Monday, July 28, 2008

D Minus 13 Days And Counting


I got hella done today!

Yesterday was my final day wearing the fabled Orange Apron at Ho(t)me(n) Depot. It was bittersweet. My department head came in on the last day of his vacation to say goodbye and wish me well; everyone in Kitchen and Bath gathered around to let me know what a great guy I was to work with. An assistant manager gave me a hug.

Then I went home to watch the Season Two opener of Mad Men and have a total stress reaction.

I mean, Geez! This is it! No turning back now.

I was worried that I'd spend the day sitting around in my pajamas and pulling my lower lip with my index finger to make a "b-bih-b-bih-b-bih-b-bih" sound. That was circumvented by having to get my lazy ass out of the house to go and take my car to get the AC fixed. While it was in the shop, I went and sat at Starbucks at State and Main in Doylestown.

Oh. And I brought the local phone book with me.

And hence: I got hella done today!

To wit: tomorrow a guy from My Handyman is coming to my house (alas, not Marshall, the hot one) to fix the tile in the back bathroom, replace a the wall mounted air conditioner with one that works, and clean the gutters; next Monday, Ben will be here from the moving company to give me an estimate on what it will take to move my stuff to Palm Springs; my AWOL painter, Gus, is back on board and will be here to finish up Wednesday through Saturday; tomorrow night the owner of Do It Now Services who previously cleaned up my backyard back in the Spring will come by and put in a bid to clean out the tenant house next door; I figured out a way to sell my dad's '96 Ford Taurus with a V8 engine and only 35,000 miles on it from here in Pennsylvania; I bought an air conditioner for the guy from My Handyman tomorrow (not Marshall the hot one) so he'll have something to work with; and returned a few phone calls.

Unfortunately, one thing I didn't manage to accomplish was getting AC in my Jeep Liberty. It seems I need a new compressor, and they didn't have a new one lying around. So I'll have to take care of that anon.

And slowly but surely, things are making their way into boxes and the boxes are getting stacked in the livingroom for transport to my storage space.

Every day I'm a little bit closer to Palm Springs.

And here's an interesting thought that occurred to me: I'm going to die in Palm Springs.

Don't be alarmed.

I'm not talking within a few days of my arrival. Or months or years. Hopefully not for a long time.

But I just have this peaceful sense that one day--hopefully far in the future--I'll breathe my last in the Coachella Valley.

I've never felt this way before about any place I lived. Dying in Philadelphia? Can you imagine anything worse? But what about dying in NYC? Auspicious, surely. But complicated, too, right? I mean, unless you have a lot of money, it would mean a really bumpy ride on a guerney down the four flights of stairs that lead to your cramped walk-up. And although being buried out of the Church of St. Luke in the Fields is a nice thought, buried where exactly? Or, more correctly, spread where? On the tracks of the subway line you rode most often? Having my ashes spread in the Fire Island Pines has its appeal, but on whom could I prevail to tote the little box of me out the LIE, down to the ferry, across the Great South Bay, and so on to find a nice spot for my eternal repose? And Bucks County would be a nice place to die, but I've always felt that beautiful as it is, I don't belong here. No one I love or care about lives in Bucks County. Not that I know many people in Palm Springs, but I sense that will change. It seems so permeable there. Something of a "Welcome, Stranger!" vibe to the place.

But dying in Palm Springs just works. It seems like such a pleasant place to spend your last days. And I imagine friends and acquaintances gathering after the service over chardonnay at poolside somewhere. And it's a short drive out into the beautiful desert for the spreading o' the ashes. And if at the end of my life, I'm in reduced circumstances, I can't help but feel that California State Government would just be a little bit more benevolent than New York or Pennsylvania. That from some quarter I'd hear, "Don't worry about that, Mr. Kramer, we're taking care of that down at the office."

But overall, I feel like I'm going home. Like John Denver to the Colorado Rockies. Y'know, "Its like going home again to a place you've never been."

I'm here in Bucks County for thirteen more days. And then, I'm going home. Where the heart is. Where one day I shall die.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Media Trifecta

Can you handle it???

I'm not sure I can.

'Kay. Last week we got the opener for Season Five of Project Runway. This Sunday, there's the premiere of Mad Men on AMC. And guess what? Coming soon (early September maybe?) is the next volume of Heroes. So there will indeed be a period when basically the only things I care about on television are going to be running simultaneously.

This is great!

Or is it?

I can see myself demanding of the front desk clerk of the Red Roof Inn in Colorado Springs or wherever, "Do I get Bravo in my room?" And then, of course, there's the whole issue of there I am, the new guy in town in Palm Springs, squandering that New Guy In Town mystique by staying home and watching television three nights a week. And if getting connecting to cable is as much of an ordeal in Palm Springs as it is in NYC (truth: right in front of me, the cable guy turns around, whips out his dick, and takes a piss in a pot of impatiens in my back yard. And no, it totally wasn't "hot."), then there might be a lot of desperate screaming and pleading on the phone ("I can't get AMC and it's already seven o'clock! Please! I'll do anything! Please send out a technician! Please!")

Still, all these changes... New town, new men, new climate, new church, new place to live, new tragedies and triumphs... It will be good to have some constants in my life. Constants such as Tim Gunn, Don Draper, and Hiro Nakamura.

And 'bastian and I have had some lengthy phone conversations concerning Heroes. When I saw the first promo for Volume Three, I pictured us somehow getting together to watch, rapt as the episode unfolded, with 'bastian down at my boots. If I was more adept at the internet, maybe I could host a Mad Men or Project Runway Finale viewing party on craigslist or something as a way of meeting new people when I get settled in Palm Springs.

But we'll see.

Make it work!

When Cakes Go Wrong

Here's a weblog devoted entirely to bad cake decoration. I think once or twice I've come close, but overall I managed to avoid anything this bad.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Columbus-St. Louis-Wichita-Denver-Albuquerque-Sedona

First anxiety attack of this endeavor! Right there in the middle of Ho(t)me(n) Depot! All of a sudden I just thought, "Are you crazy? Going back to college? That'll never work!"

It didn't even slow me down much, little less give me pause. I don't know that it's about the wisdom of my plans or the lack thereof, but it's more about what a huge deal this is. I've left one place where I was comfortable and secure and headed off into the unknown before in my life--when I went to college, when I moved to Philadelphia after college, when I moved to NYC from Philadelphia, when I left NYC to come back here five years ago--and I took all of those in stride. But adventures of this are not without some degree of self-doubt.

Largely this wee little anxiety attack evaporated when it was replaced by another thought: it will all begin with me driving across the country.

This is something I've wanted to do since I was in high school, when I first read Kerouac's On The Road. I've always loved road trips, setting off, music cued, a full tank of gas.

I don't move particularly fast. I rarely can resist a sign indicating there's a Starbucks or some quirkily named diner at the next exit. In a pinch I'll grab fast food for lunch, but I much prefer to go riding around some small town somewhere looking for a local sandwich shop. And, or course, I always stop for barbecue. And once I get west of the Mississippi, I'll be hoping for a nice steakhouse for dinner.

And this will be my first trip aided by the Google Maps feature on my Blackberry. I only just discovered the possibilities when I was in California back in June, there you are, through the wonders of GPS, a little blue dot moving your way along the map.

So cool.

And a wee bit less to worry about since I'll have my route all mapped out for me. And that will mean it will just be pure driving, clearing my head, leaving me free to enjoy the passing scenery of forests and fields and climbing up one side of the Rockies and down the other.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

And So It Begins

Good thing I was handled a challenge at work tonight, because being on the schedule to close meant that I would be missing the opener of Season Five of Project Runway.

O! The injustice of it all!

I broke all the speed limits on the way home and managed to watch the last half hour on the re-broadcast. A couple of pretty annoying contestants, but mostly a pretty impressive group. At the 1 a.m. re-broadcast, I learned something pretty interesting: not only do I like the designs of one of the contestants, I own one... two... three... four pieces designed by one of the Project Runway contestants.


Y'see, Joe Faris is the designer for Schott Brothers. I came by my first Schott Perfecto leather MC jacket when I was eighteen years old. I bought it off my college roommate. It took a beating over the years (back in my ACT UP days, there was this fad of putting stickers on the back of your leather jacket and unfortunately the stickers take off the finish). I replaced it in 2001 with a new Schott Perfecto jacket which I found on eBay. It has this amazing leatherwork of Old Glory on the back. The leatherwork is amazing. So then, a few years ago, I was in Dave's Army/Navy Store in NYC and they had these great nylon cargo pants with an orange fleece zip up hoodie. They are so way cool. So that's four Joe Faris designed clothes.

So Go Joe Faris!

Joe Faris rocks!

And I think his pasta dress was pretty cool, too.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ricotta Cheesecake

Here are the components of the cheesecake...

For the cheesecake:
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 large egg

You combine the sugar and lemon juice until the sugar is dissolved, then add the cream cheese and the ricotta and finally the egg, whipping it until it's nice and light. Then it's 18 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 425°. And, of course, using a graham cracker crust.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Not Again!


In order to get my dual associates degrees in Construction Management and Architectural Drafting at the College of the Desert, I'm going to have to have four credits of gym.

No, really.

Now probably, since this is the 21st Century and all, they probably offer things like weight training and yoga and ballroom dancing and such. But I'm having a fun time imagining being forced to play flag football and medicine ball soccer where you're on those little scooters and having to climb the rope for the President's Physical Fitness Test and such. And having to wear the regulation white gym shorts and a tshirt or else you get marked as "Unprepared."

And stuffing people in lockers. Interestingly, these days I'd be much more likely to be the stuffer as opposed to the stuffee. Although it would all be very Safe, Sane, and Consensual and such.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Future Is Now

Oh jiminy crickets.

Here I was berating myself for being so lazy today. Work yesterday was mind-numbing. And I forged on through the day thinking about My Day Off. Which would be today. A day to do all that work on the house, a day to take my car in for the ol' fluids, belts, and filters thing, a day to get to the gym for a good workout without having to worry about rushing out of there to get to work.

First off, I totally overslept this morning. I was sleeping for ten solid hours. My alarm had ceased to go off when I finally got up. When I did finally get up, it was like moving around with a trailer in tow. Everything seemed to be beyond my grasp. I did manage to clean up the kitchen some, a wee bit of a disaster as I rushed out the door on Saturday without cleaning up after my baking. But then that seemed to exhaust me an awful lot as I decided to take a brief nap. None too brief as it turned out, as I woke up at 6:55 p.m., about five minutes before I was due to head down to Dilly's to meet up with my buddy Michael Michael Motorcycle and his new boyfriend. I called, apologizing and headed down there. At Dilly's MMM was nowhere to be seen. A message was waiting for me when I finally checked my cell phone (forgotten in the car when I got home from work yesterday) asking if we could postpone till Wednesday.

I drove to Starbucks in Doylestown. Best to unwind a bit on the porch.

And I got to thinking.

So. So you're going to enroll at the College of the Desert. So that would probably be about the first week of September. So that means that you'll want to be in Palm Springs about August 15th so you have two weeks to find an apartment and such. And since it will be about a week to drive out there, you best be hitting the road around the 10th...

And so on.

Funny thing that. I make the decision about what to do in September and it has all kinds of implications for today, July 7th, 2008. Implications that I hadn't thought threw at all. Really.

Holy hell.

So it all just sort of swept over me in waves, all of it sinking in.

And gosh, no wonder I had trouble getting going today.


I was kind of in shock.


So taking a Big Deep Breath.

"Take each day as it comes." That insight has gotten me through the past four months. Just focus on what you have to do today. And today, there's not a lot I have to do to make sure I'm sitting in class bright eyed and bushy tailed at the College of the Desert on September 2nd. In fact, nothing I have to do really to make that happen until July 14th, a week away. At that point, I'll need to give my two weeks notice at Ho(t)me(n) Depot. And then the machinery starts to whirr and the gears start turning. So I have one more week of being in this interstitial mode. For one week, seven days, it'll just be the same ol' same ol' get up, go to work, come home, make dinner, hey-what's-up-y'know-not-much.


It's late. I work tomorrow. Time to get to bed.

And tomorrow I'll see about taking my jeep in for the fluids, belts, and filters deal.

Take each day as it comes.

First Saturday In July

Some men love their country, some men love their dog, some men love their guns, some men love their trucks, some men love their jobs. I love, or have loved, all of those things. But right now, what I really Really REALLY love is my KitchenAide Stand Mixer. I call him Big Guy, and he has changed my life. Ain't NOBODY got cake batter lighter and fluffier than me. And ask me about my home made butter!

Bright and early Saturday morning, I gave Big Guy a work out. The planned dessert this year was a ricotta cheese cake with graham cracker crust topped with fresh strawberries. And oh man, I am so saving that recipe. Nothing could be easier. You mix up cream cheese, ricotta, lemon juice and lemon zest, and some sugar, put it into your cheese cake tin (or tins, in my case), and bake it for eighteen minutes at 425° and there you go. As my sister used to say, "Boom. Done."

And I kept the cheesecakes in the tins to make them easier to transport.

Driving out to DogTopper and JPZapper's farmhouse in Pottsgrove I had the iPod set to my Orange Mix (upbeat songs in a major key). There was rain at times, but just enough to wet the grass and spot my windshield and have me close the moonroof, only to open it again in a minute or two when it stopped. In no time at all, I was climbing up the driveway, spitting stones behind me.

Very cool.

First task at hand was to plate my dessert, and luckily there were some guys hanging out in the dining room who could offer appreciative oooohs and ahhhhs. Then, I put my cheesecake tins back in my jeep and joined the party.

The crowd changes yearly, always a mix of guys I know and guys I don't. Very quickly, I was in the swing of things, eating chicken and hotdogs and chatting and chatting up. With the guys I know, it was the first time I had seen them since my father died, so there were expressions of condolences and inquiries about how I'm doing.

And how am I doing?

Okay. I'm doing okay. Working a lot at Ho(t)me(n) Depot, getting the house ready to go on the market.

And oh yeah, I'm moving to Palm Springs.

Having to say that over and over and over again had the effect of making it really sink in.

I'm moving to Palm Springs.

As in, I'm leaving the East Coast and moving 2,600 miles away to Palm Springs, California. DogTopper and JPZapper's farm will no longer be an hour and fifteen minutes away. It will require travel by plane and such. It'll be a Whole Deal.

Well, gosh.

And another realization was that if it's my intention to be settled when I start school in September, and if it's now July, then that means I'll be leaving Next Month.


Holy Cow.

These realizations more or less went down as background. Being surrounded by hot mostly shirtless men ensured that I wouldn't be distracted by heavy rumination. And besides, there was the hot tub. I spent, as per usual, a lot of time in the hot tub, talking with DogTopper about all those contemporary art museums that seem to be cropping up in the Midwest. DogTopper has recently visited Milwaukee's (which he liked a lot), and Denver's, done by Daniel Liebeskind, which he liked not so much. I mentioned the Dia as pretty much my ideal: an old space repurposed, and a Nineteenth Century industrial space (schwing!) at that.

After the hot tub, we all got busy in the dungeon and various outbuildings.

This year, there was not so much BDSM going on. A Master and slave couple did some great shibari that was fun to watch, and DogTopper did this amazing scene with a very hot man that had this beautiful, slow-motion underwater quality to it.

Last year, I noticed that it all seemed to be about PBJs, as in Power Blow Jobs, where there's much choking and gagging and even vomit involved. This year, not so much. This year, it was all about Ass Sex. Lots and lots of Ass Sex. Ass Sex as though it had just been invented that night. Ass Sex everywhere. Driven, hard-thrusting Ass Sex. Aw FugYEAH Daddy Ass Sex. There was even Hand Shake Ass Sex, like when you stick it up his hole and ride a little bit by way of introducing yourself. No matter where you looked, there was Ass Sex.

Now, how much fun was that?


Or more appropriately, Loads.

Has there already been a porn movie titled "Loads Of Fun?" Has that been taken? Probably so, right? No matter, JPZapper and DogTopper's party was definitely Loads Of Fun.

Now, if'n you go to JPZapper and DogTopper's First Saturday In July party sometime, stay over night. There's this great breakfast thing that happens. Bring a tent to pitch on the lawn or sack out on one of the mattresses up in the attic. Tragically, as I had to be at work at Ho(t)me(n) Depot at noon the next day, there would be no such breakfast pleasures for me.

But just when I was thinking that I had shot my wad, both literally and figuratively, and was pretty much done for the night, along comes Datt, of Datt and Male fame, getting all cuddly and puppy-ish.


We kind of snuggled for a bit, and then I said, "I would really enjoy a backrub right now."

And Datt responded, "I would really enjoy giving a backrub right now."

And we moved over to the wrestling mat and Datt got to work on me.

Okay. I've got some Huge News that will no doubt rock the leather community internationally: Datt, famed as an exquisitely submissive man, has lurking somewhere deep within him an Evil Vicious Top just waiting to be released to wreck havoc on an unsuspecting world.

It's true!

I saw it! I was there! I was the unsuspecting world in microcosm!

Oh MAN did he put me through my paces! At one point, he managed to dig his fingers under my shoulderblade and flip it up like opening the lid of a music box. Or at least, that's what it felt like. Although the music coming out of me wasn't a tinkly rendition of Edelweis, it was me going, "Ooh! Aah! Eee! Yah! Ngah! Uhh!"

Omigod! Here I am at the mercy of an Evil Vicious Top, and I don't have a safeword! All I could offer was, "Umm, I don't thing that actually comes off," referring to my ribcage or something. But Datt was unrelenting (Duh! Like an Evil Vicious Top would relent?).

And there was enough gentle caresses to lull me now and again into a sense of security before it was All About Agony again.

In short, Datt gives a great backrub.

I'm still totally, totally relaxed, as relaxed as I've ever been, relaxed in every fiber of my being, and I expect I'll remain relaxed until about 2012.

Afterwards, when I revealed to Datt that he was pretty... uh... rough with his backrub, he responded simply by letting me know that "Male is a lot more brutal."

And Male confirmed this.

But it was time for me to head for home.

Okay okay okay. One more dip in the hot tub, and then I'd head for home. (Yeah. You know me. Bait the trap with a hot tub and I'll walk right in every time.)

After soaking for about an hour, I put my clothes back on and went to bid goodnight to my hosts. After doing so, I briefly chatted with this awfully handsome man I hadn't seen through much of the night's festivities (that would be Ass Sex), but of whom I had gotten quite an eyeful during dinner. I haven't seen him at one of these here First Saturday In July parties before, but he sure was a welcome addition. Apparently, he's a contractor who has done some work for JPZapper and DogTopper. How enticing is that? When I sent along a thank-you email, I asked DogTopper to inquire of Contractor Guy if he wanted to meet up sometime.


Sometime before I move to Palm Springs that is.

So we'll see.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Summer Fun!

On Thursday, I made my initial foray to the beach. As in Gunnison Beach at Sandy Hook, recently featured in the New York Times. On that fabled highway, I-78, I noticed something peculiar. The speed limit on that road is sixty-five miles per hour, and most of the drivers were going sixty-five miles per hour!!!

I know, right?

Gas at $4.00 a gallon sure seems to be having an impact. I wonder if in years to come we'll all be telling young'ns, "Sheeeyit. Why I 'member back when if the speed limit was sixty-five, that meant you could go seventy-five and not worry about cops stopping you. You might not know this but if you go over the speed limit, the cops will stop you. Just like now if you go too slow, back then they'd stop you from going too fast. And what's more, when you would be driving along at seventy-five, there'd be cars passing you going eighty-five or better! It's the truth! Cross muh heart! Well you just go on and don't believe me. Damn kids."

I only got lost once, missing Exit 117 off the Parkway, but I got off at Long Branch and made my way north back up 35, and after passing through the town of Sea Brite (a bunch of us went there on a road trip when I was in college and re-named the place "Star Burst City"), I crossed the bridge and entered the Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook.

It was a perfect beach day--hazy, hot, and humid--and since it's only July, the water was still nice and cool and felt bracing when you were first going in. And since it wasn't warm enough for jellyfish, I paddled around in the surf to my hearts content.

Sunbathing, unfortunately, was another story. The black flies were out. O the look of horror on my face when I looked down and saw a black fly prepared to do his worst right on the head of my dick. So I would stay out of the water for as long as I could take the black fly bites, then head down into the ocean. As a result, I'm still well behind in my Tanning Objectives, despite baking in the desert sun only a few weeks ago.

And that, of course, got me to thinking. When I move to California, what will I do for trips to the beach? Don't let them lie to you: the Pacific is too cold to swim. Maybe that changes somewhere down in Mexico, but neoprene was developed so people in California could stay in the water for more than a minute. We easterners are spoiled by the warm tides of the Atlantic that caress our shores. Perhaps this will entail an annual sojourn to Fort Lauderdale or Fire Island. But gosh, what will it be like not being able to jump in the car, drive an hour or two, and go to the beach when the weather is right?

My one criticism of Sandy Hook are there are no mom-and-pop seafood places that I've been able to spot. I have yet to find a good post-beach place to eat. On a beach trip last summer with UnFortunate, it took us about three hours of driving around to find some fudge, and we ended up going to a mall for that.

But still and all, it was a good day at the beach.

Yesterday, July 4th, was a work day for me. And I was crabby all day. Driving in, I posed to myself the rhetorical question, "Who the hell spends the 4th of July shopping for toilets and towel bars and such at Ho(t)me(n) Depot. To my horror, I realized, only the most miserable and unsociable among us, whom no one has deemed worthy of an invitation to their barbecue.

And I was spot-on with that assumption.

The crowd was surly.

"You mean I have to wait here until your done with those customers before you'll read the labels on those water filters for me? Well I think I'll just go somewhere else then."

Oh boo hoo. My heart is broken. My thoughts turn to self-slaughter.

It was like that all day long.

And hardly any DILFs to make the day interesting.

With One Notable Exception. This guy who bore a striking resemblance to Mr. Clean was shopping in the moulding aisle wearing vintage green nylon gym shorts, the really short kind where the hem falls just below your ass cheeks and if you don't watch it your balls will fall out. And he was wearing white athletic socks with thick green and yellow stripes at the calves. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, get a hold of some gay porn from 1977.

I swear!

Was he cryogenically frozen after being abducted from a roller disco?

I was sure he must be a homo, and must be Really Working It, until he brought his crown moulding selections over to his wife for a greenlight.



The ways of heterosexuals in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania are strange to me.

Now today is the annual July barbecue and dungeon party hosted by the excellent JPZapper and DogTopper. And I'm going. And I'm making a dessert.

What is it this year?

Well, I was toying with the idea of choux pastry filled with crème fraîche and topped with strawberries. But somewhere in the back of my head, I remember something about puff pastry only really working on winter afternoons when the sun is shining. And this would so not be one of those. So what I ended up with are mini ricotta cheese cheesecakes topped with strawberries. And I used lemon juice and lemon zest in the cheesecakes. They're sitting in the fridge cooling now, or I'd be on my way over already.

So looking forward to it.

And now, it's time to take a shower, put on somethin' special, pack up my gear bag, and head to Pottstown.

Those details that I'm able to divulge you can look forward to reading about here.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


I just made the second donation to a political campaign in my life. Fifty dollars of my hard earned cash (about six hours of work at Ho(t)me(n) Depot went to Barack Obama. (I love how spellcheck on Blogger still puts red dashes under both his first and last name. Maybe after the Convention in August?)

Interestingly, the last time I made a donation was to John McCain in 2000.


Well, I want exactly three things from our next President. I want us to get the hell out of Iraq, I want an affordable national healthcare program (can you imagine what it would do to the U.S. economy if the burden was lifted from employers to provide healthcare to their employees?), and I want returning veterans to have absolutely the best medical and mental health care available. Of the two contenders, it seems to me that a trifecta is more likely with Senator Obama.

(Please don't tell the Baron. Please don't. Please.)