18 December 2007

A panel discussion about the Deaf GLBT community!

Discuss. That's exactly what ten Minnesotan writers, both Deaf and hearing, from my new anthology Eyes of Desire 2: A Deaf GLBT Reader will do on the night of January 4th, 2008. (For those who haven't "heard" about the book yet, it is a collection of stories, interviews, and poems about and by members of the Deaf gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender [GLBT] community. It is also the first such book to focus on the Deaf GLBT experience in fourteen years.)

The writers include Karen Conway, Jessica Eggert, Jessalyn Frank, C J Hetle, Elise Knopf, John Kowalczyk, Michael La Rocca, Barry R. Segal, Canae Weiss, and Patricia White.

I will moderate the lively discussion, which will be ASL- and voice-interpreted for all. The event will also have CART captioning for those who are late-deafened and hard-of-hearing. It’s also wheelchair-accessible! (Participants will receive .2 CEUs from RID at the beginning level.)

The event is FREE. Hope to see you there!

Friday, January 4th, 2008 — 7 to 9 p.m.
The Loft Literary Center
1011 Washington Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55415
612-215-2571 (voice)

17 December 2007

James Thomas Sharer 1964 - 2007

On the morning of December 11th, I got a video relay call from my friend James's boyfriend. He told me that James had passed away the night before. I couldn't quite believe that he could be gone. He was exactly one year and two months older than I was!

The freaky thing was that I'd set up an accounting program per his recommendation a few minutes before, and that the night before my boyfriend and I talked about him. I always felt that he was one of the most reliable and knowledgeable people I'd ever met, and how lucky I was to have him as a close friend. I knew that some people had issues with him, partly because he seemed so inscrutable and hard to read at times, and partly because he could be so stubborn beyond belief. But he was the type of person who, once he'd decided that you were worthy, could be a friend of yours for life.

The very next day I got this forwarded email from James's boyfriend (apparently his family had written it because James told me himself that he never liked being called "Jim"):

"On Monday 12-10-07 at 12:55 James T. Sharer finally was reunited with his brothers and mother. He was born Sept. 24, 1964 in Dallas to the late Polly Jean Pringle Sharer and Jack B. Sharer. He was a lifelong Dallas resident. Jim attended the National Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, NY. He worked for the Sorenson Company as a regional manager.

Jim was preceded in death by his mother, Polly Sharer; and by his three brothers, Tommy, Jack Jr., and Robert Sharer. He is survived by his father, Jack B. Sharer of Dallas; uncle, David Sharer of Texarkana; nephew, Eryk Sharer and wife, Michelle; and two great-nephews.

Burial will be at 1:30 P.M. on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2007, in Restland Memorial Park, followed by a Memorial Service at 2:30 P.M. at John Calvin Presbyterian Church, 4151 Royal Lane, Dallas."

When I read that, I felt waves of sadness overtake my being for the rest of the week. He was really, really gone. All week prior to Saturday I couldn't stop thinking about him, and what he'd generously done for so many people over the course of his all-too-brief life; he was also involved with deaf GLBT organizations (Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf, Deaf GLOW, etc.) and the hearing bear community. (He also ran BearyClean Services.) I was a bit disappointed to see that no one seemed to have talked about him via Deafread.com, so I simply wanted to say, "James, may the Big (Bear) Guy Upstairs bless you forevermore!"

The picture of him above was our last night together when he visited with Lou and me last August. I continue to miss him terribly.

28 November 2007

Fingerspelling in the Operating Room (and other stuff)

I know it's been a while since I've blogged in here, but a lot's happened earlier this month. I didn't want to worry anyone about my laparoscopic gallbladder removal surgery until I was more or less recovered. Lou took this picture of me moments after I'd woken up from my surgery. I was spaced out, naturally, but what really touched me was the fact that the hospital made sure that all my interpreting needs were met. I almost didn't have to ask for one! And weirder--but in a good way--was the fact that when I was wheeled into the operating room, I saw a bunch of orderlies wearing those masks, which meant I couldn't lipread anyone. But a few of them did know how to FINGERSPELL so while they prepped me, they would ask me things like, "You O-K?" I had to blink my eyes twice to make sure that I wasn't dreaming under their warm glare of lights. Still, that made me feel a lot better even though I was rather scared of "going under the knife." The removal of my gallstones along with my gallbladder happened on the Thursday before Elsa died. (See my previous entry about her for more information.) I'm looking forward to my followup appointment with my surgeon on Friday and showing off how quickly the four scars on my chest have healed. Truly, medicinal technology can be so amazing at times. I've had conversations with folks who had their gallbladders removed fifteen to twenty years ago, and they were all so jealous that I had such a minimally invasive procedure (in their time, they had to stay overnight and endure a single cut of 10 centimeters alongside the bottom of their ribcages), and that I was only an outpatient. I went in just before noon and left the hospital at 5 p.m. the same day. The next two days were full of pains in my belly, but the pain that had been caused by the gallstones was completely gone. Miraculous!

If that wasn't enough, Elsa's death was one more thing, but it was quite another to learn only two days later that I would be getting a hearing service dog in January, which I'd applied for back in August when Lou and I moved in together. (For one thing, our apartment is way too large for me to hear the buzzer, which was rather quiet, and what's more, our office is quite a ways from the buzzer.) It was a truly bizarre timing, but one I'm most grateful for. It was really hard for a few days whenever I thought about Elsa. (Tom said the very same thing, but I would imagine it was a lot harder for him as she was his "office assistant" as he also worked from home. Tom and I used to have this running joke about Elsa: "She's the worst office assistant ever lived. Look at how lazy she is! Why doesn't somebody just fire her?" Then she'd open one eye while dozing on her end of the sofa and give us a look that always made us laugh.) Anyway, I just couldn't believe that she was gone. But what the trainer said about the new dog that he's training for me ("He is a terrific dog and a lot of fun to be around.") has made me feel rather hopeful and excited, as I'm such a major dog lover. It will be an interesting new chapter in my life when the new dog arrives on January 11th. I will share more along with pictures in January, but you stand forewarned. ;-)

Then a week after my surgery, Lou and I joined my family for a big Thanksgiving dinner at my sister Carole's house. It was the first time in 24 years that I was able to eat turkey with my family (there were 22 of us there), so it was a really nice homecoming of sorts. I was really worried about how my digestive system would react to the food I ate. (For those who don't know what the gallbladder does, it's a reservoir of bile for those times we eat too much fat all at any one time. We need bile in our stomachs to help break down the fats in our food. If we don't have enough bile in our system, we might get temporary cramps. So far I haven't had problems which means I've sufficient bile in my stomach all along. I sure hope so!

A few days later, Lou and I celebrated my 42nd birthday. We first ate out at Cafe Maude, an absolute favorite of mine here in the Twin Cities, and then we checked out the Museum of Russian Art. Who knew that Minneapolis would be home to the only museum in America completely devoted to Russian art? Then later that night Lou and I had some Peking duck. (Yes, Peking duck. I wanted to eat something totally different for my birthday.) It was a most wonderful day.

On that same day I got an unexpected email from Suspect Thoughts Press. They wanted to push the publication of my Deaf gay novel Men with Their Hands until later in 2008. I was a bit bummed about that, but I am still happy that my book will come out later than never at all. :-) Just around the same time I got offered a new contract for a new book of mine (my ninth!), so I'm just waiting for the finalized changes in our agreement before I announce anything specific about the project. Once the ink of my signature dries on the bottom line, I will be working very quickly with my editor. Hopefully, my rewrites will be done by the end of next month so that the book can come out sometime in 2008, maybe at the same time as Men with Their Hands. Wouldn't that be so cool? Either way, 2008 promises to be a thrilling year.

These days I have been working on sending copies of Eyes of Desire 2: A Deaf GLBT Reader to customers, bookstores, and whatnot, and trying to get the book reviewed. The book scored its first review in The Washington Blade last week. I've been told that there's going to be a review in SIGNews soon, but I have no idea what it's going to say about the book or even who wrote it. But either way I'm most grateful for book reviews because not only do we writers have to compete with the idea of competing to be among the 50,000 titles that are published a year in America (and unfortunately not all of us make it to the top of the New York Times bestseller lists), we also have to push newspaper and magazine editors to review our books once they come out; more often they won't because there are way too many high-profile books coming out of New York. Getting your own book reviewed has proven far tougher than it was back in the 1990s mainly because many periodicals no longer carry book reviews. (What?!? Yep. The business of being a writer has gotten even tougher.)

When not taking care of orders for Eyes of Desire 2, I've been editing the new ASL storytelling DVD collection featuring Manny Hernandez. Some of you may recall that he and I worked together on his first DVD called Manny ASL: Stories in American Sign Language five years ago, which was a huge hit at Deaf Way II and beyond. Over the next few years Manny and I shot a wealth of strong material for a sequel DVD. It's truly a joy to edit his work not just because he's one of the great ASL storytellers out there but because I can truly *see* how much he's matured in his craft as a storyteller. When his new DVD's good to go out in the world, I'll let you know here, there, and everywhere! I know fans of his work will drop their jaws at his new stories on Manny: ASL for a Better Life. As you can tell, I'm very, very excited. :-)

When not working or watching movies, I've been slowly improving my skills as a cook. I'm finally grasping most of the instructions in those recipes. I think the part of my brain that's designed for cooking was wayyyy out of shape from underuse so I needed to nudge it slowly into shape so that I can become a better cook. It's not as intimidating as I'd always thought it would be, so I'm learning a great deal. It's been a fun journey so far. And of course, I'd have to thank Lou for his patience (and help along the way)!

A few more things. Quite a few people emailed me to say that they were so sorry to have missed my book launch party for Eyes of Desire 2 at the Blue Moon Coffee Cafe earlier this month (November 2nd, to be exact); they'd heard a lot about the event. It was truly a great party. About 50 people came, and it was so great to see nine Minnesotan writers from Eyes of Desire 2 meet and greet their new fans. It was rather funny to see some people bringing their copies of the book to all of them and asking them for their individual signatures, and some of them bumped into each other on the way to get all their signatures in their copy! In any case, the Loft Literary Center has agreed to host a panel discussion about the Deaf GLBT community with the Minnesotan writers from Eyes of Desire 2 on Friday, January 4th (7 to 9 p.m.). Interpreters in Minnesota should be aware that "participants will receive .2 CEUs from RID at the beginning level." I will post a flyer about the event soon.

Oh yes: I'll be giving a short speech in honor of Deaf people and World AIDS Day at St. Paul College Auditorium (1 pm to 4 pm) this Saturday, so please join us if you're local to the Twin Cities! (Yes, I will be selling and autographing copies of Eyes of Desire 2, of course.) After that I expect to go into hiding until January 4th.

Sorry that my entry today was unusually long, but as you can tell, I haven't been sitting around idly and pigging out on peppermint bon-bons while watching the latest episode of As the World Turns.

Have a most Happy Holiday season, everyone!



18 November 2007

Elsa 1994 - 2007 (May she rest forever in peace)

Our much-beloved Basset hound Elsa died today. For those of you who knew me when I lived in New York, you know how much I doted on her. She was a beautiful dog with lots of sparkling personality to match; like her namesake Elsa Maxwell, she had the innate gift of befriending anyone, including those who claimed to dislike dogs. I cast her as herself in my not-yet-released feature film GHOSTED, so it's going to be hard for me to see her in the movie when I return to editing its final cut. As my former partner Tom said in his email, "We had to put Elsa to sleep this morning. She developed what appeared to be lung cancer, and was beginning to suffer. She was nearly blind, couldn't walk very well, and had been panting for about a week. She virtually stopped eating and had lost about 10 pounds over the course of a week. [My sister] Marcia and [her wife] Lynn took her to the vet for us--we couldn't do it. There was much crying on all our parts, but it really was time. She didn't suffer at all at the end, they gave her a sedative and off she went, very peacefully." She was thirteen years old. The picture of her above is the last time I was with her in February 2007; the one below is when she was an adorable puppy in June 1994 who bounced right into our lives and earned our great love and affection. It was so hard to leave her back in 2005 when I moved from New York to Minneapolis, so it's even harder to let her go now. It may take me yet another box of kleenex before I can talk about her without emotion in my voice. No words can convey how much I will miss her.

28 October 2007

On a safari with Shelfari!

A friend of mine alerted me to this social networking site that revolves around books. I thought it quite lovely, and what's more, they do make it easy to add your shelf of favorites (and a wishlist) to your blog. (No, they're not paying me to shill their web site.) I also think it's great to give a sense of what I enjoy reading so that if there are others who enjoy more or less the same things, it'd be great to connect and make new friends that way.

Anyway, I'll try to update my favorites with short comments about why I liked some of these books from time to time. My list is on the lower right-hand column of this blog.

25 October 2007

My sister Mary

Today I went over to the hospital where my sister Mary, who's one year older than I am and who's hearing, held a lovely party to celebrate the fact that it was her last chemotherapy treatment. (She had breast cancer surgery earlier this year, and her tumor was successfully removed. The chemo is basically preventative medicine.)

It was so nice to see her surrounded by her loved ones and friends. I stayed with them for a few hours, so as far as parties in hospitals go, it was a great one. (Yes, I had a bon-bon or two.)

Sleep well, Mary! I'm very happy to know that you'll be around for many years to come! Love ya.

21 October 2007


Just a quick note about the fact that my poem "Creeping to the Shortest Day of the Year" just got accepted for publication in MARGINALIA, an annual literary review published and edited by the English Department of Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado. I wrote this poem a few years ago on the train back from Washington, DC to New York when I owned a laptop. This is particularly sweet because all this year I didn't try very hard to submit my poems to various literary journals. I need to try harder and submit my work "out there" more often. Ah, the joys and the drags of being a writer! :-/

18 October 2007

The launch party for EYES OF DESIRE 2 . . . announced!

For those of you who haven't "heard" already, the very first book launch party for my newest book has been announced. If you're local to the Twin Cities, please come on over to Blue Moon Coffee Cafe (3822 East Lake Street, Minneapolis 55406) on Friday, November 2nd from 7 to 9 p.m. If you want to look at just who the eleven Minnesotans are in the book, please look no further than http://www.handtype.com/media/EOD2BookLaunch.pdf!

I want to thank Lou for taking pictures of my new book from a variety of angles. The one above is probably my favorite shot of all.

Hope to see ya all at the party! Can't wait to meet and greet everyone.

09 October 2007

My new book is in . . . my hands!

Hello everyone--

Very few people have seen this blog but I did want to let out a tiny peep of joy that my seventh book, EYES OF DESIRE 2: A DEAF GLBT READER, is finally out. I'm just shocked by how good it really looks. I guess I had low expectations or something, but wow! I'm just very happy about the fact that my three-year journey is actually over.

You would think that I can finally go to bed and rest. (Hah! I'm giving a short presentation in White Bear Lake tomorrow evening.)

And of course, I'm now waiting for a shipment of padded bubble envelopes so I can ship those lovely babies to their new parents who can't wait to read all about the Deaf GLBT community from all over the world! (Sorry about that, but we're all just gonna have to wait.)



07 October 2007

I've been YouTubed!

Check it all out ....

Thanks to Ocean's insistence (and enthusiasm for the book), I've had my first YouTube uploading experience. But more than that, I hope you will see what she has to say about my new book at http://deafpagan.com/2007/10/07/eyes-of-desire-2-the-video/

Who knew how wonderful some Deaf pagans can be? ;-) Thanks again, Ocean!

28 September 2007

Pah! About time!

I've been keeping a pseudo-blog of sorts for a long while, but it didn't have a place for reader comments. Now that I'm finally coming out of hibernation with my new book EYES OF DESIRE 2: A DEAF GLBT READER, it's also time to reconnect with the world out there.

More to come out ... soon!