Curb appeal meets gayness – it ain’t velcro

I should be in the next room prepping my beautiful library red bedroom for painting. You see, realtors don’t like color. I knew that “concern” would arise out of my use of color when I started the process of selling the love shack. I didn’t think the criticism would be so harsh.

Relocation packages are initially quite attractive. You get closing costs and realtor commission covered on the sell end; your stuff gets moved and stored; you get temp housing; you get a realtor on the other end; and you sign away your control and decision-making to some loud-mouthed broad across the country who has no idea of the market in which you’re selling.

Don’t get me wrong — the relocation package is equivalent to about $40,000 that I would spend moving on my own. However, as a Capricorn (we like our ducks in a row) I am going crazy with “being told” how to present my house for sale. Most annoyingly, I have very little say in establishing my sell price for the home I’m leaving.

The process involves two realtors (chosen by the relocation company) who show up at your home and provide an initial evaluation. They each provide independent “market analysis reports” to the relocation company representative (let’s call her Agnes). If the home price in both reports come within 5% of each other, I can choose one of the realtors and raise the suggested highest price by 10% to list my house. If the difference is greater than 5%, the relocation rep brings a third realtor onto the scene. The market analysis of the third should jive with one of the earlier two, and if so, it is quite clear what the selling price should be and you pick your favorite realtor.

Agnes’ agents ended up with a difference of almost 7% — so, my home is no closer to a “For Sale” sign than it was a week ago.

Relocation companies have a goal of selling your home in 14 days. Any longer and they believe that a house is overpriced. While this strategy does make sense, it completely removes the owner (me) from the process. I am completely at their mercy without much recourse.

The lowest price from the reports was insulting. It is barely above what I paid for the house three years ago. The higher price is more in line with what comparable properties are fetching in my part of town. And, I really liked the realtor associated with that higher price. Unfortunately, the relocation company feels that she is not qualified to handle relcoation cases (which pisses me off since Agnes selected her and discounted my own realtor in the first five minutes of my initial coversation with her). This particular realtor also loved my house, its colors, and my tastes. She spent 45 minutes with sample marketing materials, including photos of my house that she had come by the day before to shoot.

The other agent heavily criticized my house, compared it to properties not in my neighborhood, and declared that every room should be white. He didn’t seem interested in me nor selling my house during his 5-minute visit.

And Agnes listened. She delievered the news to me yesterday morning, her voice riddled with a Boston accent while declaring her expertise in marketing and selling houses.

So, I am taking a day on Friday off to meet the demands of the relocation company that I make my house less colorful. Or, as she put it, less “gay.” My boyfriend made my week with his offer to start the neutralization (or as I prefer, castration) of my house tomorrow while I am at work.

I’m really lucky to have him. I’m not great at accepting help or assistance and he’s teaching me how to receive. It’s something that I’ve really needed. His help through all this chaos is my diamond in the rough.

I also have to consider the money that I am saving. It is probably worth the $20,000 or so difference between what I end up pricing my house at versus how I would price without the Agnes — if you do that math, I’m still up $20,000!

So, I’m going into the next room to start the project. Wish me luck….

TURNING FORTY meets APNH: Love on the high seas and the gift of blab

Right: Playne Jayne, Adam, me, and Darin meet in Phoenix earlier this year. Hear more about these “cats” on Darin’s APNH.

Take a listen to Darin’s APNH Podcast this week as yours truly is a guest on this dynamic and magnificent program. Listen to us discuss my blogger rendezvous experiences, the gay cruise, and hear my expertise with TV trivia (I’m the BEST).

Listen here.

I had a great time joining Darin and hope you will enjoy our gift of blab.

Santa Fe, sandpaper and paint brushes

I move outta here on April 12. I am in major denial about actually packing my steamer trunk and moving my hairy ass to San Francisco. I still have spackle that I need to sand and repaint in my living room (I removed my Bose speakers several weeks ago leaving holes in the drywall); I have a garage that needs a major cleanout about which I blogged two weeks ago but have done NOTHING; my house has not gone on the market yet nor have I chosen a realtor; and, I have little interest in finishing my current job assignment. Never in my 29+ years have I not felt driven by my Palm Pilot (and now my new Treo) nor by my next place of residence.

Yet, I’m having a wonderful time finishing my five years in Santa Gay.

I ran into my friend Jamie tonight who I hadn’t seen in awhile. Donnan and I went to dinner after buying groceries for Lucinda Williams’ tour bus (he works for a local production company that supports the “talent” when they sing in Santa Fe – she was at The Lensic tonight performing — we fulfilled her bands’ rider). Jamie and I kissed and hugged and got caught up — and she hadn’t heard I was leaving. After I shared the news, she expressed her disbelief and disappointment (and jealousy) about my leaving this Wicked Little Town. I was flattered and began to feel missed. My best friend and I also shed some tears on Saturday reminiscing about our time together during very late night cocktails. I took down my art that hangs in my office today as well. It’s all coming to an end and while I am excited about my next phase, I’m beginning to feel a bit maudlin about my great years in this town.

And, I’m falling for someone really awesome who isn’t moving to San Francisco in two weeks. Maybe that’s why I haven’t cleaned the garage.

I did buy some sandpaper and paint brushes tonight, though.

It’s a start.

By the way, go listen to “The Dirty Dish” — it’s fabulous once again.

Turning Forty VideoCAST #2: Dan’s Dirty Little Bedtime Story

In lieu of my regular Turning FortyCAST, I offer my first VideoCAST for your viewing pleasure. Watch and hear my very dirty bedtime story. You get to see me in the flesh for the first time! This program will captivate you while displaying my photogenic qualities for all to see.

Oh yea, you get to see my ass!

P.S. Jimmi is red as lobster ’cause he listened to this at work – beware – CONTAINS EXPLICIT and DIRTY WORDS!

Happy Birthday, Donnan!

Donnan’s birthday is tomorrow, so we had a party last night with his mom and a number of friends. Of course, my dance mix got us on the floor and here we are breaking the rule of “not putting our hands over our heads while dancing.”

Oh well.

We are fags, after all. And, I have NO idea what is going on in the photo below. Hmmmmm…

I’m glad my cruise didn’t end up like this…YIKES!

The Star Princess experienced a major fire onroute to Jamiaca yesterday morning. Unfortunately, one 76-year-old man died of a heart attack and many others had injuries from smoke inhalation.

If this had been a gay cruise, there would be even more damage due to excessive door decorations, frilly costumes, polyester fabrics, and hair product. Geez Louise!

Read more here…

My Big Gay Greek Wedding Fiasco

Note to self: Don’t come out of the closet and serve as best man in a Greek Orthodox wedding in New York City all in the same week.

The summer that I came out of the closet included a number of personal milestones for me, including serving as the best man at my college best friend’s wedding. I came out on a Friday and was on the plane the next Monday to spend the week in NYC for the wedding festivities. As a result of my freshly-minted status as a gay man, I was like an out-of-control steamroller in the streets of Chelsea (and all over New York for that matter).

The wedding was a huge Greek Orthodox one — if you have never attended a Greek wedding, watch “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” for an idea of the zaniness, pomp, and circumstance that surrounds the wonderful event. My friend and his bride were getting married at a Greek Church on the Upper East Side, after which we would proceed in limos to the Waldorf-Astoria on Park Avenue for the reception. The gala had a feel of elegance while still allowing the shananigans characteristic of my zany group of college friends.

Of course, I couldn’t wait to hit boys town. Upon arriving in NYC, I promptly headed to Chelsea to drink at “G” and dance at “Splash.” I was in this great new world of gay and wanted to take advantage of every second that I could spend in New York. Of course, when I rolled into the Waldorf at 7am after my first night out and saw my college friends awake and having breakfast, they didn’t know what to think of the “new me.” After trying to refresh myself with 2 hours sleep, I started my day with the groom helping him and his fiancee to prepare for the approaching big day.

I spent every day that week performing within my rigorous schedule: 9am – wake up; 10am – 5pm – assist groom, run errands, eat and hang out with friends; 6pm – group dinners; 8pm – group cocktails; 11pm to 6am – Dan hits Chelsea.

It was exhausting and it took its toll.

Friday and the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner day arrived. It was a humid 85 degrees in NYC that week, and the wedding party entered the limos to head to the Greek Orthodox Church for the rehearsal.

“Dan, you’re in charge of the presents for the wedding party,” my friend reminded me as he handed me a heavy box of gifts.

“No problem!” I responded as I sweatily placed them in the trunk of the limo.

I was hungover, tired, and regretting my decision to come out this particular week. I could feel perspiration seeping through my suit as a drop from my forehead hit one of the nicely-wrapped presents.

We rode the limo up Park Avenue and exited at the church somewhere near 7oth Street. We were standing at the alter practicing the marching and choreographing the ceremony when I suddenly had a horrific realization.

I had left the wedding party presents in the trunk of the now-departed limo.

I pulled the groom aside and explained my predicament.

“Go find them now. There’s over $10,000 worth of gifts for friends and family in that box. If you don’t find them, don’t come back!”

I knew he was only half kidding.

I hastily left the rehearsal knowing that I would be screwed the next day when I had to prance around candles and bridesmaids in the actual Greek ceremony. I found a cab and rushed to mid-town reaching the Waldorf in about 20 minutes. I approached the bellhop and asked if the limo we had taken an hour earlier had arrived.

He pointed up Park Avenue. “It just left with passengers – it’s about 3 blocks up Park.”

I started my sprint up Park just as the light at 52nd Street turned green. I was now a moist and wet beast as I hit 53rd Street. The limo stopped at 54th due to gridlock. Something was now working in my favor.

I threw myself onto the trunk as the limo started moving. It stopped abruptly.

“You goddamn fucking idiot!” the driver screamed as he opened his door and looked back at me.

I handed him a $20 bill. “Pull over right NOW. I left something in your trunk and need to get it!” I yelled angrily but relieved.

Of course, the money did its thing and he pulled over to the curb. To my relief, the presents were still in the trunk – intact and faring better than I was. I picked up the heavy box and realized that the wedding party was by now at dinner on the Uppper West Side. It was now 7pm on a Friday and impossible to catch a cab. I ended up taking a bus and transferred to the subway somewhere on Lex. The now dreadfully-heavy box was causing my back to bend in pain. I was soaked and uncomfortable. But, I made the dinner halfway through appetizers.

Cheering broke out as I walked into the elegant restaurant with the look of a survivor of a train wreck.

“You’re damn lucky you found that box” the groom reminded me.

During the actual wedding the next day, the groom’s sponsor (since I’m not Greek, a relative must stand in as a “sponsor” during the wedding) had to whisper my altar choreography to me in front of 500 people. I was surprised to learn that the best man was required to hold a 20-lb candle with a 3-inch flame for most of the ceremony either. I believe it was appropriate punishment given my need to cram my new gay nightlife into a week when I should have only focused on the task at hand – serving as one of my best friend’s best man.

So remember, if you are reading this post and considering coming out of the closet — please do so! But, don’t schedule it on top of a big fat Greek wedding.

Postscript: The bride and groom remain happily married with twin boys and a daughter and reside in Northern New Jersey. The best man has grown up much in the past 5 years and can now focus again on all areas of his life – the gay adolesence seeds have been sown, weeded and nurtured. He is now a beautiful sunflower.

Interesting case for blogger types

This case is quite interesting as it covers freedom of speech of “parodies” that we all so frequently create on our blogs. The ACLU will represent a California blogger who parodied a wingnut religious group’s “get straight” billboard on his blog. They are suing him for intellectual copyright infringement. His parodied version is to the right.

This comes the same week that Bush (I refuse to call him president) reaffirmed his discrimination of the GLBTQ community. He took time to do this as the other most important issue on his plate after his erratic comments about troops in Iraq remaining for the next president to deal with.

He needs to go…

From Planet Out:

ACLU defends blogger in “ex-gay” parody
Christopher Curtis, PlanetOut Network
Wednesday, March 22, 2006 / 02:07 PM

The American Civil Liberties Union is defending a California man whose parody of an “ex-gay” group’s billboard drew a cease-and-desist letter from lawyers representing the group.

The billboard Justin Watt parodied was sponsored by Exodus International ministry; it read, “Gay? Unhappy?”

Watt, a blogger from Santa Rosa, Calif., posted an altered version on his Web site, “Straight? Unhappy?”

Liberty Counsel, an anti-gay legal group, sent Watt a cease-and-desist letter this month on behalf of Exodus, claiming the parody violated the “ex-gay” group’s intellectual property rights and threatening legal action if the parody was not removed.

In a response sent Wednesday to Liberty Counsel, the ACLU’s cooperating attorney, Laurence Pulgram of Fenwick & West, LLP, reminded Exodus that case law regards parodies to be constitutionally protected speech.

“Parodies like Justin’s are protected by the First Amendment as a form of political commentary,” said Ann Brick, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California.

“Just as a group like Exodus has a constitutionally protected right to say whatever it wants to about gay people, even when that view has been roundly condemned by every major psychological and medical organization, Justin has a right to use parody to voice his opposition,” Brick said.

“Justin’s use of Exodus’s own image to criticize its message is exactly the sort of speech the Constitution protects,” added Pulgram, who heads the copyright litigation group at Fenwick & West. “The law protects people like Justin from groups like Exodus that try to use copyright as a method of bullying their critics into abandoning their First Amendment right to express their opinions through parody.”

Said Watt: “The moment I saw the billboards last September, I was deeply offended. The inspiration for the parody I created came to me instantly. How would straight people feel if their very being, their sense of self, was being so overtly disparaged?”

“Their response was to try to intimidate me into taking the image down,” he said. “It’s troubling that an organization as big as Exodus would go to such great lengths to silence its critics.”

“The ball’s in their court,” said ACLU spokeswoman Chris Hampton of Liberty Counsel. “They were threatening him with a lawsuit. If they file a lawsuit against him, we feel the law is on our side.”

Turning Forty VideoCAST #1: Drunk Judy

In lieu of my regular “Turning FortyCAST” this week, here’s the video from last night’s performance that won Donnan a trip to NYC. He was a bit nervous about my posting it here and I told him you would all be nice. Enjoy. I apologize for my camera work – my steady cam is out of service.

In other technology conquering I did today (besides figuring out how to load video to You Tube) was program my new Palm Treo phone. This phone is unbelievable – I am scared to think that I can access two email accounts, my contacts, blog, and everything else from a single device. Yikes!