August 2, 2015

BeachLu3Wow, as they say… WOW. Wow, drawn out with at least 4 o’s. WOW, uttered in a low-note minor key of shock and awe. It’s the sound of amazement echoing thru the empty tunnels of a million mouth-breathers. It calls to mind the how-fucked-are-we-mothership-cresting-the-skyline moment we’ve all been waiting for: WOW. Until something that exceptional actually happens, we’ll practice the living shit out of these WOWs: build funeral wreaths for poached lions with them, lower a WOW-based gender-norm sneeze guard between ourselves and formerly male Olympians, wave a flag of WOW’s—your choice of stars-n-bars or rainbow. America: land of the free, home of the incredulous. Wait—that was way too wordy. I mean WOW. Just WOW.

I’ve taken the abundance of WOW’s allotted me as a suburban auslander, and as is my wont, fashioned a high tower crowned with crenellations from which I can tip over pots of boiling hot WOW’s onto the barbarian hordes, which is—trust me on this—an all-day job here in the Cubburbs. But somehow, I’ve managed to stitch up a comforting quilt of the more delicate WOW’s to cuddle into after a long and difficult day of WOW dumping. And yet, I have so many WOW’s to spare and share with you, bullet-point style, my lucky-lucky babies! As an added bonus, I’ve ranked each with a special WOW rating: the more O’s, the more WOW.


  • We’re Bad, We’re Nationwide (WOW rating: 14 O’s) Same-sex marriage is finally a national reality. Kate and I can now carry on our decade-long debate of who’s not listening to who and who’s losing their mind, coast-to-coast, like a Lincoln and Douglas who occasionally give each other shoulder rubs and take turns wiping their toddler’s behind.
  • Welcome To The Family, Keef! (WOW rating: 4 O’s)  According to the box it came in, this baby can grill up to “20 hamburgesas” at a time.  And because it has the capacity to smoke up the entire neighborhood, I’ve named it after the heaviest smoker alive today, Mr. Keith Richards.Keef2
  • Fare Thee Well, Grateful Dead (WOW rating: 4.5 O’s) I know I’m way late to the party, but has Bob Weir ALWAYS looked like he was being goosed by the Grim Reaper?Weir3
  • Go Set A What, Man? (WOW rating: 6.3 O’s) It’s probably pointless to be spoiler-sensitive now, but just allow me this moment to gloat about my decision to put all my eggs in the Flannery O’Connor basket, way back when, at the Southern Women Writers State Fair.goset2
  • “I’m a big girl. No binks. I’m not a baby!” (WOW rating: 8 O’s) After a two night pacifier-less stand, our daughter Lu has renounced all the trappings of babyhood.  We are now a family of “big girls”, just in time for me to begin my slide into liquid dinners and adult diapers.
  • Slide Report (WOW rating: 4.6 O’s) I continue to grey like nobody’s business, and am widening quite nicely, thank you very much.  I loom on the horizon like a goddamn prairie menace full of golf-ball sized hail.
  • Deep Dream Fry Daddy (WOW rating: 13 O’s) All of the photos featured here today have been tossed into an app I’m calling the Deep Dream Fry Daddy. Some, multiple times.  Judging from the reactions I’ve been getting on social media, it’s pretty polarizing.  I like to think that it doesn’t just bring out the dog in every picture, but every square out of the woodwork.  All you have to do is say “That’s just creepy!” and I know exactly how cool you aren’t.MouseHouse4
  • Charlemagne Oakes Shake-Up (WOW rating: 12.2 O’s) It started with the sudden demise of a beloved educator in May, and yet another one in July, and now the town is covered with ribbons and freaking the fuck out.  I am standing at ground zero of a sort of Cubburban carpe diem that is both bracing and disquieting. It’s manifesting itself in an anxiety spectrum ranging from the adorable uptick of neighborhood BBQ’s, to game-changing divorces, and perhaps most disturbingly, abrupt mid-life genital piercings. It’s brought out the best in some people, (see Girl Scout pic below), and theScoutsDonationBooth worst in others.  As is the order of things, the two people no longer with us were paragons of kindness and compassion, cut down in their proverbial prime, while those of us who have fallen short of their moral goals are left behind to sneak cigarettes behind their children’s backs and write cynical blog posts about a small community’s grief and loss.  But hey, Keef and I did host two BBQ’s; I can’t be all that bad. Hopefully not good enough to get cut down, though. I have a lot of fucking up yet to do.
  • Welcome, Jenny And Donnie! (WOW rating: 3.98 O’s)You two crazy kids moved to Charlemagne Oaks in just the nick of time! We’ve been through a lot lately. Our chubburb turns its lonely eyes to you.  To further summon the ever-quotable “Mrs. Robinson”: “wooo-wooo-wooo”. I’m sure you can see, there’s at least one WOW in there somewhere for your troubles.JennyNDonnie5

Renaissance Faire 2015!

July 12, 2015
Heard ya missed us! WE'RE BACK!!!

Heard ya missed us! WE’RE BACK!!!

When I told my coworker I was going to the Rennaissance Faire, she said “That sounds like fun for you!”

For you… as in not for me. Not for me, and not in a million years, you pathetic dork-tard. While you’re clanking around in chainmail or whatever, I’m going to do something normal, like get my roots re-frosted and go to the Cubs game with my soon-to-be third husband.

It’s good to see that despite the changes I’ve seen in the five years since my last pilgrimage to where the bustier and codpiece reign supreme, at least one thing hasn’t changed. The chasm between me and the suburban them doesn’t just yawn.  It yodels.

Coworker is singular now.  I no longer report to the hive in Cubicle America. I work from home these days, for a fledgling element of the same company that is so new, I only have the one coworker. The two of us communicate via IM, which doesn’t dispel any loneliness I might feel as much as it makes me feel foolish for feeling it in the first place.  I am finally fulfilling my lone wolf destiny. I sometimes forget to change out of my pajamas. I shower once a week, and that’s only after the children complain about the smell.

The children.  Holding steady at the two daughters: Mabel and Lu. Mabel has grown up to be a Common Core math whiz, Katy Perry fan (wince), and enthusiast of the well-timed sarcastic comeback. And Lu? It’s still a little hard to tell who she’ll become at this point, but we do know she is fond of the word MINE in all caps, and the song stylings of one “Dave” Bowie.  The girls adore one another in every way.  They adore singing and dancing together as much as they adore slamming the door in each other’s faces.  This is parenthood on an entirely new level—the bouncer/Judge Wapner level.  The guitar and sassy little red hen hand puppet from my fun mom days have been relegated to silent jurists in the corner as I keep the motherfucking peace in the goddamn house.

I’ve changed, too, in the past five years, or rather, I’ve become someone I didn’t realize I’d harbored within me all along. I’ve summoned up a surprising reserve of parental badassery that I’ve apparently inherited from my dad’s sister Betty. An easy-going master of the wisecrack who could at any moment transform into a fiery Valkyrie of pure rage and clenched teeth and tangled mane, Aunt Betty terrified me even more than my dad, who was most certainly no slouch himself. When I roar “GO TO SLEEP!”, I can feel Aunt Betty’s blood-curdling battle cry “YINS KIDS!” resonating in my very marrow. And I even scare myself. Another destiny fulfilled.

But I had these children not to rain vengeful justice down upon them, but rather, enjoy them, and help them enjoy life’s possibilities.  Hence, a return to the mecca of the Fun Mom—the Renaissance Faire.  Gaytheist bullet points shall now ensue:

  • Mabel doesn’t remember much from her last trip to the Ren Faire, but the experience did leave an indelible fashion imprint in her mind.  After outfitting both Lu and herself with the requisite tutus, she asked me as I sipped my coffee, resplendent in my aromatic work from home wolf fineries, “What are you planning to wear?”  After affecting a long, contemplative pause, I answered, “I’m thinking of going with clothes.” Her response– a snort of amusement mingling with a mild undertone of approval—is as close to a high five as I’m going to get from this kid.
  • The clothes I ended up going with: a tie-dye tank top with bell bottoms. I decided that my personal journey back in time would be tripped up somewhere in the vicinity of the Summer Of Love. I topped it off with an eight mile high ponytail from the I Dream Of Genie Book of Styles.
Just another greying, tattooed free spirit at the Ren Faire.  Huzzah, lords and bitches!

Just another greying, tattooed free spirit at the Ren Faire. Huzzah, lords and bitches!

This look is not for everybody. When your hair is especially long and greying at the temples like mine, your hair ends up falling around your shoulders, and broadcasts your Bride Of Frankenstein streaks to the world. It’s a hairdo that is both up and down, young and old. But I take no credit for it, as I stole it from my buddy Meister, the high priestess of unapologetic contradiction herself.

  • The Rennaissance Faire remains the #1 weekend destination for Chicagoland’s lesbian community.  This time, we happened to be parked right next to a young couple with their Rachel Maddow hornrims and saggy jeans.  We traded chin-juts of solidarity as we unloaded our cars and made our way across the gently rolling meadow leading to the witch-hatted Bavarian fortress containing our escape from squaredom.
  • It used to be that the Ren Faire was basically a bubble of Shakespearian-era whimsy: lords and ladies, thee’s and thou’s, armor and lace abounds. Those days have been relegated to the past as dead and gone as the one it attempted to emulate in the first place. Now it’s a holding tank for every flight of fancy taxiing over O’Hare today, an Elizabethan UN festooned with freak flags of every stripe.  I saw a woman in a full-body cheetah suit, a set of cat ears perched atop her perm, an actual set of cheetah print tattoos prowling her fully exposed lower back. I saw a Japanese Elvis impersonator. I saw an elderly woman in full Jack Sparrow drag. I saw what I’m guessing was a man, dressed up in an indeterminate mound of swamp-green paper mache’ with inexplicable protrusions in odd directions. I saw more belly dancers than I could shake a tambourine at, many of whom were adorably more belly than dancers. Most remarkably, I saw some suburban alpha males pretending they were somehow better than everything and everyone there.

    I saw these two, perpetrating like they're not going to throw everything they can get their hands on into that pond over there.

    I saw these two, perpetrating like they’re not going to throw everything they can get their hands on into that pond over there.

  • No turkey legs for me this year. I’m getting too old to prove anything to anyone anymore. Fuck that shit, man. It’s strictly brats-n-kraut for me.

    My, how she's grown.

    My, how she’s grown.

  • Kate quietly bought me a gift at one of the Hogwartsian boutiques, a reminder that under all the noise of our new lives, and all the conversations we’re too tired to have, and the wars we wage day in and day out against ourselves and each other and the world at large, it all started with us, and it will end that way as well. That she placed it on top of my lone wolf work station makes it all the more meaningful.
Fairy poke: danger imminent.

Fairy poke: danger imminent.

  • We watched in amazement as Lu caught the spirit of the Faire like the tail of a glorious kite, and sailed away.  She learned how to curtsey, and did so frequently. She chatted at length with a lady in waiting. She hollered “GO GREEN” for the emerald-clad knight assigned to our cheering section at the joust. And most significantly, she was crowned the Grand Dame of Fairy Glen.  Now, this is really is something because Mabel was TERRIFIED of Fairy Glen when she was Lu’s age. Her fear of what she called “[pre]tend people”–clowns, mimes, and mascots—was so all-consuming, we just hustled her past that enclave of Froud Faery freakishness.  But Lu is a fearless embracer of make-believe. She was baptized with a pinch of fairy dust by a ram-horned fauna sprite with multiple facial piercings that I’m calling Portable Portland. DSCN1353She built a twig fortress with a tree fairy I’m calling Ch-Ch-Chia. DSCN1361Her nose was given a playful “one of us” poke by a flora fairy I’m calling Bouquet.  And she was sent on her way with a string bracelet courtesy of the most terrifying one of all, a grey spider spirit I call Arachnaphobia.  DSCN1373As two refugees of a barely-averted confrontation with Ronald McDonald at a recent McD’s grand opening, Mabel and I could only witness this commune in anxiety-tainted wonder.
  • Orange Is The New The End.DSCN1379

Thud: Growing Up With The Bee Gees

June 29, 2014
My version of the Red Ryder BB Gun: "Bee Gees Gold."

My version of the Red Ryder BB Gun: “Bee Gees Gold.”

I was thrilled to receive a gift of a Bee Gees puzzle from my younger sister Lars last month.  This is not a joke: I was thrilled to get a 200 piece puzzle of the Bee Gees.  I love the Bee Gees, and not in the half-assed way that it’s become acceptable to love the Bee Gees, either.  They’re not a “guilty pleasure.”  Nor is “their early stuff actually pretty good” to me.  I love the disco stuff from the 70’s just as much as I love their British Invasion stuff.  They were my first favorite band.  I grew up with them.   My love, like all first loves, is crystalline and perfect: unencumbered by the cloudy complications that attend my “grown up” affections.   (I love Neko Case, for example, but I’ve backed away from her latest work, which seems stiff and agenda-addled to me.)  As a Bee Gees fan, I’ve become accustomed to snide comments and backhanded compliments.  After all, the Bee Gees have been given a bad rap. When called upon to do so, I’ve been their defender and I’ll defend them again in this story.  Like the contents of the box handed to me by my sister, this story is a jumble of pieces of the past: a past as distant as the summer of 1981, when my love for the Bee Gees became a full-tilt obsession and as recent as May 27, 2014, when I attended Barry Gibb’s “Mythology” Tour at the United Center in Chicago.    Read the rest of this entry »

A Million Little Salt Crystals

May 18, 2014

ROME and remorse.

I love my daughter Mabel more than I’d thought I could ever love another person.  For her, I’ve incurred cavities of the teeth and mind by way of multiple sugar shock episodes of “My Little Pony.”  I glory in the light in her eyes when we play “school”, despite being cast repeatedly as an illiterate little dullard named Denise Bernice.  Mabel is the ambassador of my fondest hopes; she carries my heart in her little purple leopard-skin purse. She is everything to me. Yet I took her to the (shudder) Olive Garden.   That’s right: the (shudder) Olive Garden.  Like the monster parent of urban legend fame who forced his child to smoke an entire pack of cigarettes in one sitting, I did a horrible, valuable thing, and I did it out of love.   It’s quite possible she will resent me for it for the rest of our lives, but I have no regrets. Read the rest of this entry »

Gaytheist Christmas Card 2013

December 23, 2013

Meme-ish smartassery courtesy of our family’s answer to Banksy: Auntie.

The glow emanating from this, the Gaytheist Christmas Card 2013, is golden– a butterscotch, if you will.  Like butterscotch, its sweetness is undermined by its stickiness.  It’s the kind of stickiness you encounter when handling a “live” Christmas tree: the sap is snarlingly soap resistant, rendering  you a laughable Edward Stickerhands. 

Take heart, my sticky babies– at least you don’t smell like you have a Pine-Sol problem!  Your problem can be solved by a small child– a child who personifies the salvation of this hectic, overextended, and overwrought season, a child who redeemed us all  by casually handing Santa’s candy cane and his “be a good little girl” jive back to him–in several small, symbolically potent pieces.  In the spirit of this holiday miracle, the Gaytheist Gospel Hour wishes you and yours a very merry Up Yours, Christmas!


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