Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Wish

Tomorrow - more than Christmas, perhaps - my wish is that everyone I know is with people who love and care about them so that they can be truly grateful for what they have.

I will be thinking of my mom all day tomorrow.  Mom has always loved this holiday and it's always meant a little something more to her.  My brothers and sister and their families will be with her, as will a few extended family.  Time was that everyone in our family gathered at Mom and Dad's for Thanksgiving.  We'd number close to 60 or 70 in some years, including neighbors "popping" in.  Mom would spend a few days cooking and then spend the rest of the year accepting compliments on the amazing job she did.  But the crowd continues to get smaller now as the next generations start traditions of their own with other groups of people.

Perhaps the biggest loss for Mom this year will be Dad's presence at the dinner table.  Dad recently took a rapid decline over a period of 6 weeks.  There's no reason for the decline, but then there is no reasoning with Alzheimer's.  My dad, who was always a fit man around 200 lbs, now weighs about 130.  He seems to feel okay, but his body is withering away.  My dad was always covered in muscle and bulk, but now I can feel his bones when I hug him.  My brother Matt used to stop by the nursing home and (literally) pick up Dad to bring him to family events.  But Dad seems so frail now that Matt fears injuring or hurting Dad while transporting him.  So now, Dad will no longer leave the nursing facility.  And it's absolutely the right thing to do.  As hard as it is to accept, i'ts just the next step in this disease that simply just doesn't care.

I'm sure my Mom will spend a few minutes privately asking herself, "what happened?"  When did it all change?  Did she ever think that it would?  Had she prepared herself enough for this?  How will next year be different?  I am comforted, at least, knowing that Mom will be surrounded by love, regardless.

I stopped traveling home for Thanksgiving in 2006.  It became too expensive and difficult to travel home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I spent Christmas 2005 in Chicago away from family and had a horrible time, so I vowed I would not miss Christmas again.  This means Thanksgiving had to go, at least on a regular schedule.  I think I made it back once since then and hope to again in the near future.  But not this year.

I am lucky to spend Thanksgiving in Chicago with friends and MY family.  Every year, we are invited to Bob and Neil's cozy home.  Neil spends a few days preparing the most sumptuously decadent meal we will eat all year.  We will drink a lot of wine (a lot of wine) and laugh and eat.  We've been doing this for several years now (even flying in from Miami when we lived there) and if I cannot be at my mother's table, then THIS is the place I want to be.

May you, too, be able to count your blessings this weekend and be among those you love and call family.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Introducing My Husband

As the year passed, it's gotten a little easier.  But I'm still not completely comfortable - or should I say "at ease" - with introducing Kevin as my husband.  Referring to Kevin as my boyfriend or partner was always very easy to do.  But I am, at times, almost sheepish when I call him my husband.

I don't balk at hearing "husband" from other male couples, or even when I hear Kevin introduce me.  While I am certainly proud that he married me, I'm always afraid that it sounds like I am trying to make some kind of political statement.  It's not out of embarrassment of any kind; I just don't want to be seen as pushing an agenda, despite the fact that same-sex marriage is legal everywhere in the United States.  It's just my life.

Prior to the 1990's, partnered men referred to themselves as "lovers".  I count my lucky stars that my dating period launched near the end of that terminology.  I never had a lover.  The first guy I dated seriously was my "boyfriend", as were subsequent guys after that.  Kevin was the first guy to become my "partner".  I can't remember when he and I adopted that word to define each other, but the transition from boyfriend to partner was seamless, effortless.  Even on Facebook, we transitioned from "in a relationship" to "in a domestic partnership" to finally just plain old "married".

Of course the only way for everyone to get used to hearing two men call each other husband (or two women use the word wife) is to simply just use the word.  The more often it is said, the more comfortable everyone will be with hearing it and, as in my case, saying it.  Because after all, that's who he is.

Thank God.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Polls Mean Nothing

I don't believe polls.  I don't trust polls.  Know why?  I've never been included in them.

Let's examine the way polls are typically conducted.  First, internet polling is completely unreliable as the collection of data is based on an IP address, not a person.  This means that if you have several different devices (phone, laptop, desktop, tablet), you could vote at least 4 times in the same poll, thus skewing the results.  This is not taking into account that you can do the same thing using your work devices as well.  There have been times I've cast my vote for something on a website using not only different devices, but also the three email addresses I currently use for different things.  So internet polling is unreliable, at best.

Also, no one has ever called me on the phone and asked my opinion on a presidential (or any) candidate.  Pollsters can only call phone numbers to which they have access, i.e. the telephone book.  I'm not in the phone book because I don't have a land line.  And neither do most of my friends or most other people (presumably) under the age of 35, or perhaps 40.  So the responses reflected through phone polls, we could surmise, is data collected from those folks who have landlines, i.e. the older generations and those who must have land lines due to their geographic locations.

Likewise, very few people have tried to stop me in person to ask my opinion.  And when they did, I never gave it.  I've either politely declined and went on my way (I'm bitchy like that) or just brushed by them hurriedly without any acknowledgement.  While in-person polling can be more accurate, it's also labor intensive and expensive to conduct.  There's also no guarantee that the pollster isn't just writing down data from people who don't even exist.

So since I've never participated in a poll, I can honestly say that my opinion has never been represented.  And I hazard a guess that most of my peers are not represented either.  So the information that is being thrown at us by the media and candidates during debates and stump speeches about polls and poll numbers doesn't really mean anything because we don't know who participated, how many people participated, and whether or not those people even exist.

What we CAN deduce, based on what I've written here, is that the poll numbers probably represent the opinions of older Americans who 1) are not current on their technology, and 2) most likely get their news from their local newspaper and/or their favorite news TV channel.  I could also make the assumption that most of the people being polled most likely have not done research on their own about presidential (or any office seeker) candidates and rely strictly on what they are told rather than information they've sought on their own.

It's been well-documented that metropolitan cities skew towards Democrat, while rural areas skew towards Republican.  So if a pollster is looking for a specific response, it would be very simple to just travel to the geographic location that will garner you the preferred response, as I am sure Fox News does.

So I don't follow poll information.  All I can do is my own research (which I encourage everyone to do) to make my own decision, pull the lever I want and hope for the best.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

2005 - 2015: Job Hunt . . . Again

Interestingly enough, today I find myself in exactly the same situation as 10 years ago.  Being on the job market for the third time in 10 years is disheartening and, for some odd reason, a bit embarrassing.  It would also be ego-crushing if not for the facts that 1) my husband is super supportive, and 2) at least this time, there is displayed interest in my resume.  I've had several phone interviews and the conversations went well.  Because I work in HR, I understand how this process works.  It takes time, sometimes a few months.  Coordinating interest and schedules on the other end can be mind numbing for the HR person.

I was laid off back in July.  I started making some headway in September, and then we went to Europe for two weeks, which ended up killing whatever momentum I had been gaining.  If I had to choose between getting a job and going to Europe with my husband, I'd choose the latter every time!  But this essentially means that I started back at ground zero when we came back.

I will admit that being unemployed in Chicago is A LOT better than being unemployed in Miami.  It's nice to have access to a car to run errands for us, or to get to interviews or even to see friends during the day.  The weather, of course, is much more enjoyable here as well.  And we have lots of projects around the house that have kept me busy.  Still, most of my day every day is spent looking at LinkedIn, Indeed, and a plethora of other job sites which all pretty much list the same jobs.

Something that continues to frustrate me is how recruiting agencies will post a job listing that sounds ideal - but there really is no job.  The agencies are trying to build up their stable of talent for when an actual job comes to them.  Sadly, this constitutes a large percentage of the jobs that are posted online.  Some job sites will allow users to disregard those jobs posted by recruiters or agencies.  I prefer that option.  If a job description is written too vaguely without many specifics, chances are its not an actual jobs but rather a resume gatherer from a recruiter.  Despite sporadically registering with recruiting agencies over the last 25 years or so, I've never once obtained employment through their services (although I believe I have lost an opportunity or two because of them).  In our introductory meetings, they tell me exactly what I want to hear: how great I am and how marketable my skill set is.  And then I rarely hear from them again.  Recruiters are the used car salesmen of the new millennium.

And so, just like 10 years ago, I trudge along - doing what I am supposed to be doing and trying to be as much of a help to Kevin as possible, all the while hoping that somewhere someone has my resume on his/her desk and keeps thinking, "I need to call this guy."


Sunday, November 08, 2015

That Time Anderson Cooper Hit On Me

Picture it:  New York City, June 2001, Gay Pride weekend.

To set the time, in 2001 Anderson had just left this job reporting on 20/20 (before he began hosting his own show on CNN).  Back then, he was wearing thick black cable turtlenecks, leather jackets and hosting "The Mole", a reality show on ABC. In those days, I rarely watched TV.  I had joined a gym about a year and a half earlier and as my new body developed, so did my social life.  It wasn't too often that I was home in the evenings, so I was not up-to-par on the latest television shows.  I was young, fit, and tan.  I basically had it all going on.

So I had opted to go to NYC with some friends for my first NYC Pride Weekend.  It was LOTS of fun.  We skipped around to a few parties the night before, woke for brunch the following day and had a blast watching the biggest gay parade in the country.  It was fun, frolic, and ridiculousness.  And once the parade ended, we followed the mass migration to Pier 26 and the infamous Pier Dance.

The four of us stopped on the corner at Franklin and Varick Streets.  My three friends slipped into a bodega to buy some waters and I stayed across the street just to watch all the revelers go by.  As I stood there, a man a little shorter than me approached me and said hello:
Him:  Hey there.
Me:  Hey there back.
Him:  How's it going?
Me:  It's going well, thanks.  How about you?
Him:  I'm good.  We're heading to the Pier Dance, are you going there?
Me:  Yeah, I have friends in the store across the street, so I'm just waiting for them.
Him:  Okay, I was going to invite you to come with us.
Me:  That's very nice, but I got a gang, so...
Him:  Okay, well maybe I will see you there.
Me:  Yeah, we can dance!
Him:  I'd like that, look for me.  I'm Anderson.
Me:  I'm Dop
Him: What is it??
Me:  Dop.  D-O-P.
Him:  I like it.  I'll key an eye open for you.
As soon as he walked away, my three friends returned, one of them practically on fire over what he had just witnessed.  "What was THAT all about?"
"Some guy asking me to go to the Pier Dance with him."
"Some guy?  You do know who that is, don't you?"
"He told me his name, but I forgot it already."
"That's Anderson Cooper.  He's a Vanderbilt.  He's Gloria Vanderbilt's son!"
"Oh yeah??"
"Yeah."
"Well, he's too old for me."
"He's a year younger than you; he's just graying prematurely.  Let's go find him!"
So we all went to the dance and my obsessed friend tried in vain to find Anderson, but to no avail.  We ended up having a great time dancing on the pier and culminating our weekend with fireworks and great music.

So was it a missed opportunity?  Eh, maybe.  I mean I met him one-on-one and thought he was handsome and nice.  And I could have easily asked him to wait until my friends came and we all go together.  But something told me not to do that and to let this moment pass.

I had no way of knowing it at the time, but the universe was telling me to wait on this one - that another prematurely graying younger man was in my future.  I didn't always make the right decisions back then, but THAT time, I did.  Patience won out on this one.  And so did I.  He's MY "360".