Saturday, March 20, 2010

Last Word on DADT

While I, myself, was never tossed from the military, I was in continuous fear of being found out. This was before the Clinton Era and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". Although, it seems that those limitations don't limit the local police force from outing military to their bosses on base.

I've always been what may be considered "straight-acting". I don't consider it "straight-acting". I consider it normal for my up-bringing. I'm just me. I played tennis, basketball, and other sports, so I was spared from the ribbing and out-right abuse other gay teens had to endure during High School. Not to mention that I had a "high-school sweetheart" through-out high school.

Being in the military was not so much different from high school. When we had dinners or get-togethers with the "brass", I had a "beard". Unfortunately, Renee, another closeted gay, was outed by her softball pal, who was caught in a piss-test. And, Renee, was a decorated service-member, winning Airman of the Year on our base in Germany. The year before I did.

I could have gone on "under the radar" for who knows how long. Unfortunately, they don't let you know if you're under the microscope until you're actually being questioned. I was never brought in, but the "Sword of Damocles" was hovering closer and closer.

I was up for re-enlistment, and my specialty had a high re-enlistment bonus. I had a hard decision to make. Re-enlist and pop a nice $5k in my bank account and live in fear of being found out, or just get out and move on.

I chose to get out. And grow my beard and hair. And moved on. But, in the end, if I could have stayed in without worrying about getting a 'Dis-honorable' or 'General' discharge, I would have stayed. I definately would have stayed in. I loved my job, and I loved serving my country. My military days were the best of my life, excluding the drama of worrying about being outed.

I would have passed my 20-year retirement 9 years ago with a 50% pay-out. Instead, I got out after 5 years. I did not go in the military knowing that I was gay. I was a sexually-confused, 21-year-old who was ready to serve my country. And was forced out by the fear of being labelled with a big pink triangle, like the Nazis did in WW2.

Which is why I think the current deliberations on the Don't Ask, Don't Tell hearings are so important. Right-wing conservatives and some (but, not all) military leaders don't want to change things, because they think things are peachy-keen as they are. Those same people have the same mind-think as those who thought African-Americans would disrupt morale and unit-cohesiveness. They also thought women could not fight with men. They obviously live in a bubble.

I loved every day I served in the United States Air Force and wish I could have stayed in. Unfortunately, closed-minded people forced me out. To the detriment of the Air Force. Because, I rocked at my job.

And, 24 years later, I still miss it. E-mail or call your local Senator or Representative to let them know how you feel about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". Quality people are being forced out because of prejudice, just when quality people are needed in the military. And, a lot of tax-payer money is being spent to kick them out. Just when standards are being lowered to include felons and non-high-school graduates.

Who would you rather serve with you, or for you?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Favorites (Change of Pace Edition)

Favorite snack: Unsalted Dry Roasted Peanuts (Does not raise the guilt flag for me).

Favorite singer: K. D. Lang. (Such a glorious voice that sounds as good live, if not better, than on her CDs).

Favorite guilty pleasure: I allow myself 1 pint of ice cream every two months or so (usually Haagen Dazs Dulce de Leche).

Favorite "Library reading material": Car and Driver.

Favorite soft drink: Diet Pepsi.

Favorite bread: Sara Lee Honey Whole Wheat (For BLTs, though, any squishy white bread, toasted).

Favorite Soap Opera: The Young and the Restless (I remember seeing the first episodes one summer when I was a young lad of 10 or 11. My new cable provider does not have SoapNet, so I am currently going through withdrawl).

Favorite Reality Show: Duh, Project Runway.

Favorite Dream Car: Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 convertible.

Favorite Candy: M&M Peanut (I used to be able to eat a 1 pound bag in one sitting).

Favorite Movie: The Sound of Music (followed closely by Cabaret. What is it with gays and musicals?).

Favorite Actress: Meryl Streep, 'nuff said.

Favorite Writer: David Sedaris (I get him like no other, and many do not get him).

Favorite Game Show: Password (The old one, not the new one).

I know, I know, another throw-away post. But, my brain does not need any more stress right now than this. When I'm fully moved in, and Spring break is over, I will devote more time to the blog. Plus, my favorite aunt-sister is visiting next month for my birthday. And it's a monumental birthday. The big 5-ohhhh. New Orleans is calling.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Parents Visit the New Abode

My dad and stepmother visited to drop off some stuff to my new place. I think the curiosity was killing them. My only scary moment was when my dad went in the 2nd bedroom/computer room and there was a stack of dirty VCR tapes and a boxed set of Queer as Folk sitting in view. No need to get his homophobia in an uproar, so I swept them off to an out-of-view hidey place. Silly explanations avoided. Most comments included "cozy", "cute", and "old".

Kitchen stuff has been unpacked and I started on the oven. Ugh, gross. The racks were solid black, sticky with a tar-like texture. One treatment of Easy-Off will lead to another, although chrome is showing up on about 50% of them. What did the prior tenant cook in the oven, I wonder? My only clue is the dried beans and Adobo left in the cabinets.

Still many boxes unpacked. I fear the 2nd bedroom will never house a bed. One, because it's seriously small. And, two, because it will house containers that will never be unpacked, because there is no room. Down-sizing has it's risks, afterall.

I still have no regrets. I will make it work. Even if the washing machine drain does not drain as fast as the washing machine evacuates water. Small steps, I say to myself. The next step is buying a real, adult bed. For the last 6 years or so, I've slept on blow-up beds. In the last 6 months or so, my back has been screaming for another solution. Even on week-ends, I have to get up at 7am or so, my internal, spinal alarm sounding before I want to get up.

More to come.........

Friday, March 5, 2010

Yeah, Yeah, So Sue Me

I'm now sitting amongst a mountain range of boxes. Figuratively, the Andes of box mountains. I have moved from my suburban-sprawl apartment to a tiny home that's literally 5 minutes from work. I've been wanting to do this for at least a year, but circumstances had conspired to prevent that until now. Having moved so many times over the years, I had become reluctant to box everything up and moving again, but enough was enough.

I have lived in major metropolitan areas before, where commutes were the norm. Living now in the panhandle of Florida, where the congestion is smaller in comparison, did not diminish my disdain for the wasted time in transit. Driving from Gulf Breeze into Pensacola every day drained the everlasting life out of me. Three years of crossing the Three-Mile Bridge will do that to you. The smallest fender bender will increase the commute 2-fold, because that bridge has no pull-off area (traffic control in 1960 did not figure in for extra pull-off zones).

Now, I'm 5 minutes from work. I just have to deal with having only 671 square feet of living space and 800 square feet of stuff. But, it's a sweet old house. Built in the 40's or 50's, it has it's original hardwood floors (chilly on the feet during this cooler than normal winter), a nice deck out back, and a real yard (I haven't mowed grass since I was 16).

But, I'm only 2 blocks from the waterfront park that stretches all around Navy Point, and I don't have to hear any neighbors flushing their damn toilet.

Life is looking up, the rent is $150/month cheaper, and I'm within walking distance to a bar with the best Philly Steak sandwich in town.

The only downside is that the area has the highest per-capita rate of mullets-per-thousand around. My first foray to the local Wally-World had me shaking my head in dis-belief. From suburban yuppies to lower middle class blue-collar is a wake-up call.

And that wake-up call is asking me what demographic do I really fit in. As I meet my neighbors, I'll know more. I already met my neighbor, Linda, who has a perpetual Garage Sale going on. She is a font of info on all the neighbors.

This should be interesting.