New stuff

Posted: August 4, 2010 in True Story

It’s been a weird night. I went with my mom to visit my brother in the hospital. He had his second heart attack Monday but it sounds like he will be ok. We have a similar sense of humor so the whole time we were there the two of us made smartass comments and obscure references that only the two of us understood. It was actually kind of fun until the discussion turned to things like fishing and engine repair. At that point I played games on my phone until it was time to go.

My mom and I went out for a late dinner. The odd thing about this little outing is that my mother and I hadn’t spoken in about two months. For those of you not in the loop my wife and I recently decided to get a divorce. We are still good friends but we realized that we had not grown together as a couple but apart as individuals. I am currently still living in the house with her and the kids. My mother took my ex out to dinner and explained how I was worthless and didn’t have a real job. She then told the ex that she should throw me out because I was a freeloader with no future.

My mom still doesn’t understand why I’m upset.

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How did she die?

Posted: June 4, 2010 in True Story

There is a lady who comes to the gas station two or three times a day to buy single cigars for her boyfriend. I have yet to see him but I know why she runs his errands for him. I look into her eyes and can see where the light used to shine though and am startled by the empty blackness I see behind them. I wonder when it was that she gave up and resolved herself to this fate. No more reason to hope or to dream, no reason to strive for something better.

The music she blares from her car stereo consist of thunderous beats that completely drown out the lyrics. A metaphor for her life perhaps? Surrounding herself with noise so that no one can her the screams that tiny bit of her soul that she has left wails out. Her face is pockmarked from untreated acne and her eyes are dark. Rarely does she smile and even then it seems forced.

I think she is aware of her lot in life. She has grown accustomed to making as much impact on the world as a shadow on a cloudy day. She cloaks her misery in shirts that are a bit too small and reveal a bit too much. She is no real beauty and her hips and the pouch between the tops of her too snug shorts and too short shirts states clearly that she has borne at least one child. Not enough to destroy her once nice figure but enough to give her concerns that her man will stray, a near inevitability in the economically downtrodden complexes and shadowed corners she calls home. She uses her now more than ample breasts to draw attention from the empty space behind her eyes where her hope used to live. Her tops have no sleeves and a plunging neckline, held up on both shoulders by the tiniest strip of cloth. She is not yet too old to go without a bra but it is apparent that she will soon have no other choice.

For now she is content to let the masses ogle her as she bounces and sways, her silver dollar sized nipples visible through the thin fabric, content that no man in her life will look up long enough to see how little of her is left.

It seems that the fine folks over at Archie comics are taking a page from the DC playbook to make their characters more diverse as is fitting in modern society.

The official release from Archie comics:

New York, NY (April 22, 2010): Archie Comics, home of the famous Riverdale High students Archie, Betty, Veronica, Reggie and Jughead, is about to welcome a new classmate this fall! On September 1st, Kevin Keller, Archie Comics’ first openly gay character, will be welcomed into the town of Riverdale.

“The introduction of Kevin is just about keeping the world of Archie Comics current and inclusive. Archie’s hometown of Riverdale has always been a safe world for everyone. It just makes sense to have an openly gay character in Archie comic books,” stated Archie Comics Co- CEO, Jon Goldwater.

VERONICA #202 features the full-issue story, “Isn’t it Bromantic?” that introduces Kevin, Archie Comics’ first openly gay character. Kevin Keller is the new hunk in town and Veronica just has to have him. After Kevin defeats Jughead in a burger eating contest at Pop’s Chocklit Shoppe, she desperately latches onto him. Mayhem and hilarity ensue as Kevin desperately attempts to let Veronica down easy and her flirtations only become increasingly persistent.

In addition to the new ongoing achievements at Archie Comics–the #4 iPad book app and most downloaded comics on iTunes, the launch of Stan Lee Comics, Archie’s Red Circle superheroes at DC, and exciting new partnerships with Abrams, Dark Horse and IDW–the introduction of Kevin as an openly gay character is part of the commitment to keep Archie properties reflective of the current world of teens and teen media.

This interview was posted yesterday at Feast of Fun and reveals the plans for a new gay character in the Archie comics.

The images below were posted with the press release.

I feel like I’ve given up on romance. I’ve always been the guy who made mixtapes, wrote bad poetry and brought the object of my affection flowers for no reason. Over the past four or five years of my marriage those things just stopped and I’ve recently started to examine why. I’ve stopped believing in “true love.” The thing that all great art is about, the reason songs get written and ordinary people become almost godlike in the eyes of us lesser beings just doesn’t exist. I found my “soul mate” and we just couldn’t make it work. Nearly fifteen years of love and happiness and surprise just kind of ended and I can’t really get a handle on why unless its just because love isn’t the answer. Is monogamy just wrong? Is being with one person forever an unnatural state that society has forced us into? Should I just hook up with random people until I die? Is loneliness fatal? I seem to have more questions than answers at the moment but I will keep looking. Right now I’m just feeling a little bit cynical.

I hope this isn’t it. As of two weeks ago I have completely sworn off marriage. I tried it. Twice. And both times it just didn’t work out. I want to believe in love, I really do but I just can’t figure out what it means anymore. I love my friends. Is that enough to sustain me?

On the flip side, I talked to a casual acquaintance online last week for an hour or so and when the conversation was over I felt really good about it and then started thinking too much. Were we flirting? Was it just a conversation about mutual likes and dislikes? What would happen if it were flirting? Am I an idiot? See, more questions. Up until now I would talk to someone and it was just talking. Now I talk to someone and I over think the conversation and make myself a little crazy. Is that single life? Is self doubt and gnawing uncertainty what I have to look forward to?

I’m rambling and I don’t think listening to Suzanne Vega while I write about love was a good idea.

So Amy and I are in a better place emotionally than we have been in years. We are great friends who we have learned can talk to one another about anything. Its a little odd to talk to the woman who has shared your life for so long about the girl you hooked up with but we are odd people. We’ve had several conversations about how I should get out there and date as much as possible without getting into a relationship. I have traditionally been a serial monogamist but she thinks (and I agree) that I need to go out and have some fun. Relive those “free” years that I completely skipped over. Then she mentioned boys. My “bi” revelation a few years ago was one of the things that I feel led to the dissolution of my marriage and while she disagrees she has made it a point to tell me that I need to date some men at some point. The problem with that is I have NO idea how to go about doing something like this. The closest I’ve come to a gay club is multiple watchings of Queer as Folk. My other problem is my work schedule. Monday is pretty much my only day that is completely my own. Tuesday is my day with the kids to go places and do things and the rest of the week is spent at work and while I don’t have a particularly difficult job my hours are long and I sometimes don’t get a lot of sleep on the weekends so even though I’m usually home by 7:00 on a Sunday, I’m too tired to do anything.

I have come up with a plan to get some exercise, lose some weight and hang out with more people. My nephew is 25 and lives in Carytown and gets off work at around 3:30 on Monday afternoon. Yesterday I played my first round of Disc Golf and it was pretty awesome. Of course, my entire body is sore from the walking and throwing as I am unaccustomed to doing any kind of physical exertion but it was a great time. The plan is to go to the park and play every Monday and play some disc golf.

One last thing. My first post at GayRVA.com went up today!

Last night was yet another in a line of odd and surreal evenings this past week. The entire family went over to a friends house for dinner. I met Amy and the kids there and from around 6:45 until 11:00pm Jess, Butch, Amy and myself sat and talked about all kinds of things. We laughed and joked and had a fantastic evening. The reason it was so odd is that last Monday Amy and I decided that we shouldn’t be married anymore.

I woke up Monday with a dual purpose. My main focus was the interview I had that evening with Kevin from gayrva.com about becoming an editor at his website. My other obligation was to try and teach a 22 year old how to drive. That went poorly so I’ll skip over the details there. I had lunch with friends on Monday and we talked about relationships and what we want out of life. An hour before I needed to be there I arrived at Crossroads, a cool little coffee shop down at VCU. I wasn’t nearly cool enough to be there but I sat and read Style and sipped a cappuccino while waiting for Kevin to arrive.

My phone rang around ten minutes before my meeting and when I saw that it was Kevin calling my heart sank with the thought that the meeting would have to be postponed. Luckily it wasn’t that, he was calling to tell me that he was already there and when we both looked up at the same time I got very excited. I haven’t been an editor in a while but it was something that I was pretty good at once upon a time. We talked for about 45 minutes about my experience and his needs and he asked me about my life. As always when asked that question I replied that I had been married for almost ten years and had two kids. He seemed a little surprised and then asked me a question that I don’t think I really answered fully, “Why does someone who is married with kids want to get involved with a gay website.” It took a minute to find the right words and the first thing I mumbled was that I was bisexual and that was something I had been dealing with over the past ten years. I went on to tell him that I believed that the real reason I go to gay rights rally’s and protests is because I believe its a civil rights issue and one group of people shouldn’t have the power to deny rights to another group of people because they don’t approve of how they live their life. I may have quoted Dr King at that point because I love the line”If you see a good fight, get in it.” but I don’t know if I did.

The meeting went great. He offered me the position of section editor for Arts and Entertainment and I was on cloud nine. I sped across town to share my good news with the fine folks at WriteClubRVA who were properly enthusiastic about my exciting new editing gig. Our meeting seemed to me to be a much happier and productive meeting than normal which was a shame because I didn’t think to take my laptop along. After the meeting my friend Jess and I went to the Starbucks at Barnes & Noble to talk. It was there while sipping my mocha frappuccino that I realized that my marriage was over. It wasn’t a bolt of lightning or anything it was more akin to remembering where you left your keys. Its something you already knew but couldn’t remember. We talked for about an hour and I went home dreading the talk that I knew was to come.

As I drove into the driveway it looked like all the lights in the house were on. I didn’t know if that meant Amy was still awake or if she had fallen asleep without turning them off as she does sometimes. I walked in and stood in the doorway of our bedroom and shifted uncomfortably. “Hey,” she said. I could only croak out my own “hey” in response. She asked me if anything was wrong and I mumbled something unintelligible. The look on her face took on a new resolve and she said “Can we talk? We need to talk.”

This was it. The talk and I didn’t even have to initiate it. The coward inside me lept for joy.

“I’m really pissed at you right now. You were supposed to feed the kids before you left tonight because I had to work late.”

The coward then wept. I couldn’t believe what I had done. In my selfish pursuit of something more I had actually forgotten to feed my children. I felt about two inches tall and I expected her to yell and scream and possibly hit me with a frying pan because I felt like it was the least I deserved. Instead we sat and talked about all the problems we’ve had over the years and where we are right now. We care about each other, we are friends. Sadly, we are not in love with one another anymore. I know in my head that we both made mistakes to get here, she will tell you the same, but I feel like the bulk of the blame lays at my feet. A few years ago I fell into a black hole of despair and depression and I never quite climbed out of it. I basically checked out of our marriage and she did the same in response. By her reckoning we’ve actually been separated for about two years, the last nine months of which I have spent in a separate room from her.

She was mad at me Monday night, she said as much but she never actually got angry. We were at that place beyond angry where resolution resides and we are better for it. Once we were resolved that this was the end of it she asked where I would go. I knew I couldn’t be far from the kids so I told her I would talk to my mother and see if I could move in with her next door. “I can’t make you live with your mother.” was her only real response to that and I am now living happily where I had been living miserably, on the sofa with my family. Its incredible how the exact same living situation can seem to much better once the labels have been peeled off and the last remnants of a tattered relationship are shrugged off.

We will always be in each others lives and we will always be friends. My friend Ray thinks our ability to act like civilized people instead of the crazed ax swinging Norsemen most divorced couples turn into is that we’ve been through the horrible ordeal of separating but we did it over a year ago. We’ve already felt the hurt and betrayal and loneliness so now the separation feels like a promising start rather than a horrible ending.

Things have been wrong for a while now. There are weeks that we barely see one another and neither of us really seems to mind that. Last week we talked for a long time about what it is we want out of our relationship and our future. Neither one of us really had any good solutions to the problems we had been ignoring for over a year. Tonight I came home after an especially good day to find my wife still awake at 10:20 a rarity. She asked how my day was and I returned the polite banter until she said those dreaded words “can we talk”. Those are words that no one likes to hear no matter who you are. This was it. The conversation I had been dreading all week all the while knowing that it had to happen. For us to remain anything we had to do this.

We sat and talked for two hours about where things went wrong and how we had been feeling. The first 100% honest conversation in a very long time. There were no angry words exchanged and the only blame placed was upon ourselves. Halfway through the conversation our 12 year old son walks through the door and I know her heart dropped just as fast as mine did. He looked at us with a horrible mix of anger and confusion and said “I heard you say separation.” I told him to come sit by me and she moved to his other side. For the next fifteen minutes we cried and hugged and explained to the best of our abilities what was going on. After about an hour of talking he seemed pretty calm so we sent him back to bed. A little while later he came out to get some tissues and then went back to his room.

The moment I will always cherish in all of this is my emotionally battered and tear stained son looked up and us and in a small croaky voiced said “Yay, two Christmases!”

I don’t know if anyone paid attention to the Captain America controversy over the past couple of weeks but at one point it got extremely amusing. The story got picked up by several media outlets and caused a storm of anger and snark all over the internet. Some sites reported it as a straight news story while others editorialized the heck out of it. Luckily for me I am not a news site so I can editorialize as much as I want. But I don’t think I will. Politics in comics are hard to get right at the best of times and with the tumultuous times we live in it seems like an even harder line to walk. In response to the outcry from tea party supporters and vociferous members of the “news media” Marvel Editor in Chief Joe Quesada responded in his “Cup O’ Joe” column with this;

“Hold on. Before digging into this, you’re starting from a false premise. There was zero discussion to include a group that looked like a Tea Party demonstration. Ed [Brubaker] simply wrote in an anti-tax protest into his story to show one of the moods that currently exists in America. There was no thought that it represented a particular group.

And yes, what Ed said is absolutely true, he does shy away from labeling things and did exactly that in this instance. In Ed’s story, there was no connection to the Tea Party movement, that’s a screw up that happened after the fact and exactly what some people are getting upset about.

There is one legit criticism in there, and a lot of not so valid stuff, but let’s dive into this. By the way, for those that haven’t read “Captain America” #602, here’s your spoiler warning: read no further lest you want to know what’s going on.

In the story, our new Captain America – who is Steve Rogers’ old sidekick Bucky Barnes – and Sam Wilson the Falcon – another ex-sidekick of Steve Rogers – are in search of an armored super-militia group called the Watchdogs who attacked a sheriff and his squad and have set up roots in the hills outside of Boise, Idaho where they are building a weapon and planning an act of terrorism against the people in that town. Keep in mind that the Watchdogs have been villains in the Marvel Universe since 1987. Bucky and Sam hatch a plan to infiltrate this group and defeat it from within so they travel to Idaho. The idea behind this was to expose them both – in particular Sam (who has been portrayed most often as a leftist leaning character) – to other parts of America. While in Idaho in search of the Watchdogs, they come upon an anti-tax, anti-big government rally, which is something that Sam, in particular, hasn’t been personally exposed to, and it hits him the wrong way. Here, at this moment in the story, Sam is the fish out of water. This, however, is where Mr. Houston misreads what’s happening in the story. He assumes that the people protesting in the streets are the Watchdogs, when in fact they are not, so this is an element that is taken out of context. These protestors as written by Ed are no different than protesting crowds he wrote into issues of “Cap” last year. Only those protestors were angry about oil prices skyrocketing and the housing market problems. So in short, the Watchdogs, and the protestors aren’t connected, they just happen to be in the same story.”

The critics of the comic haven’t been placated by Quesada’s reasoning. While scanning the comments at the Washington Times web article on the controversy I was somewhat surprised by the level of anger in so many of the commentators. These are a few of my favorite comments from last week.

No Party said
Joe Quesada must think people are stupid…although if you are an adult reading comics…he could be spot on. It wasn’t a stupid accident or error…monkeys weren’t sitting in front of a typewriter and accidently put those slurs on the sign, someone at Marvel did, and that person is too cowardly to own up to it . If I thought anyone from MSNBC moonlighted . I might think they were involved, but my guess is that it is a Marvel Comic troll.

ONTIME opined
The Tea Bag idea (follow the Constitution) must be a bit to simplistic for the extrordinary intelligence needed to draw a comic book picture, so why not clutter the idea with liberal hate and bias and call it good?

miroj1 offered
This is all we need, ultra-liberal media organizations trying to brainwash people with their political agendas…and now comic books? Is nothing sacred anymore? I mean we’re all supposed to be Americans. You would think Captain America would believe in the American dream…not socialism…

tuckerscot responded with
miroj, no nothing is sacred to a liberal. Have you ever had the misfortune to have to sit through a Captain Planet cartoon? Pure left wingnut propaganda.

My question to you dear readers is this; is Ed Brubaker and Marvel Comics using Captain America to further their socialist agenda or is it just another instance of people being offended for no reason? I would love to hear your thoughts.