Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I'm Not A Smart Man...

I really didn't do any research when I requested an iPod for my Christmas present from my folks. I just knew that I had been downloading songs from any and all sources for years, and I wanted a place to put these songs besides my hard drive. Now, I once had about 200 songs on my hard drive thanks to Napster and Kazaa and a few other file-swapping sites, but my computer completely crashed a couple of summers ago and I had to get rid of all that. At the moment I only have eight songs in my collection from Limewire, but I thought once I plugged my iPod into my computer that I could place those songs right in there. Then, in the future, I could download a song, put it in my iPod, and delete the song so as not to wear out my computer again. iPod had a different idea. On my computer screen, the iPod front page separates my Limewire files, allows me to play them on my computer like before, but refuses to send them to my iPod because they "cannot swap unregistered files," or something like that. I assumed that the Limewire files are on my hard drive, therefore they should swap over no problem. I assumed wrong. So the only things that transferred to my iPod are a file someone sent me seven years ago that has some white guy doing an Ebonics-style commercial for Delta ("We loves us some flyin'...and it be showin' like a motherfucker!") and all of my dirty pics, which I probably will delete because I have no reason to take those out in public unless I'm looking to get arrested. Unless someone with some computer savvy informs me of another way, I may have to succumb to the iTunes store and pay 99 cents per download for my songs, whether those songs are the versions I'm looking for or not. Otherwise, my Christmas present would be expensive and totally useless, and that reminds me too much of my ex-girlfriends.

(Update at 1:24P--Eureka! I seemed to have burned all of my songs from Limewire to my iPod. Everyone at once: Awwwww, shit!!)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I Finished My Christmas Shopping

And with a whole day to spare! God, I'm such a man...

Friday, December 22, 2006

31 Years Of Learning

"I can't imagine not wanting some recognition on your birthday," said my girlfriend when I told her that no one at work knew today was my birthday and I planned to keep it that way. Yet when I attended a meeting in which a proposal to announce recent birthdays was shot down because no one knew a way to legally find out whose birthday has recently occurred, I chimed in, "Well, today's my birthday, so I guess you can start with me." Later, I told my module's team lead as well. Thus, a perfect ending to a year in which I learned that I will never stop learning, whether I'm attending school or not. Today I learned to never assume that I can reject a chance at grabbing some recognition. I believe that I tried to downplay my birthday every other year as well, and wound up telling everyone so that they would wish me well. This year I learned so much about myself, from January, finally pulling off a one-night stand without falling hopelessly in love, to February, dealing with losing my apartment and living in a basement while piecing together a good enough interview to land my current job, to delicately putting together a long-distance relationship built on common ground and respect and not lust, to patiently building a new life with a new outlook and a new apartment. And the learning can only stop if I want to close my mind and stop it, and that's not something I'm interested in. I want to take every lesson that's coming to me, whether it's painful, enlightening, or whatever.

My most recent lesson before today was very painful--don't hold on to plastic bags too long. I was caught in a long line Wednesday at Walgreens behind those proverbial little old ladies from Pasadena, and I had four plastic bags of Christmas presents in my left hand. I absentmindedly let all of those bags dangle from my left ring finger, thinking that I'm going to put everything down on the counter once I got there. But getting to the counter took forever, because the ladies took forever. I felt the blood get cut off on my finger, but I didn't put the bags down because I would have had to pick everything up off the floor once it was my turn in line, and I was anticipating my turn coming any second now. My finger went numb. I didn't really think anything of it, because I've been caught in line before with bags that cut off the circulation in my hand, and it came back once I was able to get my bags together and arrange them in a way that wouldn't hurt nearly as much. Well, it's Friday, and my finger is still numb. It's just the tip, but it's still scary. At least the nurse at my job didn't think it was a very big deal. She says that it seems to be a very bad bruise and that if the feeling isn't back by Monday, then I should find a doctor. The side of my finger underneath got the feeling back this morning, but the rest of it is still dead. So the lesson: Don't ignore a limb going numb, dumbfuck, drop the bags already!

I have gifts for my girlfriend in Memphis, but instead of paying for postage and sending them down there, I figure I might as well accompany them. So next Sunday night after work I will fly down south for not my wildest New Year's ever, but my most meaningful. I had a feeling that next year would be a big year for me even before I met my girlfriend, and I can't think of a better way to start that year than with her. She has supported me fully ever since we got together, and sometimes I still can't believe I'm with her. I can't wait.

Happy holidays to all!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Wasted Potential

I just watched Michael Vick during the Falcons-Cowboys game roll one way and try to force a bad pass to a receiver unsuccessfully, while completely missing a receiver on the other side of the field who had absolutely nobody covering him. After about six years of waiting for Vick to mature, read the field, make good decisions, and become an all-around quarterback and not just a fast runner with a strong arm, I realized tonight that this will never happen. Vick has gone through several coaching changes in all his years in Atlanta, and several philosophies as well. But truly, if he was open to learning and able to adjust, he would be decent by now at being an NFL quarterback. But he's not. What he is is one of the most talented athletes in the history of the league, by yardage the best single-season rushing QB ever, but still not a good decision-maker or accurate passer. He completed one of his passes tonight by simply launching the football in the air as far as he could and hoping that a receiver would run underneath the ball and catch it. He did that again later, and his receiver was interfered with by the defender, so they got the ball at the spot of the foul. It doesn't take a great or even good quarterback to launch the ball far and hope you get a catch or pass interference (see Rex Grossman, Bears). And that's all Vick seems capable of doing, even after all these years. Vick will never be a good NFL quarterback. I don't know what he will be doing in a few years, but it's clear that the Falcons won't be using him at QB. He may be a running back or even a wide receiver, although I don't know how good he can catch the ball, or he may be given the quarterback position by a different franchise. But his time in Atlanta behind center has had its chance, and it has failed. There is no future there. I'm very afraid at this point that Vick's full athletic potential will never be fulfilled, and that saddens me because the man is pure electric in the open field. But when any team with a decent pass rush can disrupt your passing game so consistently, it's time to look at the offense and/or the personnel running the offense, and since they've used just about every offense known to man during Vick's tenure, I believe it lies on the personnel, meaning Vick and his core of receivers. But when your quarterback can't put any touch on his throws, it doesn't matter who his receivers are. They're never going to see the ball anyway.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Family Fun For Everyone (Unless He Wears Those Assless Pants)

I'm not making this up: Someone with the National Football League saw it proper to have Prince as the halftime act at the Super Bowl in February. Here's my short list of songs I'd love to see Prince perform just to stick it to the censors who thought Janet Jackson's boob was evil and dangerous:

"Do Me Baby"
"Jack U Off"
"D.M.S.R. (Dance Music Sex Romance)"
"Temptation"
"Let's Pretend We're Married"
"Sexuality"
"Darling Nikki"
"Head"
"Private Joy"
And, because it's the Super Bowl and you have to end on an upbeat, unite-the-world note, "God"

The man's career is more than 20 albums long, so if I missed your favorite, feel free to add to the list.

Workplace Terror, A Little Too Close To Home

http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_action=doc&p_docid=115EA686BA2EE1D8&p_docnum=2

A ho-hum typical workday Friday was interrupted with news of a shooting one block from my job. I was seated away from the 7th-floor window instead of near the window, which is where I usually sit. So when I asked a colleague about all the buzz going around the floor about something happening in the area, she simply pointed out the window at the phalanx of cops and blue lights down the street. The building has a food court on the ground floor that I visited for lunch nearly every day when I first started working with Chase until I discovered some Italian restaurants nearby. And I don't take lunch until late in the day, usually past 1P, because most of our work comes in the morning thanks to FedEx and DHL. So many co-workers and I weren't very far from being caught up in this drama, since the gunman decided to strike around 2:30P or so. On top of that, I cut through that building to get to one of the trains I have the choice of taking home when I leave at 4:30P. In fact, I took that train home Friday, gingerly stepping around police barricades and TV cameras and groups of onlookers, some of whom may have been in the building and may have witnessed the beginnings of this nightmare. The buzz in my workplace when it was time for me to leave was that "They got him," meaning that those afraid to go home thinking there might be a nut on the loose right outside our doors could breathe easier. I was wearing my headphones while I worked, so I didn't know what the hell "They got him" meant; like I said, the first I heard about the shooting was when I looked outside right before I left. I cut through the building on the way to work Saturday moring and this morning, and the usually jovial and busy food court doesn't look as inviting when it's flanked by security. It's just another sad reminder of the world we live in.

Oh, one more thing: I wonder if I'm the only person who thinks this way, but I didn't know what race the shooter or the victims were when I heard a co-worker speaking of the shooter in a sympathetic manner. The co-worker is black. She talked about how the gunman was upset about his invention being stolen by the inhabitants of the attorneys' office on the 38th floor, and that's why he busted in there with guns blazing. I was throwing out some general "Oh, he was nuts before this invention business came about" lines, but she was persistent that she felt bad for the guy because he felt he was wronged and that made him snap. Am I the only person who immediately saw a black woman feeling sorry for a guy who shot three unarmed people and thought, "Oh, the guy must have been black?" And sure enough, she eventually said that she saw his pastor on the news last night telling his story, leading me to look inside today's paper and find the shooter's picture. Am I wrong here? How could anyone show sympathy for this guy? I don't care how he felt, he walked into an office full of people who never had anything to do with his situation and opened fire. Sure, he got his target first, but he wasn't being choosy by the time he got to his third and potentially fourth victim. At that point he was just ending lives for sport. I didn't tell the co-worker this, but I don't see how the hell she could possibly have felt sorry for this guy unless she had seen him and his black pastor on TV. Whatever his plight was, whether he really was ripped off or not, the man was insane. He had a lifetime of hurt built up before he decided to go on this rampage. Trust me, I know of what I speak. I don't know his story at all, but black or white, I guarantee this shit about his invention being stolen was only his tipping point, not his sole source of rage.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Hell, We've Tried Everything Else

Just When You Think It Couldn't Get Worse...

My hot water wasn't very hot once the heating crew turned it back on last night, but it was warm enough for me to hop in the shower this morning...until they cut it off mid-lather. Turns out that they were only cutting the hot water today. Once I turned my shower dial to cold, here came the water again. So for the first time since they cut my hot water in my second apartment building in an attempt to force me to move, I took an ice shower. Woke me up, I'll say that. But my genitals are still frozen. One of the guys swore to me that everything would be fixed today, right before they started ripping down one of my walls. I'm getting out of here for the rest of the day before I hurt someone.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

House Of Horrors

A couple of issues that don't seem to be big but could turn big are preventing me from fully enjoying my house. (That's not counting the issue of my girlfriend not being in the house with me. Long-distance relationships can suck sometimes.) First, a new heating system is being installed, allowing each individual apartment to have control over its own heat without affecting the rest of the house. Let's just say that the men putting this system in don't appear to be college-educated. It took five of them to bring a heavy but small green furnace shaped like a safe to the back door before they managed to completely smash the door's glass. These guys have the key to my apartment so that they can do their thing while I work. But one day last week my play aunt who lives in the building informed me that she had to pull my door closed because the men had left for the day and my back door was wide open. There's four huge holes in my newly painted walls, and it would be nice if they could plaster those over sometime soon. One of my radiators is leaking something all over my hardwood floor. I hope it's just water; there's been a noticeable gas smell ever since they fired up the heat the day before Thanksgiving, although they warned us that the odor would occur and would go away "soon." Why they're still working on shit and pounding pipes at 9 in the morning (something I wouldn't notice if I didn't have days off in the middle of the week when they work) is beyond me. If the heat's on, shouldn't their jobs be done? And the heat wasn't on when the first cold spell hit about a month ago, so not only should they be done, but they should have been done a while back. They don't put the things they move back in place in my apartment when they leave, there's still a pair of gloves in my living room that don't belong to me, and I could only laugh when I came home one day to find the overhead cord to my kitchen lights turned off but the ceiling fan cord turned on. It was 40 degrees. Today is a new kind of hell--they've had to turn the water off to the whole house while they work, and the heat is off as well, and today's high is a toasty 31. Makes me wanna rent a hotel room somewhere until this shit is over.

The second issue may turn out to be even worse. My upstairs neighbors are total strangers to me, and that's not unusual at all because I've been in the habit my whole life of coming home from school or work, locking the door, and not acknowledging the outside world until the next morning. But I don't want to know these neighbors based on what I hear from them through the walls. There's a lot of talk about kicking someone's ass or fucking someone up, and that's not just something I hear once or twice. That's a popular conversation in that household. And that's during daytime hours. What I hear at night is loud music and lots of sex, especially in the bedroom right above mine. Someone in that room loves wearing high heels, and combined with our hardwood floors, that creates a difficult sleeping situation for me. And the sex doesn't help because I don't need to be reminded that I haven't gotten any in almost a year. According to my aunt, who owns the building, the tenant is supposed to be an older woman all by herself, but she does have adult children who may or may not be employed, and that's who she thinks is also dwelling there. I don't know if the woman works at night or has no control over her kids, but this partying and sex and other loud activity doesn't typically start until after about 11P. If I'm in my living room, which is right next to the front door, I can tell that it's about to jump off because the front door starts opening and closing a lot, voices become raised like a nightclub just opened, and footsteps start running up and down the stairs. Then the music starts pumping and the bed above my bedroom starts squeaking. If I didn't know any better, I'd say the high-heeled chick in that room was pimping herself out because it really does seem like she's on an every-night schedule. And my aunt has suggested that all the foot traffic could be drug traffic, although I don't think she has any real basis for that fear. In any event, this could turn into a nasty situation because my aunt has really wanted to evict the woman for a long time since the noise and extra "tenants" were complaints before I got here. If these guys think I'm doing the complaining, since I don't know them personally, I have no idea how they will react. But I think that my living room blinds, despite the lack of sunshine in my home, will stay closed until further notice. These days, you can't be too safe.

Monday, November 20, 2006

He's A Soup Nazi--Without The Soup

I'm sure by now everyone is aware of Michael Richards' racist diatribe at a comedy club this past weekend. Just hearing that the tall goofy guy who played Cosmo Kramer, the character on the TV show Seinfeld that relied on physical humor, decided that black people were beneath his no-talent ass was shocking enough. But to watch the episode is sickening. As my girlfriend said, this was worse than the Mel Gibson drunken spiel because at least Gibson could blame the booze. Richards has nothing to blame but his ignorant self. I really don't have much to add when raw stupidity is on display like this. I just wanted to point it out in case anyone thought we were making real progress as a race of people...uh, not so much. Some white folks, regardless of their lack of skill or taste, still think they're better than blacks for no reason than skin color. That will never change. Although I will say, watching a large number of people stand up and walk out on this shithead was by far the best part. That was an impressive display of spontaneous disgust.

I'll be at my uncle's house for the next three days, so Happy Thanksgiving to the three people who still read me. I appreciate any and all input, positive or negative.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

And Speaking Of Assholes...

Talking about Mr. C in my previous post is coincidental on the day that the "highlight" film of Texas Tech basketball coach Bobby Knight punching a kid in the chin last night is making the rounds. Of course, the kid, the kid's parents, the school president, and Knight himself are all putting their hands up and backing out of the room slowly as if any criticism is unfair and harsh. I am so sick of anything Knight does being accepted as "tough love" and solid coaching the likes of which are needed more in today's society. He choked Neil Reed at Indiana. He brought out a whip and joked about blood on the tip from getting tough on his players as if he was a slaveowner on a ship. He showed used toilet paper to his team at halftime years ago and told them that they were playing like shit. He's terrorized countless front office workers with his behavior, including flinging a glass vase at a secretary, who fortunately ducked and let the glass shatter against the wall. There's the time he flung a chair across the court, the time he brushed past referee Ted Valentine on his way out of a game that Valentine ejected him from, the time he went after some kid who said "Hey, what's up Knight?", the time he spoke at an official pep rally event where he told a full arena of kids' parents that his critics can kiss his ass...and last night, and let me spell it out so it's not understated like Knight and his butt-smoochers want, HE. PUNCHED. A. KID. IN. THE. CHIN. For any Knight lovers out there, imagine you were being coached by this asswipe and he decided to try to get your attention by popping you in the chin. How quickly are you wiping the brown off your shoe because you stuck it up his behind? But some people, like Knight and Mr. C, have people defend any and all of their actions because they want to get next to the boorish loud guy in power and want to earn his respect. I just want people to realize that sturdy, valuable leadership is not the same as tunnel vision combined with zero people skills. Hey, once we do see that, perhaps we'll elect someone for president who doesn't also have his head stuck up his ass.

Ah, Old Memories

Flashback time! A couple of people from my past contacted me recently and sent me back in time--way, way back.

First, my grade-school crush from fourth through sixth grade, a Puerto Rican I'll call "Rita," contacted me Saturday through Classmates.com. The first flashback was just seeing that I received an e-mail from Classmates.com, which made me gasp in fear of my high school girlfriend, "Giselle," trying to get back together again because Classmates.com is how we hooked up for a one-night stand almost five years ago. Then once I realized it was Rita, I remembered how crazy I was about her. She had straight hair and Bugs Bunny teeth from first through third grade, then she transformed into a curly-haired chick with straight teeth thanks to braces and, I'm guessing, a hair salon. I remembered trying every trick in the book to get next to her, from being nice and conversing with her to lifting her skirt when she wasn't looking, but she just wasn't interested. Then I remember when I got together with Giselle in high school, and since Giselle wasn't very attractive to say the least, some folks had some rude comments toward me, including Rita, who told me that I could do much better even though she totally rejected me at every turn. As my dad eloquently put it at the time: "Is she gonna suck your dick? No? Then why is she worrying about who does?" That's my dad for you.

Rita was e-mailing me because she wanted to find people who were part of our high school's theater club, The Company. The teacher who ran The Company, lovingly called Mr. C by his disciples, is retiring, and Rita is helping to organize a send-off bash. This sent me into the second flashback in as many weeks concerning Magic Johnson's announcement that he had the AIDS virus. (The first flashback was because the 15th anniversary of the announcement came last week, and ESPN was all over it.) When Magic made the announcement in 1991, it occurred late in the afternoon on a weekday, and I happened to be at practice for the play Our Town. Mr. C actually interrupted practice to tell us of the news that had just came out. This was because he was a hoops fan and wanted to share the sad news, right? No, this was because he was a racist bastard and he wanted to gloat. The motherfucker couldn't keep the smirk off his face when he told us, "Magic had to retire because he got AIDS." He was a world-class jackoff the whole four years I knew him. A second flashback about Mr. C is that in the summer of 1992, the annual Company picnic took place near his residence along the lake, an area that I knew nothing about because I was just a poor West Side kid at the time. But some friends--not Mr. C, oh no, he never mentioned anything about a picnic to me--gave me the directions to the beach and a time to arrive there. Now, I admit that the kind of kids in The Company, the snotty, Hollywood wanna-be types, weren't people I wanted to socialize with, but there were a few people there who I wanted to see. But basically, I sat there alone the majority of the day watching the water...until Mr. C ran out of buns and, instead of disturbing the fun of one of his favorites, sent me four blocks to the nearest store to get more buns. And we were all sitting around eating at the time, so it's not like he saw me by myself and decided that I could run the errand since I wasn't doing anything. He decided that I could run the errand because, well, what other purpose would a black kid among a throng of almost all white kids serve except to run errands? In other words, he didn't tell me about the Company picnic because I really wasn't supposed to be there. I'm shocked he didn't make me run to the fieldhouse bathroom and wash my dirty hands before he served me any food. Rita said that he's not as arrogant now since he got "that grapefruit-sized tumor in his head." Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Needless to say, I'm not going to anything honoring him.

One more flashback about The Company didn't involve Mr. C, but I believe the atmosphere surrounding The Company led to this incident happening, and that's Mr. C's fault because privilege and thinking you're more deserving than others are what made The Company what it was. In 1993, Giselle and I were going to have minor roles in the production of Les Miserables (as I said in My History (4th In A Series), the tryouts for Les Mis is where Giselle and I first met), but my grades prevented me from staying in the show. Giselle stayed, though, and after the last show she, like many others, took a piece of the set as a souvenir. But a crew member, a white female, threw a fit about Giselle having the nerve to do that, and called her some choice names to her face. Giselle wasn't aware of this crew member having a problem with anyone else taking a meaningless hunk of wood, just her. And they didn't know each other, so it wasn't a personal issue, but rather an issue of Giselle not being a full-time member of the clique known as The Company, and how dare she put her filthy hands on something the clique helped build. I sure hope whoever takes over The Company isn't as much of a prick as the former leader and his cult followers.

Rita also told me of finding a couple of grade-school ex-classmates through Google. One was Shane, who was the popular jock and also mixed, so he was seen as kinda exotic-looking, and that just added to his popularity. The last I heard of him, he was a very good high-school wrestler, and I assumed he went on to some kind of athletic career. Rita says that he's a state trooper in Iowa and a born-again Christian. Somehow, that didn't surprise me, not that he was religious, but he seemed to be one of those guys always trying to do the right thing no matter what. Rita also said that she discovered Ben, who was just a wild, blond-haired free spirit kind of guy. Last I heard of him, I had called him in high school because I was going through old phone numbers, and he had taken a stereotypical black-guy style of speech, like he had a crash course in Ebonics or something. Rita said that he recently died suddenly, and that apparently he has a child due to be born. How sad. I believe his family had a history of health problems, or at least his older brother, who I think had a heart condition. What a terrible thing to have happen, to drop dead at the age of 30, and he was expecting. Wow. My flashback about Ben should tell you a lot about the kind of guy he was. This was either fifth or sixth grade, and we knew something was wrong with Ben because he had been quiet all day. Turns out he was complaining of a headache, so I think a teacher may have given him an aspirin, but it didn't help. Finally, towards the end of the day, he sits out gym class because his head is killing him, and the gym teacher decides to examine his head because he's saying that it's not an internal pain but rather something in the back of his head, but he didn't remember hitting his head recently. So the gym teacher peels back that wild mess of curly blonde hair...and discovers a safety pin sticking in the back of his head. Apparently it had been there all day. Naturally, he had no idea how it got there, nor had he thought to reach back there to see why it hurt so much. Damn, I'm gonna miss that boy. He redefined unique.

Sunday, "Laurie" shocked me by calling my cell phone. (You can search "Laurie" within my blog to read all about her.) Like all of the other women I had been chasing the last few years, I assumed she lost my number once I sent her money. But she was going through old numbers at work and found mine, and I happened to be off work Sunday to watch some football, or else she would have caught my voice-mail. Where's Laurie's mind these days? Where it always is--meaningless teasing and flirting. She asked how things were with my girlfriend, and as soon as I got finished telling her that I'd like to see her more but otherwise everything was fine, her immediate next sentence was, "You should come to Detroit." Wha?? She explained that I could get the money she owes me if I came up there, but she could easily mail me that money if she ever intended to give it back, which she doesn't. She talked about the Michigan State Fair taking place next year, which is good because she's an organizer there and she was worried about losing her job if they made cutbacks or eliminations to the Fair. I said, politely but as a brushoff since I have no intention of going, that I'm sure I'd have a good time at the Fair, and she responded, "I'd make sure we have a great time." This is what fucked me up so bad with Laurie. She didn't realize last year when she spouted her useless flirtatious lines that someone like me, desperate to be loved by anyone much less a thin, attractive blonde, would be at the starting line in a three-point stance ready for her to pull my trigger. But she never did. Three different times I had my suitcase half-packed and was looking up airfares on Priceline.com waiting for her to give me the okay. Every time she either canceled or didn't contact me at all. When I hung up Sunday, the flashbacks about her didn't last long at all because my mind is in a completely different place than it was. Laurie got off on playing the game, never intending to make good on her promises. She can't play anymore with me, though. I've declared this game over a long time ago.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Content

Today while visiting my aunt's house I ran across some pictures she took when my girlfriend was in town to visit me in July. The look of contentment on my face in those pictures was surprising. I must say that I can't remember ever seeing pictures of myself where I look so relaxed or happy. I've always dreaded pics because, duh, as you've read on this blog, I have a self-esteem problem. And that lack of self-esteem and general unhappiness always came across in my pics. I always looked pained to be taking a picture, or trying to force a fake smile. There was no fake smile in these pics. I looked at ease, pleased and proud to have my arm around my woman. I even stood straight up and had good posture, which made my body look less lumpy than it usually looks on my pics. It's strange to see a picture of myself where I don't look like I want to go kill someone. Sometimes you arrive at a place in life and you don't even realize you're there. But God knows how glad I am to be here.

Monday, October 30, 2006

My Maturity Progress Report--Uh, Still A Long Way To Go

My girlfriend and I were e-mailing back and forth about our relationship and how relatively fast we are moving. This is what she wrote this morning:

"You are right about the red flag of your past relationships. Whenever I read the archives in your blog (which I did in the wee hours of this morning), it always sobers me and makes me realize that this thing could end any minute now. I would never force you to give me one good reason to stick around because I don't know if there is anything you can say to really change the way I feel sometimes. Only time will really change that. The longer that we are together and the more I get to observe you, the more confident I will become of your feelings for me. Until then, I stick around because I have made a choice to do so, a choice to trust that the way you say you feel is real. I stick around because I want to give us the best possible chance of succeeding."

She's not the only one who wonders whether I'm real. I am very very scared of the fact that I felt over-the-moon in love with the trash that I dated before. I am scared that I wouldn't know how to fall in love with a good woman because I fell in love with any women who showed me some attention. Hell, I'm scared that I could give in to some random trash who came on to me just because I'm so used to trash. I'm scared that sluts with no morals or standards are my true element and that dating a woman who waited for the right man and hasn't slept around is aiming a bit too high. Maybe all of that means that a part of me or most of me isn't ready to be in a real relationship. I honestly don't know. But a big part of why it's worked so far with me and my girlfriend is that we can discuss things like this in the open with no boundaries. I'm so far from perfect it's not even funny. But she's been accepting thus far. It would kill me to hurt her as a reward for her patience. And maybe that's the true sign that this is real--I can't stand the thought of doing something to hurt her after all the faith she's invested in me. Fuck my desires and fears, I can't hurt her. I won't hurt her. She doesn't deserve it. And honestly, I don't deserve her.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Beggars Who Are Better Off Than Me

I remember a report some years ago that said a beggar in the right area on an eight-hour shift can make as good a salary as any other minimum-wage worker, if not better. It makes sense when you think about it. Add up all the loose change, throw in the key $1 or $2 tip from a very giving or very guilty rich guy or girl, and that can easily get up to $5 or $6 per hour. There was a tall black guy everyone called Slim who stalked outside CBOE for the entire ten years I worked there. He briefly sold Streetwise newspapers for a while, but mostly he's always just lurked and begged. In a hurry to, what else, get lunch, I nearly ran him over one day not long after I started there, to which he replied, "Excuse the hell out of me!" I just glared at him. Guess who's still down there, and guess who's not? So maybe begging is the way to go. After all, I'm sure Slim's received more money from Bill Brodsky and the other jackass tightwads down there than me and many others who actually worked for CBOE.

There's always interesting observations about beggars in Chicago, especially working downtown as I do. But a couple of incidents made me wonder if they're not better off than some of us believe they are.

Two weeks ago, a guy was standing at an intersection with a paper cup in his hand looking for change from people coming out of a Walgreens. Not an unusual sight, except he was rocking a leather jacket with a Kung Fu-looking insignia on the back. Even I don't own a leather jacket. It was nice too, black and blue and in better condition than you'd expect. I guarantee the retail value on that sucker when it first sold was at least $200. I'm sure it's damn near worthless now, but still, if you have to beg for change, I'd think you'd sell the leather jacket to some goodwill shop or something and find another coat. That same goodwill shop would probably give you a different coat for nothing, and selling that leather number would certainly pay for several meals.

Then, a week ago, I'm standing outside the train station and waiting for the bus to take me home, the last leg of my commute. A tall kid, no more than 17 but three inches higher than me, has to tap me on the shoulder in order to beg because I have my trusty headphones on, which have probably shielded me from an estimated 650 other chances for someone to beg me for something. He apologizes for bothering me, then asks if I can swipe my bus pass through the train turnstile so that he can get on the train. He's dressed like a typical teenager, i.e., his clothes are worth more than my wardrobe. He's also holding a canned pop. Um, maybe if you hadn't bought the pop, son, you could have afforded to go home or wherever you were trying to go. After I turn him down, I notice him wander back over to a posse of about three other young males, and I would wager my house that at least one of them had a working cell phone on them and could call someone to come pick them up. But it's easier to just beg strangers to pick up the slack for you. I'd also bet that people have been giving him things all his life because he's tall, black, and male, and he looks like a potential hoops star. I would make a joke about his Hummer being in the shop, but maybe he's not good enough to make an AAU coach or wannabe agent buy a vehicle for him. Keep working at it, kid, there's countless numbers of people willing to give you a ride anywhere you want if only you can consistently stick that turnaround jumper.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Making The World Safer, One Full House At A Time

A bill was recently passed in Congress that had something to do with potential terrorist cells passing money back and forth through international bank accounts, and a rider was attached that restricted what business offshore gambling accounts can do with American citizens. What all of that means is that when I tried to play online poker last night, I was informed that some people in a handful of states, due to legislation in said state, were being barred from playing for money now, and the rest of America should be barred in another month or so. Illinois was one of those states with ongoing legislation. Boy, am I glad I won over $300 the last time I played so that I have a sizable amount to withdraw. But this is bullshit. This Chicken Little sky-is-falling administration doesn't have a fucking shred of proof that some group in Aruba running an online poker site is funnelling cash to terrorists through poker, but they'll try to shut it down, just in case. Those who really want to play will find illegitimate sites that are much less safe, they'll win and never see their money because a lot of those underground sites are crooked, and how exactly does that help shut down terrorism? I bet I can hook up with Mark Foley and find some teenage pussy all night long online, but I can't play poker for money. This nation is so bass-ackwards sometimes that it's really pitiful.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

And The Beat Goes On

My small little worries and anxieties kept drumming along the last couple of weeks while the world kept a-spinnin'. After three days in Memphis with my girlfriend that frankly couldn't have gone much better, one of the first thoughts that crossed my mind after I returned was, Wow, all this happiness and feeling good and feeling confident about myself and thanking my lucky stars that I have this woman in my life--I went through all these same feelings with "Karen" after our first few dates. This was after I felt very depressed for the three days leading up to labor Day weekend and couldn't figure out why, then I realized that I responded to Karen's personal ad on Labor Day three years ago. But all is well. I could have gone into a tailspin and started ruminating about everything that happened again, but I refused. This is what time and having a supportive person in my life has done--instead of brooding and stewing, I've developed the ability to breathe, find something to do that takes my mind off things, and if that's not enough, I can call my girlfriend because she actually likes talking on the phone with me and doesn't mind helping me through my episodes. The last episode I had was maybe a couple of months ago, when I was already having a shitty morning and I heard one of those songs that remind me of Karen, and instead of turning it off, I figured I was already in a foul mood, so why not go down the well and see how deep it measures. Still pretty fucking deep, as it turns out. But when I got home that evening, I talked things out with my girlfriend, and we had a great conversation about everything we both were feeling. She didn't just pooh-pooh me and say it will all be okay. She actually conversed with me and helped me work through things. It's really awesome how open and honest our relationship is, not just because she's not a lying whore but also because I'm not a lying whore, either. This is how I always wanted a relationship to be like. And in a way, the best part is, I can realize that it may not work out for various reasons, like the long distance between us or one of us being unhappy with the pace, but whatever the reason, it's not going to crush my soul. I'm truly giving it my best honest effort and if it doesn't work, then it wasn't meant to be. But there's no hiding anything, there's no game-playing, and I'm not going to go insane if she and I can't make it. I will snap if I find her secret website, however. :)

The three days in Memphis started six hours later than it should have because I have a very nasty procrastination habit, which is to say that I missed my fucking flight again. That same toiletry ban that I railed against in my last post got me. When I got to the area where they scan my body, I only had about 15 minutes to make my flight, but they told me that those toiletries would be allowed in my walk-on luggage if they were 3 ounces or less each, so I tried to go through because I thought everything I had was 3 ounces or less. I forgot about my big can of aerosol deodorant. So that was five minutes wasted scanning myself because I had to turn right back around and take my luggage to be checked. By the time I did that, it was 10:48A, and the flight took off at 11A. So the woman at the counter wouldn't even let me throw the toiletries away and check my bag as a walk-on because she said that due to the location of my terminal, I could never make it before they closed the doors to the plane ten minutes before take-off. The news only got worse: The next flight was for 4:55P. It really hurt me to call my girlfriend and tell her this, and it was extremely painful to hear her voice when I told her. She sounded so disappointed. But after snapping at my waitress at a restaurant because she was trying to serve me while I told my girlfriend the news, I realized that I needed to calm the fuck down and cope because I was going to be at O'Hare Airport for the next six hours and it was nobody's fault but mine. So after walking for a few minutes, I came across a bookstore, I called my girlfriend and got a recommendation for a book, and I passed the time reading a frightening memoir that made my childhood look totally normal, Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs. ( I also got her an Oral Sex for Dummies book, so that she's not completely in the dark when we do it for the first time.) Before I knew it, it was time to fly, and I was hugging my girlfriend and eating at Applebee's and checking into a Drury's hotel that had a long black hair under one of its pillows and a bed so soft in the middle that I thought I was going to fall through.

My girlfriend left a couple of gifts sitting on my hotel bed for my arrival. She kept hearing me talk about how much I was looking forward to the week off so that I could just soak in a bubble bath and relax, so she bought me a bottle of bubble bath, and a box of chocolates to enjoy while I soaked. She also got me a card that said in part: "If I sounded disappointed this morning its because I savor every minute I spend with you! Here's to a hundred delicious moments." I sent her a text message when I saw the gifts and the card and told her how awesome she was. But she wasn't the only one with a surprise. I mailed her an early Sweetest Day card because I knew I wouldn't see her when Sweetest Day came around at the end of October, and it was sitting in her mailbox the day after I arrived in Memphis. Talk about timing. That same evening, we had dinner with two of her friends, so now they don't think that she made me up or something. The next day we tried to have a romantic walk along the Mississippi, where I wanted to lay my first kiss on her, but the wind was cutting us in half and making my eyes water. So that evening we had a great dinner at Texas de Brazil, which had the exact same endless-cuts-of-meat concept as Pogo de Chao here in Chicago, and after that, she decided to scratch me under the chin on my neckbeard because "I just wanted to do that," and I decided that there couldn't be a clearer signal for me to move forward than that, so we had our first kiss that night on her couch. The next day, my flight departed in the evening, so we had time to have pizza at her favorite pizza place, watch a movie, and discover more joys of kissing. We could have made out for another half-hour, as it turned out; my flight was delayed 28 minutes.

As if to give me something to laugh about for the whole trip, the morning after I arrived in Memphis, the news of Terrell Owens's "attempted suicide" was all over. All I could say was, this is so T.O. No one had been talking about him for a while, he just got dumped by his fiancee, and the trick publicist he's banging probably wasn't giving him enough attention, so he staged a scene where she got home and he had pills hanging out of his mouth. Pathetic. And all she can say in her press conference a couple of days later, after she had been the one who called the cops saying Owens was trying to commit suicide, was that he had 25 million reasons why he wouldn't kill himself, referring to his contract. Real quality ladies you're choosing there, buddy. But hey, if she wasn't a drama queen, she wouldn't be attracted to T.O. in the first place.

Like I said, the world just keeps turning...

Monday, September 25, 2006

On The Road Again...

...but certainly not ridin' dirrty like Willie Nelson. Ol' Willie had his tour bus raided by cops recently and was busted for Mary Jane and mushrooms. Must be the musician's life, or maybe at his age Willie doesn't give a shit about hiding his stash anymore. Of course, I can't blame him--I love mushrooms myself, especially portobello.

I'll be technically not on the road but in the air visiting my girlfriend in Memphis tomorrow, and I will return Friday evening. I haven't seen her since she came here in July. I'm a little beat up physcially due to illness, work, and a night of bowling this past Saturday, but I anticipate once I see her, everything will be just fine. She has a very calming effect on me, like I can stop fretting and worrying once I'm in her presence because everything's going to be alright. Those who know me know that it's foreign to me not to fret or worry, but something happens when I talk to her that tames me. When I figure out why that is, I'll let you know.

So I go to print my boarding pass, and this sentence appears below it:

"Effective immediately, the TSA has informed Northwest that travelers are not allowed to transport any liquids, gels, lotions or similar items in their carry-on luggage."

Damnit, I knew I couldn't get away with that dangerous bottle of aftershave forever. This is fucking ridiculous. It's bad enough that I have to kick off my shoes so that they can inspect my Dr. Scholl's Foot And Gun Powder Bomb, but now I can't even bring along a travel-size tube of hand cream? You know, toothpaste can be classified as a gel. Can I not bring my own toothpaste now? The toothbrush itself can be used as a dangerous weapon, why not ban that as well?...Oops, guess I'd better shut my trap, lest I give them any ideas.

The really sad part is that when Osama and his homies decide to do their thing again, there's nothing we're going to be able to do about it. Giving up these and other assorted freedoms aren't doing anything but bringing us closer to the kind of regulated extremist society that the terrorists would love us to have.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Death Of The White Sox--Up Close And Personal

My uncle got tickets to last night's Tigers-White Sox game from a co-worker, and he gave them to me and a friend of ours who also works with him and who used to be a teammate of ours in a bowling league. For those who aren't aware, the Sox led in the race for a wild card playoff spot (best record in the American League among all teams who aren't leading a division) for most of the season, but have lost that lead to the Twins. Now the Sox sit about 5 games out of the wild card spot with 12 games left in the season, so when I listen to sports talk radio on my headphones during work, it's 20 minutes of Bears love for every 3 hours of Sox hate. It made perfect sense that free tickets popped up for last night's game because the Sox were swept 3 straight games over the weekend in Oakland, then came back Monday night to get a foot put up their ass by the first-place Tigers, who were still only 6 games ahead of the Sox, so technically the Sox could beat them and still be in the race to win the whole division...but instead, they got killed. So sports talk yesterday was full of death knell sound effects and gagging sounds. Yeah, sure, NOW Sox tickets are available to whomever wants them. No one else has called me all year saying that they have tickets.

Oh, did I mention that the game-time temp yesterday was going to be about 50 degrees?

I expected a sparse, negative crowd of vitriolic, disappointed guys mixed with a few asshole Tigers fans, but I was pleasantly surprised. The fans were die-hards, very enthusiastic and supportive, 38,850 still rooting for the only major-league team in Chicago, even though most of us realistically know that it's just not our year. But my favorite player, A.J. Pierzynski, made us feel like miracles are possible for one night, hitting a grand slam in the 4th inning that proved to be the only hit the Sox needed to win behind Freddy Garcia's one-hit pitching performance. (Freddy's looked high all season long, keeping with the marijuana theme that has followed him since reports came out that he toked with regularity during this past off-season, so he's the one pitcher who can throw two straight 1-hitters. I know, bad joke.) For one more night, the Sox Pride was out and in full force, and I was glad to be proven wrong in my assumption that the wake would be last night for the upcoming funeral. They aren't quite dead yet.

All we need is Pierzynski grand slams every night for the rest of the season. That's realistic, no?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My Luck Isn't Always Bad After All

Just won a four-hour online poker tournament that cost $5 to enter and had 716 entries. That was good for $814.45. Right before I entered the tournament, I bought airline tickets to see my girlfriend in Memphis at the end of the month. I believe that trip is now paid for.

Monday, September 11, 2006

5 Years Ago Today...

It was a Tuesday, and I was working at the Chicago Board Options Exchange, and I was going through my everyday routine of arriving at about 8A, having breakfast, and hitting the trading floor at about 8:20 to get ready for the 8:30 opening bell. I went on the floor at maybe about 8:15 on this day, and I saw a couple of friends glued to one of the many little 13" TVs that were always on all around the floor. On the screen is a shot of a building that appears to be on fire. I asked what happened, and one friend said something like, "Oh, it's weird, man, some yoyo accidentally flew a plane into the side of the World Trade Center." That blew my mind. How did someone manage to fuck up that bad and fly a plane into a big-ass building like that?, we wondered. It already had taken its place in my mind as one of the three most memorable moments that I saw on TV at work, along with the Oklahoma bombings and the O.J. verdict.

Then, right as we're standing there cracking jokes, whatever channel we were watching broke in with film of another plane flying into the building right next to the first one. The announcers' voices were shaking as they emphasized that this was not live footage of the first plane being replayed, but rather tape of a second plane hitting while they were filming the damage from the first plane. Everyone's eyes on that trading floor got as big as saucers, and we were frozen watching the coverage and muttering in disbelief, "This ain't no fucking accident."

The opening bell never happened.

In fact, once word got out that New York wasn't opening the markets at all, the floor slowly emptied out as people realized that something sinister was happening. The Pentagon plane announcement came a little over an hour later, and I distinctly remember saying to the co-worker who would become my lover a few years later, "I don't believe this is happening." It really did seem like a movie script playing out, an Independence Day-like scenario. I moved from trading post to trading post talking to co-workers and colleagues, trying to make sense of everything. By 10A, the floor was nearly empty, Bush was bumping his gums on TV, and the feeling I remember the most was the frustration from 8,137 news channels not being able to give any insight at all on who may have done this or why. I had to hear a number of theories from those around me, and most were way off base, but all we could do was theorize. Finally, with the floor completely bare, the Powers That Be gave word that there would be no trading that day, which meant that we the CBOE staff could finally leave. Yes, buildings being bombed for no reason, and the floor reporters and their supervisors were staying put until the higher-ups gave us the green light to leave. Hey, we weren't traders or brokers, and if trading did occur that day, we had to be there or else lose a day's pay. Actually, a couple of reporters left before the official word because they feared their lives over losing some salary. Everyone has their priorities.

Outside, it was bedlam. Not only is CBOE across the street from the Board of Trade, which obviously felt threatened due to their importance in the nation's economy, but it's a few blocks from Sears Tower, which obviously felt threatened due to their importance as one of the nation's most popular and most visible attractions. So, basically it was every person for himself, a bright, sunny day featuring hundreds of people hailing cabs, stuffing buses, and looking at each other with a mix of fear, sadness, compassion, and cluelessness, if that's a word. A usually empty LaSalle Street bus at 10:30A was filled with folks rushing home to their loved ones, with more filling up behind and in front of us. As usual, I had my headphones on, so I didn't hear what people were talking about with each other. What I did hear was the newswoman on a pop station that I was listening to trying to find an escape break in to say that one of the towers actually collapsed, with a countless number of people still in it. My body went cold, just as it is right now remembering all this. The thought of that happening, a building that big crumbling to the ground with so many people still inside...I could not even imagine how horrific that scene was. I wanted to throw up. The newslady announced the second building falling minutes later, and the usually loud and obnoxious morning guys were completely stunned silent.

There are a million ways 9/11 affected people, from the emotions to the actions it spurred some to take (like Pat Tillman, a damn good free safety for the Arizona Cardinals who quit football in his prime to join the military and wound up killed in Afghanistan) to the impact on the way we live. Me, I was financially affected by the fact that CBOE lost money a bunch of ways--the stock market dipped after 9/11, traders left fearing their safety in a downtown building, and security guards and metal detectors and new electronic entry methods were brought in. The staff lost their twice-a-year bonuses, a hiring freeze thinned us out trying to cover more ground when reporting the traders' quotes, and eventually a new hybrid system was phased in where traders could enter their quotes from their own handheld devices, and we were phased out, although that may have happened eventually with or without 9/11. I wasn't all that much affected by the trauma of the situation because ever since my mom's death when I was 10, I've become a master of hiding my feelings and not letting things get to me (which is why "Karen's" betrayal finally made me snap, because years of shielding my heart from pain exploded right in my face). I felt for the victims, sure, but I didn't know them, so they seemed as distant as the victims of all the other worldwide terrorist attacks. There was a trading firm in the towers that had an office in Chicago, so some guys at CBOE knew some of the victims, and being even that close to it made my stomach turn. I had no desire to get any closer. Getting very far away from it all really is the lasting impression that I have, in the form of realizing that because of how we as a country do things, someday something is going to happen that makes 9/11 seem like just a beginning. So I would love to get away and move out of the U.S., but at the moment I'd have to play the lottery a lot more than I care to in order to do that.

Sometimes I'm amazed at the political football that those in charge have turned 9/11 into. It's like they don't care about the lives involved and just want to use the event to shine a light on the other party's shortcomings. As jacked up as Bush and the rest of the Republicans have been at handling it, it's not like if a Democrat were voted president that Bin Laden would immediately be found. It's pretty clear that he will be found when he wants to be found, and not a second sooner. They're all concerned with the same things--making sure that those close to them would never be a victim of something like this (or have to go fight against it), making sure Social Security funds continue to be funneled into Capitol Hill call girls' purses, and pointing fingers at the other guys and taunting them, saying it's all their fault. I'm obviously no political pundit, but I'd say one of the most glaring things coming from 9/11 is the way it showed our "leaders" for what they really are...and the people of America for what they really are. I mean, when the lasting image of Bush is him hunched over a children's book on 9/11 trying to fathom what happened like he's a 2nd-grader who was just told there is no Santa, and that's our chief executive, what the hell does it say that he got re-elected?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Little Something For My Sensitive Peeps Out There

Very briefly: Tried to watch the movie Crash the other day for the first time since "Shelley" and I saw it last year. Couldn't get through the first thirty minutes; I noticed a tear in the corner of my eye and had to turn it off. That movie is powerful enough the first time you see it, but watching it the second time knowing all that's going to happen is downright gut-wrenching. My girlfriend still says it's not as good as the gay cowboy movie, though. I guess one day I'll have to grab my strap-on and sit down and watch the damn thing.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Face Of The NFL--Hypocritical Pink!

I just turned to the NBC broadcast of the first game of the new NFL season, and singing the theme song and therefore becoming the first face of the season that I see is Pink. And she's singing suggestively and wearing a top that looked like it had been sitting in a closet for years, not because it looked old, but because significant pieces of cloth were completely gone. And all I could think was that a few months ago, she was all over my radio singing a song that said in part: "Maybe if I dressed like that, maybe if I talked like that...I don't wanna be a stupid girl." What does she call herself now, I wonder?

And for the record--keep in mind that I'm a horrible gambler and can't predict my own pathetic life, much less anything else--Carolina over Jacksonville in Super Bowl XLI: Battle of the Expansion Scrubs.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Boy, That Explains A Lot

According to a local newspaper yesterday, a Forbes.com report named Milwaukee and Minneapolis as the two drunkest cities in America. No wonder I could actually find a date in those two towns.

Anywho, I've been busy setting up house in my new apartment, putting together tables and desks and shit. I've also had a couple of six-day workweeks recently, once because I went through certification for the new platform we'll all be using to do our jobs once all of the accounts migrate over, and last week I just went in for some overtime pay. There aren't many people left at my job that started with me. Most of them have been shown the door due to too many errors or some other form of incompetence, and some got out for whatever personal reasons. There's a lot of turnover here, which explains why they lowered their standards and hired me. So I'm doing my damndest to hang on and not give them a reason to send me packing. I mean, yes, I'm still tardy a lot; that's just a bad habit I've always had, and I just can't seem to lick it. But I'm not being unprofessional, I'm not making bad/gross jokes, and I'm taking on all assignments unless they try to give me an account with instructions that I simply cannot comprehend. "All assignments" includes running the garbage on my way out almost every night. I even volunteered (well, someone pointed at me because I'm a man, but I could have refused like when they asked me to do something similar at CEDA) to go to the garbage room and arrange the bags so that they weren't spilling over into the hallway. The only weird part about that is that someone took down all of our names after we did it, but I didn't ask why, and I haven't heard back about it since, and that was two weeks ago. Hmm, I don't know if I'm cool with my name floating around on a piece of paper for some unknown reason. But then again, I'm paranoid.

My ladyfriend and I continue to talk almost every evening about anything and everything. Recent topics include glancing vs. gawking, raising a child, lazy Sundays, and oral sex. We'll be able to finish each other's sentences by this time next year at this rate. It feels so good to know that someone misses you as much as you miss them when you're apart. It's always been so one-sided for me, so this is new. And she's a smart cookie, so she still tosses things out here and there to indicate that she's not fully trusting of me yet. I need that. It's a reminder of the piece of crap I've been before when women have trusted me. This blog may be filled with rants and raves about how wrong I've been done, but I have to always remember that my response to being wronged or abandoned has been very immature--lying, cheating, angry letters, accusations, emotional abuse, shutting down. My actions have been very ugly, almost as ugly as what's been done to me, and my friend, having never been in a relationship, needs a lot more time to make sure that she won't be another victim of my temper if we don't work out. There's not much I can do until she arrives at that place except keep being myself and assuring her that I'm real and my feelings for her are real. But I am not discouraged, not when she says she's "in this for the long haul" and tells me that a 90-minute conversation wasn't long enough on a given evening. I really believe she's my life partner. She just may not know it yet.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Men Vs. Women

From my archive of random e-mails I've received throughout the years that I just had to save because they were so accurate...and this one is especially funny because it reminds me of the very different personalities in the creative writing class I took last semester...

Remember the book "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus"? Here's a prime example offered by an English professor at an American University.

"Today we will experiment with a new form called the tandem story. The process is simple. Each person will pair off with the person sitting to his or her immediate right. One of you will then write the first paragraph of a short story. The partner will read the first paragraph and then add another paragraph to the story. The first person will then add a third paragraph, and so on back and forth. Remember to re-read what has been written each time in order to keep the story coherent. There is to be absolutely NO talking and anything you wish to say must be written on the paper. The story is over when both agree a conclusion has been reached."

The following was actually turned in by two of my English students:
Rebecca (last name deleted), and Gary (last name deleted).

THE STORY:
(first paragraph by Rebecca)
At first, Laurie couldn't decide which kind of tea she wanted. The chamomile, which used to be her favorite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Carl, who once said, in happier times, that he liked chamomile. But she felt she must now, at all costs, keep her mind off Carl. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him too much her asthma started acting up again. So chamomile was out of the question.

(second paragraph by Gary)
Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over Skylon 4, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed asthmatic bimbo named Laurie with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago. "A.S. Harris to Geostation 17,???*?? he said into his transgalactic communicator. "Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far..." But before he could sign off a bluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his ship's cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.

(Rebecca)
He bumped his head and died almost immediately but not before he felt one last pang of regret for psychically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Skylon 4. "Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War and Space Travel," Laurie read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. She stared out the window, dreaming of her youth, when the days had passed unhurriedly and carefree, with no newspapers to read, no television to distract her from her sense of innocent wonder at all the beautiful things round her. "Why must one lose one's innocence to become a woman?" she pondered wistfully.

(Gary)
Little did she know, but she had less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the Anu'udrian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The dim-witted wimpy peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aerospace Disarmament Treaty through the congress had left Earth a defenseless target for the hostile alien empires who were determined to destroy the human race. Within two hours after the passage of the treaty the Anu'udrian ships were on course for Earth, carrying enough firepower to pulverize the entire planet. With no one to stop them, they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The lithium fusion missile entered the atmosphere unimpeded. The President, in his top-secret Mobile submarine headquarters on the ocean floor off the coast of Guam, felt the inconceivably massive explosion, which vaporized poor, stupid, Laurie and 85 million other Americans. The President slammed his fist on the conference table. "We can't allow this! I'm going to veto that treaty! Let's blow 'em out of the sky!"

(Rebecca)
This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic semi-literate adolescent.

(Gary)
Yeah? Well, you're a self-centered tedious neurotic whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of Valium. "Oh shall I have chamomile tea? Or shall I have some other sort of FUCKING TEA??? Oh no, I'm such an air headed bimbo who reads too many Danielle Steele novels."

(Rebecca)
Asshole.

(Gary)
Bitch.

(Rebecca)
DICK!

(Gary)
Slut.

(Rebecca)
Get fucked.

(Gary)
Eat shit.

(Rebecca)
FUCK YOU - YOU NEANDERTHAL!!!

(Gary)
Go drink some tea - whore.

(TEACHER)
A+ - I really liked this one.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

My Brain Hurts

I've been thinking lately, and you know that's never good.

I got beat in a game of online poker last night that was especially painful because I had the best hand and went all-in for a lot of chips after the first three cards hit the table, and a guy called me who didn't have anything to pair with what was on the board, but he didn't want to give up his high cards, so he closed his eyes and hoped for a miracle. He got it on the fifth and last card, and I was gone. I let off a string of profanities, punctuated with something like, "God, why don't you just kill me now? Please???" That's probably the 7,812th time I've asked for that to happen, and no such luck yet. My mind flashed back to a conversation I had with a friend a few nights ago. The friend asked me if there was anything about my life that I regretted or would change, to which I responded, "What wouldn't I change?" No matter how much the friend persisted, I couldn't really come up with anything other than dancing like an idiot and making mix tapes the night before I won the citywide spelling bee as a way of blowing off the building pressure as something I wouldn't change about my past. I've done pretty much everything else in my life in a manner that I wish I could go back and change, and I do mean everything. I then tried to apply that in my mind to the expletives and wishing that God would strike me down, and of course it would make sense that I would regret all those moments and wish I could take them back.

But I don't. I may be proven wrong if I think hard enough, but I don't believe there is a single thing I've ever said that I would take back. Every threat, every curse, every joke, every veiled insult had a purpose at the time, and I don't feel the need to reverse anything that has ever come out of my mouth. Yeah, I'd be very disappointed if I did have a heart attack and die the moment I asked to die, but shit, I asked to die, so how could I be that upset? It's how I felt at the time. At that moment, I wanted to be dead, so I wouldn't take it back because it's how I felt. And it's giving me a headache trying to figure out how I could possibly reconcile not wanting to change anything I've ever said against wanting to change everything I've ever done. That doesn't make sense. Maybe it's the whole "actions speak louder than words" thing, or, like I said, maybe it's just never going back on things I said because that's how I felt at the time. I really don't know. But I cannot think of anything I ever said that I would take back, no matter how embarrassing or alienating or asinine. They were my words, and I felt the need to utter them at the time, and I'm not ashamed. Okay, maybe a little.

And if you're confused after reading all that, imagine how I feel.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Where Are They Now?

Inspired by my 3rd-grade crush having a twice-weekly column in a local newspaper, and also because I was bored, I Googled some ex-girlfriends to see what they're up to these days, and I found a few surprises.

"Sarah," who dumped me in the summer of 2004 because she wanted to find a lover who was into sado-masochism like her, has a profile on a site called CollarMe.com. As usual, she says she's an inexperienced submissive looking for a master to push her limits, and she says that her latest passion is "fire play," whatever the hell that is. She had a couple of notes on her profile, one that said that she was now owned by someone, and one dated not long after saying that she was now free again. What I found most interesting is that the last thing I've ever heard about her was that sometime last year she tried to kill herself and was given shock treatment that wiped out a lot of her memory, and the date on her profile when she last logged in is April 2005, which would be consistent with that timeline. That's a shame.

"Adrienne" dated me a couple of times in January 2005, including once when she came to my apartment and watched movies, but I didn't make a move because I was getting to know her and didn't feel that she would be comfortable with going to that level so soon. Then she was involved in a car accident in which she had to watch a friend driving ahead of her get injured, and after talking to her once and hearing how much the accident affected her, she completely disappeared from my life. I sent e-mails, text messages, phone calls...nothing. I'm sure it wasn't me, but I felt she could have at least let me know why she was backing off. I actually have been slightly afraid all this time that she had a mental breakdown or something. Well, I came across Adrienne's MySpace page, and it was last updated several days ago, so she's alive and kicking. I was very happy to see that, and I had to giggle when I saw the picture on her profile--the same picture she was using when I met her, just a head shot of her sticking her tongue out. She was goofy like that, and it was a good balance to my usually stoic manner. I missed her, even though we never went past the friendship stage. Her profile didn't have much info about her, but it did say that she was not single, and I was happy to see that too, because she had relationship drama almost as fucked up as mine before she met me. I hope she's doing very well.

Then there's my first, "Giselle," my high school lover. I actually know about a Yahoo profile with her picture in which she says that her hobby is "serving my Master as he sees fit," so she's another one that's into S&M apparently. (No, that's not a religious statement she's making, either--I know her very well, and trust me, that's a statement on her sex life.) But I found another profile that I wasn't aware of, one on a website that displays aspiring rappers. I laughed out loud when I saw this because Giselle is about the least hip-hop black woman I have ever met. She lists her influences as Erykah Badu and India.Arie, so she's definitely not aiming for the loud, profane, Da Brat--MC Lyte demographic. I just never imagined her as a performer because she was so shy and soft-spoken. But she is very intelligent and talented, so if she's got a double-platinum CD by this time next year, I won't be surprised.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Frying Eggs On The Sidewalk--Who's With Me?!?

Goddamn, it's hot.

Moving on...

I wasn't online for a couple of days last week because the phone company AT&T--reminiscent of my current employer, Chase, because both have had a myriad of name changes--promised that my line would be connected in my new apartment last Thursday. And it was. For a couple of hours. It was fine when I left the house for work that morning. When I got home, the line was dead again, and wasn't reconnected until I was at work on Saturday. Grr. But it's too damn hot to get aggravated, so I'm killing a couple of Gatorades a day and hanging in there. I'm no longer living near the lake, so not having air conditioning is unbearable, and I think I will have to do something about that very soon.

Not much else is happening. "Jacob" was in town last night so that we could go trade some guys in the high-stakes baseball fantasy league before the trade deadline. We're in first place, and we didn't trade any of the great young talent that got us there, but we slightly upgraded the offense. Now we have to hang on for two more months before we can celebrate. It will be an even longer distance celebration than I thought; he and his girlfriend are moving to a winter home in Montana. My furniture was delivered a couple of weeks ago, and because I was actually standing there watching it happen, there was no drama this time. The couch and loveseat are sitting pretty in my apartment. It wasn't easy--they did have to remove the legs from the couch--but it was done, and it wasn't impossible, as the asswipes who tried to do it the first time were claiming. I put the coffee table, the TV stand, and the computer desk together so far. I still have to do the end tables, and a computer chair when I finally go buy one. The living room looks like a human lives in it, for now. We'll see how it is in a couple of months. And the job is going along fine. They have let some people go lately, but because those releases seem to be performance-related, I'm not sweating anything. As I figured, with time I have become very damn good at this gig. The bonuses at Chase are not given to everyone like they were at CBOE. You have to earn a bonus based on the job and attendance, and while I'm still tardy occasionally, I don't leave work early or just refuse to show up. So my supervisor told me that she approved me for a bonus. To celebrate, I'm getting a replica of Allen Iverson's "HOLD MY OWN" tattoo on my right calf.

Or, since my box fan literally burned out while I was typing this post (and I do mean, burned out, complete with burning smell coming from the cord), maybe I'll get an air conditioner.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

You Know You Grew Up In The 80's When...

From my archive of random e-mails I've received throughout the years that I just had to save because they were so accurate...


You know you grew up in the 80's when...

> You know what "Sike" means
> You know the profound meaning of "Wax on, Wax off"
> You know that another name for a keyboard is a "Synthesizer"
> You can sing the McDonald's Big Mac, Filet-o-fish, Quarter Pounder
with some Fries song
> You know who Mr. T is
> You know who Fat Albert is, and who was old boy wearing the pink mask
> You remember watching Sesame Street, 3-2-1 Contact, and The Electric Company
> You ever wore florescent neon clothing
> You rolled your jeans
> You remember Brittany, Christina, Justin, and JC on the "All new,
Mickey Mouse Club"
> At some point, you dressed "preppy"
> You ever wore the "hypercolor" shirts that changed color from hot
pink to orange whenever you stood in the sun or got hot!
> You felt cool when you wore 2 pairs of socks
> You could breakdance or wish you could
> You wanted to be The Hulk for Halloween
> You believed that "By the power of Greyskull, you HAD the power!"
> Partying "like it's 1999" seemed SO far away
> You though that Transformers were more than meets the eye
> You knew that knowing is half the battle
> You wanted to be on Star Search
> You can remember when Michael Jackson was black
> You wore a banana clip during some point during your youth
> You remember garbage pail kids and owned some
> You knew what Willis was "talkin" about
> You knew "Rut row raggy" and "Zoinks"
> You HAD to have your MTV
> You actually thought "Dirty Dancing" was a REALLY good movie
> You remember when ATARI was a state of the art video system
> You owned any cassettes
> You were led to believe that in the year 2000 we'd all be living on
the moon
> You remember and/or owned any of the Care Bear Glass collection from Pizza Hut or the Muppets glasses from McDonald's
> Poltergeist freaked you out
> You knew who Ben Stein was before you could win his money, "Bueller?"
> You carried your lunch to school in an ET, Gremlins, Dukes of Hazard, Knight Rider, Strawberry Shortcake, or A-Team lunch box
> You ever pondered why Smurfette was the ONLY female Smurf
> You know what leg warmers are and probably had a pair
> You wore biker shorts underneath a short skirt and felt stylish
> You wore your Izod shirt with the collar up
> You had a Swatch Watch with the Swatch Guard
> Your legos collection started with the free sets in a Happy Meal
> You remember when Happy Meals came in a box, not a paper bag
> You remember when Saturday Night Live was funny
> You had Wonder Woman or Superman underoos
> You know what a "Push Up" ice cream is
> You had to come inside when the streetlights came on
> You had to change into play clothes after school
> You owned or knew someone with a Commodore 64
> You hated Scrappy Doo
> You recorded songs off the radio with your boom box
> You wish you had a light saber
> Somehow, you still know all the words to songs played on VH1's "Big
80's" (It's been 7 hours & 15 days...")
> Your arm was full of rubber bracelets
> You know who Cobra Commander was
> You will not admit it now, but at some point, you listened to New
Kids on the Block or Tiffany
> You ever said, "Like, gag me with a spoon"
> You ever wondered what happened to Saturday morning cartoons
> You had to get up to change the channel
> You can still sing 1 to 12 from the Pinball machine on Sesame Street (or the Electric Company)
> You thought the "Thriller" video was pretty cool
> You remember the first time you went into a video store to rent a
movie
> You wore those wide, colorful shoelaces
> You remember Gem
> Quiet Riot's "Cum on feel the noise" was the best song- ever
> You know where "I want my two dollars" came from
> You still cannot go into the water because of that damn movie - Jaws
> El Debarge's "Get a beat to the rhythm of the night" plagued the
radio every hour
> You remember life before minivans or SUV's when all large families
had station wagons!

If you can identify with at least half of this list then you, my
friend, are a "Child of the 80's"
Now how old do you feel?!?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

My History (7th In A Series)

This is the story of my old loveseat, RIP, and how I acquired it via the first of many psycho white chicks I would encounter. I'll call this one "Sheila."

The loveseat is gone now. It had been sitting in the walkway between the front and back of the house I live in since I moved into the basement. I tried to take it with me into the basement, but there is a sink built into the wall right at the doorway, and the mini couch wouldn't squeeze past it. So it sat outside the door in the walkway until I felt like moving it to the garbage, but my aunt kept telling me to wait until specific days so that the weekly garbage men could scoop it the very next morning, but she never told me which days would be good. Finally, with me moving out of the basement and onto the first floor, my aunt's husband got sick of looking at the thing and set it on my back lawn for three days. I thought he was going to leave it there until I moved it, but when I came back from picking up my Memphis friend from the airport last week, it was gone. Guess he was waiting for that mythical garbage crew. I told my friend that it was a good sign that she never crossed paths with the loveseat because with all of the action on that thing between me, "Adrienne," The Co-Worker Who Must Go Unnamed, "Sarah" and her vibrators--not to mention it was where I sat when I gave that skank "Karen" her Christmas presents--it represented my old ways vanishing into thin air just before she came to visit me for the first time. But the story behind the woman who gave me the loveseat is funny. Oh, I was pissed at the time, but it's funny now.

This was late 1998, and I was working at CBOE, living in that roach and mouse-infested studio and about to move into my first one-bedroom apartment. But I was hurting for furniture, since I was throwing out the couch my uncle gave me for the studio because it was very uncomfortable. I happened to be in the company of a couple of generous people at my job. A blonde named Aiden who did her job basically a foot or so from me every day knew that I was moving to a bigger place, and her mother had recently died, so she gave me some of her mom's dishes and bought me my first cordless phone as a housewarming gift. I still have most of the dishes. I smashed the cordless phone after losing a bet, probably that jackass Keith Foulke getting lit up again back when he pitched for the White Sox. But anyhow, the other person feeling generous towards me was a woman who was very quiet and introverted and hardly spoke to anyone. Sheila caught my attention because she seemed to be, like me, socially awkward and much more likely to keep to herself at all times. I am the one who started trying to talk to her because she didn't seem to have any friends at all. She worked behind the electronic book at the station I worked at, but she floated around and helped at different stations, so I didn't see her all the time. Not only that, but if I talked to her for more than a minute or two, she would pretend like she had to wander over somewhere else and help out, even though nothing would be going on. But I kept trying to get closer. After all, she was shy like me, and she was thin and pale and a plain Jane, which has always attracted me.

Now, when I tell you about these two red flags, you're going to wonder what the fuck made me keep pursuing her, but I'm telling you, at the time my self-esteem was so low that I legitimately figured that the stranger she seemed, the better chance I had. The first red flag was that absolutely EVERYONE I talked to about her either said that she kept to herself and they didn't know much about her, or...they warned me to stay away. This old white man who never had a bad word for anyone even told me, "I don't think you wanna talk to this one, son." The general consensus was that she was either a little or a lot crazy. They cited episodes where she would start crying under the pressure of a lot of work, or start banging her head against the computer monitor, or start screaming. That was my second red flag--I witnessed her reaction once when the trading floor became active, and let's just say that it involved said head-banging as well as pencil-chewing. Her face turned even more pale than it already was, and at least one person tried to console her, to be rebuffed angrily. I think the traders in my crowd and Aiden all looked at me at this point, as if to say, "See? We told you she was crazy!"

Undeterred, I kept trying to speak to her daily, if only to say hi. One day, I was able to get enough of a conversation going to tell her that I had moved into an empty apartment, and without hesitation, she volunteered an old loveseat she had at home if I wanted it. I admit, I said yes more because I wanted to see her outside of work than because I cared about the loveseat. We played phone tag one weekend, with her not getting back to me on a Sunday until after I had bowled in my league, and I wasn't going to move shit at that point. But the next Saturday, I rounded up "Ronnie" and "Drew," got an older playcousin to bring her van, and told Sheila to hang tight at her apartment, which as it turned out wasn't very far from the place where I moved. When I went down to the garden apartment, it was about six o'clock in the evening, and it had been snowing lightly. So when she opened the door with her reading glasses on, in the twilight surrounded by the winter setting, my heart melted to butter. Sheila had always been polite and kind to me, nervously running away after a couple minutes of chatting, but she had never been crazy when dealing with me, and for some reason this scene made my imagination run wild, and I basically decided at that point that she was in my sights, no matter what. I even stifled a laugh when I saw the loveseat, which was--and you can't imagine how hideous this thing looked--orange with white swans all over it. Hey, it was hardly used, so what the hell. We moved it out, and I tossed some line upon leaving about how I should take her somewhere some time to make up for it. She giggled.

At this point, I was still Mr. Chickenshit and couldn't just step to her face and ask her out, so I asked a female friend who worked close to her to ask her for her e-mail address, and then give it to me so that I could ask her out by e-mail. Yes, I have no balls. I sent the e-mail, but I didn't have my own computer at the time, so for about three or four days I would come to work in the morning, say hello to her, wait for some kind of reaction to the letter good or bad, get nothing, run to one of the computers on the trading floor on my break, and check my e-mail to see if she sent a response there instead. Finally, one morning she continued to ignore me, but there was a response in e-mail form. I tried to save it over the years, but I lost it somewhere along the way, and I'm very mad that I did because it was so fucking funny. Basically, she said that she couldn't go out with me because we have "class issues," I guess meaning that she had it and I don't, and because I'm fat and she's skinny, and because her sister dated a Nigerian last year and her parents were very upset, and because she just came off a relationship with a younger guy and she didn't know if she wanted to go there again. (She explained that she was 40, which shocked me, because she sure looked much younger, that is until she stopped dying her hair black and the gray streaks multiplied daily.) It was a four-page e-mail. She shoved some bull about how I was a nice guy in there too, but basically she totally slammed the door in my face. I had my usual mature reaction, writing back, "Don't let your parents know that there was a black man in your apartment taking your furniture; they might disown you. I'm so sorry that I bothered to ask you out."

Cue the Fatal Attraction music.

Sheila called me the night that I left that e-mail in tears. I remember that I happened to be watching sports over the phone with Ronnie at about 10:45P, or else on a normal night the phone's ringer would have been turned off and I would be fast asleep. I clicked over on call-waiting, heard her sobbing, and clicked back and simply told Ronnie, "Um, Sheila's on the other end in tears. Let me talk to you tomorrow." Sheila then spent about 45 minutes bawling and apologizing for hurting me, and I don't remember much of the conversation because there wasn't much to it. She just kept crying uncontrollably and saying, "I didn't mean to hurt you!" And I just kept trying to calm her down and tell her that I didn't mean to react so angrily, but I was hurt. Basically, her excuses for not going out with me were total bullshit, so to this day I still believe that I didn't react as badly as I could have. But for the sake of ending that phone conversation and keeping the peace, I apologized for my e-mail, eventually we said no hard feelings, and I got the nutcase off the phone. We never spoke at work again, and a couple of months later, she was no longer working at CBOE.

I didn't learn any lessons from that episode other than when the WHOLE FUCKING WORLD is trying to warn you that someone's bad news, listen to them. But every time I laid some cow on that loveseat, I thought about Sheila and how I so wanted her to be the person I was with. I wondered what kind of incredibly melodramatic episodes I may have escaped by Sheila not being the person on the loveseat with me. I used to chuckle and think that I escaped some real crazy shit by not hooking up with her. But the last time I looked at that thing before it disappeared from my back lawn, I actually didn't think of Sheila at all. I thought of the women that I did have on that couch, and the black hole I fell into over the last couple of years as I ran around desperately looking for someone to love. And now I can't help but wonder if the hell I may have endured with Sheila could possibly have been worse than the hell I endured without her.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

And The ESPY For Worst Actor Goes To...

I'm watching the Cubs get butt-fucked on national television by the Mets right now, and after showing the classy Wrigley Field faithful litter the outfield with trash again, they showed a replay of Dusty Baker reacting with anger and frustration after another Mets home run. This was so hilarious that I had to write about it. This loser Baker doesn't EVER react when his team shits the field day after day after day. I listen to talk radio every day at work, and they love playing his postgame comments because they're so relaxed and calm that he seems resigned to the fact that his team sucks. He says stuff like, "Well, we can't do nothing till the injured players come back, I just want my team back," which is a nice way of telling the guys playing for him right now that they blow, and he takes a very lazy, California-cool attitude to everything, as if there's nothing he can do about it. And now that the ESPN camera is on him, he's putting on a show in the dugout as if he's really in a rage about his team giving up two grand slams in one inning, which is not easy. Pathetic.

I also hear that he has high-ranking homies in the media here in Chicago and nationwide who have been receiving calls from Dust asking to put a soft light on him and not criticize him and call him a boob like most everyone else does. I'm thinking the two jags calling this game, Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, are part of Dusty's posse. All they can talk about is how the wind blowing out is really helping the Mets hit those home runs. I guess this wind is supernatural and only works when the Mets are at bat, and I guess I'm just another bad guy ripping the Cubs for no reason because they're not really as bad as they look. I actually want the Cubs to fire Baker at this point for the same reason that I want the Knicks to get rid of Isiah Thomas ASAP--because the longer black men stay in such high positions with no fucking clue how to do the job, the worse it reflects on any other blacks who someday aspire to those positions. The rich white guys who own teams already are hesitant to hire us, as proven by the microscopic numbers. Zeke and In Dusty We Trusty don't help matters.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Not Ready For Prime Time

My Memphis friend and I are taking things very slowly, and it's exactly what I need. She left today after spending two days here at a quaint little local inn near Ernest Hemingway's childhood home in Oak Park. We didn't check it out, though. She preferred to go into the city and see the sites downtown, such as the Art Institute. We were going to go to Sears Tower, but there was "no visibility" when I called yesterday, and there's no point to seeing the Skydeck with no visibility. I treated her and my family to dinner last night, and thankfully, my family did not embarrass me. Much. Of course, I didn't let her meet my dad yet.

But with her lack of experience in relationships combined with the horrible results in my past relationships, making the first move is going to be a laborious effort for whomever does it. There's a lot of trust to be built still before a physical aspect blooms. And that's what I want. Everything in the past has happened so quickly that I didn't have a chance to build trust with my partner. So this time, it has to be very slow. It has to happen this way, no matter how tempted I am to push further. Any future we have together depends on building a mutual trust, and we both have our reasons for taking it very slowly, but we have to. Oh, there were many chances I had to "bust a move," so to speak, such as standing under an umbrella in the rain, or walking through the city, or cuddling on the couch watching television, or hugging her goodbye at the airport. But it just wasn't quite the right timing. Not yet. When it's meant to happen, it will.

But God, I miss her terribly already.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Play It By Ear

The furniture company attempted to deliver my purchases this morning, but they could not fit my new couch or loveseat through my door. When my neighbor called me at work and told me this, I just shook my head. What are you gonna do, you know? I'm a little baffled because my neighbor has a rather large couch in her living room, and she said it wasn't a problem getting it into her house. These guys obviously don't know what they're doing. They were so worried that they might scrape the furniture that they didn't make an attempt. But usually they measure the doorway and the furniture and then give it one good shot. I'm told that they didn't measure shit, just decided that it couldn't be done. That sucks.

So I've got an apartment that reeks of new paint and is totally unfurnished except for the new bed and "lingerie drawer." There will certainly not be any entertaining done there by me tomorrow when my friend from Memphis flies in. We'll have to play it by ear, just kinda hang out around the city for the two days she's here chatting and chilling. Maybe we'll catch a movie in an actual theater instead of renting one. She's shown a great attitude through this whole thing. She's indicated that nothing is more important than just spending time with me, and she's understood that I don't place these arrangement problems as more important than her, just that I'm a perfectionist and I wanted everything to be perfect. I get the feeling that it's going to be raining, we will be talking about nothing, we're going to be aimlessly wandering around with no idea what's next...and only then will I realize what perfection really is all about.

Houston May Forgive The Texans, Someday, Eventually

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

No More Sleeping On Milk Crates For Me

It was a day of barbecues and fireworks for most everyone else, but yesterday I picked out over $3,000 worth of new furniture. I feel like such a girl.

But hey, it was needed. I'm trying to plan the move into the apartment on the other side of this house so that it's completed before my friend from Memphis comes to visit next Tuesday. That meant that I had to get, you know, things to sit on besides milk crates. So my aunt drove me to Wickes Furniture and I picked out a 5-piece living room set (I finally have a real couch now instead of an old loveseat), a sturdy queen-size bed, and a cute little "lingerie drawer," as the saleswoman called it. To which I could have replied, "Hey, I don't need a drawer for my lingerie," but my aunt was there, and I didn't want to alarm her. It's all scheduled to be delivered next Monday while I work, so hopefully that will come off without a hitch. Even if problems arise with moving my DirecTV to that side of the house, my friend and I can spend two days sitting on real furniture and enjoying each other's company while gorging on some Giordano's pizza. I still have to go somewhere and find a TV stand and computer desk for a decent price. But I can do that later. What I really wanted was to have a presentable home for my guest, and that has been taken care of. This was big for me. I never got new furniture for my previous apartments because I wanted to wait until I settled into a place that I was going to stay in for a while. So as a result, what I presented to all those, ahem, ladies that I hosted over the last couple of years was a shitty apartment with shitty furniture and a mattress balancing on eight milk crates. Ooh, sexy. But it was perfect because I felt like shit at the time, so I presented an accurate portrayal of myself. And now, for my Memphis friend, I will be presenting a home that I can be proud of, an actual place that I would want to host company in. And that's an accurate portrayal of what I feel inside right now, because I am proud of myself and I feel that I am worthy of presenting to the world as is, not a perfect man, but doing the best I can. And it feels so good to know that someone else sees me that way, because my harsh judgment of myself has always been rooted in what I feel people see when they see me. Not my friend. She sees a good person trying his best, and that pushes me every day to keep doing the things I have been doing so far this year to stay on the right path. And when she steps into my home next week and doesn't have to step over newspaper and garbage and doesn't have to sit on one side of the loveseat because the other side is broken and doesn't snag her jeans on a broken chair that I didn't throw away because I was trying to save it, it will be one of my proudest moments because for the first time, I will open my door to someone and welcome a guest into my home...and not cringe at the thought of what she must think of me based on the filth that I live in.