Sunset as seen from my 5th floor apartment Hampton Courts apartment, Washington, D.C., 4:34PM Dec. 8, 2016.
We're presently at the earliest sunsets of the year (4:45PM in D.C.) and will soon (if we have not already) start adding light in the evening while we continue to lose it in the morning with the "shortest" day in terms of daylight necessarily on the winter solstice.
2016 is the year that just keeps on giving -- all bad, and relentlessly so...
In this particular case, my stepfather -- Ray -- has been given a terminal diagnosis. According to the doctor who is a specialist in the area of pulmonary fibrosis -- which is what Ray has -- Ray's condition is such that he likely only has about six months left.
This condition arose about 4 or 5 years ago, but he probably has it because of whatever (Agent Orange)he was exposed to as a young man sent to Vietnam back in the latter half of the 1960s. (He was drafted right out of high school.) Poison-gassed by his own frickin' government fighting such a ridiculous war. Nice.
Tonight was very difficult as I was on the phone with Ray as he rested in a hospital bed in Glen Burnie -- and he started crying and saying things that I never expected to hear from him.
Forested stream somewhere in Oregon.
To be clear, my relationship with Ray over the decades has been kind of rocky -- occasionally good but more so, not so much. They had improved markedly in the past five years or so. However, he and my mom raised me and supported me during my tumultuous teenage years, and I can't forget that.
I also know that it couldn't have been easy for him: Having a gay, liberal, explosively neurotic stepson who was so antithetical to all the things he believed in strongly and how he lived in life.
Ray and my mom on the occasion of their 41st wedding anniversary having dinner at the Rusty Scupper in Baltimore, December 28, 2015.
I should also point out that except for my mom and dad, Ray has been in my life longer than anybody else that I know today. Dec. 28th will be my mom and Ray's 42nd anniversary. I had just turned 5 the previous month when they got married (and I don't really remember my parents being married and living together back in New Jersey -- they were always divorced for as long as I can remember). (Of note, my dad called my mom today and they had a nice chat.)
So that's that, and I don't know what else to say. I'm not good at all in these situations...
The Capitol Christmas Tree on the night of its lighting, December 6, 2016, in a photo taken by CWG photographer Kevin Ambrose and posted in this CWG entry.
Except this: I'll be going to their place for the upcoming Christmas holiday and spending several days. Indeed, this Christmas is going to be a very important one because it is probably going to be the last one for Ray.
Ray's daughter, Debbie (yes, my stepsister) who lives in Laredo, Texas and who I've not seen in 20+ years, is planning on coming up to visit for a week or two.
This picture intrigues and haunts me: Sunrise as seen from a beach on the shore of the South China Sea in Vietnam. It's an east-facing shoreline as on the U.S. East Coast, and is at once so familiar and yet so far away. Also, this is a kind of tranquil, peaceful Vietnam scene that Ray did not get to see when he was there as a 19-year old back in 1966.
I don't know how much time remains for Ray, and I don't know what happens thereafter (including how my mom will react), but I'll always look after and take care of my mom to the best of my ability. Thankfully, she is now in good physical health. (My dad in Florida is also in good physical health. He also finally got a new phone so that intractable issue of never being able to reach him has ended. He also has been in a better frame of mind lately -- and Shannon not in the picture.)
Morning on the beach along the South Atlantic Ocean in the town of La Paloma, Uruguay.
This is another east-facing shoreline -- and also the Atlantic Ocean -- but in another far-and-away place.
As for me, it has become imperative -- urgent -- that I make some significant changes in my own life including a substantial reduction in alcohol consumption. Nothing but very bad has always resulted from it for decades.
Part of the issue is just living here in the city as I do -- totally alone except for a few good friends and just getting steadily older -- and the slow but irrevocable way it deadens your soul thanks to its combination of nasty unfriendliness and assorted urban pathologies always half a step behind you and ready to engulf you if you let your guard down for one moment.
But I'm sick and tired of being hung over, headachy, and having my next day ruined -- to include work days. I cannot and will not live this way anymore. I'm not swearing off liquor entirely, but I really need and will implement such major behavioral changes. I've been now in a number of potentially dangerous situations as a result of my own behaviors, and I just can't do that anymore. I've tempted fate about as many times this year as I can without really coming up to the edge of a seriously big cliff.
I'm not even going to bother discussing "the gay community" given that it's just a parody of itself that leads only to despair and early death.
Acantilados de Los Gigantes, that is, Cliffs of the Giants, Tenerife, Canary Islands.
Given how this is playing out and that Ray doesn't have much time, there will soon come a time when I'm going to have to take care of my mom and look after her, which requires me to be a much more normal person than I am. (Ray basically said as much on the phone related to the drinking part. And don't think I don't feel badly that my mom is basically stuck with me as her only child as a widowed senior citizen with no other family.) This will also require that I live in the suburbs -- the Maryland suburbs of Montgomery County in or near Bethesda, that is. My plan is to live with my mom and, if she is amenable to it, with Quill.
I'll work in D.C. -- commuting in and out on the Metro -- but have no other presence here. And that's fine with me. I've had it with this city.
Cobalt blue dusk in the electric city on a cold evening seen outside my apartment building along New Hampshire Ave looking toward the intersection of 16th and U Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 5:22PM December 8, 2016.
Anyway, as the briefest of updates, I made it to the gym tonight although it was a bit less of a workout than usual, especially the jog, which I could only do for 25 minutes rather than the usual hour. I did go in the pool and that was nice. I also had a few nice conversations at the gym including with a fellow named Levi who is a semi-regular.
A bald eagle transits the Washington Monument on the evening of Dec. 8th, 2016 in a photo by Phil Yabut and posted on his twitter page and retweeted by the CWG.
God, the Washington Monument looks filthy. And its elevator system is so broken that the structure is now closed for ANOTHER two years -- this following a three year closure for earthquake damage repair.
I didn't go to work today (Thursday) as I was too out of commission. However, to be clear, I was at work on both Tuesday and Wednesday for 12 hours each day working to copyedit a 144-page MYPP document for one of the EERE technology offices. This included creating a 10-page acronym list; putting 240+ footnotes in a consistent, somewhat Chicago-y Style format and including cross-checking them and in many cases finding and downloading the source documents; and as much inline copyediting as I could in the allotted time.
Crashing Pacific Ocean surf, Cape Mendocino, Calif.
OK, that's all for now. My plan is to post an entry on Saturday evening, or maybe my usual pair of entries.
It's a cold and blustery night tonight and the first big Arctic outbreak of the season is forecasted for the eastern U.S. next week.
Good night for now. I'm quite tired. Tomorrow, I'm meeting my neighbor / friend Fred to talk about things. I may see Kevin on Saturday night at OEG. I'm meeting Quill for lunch on Sunday afternoon. And I may meet Andrea on Monday after work. She should be back from Burma by then.
I continue to have really weird dreams about solar eclipses -- likely as prelude to the big one in August of next year that I am planning on seeing, experiencing along the South Carolina coast. But let's save that topic for another entry.