Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cat humor

Heh, this is the funniest little clip, taken from Bug's Web site. She says it's a good idea of her morning routine (my family has three cats, in case you were wondering...)

I spent the day sending out the press release for Katelynn's appearance at the next Polyamorous NYC meeting on May 20, and secured a listing with a photo in HX Magazine, one of the more prominent free gay publications in the city. I'm hoping we will get some mainstream media at the event as well.

Tara and I had one of our long poly-mono discussions last night, which always seems to upset her moreso than me. I miss our physical intimacy very much, and as that's the only thing I'm not getting from her and it's very unlikely we'll resume that activity, I'm forced to seek it elsewhere unless I'm planning to be asexual. I've never been very good with dating, but I have faith that the right person (or persons) will come along someday.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Everywhere I look, people are asking me to join Facebook, and so far, I've resisted. I'm not sure how much longer I can hold out. Because next thing you know I'll be Twittering and who knows what else down the road. Why can't people just pick up a phone and reach out to talk to each other?

One of the reasons I started blogging in 2005 was that my circle of friends was expanding and it was a way for me to let people know what I was doing without my having to write separate emails to everyone. In a way it has worked, in the sense that there are some people who follow my life that I have little contact with otherwise. Once in a while they will drop me a comment or email, but we not involved with each other's day-to-day lives. The exception is my friend Linda, with whom I exchange long and candid letters every week or so, but then, we have both always been writers at heart.

That's why this idea of constantly letting people know what's happening in your life through electronic updates doesn't really appeal to me. I'd rather get the story in person when we meet, even if it's infrequently. Perhaps my relationship with Tara has also spoiled me, since she's the only person who I talk to on the phone every day. It's hard for me now to imagine having a meaningful relationship with someone without hearing their voice every day.

I suppose that to some of my younger, hipper readers this sounds terribly old-fashioned. But the truth is that social media technology doesn't serve the purpose if it doesn't bring people closer together. And for me, the only way that happens is real-time communication, on the phone or in person. And hugs, lots of hugs.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Birthday picnic

Saturday was a continuation of Bee's birthday celebration with a picnic trip to Harriman State Park in New York. We drove up to Seven Lakes Drive, which winds its way through the park, and found a road closed due to a bridge being out. We drove around the sign and parked at the foot of the bridge and set up our picnic spot on an outcropping on the side of the road overlooking a lake. The sun was quite strong so we set up some umbrellas for shade.

Under the umbrellas

View from the bridge

View from our campsite

Bee, Bug and I had pasta primavera and fruit salads, while Tara had cheese sandwiches and potato chips. After eating, Bee opened some of her presents, which included a gift card for Nordstrom Spa from me. Tara walked around and took some pictures while the rest of us dozed either lying on the picnic blanket or in a camp chair.

We packed up and drove toward the city, stopping at a gas station to change our clothes before going into New York to see Waiting for Godot, the play by Samuel Beckett, starring Nathan Lane, Bill Irwin, John Goodman and John Glover. It wasn't quite what any of us were expecting, but it proved to be very thought-provoking and stimulated a lot of conversation on the way home. Once we got home and unpacked Yoshi, we had some ice cream cupcakes from Maggie Moo's and Bee opened some more of her presents before calling it a night.

Sunday I went into the city myself for a meeting with the PolyNYC Board to brainstorm on publicity efforts surrounding Katelynn's appearance at the May 20th meeting. There was some discussion on what we would do if she had to cancel on us, and if that were to happen, I volunteered to step in and do a presentation. Hopefully that will not be the way it plays out. The meeting turned into a two-and-a-half hour discussion about religion, GLBT issues and our personal experiences as GLBT people. It was quite interesting and experiences like this and like the dinner at Sylvia's are giving me a crash-course in gay and bi culture and understanding the issues around being a sexual minority in this country.

As I discovered from visiting the Google home page, today is Samuel Morse's birthday, the inventor of Morse Code. So appropriately enough, I invited Tara over to watch Let the Right One In with me, the Swedish vampire movie I love so much ("One of the best of 2008" - March 11, 2009). Afterwards Bee and Bug came over and we watched the season finale of Heroes, which left me feeling a little unsatisfied.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fire play

Lots of things to talk about, starting with the verdict in the Zapata murder trial - the defendant was found guilty of first-degree murder and that it was a hate crime. It's one of the first times that a hate-crimes law was applied to the death of a transgender person. I'm just glad the deception argument (or what I call "The Crying Game defense") was unsuccessful.

Here's a photo of me talking with my bisexual women's group at Sylvia's Restaurant last Sunday, that was just posted on our group Web site:

Sylvia's Restaurant

Last night we had our first official planning meeting of Open Love NY at my friend Kyle's apartment, the first time I'd been there. I'm always astonished at the quirks of New York living spaces, not the least of which is how little you get for your money in the city. Kyle and I pay about the same amount in rent, but his entire apartment (which he shares with a roommate) is probably less than a third the square footage as mine, and without air conditioning, parking, washer/dryer, window views or a lot of the amenities I take for granted. But the weird thing is that his sink and shower are inside his front door, but the private toilet is in a separate space with its own door a few steps down the hallway, so he has to use a key to get into his own toilet.

We met for about two-and-a-half hours before Kyle had to go to work, and then Simon, Buck, Lyndell and I walked 10 blocks to a club called Dtox where a friend of ours was throwing a party for open-minded people of all stripes. Her name is Mina, and I met her the same night I met Simon and Lyndell, at the Supermassive Cuddle Party in 2007. Although we have only seen each other infrequently since then at PolyNYC meetings, she belongs to a pretty small group of individuals (seven and counting, six in my adult life) who have kissed me on the lips with romantic intent. If it seems like a lot, then you need to get out more.

Anyway, Mina was performing what she calls fire play on volunteers at the back of the bar, where a padded bench was situated in the middle of a small dance floor. This involved the subjects (Lyndell took a turn) disrobing from the waist up and laying facedown on the bench. Mina would then take two rods about the size of chopsticks with gauze wrapped at each end, soaked in alcohol and light them on fire. She would tap the person's back with the flaming tips, transferring some of the burning alcohol to the skin, where it would burn for a fraction of a second before Mina put it out with her hand. Then she would go one step further and draw curves with a non-flaming alcohol swab, then light it, creating arcs of flame for an instant at a time before snuffing them out. She also used an alcohol sprayer with a flame in front of it to spray flame at the skin, but it never caught fire (although it seems like it could if the person was hairy). I was talking to Lyndell while she was doing this last bit and the flame spray got really close to my face, but Mina was very careful.

It's the first time I'd seen fire play, so I was asking a lot of questions about it - was it performance art or some kind of fetish play? Mina says it's just fun, and other people commented that it's also a display of trust for the bottom (the person it's being performed on). For me, it was just a fascinating example of the diversity of human play that I've never been exposed to before.

Speaking of play, since the weather is so nice today, maybe Tara and I will go out and have a nice, ordinary game of tennis.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Weird TV

Once in a while, something happens for no apparent reason that completely blows your mind. It's not always something life-changing. Sometimes it's just a little synchronicity that makes you think something's going on. One of those things happened tonight.

I had invited my family over to watch some TV, and when I turned on my DVR, Tara noticed an episode of Star Trek on the menu. These are the original episodes with Kirk, Spock and McCoy from the late 1960s, but they have been enhanced with upgraded CGI. I started playing the episode, which had been recorded several days ago on one of our local TV channels, just to show the girls what the upgraded scenes look like. The episode was "The Corbomite Maneuver", where Captain Kirk saves the Enterprise yet again, thanks in part to his deft understanding of the game of poker.

We started watching and got hooked enough that we had to finish the episode. At the very end, the alien being is played by 7-year-old Clint Howard, brother to Ron Howard and a recognizable character actor. We all knew we'd seen him before, but we couldn't place his name or any of his other roles.

Then came the weird part. We started watching this week's episode of Heroes, which was recorded on NBC on Monday. Right after the opening credits, who should appear on screen but the very same Clint Howard, 43 years older and now 50, playing a bit part on the show. We all gave a start and were amazed that we had, by pure coincidence, just seen an actor age four decades in the space of a few minutes.

And that's my fun story of TV watching for today. Back to reading The Books of Magic.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bisexuality in the news

I was reading this very interesting article on bisexuality today, and it made me think about the fact that bisexual men are completely invisible in our society. For example, as the article states, if a married man has sex with another man, he is almost always viewed as a closeted gay man, and that his marriage is just a sham. What else could it be, right? It couldn't be that maybe, just maybe, he's bisexual and is attracted to both men and women? Naaahhh...

But it's true - that is the response you typically get in that scenario. And it underlines the deep denial a lot of our society has that bisexuality even exists, unless it's in pornography as an excuse to see girl-on-girl action. One could also argue that it's a sign of an active gay agenda to deny the existence of bisexuals by attempting to classify everyone as either gay or straight. Even bisexual women are often dismissed or marginalized as "unstable" or "unable to make up their minds" or assumed to feign attraction to women as a way to please a man.

But it seems that Hollywood is taking up the mantle of male bisexuality with movies like "I Love You, Man" making so-called "bromances" the flavor of the month, as suggested by this article titled "How Male Bisexuality Got Cool." Again, interesting reading, but doesn't really address the underlying issues like the first article.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Shoe shopping

Again I'm in the midst of a flurry of activity. Sunday night I drove into Harlem to meet with my bisexual women's group at Sylvia's Restaurant, a famous soul food eatery on 125th Street just north of 7th Avenue. All along the walls were pictures of famous visitors like Denzel Washington and President Clinton posing with Sylvia, the owner. I had their famous barbecue ribs with garlic mashed potatoes and baked mac and cheese. The ribs were pretty good, but I've definitely had better in Texas.

Today it was a dreary rainy day, but I wanted to get out and do some shopping in Paramus. There's a recently remodeled mall called Bergen Town Center with a Nordstrom's Rack, Filene's Basement and Saks Off Fifth that I wanted to check out. I found some nice legwear on clearance at Filene's, but the real find was Nordstrom's Rack, which had a very nice selection of large size shoes. Unlike most stores, Nordstrom's groups their shoes by size, not by style, so I could see everything in my size. If I wanted to, I could have spent a couple hundred dollars on shoes, but as it was, I didn't buy anything. It's nice to know they are there when I want to shoe shop though. I've always liked Nordstrom's Rack ever since I discovered one in Salt Lake City, Utah many years ago.

While I was shopping, I got a call from a recruiter whom I had submitted my new resume to earlier in the day. We chatted for a while and she invited me to drop in tomorrow when I'm in the city for my women's poly group. They are located in the Chrysler Building, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful skyscrapers ever built. I've always wanted to visit, so this will be my chance. I'll visit with the recruiter at 5 pm, then my group meets at 6:30 pm. Then it's back home to watch Game 2 of the Rockets-Trailblazers playoff basketball series.

From the mall I drove to Pearl Art Supply to pick up some packaging for the CDs I'm putting together for my friend Linda, then turned around and browsed at the big Barnes & Noble bookstore. I got a copy of Jill Thompson's Sandman spinoff At Death's Door and found Paulo Coelho's novel The Witch of Portobello in hardcover in the bargain section for only $7.

Time to turn in early then, after I figure out what to wear for tomorrow's interview. Good night!

Friday, April 17, 2009

A room with a view

I had a very good interview with the PR firm in the city on Wednesday. They were mighty impressed with my new and improved resume, and said they were just waiting to hear about a large piece of business from a major insurance company that they might win. If they get it, the head guy said I would be an ideal candidate, because of my background in the insurance and legal industries. He also let slip a piece of inside information that I need to research, as it might help me to gain an advantage in getting a job at a different firm. So all in all, it was not a waste of time.

The nice thing about this firm is the space. The two conference rooms are bright and thoroughly modern-looking, and they both have plenty of windows. As managing director, I would get an office with a window, something I've been craving for the last three years. At Agent K, all the windows were taken up by private offices of the senior executives, except for the three corner offices which were vacated and therefore used as meeting rooms. But you couldn't really look out the window unless you actually walked into the room. All the more commonly-used meeting rooms and the lobby were windowless, and you couldn't see out a single window from the cube farm or even if you took a casual stroll around the office, unless you poked your head into someone's private space.

While I was waiting for the interview to begin, I had a nice view straight down Third Avenue, past my old office and the famous Lipstick Building that I used to walk by every day. I could also almost see the East River and Roosevelt Island beyond. It is by no means as impressive as the lobby of the downtown firm I once interviewed at but I'll take any view after two-and-a-half years in a windowless office. That is certainly one thing I missed about my old job in Houston, where I had an eighth-floor view right above the West Loop, the busiest stretch of freeway in Texas, and downtown in the distance.

The PolyNYC meeting later that evening was sparsely attended, with only about 18-20 people showing up. However, we are seeing an influx of new members, and many of them are GLBT folks. There was a posse of about six or seven lesbians who have come to the last two meetings and contributed a lot of viewpoints that we haven't heard much before. Apparently, if there's one community that processes relationships more than polys, it's lesbians. The topic was how to foster group intimacy, and I got to share some of my thoughts about the importance of touch ("The importance of touch" - April 2, 2008) and found that struck a chord with some of the gay men there, who lamented that most men in our society are conditioned to believe that all touching has sexual meaning.

I've also been tearing through the Harry Potter series with an Anita Blake-like fervor, finishing Books 4-6 in the past two weeks, and starting on the final chapter now. They are surprisingly addictive once you get beyond what's been shown in the movies, but of course the big downside is that there aren't going to be any more of them. If I could only get hooked on Star Wars novels, then I'd be set for life - there's no way I could exhaust that pipeline.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Busy start of the week

After a month of mostly inactivity, it has been and is going to be a busy week. Monday I went into the city for a Poly Happy Hour that takes place the second Monday of each month. I've never been to one because up until recently, Monday nights have been date nights for me and Tara, since it's also Buffy's yoga night.

The happy hour is held at China 1 Antique Restaurant and Lounge and it's one of the weirder places I've been. When you walk in, it just looks like a small, intimate Chinese restaurant, but with only about three tables and the rest of it bar seating. But when you descend down the narrow staircase in the back, it leads to a maze-like, subterranean space that kind of reminds me of the dungeon in The Silence of the Lambs. The air is heavily perfumed with incense, and the lighting is very dim, except in one brightly lit corner with seating and pillows arranged around a small coffee table. All along the walls are intimate booths where people can have more privacy, most of them with decorative grates attached to the wall that are used for bondage activities (I saw one girl handcuffed to the wall with her hands above her head). Apparently there are a couple of kink parties hosted there each month as well.

The downstairs consists of two large rooms, each about three times the size of the small room upstairs. One room has a DJ station and a fish tank with Chinese goldfish in the middle of the room. One of the booths in that room doesn't have a table, only a high couch or what looks like a small bed for people to cuddle. Apparently my friend Lyndell was snogging somebody in there earlier in the evening, but I heard about it from Kyle. All around the perimeter of the room are padded benches and pillows, and more dark booths.

I met some of my poly friends there in order to start the process of formalizing our new group, called Open Love NY, and discuss the terms of splitting off from Polyamorous NYC. We sat in the brightly lit corner and had our meeting as more people came and started to mingle. Once we settled everything, we brought some new people over and I met several of my friends' friends. Lyndell left with me around 10 pm to head to a karaoke party uptown, and we ran into one of her friends from her theater days on the 14th Street bus. Lyndell got off at Union Square, and I chatted with her friend all the way to Penn Station. He's a gay black man who works by day as a law librarian and at night is part of a troupe of actors doing William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. He has a marvelous speaking voice.

Tonight we went out to celebrate Bee's birthday at Colucci's Ristorante where local personality Uncle Floyd performs each Tuesday night. Part musician, part off-color comedian, he and his friends in the audience put on a show that had all of us in stitches. It's a very old-timey act full of bad jokes and one-liners, but done with so much style and pizzazz that you can't help but laugh.

Tomorrow I have my first real job interview since that last one in Hackensack - this one in the city a block north of Agent K (which is code for my old firm). That means I have to slosh around in the wet weather with my suit and heels on, carrying my portfolio - ugh. Then I'll stay in the city and help out at the PolyNYC meeting at 8 pm. I think with the lack of volunteers now, I've been promoted from chair arranger to door greeter and money taker. I hope I can handle the increased responsibility...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Live music mix

I've been tinkering with my mix of live music for a couple weeks now, and I think I finally have settled on a lineup that works. There's so much good music in my DVD library that I haven't even heard yet that I'm sure this will be a double CD someday, but here's my first disc track listing:

1. Here Comes The Flood by Peter Gabriel (from Growing Up Live DVD)
2. Secret World by Peter Gabriel (from Growing Up Live DVD)
3. Lavender by Marillion (from Strange Bedfellows and Assorted Embarrassments 2)
4. Shadow Of The Day by Linkin Park (from Road to Revolution)
5. Jigga What / Faint by Linkin Park & Jay Z (from Road to Revolution)
6. Head Like A Hole by Nine Inch Nails (from And All That Could Have Been)
7. Open Car by Porcupine Tree (from Arriving Somewhere DVD)
8. Halo by Porcupine Tree (from Arriving Somewhere DVD)
9. One by U2 (from U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle DVD)
10. Hallelujah by Paramore (from The Final RIOT!)
11. Misery Business by Paramore (from The Final RIOT!)
12. Disintegration by The Cure (from Pictures of You CD single)
13. Time Is Running Out by Muse (from Absolution Tour DVD)
14. Take A Bow by Muse (from H.A.A.R.P.)

All of these are live tracks by the artists performing them in concert - some of them were taken from CDs, others from DVDs using the setup I described recently ("Dreams, job hunting and poker" - March 25, 2009). Mostly my criteria was picking music where the artist added something special or significant to the performance that wasn't there on the original studio track, which is the hallmark of a good performer. Here are some comments about each one:

1 and 2 - Peter Gabriel puts on rock concerts that resemble Broadway blockbuster shows. His two DVD concerts, Secret World Live and Growing Up Live, are among the best concert videos in my collection. The first song, Here Comes The Flood, opens the later concert with a heartfelt solo voice and piano, while Secret World is my favorite track, with its pulse-pounding dynamics.

3 - This is the only version of this song I've ever heard, and it's one of Marillion's most beautiful ballads which happens to be a live recording. It's a song Tara shared with me when I was still in Houston and more than any other song here, it reminds me of when we were falling in love.

4 and 5 - The Linkin Park CD/DVD is one of the most exciting, visceral concerts I've seen in a while, with a killer set list. Every song is worth hearing, and they even include three hidden bonus tracks that unlock if you watch the whole DVD. Shadow Of The Day is the first song I heard from them that I liked, maybe because it has a cool U2 vibe, and Jigga What / Faint is an encore with rapper Jay Z that has great energy to wrap up the show.

6 - This song I threw in at the last minute. It's an old song from 1989, on an album I used to own, Pretty Hate Machine, the debut album of Nine Inch Nails. But this live version of this classic song hits so much harder than the studio version.

7 and 8 - Taken from Porcupine Tree's only available concert DVD, Open Car includes an extra bridge verse that Tara says makes the album version unlistenable to her now. The live version of Halo showcases more of Gavin Harrison, two-time winner of Modern Drummer's Drummer of the Year award.

9 - The story goes that while recording the album Achtung Baby, Bono and the Edge wanted to go for a more electronic sound, while Adam and Larry wanted to stick to their rock roots. Edge came up with a riff that turned into this song, which saved the band from breaking up. U2's concert filmed at Slane Castle in Ireland is my favorite of the half-dozen U2 concerts in my collection, and with this song they added additional verses at the end that improve on the already-stellar studio version.

10 and 11 - Compared to the other artists on this list Paramore is definitely a lightweight act being so young and inexperienced, but I liked the way they covered Leonard Cohen's classic Hallelujah as an intro to their own song of the same name. But of course, Jeff Buckley's version still reigns supreme. While Misery Business is not one of my favorite tunes, it was one of their better performances, and both songs have not appeared on any of my previous mixes, so I made space for them.

12 - Disintegration is one of my all-time favorite albums, and this title track was taken from a CD single of Pictures of You, a song that reminds me of Agnieszka Prime. By stepping up the tempo and intensity, the band dramatically improves on the album version of this song.

13 and 14 - Time Is Running Out was the first song I ever heard from Muse, and I didn't like it right away, but it grew on me. This was the version I heard, taken from the special edition of the Black Holes and Revelations CD which included a concert DVD filmed in Glastonbury. For this one song, I liked their performance on this DVD, but in every other way, the H.A.A.R.P. concert DVD from Wembley Stadium blows it away. Take A Bow was the show's closing number, and I love the way it crescendos to such a tremendous climax at the end. You've probably heard the song recently used in movie trailers for the film Watchmen, which I thought was very appropriate.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Successful day

It's been quite an exciting day on the national, local and personal levels for me today. First of all, on the national level, today Iowa became the third state to legalize same-sex marriage and the first in the Midwest to do so. It was a unanimous 7-0 decision by the Iowa Supreme Court to uphold the equal protection provision of Iowa's state constitution to include same-sex marriage as equal to heterosexual marriage. There's a rally tonight at Union Square that I would totally attend if I lived in the city.

On the local front, I've been working on promoting an appearance by Katelynn, the transgender cast member of MTV's The Real World: Brooklyn, and spoke to her by phone today. She's on a national tour of college campuses and I caught up to her in Pennsylvania. We spoke for about 15 minutes about her presentation on May 20 at the Polyamorous NYC meeting, and her experience with the media. After we hung up I informed the Board that we'd finally made contact and confirmed her appearance. I drafted a couple of announcements that will be posted in the LGBT Center's monthly newsletter and Web site and sent them out for review. I'm looking forward to meeting her next month, and we have a lot of work to do to promote her talk in the next few weeks.

On the personal front, I landed the interview with the agency I submitted the writing test for, and thankfully, they want to see me on April 15, the same day as the next PolyNYC meeting in the city. So that works out great for me since I'll already be planning to be in the city. It would be fantastic if I got this job - since it's only a block away from my old office, I wouldn't have to change my commute at all.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Fantasy books and movies

I am really excited about the news that my favorite fictional character, Anita Blake, is going to star in an original television movie on the IFC channel, according to this press release. Of course I'd prefer if she got the big budget of a theater release, but maybe that will come later. Something to look forward to for next year anyway.

In other book and video news, I just finished Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire this morning and loved it - it made me cry at the end. I ran out this afternoon and checked out the DVD from the library and I'll watch it tonight when it gets dark. I also finished Annette Curtis Clause's werewolf tale Blood and Chocolate yesterday while sitting in the hair salon and it was better than I expected it to be so I'll watch that on DVD soon as well.

I've also been itching to dive back into Neil Gaiman's epic Sandman series and finally finish the four gorgeous Absolute editions sitting on my shelf. Reading Absolute editions is like watching movies on my big screen - it makes it hard to read or watch things in smaller sizes. Since I'm not ready to tackle that reading project yet (I intend to read them concurrently with The Sandman Companion) I'm going to start with another series I've been collecting, John Ney Rieber's The Books of Magic series.

This series continues the original story of the same name penned by Neil Gaiman and I've owned Volumes 5 through 7 for a while now, but only read Gaiman's book and the first volume of Rieber's series. Last night I placed an order for Volumes 1, 2 and 4, and the original issues that make up Volume 3 (because the trade paperback is out of print and extremely rare). So I'll have the first seven books to read and decide if I want to continue collecting them. If they are as good as Mike Carey's Lucifer series then I'll definitely like them.

I kissed a girl

Only two weeks until Polina comes back. I like this song so much better than Katy Perry's song of the same title. Click on the link below to hear it.
I Kissed A Girl - Jill Sobule

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Fire anniversary

I went to see Monsters vs. Aliens in 3-D with my family at the freebie movie theater on Tuesday. Bee had an unexpected day off so we saw the early show at 2:30 in the afternoon. It was a fun movie, and I remembered from watching Coraline to wear my contact lenses so I didn't have to wear two pairs of glasses. There was one annoying child sitting behind us that we had to shush repeatedly, and for some reason, another child came up behind me during the movie and touched my hair, which startled me. I'm sure they didn't mean any harm by it though.

It was a soggy day in the city today, but at least the rain was light. I got my writing test done - one part was to write a press release for 3M announcing the development of Post-It Notes as if it were invented today. The position they are recruiting for is Director/Managing Supervisor for the New York office of a PR firm based in Minneapolis, MN. It's an impressive title, at least. We'll see if I get an interview next week, probably.

Afterwards I went down to Chinatown for my hair salon appointment for the first haircut I've had in almost a year. I also got my coloring done so that it's again close to my natural color with a little bit of red highlight for texture. I might go for something a little more daring once I get a job because my stylist - Edison - likes to experiment on me and I've generally been very pleased with the results.

Finally, I will also mark today as the fourth anniversary of the April 1, 2005 house fire that was the catalyst for so much change in my life, including my move from Houston to New Jersey. We don't often have events where we feel like we're given a second chance at life, but this was one of those close calls. As it turned out, no one was hurt and the disaster gave me the fresh start that I was secretly hoping for, and I think I've made the most of it.