November 29, 2003
While not as popular as its Spring cousin, the extra days around Thanksgiving are a wonderful time to get your life in order before it all goes to shit until after New Year's. In keeping with this, I decided to straighten up one aspect of my life that's been in shambles for quite some time: my graduate education. (Here's a tip, if you're working on an MFA, you should just do it all in one fell swoop and don't decide to start working full time while you only have three credits and a thesis to defend standing in your way because one day you'll wake up and it'll be four year later and you'll still be paying Sallie Mae for a degree you don't yet hold). So I'm meeting with my thesis advisor in a couple of weeks to see what can be done about getting my degree at long last. It's been a sore subject for many of my friends and family. Mainly because whenever they would bring it up I would lash out in anger at them for being so nosy and tell them that I'd finish it if and when I wanted to thankyouverymuch and if they kept on that track I'd push them under the gawddamn bed (another tip: the surest way to get me not to do something is to nag me, the stubborn Irish Leo, about it).
So I decided that the thing to do would be to get my poems in order. Sadly, most of the files were stuck on a hard drive that was two computers ago. Glenn helped me hook it up this morning (I believe there was some sort of a crank involved to get it running) and I tracked down most of them. In doing that I found two things that made me smile uncontrollably.
One is something that I wrote for an assignment where we had to write in couplets. An example we were given was this Robert Herrick poem that can best be described as phallocentric.
For my contribution, I submitted the following response:
with apologies to Robert Herrick
You seem to think I care to know
how, nightly, more than gardens grow.
I'm sorry, but I fail to see
why your vine should interest me.
I have a vine that's all my own,
(though it’s been weeks since it has grown).
As I'm no virgin and have no time,
I cannot find your words sublime.
I know your lines no longer work—
trust me, I've been called a jerk.
These days, you'd be another guy,
against the bar, prepared to lie
his way into a maiden's heart.
It's best to quit before you start.
I've seen your kind, I know the type
who feed their women lines and hype.
"Oh baby, don’t you realize
this life is short—let's you and I... "
I've heard the boys commiserate
how Catholic girls start much too late.
It's hidden just beneath your pleas
that there's more than days to seize.
How short it must have been, the time
when women fell for blatant rhyme.
Your withered vine's returned to dust;
its shriveled cells can feel no lust.
Forgive my rants—I've been there, too;
I know what hormones make men do.
But if you find these lines amiss,
then, Mr. Herrick, carpe this.
Ahh, the good old days... Speaking of which, the other thing I found? Well, let's just say, once you see this, you'll know part of the reason why I fell for Glenn. Here's my man at the beach. And the thing is, he's even sweeter than he is hot.
November 26, 2003
Embarrassing Moments at Work
Scene: conference call with the left coast and high-powered discussions of media relations strategies and all that shit that would give a yuppie a bone. The subject is press releases and branding and co-branding and you catch on just a little too late that rather than calling the part at the end of a release that goes "XYZ, Inc. is the world's largest manufacturer of commercial ecstasy..." a boilerplate (as it's supposed to be called since that is, after all, its name) you, YOU, my friend, are calling it a boilermaker.
November 24, 2003
The first time I watched MTV's Becoming, I mocked every minute of it. A group of five bland boys 'won' the opportunity to become NSync. How lame, I thought, to look up to someone so much that you would subject yourself to this torture, worse yet to let it be filmed. Besides, did they really think that by frosting their tips and mimicking Lance Bass that they would become anything other than poseurs worthy of my ridicule?
Fortunately for my britches, that same snarky voice in my head has a pretty good sense of humor and a keen self-awareness, as seen when it said to me, Yeah, but don't forget, Chris, you gave up underwear for months because of a stupid movie.
Oh god, that's right. I did. I went commando. I tried to 'become' someone because of a (not-so) stupid movie.
I spent the summer of 1994 living with two of my fraternity brothers in a Knox Box--a term of affection for these boxy duplex apartment buildings along Knox Road near campus. Fortunately for me, my roommates spent most evenings smoking pot until they passed out. This allowed me to indulge in channel surfing solo well into the night. One night toward the end of summer, I came across Prick Up Your Ears.
I've mentioned before that literature was one of the things that helped me come out around this time. Or, at least, come to a point where I realized that I could come out. And Joe Orton, the subject of Prick, is yet another example of the power I drew from art.
That fall, my first semester "being gay," I spent much of my spare time in the library. I investigated being gay from sociological, historical, philosophical, legal, and dozens of other perspectives, but mostly literary. My own sexual identity became an extracurricular research project and Joe Orton a patron saint.
It started with the John Lahr book on which the movie was based. Then some of Orton's plays--Loot, Entertaining Mr. Sloane, What the Butler Saw--some more biographies, his diaries, his screenplay for the Beatles. As I devoured books by and about him, I tried to mimic his look--skipping underwear, adding cuffs to my jeans, practiced poses of his from the glossy photos within the books. There was a swagger I could picture in his tone, the intensity of a look while cruising on the tube. This went on for a few weeks.
There was something seductive about it all. Playing a role, having a model to base it on. In the end, it was empty. It wasn't me. Or at least it wasn't the me I was most comfortable being.
There was a link between me and Orton that had nothing to do with whether or not I wore underwear. It was stronger than the fact that we both wanted to shag boys. In him, I found a voice like mine, a view like mine. He pointed out the absurdity of desire, how we are all crazy, fucked up people. And sometimes we let our desire make us do stupid things. Like thinking we can or should become someone else.
This is not to say that influences are unimportant. I've taken a lot from Orton and from hundreds of others. Their experiences, ideas, and words flow into my own. They shape and are shaped by my own. I think at the time, though, I mistook becoming someone else for admiring in myself what we shared. I guess with role models, as with fashion, you have to ask yourself, "are you wearing the outfit or is the outfit wearing you?"
November 21, 2003
English for Non-Native Thinkers (Part Deux)
Will this coat be warm enough?
Oh, yeah. It's going to be really nice out tonight. The low is only going to be like 55 tops. Er, uh bottoms?
"I'm just a little bit heiress, a little bit Irish"
Happiness is when the two songs you secretly most want to hear aren't played at all and the show is almost over so you resign yourself to the fact that they won't be played and you think "that's okay, I'll just listen to them when I get home and it will be okay" but honestly you know that it won't be the same because hearing a song live is much better (especially with a show as amazing as this one--and which male on stage haven't you had a sidebar fantasy about? none, that's which!)--but then your resignations prove too soon when the first two songs of the encore are the exact two songs you want to hear ("Grey Gardens" and "Cigarettes & Chocolate Milk," Ms. Noseypants).
It was a really good show.
November 20, 2003
Tonight, I'm seeing Rufus Wainwright with this hunkahunkaburninglove. I'm bringing extra money for cab fare since I just know he's going to ditch me at the end when Rufus calls him up on stage to dance with him a la Courtney and Bruce. (FYI: Rufus, having been through gay hell, is now traversing gay purgatory with fair Donald as his guide. It's simply divine.)
I love concerts. I was going to rank my favorites, but then I realized life is not a VH1 show. Sometimes it's nice just to list things without priorities. So, here are fifteen of the best shows that I've seen:
Beastie Boys, Public Enemy - Capital Centre (1987).
the Sugarcubes - Gaston Hall, Georgtown U (1987)
10,000 Maniacs - Constitution Hall (1988)
Sinead O'Connor - Smith Center, GWU (1990)
U2 - RFK Stadium, DC (1992)
Lollapalooza II [Lush, Ice Cube, Pearl Jam, Ministry, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jesus & Mary Chain, Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog] - Lake Fairfax (1992)
the Sundays - Lisner Auditorium, GWU (1995)
Run-DMC and G. Love & Special Sauce - UMd (1997)
HFStival [Beck, Luscious Jackson, Kula Shaker, Prodigy, Jamiroquai, Bjork, the Cardigans, the Verve Pipe, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Third Eye Blind, Reel Big Fish, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Blondie] - RFK Stadium (1997)
HFS Nutcracker [Hole, Garbage, Everclear, Soul Coughing] - Patriot Center (1998)
Ben Folds Five - 9:30 Club (1999)
No Doubt - Merriwether Post pavilion (2000)
Madonna - MCI Center (2001)
Imperial Teen - Southpaw, Brooklyn (2002)
Belle & Sebastian - 9:30 Club (2003)
Where My Principles End
I could discuss how gay men objectify each other ad nauseum or I could just ask you who you think is the hottest?
Then, I suggest you tell him to do it for 2004.
November 19, 2003
Vatican City offers Wacko Jacko Assylum
Gays Want to Destroy Marriage by Getting Married
Eminem Said Something Offensive
Enetation Commenting System Blows
November 18, 2003
Books on the Run
I saw this idea and wondered "if I only had time to grab seven or eight books to keep me warm at night, what I would go for first?" Here's what I got in my fake fire drill:
Camille Paglia Vamps & Tramps
Carl Jung Dreams
Virginia Woolf Mrs. Dalloway
C.P. Cavafy The Complete Poems
Jeanette Winterson Written on the Body
Anne Carson Glass, Irony, and God
Sylvia Plath Collected Poems
Elizabeth Bishop The Complete Poems: 1927-1979
Gee, who likes poetry? And women authors?
Bishop and Plath are the two poles of poetry I rotate within--chaos in control, control in chaos.
Anne Carson mixes philosophy and poetry the way the Neptunes mix fat beats and funk.
Written on the Body's prose meditations on the body's systems are among the best poetry I've read.
Cavafy could write about buying a tie and make me fall in love.
Virginia Woolf can spin sentences that make me long for a period, but once it comes I always wish it could have gone on just a little longer.
Dreaming makes me feel Jung again.
And Paglia? She's just there to make me laugh about Amy Fisher. She was the most accessible writer I found when I first started to take my own ideas seriously, and the most frustrating one I found when I stopped taking them too seriously.
Monday night means quiz night at everyone's favorite local Irish pub in DC. Quiz night means snarky team names related to current events. Apologies to the Hilton family, I'm just the messenger. Team names from tonight included:
"I was in Paris last night. Wanna see the videotape?"
"Paris Hilton. Where the customer service keeps them cumming back."
"I love Paris in the summer, in the bathroom, in the pooper."
"London hates Bush. Paris loves Dick."
I neglected to mention that our team "Girl Scouts: Learning About Beavers" won first place. Because we're just that smart.
November 17, 2003
"I Can't Believe It's Not..."
Saturday night, an old friend and his fiance hosted a pre-Thanksgiving feast. It was wonderful to spend time with everybody. One of the things I don't like about the holidays is that I get so caught up in family functions (his, mine, and ours) that it's hard to spend time with friends. So the party was a great idea and we all had a great time. Fortunately for me, it also provided enough stories that I don't have to think about what to write for days.
Today's tale comes from one of my favorite fellow Leos. In addition to our astrological connection, she also reads Gawker regularly so she and I can talk about sex bracelets and the Paris Hilton tape while our boyfriends go on and on (and on) about computer games.
The other day, she was coming home from shopping. A woman in her mid-twenties with a ton of packages and shopping bags came into the building just behind her, so my friend held the elevator door open for the woman. As the elevator doors closed, the woman leaned over to her and said, "Thank you. Here's a tip. If you have a Costco card, they have Egyptian cotton towels for $2.99 each." Then with a nod and a knowing look, she placed her hand on a package of the towels. "If butter was absorbent..."
This is my new favorite phrase. I've been hard at work incorporating it into my daily life:
"Did you like that condo you saw?"
"If butter was 800 square feet with a parking space..."
"Hey Chris, how did you like that movie?"
"If butter was something you paid $9 to watch for two hours..."
"What do you think of that guy's ass?"
"If butter was melted and poured into a pair of diesels..."
November 14, 2003
HE HELP BACKLASH BLAB
I was playing around here the other day, and came up with these anagrams of my name:
MY THRASHER CROTCH PIC
CRY HECTIC THRASH ROMP
CHERRY CROTCH SHIT MAP
RHYTHM CAT REICH CORPS
not that much fun. When I put my boyfriend's name in, I got this:
KINKY DEVILS DANGER
November 13, 2003
Today I got to leave work early because of some sporting event that I don't care about (wake me when basketball gets good, please). In high school, we used to get off like this for game bells. I'm not sure if other school systems had these, but basically it was a day when there would be a football game in the afternoon during a regular school day. If you bought a ticket, you could go to the game after fourth period. If not, you had to go to study hall. Needless to say, study hall consisted of the total losers and ESL kids (who probably had no clue what was going on). Way to place a priority on my education, PG County Public Schools!
Today also marked my return to the gym. After the troubles with my neck and back over the last few months, I had to take a break. Last week my doctor said it should be safe to start up again. We talked about different exercises that would be safe and not safe at this point. I think I can whip up a good routine based on what he suggested. Of course he said I should avoid my favorite form of cardio: rowing.
I'm not a big fan of the treadmill, stairmaster, bike stuff. I get bored easily on those machines, but for some reason rowing is different. My imagination gets into it. I build a rhythm. I picture the coxswain chanting, "Stroke. Stroke. Stroke." Suddenly I'm Rob Lowe in Oxford Blues and twenty-five minutes have passed.
(Major pop culture points to the person who can identify which eighties tv show totally bit the plot of Oxford Blues for one of its very special episodes.)
Today's Black Sheep of the Day goes to fried carbohydrates. I realize I eat far too much of them, and it's not healthy for a variety of reasons. Yesterday, I decided that for the time being, I'm not eating them for lunch--mainly because I couldn't remember when I had done that last. It's scary when you can't think of a lunch without french fries, potato chips, fried chicken, or some other breaded and fried product. I'm not really doing an Atkins no carb thing, I just needed to take a break to break the habit. Damn you fried carbohydrates and your delicious ways!
November 12, 2003
Debbie at Giant, I Love You!
Last night at the grocery store....
Woman: It's not working. See. [Runs credit card through machine.] It say card not readable. Should I just give it to you?
Debbie the cashier: That's cause you swiping it like you scurred, girl. Here. [Walks to the other side of counter, takes card, and runs it through the machine.] See, you gotta show it who's boss.
November 11, 2003
Soup Is Good Food
Not much time on hand now as it is being eaten up with big work deadlines and obsessive thoughts about condos and contracts.
I'll see if I can find time to eat. My friend found this at the local grocery store, sounds promising:
Maybe with a side of these tasty devils.
November 08, 2003
The Dark Side
"Day creeps down. The moon is creeping up.
The sun is a corbeil of flowers the moon Blanche
Places there, a bouquet. "
-Wallace Stevens, "The Man on The Dump"
I was walking down 18th to return a DVD to Video Americain when a woman lingering by the door of an Ethiopian market says, "Look up, look at that!" I assume she isn't talking to me, but then I notice no one else is in earshot, so I submit to her direction. "It's an eclipse of the moon. Isn't that amazing?"
And it was, and it is, and I'm lucky that there are people like her who aren't afraid of strangers.
I'm working on being less concerned with strangers. For far too long I've cared far too much about the opinions of strangers. A few weeks ago, I was walking home from the Metro listening to a drop dead gorgeous funky little tune. As is the custom, my ass started a jigglin' and my head a boppin' and I let the music wash over me. Then my internal censor whispered in my ear You should stop this dancing. All these strangers will notice. They will see you dancing and think that you're weird.
Then it hit me, what the fuck do I care what they think? Besides, the people who love me most already know I'm weird.
November 07, 2003
What's Your Favorite Color, Baby?
If you were to look at my closet, you might worry that I had some sort of compulsion, a strange need to wear the color blue. It's everywhere. Jeans, sweaters, shirts, t-shirts, hoodies, pants, shoes, even my favorite pair of skivvies is blue. And if it's not blue, it's earth tones--browns, grays, greens. I'm ashamed to admit this, but I'm afraid of most colors.
I blame genetics. With dark hair, fair skin, and blue eyes, I'm not sure that I could ever wear anything too bright. I wore a red shirt once. It totally brought out the W.C. Fields in my face--a great look if you're trying to land the role of Rudolph for the church Christmas review, not so great if you're just trying to turn some heads.
Maybe I should get my colors done (I think I'm a winter). I have a feeling I would just be told that I look best in blues, greens, and grays. And I hate asking for advice at stores--so many of the people working in retail are morons or are just interested in making a sale.
Speaking of asking for advice in stores. Last night, I went to the bookstore to pick up this book. I'd read an interesting review in that mini-Post Express thing they hand out at the Metro now. I couldn't find the book and went to the information desk where a nice older woman helped me. She checked and saw there was a copy in the store, but I couldn't find it. She took me around to the Art section, the Film section, the Sociology section. "Maybe it's in the local interest section since he's from Baltimore," she offered. Not there. Then she ended up finding it in the Photography section.
"Oh I guess it must have photographs in it," she said as she opened the book to see. A look of shock came of her face. "Oh... it certainly does," she said and closed it straight away. As she leaned over and handed me the book, she whispered, "they're very graphic, just so you know." It was that quick shift from full voice to whisper that Mare Winningham's mother used for "cancer" in St. Elmo's Fire.
Naturally, my face quickly turned a lovely shade of red.
Black sheep of the day dishonors go to the U.S. Postal Service for sending a cease-and-desist letter to the band the Postal Service. Really guys, don't you have better things to do? You could start with making sure I don't have to don a protective suit when I want to thumb through the latest West Elm catalog.
November 06, 2003
The Red Badge of Courage
This will be the last mention of my cat. Honest. Thanks to everyone who shared your concern and well wishes. He's doing much better--back to loafing, begging for more food, napping, and sitting on the keyboard as we type. Best of all, it seems like he can see without any problems.
When he came home, he had a little red bandage
around his paw where the IV was.
Okay, enough, I don't want to turn into a kittyblogger.
How cool is Ray Kroc's widow leaving all that money to NPR? Of course, it's probably only really cool if you listen to NPR like me and want to be secure in the fact that David Brancaccio will be there for you when you need him. As my friend Silver Girl said, "I'd like to think that the exact hamburgers I ate growing up -- that money is now in the hands of NPR."
I've been busy at work and spending entirely too much time here making fun of people. Apparently this pissed someone off since I neglected my duties in naming a black sheep of the day for the last few days. I apologize.
To make it up, I'm naming two black sheep of the day:
November 05, 2003
Sleepless in DC
I found this picture from my trip to Seattle. Right now, I wish I were there.
Of course, I don't think I could ever live anywhere outside of the east coast. People in Seattle actually wait for the "walk" signal. Even when no cars are around. And they say things like, "Hey, you shouldn't do that," if you jaywalk.
November 04, 2003
All Mixed Up (Like Pasta Primavera)
Inspired by his nicely done mix as part of this meme, I present my own take on it.
Where the Hell Are My Spanky Pants?
1. "Milford Lake" - John Cameron Mitchell & Stephen Trask
2. "Screenwriter's Blues" - Soul Coughing
3. "Hey Ya" - Outkast
4. "Green Eyes" - Coldplay
5. "Dreams" - Fleetwood Mac
6. "Born Slippy" - Underworld
7. "Something's Got to Give" - The Beastie Boys
8. "Flood" (Junior Vasquez Remix) - Jars of Clay
9. "Sing Me To Sleep" - The Smiths
10. "Punk Rock Girl" - Dead Milkmen
11. "Dear Prudence" - Siouxsie & the Banshees
12. "Rock this Funky Joint" - Poor Righteous Teachers
13. "Holler" - the Spice Girls
14. "Professional Widow" (Armand's Star Trunk Funkin' Mix) - Tori Amos
15. "Stratford on Guy" - Liz Phair
16. "Town Called Malice" - The Jam
17. "Look at Your Game, Girl" - Charles Manson
18. "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" - John Lennon
19. "Fight the Power" - Public Enemy
20. "Our Time" - Imperial Teen
November 03, 2003
Get Well Soon
Saturday night, Glenn and I took our little buddy to the emergency room. He was hiding in corners, with his head up against the wall, and walking like Corey after a night at Fado. Head pressing is a symptom for pets with a variety of problems, though I had never heard of it before this weekend.
He's at least 15 years old, though we aren't sure exactly how old since he was a stray. To be blunt, I was preparing myself to hear that the humane thing to do would be to put him to sleep. I've never seen him look that bad. When the vet checked him out, she noticed that he didn't seem to be seeing. She flicked her fingers just before his eyes (a menace test) and he didn't react at all.
He stayed overnight. They gave him some fluids because he was a bit dehydrated. The tests showed his blood levels were ok, so it wasn't a kidney or liver problem, but his blood pressure was extremely high. Last night, we stopped by the hospital for a little visitation. He looked 100% better. He meowed a little and was walking a little more steady. The doctors wanted him to stay last night as well so they could figure out the best doses for his blood pressure medicine.
In other news: I think Glenn and I found a house we like and can afford, I was mistaken for a deformed penis on Halloween, and the lovely and talented Corin wins a CD! Sure, he didn't technically answer the question correctly, but I have verified him as lucky number 20,000, and I'm changing the rules since no one's even been close.
By the way, the answer is that I've yet to dress up as a cop for Halloween (though I do have a pair of... never mind). Though in looking over the list, my friend Silver Girl noted the "Catholicism and pop culture looming in [my] psyche." Yes, and lots of women's clothes.
I must admit of all the costumes on the list, I'm most embarrassed of the "bag lady." I guess I was young and stupid, but I don't know why my friend and I thought it would be funny to dress as homeless people. Maybe it was just an excuse for me to see him in a dress. He did have nice legs. For a bag lady.
November 01, 2003
Left To My Own Devices
We all have a special language, don't we? Mnemonic devices that other people find just bizarre.
When Corey and I were going to the concert on Tuesday, he was going to stop by my apartment on the way down 16th Street. I told him I was in apartment 615. He thought for a second, "how am I going to remember that?" Then it hit him. Some math thing. Like 6 and 15 are factors of pi or whatever. I don't know--I can't math.
When Glenn and I first started dating, he gave me his phone number. The prefix was the same as half of the kids on campus, but the last four digits were 1958 and I needed a way to remember that. Like fair Corey, I drew on my own domain of knowledge to learn this number.
Madonna was born in August 1958. I thought of her whenever I called him.