I’m moving. Actually, I’ve already moved.

1 05 2008

In honor of my recent fresh start, I’ve homesteaded a little patch of my own on the World Wide Web. I’ve been blogging there for several weeks, and it seems like good, solid terrain. Or something. Please join me there.

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Blog Bankruptcy

10 03 2008

About three-and-a-half years ago, I followed Larry Lessig’s lead and declared email bankruptcy. I’d gotten so far behind on my email that I couldn’t see any way out. Unless I spent a two-week vacation getting caught up, those emails just weren’t going to get answered. What I needed was a fresh start. So I put up a little note on the, er, then-blog and announced—apologetically, of course—that if I hadn’t already responded to an email, I wasn’t going to. It was about self-preservation. It had to be done.

I’m going to try a variation of that now, and I hope you’ll let me get away with it. Obviously, I haven’t blogged here since November. There’s no particularly good reason for that. At first, I didn’t have much to say. Then I was busy. Then I took a vacation in Las Vegas (for the National Finals Rodeo). Then it was the holidays. And then and then and then.

At some point, I didn’t know how I was going to get the blog caught up. I had all these things to blog about—events I’d attended, people I’d met, exotic beer I’d drunk—but I didn’t know how I’d find the time to actually do the writing. I needed to just admit that I was in too deep and start over. It took me awhile to concede that, but I’m at peace with it now.

So, I’m hereby declaring blog bankruptcy. I haven’t written here since November, and now it’s March. There’s no good way to get you caught up, and I’m not really going to try. I need a fresh start.

The first thing I’m going to do is purge my desk of the dozens of pieces of paper I deposited in a pile—in a “to do” pile—as little reminders to blog. The November 20 ticket from the Youssou N’Dour concert at the Kimmel Center? I’m throwing it away right now. I had fun that night, but I just can’t tell you about it now. I saw a group called So Percussion at the Kimmel, too, but I won’t be blogging about that, either. The same goes for at least three Flyers games (November 15, November 23, and February 9). I’m throwing those tickets away at this very instant. The same goes for my ticket to the 2007 iteration of Terror Behind the Walls, the Halloween show put on at Philly’s Eastern State Penitentiary. And my receipt for a November 16 trip to World Cafe Live to see The Gourds? I won’t be saying more than that I had fun. My trip to New York last month to see the Kronos Quartet at Carnegie Hall? Well, I went, ok?

What else is in the pile? Well, I guess I can give you a very short tour. Apparently, I wanted to tell you about my visit to Las Vegas’s Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, right there at the Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino, for its “Modern Masters” exhibit. (Short report: Weird.) At about the same time, I was probably going to blog about the 2007 National Finals Rodeo, my stay at the beautiful Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino (especially getting cruised, oh, so mightily, in the hotel spa), and meeting a handsome man at a hotel bar.

And, of course, I’ve still been investigating beer. It looks like I’ve got eight scraps of paper here from various beer and cheese tastings at Tria’s Fermentation School. Wow! What did I like at those events? Who can remember now? My notes do seem to contain the names of a lot of Belgian beers: Cantillon’s Broucsella 1900 Grand Cru; Duvel; the champagne-y Deus from Brouwerij Bosteels; Hanssens Kriek; an Imperial stout, Brasserie des Legendes Hercule Stout; St. Bernardus Abt 12, a delicious quadrupel; another Cantillon beer, the Cuvée des Champions 2003-2004 ; and a Flemish sour, Duchesse de Bourgogne. I even liked an Italian(!) craft beer, Birrificio Barley’s BB10, which my notes suggest is a hoppy, molasses-y barleywine. Yum.

According to these beer-soaked notes, I also liked several cheeses: Beaufort d’Alpage, which I described as a sort of King of the Gruyéres; a fresh goat cheese from Westfield Farm; an aged goat cheese, Bittersweet Plantation Dairy‘s Evangeline; and Split Creek’s Marinated Feta, yet another goat cheese.

Tria even turned me onto a wine, the 2004 Muscat de Rivesaltes from Clos des Camuzeilles, but I don’t have time anymore to explain why. So be it.

So that’s all the blog’s getting about my last few months. I’m sure I’ll return once in awhile to something that occurred in the fall and winter of 2007-08…. But I make no promises. I need a fresh start. From this point on, I’m looking to the future.

What a relief!

Whew.





Your Sister Cried

2 11 2007

Place Settings
The Ex and I separated in October 2004. I haven’t written much about him here, and that probably seems odd. It seems odd to me. After all, we were together for six-and-a-half years. Plus, I’ve posted repeatedly about the Soulmate-Who-Got-Away (SWGA), the man I fell for twice—once before I ever met the Ex and once after our separation.

But SWGA is probably the man I’ll always think of as the love of my life. He‘s been the “problem” I needed to resolve for the past couple of years, so I’ve written about him. I haven’t had the same need to write about the Ex, I guess.

That said, I absolutely loved the Ex, too. (And I still do.) It was a different kind of love, of course—a more adult, less dizzying kind of love. When I was with SWGA, I always felt like I was under the influence of some powerful chemical. With the Ex, it seemed like we’d used our brains and decided to be together. Unfortunately, it just didn’t always seem like we’d necessarily made a good decision….

Anyway, a year ago this past Wednesday (yup, on Halloween), the Ex got married. To a woman. I passed through some of the usual your-ex-is-moving-on feelings when he told me. I was jealous that he’d found someone else, and so easily. I was miffed that I hadn’t found someone else. I knew it meant he’d never play a large role in my life again. Ever.

I also passed through some fairly unusual your-ex-is-moving-on feelings. Was the Ex straight? Had he been straight when we were together? Had I been an experiment? Did his new life cast our six-plus years in a different light?

I eventually got a grip, though. Although the Ex had self-identified as gay when we met, I knew he’d dated women—and not all that long ago. So he probably wasn’t 100% gay. But he definitely wasn’t 100% straight, either. When I really thought about our time together, I knew we’d had something. I knew he’d been attracted to me. I knew he’d loved me. I was no experiment.

I wasn’t invited to the wedding, and I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to go. The Ex and I were right, I suppose, to separate. But it just made no sense to me that he’d moved on so quickly. And I certainly didn’t think he should spend the rest of his life as a straight man. I hoped he hadn’t trapped himself in a miserable life. I wanted him to be happy, but I just didn’t see how this marriage would work for a lifetime.

A year later, I feel pretty much the same.

When I think about the Ex’s wedding—and I guess I’ll think about it every Halloween now—I think of “Your Sister Cried,” a song written by Fred Eaglesmith (and covered beautifully by Mary Gauthier). I follow along with the song, imagining that I went to the Halloween wedding, with the Ex’s sister, both of us knowing that something terribly wrong had happened:

Well, I stared out of the windshield into the rain so light
And I turned on my dims, and somebody flashed me their brights
And I reached over and turned the radio way down low
Your sister cried all the way home

Lightning crashed, and the road shone like a mirror
A dog came out of the ditch, then he disappeared
And I remembered a conversation we once had on the phone
Your sister cried all the way home

I’ll never know how you got into such a mess
Why do the bridesmaids all have to wear the same dress?
Everybody said you looked real good
But I think you looked stoned

Your sister cried all the way home
Your sister cried all the way home
Your sister cried all the way home
Your sister cried all the way home

Tonight, I miss the Ex.





Dear Autumn: Move on.

30 10 2007

Yellow Leaves
I’ve been sick for several days now—since Thursday, I guess. And I know what to blame: autumn. I get sick about this time every year. Actually, I usually get sick a couple of weeks earlier, but autumn started out pretty warm this year in Philly. I’ve finally succumbed. I’ve got the congestion, the sore throat, the fever and chills, the all-out exhaustion. Egad.

So, no, I’m not a fan of autumn. You shouldn’t be, either.

My October illness isn’t my only tradition for early autumn. Another tradition is that I reprint the grumpy memo to autumn that I first wrote several years ago. It pretty much sums up what I’m thinking today.

TO: Autumn Lovers
FROM: Jay
RE
: Getting (you) in touch with reality
DATE: October 30, 2007

It has come to my attention that many of you claim that autumn is the best time of year. Every day, it seems, I hear co-workers or fellow commuters saying that autumn is their favorite season. A common theme of your comments is that you thrilled to summer as a kid but that you love fall more and more as you get older. You go on and on about football, the new chill in the air, the yellows and the rusts in the leaves, and Thanksgiving.

I want to call your attention to some other things, though. There’s that tickle in the back of your throat. The way you’re so congested that you can only breathe through your open mouth. There’s that cough that makes you sound like Typhoid Mary. The way you can’t decide whether to turn the air conditioner or the heater on. I want to call your attention to the way you’re feeling right now. To the way you’re alternately chilled and feverish. I want to call your attention to your sudden need to have cough syrup right there on your desk.

Yes, friends, I want you to realize that the congestion and the horrible, unending hack-ack-acking cough (and, really, can you just keep that away from me, please?), well, they go right along with those rusty leaves and that chill in the air. The reason you feel so crappy right now is directly attributable to the change in the season. Your body is trying to figure out how to cope, but the weather just won’t cooperate. It’s warm one day, cold the next. It’s cool in the morning, almost downright hot in the afternoon.

Your so-called favorite season is making you sick.

P.S. If there’s any justice, I’ll win the lottery soon and move to New Orleans or Key West or San Diego or Honolulu. There, I’ll enjoy the sameness of all those warm days strung one against the other, from January to December. You’ll be welcome to visit, so long as you promise not to go on and on about how you enjoy that chill in the October air. Ugh.

Please send NyQuil.





The Ozarks

30 09 2007

Dulcimer
As my last post indicated, I’m back in Philly after spending the week with family. After flying into Oklahoma, I spent much of the week with my parents and sister in a condo in the Missouri Ozarks.

Does that sound bad? Well, it was definitely a little bit bad. I didn’t entirely enjoy chaperoning my elderly parents as they (and I!) attended my dad’s Navy reunion. For one thing, the reunion’s organizers tapped the nearby talent pool in Branson for several courses of uplifting, patriotic music. Now, I’m as patriotic as the next guy, probably more so, but how many Tributes to the States can a guy be expected to endure in a week? I sat through three. (There are only a couple of really good state songs, one of them being “Oklahoma!,” of course, and I heard it every time.) That’s at least two too many.

My Dad is a WWII veteran, and—as you can imagine—he and his shipmates are showing some age. Traveling each day on a tour bus with all those bad knees and walkers tested my patience at times. That said, most of the guys were pretty cool. I could pretty much imagine them as 18- and 19-year-olds on a ship in the Pacific. (And that was before my dad told a sexually explicit joke to all the guys and their wives and families on the bus.) I adopted a new family, too, a sweet vet from Oregon and his lady-friend, and I just generally played the good son. So it wasn’t all bad, and it was certainly nice to be able to spend some time with my parents and sister (who, unfairly, didn’t have to attend the reunion events with her brother).

It’s so beautiful in the Ozarks. When I was a kid, we used to spend some of our vacation time in the area (frequently at my sister’s condo). I loved Silver Dollar City, the area lakes, the country music (but only the good stuff), and the pine trees. In fact, I can imagine renting a cabin there for a vacation now. But, then, all the local entertainers feel like they have to pander to the most conservative, most religious elements in the audience. That’s how one guy ends up in three Tributes to the States in a week…. Ugh.

What the Ozarks need—actually, what Branson needs—is a Queer touch. It needs a little more “Harper Valley PTA” and fewer Lee Greenwood wannabes. It needs a little more upscale food and a little less, um, fudge and pecan logs. More galleries, fewer buildings shaped like the Titanic. More bed-and-breakfasts, fewer cheap motels. My people can help, I’m telling you.

And, for that matter, I’m sure there a lots of gay people in Branson already. Several of the entertainers who performed for my dad’s reunion, well, set off my gaydar. But Gay Branson is just too subterranean (in the closet?) to be palpable, it seems. If there were some organized gay tourism in Branson, some good things would follow. Unfortunately, until there’s a little bit more going for it as a gay vacation spot, the bland magic shows and bad flea markets are going to win.

Maybe I should start my own tour company…. Any investors out there?





41

23 09 2007

Oklahoma Flag
I’m celebrating my 41st birthday today. And I’m doing it from Oklahoma. Yup, yesterday, I poured myself into one train, then another, then an airplane, then another, to arrive at Tulsa International Airport to find my parents waiting for me. Unfortunately, there was still an hour’s drive to my parent’s house—and I was pretty much bushed by then. Traveling is hard work.

But I woke up this morning in my hometown, just a short distance from the hospital where my mom and I spent some fairly eventful time 41 years ago.

As much as I’ve become attached to Philly, and I have, I love being from Oklahoma. It’s a cool place. Really! The drive south from Tulsa yesterday evening was gorgeous. Miraculously, it’s still green here—it has apparently been a rainy late summer—and there was lots of baled hay and happy-looking cattle in fields. The accents sounded right, too. I moved to Philly in 1996, but I’m still taken by surprise sometimes by what words sound like. Here, they sound different, of course, and in a way that sounds right to me. When an Oklahoman struck up a conversation on the plane ride from Dallas, she sounded country, and—somehow or other—I relaxed.

And as much as I hate to say it, men might even be handsomer here. To my eye, anyway. I’ve spent significant chunks of my adult life in Philly, New Orleans, northwest Ohio, and Oklahoma. In each of those places, it seemed to me that the men were just built differently. There were lots of fit, tall, clean-shaven, muscular farm boys (and grown-up farm boys, too) in Ohio. In New Orleans, my 5’7″ frame seemed a lot more normal. And in Philly, men frequently have a more obviously, um, ethnic look than anywhere I’ve lived before. (When I first moved to Philly, I’d be completely puzzled when someone asked me about my background. “No, I’m not Italian,” I’d say, once they explained their question. “I’m not Polish. I’m not Irish. I’m from the South. We stopped being ethnic a long time ago.”)

In the other places I’ve lived, it has taken me awhile to adjust my taste in men to the local flavors. (Recently, for instance, I realized that I’m now truly into Philly guys. Of course, that could just be Middle Age talking.) In Oklahoma, though, the guys have always just generally looked good to me. Whether they’re country ranchers, or Tulsa businessmen, or the Muscogee man who sat near me at the airport yesterday, I’m interested. I guess that’s not all that surprising; Oklahoma’s where I developed my Queer Country™ aesthetic.

Gosh, that was quite a digression. Anyway, so I’m in Oklahoma…. I don’t expect much fuss to be made over my 41st birthday. That’s just not the way my parents roll. I used to wish they’d make a bigger fuss, but I know better than to expect it. I will see my sister today, though, and there’s a fair chance I might get some birthday cake from her.

I probably won’t do any blogging for two or three days, so don’t worry about me. My family and I and going to head off on a little adventure in the Ozarks. (I still can’t believe I’m doing it.) I imagine I’ll have lots to blog about when I get back.





And, yes, I’m back.

8 08 2007

I’m back from the conference, which was in New Orleans.  (Yes, New Orleans in August!  Great scheduling, huh?  Air conditioning is our friend.)  If I ever actually finish unpacking, I’ll probably have something to say about what it was like to be back in the city.  The conference was good, though.  Being so close to the Soulmate-Who-Got-Away and the places we used to hang out?  Well, all that was a little bit complicated.