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

60th birthday trip day 2: On Nantucket Island

~Saturday, October 7, 2017~ I was up at 7:30, and when I opened my door to head out to breakfast, I saw something I’d never pictured in the many times I’d daydreamed about this trip since booking it in June. It was foggy as hell.


MOM’S BREAKFAST

Mom's Breakfast sign

“Mom’s Breakfast” is included each morning at The Nantucket Inn. When I got to the entrance of the dining area, there was a couple in front of me, and the woman read this sign out loud to her husband:

Wait to be seated sign

Then she looked at him and asked, “Does that mean we need to wait to be seated?” Not really sure what tripped her up, as I found the message pretty straight forward.

“Mom’s Breakfast” was quite the spread. There were several stations:

  • One of potatoes, corned beef hash, bacon, sausage, pancakes, and scrambled eggs.
  • One with yogurt and fresh fruit.
  • One with all kinds of breads including English muffins, mini-bagels, 3 different kinds of breads for toasting, and several different kinds of pastries and muffins.
  • A waffle station with some whipped topping for them and 3 different kinds of warm syrups.
  • One with cranberry and orange juice.

Here are a couple of them:

The fruit and yogurt station

Part of the bread and sweets station

I had this full plate, with a side order of toast, and then I had some of the fresh fruit for “dessert” instead of the pastries.

My breakfast plate

My fruit plate


During my time in the dining area, I noted these two snippets of separate conversations:

  • A lady ran into another lady she apparently hadn’t seen in quite a while, and perhaps had even met here during a previous vacation.
    First lady: I remember you! It’s been a long time. I even remember that you have three kids, three girls.
    Second lady: “Actually, I have two now. I lost one.”
  • “You can’t just sit there and watch someone clean your house when you feel like doing it yourself.”

GETTING A WORKOUT IN

At 1:30, I forced myself to go to the hotel’s “Exercise Room,” which consisted of one treadmill, two elliptical machines, and one stationary bicycle, along with some free weights and one of those all-in-one strength training machines.

A man came in after I was in there for about 10 minutes, and he turned on the TV. He was easily drawn in to whatever show was on, which looked like some kind of documentary. I was glad I had my earbuds with me and my music was loud enough that I didn’t hear a single word of it.

I really didn’t think I would do 60 minutes of cardio while I was on vacation, but once I was on there and sweating full-hog, I just kept going, burning off 735 calories—probably only half the number of calories I had for breakfast.

Back at my place, I snapped these pictures of it:

My room door

My 'end unit' room


A LITTLE WRITING

I spent a couple of hours writing Friday’s blog entry and reviewing my birthday-related blog posts I’m going to be making this week.

The wifi service is absolutely exasperating at this hotel. I’m not happy about it.

I actually had gone to the lobby area to write thinking the signal might be stronger there, but it wasn’t. I asked the registration person if there was possibly a better place to sit for a stronger signal, and she suggested an area where I had to move a wicked wicker whale, and a lamp and turn a chair sideways, in order to use the space.

Late in the afternoon, I googled “Gay Nantucket” and got some ridiculous search results, one of which said there were 10 gays bars on the island. When I clicked on that item, it listed one bar in Hyannis and another one in Connecticut, I think it was. Clickbait.

I decided to take the hotel’s free shuttle into town and check out three that actually looked like real places on the island, although from their descriptions all three of them looked like restaurant/bars rather than just bars.


MEETING JIM & DAWN

While waiting for the van to leave, a couple walked up who were also going into town in the van. The lady took a seat with me on the bench, and after a few minutes we started talking. We never stopped.

They were celebrating an anniversary here, and I filled them in on the reason for my trip.

By the time we got into town, we were best friends, and they invited me to go to a bar called the Starlight Theater & Cafe, where they were getting a drink before 8 o’clock dinner reservations they had elsewhere.

It was a cool place with an entrance to a little theater, which honestly, reminded me of a theater in San Francisco that played gay porn, and which very few people went to to actually watch any movie. It reminded me of it in looks only, though, not because it was nasty or looked nefarious in any way.

Jim treated us to drinks, and we got right back to conversation about everything and anything. Jim finished his beer before Dawn and I finished our cocktails, and I insisted on buying his second beer.

8:00 quickly rolled around, and since we had talked about gay bars—that I was going out to search for one and that Dawn had never been in one—I told Dawn that if I found one and they’d might want to meet me there, I’d text them where I was later.

Not surprisingly, she was game and gave me her number, which we had a good laugh over, because it contained several permutations of the number “69” in it. What are we, 12?


DINNER

I made my way to one of the establishments listed as a gay bar from a different Google search, and other than the hot waiter and only one or two same-sex couples (or at least two men and two women sitting together), it looked like any other bar to me. Plus, I’d characterize it a restaurant with a bar before I’d call it a bar.

It was called The Nautilus, and it was packed. I hadn’t even realized it was a Saturday night. It’s a good sign on vacation when you don’t remember (or care) what day it is.

There were no tables available, and in fact all of them were booked for the rest of the evening. The hostess invited me to sit at the bar, which was also full at the moment, so I just went and stood behind someone to try and order a drink.

A hunk-of-a-waiter saw me having no luck getting a seat and came over to say he was sorry the bar was full, but there would probably be a seat opening soon. I said okay and stepped outside to see how close another place on my list was, when said hunk-of-a-man came outside and said, “Come with me.”

A single seat had come open at the end of the bar, and he sat me there. I ordered a bourbon and soda, and the bartender said, “Bourbon on the rocks with just a splash of soda?”

“Perfect,” I said.

It took me less than a New England minute to decided on what I was going to get:

Blue crab fried rice menu item

While I was waiting for that to arrive, that waiter who had seated me walked by and I said, “I just wanted to let you know that you saved a customer. I was looking for somewhere else to go when you came outside to get me, so thank you for that.”

“I’m just glad a seat come available so quickly for you,” he replied.

I ate the hell out of this dish, and I’d have to agree with this Yelp review of the plate, which I didn’t see until later: “The blue crab fried rice was out of this world as was the Tuna poke and chicken yakitori noodle bowl.”

Blue crab fried rice dinner

Before leaving, I asked the waiter if he had a recommendation of a place to go where I could meet some friends, and he said, “I’d recommend Lola 41. There’s a bartender there named Germain, but he pronounces ‘German’; tell him I sent you.”

On the walk there, I came upon an ice cream shop and dropped in for a cone of maple walnut. I had a $5 bill out, sure that it would cover my 2-scoop cone, when she said, “That’ll be $7.50.”

I thought for that much money, I could at least get some free advice as to whether I was close to Lola 41, and she said, “Yep, just up the street on the right.”


REUNITING WITH JIM AND DAWN

It was indeed just a few more feet up the block, and I took a seat at the bar. I asked if Germain was there, and a big-gunned bartender said, “No, he’s not here tonight; he’s doing a wedding. I’m Tom, and this is Amy,” he said indicating the bartender now beside him. “You’ll do in a pinch,” I thought—about Tom, not Amy.

I ordered a bourbon and soda and texted Dawn to let her know where I was. They arrived shortly, and we shared our dinner stories over another cocktail or two.

Jim gave us the 15-minute warning for the 11:15 p.m. shuttle back to the hotel (at least I think it was the 11:15), and we settled our tabs and made our way to the Visitors Center on Federal Street for the pick-up.

Back at the hotel, we promptly sat at the bar and had a nightcap. So thirsty! 🙂

All in all, it was a fun, fun evening, and one that I hadn’t at all seen in my future earlier that afternoon. Funny aside: During the course of the evening Dawn confessed to the fact that she had seen me on my laptop in the lobby of the hotel earlier in the day (near the wicked wicker whale) and thought, “What a nerd.”

60th birthday trip day 1: On Nantucket Island

~Friday, October 6, 2017~ We were up at 4 a.m. and left the house at just after 4:30, leaving what I thought would be plenty of time to make my 6:10 flight.

When I got inside, the line for Delta check-in must have had close to 100 people in it. Walking toward it, I remembered that I had a first-class ticket, and I glanced over at the Sky Priority line, which had about 8 people in it. I wasn’t sure if you could you use that line if you weren’t one of their Medallion-level frequent fliers, but I decided to ask for forgiveness instead of permission, and got in that line.

When I got to the ticket agent, she didn’t say anything about it, and when I saw my ticket, I saw that I was ok:

http://nematome.info/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/wppa/43.jpg

Then I headed toward security, where I found the line astoundingly long. Without exaggeration, there were at least 500 people in the line that went along one wall of the terminal, reached a corner, then ran along that wall, then once it hit the other wall, it made a “U” and snaked back up along the original wall. And this was the line just to enter the security area, where once inside, it also snaked to get to the attendant to check you through to the actual scanning area.

At that point, it was about 5:10 and I knew I was going to miss my flight in this line. Then, I noticed that my ticket was marked “TSA Precheck,” and I thought, “Oh good. Maybe I don’t have to wait in this line.” I flagged someone down to ask, and she said, “Come with me,” and took me to the entrance for the pre-check folks, which had virtually no line.


THE FLIGHT

Once on board, the pilot came out to greet us and said, “I’m glad those of you who are here made it through that security line in time. I’ve been working at RDU for 9 years and I have never seen the line that long when it wasn’t the day before Thanksgiving or Christmas.”

On board, I was thrilled to find out that my 1A seat was by itself, as it was a smaller plane with one seat on one side of the aisle and two seats on the other. And then, bonus, no one ended up sitting in seats 1B and 1C. This was a relief, because I have a cold and I was afraid I’d be getting evil eyes if I started coughing during the flight.

There was a man behind me with 2 kids, who was incredibly annoying. He couldn’t sit still. Before we even left the gate, he got up three times to get something out of his carry on, which was stored in the overhead bin across from me. The third time, he pulled out some headphones that were bigger than his head. After sitting down for about 2 minutes, he got up again and went to the flight attendant area to get a paper towel, with which he started wildly cleaning the screen of his iPad. During the flight, he twice walked up to the flight attendant’s drink and snack cart to request one thing or another—after having already been served at his seat.

Just before landing, the flight attendant had already locked the bathroom door, and one of his 2 boys came up to use it. The flight attendant said, “Gotta make it quick, we’re about to land.” As soon as he started opening the door to come out, the other kid came to the bathroom. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. He came out, and the flight attendant locked the door again. Then their father came up again! She unlocked the door again, repeated her warning. OMFG. Can you say high-maintenance family?!?”

We landed about 15 minutes early, and my baggage came out fairly quickly. I never pay to check a bag, but I got two free bag checks with my ticket, so I took advantage of it.


THE BUS RIDE FROM BOSTON TO HYANNIS

At the ground transportation place where I was catching the Plymouth & Brockton bus to Hyannis at 9:15, the 8:15 bus was still there since it was 8:12, and when I showed the guy my ticket he said, “The tickets are good for any bus, so you can get on this one; there’s still room.”

I took the front seat on the passenger side, so right in front of the entrance door. We made 4 more stops within the airport and each time people started boarding, I coughed to signal that I had a cold, which kept everyone moving past the open seat next to me. At the last stop, the bus was starting to get full, so a man took the seat beside me anyway.

He was a bit of a bigger guy, not huge, but big enough that his right knee rubbed against mine when he said down. He immediately started rocking back and forth in his seat, and after a few minutes he said something that I couldn’t hear, but it turned out not to matter, because he wasn’t talking to me—but to himself. I thought for a moment that he might be “on the spectrum,” which would of course would have been fine.

To my surprise, after a while, he asked the bus driver, “Is Plymouth & Brockton hiring any drivers?”

To which the driver responded, “Do you have your CDL?”

“I don’t,” he replied, “but my wife does, and she’s looking for a job.”

The conversation turned into a long one that devolved into various aspects of working for Plymouth & Brockton including route selections, wages, vacation, and medical benefits.


THE FERRY FROM HYANNIS TO NANTUCKET

I alighted at the Hyannis stop, and the bus driver announced that there was a black courtesy phone inside the station to call the steamship authority for a free shuttle to the terminals. I picked up the phone, which rang 3 times and then went busy. I asked a lady in the nearby information desk about it, and she said, “Darn it. That phone is out of order again. Let me call them for you.”

The van picked me up, and after driving for a minute, the driver asked, “Are you on the 11:35 to Martha’s Vineyard?”

“No,” I said, “the 12:35 to Nantucket.”

“Oh, you must be on the Hy-Line Ferry. This shuttle is for the Steamship Authority boats only, and I’m not allowed to drop passengers off at the Hy-Line. You’ll have to get off at our stop and walk over to the Hy-Line Ferry area.

“Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize there were two different places there. I’m happy to walk the rest of the way.”

“It’s not that far, really,” he said sounding a little guilty that he’d come across so harshly.

I said, “Oh, it’s no problem. I really am happy to walk.”

“Well, maybe I could cheat just this one time and drop you off over there,” he said.

“Thanks,” I said. And when he did, I said, “I appreciate you.”


Although I already had a printed reservation with a barcode on it that I assumed could be used to check in on the ferry, I went to the window at 11:10 to confirm with a human being.

“Oh, you’re on the 12:35 to Nantucket, but the 11:20 is getting ready to leave. Did you want to switch to that one?”

She made the switch, put a $7 credit on my charge card, because I had upgraded to the “Captain’s View” on that boat, but it wasn’t available on this boat, and I ran to the ferry. My ticket got rejected because she’d printed a 12:35 ticket instead of an 11:20 ticket, so I ran back to the window to exchange, where the clerk apologized profusely, because she knew it was about time to leave.

It was a very pleasant, one-hour ferry ride to Nantucket. There were several adorable dogs on board. Here’s one:

http://nematome.info/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/wppa/42.jpg

I resisted getting anything to eat at the little snack bar on board, including a several-minute debate with myself about a Bloody Mary.


ARRIVING ON NANTUCKET

It took longer than I would have preferred for me to get the free shuttle to The Nantucket Inn, as two people at the wharf gave me bad information about where I was to pick it up. Finally, after calling the hotel and getting accurate information, I made my way over to the correct place to pick it up.

Although check-in time wasn’t until 4 p.m., I was given my room right away. It’s a cute little room:

http://nematome.info/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/wppa/44.jpg


A WIN/WIN WALK

And after settling in, I walked one mile to a liquor store to buy some bourbon. On the way, I stopped into a little mart I passed to see if they had any seltzer water, which I’d pick up on the way back instead of at the liquor store (if they had it) to save me having to carry it for a mile-and-a-half.

A little further along the way, I passed this little park with fabulously green grass, and some cool statues. Here’s one:

http://nematome.info/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/wppa/40.jpg

http://nematome.info/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/wppa/39.jpg

The Canadian Club bottle that’s regularly $22 in Raleigh was $29 here, which was probably more than it should be, but less than I expected it would be. On the way back, I stopped and bought the seltzer water and some salty snacks—Cheetos and Cap Cod potato chips.


HAPPY HOUR WITH TOM AND HOLLY

After pouring myself a cocktail and eating some Cape Cod chips on Cape Cod:

http://nematome.info/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/wppa/38.jpg

Someone pointed out that I should have been drinking a Cape Cod, too. Wish I’d thought of it!

I went outside to a little courtyard in front of my room:

Courtyard near my room

There I found Tom and Holly sitting and enjoying cocktails of their own. They were from Florida (still are) and had come up to Massachusetts to celebrate Tom’s mom turning 90 years old. Holly’d said, “Well, it’d be silly to go all the way and not enjoy a little time to ourselves, so we scheduled this part of the trip.”

They asked me if I was from around here, and I told them that I’d left Massachusetts 47 years ago, and that although I’d been back a few times for trips to Provincetown, I’d never been to Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, or Hyannis—not even during the first 13 years of my life when we lived in Fall River.

To which Tom said, “Ah. Fall River. Where Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother 40 whacks…” and we finished in unison, “And when she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41.”

I told them about the time my sister and I put my parents up in the Lizzy Borden Bed & Breakfast, which had wallpaper with little hatchets on it and served sugar cookies in the shape of a hatchet with the sugar crystals dyed red along the edge of the blade part of the cookie.


DINNER AT AK DIAMONDS

I had dinner at AK Diamonds, a two-tenths-of-a-mile walk from the inn and recommended by them. This is what I had, and the chowder was out of this world!

Chowder menu description

Nantucket quahog chowder

Flatbread menu description

Pepperoni-Bacon-Flatbread


TAKING A MOMENT TO REFLECT ON MY GOOD FORTUNE TODAY

All of these things contributed to not only smooth, but unexpectedly ahead-of-schedule, travelling today:

  1. Having splurged on a first-class ticket back in June when I planned this trip.
  2. Arriving early in Boston, which allowed me to take a bus an hour earlier than the one I’d planned to take.
  3. The “huge heart” of the van driver who compromised his integrity and “cheated”—going against his company’s policies.
  4. Arriving at Hy-Line Ferry 10 minutes before the 11:20 ferry to Nantucket was leaving, allowing me to switch to that one from my originally schedule 12:35 one.

And these are non-related-to-traveling things that I’m grateful for, too:

  1. Being able to afford to take a “bucket list” trip like this.
  2. Having a husband who supports and cheers me on in everything in life, including taking this trip alone.
  3. Having a job that pays me when I’m not working, like today and next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
  4. Being successful in weighing less than I have in 5 years—something I’ve been working very hard at since February.

Matt’s “Writing Salon”: A prompt-writing gathering

On Sunday, the first day of October, I attended a gathering at the home of my friend and co-worker, Matt, for a couple of hours of prompt writing. In attendance, in addition to Matt and myself, were Naomi, Brent, Jacques, and Matt’s girlfriend, Ashley, who devised the prompts we used for the evening.

Here are the prompts, for each of which we had 15 minutes to devise a story, and then decide whether or not we wanted to read it to the group.

They held each other’s hands tightly in the rain, waiting, all 15 of them, until the music had stopped…

In all honesty, they didn’t anticipate the Verdi Requiem for their friend’s final farewell. Five of them were leaning toward Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. Three thought for sure it’d be Martina McBride’s How Great Thou Art. And the other 7 were betting on John Berry’s Blessed Assurance. I, personally, had just prayed that no bagpipes or harpsichords would be involved, and simply beamed with the playing of taps. In all honesty, I melted at the way the trumpet player’s lips encircled the brass mouthpiece with an embouchure so exquisite that it excited me in a most inappropriate manner.

It turned out that after the break-in only one thing was missing… (I wrote to this amended prompt. The original one led off with “Despite the broken glass and mass chaos.”)

Well, only one thing was obviously missing… at first. But, as the days wore on, they found other things missing: her feather earrings and his fishing lure (which in retrospect looked a lot like her feather earrings). Then, the next time they had games night, they discovered that their Twister game was missing. It would actually be years before they realized that both their high school senior class rings had gone missing that day, too—rings they’d stopped wearing when high school had finally become irrelevant to her and his size 8 rings no longer fit on his size 10 fingers.

It turned out to be the cleaning people who had figuratively “cleaned the house,” filling trash bags with household items that were then “accidentally” diverted past the trashcans and into the trunk of their car. Their biggest mistake, though, was taking his only pair of jeans that still fit. As soon as he got home from work that day, he found them missing, which led to the filing of the police report.

Less alarmed than bemused, she noted that the gun had, in fact, been loaded after all…

And then she thought, “This is incredibly convenient,” remembering the calculating and deliberating last week about whether she could be sure that if she drove her BMW off the calling roadside cliff she’d actually end up dead as opposed to a quadriplegic for life, or perhaps worse, “locked in” to her body with no abilibty to indicated that the black ice really didn’t figure at all into the “accident.”

With that, she started a Facebook Live event, and when exactly 10 people had tuned in, she put the barrel to her head and just before pulling the trigger said, “I’m pretty sure this won’t hurt a bit.”

The Senate floor fell suddenly silent. In 200 years of existence, no one had ever spoken those words…

As the gay gentleman from North Carolina finished his sentence, the straight gentleman from Texas said, “They put what, where, again? That’s got to hurt. I remember the day I decided to be with Eve instead of Steve. I was a man on a mission, positioned to procreate with a rhythm so natural I didn’t even have to fantasize about Gina at the Gentleman’s Club to make it to home base. That said, however, if I gave some dude-on-dude action a try, I might gain a whole new constituency.

FAQs about my gym check-ins

I’ve had several questions over the years about the content of my Facebook gym check-ins, which are mostly to Planet Fitness but sometimes to the Red Hat Fitness Center.

  1. How long have you been doing this?
    The oldest record I have of one is May 3, 2010, so 7 years? But there’s only one in 2010, and then they appear more regularly in 2012, so it’s probably more like 5 years.

  2. Do you make them up?
    I’ve only made up one or 2 of them over the years.

  3. Why don’t you give attribution to them if you’re not making them up?
    I did in the beginning, when I was getting a lot of them from “Quotable Quotes” sites, but then I started to get them from several different places and most of the time they weren’t attributed to anyone, and so I eventually stopped. People can Google it if they’re interested in its source.

  4. Where do you get them?
    I get them from several different sources: someecards, other people’s timelines, memes, PostSecret, and sometimes I just Google “exercise sayings” or “exercise memes” or “exercise quotes” or “exercise jokes.” Or, I substitute “gym” or “diet” for “exercise” in all of those search arguments.

  5. Does Planet Fitness pay you to post them?
    No. They don’t even know I post them, since they’re on my timeline, which is friends-only, and not on Facebook’s Planet Fitness page or any place public.

  6. Why do you post them?
    The biggest reason is because it’s a huge motivator in getting me to the gym. I look forward to checking them after I’m done to see the reactions to them.

  7. Do you have any criteria for their use?
    Yes, I don’t use one unless it’s been at least a year since I last used it.

  8. How do you know how many times you’ve used one or how long it’s been since you last used it?
    I have a spreadsheet with all of them in it, including how often each has been used, the last date I used it, and the date of each use.

    Sorted by frequency of use

    First spreadsheet column showing frequency of use


    Sorted by date of last use

    Spreadsheet column labled 'Last' showing the date of last use

  9. How many do you have?

    The number of rows currently in my spreadsheet indicates that I have 340 of them.

    Spreadsheet number of rows = 340

  10. Haven’t you already used that one? (Which sometimes manifests itself as, “You’ve already used that one!”)
    Usually I get this from someone who doesn’t know 1) that I keep track of them, and 2) what my criteria for re-use is. I always use the opportunity to educate them. 🙂

  11. Have you seen this one? (With the item in question either posted to my timeline or to their own timeline with me tagged.)
    People often want to make sure I’ve seen something they think I might like to use, which I appreciate, but often already have it in my repertoire. I’m somewhat of a control freak (I can see you trying to put a look of surprise on your face) about what goes on my timeline, so I appreciate when someone sends me one using Facebook Messenger instead of putting it on my timeline or tagging me on it in a posting on their timeline.

My night of terror

I had three nightmares last night, all disturbing and frightening in their own way.

DIAGNOSED

I was at a gathering of family and friends and I had a wife who was projecting a slide show on the wall. I don’t remember the slide before or after to know if they were about a vacation or a topic or what.

Then one came up that just said: TERMINAL KIDNEY FAILURE. Everyone gasped, then got real quiet, and then slowly turned to me while I processed that this was a diagnosis about me that my wife had shared earlier with everyone, but hadn’t yet told me about, and the slide was supposed to have been removed from the “show.”

I just stood there stunned, for quite a while, wondering all those things I imagine everyone wonders when they get such news. “How bad is it? How long have I been sick? How much time do I have left?”

I moved slowly across the room, with all eyes on me, hugged my wife and cried inconsolably—terrified. Then I woke up.

ON DUTY

I was a new police officer, and I was with my partner going through a rundown building with rooms that were enclosed per se, but consisted of walls that you could see over and with glass-less windows and door-less doorways. They were such that you could see into a room through one door or window and see another window in the room that let you see into an adjacent room.

I had a gun but no idea how to use it. My partner heard a noise behind one wall and went to investigate. I was scared to death and didn’t want to be anywhere around that, so even though I knew I was supposed to be covering him, I left the area, walking around another corner in complete terror that I was going to come face-to-face with a “bad guy” with a gun.

There wasn’t anyone there, but I saw in the distance a line of people forming that was being escorted out of the building, so I got in it. Once I got just past the door leading outside, a woman called me, and said, “What are you doing?” I looked at her puzzled, to which she continued, “Don’t you recognize me? I’m your supervisor. You’re supposed to be in here working your beat. Get back in here.”

I re-entered the building—terrified. Then I woke up.

OUT OF CONTROL (A dream the likes of which I’ve had before)

I was driving alone in a van/truck. It was dark outside, and I was traveling about 50 MPH and using the cruise control. I was driving along the side of a mountain, so it was a winding road.

Suddenly, I was on the floor between the steering wheel and driver door and holding on to the steering wheel with one hand trying to steer from down there. I could see the quickly-passing side of the mountain out the windshield, and I wondered how long I could keep from crashing while steering but not being able to see the road ahead.

Then, the overhead cabin light came on, which made it even harder to see out the windshield at the passing mountain to try and at least stay close to it or follow it as a guide.

I thought, “Oh my god, how long can I keep doing this? I can’t believe I haven’t hit the side of the mountain yet. Or hit another car ahead of me. Or crossed the lane and hit an oncoming car. Or crossed the other lane and driven off the side of the mountain.”

I tried to get up, but I was wedged tightly between the seat and the door, so I couldn’t—and I was terrified. Then I woke up.

What day is it? It’s today. My favorite day, at Red Hat.

What day is it? It's today. My favorite day.


I’ve been working at Red Hat, on and off now, for about 3 years and 9 months, and I’m going to call Tuesday, June 6, 2017 my best day yet. Here are the 3 things that contributed to that:

ONE: RED HAT PRIDE INFORMATION TABLE

Red Hat has a diversity and inclusion group called Red Hat Pride, a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, and asexual/androgynous Red Hat associates and their allies who are working together to make Red Hat a more diverse, inclusive meritocracy. Ally is a term used to describe someone who is supportive of the LGBTQA+ community.

On Tuesday along with the other Red Hat diversity and inclusion groups, we staffed a table for this week’s New Hire Orientation class that included around 75 people, a good majority of whom were 2017 summer interns.

I marveled as 11 people from the class signed up to be on the mailing list for our group. I’m not naive enough to think our community still doesn’t face lots of challenges around the globe these days, but this gives me hope for a new generation of kids.


TWO: SHARE A MOMENT THAT MADE YOU PROUD TO WORK AT RED HAT

Our CEO sent out this request:

I want to invite every Red Hatter to share a story about a specific time when you were proud to work at Red Hat. These stories will be used to collaboratively craft a “functional why” for each of our core organizations, and ultimately, an overarching Red Hat Why.

In response, I shared my story:

My “proud to be a Red Hatter” moment happened fairly recently. One morning I was in the elevator with a cake in a large Tupperware cake taker. It was just me and another guy (whom I didn’t know) in there, and he said, “That looks good! I’d be even more impressed if you made it yourself.”

I did my usual split-second assessment as to whether I was in a safe place or not and then said, “Actually, my husband made it.”

Thanks, Red Hat.

To this posting, I received a number of heartwarming responses:

  • My favorite story. You are loved!
  • How wonderful. Thanks for sharing that.
  • Love this!
  • Literally gave me chills. I’m so glad that you feel Red Hat is a safe place where you can be yourself and share bits of your life with us.
  • ❤️ this 😊 We’re so lucky to have you John Martin!
  • John, don’t think we’ve ever met… but good to meet you now. I wanted to take a moment to tell you how much I appreciated your “Why” story. I can only hope that there is a day sooner, rather than later, where anyone does not have to perform that gut check for the “safe place” before speaking freely. All the best!
  • This is my favorite story so far :-). Thank you for sharing, John. My brother wrestles with that question of “am I in a safe place?”, too, but he also works for a company where he doesn’t have to worry about it. He’s told me similar stories—and how it makes his life so much richer to be able to live openly and freely. Thanks. You made my day, and made me even prouder to be a Red Hatter.

THREE: CELEBRATION OF WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY

Our Red Hat Global Workforce Solutions group hosted a “Sustainability Walking Tour” in celebration of World Environment Day, and we walked about a mile around the area of our building, where we stopped at various “stations” to learn facts about how our city is protecting our environment in a number of ways. At each stop, someone held a sign that listed the ways the nearby things were being protected.

When we got back to the office, I sent this email to the GWS team:

Thanks to the GWS team for putting together the Downtown Raleigh Sustainability Tour. I was surprised that it was as informative as it was fun. You guys rock!

I was so inspired by your signs that I made my own:

 

YOURS

 

MINE

 

To which I received these replies:

  • I. LOVE. THIS. and you! 🙂 You bring such joy to Red Hat Tower!
  • This is amazing!!!! Thanks for coming and thanks for the shout-out! 🙂
  • Ha! Thanks for the laugh.
  • John, the picture made me laugh! Thanks for the positive note and glad you enjoyed it. Have a great rest of the week.
  • Haha this is great. 🙂

En man som heter Ove (A Man Called Ove) (2015)

I started reading the book on May 17, 2017 and after 10 days of on-and-off reading, I abandoned it on May 27, 2017. The story was good enough that I wanted to know what was going to happen next, but alas, the writing was too poor to keep reading.

There were too, too many similes and too much “telling” instead of “showing” in the writing. This is a typical example of a paragraph that drove me nuts:

And when she took hold of his lower arm, thick as her thigh, and tickled him until that sulky boy’s face opened up in a smile, it was like a plaster cast cracking around a piece of jewelry, and when this happened it was as if something started singing inside Sonja. And they belonged only to her, those moments.

To my surprise, the movie had quickly become available on Amazon Prime, which actually helped with my decision to abandon the book, since I could experience the rest of the plot without having to read it.

The synopsis

From its the IMDB entry: Ove, an ill-tempered, isolated retiree who spends his days enforcing block association rules and visiting his wife’s grave, has finally given up on life just as an unlikely friendship develops with his boisterous new neighbors.

The trailer

 

 

My thoughts and observations

  1. This Swedish entry for Best Foreign Language Picture (which didn’t win) was, overall, delightful. It had subtitles, but since they only translated the dialogue, there were no similes at all in them! 🙂

  2. This movie has been described as a “heartwarming, feel-good, funny and moving dramedy,” which I don’t disagree with. It wasn’t too feel-good, though—about which I’m glad, because that’s a detrimental characteristic in my assessment of movies.

  3. I loved the way the character of Parvaneh was portrayed by Bahar Pars.

  4. Themes touched upon in this movie included:
    • Friendship
    • Love
    • Loss
    • Loneliness
    • Morality
    • Empathy

It’s rare that I prefer a movie over a book, but this was one of those cases in which I did. My Swedish friend, Lars, said, “The movie was lovely and moving, as was the book in Swedish.” With that, I’m going to chalk up the writing to a poor translation.

Have you seen this movie and/or read the book? If so, what’d you think?