Today I discovered that all Business Depot outlets smell the same. I know that’s a terribly odd observation, but I came to that conclusion minutes after entering the third outlet today.

Indeed, I brought back the dud Toshiba first thing this afternoon. It was pronounced a dud by a technician, so I find some comfort in that: I’m not an idiot. Then we arranged a hold on another Toshiba at the downtown outlet but, once there, I found out I could only get the blasted thing tomorrow. Knowing that there were three units sitting at yet another outlet across the harbour, I asked to the people at the second outlet to reserve one of those at the third so that I could go get it immediately, which I did. I insisted, and got, that Toshiba for the initial price.

So, it just over two weeks, I’ve technically bought four laptops. This one works well and I can connect adequately to an unsecured network — adequately enough to download the most recent Windows updates. I’m going to finish configuring this little puppy and that’ll be good enough for now. Later I’ll give more thought to what to do about my network and current wireless router.

Unrelated… A while back, one of my (real life and) Facebook friends had the funniest and most accurate status update: “[Friend’s name] thinks IE is a great browser to download Firefox.” I’m smirking right now because that’s precisely what I’m doing on the new Toshiba. That as well as Skype, which has become an indispensible application for maintaining that Mexico — Canada connection…

Speaking the Name

This new year started like no other for me, for never have I started a year when I could say that I’m engaged to marry the man I love. But one thing wasn’t different as this year started: the fact half my family — and only half my family and no one else in the entire world — wasn’t clear on the fact I like men, let alone am prepared to marry one. Hence the necessity to have that talk with Mom.

Much has transpired since then. A week later I called her and we spoke for three hours. She had had time to absorb the news. She didn’t backtrack, but she did have a few pointed remarks which I totally respect and a few even more pointed questions about El Poema. The speed at which everything is happening hasn’t gone unnoticed by anyone, and certainly not by her. Her most pointed remark amounts to a “I support your decision but you’re making your own bed.” Fair enough; she would have said that even if I’d decided to marry a woman. She really would have. And her pointed questions were exactly the type I could expect from a practical person like her.

Then, a week after that, she called me. “J’ai été bavarde”, she started. (“I’ve been speaking a lot.”) She then explained that while one of my brothers — the one closer in age to me — was at the homestead to help her set up her new TV, she told him everything. His reaction, as expected, wasn’t one of surprise. Apparently (really no surprise!), it was a brief topic of conversation within his little family at one time or another. So before he left, she showed him the pictures of El Poema and me she had saved while I was there and he asked her to e-mail them to him. Then, Mom went on to tell me that my other brother was in town earlier that week …and she told him, too! (Geez! She really did speak a lot!) He was even less surprised, from what I gather, and instantly grasped the link between marriage and immigration. And he thought and asked the same questions she asked me a week later. At any rate, she told them both not to act as if she hadn’t told them the next time I talk to them. I think my comment that I was tired of pussy-footing around for 25 years resonated stronger than I thought it did.

All is right, as far as I’m concerned. My main concern all along wasn’t them as much as her. The last thing I expected is that she would “speak a lot” as she did. But I did want her to call the shots because she is the head of this family. I didn’t want her to feel broadsided by me.

Tonight, Mom called again. The topic feels like a plain matter of fact, as it should. Except there’s one little hitch. Well… it’s a big hitch, but because it’s my mother, I’m cutting her some slack for now. She can’t bring herself to speak El Poema’s name. For now, he is him or your friend. A lot of that is generational, namely that it’s hard for her to associate a male name to another male name, especially her son’s, after 25 years of trying not to think too much about what said son might be up to with males. I suspect some of you reading this might think that I’m cutting her too much slack, and to be honest, the fact I’m now writing about it suggests that it DOES bother me that she can’t yet formulate a simple subject-verb-complement sentence with the subject Fernando — a name that still makes my heart skip a beat whenever I hear it or read it, even if it’s not in reference to THE one.

But you see, as they say, on the other hand there are five fingers. A while ago — before our “talk” — I mentioned that I was wondering what I should do with these three wool sweaters she knitted for me years ago. I don’t wear them anymore but, as I told her, I hold on to them because she made them for me and, on that basis, I cherish them. And tonight, knowing how big a deal it is for him to come to Canada in the dead of winter, she asked why I don’t give them to him. She couldn’t see the smile on my face when I said, “Because I don’t think they will fit him.” I mean… he’s 3 inches taller than I am, and I’m pretty sure much of that difference is reflected in his torso and the length of his arms, although he is very slender.

In short, it seems that she can’t speak his name just yet, but she’s thinking about how not to have him rush on the first plane back to Mexico.

Now lend me one of your hands, because I’ve used both of mine and I need five more fingers.

I played a huge role in her not associating a male name to me. For 25 years, she heard the names of all the guys in my life. The significant ones, that is. I suspect I did so because, at some level, I wanted her to ask me the infamous “Is he more than just a friend” question. But she never did, and I never pushed the envelope. So, really, I’ve been complicit. At least until three weeks ago. I let her not think about what she didn’t want to think about. She and I both need time to adjust to being frank and formulating simple subject-verb-complement sentences. About how he and I met. About the kind of person he is. About the big and little things that bring me to love him so. About the beautiful things he says to me. About how we manage to communicate in spite of the nearly 5,000 kilometres that separate us.

But I’m pretty sure all of that will change after she meets him. He will no longer be an abstraction. To help her get there, I need to say his name, frequently but matter-of-factly. So that eventually, even to her, he won’t just be him. He will be Fernando, my (future) spouse.

Plug & Play? Yeah, Right!

Fer fuck sake! On days like this, it’s hard to believe I make a living working at a computer all day. But, at the same time, I realize that I do (read, that I’m addicted) because not having Internet access from every computer in the house is driving me crazy.

It all started two weeks ago when I agreed with El Poema that I should get myself a cheap laptop. After work that Friday night, I went to Business Depot and found a Toshiba that met that description, and asked the salesperson if I could bring it back if I couldn’t just plug it into my home network. He said sure, provided I bring it back within 14 days.

I got home and it took over an hour to boot it the first time. Fine …but then I tried to connect to the router/network and was stymied by having to know the encryption key. Damn if I knew what it was!

With everything else I have on the go these days, trying to figure this out is more than I can handle. So, I finally broke down and hired a techie from PC Medic to do a house call. He came yesterday and, although he found the key in two seconds, other complications conspired and he couldn’t get the damn thing to hook up. “That does it,” I thought. The laptop might not be at fault, but I’m bringing it back. On precisely the 14th day.

But then I thought I’d drop by PC Medic. Maybe I could get an equally cheap laptop and it would connect on the first try. I got a recycled laptop that still had XP as the operating system — as opposed to Vista on the previous one — but, once home, it became apparent this one wouldn’t connect, either. Thankfully, the PC Medic people agreed that if I couldn’t connect instantly, I could bring it back the next day and they’d reimburse me, no questions asked.

However, I then found myself with a computer inferior to the Toshiba I had before, so screw that! I brought the recycled thing back to PC Medic. And then I thought, What about if I got another Toshiba, try at least to connect to an unsecured network — for really, the whole point of this laptop is to have a computer I can travel with and connect to a wireless network. So, off I go to another Business Depot location and I get another Toshiba. I even talked them into giving it to me for the same price as the previous one. But where it was closing time and all, I had to go back today to pick it up, reformatted.

So I did. Even though it was considerably later than I said I would come by, it wasn’t ready yet and I had to wait quite a while. Back home, I boot the sucker up …but to make a long story short, this one is a total dud! But what’s more, now my router is a complete piece of toast, which I’m told is because it’s a very unpopular brand la la la la la. (It’s an SMC, in case you’re wondering.) So now, only the computer that’s directly connected can reach the Net. And only one of the two desktops in the living room can “talk” to the desktop in my office.

Needless to say, the dud is going back to the store tomorrow. And where I know Business Depot has several other Toshibas at the downtown store (as of last night, at least), I’m going to insist on getting one and go through this whole song-and-dance all over again.

That’s not going to fix the network/router, mind you. On that front, I’m not sure what to do anymore. I think I might have to get a non-SMC and start the network all over again. But there’s no friggin’ way I’ll succeed on my own. So, now I’m thinking I’ll have to bite the bullet and hire another techie who, I would hope, could get this all done in about two hours …’cause that’s what a techie does, right? (Kaching, kaching!) And then, I would hope to make copious notes so I can dismantle this bloody network, replug it once in Montréal in two months, and it’ll all work like a charm, right?

Can you tell this cascade of incidents has broke this camel’s back?

Look at This One …No, That One!

El Poema and I have spent a lot of time in the last 24 hours looking at online ads for apartments in Montréal.

It’s a frustrating exercise in many ways. First, there are the places that look right but are available immediately or a month sooner than we can start renting. Then, there are the places that are incredible but just THAT much over the budget. Then, there are the places that are perfect in every way …except no smoking or no pets, or neither. Then, there are those places that are amazing but make you wonder why anyone would pay that much rent instead of buying a house. And, of course, there are many, many that fall in the “You’ve Got to Be Joking” category.

There’s one prospect that came unexpectedly yesterday. El Poema still has to pronounce himself on it, but based on what he indicated he liked and didn’t like, I think he’ll like this one. I think I like it, too, although I’m hoping to get more details on room size and natural lighting. But the price would be right. There’s always the complicating factor that we’re still 21 days from our apartment-hunting visit in Montréal, but by golly: who wouldn’t want to rent to guys like us! 😛 In all seriousness, though, not that I’m the type to screw anyone around, but with this prospective landlord in particular, I really don’t want to raise false expectations.

Meanwhile, from the “Don’t They Make You Sick” file, something cute and funny happened during our Skype session last night that still has me chuckling. He was talking on the phone, so I sent him a goofy chat message through Skype: “Who is the beautiful prince I see on my computer screen?” When he got off the phone and read the message, he kept a poker face and said, “Oh! I don’t know… Maybe your computer has a virus!”

And then we both burst out laughing.

I WARNED you this anecdote was from the “Don’t They Make You Sick” file!

Is There Such a Thing As…

…baptism by cold?

El Poema and I have booked his trip to Canada next month. We’re meeting in Montréal on the 9th, apartment hunting together until the 13th, and then he’s coming to Halifax until the 2nd.

Of course, the point of apartment hunting together is that Montréal will be a new beginning for both of us, so I can’t imagine him not having a say on the new digs. But what a wretched time of year to come to Canada for a Mexican who’s unusually sensitive to the cold! Obviously, we’ll have to devote part of our time in Montréal to clothing him properly. And then, back in sleepy little Halifax, it’ll be …well …realistic in some ways because I’ll have to work during weekdays. And I think it’ll help categorically firm up our plans on which approach to take for his coming to the country (assuming the cold doesn’t freak him out so badly that everything comes to an abrupt halt).

Meanwhile, last weekend, I visited my mom in Moncton because I couldn’t possibly tell her by phone what transpired in Mexico over Christmas. This is the rub: the fact I like to kiss boys has been a weird and convulted open secret in our family for 25 years, with some of my siblings officially not knowing about my “affections,” shall we say. But now that we’re all in our 40s and 50s and that my marital status is about to change, the denial has got to stop. And I expect nothing less than a recognition that this family is getting a new member.

The talk with Mom went as well as I could expect. I introduced the topic by saying that I had some very good news, but it’s the kind of news I had to tell in person because it has an impact on the family, and family matters a lot to me. She was okay at the point where I declared that El Poema was my “significant other.” But then, understandably, she couldn’t hide her surprise when I went on to tell her how significant and what we intend to do about it. I may be 42 and she may be nearing 80, but I’m still her baby, after all. And I detected some panic coming from her at that point as she tried to imagine how to lift the lid from the house of cards that she so carefully built over all these years and figure out how it should now be reconstructed.

Then, a breakthrough of sorts came when we were looking at our Mexico pictures and she saw him for the first time. Not that it would have changed anything, but I have to admit I worried that she would dislike this tall, long-haired Mexican who has become the object of my affection. But at one picture in particular, she finally said that she could be contrarian but “je dois admettre que c’est un bel homme” (“I have to admit that he’s a handsome man”), noting in particular his beautiful brown eyes. (Coincidentally, within five minutes of my meeting El Poema’s mom in person, she commented on my eyes and how they were so much like her own mother’s.) And then Mom asked me to help her save a particular photo of us to her computer’s pictures folder.

I know my mom. She probably looked at that picture a few dozen times this past week. And although I assured her that I’m happy and confident that we’re doing the right thing, I know she worried at lot …not so much for how to let the cat out of the bag, although there was probably some of that. But simply about me. ‘Cause, like I said, I’m still her baby.