stuffed quahogs start

Me eating quahogs

1/2 quahog left

Inside the restaurant was this saying:

Happy as a clam sign

which always makes me think of the origin of the idiom: “Happy as a clam at high tide.” Over the years, it has been abbreviated to just “Happy as a clam,” which really leaves you to wonder why a clam is associated with being happy.


BUS RIDE TO LOGAN AIRPORT

I walked the rest of the way to the Steamship Authority, caught the free shuttle to the Hyannis Transportation Center, and waited for the next trip to Logan to leave. It was about 20 minutes late, and there were a lot of people waiting to get on it.

We picked up a bunch of people at the four stops along the route. When we got to the final one, in Rockland, there were three people waiting who couldn’t get on because there was no more room.

Although the bus advertised:

Bus provides free wifi and outlets

the outlets weren’t working, so my phone battery was desperately low by the time we got to Logan.


STANDBY ATTEMPT AND RUNNING INTO BROOKE

My flight to Raleigh wasn’t until 8:55 PM, but I was hoping to catch the 5:05 flight. I did get on the standby list, and made it to the gate on time, but there was one guy ahead of me on the list, and he got the only seat that became available.

A colleague of mine, Brooke Beasley, was on the 5:05 flight, and we chatted until she boarded. A guy next to us saw my Red Hat t-shirt on and struck up a conversation with his. He worked for Microsoft and was familiar with our Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® on Microsoft Azure and other Red Hat and Microsoft partnership products.

Since I had four hours to kill, I had some dinner, and then worked on my blog entries for yesterday and today.


THE FLIGHT

I was in seat 1A again, and the guy in 1C, seeing my shirt, asked me if I worked for Red Hat.

“I do,” I said.

“I just had drinks last night with my friend who works for Red Hat,” he said.

“Cool,” I said, “But I’m not traveling on business; I’m on a vacation trip here. I’ve just been on Nantucket for two days, Martha’s Vineyard for two days, and spent one day in Hyannis. I’m celebrating my 60th birthday, which is on Friday.”

The guy sitting in 1B, being talked across, took a quick glance at me, and then another hard look.

“Yes, this is what 60 looks like, handsome, and your day will come,” I thought.

My trip ended fortuitously with my two bags waiting for me when I landed, since although I hadn’t made the 5:05 flight they had.

And then, the best part of all, Bob picked me up.

60th birthday trip day 5: Martha’s Vineyard morning, Hyannis evening

~Tuesday, October 10, 2017~ I woke up before my alarm, and when I looked out the window I saw that the sun was about to rise. I set my phone camera to time-lapse mode and recorded it for posterity. What it looked like as it started:

Balcony sunrise still

Another sunrise shot


BREAKFAST

I waffled about where to go for breakfast (but didn’t have waffles)—between going back to the bagel place or the diner. Murdick’s won out. Today I chose a cinnamon and raisin bagel with some garden veggie cream cheese. Once again, the bagel was incredibly soft and delicious.

I took a seat at the counter that faced outside, and after a while a truck pulled up with a classic Portuguese name in the name of its business.

Medeiros Appliance


RETRIEVING MY CREDIT CARD

When I went to pay for my breakfast, I noticed that I was missing my credit card, so I walked back to where I had dinner last:

The Seafood Shanty

The hostess told me the bartender on the second floor would have any card left there last night, and I was greatly relieved when he found mine in his pile. I had to wait a minute for him to finish making two Bloody Marys he was in the midst of when I walked up, and I found myself drooling when he added the stalk of celery and two huge shrimps—cocktail style.

Back at The Harborside Inn, I captured the doors of two of the buildings that make up the inn, one of which is the one I’m staying in, The Ripley House.

The Chappaquiddick House

The Ripley House


ROAMING THE HARBORSIDE INN PROPERTY

I took some pictures of the harbor in the mid-morning sun and then walked around the conglomeration of buildings that make up The Harborside Inn and took some more:

Looking left from my balcony
Looking left from my balcony

Looking straight out from my balcony
Straight out from my balcony

Looking right from my balcony
Looking to the right off my balcony

My balcony
My balcony looking in

Looking to the left below
Looking to the left below

Looking straight out below
Looking straight out below

Looking to the right below
Looking to the right below

Hall door to my room
Room 417 in The Riply House

Stairway to my room
Stairwell to my room

Poolside grills
Poolside grills

The Ripley House (my room is the top, middle one)
The Ripley House


LUNCH AT THE DINER REDUX

On the way to lunch I stopped at Edgartown Books again to pick up a card for the mother of a friend of mine who has asked all of her friends to send cards to her mother for her 87th birthday on October 16. I passed this fabulous item on the way to the card section:

What would Jesus wear

I returned to the diner determined to have something other than seafood for lunch. I settled on the great American hamburger and fries and topped it all off with a coffee-flavored milkshake.

Hamburger and fries

Coffee-flavored milkshake


MAKING MY WAY BACK TO THE FERRY

While out walking around yesterday, I found the Edgartown Visitor Center, which is where the city bus picks up, and I found out that I needed to catch the #13 to Oak Bluffs, it came pretty much every hour, and the fare would be $2.50.

So, today, I knew right and where to go. The bus was a little late, but I was catching one an hour ahead of the one I probably could have made it in time on, for this very reason.

Back at the ferry, there was a huge tour group (at least 100, if not 150, people) waiting for the same ferry I was getting again. I listened to several of them having conversations, and in that short amount of time, I’d picked out a few people who would be getting on my nerves if I were traveling with them.

I made this facebook posting about one of them:

PSA: If you fancy yourself a talented whistler, and you do it all the time in public, I’m going to tell you what your friends won’t: It’s annoying as hell.

I did this same thing—being judgmental about people in a group tour—back in Nantucket at The Nantucket Inn. Ironically, I chose that hotel, and The Harborside Inn that I stayed at here on Martha’s Vineyard, because they were the accommodations used for a Road Scholar trip that I’d consider taking before deciding to book this trip myself.

I’m happy to say that this ferry ride was completely calm, I didn’t even think about being on a boat most of the way, and it was only an hour long.


THE HYANNIS HARBOR HOTEL

When the ferry started slowing down indicating we were close to port, I checked how far it was to walk to my hotel, because I knew it was close by, and I laughed out loud to myself thinking, “If only I could walk on water.”

Google maps walk from ferry to hotel

The Hyannis Harbor Hotel was right across the street from the pier we arrived at, which was great. I got this cute little map when I checked in:

Hyannis town map

Once in my room, I had a few cocktails—I’m committed to not having to throw away any of the bourbon I bought last Friday when I arrived—and I wrote for a couple of hours.

I loved that they’d thought to provide extra outlets for us gadget-loving people in such a convenient way:

Clock outlets


DINNER

At around 7:30, after googling “Gay Hyannis,” I set out to have dinner at emBargo—where Tuesday night is ½-priced tapas night.

On my walk, I passed the local library, which I so would have stopped in if it were open. I love visiting libraries in the towns I vacation in.

Public Library

I also passed the JFK Museum, which I would have stopped in, too, if it were open or if I were going to be in Hyannis longer.

JFK Museum entrance

I arrived at my destination, and I liked the way the sign emphasized the word bar in the middle of it. Where I’d seen it advertised, it was written as “emBargo,” which didn’t really capture it.

emBARgo sign

The bartender explained to me that not all of the tapas on the extensive list were half-price—that the ones that had an asterisk by them were not. Those aside, the list was plenty long enough to easily choose two that I wanted to try:

Tapas Littlenecks menua

Tapas Littlenecks dish

Tapas noodles menu

Tapas noodles dish

I considered getting dessert there, but I neither wanted anything that would stuff me nor break the bank, so I decided to wait. I asked the waiter if it was going to get “any gayer than this” in here, which would mean “gay at all,” and he laughed saying there was a drag show at 11:30 and that I should stick around.

Seeing how it was only 10:00, I didn’t want to wait around that long, so I left. Once outside I walked past a convenience store and got the hankering for an ice cream sandwich, which met both of my criteria—wouldn’t make me stuffed or break the bank. It was perfect.

Walking back to my hotel, I felt my back pocket where my wallet was and panicked, because it wasn’t there. I thought, “Oh my goodness; I must have left it on the counter when I paid for my ice cream sandwich.”

I turned around and headed back, but then felt down in the bottom left pocket of my cargo pants (so many pockets, so little time), and there it was. Whew!


LATE-NIGHT STORIES AROUND THE FIRE PIT

When I got back to the hotel, the huge sit-around fire pit was going (pretty sure it was a gas fire pit) and there were three people sitting around it.

They saw me looking, and said, “Come on over.”

There was one woman and two men there. From what I could surmise, the man and woman sitting near each other were both on the same tour, but weren’t a couple.

The other man sat opposite from them and only participated in their conversation intermittently, mostly to give his take on some matter of the local area.

Fire pit

Once the two tourists left, the night grew colder and darker as the remaining man and I talked about a number of things. He was a pilot who hasn’t flown for a year, because he’s out on disability with knee issues and his response time can’t be counted on in dire situations.

We commiserated about failing knees, as I shared about my two arthroscopic surgeries on my left knee, how aging in general pretty much sucks, and how we were both too familiar with elder care and the role reversal that often comes with it.

When I mentioned that my birthday was coming up on Friday, he shared, “Mine was a couple of months ago and my mom died that day.”

The preantepenultimate day leading up to my birthday

~Tuesday, 10/10/17~

Birthday countdown

As I countdown to my 60th birthday on Friday, here are 3 highlights of my life that stand out for these years.

20 – 29 years old (1977 – 1986)

GETTING MARRIED. I got married at 20 to a 21-year-old woman, whom I truly did love, even though I knew I was gay at the time. It seems hard to believe nowadays, but I truly didn’t think coming out was an option, and I truly believed I could “make it work.” We had a lot in common—both military brats, both Catholic, both with the same financial aspirations and willingness to work and save to achieve them. We really were a good team—right up until we weren’t. I’m grateful for many invaluable lessons I learned about being in a relationship, most of which transcend gender and time. See wedding pictures from another time and place.

STARTING A CAREER. I got hired by IBM right out of college, and I remember that first day, Monday, May 19, 1980, taking the Alexander Drive exit off NC-147 in the Research Triangle Park, turning into IBM, and thinking, “I have arrived.” Over the course of 21 years there, I would do programming, test software, manage 9 software testers, work on quality (Six Sigma, The Defect Prevention Process), track service tickets and test fixes, become a member of the network performance team in IT, and then work on the IT communications team. In the later years, I would become an information developer writing software documentation and eventually become an editor.

GETTING A VASECTOMY. At age 29 and 9 years into our marriage, we’d known all along we didn’t want kids, so I got a vasectomy. The Duke surgeon wanted me to get permission from my parents, which of course, I refused to do. I said, “I no longer get permission from my parents to do anything.” On the day of the procedure, with my legs up in stirrups and my junk pulled through a hole in a sheet, the surgeon said, “We have a group of interns that we’d like to watch the procedure, if that’s okay. Having already attained “maximum shrivel factor,” and with the valium beginning to kick in, I said, “Why not? Pop some popcorn and give them all front row seats.”

Other reflections: Birth – 9 years old | 10 – 19 years old | 30 – 39 years old | 40 – 49 years old | 50 – 59 years old

The propreantepenultimate day leading up to my birthday

~Monday, 10/09/17~

Birthday countdown

As I countdown to my 60th birthday on Friday, here are 3 highlights of my life that stand out for these years.

10 – 19 years old (1967 – 1976)

GETTING MY LICENSE AND GRADUATING FROM HIGH SCHOOL. I learned to drive on a car with a stick shift, and I got my license as soon as I could at 16. One time, as a newly-licensed driver, I parked in the inclined driveway of a girl’s house, and after we’d kissed for about 30 seconds, I opened my eyes to see that we’d rolled down the driveway and into the street because I’d had my foot on the clutch instead of the brake. I graduated 4th in my high school class in 1975 to Pomp & Circumstance and our senior class song, which was Stairway to Heaven.

GOING TO COLLEGE AND THE FIRST TIME FEELING LIKE AN ADULT. I didn’t do very well on my SATs (verbal higher than math—no surprise there), but I did get accepted into East Carolina University. I initially planned to major in Music before switching to their Math with a Computer Science Option degree. This was before there was a separate, accredited Computer Science degree, and I “wrote” Assembly and Cobol programs on an IBM punched card machine and later learned to program a PDP-11 computer. The first time I felt like a bonafide adult was shortly after moving into a dorm, when someone asked me to play tennis at 10 o’clock on a “school night,” and I realized it wasn’t “too late to do that” if I wanted to, and I didn’t have to ask anyone permission anyway.

WORKING MY WAY THROUGH COLLEGE AND BUYING MY FIRST CAR. For the first two years of college, I rode a bicycle from my dorm to Burger King, where I worked 40 hours a week at $2.37/hour while carrying a full class schedule. I once got a ticket for riding my bike home from work with no light on it after dark, and I remembered being outraged that someone working as hard as I was “just to make it,” would be “penalized” in that way. Then, I bought a brand new 1977 Toyota Corolla, and my car payments were $79 a month.

Other reflections: Birth – 9 years old | 20 – 29 years old | 30 – 39 years old | 40 – 49 years old | 50 – 59 years old

60th birthday trip day 4: On Martha’s Vineyard

~Monday, October 9, 2017~ I got up at 8 o’clock and after a shower, I headed down to a sitting area off the lobby of the main building where there was a nice view and a bunch of tables.

There was a sign at the entrance that said, “Reserved for Homeowners’ Meeting,” but no one was in there.

The lady at the registration desk said, “You can go on in. The meeting doesn’t start until 10 o’clock.”

I enjoyed some complimentary coffee from the lobby, while I worked on my blog entry about my day yesterday and the one about the highlights of my second decade on the planet, which I also posted later in the day.

People started coming in for the meeting at about 9:50, and I packed up and set out for some breakfast after asking the person at the registration desk if she could recommend a place close by for some bagels.


BREAKFAST AT MURDICK’S

Murdick's Cafe sign

I had some coffee, a sesame seed bagel (Sorry, Chuck!), and although it wasn’t on the menu, I asked if I could have an egg on the side with it.

“Are you going to eat here?” asked the cashier, who looked a little like Oprah Winfrey in her role in The Color Purple.

“Yes,” I said.

“Okay, we can do that,” she said.

I grabbed some coffee to enjoy while I waited:

Murdick's Cafee coffee

A few minutes later, the cook brought my bagel and egg to my seat:

Murdick's Cafe bagel and egg

When I was done, I went up to the cashier and I said, “I just wanted to tell you that my bagel was deliciously soft and my egg was perfectly cooked. And I appreciate both of you.”

She bowed her head as if she were praying while I was talking and at the end, looked up, smiled, and said, “Thank you for taking the time to say that.”

On the way back to my hotel, I passed by Edgartown Books, which had this sign beside it advertising a cafe behind it. Now that’s a flag I could get on my knees for.

Behind the bookstore cafe


AN AFTERNOON OF WRITING

The homeowners’ meeting was over when I got back to the hotel, and I took a seat back in that area and did some glorious writing for several hours. And when I say writing, that includes the time to get my pictures onto my laptop in order to upload them into my blog entries, which is quite a tedious process including these steps:

  1. Uploading them from my phone to Dropbox.
  2. Renaming them on Dropbox so that their filenames will indicate what they are.
  3. Downloading them to my laptop.
  4. Uploading them to a WordPress photo album.
  5. Adding them into my blog entry.

LUNCH AT THE LOCAL DINER

I walked around with the goal of finding somewhere to have lunch. When I came across the Edgartown Diner, I thought of this recent Facebook posting by my friend Hugh Hollowell:

In a strange town all by myself, so of course I found a diner to eat breakfast in. In a real sense, they are like churches, with a public liturgy, a crowd of regulars, a common text and while there are many choices, we all have our favorites. You have your twenty-third psalm, I have my ham-and-cheese omelet with a side of fruit. There is a common architecture: Formica tables and broad expanses of glass facing the street, a counter that serves the single folks, the pot of coffee, the orange juice machine. Unlike most churches, however, newcomers are welcome with no expectation you will ever be back. They are content for you to join their community just for today, to participate as much or as little as you want, and to leave happier than when you arrived. “I don’t know you or your story, fella, but you look hungry. Come on in,” they seem to say. And so I do. They are not offended by the book in my hand, by my desire for solitude on a rainy morning, by the stubble on my unshaved face or the coffee stain on my t-shirt. Everyone is welcome at the church of the diner.

And so I entered:

The Edgartown Diner

And because I was a “single,” I took a seat at the counter. I hadn’t really planned on having another fish meal, but what they heck. I was in a local diner, caught up in the moment, and vacationing on Cape Cod for crying out loud.

Fish & chips menu item

Fish & chips plate

On the way back to the hotel from the diner, I stopped in:

Edgartown Books

These were the stairs leading up to the second floor:

Edgartown Books steps to the second floor

I just browsed, and this was probably my favorite book title of all, whose synopsis read: “Edamame and Edapapa meet their new ‘little bean’ in this adorable baby board book. With bright, colorful illustration and a touch of clever rhyming, Edamame and Edapapa share the arrival of their newest family member.”

Edamame & Edapapa book


WRITING AND NAPPING

I did some more writing in the afternoon and then took a glorious nap.

The remnants of hurricane-turned-tropical-storm Nate were passing through today, so although it wasn’t windy, really, it was a gray, drizzly day. Perfect napping weather.


DINNER

My “plan” for tonight was to go to a place I had seen while out walking last night and have some fried clams. But when I got to The Seafood Shanty and saw these two things on the menus, the rest was history:

Clam chowder menu description

Clam chowder

Crab-stuffed lobster menu description

Crab-stuffed lobster

I walked back to the hotel under an umbrella protecting me from the sleep-inducing breeze and drizzle, and I passed a local pub with a bunch of people cheering for some local team or other in some sport or other.

60th birthday trip day 3: Morning on Nantucket, evening on Martha’s Vineyard

~Sunday, October 8, 2017~ I was up at 7:00, a half-hour before my alarm was set for. After a few minutes, I knew I wasn’t going to fall back asleep, so I decided to get up and get my workout out of the way, which is very uncharacteristic of me.

I’m already not a morning person, and the only thought that got me there was, “Think of how good it will feel to have that over with so early in the day.” Plus, since today was a travel day, I wouldn’t have to worry about doing it once I got to Martha’s Vineyard.


A LADY IN THE EXERCISE ROOM

No, I’m not talking about me. There was another lady (inside joke) in there, whom I feel like I spent a disturbing amount of time wondering if I’d be physically attracted to if I were straight.

She was contorting her body into all kinds of inane positions, possibly yoga positions, as I’m not familiar with them, so wouldn’t recognize them if I saw them. She stood on her hands in one corner for a minute or so. On two separate occasions, she laid on the floor, face up, and threw her legs up over her head and touched the ground with them.

On another occasion, she bent over with her head all the way to the ground with her face looking between her legs. I wished she’d’ve done it facing the other way, as all I could see was her face, about two feet below her front-and-center ass, looking right where I was on the elliptical machine. Perhaps it was that yoga position double-down doggie style. Do straight porn movies start off with the bom-chicka-wah-wah music that gay porn movies start off with?

Oh, and did I mention her pink thong? All kinds of materials and fabrics going on there between the small of her back and the top of the crack of her ass.


MOM’S BREAKFAST REDUX

Today there was no fog, and I sat outside on the deck for breakfast. I actually ate less than I did yesterday, perhaps because it was still so close to the work I’d just done to burn off calories.

Today, they had French toast, which is one of my all-time favorite breakfast items, instead of the pancakes.

Out on the deck, after only a second sip of my cranberry juice, a bee landed on the rim of the glass, promptly slid down the inside into the juice, and eventually drowned. Bee be-gone. Ah, the circle of life.


WRITING AND WAITING

Checkout time was 11 a.m., so after breakfast, I packed up and went ahead and checked out at about 10:15. I sat in the lobby in my same wicked wicker whale seat to work on yesterday’s blog entry, and who should walk into the lobby at one point but Jim and Dawn.

“Nerd!” she yelled.

“Maybe next time you won’t judge so quickly. I could turn out to be a very fun guy. You never know,” I retorted.

“No kidding, uh?” she laughed.

They were getting ready to head out, and we reiterated what a good time we’d had with each other and said our goodbyes.


A SO-LESS-FUN VAN RIDE INTO TOWN

I caught the free 11 a.m. shuttle into town. Another guest was going into town just to shop, and she struck up a conversation. Not a fun person at all. Bless her heart.

She was a critical care nurse and was currently in her 41st year working, 61 years old, and waiting until she’s 65 to retire so she can have medical coverage though Medicare. Such a statement of our times, when you don’t get retirement medical benefits after 40 years of service even when your employer is a hospital. Bob can relate.


LUNCH

Even though my ferry didn’t leave until 2:30, I was able to check my two bags right away, and then I walked around the wharf area, which is quite quaint, and I looked for a place to eat something.

While walking, a store caught my eye in that the name, Vineyard Vines, made me think that maybe they’d have a nice t-shirt to buy. Boy, was I wrong.

As soon as I walked into the place, I knew it put the up (price) in upscale. Furthermore, I was totally turned off by what apparently was their shtick—to indelibly wrinkle the shirt sleeves of their merchandise.

One set of shirts with wrinkled sleeves

Another set of shirts with wrinkled sleeves

Okay, folks. These men’s shirts were NINETY-EIGHT DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS each. Bye, Felicia.

Back to my lunch: I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, I didn’t have that much time, and I didn’t want to eat too much, all of which led me to The Hub, where I spied an Italian Panini on the menu that sounded delicious. And it was—with pepperoni, salami, melted provolone cheese, and roasted red and jalapeno peppers in it.

Italian panini


THE FERRY RIDE

After lunch, I headed back to the wharf, where the 2:15 ferry to Hyannis was loading. One of the workers said to a colleague, “There are so many dogs on this boat!” I watched a bunch of them, including at least 4 bulldogs with their endearing underbites, sauntering their way up the gangplank.

Here’s the boat and another dog that came up at the last minute:

They 2:15 ferry to Hyannis

A last-minute canine

That Hyannis ferry pulled out at 2:16, and five minutes later our ferry to Martha’s Vineyard pulled in. Today was the last day for this ferry between Nantucket and Martha’s vineyard this season. And I could see why. There were only about 25 of us waiting to board, while the one to Hyannis had 100-200 people on it.

Thank god this trip was only one-hour-and-fifteen minutes. I should have known it might be iffy when the captain said after telling us where the life jackets were stored, “It’s probably gonna get pretty choppy out there today.”

I started off on my laptop, but quickly realized that reading and writing with the rocking that was going on was not going to be a good combination.

At about halfway through, we were rocking back and forth so severely that huge waves of water were coming up over the side of the boat and soaking the window I was sitting next to, like when a car passes you in pouring down rain and throws enough rain on your windshield at once that you can’t see momentarily.

With about 20 minutes to go, I had my eye on the barf bags about 20 feet away from me, and I tried my darnedest not to think about that day during my 50th birthday trip to Australia, on the ferry from Brisbane to Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef, which turned from an advertised “nice cruise on a catamaran to Heron Island” to a “5-vomit-bag ride from hell.”

Seriously, if this gig would have been (literally) two more minutes, I don’t think it would have ended as well as it did. With that said, once we started pulling into the port at Martha’s Vineyard, it was calm again with a quintessential New England scene with harbor-side houses and boats in the marina, complete with seagull cameos.


TRANSPORTATION TO MY HOTEL

I had a hard time getting a ride to my hotel, some of which was my propensity to find the cheapest way there that I could. I checked the local buses, and even walked to one corner where I saw two go by, but once I got there, no other ones came. From what I could tell of a quick scan of their rates, it would have been a $5.60 fare to Edgartown, where I was going.

I called two of the three taxi companies that came up on my phone, and neither one of them sounded overly excited about picking me up, and 18-20 minutes was the shortest wait time I could expect.

I tried Uber, which offered me only a UberLUX option (“Stylish, high-end cars for special occasions”) for $37.95. This was for an 11-mile ride to Edgartown, the next town over, mind you.

I walked back to the wharf, and shortly after getting there, a taxi drove up. It was an 8- to 10-seating van, but since I was the only one standing there and I had flagged him down, he stopped.

By the accent when he asked me where I was going, and one other thing he uttered while en route (to check in with the taxi dispatcher to communicate his fare and destination) I could tell he was British. He was kind of hot, but he had a pack of cigarettes on his console. At least the van didn’t smell like an ashtray, though.

I was thinking, “Well if Uber was $37.95, this is probably going to be $50,” and then in the ironies of all ironies, at least to me, we got behind the very bus I wanted to catch and followed it all the way to Edgartown.

I perseverated the whole way thinking how a $5 ride was that close to me the entire way, but I was paying 10 times that amount. Needless to say, I was completely taken aback when the taxi driver said when he let me out, “That’ll be $20.”


THE HARBORSIDE INN

The Harborside Inn is a multi-building conglomeration, and my room was the Captain Abel room. Once I arrived in it, the air-conditioning wouldn’t come on, and when I called the front desk about it, the phone kept shorting in and out.

When I could finally talk to her and explained about the air-conditioning, she said she would send someone up to look at it.

I said, “I would really like to just move to another room if you have one. This is a special trip for me, and this place is $350 a night. I want everything to be nice.”

“Of course, Mr. Martin,” she said. “Please come back to the front desk and we’ll take care of it.”

She upgraded me to a room with a harbor view and a private balcony in the Ripley House, whose history is this:

Capt. Tristram P. Ripley House was the show place of its day when built about 1850, the year the captain married Eliza M. Mayhew, “the beauty of her day.” He was master of such famous whalers as Champion, Charles W. Morgan, Young Phoenix and Mercury. Eliza went with him on several voyages. When he retired, the captain went into the wood and coal business with his neighbor, Capt. Alexander Fisher. In the 1900s, the house was converted to an inn, being run under several names, one being the Studley House, Capt. George H. Studley, innkeeper.

Harbor view room with a balcony

Room interior


MORE WRITING

Ecstatic with the internet connection here, two or three hours just flew by while I wrote for my blog and enjoyed a few cocktails.

I don’t know if I’m just out of practice, or if it was always this time-intensive writing blog entries, but at one point I did stop and wonder, “How in the world did I have a blog entry for every day of my life for 10 years between January 12, 2004 and January 12, 2014.”

As a complete aside: I just re-read that January 12, 2014 entry about the writing, the challenges, and the joys of that 10-year period, about which I surmised: “It was a wild—and at times difficult—ride, but like all things involving discipline, challenges, and time, I feel a real sense of accomplishment having done it.”

I went to brush my teeth and the toothpaste tube reminded me of Bob and I posted this on Facebook:

I am committed to squeezing the toothpaste from the bottom, never in the middle. But, I squeezed it in the
middle just now to remind me of somebody who does it that way, because he’s not here and I miss him. ❤️

Toothpaste tube squeezed in the middle


DINNER

At about 7:30, I headed out to check out some place to have dinner. I knew I wanted seafood and a quick Google search presented 3 places very close by, two of which had a $$$$ designator and one of which had a $$$ designator. Guess which one I chose.

At the Atlantic Fish & Chop House, I asked about the lobster and chose the 1-lb one over the 2-lb one. I didn’t want any sides, and it came with fresh bread, which I had to wait for a little longer than I would preferred, but it was because it was in the oven, still cooking.

There were three kinds of bread, which came with butter and an Kalamata olive and olive oil spread that was delicious.

The bread

The lobster

After dinner, I strolled around the area and came across an ice cream shop, and I was both surprised and pleased that it was open as late as it was and that my two-scoop cone of maple walnut was almost half the price of the one I’d had last night in Nantucket.

Maple walnut ice cream cone

The suprapropreantepenultimate day leading up to my birthday

~Sunday, 10/08/17~ And so begins the countdown to my 60th birthday on Friday. I’ve been thinking about this for the past couple of months, and it’s been an interesting exercise trying to narrow down 3 things to highlight about a whole decade of your life. It’s made me think of Jonathan Larson’s Seasons of Love from Rent, the musical, a few times, too.

So, without further ado, here’s today’s reflection.

Countdown

Birth – 9 years old (1957 – 1966)

BEING A MILITARY BRAT. My dad was a 30-year career marine, and we moved around a lot in my formative years. Most of it was between the ages of 4 and 13, and I attended 9 different schools between kindergarten and 7th grade. Most of the paces were in Massachusetts, where all of both my mom’s and dad’s families lived. See a list of all the schools I went to and where.

LEARNING ABOUT AMBITION AND DETERMINATION. When my dad went to Vietnam for a year—his second tour there—we lived upstairs from my aunt and uncle. My uncle was building his own home, and I watched him cut stone that he had previously measured to fit its neighboring pieces already up. He cut the stone by hand, with a chisel. If I remember correctly, it took him over 10 years to finish that house. See a picture of the house.

REALIZING I WAS GAY. At age 7, I began to realize that I was gay, although I didn’t know that word then. It was more like coming to the frightening realization that I was a freak—one of those kind of people—and although I didn’t know it then, it was the beginning 28 long, and at times exhausting, years trying to hide it.

Other reflections: 10 – 19 years old | 20 – 29 years old | 30 – 39 years old | 40 – 49 years old | 50 – 59 years old