Short Letters

Dear Pickles-

I like to have extra of you on my sandwich, can you please tell the lady that gives you out to allow me to have extra ones. All I want on my sandwich is tomatoes and extra pickles. The man in front of me had 12 different things on his sandwich for no extra charge... just tell her I shouldn't have to pay extra for a few more of you!

Thank you,

Dear Neighboors Below Us-

Thank you very much for sending us a text message saying we have very nice decorations, we appreciate that. Now could you please take down your decorations which are not very nice. As a matter of fact they look like Santa threw up all over your windows. Also, please stop adding tacky stuff to the front common area, other neighbors are going to confuse you hideousness with something I may have done.


Dear Miss Rude Customer-

I am happy that you insist that you didn't steal that book that was never opened, still in the plastic wrap, and not used last semester, however, without a receipt or proof of schedule I can not buy it back from you. However, if you were nicer to me I might have provided you with other options.

Just a hint for the future,

Dear Man Falling Off Path-

Thank you for checking out that girl, falling off the sidewalk, down the hill and into a puddle. It was like the movies, and it made my day! Although I feel bad for laughing at you.

The Man behind You

Chabon Lives Up To My Expectations

It has been a long time since I have done a book review in this blog, I'm not really sure why but I think part of it is since the Angels Game I haven't completely enjoyed a book. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon has changed that. I was first introduced to Chabon a few years ago when I reluctantly began reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. When I finished it I believed that it was possibly one of the most intriguing books I have ever read. I never thought a book involving comic books would be so interesting! Joe Kavalier was a fascinating character, who was not able to see all that he had, and Sam Clay longed for the time when he could be accepted for who he is.

The reader follows the ups and downs in their lives not knowing what to expect thanks to Chabon's vivid imagination. I was entranced with his writing and words, and enthralled with his clever imagination. There are many touching and poignant scenes and phrases that I feel I can see when I close my eyes. All in all, I felt that this was one of my most satisfying reads. Oddly enough however I stayed way from other Chabon novels. I was concerned that they wouldn't live up to the high standard set by Amazing Adventures.

I finally decided to return to the world of Chabon and I am glad I did. Michael Chabon's novel The Mysteries of Pittsburgh describes the process of growing up in glorious detail. The main character, Art Bechstein, tells the reader about new sexual experiences, new friends and his difficult relationship with his father. It is a lot of fun to read, because of the funny, bizarre and shocking passages, which appear throughout the book. This book is not only funny however, but it is serious as well. The reader is confronted the main characters insecurity, his fears and worries and his varied sexual experiences. The author manages to get the reader involved in a story full of crime, homosexual affairs, fear, lust and excessive parental care. It is a well written book, which is easy to understand.

I would discribe this coming of age story as a new classic. Chabon pushes the envelope with scenes and descriptions that some people may find offensive in the book. There are very detailed descriptions of Art's sexual contacts with Arthur and the author uses lots of provoking details to describe the sex between two men, but these provoking details make the book a unique read. This coming of age story isn't cloaked behind false pretenses, it is very real and the reader can feel the emotions of the main characters.

Chabon has made it into the high ranks as one my favorite authors and it may be a while before I write another book review in this blog, because it is going to be a while before another book is this good.

Cemetery of Forgotten Books

One of my all time favorite books is Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, I think I have actually mentioned this in a couple of blog posts. This year I had the pleasure of reading his new title The Angels Game. Both of these books are beautifully written and capture the reader in an amazing story, and both of these books mention a place in Spain know as the "Cemetery of Forgotten Books." In the modern world it is hard to imagine this place, libraries now are single level and filled with computers, I went into the library on my campus last week and I had to walk more than halfway through it before I was able to see shelves of books. And then there is the smell of a good ole fashion library, that smell just can't be recreated in the modern library.

Then this weekend we went to the historic Georgetown University Library in Healy Hall. I was completely in awe of this library. Spiral stairs led up into the stacks and you could walk through what felt like millions of historic books. The beautiful structure felt light and airy although it was full of books. We walked around the library and I took a bunch of pictures of the stacks and the structure. I felt like I could have stayed in the library looking at all the documents for years.

This is what I imagine the Cemetery of Forgotten Books to feel like. A large labrinth of stacks, books piled high and that one gem could be buried deep in the back. You never know what you may find in a library like this and that is what I imagined the "Cemetery" to be like. For the book lover this was an unparralleled experience, if you are in the DC area, and you love books, I hope you can get the chance to visit the library at Georgetown University, its gorgeous!

Three Years Continued...

Here are some more of my favorite posts from July and on this year...

I threw a fit...

More Costa Rica... this post and a bunch of others after it

The Hate Crimes Bill and Senator Kennedy's Floor Remarks (with a section that mentions our attack)

An oddly entertaining trip to a restaurant

Why I need to write a bestselling book!

When good customer services goes wrong...

Letter to Freshman

Are you drunk?

The first time I ever posted a picture of myself or the doctor... but it was for a good reason

New Technology

Those are some of my favorites for the year, I will resume some regular posts later on this week... but enjoy these for now!

Three Years of Blogging

I have been meaning to post this blog for a while now. On November 9, 2009 my blog turned three years old. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be writing the blog for this long when I first started but it has become a part of what I do. Some days I do it better than others but I do it.

This year was a tumltous year, with lots of ups and downs, and it all was captured in my blog. Here are some of my favorite or most important posts.

I know I am short but I am not invisible, a man sits on me in the metro!

The Doctor spends Thanksgiving in New York with me and my family.

A major difference between myself and the Doctor.

My American Idol Obsession

Mmmmm Food

I hate automated phone systems and this was the worst.

How are you graduating?

March was all about Costa Rica... this is one of my posts from vacation, and there are many others.

Things that only happen to me on the metro

Yikes, sorry!


The Bookstore Gods are mean sometimes

A lot about Fabio Brandao... this post and many more

More Brandao- My Statement that was read at the protest.

Are you proud?

This is just until June... I will continue with Part 2 tomorrow!

Bill 18-482, Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009 Testimony

Testimony by JRH on Bill 18-482, Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009 before the Committee on Public Service and the Judiciary on November 9, 2009.

I would first like to thank DC City Council Member David Catania and the nine co-sponsors of Bill 18-482 for introducing a bill that will amend the law and allow for same sex couples to marry in the District of Columbia.

When I first came out of the closet as a gay man to my parents there were many challenges, many of the same challenges every gay man has. Some of the challenges were personal, some involved acceptance, and still others involved my mothers religious beliefs. There were many things that my loving family didn’t understand, like why I would make this choice for my life. Certain things my family still doesn’t comprehend. However, the one thing that stuck with me for all these years is them sitting across the table from me and saying… “We just want you to get married and have a family.” I started to cry, and I looked my parents straight in the eye, with the tears dripping down my face and told them that I was still going to do that.

Back when I made this declaration to my parents it was not legal for me to marry the man I love anywhere in the United States. People were fighting for these equal rights, but this fight for equality was just becoming visible to me. I had no idea how hard of a fight it would be, because I grew up assuming that all men and women are created equal, that “separate but equal” was a thing of the past, a failed experiment that the men and women before me had finally fixed. I was sadly mistaken. The same failed and unequal laws were being applied to the LGBTQ community in the United States. I started seeing this and I felt defeated.

I was starting to feel at peace with who I was a couple of years ago. I had found a group of friends that loved and supported me; I had a good job, and had gotten past the feelings of confusion and hate because of who I was. While my family didn’t openly acknowledge who I was, they accepted me on a one on one basis. This was progress. Then one October evening, I decided to go out with a group of my supportive friends and I met a man who took my breath away. From the moment I saw this man I knew that no matter what, this man was going to be a very important part of my life. Over the next few months we grew very close; it became very rare that we would be out in public without each other. My friends and family were shocked to see me as happy as I was; I was simply a better person when he was around. I had fully accepted myself for who I was and that was freeing. As the summer ended the Doctor and I made the decision to leave Boston where we had been living and move down to DC. The Doctor had secured a job that he couldn’t pass up at a local university, and I had a job opportunity in the District as well.

The Saturday before the Doctor left Boston completely changed my world view. I had gone out for a few celebratory drinks with friends to mark an end to our time together in Boston and we decided to walk home. We were enjoying each others company when suddenly an innocent night was turned upside down. A white car pulled up and a few guys jumped out, one of them attacked me. He screamed “die faggot die,” as he kicked my head into the pavement. He ran off with his friends to his car, driving away, leaving me unconscious in the middle of the street. A witness pulled up, making sure on-coming cars wouldn’t run me over. My friends watched, tears welling up, as they loaded me into the ambulance. I don’t remember anything. I woke up in the hospital. I turned to see my friend in the other bed, also a victim of this hate, still bleeding from his scalp. My own head was throbbing. Even as the world came into focus, I was still confused.

The Doctor was out of town this weekend, yet he was still the first one to make it to the hospital to see me after this horrific attack, except the Doctor had to fight to get into the hospital to see his friends because he was not family and we were not married. This was another figurative blow to the head.

The Doctor was there with me through the recovery. The Doctor was there with me through the nightmares. He slept next to me even when I would wake up punching and screaming as I relived the attack. The Doctor was there with me for the Doctor appointments, and cleaned my wounds, some of which were very gross. The Doctor was there with me to get my mind off of things when I needed to be thinking about something happy all I had to do was look him in the face and I knew he was the one I could count on. The Doctor was the one sitting next to me at the trial, when the man who attacked me pled guilty and got off with no jail time, and the Doctor was the one standing next to me as I spoke out against the violence and the judge who allowed this man his freedom. I knew very early on that this was the man I was going to marry. This strong man who was always there for me was the man that I was going to spend the rest of my life with.

Two years after I met the Doctor, on the night before the Equality March in DC, I proposed to the Doctor and we are now engaged. On October 10, 2009 we made a commitment to each other, and in 2010 we want to be able to get married in Washington DC and we want many other loving couples to follow.

Equality is never something I though I would have to fight for but it is and this Bill is one of many steps in the right direction for all citizens of the United States, straight, gay, bisexual, or questioning. We all deserve to be treated equally and we all have a right to marry those we love. I urge the City Council to pass this bill and set an example for all to follow.

Thank you

Same Sex Marriage in Washington D.C.

Here is your chance to help make a difference:

Same-gender marriage has 10 co-sponsors on a 13 member DC Council and is therefore expected to pass next week. As with any newly passed DC Act, Congress has the power to prohibit it from becoming DC Law within a 30-Day Review Period. It’s therefore critical to have the record reflect overwhelming support for marriage equality. I’m writing to ask you to submit a written testimony to become a permanent record of the bill. Will you, please?

Here is a suggested format for you to follow.

Email Subject: Bill 18-482 Testimony

Body of your Email:

Testimony by Your Name on Bill 18-482, Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009 before the Committee on Public Service and the Judiciary on Today’s Date

1. Generically thank the bill’s introducers
2. Tell your story and stance
3. Ask the Council to pass the bill
4. Close with your contact information, including address, phone and email

Emails count as equally as paper letters. Please BCC me.

Ms. Deborah Kelly, Secretary to the Council
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Room 5
Washington DC 20004

These testimonies will be accepted up until 5 PM on Monday, 11/9/09. It makes no difference where you reside, and each voice has equal representation.

Whether you’re motivated by successes in places like Iowa or disheartened by temporary set-backs in places like Maine, please see this as your chance to be heard. It matters. It sure as hell matters to whether you’ll ever get an invite to my DC wedding.

Yours in the struggle for equal treatment under state and federal law for all people

Drunk Vampire

So Vampires are the new hot thing, with the New Moon and that Vampire HBO show thingy (True Blood I think its called) Vampires are in the mainstream and popular. So, when a guy showed up to our party dressed as a Vampire on Friday, I didn't really think anything of it. I wasn't quite sure who this guy was but I figured he was a friend with the roommate, or a friend of a friend. Anyway, the party continued without any major problems, the Vampire was apparently drinking in the backyard and enjoying the party.

Later in the night I had decided that it was time to wrap up the Halloween/Engagement/Birthday Party for the Doctor and myself so I turned down the music and turned up the lights slightly every few minutes. People slowly started to get the idea, and since it was late people started to say goodbye. I wasn't in a huge rush but I did want to start moving people out of the house. It took about an hour for the house to mostly clear out and we were left with a few close friends and the people who were staying with us.

We started to do a sweep of the house and pick things up; the house wasn't too bad. I ran upstairs to put a few things away and then I got the message that somebody was in the half bathroom in the lower level. I came down the stairs and found three friends talking nicely to the door and trying to coax it opened with words or by gently pushing on it. That obviously didn't work since neither the door nor the person on the other side of the door was responding to them. I come the rest of the way down the stairs and tell people to move out of my way. People try to tell me to calm down and let them be; however, I am not in the mood to let an idiot be in my bathroom at the end of the party. People can tell that I mean business so they move out of my way.

I turn the unlocked door knob and with one shoulder led push I am into the lower level bathroom that they were trying to coax open with kind words (sometimes kindness is not the answer). Once I am inside I notice the vampire passed out on the floor with blood running down his face and vomit on his chin. I hold back my queasiness and block my urge to throw up with anger. I look around the room and see that this drunken vampire has pulled my toilet paper holder and towel rod from the wall. I don't do well with morons wrecking my house so now I am fully pissed off. I kick the passed out vampire and he doesn't move so I reach down and grab him from under his arms. He mutters incoherently. I lift him to his feet; he mutters again and slowly regains consciousness but is clearly very intoxicated. I open the bathroom door, practically carry this drunken mythical creature to my front door and throw him out slamming the front door behind him with a warning to never come back.

I turn around to see six friends looking at me in awe, not sure what to think. I walk back inside proceed to clean up the bathroom and enjoy my victory. Here is a warning for all of you, who may come over to my house for any reason, don't break my shit, it pisses me off and I do not take it well. Be responsible enough to know what you are doing or I will throw you the hell out. And guess what, I won't care how drunk you are, and I might even take pleasure in it!

Reasons 3026- 3052: Why The Doctor Is Amazing!

3026- He planned a party and invited a bunch of my friends down to surprise me!

3027- He dealt with me wondering where the hell he was when he was picking up said friends at the airport.

3028- He made sure to invite even friends who lived in Brazil.

3029- He went that extra mile to try to keep all of these plans a secret from me.

3030- He refused to have a good time unless I had a good time

3031- He loves me despite my moods

3032- He loves me even though I am never appreciative enough of what he does for me

3033- He picks out the Halloween costumes and makes me wear them so I don't have to ever think about it.

3034- He calls my boss and tell her a month in advance that I won't be in on Friday, so that I could enjoy time with my friends.

3035- He knew I would never call out myself

3036- He plans an entire weekend of event so that we can all have an amazing time together.

3037- He get 20 friends together and rents a limobus to take a vineyard tour

3038- He surprises me with all of these plans

3039- Things that I can not mention on this blog

3040- He knows what will make me smile

3041- He can get me to smile in pictures

3042- He loves me even when I shut down for no reason (and did a couple times this weekend)

3043- He didn't have to do any of these things this weekend, but he did because he wanted to see me happy.

3044- He fell asleep on my shoulder, and no matter how upset or tired I was, I was happy he was there.

3045- He send me text messages that make me smile even when he is sitting next to me

3046- He calls me an idiot for dropping my phone in the toilet but helps me fix it

3047- He tickles me because he loves the way I laugh when he does it

3048- He is just so darn cute when he falls asleep on the couch

3049- I know he is the perfect person for me, and I am blinded by these shiny rocks on my finger!

3050- He is always right when it comes to me blowing the little things out of proportion

3051- He deals with me blowing the little things out of proportion

3052- He love me no matter what and I love him

I couldn't say enough nice things about what he did for me this weekend. We had an amazing time with our friends and none of it would have been possible without him. It was so great to see friends that I haven't seen and have the opportunity to hang out and so exciting things and enjoy their company. Thank you to everybody who came to the party on Friday night, and the wine tour on Sunday. And a very special thanks to all of my friends from "Boston" who came to DC to celebrate our birthdays and engagement with us. I love you all!

Pi Pizza Update

A couple of months ago I talked about our trip to Pi Pizzeria in Adams Morgan Washington DC. I mainly discussed how we had the most insane but enjoyable service from the owner, Heatherly Hajoligholi.

This weekend when our friends were in from Boston (and spots they moved to from Boston) the Doctor and I took them to Pi Pizzeria so that they could experience what I had talked about in the previous post.

Unfortunately, when we walk in and are seated by a fantastic waitress we ask if Heatherly is in, and we find out that at the age of 27 Heatherly had passed away. We didn't have the heart to ask the waitress who almost burst into tears what happened so that remains a mystery, but we did feel very sad that this passing character in our lives had passed.

We wish her family and friends all the best and hope that they are able to maintain the business in her honor.

Why We Fight, Why We March, Why We Care and Why I Shed a Tear

At the signing of the hate crimes bill, President Obama said the following:

"We must stand against crimes that are meant not only to break bones but to break spirits" because "no one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hands of the person they love."

The fight isn't over, but we are making progress, I hope this law helps put people like Fabio Brandao behind bars, and I hope we continue to move towards equality.

How Do You Not Know The Kindle... and now The Nook!

I was absolutely amazed today, and I realize that maybe I live in a different world, but I could have never imagined that the kids that work for me have never heard of things like an e-reader!

Barnes and Noble launched their new e-reader the Nook yesterday, in the book selling world this is big news since the most popular one, the kindle, is an amazon product, the nook is Barnes and Noble, it will be available to purchase in stores, and online. And Wired magazine, says "If you just ordered a kindle, stop reading now, or you're in for a giant dose of buyer's remorse."

Great, new technology, I am a technology whore, I like fancy new shiny things! I know I am generally on the leading edge when it comes to knowing about these things, but I thought by now people knew what e-readers were. I was blown away when I started talking about it with people who work in a bookstore, and they had no idea what the Kindle was. I had to explain the technology from the beginning. I had to tell them about what size it was, and why it was a big step.


I continued searching around the store for people I thought would know, I was wrong. Most of the employees students or otherwise had no idea. So after explaining the Kindle I had to take the next step and tell them about the nook.

The nook runs Google's Android OS and is going to have wireless access through AT&T, the nook has built in Wi-Fi and 2GB of storage allowing you to hold up to 1500 books. Plus you will be able to get you newspapers and magazines, and you will even be able to share books with friends. These are a ton of great features that could kill the Kindle, but not that it matters because according to my employees

"It's only like 12 people have a Kindle anyway!"

I am really living in a different world, it is crazy, but I am pretty sure that the Kindle people are a little worried about the Nook, maybe because they will lose those 15 customers, or maybe because the e-reader is the wave of the future, and like the i-phone, whatever device comes out strong and works well could make it a category killer!

Not that my employees would know any of this, I think I need new employees, please look for future posts that reference me firing stupid people!

The Engagement Party

Last night was the Engagement Party that I had planned. We have been engaged for one week and it seems like things have been absolutely crazy. I am pretty sure we haven't had a moment to stop and enjoy it even though it is pretty much all we have been talking about. And then the wedding of course. But yesterday, and last night was all about a celebration.

It wasn't easy getting the Doctor to the vineyard, especially since he was feeling a bit sick. It was after all supposed to be a surprise for him, he didn't know there were 15 friends waiting at Vintage Ridge for us. As a matter of fact he thought it was just 4 of us going, so when he tried to back out because he wasn't feeling well we all needed to think on our feet which wasn't the only time yesterday! We did get him out the door and on the way to the vineyard, but the friends who were supposed to be there before us were all stuck in traffic... time to think fast again... as we pass a McDonald's...I decide that I need to use the facilities and we should pull over... then our friend CW decides that sitting down for some french fries would be a good way to pass the time. We stall as long as we can and I am getting nervous... a series of text messages and a phone call and a new plan is in place.

We arrive "first" and they set us for a private tasting. As they pour us all the first taste of wine Mr NG who has played an important role in the planning of the event surprises us all from above, with a few other friends that were in his car. Greg is fully surprised and as we talk some more friends walk in the door expanding the party. A final car arrives and the staff at Vintage Ridge seamlessly puts together the other tables and begins the tasting. They bring out plates of food to be eaten with the wine, gorgeous and delicious plates of food, and then they pour our us all another taste of wine.

The well choreographed tasting proceeds and the staff provides us with great information about the wine and food it is paired with, but they also allow us to mingle so that we feel like the party is our own. As the tasting proceeds we move into the dessert wine, and another plate appears, a plate full of delicious desserts that all pair perfectly with the wine. This tasting is not like any other tasting you have been to, and they do this for everybody that goes in. This is why the Doctor and I love this vineyard and the staff.

The party continues at the vineyard as we buy a few bottles of wine, and the staff bring out any of the extra food they have left in the back. They make sure that we are happy with the food and wine and attend to our every need. I enjoy my glass of Summer Night which is one of my favorite wines from this winery (although they are all delicious) and I mingle with all of our friends who are there. This was a great opportunity to actually celebrate our engagement. It was an evening that was about love and celebration, and friends and wine. It was a perfect evening and I couldn't ask for anything more.

I need to thank all of our friends who make the trek out to Northern Virginia on that rainy night to celebrate with us, and I need to give a special thank you to Mr. NG who helped me plan and organize the event, and of course I need to thank the amazing staff at Vintage Ridge. You did an amazing job, I could not have asked for anything more, and all of our friends could not stop talking about how amazing you were all night. Thank you all, you made it a very special night!

Why Did You March?

I am back to the blog from a long unintentional hiatus and I wanted to write about the National Equality March. The March itself was impressive, I never expected the turnout and that allows the Doctor to get in a lot of I told you sos! The speeches were well prepared and uplifting, and I had a tear in my eye when Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City) introduced Judy Shepard. And of course enjoyed Lady Gaga's speech including her thank you to "God and the gays"

But what I really want to write about in the blog is why I marched in the march yesterday. I marched not only because I felt it was the right thing to do. I marched because as daunting as things may be every little step towards equality helps. Every time a law is passed allowing us to get married is a step in the right direction. Every time hate crimes legislation moves forward, we are moving towards equality.

I marched because on Saturday night the Doctor and I got engaged. I marched because I want our marriage to be recognized everywhere, and I want us to have equal rights and protections under the law. When I'm sick I want him to be able to be there in my hospital room with me. I want to be allowed to have all the rights a straight couple does. The rights that are offered to me should not be limited because of who I love.

I marched because last year as you all know I was a victim of a hate crime. A crime that was violent, and a sentence that allowed a gay basher to not serve jail time. This case made me an unlikely activist, and I had to speak out. Hate crime legislation is still in Congress and it needs to be passed.

Our fight is for equality. A speaker yesterday highlighted the difference between acceptance and equality. In many ways GLBTQ community is accepted but we are not equal. In a year or so when I walk down to marry the man of my dreams I want to look up and see him there and know that not only is it a big day for us, but we are setting an example, I want to actually be equal in the eyes of the law. Our love deserves that and much more, and so does the love that many other GLBTQ couples.

That is why I marched, I marched holding my finacees hand, I marched with white blacks, straights, gays children, and adults, and all we are asking for is to be considered equal... is that really to much to ask.

Random and Unrelated Thoughts

A few months ago when I was discussing my blog with Mr NG he mentioned that my blog is like a brushstroke of American culture. I think he was being nice because generally I feel my blog is a rant of random and unrelated thoughts. Today's post will be a collection of some random and unrelated thoughts.

First off, I delayed writing about the VMAs for a day in order to let some of the hubbub pass. I am not usually a VMA watcher but this year we decided to sit down and watch the madness live (err DVRed). We sat and enjoyed the Michael Jackson tribute, and we were amazed at how good Madonna looked (she has a good plastic surgeon). We saw Janet had lost weight and then we watched Taylor Swift win her first VMA and that is when the night began.

I have always thought that Kanye West was an asshole, and this was definitely evident on this night. He lacks the common decency to sit down and be happy for a young girl who had won a VMA. He lacks the basic respect and manners that every human being should posses. I never did like Taylor Swift, i find her a bit whiny but I would never EVER imagine anybody would do to her what Kanye did to her. That was truly despicable.

Beyonce on the other was nothing but class, she showed Kayne what it measn to have manners and while its hard to applaud somebody for having common human decency, in this case, Beyonce deserves a standing ovation.

Moving on, Lady Gaga was insane, talk about pushing the envelope with her performance. It was an amazing performance with a crazy outfit, and she blew up on the scene over a year ago and with this performance she is showing that she is here to stay.

And jumping away from the VMAs... last week they announced that Ellen was going to be the fourth Judge on American Idol. Now, I love Ellen and I love American Idol, but I am not sure these two really match up. I know she is the type of person that the idols are looking to appeal too, but especially after her judging performance on SYTYCD... I am just not sure.

Another topic jump... One of the professors that I deal with came in today, he was upset that we ran out of books for his students. I was surprised because earlier in the day I had gone to the section and seen 15 copies of the book, and I knew I had placed a reorder for additional copies earlier that morning. I walked the professor over to the section, showed him the book and he still continued to argue with me that the number I had still wasn’t enough. This is a usual argument, but then this music professor took his argument to the next level, he stated, and I quote… “This class, if you don’t know, is a matter of national security!” I had to restrain from laughing in his face! Really, this class on modern jazz is a matter of national security… I think not!

And just in case you couldn’t tell, this post is the reason for my blog’s subtitle!

And the Winner Is (or) More Drugs on Campus

Part of running a college bookstore is getting to hear the stories as to why we should return textbooks for students who have lost their reciepts or have decided to return them after the final return date. Usually the stories are pretty standard, the dog at my receipt... family member died... my girlfriend was cleaning and threw it out sort of thing.

And then you get a good one...

"Yo, I need to return my books cause I'm leaving (school)"

"Ok sir, I need to see your original receipt as well as your add/drop slip"

"I don't have none of that"

"Well, sir that is what is required to return books, and since it is after the return deadline I will definitly need a copy of your add/drop form you can get from the registrar"

"I don't have time for that"

"I'm sorry sir, that is what you need, and I can't make an exception the policy" (Of course I can and I do all the time but I am not doing it for you)

"Yo man the school wants me off of campus by noon today, help a brother out"

"Don't call me brother... and I'm sorry they want you off campus by noon, but I can't help you out without the proper documentation."

"Man this school sucks, I can't believe this sh#t, first they kick me out for selling drugs, and now you ain't taking my books back!"

"Well sir, I am very sorry you have had a bad few days but rules are in place for a reason and we stick by them. My recommendation for the future is to keep your receipt and to not sell drugs on a college campus."

But this man did have the best story about needing to return his books I had all semester, and the second drug related story this rush. See how can I not love my job!

The Shopping Cart

There are always good stories around Back to School Rush time, yet because I am working 16 plus hour days I rarely have time to write them. A couple of weeks ago, we were getting in at 6am to process online orders, and after working until 11pm the previous night we were a little punchy. My boss had pulled into the parking garage a few moments before me and I lazily parked next to her. We exchanged our morning pleasantries and began walking to the store.

At the door of the parking garage there was a shopping cart from the off campus Giant, apparently some college students decided to steal it the previous night. We walk past it looking and then both immediately stop in our tracks. In unison we look at each other, turn back and run for the cart.

Now for the back story... our General Merchandise Manager always says that she has her shopping cart picked out for when she retires and becomes a bag lady. Hence, the humor behind rolling a shopping cart into her office as an early retirement gift.

Flash forward... we grab the cart and begin wheeling it across campus at 6 in the morning, nobody is out and about and my boss wants me to get into the cart so she can push me into the store. I refuse because I feel like my life could be in danger. The sight of us walking into the student center pushing a shopping cart is enough to have us doubled over in laughter. As we approach, one of our employees is waiting at the front door for us and he immediately bursts out laughing at the sight of his two store managers rolling up with a shopping cart. We later find out that he thought we were just coming in from a night out and were still drunk (Not the case just Rush madness). We roll the cart in, place it in our Merchandise Managers office and get a great laugh out of her when she comes in later that morning.

The best part is, this shopping cart is the best tool ever for stocking clothing and moving stuff around, so now we all look a little bit crazy pushing it around the bookstore!

Glee: So Excited

Just in case you didn't know, Glee a new show on Fox has its season premiere tonight, I am so excited, and I just can't seem to get the words from "Don't Stop Believing" out of my head.

Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world
She took the midnight train going anywhere
Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit
He took the midnight train going anywhere
I seen her in a smokey room, the smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on and on and on
Strangers, waiting..'walking' down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night..
Street lights..people..
Living just to find emotion
Hiding somewhere in the night..
Working hard to get my fill, everybody wants a thrill
Betting anything to roll the dice just one more time
Some will win, some will lose
Some are born to sing the blues..oh the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on
Strangers, waiting..walking down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night..
Street lights..people..
Living just to find emotion
Hiding somewhere in the night..
Don't stop..believing..hold on to that feeling..
Street light..people..
Don't stop..believing..hold on...
Street light..people..
Don't stop believing..hold on to that feeling..(fading)
(Fading) Street light..people..ohhhh
Don't stop.

A Letter to Incoming Freshman

Dear College Freshman-

My thoughts on this years incoming class can be summed up in one simple statement, "Please, oh please, tell me you are not actually this stupid!"

Thank you,
Your Bookstore Manager

RIP Senator Ted Kennedy

I feel a need to say something here on my blog considering that Sen. Kennedy was a strong supporter of the Hate Crimes Bill. The Hate Crimes Bill that would protect and prevent attacks like the one that happened to my friends and I. He even used our case as part of his floor debate in favor of the Hate Crimes Bill. Senator Kennedy served his country with dignity and honor. He truly cared about his constituents and will be missed.


Honeymoon at Blue Osa

Apparently, while I was in Costa Rica this past year I got married to a woman and I am now featured on the Blue Osa website under honeymoons. Yes, this picture was taken of me and a female during a photo shoot for the website while we were there. Don't we look like such a loving couple. A couple who is enjoying a romantic stroll down the beach. This photo was actually a blast to take as we were really just goofing around for a few minutes, but Yogi A is really good with photoshop!

By the way if you really want to honeymoon in Costa Rica, or at the Blue Osa go to!

Express Men: Good Customer Service Intentions Poorly Executed

With the promotion, and Rush arriving at my store I needed some new clothes so that I looked AGM worthy. I have always been one of the youngest in my positions, and this one isn't much different, plus I look younger than I am,(Shut-up S... or I will spill your secret on this blog) so sometimes the clothes make the difference. During Rush I always try to dress with authority.

Anyway back to the point of the story, I went to Express, which is one of my favorite stores because they have nice work clothing at reasonable prices, cut for those of us who are smaller in stature. While the Doctor hates shopping I dragged him along anyway for moral support and fiscal control.

We walk into the store and are greeted not by a sales associate but by blaring music and a throng of people throwing merchandise. I immediately find a pair of pants that I like and while I am rummaging through the pile looking for my size an associate greets me and asks me if I need help. I ask for my size and he immediately replies... "I don't have a 30x30 in these but I have a 33x30 and a belt..." I cut him off and say no thank you but I would appreciate if he looked in the back for a 30x30. He wanders away and I'm flabergasted, the Doctor just laughs. Three inches on the waist of a mens pant is a big difference, one that a belt can not fix!

The associate returns with my pants, exactly the ones I asked for, in a size 30x30 that he found in the back. I thank him for actually going to check. Yes, I was a bit snide but he deserved it. I continued browsing and located a shirt and tie that I really liked and searched for it. I was reluctant to ask the same sales associate who provided me with the well intentioned information previously, but alas I could not locate the items so I asked. No sir we don't have that at all he replies to my question. Well, why do you have it on the manequin I think to myself... before I can get any words out he is recommending a large shirt that is completely different from the one I asked about...

This is when I had to set the man straight, his intentions were right but he was going about it in the wrong way, and I just couldn't take it anymore, in an outburst I kindly exclaim...

"Sir, all I asked was if you had that in stock, I don't need other options from you, please just answer my question."

The Doctor laughed and excused himself from the store, I continued shopping, and if I had a question, I found another sales associate who provided much more useful information. I walked out with pants shirts and ties, and even got $75 off of my bill because I was so charming to the other sales associates.

I felt bad for this one guy, but he was just providing me with useless information. I wear a x-small and 30x30 so large and 33x30 does not help me in any way!

The Attack: One Year Later

Last year at this time I was being taken off to the Cape by the Doctor. Last year at this time I didn't know what happened to me. Last year at this time I didn't realize how lucky I was to be alive. I didn't know a year ago that I would have my head stomped on as Fabio Brandao and his friends screamed "die faggot die."

The dreams came back this week. The one where I would remember the start of the attack and wake up screaming and punching. Except the dream was different than it was last year. The dream was a series of vignettes. I saw the attack. I saw the man stomping on my skull. I saw the witness pull her car up so I wouldn't get run over. I saw JCH in a panic. I woke up in the hospital. The doctor came to take me away. I was back at work. I moved. And then the panic began again as the trial approached. Then there was a protest and the speech. There was support and new friends. I heard myself saying how lucky I was. I continued to live my life.

It has been a year of change for me and a year of growth. In my first post about the attack last year, you can sense the confusion and the anger in the writing. Even though I said numerous times that I would live my life, I wasn't sure I could. There was a lot of talk about the attack in the Boston media during those first few days. This news was scary to me, I had no idea how serious the attack was.

Soon after the attack I was back at work, and then before I knew it I had moved away to DC. I left my house and home for 10 years behind to start a new life. I thought I was getting over things, but the dreams continued. I would wake up every night screaming and punching. I almost broke my fist punching the headboard. The poor doctor was worried about me, and honestly worried for his own safety.

Over time the dreams began to subside. I was moving on with my life and living. The Doctor and I went to my high school reunion, we had Christmas, we went to Costa Rica, a new happy life was here for me. I was stronger than I had been. I knew I could continue living, and live my life happily. But in the back of my mind I was still scared, and I knew I was going to have to face Fabio Brandao once again.

In May it happened, The Commonwealth v. Fabio Brandao case started. This case kicked off a whirlwind of madness and emotions. I was in Boston once again and I was sitting in the courtroom facing my attacker. When he pled guilty I was happy for the plea, and then it began to sink in. How could this man who attacked three four people because he perceived them to be gay, get off without going o jail.

I began to get angry, and that's when something changed inside me. I was no longer scared, I turned my anger into something productive and began speaking out. This was the moment when I was really put what happened to me to good use and I spoke out. I spoke to a number of newspapers and news organizations. My first response to the sentence was published in Bay Window. At the same time Bay Windows published an article about the backlash to the sentence. It seemed like momentum was building and maybe what happened would result in a change to the system.

I spoke with a gentleman in Boston who rights a blog, David wrote a great article about the case and the sentence in his blog. And then there was a protest and I was asked to lend my words to the protest, I was hoping that those words would make a difference.

All of the articles, from The Blade to Metro Weekly, and the Weekly Dig. Even the Advocate published an online article, and my words were heard.

The protest and the articles were the tools that allowed me to move past the trauma and pain. They allowed me to realize that there was some good that could come out of this situation. Without the protest, and being able to speak out my dream would still end in the same place. It would end with me being the victim, on the ground with my head being stepped on... instead my dream ends with the passage of a Hate Crimes Bill, with movement towards equality, and change. I am proud to be a gay man, and I am proud to be part of change.

Of course I wish this didn't happen, but it has allowed me to see things I would have never seen before, and it allowed me to gain an understanding. I only hope that I have contributed to the change that is necessary.

Hello Promotion

I got the promotion I have been working towards for the last nine months today! Finally! I guess today is a good day, we will see what tomorrow brings!

Inappropriate Interview Questions

Our HR manager was conducting an interview over the phone yesterday when we had a blackout in the store. She insisted she didn't miss a beat and continued asking the normal questions she would ask any potential employee. However, we all believe that she may have slipped, just because we like to make fun of her. we just kept harassing her with innappropriate interview questions to ask in the dark! Below are some of the ones we sent her way, what about others you would have asked if you were conducting in the dark?

Now I know we discussed your job experience, but what are you wearing right now?

Hmmmm, it seems to be dark in here, what do you like to do in the dark?

Oh no, I seemed to have dropped my butchers knife, have you seen it?

Is that your foot working its way up my leg or am I just being hopeful?

And then we quickly ran out of interviewing in the dark questions and moved on to other sick and wrong questions that could possibly be asked in an interview. It was just fun to ask our ever so proper HR manager if she has ever asked questions like...

I know you are here for the job, but maybe we could go out for a drink instead?

How you doin'?

Now it says here you have been convicted of a crime, was it violent? Could I hire you to perform another violent act?

Do I look cute in this dress?

An entire series of other even more inappropriate questions followed but those can not be posted on this blog. While I have been known to curse or be wrong, these questions went over the line.

It is clearly getting far to close to Back to School Rush at this point because we are all getting punchy and wrong and making comments that we all understand and are not offended by, but the general public would be appalled. And while we were joking with the HR manager, fittingly the lights went out again...

Before the generator could kick on... she grabbbed my ass! I screamed. I threatened to call HR and file a complaint. Then I laughed!

Ode to Professionalism

Yesterday I got a message on my phone from one of my former co-workers in Boston. She was sending me a link to an article in the NY Times about textbooks. She sent me the message on face book but I told her to email me on my work email. She titled the email "Ode to Professionalism" and the following is the string of messages that followed that very professional email.

R: Now that you're in my address book I can harass you with some frequency

JRH: Fantastic and since you work for a publisher and I work for a bookstore nobody even has to know we aren't discussing work!!!!

R: I don't know what you're talking about. I only email about the most important of publishing/bookstore issues. Btw... I'm telling (sales rep)that you promise to be nice if she stops in because you LOVE little independent publishers (at least in comparison to some not to be named major media conglomerates).

JRH: Make an appointment!!

R: Send your ego out for a massage that day :P

JRH: When is she coming ill pencil her in. See how easy making an appointment is!

R: Oh please, like I keep track of when the reps are going anywhere :P

JRH: :-P

R: Stop bothering me; I'm very busy and important.

JRH: really do i need to make an appointment to bother you? I was just contributing to our ode to professionalism! I was thinking about publishing this ode on my blog!!!

R: As long as you take my name, email, and company off of it :P And you know I would never be so snotty as to require an appointment...Unlike SOME people. Lol

JRH: Of course don't you read my blog, i don't include anybodies name etc :-)are you calling me snotty

R: If it helps at all, I don't read any one's blog... I prefer long drawn out email conversations Yes, you elitist bookstore manager :P

JRH: but i have some great posts like how we nabbed a shoplifter with 20 bags of heroin on him i am not an elitist I am just good and manage 10 million dollars in business... ummm kinda busy

R: Hey, my textbook list was nothing to sneeze at and I didn't need no stinkin' appointments. Just sayin' man ;) You told me about the heroin over the phone. Isn't having LIVE CONVERSATIONS with people fun!! Hahahaha

JRH: You were the lead of a buying office... I have one buyer

R: Oh yeah, totally. Cause A. and N. did sooooooo much work. Really, it's a wonder A. had time for that porn habit. Lol

JRH: Hmmm I kinda forgot about the porn habit! Gotta love employees looking at porn at work. Seriously, how have we not written that bestseller yet. We could disguise it as fiction- nobody would believe us if we insisted it was real anyway!

R: Especially when we start naming the type of Web site he liked to visit. Since I've started telling that story (maybe 2,000 times)only ONE person has actually heard of that site. Amazing.

Oh god, and do you remember the couple in the bathroom when Ms. Amos came to visit?

JRH: oh yeah i forgot about the people in the bathroom during the Tori Amos thing, but don't get me started with Tori... hatred!

R: Oh come on, J's little f-up alone is worth telling that story. Hahaha. I have to say though, I honestly miss playing practical jokes on you. It's just not the same.

And so it continued over the course of two days, and that is our Ode to Professionalism!

Being A Bad Blogger and American Idol

So this past Friday I was sitting at home and reading some different ways to have a successful blog, and one of the things they suggest is to have a consistent theme. They tell you to write about the same area or subject. Well... I'm not very good at that because of my ADD! But I think I can make the argument that all the things going on in my mind is a single subject, its what's on my mind... right?

Anyway, many of you know that I am completely addicted to American Idol. I am horribly upset that Paula isn't returning this season for one simple reason... Who is going to bring the crazy? I hate Kara, she just won't do. A facebook friend suggested Whitney Houston would be a good replacement, and I agree, at least I know she would bring some crazy. But apparently, she is busy trying to make a comeback.

The reason I am writing this post this morning is because I heard on the radio that they are having Victoria Beckham judge for a second taping, and there is some talk that she could be one of the replacements for Paula, and well that is... MAJOR!

Yeah I know, I guess I'll never write a successful blog because I am all over the place in my posts... oh well!

Why I Should Write A Bestselling Book!

Earlier this week I was writing a blog post that I lost because the power in my computer somehow went out, mainly because I pulled the plug out of the wall. The post was about how I should write a book with all of the stories about working in the bookstore. Now, the post I was writing earlier in the week was about how things like being called by a former employee to bail them out of jail would only happen to me. Public drunkenness is generally a necessity for college students so I wasn't surprised, although this was very inconvenient.

However, yesterday this blog post changed and pretty much wrote itself. This is exactly why I need to write about about all the crazy things not only in my mind but what is happening in the bookstore. I am serious when I say that it would be a BESTSELLER!

Last night, I was part of a drug bust, one of the largest in the county where my bookstore resides so far this year. I walked out onto the sales floor and got the eyes from a fellow manager, the signal that there was a shoplifter that we needed to keep an eye on. Nametags were thrown off, and cell phones were pulled out. Applications were passed out with notes written on them to other people involved in the surveillance. As you can tell we have done this many times before. We had managers at the top of the stairs, employees acting like customers, and the ever so friendly, yet intimidating employees offering assistance. The phones at the desk were off the hook dialed into managers cell phones so we could hear the conversations. We are like a well oiled machine. All the while I hear the mission impossible theme song in my head.

I walk past the "customer" observing his behavior as I walk into the back room. He has his black backpack in front of him and he is unzipping it. I quickly return from the back room to see the perp sliding an Engineering book into his opened backpack. Another manager approaches the desk as I do and asks for an application for employment. I gladly tell her I can get one and walk to the back office. I scramble for a blank application and write on it in large red letter, "we got him, he slid the the book in the bag when I was walking out of the back." She thanks me for the application, and begins to walk up the stairs. She then passes the application discretely off to the manager at the top of the stairs who hangs up her cell that is dialed into the main desk and calls the cops.

After the cops are called we keep a close eye on him to make sure he doesn't catch on and bolt. As we are watching him he begins to make a run for it up the stairs. He thinks that I am a customer standing on the first landing and as he runs by I tackle him. Almost on cue the first wave of eventually 9 cops come running down the steps and take over.

The cops ask us questions and we explain why we were tracking this man. We write down our statements and check the cameras to see if we have any recorded visual confirmation. As we are doing this the police run his record and search him. During the search they discover 25 bags of heroin on him.

Score a drug bust for the bookstore, that is something I have never had! And like I said with stories like this I am sure it would be a bestseller!

For those of you who wonder if we practice the procedures for catching a shoplifter, the answer is no we don't we just have so many that we have got it down to a science.

And here is the kicker... Our hiring manager comes out of her office looking for her 10:45 interview, we ask who it was, and guess what, it was the name of the shoplifter/druggie!!!

God I love my job!

Concern or Hatred? I Go With Hatred

This morning I was driving into work as I do most Fridays. Because of the traffic in DC, I generally listen to the local radio station on my way into work in the morning instead of the satellite radio. That way I get the traffic updates and know how late I am going to be to work.

As I drove in this morning the station teased a caller who was concerned about her son having a gay roommate in college as he is heading off to college for the first time. Her son had just found out that the roommate was gay after meeting him and the son was fine with it. The mother on the other hand would have nothing of it.

I am familiar with many of the arguments, and I know about the concerns a parent has for their children. When I came out to my mother she was very concerned about how I was living my life. This however, was a whole new level for me.

The DJ goes to the caller and asks her to explain the story. She spews hatred with every word saying that she is afraid that her son living with a gay man, who has clearly sinned, is encouraging him to pick up bad behaviors. She compares being gay to smoking and drinking at a party, and she doesn't want her son exposed to this kind of behavior. Homo-sexuality is a sin, and obviously this other child was not brought up properly. She is concerned that this will rub off on her son. Apparently she is concerned with her parenting here because if her son was "brought up properly" according to her he would never be gay.

This behavior is disgusting, and children who are gay are just acting out. They have not had the chance life properly, and they have made the wrong decisions. I just don't want my son to make the wrong decisions.

The morning show personalities all voice their concern for her opinions, interjecting and questioning her on why she feels this way. They try to explain that college is about getting to know new people. That her son not being concerned by this is a good thing, he is tolerant unlike his mother.

Callers call in, a woman who is 32 and has known she was gay since she was 10 assures the mother that her homo-sexuality will not rub off on her son. An enraged drag queen calls in and calls the mother ignorant (I agree completely). The mother writes all of these responses off as the response of sinners. It is clear that she will not change her mind and one can only hope that her son does not possess the same hatred as she does.

I am driving along listening to this and screaming at the radio. Here is my response to this woman and those of you like her...

I was raised in a very loving family, I was raised properly and I am still a gay man. I did not catch my homo-sexuality from anybody, and it is not a decision that I made. Believe me I take the easy way out, and coming out to my parents was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. The fact that your son is perfectly fine having a gay roommate should not scare you, it should make you proud. You have somehow despite all odd raised a very tolerant and accepting son, who appreciates that people come in all shapes and sizes. And whether this tolerant and accepting son is gay or not should not change the way you feel about him. He is your son, your flesh and blood, and you should love him no matter what. I know this is difficult for you to understand because your heart is so full of hatred, but please try to think about what you are saying before you say it. All men are created equal...

The fact that you were exposing yourself on the radio, and expressing how much you hate concerns me. It is this kind of hate that breeds violence. I have a feeling that you would have been fine with me being kicked in the head because I was gay and I was evil, and I would be one less person that your son could catch the gay disease from. Much like you pray that your son isn't gay... I pray that you have not passed along your hatred to your children.

Welcome to My New House on TV

So we are moving in August to a new Row House in DC, and the house was previously featured on HGTV's Curb Appeal. That means that my house is famous and yours is not!

I am very excited about the move, but not the act of moving. Some of the highlights of the house are that it is 3 levels, it has a sun room, tons of outdoor space, two roof decks,a huge master bedroom, and a hot tub. But most importantly, my house is famous... and yours isn't!

Pi: Pizza and WIne Bar

I don't do restaurant reviews, I never will, it's not fair to the establishment because I am such a picky eater. However, last week we decided that we would go someplace different for dinner, after all we love the Diner but there are so many restaurants that it is crazy to keep going to the same place for months (although we do that most of the time). We decided to go to a pizza and wine bar that we noticed a few weeks before. We figured, how could we go wrong, I love pizza, the Doctor loves wine. It's done! So we ended up at Pi Pizzeria and Wine Bar.

I have to say it was one of the most bizarre and fantastically insane dinners I have ever had. The owner of the restaurant was our waitress, and she is off the wall crazy. This was enjoyable kind of crazy, but I got the feeling that it could be a non-enjoyable crazy if you crossed her, but all was OK because she liked us.

For a visual image of her which will help you understand the evening, picture a tall blond Barbie doll, with a surgically enhanced chest, dressed from head to toe in designer. Not sure what designer but it was expensive.

I have struggled with how to write this post because it is not so much about the food (excellent) or the atmosphere (very cool and trendy and a little crazy) but more about the experience. And to me it seems like an experience that is beyond words.

We walk in the front door of the restaurant and a blond streak comes running out from behind the bar..."Well, hello it looks like the hot guys have arrived." (See I told you she was a bit crazy). Immediately following the greeting, with white frosting on her fingers she asks... "Would you guys help me frost the penises?" At this point we knew that this was going to be an night to blog about, as the doctor begins humming Bonnie Raits, "Lets Give Them Something to Talk About."

She seats us at the big table in the front of the bar, and walks away. The friend we are with then excuses himself to the bathroom. She return with menus and says, "Was that a boy or a girl you were with? I don't know who was with you I was so distracted." Our friend returns, and we decide to not tell him that part.

She once again returns to take our order, and somehow we get on the topic of schools, apparently a nerd from MIT had turned her down in her past... "He was a jerk, I mean really, who would turn me down, and I mean MIT... come on, Oh, you didn't go to MIT did you?" At this point the three of us sitting at the table were practically doubled over.

Leaning seductively over the table she pours our wine, and begins discussing her gay employee, she then tell us that she has no "gaydar." We decide to make it easier on her and tell her that we are gay. She seems shocked, but continues to lean seductively over the table. "You guys need to totally come back when (name deleted cause I don't remember it) is working, he would love you, you know I have him on camera doing stuff in this restaurant... he would love you guys." I believe she was referring to her gay employee, but I'm not sure and it is possible that she was trying to hook us up with him.

When she returns with out appetizers she asks how we know each other, we explain the relationships, and that the Doctor and I are together, she turns to our friend and says... "I know how to break them up, next time I'll just put a roofie in the wine bottle..." She walks away and we almost fall out of our seats, apparently she is not only going to hook us up with her gay employee, but she is going to drug us as well in order to break us up.

Our pizza arrives, and she decides that she needs to tell us what she is planning to do this weekend, besides having a large party on her roof, which is also the best place to see fireworks apparently she is going to a gay male stripper bar. "Guess, where I am going... a bar called Secrets here in DC?... have you heard of it?" We tell her that we have, and that it is a gay strip club, "Oh my god, I didn't know it was a gay male stripper bar, that's gonna be so much fun." At this point she is like our new best friend, the one you bring to parties to entertain the masses.

"Here you guys need to try this shot, I don't drink, but it is so good." We were confused by this statement, not only because we would have expected her to be a raging alcoholic, but also because if you don't drink how do you know what the shot tastes like. It was good though, and the added touch of frosting from the penises was a nice touch.

The night continues with interesting comments, and asides, we are having a blast as we have a few final words with her, when out of nowhere she says, "I got my special needs daughter Allez hair removal because she is half Persian... so you know she needs it" I almost spit wine across the roof when she said this, and I had no idea how to respond other than to laugh.

We get up to leave and she tells us that we need to come back, and make sure that her gay employee is there... "You guys need to come back, next time sit at the bar, the wine is on me." Now keep in mind I didn't go back for that free wine, because, after all she did say it was going to be roofied so she could break me and my gay "husband" up, but we did go back for more pizza and the antics continued. I recommend stopping in if you are in DC, it is a good time... plus you can't go wrong with pizza and wine.

Costa Rica: Post 5 My Time with My Books

With a view like that how can you not lay in a hammock and read? One of our favorite pastimes in Costa Rica on this vacation was reading. When we went on this trip the one thing that I wanted to do was sit on the beach and read a book. I got to do this everyday and I couldn't have been happier. The Doctor even started reading a book, something he insists he hasn't done for fun in a long time. I finished two books while I was on vacation.

I Know You're Out There

This was a book that I picked up after a former employee recommended it on this blog. It was supposed to be very "David Sedaris" so I figured it would be worth a shot. The main idea of the story is that the author works for a newspaper in the personals. He tells his story through his experiences at the newspaper. The personals are a centerpiece but they are also used as a reflection of his own relationships. When I picked up this title I was expecting to get some insight on the authors life, but I was expecting to read more about his job at the personals. I won't say that I am disappointed in the book as a whole it was just not what I was expecting. Overall it was a light read and it was very enjoyable. He wrote with a great sense of humor, this was a perfect book for a vacation.

A Year In The Merde

This was another recommendation, and while I enjoyed I Know You're Out There, I loved A Year in the Merde... and not just because he was brutal in his criticism of the French. (Sorry French readers and friends). His humor and his experiences were so entertaining I loved every minute of reading the book.

As the book jacket says this is a book for Francophiles and Francophobes, and it is an enjoyable read for the armchair traveler such as myself. The author creates the story of an ex pat living in France for a job, and his character is a fierce observer of those funny aspects of living in a country different from your own. Paul West (the main character) is a thirty something British man who has come to Paris for a job opening a bunch of English tearooms (I pictured the British version of Starbucks) who is in Paris to open a string of very English tearooms. There are a number of obstacles Paul faces in Paris including difficult employees (even more so than some of mine, a tyrannic boss, numerous strikes and of course doge merde in the streets. On the positive not for Mr. West he also endeavours into the adventures of love while in Paris. Some go well, others do not, most of them end. This is an interesting adventure through French life, and is laugh out loud funny. I would recommend picking it up.

Costa Rica: Post 4 My Flip Flops Join the Umbrella

One of the most effective ways to get around the Osa besides walking is on a Quad. Otherwise known as a four wheeler, since the Doctor didn't know what a Quad was before we went to Costa Rica. A Quad is generally made for one person, and sometimes two, but we were three so we needed to create a makeshift seat on the back for none other than myself when we were traveling.

The first time we went out on the Quad I put a couple towels on the back, and was smart enough to wear sneakers. While I was holding on for dear life I noticed that the bar I was holding on to was right above the exhaust and got hot quickly. There was conveniently a rag blowing in the wind and I caught it and used it to protect my hand. Overall, it wasn't really a bad ride. It actually was a more comfortable ride then the jeep, mainly because the Quad had better suspension and the breeze felt good.

The second trip was into town and it proved a bit more challenging. First off I decided to wear flip flops, figuring that I would just hold them while we were on the Quad so that they wouldn't fall off. This worked for a while until my hand started to ache from stretching around my flip flops and then to the bar I needed to hold onto, and because the ride into town was longer my towels began to shift which made the ride slightly more uncomfortable. Bounce bounce bounce pothole... OUCH! That was pretty much the trip into town and to the restaurant on the beach. Don't get me wrong it was a beautiful ride, it was just painful at times.

After the restaurant I decided to try leaving my flip flops on for a bit until our next stop. This was also a bad idea as my toes got cramped trying to hold my flip flops on my feet as we whizzed past building on an open air machine at 40 miles per hour. Finally, I decided to wedge the flip flops in and out of the bars where I was sitting keeping them nice and secure without me having to worry about holding them. This proved even more useful since our next stop was the market where we bought some items we needed back at the resort. When we got back on the Quad the Doctor had to hold on to Yogi A in the front and not let got of a bag full of candles and fruit, and I had to hold onto a bag with a bottle of wine and a few other items in it.

As the landscape flew by and I was getting covered in dust and grime I was getting an excellent core workout, holding onto the bar on the quad with one hand, and a bottle of wine with his other. Every once in a while the Doctor had to reach back and stabilize me so I wouldn't go flying off the Quad and break the bottle of wine. Bounce bounce bounce, pothole... Ouch... Images of me being covered in red wine, shards of glass, and lovely scratches caused by jagged Costa Rica rocks danced through my head. We were getting closer to the resort as we bounced our way down the road. I was feeling more comfortable, and almost like I was going to survive. We pull up at the gate, and I go to get off the back of the Quad. I look to my left to retrieve my flip flops and they are gone.

Damn my flip flops are now somewhere on the side of the road with the ugly umbrella. If you are down in the Osa and see a lovely pair of American Eagle flip flops, and a red umbrella please return them to the Blue Osa!

Sen. Ted Kennedy and The Matthew Shepard Amendment

Today the Matthew Shepard Amendment and the bill it is attached to was passed in the Senate. This bill will expand federal hate crimes legislation, this amendment adds sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability to previous hate crimes statutes. After 12 years of struggle this bill finally passes. For some additional information please visit He does an excellent job explaining the changes and the struggle. Finally, a change...

This means a lot to me after what happened last summer, as I have stood up and fought against the injustices and the hate that surrounded my attack, I have been hoping that I could help make a change. Many people have been fighting longer than I have but I am elated at the passage of the Matthew Shepard amendment today. And adding to this, Senator Kennedy's floor debate speech which is included in it's entirety below references the Fabio Brandao case, and what happened to me and my friends that one summer evening.

The fight isn't over yet but we are making steps in the right direction. Below is the text from Kennedy's floor debate...

Floor Remarks of Senator Edward M. Kennedy
The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act
July 13, 2009

Mr. President, I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join in supporting the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

We need to pass this bill without further delay. The House passed a hate crimes bill with a vote of 249 to 175 in April. President Obama has repeatedly stated that he supports swift enactment of hate crimes legislation. The Department of Justice has expressed a need to strengthen our federal hate crimes law. And, over 300 law enforcement, religious, civil rights, and community organizations have stated their support for this Act. We need to make certain that every American is protected from hate crimes. No one should be a victim of violence because of who they are.
In fact, hate crimes are domestic terrorism. Like all terrorist acts, they seek to bring fear to whole communities through violence on a few. We have committed ourselves to protecting our country from terrorists that strike from abroad, so we must make the same commitment to protecting Americans from homegrown terrorism.
Only weeks ago, a small distance from this Capitol, James von Brunn, a formerly convicted criminal and a known anti-Semite, entered the D.C. Holocaust Memorial Museum and began firing a rifle. During the attack, von Brunn shot and killed security guard Stephen Johns. As tragic as this incident was, the heroism of Stephen Johns, and the heroism of other members of the museum’s security team, prevented von Brunn from conducting a violent massacre of innocent men, women, and children. Von Brunn planned a hate crime, an act of domestic terrorism. Our society recognizes that such a crime cannot be tolerated. Attacks like these send shockwaves through American communities and must be prosecuted as terrorizing crimes.

The original hate crime statute, enacted in 1968, criminalized violent acts based on a victim’s race, color, religion, or national origin. Over the past 40 years, we have learned from experience that hate crime perpetrators often target communities unprotected by the original statute. This amendment strengthens that statute to protect victims targeted with violence because of their gender, their sexual orientation, their gender identity, or their disability.

In Boston on August 24, 2008, Jonathan Howard and three friends were viciously attacked by four men while walking home from a Boston nightclub. The assault began when a Honda pulled up beside the victims. The four men in the vehicle began yelling obscenities and homophobic slurs at the group. The perpetrators told Howard to die and repeatedly kicked his head into the pavement. After the event, Howard stated that “the type of assault that we encountered was completely random, unprovoked, and unforgivable.” This type of attack was just as much a hate crime as the attack by James von Brunn, and it needs to be recognized as a federal hate crime.

The victims did nothing to provoke their attack. They did not deserve to be the subjects of violence. No member of the LGBT community should be terrified to walk down the street for fear of hateful violence. Hate crimes perpetrators must not be allowed to place our communities in fear.

On May 11th, the Boston Globe reported that the historic election of President Barack Obama spurred a wave of hate crime violence. The article cites a study by the Southern Poverty Law Center that shows the number of white extremist groups in the United States has increased by nearly 50 percent since 2000, and that white extremist activity has sharply increased over the past several months.
Last November 5th, following the election of President Barrack Obama, four men rampaged across Staten Island, assaulting African-Americans in response to President Obama’s victory. The attackers beat a 17-year-old boy with a pipe, they physically assaulted another man to the ground, verbally harassed individuals suspected of voting for President Obama, and slammed into a man with a car because they mistakenly believed he was African-American. None of these victims were known to their attackers. None of these victims could have prevented the attacks. The victims were terrorized because their attackers wanted to send a violent message of hate to the African-American community.

Last July 12th, in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, Luis Ramirez, a 25 year-old Mexican and father of two, was beaten by several drunken students from the local high school. Authorities said the teenagers yelled ethnic slurs as they punched and kicked Mr. Ramirez, causing him to lose consciousness and begin to foam at the mouth. As a result of the attack, Mr. Ramirez died two days later. During the attack, one of the assailants reportedly yelled, “tell your . . . Mexican friends to get . . . out of Shenandoah . . .” According to Pennsylvania Governor Rendell, “Luis Ramirez was targeted, beaten, and killed because he was Mexican.” Yet, after a jury trial in state court, the killers were acquitted of the most serious charges and convicted of simple assault – yes, simple assault.

As the result of this case, the Justice Department is currently investigating civil rights violations with one hand tied behind their back. Because the incident occurred while the victim was walking by a park, and because walking by a park may not be considered a “federally protected activity,” the Justice Department is not able to fully investigate and prosecute this crime. This legislation closes the flagrant loophole that prevents prosecution of a hate crime when a victim is not engaged in a federally protected activity. It provides that hate crime perpetrators may be prosecuted, regardless of where their victim was or what they were doing when he or she was attacked.

In addition, this bill authorizes the Justice Department to make grants to state, local, and tribal authorities to combat, investigate, and prosecute hate crimes more effectively. During these times of economic crisis, state and local authorities are cash-strapped to deal with costly hate crime incidents. Investigations tend to be expensive. They require considerable law enforcement effort and extensive use of grand juries. To ease the extraordinary costs and complexity of such cases, the bill authorizes $5 million in Justice Department grants to state, local, and tribal law enforcement officials who have incurred extraordinary expenses associated with investigating and prosecuting hate crimes.

The legislation also authorizes the Justice Department to make grants for states, local, and tribal programs that combat hate crimes committed by juveniles, including programs to train local law enforcement officers in identifying, investigating, prosecuting, and preventing hate crimes. With hate crimes against Latinos on the rise, and hate crimes against LGBT individuals on the rise, and hate group activity on the rise, we must ensure that our state and local law enforcement authorities have all the tools and resources they need to combat, investigate, and prosecute hate crimes.

I’m proud to take this opportunity to recognize the work of the Boston Police Department as the only major police department to incorporate hate crimes training into its mandatory training program. Unfortunately, many police departments around the country do not have the resources necessary to provide such training. This bill specifically authorizes the Justice Department to allocate funds for training so that other police departments may follow the example set by the Boston PD.
Violent attacks based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability deserve to be criminalized by federal law. Our nation must show that it will not permit these communities to be terrorized – one victim at a time.

For the past ten years, the Senate and the House of Representatives have each passed this legislation on multiple occasions – only to face political setbacks that have prevented the measure from being enacted. Now, we must finish the job and send this legislation to the President for his signature. By doing so, Congress will be reflecting the will of the American people. We will be sending a strong message that hate crime violence will not be tolerated – and that every citizen deserves federal protection against such crimes.

Religious leaders across the country support the amendment. As my colleagues know, the Golden Rule is recognized as one of the deepest principles in virtually every religious tradition. It is the simple principle that we ought to treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated. In the book of Matthew, chapter 7, Jesus says, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” This amendment embodies the Golden Rule by extending protection to individuals in communities that are vulnerable to violence fueled by hatred.

Religious leader, Pastor Joel C. Hunter, has said, “I would think that the followers of Jesus would be first in line to protect any group from hate crimes . . . This bill protects both the rights of conservative religious people to voice passionately their interpretations of their scriptures and protects their fellow citizens from physical attack.”

Many religious groups have expressed their support for the bill, including the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the Interfaith Alliance, the Presbyterian Church, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the United Methodist Church, and the Congress of National Black Churches.
Over 10 years have passed since the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act was first introduced in the Senate. Over 10 years have passed since Matthew Shepard was robbed, pistol whipped, tortured, tied to a fence, and left to die because he was gay. I commend Matthew’s mother, Judy Shepard, for her years of inspiring advocacy that have brought us to this moment. Now is the time for the Senate to vote and show that we will not allow domestic terrorism to tear apart the fabric of our nation and take the lives of innocent Americans. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to follow their hearts and minds and vote in favor of this legislation.

Costa Rica: Post 3 Hiking to the Waterfall

On the first day we were at Blue Osa we took a hike that I didn't enjoy. The water wasn't working so a trip up to the spring in the middle of the jungle up the mountain was necessary. This hike involved a machete which should have been my first sign that I wasn't going to enjoy it, and as a matter of fact I never actually finished the hike because I stayed at the base of the mountain as the Doctor and Yogi A continued on. While they were up there I did get to see howler monkeys move across the trees. A few days later I told the Doctor that if he wanted to go on a hike up to the waterfall I would go with him and I even promised to enjoy it.

So we decided one afternoon to hop on the quad (that is a whole separate post) and head up to the entrance to the river. Once we parked the Quad and went up to the entrance we began our hike. The water was a bit chilly but in the 100 degree heat it was almost bearable for me. Yogi A took the lead reminding us that the most important thing about the jungle is to "know where you are putting yourself." I was very cautious as we walked over the rocks and through the ankle to knee deep water. We came to a point where a tree was covering our path so we had to get out of the water and walk around, up over trees, up the hill and then back down. Once we had passed that area we once again entered the river and the "rapids" and ahead of us we could see the waterfall. The water was cascading down the rocks and into a beautifully tranquil pool of water in the middle of the jungle.

Once we got to the pool took off our shoes and stripped down to our swimming attire and swam around a bit, and over to the waterfall. Luckily I brought my camera carefully protected in a Ziploc bag. While the water was cold the area was beyond picturesque it was perfect. The clear water the jungle surrounding us. The massage from the waterfall as the water ran down your body. This was another amazing experience that you could only have in Costa Rica and an experience we will never forget.

The way back down was a bit more difficult for me, I am not sure if it was because I was tired or it was downhill or the water was deeper but I was having a difficult time keeping my footing. At one point because I had my camera I had to scale a rock it was about 8 feet straight up and ten feet down directly into the water or rocks. I made it all the way up and most of the way back down and about six inches from the water I slipped and fell flat on my backside. My sunglasses went flying and I had the breathe knocked out of me but the camera was safe and dry in my shorts.

Once we got back to the bottom we all got back on the quad and Yogi A took us to a different part of the beach. There was an amazing outlook deck that was above the ocean in the middle of the jungle. We sat and listen to the waves as the cam onshore. You were looking out and all you could see was the purity of nature. As we sat and listened to the waves we also noticed that a howler monkey was very close. You could hear his cries from the trees behind us. As Yogi A and I sat on the outlook deck the Doctor went to go look for his howler monkey, and he found it. He came running back quietly a few minutes later looking for the camera, and he got a clear picture and video of the howler from below, this was as close as either of us had ever been to these monkeys, although we heard them every morning.

We ventured back to Blue Osa a bit later fully satisfied. We had an amazing day with friends and the waterfall and sitting by the beach was only a few hours of that. More life experiences and memories were made this day. I couldn't help but smile as I was being shaken apart on the ride back... this was what living your life is about, and I am lucky to be here to live it.