Friday, February 29, 2008

Give a massage today!

I'm feeling pretty lethargic from our monthly staff lunch today, in lieu of our weekly bagel Fridays. We had crispy tacos catered in, and I think I exceeded my limit slightly (I ate three). New York actually makes great guacamole, but you'll have a hard time finding a jalapeno pepper around here, outside of Bobby Flay's restaurants. Still, it was a nice reminder of the good Tex-Mex I miss from Houston.

I am massively disappointed that my neighbor has slapped a security code on their wi-fi, which means I can't mooch off them anymore and now I have to pay for the service to be installed. This happened to Agnieszka too recently. I suppose it's a sign of all the distrust and suspicion in the world today that you can't leave your Internet access free to the public anymore.

A couple months ago I was giving Bee a back massage using her favorite lavender oil I got for her at The Body Shop, and I noticed some moles on her back that I hadn't seen before. I told her she should see a dermotologist, so she made an appointment. The ones on her back were fine, but they checked out the rest of her and found one on her hip that just came back as potential trouble.

So here's what I want everyone to do - go to your loved ones and offer them a back massage. It doesn't have to be an erotic or sensual massage, just the experience of touch and a quick check for any suspicious looking moles. While you're checking their back, ask them to check themselves the next time they bathe. It's a nice way to express your love for someone - the instant gratification of a massage, plus the long-term health benefit of checking for skin cancer. And if your situation allows, go ahead and check them for breast cancer too :P

I've been thinking a lot about love, and the future, and my family situation. Tara and I had a long talk about it last night before watching The Thomas Crown Affair (which we discovered that they filmed most of the museum scenes in the New York Public Library where we saw the Jack Kerouac exhibit). While it is true that I try to live in the present as much as possible, I also want many things in this life that require some planning - to buy a house, to travel overseas, to build a polyamorous family - or they will never happen on their own.

Of course love cannot be planned, so part of this means figuring out what my family and I want to do with the love we have - how we are going to express it, what it means to each of us, what we're willing to do to nurture it, and what we want it to grow into. These are questions that are pretty simple for a conventional couple - fall in love, get married, live together, start a family, live happily ever after. For my family, there are a lot more options on what to do that we all have to figure out without the aid of fairy tales and archetypes to guide us. And while the path we take may not be the shortest or most well-trodden one, I'm hoping that we'll all still end up in the land of happily ever after.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hard Candy

Last Friday's snow turned out to be a non-issue going home - in fact, I caught a later rush-hour train that seemed less crowded than usual - probably because a lot of people couldn't shovel their cars out and chose to stay home that day. This is both the blessing and the curse of having a parking garage - as long as the roads are plowed, there's really no excuse not to go to work in the snow. The whole rest of my family - Bee, Tara and Bug - all either took or got the day off and stayed home together, since their driveway didn't get plowed until late in the afternoon. I'm sure snow is so much more fun when you're a child than when you're a grownup.

This weekend was very nice and peaceful. Saturday I met my family at the UPS Store because Bug needed to sign up for a mailbox for a publication she and Bee are starting. Then I went to the library and found the movie Hard Candy, which stars a then-18-year-old Ellen Page (Oscar-nominated star of Juno and also played Kitty Pryde in X-Men 3: The Last Stand) playing a 14-year-old girl who gets involved with a suspected pedophile/murderer. I watched the movie Sunday night, and I have to say it's probably one of the most disturbing movies I've ever seen, although David Lynch's Mulholland Drive still retains the top spot in that category. That said, I can see why Ms. Page was nominated for Juno (which I haven't seen yet). She is absolutely riveting in this performance, which was overlooked by many people due to the subject content. If you're up for a challenging movie, give Hard Candy a try - it's about as far from the mainstream as you can get in a local library or video store.

Saturday night we saw Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (which we all enjoyed) followed by Tina Fey's performance as host on Saturday Night Live, the first episode back from the writer's strike. With the exception of Carrie Underwood, it was loads of fun. Maybe we'll start watching that every week after our regular Saturday night dinner and movie.

Sunday Bee, Tara and I went out to the mall to do some shopping. I'm looking for a new couch to replace the ones I got after my last apartment fire, which came with the apartment. If I can find someone to buy my living room set, then I can get something that's more suitable for me, so I'm starting to look around for that. I also found some nice tops at Macy's where they were having a one-day sale, but couldn't find a clutch purse for the wedding in a couple of weeks. I don't shop at department stores much, but it seems they are worth checking out during sales. Bee had a gift card that she swapped me for cash, so that worked out nicely. Then Sunday night I watched the Rockets extend their winning streak to 12 games against the Chicago Bulls.

This week I'm planning to get my hair recolored red on Tuesday, maybe a little brighter than last time. Tonight I'm planning to watch the latest Resident Evil movie with Tara before I have to return it to the NYC library tomorrow. Also, on Tuesday the new 4-disc Criterion version of The Last Emperor comes out, so maybe we'll watch that on family night this weekend. Should be a pretty quiet week otherwise, as the month is winding down.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Week in review

I really should be working, but there's time for a quick update. Besides, how can anyone work during a snowstorm? We're supposed to have 5-6 inches of snow here today, maybe more. This morning I woke to the sounds of snowplows on my apartment driveway, and the drive to the train station was slow but not too scary. The trip home might be a different story, as it's really coming down heavily and is expected to continue all day and all night until about 1 a.m. tomorrow.

This past week has been a whirlwind of activity. Last Friday I did indeed take the day off to extend the Presidents Day holiday weekend. I went for my allergy shot, then did a little shopping before meeting up with my friend Agnieszka after she got home from work. We both didn't feel like going out, so we sat on her couch and talked for about six hours. Tara called at around midnight when we were wrapping up and offered to make me pancakes in the morning, so I stopped by the 24-hour grocery on the way home to buy some blueberries and whipped cream.

Saturday Tara and I had our pancake breakfast, and then went out shopping for a few home items. I'm looking for a cheval mirror for my bedroom so I can see an entire outfit at once - right now, I only have a dresser mirror that shows the upper half. I also needed to buy some new candles, having burned my last set down to a big messy puddle of wax. We found some of the candles at Pier 1, and I also got New Avengers: Illuminati at the Barnes & Noble. No luck on the mirror though, although we even visited a couple of furniture stores, which was interesting to say the least.

In the early evening, I decided to start my exercise program, so I got on the treadmill for 45 minutes, and did some weights for my back and abs. I also went out to Loehmann's to check out their holiday sale, as I'm still trying to decide what to wear to Joanna's wedding on March 8 in Ohio. I didn't find much in the way of clothes, but I did find the patchouli-scented candles I was looking for. I got back just in time to start dinner for our regular Saturday family night, when we finally completed Season One of Young Indiana Jones.

Sunday night we all watched the Fantastic Four movie and ate peaches, blueberries and M&Ms. We all agree that movie is much better than we were led to believe, and we're looking forward to seeing the sequel this weekend. Monday Tara and I went back to my old Residence Inn hotel and shot some baskets on their basketball court. It was the first time I'd played since I left the hotel almost two years ago. Then we came back to my place to shower and continue the cardiovascular workout before she had to go home for a few hours while I did some laundry and tidying up. In the evening we watched an old movie called Time After Time, which is about one of my favorite fictional characters, Jack the Ripper.

Tuesday night I met my friend Lori in the city and we went to a new library branch, a new Borders book store and an Indian supermarket. I bought some stuffed grape leaves, lime pickles and garlic relish, and I gave her the pickled garlic and jalapeno mix that I'd made for her.

Wednesday I went to my first PolyNYC group meeting at the LGBT Center downtown. It was a very large group, about 50-60 people of all kinds. I ran into a couple people I knew from the last cuddle party I went to, so it was nice reconnecting with them. The speaker was talking about deeper communication between poly partners, but I'll admit I didn't agree with most of what she was talking about. She also offended a few of the people in the room by saying that all women naturally send and receive communication simultaneously ("transceiving"), which a lot of people didn't get besides me. The best part was engaging in a silent meditation one-on-one with a partner, and seeing a mouse run across the floor in the background and trying not to break out laughing.

Last night I continued my workout program and cuddled with Tara a bit while watching the Rockets beat up on the Miami Heat. Still can't believe they traded Bonzi Wells to New Orleans for Bobby Jackson.

That's all for now - hopefully I won't have to sleep in my office tonight because of the snow.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Valentine - with garlic

Happy Valentine's Day everybody! Just wanted to send some of the love in my heart out to the world.

For those interested, here is an excellent article in the Washington Post on polyamory, reporting from the recent Poly Living convention in Pennsylvania, sponsored by Loving More Magazine:

"Pairs with Spares" - Feb. 13, 2008"

I spent most of last evening peeling about six bulbs of garlic and packing the whole cloves into two jars, along with fresh sliced jalapeno peppers, oregano, black peppercorns and red pepper flakes. Then I filled each jar with white vinegar and distilled water, and added coarse sea salt. I sealed the tops with cellophane wrap and lids and put them in my refrigerator, and in about a week or so, I'll have some pickled garlic and peppers for a garnish. The large jar is for me, the smaller one for my friend Lori, who wanted to try it.

Tara came over as I was about halfway through my pickling, and we chatted while I finished up, although the smell got to her after a while. She's the only person I've ever known with such an aversion to garlic (who isn't a vampire, at least).

Afterwards we watched a little of the Rockets-Sacramento Kings basketball game, and listened to Porcupine Tree's Nil Recurring in surround sound during halftime and fooled around on the couch in the second half. Unfortunately, she had to leave, or else she could have seen the exciting finish to the game, where rookie Steve Novak hit a game-winning three-pointer with 2 seconds to spare, and the Rockets won by two.

I'm looking forward to seeing my friend Agnieszka tomorrow night - in fact, I'm thinking about taking tomorrow off just so I'm not too tired after work, as it's been a bit of a struggle this week to get out of bed. We'll see how I feel after lunch about it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Throw vomit from the train

I must be some kind of a puke magnet, because for the second time I've had the misfortune of sitting next to someone on the train that had to vomit uncontrollably. This time was a little too close for comfort.

It was last Monday, and I had just caught my 5:45 p.m. rush hour train going from Penn Station out to New Jersey. Since I wasn't early enough to get a good seat, I had to squeeze on the long bench across from the lavatory. As the train started to move, I noticed a well-dressed man standing opposite from me, leaning up against the lavatory's sliding door. When the woman next to me got up to move to another seat, he took her seat next to me. He seemed really out of it, and also seemed to have a persistent case of the hiccups, which I could feel because we were squeezed up against each other. I put my earphones on and turned out for what was shaping up to be a long ride home.

I was dozing off when someone shook me awake - it was another man that had been standing next to the first guy. I took my earpiece out and he said, "you'd better stand up, this guy next to you is throwing up." I looked over and sure enough, the guy was passed out and vomiting up on himself. I immediately jumped up and checked myself - no vomit, thank goodness! I gathered my coat and purse from the overhead rack and moved as far away as I could, which was about two steps on a crowded train.

The second man tried to get the sick guy to get into the bathroom, but he was completely unresponsive (yet somehow still able to stay seated upright). Eventually, the vomit dribbled down his suit and tie and started pooling on the floor. We called for the conductor using the intercom, and he was also unable to get a response from the man. I think no one wanted to touch him, probably for legal reasons, or just to stay away from the puke.

Finally we reached the next stop and a policeman was called. By this time I got out of the train and walked a couple cars down and re-entered another car. I knew from my first experience with this situation that it would soon become unbearably stinky and it was better to move now than be stuck there. The policeman couldn't revive him, so they called EMS, who came and finally took him off the train. I don't know what they did to him, but I saw the guy walking down the platform being held up by EMS people on both sides as we were leaving the station.

Another thing about New York is that there needs to be a rule limiting the size of umbrella you can carry. It's raining here today, and I see skinny people holding these huge golf umbrellas that come close to poking your eye out when you're squeezed on a busy sidewalk or walking down a subway staircase. I think umbrellas should be limited to three times the diameter of your waistline. How's that for an incentive to gain weight?

I also learned last night that my nearby branch of the New York Public Library is closing at the end of May, which is a pity because that was the most convenient branch for me. But the selection of DVDs is much better at my local NJ library anyway. However, there's a Pooh-Bear exhibit that we want to see before they close it up.

I'm also excited about going to Springfield, Ohio in early March for my friend Joanna's wedding. I can't remember the last wedding I went to - I'm sure it was years ago. I still don't believe in the traditional concept of marriage, but it's nice to see other people celebrate their love. I'm hoping to see some of my friends there, but I don't know who was invited. Should be interesting meeting all these new people too that I've heard such interesting stories about from Jo.

On the subway escalator yesterday I was standing behind a girl. She was wearing a white coat and a white knit hat, and her hair was peeking out the sides, and it was the color of pink cotton candy. It was thick and straight, like handfuls of fresh-cut wheat. I wish I could have seen her face, but when we got to the train platform, she took off for the opposite end of the station than I was going. If that's the way her hair always looks, maybe I'll spot her again someday.

Tara and I celebrated Valentine's Day early on Monday with candlelight and incense, and a long red satin gown I've been saving for such an occasion. Go ahead, use your imagination...

Monday, February 04, 2008

The effect of cooking

Here is a surprisingly candid article about polyamory in this weekend's edition of the New York Times:

"An Open and Shut Marriage" - Feb. 3, 2008

It was a lovely weekend, and I celebrated Imbolc by giving my apartment a thorough cleaning. I've also committed to sign on for another year's lease, so I'll be here at least until March 2008. I'm hoping to buy a house somewhere by next year, depending on how things go. I've been interviewing for a new job at a consulting company, so who knows what will happen.

Saturday night we saw the U2 concert in 3-D at the IMAX theater, and it was amazing! They are one of my family's favorite bands, we are all agreed. While I still think the U2 Go Home concert in Ireland was better overall, the 3-D effects were very cool. You can read the review in the New York Times here - they say it a lot better than I could.

U2 3D movie review - Jan. 23, 2008

Sunday I cooked my first homemade curry - ever - and tested out my new rice cooker. While it wasn't made totally from scratch, I got pretty close to the curry that I grew up with that my mom used to make, which is pretty good since I never actually learned the recipie first-hand. It's basically onions, garlic, potatoes, chicken, curry sauce and spices, chicken stock and coconut milk.

My family came over to watch a movie and I made them their favorite vegetable dumplings, and we all had rice together. It was probably the most home-like feeling I've had since moving here. Cooking for my family makes me feel like a mom, but in a good way. It connects me to the countless moments that moms, grandmothers, aunts, and female cousins spent in their kitchens cooking, socializing and bonding that I mostly missed out on growing up.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Sexual harrassment dream

I dreamed last night that I was a victim of sexual harrassment at work. It didn't involve any real-life people or situations, so maybe it's a glimpse into the future. I was in unfamiliar surroundings, with unfamiliar people. I was getting things set up for a client meeting, bringing food in and that kind of thing.

One of the clients, a huge, 400-pound, sweaty man dressed in loose-fitting jeans and an oversize t-shirt (because that's all he could find that fit him), started coming on to me in the hallway when he caught me alone. He looked like the Kingpin, but without the white suit. He pinned me up against the wall and rubbed against me, and I could feel him through his jeans. I managed to brush him off gracefully and get away from him, but if that actually happened to me, I think I'd be too freaked out to handle it diplomatically.


Last night I watched one of my all-time favorite movies, El Cid, which I got this week in a gorgeous collector's box set. It's the first time in over a decade that the movie has been available in a digital format - the last time was a very expensive Criterion laserdisc version that I've seen but never owned. I used to check it out of the library on VHS, but this is the kind of movie that requires the best viewing experience possible.

Shot in 70mm panoramic, and featuring an inspired score by the legendary Miklos Rosa (who also did Ben-Hur and King of Kings), the high-resolution transfer looked absolutely gorgeous after years of seeing just the crappy VHS transfer. The restoration team did an incredible job on the picture, although the sound is still way subpar by modern standards. Still, it's the story that stands the test of time - romantic, powerful, sweeping yet intimate, there are so many memorable scenes leading up to the powerful, timeless ending. Plus, Sophia Loren looks smashing in black.

I've also just finished reading Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues which I checked out from the library. Very touching, sometimes funny and inspiring, often heartbreaking stuff. And what is with the apparent tradition of mothers slapping their daughters in the face when they get their periods??? Can someone explain that to me?

That bit about having periods reminded me of when my friend Pearl first got hers. She was so excited that she called me to let me know, and I came over and brought her flowers. I was happy for her, but a bit sad too because her growing up meant we were slowly growing apart. It happened the way it was supposed to, but the time that we were close is one of the few parts of my old life that I truly miss.

This weekend we're going to see the U2 IMAX movie on Saturday night, which I'm excited about. It's been a while since I've seen an IMAX, and the last one was at the American Museum of Natural History about dinosaurs. This one promises to be a lot more exciting. After all, what's more exciting than a rock concert by one of the most successful bands of all time?

Have a great weekend everyone!