Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Tara

Today is Tara’s birthday. I wish I could celebrate it with her, but the best I can do is honor and remember the times we had together.

The girl who sits across from me at work asked me today what part of Texas I hail from.

Houston, I said, and I’m going back there for a 10-day work assignment starting tomorrow.

No trace of an accent, she said.

That’s because I had to re-learn how to talk a few years ago, I said.

Then fortunately the group conversation steered elsewhere before I was asked to elaborate. Anyone who’s been to my office knows how open it is, and I don’t really like coming out to people en masse.

Days like today, I think about the process of how I reinvent myself every day, and how I have been doing it continuously for the past five years so that I don’t even realize I’m doing it anymore. I pick up new things from everything I come in contact with, analyze, filter and decide if it’s something I want to use. Almost every thought that runs through my head, I can trace back to an experience or person from the past five years. Most of it comes from Tara and her family, a lot comes from Puck, some from Bonnie and Hiba, and a little from other friends and co-workers. Very, very little remains from my old life and the people who were in it, except for what I choose to keep from my professional life.

I haven’t felt much like writing this past week because it’s been so crazy at work with all the nuclear kerfuffle, but there’s really not much to tell. Friday night I went to my friend Lyndell’s birthday party and listened to erotic poetry readings. I’ve been spending a lot of time with Puck on weekends, and they gave me a huge surprise when I returned home last Thursday night to find them at the apartment with dinner on the stove. My arcade joystick came in, plus my second PS3 controller, but I haven’t had much time to use them.

Yesterday Puck and I drove down to Hazlet, NJ in a red Mini Clubman Zipcar for Ryan and Beth’s engagement party. We came back and went to Gamestop to buy some PS3 games, then to the movies to see Suckerpunch, which was just okay.

Engagement party

I feel like there’s some tension in our relationship, but I can’t really say why. Things are fine on the surface, but we are a bit overdue for a serious check-in. Maybe when I get back from Houston in a couple weeks.

I’m rather looking forward to my Houston trip tomorrow. It will be nice to have a change of scenery at work, and after my trip in November, I’ll feel less anxious about stepping back into that environment. I’m looking forward to all the great food I’m going to eat, going to the Rothko Chapel again, and best of all, a co-worker in Houston got me a floor ticket to see a Houston Rockets basketball game in the Toyota Center - I hope Tim Duncan doesn’t dive on top of me going for a loose ball!

I’m not planning to see anybody from my past except for Linda, my former TxDOT co-worker and current pen pal, who is more involved with me in the present than she ever was in my past, so I don’t really count her as someone from my past. Best to keep the past where it belongs. Not to say I don’t still miss Tara and Bonnie, especially on anniversaries like today, but I wish them both only the best for whatever life has to offer.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Perfect days

I was thinking today about perfect days in my life. You know, those days where plans go right, when amazing things happen, that you remember for a long time. Focusing on living in the moment to me means that when those wonderful moments occur, you can be fully present in them.

Sunday was close to perfect. I made fried egg sandwiches on jalapeno cheese bread with a side of tabouli for breakfast. I sat in the playpen and read a couple chapters of “Winter’s Tale.” I watched Sherlock Holmes and the making of the movie. I played some Street Fighter 4 on my new PS3. In the evening I took a short walk around Times Square, then went over to Magnolia Bakery at Rockefeller Center to get some banana pudding. Then I stopped at a food cart to get some lamb over rice and went home to eat dinner. It was one of the most peaceful days I’ve had in a while.

Truly perfect days are rare. The last one I recall was the last day of the staycation in August with Bonnie, when we went to the Met and won front-row tickets to see “Wicked”. The one before that was Poly Pride in October 2009, when Kerry joined Puck and me to celebrate our first anniversary ("Poly Pride 2009" - October 13, 2009)

The night I met Tara and her family for the first time, after IMing with her for over a year – despite all the logistics of missing my flight and being delayed by awful weather – it turned out to be absolutely perfect, like the ending of Sleepless in Seattle ("Third anniversary" - October 14, 2008). And Samhain 2008 with Tara was pretty awesome too ("Samhain at the Met" - October 31, 2008)

Back when I kept my old journal after college, I used to rate special days on a 10-point scale. I remember having a few close to perfect days with my friend Pearl, 8.9 or 9.0 on the scale. I always marvel at the perfect timing that she became such a big part of my life when I needed her most (after Agnieszka Prime left town), giving me the uncomplicated and pure friendship that only a child can give. Just hanging out with her, running errands, buying Shipley’s donuts – being together made everything fun, and without the heaviness that sometimes comes with adult relationships.

There have been a lot of days that are more significant, filled with adventure; or fun days when cool stuff happens. I don’t mean to discount the importance of days like getting a new job or doing good work, but what I have to do for a living doesn’t factor into my idea of a perfect day. For me, perfect days are a combination of excitement and peace, and strike a balance between what I think I want and what I really need. And they usually have to involve someone I love, platonically or otherwise.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Another quiet weekend

It's been another wonderfully quiet and peaceful weekend. I did a lot of reading, mostly Winter's Tale, and I'm about halfway through now. I'm also liking Avril Lavigne's new album, "Goodbye Lullaby." Even though her voice can be a little grating sometimes, she has some good songwriting chops.

Friday I went out to Best Buy and bought a Sony Playstation 3, something I've been meaning to do for a while so I can play my Blu-Ray movies, and they were offering a $50 gift card with purchase. I got Gran Turismo 5, a car racing simulator, and Street Fighter 4, the modern version of my favorite game, Street Fighter II Turbo on the Super Nintendo system, several generations ago in the days of 16-bit console games. So this weekend I've been trying out the PS3, getting to know how it works, playing the games and watching special features of my Blu-Ray discs (Eclipse, Coraline and Beauty and the Beast) that I haven't been able to access until now.

There's something going on in Times Square this weekend because I keep hearing 80s music like Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" out the window. Nivea has these huge stages set up, but when I went out to look this evening they were empty. Maybe people are getting worked up for St. Patrick's Day this coming week.

It's been a couple quiet weekends in a row, but that's good because the next two weeks are busy. Poly Cocktails tomorrow night, Poly Women's Group on Tuesday, and this coming weekend is Purim, so Puck and I will be getting into costume once more and going to an event with their family. Then the following Tuesday is Open Love NY, and that weekend is Ryan and Beth's engagement party, so they will be coming back for that too. Thankfully, after a weekend of home cooking, they are feeling better now, and it turned out not to be strep throat after all.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lashes and cash

Just a few random thoughts today, ranging from the very significant to the completely trivial.

Starting with the significant – I got a nice review at work this week, which led to a pay raise and an annual bonus. The pay raise is just enough (after taxes) to cover my rent increase, so that’s a wash. The bonus, however, is sizable enough to buy a brand-new compact car (although taxes will take a big chunk of that), so that’s a welcome addition to my bank account. If Nearing continues to be successful and I continue to perform well, I should have enough to put a down payment on a permanent dwelling in a few years. Or maybe I can finally take that trip to Italy I’ve been thinking about. But for now, it gives me an extra cushion in case I find myself unemployed again.

In the past, when I got a raise, I’d take my family out to celebrate at Harold’s – that was our tradition. But somehow I just don’t feel much like celebrating, even though it’s a huge paycheck and I’m certainly happy and grateful. Maybe I’m just not living in the moment on this one, or maybe I just don’t want to get too excited and buy something stupid.

But the thing about me and money is that having a lot of it doesn't really make me want to buy things I didn't already want. I'd much rather spend it taking someone out to dinner or an event, be it a movie, concert or show. It almost always makes me happier to spend money with someone than on myself. But unfortunately, Puck is sick and they are probably not up for celebrating this weekend.

I went out to see “The Adjustment Bureau” with my friend Angel tonight. She came directly to the theater from dinner where she just broke up with her girlfriend of two months (they met on New Year's Eve). The movie was pretty good, but you have to be a hopeless romantic to really enjoy it. Unfortunately, not everyone in the theater was in that kind of space, so the spell that was being cast often got interrupted by sarcastic and cynical comments, snickering or outright groaning. But for someone who believes in love, there are powerful moments in this film, and it really does make you think about the nature of love and destiny.

The weight loss has been slowing lately, but that's to be expected. I've dropped 20 pounds and haven't gained any back yet. I'm eating a lot more fruit lately, taking apples and oranges from work home to have with dinner. I generally eat some blueberries or grapes with my lunch too, which is usually salad.

I'm also wearing mascara everyday now too. I used to hate wearing it, but now that I've kinda made it a habit and gotten used to it, it's doing wonders for my lashes. I always envied Tara's long, full lashes, and it's because she's been wearing mascara since she was a child, whereas I didn't touch any kind of makeup until only five years ago. I'm using Clinique's lash building primer and mascara, and I apply it on the train every morning on my way to work.

As you can see on my GoodReads window, I got some new graphic novels - the new Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter by Laurell K. Hamilton, Echo: Black Hole by Terry Moore, and the third volume of Madame Xanadu, a Vertigo title. I'm also still trying to finish Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale before the weather gets too warm.

Anyway, enough rambling. I'm so ready for a quiet, relaxing weekend.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Sex dream

Had an interesting sex dream last night, unusual since I only got about four hours of sleep. I was invited to a party by a female friend. We entered a large open space that was filled with people who were all laying on mats having sex with each other. It looked like a yoga studio of sex.

She was showing me an app on a smart phone related to this party where we could make a suggested donation for attending, so I contributed $20. We laid down on an empty mat and she got on top of me. And while the physical sensations were nice, I remember feeling ill at ease, like I couldn’t really let myself go. I don’t think it was because of anything to do with her (in real life I’m not really attracted to her); I think it was more that, after Bonnie, I’m feeling a little gun-shy when it comes to sex.

Totally random note – I saw this show called “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” and it had a recipe I wanted to try for beer nuts that are served at a bar near Union Square. You take a can of plain mixed nuts and put them on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes until they are really hot. Mix in a large bowl a stick of butter, brown sugar, sea salt, ground cayenne pepper and fresh sprigs of rosemary. Pour the hot nuts in and stir to melt the butter and mix the ingredients. Very simple recipe and it sounds delicious.

Life is pretty routine at the moment, but there are still simple pleasures to be had. Yesterday I left work early to attend the OLNY leadership meeting, so it was the first time in months that I’ve left work in full sunlight. I was standing out on the train platform, and it was a moderately windy day, and very dry. The smell of the air reminded me of fall outings with my family, hiking in the forests, visiting pumpkin patches. The sun warmed my skin while the air was cold and the wind was bracing.

It felt good to be alive.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011


As readers know, lately Puck has changed their preferred pronoun to reflect their genderqueer status, and I’ve been slowly learning to use gender-neutral pronouns when referring to them.

So I asked them last night if they still wanted me to refer to them as my girlfriend. Interestingly, they didn’t really mind that because for some reason, they can hear me saying they are my girlfriend without thinking of themself as a girl. However, in order for me to reinforce the usage of gender-neutral pronouns, it’s helpful for me to use something other than “girlfriend” to describe them, because when I think of girlfriend I can’t help but assign gender to that role. It’s not unheard of to de-gender a previously gendered word (e.g. “guys” is now pretty gender-neutral when used in direct address) but “girl” is still pretty strongly gendered toward the feminine, at least in my mind.

So I’ve been thinking of what else we might call one another to describe our relationship to other people, especially those in the mundy (mundane, or non-queer) world, where girlfriend has a clear meaning depending on how you emphasize it, and can also provide ambiguity if needed (although we are both pretty out to everyone).

While “significant other” is also appropriate and accurate, it’s kind of unwieldy and technical. “Partner” seems to imply a more serious and interdependent relationship than we currently have, since most mundys think queer people use that to describe their marriage partner, whether legal or not.

Two years ago we were "affectionate friends" (which seems inadequate to describe us now), or in an amitiĆ© amoureuse (“in-love friendship”) which is probably still applicable, but too difficult for everyday use. "Lovers" implies a more serious and sexual pairing than we currently have. "Sweethearts" is probably the most useful and accurate word to describe us, although they probably prefer the short form, "sweeties." I like the more formal version, maybe because it sounds so charmingly old-fashioned.

Most of this is just mental masturbation because it's not like it matters to anyone really, other than helping me adjust to them being genderqueer. We both know what our relationship is and what it means to us - the rest is just semantics.