Category Archives: contemplations

My 50th 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.

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