Thursday, December 30, 2010

Meeting the Family

I love Antonio. I love my family. It was only a matter of time before they met. Last night was that night! For all intents and purposes, Michele and Kasey are my most immediate family. I see them the most of all my family. Michele suggested that Antonio and I join them and Ashley and Brian for dinner after Christmas. We met last night, our seven month anniversary, at Supper on 2nd and Avenue A.

I was so nervous! I thought we'd run out of things to talk about. I was worried they wouldn't click. I stressed about having enough cash for dinner (which I never do). But things went very well! We had a great time, the food was great and there wasn't a lull in the conversation.

Of course, I realize that we were in a trendy New York restaurant. Everyone was polished and proper. Let's see if he runs away when we're on the couch in Pennsylvania with two dogs, arguments at dinner, inappropriate jokes and everyone's in the pajamas. That'll be the real test :-)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas '10

Every Christmas is different, but the last few years have been really transformative for my family. Over the past 10 years, Michele and I have both graduated from college and moved away, Michele and Kasey got married and Renee has grown from a baby into a young woman. All the changes are dizzying. Christmas 2010 was the first time in a long time that I felt like we are where we are going to be. Michele and I are no longer a part of the nuclear family and that's okay. I'll never go back to my room and chill the way I did when I was in high school. Michele will never be the babysitter for her younger brother, in the most literal sense. We've all grown up and grown into the family that we are today. I like it.

The Highlights

Michele and I visited Grandpop and then Aunt Honey. They both seemed alert, healthy and happy. I only get to see them around the holidays and I always think when I'm with this that it may be the last time. I'm always grateful when I get to see them. Aunt Honey is an absolute riot! You aren't going to hold anything back when you're 79. She just calls it like I see it. We didn't get to see Uncle Fred because he wasn't doing well either day we were around. It's absolutely heartbreaking. Aunt Kathy is such a huge part of our family and it breaks my heart to think that she knows this will be the last Christmas she will have with her husband. I wish there was more I could do.

Michele, Renee and I did our usually family crafts. Instead of a gingerbread house, this year we did a gingerbread train. It's always fun! It's the simple things that are really restful and relaxing. Michele also bought a kit to make ornaments using little beads of colored plastic and metal molds. It's funny to see how far we've come. Michele and I used to fight before she left college. Renee and I used to fight before I left for college. And Michele and I didn't have much in common while I was in college. It's only been in the last few years (since I've come out) that I've really noticed that the three of us are really close. It's probably that we're all maturing and realizing that family is really the most important thing.

We did our usual Christmas Eve tree decorating and gift opening. It was fun. I got a lot of great gifts - some practical and some unexpected. The best part was seeing Renee's face when she opened her Justin Bieber CD and book. You can tell if you got a 13-year-old girl a good gift by the screech. She had the CD on replay in her room until I left the next evening.

It's always great to see my parents! My mom always goes out of her way to make sure we're comfortable and taken of. You tell her you like something and then...BAM, you get a years' supply. She asked what kind of snacks we'd like to have. I told her that I like almonds. Next thing I know, I'm trying to fit a 3 pound bag of almonds in my suitcase. It's a great gift though! I'll be snacking away at work for the next 6 months.

The only downer this season was that I didn't get to see my dad. I left the day before I was supposed to see him because of the impending storm. We did get a lot of snow so it seems like I made the right decision. Still, I haven't seen him in over a year so it would have been nice. If only there was better public transportation to southern Delaware.

I am very thankful for my wonderful family, our good health and our safe travels this year. We've settled into the family that we're meant to be and I think it fits my fabulous fingerless gloves.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Double Standards

I've been thinking about double standards lately. I had a great evening with Antonio downtown only to come home to Spencer and some girl relaxing on the couch. As Valerie on The Comeback would say, "I don't need to see that!” Now don't get me wrong. I totally respect that this is his apartment too and he can have people over, even if they are super spoiled, annoying bitches. But when I first started dating Antonio, Spencer said that I should hang out with him downtown. He made the argument that the apartment was too small. I agreed based on the fact that our apartment is small. But it seem like the rules don't apply equally. He can have a dumb trash box over, but I can't have my boyfriend over.

That's not the only recent example. Antonio and I went to a wedding on the 10th. I had to ask my boss if would be alright with him if I took the day off. I felt the need to be very cautious with my pronouns. I simply said that I had a wedding and needed to get ready. I didn't say that my boyfriend invited me and he didn't ask. If he did and I had said that the bridge and groom were friends of my girlfriend, no one would bat an eyelash. But, if I said they were friends of my boyfriend, I get the feeling people would think I was pushing my sexuality down their throat. I'd worry that he'd treat my differently. I shouldn't have to keep my relationship a secret. I don't want people to think that my personal life should be private, something only acceptable behind closed doors.

At this point, I don't really care! I'm proud of who I am and I'm proud to have Antonio as my boyfriend. Everyone else can like it or not. But it's still frustrating to live in a world where love is still subjected to such an archaic double standard.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Neuro Holiday Party 2010

This past Wednesday was our annual party. Somehow organizing it always falls on me, which I don't really mind. This year I started early and made sure that things (most things) didn't get done at the last minute. You know what that's called? Growth.

We bought blue and white centerpieces with blue, frosted snowflake tea lights, and white snowflake confetti on the tables. Aesthetically, it was much nicer than last year. Everything clicked in the beginning. Both the Kosher and non-Kosher food showed up on time. Katherine and I got everything set up before the party started (unlike last year). The band (ugh, that's a whole other story) showed up and were ready when the party began. For the most part, everything ran smoothly.

Now, everyone likes to complain, but no one wants to help. People didn't like that we had room temperature finger-food. Don't get it twisted! We spent about $3,000 on food and it was delicious. People were just used to a nice sit-down meal. They didn't like the music because it was acoustic and slow. They were used to a DJ and dance floor. Essentially, it all comes down to money. The previous administration spent money like it was no object (right or wrong, I can't make a judgment because I wasn't there for it). Now, we've scaled things down and people aren't happy about it. People didn't like that we were in the lobby, though I can't really blame them.
My boss was happy with it except for the fact that the food ran out early. The lab people, who I'm convinced are genetically predisposed to lack social etiquette, took huge plates of food. You'd think they were saving for the entire winter.
I think / hope that people realize that I did the best I could given the limitations. Hopefully, we'll have a good year and we'll be able to organize a party that's bigger and better next year.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lonely / Legend

I'm dogsitting this weekend for my sister, while she and my brother-in-law go to Atlantic City. She left me her car, gave me more than enough money for food and said to just make myself at home. I took the opportunity to get some Christmas shopping done while belting out top 40 radio hits in the car. It's the little things in life. I ordered a feast from Dominos and enjoyed it while watching some tv.

After the sun went down, I realized how lonely being alone in a big house could be. I couldn't step out the front door and see people walking down the street. Even when I was at the mall, I felt this weird disconnect with the strangers around me. It was weird, but I felt so alone when I was in stores or strolling through the parking lot. Walking through Target was rough because I'd see all the holiday place settings and decorations and want them so badly. I'd think about what my life could (and might) be like in the future. I missed Antonio. I wanted nothing more than to have him there with me, holding my hand.

Ok. Enough of the sad stuff. So after a brief nap, I decide to watch I Am Legend. I'd seen it before and loved it. It was even more fun to watch now because it was filmed in NYC. I've actually been to most of the places in the movie. It's a great, but suspenseful (and scary at times) movie. I watched Will Smith run from mutant zombies for two hours. And about ten minutes after it ended, the power to my sister's house goes out. Omg! And of course in my mind, the zombies are quickly climbing down through the attic. I am literally paralyzed on the couch. I just keep playing the game on my iPhone quietly so the zombies won't hear me. I guess I'd have to save Bogie, though I'm sure Michele would forgive me if something ate him in the event of a mutant apocalypse. Oh well, the lights came back on and I watched some happy tv before heading to bed.

It's fitting that I spent the afternoon and early evening feeling so isolated and lonely and then I watch a movie about a man who's the only person left alive in Manhattan. I'll just be happy when I see the sun shining in the morning while I drink some hot tea.

Ps: please excuse any typos. I'm writing this from the guest bed on my iPhone.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pink Friday

I like to think of myself as someone who was a fan of Nicki Minaj before the hype began for her debut, Pink Friday. I didn't pre-order the album, but expected to buy it when it came out. I heard the 30-second previews on iTunes and wasn't too impressed. I then heard some of the songs on YouTube, which were sped up, and didn't like them either. It wasn't until I finally heard some legitimate copies of the songs that I started to get on board again. I finally broke down on Friday and bought the deluxe edition of the album. I will say that I love it, but I will also say that I think some editing it down would have helped. I would say that there are only two or three songs that I don't like and would skip. For a debut "album" she should be very proud of what she accomplished.

The Good:
1) I'm The Best - Inspiration, cocky and fun to sing along with.
2) Roman's Revenge - This was the track that I hated when I first heard it. I couldn't believe that Nicki would let Eminem use derogatory gay slurs on one of her raps, especially because she knows she has a big gay following. But, the rest of the song is so HOT! I love her crazy voices and she really brings it hard. I've learned to look past
4) Right Thru Me - Love song, but not very romantic. Good, but ghetto.
5) Fly - Introspective and Rihanna does a great job on the chorus.
6) Save Me - So vulnerable and innocent. I can relate and it's really calming.
7) Moment 4 Life - I like the grateful message of the song.
8) Check It Out - Good sample and uber fast raps.
9) Blazin' - This is the kind of song that made me fall in love with her.
10) Here I Am - Very strong message, powerful.
11) Dear Old Nicki I like that she admits she's changed. I think it's brave.
14) Super Bass - This is the perfect mix of hip/hop and pop.
16) Muny - Who doesn't love songs about money?
17) Girls Fall Like Dominoes - I love songs that mention fashion designers and celebrities and this song has them galore.

The Bad:
3) Did It On 'Em - This song was just stupid. It has a great beat but the lyrics are disgusting and lame.
13) Last Chance - I actually like Nicki's verses but the chorus is way too poppy. It's like an outtake from a Hilary Duff album. I would have expected more from Natasha Bedingfield who is featured on the track
15) Blow Ya Mind - Another dumb track.

At 17 tracks, it's very long. I think cutting out the three bad tracks would have made this a perfect album. I noticed that she tends to have 4 lines that all end with the same word. Of course it's going to rhyme if you end each line that way. I'm not an expert on rap, but I think that's a little lazy. Overall, she has a lot of amazing songs on this album mixed in with a few songs that I could do without. I like that people are going to be exposed to her music. I like her craziness and drive to create an empire.

I'll admit it; I'm now a true Ken Barb.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Empire State Building

I moved to New York with little hesitation. I feel like I went from Radford on a Monday and then working in Manhattan by the following Monday. I'd never been to the city before and I didn't do the things that most tourists do. Antonio's cousins were visiting from Portugal so they've been seeing the city at rapid pace. We all went to the Empire State Building on Friday, which was a first for me. It was amazing! You can see the entire city from where we were standing on the 86th floor.

This is one tourist spot that I can check off my list.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Food Punctuation

I don't get it. Usually, people try to lose weight and get discouraged when the scale tells another story. Most are even sad when the needle on the scale doesn't move at all. I have the exact opposite problem. I went to the MS Center on Tuesday, as I do every Tuesday, and weighed myself. I lost a pound from the previous week. It doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but it's really frustrating when I'm trying to pack on muscle. The worst part is that I eat all the time. I really don't think it'd be possible for me to eat more than I do.

But, obviously that what I need to do. I went grocery shopping today for the essentials. What I found was an early Christmas miracle! Lean Pockets were on sale for $2.00 a box. They pack a punch - just enough calories and not too many grams of fat. They are amazing and the fact that they are so cheap only sweetens the deal. Imagine my astonishment when I saw that Banquet, individual pot pies are $1.00. I think I literally said, "Shut up" to myself in the freezer section. They have a bit more saturated fat and that did make me pause, but I gave in. Eating healthy, adult meals isn't cutting it. This may just do the trick, though I know that I will need to step up abs so that I don't lose the cut.

These amazing deals won't become my new diet, but rather punctuate it. I'll still have pasta, pork, or chicken for dinner along with black beans, rice, or veggies. Now, I'm going to just add these tiny meals to it. Everyone's heard of after dinner mints. Well, this will be my after dinner dinner. Hopefully, punctuating my meals with another, frozen meal will add an exclamation mark to my next weekly weigh in.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Laundry Lady

I was talking to Antonio yesterday about gratitude. He said that Oprah had once told people they should keep a gratitude journal. Each day you write down something or multiple things for which you are grateful. It doesn't need to be something big or important; it can be something as simple as having someone holding the elevator for you. Eventually, you will begin to notice the positive more and the negative less. If this lesson would be helpful to anyone, it would be New Yorkers. I'm going to give it a shot. The only thing I have to lose is negativity.

I dropped off my laundry yesterday. I have my laundry done roughly two to three times a month. There is an old, Chinese couple with a tiny, little shop next to my building. Each time it's simply a pleasure. The woman is always unbelievably friendly! Come to think of it, I really should asked, "Nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?" It doesn't matter what kind of mood I am in when I see her, she always puts a smile on my face. I actually enjoy the little conversation that we have for those few minutes I'm in their storefront.

I went in there today to pick my clothes up and was really surprised how cheap it was. $16.80 for about 2 1/2 weeks worth of laundry is a bargain. I gave her a $20.00 and as she gave me my change she said, "Three dollars. Enough for coffee, but not tonight. You won't sleep." Picture her saying this with the most adorable, 60-year-old Chinese accent.

I only see her for a few minutes a couple of times a month, but it always warms my heart. Seeing her today is something for which I am grateful.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Welcome to Burlesque

I rarely anxiously await the release of a movie. When I first saw the trailer for Burlesque months ago, I was instantly transfixed. The glitter, the music, and the costumes - it all seemed so perfect! I thought that November 24 would never come. Well, come it did! Antonio and I saw the movie the day it came out in an older theatre near Union Square. The audience was exactly as you'd expect for a Cher / Christina Aguilera film - the gays came out in full force! I was nervous because I knew that Antonio was going into the movie with low expectations. I was also nervous that I had been touting this movie for months and it was going to let me down.

Well, neither of those situations came true. The movie was great and I can't wait to see it again next weekend with Katherine. The best part of the movie was, of course, the music! Christina returns to sound of her third album, Back to Basics, and it's a welcome change from her fourth album, Bionic. She has the most incredible voice I've ever heard. The songs really showcase her amazing voice and the dancing / cinematography are just spectacular. You really want to get up on stage and be there with her. Cher has two songs in the film and they are both songs that will be on iPod constantly. Her big ballad, You Haven't Seen the Last of Me, actually received a round of applause from the audience in the theatre. The collective energy and love in the audience was electric.

People will be divided by this movie. There will be some who enjoy it for what it is - a glittery, predictable musical. Then there will be some will criticize Christina's acting and the lack of a surprising storyline. I didn't see this movie because I wanted a three-hour epic masterpiece à la Titanic or Atonement. This movie is fun! It's an escape from the mundane moments of our ordinary lives. It has a great love story and an innocence that's hard to find nowadays.

As soon as I got home, I bought the soundtrack and spend the rest of the night Burlesquing in my apartment. It's quite a sight! After months of waiting, I am pleased that this movie was everything I expected and more.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I really regret that I've only begun watching Oprah this season. I've seen several episodes and she really has a way of evoking such intense emotions. Some of the shows were disturbing and depressing, some were hilarious (watching the gays go crazy on Favorite Things was truly amazing) and some are truly thought provoking. Today's episode was a fascinating look into two unusual wedding ceremonies. The first was some crazy lady who married a murderer in prison and we won't even get into that one. One look at her multi-fabric, colorful wedding skirt was enough to convince me she wasn't all there.

It was the second story that really got me thinking. Oprah's cameras followed a group of young women who were beginning the journey to become nuns. At first I thought that they were just girls who couldn't get dates and needed a safe alternative to watching Lifetime and eating lots of cake. The more I watch, though, I began to realize the real wisdom, strength and sacrifice in their decision. They had to give up all their worldly possessions, say goodbye to their families and engage in a rigorous new lifestyle. Not talking to my parents regularly would be hard, but giving up Facebook and my iPhone would be impossible. Why would someone make this choice?

Of course, they are strong Catholics who believe in Jesus. That part didn't really speak to me, but it was the sense of peace and calm that really resonated. Oprah asked one of the sisters if she missed all the technology of the modern world. She said that she felt freer without it. She said that her laptop was her biggest ball and chain. Another sister said that she was sitting in front of her entertainment sister (before she became a nun) and realized that if she lost it all the next day, it would matter. She said that becoming a nun and "marrying" Jesus would be eternal. One sister said that if you don't believe in a power greater than yourself, how could you achieve anything greater than yourself. Wow! That's so powerful and it makes total sense to me. These girls, most younger than me, have such wisdom and poise.

Now, don't get it twisted! I'm not thinking of becoming a nun. That'd be crazy, but I am a little envious of their simple lifestyle. It's much more than a lack of technology. There is no pressure to have the perfect body, hair, and skin - pretty much the exact opposite of the gay community. There is no worrying about paying for cable, internet and gym memberships. For all that they give up; it looks like they get so much more in return. It's an interesting view on life and I'd like to see if there is a way to incorporate some of these ideals into my overly connected, hectic, modern, American life.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I was hesitant to buy Rihanna's new album, Loud. I loved the first single, Only Girl (In the World) and loved her second single, What's My Name, even more. Looking back, I should have been anxiously awaiting the album's release. After days of craving What's My Name, I finally broke down and bought the album. I figured that it'd be cheaper in the long run to just buy the whole thing than buying each song individually. It's hard to review the album because I have somewhat mixed feelings about it.

I loved Rated R. It was a dark, serious album that showed her vulnerable side. At the time, I could really relate to the themes of the albums. Even now, I can see the artistry of the music. For anyone looking for depth on Loud will be disappointed. Most of the tracks are very poppy and shallow. Cheers (Drink to That) is an anthem for drinking on the weekend and Raining Men is a shout out to the ladies that all men are replaceable. Don't get me wrong - I love both songs and Nicki Minaj is amazing on Raining Men! But it's something that I'd expect from Ke$ha or someone with a little less talent. I expect more from Rihanna. I also noticed that the lyrics of several songs don't flow well.

Even though the tone of the album isn't my favorite, I still really enjoy the album. Something that's a new direction for Rihanna was the blatant sexuality. Two songs in particular were a big departure for her usual sound - S&M and Skin. While S&M is a dirty song with a dance beat, Skin is a slower groove with a very seductive vibe. Fading Away and Complicated are two very break-up songs. Her voice sounds strong and confident. Love the Way You Lie (Part II) and the piano version bonus track improve upon the original. The first part was almost all Eminem, so I was glad that Rihanna took the spotlight on the second part.

It's a bit of an odd album. Some songs are very dance-pop oriented, some a very sexual and adult, some are sad, and some are ballads. All are very strong on their own. The album just never comes together to form a single idea - it's more of a hodge-podge of good songs. It is different (and not necessarily in a bad way) from Rated R and it's definitely more artistic than Good Girl Gone Bad. It'll be on my iPod for quite some time, though I do home for a little more depth next time.

PS: She looks GORGEOUS on the album cover.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Staying Put

It seems like I'm going to be sticking it out on the Upper East Side. The plan was for me to move out, but it seems like Spencer either doesn't care or doesn't feel like putting in the effort to find someone to take my place. The situation has gotten a little bit better - platitudes and greetings. Eh, it's a step. I think that I had a good plan in moving back to New Jersey, but liked it less and less the more I thought about it.

Why should I have to move? The whole situation (without beating a dead horse) was his fault. I found the apartment, scheduled the viewings, arranged to sign the leases, dropped off the paperwork. He would never have even found this apartment without me. Those are logistics and I was happy to find a place for us, but it's more than that.

I love walking to the bus stop in the morning. I like passing little shops and looking in the windows. I like the Upper East Side. I've worked hard to get where I am. Why should I be the one to leave? I shouldn't. I deserve to live here and I am going to stand up (though it doesn't seem to be an issue at the moment) and assert that I have every right to be here. Plus moving is such a bitch.

The financial ramifications will be tricky. It would have been nice to pay off some debt and have a little more breathing room. But it's not as though I'm sinking. I can pay bills (with a little budgeting). I'll just need to watch my spending and hope that Dr. Goldstein comes through. There's always the potential opportunity with Reshma. We'll see what happens. But for the meantime, I'm staying put.

Monday, November 15, 2010


The world can be tough place. It always has been and it always will be. I get it and I accept it. The one respite from all the weathering and abuse of the world is your home. No matter what's going on out there, it's usually a warm and welcoming place at home.

I used to consider Radford to be my home since it's where I felt most comfortable. I grew so much in those four years that I felt like it really became my hometown. Living in Radford was the last time that I really felt like I had a home. My first apartment in New York was great, but it wasn't mine. It was quite clear that it was Ari's apartment and we just lived there. He had the final decision on anything and I completely understand that.

I thought that my current apartment would become my new home for the next few years. At first it wasn't home because it wasn't done. We did things slowly and there was always something missing. I wanted to get a nightstand and a kitchen table and maybe some end tables or ottoman for the living room. Once the apartment was complete, then it'd feel like home. Well, we never quite made it there.

After the big arguments, the apartment has become a battlefield. Every step feels like a game of minesweeper. It is now less of a home and more of a hostel. I have never felt more uncomfortable in my life. Especially after Spencer's comments about my sexuality, I feel like I can't even be myself in my apartment. If I want to watch The A-List, I do it cautiously and only when he's not home. If I want to listen to Madonna, I have to put on my headphones or listen so quietly that it's easily drowned out by the television.

And what's next? If I actually end up moving to New Jersey, I still won't be home. I'll be a guest in a house that isn't mine. I love Michele and Kasey for inviting me to stay with them, but it's still their home. I just want a place of my own. I want a small studio that is mine. I want to make my own rules and be free and comfortable. I feel like I'm an adult and this is the next step. With all the other little things in life, it's just too much to feel homeless.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My First Icon

My divas tend to rotate through my iPod. For a while I was really into Christina and her new album. Next up was Judy and her soundtrack to "I Could Go on Singing". I am anticipating Rihanna's new album, though I doubt it'll be as deep as her last. There's one diva that I've loved for years and who I keep revisiting over and over again. And guess what? It's not Madonna! Before I knew the Queen of Pop, I was obsessed with the Queen of Country, Reba McEntire.

I remember listening to Reba at a very young age. I have all her albums after 1991 and even have two VHS concerts. I saw her in concert in 1996 / 1997 and remember it being a spectacle. Her band entered the stage in taxis and then the stage opened up and she came out in a private jet. Fabulous! I can see why I love her so much! But more than her persona, her voice and choice of songs attract me. She sings such emotional songs that really touch my heart. She is one of the very few artists that can make me cry.

And the more that I think about, I see how much I can relate to her songs:

My Parent's Divorce
• And Still
• Starting Over Again
• Somebody Should Leave
Past relationships
• Does He Love You (feat. Linda Davis)
• You Keep Me Hangin' On
• I Won't Stand In Line
My Mom
• Secret
• What Do You Say
• I'll Be
• You're Gonna Be
• Is There Life Out There
• Til I Said It To You
• Somebody's Chelsea
• I Keep On Lovin' You
• Read My Mind
Losing my grandparents
• All Dressed Up (With Nowhere to Go)
Struggles / Death
• She Thinks His Name Was John
• Fancy
• Invisible
• Nickel Dreams
• Walk On
• He Gets that From Me

Her new album, All The Women I Am, is a perfect collection of songs! She has the tender ballads about love, songs about rolling up your sleeves and getting it done, songs I feel like my mom could relate too. She continues to prove that there is real talent and emotion in a musical world filled to the brim with young girls who get by on sex and autotune. I'm excited to be re-discovering my first musical love. And I love that I still know all the words to all the songs after all the years.

Plus, she's gorgeous!! I love my spitfires with red hair.

Monday, November 8, 2010

New Teen

I know that everyone says that time flies. I never realized how true that really is until today. As hard as it is to believe, Renee turned 13 today. I still remember being called out of school when my mom went into labor, rushing to the hospital and then hiding in the bathroom. Kasey, Michele and I went down to Pennsylvania to celebrate with the family since 13 is such a milestone age.

Michele and I took Renee to the mall so she could pick out an outfit. And by pick out, I mean choose and then have Michele pay for. To say it was an interesting experience would be an understatement. I've written many times on childhood and how kids grow up too quickly today. That was reconfirmed several times today during a relatively brief shopping excursion.

One of our first stops was Abercrombie and Fitch. I've matured past that store. I'm over the phase where I am willing (and able) to pay $30 for a cheap t-shirt. They are trying to sell a lifestyle and I'm not buying it. But I remember the age when being cool was essential (Hmm...maybe I can still relate). I was shocked as we walked through the store. There were tags on the winter jackets with topless women with men blocking their breasts with their arms. Call me crazy, but I think showing models wearing the clothes helps sell the clothes. Then there was a table display with a topless girl standing in front of a clearly naked guy. I guess I'm an old man, but I felt this was something Renee should see. Oh well, Renee got her $30 t-shirt that was probably made by another 13-year-old girl in an Indian sweatshop.

Then she wanted Starbucks. Really? A 13-year-old that drinks coffee? Next was Hot Topic. It was traumatic. Not only was the music horribly obnoxious, but the cashier was flirting with Renee. Renee then told me that her favorite perfume comes from Victoria's Secret. I pretty much threw up my hands at this point. 13 for me consisted of video games and hanging out with my dad.

The only glimmer of hope is that Renee is very smart. She's bright and I hope she knows that there is so much more to look forward to after middle and high school. I know that it's common for people to get trapped in our area. It's a great little collection of towns, but I hope she makes it out. I want her to do great things like Michele and I have done. I've realized that she's pretty much all grown up. If she turns out to be half as much of a bitch as I am, I think she'll be just fine.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Always Searching

I'm always searching for that one thing that's gonna change my life. I'm never content. I'm never just able to sit, breathe and be at peace with myself. I've been thinking about it a lot lately.

Antonio and I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond today to pick up a few things. They had gourmet boxes of tea and I put it in the basket. I carried it around for a bit and then set it on a random shelf. I told him that it wasn't so much that I wanted (or even liked) tea. It was that I felt that drinking tea would bring with it a tea-drinkers lifestyle - very calm and tranquil. Next, we walked through the farmer’s market in Union Square. They had several unusual artists selling paintings and little trinkets. One booth had paintings with aliens and philosophers, or something like that. Those made me think that I need to try a strange, new religion. I think it was at this point that Antonio tuned me out.

I started thinking about all the things that I've done in the past few months in search of something else. I started going to a Unitarian church, volunteering, and tried yoga. I did all these things to fill a hole. There's a contentment that's missing and I'm trying to fill it with distractions. I keep looking for something external to be the key to fixing everything. Maybe I should start searching internally.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Used By Nicki?

I feel like I was one of the few people that liked Nicki Minaj before she was mainstream. I have several of the tracks from her various mixtapes - way before she was on MTV or the radio. I thought she was funny, sassy and creative. I could listen to her over and over again. I was uber excited when I found out that she was working on her first studio album.

A few songs from the album have come out and I am underwhelmed. More so, I feel like she's been pandering to her gay audience. The first few songs were okay, but nothing compared to Go Hard or I Feel Free. Roman's Revenge was released on Tuesday and I had high hopes, despite seeing that the track featured Eminem.

I was shocked that she let him use the word "faggot" in one of his verses. Nicki had the cover and full spread in Out magazine. She was supposed to be the rapper who bridged the gap between the rap and gay communities. Now I feel like she used us to gain popularity. It's no secret that the gays are really the power players. If we like you, you're in. Madonna, Cher, Britney, Gaga, Kylie, Christina, Judy - all have huge gay followings and have taken over the world.

I think Nicki pandered to the gay community and turned her back on us when it came time to record her album. How can she be on the cover of a prominent gay magazine and then allow such derogatory, hate speech on her album? I will not pre-order the album. I'll give the 30-second previews a chance, but I am definitely not the hardcore fan that I used to be.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010

I hadn't really participated in Halloween in years. I remember that I went to a haunted house in SoHo last year with Katherine and Claudia, but we weren't dressed up. I think the last time I had dressed up was when I was a freshman in college. I thought that this year was going to be like all the rest, but Antonio's friends were all dressing up so we had to also. We were running around yesterday afternoon to find the perfect soldier costumes. It was surprisingly easy! We found tight, camo pants at an army supply store. The store was crazy! You would think that it was Niemen Marcus by the way the European tourists were tying things on. And a lot of the staff were trying to advise us on what we needed. I'm thinking, "Um. We're not really going to war. We're going to a gay club! I think whatever you have will be fine." I got shirts and boots in Harlem and spent way too much! Lesson learned - it's a bad idea to max out a credit card for a pair of boots you'll wear once.

Anyway, our costumes looked amazing so it was all worth it! Juan was dressed as an old school football player and Suzanna was Charlie Chaplin. There was a little confusion about her costume. A lot of people thought she was Hitler. Yeah, she was basically Pam from the Office when she dressed as Chaplin / Hitler. But Suzanna had the cane and walk down perfectly, so I think most people figured it out. Joey and Hannah were pirates and Hannah really went all out. We didn't want to take away from the costume so we didn't wear jackets, just pants and tank tops

We had a really good time! We hung out at a bar in the East Village, then went to a Ukrainian diner because we were all starving and then we finished the night at Splash! Here's a hint - dancing and grinding in army pants and combat boots is exhausting. Next year I'm going bootie shorts and shoes, that's it! It was funny because it was so hot inside and yet freezing outside.

The best part of the night was all the comments we got. We could overhear people talking about how cute we were and how they loved our costumes. I had really wanted to do the soldier thing to bring a little political awareness to the night. I may not go trick-or-treating anymore (way too many calories), but last night was definitely a Halloween treat!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Wisteria Lane

On this season of Desperate Housewives, Mike and Susan have had to move out of their beautiful house on Wisteria lane because they couldn't afford it. Now, they are living in a small apartment nearby while they save up enough money to move back. Originally, I didn't like that storyline. Now, that storyline is my life.

It's clear that Spencer and I can't live together. My plan was to find a cute, little studio on the Upper East Side and live alone. That plan pretty much feel through when I saw the type of apartment I could afford - a tiny, little crack house on 125th Street. Michele suggested that I move back in with her and Kasey while I looked for a place, paid off my massive credit card bills, and saved some money. To say that I didn't like the idea would be an understatement.

The thought of leaving New York, the gym, Antonio, my life was just too much. I instantly dismissed the idea. But then I thought about it again and I began to realize that it's the smartest option. I'm still going to be working in the city and going to the gym after work. I'll still be able to see Antonio on weekends and spend the nights there with him. The only thing that is going to change is where I sleep at night. With about $6600 in credit card debt, it'd be impossible (or nearly impossible) for me to dig my way out while putting almost my entire paycheck towards other bills. I'd be living paycheck to paycheck forever.

So the plan is as follows. Spencer is going to have his new roommate take over the lease, pay me $2000 and I'm going to move back to New Jersey for 3-4 months. It's a temporary set-back. I kinda feel like I failed because I can't do it on my own. But then I also think that sometimes the real failure would be to let pride and foolishness ruin (or at least dampen) a bright future. It's not ideal, but this is going to be breather, little vacation in the country and a fresh start.

By spring, I will be in much better shape and ready to come back home to Manhattan, my Wisteria Lane.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Bigger Move

I distinctly remember thinking that my current apartment would be where I would stay for the next 2-3 years. I made it about 3 months. It's not quite exactly how it looks like it's going to turn out. The argument with Spencer turned into a vicious, derogatory, one-sided screaming match. While I still believe that I'm right, he is angry that I'm angry with me. I thought that things would get better over time, but tonight was another belittling rant.

I come home from the gym to loud rap and Halo blaring through the living room. I turned my music on loud enough that I can't hear his noise. When I go out to get dinner the screaming begins. He called me a bitch and a faggot and made numerous comments about how me being gay is the reason we don't get along. He kept saying how he thought he was living with a dude. Just because I didn't live in a frat house, get high everyday and sleep with any girl who was drunk enough doesn't mean that I'm not a man. I'm surprised how easily I'm able to let those comments roll off my back. I'm mad, don't get me wrong. But I didn't make me cry or hurt my feelings. Maybe I'm tougher than I thought I was. Maybe learning that is the blessing in disguise. It's funny that through all my time in the South and I'd never experience homophobia and bigotry like I did in my own home (I use that term loosely) with a roommate from Pennsylvania. It's also ironic that he says me being mad about him not doing the dishes, cleaning and having girls in sleep in my bed reveals my true nature. Doesn't having him be my friend for a year and then lashing out with homophobic and demeaning names reveal his true personality?

We're at a stalemate at this point. He wants me to move out and I'd like him to move out. It would be much easier for me to find someone to sublet his room, but I know him and know it's never going to happen. I figure that it'll be easier for me to find my own studio, which is what I really want anyway. Figuring out the financial and logistical details is going to be hell.

I'm currently looking at places in the 100s. I didn't want to go back to East Harlem, but a crack house would be an improvement at this point. I'm seeing a 1BR on 125 and 5th Ave tomorrow. The rent is the same as what I pay right now and it has laundry in the building. I'll pay more because I won't be splitting the bills, but I'll be able to save money here and there. I just want to be on my own - to be free. We'll see what happens next.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What's Eating You?

I've been seeing commercials for E's new documentary series, What's Eating You? for weeks and the anticipation had been building. I somewhat believe that I have an eating disorder. Now, I don't starve myself and I don't intentionally vomit. My problem is the exact opposite. I eat constantly and obsess about losing weight. Gaining weight the goal and anything else is a disaster. I weigh myself each week at work and was frantic this morning when I learned that I've lost (LOST) 5 pounds since the end of September. I go into crisis mode and start eating bag after bag of Doritos, which probably isn't the healthiest way of going about it. Then, I feel guilty! It's a vicious cycle.

I think that I have, at the very least, an unhealthy fear of losing weight and getting fat. I watched the show and totally fit in the girls' tiny shoes. They never felt like they were good enough. They used their weight / disorder to express the emotions they couldn't vocalize with words. They constantly feel too fat and I constantly feel too skinny! Thought it's an issue, I don't think my way of thinking is very serious because I'm always trying to get bigger and better. That's probably a very dysfunctional thought pattern (note to self: flag this entry for future therapist to tackle).

I think that I have the sense to at least realize that my way of thinking is not normal and that I can tell the difference between health and sickness. My fear is for the people that don't. I've never made it a secret that I worry about my sister. If I (a 23-year-old adult) am overly concerned with my body, what can does my 12-year-old sister stand? It doesn't help that the media explodes with images of digitally-altered, stick-thin girls. The expectations may be unrealistic, especially since they come from a Photoshop technician, but does Renee know that? Do I?

I was on iTunes the other day and saw a workout album for kids. This is so part of the problem. We've waged a war on childhood obesity, but how far does the pendulum swing? Of course it's not healthy to eat junk food and play videos games all day, but it's equally unhealthy to be crying on the bathroom floor because you ate a cookie.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I rarely look back on things with regret. I'm one of those people who believes that every person and every event teaches you something that helps you grow. I've always known that I have a temper. I usually don't let people see it. I usually suppress anything I'm angry about until it goes away - a very healthy approach. Not. But, the events of the past few days have really been a mirror for me. I look back and see my actions of the past and really feel terrible.

A brief background. Spencer and I had a huge fight after some strangers slept in my bed. They were his guests and his responsibility. It felt bad, but didn't really think it was a big day. The situation exploded on Sunday morning. I was prepared to not talk until the situation blew over and I calmed down. He launched into a tirade of curses and physical threats. I was shocked and, to be honest, a little afraid. It's weird to see someone completely lose control. We're at a stalemate at the moment.

Anyway. Seeing him scream and get in my face was a real eye-opener. It wasn't until I told Swann or Katherine that I was scared of him that it really sunk in and took me back to my college years. There are few things that I regret with Brian. It was what it was and it's done and I don't regret it. But, I do see how horribly cruel and aggressive I was to him. I remember trying to think of the most hurtful things possible and then being happy when he was speechless and almost in tears. I don't know if I thought that being so painfully honest and harsh would change anything. I think partially it was just an outlet for so much anger, hurt, and frustration. Either way, I see now that it was so unnecessary and damaging.

I know how hurtful and scary it was when Spencer was spewing insults and anger at me and I regret that I did the same to Brian. Now, don't get me wrong. He needed a good proverbial kick in the pants, but he never should have felt afraid of me. I remember him telling me once that he was scared of me when I got mad. I thought it was silly, but I can see now that it was probably true. I am truly sorry for making him feel that way. Now, it's in the past and I'm not going to reach out and apologize. I hope he knows that I was young, immature and upset.

Even though the current situation with Spencer really sucks, I'm almost grateful it happened because I learned something. I realized that my anger can really hurt others. Rather than spouting the most hateful things to be win an argument, it's best to think about what you say and make sure the rage doesn't take over. If you win by insulting, belittling and scaring those closest to you, it’s only a pyrrhic victory.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Meals Without Meat

As I was walking out of Petco on Sunday evening, I saw a large group of people holding signs and showing a DVD. Now you need to understand that demonstrations in Union Square are par for the course. I didn't pay them much attention until I saw the video. They showed a cow being held on a conveyor belt by its feet while a slaughterhouse worker slits its throat. OMG! I was shocked! I also saw workers slam "runt" pigs on concrete floors to kill them, crowd tens of thousands of chickens into cramped cages where they can't even open their wings, and auction off cattle with lesions and tumors to be made into food for humans. I had always heard of PETA and kinda thought they seemed a little crazy. But, I had never really thought about the deplorable conditions of factory farms.

I fully believe that it's alright to slaughter animals to feed people. Some don’t, but I do. I like hamburgers, bacon, and turkey on Thanksgiving. But, the video and demonstrators really got me thinking. It's hard to look at a burger and not see the face of that cow hanging upside down with its blood draining while still conscious. Even if I wanted to still eat it, the images make me lose my appetite.

They handed me two pamphlets - one on vegetarianism and one on veganism. I highly doubt that I could ever be vegan. I think it's a little obsessive to give up all animal byproducts, even though I saw cruelty in regards to hens and dairy cows. Hey! You can't win them all, right? But I think that I may be able to give up meat. The literature also said that people who eat a vegetarian diet have lower cholesterol and risk for certain kinds of cancers. I guess it makes sense. They put so many antibiotics and growth hormones into animals. Why wouldn't they then pass them on to us when we eat them?

I requested a free, starter kit and asked my friend Hannah to give me more information. I will definitively need to make sure that I can get more than enough protein in other forms. My muscles need protein in order to keep growing and getting bigger. I feel sorry for the chickens, but I won't be giving up my physical goals for them. Sorry!

I haven't decided exactly when this new diet will start, but I'm sure I'll do it gradually. Maybe I'll start with just one or two days without meat and see how it works. Trying new things is the only way to grow and learn, so I'm willing to give it a shot.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

City Gays Go Apple Picking

The best part of being a relationship is getting to do all those cute, couple activities with the changing seasons. Now that summer is officially over and the leaves are starting to change colors we decided to go apple picking. We both styled it up with jeans and gray / blue sweaters. Just because we had to go to the country (aka New Jersey), didn't mean we had to look the part. We had such a great time and the scenery was so picturesque.

After we collected what seemed like 50 pounds of apples and made some pit stops to pick up baking supplies, we headed back into the city to make our uber fresh apple pie. We thought it was going to take forever because we thought we had to peel and cut twelve apples. We did six and the pot was so we stopped. We mixed the apples with sugar and spices and cooked them for a few minutes to get that delicious sauce. Then we put it all into the crust.

While we baked the pie, we watched The A-List and ate sushi! It was soooo good! An hour later, the pie was done!!

I was pleasantly surprised! The pie was moist and sweet. The crust was crispy, but not hard. It had a bit too much lemon and orange zest, but it didn't detract from the taste of the apples. I had never baked anything from scratch before, so this was a complete success. It's hard to imagine that just a few hours ago, the apples were on a tree in New Jersey and now they are in a pie in my apartment on the Upper East Side. Antonio and I make such a great team and we're so good together. Today was another day that was utter per-fec-tion as our favorite Rachel Zoe impersonator would say.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Friend of Dorothy

I always look back on people that remain in my life for a long time and try to recall what my impression was when I first met them. The hard about trying to remember is that I never really know who's going to be in my life for the long haul.

Davy is one person that I think is going to be around for a while and someone that I think is going to teach me a lot. He's one of the adoption reps for KittyKind where I volunteer on Sunday evenings. He's about 50, but he's as feisty as anyone I know. I could tell that he and I instantly had one thing in common so I think a friendship was inevitable. Now when I go to KittyKind, it's really more like hanging out with friends and volunteering.

He's so funny, but I also think he's got a lot to teach me. I really think it'd be good to have a mentor (in the least formal sense of the word). He's a huge fan of Judy Garland, who famously played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. She is someone who I'm slowly becoming to appreciate and love. He's lent me books, DVDs, and CDs to better acquaint myself with her and other Broadway legends. The more I learn about Judy, the more I realize that the stories of Britney and Lindsay are far from original.

I think there is so much gay history that I don't know. I have so much to learn. I think it's going to be great to have an older friend who's lived and can really give me advice.

Monday, October 4, 2010

All Natural

I hate to admit when I'm wrong. I'm rarely wrong, so I rarely have to it. But, this may be one time that I have to just come clean. I recently started taking Jack3d - a pre-workout supplement designed to increase energy and strength during exercising. Spencer and I decided to switch our supplements as our NoXplode seemed to be losing its kick. At the very least, my body had gotten used to the supplement so I wasn't getting the same effect.

At first, I loved the Jack3d! I remember working without my iPod and thinking, "I feeling amazing." I remember thinking this using my Lora accent. I felt like I could lift much more weight that I had before - and I did. But then I took it on Friday and I remember having the worst...stomach pain. We'll leave it at that. Try hanging out with your boyfriend when you feel like you're dying. On Saturday, I took the day off from the gym and I remember feeling fine. I went back to gym yesterday, took Jack3d before, and remember feeling so sick later that afternoon. I learned a very important lesson - no one uses the bathroom at Barnes and Noble unless they don't feel well.

I talked with Jimmy yesterday after we had both finished working out. He's a great guy! He wants to give me some new workouts so that I don't plateau and we're doing a group session next Saturday morning. He had mentioned that he isn't taking any supplements right now - no protein powder, no energy powder. That got me thinking. Maybe it'll be good to take about two weeks and just go natural. I haven't been taking protein (more so because I don't have the money) for the past two weeks. I think I'm going to take another two weeks off from protein and completely stop the Jack3d and see how my workouts go.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Social networking is a part of daily life for almost everyone. Grindr is an interesting new social networking tool. It's takes simple instant messaging and combines with GPS to create the ultimate hook-up tool. The program is designed for gay men to post pictures of themselves and see pictures of other uses near them. Imagine - seeing pictures of all guys just a few blocks away that want casual sex. It's both a marvel and despicable use of technology.

Now, I don't need nor do I want Grindr! I am so in love with Antonio and would never use my iPhone to find sex partners. But I thought I'd just see what all the fuss was about. From the minute I created my profile and upload my "after" picture, people were hitting me up. Mostly I'd get simple hellos or compliments about my body. After a few graphic messages, I realized that I didn't feel comfortable having this kind of app on my phone. It's so skeezy!

But, I got thinking about how addicting it was and flattering the compliments felt. Guys would tell me how they thought I was. I actually did have a brief conversation with one person. It was nothing but a very generic conversation. When he asked if I wanted to come over for sex, I told him that I had a boyfriend and wasn't interested. You know what his response was? He said, "Well, if you ever want to get fucked, just let me know." Um. Gross. But it also made me feel good. Why do random comments from perfect strangers make me feel good about myself?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Working On My Fitness (Revisited)

In August 2009 I made the decision to get back to the gym. I wanted to be serious and committed, which were two things I wasn't in college. College was a mess when it came to fitness. I didn't really know what I was doing and my routines may have actually worked against the goals I had / have.

But from September 2009 to June 2010, I had an amazing trainer. Jimmy taught me what I needed to know, pushed me further than I thought I could go and made me nauseous on a regular basis (in a hurts-so-good kind of way). I'll be indebted to him for the life-changing experience he gave me.

After Spencer and I moved to 85th street I knew I would be able to afford training with Jimmy. So for the past three months I've been working out solo. I actually really enjoy it. I can put my iPod on and just have a great time. I like having my own schedules, routines, and playlists. But it's always good to still see Jimmy from time to time.

He asked me to take before and after pictures. The before picture was actually the after shot from the end of our first three months of training together. I finally took the after picture for him so he can add it to his portfolio. I was shocked at how good it turned out.

Let's see what I can accomplish in the next twelve months. My goal is to gain 12 pounds for a goal weight of 180.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sesame Street Too Sexy?

I may only be twenty-three, but sometimes I feel like a parent of twin daughters. I'll explain. I notice that I see things around me and remark how inappropriate they are considering children see them. There are ads for The Virginity Hit, which is some movie that will undoubtedly bomb at the box office. The various tag lines refer to virginity as a problem or at least something embarrassing. One read, "Still a virgin? We can help." I'm just envisioning my 12-year-old sister seeing this ad and thinking that virginity is something disposable. And in true Ann Daemer (my mom) fashion, I threaten to write letters and complain.

Kids grow up quickly and tweens / teenagers have so many pressures that I didn't face when I was going through that awkward stage of life. There are so many mixed messages and traps for adolescents these days. But you would think that toddlers and young children are exempt from all these corrupting influences? You'd be wrong!

I was making my hourly visit to and saw a story on Katy Perry's appearance on Sesame Street. I was intrigued and a little worried. First she's singing "Ur So Gay," which I find offensive and next she exploits girl on girl kissing to gain popularity. How exactly does she fit into the target audience for Sesame Street? She did a re-worked version of her hit, Hot N Cold. I'll admit that it was well-written and showed her brains, but it was her outfit that revealed even more. As you can see from the picture below, this is entirely inappropriate for a children's program. Honestly, what the hell was she thinking? It was the VMAs, it was Sesame Street. Of course parents complained and they banned the clip from ever being aired. Good! If the producers, wardrobe people or Katy herself had used any common sense, she'd have put on a complete outfit.

Maybe I'm conservative. Maybe I'm old-fashioned. But, really - what is the world coming to?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

iHeart my iPhone

I always wanted an iPhone, but never quite thought I'd ever get one. I'd have to save up the money for the phone, switch to AT&T, and figure out a way to pay for the upgraded plan. So I was shocked when an iPhone was practically handed to me on a silver platter.

Here's the story:

I was talking with Dr. Goldstein about the new neuroscience clerkship that we're starting very soon. He said that the medical school would give money to start up the program to buy things for the program. We're going to be putting in a new video monitor in the Yahr library, adding new computers, etc. He asked me if I had a Blackberry or Smartphone of any kind. I didn't. I had the same phone that I had when I was a sophomore in college. He said that we'd get me a Blackberry. I went to make copies of some student evals and thought about the Blackberry. I went back and told him that I appreciated it, but that I was planning on getting on iPhone eventually so getting me a Blackberry wasn't necessary. I'll never forget what and how he said, "Oh, you want an iPhone? We'll get you an iPhone." He said it with this matter-of-fact attitude that I was taken aback.

And tonight I went to the AT&T store near my apartment and got it. The salesman and I went through my plan and protective covers and how the phone works. Then Dr. Goldstein met me there and swiped his card for the full price of the phone. Why would he do this? It has very practical work applications. I can check my email whenever I need and this will allow Dr. Goldstein to better keep in touch with me.

This really shows me what kind of man he is. He is a true mench, which is a Jewish word for a generous person. At least that's what I think it means. He cares about the people works with and wants to see that they are comfortable and happy. He realizes that when employees are taken care of, they tend to be more productive and efficient. I don't know if this was his intention, but he's really earned my loyalty. Not because he bought me something, but because he went out of his way to make sure that I was taken care of. The plan is for him to be reimbursed by the department for the phone, but I don't really think that's going to happen. I think he went into that store tonight with the thought that this phone was going to be paid for at his own expense. And I really appreciate the thoughtfulness and selflessness.

Now the fun begins. I can download apps, watch YouTube, and check my email and Facebook. This phone is really going to change my life. I feel like I've stepped in to the 21st century and I like it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Heart of Silence

After missing two weeks, I decided to go back to All Souls and give it another chance. I hadn't dismissed it after my first service, but I wasn't sure if I would be able to muster the dedication to making it a part of my Sunday routine. I am fairly certain that I will be returning to the congregation week after week.

This week, Minister Galen Guengerich spoke of silence and the lack of it. This is something that I had thought about it in the past. I'd noticed that I constantly seem to be around noise. TV, phone calls, texts, and iPods - it's never ending. I had always thought it was a nuisance, but something one must live with when living in Manhattan. I had not stopped to think about the spiritual / emotional consequences of this constant noise.

Minister Guengerich delved deeper into the spiritual noise and the impact on the mind. You can't really devote your full attention to any one thing if you are managing multiple devices. Compound the several things that you're focusing on with the anticipation of noise (texts, phone calls, knocks at the door). He says that you aren't focusing on anything at all, but you are exhausted.

He doesn't advocate eliminating technology, but rather suggests that we increase the amount of silence in our lives. The world is a noisy place and we can't control it, but we can control certain aspects of lives and we can ensure silence. Rather than listening to music while clean, close iTunes. Instead of watching TV while making breakfast, leave it off and enjoy the peace of the early morning.

After listening to his sermon and realizing the negative effects of being constantly bombarded by noise, I can see the benefits to increasing the time during my day when I can experience silence. It'll be a needed break for my brain and an opportunity to clearly ponder my thoughts and goals and my life.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Random letters? Nope. I'll explain. I'll admit that I was left with a bit of an addiction to gambling after Antonio and I's trip to Atlantic City. The thrill of the potential big win is such a rush. Now, everyone knows that the house always wins at a casino so striking it rich is unlikely.

I've found a way to get a similar rush with a more reliable (though not necessarily right now) form of gambling. The stock market! I recently found out that a skin care company that I use just became a publicly traded company. It's a very scientific, yet fashionable company so I figured they'd do very well. Once I started reviewing their stock charts and history I became really interested in some other companies. I still plan on buying their stock, but am going to wait until I can buy a larger quantity, something like 100 shares.

I wanted to find stocks that were really cheap so that I could make a game out of it. I didn't want to invest serious money because I'd be seriously upset if I lost it all. So I used Google to find penny stocks, which are really cheap stocks. I found one company called Golden Valley. The site recommended it as a hot stock, so I began to follow it. It was less than a penny when I first started following it and then rose to 3 cents. Obviously, I won't be making enough to retire on this stock. Eh, that's fine! It'll be fine. I just did my first trade and purchased 250 shares for a total of $3.40 + $9.99 in trading fees. So it's about $14.00 for the rush of gambling. Who knows - maybe they'll discover a new source of energy and it'll take off. At the very least it'll be fun to log on and see how it's doing.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Coming Out...For Real

Let's be clear. I came out over four years ago to my immediate family. But the more I think about it, it was really more of a hypothetical coming out. Telling your family that you're gay, but single is like telling them that a change will come in the future. If you're single then nothing really changes. At least that's been my experience. My relationship with my parents did not change because I didn't change who I was, but rather just the person that I'd date in the future.

I made the mistake of telling my mother about my first relationship. It was an unhealthy and complicated partnership, though that doesn't diminish the way I felt while I was in the thick of it. I can fully understand my mother's reluctance to accept him and I don't blame her at all. I was wise and never told my father about the seedy situation.

But now I'm in a relationship with a great guy who is very respectable, clean-cut and someone I would consider to be "wifey material" as Bethenny Frankel's assistant would put it. I don't have to pretend that we're just friends. I don't have to act differently around him. It's a very open and honest relationship and it's something that I'm proud of.

So now the question becomes - how do I come out for real to my parents? Now I'm happy and in a relationship, do I tell them? There is a certain fear that they won't react the way I want. My parents have been very supportive and I love them for that, but they've never been tested in this way. If they don't react as positively as I want, I know that it'll make me mad and resentful. If I feel like they don't want to hear about it, I'll feel like they don't really want to know about my life. And that's a slippery slope. First I keep part of my life to myself and then as Antonio becomes a bigger part of my life, they'd become a smaller part of my life.

I also am kinda angry that I even have to worry about this. I'm gay, not a mass murderer. I shouldn't have to worry that being in love with a guy is something that my parents want me to hide. But, I k now that I'm probably creating a huge situation out of nothing. But, there’s still this nagging thought in the back of my head that just maintain the status quo. But, then I think that's not really fair to Antonio. His mother knows all about me and even invited me to dinner, though we both thought it was a little soon as the time of the invite.

It's a very delicate situation and I'm not exactly sure how to handle it. Coming out in theory was hard, but coming out for real is even harder.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I recently saw a new tab on my BlogSpot dashboard called stats. I was so pleasantly surprised to see that the site keeps all kinds of interesting data on my blog. They track what countries readers are from, where they are coming to the blog from, and lots of other information.

I was pretty surprised to see that I've had readers from countries all over the world. I don't want to blow this out of proportion and think that I'm bigger than I am. But, I do like that I've had over 50 viewers from Canada and even some from Latvia and Hong Kong. I was shocked to learn that I’ve had over 1000 viewers since July.

I blog because I like to express myself and I do it best through writing. I like to look back and see what I thought and felt in the past. It's funny to see how scared I was of the subway and how buying groceries was such a different experience for me in New York. I look forward to continue writing and growing.

The only thing that I things that I think are lacking are comments. I'd love feedback. A lot of my blogs are opinions and questions. If you read it, I'd love to know what you think. I think that I'm pretty smart, but I think that someone who's truly smart can have a dialogue and answer tough questions. So, please feel free to leave feedback.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

American Idiot

One of my dreams came true tonight. I'd always dreamed of going to a Broadway show with my boyfriend. I bought tickets to American Idiot for Antonio's birthday back in August. The show was tonight and it was amazing! I wasn't sure what to expect. I have the Green Day album and loved it, so I thought I'd like the music. At the same time, I wasn't sure how they'd adapt an album into a musical. They did a great job -fantastic music with a very heartfelt story.

Among the highlights were the amazing use of video screens and visual effects. Our society is so engulfed with media so it made sense that television, news reports and pop culture would be a major part of the show. It really makes you step back and consider the reality and negative aspects of the American way of life, which I believe was the mission of the original album.

The ballads (Wake Me Up When September Ends, Boulevard of Broken Dreams) were amazing! The lead was a very talented (and gorgeous) singer and guitar player. The emotion was palpable and the story was so real. It was very interesting to see the three characters and the different paths they choose and the consequences of their actions. There was a lot of heart and deep emotion that shine through the grungy rock exterior.

It was definitely not your typical musical. The music was loud with lots of guitars and drums, the choreography was fast and angry and it definitely was not fabulous. While I still believe that Next to Normal is my favorite musical, American Idiot was a great Broadway experience.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Gambler

I immensely enjoyed my weekend at the Borgata, but I couldn't help but notice the other people. I'd wonder about the other people and think about their lives. We'd wake up, go to breakfast and see people sitting at slot machines, just pushing the buttons over and over. We'd finish playing video poker and head back to our room and see people hunched over at a blackjack table. Seeing them made me sad.

Sure, it's possible (and probable) that they we're enjoying in the same adrenalin rush that I was. But, I couldn't help but wonder if they were lonely. The entire casino floor had a grand, but empty feeling. I know that my grandfather gambled a lot (and lost a lot) after the death of my grandmother. I can't help but see the people at the machines in the same way. I see them and wonder if they're just playing to fill an emptiness. Are they missing someone? Do they have nothing else to beside sit alone at a game? Are they addicted to the feeling of putting $20 bills into the machines? How does that affect their family? God, I need to stop. It's exhausting being inside my head.

After a day of lounging, eating and gambling, it was nice to relax in the hotel room with my head resting on Antonio's chest. It's nice to finally not be lonely.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Go Big or Go Home

I haven't been on a real, adult vacation...ever. I've gone away with my family and visited Radford solo, but I've never done a romantic, couples vacation. I was pretty excited when Antonio proposed going to Atlantic City for an extended weekend getaway. We had a great room with amazing views of the marina and the most stunning bathroom that I'd ever seen. And I've always heard about the first thing couples do when they check into a's true.

Of course the main attraction in a casino is to play. I took out the first $20 from the ATM and it didn't last long. I started with the Sex and the City slot machine. That seemed like it'd be the perfect slot machine for me, but it didn't work. I blew through that $20 in about ten minutes. The following day we went back to those slot machines and this big, old lady was going crazy because she was winning. She was jumping up and down and praising the machine. Then the people next to her were rubbing their machines with the lady's handkerchief or something. Antonio and I decided to try the table games. We were so nervous to try blackjack because the lady overseeing the tables seemed like a bitch and we didn't want to look stupid. But we tried and they were both hospitable and helpful. They explained the rules to us and even gave us advice about when to hold and when to hit. We lost the chips that we bought, but it was a fun experience. My last experience with the tables was roulette. I sat at that table like such a beginner. The rules are pretty straight forward, so I felt like I fit in at the table. I bought $20 worth of chips and you have to play at least $10 each hand. I'd lose and then I'd win and then I'd lose and then I'd win. In the end I lost the $20 that I'd started with. But it's fun just to play, though it's going to suck not buying groceries until Thursday. Now I know why they say bet with your head, not over it.

I think that a vacation is really a break from your normal life. My normal life consists of egg whites, tuna salad, and baked chicken. For this trip, I went all out. We did the buffet for dinner one night and breakfast for two mornings. It was incredible. Imagine all your favorite (aka unhealthy) foods and then imagine that you can have all of them and as much as you want. That's exactly what we had! Bananas foster with waffles, hash browns, scrambled eggs, eggs benedict, biscuits with gravy, fresh fruit, bacon and sausage, sounds good doesn't it? But that's not the menu, that's what I ate for breakfast yesterday morning. I rarely (let's just go with never) let myself go like that, so it was really enjoyable. Antonio and I thought about how fat people must not really enjoy their food. We never eat that so the first bite of a crispy, fried shrimp was like nirvana. Even today as we were driving on the New Jersey turnpike, I indulged in my last vacation temptation - a king-sized Payday and Reese's Sweet and Salty bar. But, alas, tomorrow it's back to oatmeal and almonds.

The best part of the trip was all the time I got to spend with Antonio. Dating in New York is great, but being together all the time in the real world is a big test. It was a big step in our relationship and I think it couldn't have gone better. When we were lounging by the pool, I was reading the Star. They had six different photos of Katy Perry in various promotional appearances. I picked my favorite and asked if Antonio could guess my favorite look. It really surprised but he picked it out on the first guess. We really bonded over video poker. Neither of us were 100% sure of the rules for poker, but we figured it out. With the help of the onscreen tutorials and some online hints on Antonio’s Blackberry, we handled ourselves alright. He played so much on those machines. We would get so excited when he'd get three of a kind of two pair, which is like really low hands. We looked like a bunch of queens, but it was so much fun!

Lora and I always used to say go big or go home. I went big and lost some money, but I went home while riding in the passenger seat in my amazing boyfriend's car so I feel like I came home a winner :-)

Friday, September 3, 2010


Antonio and I will be saying goodbye to summer in style. We're going to Atlantic City and staying at the posh Borgata hotel, which is where they filmed the Real Housewives of New Jersey reunion. I have very high hopes for this trip. I'm going into with this naive belief that I'm going to strike it rich, though I'd be happy if I break even. I've never gambled much, but I know how addicting it can be. Let's hope I don't double or nothing until I have nothing.

This trip also makes me nervous. 4 days! We'll be together for four days. That brings up, for me, a lot of logistical issues. Where am I going to go to the bathroom? I would think I'd go to the lobby like I've done in the past, but that seems ridiculous. Oh, being inside my head is exhausting.

I think this is a good step for us. It's like the next step - the first trip. I'm just looking forward to having fun with the guy that I love. We'll relax by the pool, gamble, eat and drink, and RELAX. I feel like I need to recharge. My body is sore and tired from the constant New York pace and hardcore workouts. This little vacation is exactly what I need.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Never Done

Cupcakes are done when you put a knife and the middle and the knife comes out clean. Chicken is done when you cut it in half and the center is no longer pink. For so many things, it's easy to tell when it is done. But what about people? How can you tell when you're done?

Antonio and I joke about how the gays love to go to the gym. It's true. Go down to Chelsea on a Friday night and you'll feel like you're stepping onto a photo shoot for the new A&F quarterly. It's intimidating and does a number on your self-esteem. Sure they're fun to look at and maybe even drool over, but when does that becoming damaging?

I now go to the gym 7 days a week. I have a strict routine on a rotating cycle so that each muscle group is worked just enough and always plan for yoga on Sunday nights. I take supplements before I go to the gym to help strengthen my workout. I take supplements after my workout to repair and build my muscles. And to be honest, I truly enjoy it. I love the feeling I get before I go to the gym. I think it's exciting to see the transformation.

But when does that become too much? When will I be happy with myself? When will I stop overanalyzing every part of my body in the mirror? I tell myself it's when I look like the Armani ad in the Meatpacking District (half joking). Even as I sit on my bed typing this, I'm looking at my abs and wish the skin was the tighter. I look out the window and catch a glimpse of my arm and wish it was bigger.

I tell myself that I just have to keep working hard and then one day it will all be worth it. When do you cross over from healthy, body maintenance into an unhealthy, obsessive quest? As Antonio says, "maybe you should analyze that."

I'll ponder these things for a while and try to come up with an answer. But, I should go to bed - I've got to have energy for the day. Today is biceps, triceps and obliques.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


There a few things that most Americans get used to and eventually take for granted. Let's skip food, shelter, clothing - those are givens. I'm talking about the 21st century version of the necessities. Cable television, cell phones, and iPods - now those are the things that people can't live without. I have all those things, but I have gone without a more basic luxuries. A bed.

I've been sleeping on an air mattress since the middle of August 2009. At first it was fine. I was new to the city and money was tight. After a while, I just forgot what it was like to sleep on a real bed. Eventually, it became clear that Ari, Spencer and I would not be able to live together for much longer. Once Spencer and I talked about moving out and getting a new apartment in a nicer neighborhood, I didn't see a point in buying a bed. It would just be one more thing that I'd have to move. A once we finally moved, again money was in short supply. We had so many other expenses that kept popping up and a bed became an unnecessary (and, to be honest, impossible) luxury.

But then I got a miracle in disguise. My air mattress got a leaked. I can't find where it's coming from, but it's obvious that the ship is taking on water. I'd wake up in the middle of the night and literally be on the floor. I dealt it for a while until Spencer mentioned that I should check out financing a bed. I hadn't even thought about it. But I talked with the salesman at Sleepy's and I was approved for a 6 month plan. As long as I pay off my bed within 6 months, they won't charge me any interest. I only wish that I'd know about it before.

Tonight is going to be my first night in my new bed and I'm so excited. I went to Target and bought fancy sheets and a bed skirt (or dust ruffle as Bunny McDougal calls it). I feel like I'm finally home!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Buffy: My Gay Hero

I recently found out that we get Logo, a gay-themed cable channel. I was a little surprised that when I saw they regularly show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I remember watching that with my family when I was growing up. Why would they show it on a channel designed for gay audiences? Oh well, I thought I'd watch a few episodes for old time's sake. I got lucky and they had the two-part season finale from one of the early seasons. I realized as I watched them why they were on Logo.

Here's a little background of what's going on in the show. Buffy, a beautiful, blonde high school student is the chosen one. Her destiny is to slay vampires. Her identity must remain a secret except to the small group of friends who know who she is. She fell in love with a vampire named Angel, who was given his soul back (aka, he's a good guy). After she and Angel have sex, he loses his soul and becomes evil again. He plans on opening a portal that will pull the entire world into hell. It sounds a little cheesy, but the way the show was done was amazing.

In the final episode of the season, Buffy is accused of killing people by the local police and her principal. She goes home and eventually has to tell her mother that she's the slayer. Her mother has trouble accepting the news and a huge fight ensues. Buffy has to leave to stop Angel from destroying the world. Her mom tells her that if she leaves, she had better not even think of coming back. Buffy goes to fight Angel and then he gets his soul back right before she is about to kill him (thanks to Willow, a witch friend of Buffy). As hard as it is, Buffy kills Angel and everything is back to normal, except for Buffy. She was expelled from school and can't go home. The season ends with her leaving Sunnydale on bus :-(

Now, I wouldn't have seen the gay undertones as a pre-teen, but I certainly see them now. She is a strong, sexy woman who sticks up for herself and has no trouble kicking some ass. Right there, she's given the title of gay icon. The "coming out" of sorts to her mother about her destiny and how she can't change was heartbreaking. It wasn't my experience, but I was prepared for a similar reaction when I came out of the closet to my parents. I was terrified that they'd tell me to leave and never come back. I feared not having a place to go home to when I needed my family. It's now really clear to me that Buffy was my gay hero when I was growing up, though I only realize it. Buffy is a strong, smart, sexy character with a secret who got up every day and dealt with her secret and lived without fear.

...and another piece of the puzzle falls into place.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Power Vinyasa

For some things in life, a DVD will simply not do. Some things must be experienced in person. This is true for a Madonna concert, travel documentaries and, as I've found out tonight, yoga! I bought The Biggest Loser yoga DVD when I was in college and gave it a half-hearted attempt. Ashley, a friend of Michele's from work, suggested that I do power vinyasa yoga with her when she gets back from a business trip. I figured that I'd get a head start to see if I liked it.

I thought it'd be a fun, couples activity so I had Antonio meet me. First of all, I have a terrible sense of direction and was getting terribly frustrated when I couldn't find the studio. I went in every wrong direction before finally having Antonio direct me. What can I say? The East Village is still a jungle to me, but I'm getting better.

We walk into this gorgeous building and walking three flights of stairs to the studio. We take our shoes off, get mats and get ready. I notice that all the other guys take their shirts off (yum), so I decide to follow suit. We begin with some light stretches before delving into the hard stuff. I should note that the room was stunning - brick walls, large windows, candles and the sound of the rain from a passing thunderstorm. If there was ever a way to get centered, this was definitely it. Notice I didn't mentioned air conditioning. There was none and it was hot out. Everyone was dripping with sweat, which I'm sure is part of the purpose.

We started doing really hard poses that even I had trouble with. I assumed that I'd do pretty well because I lift and go to the gym regularly. I thought it'd be a piece of cake. It wasn't! Lifting and yoga are two completely different types of exercise. Lifting is loud, aggressive and all about power. Yoga is quite, strong, and all about breathing and control. Both are challenging and useful.

After intense poses, we begin to wind down. As the class progresses, the instructor lowers the lights until the only light in the flicker of the candles in the front of the room. It was so relaxing! Then she recited a quote from Mother Theresa about being the best we can even when everyone and everything tries to push you down. In the end, you will have done all those things for God and the not the world. God will know what is in your heart. Listening to her soothing voice, while lying down with my hand on my heart was magical.

I don't want to get corny, but it was very refreshing. I walked out with a feeling of soreness in my muscles and calm in my heart. I felt different, better. I felt like I had removed all the gunk that weighs on my mind. I let go of bills, work, fear, doubt for that hour. I felt, and still feel, rejuvenated and peaceful. I will be a regular in the East Village on Sunday evenings from now on. I want to continue to improve my physical strength and mental wellbeing.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

All Souls

As I grow up into an adult, I find that I have lots of questions. I feel like going to church would help answer some of the questions. But, which church is right for me? I believe in God, but not necessarily in Jesus (though he seems like a very nice guy to me). I was raised Catholic but since I'm gay and they believe that I'm going to burn in hell, I'll pass. It seems obvious to me that a Christian church would not be the right fit for me.

One night as I was walking home from the 59th street subway, I saw a sign for a church called All Souls. It's a Unitarian Church on 80th street. I wrote down the website and looked it up the following day. The read their covenant and it seemed like it might be right for me. They believe in the personal relationship with a higher power, dignity and respect for all people, and justice and equality. It sounds great!

Today, I went to Sunday services for the first time. I was pretty nervous, as I usually am on the first attempt at anything. I had a program and a hymnal. It reminded of the dogmatic practices of my childhood. It felt weird to be singing and listening to something that I had tuned out as a kid. The sermon was good, but it seemed a little too "sunshine and rainbows" for me. I couldn't understand what they were talking about. The minister was talking about being saved and how we're saved every day, every time we are given that little extra bit of support, love, etc.

Um. That's great and all, but am I going to go to heaven or hell? Do they believe in heaven and hell? I still have a lot more questions that I think I'll explore at this church. My first impression is that it's a religion of happiness and acceptance. That sounds great, but I need rules. I sorta want someone to tell what is right and what is wrong. I need a little more guidance.

I'm hoping that as I go to services again next week that it will become a little clearer. At the very least, I've found a place of acceptance where I can reflect and grow. If I delve into the deeper aspects of the church, that'll just be a bonus.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Kitty Kind

I realized that now is probably the worst possible time to get a cat. Our apartment is small and I barely have enough money for myself let alone a cat. I figured the most responsible decision would be to volunteer with cats. It'd be a good way for me to help out and get the interaction without having to take on the responsibility and expense. A few weekends ago, Antonio and I saw a table for Kitty Kind, a cat adoption center located inside Petco near Union Square.

Today was my first day volunteering at Kitty Kind. I met the adoption reps - all older ladies and one older gay guy. Perfect! My target demographic! I'll fit in perfectly. I met Scott, who trains all the new volunteers. He was pretty friendly and did a good job showing me what I needed to do. There's a fairly detailed procedure for cleaning and feeding each cat / kitten. I watched him do one cage and then got a fresh pair of gloves to do my first cage solo.

I opened the cage and started to wipe out the hair and litter when the cat hissed and bit me. FML! I did my best. I petted him and used a soothing voice. I came to the conclusion that this cat was just an asshole. The rest of the cages got better and the time went by pretty quickly.

One thing they stressed was not talking with the people interested in adopting. They really want the adoption reps to answer and all questions. Since the store was open when I was training, there were people coming by to look at the cats constantly. I saw of the people that wanted to adopt...scary. One guy was wearing a black, mesh shirt. My thought, "Um. No. You can go now." And then some girl with bleached, blonde hair and way too much makeup caked on her face walked by. Again, my thought, "bitch, these aren't accessories."

I think this is going to be a good fit for me. The people were all very friendly and welcoming. It'll be a welcome escape from my hectic life. I'll get a little temporary feline companionship and I'll have a sense of giving back to the community.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Notary Public

I am the king of procrastination. I took a course to learn the procedures and duties of a notary public back in May. I knew I had to arrange a time to take the exam, but I kept putting it off. First, I had Grand Rounds to use as an excuse because both rounds and the exam were on Wednesday morning. Then Grand Rounds ended for the summer and I was left without a justification for not taking the test. It got to a point where it was so long after the course that I didn't say anything for fear of getting in trouble for waiting. It's a vicious cycle! Plus, I had forgotten everything I'd learned in the course, so I'd have to re-teach myself everything.

But, I finally made the decision to take the exam last Wednesday. I emailed my boss and let him know. Surprisingly, he just told me to take my time and that he'd see me later. I spent about three hours the night before trying to cram 140 review questions into my brain. I felt like I was in college again. I may miss Radford, but I don't miss studying.

I got up extra early the morning of the exam because the test site was all the way near Wall Street. It's the furthest south I've ever been in Manhattan. I thought I'd be able to find my way around pretty easily. Nope. Once I got off at Fulton Street, I was completely lost. I feel like it's good to have false confidence, so I just picked a direction and went with it. Wrong way. Eventually, I asked someone and they told me to go back where I started and then go straight instead of turning. Oh well. I made it to the site with plenty of time to spare.

I went into a huge white room with rows and rows of white desks - very sterile. The proctors were so obviously over their job. It may not pay well, but I think it'd be fun to proctor exams all day. You read some instructions, hand out pencils and then read a book until the time is up. How bad can that be? I realized that I forgot to bring a check. At this point, mortification set in. But I was relieved to learn that I could pay with my credit card.

We were a diverse bunch. There were some old ladies, young girls in skirts, old Jewish men, Hispanic people, one guy that looked like he just rolled out of bed, etc. I texted Antonio and he said that it reminded him of when Carrie had jury duty and the guy sitting next to her pulled a coconut out of his briefcase. So true - that's exactly how it felt!

The exam itself was okay. I definitely knew a few, guessed on a few and then completely blanked on a couple. But, since it's multiple choice I've got a 1/4 chance of getting it right. We'll see - I should get the results in two weeks. I'm nervous because I don't really want to take the exam again.

At the very least, I got to take the morning off, go down to the Financial district, and explore a new part of New York. And if I didn't get 28 out of 40 questions correct, I'll have even more time to explore lower Manhattan.