Dec 17

Some important milestones.

It’s my brother’s 60th birthday. (Yes, he’s the girl in the picture. Plot point.) If you’ve read his book, Trunky, you know that he’s had a hell of a time through life, and getting here is more of a milestone than it would be for your average Joe. He still struggles, as we all do, but he is sober and employed and housed and creating art, and has loving friends and family. He and our recently-widowed father see each other almost every day and, in a family that is the opposite of ‘in each other’s faces all the time’, that’s notable (and very welcome). I was supposed to visit Sam and Dad this week (Dad’s birthday was a week ago), but COVID rise made that a bad idea. Anyway, I am grateful for a good relationship with my brother, who is one of the most interesting people in the world!

A year ago today, I was laid off from a job I’d only held for 10 months. The job and the company had been a weird mix of really interesting work, some amazing and lovely co-workers, and a toxic management environment anchored by one particular person I refer to as “Tough Cookie”. By the time I was laid off, it had been clear for months that I needed to get the hell out of there, and for weeks that it may be a race to see who pulled the plug first. They won, but I won too, because I wasn’t fired (and, frankly, could have been), but was let go with no rancor and a bit of a severance and mostly a feeling of huge relief.

It took me seven months to find a new job, but my current position and setup has just underlined (a) how lucky I had it in what I consider my ‘real’ old job, the one I had for over 20 years until they laid me off two years ago, and (b) what an aberration the 2019 job was. I’m very grateful to have landed in an organization that has a culture of ‘nice’ and has very much welcomed me with open arms. So nice to go through an interview process where I kept meeting more and more people who were more and more excited about meeting me!

So it all turned out OK, but that whole experience – losing the first job after 20 years, landing in a new job where it seemed that everything I’d learned about how to be a good and productive employee and team player suddenly didn’t work any more – and the erosion of confidence this started, and being out of work again… plus some other recent failures in my life – has simply exposed the cracks in my own foundation. I will be focused on shoring those up in 2021.

Merry Christmas! We love the holiday season in this house, and we just got hit with our first big snowstorm in years! C has been making cocoa for us each afternoon. It’s been lovely, frankly.

Many many years ago, college roommate Vance sent me a wonderfully-curated tape of Christmas music, including classics off old vinyl (Anna Maria Alberghetti’s “Caroling, Caroling”), great tracks off the fairly new A Very Special Christmas (Madonna’s “Santa Baby”) and some weird stuff he’d found through his obsession with Kid Creole and tarts like Cristina (“Things Fall Apart”). This tape was so fantastic I was inspired to make one myself (heavily borrowing from it) and distribute it to friends. That tape (“Eric’s Twisted Christmas”) was so well received I had friends telling me, “I was listening to that tape in February…”, heh.

So then I became the guy to send weird Christmas music to, and I made several more tapes over the years to distribute. And that was fun until it wasn’t, and I gave up the habit. (and I still have friends kreebing about wanting more tapes)

However, my friend Chris, one of the recipients of these, took the baton and has run with it with a vengeance. For over twenty years now, we receive every year at least one and often two CDs of curated off-the-wall Christmas music, with fantastic album titles and homemade covers and track descriptions. This year, we got three! The first one I’ve listened to is ‘COVID Christmas’ (*groan*). Here’s a sample track, more delightful than off-the wall:

So, thanks, Chris, for putting in that time every year so I don’t have to!

(and yes, my Xmas music library is enormous. When I do a random ‘Christmas Classical’ shuffle, I realize I must have 10 different “Messiah”s. Some in German!)

Oh, if you like m/m romance, I just read and very much enjoyed “Christmas Kitsch” by Amy Lane. I usually don’t read stories about young men falling in love, because I don’t care, but this one is about college-freshman-aged kids and it’s actually completely delightful. We also watched “The Christmas Setup”, which is the new Lifetime gay movie, and it was worth the watch.

Enjoy the rest of the holiday season – it’ll be gone soon enough!

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