Tuesday, July 22, 2008


"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them." -- Thomas Merton

I don't have much to say today in this space. Had a terrible evening with Tara last night, by far our worst date night ever. It seems lately that everything that comes out of my head causes trouble. Apparently what I say isn't as important as the state of mind I'm in when I say them. Love seems to be causing me more pain than joy these days.

I think it's time for one of my enforced blogging breaks, at least until August 4. See you all sometime after that.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Houston visitor

In about an hour, I'm meeting one of my colleagues from my old PR firm in Houston. He quit after I left in 2005 and got a job in the Houston office of one of my current firm's biggest clients. So we've gone from being colleagues to him becoming my client, although I don't work with him personally.

I rarely get a chance to have my former life and new life intersect. He's actually only the second person from my former life to visit me here in New York (Agnieszka Prime was the first). He and I used to sit in adjacent offices, and we had lunch together once after I quit, before I left Houston. Since it's been almost three years since we've seen each other, I'm kinda interested in what his reaction will be and I'm looking forward to hearing any gossip about me from my old firm.

There was a time in the past when this kind of conversation might have been uncomfortable for me, but I think I've reached a point where I am secure enough with my new life that I can talk about my previous life without attaching any emotional angst to it. It's almost like those years belong to someone else, and I'm just hearing stories that have nothing to do with me personally, but are still interesting - as if discussing characters in a book we've both read.

At least I hope that's the way I'll react. I guess we'll see in about an hour.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Birthday gifts

Gosh, it was a wonderful birthday celebration last night, as usual! How my family does spoil me! Plus, we have our family vacation to the Finger Lakes at the end of the month to look forward to as well.

After work, we went to Charlie Brown's Steakhouse for dinner, which is an odd choice for a family that is half-vegetarian. But I told Tara I wanted to go somewhere new that I'd never been before, since our combined dietary restrictions means we typically eat at the same half-dozen restaurants and fast-food places when we all go out together. So just trying a new place was a treat for me, since I'm used to having lots of restaurant choices, being from Houston. Luckily Bee remembered that this was one restaurant we'd talked about in the past as a potential addition to our small stable of regular eateries.

Speaking of Bee, her string of bad luck continues to plague her. She tripped on her shoelaces and fell headfirst on a paved drive, cutting her head deeply above her eyebrow and bruising her hands. An ambulance was called, but luckily she didn't need stitches or have a concussion, just a whole lot of blood spilled all over the place. So now she has multiple reasons for taking all her pain medications, poor thing!

After dinner, we went home to digest and watch the pre-game show of the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, and then started opening presents. The big highlight was the entire box set of Harry Potter novels in the Hogwarts cardboard trunk. Since my beloved Twilight Saga will be finished next month, I'll have plenty to fill the young adult reading void until Midnight Sun comes out, whenever that is.

I also got several Vertigo books, like the Vol. 10 of Fables, Vol. 3 of Jack of Fables, and Vol. 1 of Y: The Last Man, to help fill the void left by the completion of the Lucifer series. Plus, I got two more Buffy the Vampire Slayer digests, as well as the last four digests of Strangers in Paradise, which I'm currently plowing through. I also got some other bound comics, like Green Lantern Corps, Avengers and a cool interactive Batman novel.

On the DVD side, I got some cult favorite comedies like Tapeheads and Midnight Run, one of Robert DeNiro's first attempts at comedy (and probably one of his best). I also got the first box set of the Ranma 1/2 TV series, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (Extended Edition), National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets and Blade Runner: The Final Cut.

This isn't even a full list of all the things my family got me. As we always try to do, birthdays we spoil each other rotten, and really try to make each other feel special. I feel so blessed to have such a family.

After all the presents were unwrapped, they surprised me yet again with a tiramisu cake, knowing that it's one of my favorite desserts. And of course, it was adorned with a big wax number 4 in the middle, surrounded by candles that looked like stars on lollipop sticks. After cake, we started watching the All-Star Game on the DVR, but since first pitch was already after midnight, I couldn't stay longer than the first half-inning. Tara and Bee watched the whole 15-inning affair and went to bed sometime around 4 a.m. this morning. Luckily, they didn't have to work today like me. Maybe next year I'll plan ahead and take off on my birthday and the day after.

Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to fit all this new stuff on my already overcrowded bookshelves...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Birthday wishes and dreams

Today is July 15, and it's the birthday of the person you have all come to know as Michelle. As I usually do on this date, I think back about the year gone by, and I'm happy to say that, compared to years past, things have been fairly stable in my life. Stability is a good thing after all the turbulence since 2005. I'm still at the same job, the same apartment, the same family and mostly the same friends as last year. I haven't had any fires or natural disasters strike me this year as I have in the each of the previous two years, which is a nice change of pace. But of course, there have been major ups and downs with my relationship with Tara and the rest of my family.

Last July, we were probably at our lowest point, after being at our highest point just a month earlier. Things were strained all through the second half of 2007, but in January we reached a turning point, and things have been steadily improving since then. Today, we are probably close to where we were in June 2007, but with a slightly different relationship structure. It seems to be a relatively stable model so far, although it certainly has its drawbacks. But we continue to work on it, and honor the love that holds it together. If fortune smiles on us, we may yet reach a point where everybody can be happy in a sustainable way.

As longtime blog readers know, probably the most significant thing to happen this year is my exploration of polyamory, as chronicled extensively in this space. Accepting myself as poly in January has made it possible for me to reinvent my relationship with Tara and take responsibility for my own happiness, which has at least given us another chance to create a peaceful, loving bond between us. Only time will tell if we can overcome the difficulties that my poly philosophy imposes on us.

But for now, I'm just looking forward to a night of celebration with my family, sharing love and giving thanks once again for the life I've been fortunate enough to find for myself.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Growing up

It wasn't much of a weekend to write home about. I did my errands, spent time with my family and cleaned the apartment. A lot of the time I was just lonely and more than a little melancholy about my unconventional life choices. Things are still weighing heavily on me, but I'm trying my best to let them fall and move on. At least I have my birthday celebration on Tuesday to look forward to.

I finished a nice little Charles de Lint book yesterday called Little (Grrl) Lost a sweet urban fantasy about girls growing up in different worlds. That topic blended with a conversation with Tara in the movie theater on Sunday while waiting for Hellboy II to start, when we were talking about how things were with each of us growing up. Compared with her, I think I had it pretty easy growing up, which might be why she's so much stronger and secure in her identity and spirit than I am. I think I've taken the easy, well-worn path most of my life, and maybe the bushwhacking is starting to become fatiguing. But I figure there's no turning back at this point, so I might as well press on.

Anyway, we saw Copying Beethoven for our Saturday night movie, which was inspiring as always. I've loved this movie since I first saw it at the Polish Film Festival last year when I first met Agnieszka (with her friend Raymond) and I was happy to introduce it to Bee and Bug for the first time.

Also, I started reading Witchblade: Origins, a comic by the late great artist Michael Turner, who recently passed away. For my non-comic reading, I'm starting The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue, which was one of the first presents Tara ever gave me and has been in my collection forever. I think it will make a good follow-up for the de Lint book I just finished.

In the latest chapter in what seems like a neverending series of unfortunate events, on Wednesday Bee fell down her basement stairs and cracked her tailbone, which makes sitting and certain movements excruciatingly painful. If it's true that bad things come in threes, hopefully this will be the coda after her dog attack and stomach flu. I brought my Boppy pillow home from my office to help her with the sitting, and that seems to help. I just feel so badly for her that she's been through so much pain and hardship crammed into the last four weeks, although it has not been without its upside in terms of bringing us closer together.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Holiday weekend update

Well, it's been more than a week since I last posted, so even though I don't feel much like writing today, I guess I should give an update.

Definitely the highlight of the past week was Saturday, when after a slow start, we decided to visit the Met and see a couple of the new exhibits, including the Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy and the J. M. W. Turner exhibit, plus the newly renovated Lehman wing in the back of the museum. The absence of Asher Durand paintings in the new American landscape room upset Tara greatly, as did the lack of medieval armor bothered Bug. Bee, Bug and I were also acosted by a security guard for sitting on the floor while waiting for Tara to come out of the bathroom, and that started me on a rant toward overzealous and inconsistent museum guard behavior. Apparently there will be some forthcoming letters of complaint to the management.

Other than those issues, and a rouge proximity alarm that kept sounding in the superhero exhibit, we all had a great time and a nice visit. In the evening we had a return to Saturday night dinner, after substituting Burger King last week since Bee was still sick. I made the usual Chinese food for Bee and Bug, and an improvised jambalaya for myself, mixing grilled sausage, tomatoes, onions and bell peppers with rice. We followed dinner with a very inspiring movie called heima by the Icelandic band Sigur Ros. Such primal sounds they make! Much like the wilderness shown in much of the footage used in the film. Definitely the biggest thing to come out of Iceland since Bjork.

Other than Saturday, the rest of the holiday weekend was pretty uneventful. We saw Wall-E and loved it (although that experience was also marred by a couple giggly girls sitting next to us) and Wanted, which was our first rated-R movie in quite a while, and therefore somewhat bracing after a steady diet of PG-13 fantasy and animated movies. Thursday night Tara spent the night again, and it was a little easier than the first time she did it a couple weeks ago. Just more relaxed and peaceful with less drama, which was very nice. In the morning I took everyone out for breakfast at McDonald's, which ended up serving us a little more food than we had ordered, but made us wait longer for it. And Sunday, Tara and I had a quiet date night at home and watched a pretty good Yankees game, with a walk-off single RBI by the rookie left fielder, since Monday I was not going to be home.

Monday and Tuesday I was in Reston, VA, working on a new business proposal with some of our partners on a $200 billion project in the Middle East. Reston reminds me a lot of Sugar Land - a master-planned community heavy on the use of red bricks. The nice part - there were lots of shops around (I bought a shirt at Eddie Bauer and tried on a few things at Banana Republic) and I had a nice dinner at Morton's Steakhouse Monday night. It was the first time I'd had a steak since a couple of years, I think. I had a filet mignon with bernaise sauce, plus asparagus with hollandaise, hash browns and creamed spinach. Plus a hot sampler platter of fried jumbo shrimp, oysters rockafeller, scallops wrapped with bacon and crab cakes. And to top it off - a chocolate souffle with rasberries and cream on the side. Tuesday for lunch I went to a Siamese restaurant and had a softshell crab on a spicy salad and a hot-and-sour shrimp and mushroom soup. So at least I ate well while I was working. In fact, I think I gained a few pounds over the last couple of days.

Last night Bug and I put in our pre-orders for "Breaking Dawn" at the local Barnes & Noble, so we can get them at midnight on August 1. Also, I finished the 11th and final volume of the "Lucifer" series and I absolutely loved it. I actually want to go back and read it all over again, but probably best to tackle something shorter until the vampire book comes out. Lucifer was like Neil Gaiman's "The Sandman," but with a more linear and action-packed story line. Highly recommended for anyone who is a fan of "The Sandman," where the character originated from (not originally, but you know what I mean).

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Gay marriage

Here is a very interesting article in the Sunday New York Times on gay marriage, and how couples who got married in Massachussetts are working out.

"Gay Couples Find Marriage Is a Mixed Bag" - June 29, 2008

There are some interesting viewpoints about marriage from a gay perspective, some that I've never considered before. And while marriage - legal or otherwise - is not in my future, it does give me a lot to think about in terms of wanting a commitment.


One of my guilty pleasure movies is the 1980 release of Xanadu, starring Gene Kelly in his final dramatic role, and Olivia Newton-John. I was looking at the synopsis online and thought it sounded a lot better as a description than most people give it credit for.

A young album-painter learns a lesson about daring to dream when he is kissed by a magical muse. Throwing caution to the wind, he partners up with a wealthy former jazz musician to start-up a roller disco nightclub, but finds that one of his dreams might be too lofty--even for the powers that be. A modern musical featuring the musical talents of Olivia Newton-John, Electric Light Orchestra, the Tubes, and Cliff Richard, with a touch of cartoon from animator Don Bluth.

Zeus, worried about the fate of a young painter, chooses one of the nine muses who preside over the arts to inspire the artist to greatness. So the lovely goddess Kira descends to earth and encourages her ward to open a disco roller skating rink. First, she locates a clarinet player whom she inspired in the 1940s, and convinces him to return to music by funding the rink. Then the three transform an abandoned building into a neon-lit, rock and roll heaven. But now that the painter's dream has come true, the time has come for Kira to return to Mount Olympus. The only problem is, the two have fallen in love, and do not want to part. But that's what will have to happen unless they can convince the gods that love is the ultimate dream.

Remake of the 1947 film "Down to Earth," starring Rita Hayworth, about a muse who inspires a playwright to write a musical. "Down to Earth" is itself a sequel to "Here Comes Mr. Jordan."

Last dramatic role for dancer/actor/choreographer/director Gene Kelly. He died on February 2, 1996 in California, after suffering a series of strokes, at the age of 83. He was born, Eugene Curran Kelly, August 23, 1912 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Of course the movie has gained in popularity recently since there is now a Broadway show version. But for me, the appeal is a mix of nostalgia and a new found openness to old-fashioned romance and magical, mythological fairy tales.

Speaking of old-fashioned romance - Tara and I did something last night that we haven't done in a long while. Instead of going to my place as we usually do on Mondays, we stayed at her house and watched the Yankees game with Bee and Bug. Bee is still sick, so I made some plain spaghetti for her, which is about the only thing she can keep down besides Cheerios and Jell-O. After the game I took Tara upstairs and we had some private time where we just sat on the floor and talked for a couple of hours, like we used to do when I first started visiting her back in 2005.

I think it's probably been more than a year since we've just sat and talked like that, about ourselves, our life together and our hopes and dreams. Since January, we've been spending most of our private time having sex, and she doesn't care for deep talks in bed like I do. And while sex is fun, I didn't realize how much I missed "just talking" until last night. Things are so different now than they were back in 2005, but through all the ups and downs, and while our connection has sometimes been strained, our love has remained constant. Talk about your modern fairy tale.