Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Prayer

The following is a prayer I offer often.  One I find brings me back, when I lose my way, and in a lonely, quiet place, even when I have lost my faith.  I offer it to you, today, on this day of Thanksgiving, as an option at your table.  Or your couch.  Or your tailgait.  Even at my quiet table with my life partner Tom, I never get through it without tears.... But salty tears makes for incredibly lovely turkey.  Blessed Thanksgiving to you all.

A Prayer attributed to St. Francis, Book of Common Prayer, page 833.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that we may not so much seek to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.  Amen.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I Can Do That

I didn't see the original Broadway production of A Chorus Line.   I was, however, Hello Thirteen enough in 1976 when it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and nine Tony Awards. From a distance.

Lonely me-boys bought Original Broadway Cast Albums, back then. Broadway Baby theatre junkies. Misunderstood by others around us who were into 8-tracks of Eagles Greatest Hits.  No tribe, just Cassie, and the dream of a chance to dance.  For you.  When she belted "give me a chance", I sang along, in any narrow mirrow reflection I could find.

I saw this magic for the first time when the first national tour of A Chorus Line came to the Lexington Opera House during the Dick Pardy era. 


A few years later, I auditioned and became "Mike" in Lexington Musical Theatre's first regional production on the same stage.  He's the goy who taps his way into a place on the Line, and captures the heart of the audience with his sung-story of his sister's shoes.  Watching sis go pitter pat.  Me.  Are you kidding?  Me.

As the show comes back to the Opera House this week, in a tour based on the recent 2006 revival, there will be many in the audience who will experience it for the first time.  And, you know what, I will be in the audience, too, experiencing it for the first time.  Again.

I've stood on the Line.  I've been part of the 19 main characters who made "the cut". 

I can tell you this:  Being in the cast of A Chorus Line is grueling, satisfying work.  I might even go so far as to use the biblical sense of the word work:  worship.

You know that moment when the Line makes that perfect triangle of brilliance during the singular sensation during "One"?   Have you ever wondered if the cast on stage feels the self-same energy?  I have an answer for you, yes.  And yes, and yes.

The cheers from the audience, who I have now become a member again, come from within.  Yes.  And yes.  Cheers for the performers, but more-so for the heart of A Chorus Line that lives in all of us.

It is challenging, freeing, and celebratory.

God I hope they get it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


A poem from my 13 year-old self, to the Man I am today:

When you are an adult, you shall wear purple
with a rainbow heart that matches completely, and suits you grandly.
And you shall spend your tension on Chardonnay and kid gloves
and Yankee Candles, and say you've no money for butter substitutes.
You shall sit down on the futon when you are tired
and gobble up samples in shops and press conservative buttons
and run your stick along public railings
and make up for the prison of your youth.
You shall wear Burberry in the rain
and pick flowers from your Partner's garden
and learn to shout.

You can wear fabulous shirts and grow whole
and eat three slices of bacon at a go
or only brioche and Pop Tarts for a week
and hoard ideas and promises and pistachios and things in bargain.

But now you must have causes that keep you hot
and pay your debts and say fuck in the street often
and set a better example for Their children.
You must have friends to theatre and read the Kindle.
But maybe you ought to perfect a little now?

So people who know you are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly you are golden, and start to share Purple.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

1-Click and she was gone

I miss her already, but I know it was all for the best.  I probably should have consulted, at the very least, my Priest, if not my horoscope, but so be it.  She is gone.  I have given my first born over to a happy home, and I know it was the right thing to do.

I know that she is in more-than-capable hands.  And I also think her new Mother, who I'm told is relatively New Media savvy will probably read this, and maybe, just maybe, share it with her one day.  When she's old enough to TRY to understand, I'd like to think.  But that, of course is completely up to fate.  If she ever wants to contact me, when she's say, 13 and wants to know the truth.  I'll be willing to at least meet for a coffee.  I'll find five minutes.  Or so.  So, here it is:

Dear Kindle,

I loved you, and still do, but my circumstances prevented me from giving you the joy, love, and attention you deserve.  It breaks my heart, but I knew at the time that you would be better off in a more loving home.  

I filled you with Pat Conroy's marshy melodies the moment you came to me.  If you have a particular penchant for the low country, that's me.  That's you.  That's us.  I will never forget holding you in my hands and reading our stories.  YOUR stories became mine.  

But the time came for you to go.  For me to let you go.  I hope you understand.  I hope you have a good life with the lady I left you with.  You should have seen her face light up when she first saw you.  I knew then I had made the right decision.  For you.  For us.

And now the hard part:

Kindle:  you have a sister.  She looks so much like you, except, well, graphite.  And smaller.  I know you'll find this troubling and/or confusing, but know this much is true:  You were first.  

I let you go, but I never left you alone.  I pray you are happy.  I understand if you are angry, but should you choose to contact me at some point, well, that's up to you and your new family.  

Michael, your amazonDad.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Will I Lose My Dignity?

I performed in the last season of Paul Greene's Wilderness Road at the Indian Fort Theatre in Berea KY in the summer of 1980.  A recent graduate of Estill County High School.  That tender place between high school and college.  Parents still caring and champions for the boy they couldn't believe had a driving license, much less a high school diploma.  Fresh from my World Champion Clogging Titles. Hee Haw and Grand Ol' Opry appearances (thank you, YouTube, for not coming along until years later).

Dad drove me to the audition at the Chapel at Berea College and at first they said, "No."  Dad, my champion, stepped in and said, "Give my boy one more chance."  

I took the stage (chapel) one more time and belted what I'm sure what must have been a Southern Baptist hymn that contradicted the whole notion of musical theatre, but what the closeted theatre liberals at this somewhat conservative production must have found cute and enchanting.  To this day, I don't know what my stage dad did behind the scenes, but it must have been a page from the Lorna Bell Bundy Playbook. (He may have even written that for her:  He's long dead, but he was first.) 

I was cast.

Two weeks later, mom and dad drove me to Berea for my seasonal stint as what still to this day I consider My Summer as a Chorus Girl. 

Last words from Dad, when he dropped me off at the Senior Dorm at Berea (which HE had negotiated--- Really Good Digs), before the Goodbye Hug.  "There are effeminate people in theater. That does not mean they are....he did not complete the sentence.  GAY."

These people took their historic place in Kentucky outdoor drama seriously.  I loved being around the cast that had, in some cases, been cast locally, and more times than not, from mysterious places from the hell of what was then summer casting just so you can put something on your resume.

You would think I would have come out of the closet that summer.  After all, I was the one in the Senior Berea Dorm that had the Evita White Album.  But I was afraid.

I was afraid of me.  I now understand that I was afraid of me.  Not dad, mom, conservative upbringing:  Me.

I did not come out that summer.  At all.  Even with the Evita album.  High Flying, Adored. Too afraid. Weak is different from terrified, to be clear.

As RENT plays this summer, in my own now-proclaimed hometown, I have chosen not to attend.  One could say it is because it is too damn hot to leave the house.  One could say I've seen the brilliant Pulitzer Prize, Tony Winner 9 times. Enough Already.  But there really is no excuse other than this:

It is simply too emotional of a theatrical experience for me to imagine outdoors, amongst the smuggled sangria and blankies and well-intended local theatre supporters.

No doubt, the audience will experience joy, pathos, and sing along (is there a RENT HEAD front row?).

I can't go.  But I sing the body electric for all of you who are there.  The various sponsors, including Ace Weekly, Joe Artz and the SummerFest Team.  The amazing director T. Bonner who I stood on the line with in A Chorus Line years ago in the Lexington Musical Theatre production when I performed the role of Mike.  "I Can Do That".  And truth:  I really couldn't.  But the applause was addicting.

So, I'm not going.  I've written One Last Song.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Remains of the Day

"Everyone tells you the trip to Europe is exhausting," I wrote in my journal on May 30, 1983, "and everything they say is true."

I've been hearing and thinking about "getting rid of" lately.  Trips to literal or figurative garages.  Basements (ew).  Snakes.  Really bad yearbook photos.  Toss.  Look through.  Remember.  Spiders.  Rotten potatoes.  Even, yes, something as fresh as yesterday's Big Fridge Clean Out that my Life Hope Tom does from time to time, in the chance of creating something extraordinary out of the odd swiveled carrot at the bottom of the veggie bin. Stone Soup.

For some unknown reason, I held on to something that may very well be the most succinct, tiny volumn of my early life that changed me for good.  Be careful what you toss, into a salad or otherwise.

I discovered it the other day.  In the attic of my the house Tom and I own. Not mom and dad's house. Ours. Readers younger than I reading this: You, too will some day have an attic.  At least, I grant that you will, because this is what I discovered.  And I feel 22 years old tonight.  Be careful what you purge.

Excerpts from this courdoroy-bound journal.  The spelling and grammar are mine, unedited from the remains of the days:

Battle Gear:  Eurail Youth Pass, International Student ID, International Youth Hostil ID, Personal ID Card

PFANDER:  Second day in Bregenz.  Climbed to the top of Pfander and viewed Alps.  One hour and a half climb. View spectacular!  Exhausting!!

Food I:  The Goldener Hirsch is our daily eating place.  Pork is delicious in barbecue sauce.  "Eis Krem" is delicious stands on Bondensee shore. Vanille and Erdherre.  Wiener Snitzel is a pork fillet served with lemon and was my very first Austrian meal.  Lasagna is good at most cafes and cost about $4.00.  Coup Danemark is a great chocolate ice cream dessert.  Pommes Frites are french fries and are served very often.

Munich:  Saturday night Jim, Anita, Jan and I decided to go somewhere other than the touristee Haufbrauhaus, so we went to what is similar to Times Square, Leopoldstrasse in search of a disco in Frommer's Guide called FLASH, but never found it.

Accomodations:  Haus International.  $10 a person, 5 in a room.  Indoor pool.

There is more to come from this journal.  I may or not post it here, but it sure felt good to write this much.  And you cannot believe how musky from your own attic smells better once you take a deep breath and start to read how young you were.  And are.  Journey on, all of us.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Stand Before Your God

Paul Watkins begins his memoir "I swear I thought I was going to a party."

How many of us grew up with similar literary soft, hard pillows:

"Mother's Younger Brother was in love with Evelyn Nesbit...He could no longer look at the silhouettes.  He wanted to pack his heart with gunpowder and blow it up."

"I'm stuck by the gap between romance and reality, between my fantasy even now of how such a conversation "ought" to have happened (violins, lit candles revolving in the sky) and the sadness that accompanies the real thing."

Here's Conroy:  "I was famous among my roomates for my mercurial mood-swings.  But they excepted my melancholy as some distorted mirror image of my own overwrought flights of euphoria."

I'm pretty sure Silas House wrote for me when he says, through Anneth, "All my life I've been looking for magic in all the wrong places."

And, yes, I too have been afraid of putting air in a tire ever since that tire blew up and threw Newt Hardbine's father over the top of the Standard Oil sign. 

Now, on the eve of the weekend of the 26th anniversary of my Own Special Protagonist, my central character, the author our our life together, I write:

To be inspired is to be alive.
To get each other is to challenge beliefs and hardships.
To love is to prepare for less than and tingle when it happens and sting when sometimes it doesn't.
To count the days is more important than counting the years or decades.
To not understand that any time with a lover, friend, lifemate is a daily joy is a mistake.
The most important thing is to breathe.  One's own breathe.
My own breathe.
In concert with his and ready to change the cadence, because individuals are marching their own lives.
But the band is ours.
The leader is the heart.
Marching, side by side, sometime
And others, marching with a different music.
But the same beat.
Our hearts.
The leader of the band oversees our every move.
And the breath.  To breathe.  
To be prepared to live the next parade.
To be inspired to be alive.

I love you, Tom.


Thursday, June 24, 2010


When I heard about the decision, these words of his came immediately to mind:

"There is a sense in which I no longer "go to work."  If I live in my place, which is my subject, then I am "at" work even when I am not working.  It is "my" work because I cannot escape it."

And so, tonight, here I am.  In my place. 

There (I hear) John Wall dances and people with t-shirts celebrating the NBA Draft.

There are tiny victories in the Come Together of the World Cup.  Now that USA is in, we are allowed to care.

There are too many "pink slips" to mention.  Good hearted teachers who will probably not get to work with the children they love next year.

There is Texas Tea exploding from the depths that I can no longer blame on the previous Administration. 

There are Words.

His words, in boxes at the flagship university of our state.  Our State.  He said:  You Shall Not Shelter.  My words under the umbrella of this legacy of filth.  No struggling, dying pretty little sea birds covered in oil for the pity of public opinion. 

Not you, this public U.  With your Coal friends.  My words will not live in the shadow of the death you support.  You can NOT keep them.  You shall not have them any longer. 

Standing by his word.  Unusual.

"In the country, meanwhile, there is work to be done."  -  Wendell Berry

Monday, May 31, 2010

When I Think of Home

Decoration Day 

Memories are buried
under flatstone.

Well-kempt cemetaries, once-a-year mowed by patriarchs in preparation.


Tended now by survivors, the left-behind women.
Unarmed by power mowers, but equally empowered by cans of Pledge and clean-as-Downy rags.

Spritz! Let the Shout be Heard!:

Shine!  They will make clear the dates again, some not So distant.

Women of the family tend to their husband's graves with well-armed Pledge and clean Downy rags.  Shine!  Amid the plastic flowers.

Wipe it off, once a year, now.

Dinner plates, nightly, then, when he was alive.  Scraps of taters, melon, maters.  Compost.

"Take it out to the compost, son, it will make our garden grow strong."

Amid the plastic flowers.

And now she is gone, too, with him below the facade.
under flatstone.

Memories are buried

Amid the plastic flowers.

And the children will not weep.  The weeds may grow.  And God will bless what is below.

God can NOT forget to grow,

Despite the plastic flowers.

And for those of you still here, gracious readers of this altogether sometimes disjointed blog, I leave you this powerul literary quote:

Fred Sandford:  Didn't you learn anything being my son?  Who do you think I'm doing this all for?

Lamont Sandford:  Yourself.

Fred:  Yeah, you learned something.

---Dedicated to the ones who have left us behind, both in military and civil service.  Who make this country great, and something to strive to fulfill their promise of an even greater America.  MJM  Memorial Day 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

the happiest sailor

I broke a HUGE rule tonight.  I went up into the attic of the garage here on Merino.

Tom:  asleep. He and I made a promise never to do that without the other watching, caring, because:  What if one fell?

Anyway:  I needed to find a gift I had given him, one year into our time together.  I had a need to share it with all of you.  He'll forgive me. 

I found it.  In one of those "Why the Hell do we Hang onto Boxes like This" moments.  Here's why:

A poem I wrote him and gifted him on Valentine's Day, 1985, when words were all I really had to give.

the ship
and sails
and sun
drift on toward
the sky...

The men on board
hoist the sails of
white...and clear
their minds of

        The sunset
sings, as the Gulls
from some distant
island lull the men
into a moist rum-
chilled stuporous sleep.

Ship, sails, and sun
continue drifting
as the men wax
upon the dreams
they've left behind.

But the sundrenched
thoughts of one man
conjures are not of what he has left behind

but of what awaits
him upon his return.

and, he...

is the happiest sailor.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Little Engine That DID

Tonight, I have lived a Story Book.

There were princesses wearing favorite dresses. 

Table set. The promised rain waited until most of the gathered had arrived. Helping the cast look flawless on arrival. A little fiction.

He arrived, the Honored, with his Lover by his side.  Took their place at the table.

Presents were lauded.  Drinks were poured.

As if Walt Disney himself had a hand in it, and not the latterday saints, even a-most-cutest-dog-ever showed up. 

Later, dances were danced, and all the people of this Story Book tale had their chance to, well, dance.

At the beginning of this Once Upon A Time is a boy named Jason.  He came out to his parents, by the way, this same week, as a proud gay son.  At the end is a Graduate.

I know you can.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


My sanctuary is novel.  I take to my daybed and read.  Escape.  I know, that's so last decade isn't it?
Latest, though, has me wondering:  Why do I put myself through this?  Am I better for having read this tripe?

Amy Greene, born and raised in the foothills of East Tennessee's Smoky Mountains offers Bloodroot.

I have spent the past few weeks with she and her Myra, John, Byrdie.  A cast of tens that, to the very core, remind me of exactly everyone I have ever met in my growing-up-mountains and nothing like I remember it. Maybe that was her intent. 

The first sentence drew me completely in: 

Myra looks like her mama, but prettier because of her daddy mixed in.  She got just the right amount of both. The best thing about Myra's daddy was his eyes, blue as the sky.  They'd pierce right through you.

 I looked forward to spending time with Greene's story of these people.  Lost in their world.  The scrap of knee, the loss of summer, the promise of lakeside bliss in a trailer home that became a palace, for them and me. 

SPOILER ALERT:  Things do NOT go well.  I stayed with them.  Put the book (OK, kindle, but whatever) aside for periods of days when my life seemed like the last thing I needed was time with the Odoms.

But I returned.  I became part of this family, and couldn't turn my back on them.  I dreamt about them on nights when I hadn't read a chapter.   I would return to sentences like:  "It doesn't take as much to poison a horse as people think."

Strangers. Family. Friends. 

One enters into a novel and becomes the unwritten character.  If  I could only have been there, things would have turned out differently, wouldn't they?  Would I have stepped in?  Shouting from the balcony in the theater?   That rock, over there, described by the author, would have landed Just. So. on the head of that bastard. 

And now, it is finished.  All 5466 kindle "locations" of it.

I miss them.  I don't know what happens next after the violent disaster that concludes this novel.  But now it is a story I take with me.  And want for better lives for Myra, her twins, and me.

Not tripe.  Bloodroot.  Whose blood-red sap possesses the power both to heal and poison.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Every wake of day takes upon itself a promise:  Wonder?  Compliance?  Defeat?  Victor Hugo?

The wind of afternoon, even in stillness, arrives.

Then:  We leave our professions and confessions and go to:

1.  Nap  (Yay!  I'm all for it.  My bed loves me and I love Her.  My ship comes in.)
2.  Chores (boooooo.  But the tomato plants really like the water, and, what the hell, it only costs 37% less than it will when KYAmericano gets their way.  Spill some, even.)
3.  Think about dinner.  (Tom takes care of that, back to One.)
4.  I forget what I was saying.  Let's go with......nap.  Yay!

And then, every now and then, I get a chance to be Danny.

"That summer," his family called it.  Even though it started in the spring, in April.  Or, "that year."  If they said "that summer" or "that year," they all know what it meant.

Or Sarah.

That time she cracked open an egg, and instead of a yolk, a bloody chick embryo fell into the bowl.  The maimed chick felt important, somehow, a sign of how bleak and bad things had become.  An omen.

Danny and Sarah and me.  Not napping, or choring, or dining.  Just, well, living.  Novel.  Fiction?

The kindness of strangers.

Thank you for your fiction, Katrina Kittle.  Thank you for letting me be Danny and Sarah for a bit on the wind of an afternoon.  And how novel to understand others.  Novel.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010


You Okay Honey?

Damn, I'm old.  And enjoying every minute of it.

Can't be back there at the Nederlander Theatre on April 26, 1996.  Wasn't there for the 5,124th and final performance.  Never met Jonathan Larson, but consider him my friend.

Through the years; me.  At once Mark; in turns Roger.  Mimi:  Never really  got her (but in so many ways, am).

Sondheim inspired.  Amazing.  Bold.  Dramatically Dead Jonathan; like a Gower Champion whose 42nd Street was not yet paved.

And now it comes again, after all these years, back to haunt me, this RENT.  In my own now-claimed town.  Outdoors?  In a field of summer?  Absolutely.

I kind of hope it rains.  Okay, mists.  8:15 each evening thirty minutes prior to curtain. Just enough to try and put out the candle that can never be extinguished. 

I'll be there on the front row of dreams, taking a call from Alexi Darling.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

No Room for Doubt

Don't get me wrong.  I have issues with Paul, on many levels. But I love these words attributed to him:

"Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known  to God."

About anything, the Pauline author says, have no anxiety.  ANYTHING.

But (big but) everything by prayer.

Supplication with thanksgiving.

Supplication defined:  "to provide something".


Crispy night, tonight.  Tom was in the midst of making a very ordinary meal that involved, well, Spain.   He is so tired, this lover of mine.  Friday.  Evening.

Then, the request came:  "can we have some of that, it would make Jason so happy".


This boyfriend, this fresh-faced boy who is trying to do everything that is right and good for his own home.  His own relationship, comes to fetch something well and right from Tom's kitchen.  For Jason.

"Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your
requests be made known to God."


Grant, dear Mother and Father God, that all your children have blessings like the yondering, wondering Greg and Jason and how they have blessed us tonight.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Our Bodies Our Shelves

"When the lights went off the accompanist kissed her.  Maybe he had been turning toward her just before it was completely dark, maybe he was lifting his hands."

Opening lines of a novel intrigue:  Does one read into it the author's intent?  Did some savvy editor find this particular gem to place just in the right place?  Straightly forward. For readers, nay, browsers, let's pretend.  Journey.  An independent bookstore, daring to spend some time alone in the sloe.gin.fiz. of what remains of true shelves. Or, even, venture sometime, to a local public library, when you're hungry.  Feed.

That. First. Sentence. Utterance of what's to come.

Long before the 140 characters of Twitter:  I remember.  I remember when sentences gave a glimpse of Promise. 

"I have been afraid of putting air in a tire ever since I saw a tractor tire blow up and throw Newt Hardbine's father over the top of the Standard Oil Sign."

"Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I've come to learn, is women."

"It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love."

"I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster."

"Anneth was dancing in her tight red dress and everyone was watching her, the way she closed her eyes and felt the music running up and down the backs of her legs, the way the curls trembled down in her eyes as she threw her hair about, stomping her feet with one leg proudly thrust through the high slit that ran up one side of her dress, and it was like seeing joy made into a human form that could travel across a dance floor--- it was like seeing the music itself."

There is so much noise in the world right now.  And, goodness knows, we are all so busy.  And. Hungry.

There is time for that first promising sentence.  Surprise yourself.  And it doesn't cost one. red. cent.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

R2D2, Where Are You?

"-the future seemed to be teasing us, rubbing against us, frotting us irresistibly...The future blew into our ears and whispered to us we could do everything..."
-StJude's Diary May 20, 2002

We're online, in line, for anything.  Everything.  iPlugged, hairWeaved, deToxed, boToxed. 

Technology.  Was knowledge intended?  And if so, when did knowledge leave from that word?  Techknowledgey.  Doesn't look right, spelled that way, does it?  Anything you can do iCan do better.  iCan do anything better than you. 

The heirloom of July tomatoes?  Ordered from, from my iPhone: check.  There's an app for that.  (sorry Louis' PowerHour, I don't listen to that station anymore since Jack sent that offensive tweet).  I'll be sure to post a picture of them when they start to grow.  Want to taste?  Text me.

Am I alone in missing the monthly Kentucky Theater refridgerator calendar?  Prob.  BRB, gotta check the daily showtimes on Facebook and Twitter. 

Are we more connected than ever before, in this now-expected techno is everything world?  Txt 1 4 yes, txt 2 4 no.

I'm a friend of  :) , but really, really like a smile from a stranger on the street.  Every now and then.  When I'm not on the phone. 

"...we could map the primate wired-in stuff and REWIRE it- we could mutate ourselves smarter and kinder.  We could mutate... and solve all our problems, personal and scientific.  We could- - -
No more.  Our future is here."    StJude's Diary   May 20, 2002

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Very Rigid Journey

This is how long ago it was.  And far away.

We lived at The Landings apartments.  Lakefront.  Beautiful.  In the summers one could make their way out on the tiniest of canoes, or floaty boats and see the Lexington Mall sign from the middle (of the lake).

One time:  We tossed pennies into that lake at sunset and skinny-dipped, like lovely precious liveforever boys, diving.  Come up for air.  So dark, isn't it?  Look how beautiful we are in the the dark.

Another time:  I was working at Liquor Barn (gotta make the head cheese) and Tom and friends were playing volleyball on the sand court and his ferocious play led to his losing our 'wedding band' (even, then, we called it that- You can't stop us from loving).  They searched.  For hours.  Like a needle... and found it before I even made my way home.

This:  The first time I ever, really, came out.  We hosted a Christmas Party at our Landings apartment for my elementary school.  The principal, seeing that we had two bedrooms, said, to me and Tom:  "How nice to have a place for guests."

Again:  The upstairs neighbor, a UK professor and his, shall we say, other woman.  He was living with cancer, and she was taking care of him.  Away from, I'm sure, his "legal" family, but with his beloved, to the end.  We called the ambulance when he was called home.

Then:  Midnight Madness.  Not UK Wildcat oriented.  McAlpin's Sale.  Lexington Mall.  Mom and her best friend Ginny are shopping and there is a call.  Over the loudspeaker.  Goes to the desk.  Her husband is dead.  Madness. My brother and he were playing tennis.  Things happen.

And:  We're in the lovely lakeside apartment.  Watching an innocent slasher film, as I recall. March 23, 1988.  When I get the call.  The news.  Tom takes me over to the Mall.  Mom is sitting there.  Not in shock, at all, is how I choose to remember it.  Strong.  Strong as she ever was. 

Two decades plus later:  This boy (me) is now a man.  That boy (my brother) more than I can ever know. The sister in the story (Vicki, named after her then dead, and forever living dad).  And most of all:

Mom.  Janice Rose West Miller.  She lived with this memory as long as she could bear it.  And lives on to this very day at Kenwood House Nursing Facility in Richmond, Kentucky.  She can still sing, and dance (and does).

"You are such a sweet husband", she told him when he brought her gifts.
"I just want to be good to you."
"I know," she said," and you are."
"But there are so many things I can't give you."
"But there are so many things you can".

-Everything is Illuminated,  Jonathan Safran Foer

Monday, March 15, 2010


Here I am.  So much is happening. 

After winter.  No big-all at once.  Spring.  Hope.  Lent.

During this Lent,  I've not given up anything.  I've taken on.

Nightly prayers before (at the foot of) the bed.


Whispers, in the closet (cheek) of my pillow:

"lamb of god who takest away the sins of world have mercy upon me lamb of god who takest away the sins of the world have mercy upon me lamb of god who takest away the sins of the world grant us thy peace."


My little brother, his wife, and their friends are coming to dinner at our house this weekend.  My partner will make wonderful food.  He will out DO himself. We'll be gracious hosts. Everyone who leaves here leaves happy.  And I'm still here.

Here I am.  Blessed beyond belief.

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw.
"I just wanted to be sure of you."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I Fall to Pizzas

There comes with certain expectations rules when one is tagged labeled a FoodGay.  Especially when one is NOT, really (shhhh), but wants to play along.

It's a refreshing label, actually.  Sure, my partner Tom IS completely devoted to his food passion. And worthy of the term label.  Lives the life of his passion for food, does he. Every.Single.Day.

Me?  I like to eat.  I like to eat aforementioned Tom's food. He enflames our home with fragrances and subtle bitter/sweet combos of delight on every single plate he puts before us.  Just the two of us. Yes, the rare party of 8 to 40 guests we entertain.  Yes, the special events he plans, procures, and packages beautifully for the parties he orchestrates outside our home for others:  fetes, church, benefits, Bourbon festivals, Opera House openings:  his work at external venues have long since grown from surprising "How do you DO that?" to cautious, sometimes, now deep into his reputation as, well, expected.  Might I say taken for granted.  He would never say that.

Every time he has the opportunity to cook for others, even just me, is his ultimate joy.

His magic in our unremodeled Victorian kitchen defies the limits of the surroundings.  I am certain our kitchen on Merino Street is the only home within our Gayborhood that has not gone under a $45,921.00 renovation since we've lived here.  There really IS not room for more than one cook in this staid kitchen.   We have wonderful tools, mind you. His partner (okay, me) makes William-Sonoma associates positively giddy when Tom's birthday and Christmas roll around.  

The thing about all this high-end culinary bliss remains a place when he just knows to let me know.  Michael cooks, too.  A damn good old-school meatloaf.  My mother's chili.  He defers homefries to me.  Probably not because, as he says, sweetly, "Yours are better than mine," but because he knows even in a kitchen where there is only one room for "one cook", there are two who live here.  Side by side, if not in the kitchen, at least at the table.

At least one night a week, we both leave the kitchen, get on the phone, and order in pizza.

And part of me knows that somehow, amid the busy-ness of our lives, outside the home, outside the kitchen, but inside our hearts, a tradition remains as dear to each of us in our 26 years together as any of his remarkable well-plated fois gras, or my well-bowled soup beans.

We fall to pizzas.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The February Issue

"Oh, but don't worry. Yet. It's going to be the biggest in our history."
The search for acceptance and validation may be the most kindred and evil of spirits. Something we all need. The kindness of strangers; not so much. The realness of our friends; Amen.
We live in a world confined by fear. Trapped. Forever searching for the next thing that will make us whole. Or less.
I look to my partner, Tom, to provide me with the solace of relationship that gets me through. He nearly, always, does. Escape. I know: I am blessed beyond believable.
There is truth in the passion of our life together. Counted not so much by years; but by days and weeks and every September Issue that we have been blessed to publish.
Anna Wintour has not been hovering over our every photo or sentence, pose or phrase. Editing us down to TomandMichael, or MichaelandTom.
A power more so than She, has.
Our friends. Our faith. Our knowing, that every month, there is more left on the Editor's floor than can ever be published.

Monday, February 15, 2010

1/2 m v^2 + p + m g y = energy = constant

I could not for the life of me get the entire Bee Gees album "Spirits Having Flown" out of my head late last week. Like a bad dream or nightmare. We know that all it really takes is telling another, or others, about these kinds of things to let them escape. But then, THEY are left with it. I chose to keep this particular earbug to myself. Because, I'm just that generous of heart. Like my Tom says, I'm a Keeper.

This, of course, led to me living with the particularly rancid "Tragedy" for days. And in THIS weather.

Then, at a particularly delicious gathering of souls this weekend, I was able to once AGAIN not mention my 1979 malady with which I was contending. Instead, I held my head high and got involved (read: needle my way) into other sensoral conversations. Music I really like was playing in the background, and sometimes foreground. There was talk of buttercream. There was ACTUAL buttercream (these people walk the walk). No one in this crowd even mentioned Hopscotch, but it made me dance to think about what if they did. I'm fairly certain if a pair of dice had appeared, the doctors in the house would have taken to placing bets and raising money for the Woodford Humane Society.

Before I knew it, after some discussion of Bernoulli's Equation, the Brother's Gibb competely left my mind. Or at least "Tragedy".

Unfortunately, Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb have now moved on into my head with "Too Much Heaven."

But you know what? I can deal with that, much more than Tragedy. Nobody gets Too Much Heaven no more.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Private Dancers

My sister, Vicki, is one of those special sisters that lives up to her name.

Our Dad, Vic. Got his name right up IN there. The very elements of Victor Leon Miller, our dad. No special vowel "e" added to her name: Just Vicki.

The "e" at the end of Vicki_ would have made it, somehow weak. Cutesy, even.

Not her.

Strong: this woman.

Watched, as her older brother (me) got kudos on EVERY side of our family. Golden Boy. Watched as the other male brother, Jon, got blessings throughout the journey of our sibling-family-life. He, at age 14, dealt with our Dad's passing, before his eyes, on the couch of our family home in Ravenna, after an especially specially wonderful tennis practice. Made the horrible call. Gone: Dad.

She: Took into her home our mother, Janice, in the early days of her Alzeimers and beyond. Not so much love from our Mom, who had so much love to give, but didn't know how to deal with her.

But now: It is her, this blessed Sister, who cares so much for my mother and checks on her at her special place at a place in Richmond, KY amid the business (busy-ness) of our daily lives.

I listen.

As Vicki deals with her teenage daughter and son. My nephew at Asbury, doing well, I hear. My neice, her daughter, still clinging to the hope that may be the next Cheerleader championship, or at the very least, not to be let down once again by yet another foiled BoyFriend.

Vicki's husband, William: devoted. Loves her. He and she have been through various moms and dads Goings-Away. I know that Bill loves her and that is ONE thing I don't have to worry about. I think he kinda loves me and Tom, too.

My Mom, Janice, instilled in me a pride that what she and Vic did. He was proud of us. She is proud of us. As the oldest son, I feel a need to put down in words:

I am proud of both of you: Vicki and Jon. Simply, holy, proud. We are Family. Private dancers.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

Tonight: He calls to ask Tom about the appetizer we served them the last time they were here, in our Gay House, for family Christmas.

"It was a bacon wrapped something. I want to make it for SuperBowl tomorrow. What WAS it?"

Hand the wePhone to Tom.

"Fig, maybe, but I only do fresh, not sure, this was years ago. Fresh figs are hard to find"

Jon: "So, an apricot might do? I want to IMPRESS."

"Yes," Tom said, " you can place an almond in the apricot, or whatEVER you can find, and wrap it around the one-third slice of bacon."

"But what made it MAGIC," our Brother asked. Something was different.

"Teriyake," Tom suggested, " marinade ANYthing in teriyake and people will be happy. Top with sesame seeds for extra crunch."

Then, my favorite part of this story. He texts later and his wife is at their (Meade Co.) Kroger and he says: Jen is at Kroger and can't find them. We don't HAVE a Disco Kroger in Meade Co."

We result to actual phone call (like an ANIMAL) and I share with him these golden nuggets:

1. Disco Kroger is a legend, they don't have ANYTHING.

2. Don't expect your spouse to be able to find what you really mean on your list, even if she IS the Food Nutritionist for Meade County Schools (see @Jupiter2012 blog.)

3. ANYTHING you wrap in bacon will be ALOT of trouble, in the wrapping alone, but you at least are trying. The WOMEN in the SuperBowl house will be, at least impressed, at most JEALOUS, which is VERY important.

AND, thank you for calling, @jboygolf brother.

You love Palin, and I love you. Above and beyond politics: We are KIN.

Baby brother calling Tom for FoodGay advice from my quarter of a century partner, with whom he played tennis when he was but a tween.

There are Saints in the Superbowl tomorrow, I hear. And Colts, willing to run wild in the fields of self discovery.

I don't see how I can lose on any account, with a brother like Jon, and a partner like Tom.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Avoid contact with the eyes

The thing about $ocial Stimulus with our Fair Lady Debra Hensley.

"This is not so much about me," she said, on Her Stage tonight at an event I was more than happy to attend, "but about US, the community. This is not about ME. This is NOT about me. This is not about Me..."

I get nervous when anyone goes out of their way to proclaim as much.

This was my first. My partner Tom and arrived. We planned to socially connect in the Spirit of the evening.

Let's get to know the local Manchester Street market that makes very tasty chili. Yum. Let's celebrate the local Mission that does God's work and provides undeniablly needed social services. Let's have Mecca dance and provide ART.

Let's know that this city is about to completely raze a neighborhood so that the upperclass might have another brilliant place to party.

I'm among you, elite, don't get me wrong. The Neuropeptide Facial Contour I used on my face to get me ready for tonight's elite event to make my face "ready". Label said: Avoid contacts with the eyes.

Let's not avoid contact with THEIR eyes.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Just a Picture of a Person I Don't Know

I lived life as a elementary school teacher before what I am now. The only adult male in the building, save for the itinerant Arts teacher, who came to us twice a week when he wasn't on service to the National Guard.

It made for good stories. I used it for ever. Bluegrass Writing Project Friday readings, you know the drill.

Lynn S. Hightower even interviewed me and I became Keaton Daniels, for a moment, in her 1995 thriller Flashpoint.

That's me on page 118 of the Harper-Collins hardcover edition:

"You know how women, when they work together, their periods synchronize? How'd you like to go to work in a building with forty-five women all having their period?" Sonora coughed violently. Keaton leaned over and patted her on the back.''

Lynn signed a copy for me with this: "To Michael Miller- I could not have done this without your help-"

Without an appropriate transition, then, there's this:

My Grandfather, Douglas Miller, Baptist minister, former Supt. of Estill Co. Schools and author of a vanity press publication, Rain in Lyle Hollow, signs an edition of his novel with this, in his brilliant, elderly handwriting that I cherish:

"To my grandson, Michael J. Miller who is a good teacher. He is also a good singer, an outstanding actor, and an excellent dancer. He can go to the top if given a chance. My hope and prayer for Michael is that the Movie industry or television systems or both will find him and give him a chance to show his talents to the world. signed Douglas Miller"

Who am I, anyway?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ring, Ring, de Banjo!

Let's be honest. There comes a time in each new year when promises become real. Or mosttimes, these days, forsaken.

Tonight, I got mine. Real. So SOON.

I've a man. Tom is brilliant, the light of my life.

Friends, I've had a few. Dear, dear friends. One particular friend who has brought me through so many hard times comes to mind as I write this. Let's call her Rita. I have let her down so many times and she has built me up to many times to mention. Thank you, Rita, for the way you have, and continue to shape my life. And put up with my frequent absence.

Then there's this new person. And the people that surround her. And she has made my new year's promise real.

One of Her rules is: If you have a birthday, she makes your favorite meal. And she means it. She's so golden she actually let's you CHOOSE when it happens.

It happened tonight.

Come with me. Remember that time when you walked around an unexpected corner of a home and saw, before you, a beautiful candle-lit table set just for YOU. A place at the table set by a card with YOUR name on it? When the food was at your bequest and the host defines every Be Our Guest Disney song because you know she absolutely, positively means it. For YOU.

This has been that kind of night. DAYS after my actual DOB and love is on the table. She decides Fiddle should stop by, because he loves me, too. And this other; an awesome English New Media Professor, on her way to DiscoKroger for God only knows what people of Academia shop for on a Monday night.

As IF the meal itself were not delicious enough, another friend brought over maybe the best coconut creme pie I've had since my Granny passed.

And, so, thank you, Banjo. Ring, Ring de Banjo!

My lub, I'll hab to leabe you

While de ribber's runnin' high;

But I nebber can deceibe you

So don't you wipe your eye.

I's guine to make some money;But I'll come anodder day

I'll come again my honey, If I hab to work my way.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Milk Day

When I taught elementary school, there was always a bulletin board in the lobby that announced upcoming events.

Depending on the season, the board was particularly full or empty.

ex (full):

Holiday Bazarre Fundraiser: December 3

PTA Gift Wrap Drive "Wrap Up": December 6

Choral Christmas Program: December 7

Report Card Day: December 12

Christmas Break: December 17

ex (empty):

MLK Day : January 19

So I'm walking my primary class back from lunch one day at Meadowthorpe Elementary past the bulletin board and this January calendar date catches the attention of a just-turned six-year old who has begun to grasp the notion that letters mean something and come together to be words and have meaning. A particular after-holiday break moment for many five/six-year-olds, by the way, for parents who might be reading this.

She looks up to me and says, "Mr. Miller. Don't we have milk every day?"


Well, then.

Shouldn't we.

Have MLK. Every day.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pepe le PEW

The Herald-Leader decides to print a story on page three this past Sunday about the PEW study from last autumn that says: Social Network People are Not Evil. We maybe are as connected, if not more so, than the average person.


Really. A few weeks ago, I was getting ready to undergo a "procedure" that is justifiably "normal" and "not to worry about".

Within MINUTES of posting about said procedure (OK, colonoscopy) on my Social Network I had immediate support. They came out of the literal would-work. People who know what I was going through. People who, online, stayed up with me throughout the night before "it" offering support. And, yes, humor, in the time of angst.

Last night, I received a *sad* post. A beloved from my Social Network was having a really bad time dealing with something and simply posted: *sad*

I called immediately. Because that's what we do, we Social Network People. We are there for each other, even though we've barely even met.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Jesus Saves Used Tires

I love it when my partner, Tom, announces, "You're responsible for the corn bread."

This says: I trust that what I am creating needs something really something Southern Comfort sop-wise and I need for you to do it.

When it comes to cooking, my wound is geography. Barbara Kingsolver can have her fear of putting air in tires ever since she saw a tractor tire blow up Newt Hardbine's Standard Oil sign.

I have Corn Pone.

People of Somewhere Else, listen. In every Southern home there is a cast iron corn pone skillet displayed, fiercely elegant. Typically hanging on a wall. It is a thing of Lucretia Clay beauty. The Women of the House NEVER used it to actually make corn bread.

They save it for their gay sons to some day grow up and try to make it real.

"Michael," Tom's grandmother says in my dream thought tonight, from whom our corn pone came, "You can DO this, I never could, it STICKS."

"Michael," my own Matriarchs say, as I once again try to season the damn thing and it still STICKS, "If you ever want to know one thing, know this about life...."

"Yes," I reply, even tonight, as once again the corn pone sticks but it still is delicious because that's what I do and what Tom wants:

"Thank you."

Monday, January 4, 2010

Attend the Tale

Dad was a barber.

I grew up as a gay boy knowing this and knowing that my hair somehow did not deserve this atrocity. Seven years old is when I first, really, knew. Wanting to "grow my hair out" was NEVER an option. This was 1969 and the only boys who had the Hair of Dreams did not have Barber Dads. They had Moms who would bring them in and have their "bangs trimmed". Boys, mind you. Bangs. Trimmed. Jealous. Angels. Jesus.

They would come into his northern KY barber shop with their beautiful hair and I would be sweeping up after their gorgeous locks and wanting to save it. Savor it.

Not me. I had a buzz cut. Like a son of a chef who eats, not the lasagna served at the restaurant that evening, but whatever. Because, well, that's what I do for a living and not for you. I'm tired.

My dad was awesome in so many ways, but not in Hair Ways.

I found some redemption and solace last week. I needed a hair cut, and tired of the whole Lexington Hair Scene (which I respect, no offense intended, Hair Gays), I decided , on a major South Broadway Starbucks mocha buzz to do something fiercely freeing.

I used the wePhone to search for "Barber" and ended up at Image Barbershop on Waller. 8am. They open at 7am. THAT, friends, is a Barber Shop.

Sat in The Chair. His tender care was immediately my Father. Gentle. Closed my eyes and completely relaxed.

Then, in a moment of It Can't Get Any Better Than This, it got: Better.

He steamed hot lather on my neck. And used an honest to Dad straight razor. And used talcum. Turned me around to look in the mirror and said, "How's that?"

I have not felt that beautiful in a very long time.

Thank you, Dad.