Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either. For solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth.
You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up.
So, this is my life.
And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
it's almost that time of year again for those among us who are chronic movers: time to start apartment hunting. i've lived in four apartments during my five years in Philadelphia, and soon i'll be living in my fifth. it's a lot of hassle, but i love moving. i love the newness and change more than i love the ease of staying put. i know, i owe some of you a huge apology for all the CHANGE OF ADDRESS mass e-mails you've received over the years.
this time around, though, the apartment hunt is less fun and more stressful than usual. life is full of uncertainties right now -- not only for me, but also for my roommate Shaunice. i'm job-hunting, and she's hoping to transfer to a different school. where will we want to live in three months? how much money will we be able to spend on an apartment? add to this our list of requisite luxuries: absolutely must have in-apartment laundry; separate bathrooms, definitely; nice kitchen is a must, as we love to cook. good thing we're not on a budget -- oh, wait.
throughout this anxiety- and uncertainty-filled process, i can't help but think back on apartment-hunting in my younger days. back then, life was nothing but uncertainties and poverty, but i never let that stop me.
in the Summer of 2002, my best friend D and i decided that we absolutely needed to live together in Pittsburgh, where neither of us was going to college. i found an unpaid internship in the city, and she had no job. so what! we knew love would find a way. we found a beautiful but tiny studio on a quiet street in Pittsburgh, and we went for it without hesitation.
we spent that gloriously happy summer living together in a sublet studio apartment, dorm-style, with two double beds (futons, actually!) pressed up against one another. the place had no air conditioning, so we bought a few fans. we had barely any money for groceries, so we ate tater tots and ranch dressing daily. we sang each other to sleep at night and spied on naked neighbors through mini binoculars. and we were the happiest kids in town. what's money got to do with it?
the next summer was a little easier, since each of us was able to line up a part-time retail job in Pittsburgh. we were able to afford an air-conditioned, one-bedroom apartment, which we sublet from a nice Indian couple who didn't believe in furniture or curtains or vacuuming. when i toured the place i felt certain that, with my professional-grade cleaning skills, i would be able to wash the smell of curry out of the walls and carpet. i was wrong, and for an entire summer, D and i smelled like samosas. adding to the stench in our humble one-bedroom hut, our diet that summer consisted of primarily tuna salad sandwiches and Miller Lite, as we were finally both 21 years old but still very poor.
while i still get excited about moving, apartment hunting isn't quite as easy these days. Shaunice and i are no longer in college, and we're closer to 30 than we are to 20 years old. since she has a pretty serious boyfriend, i guess we should insist upon separate bedrooms, rather than trying to fit our two queen beds into one room. but maybe we don't need a luxurious two-bathroom loft with our own laundry. maybe we don't need a gym and a conference center in the lobby. maybe we could get by sharing a happy little place we can afford, with Miller Lite and tater tots in the fridge.
this afternoon Shaunice and i have our first apartment visit of the hunting season. i'm going to try to remind myself that some of the happiest days of my life were spent living in cramped, dirty apartments with a dear friend and a world of uncertainty.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
And poses for pictures that aren't being taken.
I loved you.
Grey sweatpants. No makeup. So perfect.
Our love was comfortable and
She's perfect, so flawless.
I'm not impressed.
I want you back.
today i rediscovered one of my forgotten favorite songs.
in a fit of job search related anxiety, i decided that i should be listening to soothing music while i search. i get tired of the music on my iPod/iTunes, which i listen to every day all day; for that reason, i sought out an obsolete alternative for my therapeutic purposes: the old compact disc collection, stored in a dusty trapper-keeper looking folder i've had since high school.
nothing is soothing me more today than vintage, pre-douchebag John Mayer. before the tattoos and the Twatter posts. back then, he just looked like he had anemia or hadn't slept in weeks. i was so in love with tired, sweet John Mayer.
his early music takes me back to Pittsburgh circa 2002. takes me back to cruising down the highway in my sweet little green Jetta, with my 6-disc changer and my sun roof wide open. big ballin', baby. he really was (is?) a fantastic lyricist, like early Dashboard. i used to get lost in these albums...
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Towleroad posted the transcript of a mind-numbing and frustrating discussion, held on Larry King Live this week, between lesbian Christian rock singer Jennifer Knapp and an Evangelical church pastor who blogged about, and preached to his congregation about, how far poor little Knapp hath strayed from the flock.
the discussion is long, and it makes me want to tear my eyelashes out (did you know that's a legit psychological disorder? Google it!), and it's all here if you want to read it. Larry King was pretty fun and had some good discussion-starters, including one about eating shellfish. according to the pastor, the Lord "changed his mind" about shellfish, but NOT about gayfish!!!
you can read it before bed if you care to do so; for now, here's just one of the fun parts:
LARRY KING: Pastor, I'll have her respond and we'll let you talk it with each other. But a question that puzzles, you said choice, that she made a choice. Did you make a choice for heterosexuality?
PASTOR BOTSFORD: I did.
KING: Why did you that?
BOTSFORD: I fell in love with a gal I was dating in San Diego.
KING: But you made a choice to date a girl.
BOTSFORD: Well, I made a choice, first of all, to follow --
KING: How did you know you liked women?
BOTSFORD: How did I --
KING: How did you know?
BOTSFORD: I just --
KING: If she likes girls --
KING: -- how did you know you didn't like boys romantically? How did you know you liked women?
BOTSFORD: Well, I just personally knew that first of all that I did. I naturally knew that I did.
so apparently this christianist pastor got to make that pivotal choice between being homosexual or heterosexual. lucky him! that means that i must have made that choice at -- hm.... let me think -- age 3 or 4?
goddamnit... i wish i had chosen correctly, as did Pastor Bottfock, but alas! i chose to be the only gay in the village. i chose to subject myself to a decade and a half of bullying, self-hatred, repression, and even a few years of depression.
jesus h. christ! what was i thinking??
in related news, i pre-ordered Jennifer Knapp's upcoming album, Letting Go, on iTunes. hopefully Jennifer's letting go of her affection for the hateful christianist church that no longer wants her singing in their impressionable daughters' ears.
Friday, April 23, 2010
every now and then in the life of a single person, the stars align, god smiles down, and a remarkable thing happens: the third date.
they're rare, and often a lot of time passes between them, but when they finally happen, third dates can quickly restore a weary person's faith in dating. of course the first date can be fun (or horrible), and if a second date ever happens, it can be very exciting (or your chance to dodge a bullet you didn't see coming on the first date). the third, however... well, the third feels totally different. i think there are two reasons for the shift: confidence and comfort.
if a third date happens, he must actually like you. oh, and you must like him, too. wow! when was the last time that happened? after the first two dates, you could've called it even. you each fulfilled your end of the bargain. you gave it a shot, and you might've even bought him dinner to thank him for the first date (and because that's the best way to ask someone on a second date, in my experience: "Oh, thank you. You didn't have to get that. I owe you dinner. This weekend?"). there's no obligation; if you're going out a third time, you can rest assured that there's mutual interest. so the third date finds you feeling much more confident. whatever you did to lure him in, it worked. in other words, you've still got it!
in my experience, the third date is much more comfortable than the first and second. i'm not being redundant here; i don't mean it's psychologically comfortable due to your confidence. i mean that it's often physically comfortable and more casual. in fact, i prefer the third date to include a couch and a movie, not necessarily in that order if the movie happens to be in a theater. but i insist upon the couch -- preferably my own -- afterward.
by the third date, you've hopefully determined that he's not a serial killer ("Wait, your date tonight is named John Gacy? Did you ask his middle name?") and you are probably ready to let him know where you live, what kind of wine you keep in the house, and how nice your package is. your cable package, i mean! HBO is slightly expensive, but it's worth it for lazy nights spent at home. it's far cheaper per month than the movie tickets you'd be buying after your spendthrift attitude of the first few dates wears off. not to mention True Blood.
also by the third date, you hopefully should feel comfortable enough to trade the impossibly tight Rock & Republics for a nice, but maybe less flattering, pair of old, worn-in jeans. this will make it a lot easier to eat something delicious, which gets us to the next part of a good third date.
i don't want to give away too many of my tricks here, but i'll add that i try to remember Cher's rule: when a guy comes over, you should always have something baking. her cookies didn't work out very well, and i avoid them because they're too much work. you can't spend quality time on the couch with someone you'd like to get to know better if you're busy in the kitchen. a previously prepared dip is always good, in my experience. bruschetta works (skip the garlic). i've also had great success with Irish coffee made with real whipped cream from scratch back in the winter.
so last night, it all came together for me. it was the perfect third date. there was wine, there were really great homemade (*by the nice people at Whole Foods) burgers, and there was a comfortable couch. i know, right? i'm a charmer.
there's just one risk associated with the confident, comfortable third date: the object of your affection might just fall asleep on the couch before you have a chance to impress him with your cable package. mine sure did...
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
some days i feel like i'm in limbo. i tell people i'm "between jobs" and "between relationships." what i feel, though, is that i'm between episodes of my own life. how absurd, right? but we all do it, and we've done it all our lives.
we spend so much time just waiting for our lives to begin. just think of the years we've spent telling ourselves we just have to get over this one hurdle, obtain this next degree, get this certain job, meet a certain type of person, live a certain life -- THEN life will have begun.
we constantly view life as just over the next hill, but it's not over the next hill or hurdle or achievement. it's now. life is everything in between. it's the degree we're working on, the assignment we're trying to finish, the job we hate, break-up we're trying to get over.
if we're waiting for life to begin, we're missing the train. i'm missing the train.
P.S. do you know how hard it was for me to refrain from quoting John Lennon in this post?
Sunday, April 18, 2010
GQ's Spring Guide to Dressing for Less shares a tidbit to which i can fully relate: designer stud and now director Tom Ford cuts his own hair. boo-yah!
The famously fastidious, controlling, luxury-obsessed fashion designer has been trimming his own for fifteen years. "Two things I can't stand," he says. "Standing there and getting my suits tailored, and sitting still and having someone cut my hair." Ford doesn't use scissors; he relies on a pair of Wahl electric clippers he bought at the drugstore.
Not that we're calling Tom an idiot, but the clippers are idiotproof. Thanks to attachable plastic guards, lengths are standardized and nicks aren't an issue. Ford uses an 8 on top, 7 on the sides, and while holding a mirror in his free hand, a 6 on the back. We might suggest asking your girlfriend to handle the neckline. That is, of course, if you trust her.
at any rate, i haven't let another person cut my hair since i paid $40 for a simple buzz cut in Pittsburgh back in 2005 and said, "ENOUGH! i can do it myself!"
*also -- sorry that pic above is a little bit gratuitous, but if you Google image Tom, most of the results are pretty risque. so, yeah, that's what i'll be doing for the next half hour or so.
oh and - um - other than the bit i'm sharing here, the article basically just says to wear colorful boat shoes and buy tight clothes that you love, even if they're esspensive, because you'll wear them a long time. that about sums it up. GQ thinks nobody ever gains weight or weighs more than a 140-lb Burberry model.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
A few times in my life, I’ve had moments of absolute clarity, when for a few brief seconds the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think… And things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh.
I can never make these moments last. I cling to them, but like everything, they fade. I have lived for these moments. They pull me back to the present, and I realize that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
i was gone for a minute.
now i'm back.
i needed to escape my life and my city for a little while. i needed some peace and quiet. needed some time to think. needed a break from my social circles. fortunately, i have access to the perfect place for this type of escape.
nestled in the hills of Amish country, surrounded by fields and trees, and far enough from civilization that cell phones are unreliable and the most expensive internet is painfully slow, my parents' farm sits waiting with open arms for a weary escapee like myself.
if land had a voice, i think our land would sound like James Earl Jones. it quiets you, soothes you, tells you to hush. the land cradles you as you walk along deer paths through the forest (AKA the backyard) and as you lie in the grass and stare up.
today i awoke at home in Philadelphia feeling centered and refreshed. back to reality. i'm glad i got away, and by tomorrow maybe i'll feel glad to be back here.
Friday, April 9, 2010
this was the most fascinating piece in the collection:
and, yeah, it's not even Picasso's work. it's Dali's boiled bean construction something or other. it depicts the havoc wrought upon Spain by civil war. maybe that's not as accurate as i could state it, but that's how i'd explain it after listening to the soothing British voices (none of that Cockney shit!) speaking to me through my museum headset.
i don't even want to know how many other people have worn those earphones. ick. i found a grey hair on mine. at least old people are clean. sterile, even. but i digress...
while the subject of the painting is gruesome and ugly, it's quite beautiful up close. somehow in the early 20th century, SD was able to paint an almost 3D light on his paintings. as you stand in front of the piece, the sky behind that monster actually glows. i thought, for a second, that the glow was a strange effect of the PMA lighting, but it was just the paint.
what Dali has to do with Picasso, i still don't know. the Brits didn't whisper that explanation into my ear, unfortunately.
i guess i'm hereby recommending that you go to the PICASSO exhibit (which leaves town April 25th) so that you can see Salvador Dali's work.
i found myself thinking, as i heard it over tinny retail speakers, not so much about how sweet a song it is, but rather about how great a video accompanies it.
i LOVE this video.
the mix of pain and contentment in this song (with or without, but it's stronger with, the video) is so real and personal. i imagine we can all be sympathetic to Gwen's "i'm happy for you, but it still hurts to see --" expression. i've been there. it really is bittersweet.
where is the line between loving someone so much that you want that person to be yours alone, versus loving someone so much that you want that person, whether yours or someone else's, to be his or her happiest?
i, for one, have trouble with that line. i don't want an ex to hold onto our relationship if there's no future, but it hurts so much to see, or even think of, him with someone else.
i just want to get to the point where, after all that we've been through, i know we're cool.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
the gritty, crime-filled streets of The City of Brotherly Love* have never looked more lovely than they do today.
some bright summer sunshine, along with a nice breeze, made it a perfect day for three friends to sit in the park with snacks and milkshakes (i only had a few sips! i swear!). reading. chatting.
i don't know how anybody finds time to work a full-time job.
*TRIVIA TIME: do you know where the name "The City of Brotherly Love" came from?
ANSWER: no, you don't. that's what William Penn called Philadelphia, because he envisioned the city as a place where people of all colors and backgrounds could live together in peace and harmony. after learning that, i Googled statistics about Philly's murder and other crime rates. i won't be sharing them in this post, as i want you to enjoy my lovely photograph above. look at the photo i took. look at it now.
good day to you.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
m'gurl Chelsea got a slightly nasty yet somehow mostly rave review on Slate the other day, and i just have to share.
the title of the article is, "Chelsea Handler: The drunken-slattern shtick is very watchable" setting the mood at FUN right off the bat.
* * *
Here's the vibe: Imagine Handler hungoverish at the 10-items-or-less counter at Safeway, swinging her basket of goods—a home pregnancy test, a Boston cream pie, a handle of designer booze—up to the conveyor belt. She snatches a glossy tabloid from the rack for a greedy eyeful of hot-pink messes. Sniping aloud at the tackiness within with vulgarity in kind, she rolls her eyes so hard that she gags as she slaps enough magazines on the conveyor belt so that now she's buying 12 items. She swipes her platinum card with a contemptuous gesture.
Handler claims to be 35 and looks at least 40, which is part of her appeal. She seems old enough to have been around and to know better. About her appetites she is frank, unrepentant, and semi-self-loathing. She wants a second dessert, a sixth drink, a Vicodin if you've got one—and what her drunken slattern shtick lacks in novelty, it more than compensates for by way of pungency. One imagines that her core constituencies include sarcastic young flaming homosexuals and jaded sorority dropouts with treatable self-esteem issues.
* * *
at that point in the article, i stopped to wonder: am i a sarcastic young flaming homosexual (the author obviously hates commas) or a jaded sorority dropout with treatable self-esteem issues? hmmm... it's a toss-up.
hat tip: Kimmy Sue.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
today i donated a big box of books to a local charity that re-sells used books. those of you who know me well, or who have read this blog for a while, won't be surprised to hear that this was difficult for me. i love my books. i re-read some of them over and over again. some of my books are among my most prized possessions.
so today when i handed over a box of almost 30 of them, it felt like i was losing something dear to me. it felt like losing a child -- except, since i made a thoughtful decision about each book that i gave up, i guess it was more like having an abortion, or putting a child i don't really like up for adoption.
i feel really good about my book abortion. i made some difficult but well-reasoned choices. a compulsive book hoarder, i had to finally be honest with myself about which books i would re-read at some point in the future. some books, though enjoyable reads, are simply not worthy of a re-read, no matter how bored i might be in the future. every Nicholas Sparks novel i am embarrassed to have owned fits into this category, and they're now in a better place.
on the other hand, i had to keep several books on my shelf even though i didn't enjoy them the first time around: books like Kerouac's "On The Road" and Joyce's "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man."
i didn't feel any connection to these books when i read them, despite wanting to get them and enjoy them. i decided to keep the books, among several others, with the hope that they'll speak to me differently the next time i pick them up.
after my book drop-off, i continued my Humanitarian of the Year tour by donating a huge IKEA bag full of gently worn clothing to The Salvation Army. but i don't want to tell you about that right now because i fear that your praise and admiration will fill my blog with too many comments. of course i appreciate the feedback, but i don't want Blogger.com to crash. once again, i'm so selfless...
but seriously now. all of my amazing acts of philanthropy are just another step in my quest to be more mindful, which i mentioned last week. for me, an important part of being present and mindful is letting go of clutter and unnecessary STUFF. it's amazing how STUFF, be it an item of clothing or a book, can carry with it vivid memories and lingering emotions.
i have a few more closets to clean out as the month continues.
Friday, April 2, 2010
so as i went about my day, i thought about what a GCB i used to be and about how far i've strayed. i decided to be sensitive and mindful throughout the day, looking for god all around me. i should do so every day, because it's a very nice perspective from which to view the world around you.
i'll add that it's probably much easier on a perfectly lovely Spring day. maybe even easier in a place like picturesque New Hope, where i spent the day wandering the streets, eating unhealthily, and taking in the sunshine. as i did so, i found god all around me:
- waking up early after a good night's sleep with all the windows wide open.
- Mr. Finch all up in my grill and purring like crazy. that almost never happens.
- the little boys feeding potato chips to the uninterested ducks and explaining to mom that the ducks really do prefer chips over bread crumbs.
- the pub that was crowded at 11 AM and had the best selection of sandwiches and burgers. and fried things. mmm fried things...
- the gaggle of old trannies dressed up like they were going to church. i think they were having a say-something hat day! bless their hearts.
- the very slight sunburn i got, like a kiss from Jesus, welcoming me to Spring after a long, snowy, and vacationless (read: ghostly pale) winter.
- listening to a friend's relationship woes and realizing that, for better or for worse, i have no comparable complaints -- for the first time in a long time.
- arriving home to some pretty great mail for the second time in a week. thanks, mr. postman! i love you too!
in related news, my personal goal/quest for April is to be more mindful as i go about my days and weeks. more on that later.