City Code Snapshot: SMF

SMF reclining buddhaI never even considered smaller, regional airlines when I decided to take to the skies.  In my mind, a Flying Career should look more like Paris and Hong Kong than Peoria and Hartford, and for a while, mine did.  Boy watching in Sydney, boy watching in London, boy watching in Taipei — yes, mine was a glamorous life.  Since coming home to Denver a few years ago — quite by choice, I should add, and with no regrets — my gig is straight domestic all the time, and sometimes that career looks funny to me.  The places you end up that you would never choose to go!  But somebody chooses to go there, and the airline you work for chooses to take them there, and so you find yourself abroad in the streets of places like Sacramento.

Rather unassuming for the capital city of a place like California, and kind of in the middle of nowhere, on the surface, a Sacramento layover has limited appeal.  If I must fly domestic, I want New York City!  I want Seattle!  Come on, at least Vegas.  But then this morning, out in the sunny downtown streets of Sac (with my scuffed up pedicure), I realized I quite like it here.  This part of downtown, near the capitol, is awash with public art and little cafes.  (And there’s palm trees!)  Because it’s where California’s business gets done (or, well, should be getting done), people are out.  Men with big butts in business suits, women with big lattes in splashy sundresses, groups of scrapbooking conventioneers, and that cute skinny hipster kid over there watching me take pictures.  Of course there’s a Starbucks and a Subway, but little Mom & Pop businesses abound.  The Thai food is delicious, my fave coffee spot doubles as a nightclub, and the Romanian/Hungarian/Greek soup place has a line out the door.

We all have our spots.  For me, the Capitol Garage is a must for a successful SMF layover.

We all have our spots. For me, the Capitol Garage is a must for a successful SMF layover.

Half a million people live in Sacramento — I get that it’s not some little backwater burgh.  But it’s always funny to me to come to a place that’s completely off my radar and see that life thrives in its kajillion ways.  I am reminded (constantly) of just how big the world is.  Just how many people live in it and find ways to make their mark. Through their art, their soup, or their coffee.  Even when you travel it with your eyes wide open, you only ever see specks of the world; you catch fleeting glimpses of the wonders of life in this Universe.  We had a long day of flying yesterday, and today holds Chicago in store, an operational black hole for my airline as for so many others; I was gonna need at least a glimpse of the wonders of the Universe to be able to face this day.  And I got it.  From a cute skinny hipster kid in Sacramento, of all places.

Writing Exercise: 10 Minutes About This

So today my writing group warmed up with a ten-minute writing exercise.  We each wrote down a color, a place, an animal, and a name, and then passed them to the person on our left, who was then charged with shoehorning those four items into whatever else flowed from his or her pen in the ensuing ten minutes.  The results, as always, were diverse and mostly hilarious.  I wrote this.auburn tequila

My Color: Auburn

My Place: Tequila Bar

My Animal: platypus

My Name: Umberto

“You have such beautiful auburn hair.”  Thanks, Umberto.  Or whatever he said his name was.  When you’re still wrapped around your stool at the back of the tequila bar come closing time, you get a little fuzzy on the details.  All I remember for sure are the wide-set eyes/short arms combo that put me in mind of a duck-billed platypus, and the fact that he wanted in my pants so bad he was trying to pick the lock of my button fly before he even bothered with the pick-up line, such as it was.

I remember for sure, though, that is was my first time in Mexico.  I had run off to Mazatlan to try to drown my memories of Travis in ocean spray and cheap tequila when moving to Albuquerque and dying my hair that cheap Walgreens magenta — sorry, “auburn” — hadn’t done the trick.  It’s not like Umberto wasn’t handsome — as best I can remember.  But he was more desperate even than I was for a night of “Let’s Pretend This is My Life,” and that’s saying something.  “Gracias,” I said, wishing one of us would pass out already and spare us the morning’s awkward goodbyes.

My Polyester Pride

As many of you know, Pride is a favorite subject of mine, and one on which I’ve been posting kind of a lot lately.  I’m proud to be gay, proud to be a drag queen’s husband, proud to hate broccoli — throw me a character trait or a physical feature and I can crank out 1,500 words on why it’s awesome before Pandora even asks me if I’m still listening.  While my pride in the flying career to which I’ve been called is related, in some ways, to Gay Pride (a link that we can explore in depth in its very own post), it’s a Pride that I don’t spend a lot of my free time or blog space quacking about.  They’ve written whole books (surely) on how gross broccoli is, but how rhapsodic are you really gonna wax about your Coke-handing-out skills, legendary though they may be?

sky team

Then on Saturday, an Asiana Airlines 777 crashed — rather spectacularly — on landing in San Francisco.  They lost a tail, they lost a wing, and they lost two teenaged passengers before the smoldering wreck skidded to a stop in a ditch between runways.  Two flight attendants were injured when slide-rafts inflated in the cabin, pinning them to their jumpseats; their co-workers, at the end of an eleven-hour flight, wearing high heels, opened the usable exits and executed what appears to have been a “textbook” evacuation of an airplane that threatened to burst into flames at any moment.  According to an article on the Wall Street Journal’s website, a passenger “saw a diminutive flight attendant, Jiyeon Kim, who was carrying injured passengers down the aisle, to get them off the plane. ‘She was a hero,’ he said. ‘This tiny, little girl was carrying people piggyback, running everywhere, with tears running down her face. She was crying, but she was still so calm and helping people. I took a photo of her.’  He said the flight attendants got everyone off the plane as the smoke billowed inside.”  As they are trained, and must come to work prepared, to do, a crew of exhausted flight attendants with — I promise you — nothing but their downtown San Francisco layover on their minds leapt to their feet with their hearts in their throats and saved nearly three hundred lives.

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Equal Rights Blog Hop: My Two Cents


Click here to hop on!

“What Being a Member of the GLBT Community Means to Me”

I’m a rule-breaker.  Sort of.  Actually, in my non-writing job, I’m more of a rule enforcer.  Fasten your seat belt, turn off your phone — I’m a real stickler.  Unless you’re cute, in which case I can usually be counted on to let most stuff slide.  (Do fasten your seat belt, though, for Heaven’s sake; it’s summertime and the bumps get crazy.  You won’t be so cute when the airplane floor and ceiling are finished with you.)  The rules I sometimes break are more like Life Rules.  You know, the ones They try so hard to enforce: like, you have to a. look a certain way or b. sleep with a certain gender or c. eat more broccoli.  Um, a. no I don’t, b. ok, I do, but it’s not the one I’m supposed to, and c. gross.

rainboysTo be a part of the Queer Community, you have to break a bunch of rules.  If you didn’t disappoint your parents or gross out the (closet-case) jocks at your high school, you need to at least terrify a good many of the small-minded people you pass on the street.  You want into the Queer Community, you’ve probably been designated as “other” by another, more traditional community before you even come looking for us.  And the best part of the Queer Community?  You’re gonna be different here, too.  For all that we are discussed and legislated and marginalized as One Group by what we’ll call the Dominant Paradigm (because it’s pretentious and fun!), we are (ironically?) a community that stretches the term “heterogenous” to its limits.  Not only are we everywhere, but we are everyone.  We are old, we are young; we are fat, we are fit; we are macho men and glittery girls, glittery femme boys and macho butch women; we are one of the few communities that pulls members from every corner of the world.  Every race, every culture, every social strata produces queers, and I love it.  Cast out from — or choosing to reject — more insular communities, we continue to meet challenges within this one.  I am perfectly at home in the queer community, but not always comfortable; my worldview is in constant upheaval: Being Queer can look like that?  Can act like that?  Can have an ass like that?  On the surface, I might have little in common with, say, a transgender Latina lesbian, but it is precisely our differences that link us to this large, loud community, and it is in the mind-bending diversity of All That Is Queer that I find the freedom to be Exactly Me.  Whoever that is.

A (generous and thoughtful) review of my novel Kiss Me, Straight on Amazon remarks that the book “is about the beautiful thing that occurs when we have community in our lives,” and finding a sense of Home in a changing world is a big part of my forthcoming novella Crazy Like Fox.  While many of our ill-wishers would use the threat of separation and isolation to keep questioning Queers toeing the Society line, it is my mission not just as a writer but as a big fat queer in general to inspire people to follow their heart wherever it might take them without fear.  A “community” that wouldn’t want you doesn’t deserve you, but this community will shove over and make room for you.  We won’t make you turn off your phone, but you might wanna buckle up — the ride gets kinda wild.  

(For the Queer Town Abbey Grand Prize Giveaway: My worldview is in constant what?)

Thanks for hopping by!  A lucky commenter (who includes his or her email address) will be chosen at random on July 8th to win a signed copy of my debut novel, Kiss Me, Straight, a JMS Books release.  And don’t forget to click here to keep hopping!