Paying It Forward

About four months ago, the gracious and lovely John McCourt over at Starbucks and the City nominated this humble blog for the Liebster Award.  I was super excited that my fledgling endeavor was garnering some attention, and I had every intention of passing the torch soon thereafter.  Of course, this took place right at the start of the school year, and all my best intentions went straight out the window.  Then yesterday, a friend at The Larsens Live Here nominated my blog again for the same honor, and I realized it’s time I pay it forward.

The Liebster Award is, as a friend describes it, a kind of chain letter for bloggers.  As a recipient myself, I am now supposed to nominate eleven up and coming bloggers that I think people should check out.  This magic number of eleven also is continued through a list of facts about myself, a series of questions the my nominators would like me to answer, and finally a list of questions that I pose to my subsequent nominees.  Since I’ve been nominated twice in the past few months, I have two sets of eleven questions to answer following my eleven facts before I nominate some blogs I hope people will check out.  Make sense?  If not, too bad.  Without further ado…

11 Facts About Myself

  1. I am a gay man.
  2. I am of Dutch Indonesian descent and the first born American generation on my mom’s side of the family.
  3. I have been happily married to my husband since the year same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts in 2004.
  4. We have two children: an African American daughter and a Latino son.
  5. I am a big showmo.  I love theater, especially musical theater.
  6. Growing up, my only real aspiration was to live in New York City.  Then I moved there and after a few months I realized there was more to life than living in the center of the universe.
  7. I now live in the suburbs of Boston in our lovely house surrounded by a white picket fence.  I never thought being so boring would be so much work.
  8. I never thought I’d feel this old when I’m still this young.
  9. I’m a high school English teacher, and if I had to do it all over again, I’d pick another discipline that would provide me the same salary with far fewer papers to grade.
  10. I’m an only child.
  11. My mom died in 2008 of cirrhosis of the liver after a longtime battle with alcoholism.

11 Questions from Starbucks and the City

1. Coffee or tea?

Definitely tea.  I can’t stand the taste of coffee.  I don’t even like coffee ice cream.  The smell is enough to make me gag usually.  I’m not a huge fan of tea either, but it’s the only alternative.  I do LOVE chai tea lattes though, and a large portion of my income gets siphoned off to Starbucks feeding that addiction.

2. Why did you start your blog?

Adopting two children of color has forced my husband and me to think carefully about how we could bring up our children to be proud of themselves and their multi-faceted identities.  They have two dads, they are adopted, and they are both racial minorities.  They’ve got a lot to grapple with in today’s society, and in doing our homework about how to raise them in a healthy environment, we both came to terms with the ways in which our own identities were shaped by our race and sexuality.  I started the blog last summer to help others who have similar families to ours deal with these daily realities, as well as to share with our friends and families the many trials and tribulations that we go through just being a family, the types of things that I’m not likely to bring up in normal conversation when we’re talking about the latest episode of The Good Wife or something.

3. When you’re not blogging, what are you doing?

Mostly, I’m trying not to yell at my kids.  They are at once the most endearing and most annoying things in my world.  I love them so much, and parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  It’s tested our personal resolve and the limits of our marriage in ways we never imagined.  So life when not blogging is devoted to taking care of these kids, shuttling them from dance to gymnastics to soccer, and taking in an occasional musical or two.

4. LA, SF or NYC?

New York City is still one of my favorite places on Earth, even though I left it behind for this life in the burbs.  I grew up in California, but near San Francisco, so saying Los Angeles would be a betrayal of my northern roots.  I never experienced San Francisco as an adult though, so I don’t have any tremendous affinity for it now, although I do have many fond memories of driving to the city in high school stalking the cast of The Real World on Lombard Street.

5. What is your favorite book? And why?

Oh man, I’m an English teacher primarily because I love books.  (I was blinded by the great literature out there to the reality of all the paper grading.)  Narrowing down my favorite book is kind of tough, but if I can look back on one of my favorite experiences reading it would have to be John Irving’s The World According to Garp.  The book spoke to my young twenty-something self on so many levels, and I remember sobbing uncontrollably on the subway ride home from to Washington Heights when I worked in Times Square because something monumental had happened in the book; there are many such moments in the book, and I won’t ruin it for anyone who wants to read it!  I loved being so moved by a book that I would weep with such abandon in public.

6. What is your favorite website? And why?

I’m a total liberal news whore, so I kind of love The Huffington Post.  I love how unashamed they are to just go nuts on the right.

7. Snow angels or sand castles?

Sand castles.  I’ve lived longer on the east coast now than I ever lived in California, but I’m still not used to the tremendous cold–although I do love myself a snow day now and then as a teacher.  My family is lucky enough to spend a lot of time in Provincetown in the summer, and building sand castles on Herring Cove beach is the best when you’ve got two amazing kids to help you out.

8. When you go out to a bar, what’s your drink of choice?

I love fruity martinis, something like a cosmo, which I’m embarrassed to order now because it makes me feel like I’m trying to recapture on an era that has long past.

9. What are you going to be for Halloween?

I’m going to be escorting two kids around the neighborhood begging strangers for candy.

10. Where do you want to be in 10 years?

In ten years, I’m hoping to be driving my daughter around the country checking out colleges that will help her pursue her interests–and hopefully make a lot of money so she can take care of her dads in their old age.

11. How are you going to get there?

We work on our daughter constantly to show her she’s a strong black woman who is brilliant and can work hard for anything she wants.  We try to do this while at the same time providing her a clear view of the reality of black women in this country, the ways in which others will both explicitly and unintentionally try to limit her potential, and how she can overcome those limitations.

11 Questions from The Larsens Live Here

1. Even if you’re not a city person, what’s your favorite city and why?

I love New York City because I lived there for two years and some of my best friends are still there.  It’s also where I can get my theater fix and still feel like a snob about it (I try to avoid things on tour).

2. Whats’ your favorite book? (don’t go nuts.  Just one you currently love, or the one you go back to over and over …)

Besides the one noted above, my most recent contemporary favorite is probably Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding.  Yes, it was a bit over-hyped, but I read it before I read about it, so I totally enjoyed the Irving-like storyline and characters.

3. What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever eaten?

I had iguana when I was in Belize with my husband several years ago.  It tasted like chicken.

4. What now-deceased or now-defunct  band or artist do you *wish* you had gotten to see in concert?

Ethel Merman.

5. What’s your favorite season and why?

Living through New England winters has taught me to relish the warm sun and blooming flowers that comes with spring each year.

6. What’s your favorite seasoning and why?

My mom taught to me pepper the crap out of everything I eat.  Fresh pepper is amazing, and when I go to a fancy restaurant where they grind it for me, the waiter is always at risk of getting carpal tunnel because I want so much.

7. What’s a belief you held as a child that makes you laugh as an adult? (Ruefully or otherwise …)

Until very recently, I misunderstood a lyric in Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.”  The line is supposed to be “Let the choir sing…” but I always thought it was “Lepers crossing.”  If your old enough to recall the controversy over the song’s music video, this makes perfect sense right?  There was the whole hullabaloo around the Pepsi campaign and the song, and then when the video came out and Madonna was making out with a black Jesus, they pulled the whole campaign.  Since she was dancing with a black Jesus in the video, I thought it totally made sense that she was singing about lepers because Jesus helped them right?

8. If you suddenly came into a pile of money, what would be the FIRST thing you’d do with it?

How much money are we talking here?  If it’s just enough to do some really nice updates on our house, I’d totally put in a two-person jacuzzi in the our bathroom.  Every day I come home from work and think, “Ugh…if only I could sit in a hot tub for 20 minutes before I pick up the kids, I’d be a much better parent.”  Seriously.  I think that every day.  Every.  Day.

9. Train, plane or automobile?

Trains are so much fun to ride, but they’re so freaking expensive.  Planes are the most efficient, but automobiles allow me to blare my showtunes and such while singing at the top of my lungs.  Oh, and I can also sing “Lepers crossing” really loud.

10. What’s your favorite Shakespeare play?

I taught Twelfth Night to freshman for five years, and it was total heaven.  Helen Hunt almost ruined it for me when she played Viola on Broadway, but luckily that Trevor Nunn movie is sooooooo good.

11. If you could go back in time to live in any place/era in history, what would it be and why?

I don’t think I’d choose to live any time but the present.  There is no other time I could live as openly with my family as I do now.  When I was a kid, I couldn’t imagine being married and having two awesome kids, living and working openly as a gay man in a community.  It’s no cake walk, but it’s certainly better than it was ten years ago.

My 11 6 Blog Nominations

I need to get reading more blogs!  I’ll try to find five more over the next school vacation week.

My 11 Questions for the Nominees

  1. Why did you start your blog?
  2. What fictional television character should be your real life best friend?
  3. Who is your favorite Broadway diva?
  4. Looking back on how your identity was shaped as a child, which Disney character warped you the most?
  5. What book should be required reading for all American high school students, but isn’t?
  6. What is your favorite imaginary fantasy that you acted out when you were a child?
  7. Do you believe in love at first sight?  Explain.
  8. If you’re gay, for which celebrity would you pretend to be straight?  If you’re straight, for which celebrity would you pretend to be gay?  (For example, I’m gay, but I’d probably leave my husband if Kerry Washington asked me to run away with her.)  If you’re something in between, play out the scenario accordingly.
  9. Who knows you the best in this world?
  10. If you had to live in a foreign city, which would it be and why?
  11. What’s your favorite showtune?  Seriously.  You have to.  Even if you don’t listen to them.

Thanks for reading!  Enjoy!

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5 thoughts on “Paying It Forward

  1. OMG, thanks! That’s totally my blog up there. 🙂 I appreciate the nomination. I will get to the post soon, some of these questions may take some thought! ❤

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