...The Conclusion

To catch yourself up, make sure you read the previous post first : )

So my trip to Florida was enjoyable, albeit short. The weather was overcast and a bit rainy, but the temps were in the 70's, I had no agenda, so it was an overall success. My poor dear grandmother fell at the beach and broke her wrist on Christmas Eve! We had to drive her to the hospital with her mangled arm in a makeshift splint, courtesy of the Baywatch life guard guy. She pulled through and celebrated Christmas with her stylish cast and swelled up hand. She's a trooper!

Anyway, enough of that. I get back to Ohio and get the same out of state call again. I just missed it, so I quickly pulled up the number and dialed. It was the moment of truth... the conclusion to my cliffhanger that I thought about often when I was taking my evening walks in the warm salted Sarasota air. Was it Hot Server Guy trying to call me? The call went through. Two rings. I heard the click.

By the way, I'm typing this entry on my brand new laptop! It's a hottie and looks amazingly like this. I purchased it for two "solid" reasons: 1) my old laptop was 6 years old and struggled to open a web browser. Completing my freelance editing work will be a snap with some slick new hardware, and 2) I really wanted to buy this game and enjoy the killer graphics! Of course, the former was the true reason... at least that's my story, y'hear.

So I'm on the phone, the cables worm to life, the satellites bow to their masters, the switchboard operators patch me through, and fiber optics bridge me to... my prince in waiting?

Nope. Another guess? How about a fooking marketing research firm?

** Ding-ding-ding **

"Tell him what he's won, Johnny!"

"Army's won an all expenses paid vacation to Chumpsville!"

The good news is, I took my name off their call list. The bad news is, they made a point of saying they are exempt from the no-call list. Up yours.

I'm not shocked it wasn't Hot Server Guy, but it would have obviously been nice to hear his voice. But he may still contact me... it's an infinite universe. Anything's possible.

Mean time, I'm going to play some Far Cry : )

My brain is attached to an idiot!!

For the past two days, I've been getting an out of state call from the same number. When I don't recognize a number, I usually let it to go voicemail to find out who it is. Well, this was from a state in which I don't know anyone, so I was suspcious... some kind of telemarketer? A Mazda rep calling for a customer satisfaction survey?

Four phone calls in two days and no message. Mom's all, "just answer it already and you'll know who it is." Well, I could be all direct about it, sure. But I prefer to be obtuse. Truthfully, she said that right after the last call, so I've been waiting for the mystery caller to ring me again so I can enact her Napoleonic strategery.

I was in the shower just now thinking about all kinds of things -- this is where I dream up some Mental Manufactory ideas, if that gives you any comfort or concern. In fact, I want to create a karaoke shower stall booth because EVERYONE sounds good singing in the shower. I think I'm onto something big, but that's for another post.

Anyway, in the midst of either lathering, rinsing, or repeating, I have this mental montage. What if it's Hot Server Guy calling me! Think back with me. I left him my phone number. Check. And he mentioned it was his last night working before going back home. Check. To this neighboring state, perhaps? Question mark. And why leave a message on your first call because it would be awkward, right? Yep.

IDIOT! Now I'm DEFINITELY answering when this number rings! And not to be all Debbie Downer, but I'll be honked off if 1) mystery caller gives up, never to call again, or 2) it ends up some long-lost friend or whatever. How dare you try to reconnect when I'm hopeful you were a hottie hot hot! I'd rather you were a donation collector from the Benevolent Order of Antelopes. Now get lost again!

Anyway, you likely won't get any conclusion to this tale until I return from Florida next week, so I leave you with this cliffhanger. Dum-duh-dum!

To be continued...

On the road again...

Army here, reporting in amidst the packing of saddlebags and gifts as I first head back to my ancestral homeland of Ohio. There I'll enjoy a gift exchange with family before my next journey to Florida!

That's right, Christmas is in Florida this year! Well, I guess it's everywhere for those who celebrate it, but I'LL be in Florida for some 70+ degree weathered goodness : )

So I'll be loading up Andrew, with Pops as my copilot, and down south we shall travel to see our family in Sarasota. Our arrival is a surprise for the grandfolks! AJ is our co-conspirator inside agent.

As you can imagine, my blogging will be sparse until next year ticks over.

Happy holidays, dearest readers, and safe journeys for those taking to the roads, skies, and waters to be with loved ones.

I'll rock with you peeps again in the year of Bond (get it?). Gosh, I'm still so funny!!

What the #$*! do we know!?

A while back, I read that Not So Single Guy had experienced a movie that literally rocked his perception of self and the world to its core. It challenged his assumptions on issues of love, religion, consciousness, reality, physics, emotions, and perception. In short, the movie challenged everything he knows and left him thinking... what the #$*! does he know?

Thus the title of this movie, which came from the evolution of its making, as the directors constantly faced new ideas and new ways of thinking. As you can already tell, I rented this movie and watched it already. Just now, in fact. The psychologist in me was too intrigued, and I was amazed how many of the ideas I had formulated about what I think God is, how religion and spirituality are not one in the same, and how we are active agents in our own lives making choices and (in a sense) selecting emotional paths, were all reflected in this movie. And of course, they brought up so many ideas I'd never considered, ways of thinking we'd just assume were silly or new age, or too stuffy and academic. This movie brought out the interconnectedness of everything in a very accessible way -- it was a mixture of a fictional story with a backdrop of conversational interviews with people from various fields of physics, psychology, anaesthesiology, and theology. It's relatable, and in that, I think it causes anyone open enough to it, to start asking questions. To engage in conversation.

The interviews on the B side were an insightful companion piece to the movie, that brought out the intentions and thought to its creation. The directors touch on the control and the surrender of the process. Very fascinating stuff!

I especially liked the dialogue on our perception of time. As many of you know, I am intrigued by time: our perception of it, how it is explained by science, and the ways in which we use it to confine and liberate ourselves. In the movie, one of the interviewees talks about how we can only experience the past through memory and we have no control over it. Yet our actions can affect what happens in the future; we just have no conscious experience of what the future will be.

Think about that. We live with this duality in ourselves in the present now, as you sit here now reading these words. Think back to a past moment that caused you to stop and ask yourself if your life is more than you think it is. It was a defining moment in memory, yes? Yet that is the totality of your access to it. You cannot change what you have already done. But more importantly, as you close your web browser and step away from the computer, there is possibility for change everywhere, in how you choose to treat a coworker, how you respond to a friend's words, or in the route you take on your way home. I feel, if we are to change anything in this world we do not like, we start by changing ourselves. And that involves shaking things up, asking questions, and being open. I think that's a powerful gift we all possess. But what the #$*! do I know?

Mustering An Army

I went to dinner this evening with a good friend, V-Dub. We hadn't seen each other in a while, so we planned a dinner and movie (which is getting nixed until Sunday. We're going to see Blood Diamond).

Anyway, we decide on Chili's and I'm stoked for the chicken club tacos. I know Ramblergirl will be excited to read that they do indeed contain her favorite magical ingredient -- bacon! Everything is better with bacon... especially at Chili's : )

There is this totally hot/cute/gorgeous server working, and I immediate say to V-Dub, I hope he's our server. I must have saved up some good karma, because sure enough he was! Very nice guy, tall, great arms, nice chest (viewed through his fairly tight shirt), sweet smile, awesome hair... as Feyonce and I would say, he was perfick!

We tried to guage his vibe with our gaydars and homometers, and the signals were mixed, which to me was no shocker. I live in the realm of ambiguously straight men. They flock to me in bevies and droves. V-Dub keeps coaxing me to say something to him. The prospect terrified me for various reasons:

1. uncertainty of his orientation
2. awkwardness of putting that out there
3. possibility of rejection, or far worse, the flattered-yet-not-interested brush-off
4. i'm a big ol' puss in these situations
5. he seems to me to be out of my league

But that didn't stop me from flirting with him. He was quite busy, so I played the empathy card to garner a connection and when he apologized for neglecting us, I asked to speak with his manager. We joked that he probably has a fake name on his name tag. When I worked at The OG, mine said "Luke." V-Dub noticed that every time he came by, Hot Server ignored her and her need for a refill and paid attention to me. A good sign for me. Also, he started squatting down at our table to chat with us... and I didn't observe him do that with any other table. The evidence was mounting. Had my observational skill and detective work paid off?

At the end, we talked a bit more and turns out he's a grad student at the university. I told him I worked there, and the three of us had some vague social connections. I had to do something. After more encouragement from V-Dub, I decide to take a more subtle approach. When I got my credit card receipt back, I wrote him a note that said:

Hot Server,
If you are interested in hanging out sometime, feel free to contact me. If not, I completely understand. Take it easy, man.
(insert phone number and email)

I slipped the note to a noticeable angle behind the credit card slip and we casually got the hell out of there. V-Dub's all, let's go watch him pick it up! So we pretend to converse in the parking lot while watching for him to stop by our table. He came back and grabbed it quickly, but I noticed him look at it. As we circle back to my car, she notices him through a window and said, "he looks really excited!" We saw him pass the window as we got into Andrew, and sure enough, he was more smiley than he had been before.

I was impressed with myself. That was a big step for me, and I figure what the hell, it's an opportunity I took advantage of. If he calls, great. If not, no big whoop. But who am I kidding, I hope he calls me! He was a dreamboat <-- how awfully 80's of me.

Mental Manufactory: Drive-In Theater with Stadium Parking

Intuition is truly born in moments of ah-ha and eureka. I only have to offer up Exhibit A as a fine example of said stroke o' genius -- and that invention of mind is this installment of the Mental Manufactory.

Feast your eyes and brain on the concept at hand -- the drive-in theater with stadium-style parking!

Yeah so, the drawing is not quite to scale, and it looks more like an abandoned rock quarry site... but follow me on this one. The olden days drive-ins are outdated and busted. And we can't likely bring them back because of the dichotomy of automobiles on today's roads. It's a mixture of SUV's and subcompacts, along the spectrum from this big ol' ridonkulous tank to this bitty thing that looks like the Little Tike car from my childhood that my family couldn't afford but I really wanted. Result? Obstructed view of the movie screen. Now, you could raise the screen, but then everyone gets cramps from neck craning because of low profile windshields, etc. Let's save the neck pain for generous hickey recieval, shall we?

And the sweet icing on this delicious cake? Pneumatic tubes (like at the bank) that deliver your snacks from the concession stand. Place your order, swipe your card, and receive your popcorn via those clear plastic capsules with the cool twist open tops. Now, we have to work on transporting soda-pops, but just give me a little more time. I'm sure your mind is sufficiently blown away at the moment.

If this idea's a-rockin, that's cuz it's shockin!

Imitation is Flattering

A good friend of mine sent me an email recently with updates on his world. Amidst it all was his latest artistic creation, which he calls Ripping Off Army. I call it full-on genius...

I love it! Take a bow, Benny! He had other ideas, like These Are Me Drinks, but alas they never saw the light of creation because he didn't have a "D" to photoshop into the picture.

He also had a good idea for a new header for my website links on the left column. So I have ripped him off and given credit where it's due. Be sure to check out "These Are Me Links." Clever! Why didn't I think of that??

Buried Expectations: Red Planet

Recently I had this urge to paint after being inspired by an episode of Six Feet Under. I followed my impulses and let expression take over. I reached for certain colors and brushes. The canvas changed before my eyes. How exciting! What would my mind and hand create without much censorship? Well, the answer is, crap.

Trust me when I say this wasn't a creator's self-deprecation... the painting was garbage. I have at least one witness to back me up. I can only partially blame it on the lack of various paint colors. Sometimes, reality fails to meet an expectation. I left the work abandoned in my computer room, scolding it every time I laid eyes on it. It was the burdensome Gregor of Kafka's The Metamorphosis and I became its embittered caretaker. Well, not really, but it sounds rather dramatic in those terms!

As it turns out, a metamorphosis was exactly what I had in mind. I would paint over the bad work and make it good. I bought a new supply of colors (specifically warm colors red and orange) and set out to cover up the past. I got this image of explorers on Mars uncovering something that should have been left buried. I'm not sure what it was, but I decided I had to keep some of the old work revealed, peeking from the depths like a secret, viewed only from a satellite's perspective.

That's my pretentious way of saying in mixed a bunch of colors together and let loose. And overall, I'm pleased with the results. I ended up covering up a bold color contrast that didn't look right... so there are many applied layers of paint. But that works well because the flaws create textures. Flaws aren't so bad.

Sea Change

This has been a surreal weekend. It has involved flashes of moments in my memory -- opportunities to pursue, relationships to reflect on, life to examine, and enjoyment to be had.

Friday night I forced myself to go to a poetry slam on campus. I had mixed intentions to perform, as the theme was social justice and my more refined pieces do not relate to that theme. I flipped back through my writing journal to an entry I had made for the purpose of spoken word. Like everything I write, I'm usually ambivalent about it at first. It feels forced, broken, and incoherent. It comes out of me in a rush of ink and quickly I will close the book and turn off the light for bed. I had written this piece months ago. As I read back through it, I felt it was so much stronger. Maybe because it had a venue now, the words were clearer. I think it takes time to process, to step away, and come back to it from a different place. After showing up to the slam, I assessed the crowd of mostly undergrads (two of them were my students) and decided not to perform. It was short, with only six performers, but I enjoyed being in the moment of expression.

Afterward, I called Ted. I have been thinking about him for a long long while, at quiet moments or at times of sexual frustration. Recently we have been communicating more. I invited him to the slam but our schedules mismatched. I asked him to my place for a chat. He broke up with a guy recently. Ted proceeds to detail a story of this guy being too pursuant too quickly and not wanting to grow the friendship first. I listened with mock reflection, finger poised on my chin, nodding dramatically. "Fascinating. Doesn't this all sound awfully familiar to you?" He was living our past relationship from my end of it. Ted was the pushy take things faster guy for me. Had he come around? Grown to a center of more even-keeled relationships? He certainly looked as good as ever. The sexual tension was palpable, hidden beneath sarcasm and wit. Perhaps we have a second chance.

Saturday involved a unisex baby shower and a birthday party, both involving Feyonce and her Non-boyfriend. The shower allowed me to catch up and enjoy the company of many of my work friends. And to see Smartens and Rasmatic as the excited parents-to-be. They will be fun parents. I got to chat more with Feyonce and Non-boyfriend at the birthday party. We kinda ditched early for some Jupiter's pizza. We had a great time talking about travel, people, and our usual blend of salt, sass, juvenile humor, and wit. I love those two!

And today, a dear friend and I went shopping. We haven't had our old one-on-one days together, and it was like those times again. She bought these soft comfy bed sheets made of microloft that are heaven to wrap yourself in. Back at her place, we stripped the old sheets and tucked in the new. Nestled in a warmth, we lay there and talked about life, drifting on the brink of sleep and wakefulness. It felt safe and blissful.

The backdrop of these events was the final season of Six Feet Under. I ran through every emotion as I watched the characters I have grown to know play out their final chapter. Never has a television show affected me like this. The characters are full, even the minor ones. They are flawed. They feel real. A true testament to the producers, writers, and actors. The series finale left me in awe. The last scene particularly. The show was magic to me.

This weekend was magic. And I'm not sure how these words express it, if words ever truly can recreate emotion and context. Perhaps it was a "had to be there" experience. But I can say that it got me thinking about changes. The place where sea and land meet is a constant change - tides flow in, brush against land, and pull back beneath the surface. Does the same water ever return again? And if it does, it will meet new land, as sand is recycled, squished between toes, shoveled with empty shells.

Has Ted come back to a changed me as a different person himself? And why does my writing sound and feel different with the passage of time? Maybe it's a new perspective. Different facets have been unearthed and exposed. We are the sand that is changed, and we are the water that makes the change. Tomorrow is a new me. And a new you. That fact leaves me tickled with anticipation. And afraid of the cold rush of transition.

P.S. Be sure to check out the song "Transatlanticism" by Death Cab for Cutie. My mind is blown.

My Two Boys

The unthinkable has happened -- I purchased a new car! For any of you who knew Tyler, my lil MINI Cooper, this is probably a big shock to your system. Trust me, I was just as jolted by the experience, and even after a week with Andrew, my brand new Mazdaspeed 3, I still ask myself at times, "What the hell did I do??"

Let's fall back to the expostition from that jarring climax. My family likes to test drive cars. For some time, I had been considering an upgrade to the new turbo-charged 2007 MINI Cooper S. I've always somewhat regretted getting the automatic transmission, yet didn't have the guts to get it with Tyler. Despite that, I loved my MINI.

Anyway, I was both impressed and a bit disappointed with the new features on the 07 MINIs. I won't boggle you with the details, but
suffice it to say, I felt like I'd be settling on features that I'm a stickler about. What can I say, I'm a fickle old thing. I've had my eye on the Subaru WRX for quite a while, even when I was shopping around pre-Tyler. And now I was thinking WRX Sport Wagon. During Thanksgiving back in Ohio, I was set for a test drive. I looked up the consumer ratings on the WRX and they were abysmal! Even more disappointment. I noticed the Mazda 3 in the category of similar cars and checked it out. It was a recommended Best Buy with superb ratings, and new for 2007, there was a turbo-charged 6 speed manual model! I logged onto Mazda's website and built my very own Mazdaspeed 3, free of charge. And it had all the features I have really wanted.

Next day, Vick, Greg, and I head to the dealership. As it's no likely shocker, I don't care for most car salesman. They can be a smarmy, slickster old bunch. I was fortunate when I met Mr. Knox
because he was the best kind of salesman -- laid back, quiet, and no pressure. He said they actually had one Mazdaspeed on the lot, and he was surprised because they were very popular. I notice it is black, my requisite color. I check out the rap sheet, and it has every single feature I wanted, not one more or less!! Was this kizmet?

We drove the car and all loved it. This car has some g-force action when the turbo kicks in! It has nice leather and cloth seats, an ipod hook-up, sweet cockpit gauges, Bose sound system, xenon headlights, and some sexy lines and style to it. Well, things progressed, I decided to talk more with Mr. Knox, and everything just felt right. I was offered more for Tyler than I owed on him. Before I knew it, I had decided to move forward with the purchase and trade-in.

I have to say, it was hard to see Tyler go. We've had great times together. The Miss MINI Chambana 4th of July Parade. All the MINI rallies I've attended. The motoring experiences we've had. You can say it's only a car, but the MINI had a culture around it. It was truly fun. I met so many great people from around the state and here in town. They are my friends. In some ways it will be sad to not be a part of that. But in all, I now have a car that is sporty, practical, and even more fun to motor in.

As I said, everyone has been stunned at the change. But the story tells it all...well, that and a short race around town! I know that JP the British Boss was at a loss. He was impressed with Andrew, yet he was a little sad about my withdrawal from MINI culture. But that bum hadn't been to a rally in who knows how long, so work through it, old bean!

Mike took the sleek photo below of Andrew and his new friend. During the shoot, this black cat sauntered up to check out Andrew.
She sniffed his tailpipe, and must have thought him a tomcat because she kept sassing around him. It's clear that Andrew's hotness transcends species!

And with each day, my driving improves. I was a bit of a clutch klutz in the beginning, but I'm on my way to being a pro. I've learned you can't really start off in third gear. You can't get flustered in traffic. Herky-jerky shifting is to be expected. Manual transmissions are indeed a lot of fun to drive!! I'm addicted to shifting now : )

Detective Army on the Beat

I recently promoted myself from gumshoe to professional investigator (the peeps in our community are no longer hip to the busted moniker of private investigator). My comeupance was all due to my crack skills of sleuthing, observation, intuition, and a little thing I like to call artistic integrity. That's right, I am otherwise proficient in the clandestine arts.

I reported in a previous post about this epic dream my brain conjured one night. In it, I mentioned a particular mystery perplexing my home - I had been finding empty peanut shells all over my property. Not enough for an epidemic, few enough to evade notice at first. Once detected, I found them on my driveway, in my yard, in the back, in the front, on the side. Did I have a resident squirrel with a housekeeping problem? Was there an elephant in the room I wasn't noticing? Could it be a litterbug? I donned my Sherlock Holmes hat, lit my drop style pipe, and positioned my magnifying glass before my right eye. I was on the case.

At first, it was all red herrings and dead ends. I balked at my TV peers Angela, Columbo, and Perry. I couldn't wrap up this mystery in 44 minutes with commercial breaks. My thinking started to cloud. Everything became a clue to me. Everyone had a motive - the postman, the garbage haulers, the woman waiting for the bus. And they were all in cahoots. Suspicion became my shadow, following me around, always begging more questions and pointing fingers. I was in search of justice in an imperfect world. The case consumed my life. I had to crack the mystery soon, or I would become empty inside, like those broken peanut hulls.

I had decided to rake my yard to get my mind off of things. An idle mind wanders. I had to involve myself in some absorbing errand. During my respite, the neighbor behind me stepped out of his front door. He is an elderly gentleman who takes walks regularly around the block. He has this wheeled walker he uses to remain stablized. As he approached me, we started chatting about leaves, allergies, and weather. It was a pleasant conversation. He was so disarming, I let my guard down. The case took retreat from my mind. It was a mistake. Once your vigilance weakens, the criminal evades your gaze, slips into a shadow, retreating into the night, disappearing with abbra-cadabbra.

Perched within the confines of the neighbor's walking machine, I found the smoking gun. The nexus of my nightmares, the origin of the case. The beginning and the end. Peanuts. Shells and all. I had ignored the gentle "elephant" in the room. Any good detective will tell you that no one is above suspicion. I had overlooked Mr. Walker. With such a critical error, I called my own ability into question.

The case was solved, but the resolution was bittersweet. After I finished raking my leaves, I went inside to hang up my detective gear. Justice was restored, but at what cost? I'm not sure when I'll be ready to return to the beat. Perhaps I wouldn't. But deep down, I knew the call of the mystery would eventually bring me back. It was in my blood. For now, it lay dormant, waiting for soul searching, for an innter redemption of my resolve.

There Goes The Neighborhood

Literally, my neighborhood is vanishing before my eyes. I received two separate letters from the city within a week of each other. The first letter informed me that a city tree on my property was being removed because of its poor health. Not sure which tree it is, as there are four "city" trees on my land, which I can only assume are the trees between the sidewalk and the street. It's either the big guy who sheds bark like my brother's sharpei... or it's the lil guy next to my driveway with the white circle on it. I think the lil guy has been tagged for the chipper... he doesn't look all sickly, but I'm not the City Arborist (yes, it was capitalized in the letter). So what do I know?

For a $20 fee, I can "apply" for a replacement tree and select from a list of choices. Then this fancy City Arborist will review my application, assess my land, and pass almighty judgement. If this Godfather of Flora approves, I'll get my tree replacement... WITHIN TWO YEARS! Let's not put too fine a point on it! Freakin' mob syndicate. Try planting a Gofuqurself Palm. Two years.

Then I get another notice, initially thinking its more shady dealing of this City Arborist, but I find a map inside. Hmm. I turn it over and see a House Moving Notice. One of my neighbors is applying to physically move their house. And I can make comments at some City Council meeting. How about, don't crash into my house while you're at it, but if you happen to doze through the sickly tree, no foul. I think it will be cool to watch the house uprooted and whisked away -- I'll definitely throw a House Moving party with some front-row seats!

What I find most humorous is that the house moving project will occur "sometime prior to December 30, 2006!" They can move an entire house within a month but the tree, well, may take a few years. Oh well. You can't fight City Hall.

Etymology of Inappropriate Things

If you haven't read on the news wire, my boss JP is a bit British. He's a Welshman actually. And as a result, he has a penchant for busting out the Britishism, often leaving us with contorted faces, sideways glances, and the proverbial scratched heads.

He'll toss in words/phrases like mollycoddled, dross, knackered, cocking a snoot, smarmy, and loads others I can't recall. JP is a nut, god bless him!

Today was an especially funny/dirtay circumstance involving such diction.

Backstory: I bought the new Staind DVD for Sylvia last night whilst out at Best Buy and dropped it in her work mailbox today.

Story: I am doing my job, walking through our kitchen (in the House That Asbestos Built) and overhear JP and Sylvia talking about the word buggery. Yes, most appropriate work chat, but that's JP for you. Apparently Sylvia asked him about it because he dropped a paper and called out "Bugger!" She thought he said "Fucker" which is quite hilarious itself. Sylvia asks what it means in jolly old England, as its connotation seems different in the States. So as is often the case, JP (with his masters in History) waxes over the origins of the word and its changed meaning through time. In a nutshell, it has to do with anal sex.

As he's finishing his diatribe, Sylvia looks at me and says "I'm so excited about what you put in my box."

To which I reply, "And I'm so excited about getting my $14 from you."

JP, with his typical gutter mind, says, "Wait a minute. You're talking about him putting something in your box and now you owe him $14. You have some explaining to do." LMAO

Dirty ol' git! Talk about smarmy! Sylvia and I bowed our heads in shame while laughing... because he wasn't exactly quiet about it... and he was standing by the doorway that leads into the lobby where the students are waiting!!

This is the man who got on some tangent a while back about Koko the gorilla and how she sexually harasses her female handlers. Then he makes a comment about her putting her breast on the plate glass like in some movie...

Oy! That's my crazy boss! A regular J. Peterman!

Comedy Hour

It's hard work to help the children. We're at the ass-end of a long autumn strangle at work -- registration time! It's when my job becomes a call center for the helpless, the procrastinators, those who choose not to read, and those who are not active participants in their education. What I affectionately term - the dregs. And it's bad when a procrastinator player-hates his own people. But c'mon people... please.

In the office, we constantly trade stories about student meetings that have left us shocked, dumbfounded, and downright pissed off. Folks, start weeping for our future now. We got some up-and-coming winners making their way to the job market. But don't worry too much... their parents are micromanaging it all, so it's cool.

Anyway, we always see students who either want business or pre-med or engineering blah blah blah. You know, the BORING AND TRITE majors. Choosing a major isn't free association, folks!

Me: "Say the first thing that comes to mind! GO!"

Student: **insert regurgitation noises**

I'm quite happy with the students who can cut it in those disciplines and have a genuine interest with the good to back it up, but for the dregs who won't let a bad nightmare end, you just want to scream, "What are you, some kind of idiot? What the fark is your problem? YOU CAN'T CUT IT!! Your grades are abysmal! IT ISN'T GOING TO HAPPEN! Now face reality or do me a favor and go PLAY IN TRAFFIC!!" I'm a humanist, by the way.

So a fellow advisor was talking to this business wanna-be who was getting huffy over his lack of skills for getting into the ivory tower of elitism. Diligent as she is, she tries to explain it's not an option and asks about his back-up plan. Crickets. She discusses some options in Liberal Arts and Sciences, to which he replies, "I don't want a useless degree." Jackass. It's people like this that I enjoy being their Dreambuster -- they get a proton-pack of reality jolted right in their face!

Like how many people in this world have LAS degrees? A bajillion. How many of them work in a company doing "business" stuff? A grillion. How stupid is this kid (and all of his ilk)? Infinity!

Today I invented a new reply to this kind of statement: "Yeah well, there really aren't any useless degrees, but there are some useless people who earn them." I want to take this one for a test drive so bad!

I'm determined to turn the pain of the job into a pleasure. Potential hitch: Can you have a comedy hour with no cocktails, though? Speaking of which, my Sis-n-Law got me hooked on pineapple rum and fruit juice. I may have to bring some to work in a concealed container for secret sipping. And a dime bag from Humboldt County.

Let the Dreambusting continue!

Creative Itch

Recently I've been locked into a creative prison of sorts. I have felt inspired to paint and write and perform spoken word, but nothing coherent has been coming out. It's as if I can look outside at the freedom of expression, but I'm being kept away from it by forces unknown.

I should stop betching about it and just create things, even if they suck. But there is a trick to finding inspiration from the writing on Six Feet Under or blasting the powerful tunes of Beck and Thom Yorke -- they're creative geniuses becomes this unattainable quality, separated by a great divide of my talent and theirs. But why am I comparing myself to them? And why am I comparing raw expression to a "completed" and refined work? Cuz I'm thinking like a doody-head. And I'm convinced bloggers are mostly people who have to express their feelings as the experience them, as a kind of mental sketchpad to work out a solution... like the Wile E. Coyote Acme Blueprint for Certain Failure.

And come to think of it, he is a role model in his own bumbling way. He was blown up, shot down, dropped of cliffs, suspended in midair (just for torture and effect), and conked on the head with all manner of blunt heavy objects. And he persisted.

Back to the old drawing board...

Mostly Beta-ed

I just completed the second part of my blog upgrade. It's taken over four hours to put together what you see pixelated on the screen. Can't tell the difference? Well, that's because there basically IS NO DIFFERENCE!! I've spent 4 hours getting my beta template back to how it used to be!!!

The new coding has taken some getting used to and almost everything in the code is formatted differently. It's actually better coding, but requires some relearning, delearning, and a few gutteral top-of-my-lungs screams of FUH-Q frustration!

The new template features are nice -- you'll notice the only big change is with the right sidebar contents. Hopefully it will be easier to view related topics and archived posts with this new update. I still need to fix up the Lines of Thought labels, but I need to eat right now.

I have some other updates to share, so hopefully another post will come along soonly. Later!

The Non-Dating Game

Warning: This post is littered with really bad sports analogies.

I received a call from Desperate Not to Be Single Guy about hanging out because he's bored. That's what he always says, "I'm bored." I find the sentiment to be a medley of insult and flattery. Admittedly, I was in a funky mood because of an emotionally intense hour of Six Feet Under. I didn't feel like talking or making plans for today, so I called a "rain delay" and committed to hanging out tomorrow.

I had a convo with Feyonce a bit later to hash out the situation. We both find his over-assertion tinted with a bit of...desperation, if that's the word. It's an eagerness for us to be in the midst of a deep relationship, which I guess is normal after hanging out twice while watching movies. And all the hand holding was annoying. I kept wondering when my obligation was contractually over. At one point I balled my hand into a fist. He tried to break through. It was like the Battle of the Bulge (and not in a good way). My forces were surrounded by his army of fingers and I simply couldn't surrender. I didn't want to. I wasn't ready.

I told Feyonce I need a Get Out of Intimacy Free card. She said I could just pull my hand away, and with the other, produce the GOIF card without a word spoken. The card says it all. I likened it to the ref throwing the foul card on the field. I think Desperate...'s trying to steal the next base, hoping to get my backfield in motion, or maybe he just wants some high-sticking. No matter what, I'm calling his plays. I'm not ready for a doubles match that is love-all.

I have to admit I had a physiological reaction to all the handedness. As he held onto me, I developed a lower back pain. I withdrew myself, walked it off, and the pain vanished. I was pain free until he grabbed onto me again. Then it came back. I've allegedly developed a psychosomatic reaction to intimacy. My body and brain have teamed up to reject intimacy!

It's like I'm the goalie of this fauxship and he's the forward trying to hit one in. Can I ever get in league with someone who puts me on the defensive?

I had dinner with B-Dub and El Nino, and we also hashed, rehashed, and prehashed. Apparently Desperate... has been texting and emailing B-Dub to ask what I've said about him. Again, he's wearing too much of that new fragrance, Desperation. Not a fan of that smell. B-Dub has remained loyally quiet but subtly pointed out to him that Army is no fan of his clingy conduct. We think he's new to relationships like I am, but his tactics don't quite match with mine.

Well sports fans, it's not over yet, but we seriously have to exchange play books and level the playing field here. Open communication is important for any team, so tomorrow will be movie-free and more about getting to know one another. Maybe we can become teammates, but we aren't there yet. Time will tell.

Ex, Why, Zzz

This weekend, I broke up with a long-time on-again off-again boyfriend. We go way back, and it seems our relationship has always been this repeated cycle. Looking back on it, I think of how I knew it was coming each time, but when it finally ended, it was a shock. How could he be out of my life again? Did the last seven months mean nothing?

Some of you may not have known about this relationship, but you probably know him.
His name is Daylight Savings Time, or DST. I affectionately refer to him as Dale. And now he just seems a distant memory to me. It was as if one hour he was there, and the next he was gone. He was now an Ex. Again. What's also bizarre is as he left, I thought to myself, I wish I could get back that hour of my life. And miraculously, my prayers were answered. God works in mysterious ways. But alas, it was a consolation prize. A parting gift with an expiration date.

We promised to meet up again when things have settled. We promised each other we'd stay together longer next time... longer than we ever had before. I'm looking forward to that time we'll have together. Let's just hope the extra time doesn't turn into ex-tra strength pain if we separate again. It's bound to happen. Why do I put myself through this? Why do I let him back into my life? Is it because he brightened up my day or seemed to focus on the lighter side of life? He was a sunny fellow, and part of me will miss that quality of his. It's as if the days get darker earlier since he left.

I tried to sleep, but I'm haunted by his ghost, as if by fate, on All Hallows Eve. His ghost had changed some of my clocks but not all of them. A gesture, no doubt, to remind me that he has left and to give me a task that may bring some closure to it all. When I set back those clocks, I'm resetting myself. He may have thrown off my sleep cycle, but I have to move on. I can't live in the past.

I'm sure we'll see each other again, Dale. You are an intrical part of my life. I know there is one state you will not enter, and it's tempting to run there. But I can't. We were meant to be together. Come back to me when you're ready.

The Unexpected

Today some coworkers and I were walking back from a staff lunch in a misty rain. We approach the crosswalk, and as I turn to make sure traffic is clear, this Channel 15 News SUV barrels around the corner at 200 mph. I see the white blur whiz past and practically jump back like a cartoon character who realizes he's walked off the cliff's edge. I'm all "Good lord! Must be a slow news day so they are running down pedestrians! I can hear the anchor now... We were the only camera crew on the scene for this live, local, late-breaking report..." Joiks!

I'm listening to the new Beck CD (which I had no clue was released) and so far I love it! It has 15 songs, which is rare in this age of a shatty music industry with their typical 11-12 songs per CD because that's what appeases the short attention spanned masses formula. I hate it when artistic integrity and creativity are undercut for homogenized bullshat. Anyone can release a set of 11 songs that predictably start and stop with 2 seconds in between. But what about amazing albums with songs that segue in and out of each other, include little song vignettes, or have a cohesive, epic flow to them? I offer Exhibit A, Exhibit B, and Exhibit C as my prime examples.

Anyway, my favorite snippets from Beck's album so far:

- Very first lyrics on the album -- "1...2...you know what to do!"

- Lyrics that resonate with me very much -- "Think I'm in love but it makes me kinda nervous to say so." You'll understand if you read about my internet pursuer, Desperate Not to Be Single Guy.

He did call me because we're planning another scary movie night for tomorrow. He called to tell me he found a movie guaranteed to scare me or he'll buy me lunch. How sweet : ) Now I just need some therapy in order to not screw anything up and actually give this potential relationship a shot.

I told my friend about my dislike of the C-word... cuddle. And that I substituted it with huddle instead. She was like "Well you know, huddling implies more than two people involved." Hmm, good point. I'll have to re-tool that one.

Non-Men, Non-Boyfriend, Non-Date

Dear readers, I have returned! Did you even know I was gone? Come to think of it, I didn't get any frantic emails asking about my absence? No pleas for more stories, more updates, more thinks...

You bums!! Pay attention to me!!

Okay, I'm done with my histrionic episode -- I wouldn't be a blogger if I didn't hatch some ploy for attention once and a while...

I was away most of last week because of a conference in Indianapolis. I had a great time hanging out with coworkers, stepping out for the evening... oh yeah, I also learned a lot about my profession too ; )

One of the highlights was going out for dinner and drinks with JP the British Boss and one of the Biz-nass advisors. We started at this Irish pub, in which I consumed two Bailey's on ice and a Murphy's stout. Dinner for me was monte cristo. JP and Mr. Biz both got bangers and mash. The conversations were all over the place. I kept eyeing a hot waiter and the cute host boy. The girls next to us were singing "Living on a Prayer" waaaaaay out of tune. After dinner, we headed over to Ram for more drinks and a lively discussion about kids these days. Another Bailey's for me. I turned in at 2 a.m. Oh, did I mention I had to present at 8 a.m. LOL

After our presentation on Saturday, Feyonce and I decide to hit the downtown mall for some real shopping that the Paign just can't offer. I have a confession -- I really like H & M, even if it is mostly eurotrashwear. Some of it is a mess, but I bought a grey zip sweater with red trim -- it's swanky AND is extra long for my long spindly arms! Thank god for svelt Europeans!

Anyway, as we're going round the stores, I can't help but notice how un-men menswear has become. Capri pants, cutsy underwear, and carry-alls? I'm all for metro and getting in touch with the feminine, but we are still men, right? Guys, am I right? So what's with all the manpri pants, manties (men panties), and murses (man purses) out there? What happened to Bermuda shorts, boxers, and a wallet? There can't be that many gay people in this world! And by the way straight white men, quit trying to encroach on the minority fun! Trying to be blacker, latino-er, gayer, female-r... you get unparalleled access to power positions and wealth -- get your own identity!

And speaking of which, has anyone seen Carson Daly recently? Is he trying to get an ethni-change? He looked faux-tanned with relaxed hair when I saw him on his show? Was it just the lighting that episode? I don't normally catch TV, so it's been a while since I saw him in his Total Request Live days, but he looked supiciously like he wanted to look like someone who was ethni-cool.

I teased Feyonce about her Non-Boyfriend. She refuses to use the term, which I find humorous. She kept picking out these sheer outfits at all the stores, which I called fore-mal wear (i.e., foreplay pre-sex romp-wear). She was all "but it's 50% off!" To which I replied "and it will be 100% off once he sees you in it!" I'm so happy Feyonce has a Non-Boyfriend Man Lover.

And speaking of which, I had a hang-out with my internet pursuer. Note how I will not use any of those familiar terms either. He came over to hang out for a bit and watch a scary movie. He insisted on "Session 9" as he had never seen it before. We agreed the only way to view such a movie is with all lights off. He admitted to getting freaked out during creepy movies and said he may need to "cuddle." During the movie, he kept edging closer during the unsettling parts until we were touching under the blanket. And we did huddle for a while, which was nice. Afterward, we watched the special feature that's creepier than the movie. Allie can attest to that! Then we talked for a while about ourselves, photography, and listened to some music. Turns out he's been inside Ashmore Estates, too! Each of us tried to play a song on my piano that's the most out of tune piano ever -- we pulled the dischord on that pretty quickly. Then he left with our plans made to watch another movie again soon.

It felt natural for only having a few conversations beforehand. Even though he's more touchy-feely than I am (which doesn't take much), it didn't feel forced. And I like that. I will have to take back my earlier judgmental wise-ass comments... well, not all of them. That would require me to erase my entire blog!

Now comes the hard part. I have to come up with a name for him! Who knows... maybe he'll become my Non-Boyfriend?

Inflation, Currency, The Meet-Market

My Random Sunday got me thinking about a few things:

First off, winter has put its foot in the door a bit too soon. Nobody likes an early house guest who just lingers around and makes you all uncomfortable. Winter, like all good seasons, must wait its turn! In fact, show up fashionably late, like at a quarter-to-NEVER!

Ambiguously Straight Guy called me out of nowhere to have dinner at a delicious Mexican restaurant in town (no, NOT Taco Bell). He met this friend though a hobby/interest of his and wants to set us up. I'm like, is it because we're the only two gay guys you know (besides yourself)? I like trying to throw him off guard because it's my personality and it's my form of flirting with him. He tried to back pedal, which was humorous to watch.

He's telling me how he's getting a new bed (currently has a twin size!) and I congratulate him on graduating into adulthood. He wants 800 count sheets because the "ladies" know the difference. I was like, you need all the help you can get huh? Already need bells n' whistles at your age? Again, I'm being a punk. He says something about a professional paying attention to every detail. I'm all, so you are a professional? What service agency do you escort out of? Or are you an independent contractor? I kid him a bit more about being a sexpert, again, to be an ass. There was also some joke about him being an orgy guy... and I point out no one likes an anal-retentive orgy coordinator... but maybe an anal-attentive one. It was all gutter-bound from there, thanks to me. But he did go to a gay dance club and shake his groove in the cage with two girls (i.e., his future fag hags). I was impressed he went, and he blushed about a guy saying he was cute. Mmm-hmm.

Afterward, I went to my favorite coffee house to do some work and enjoy a chai tea. Like usual, I ran into the Two Dollar Lady on the street. She's famous downtown for always yelling, "Hey Mister! You got two dollars?" Since when do the homeless ask for TWO dollars? Has inflation made that much impact? What is the minimum wage for a beggar? I have to say, she does treat panhandling like a job, and Two Dollar Lady is truly a shrewd businesswoman. Personally, I think she's one of those eccentric misers who collects money and stuffs it in her pillow cases to appease some kind of hording compulsion. Next time I see her, I'll be like "Hey Miss? You got two million dollars?"

Then I got to thinking that if a panhandler can up the ante, maybe we need to update our traditional sayings. Is it enough to give our two cents worth anymore? Doesn't that just add up to a shitty opinion these days? Benjamin Franklin said a penny saved is a penny earned, but in his day, that penny went pretty far. Now it gets you a horsy ride at the grocery store for 30 seconds. Heck, we're giving away pennies at the gas station! If alive today, would he say a dollar saved is a dollar earned? Maybe a fiddy saved is a fiddy earned? Did the U.S. Mint anticipate all this inflation and for that reason, stick his likeness on a hundred dollar bill and not the penny?

After an onslaught of emails, I finally got to chat online with Desperate Not To Be Single Guy. He seems nice and is looking for similar things in a guy that I would want. But I'm just a take-it-slow person and not a fan of the contrived realm of "dating." I don't like that word. Too charged for me. Fraught with certain expectations. In fact, I tell people I've never been on a date. But I have hung out many times. Yeah, I'm weird. Send me recommendations for a good shrink!

The worst person to pair me with is someone who comes off as desperate or pushy or eager. I've already lamented about Ted in search of his manacea. I like casual, effortless, natural situations. Desperate...Single Guy was ready to move in and be my husband! Well, not that bad, but I was all -- deep breaths, I'm not going anywhere, let's not look for commitment rings just yet. I have to say, this guy is persistent! This Army was evading his advances with skilled aplomb and shooting down his requests with Patriot missiles of Maybe! What is it about me recently that screams "keep harping Army for his attention"? Or let's bury him in a ever-growing manslide?

Why am I complaining about this? I being the anal-retentive one whose checking for all the details I want to see and not just letting things unfold. Is it because I've been single for so long, I feel too safe in my Army of One? Maybe I have become afraid of a kind of relationship inflation - from my single status to that of a couple? If I have an interest, I should meet up with him. And think of it as a variable interest... I'm not locking into a fixed interest that will keep me stuck. Great, first I associate marriage with death and prison, and now I'm treating dating like a financial transaction. Maybe I should be in the escort service, as it turns out. God knows I have a growing clientele base!!

At any rate, I should sell while my stock is high, lest I hold out too long and am forced to sell out to the lowest bidder -- loneliness. I think I've stretched this metaphor too far.

Addendum: Raining Men

It's cold enough outside to be snowing men, but that just wouldn't make sense, now would it?

As a punctuation to A Night Like No Other Part 1 and Part 2, I am being pursued by this guy through a social networking website (NOT Myspace...I do have standards, after all). He's come out of no where and keeps sending me messages! He's already requested my IM screen name and asked me to text him (which my olden days phone can't do). He's all trying to hunt me down and forciably chat with me! He's gathering intelligence, scouting my defenses, and preparing to invade my borders.

What is it with men?! When it rains, it certainly does pour! The man drought is officially over! And I can't stop punctuating with exclamation points!

Like A Calliope, Army Let's Off Some Steam

Movement One - Rage Against the Machine

I may work in the asbestos infested Nexus to the Portal of Hell, and sure, at any moment the whole damned thing may cave in and kill me, but at least I don't work for the college on our campus that recently joined the Axis of Evil. I have decided to protect its anonymity, so I'll refer to it as the College of Biz-nass. They operate like a bunch of Imperialists in ivory palaces. And underneath their white gloves are gold-ringed greasy fingers eager to clutch wads of sweaty money. They probably have a money bin like Uncle Scrooge's somewhere on campus. And I bet they hate babies, too.

So what bothers me about Biz-nass? Is it that students need a 6.0 GPA to get in? Or their elitist velvet rope mentality of growing a small college...on a campus of 31,000? Or their lame inability to be honest so they can come off as good guys? Don't get me wrong, I think majoring in Biz-nass is ultra boring and oversubscribed. But the only thing worse than another Economics class, in my opinion, are snooty little trolls with bad attitudes towing the college line.

Biz-nass skirts the rules, throws their weight around, makes up their own policies, and they carry on unchecked. Worst off, they aren't student friendly. That's what mostly pisses me off. They are alumni friendly. And corporate sponsor friendly. They are running Biz-nass like it is a business. And the only thing worse than snooty little trolls are corporate fat cats smoking in the back room, sipping brandy and talking war strategy...while kicking puppies and using bullshit buzzwords.

Show some dignity. If you want to be all superior, do it with class. And remember, you are here to help the children. You know, those bodies in your classes paying ridiculous tuition for your snooze-a-thon classes in Finance blah blah blah?

Movement Two - Rage Against the Brattlings

Around 9:30 p.m. last night, I'm driving Schteener to her car, and we see all these students heading to the campus bars. These are probably the bums who don't come to our appointments because it's too cold, too wet, too warm, too early, too late, Friday, Monday, or any other lame-ass excuse. But don't they look lively in their matching shirts on the way to a bar crawl? Schteener asks what's bringing them out to drink on a Tuesday. I'm like, because it's a Tuesday. Or a Wednesday. Thursday. No excuses required when hoochies, dudes, and cheap brew are involved. Homework stands in the way of no undergrad!

Can you tell we've been overworked and need a break? We don't really despise the kids, but some of them make you wonder.

Then I start my tirade:

"Little brats can't be bothered to show up to class or even pass their exams! But they all want to go to Biz-nass and cash in their degree for a high paying lucrative management position! Not going to happen! They should all just drop out right now. Or better yet, they should attend the College of Booze-ness! Can I major in Alcoholism? I want to get a B.A. in Drunkeness. That's just B.S. !"

I think it was more eloquent as I said it, and I had Schteener hurting laughing. You should see me on a rampage. It's pretty funny when I let off steam. And maybe this is too situational, so you all aren't getting any of this. Inside humor!

Movement Three - Rage Against You

If you're still mulling over what a Calliope is, do I have to spell it out for you? Go look it up for crying out loud!!

A Night Like No Other - Part 2

Before you continue, make sure you’ve read Part 1 of this tale…lest you be confoosed.

So we left off with everyone deciding to hoof it to the Gay Dance Club that will somehow be more comforting to Conflicted Jock. Crazy J is leading the way with a hot-foot, which I’m all about because I’m a speed walker. Slow pokes drive me nuts. Conflicted Jock is grumbling about going to the gay bar and Definitely Single Guy is giving me the knowing eye. Sheesh. Conflicted Jock asks why we’re walking so fast. Then, as if imbued with an articulation unbecoming of him, he asks, “Can you set more of a glacial pace?” Glacial? How metaphorical for Jock. I was taken aback by his words. Crazy J gave him some sass and continued his river rapids rush.

First off, I love how this club stamps you for drinking age. If you are under 21, you are stamped as a “bottom.” If you are 21 or over, you are stamped as a “top.” Don’t you love it!? Cheeky!

Let me preface this entire thing with a historical fact – I NEVER see anyone I really know here. I’ll notice people from around, but never do I run into friends or acquaintances. Also, I NEVER get hit on here, except a few times by one random barney. I’m not trying to be all “I’m too cool” but it’s the truth. The one socially awkward guy seeks me out (or has his sassy roommate do his dirty work – but that’s another story) and it gets weird.

Within seconds, I see my friend B-Dub and his boy, El Nino. We’ve always talked about going to Gay Dance Club together but never have. And we randomly ever go there, so what are the odds. I temporarily abandon my other peeps for my two boys. Intermittently, Crazy J stops by to “check in” with me about his status of being bad and misbehaving. Then off he disappears into the crowd. B-Dub introduces me to his friends from out of town. One is Social Guy who’s already met EVERYONE at the club. The other is his friend, Louis Vuitton (named so because B-Dub noted his Louis jacket (and not a swap-meet Louis either), which was otherwise lost on me. Could have been from Old Navy for all I knew). Eventually, DSG pulls me aside by the poker machines (no innuendo) to debrief me on some hoo-hah about Conflicted Jock’s behavior. He’s all upset by his weirdness. And dude is weird. It’s just a vibe you get around him.

Then I get pulled on stage to dance with Crazy J. And we’re being all dirrtay but in good fun. B-Dub, El Nino, Louis Vuitton and Social Guy join us on stage, and I make my rounds to dance with each of them. It felt surprisingly fluid to intermix with everyone, and not like that scene in Mrs. Doubtfire where she’s running back and forth between the tables at the restaurant. Well, and shockingly, no one was dressed like a woman there, except the women. Including the Three Hot Lesbians. How could I forget about them?

At one point I find myself next to Conflicted Jock, who’s all “How do you know everyone here? You have guys all over you.” And he’s not being condescending, more like intrigued and a bit bummed he’s not getting hit on. I try to explain what’s going on. And he’s like, “I hate gay people.” Say huh?

Confusedcious says, “Speak in dissonance and non sequitur.”

I try to spin it with “How can you hate gay people? You’re here with all these wonderful guys and your gay friends?” I can’t remember his response, but whatever. Dude’s chewed.

DSG pulls me aside again for another one-off debrief, this time about some guy he met online who was there, and was acting like he didn’t know him (or some blah blah), and something about his boyf being there and trying to assert his presence. Quite honestly, I blocked some of it out. And Conflicted Jock was lingering, probably thinking DSG was all talking about him. Just go find a dark corner and f**k each other already. You’re both driving me crazy.

Crazy J pulls me back on stage (this time on the elevated platform) for a more intense and suggestive bump-n-grind-fest. I play along because he’s beyond tipsy and I was having an already surreal night. As I’m coming off stage, I see someone I notice. She used to be a student worker in our college. I’m all, “hey!” She does a double-take and is like, “Oh my god! I can’t believe I’m seeing Army here!” She’s all stunned and says, “So you’re gay?” “Yep. You didn’t know?” She’s all, “I need a moment.” LOL We chat for a while and that eventually melds into some freaky-like dancing. Crazy J comes over to hang on me and says something to Stunned Student. I can tell SS is tipsy and her friend eventually pops up behind her to escort her home. Before leaving, SS hugs me and is like, “Wow, Army. You know I would have f**ked you.” SAY HUH!? LOL – This night is cracking me up!

I turn around and B-Dub is there smoking a cigarette and sipping booze. Smokes and drinks. I pause with shock. I’ve NEVER seen him smoke or talk about it or anything. I’m all “Who ARE you???” He tells me he only smokes randomly when he’s drunk. I’m like, “Your name is changing to Suddenly Smoking Guy!” El Nino had apparently given him a nicotine clearance before going across the club to talk with the only other guy in town named El Nino (obviously not his real name, but suffice it to say, his real name is so rare I never heard it before).

Social Guy chats me up for a while about all sorts of stuff, and he tells me how he knew Conflicted Jock from a few years back and he was conflicted back then. Social Guy's all "he gives me the creeps!" Yeah, I dig, man. And as it turns out, a bit later I have one more heartfelt convo with Conflicted Jock. He confides that he wants a nice guy to "make love" with. Um, you want a guy now? You mean one of those gays you hate? He comments again on how all these guys are chatting me up and he’s by himself. He tells me it's his last night of being gay. I'm all, "What, are you on gay death row?" He says something else, and I’m getting this vibe that he’s insinuating something to me, but I wasn’t going there with him. Clearly his brain fog has kept him stuck at that crossroads on that Bi-Way.

As the evening comes to a close, all my storylines comes to a crazy climax. Crazy J propositions me. Outright. That was very surprising because even though we were getting jiggy, I didn’t get a sense he was into me. And as Crazy J’s driving hard to get me into his bed, DSG tells me he needs to drive Conflicted Jock home so he can put this night to bed. And Crazy J is making a strong case with the ultimatum “now or never.” Seriously. And B-Dub is there to back him up, saying if he wasn’t with El Nino, he’d take up his offer. Some friend! And it’s nothing to do with Crazy J because he is cute. But I just don’t roll that way, especially with someone who’s drunk. I know I’ve disappointed some of my friends with that statement (you know who you are!), but my Mom would be proud!! LOL

So I explain it to Crazy J, DSG is practically tapping his foot and his watch, Conflicted Jock is looming, and Social Guy swoops in to ask me not to leave. What’s going on? Louis Vuitton suddenly siddles up to me (with whom I’ve said basically nothing that night) and asks, “Are you leaving?” As I’m being pulled out the door, Louis adds, “Do you need a ride home?” LOL - What kind of Twilight Zone have I fell into?? All these men driving hard to jump on me… it was like running the gay gauntlet. Was it a full moon on Saturday? It was flattering, but also quite disorienting. What was going on? Was it all that brain-rattling music and dim lighting?

Whatever it was, the man drought turned into a Noah-style man flood! And despite the man-handling, I left man-less. By choice. It was truly a surreal time. And I have to admit, the attention was kinda nice. I’m still perplexed by it all, as I do not see myself as someone that guys openly hit on. Especially from my past experiences.

Conflicted Jock, DSG, and I all chat on the way back and a bit more tension ensures between those two. DSG is bad with directions, so I play navigator. Along the way, we find Bliss Street, and I have a thought. This night was blissful. It felt fun and good, and I was very pleased I didn’t decide to be a homebody again. Once Conflicted Jock was returned to his Mom’s (hee hee), DSG confides his attraction for Jock is gone, replaced by frustration. We debrief a bit more and part ways. Yeah, he's clearly ONLY a friend to me. He's still too much into himself and too much of a control freak. And to come from me, THAT'S saying something. I wish I could share DSG’s better nickname with you all, but I want to keep his real name anonymous.

I call B-Dub (Suddenly Smoking Guy) when I get home to debrief about the evening. He tells me that Social Guy really likes me, and I can’t help but laugh. Join the club! I thought more about the night as I washed the ink off my hand and the smoke from my body. Confidence and extroversion are powerful. They can tip the scales in social settings, making you seem more attractive and approachable. Because I met so many new people and familiar faces, it was a combination that drew me out of my otherwise isolated social self. As a psychology major, I already knew of these concepts, but it feels different when it happens to you. I didn’t realize how powerful it could be. I should have remembered my hero, Albert Bandura!

After all is done, I have no regrets. Well, maybe I should have went with Crazy J. Then I would have had a Part 3 to report... That'll have to be for another night, another post.

A Night Like No Other - Part 1

The night started with a call from Definitely Single Guy (formerly known as Maybe Single Guy). After a few previous hang-outs, I decided he was just a friend, even though he is attractive and has brilliant brown eyes. Too many weird hang-ups, and I don’t just mean how our telephone conversations ended.

He invited me out for a night with his friends, and I decided I needed new material and a reason to reassess my homebody status. Little did I know exactly how the evening would fail to disappoint me! I arrive at DSG’s apartment, which is obsessively spotless. I’m ordered to remove my shoes in the entrance way. He’s blasting Tina Turner on his laptop while bustling around the apartment like a gal before the prom. Come to find out this ex-fling of his was joining us, and DSG still has the hots for him. Apparently, just like in our school days, this guy likes to play Hot and Cold with DSG. He likes me, he likes me not. I knew right then I was going to bear witness to an adult version of recess rife with innuendo, double meanings, and playful banter.

It's prefaced that this guy is big, muscular, and has a dumb jock thing going on. When he gets in DSG’s car, he immediately lives up to his preview. I didn’t find him that attractive, but I have niche appeal it seems, so he could have been attractive. He certainly had the beef cake thing going on. But a dead fish handshake… yikes! Interestingly, that was the least of his conflicted nature.

He’s also a sexual pile of rubble. If Jock had a guru to whom he would devote his life and mindfulness, it would be the sage Confusedcious. See, Jock is lost somewhere on the Bi-way from Straightstown to Gaysville. And he don’t got a map. Or a clue where he’s going. But despite all his lane changing, Jock is trying really hard to get to Gaysville – he just doesn’t fully know it.

We arrive at a local trendy bar for drinks and a meet-up with DSG’s friend Crazy J and his complement of Three Lesbians. When they arrive, I find to my surprise the Lesibans are all really hot! They were every straight man’s fantasy come true. Too bad we didn't have one in our Gaggle of Gays. Crazy J is quite funny, talking about how he’s going to get into trouble tonight. It’s clear he’s a regular in the bar scene, and I was just taking in his antics.

After a round, it's decided we will leave and go to the Gayest Non-Gay bar in town, which I like to call the Haven of Beautiful Men. This was where I would once again run into Thinny Kravitz. Though we made eyes a few times, nothing else came of it. I was too busy listening to Jock and DSG go back and forth, DSG touch him in all these playful and familiar ways, insinuate, and generally make me want to scream, “Just get it over with already!” But Jock was uncomfortable here because he works at the Haven of Beautiful Men and isn’t out at work. So he’s roaming around with killer ants in his pants… instead of DSG.

Before me is a sea of gorgeous men, far more than I thought could ever wash up on the shores of this land-locked town. For a minute I believe they are all plants shipped from exotic locales that could never grow locally. It was an o-gay-sis in a man drought. *pinch* Nope, not dreaming.

And in walks two Chris’s from the Chris Continuum. My friend Foster knows three grad students in his department named Chris, all of which I’ve met at their happy hours. He refers to them as Metrosexual Chris, Eurotrash Chris, and New Chris (whom I call F**king HOT Chris). They are all “straight” but Foster and I have very strong suspicions that Eurotrash Chris also follows the Book of Confusedcious. He makes more conflicted comments and passes at Foster than Ambiguously Straight Guy does at me. What is it with straight men these days? Pull yourselves together!

Anyway, Eurotrash Chris and F**king HOT Chris come in with other people I recognize from their department. I make eye contact with Eurotrash and purposefully look away. He’s going to get an earful from me soon because he keeps toying with Foster, and I don’t like him jerking my friend around like that, even if he's clueless about it. Tonight wasn’t the time.

But it all got better when I met my Evil Twin Susan! As soon as we were introduced, we hit it off, riffing back and forth like we were old friends. We decided that we would be each other’s evil twins because that’s what people drinking at bars come up with. Our repartee is interrupted by DSG who wants to leave because Antsy Conflicted Jock is driving him crazy. I scan the crowds once more for a chance encounter with Thinny Kravitz, but he's disappeared or turned sideways. With the Hot Lesbians and Crazy J leading the way, I ask about our next location.

I should have know... where else to take a sexually flustered boy than the Gay Dance Club! And that’s when my night truly began…

To be continued… Read Part 2 here.


I'm Running B-arely-eta!

By now, I should know to avoid the term "Beta." It's just a decoy. Sure, it has the promise of a fresh package, a rare and exotic novelty, and the exploration of a new toy. With all the successful conversions out there, surely Blogger Beta would jazz up my blog, too! Those stars in my eyes were caused by the light at the end of the tunnel, sure... little did I know it was an on-coming train.

See, Beta really means "unfinished." It's a testing stage. To work out the bugs, glitches, kinks, snags, errors, problems, headaches, frustrations, and moments where you give up and bellow, "What the fook!?" to yourself. I should know this by now. I've tried to be a beta TESTER for video games before. Apparently the true test is how quickly I can catch on to reality. The results are in, but I can't look at my score just yet.

I remember when Beta was a videocassette format -- smaller in size and considered superior in quality to its more popular cousin, VHS. My family would travel to Video Towne, and I remember there was a single Beta rack with a pathetic, paltry selection of movies. Back then, people spent several hundred dollars for a lead-heavy brick cassette player that with a top loader and a remote on a wire. All that wonder, quality, and cash for what? To watch a vivid copy of "Real Genius" or "Soap Dish" because that's all that was in stock? Shortly after, Beta disappeared altogether, the eventual splat of the on-coming locomotive. Did I learn?

If we take a page from portfolio investments, we learn that beta is a measure of volatility and risk in investment. Clearly, in the realms of unfinished business, beta is too risky for me. And yet I already played the market. My blog is now partially Beta-ed, but I can't upgrade the template. And I've searched high and low for a fix -- nothing yet, official or otherwise. Why did I not associate all these bad betas with one another? Was it guilt by lack of association?

So now I wait with beta'd breath for a solution. And in that breath, I say, "You won't beat me, Beta. Not this Army.

A Pile of Evidence

So Feyonce and I were in her office working hard long hours, deep into the afternoon. We had the office suite all to ourselves for our session. I had been sweating, it was so hot... outside! WHAT? You dirty-minded scoundrel, this is a PG blog. I know what you were thinking! Gosh dang.

We met up to put together this presentation, blah blah, and all the while snacking on these Halloween candies. Did you know the little Reese's Peanut Butter mummies (or whatever they were) have no hydrogenated oils!? I was all, "These are healthy!" And with that twisted logic, soon we had accumulated a pile of wrappers we referred to as the nest. Feyonce broke out her cell phone camera to capture the comical image. Meet our shrapnel, the remains of a sugar-coated thought-fest and chocolate covered plan-ology.

Then Feyonce's friend and co-worker, Janky, drops by. They talk shop about some kids in their major, blah bloo bleh. Janky points to our nest and says, "had enough candy?" I'm all, "WHAT?" in an innocent and clueless tone. "You have no proof." "There's your evidence" she pokes like a robin feathering our nest. "Circumstantial evidence at best" I retort with mock certainty. Yeah, we're dumb enough to find this exchange funny.

Then Janky tells us about this guy who sits in the front of her class and never takes notes. She's trying to figure him out. I say, "he's hot for teacher" as I give her the elevator look. "Oh yeah?" "Sure, he wants to see your legs and curves, baby. He's taking the bends like he built the roads!" WTF does that mean? LOL -- I certainly don't know, but yet, we laughed. Was it an insult or flattery? I'm not quite sure either. I have no proof.

Nice Day For A Why Wedding

So marriage in this country isn't exactly the sacred institution it was once thought to be. What has changed? Is it our reasons for marrying? Is it the ease and expectation of it all? Isn't it harder to get onto an airplane now than it is to get married? Did Dennis Rodman, Brittany Spears, Married by America, and My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance do it for you?

I wondered if marriage is the doomsday device I've often thought it to be. Because I don't believe in the institution, I believe in the two people who form their union together. Like any merger, it's a good idea if initiated for the right reasons. That's usually the whole love thing. But that isn't enough, is it? What about shared values, communication, and similar attitudes? If you think about it, that's what makes a business merger successful. If you do it just for profit, you end up like AOL and Time Warner -- continued operation doesn't equal success. And what is the marriage equivalent, you ask? Getting married because of children.

Which brings me to the Why Wedding I attended this weekend. Without going into a storied past, let's just say I work with Bride and from all accounts I've heard from her, Groom is a bum. He's done things that are simply unacceptable. Allegedly he's changed but whatever. I think the marriage is because they had a child. There was NO talk of a marriage prior to said birth. So this all brings us to the big question, "Why, oh why?"

I felt bad about not wanting to go, so I guilted myself into it. And I was too lazy to fabricate a modest excuse. So two coworkers and I decide to attend the best part of the wedding -- the reception. Which sounds like an ass thing to do, but here are the reasons:

1) Everyone in our office was directed to an invitation on the bulletin board -- we didn't even get a personalized card. It was an unvitation. A snarky question by a friend, "Were there little pull tabs at the bottom you could rip off?" LOL

2) Bride is truly just a coworker - not a friend or acquaintance. She's nice, don't get me wrong. There's just nothing more to it.

3) There are no freebies at the wedding ceremony.

4) This was a Why Wedding in which we didn't exactly support the union.

So we arrive and see Smartens and Rasmatic pull up. I'm all "Did you guys ditch the wedding, too?" Smartens is like, "No we went. There were only 20 or so people there." Cue the needle-across-the-record sound effect. We'd been had! Our absence was conspicuously so. In fact, we saw Bride and got what was either a crook-eye or stink-eye. Either way, we were on her pooh list. Maybe she'd think we were just there for the food, which is mostly true. Hey, we showed up to support this fauxship when no one else would, isn't that enough?

Let me just run down a few observations from this reception:

1) Groom and Bride barely interacted. Mostly during the coreographed events (like making the entrance, cutting the cake, the toast). Elsewise, he was elsewhere.

2) I thought I was down-dressed in my button-down collared shirt (untucked) and herringbone khakis... until Dude showed up in jeans and a tanktop (of undershirt quality). Suddenly I was quite dapper.

3) One of the pregnant bridesmaids was smoking. I repeat, the pregnant bridesmaid was smoking.

4) We formulated our exit strategy since we arrived, and finally organized an escape through the closest means of egress without even getting cake. Had to cut our losses.

I could tell you more, but then I'd just sound like a catty shrew. Instead I come off as a pompous, judgemental ass -- and I'm more comfortable in that role.

This whole experience got me thinking. As for gay marriage bans across the nation, perhaps it is a blessing to be spared such a fate. Because if two people love each other, they can easily live happily ever after without a marriage. Symbols are not guarantees. And if you think about it, a marital union is a kind of financial merger involving two partners. And as commercialism goes, marriage and divorce are really for-profit businesses, just like death and prison. And isn't funny that my mind immediately made that connection? I've said enough...

Only Whom Can Prevent House Fires?

You may recall that I work in a beat-down old house from yesteryear. With recent emergency response protocols being discussed on campus, JP the British Boss decides he will conduct a random fire drill -- LOL. I'm all for safety first, but I think we know about our exit routes. And being that our house is held together with ancient timber left over from Noah's era, I have full mind to hot-foot (in a most orderly fashion) out of that place because it will be eaten alive in flames. Unless the lead paint and asbestos tiles provide barrier protection. So JP send out an email to stay frosty that a fire drill looms on the horizon.

The Man Who Cried Drill

So one afternoon, I'm in the lobby chatting with Dimitria, and JP steps out and announces to us in an unauthoritative and somewhat side-comment-like way there will be a drill. So he goes over to the security alarm and sets it off. D and I share a look of "what's he doing over there" on our faces. Then he gets all excited and starts coaxing "Let's go, let's go! It's a drill!" No one is coming from the upstairs. And it's because he was testing that security alarm earlier that week, so no one paid it any mind. And it only went off for about 5 seconds, LOL. So D has to send an email to everyone with a subject heading "there's a fire drill. please evacuate now" or something like that. JP bounds upstairs to hustle out the top floor.

We start gathering across the street, making jokes about how the house should really be on fire. Then we're chanting "Burn! Burn!" while Sylvia has her student advisee with her. She probably thought we were crazy. Then JP comes out and is like "good job team, but we met up in the wrong place." He wants up to go NEXT DOOR in case of a fire. I told him, "I'm putting a street between me and a fire, not a 12 foot stretch of grass." It was all quite comical.

And bless his heart, JP tries to be on top of things. He made these signs to put up that direct people on evacuation during an emergency. Two things, though. 1) He found an image online of a medical cross with an arrow... but it always points to the right, even if the nearest exit is to the left, LOL. 2) It says "Find nearest means of egress" on it. JP, we live in the US! Americans don't know what "egress" means! Sylvia said she'd die in the fire because she'd read the sign and have to look up "egress" on her computer to find out what it meant.

Sorry Smokey, I think we let you down.

Fight Fires with Literacy

Foster and I are on our way to dinner one night and there's a fire engine, lights a-twinkle, in front of the Post Office. We slow as we approach so we can go around it. And all I see is a firefighter in full gear, reading a newspaper while leaning against the wall. No other activity. I found the image quite funny.

Nature and the Alien Boy

This past weekend, Vick and I took a trip up north for a bit of hiking. As nature likes to conspire against my family, we were of course greeted with rain. Almost every single time Vick visits me, it's raining or snowing. And this time around, it was not like, oh it's sprinking a bit. It was like, hey those two are nearing the park entrance, let's make it rain really hard now. Ok, they are disappointed and leaving the park, so let's bring it down to a drizzle. Oops, nearing another park -- step it up again! I think Mutha Nature was ticked because Vick is a better mother than She'll ever be. Jealous old biddy!

I guess She gave up on her game because at the second entrance to the third park in the area (we weren't giving up!), it slowed to a mere misty drizz. So onto the trails of nature we went. First off, I have to point out the signs at the park entrance because I love these warnings. First off, parks are so bossy, it's a wonder anyone goes there anymore. Don't do this, don't do that, adhere to this, blah blah. First off, why no booze between Jan and May? What kind of arbitrary randomness is that? I also love the dude Slip-n-Sliding down the mountain like he's on Jackass 2. And my favorite of them all, alien children are NOT allowed to swim here. Shame. They've come a long way for a dip, you heartless parks and rec bastards!

We wander off on this trail that is quite sludgy, and Vick is wearing brand new white tennis shoes. But she's a real state trooper, so nothing deterred her from communing with nature. And despite the disappointment in not being able to see more of the parks in the area, we experienced our moment of purpose. At one
particular point on the hike, we came across a misty fog and stopped to enjoy the view. Then as if on cue, the sun peaked out of the clouds and created this beautiful array of light and dark, accentuating by the fog mingling around the trees. Fortunately, we both had two cameras (yeah that's right, we had our Sony Cybershots, my digital Kodak w/ 10x zoom, and Mom's Sony DSLR 10 megapixel hottie). These were my two best pictures from that surreal moment.

We almost got turned around coming back, but my superb manly sense of direction guided us back to safety. I wasn't about to ask a squirrel for directions! Then I "pushed" Vick down to the ground because I'm not to be trusted on hiking trips. When I was young, Lola took me to a nature reserve. She was trying to help me down this slippery rock staircase and lost her footing, breaking her ankle in the tumble. We continue to joke that I had pushed her down. After Mom had her slip, I told her she should have known better!

So I end this here story with a badly framed self-portrait. The others were blurry, so this is what we have to work with! I also choose to end with a moral -- if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. Or in this case, if you want the sunlight passing through trees and fog in a surreal moment you tend to only witness in magazine photos, you have to put up with the rain. Somehow that doesn't quite roll off the tongue as well.