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This website is now published on my mobileme account. Any opinions expressed, however, are totally my responsibility.

The original website was published through the courtesy of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Jim Andris, Sept. 17, 2003.

Annual History of Jim Andris, 2011

I'm sitting here beginning to key in this year's annual history with our cat, Midas, on my lap along with the laptop computer. I guess that makes him a laptop cat, and I hope my computer remains a laptop for the duration of this exercise. You've heard it all before, anyway, Trinity church, opera, theatre, bridge, choir, the grandkid, the daughter. So I will just focus on the TRULY NEW. (Motivation to read this epistle!)

I suppose this is the biggest new news. On June 1 the State of Illinois began permitting same-sex couples to obtain civil unions. It took me a while to navigate these new waters, but on Aug. 12, 2011, Stephen and I became legally married after 27 years of faithfully living together. Now I know a few of you will quibble a bit about the proper term, but consider this. We can now fill out joint Illinois tax returns, if we choose to, and if we do, we get to check the "married, filing jointly" box on the form. As far as being Missouri residents, yes the union is only valid in Illinois. I joke that we get married every time we drive east across the Poplar St. Bridge, and get divorced when we return to St. Louis. But finally, it DOES make a difference. Stephen can now be listed as my survivor in Illinois (after Aug. 12, 2012—making us wait still another year for this), and could not be so listed before June 1. And besides that, we feel better now, because this is closer to representing what we mean to each other.

This year has closed better for Stephen. He had intensive therapy on his hand and shoulder earlier, was fitted with lifts for his right shoe, and generally went uphill for a while on his health—although he will apparently always live with a lot of pain, immobility and reduced capacity. And, he must face another surgery soon; we are praying for a good result. His performing days with the River City Pops are probably over, but he does still enjoy singing with the Trinity Choir.

We did continue to work on renovating this place. This year we finally renovated the bedroom, removing old fabric wall covering, painting, putting on a nice border, fixing tile in the original fireplace, and getting all new bedroom furniture. It does look nice. Our contractor came and redid Stephen's closet, lining it with cedar. He also made more handrails and sealed leaky doors.

I have a new cause! A couple of years ago, friend, Rip, and I went to a Lesbian and Gay History Walk in the Central West End. I jokingly said at the time that since I was a part of that history, I might as well attend: I was carrying a Gay Academic Union banner in the 1980 Walk for Charity in St. Louis on April 20. (I even wrote a personal account of it at the time, and it's online at Even Alexander the Great.) This initial interest in history has blossomed into my writing several articles, transcribing a music concert, and doing at least two interviews of historically significant people. I even have developed a website, so that others can read and access this information, and of course, there is the website of the St. Louis LGBT History Project.

In August, Stephen and I spent a week on the east shore of Lake Michigan with lifelong friend, Will Lutz. Will had never explored that west coast of the lower peninsula, and there is much beautiful to see there: beach, sand dunes, blue sky over water, light houses, sunsets, and generally good food and lodging. We have been talking about doing this for years, and finally did.

Our new big culture effort for the year has been attending the Metropolitan Opera series given in theaters every few weeks. This season we have seen several, including Faust, Anna Bolena, and Don Giovanni. We go over to the little town of Lebanon, Illinois to the new theatre, The Hett, at McKendree College with our friends Ron and Jan from Trinity. Then we hit the Cracker Barrel on the way home.

Another nice trip was to Marietta, Ohio for Thanksgiving, where my sister, Vicki and her husband, Jerry, hosted most of the family for dinner. I got to see all of my nephews except Joe, and my niece, my brother, Tom, and sister in law, Dee, and seven of the nine grandnieces/nephews. (Although, thanks to Facebook, I do keep up on most of them that way.) Despite the fact that I came down with a miserable cold on Thanksgiving Day, it was a wonderful time. I even got to take a rough ride in Vicki and Jerry's new side-by-side four wheel all-terrain Honda over their 9 acre property, and some neighbors' property, too.

Stephen has renewed his interest in stamp collection, but an interest he has had most of his life. He's finally able to sit and enjoy arranging and mounting the stamps. He collects flowers, state capitols, events, people, centennials, and much more. He likes to research the topic that is being commemorated by the stamp. And occasionally, he discovers that he has a stamp that has considerably appreciated in value, too.

We did get to spend a week with Stephanie, Dawn and Zander in May. They came to St. Louis and saw a number of sites, including a trip to the botanical garden and to Ted Drewes.

and now we are headed to see them in Boston just after Christmas.

Stephen and I have been playing party bridge every Friday with some guys we met through SAGE, a group providing activities and services for senior lesbians and gay men. We have lunch and then go to somebody's home for the afternoon. They're all interesting and good bridge players, too, so Stephen and I have had to hustle not to win the boobie prize.

I must say that, besides all the new things that happened, this year was interesting and fun from time to time, and a look at my photo album illustrates this. Twice during Easter Week we were driven into the hall and basement of Trinity Church by tornado warnings, including on Good Friday. The Orchid Show and the viburnum in the back yard were gorgeous, as was the fall here in St. Louis City. We took an evening cruise by the light of the full moon up the Mississippi at St. Genevieve compliments of Jack Ulrich, who rented the ferry after it closed. I played in a pop band, Cold Harbor, in 1973, and three of us got together for a reunion in April. Friend, Rosanda, called almost every day to make sure I was "behaving."

I did make one interesting discovery this year. You've probably heard the old phrase, "Getting old is not for sissies." Well, I'm here to tell you that , quite the contrary, it is TOO for sissies. I'm getting old, damn it. But I'm in pretty good shape, all things considered, and still glad to be here.

We hope you had a merry Christmas and wish you the best in the New Year.

Stephen and Jim and Midas