Monday, 20 February 2012

All these changes!

Ok, just a brief back story here to bring you up to speed on this. Last June, Hazel (my housemate and fairy godmother) wanted to go Le Mont St. Michel, France for her birthday trip. So, me, my wife Jem, and Hazel all went off to France for the weekend. It was one of the most breathtaking places I have ever seen.

I took a SLIGHT trip (I say slight because my ass never hit the ground!) down 4 of the 200 ancient steps of this narrow stone staircase and felt instant pain in both shoulders, but ignored it and carried on with the weekend, eating food I couldn't pronounce, smelling crepes 24/7, buying magnets and shot glasses and wondering how on earth those monks got supplies to the church atop of this unbelievable structure back then.

Cut to present time.

I had unconsciously (maybe) babied my shoulders, and ignored (for the most part- ok, I whined a little here and there) the pains, thereby limiting my range of motion, to the point of wincing every time I picked up a mug of coffee or put on/took off a jacket. So, Jem and Hazel suggested I go see an Osteopath who works at a Wellness Center based in a gym where they were brief members, on a whim to swim and try zumba.

I'm used to the usual State-side way of addressing a medical problem:  see your GP, get a referral, have a specialist tell you that your near death, need 10 tests, including an MRI, possible surgery and a HOST of drugs from anti inflammatories, muscle relaxers, pain pills, to Gobstoppers and 8 weeks of physical therapy. So, this Osteo approach- soft tissue and muscle manipulation- was all new to me. He was thorough in his assessment, I'll say that much. We covered my medical history, my parents medical history, my youth, my day to day routine, etc. Then, let's call him "Alec", in case I get way bitchy about this, I wouldn't want to offend him or his business- so Alec begins doing a few "light" range of motion manipulations with my arms, a few back & forth motions, loosening things up, and I'm thinking "This is okay.."  He was very good about laying off when I said something hurt, making notes, and being gentle. He said I may be sore the next day, and I could ice up as necessary. Which was NO lie, I'll tell you that much.


So, here we are 2 months later, and Alec has worked his ass off on me, from my shoulders, biceps, elbows, and wrists to my neck, where the problem seems to really be, along with some CTS issues. This is usually on a Friday, which totally ruins my weekends, I might add, but I'm trying to stay positive. He's had me in "Twister"- like positions, to interlacing my fingers on top of my head, winding his own arms through mine to lift and relieve disc pressures in my neck, he's nearly climbed on the table to get some serious push pressure on certain points. Alec was like a doctor and a monkey at the same time. I'm not saying his approach or services are bullshit or anything, and for the first time in a LONG time, I actually feel pretty good today. It's just a big change for me to feel WORSE after a Dr visit, ya know? I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm not the biggest fan of change. (Shut up, those of you who know me well) I'll even say, for the record- this is NOT a gateway to drum circles, smudgings or meditation, although I did have ear candles done since I've been here in the U.K. I just wonder, in calendar days, would it have been any faster to feel the improvement, and would I not have wasted as many weekends laid up the old State-side way? I don't know. But, I guess.. when in Rome...

Along the same lines, with this whole "change" subject, my wife has gone from inhaling drive thru Burger King whopper juniors, to becoming a vegetarian this year. Her choice, no fan fare or parades about it, just very subtle, first eliminating pork, then beef, then chicken...which is FINE. Anywhere you go now a day, they have (v) marked items on the menu, even fast food places. Lovely. Seriously. For her. It's not happening for me, though, and I'll tell you why. Even just trying to be supportive of her healthy lifestyle and eating dinners that consist of tofu, vegetarian "fake steak", 70% fresh vegetables on the plate, gluten free breads, wheat pastas, & nutloaf - my body is not used to processing the insane amounts of protein in one meal, let alone three. Within 2 hours, my stomach feels like I've ingested every balloon from the movie "Up!", and I could fart my way to the corner store and back home, my feet never touching the ground. Within 5 hours, I'm hungry again, which I know makes no sense, and I'm convinced it's mental, but nonetheless, I'm still grabbing handfuls of peanut butter filled pretzels from Costco in an effort to get through the night without my stomach growling or my ass tooting songs from "Glee".

Change is always happening, some big, some little. Some obvious, some subtle. I get that. I do. BUT-
There are few things I just can't change and it's not up for discussion. I have to stand firm. It balances the other "little" changes. So. Here they are. I don't and won't like tea. I feel awful saying it outloud living here in England now, but it's the truth. It's always going to be coffee for me. I don't like fat free cheese, especially Philadelphia Cream Cheese. I won't drink Skim Milk because it reminds me of dirty dishwater. So, with regards to you, Mr. Change- I may eat a few more veggies and a bit of tofu, I may let Alec crawl all over and twist me like a WWF wrestler, I may puff on a VaporStick in an effort to quit smoking, I may drink more water, but by God, I'm not giving up coffee, Philly cream cheese, whole milk, pizza (like how I slipped that in?) or peanut butter filled pretzels! I hope we have a deal.

From the Grammys to Whitney.


I will admit, I was worried about so many things last week. If there's one thing that freaks me out being over here in England is that when something big happens in the U.S., I won't get the news coverage I'm used to. I'm extremely accustomed to being totally saturated, media-wise, with the most minor things, like when Winona Ryder stoled a scarf or something, or Jen Aniston & Vince Vaughan broke up. So, with the Grammys coming up, I was relieved to find it was being aired here in the UK.  Three days in advance, I had the DVR set. I was completely prepared. I knew Twitter would be blowing up, I made sure I could access the Grammy website, there was some live feeds available, I felt confident I could absorb it all as if I was still in the States. I was ready!


Then Whitney Houston died.


For most of my late teens/early-twenties, Whitney was on the radio. Then in movies, on TV, and in every magazine. I can listen to a Whitney Houston song, and remember vividly what was happening at the time: at school, at home, what fads were hot, who was dating who, where we were hanging out, who I was, her music was kind of a soundtrack to my youth. Yes, there were tons of other artists out there, and yes I listened to them, and liked them. I wouldn't call myself a die-hard Whitney Houston fan- I didn't go to any of her concerts, or have any posters, or follow every move but I did buy every CD, I saw "The Bodyguard" at least 5 times (once in the theater, but including pay cable, TV, DVD...probably 5 times in total) The soundtrack from the movie was one of my favorites for a long time. So, the news instantly saddened me. Did it surprise me? Well..yes. I mean, it was no secret that she had struggled with drug demons.  She had become an easy target for comedians during that really dark period-from her marriage to Bobby Brown, the hideous reality show that followed them, their divorce, to reports of her erratic behavior during concerts and in public-so we were all aware of the downward spiral. But, just like with Amy Winehouse- when a person in the public eye falters- with drugs, abuse, booze, poor life choices, crime, etc., it causes a ton of speculation, assumptions, and questions that keep people at a medium grade of interested-but more callous to the coverage. As a general public, we tend to forget the good times, glance at the bad stuff, and move on to new hot topics. But for me, in the midst of all that bad press, (just like with Amy Winehouse) I think I kind of secretly held on to a hope that they would overcome it all & rise again, stirring up all those reasons why we admired them in the very first place. That's why her death was so sad (for me) because the hope was gone.

The BBC carried some fairly extensive coverage, so I was grateful for that (nothing like in the States, I'm quite certain!)  I mainly gathered incoming info from the E! channel and the internet. I should say, some US sites don't allow access from UK IP addresses, so it's always a crap shoot on what will work.

I tried to ignore some of the more presumptuous reporting, the insensitive pseudo-wanna-be celebrity radio hosts remarks, both Internet and satellite. I couldn't have been more disappointed with Frank DeCaro's tweets (from OutQ), especially during the funeral, regardless of his views on religion. Even well known authors were hideous and the bloggers...Jesus..the bloggers- who, for some reason, seem to have this sense of total entitlement, a lust for offending and a complete & utter lack of respect for anything sacred, including death, all in a ridiculous effort to spark controversy or get a tweet "favorited".

All in all, I expected it. I'm getting used to Twitter, and I read pretty some foul ass blog sites myself, follow some scathing bitches and all that stuff, so I'm not above some good snark. I didn't expect this, though:

I was most outraged when a well known LGBT Rights Advocate, Peter Tatchell, made a very public statement about Whitney's sexuality. Peter was quoted by the Daily News as saying:

When I met them, it was obvious they were madly in love. Their intimacy and affection was so sweet and romantic. They held hands in the back of the car like teenage sweethearts. Clearly more than just friends, they were a gorgeous couple and so happy together. To see their love was infectious and uplifting.
“Whitney was happiest and at the peak of her career when she was with Robyn. Sadly, she suffered family and church pressure to end her greatest love of all.
“She was fearful of the effects that lesbian rumours might have on her family, reputation and career. Eventually she succumbed. The result? A surprise marriage to Bobby Brown.”
He goes on to argue that Houston began her “drink-and-drug binges” because of the emotional trauma of being separated from her soulmate Robyn, and being forced into a marriage with Bobby Brown.
“It seems likely that the split with Robyn contributed to her substance abuse and decline. There is a known correlation between denial of one’s sexuality and a propensity to self-destructive behaviour. Homophobia undoubtedly added to the pressures on Whitney and hastened her demise.”

 Here are my thoughts on this: Peter is nothing more than a headline-chasing, self-serving, blowhard of an ASS. His comments and thoughts were merely a way of getting his name in every gay media outlet, let alone gossip sites all over the world, (and shame on all of you who picked it up) and benefit from the public's peaked interest. There was absolutely no reason for him to bring those things into light at a time like this (and man, he didn't waste a second, either!) I've read Robyn's own eulogy for Whitney in Esquire, and admired how she never touched on her private life with Whitney in that respect or addressed those who did. Regardless of whether they were lovers or not, it seemed like it was obvious that their wishes were to keep it private. Not a secret, but PRIVATE and to themselves. Whatever the facts were, the bottom line is -they chose to keep the details of their relationship/friendship PRIVATE. I lived in South FL most of my life, where Whitney had a condo on Williams Island, and heard plenty of stories, some perhaps fact, about her relationship with Robyn, and I work in the media with my own LGBT show and you don't see me using any of those things to boost my ratings, listenership or ego. Peter showed no respect and whatever his reasons were for making a public statement about it- after a one off meeting- they are not justified then or in his follow up statement, defending it. He should keep his mouth shut about people's private lives and focus on his activism without his personal opinion, speculation and assumptions. There ARE other ways to get people's attention and promote LGBT activism and being an advocate. 

I feel better getting that out in the open, if only just here on my blog. I'm not above being a jerk at times, though. So, this one is for you, Pete.


1. a person that's insecure with their existence, and by their own virtue, they feel the need to blatantly spew ilk and diatribe about other people. 

Anyhow, as I watched the Grammy's, I was both saddened knowing the effect Whitney's death had on the evening, and yet thrilled and elated for Adele. The next day, I found every video, picture, photo gallery and article on the Grammy's and Adele. I must have said "I gawt a bit o' snawt" about 3,000 times just walking around the house. I dished with my mother on the phone about the awards, the clothes, and performances. It felt good to be distracted. I felt back on track, watching Bruce Springsteen, Bruno Mars, and so many others have their time in the spotlight, bringing their A game to music's biggest night. I was holding my breath as Jennifer Hudson sang, I was eye rolling at Katy Perry, and loved when the camera panned the audience to show them so engaged. It was actually a fun night. And look, I do my share of bashing and ribbing, and even on our show, we're known to say things that are politically incorrect, or opinionated, stupid or not, but the older I get, the more I realize there is something to be said for showing an ounce of respect every now and then. That's just me, I'm not speaking for or about anyone else.


I watched Whitney's funeral on E! and even tweeted and Facebooked on a few things, like how amazing I thought Kevin Costner was- he was sweet, he spoke of things that made Whitney human to all of us, he was touching, funny, and memorable. I tweeted that I couldn't understand Dionne Warwick, and subtitles would have helped. But, I'm deaf in one ear, so it wasn't a slam. Hey, it was a home-going, as the family called it. It was Baptist. It was a send-off filled with what was important to her and her family. That's the key-right there. It may not have been what you, or me, or anyone else out there, famous or not- could relate to, understand, or would have wanted, but it was what her family wanted and, hopefully, it gave the fans, and the public some much needed closure, let alone the ones closest to her.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

It's happened.

I can vividly remember sitting at the kitchen table, circa 1983-84, as a mid-teen, listening to my parents, relatives & their friends sitting around talking, while playing cards. Stale smoke hung in the air, pizza boxes on the counter, glasses of Lipton Ice Tea (from the can of powder mix) and Stroh's beers sat beside them. The ENTIRE topic of conversation was based on people's illnesses. "You know, Ronnie is on cholesterol medication now," said one Aunt. "I know! He's already on blood pressure pills, too! Your deal." Then my Uncle would chime in, "What about Frankie's lower back? Who knew? He may not be able to work at all!" (groans & nods would follow) "There's your 8 of clubs. Well, I heard Teresa had to go on hormone therapy for those hot flashes," said another Aunt. (Nothing from the men) "Last week, they diagnosed Lucy with diabetes, no shots- just pills, though. Who's deal?" As my eyes shifted from one Aunt to the next, from my Mom to my Uncle, and back to my neighbor, the conversation continued. "Jimmy? Gout. Right big toe. Shuffle." "Yeah and Tom went all the way to Buffalo for his tests. I think they call it 'Acid Reflux' now, not heart burn," says the across the street neighbor. "Well, it's no wonder, all that pepperoni, hot was just a matter of time," says an older cousin. (Grunts of agreement linger) "How about Artie? Arthritis!" My mother's response: "Really? So young!...Seven of hearts, right here," and the great Aunt, "His wife already suffers from shingles," (followed by a group "tsk, tsk" and a series of sighs) "She has to go back to the Dr.'s next week for new pills." This would go on for hours. When I would get up from the table, get my piece of pizza, and can of "Tab", go back in the living room to watch "Kate & Allie" and "Scarecrow & Mrs. King on the Zenith TV in the wooden console box,  I would think to myself, "That was so BORING. Typical grown ups. Always talking about who's sick and who has something wrong with them. Me and my friends will NEVER be like that. We'll talk about concerts, cool cars, Atari games, good TV shows, like 'Miami Vice' and 'Riptide', and movies 'Beverly Hills Cop', 'Spinal Tap' and 'Ghostbusters' and we'll drink Michelob beer."


Cut to almost 30 years later.

We may not be playing pinochle or rummy or give a rats' ass about Don Johnson (because we've pretty much eliminated most men from our day to day lives in a sapphic way). We play Wii games in front of the 32'' flat screen HD TV after a day of Tweeting and Facebooking. We're drinking Pepsi Max, Crystal Light or some designer berry beer, and eating hummus & pita chips, or goat cheese, chicken, balsamic-glazed appetizers, discussing unemployment, Occupy Wall Street, HRC and some indie art flick we saw at a charity Women's Film Night. We drive cars with good gas mileage, watch CSI shows, and support acoustic folk singers who tour in their own Honda Element, and read the internet & blogs for daily news in our day to day lives. So- some things have changed a LOT.


But....and this is a big one....

Now, when my friends and I actually get together, we're at the same age my relatives were when I thought they were ridiculous. The conversation certainly sounds eeeerily similar to that which took place in 1984 at my house in upstate NY! Yep. Different faces, different food, different drinks- but alas- SAME TOPICS! So, my smart ass 13 year old self is saying to my 43 year old present self, "WTF, Man?!" How did this happen? The dreaded "A" word. Adult. It must be a grown up thing. Our conversations are now: Who's in physical therapy, who is going through menopause, who's having a hysterectomy, who's considering anti depressants, who's got a fibroid tumor, who's having dental implants, who found a lump, who's having knee surgery, who has new allergies, who's got an ingrown toenail, who's got carpal tunnel, who's got L5-S1 herniated discs, who had gastric bypass surgery, who's pulled a muscle, who's trying Chantix, who's got neuropathy, and who's bowel is more irritable.


P.S. Hi, Mom. Hope your not doing the "I told you So" dance right now. Hips can be fragile. :)

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

I don't know why...

I don't know why I can't do gross things (subject to opinion) in front of my wife. No, seriously. I know once your married it should become a free-for-all and a given because your spouse marries you for "better and for worse" but still..
What happens is...the minute she leaves for work, I fart, poop, clip my toenails, blow my nose and chunk burp. That usually leaves about 7 hours and 30 minutes left in the day. It's not that I don't burp, blow my nose or poop when she's home, I just go about it in a more grandiose fashion when she's gone, I guess. I burp words or phrases really loud, leave the bathroom door open when I go, blow my nose til my ears pop, look up my nostrils for a bat in the cave know, all of it with a certain fanfare I wouldn't normally do in front of her.


Kind of like when I lived alone and I knew my cats in Florida weren't judgmental or anything. (If they were, they never said anything).  We had history. I had them from 4 weeks old, and I felt confident my gross stuff didn't bother them. They hung out in the bathroom when I went in to do my business, I scooped their litter box. It was a pretty balanced life, all around. I cleaned up their hairballs & vomit, they watched me puke INTO their litter box, once. We had a certain unspoken pact that developes after 13 years together.

        My girl, Kiwi. She's nosey but never files a report.

            My boy, Gunther. He could care less about anything gross.

Here in England- The lighter colored boy cat is my wife's cat, Ollie, and the gray fluffy girl cat is Hazel's cat, Lucy. Jem and Hazel scoop the litter box, they do the brushing, and they have their bonds with their cats. I'm just the "outsider" that talks funny and tries to win them over with cat nip and milk drop treats. We haven't developed "the bond" just yet. So, I feel like maybe...just true British form, they're still a bit judgey about my gross stuff. ....Can you tell?


Monday, 6 February 2012

Superbowl, UK-style.

OK, so as you know, I moved to England after spending the last 25 years of my life in South FL. I'll get into the multitude of cultural observations as we move along with this blog, but for now, I'll give you the latest. The Superbowl. The time difference here is that we're 5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. So, the usual kick off at 6:25pm EST was really 11:25pm here in England. Just a side note: Thank God that we get ESPNAmerica on our Sky Cable Box, in general, (because I watch college football, MLB and hockey on there the rest of the year). So, because it's a big deal the BBC even aired The Superbowl, but I chose to watch it on SkySports1 because I love the broadcasters on that channel. There is something a little bit funny about a skinny, pastey-white British announcer analyzing the NFL. Anyhow, I can't explain how weird it was to be preparing jalapeno & cheese nachos at 11pm at night, knowing full well that I'll suffer insane heartburn at 4am, when I would be going to bed, after the game. My wife stayed awake for the first 11 minutes of the game, and housemate Hazel managed to keep her eyes open until after the Madonna halftime show. I was rooting for the Giants only because I thought the Manning family  needed some good juju with Peyton's problems this year and the Colts coming in last place for the season. Besides, Tom Brady gets to bang Victoria Secret model Giselle Bundschun on a regular basis, plus he's got good cheekbones. I think he's been bestowed enough good fortune.  I was tweeting like a maniac and following the celebs like Rosie O'Donnell, Caroline Manzo ("Real Housewives of NYC"- ok, maybe not A list celebrities!), Neil Patrick Harris, and Alec Baldwin to get real time pics and comments. For a moment, I almost felt like I was back home in The States, especially hearing Al Michaels and Cris Collingsworth voices for 4 hours. But at the same time, right at that moment, I really did miss my friends. Every year, I would bounce between my ex husband, Chuckie's house (We'll get into that part of history later! Suffice to say we're best buds) and just before the halftime show,  I would head over to Donna's (my show co-host & BFF) if she was having a party and then home to watch the last quarter. It felt a little odd not having to worry about getting up for work. For the last 15 or so years, I would be thinking up some kind of bullshit excuse for being an hour late to the office on the Monday after the big game, knowing that whoever my boss was at the time, didn't buy it at all but never wrote me up or anything. There was some comfort in knowing that neither Chuckie or Donna was having a Superbowl party this year. But, it still wasn't the same as being IN the States and feeling the hoopla, being a part of the 10 and a half hours of pre-game hype, and having access to the billion dollar commercial advertisements that preview and debut that night.  I did have the realization that I will now have to get used to the fact that birthdays, New Years and Superbowl nights will probably be the hardest thing about being away from Florida, but if you compare 3 rough times to waking up with your wife 365 days a year, it's not bad.

So...I basically sat on the couch, with a massive tray of nachos, a cider beer, and my ipad all laid out in front of me, alone for Superbowl 46 ...for the first time ever. At one point, I did flinch for a high-five...with absolutely no one.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

It's snowing!

It took until Feb 4th, but lo and behold, it finally snowed at 9pm last night! We weren't beneath putting on boots, gloves, and hats and running outside at 10pm to crunch giant footsteps in it, make snowballs, stick our tongues out to catch snow flakes, make snow boobs on the cars, and smiley faces in the back yard. I'm sure it seems stupid to most people, but I haven't really seen or been in snow since February of 1989.

So, I took my first snowball to the face in order to get this picture (up there) of my housemate, Hazel, tossing one. My wife, Jemma, dumped a handful of snow down Hazel's back in retaliation. Hell hath no they say. 
It snowed over night, and I'm not sure if it was the wine, the ambien or the snow flurries outside my bedroom illuminated by the amber street light, but I slept like a rock for the first time in a month, thank you very much, Mr. Jetlag.

This morning I woke up to this snow covered scene in the back yard. 

By noon, it was starting to melt. How perfect is that? Just enough to frolic like an idiot for one evening, experience the newness of it all again the next morning, and then have it start to melt away, as the temps get back to bearable.  I can handle this once a year. Take that, Buffalo!  (P.S. I can say that because I grew up in Niagara Falls, NY, very near Buffalo, where the lake effect snow & winds caused blizzard conditions for days & weeks at a time- hence the move to Florida after graduation) But this London snowfall....
I can totally handle this. It's like "Introducing the new Winter, now available in Diet"

Friday, 3 February 2012

Just kidding!

Alright, quit bitchin', it was a joke. I am totally getting started today.  But, first, I feel like you should get to know me. I know I said I hate over exposure in my "List of Things I Don't Like" but, seriously, it doesn't apply to my OWN over exposure, so take a look at a few features on me this month, this way I don't have to type out a friggin' bio, Ok? and  Once you've got that part down, I'll explain a little better what life has been like since moving from South Florida, USA to London, England.  Are you wondering what my inspiration was to start a blog? Well. Next month, it'll be a year that I've been in England, experiencing a completely different way of life: from tiny cars, pubs, Tubes, trains, £'s, and dwarf beds to words like crisps, quid, queue, flat Americano, chippy & petrol and I thought to myself, "This shit needs to be documented."  So... away we go. (ok, maybe not today, but sit tight, it's gonna happen)

Getting started....

Guess what? ...Not today.