They’re Here!

Advent AdventureMy November vacation is often the highlight of my year, and this year’s was no slouch.  I had quality time (think wine, s’mores, Indian food) with some of my favoritest friends, Thanksgiving with some of my favoritest cousins, I wrote a novel and my first theatrical monologue, my husband performed like a SuperStar at Drag Nation, and we watched a lot of Wings.  It was pretty much the best vacation ever, and yesterday, which was both December First and the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I strapped on my Christmas tie and went off to work with something of a magnanimous, goodwill-towards-all attitude.  Strollers, grandparents, and college kids were out in droves, boarding was a Very Big Deal, and a rather pointed reminder was issued: the Holidays are here.

And lucky us, because alongside the Annual Overhead Bin Space Smackdown, JMS Books is ushering in the Holiday Season with a cavalcade of Holiday Romance releases.  Four or five a week, in fact, between now and the 22nd, including mine, The Gift of the Gay Guy, on December 15th.  They’re of the short, electronic variety, perfect for bumping up your Kindle’s Christmas cred or stuffing those Nook-shaped stockings; heck, with most at the $2-$4 price point, you can decorate your tablet with sexy guys in Santa hats like it’s a little electronic tree.

We’ll start with mine:Gift Gay Guy Cover

‘Tis the night before Christmas when Derrick Halvorson’s flight to Minneapolis is diverted to a tiny municipal airport out in the sticks. Grounded by a blizzard, he lucks into the last hotel room in town, which he offers to share with Lee, a tall, tempting twink from his flight with nowhere else to go. The sex is awesome, but when Derrick catches Lee stealing what little cash he has in his wallet, he naturally tosses him out on his ear. When Lee resurfaces in the morning, Derrick resolves to stay mad, so no one is more surprised than he is when Derrick turns up at the Halvorson Family Christmas with Lee in tow. When his cop brother recognizes Lee, Derrick fears the worst. Is Lee actually a career criminal? Or was taking the money a desperate one-off? Lee can always pay back the sixty dollars, but will the punishment fit the crime if he steals Derrick’s heart?

And here are the rest, in weekly batches.  The first set came out yesterday, so you don’t even have to wait around for those.  Check ’em out, especially if you’re looking for ways to support queer writers, independent businesses, or those most unsung of Holiday Heroes, Sexy Guys in Santa Hats.

The Firefighter in the Snow | Vivaldi in the Dark | Bad Secret Santa | Yule Be in my Heart

Nowhere to Hide | Holy Xavier | Christmas Deception | And We Will Live Happily

Thanks, JMS Books!

Thanks, JMS Books!

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Homophobia Hits Home

(Avoid alliteration always!)

Pinky and MeI will stipulate that we might not be a strictly “conventional” couple, what with both of us being men, and one of us being a pink-coiffed drag queen who’s about six-foot-eight in heels, but for the most part my husband and I just sort of go about our gay business. We neither seek input nor require guidance from our families, any church, or the government on how best to conduct our Big Gay Relationship.  We don’t spend a lot of time, at least not intentionally, tearing at the Very Fabric of Society, although we do watch a lot of Golden Girls and order in kind of a lot of Indian food.  We do each have a tattoo of a naked man — I guess if society really is going to crumble, you wanna get a few good chips in, kinda the way people eventually flung themselves at the Berlin Wall once it became clear that puppy was comin’ down.  I say all this to say: I don’t give a shit what you think about me, just stand aside and think it over there so I can get at the garlic naan.

And you know what?  No exaggeration, that’s 99.9% true.  I don’t care what other people think of me.  At least not enough to let it be a factor in my decision-making.  It doesn’t affect what I write or how I write it, how I choose my friends or how I relate to them, what color I paint my toenails.  Nobody who cares about you judges you, and nobody judging you on criteria like your sexuality has a stake in your success or your happiness.

Which is why the way my husband’s grandfather reacts to me at family functions like the wedding we went to over the weekend pisses me off.  I don’t care what he thinks of me, and I for sure don’t care that he uses his “religion” as an excuse for his own rigidity, but I do care that he hides behind a set of values that he chooses to let external forces impose on him when he disrespects Jared. Continue reading

No, No, New York

Statue-of-Liberty-SariStart spreading the news: I want to be a part of it, but New York just ain’t happening for me today.  It’s right across the river, too, but some days, once you’re ensconced in your hotel room — mere feet from not one but two comfy beds, even — “across the river” might as well be “across the Universe.”  I traded into this Newark trip at the last minute to get Saturday off, and it’s one of those pesky airport layovers that’s too long to be short, but too short to be long; New York City is a very manageable train ride away, and Do I? or Don’t I? has tormented me now for days.

I love to lament the bygone glamour days of my chosen career, even if most of them pre-date me, and I know I have worn the downtown layover topic somewhat thin.  I like to See and Do on my layovers whenever possible, if for no other reason than that it helps me to create the illusion of a fascinating life on social media, and if it’s Seeing and Doing you’re after, you’ll definitely heart NY.  And the last time I was in New York City, we bought our discount show tickets at the World Trade Center, so it’s been a while.  But not every day at this gig can be a Glory Day.  We had a long day yesterday, we have kind of a long day tomorrow; the train into town is easy from the Newark airport, but it also costs $25 round trip, and that’s before I spend a penny in an Indian restaurant or, especially in this of all towns, a bookstore; it’s thirty degrees and supposed to rain or possibly snow, and the only sweater I have in my bag is one that I also occasionally wear in Hawaii — the reasons (“excuses” is such an annoyingly apt word) do pile up, and some days, the allure of curling up with a book and a glass of wine and watching other people be cold out the window will not be denied.  I am seldom one to turn down an opportunity to ogle big-nosed, five-o’clock-shadowed, dark-haired men, but we’ll have a plane full of them tomorrow (in this regard, EWR, LGA, and PHL never disappoint), and it’s not like I can’t have Indian food delivered.

I am a mad fan of the Big Adventure, but airline life is a many-faceted (and uproariously deranged) proposition, and sometimes it’s just a job.  No celebrity sightings today, no hilarious cross-cultural misunderstandings or epic photo ops.  But I’m gonna get some rest, and I’m gonna get some writing done, and there was that raccoon in the parking lot that I thought for a second was maybe a monkey — not everything that ever happens is Big, and the Big Apple is more than I was up to today.  But there’s beauty (not to mention blog posts) in the small stuff, too, and the book I brought won’t read itself.  And the next time I’m tempted to sulk on a boring airport layover, I’ll have something to do: there’s still A Day in New York to plan, after all.

Forty Things I Never Would Have Gotten To Do (Part III)

Kia Ora!

If you fly at all, even infrequently, you’ve heard it: “Flight attendants are on board primarily for your safety.”  To most airplane passengers (and even to many of my friends, fifteen years into my career), this announcement translates roughly into, “Yeah, right.”  Without dwelling on the time I saved a guy having a heart attack with a defibrillator or the way some of my friends have pulled people from burning airplanes (or how hot the guys are on the Air New Zealand safety videos), I shall get right to my point: if they could, airlines would LOVE to outfit airplanes with little more than a bathroom and a couple of vending machines and then pack passengers into every remaining inch of space with shoehorns and launch them into space and let Social Darwinism at Forty Thousand Feet take its course.  The main reason we are still on airplanes today is because the FAA requires a certain number of professionals trained in the Art of Airplane Evacuation to be available should those skills be required. (Although one friend suggests they will continue to staff flights with one flight attendant even in the vending machine future days — to make change.)

On all but the longest routes on the poshest airlines, inflight “service” has been reduced to a vague memory.  The geniuses behind Disney’s Phineas and Ferb sum it up in an episode where a stand-up comedian makes a joke about airline food, and one of the teenagers in the audience (my favorite supporting character, the Disco Miniature Golfing Queen Stacy) asks, “What’s airline food?”  When I started flying, which was not all that long ago, we were still carving roasts in the aisle, still serving champagne and caviar in first class on international flights, and still hucking hot breakfast at passengers on hour-long East Coast puddle jumps; nowadays, a full third of the cabin answers the question “Would you like something to drink?” with “How much does it cost?”  Airlines have conditioned passengers to expect nothing, and often manage to deliver even less, for which they then usually charge a fee.

The time-sensitive nature of airplane service, especially on short flights, led to many of the more hilarious moments of my early career, and the process of preparing food, especially in out-of-sight, below-deck galleys, offered many flight attendants many unique, if not wholly family-friendly, opportunities.  Now, unless they are consumed by a passion for Sudoku or come across a People magazine, flight attendants have very little to do on airplanes that are not on fire, and standing around looking at each other provides few (not none, but precious few) opportunities for hilarity.  Which, I suppose, is why I am strolling down memory lane with this little project as forty draws nigh; I’m still glad for the job, and especially for the flexibility it gives me to tend to the things that really matter in my life, but these days, dang, it gives us nothing to talk about!

So cue up your favorite version of “Memories” and please enjoy the latest installment of Forty Things I (probably) Never Would Have Gotten to Do If It Wasn’t For My Airline Job:

20. Discover a deep and abiding love for spaetzle (especially the cheesy kind) in a dingy Frankfurt bar

19. Sample Indian food in like seventeen countries, none of them India

18. Entertain a crowd of spectators just by trying on a shirt in a Chinese market (They gathered ’round, XXL my ass)

17. Weep over the most refreshing piece of watermelon ever hucked off the back of a wagon on the hottest day Seoul has ever seen

16. Poison an airplane full of people by convincing them to change their meal order from chicken to Hawaiian meatloaf (of which I ate two, so I know exactly how sick it made people)

15. Explain to a mother how her infant seat was in fact a piece of luggage, and could indeed be stowed in the overhead compartment, but only if she removed the baby from it first

14. Stand underneath (although, alas, never on) a British Airways Concorde

13. Visit New Zealand, while we’re on the subject — a Spa-tacular voyage on which I learned more about cricket than an American has a right to know, and not nearly enough about a gorgeous Maori guy I met in Rotorua  (also one of the countries mentioned in Item 19 above)

12. Sling beverages (and we were slingin’ ’em) from a tray on seventeen flight segments in three days

11. Espy a dude joining the Mile High club under a blanket.  All by himself

Them Jeans

My forthcoming novel, Kiss Me, Straight, is the story of a gay flight attendant in San Francisco chasing romance with a straight guy all around the world.  It is not my autobiography, but they do say to Write What You Know.  There are a few scenes in the book that are ripped from the pages of my journal, but the main character, his friends, and their mad adventures are all, of course, figments of my imagination. 

So, while my novel is not about me or my life, I do sometimes use fiction to capture a particular travel experience.  I am, after all, a Gemini, and we don’t especially like to be bound by narrow interpretations of “facts” when we tell stories.  What follows is a snapshot of an afternoon passed on my last international trip before I transferred to Denver.  It was originally published on a tiny and now-extinct Gay Flash Fiction site. (photo credit: me)

You know you’re in Asia when an overfed brown-haired white guy in a pair of jeans stands out in a lunchtime crowd.  OK, I can admit to having a slight tendency towards overfed brown-haired white guys in jeans, but they’re hardly rare and exotic on the streets of any English-speaking country.  And not just the U.S., despite our reputation.  (Yes, Australia, I’m talking to you.)

Continue reading