Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Mind Of Shuffle

iPod-wise, I've always been a playlist kind of guy. For the uninitiated--and what exactly are you waiting for? I was one of the original iPod owners, early adapter that I am--after you've loaded all the music you own onto your iPod (I have five days worth), you can sort your music into various playlists. I have my gym mix (code named 'Testosterone'), my heading-down-to-the-Bike Stop mix, my roadtrip mix... you get the idea, huh?

Well, when I went to the beach with UnFortunate a few months back, he was verrry excited about his new discovery: Shuffle. Heretofore, Shuffle was a feature I never used. When you have your iPod set to Shuffle, it plays every track you have loaded, one by one, without repeating.

Surrender my discriminating though eclectic tastes and creativity to sheer randomness?

Madness, surely.

But UnFortunate was all about Shuffle. "It's incredible! It will play a cover of one band, and then follow that with a track by the band covered, but not the one covered! How does Shuffle know?"

On the way back to NYC, UnFortunate suggested we give Shuffle a whirl.

No. I don't do Shuffle. Enjoy my carefully selected playlist.

But after a few weeks, I relented. I gave Shuffle a go.

Shuffle is amazing.

Shuffle just defies comprehension. Need to perk up? Shuffle will have you singing along to an old favorite of yours at the top of your lungs. Feeling a little wistful? Shuffle will remind you that however bad you've got it, Morrissey had it worst. Same goes for those boys from Joy Division. All hot and bothered by those smokin' Starbucks boys? Rammstein will sure get your pistons firing in sync.

But here's what really throws me. Lately, I've noticed something. On my ride to work, I'll hear about four songs. And, there will be this subtle theme that emerges. Water. Voyages. Absent lovers. Summer.

Not hit you over the head kind of theme. But it's there.

It's almost like someone is in charge of Shuffle. Someone somewhere is doing that selecting with care.

But of course, there's no ghost in the machine.

it is natural to the human mind to synthesize. To deduce. To see patterns. It goes back to our days on the veldt, when survival depended on reading the herds of antelope, the weather, our enemies' intentions.

Amazed at the iPod combination that greeted me on my ride home after the gym this evening, I once again thought about 'How does Shuffle know?' and then thought about our President. Who, a few weeks ago, during the earlier weeks of his vacation, met with a group of journalists from Texas. Many of them have known him since he was Governor of Texas and before. And the big revelation he made was that he is down with the whole Intelligent Design thing.

You know, the idea that this world reflects intelligence. That it couldn't have just happened. But it did. That's just the way it happened. "Should crass causality appaul..."

Okay, you're thinking, there goes Mr. Materialism, reducing the world to particle physics.

Yes. And no.

Often, I get the distinct impression that God is indeed speaking to me. I pose a question, and here comes the answer. Our of that chaotic universe comes a warm and reassuring, "Hang in there, Buddy."

So the question isn't "is it Out There or In Here?" The question is, "Which is more reassuring? That someone out there is looking out for us, or that we've got that covered ourselves?"

Saturday, August 27, 2005

I, Ink Snob

If I were asian, I would make a career of going up to people with japanese and chinese characters tattooed on them and asking innocently, "Why do you have 'urinary tract infection' tattooed on your forearm?".

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Another SingleTails Recipe!

Tonight I totally hit it with dinner.

The credit goes to my Sir. We were IMing back and forth over the weekend and I got the idea. A few months back, he was contemplating a slamon diet. As in, eating a lot of salmon. Innuits and such who eat a lot of salmon are apparently healthier. At the time, we tried to come up with ways to make salmon interesting. Alas, there's not a lot you can do with salmon. My suggestions went to salmon chowder, sushi, and there I sort of got stuck.

Until this weekend.

On Saturday, I went out and got us some sweet corn. Sweet corn is huge in Bucks County. My stepmother had it in with all the local corn farmers. They would give her a call when they were harvesting, and when they came in off the fields, she'd be waiting there with her trunk open. Meanwhile at home--she and my father had synchronized their watches--boiling pots of water would be ready on the stove.

The point? When corn is taken off the stalk, the sugar starts to change to starch. So if you want your sweet corn really really sweet, then time is of the essence.

So, whilst messaging back and forth, it came to me.

Salmon fritters. With sweet corn. And cherry tomatoes. And tarragon.


Just make the recipe from The Joy of Cooking for fritter batter with fish. After you've got the batter together, add salmon (don't slice it too small!), halved cherry tomatoes, lots of tarragon, and, of course, sweet corn.

Sauté them in butter over medium-high heat.

What's better?

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Mix It Up

(Scene: Somewhere on the Astral Plane)

God: All set for your trip?

Me: I guess I am... I mean...

God: Okay. I just want to give you an idea of what you'll be running into down there.

Me: Great! I'm pretty excited about this.

God: Well first off, I should let you know up front that you're going to be gay.

Me: Gay? Really? Gosh...

God: Have a problem with that?

Me: Not if you don't, but...

God: But what?

Me: Okay. If I'm gonna be gay, then I want a fourteen inch dick.

God: Nope. Standard six.

Me: No way! I'll never get laid! Okay. Eleven.

God: No. You're getting six.

Me: Nine.

God: No! Are you arguing with me?

Me: Well, it's just that I don't want to be... ...overlooked.

God: You won't be. I'll give you a quick wit.

Me: A big help that'll be. And a great body?

God: I'll tell you what. Just because I like you: you can eat everything you want and not gain an ounce.

Me: Okay. That's cool.

God: Don't be too grateful. You can also work out all you want and never gain an inch on your biceps.

Me: Why are you doing this to me?

God: Because I like things to be interesting.

Me: Oh my God. I...

God: Please don't do that.

Me: Do what?

God: Spit out my name like that. I hate that. I really hate that. I wrote it on a mountain once. I hear my name called and I drop what I'm doing and check it out, one of my children in anguish or something. And what do I find? Somebody found knock-off Pradas for $20. Pisses me off every time. Don't expect a good parking space after you do that.

Me: I'll remember that.

God: No, actually you won't.

Me: So anyway. Happy childhood?

God: Not too shabby. You're growing up in a beautiful part of the world. Oh. I've gotta make sure you look good in black.

Me: Why black?

God: Because you'll be going to a lot of funerals.

Me: What? Whose?

God: Some of your mothers.

Me: Will I be an orphan?

God: Oh you'd just love all that drama, wouldn't you? No. Just mothers. And grandparents.

Me: That's an awful childhood! I don't want that! Will I be spoiled at least?

God: You'll have a lot of love coming your way. And wait till you meet your paternal grandmother. She'll like you the best.

Me: How about adolescence? What's in the plan there?

God: Do the words "pizza face" mean anything to you?

Me: Acne? I'm going to have acne? Why? I'll be scarred for life.

God: Because you're actually going to be pretty good looking, and I don't want it to go to your head.

Me: Okay. Do I find true love? Will I find my soulmate? Someone to share my life with?

God: Actually, you'll be lucky when you find someone to share your weekend with.

Me: Your kidding me, right? You call this a life?

God: Like I said, I like to mix it up some. Keeps things interesting.

Me: Interesting to you is turmoil for me. Has that dawned on you?

God: It won't be that bad. Take a look. Here's some of the hotties you'll be hanging with.

Me: Wow. Whoa! That one is nice. Do I get much time with him?

God: Uhhh... Lemme see. No. He gets all whiney because you go to a movie he doesn't like and so you don't return his calls.

Me: How about him? He looks great.

God: Oh yeah. I'm definitely being generous to you there. He's great. You're gonna have a whole summer with him.

Me: What happens in September?

God: Let's move on, shall we?

Me: Alright. I have a request.

God: Let's hear it.

Me: If I'm gonna be gay, I want to be a Top.

God: Thank you! Thank you for mentioning that to me. I keep forgetting to make them Tops. It's all out of whack down there. Yes. You can be a Top.

Me: Great! Thanks, God!

God: Although... (murmuring while taking notes) include a double order of empathy and heavy on the self-doubt.

Me: What was that?

God: Oh, I was just remembering something I have to do for later.

Me: So will I do great things?

God: I've got some pretty good ones lined up for you. You'll be leaving My creation better than you found it in a number of ways. Of course, most of the time you won't realize that.

Me: I sound like kind of a dweeb...

God: No. You will definitely not be a dweeb. Well, maybe in junior high school. Yeah. Then it's definitely dweeb.

Me: Is it going to be a hard life?

God: I tell the same thing to everybody: it's as hard as you want to make it.

Me: Gotcha. I'll remember that.

God: You definitely won't. Well, sometimes you'll remember that.

Me: Will I be famous?

God: (laughing) I got really creative here. I'm actually pretty pleased with myself on that score.

Me: So you're saying...

God: Your best moments will end up right on the cutting room floor.

Me: God! C'mon!

God: I'm sorry. But I can't help myself. This is going to be great. My advice to you is not to care too much about that.

Me: So what else is in store for me?

God: What can I tell you at this point... Some great dogs, some great friends, risking death two... three... four times. Before it's for real.

Me: Wow!

God: Yeah. Just to keep you honest. And let's see what else. What have I given you in terms of skills... let's see. Public speaking. An eye for beauty. Good with words. A poet's soul--y'know I'm stingy with that last one. Great at throwing a whip...

Me: And that will help me how?

God: Let's just say it will give you an opportunity to remember what you're leaving behind while you're down there.

Me: How...? Why...?

God: You'll see. And, I'm giving you a lot of insight. People in your life will rely on you for that.

Me: Great. So I'll be a hit at cocktail parties, won't I?

God: Don't be so negative! Although as a matter of fact, you will.

Me: Okay. So we've covered death, acne, obscurity... How about some of the good stuff in store for me. If there is any.

God: Of course there is! The part when you're in the Nevada desert under the stars! You'll love that! And when you're ten, you're going to have your first brush with lycanthropy. Oh, and when Starbucks gets going, things will really look up for you. And in the 'early sexual experiences' department, you're totally lucking out. And great dogs you'll have! And when you and this guy fall asleep in an olive grove, and you wake up in the morning and see the sun rise... I love how you cry for that one. And after you give birth to your first child, you'll be back on the modeling circuit in a matter of weeks...

Me: What???!!!

God: Oops. My mistake. That last one was for someone named Yasmine LeBon. She's going down the same chute that you are. Yup. Same birthday. October 29, 1964.

Me: So overall, I'll have a good time?

God: I'll just say this. When the time arrives for you to come home... well, some people are more than ready. Some people are ready to go years before they do. But not with you. When you realize what's going down, you'll have to take a moment to prepare. Because you won't want it to end.

Me: Why? Because I'll be nineteen years old or something?

God: No, because of all the sweetness and the joy that you'll know, year after year after year.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

My Stalker

Okay. Starbucks today. I roll in and there's Farmer Guy! ('Member him? Queer. Hot. From SF. Moved back here, like me, at the death of a parent. Works to support himself by doing organic farming.) It's been a while since I've seen Farmer Guy. And as usual, he was an eyeful. Deeply tan from all that work out in the sun, wearing a wife beater and plaid shorts. We got our coffee drinks and repaired to the porch. And chatted up a storm. Catching up.

He said something like "great running into you," and I went off on a riff: "Well go figure! I'm here every day, monday through friday, from 4 pm to 6 pm. I would be so easy to stalk? Why do I not have a stalker? I'm such a creature of routine. I'm perfect for stalking."

Without looking at me, a slight smile on his lips, eyes fixed on the middle distance, Farmer Guy said, "Yeah. Calling ahead to Starbucks and asking if you were there. Carmelita would always give me the word. Usually you had fallen asleep reading your book when I got there. But then you wrecked the whole thing by asking if you wanted me to go to the movies. You can't stalk somebody who's asking you to go to the movies."



I asked him to go to thhe movies with me. He basically said that he was busy. As in always. And I took it as a not interested. For whatever reason.

So this is kooky. Farmer Guy was not only returning my keen interest, but was stalking me. But wanted to keep me at a distance.

And I get that.

We both live in thhis weird netherworld. We're spoken for, although not in a way we'd like. The future is indefinite. I do the same thing. Delighting in the company of the boys of summer at Starbucks, sucking face with guys at the Bike Stop even though I have an hour and a half drive to get home and I'll be doing that alone. Living your life in terms of "if only." I get that.

What a disaster it would be if the real thing cropped up.


Farmer Guy had to get going. I had to get to the gym. We shook hands goodbye out in front of Starbucks.

I had a great workout at the gym.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Sent By God

Yesterday, at Starbucks, there I was, enjoying my cigar and latté, and then he showed up. This... this... unbelievably hot musclefuck. Just incredible.

Now usually, body builders leave me cold. Much prefer the lean, rangey type. (Like me! Go Lean, Rangey Types!)

But there was something brutish, stoopid, and animalistic about him. Like one of the guys in the pics that PunchPig graces my email inbox with every so often. The Germans have a saying (hopefully I won't mangle this too badly): "Dumn ficte gute," which translates as, "Stupid guys are (ahem.) good in bed." And he was Class A Dumn.

He sits down right in front of me. And asks me the time. Which I was happy to provide. And then he said the magic words: "Great. I have time to have a cigar before my bus gets here."

No lie!

So I watched him sit there, smoking his cigar, big ol' side of beef that he was, until he caught his bus.

And now here's the sad part. Testimony of how pathetic my sex/love life is right now. What was going through my mind right then and there was: Yesss! Masturbatory fodder!

That's it. Casting in a starring role in my bedtime jerk off fantasies.

And ohhhh... do I have plans for him! Last night was all about suspending him in a harness and forcefeeding him. He got bigger and bigger and bigger. Topping 300. Then getting to 400. Musclefuck was now a big ol' porker. And, most importantly, my big ol' porker. Transformed. Remade


Tonight, I think he's gonna get beat. Just... y'know... until he breaks. Until I see some tears and sobbing out of him.

See what you get for saying the Lord's Prayer??? Must be that "give us today our daily bread" part.

Thanks, God! Just what I needed!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Must See TV

First off, on Monster House on the Discovery Channel, there's a gay welder! And I thought I was the only one.

And... and... the Little League World Series is on ESPN! Tonight I watched as Newtown PA came from behind (3-0 behind!) to beat Toms River NJ! Go Bucks County!

And it was so sweet! When Newtown hit a come-from-behind run, the pitcher from the Jersey team started to cry!

Compare that to the drama of the Philadelphia Eagles, a bunch of millionaires, one of whom doesn't even bother to show up for practice. Tune in for one game. You'll be hooked.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

No Bite!

A good weekend, all in all. Respite from my funk came in the form of the Lord's Prayer, which I was inspired to recite on my drive to work the other morning. It really is a perfect prayer. It's all there...

Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done

...right. I'm not in charge. It's not about what I want, it's about what the Universe serves up for me.

On earth as it is in heaven

...Just because you don't understand what's happening doesn't mean it's bad.

Give us this day our daily bread

...if you have a full belly and a roof over your head (and a good dog, and a nice cigar, and a latte), then you've got all you need. Anything else is gravy.

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us

...yes. It's all about forgiveness. Letting it all pass through you. Forgive. Find the love.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

...banish the hungry ghosts, banish the fear, banish that which clouds my mind. Clarity. Simplicity. Peace. Strength. Courage. Perserverance.

For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, forever and ever, Amen.

...before I was, God was. After me, there will be God. Stepping out of time and into eternity.



Yesterday, Saturday, was all about housecleaning. Changed my father's bedlinens, vacuumed (such a pain in the ass, we have four vacuums in the house, none of which work), and got the kitchen spic and span. Then, I had an unremarkable AOL date at 6 pm. Spicey as a glass of milk, that one was. But, y'know, got me out of the house, and you never know. I headed to Starbucks afterwards, enjoyed the evening. Then home for dinner, and later, I stopped in at the Raven in New Hope. It's a good thing the place is only fifteen minutes away from me. If I had traveled any distance to find eighty men all of whom make me wistful that I'm not straight, I'd have been pissing into every gastank in the parking lot.

And today! Today was a Special Day! Today was the day I traveled north to the Borough of Kings (better known as Brooklyn) to retrieve my St. Andrew's Cross. (You might remember that I loaned it to GMSMA for a program on singletail whips last year.) And, I got to meet the new dachshund puppies, Frieda and Tulip, of a man we'll call Hey Sailor. Formerly the chair of the program committee of GMSMA (that's how he came to have my cross), now he's crisscrossing the country on a book tour, first time author that he is.

The puppies were wonderful. We love puppies! And they love to give kisses. Unfortunately, they like to take bites at noses and chins when they give kisses, so Hey Sailor asked me to discourage that by a firm "No bite!" We talked and talked and talked, and loaded up my jeep with the cross, and had some middle eastern food down on Seventh Avenue, and then I headed home.

After I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, the weather started to get dramatic. Now, I have no qualms at all about driving in the snow, but I'm actually pretty leery of driving in the rain. And it looked like it was going to pour. Remembering that it was Sunday, I headed to the Dugout where Bear Blast was in full swing.

I wasn't even in the door when I ran into Archangel. (Check the archives on him.) I was glad to see him, unbelievably hot man that he is, and he was glad to see me. I was wondering why it is that things never went further between us than the one time we hooked up. Then, as he passionately kissed me hello, I remembered. Archangel bites. I mean, really bites. All the time. Now, giving a little nip now and then when you're kissing, or sucking nipples, or whatever is fine. But Archangel gnaws. It's too... too... Dawn Of The Dead. That kind of biting. So my libido went from overdrive to a stall pretty quickly.

And, it didn't help things that once inside, I couldn't help but remember that this was the place where Special Guy and I met.

Damn, I miss him.

Damn, he's perfect.

Damn, I'm still not over him.


Special Guy would totally get the thing about me saying the Our Father. (Although he'd probably refer to it as the Pater Noster. I'll have to give him a call sometime.

But, I ran into a guy from my softball team, and got chatted up by these two leather bears from Oneonta (and if I didn't have to be at work at 7 am tomorrow, they would have had the opportunity to do a lot more than chat me up). And had my face chewed on by Archangel some more.

The rain wasn't stopping, and it was just getting a bit too Agatha Christie ("no one can leave!") in the Dugout. So I pulled my EMS rain jacket out of my pocket and headed for the jeep. The jacket kept me dry, but every other part of me was soaked through and through. It was sort of fun though, a warm summer rain, and the streets were like wading through rivers. Good thing I was wearing my Kean's, as they're made for just that.

Luckily, not too much in the way of rain on the way home. Although now, here at home, there's a fierce thunderstorm going on. Almost theatrical. Perhaps it's extraterrestrials are making a move on Plumstead Township.

Anyway, time for bed.

Friday, August 12, 2005


I've got it!

Come to think of it, it's one of the qualities I admire most in myself. There's a line in a 10,000 Maniacs song, "through adventure we are not adventuresome," and I'm not like that.

How to define pluck?

Perhaps by example. Ah. Here's a good one.

Way back when, I guess I was around 23 years old, I was living in Philadelphia, and volunteering as a buddy to a guy living with HIV/AIDS. And the organization sponsored a bus trip down to Washington DC to see the AIDS Quilt on the Mall. My buddy wanted to go, and I went with him. The bus dropped us off, and we were told to meet back at the bus at 4:30. At 4:30, I was back at the bus, but my buddy wasn't. After fifteen minutes, I was worried, so I went off to look for him.

Now, you should never do that, right? You know what happens, as soon as you head off to look for someone, they show up. And that's what happened, because he was on the bus heading back to Philadelphia, and I missed it because I was off looking for him.

Okay. So there I am, stranded in Washington DC, and I had no money to get home. Like, ten dollars in my pocket.

Did I panic? Did I run around begging for a ride? Did I ask the nearest policeman--who would have sent me to Traveler's Aid and they would have hooked me up with a bus ticket then and there--for help? Nope. Because I have pluck.

What I did was head that night to the DC Eagle. And there, I met a marine. His name was Doug.

Y'see, when you land in a situation like this, say you're driving through rural West Virginia and your car breaks down, the thing not to do is lock your windows and be sane and reasonable about the whole thing. Because what's going down is the Universe is saying, "Man! Have I got an adventure planned for you!"

And my adventure was Doug.

I went home with Doug. And we had sex. He was a Top, which is pretty amazing when you think about it because all marines everywhere are total bottoms. So I told Doug my plight, and asked him if he'd drive me to the bus station tomorrow, so I could take a bus to Baltimore (how much could that be?) where my friend Ed lived, and Ed would doubtless lend me money to get back to Philadelphia. Doug said sure. And then, he burst into tears.

It turns out that Doug had what we used to call a lover. Another active duty marine. Doug's lover had recently tested HIV positive when the Marine Corp gave him his annual physical. And two days before, Doug had come home from work to find that his lover had hung himself down in the basement. Doug made a mistake, and called the military police. They came, took Doug away, and they also took away the sling that Doug and his lover had in the basement, and some of their sex toys.

So Doug, in the 48 hours before I met him, had lost the man he loved, and was probably soon to lose his career in the military, where he had planned to spend the rest of his life.

Now, at the age I was then, I was totally unprepared to be any help at all in helping someone in that situation. I had know idea what to say, what to offer. And, maybe that's because there's nothing to offer, But I sure didn't know that then.

The next day, Doug and I went back to the Quilt. As we were walking around, looking at the panels, we came upon one sewn with the image of a single white heron, it's head upraised and it's beak open. Doug explained to me that among the Chinese, it's a symbol of grief and mourning for your mate. Heron's mate for life, and won't take another mate when their mate dies. And they'll mourn the death by calling out for their lost mate. Doug totally broke down at this. There we stood, this big tough marine, balling his eyes out, while a skinny kid in an ACT UP tshirt held him.

That's an example of what I'm talking about. That's pluck. Disaster strikes, and you know deep down it means that you're about to have an experience that will change your life. Just keep your head together and your eyes open.

Now, as I discussed recently here, I'm the kind of person who, if someone had suggested to me that I take a one way trip to DC without the money to get back, I would have said no to that without having to think about it. But, again and again, I do something or other that will get me stranded, with only my own resources to rely on. (Of course I knew when I walked into the crowds that the bus was getting ready to leave!)

Life offers so few opportunities step off the beaten path. Sometimes you've got to help it along. Close your eyes, plunge into the underbrush, and "Oh gosh! Now I'm lost! What to do now?"

So, being plucky has meant I've had a pretty interesting life. If'n I were to learn that I had only a month to live, of course I'd be full of regret, after all, there are several adventure-inviting things on my list of things to do. I still haven't taken off two months and spent it driving across the country and back. But I know I'd take comfort in the fact that this facility of mine has brought me to a number of wonderful places.

Thank you, pluck.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

These are two journal entries. A little sophomoric maybe, but I liked them.

Oh. Right. The job interview. I think it worked well. My big deficit is that I don't know how to do precise cost estimates of construction jobs. And they're in no big hurry to hire. So if, in the next few weeks, someone walks through the door who's been working for a construction company and is interested in making $50,000 less a year working for a non-profit community development organization, then I'm sunk.

I came back a little deflated. I guess I imagined I'd come back with a new job, or not. But, of course, that's not the way the hiring works. This was the screening interview. If I 'passed,' then I'll be called back for one or two or more interviews. it's like a process. And it will probably go on for weeks.

Onward and upwards.


Escape Artist

The happiest moments in my life have been when I'm making my escape.

  • Getting away from my troubled teenage home, however briefly. To work. To meet up with friends. To head off alone.
  • Going to college, leaving it all behind.
  • Leaving my first NYC boyfriend. Heh heh. When I moved out of the apartment we shared, I couldn't afford a mover, or even to rent a truck. But, since I didn't own much, I figured that borrowing a dolly would get the job done. The apartment was at 7th Street and Avenue B, overlooking scenic Tompkins Square Park. My new apartment was on First Avenue between 5th and 6th Streets. And the day I moved was the day of riots in Tompkins Square Park. So while East Village anarchists squared off against the NYPD, I trundled through the middle of this conflagration with all my worldly belongings stacked atop a dolly. Grinning.
  • Taking off on a plane--alone--going anywhere. This was before September 11th made air travel a miserable experience.
  • Leaving behind the Awful Ex and the Seven-And-A-Half-Year-Relationship. Few better days of my life.
  • Getting off work on any given Friday afternoon. My favorite moment of the week. The weekend stretches ahead, filled with nothing but possibilty.

But, of course, for every friday afternoon, there comes a monday morning. When once again, I've obligated myself. Tied myself down.

Erich Fromm (I think) called this "escape from freedom," the experience of our own freedom and independence is so terrifying to us that we are forever breaking into prison, walling ourselves away, where at least we know we'll get three square a day and a bed without lice.

What would it take for me to face freedom--if that door opens to me again anytime ever again--unafraid?

  • A roof over my head.
  • The metaphorical room of my own.
  • A society of sorts. I am, after all, a social animal.
  • Trust in myself.
  • Being at ease with myself.

That last one. Dang. Obtainable? Not looking for anything outside of myself. Banishing the Hungry Ghosts.

To be alive is to want. But it's what you want that's key. Not wanting what you can't acquire yourself? And the discipline to obtain it?


That's what we called them in high school. Work boots. Flannel shirts. Jeans. Always being sent down to the disciplinarian's office. Smoking in the boys' room.

We were Reagan's children. it was morning in America. Implicitly, there was some kind of promise made to us. But like, for instance, the experience of being seated in a restaurant and handed a three foot tall leatherbound menu with gold tassels emblazoned in Gothic script with the words "Ye Olde Bill of Faire"... well, some of us figured out early that we were about to get rooked.

And those farsighted folks were the greasers.

More than anything, they're a socio-economic group. They're poor kids. And they know it. It's a bad start. Dad's gone. Mom the waitress is barely holding it together.

I was in awe of them back in high school. And now, sitting with this new generation of greasers on the porch of Starbucks every afternoon, I feel a certain frisson still. There's guts there I never had. Try this drug. Break this law. Fight this outsider. Fix your car yourself. Quit school. Get wasted.

Possibly it's the result of the deracination. Starting off with the deck stacked against you. Freedom, as the old song says, is just another word for nothing left to lose.

For the greasers, there were no ambiguities. They knew that fortune wasn't going to smile on them.

I, on the other hand, was sure that fortune would do just that. My smarts, my easy smile, my quick wit, my winning ways... Something would see me through.

But this brought its own fear. A subtle obsessive compulsive disorder. Say the right prayers at the right altar, carry the right talisman, observe all the taboos. Or else.

And every reversal, no matter how small and seemingly inconsequential, is to be dreaded. Leaves you knotting your sheets at night, because it might be the first sign that you did something wrong. That it's all downhill from here. So not only the persisting fear, but the ongoing examen de conscience, like a medieval monk.

It's impossible to be good.

And the trap is circular. And the circle grows smaller and smaller. More and more you sense you're living on borrowed time. Surely the ax is soon to fall, if it hasn't already.

Better, by far, to be a greaser. Knowing from the git go that it all pretty much sucks. People like you don't win the lottery or get to be on television. So payday is as good an excuse as any other to go out and get wasted.

I, for one, see a certain nobility in that.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Welcome To My World

Check this out! Doylestown has a live web cam! Just go to www.doylestownsfrontporch.com. Some of the shots include the corner of State and Main Streets, where my beloved Starbucks is located. Soooo... if'n you tune in around 4 pm to 5:30 pm Monday through Friday, chances are good that you'll be catching site of me. And possibly some of the boys I ogle.


Job interview tomorrow!

Nervous? Yeah.

Some job interview flubs I've made...

•In front of this tight assed human resources manager, I made the horrible error of rocking back in my chair and putting my ankle over my knee. (I didn't get that job, like I'd want to work there.)
•When asked to name a quality of mine that might detract from my ability to do the job, I said, "I can be indecisive." (I ended up getting that job anyway.)
•When looking out the window of the woman interviewing me for a job at a brokerage firm on the 102nd floor of 2 World Trade Center, I said, "Holy shit!" (Definitely didn't get that job; she seemed cool up to that point, then she turned decidedly uncool.)

At work, I told them I had a dentist appointment. The boss was cool, coming back with "what are you having done? We have tools here..." But I think they know what's up. And they're terrified. They have that deer in the headlights look.

And I feel terrible about that. I love those guys. I love my job. I'm going to be sad to leave it all behind.

But I've realized that I will never be a master cabinet maker.

Well, not entirely true. About the time I hit sixty I might be a master cabinet maker.

Get it now?

I sort of realized this months ago. When as part of the apprenticeship program, I had to build a box of some kind. So I built a humidor for my Sir. It was done in cherry, and I put walnut trim on it. I was pretty proud of the effort. One of the foremen at work came over to take a look. "Nice job, Dutch!" he complemented. All good. Then he followed that with "Cherry and walnut is a great combination. When I was sixteen I made a grandfather clock with cherry and walnut."

Now you get it.

I decided to dress to kill tomorrow. I have this blue wool/lycra pinstripe suit. I mean, it's All That. I'm even gonna wear a tie. Although it could very well be the final time they see me wearing a tie. I decided a few years ago that I don't wear ties.

But hey. Be cool. Just be cool. When it comes to a job search, one important thing to remember: disappointment happens.

I'll let you all know how goes.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Meeting Jesus

And how could I forget...

Orlando, of course, is the city of Theme Parks. Mickey, Shamu, all the rest of them. And it's also the home of the Holy Land Experience. It's a Biblical theme park.

Now, I can't quite imagine what that entails, although from the highway, we could see what looked to be Herod's Temple.

My host informed me that there's another interesting aspect of the Holy Land Experience. Similar to Disney, they have strolling actors portraying actual figures from the Bible. Including Jesus.

Now... That's a whole new ballgame.

I mean, there you are, strolling through the Holy Land Experience, and you meet up with Jesus. How are you gonna handle that one? After you get your picture taken with your Lord and Savior, what are you gonna do for small talk?

I, for one, would be moved to quiz him. "What's the Parable of the Sower really mean?" "What are you doing here among all these Christians? Shouldn't you be hanging with prostitutes and tax collectors and such?"

I shared this information with Columbine Boy, my Bush-votin' Bible-thumpin buddy at work. He was against it. And what would Columbine Boy say to Jesus? "Loved you in The Passion! Did you do your own stunts?"

Before we depart this thread, something else. At the Holy Land Experience, do they have rides? What would those rides be like...?

Mom: "Nero's Circus." Now that sounds fun, huh? I love the circus! Let's go on that one!

Oh this is weird! It's dark in here.

Dad: Hey wait. Here's a door. Oh wait, we're outside again.

Mom: Listen to that cheering! I wonder what's going on...

Dad: Look kids! Lions! I guess this is a lion taming thing, huh? Hey!! Who closed that door?

Mom: Those lions aren't tied up or anything, Doug! They're coming over here! Tyler! Tiffany! Come here NOW!

(more cheering)

Sunday, August 07, 2005


I just flew in from Orlando, and boy! Are my arms tired! (Hey... wait a minute... you're broke! How'd you get to Orlando? Well... I have always relied on the frequent flier miles of others. Nuff said.)

Sad commentary that I had to fly down to Orlando to get laid, huh? But that's the long and short of it. And, as I truly am broke, I'm not in much of a position to refuse any offer of all-expenses-paid travel.

Verrrry interesting trip overall.

My host, FilthyNasty, had a great house with a screened in pool and a hot tub overlooking one of Orlando's many lakes. Lovely and serene setting. My intention was to find pigspace. (Since I found bottomspace, that's next on my list.) Alas, I didn't. Quite.

Mostly, FilthyNasty and I talked. A lot. Really good talking. And so I'm coming back here with a lot of clarity. Clarity about the many ways in which I am conflicted, interestingly enough. I don't want to want what I want. But that's not gonna stop me from having a good time. I hope.

And by the by, if you're visiting Orlando, don't miss a trip to Parliament House. It's this huge motel complex, with a pool and tiki bar in the center. Verrrrry mid-century (and we love that!). And lots of guys who seem to have no air-conditioning in their rooms as they lie on the bed wearing boxers watching television with the door open. That kind of scene. FilthyNasty informs me that until recently, there was a trailer park next door. Over the years, many gay guys moved into the trailers...

...imagine that. A gay trailer park. I know exactly where I want to live when I grow up. How cool would that be?

But alas, the owners of the Parliament House felt they needed more parking or something, so they bought the trailer park, evicted all the trailer livin' homos and plowed it all under.

Also had some good vietnamese food while I was down there. (I think Pho is the perfect thing to eat.) Sadly, we have no vietnamese available in Central Bucks County.

And now I'm ready to swing into my work week. And start getting myself prepared for the Job Inteview on Wednesday.

Oh. No. I didn't go to Disney.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Something occured to me the other day.

If my life was a John Updike novel. Or even a John Cheever short story (I think I'm much more an Updike character, but I live in a Cheever world), then I can pinpoint the day that it all started.

"It" of course, is this slow but steady decline, to my present morose state.

Remember back over the winter, when I drove down to West Virginia to visit Mountain Man? And I was driving up the steep mountain road, when all of a sudden, although my foot was on the gas and I was going forward, I started moving backwards down the mountain?

Remember that? The scary descent, skidding all over the road until I went right off it and lodged on a culvert by 3/8ths of an inch? Remember the towtruck that showed up to tow me out and lost control on the same icy road, slamming into the back of my jeep and almost knocking me all the way down into a deep ravine?

Well that was it.

I had to drive around in the Ford Taurus. And when the bill came in, paying the $1000 deductible TWICE (two accidents: me going off the road, and the towtruck slamming into me), that pretty much exhausted my resources. And, then my insurance went up to almost $3000 per year.

So that was when it all started.

I remember at the time being proud of my pluck, my ability to roll with the punches.

But that day the downhill skid started, and it hasn't stopped since.


I guess if either Updike or Cheever did use that conceit in a piece of fiction, they or their editors would scratch it out.

I mean, way too obvious, right?

Please Hire Me

Okay. Got a job interview. Next week. For a Construction Manager position. (How butch is that, huh? "Yeah. I work construction. Whaddyou do? Sumfin wid computers?") The guy and I bonded on the phone. Had a good talk. (I'm so good at that!) By no means a shoe in. They're looking for someone who can estimate construction bids. I can't even guess the dollar amount of the groceries in my basket. And I just about always use the Fifteen Items Or Less line.

Quick! Anybody out there able to teach me that in the six days before my interview???

And this weekend I'm going away. Nope. Not gonna say where. If you want to find out you'll have to hack into my email account. (Please don't hack into my email account.)

Funny. Getting a new job would mean a lot to me, but I'm not feeling much in the way of anxiety about the interview. More concerned with what I'm gonna say to get the day off work. Doctor's appointment? Meeting with my probation officer?

Oh. And another interesting thing happened today. My partner at work, the Bush-votin', Bible-thumpin' guy with whom I get along really well (there's genuine affection between us), today asked me what I thought about men who become women and women who become men.

I could see where this was going.

I said I had no big problems with that. Not even as a Christian. I pointed out that a surprisingly large number of babies are born who are intersex, and an arbitrary decision is made to assign sex. Columbine Boy disagreed. He thought it was wrong. His reasoning was that if you were born a boy, then that's because God intended you to be a boy. And you best not try to go against God's will for you.

I asked about infants born with congenital abnormalities, that are corrected. Conjoined twins was the example I raised. If you separate conjoined twins, wouldn't that be going against God's will? (Sorry readers of transgendered experience, for comparing your situation to a birth defect.)

Columbine Boy had an answer ready for me. He views those things as the result of sin. The sins of our fathers, and of all mankind, going back to Adam. And, sin can be forgiven, but it can't be erased. And even when those defects are corrected, there's still some scar, some remnant. Because sin can't be erased.

And I think I agree with that. I sort of shut up, thinking about how it's our sense of ourselves as sinners, and our memories of all the sins we've committed (interpret the word "sin" anyway you wish, I think of it as those actions which separate us from God and from others) that make us truly human. Not much in the way of compassion coming from the sinless amongst us.

Egad! Had Columbine Boy won that round?

I continued to mull the issue as we worked.

And then Bingo! Galations 3:28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Sooo... God doesn't see any distinction between the sexes. So changing your apparatus, in God's eyes, is like changing your tshirt.

Because I quoted scripture, I won the argument. (And I'm an Episcopalian! We're not supposed to be able to do that!)

Man. I'll miss the current job. Miss the debates with Columbine Boy. Miss working with the guys. Miss the high regard in which I'm held by my co-workers. A lot to miss. But I won't miss $10-an-hour.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

You Are Beautiful

I remember this phenomenon from when I would spend my summers working in restaurants in New Hope when I was growing up. At the time, it reminded me of an Agatha Christie novel. (Aggie was a youthful obsession.) At the outset, a cast of characters--very boldly drawn characters--are introduced and assembled.

"Miss Chittenwell descended the steps of 10:20 from Paddington, blinking in the sun, mopping her brow with her handkerchief, and clutching her carpet bag. "To be expected," she said, not seeing anyone from Pauncett House waiting on the platofrm to meet her."

The characters gather at some remote country house for the weekend, and over the course of the book, much of the interest is generated by their interactions. Fortunes rise, fortunes fall. A body or five is discovered. And in the final pages a murderer is uncovered.

No murders in New Hope--well, one that I remember, but that's another posting--but amazingly, things tended to unfold in the same way. In June, you met the cast of characters. Billy's hustler that he brought back from New York and gave a job in the club. Dino from Los Angeles, who was close-mouthed about his past. Gary, just graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, and frustrated to be making salads when he knew how to make a sauce américaine. Dominique, Carol's new opera singer girlfriend. Wacky Nina who would drive up to New York City every weekend to attend classes at the Famous Soap Opera Actor's School of Soap Opera Acting.

Mix well.
Bake in the sun.
Be surprised.

And now, midway through my second summer of hanging on the porch of Starbucks in Doylestown smoking cigars and enjoying my iced-quad-venti-one-pump-vanila-easy-ice-latté, the same thing is happening.

These people just appear out of nowhere. A different set from last summer.

So here's the cast of characters this year.

Top O' The Mornin': Sweet guy who works at Starbucks. He went to college at Trinity University in Dublin, Ireland. Majoring in Guiness. Something of a songster, he's convinced Starbucks to do a live music thing on monday nights, And he's a Top O' The Mornin' and his guitar are a huge hit.

Grand Cherokee: Busy hanging out. Allegedly a painting contractor, although no one has ever known him to do anything besides hanging out. And he's a pro at that. He brings his own chair! One of those fold up jobs you buy for $7. And seems to have a constant array of snack foods available. So Grand Cherokee will set up his chair on the porch of Starbucks, or, y'know, in the middle of the sidewalk out front (Seriously!) After years of not being able to drive because of an unfortunate DWI situation, Gran Cherokee is the proud new owner of... a Jeep Grand Cherokee! Periodically, he'll leap up from his chair (think Batman upon seeing the Bat Signal projected on the clouds over Gotham), hastily gather up his snack foods, dash to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, power down all the windows, crank the sound system, and go tearing off. Only to return moments later.

Bimbeaux: She asked me what I did for work. And I told her. Then I asked what she did. She loves animals, she explained, so she works with animals. "Oh," I probed, "do you work at a shelter?" No. No, she doesn't. She works in a lab, injecting bunnies, puppies, and kittens with toxic substances and taking careful notes of their decline. (Seriously!) I tend to avoid her after that revelation. That and the fact that her idea of conversation is "No way! Oh wow. Wow. Oh my God. No way. That's really cool." (This in response to a statement like, "I just got off work.") But, she's built like a brick outbuilding. So, those nutty heterosexual guys always seem to have time for her. I mean, she's one of the eleven women on the planet who can wear low-rider jeans without evoking winces.

Mr. Miserable: I hate him. Like a little black cloud at a picnic. And so hostile. But in that vague and can't-quite-put-your-finger-on-it sort of way. Never misses a chance to undermine you. Disagrees with everything you say, relying on his seemingly bottomless repository of incorrect knowledge. I flat out ignore him.

The Boy: There's not much of the Death In Venice in me, but he brings it out. Oh. My. God. He is just so fuckin beautiful. About nineteen (legal!), this shock of wiry dirty blond hair, these impossibly beautiful lips that would look so good glistening with my cum, amazing blue eyes, and, beneath the drapey shapeless black clothing he wears all the time, a really sweet little body, combining baby fat and decent muscle. Most nights, I see him in my dreams. Only he's chained up. And crying. And I comfort him. Then make him cry some more.

He's Gay!: Again, like nineteen or twenty years old. Rose colored glasses. Grungey long sideburns. I mean, soooo Boy Bar circa 1988. And he's Queer! I mean, he greets all these presumably straight boys he knows from high school with "Hey Handsome Man!", a kiss on the cheek, and a fanny pat. (Seriously!) I mean, all these straight kids sit there talking about their girlfriends and the motorcycles they want to buy, and he's applying liquid eyeliner. I'm a huge fan of his. Haven't made his acquaintance yet, but he's definitely in my sites.

...and last but not least...

Stewie!: I'm not even using a nom de plume here. Stewie totally rocks. He's just incredible. He grew up with his hippie father on a commune in Oregon. He's tattooing himself. Thhis wild, organic design, incorporating a blessing in Sanskrit characters running down his arm. It looks amazing. Stewie is an expert canoer. He can make his canoe go sideways in the river. His girlfriend is this total waif babe. Such a babe. A babe with brains. I love seeing them together. Taking turns sitting on each other's laps. Today, I wrote on a piece of looseleaf paper, "Pick a nice summer light, dim the lights, light candles, share a bottle of wine, take turns reading to each other from the Journals of Anaïs Nin." They're gonna do it, too. Here's something magical that Stewie told me today. We were watching the Tuesday evening Vigil for Peace planting themselves at the intersection. "WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER!" and the like. Stewie told me how last summer, he made up fifty signs that read, "You are Beautiful" and got fifty friends to stand around Doylestown for three hours holding them up for passing cars and pedestrians.

So at this point, I'm spending hours on the porch of Starbucks. If'n you happen to be in town, stop by. I'll introduce you around.