“Ask Arthur” series. Today’s questions from Roger Green are all related to a very, very important topic: Me! First up:
If you never came to New Zealand, where would you be living and what would you be doing?
Not surprisingly, I’ve pondered that very question many times, and, also not surprising, my answer changes often. At the time I met Nigel, I was ready for change—big change, even. In early 1994, I’d gone to Berlin, which I’ve written about before, but what I didn’t say is that for a time—very brief, as it turned out, due to my language problems—I thought (fantasised?) about living in Berlin for a while, or just living overseas for maybe six months. I couldn’t imagine doing it longer alone.
Moving to another country to be with someone is a completely different thing, and, in that sense, was much easier. However, it only happened because I was ready for change, and the trip to Berlin kind of primed the pump.
So, had none of those events happened, I may still have moved away from Chicago, anyway. Before I met Nigel, I thought about moving to San Francisco, a city with greater freedom for LGBT people, and also a more agreeable climate than Chicago’s. Whether that had happened or not, I might have moved somewhere.
On the other hand, I also have a vision of myself as being something like Mary (Donna Reed) in the alternate vision of reality that George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) sees when Clarence (Henry Travers) grants George’s wish in It’s A Wonderful Life: It’s possible that I could have gone in the completely opposite direction I did, and become more insulated and isolated.
I think the most likely scenario is somewhere between those two extremes: I may have stayed in Chicago, but moved on to a different (and better paying) job, and had a better quality of life there than I had at the time I left. I think that this is the most likely because even though I was primed for change, making too much change all by myself may have been too much.
Next, Roger asked:
In an ideal world, would you have wanted to have children of your own? I know you're an uncle.
I honestly don’t know. I entered adulthood thinking that I’d never have any legal recognition of my relationship, that in the eyes of the law it would always be temporary and unsubstantial. It also wasn’t easy for gay people to adopt in those days. However, even in the 1980s, gay men and lesbians were making arrangements with each other to have children, often with the gay man involved, though not necessarily as a parent. At one point a lesbian friend asked if I’d ever considered that, and I would have (she ended up marrying a man). As things turned out, it’s good that I didn’t because my entire life wouldn’t have happened as it did, and I wouldn't be in New Zealand.
By the time laws were changing, I was in New Zealand and we could have provided a good life for a child, but we felt it was too late. Once we had a Civil Union, it became impossible to adopt (New Zealand restricts that to single people and married couples—even now). I was 50 at the time, and when we were married, and legally able to adopt, I was 54. That’s all kind of moot, however, because there are very few children available for adoption, which is why foreign adoption is so popular, though fraught. We could have fostered a child, but didn’t think we could handle it emotionally if a child we’d raised and nurtured was sent back to the birth parent(s).
So, in an ideal world? Maybe. But because I grew up certain that I could never marry and have children, and because until relatively recently it was impossible or extremely difficult to do, I just never really gave a lot of thought to it—I never seriously considered the possibility.
What talent do you have which you've never shared in your blog or on your podcasts?
I couldn’t think of any, and even asked others what they thought some might be. I came up empty. Part of the problem is that I think I have certain abilities, but not necessarily talents, though I may be “better” at some things than other people are. To me, it’s the result of effort and commitment, not innate talent. At any rate, I can’t play any musical instruments, my singing is barely par, I have no aptitude for foreign languages, and I’m useless at sports. Certainly little has come easy to me, except for memorising history and internalising the rules of English grammar, though without necessarily knowing those rules.
Still, I have some minor abilities I haven’t discussed, like a knack for finding things others can’t (like lost keys or whatever), and I’m quite good as spatial things, like maximising what will fit in an over-filled closet (because I think and analyse visually much of the time, including for work). This also makes physical organising easy for me.
Beyond that, the abilities I’ve nurtured over the years have helped me grow, and I haven’t talked much about that, either (though a little bit). For example, my blogging has vastly improved my writing, politics has helped me with public speaking and leadership, podcasting has also helped with public speaking and acting more confident in public. Do I have any talents in those areas? I think that’s for others to decide. All of which means that if I have any talents I haven’t shared, it probably means that I can’t even see them.
Speaking of blogging:
How many draft posts do you have RIGHT NOW? How many will likely see the light of day?
As of this moment, 151, most of which will never see the light of day. Some are complete posts that I decided not to publish—mostly political rants, but also some that were just too similar to previous posts (like, for example, too many posts on US politics all in a row). However, some of the “rough drafts” contain the barest of bones—maybe a link or two, or even just a title. A few are even carry-overs from last year, “evergreen” topics I thought I could turn into finished posts (but didn't) for times I couldn’t come up with anything new for whatever reason. Those will end up in the drafts folder for 2017. I ended last year with 175 unpublished drafts, all of which were similar to this year’s.
Speaking of heady subjects:
Did you ever inhale?
Because the statute of limitations has well and truly expired, I can say yes, I did. I’ll add that I quite liked it, too, unlike certain former presidents, because it was always a good experience for me. I mentioned this at least once in passing, back in 2011. I stopped decades ago because I read that cannabis was immunosuppressive at a time when no one knew what caused AIDS. I figured that as a gay man it was better for me to not tempt fate. Nowadays, I’m so damn legal I don’t like walking past people smoking it outside. If it was legalised (as I think it should be), it might be interesting to revisit it. More likely, though, I wouldn’t. Still, never say never, right?
That’s it for this year’s series—I’ve checked several times, and I don’t THINK I missed any questions! The next "Ask Arthur" series will probably be in December 2017 (assuming a great many things…). Big thanks to Roger Green and my friend Sherry for all the questions!