2019 Preview

Here are some of my resolutions and plans for 2019:

This evening I started teaching my beginning course of American Sign Language, ASL I or SLG101 as they call it at Paradise Valley Community College. After teaching at the Maricopa Community Colleges during the day for the past five-and-a-half years, I am finally teaching an evening class. It will be interesting to see how it goes. One benefit will be that it will not interfere with my interpreting schedule. One change I notice is that I do not have as many concurrently enrolled high school students as I get during the day; I have a few of them, though, and the rest are very young, with one or two exceptions. I am looking forward to teaching this course through May. I do not know whether I will be teaching an ASL II course this summer to immediately follow through with my ASL I students or I will be teaching both ASL I and ASL II next fall. Usually we teach ASL I in the fall and ASL II in the spring, but my division chair wanted me to teach an ASL I class in the spring, and it is just about full! Obviously students don’t care whether it’s the fall or the spring; they just want to start learning ASL. I look forward to another good year of teaching in 2019.

I plan to continue giving workshops in 2019, including all the workshops I have taught before plus a new workshop I have developed to introduce people to trilingual (English-Spanish-ASL) interpreting and the special demands of interpreting in Spanish-influenced settings. My goal is to educate those who are in charge of hiring interpreters for these settings as well as interpreters who already work in these settings or are interested in doing so. Having done a fair amount of bilingual interpreting with Spanish-English interpreting partners as well as trilingual interpreting on my own and with other trilingual partners — and having attended the trilingual interpreting track at a conference last year — I feel ready to share what I have learned with those who can serve our Deaf clients, their Spanish-speaking loved ones, and the English-speaking people they communicate with.

In terms of trilingual interpreting, I will retake the Test of Spanish Proficiency and, if I pass it (which I think I will), the Trilingual Interpreting Exam. I believe I might actually pass it after one or two tries this year. Wish me success! (I would say luck, but it’s really all about hard work.)

On the friendship front, I am so happy to say that I met a guy at the end of 2018 who I have gone out with several times over the last three weeks. It is new and exciting, and although a long-distance Spanish conversation partner of mine told me not to get my hopes up, I told him I am going to enjoy this moment. I know that not all relationships last, but I also know that all we have is the present. There are never any guarantees that our loved ones will be with us in the future; they could die at any moment or leave us for unforeseen reasons. For instance, I know our old dog will die in the not-too-distant future, and it grieves me to think about it, but I shut it out of my mind and enjoy every sweet moment with her while she is still with us. I will likewise enjoy every fine moment with a friend, come what may.

Travel will come later this year with a South American cruise. We booked today, and will be joined by our dear friends from Quebec. Aside from the cruise we met on, it will be our first cruise together; actually it will be the first cruise we’ve ever taken with friends. I am sure we will not always want to do the same things for two weeks on end, but I look forward to all the good times we will share.

As far as resolutions are concerned, I would have to say that something I resolved to do last year, say less and mean more, is a continuous goal. I will also continue to work on being a good friend and having a good friend (or a few good friends).

Thank you for reading, and I wish you the best possible 2019.

Middle-aged man seeks bromance

I don’t mean for the title to sound like a personal ad, but it’s the truth. Plus I can’t resist a catchy title. At 50 I’m certainly middle-aged, and faddish as the word may be, I went with bromance because it’s the kind of friendship I’m looking for. I certainly don’t expect this blog post to catch me a bro; I just feel the need to write it, and I imagine a lot of other men out there can relate.

My situation is that I am a 50-year-old man married to a man, yet I don’t have a friend. I have a friend within my husband, but without my husband I have none. The only friends I have are the coupled ones my husband and I see together; I don’t have a friend of my own. I am not writing this as a cry of self-pity; I am saying it to speak the truth. I am taking stock of what I have and what I haven’t. I must recognize that I am married to one person who could conceivably die at any moment and leave me without any kind of mate at all, either romantic or bromantic. Anyone could die at any moment, of course, but my husband has health problems that are constant reminders of his mortality, and my recent achievement of a half-century alive is a reminder of my own mortality. I mean, I’m a survivor so far, that’s for sure, but how much longer will I survive? No one knows, but I sure don’t want my remaining years to be lonely.

My husband is not lonely. He has not only me but also a best friend. He talks to this friend from his hometown on the phone everyday, several times a day, for maybe an hour a day, maybe more. This does not bother me at all; it just worries me that I don’t have the same kind of relationship in my life. All his phone calls with his friend remind me that I don’t have one. But I want more than phone calls. I want a guy to “bro out” with.

How does a man whose spouse is a man justify wanting to spend time with another man? A straight man can say he needs time away from his opposite-sex spouse to spend time with his same-sex friend so he can be with his own gender; a gay man cannot say that. A straight man could justifiably say that he wants a friend as well as a spouse, but how would it be if a husband told his wife “I need a friend as well as a spouse, so I’m going to be spending a lot of quality time with my new friend, Julianna”? I have a feeling that wife would be jealous, wouldn’t you? It is one thing to spend an hour on the phone with a friend who is a member of your preferred sex; it’s another to leave home to spend hours at a time with that friend. I would not be jealous if my husband’s best friend lived here and he went out with him, because I know their friendship very well by now, but I would probably be envious and lonely since I can’t currently do the same. I am not saying my husband will be jealous when I start spending hours of quality time with my new buddy (I say when because I am hopeful), but I’m not saying he won’t be, either. And how will I feel? Unfaithful? I’m afraid so. It is certainly a guilt I will have to get over if I ever want a buddy.

One solution to “the sex problem” could be having a best friend who is a woman, but I don’t want that. I am homosocial as well as homosexual; I’m a man’s man. I like to be with my own sex. I want to have a male friend. I don’t want a “girlfriend,” and I don’t want to be a woman’s gay best friend. A gal pal is not what I’m looking for; it’s just not. “Never say never” and all that, but I think I want a buddy, a mate, a bro.

I have read many articles about the importance of friendship and the health hazards of loneliness. I am not going to quote research here. You can read that by following the links below if you want. What I have done is spend hours reading about having a best friend because, until I have one, I don’t know what to do with myself but get myself ready. I guess reading everything you can about something you don’t have yet is a lonely nerd’s way of prepping for the “test” that is the real thing. One’s never fully prepared for the challenges of reality, but at least I’ll be as ready as I’ll ever be.

Where will I find a best friend and what will I do with him? These are two of the biggest questions. As a matter of fact, the question of what we will do together once we find each other is even more puzzling to me than how we will find each other. What is it I want to do with a friend that I don’t or can’t do with my husband? Then again, do I have to justify the things I do with my friend by telling my husband they are things he won’t do with me? No! Now that I write it and say it out loud, I see how wrong it is. That’s one good thing about writing!

I think I will end here for now. There is plenty to write about this subject, and I don’t have to do it all at once. I just wanted to get some of these thoughts out of my mind and into written words. I hope maybe this helps other men who have these doubts know that they’re not alone. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment. Thanks!

Related readings:

Mon Meilleur Ami – My Best Friend movie review

I saw the French movie Mon Meilleur Ami (English title My Best Friend, an aptly literal translation) come up on Amazon Prime today, and the synopsis immediately reminded me of the American movie I Love You, Man— guy who seems to have everything has no best friend and suddenly needs to find one. He goes in search for one, has some funny mismatches, finally meets his match, has him teach him how to be a friend… and I won’t give away the rest (spoilers, darling).

Of course, I am in the same boat as the protagonists of both movies– I have a romantic partner and a number of friends but no best friend. I’ve been curious to watch I Love You Man again, but I was happier to watch this foreign likeness of it, which I suspect the American film was based on, though I can find no statement to that effect.

Anyway, let it suffice to say that Mon Meilleur AmiMy Best Friend is a great movie well worth your time to watch. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll learn something. And you will probably cherish your best friend or want one even more– maybe with a bit more wisdom about what a best friend is.

References

This year’s resolution: Don’t waste time

This year I resolve not to waste time: not to waste time doing things I don’t have to do, not to waste time wondering what people think about me, not to waste time feeling guilty about my errors, not to waste time making excuses not to do what I want to do. This from a man who agonizes over every little decision, from a man who spent an hour just yesterday agonizing over which liquid should go into which of the six travel bottles he bought (two sets of shampoo and conditioner, a conditioning shampoo, and a body wash in two pink, two blue, and two clear bottles), who spent a half-hour in the men’s section of Target yesterday agonizing over how to spend $35 worth of gift cards. Should I get these compression pants? Should I get these shorts to wear over these compression pants? Is it wrong for a man to wear compression pants without shorts on top? (A Google search taught me the term MAMILtoe.) If I get these shorts, what color shorts should I get to go over these compression pants of medium blue and black? Black? Medium blue? Or this contrasting maroon? This from a man who spent weeks over the summer hand-coding an XML database containing a listing of 115 interpreters to get the formatting out of tables within tables within tables and into a more moble-friendly format. Or does this look better? Or did that look better? Should all their degrees be abbreviated with or without periods? Or… Or… Or… until he spent his whole winter vacation not using a computer (nor using social media, thank-you-very-much) yet hurting in his shoulder from all the editing and re-editing over the summer. This from a man who just this morning spent 15 of his first minutes of the new year Googling whether it were true that Vera Ellen’s costumes in White Christmas all had high necklines to cover up a neck ravaged by anorexia (apparently not). This from a man who will spend too long writing this post and still publish it with errors, or at the very least feel a fool for publishing what was far less than his best work.

I will fail at my resolution. I will fail again and again. But I am more resolved than ever to try. God help me make progress! Or if there be no God, may my highest self pull my agonizing self, slave to its own tyranny, out of its misery. I have so much to give. I have so much time, really– time that I waste doing things I don’t have to do. I have a feeling I have a higher purpose than to waste minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years of my life on things of no importance. I have things to do this year that will require that I make the best of my time, and I will do it. I have the will to do it. I will myself to do it.

Granted, the judgment of whether time is spent or wasted is a matter of perspective, and all is relative. Certainly there are worse things I could do with my time than decide how to use travel bottles or edit a database or choose an outfit. How long “should” it take to make a decision? How long “should” one take to get something right? How long is too long to lie in the grass watching the clouds drift by? I don’t know the answer, but I do know it shouldn’t take me as long as it does to do things other than relax. I need help. From without and within, I need help managing my time. It isn’t that I don’t get done what I need to get done; it’s that I do too many things I don’t have to do. It isn’t that I don’t meet deadlines; it’s that life has a deadline, and I deserve to enjoy what time I have left either creating or recreating, not demolishing myself with indecision.

Another of my resolutions is to have a buddy, a mate, a best friend– a “bromance,” if you will (I’m using “How to Start a Bromance” as a guide). Having a friendship in addition to a marriage will take time; that’s where the time for recreation comes in. It is already a challenge to limit the time I spend on work so I have enough time for family. It is going to be an additional challenge to limit the time I spend on work — and mindless minutiae — so I have time for friendship. I was taught when I was young that in order to have something you want you have to create a space for it. When I met my husband, I had done the internal work I needed to do to be ready. I had created space in my head, my heart, and my schedule for him before I met him, and when I met him, I was ready. Now I’m 50 — and oh, I am in the throes of a midlife crisis! — and I don’t even have a friend. Yes, I have colleagues, Friends, as Facebook calls them, and couples my husband and I occasionally have dinner with, but I do not have a friend. I do not have a person, as Merideth Grey would say. I do not have a mate, as the British would say. I need a friend, not just a husband. The idea that one’s spouse is one’s best friend is no longer real to me. I believe I need at least two significant others– a spouse and a friend. And for these and other priorities I am resolved to spend my time wisely.