Category Archives: Personal Bits

Just things from my personal life

Coming Out: To My Mom

General, Personal Bits, Queer stuff 9 Replies

I realized that in the last 10 years of this website I’ve never shared with you, dear internetz, how I came out to the world.

Mostly because it was such a non-event. What with all the drama that preceded my gay cotillion.

A bit of back story for new readers: My oldest brother came out when I was about 11yrs old. I didn’t understand fully what that meant, but I knew there was drama of sorts… my parents were having hushed conversations that were punctuated with “DeadRobot, go to your room.” Later, when I was 16, my father came out of the closet for fear of meeting up with Dan in a gay bar on one of his many business trips to Toronto. Of course the family was shocked, the town of Brockvegas was scandalized, Dad lived a quiet life of a shattered bachelor for all of 10 minutes and then took up with his lover for 14 years. Family came to accept him (including Mom, to a certain degree) and we were happy chucks all again. Okay?

There’s your 8 years or so of drama packed into 125 words or less.

Skip ahead to my 17th birthday. The year I decided that if I was to live my life honestly, I had to tell the people I loved that I was a ‘mo. I decide that I have to make a trip back to Brockvegas to tell friends and family in one fast trip. Get in, drop the bomb, get out, let them decide where their loyalties lie.

Picture my Mom’s house. She’s living with her soon-to-be new husband in a sprawling Brady Bunch style split level bungalow. Mom and I are sitting in the sunken entertainment room (not the good living room, mind you, where the china figurines and untouched furniture resides, no the “living” room where the TV resides) and she magically whips out a photo of me from the year before. It’s of all my sibs laughing as we stand in our grandmother’s kitchen.

“I showed this picture to my co-worker,” My Mom starts, “And as a joke I asked her which one of my sons were gay.”

Uh. Damn. Is my Mom…

“She pointed to you. DeadRobot, are you gay?”

Holy shit my mom just trumped me.

“Yes.” Breathe… breathe… 1, 2, 3…

“Ian!” My mom calls up to the kitchen to my soon-to-be stepfather, “DeadRobot just informed me that he’s gay.”

“That’s good. When’s dinner?” We ate roast beef and yorkie puddings soon after.

Non. Event.

Lazy Vacation Butt

Distractions, Gaming, Personal Bits, Travel 1 Reply

I’ve not been doing much lately, other than watching the clock run down until our Disney Cruise/Parks amazing vacation. I have been playing the new Little Big Planet 2, and while the game play is a notch higher than the first game, the music has been dissapoint. Here’s a game play video that makes you love the game you’re playing and at the same time think “God you people, don’t you have a life?”

The limo has been ordered. It’s a stretch SUV that SharkBoy and I will bounce around in like Backgammon dice as we ride to the airport. I chose this company because they had the least amount of grammatical and coding errors on their site.

We’re trying to decide what to do on the Saturday before the cruise and I think we’ve narrowed it down to either Gatorworld or an Airboat ride (I’ll be screaming like the soundtrack from CSI: Miami… yeeeaAAAAAAaaaahhh!!). Or both. NASA has a launch scheduled for that day so here’s hoping there’s no delays. That would be cool… vooooosh!

We need to sign up for “special” roaming rates from Rogers, so we can use our iPhones in Disney. As I type that I feel a degree of sadness, having to be forced to hand over another $75 to Rogers just so I can get text and web service …on top of the $30/mo I already pay. Times like this I relish the final few minutes of the movie Fight Club and wish it would come true. Not that I’m a terrorist or anything, but if history repeats itself, then it’s safe to say the inevitable rebellion won’t be political, it will be economical.

On other news, The Bay Optical is close to being on my shit list. SharkBoy’s glasses came in yesterday but mine haven’t even been started. After catching the receptionist out on a lie (“Oh they’re right here, Mr DeadRobot!”) I got a call from the manager saying they had not been ordered yet. I had to press for an apology. You have 10 days, Bay Optical, before I release the internet hounds.

29 days to go.

That Was Good

Personal Bits, Queer stuff 10 Replies

I was sitting on the back porch, overlooking all our neighbours. When I was 15, our house had a massive back yard that took up the core of the residential city block. Everyone’s back yard bordered on ours. From the porch I could see into the yards of a lot of families, yards where their personal lives spilled out from their houses: broken ride-em toys, unpainted fences, half assed atrium renos. The general public would see the perfect front lawns when driving by but I was privy to a more intimate view. As I sat there I thought about these people whom I didn’t know and how parts of their lives were fueling my curiosity. I then mirrored it back to my life and wondered if I was normal. Would ever be normal.

Margaret came out from the back door.

Margaret was our “family friend”. The woman who stuck with both Mom and Dad simultaneously during the separation and subsequent divorce. Not an easy feat. She became friends with my Mom first, meeting at the public library, where Mom did some finances for the board. Margaret and my Mom hit it off fast – both liberated women working in respectable, power positions, both single (Mom, in a way, since Dad was busy all the time), both highly intelligent. I can’t recall a time when Margaret wasn’t part of our family while living in Brockvegas.

Margaret was familiar with the family. That is to say, she had carte blanche to speak her mind in any family situation. So often my parents would turn to her and ask “What the hell did we do wrong in bringing up X?” X being whatever sibling had been discovered smoking, or drinking, or doing unspeakable teenage things. Being a librarian she had access to vast amounts of knowledge, which she would store in he head, which Mom and Dad relied on like we now rely on Google. She would often be invited over for Sunday dinners (I could see her condo from where I was sitting) and as a trademark joke, push herself back from a massive dinner for 6 with a sigh and a dead pan “Well, that was good. What there was of it.” She could get away with comments like that. We welcomed them.

“Ted, what’s wrong?”

I stare ahead. I can’t respond. I want to cry. I want to get angry. I’m having an “off” day where I’m dealing with my homosexuality, school, unrequited love (football jock best friend), and my family disintegrating all around me.

“I know right now it seems really tough. But everyone of your family loves you. I love you.”

I notice that the neighbour just south of us is out in her back yard, puttering around her garden, getting it ready for the fall.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

The neighbour is on her knees. Digging. I still can’t say anything. I think I’m crying but I can’t bring myself to make a sound.

She puts a hand on my shoulder. “I’m not your family. So I can be someone you can talk to. I’m always here.”

Margaret didn’t know that 30 minutes earlier I had decided not to kill myself. But somehow I think she did. Probably because I had a face that looked like a beat-down hound dog on a hot summer day.

Needless to say I didn’t kill myself (ooo ooo or am I wriiiting from the graaaave??), and I did talk to Margaret a lot since then. These days I wish I had talked more.

Mom gave me a clipping from the Brockvegas local rag – Margaret had retired from being the head of the public library and despite being retired, was still sitting on a ton of committees and boards. I absolutely love how she explains that in her job, “The challenging part was trying to discover exactly what people wanted to know about a subject”, as if she was embodying Google decades before it existed.

I wish her all the best.

Winner, Winner! Chicken Dinner!

Celebs and Media, Personal Bits, You Magnificent Bastard 6 Replies

I had one glass of champagne at midnight last night (this morning? Sounds decadent!) and2010 Canadian Weblog Awards toasted the new year. At 12:05, after getting drunken calls from in-laws, we crawled into bed and I fired up Twitter on my iPad to take my mind off the bed spins (cheap champers) where I was greeted with the announcement that this here blog won the Canadian Weblog Award for Best LBGTQ Blog! Colour me Verklempt!

I know I berated one of you dear readers into nominating me in the first place. To you, I say THANK YOU. To the rest of you who regularly read and take no actions, expect banner ads. Just kidding.

I am now going to get myself an agent and start hitting up Oprah for a spot on her show before she retires.

What to expect for 2011? More vertical integration! Videodrome-style ad implementation! Craigslist sex ads refugee stations! Coupons!

Seriously, thanks for reading! And congratulations to the other nominees, I honestly believed they’d win out over me.

Happy New Year!

Christmas Present

Distractions, Personal Bits, You Magnificent Bastard

Traditional, right?

Are you full from your turkey, or ham, or roasted butternut squash? Whatever you’ve tucked into after a day of gorging yourself on prezzies?

More importantly, are you happy with what you got?

I’m happy with what I got. And I don’t mean presents, I mean with the family I’ve inherited.

Over the last 7+ years, every time we travel to Vermont or Quebec to celebrate Xmas, I’m constantly blown away at the pure hospitality offered to me. Even when I would wake up in a strange bed in my Mother In Law’s home, where neither one of us could communicate well to each other, beyond hand signals and grade 9 level of vocab, I always felt like I was welcome.

That's right... a sleigh ride on Xmas Eve, in VT.

This year I was on emotional pins and needles. Though my father and I rarely ever celebrated Xmas in the last decade (he was pretty much “wintering” out of the country or down in Niagara Falls staying with his best friend) this was the first time I didn’t send him a card or get him a gag dollar store gift or even just call him on the phone. For weeks beforehand I was wondering how I was going to cope with this glaring emptiness during the season. To say I was uncomfortable was a bit of an understatement: would I burst into tears from a comment or a shard of a memory?

Here’s where I share some love: I commend my Sis-in-law for her ability to keep me “occupied”. Not that I was distracted like a baby with car keys in front of my face the entire time at her house. No. But before Da’s passing, she created a new base of traditions, like little excursions to local spots of interest around her home, or gift giving stylizations that are heart warming and comforting (read: home made gifts). She had created traditions that when Da left us, had me prepared to sail through Xmas without much distress. It wasn’t 100% fool-proof: I did manage to have a nightmare where I had to relive my father’s death all over again, so the thoughts were there, but this particular Xmas felt…right. Things were in place to make the holiday still feel good. The sleigh ride through the VT country side, on Xmas eve was certainly a highlight. It was surreally like a Currier and Ives painting.

I love my new family.

Okay with that gooey stuff out of the way, let’s get to the consumerist, greedy list of cool things I got:

  • You all know that I got SharkBoy and I a couple of Stormtrooper outfits. One traditional trooper for him, and one for me, so we wouldn’t be fighting over who was wearing what on such and such holiday. Happy Life Day!
  • I got super mouse pad and table place settings with a couple images from my Flickr account. Syl knew my favorite pics somehow and printed them up
  • And speaking of made, Syl made me a couple of pillowcases with UFOs on them. Rocks!
  • In the “Way too Generous” category, we both got $50 worth of DisneyWorld credits each. Kitchen Sinks for all!
  • Subcategory: “Holy shit, stop it!” comes from both mothers, in-law or otherwise, $150US cash each.
  • Endless candy.
  • A massive stocking full of fun gifties, like kitchen utensils, bath soaps and fun housewares.
  • A herky jerky robot
  • A remote controlled robot
  • Epic Mickey and Star Wars Unleashed II – the next two months until the vacation will zip by!
  • and a watery foot massager. With “Smart heat” and “Toe switch on and off” Heaven!!

Here are a couple pics. I hope your holiday was fun and fantastic and family.

This was breakfast. Yeah. I know. Good.

Husband. I love him.

Bags of goodies!!

Lots of Arty Shots

Me and My Niece - note no black undersuit.


Xmas Past

Personal Bits

With all the expectation and excitement of a kid from 2 to 14, I loved Xmas. I loved hauling the plastic tree and decorations out of the attic. Each year we would speculate on if this was the year the box would disintegrate and magically return to the earth in a ball of dust. Our tree had a system of colour coded branches that were inserted into corresponding slots on a  dark green pole. The first suggestion that I was colour blind was borne here, as I was trying to put 16″ plastic branches somewhere near the top of the tree because the “green” dots says so.

The Nativity scene at the base of the tree would fascinate me to no end. We had a little wooden manger with thin ceramic figurines covered in glitter and glued on straw. What I fixated on was the hole behind the baby Jesus. Why was Jesus hollow? I would make little morality plays with those figurines, loosely based on Space 1999 episodes I had seen that week.

“Oh Space Commander Joseph! The Alien Baby Jezus is here to obliterate the Moonbase!”

Our parents would have epic dinner parties too. Mom, with her Italian upbringing, would start cooking 3 weeks in advance. The centre piece would make the dining room table, which could seat 8, sag in the middle. The best was sneaking peeks into the dining room through the kitchen swing door or sitting on the front stairs, listening (and not understanding) the racey conversation. It’s where I learned words like “Bastard” and “Dick”. When I used them in the school yard I was sure to add the “Polite laughter” after saying each curse.

The actual Xmas day event would be very early in the morning. We’d tear into the gifts as mom and dad nursed their coffees. By 7 am we would be done with the gift frenzy, and we’d start the Great Family Cram into the 4-door station wagon for the 5 hour trip to Toronto. 5 days where we’d ping pong back and forth between two grandparents, where the teens of the family would want to venture into the creepy downtown of Toronto for the boxing day sales. Where the younger kids would scream and run through the house, sharing curse words newly learned. Where adults sneered at each other and their brood. But the car ride I remember the most: if you want an idea of what 5 kids on a 5 hour road trip is like, replay National Lampoon’s Vacation 6 times with only two stops to pee the whole time. I have no clue how my parents did this and not divorce sooner. The things they did for us, for family.

What Dreams May Go

Personal Bits

Since my father’s death I’ve not been sleeping well.

I’ve been replaying his last moments over and over again in the half sleep I’ve been having for the last couple months. His pain and confusion burned forever into my memory, fueling my anger and sadness.

His last words: “You have to make the money.” Spoken to my brother and I after he asked a confused question.

My nightmares have been of those last moments, the actual details I don’t wish to relate here, but they play out in my head either in my dreams or like a eroded echo in the small hours of the night. I don’t try to decipher what he means but the words reverberate.

Yesterday yet another payout from yet another overlooked policy came in.

When his father died and it came time to clean out his 4 car garage, Dad and his siblings found well over 14 lawnmowers in various states of dismantlement. The garage sale was epic and while I was living in England at the time, I got to see tons of photos of all the things leaving the property. Grandfather was a trendsetting hoarder.

14 lawnmowers.

At what point would Grandfather say “Fuck it, I need another.” and gleefully bring another home? And what did Grandmother think of this? Or had she ignored his obsession with her own hoarding?

Dad was his father’s son, but not by hoarding mechanical things. It seems more like financial, which was what Grandfather drilled into his head at an early age. “You have to make the money.”

Now, don’t think I can retire and live in Mississauga or anything, no. But the last “find” (sent completely out of the blue from the insurance company from a policy we had not discovered in his piles of papers) was a kiss on the lips and a punch in the gut, simultaneously.

I dreamed this morning that my father and I were at the cottage and we were bringing in groceries out of his silver LTD. The summer sun was bright and I can vividly remember the green on blue of the trees against the sky in the dream. I knew it was a dream, but there was my father and I was excited to see him. I tried to ask him questions, ask him if he was ok but he kept a neutral face and refused to make eye contact. He would hand me paper bags (this dream firmly seated in the 70s – the cottage, the LTD and the Steinberg grocery bags were all temporal markers for me) and I would defer them to the pick nick table just outside the cottage door and running back to the car, eager to get him to respond to my questions. No answers. I was getting frustrated but I still knew it was a dream.

I changed tactics. I said thank you, putting a lot of weight behind it, obviously not meaning helping with the groceries. He turned and with no expression he held out another bag. But his face had changed to how I remembered him at the cottage: he looked young, in hi s late 40s, goofy porn star mustache, his father’s eyes. He hands me the last bag and looks right at me. We turn and head towards the cottage and I wake up.

I woke up happy. First time in a long time. Thanks Dad.