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.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Red Carpet

Last Saturday, Antonio, Suzanna, Juan and I went to the closing night of the New York International Latino Film Festival. Antonio and I were expecting it to be a very casual night at the movies. No! When we got the theatre we see, flash bulbs and a red carpet. FML. I'm wearing shorts and a polo. I would be fine for a nice, gay, Sunday brunch, but not the red carpet. Ah well, we head to the back of the "regular people" line and wait with Suzanna. THEN, I noticed that a bird pooped on my shoulder. FML again! It wasn't a huge stain, but it was enough to make me pout. Once we got it in, I got free samples of eye energizer (makes your eyes less puffy, removes dark circles) in the men's room. Yay.

The movie started late because the executives from HBO make speeches, the director of the movie got up to say a few words and then they gave away two tickets to Brazil. Once the movie finally did start, I had trouble understanding what was going on. The movie was in Portuguese with English subtitles. Of course, a tall guy sat in front of me. I had to move from side to side to see the entire sentence. It got better as the night went on. The movie, Sonhos Roubados (Stolen Dreams), was okay. It was about three teenage prostitutes in Brazil. It showed their struggles for normal lives and everyday pleasures. I think, at times, it made it seem like their lives weren't that bad. I expected rape scenes, abuse, drugs, etc. There were rough parts of the film, but it seemed to have an optimistic tone. The more I think about it, maybe that is more realistic than my expectations.

After the movie, we went to Better Burger for dinner. Best dinner ever! The food was okay, but the conversation had me in stitches. I love that I can hold my own with Antonio's friends. I loved talking with Suzanna and making her laugh. It was small burger joint, but we were there for at least an hour after we finished because we were having such a great time talking. Then we went to the after party for the movie at the Highland Ballroom. We got in free because we had tickets from the movie. It was really cool, but totally not my scene. The music was Brazilian and there was lots of women shaking and gyrating.

Around midnight we went to Pinkberry and got dessert because Juan and Suzanna went back to New Jersey. It was such a great time. It was funny because I had bird poop on my shirt and then Antonio got a blister from his new shoes and he got the hiccups. We laughed the whole way home because we were such a mess. It reminded me of when Charlotte and Harry went to that expensive restaurant and then got food poisoning. We were all busted up. We'd try kissing and then he'd hiccup and I'd die laughing. I love that he makes me laugh so much.

We may not have made it onto the red carpet at the film festival, but walking down the street while holding with a guy I really like feels like walking a red carpet to me :-)