Saturday, April 30, 2005

Out with the Old

I guess it started Thursday after my last doctor appointment for the diverticulitis. The afternoon visit lasted all of 20 minutes so with much free time, I decided to spend an hour or two at Disneyland. The feeling hit me while standing in line for the Tower of Terror, surrounded by families, groups of friends, couples - and me by myself as usual. Normally, this doesn't bother me at all, but for some reason, at that particular point in time, I lowered my eyes so I wouldn't look at anyone. I fidgeted, putting my hands in my pockets then removing them, over and over. Sweat started to bead on my forehead. My mind kept repeating "I'm alone. I'm alone. I'm alone."

Earlier in the day, I ended my membership to Match.com. Two months and no returned emails and no winks finally convinced me that I was throwing away my money. I know that it's just a web site, but all the self-pitying feelings I ever had resurfaced. "I'm unatrractive." "I'm boring." "I'm destined to be alone." "Nobody wants me." They played like a broken record in my head. (Pity party of one? Your table is ready....) Then at Disneyland, those same feelings intensified and formed a cloud around me, effectively ruining what should have been a little harmless escapism.

I drove home in a funk and picked up a pint of Ben & Jerry's Oatmeal Cookie Ice Cream along the way. I flipped on the TV, plopped onto the couch with ice cream and spoon in hand, and played roulette with cable remote. Nothing held my interest for more than a few minutes so I tried to read. Failing that, I attempted surfing the internet and eventually wound up cleaning my desk. In one of the drawers, I found many of my old journals from college and from specific times in my life. The ones from college contained stories of my time as a Resident Advisor and even a few creative pieces, poetry and sketches. The others rehashed all my old relationships, what I thought went wrong, why I thought it was my fault, then why it was his fault and on and on, never really coming to any staisfactory conclusion. I sat on the couch reading these for a good 3-4 hours and realizing what a clod I had been. From my own writing, all the signals were there trying to let me know the relationship was ending. For crying out loud, I wrote them down! And proceeded to ignore them. How stupid naive of me!!

As I read further and further, watching my younger self trying to convince myself that I wasn't worthy of anyone, it dawned on me that I had begun to fall into that mindset again after S and I split last August. The self-pity, the doubting, the low self-esteem. That's what I experienced at Disneyland. I finally asked myself what good was it to keep them? Did I really want to remember those times when I hated myself? I took those negative journals and tossed them in the trashcan.

Stop worrying where you're going, move on.
If you can know where you're going, you've gone.
Just keep moving on.

I chose and my world was shaken, so what?
The choice may have been mistaken,
The choosing was not.
You've got to move on.
*


from the song Move On, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, from the musical Sunday in the Park with George

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Do Unto Others

Last night, my friend CS and I met at Fashion Island to attend one of the films being shown as part of the Newport Beach Film Festival. I'd never attended a film festival before -- unless you consider Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted Animation Festival a true film festival. But that was back in college and lasted only one night so I'm not sure if that counts.

Based upon the recommendation from a program director at the Gay and Lesbian Center, we decided to see the film Hate Crime. This is the description from a movie postcard I picked up before entering the theater:

"Robbie Levinson and Trey McCoy encounter prejudice and hostility at the hands of their new neighbor, Chirs Boyd, the son of a fundamentalist preacher. One evening, Trey sets out on his nightly walk with their dog and never returns. Immediately, fingers are pointed and Chris and Robbie become the prime suspects. With no support from the authorities, Robbie receives help from some unlikely sources to execute a desparate and dangerous plan that uncovers secrets that will turn many lives upside-down and ultimately bring the perpetrator to justice, regardless of the outcome."

You know, one of those shiny, happy movies.

As I said before, I'd never attended a film festival before and wasn't quite sure what to expect. We handed the usher our tickets; she in turn handed each of us a neon green card with the film festival's logo at the center and four words, one printed at each corner: Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor. She explained that once the movie ended, we were to tear away one of the corners to let the festival know whether or not we enjoyed the film. Unusual for me, but nothing as unusual as walking into a movie theater and seeing a full drum set, a large stand-up bass and a microphone in front of the screen. CS and I looked quizzically at each other as we found seats along the aisle about halfway down the theater. More people filed in and after a few minutes, a festival worker introduced a few important people in the audience: the film's editor, Darrin Navarro; one of the actors, Farah White; and sitting directly in front of me, the film's writer/producer/director, Tommy Stovall, alongside his partner, Marc Sterling, who also served as Executive Producer. As for the musical instruments, they invited the composer Ebony Tay, who wrote the music for the film, to perform a few songs before the movie started.

15 minutes later, the movie started. A great story and some fine acting made this more than just a movie about an anti-gay hate crime. Seth Peterson gave an excellent performance as Robbie, struggling to find out the truth about who beat and killed Trey. Cindy Pickett's portrayal of Trey's mother Barbara is full of anger and pain, and Bruce Davison's as Pastor Boyd overflows with hellfire and venom; two of the best performances I've seen so far this year. Giancarlo Esposito's as Detective Esposito fell a bit flat. His character came across very one dimensional - both as it was written and acted - and his reasons behind his lack of action were never really explained. But perhaps that's just from my having seen so many episodes of CSI. Everything else about the movie was fantastic. Stovall's well-written story could have stuck with the melodrama of a family coping with their son's death but instead turns the plot towards revenge with the last 20 minutes of the film being completely riveting.

I usually don't comment much on how a movie is edited, but one scene in particular stands out to me: after Trey's death, two different church services are held, one at Trey's church and one at Pastor Boyd's. Trey's church is full of light, and Father Tim speaks of the love that God has for everyone; Boyd's church is decorated in dark woods, and pastor Boyd speaks of how God has decreed that two men laying together is an abomination. The two very different churches battle against one another thanks to fine editing from Darrin Navarro, showing how the same words can be interpreted in different ways.

Once the lights returned, the audience gave the film a long round of applause. We didn't stay for the Q&A session afterwards, though. It was a weeknight, after all, and we were both tired. However, CS and I stood in the parking lot for a good 20 minutes after leaving the theater, discussing what we liked or didn't like about the film. I think I made it home around 11:30 PM.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Roses Are Red

It drizzled Sunday morning then cleared up almost as quickly as the wetness appeared. Clouds threatened most of the day, but nothing happened. My brother and his girlfriend invited me to walk into Downtown for breakfast, but their prep time took much longer than they thought so I decided to try out the "close up" feature on my new camera.

I love taking pictures of flowers. No need to worry about posing or trying in vain to get someone to smile or someone blinking at the wrong time. A flower is just what it is. And sprinkled with fresh raindrops, I think this rose photographed beautifully.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Do the Hustle!

After work on Friday, I drove to Long Beach to catch Stephen Chow's latest film, Kung Fu Hustle. Just for your information, "hustle" does not refer to the dance craze of the '70s popularized by Van McCoy. In this instance, it refers to a con job - specifically one tried on the residents of a poor slum in Shanghai called the Pig Sty. The hapless Sing and his brother desperately want to join the Axe Gang, the roughest and toughest group of thugs in all of Shanghai, but in order to become an Axe member, they attempt to show their worth by wreaking havoc on the residents of Pig Sty. Which backfires on Sing and brings the wrath of the Axe Gang upon Pig Sty. That, too, backfires on the Axe Gang because three Kung Fu masters happen to live in Pig Sty, trying to lead quiet, simple lives. The three masters make quick work of the gang, but The Landlady of Pig Sty, upset by the fighting, noise and destruction, evicts the three masters from the slum. Brother Sum, leader of the Axe Gang, takes matters into his own hands, hiring two musical assassins to rid them of the three masters. After a wonderful display of special effects and marital arts choreography, the masters are defeated but the assassins get their comeuppance thanks to two other masters who hid themselves in the slum as well. Brother Sum eventually bribes Sing, with promises of becoming a real Axe member, to break another Kung Fu master - The Beast - out of prison to take care of the other masters.

So much happens in this movie that to describe it all would give away the entire film. Chock full of wonderful special effects and CGI work, Kung Fu Hustle views like a live-action cartoon. Dozens of gang members fly through the air. Characters run incredibly fast with their legs a circling blur of motion, like Snagglepuss exiting stage left. Most of the characters act just as if they popped out of a comic strip - especially The Landlady, played to comedic perfection by Qiu Yuen (pictured), and The Beast, played by Siu Lung Leung. Writer/Director/Producer/Star Stephen Chow gently pokes fun at kung fu films and that fun translates to the audience. Don't expect to be dazzled with actors flying through tree tops à la Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or a deep story as with Hero starring Jet Li. This movie is pure fun so just sit back and enjoy the dumplings.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Huntington Beach, CA

I tested my new digital camera this morning with some of the surfers near the Pier. If only the sun were out, I would have taken some shots of volleyball players, as well. They tend to wear more clothing when the sun hides. Click HERE for the rest of the pics.

The camera is a Kodak EasyShare. My brother and I just bought the same camera as a 40th Anniversary gift for our parents, and I was enthused enough to purchase one of my own. Plus, showing my Dad how to use it will be much simpler now that we own the same one. Just bringing them one step farther into the digital age.



And, before I forget, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY BROTHER, GBC!!! You're still older than I am. I mean that in a loving, brotherly kind of way.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Rain, Rain Go Away

Just when I thought it was safe to sit outside during lunch, a few drops splattered across the page of my book. A fresh, damp odor filled the air, and concentric rings began to form in the little stream that circles the man-made island at my office building's courtyard. Just yesterday, I sat in bright sunshine trying in vain to fend off the glare reflected from book pages and the glass table, and now.... I had hoped to test my new digital camera with some photographs of the surfers and volleyball players alongside the Pier. Perhaps tomorrow will bring clearer skies. Nature can be so unpredictable.

In the meantime, I hope everyone is enjoying Earth Day. No one would believe that I graduated from Humboldt State University if I neglected to mention Earth Day. Humboldt, for the most part, remains very entrenched in the life sciences and environmental studies - oceanography, fisheries, marine biology, wildlife studies, etc. I remember the elective courses as being my favorites - studying earthquakes, nature writing, botany - and some of that closeness to nature lingers in my conscience as I grow older. If you're at a loss as to what you can do for Earth Day, here's a simple link to The Rainforest Site where you can click a button and donate land to save the rainforests. What could be easier?

Enjoy yourselves this weekend! I know I will. (I'm seeing Kung Fu Hustle tonight in Long Beach if anyone wants to join me.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Walking the Walk

Sunday, June 5th, 2005 will be the 19th annual AIDS Walk Orange County, and I registered to participate again this year as a walker. Last year, with the help of friends, family and co-workers, I managed to raise over $1500 and am trying to surpass that amount this year. With that in mind, the search begins for sponsors willing to help me reach that goal of $1500, and I am asking for donations from anyone who feels so inclined. The walk covers 7.5 Km (roughly 5 miles) with the funds raised being distributed to local agencies within Orange County, CA, to help provide prevention and care programs -- including food, housing, transportation, home care, prevention education, legal services, HIV testing -- to thousands of men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS.

I added a link in the side bar to my donations page, or you can click below:

Greg's AIDS Walk Home Page

Thanks for reading! Now, I need to hit the gym so I can look good in those shorts and walking shoes....

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Mummie Dearest

I decided to veer from my normal weekend routine of a movie and Disneyland this past Sunday and sped North on the 55 Freeway heading for Santa Ana. A few weeks ago, one of the local news stations aired a story about an upcoming exhibit at The Bowers Museum of Cultural Art featuring artifacts from The British Museum's extensive mummy collection. Watching the massive crates being hauled into the musuem brought back memories of weekends in front of the TV watching Christopher Lee in The Mummy on Elvira, Mistress of the Dark and of reading accounts of Howard Carter's excavation of King Tut's tomb in the Valley of the Kings and the mysterious deaths related to it. Mysterious, dangerous, exciting to the imagination of a young boy -- visions of a thousand-year-old body coming to life to wreak vengeance for disturbing his eternal sleep, of adventurers laying eyes on marvelous golden treasures not seen in centuries, of Kings and Queens ruling over desert lands, building pyramids and enormous statues of a jackal-headed god. Who knows when I would ever have the opportunity to see these things in London or especially in Cairo. I decided at that moment, as a picture of a sarcophagus flashed across the screen, to be at the Bowers on opening day.

Which brings me back to Sunday. I merged onto the connector from the 55 North to the 5 North, exiting a short time later at Main Street. The museum is located in the old district of Santa Ana, with bungalow homes dating back to the 1920s and 1930s, and I parked curbside in front of one such home rather than pay the $3 parking fee at the museum's lot. A brisk walk later, and I stood at the end of a long line of visitors waiting to enter the building. I overheard a museum employee telling the family in front of me that the wait could be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour as they could only allow a certain number of people inside (fire regulations). No problem as the grounds of the Bowers are a unique experience unto themselves. The orignial building was a Spanish-styled ranch house built in the 1880s-1890s. The house still stands and contains the permanent exhibits, including artifacts from the Mayan and Incan cultures, California and Santa Ana history, and a small but magnificent collection of plein air paintings from artists such as Guy Rose. In the courtyard stands a beautiful statue of explorer Juan Cabrillo surrounding by live flowers and carved panels depicting his exploration of California. The City of Santa Ana expanded the house during the 1960s (I think) and created what is now the main exhibit hall of the Bowers Museum. I walked into this section of the builidng after roughly 45 minutes.

The exhibit, titled Mummies, Death and the Afterlife began with a walk down a corridor painted to resemble the inside of a pyramid. A few glass cases displayed items found along with the sarcophagi, including headrests and canopic jars. The corridor ended in a ramp that opened onto the main exhibit. Large, stone statues; highly detailed stelae covered in hieroglyphs both carved and painted; gold jewelry and intricate scarabs; dozens of shabti, or small statuettes resembling the deceased, used in order to avoid manual labor in the afterlife; and, of course, the hallways contained coffins, wooden sarcophagi richly painted both inside and out, a few closed ones with computer tomographic images showing the mummy inside, and a few wrapped mummies without coffins or sarcophagi but surprisingly with portraits of the deceased attached to where the faces would be. They ranged from early Egyptian to the Roman Era, relating an almost complete history of mummies and funeral rites.

I wandered through Ancient Egypt for an hour and a half, telling myself that one day, I would make it to Cairo to experience the real thing, to roam the ancient passageways of the pyramids as Howard Carter did. We'll just have to see....

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Surfing Virginia Woolf

I woke at 7 AM on Saturday, thanks to my forgetting to shut off the alarm clock. From my position on the couch, the Roman blinds began glowing with the morning sun, diffusing through the room and taking away any chance of returning to sleep. So I clicked on the TV, not really expecting to find anything worth watching and not disappointed. I remember way back when Sunday morning meant Popeye the Sailor hosted by Tom Hatten or even watching CBS Sunday Morning during family breakfasts. Most channels nowadays air the same infomercials peddling some kind of light-weight ladder or exercise program. I changed the channel to one of the digital cable radio stations, found my copy of To the Lighthouse and started to read Woolf's tale about the Ramsay family spending the summer in the Hebrides.

One hour and 50 pages later, my stomach rumbled like a freight train. I dragged myself from the couch and into the warmth of the shower, repeatedly convincing myself to walk Downtown for breakfast rather than fix another bowl of oatbran cereal. Pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon - images of those wonderful foods danced through my head as I dressed and headed for the door. I grabbed my book and, as an afterthought, my black leather fanny pack (with my camera inside), and bolted the door behind me.

At IHOP, I ordered the Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity® breakfast with Cinnamon-Apple pancakes and a large glass of cranberry juice. I slowly savored that cinnamony-gooey-whipped-creamy goodness of those pancakes!!! I could have devoured an entire stack of them! But, I managed to control myself, eating only the two that came with the breakfast. Afterwards, I briskly crossed Pacific Coast Highway to find a sunny spot on the Pier to watch the surfers and read more of my book.

The bench I chose sat halfway along the Pier, facing North just beyond the Lifeguard tower. Surfers dotted the ocean all the way up and down the coast, and many photographers stationed themselves against the railing to capture the right moment when surfer and wave combined. I removed my camera from the fanny pack and managed one measly photo before the camera did something. It rewound the roll of film even though 5 pictures remained on the roll. (I checked before pressing the button.) It finally decided to move on after 7 years, 4 trips to Boston, one to Montréal and a week in Spain. I quietly put it back in the pack and sat on the granite bench, watching the surfers. Hundreds of them like black sequins on a bluish green fabric waited in the waters near shore as far as the eye could see. Some sat on their blurred boards chest deep in the water; others silently glided up to them, waving, shaking hands. All of them, whether sitting on the sand or treading the ocean, stared into the West, searching the horizon for one swell of water. The beach behind them disappears as they focus on the wide Pacific. Then, the surfer sees a good swell, turns toward the shore and quickly paddles with both arms in tandem. If he works it just right, the wave pushes him forward. He stands, steering the board through the white-green edge of the wave, dodging other surfers and the Pier, winding his way close to the shore until the momentum eases and he slowly sinks back into the salty waters. And, I watched them from above, riding small waves to the beach, then paddling back out to try for another, better wave than the last.

I read quite a bit, too, adding another 60 pages to the 50 I'd read earlier. The sun burned on the nape of my neck, and I could feel my skin turning red. I reluctantly closed the book and headed for home.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Movies for One

During college, I started going to the movie theater alone. Not because I felt a need for solitude, but because I couldn't find anyone interested in seeing my movies of choice. Foreign and art house films just didn't strike everyone's fancy, and I soon learned to stop asking. Instead of allowing the movie to pass by, waiting for the eventual release on VHS, I would leave the confines of the dorms for one of two small movie houses in Arcata, CA. It's in one of those dark and cramped rooms that I fell in love with the music of Philip Glass as it accompanied the wondrous images of director Godfrey Reggio's Anima Mundi, experienced my first - and only - lesbian porn film, Wanda, the Wicked Warden, and laughed through many Plymptoons and animation festivals. One good thing about college: no one questioned my going alone or made me feel like an outcast; everyone had their own interests and respected them so a person seeing a movie solo was really no big deal.

Thankfully, this independent movie viewing followed me after college ended and afforded me the opportunity to see many a great film. This past Thrusday was no exception. After work, I sped to the Edwards Theater at UC Irvine to catch the Korean film Oldboy from director Park Chan-wook. Taken from a Korean comic book, Oldboy tells the story of Oh Dae-su who is kidnapped by persons unknown in front of a phone booth and imprisoned for 15 years. During the ensuing years, he tries in vain to learn why he was kidnapped, learns that his wife is brutally murdered and that he's the main suspect, and builds up such hatred for those who have imprisoned him that once he's out, he is determined to seek revenge. Finally, after 15 years, he wakes up stuffed inside a trunk on a rooftop. He frees himself and staggers about the town, stopping in front of a restaurant window to look at the fresh fish. A bum walks up to him, hands him a wallet full of cash and a cell phone, then walks away. From that point begins a twisted tale of secrets and revenge as Dae-su tries to piece together in five days who kidnapped him and why. Choi Min-sik gives a fantastic performance as Dae-su; he just exudes restrained anger and confusion in his desperation to discover the truth. Yoo Ji-tae is equally villainous and calculating with his performance. Park's direction gives the entire film a gritty, film-noir feel that stays with you as he delves into just how far a human being will go to exact revenge and its consequences. A very dark and violent roller coaster of a film that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I still see reels of movies with friends - past blog entries can attest to that. But, old habits are hard to break.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Rest of the Weekend

Better late than never....

Friday after returning from the hospital, I napped while RG read, caught up on soaps and napped. CS called around 12:45 PM to check on me, and then I was up. Depsite the remnants of Demerol, I couldn't get back to sleep so I convinced RG to take a walk with me to the Pier. What a beautiful day for a stroll, too! Blue skies, warm sun, chilly breeze. And the open air market just before reaching the Pier. We leisurely walked among the stalls, with RG buying three bags of purple potatoes for his Sweetie and both of us stopping at Eric Frishcosy's booth to admire his photographs. RG purchased a picture of a sea plane landing on the bay near Anchorage; I bought a perspective photo of the Pier's pylons with the waves breaking in such a way as to resemble steps. We then slowly walked the length of the pier, admiring not only the view of hunky surfers, but of the scantily clad men playing volleyball, as well. The winds buffeted us as we rounded Ruby's and stared across the Pacific to Santa Catalina Island so we only stayed out there for a few minutes. On the walk back to shore, we did manage to spy a single sea lion swimming around the Pier.

Saturday, CS and I met at The Block to see Sahara. Matthew McConaughey is quite the muscled hero-hunk in this one. We didn't go just to see him. But, it didn't hurt. We followed the movie with yet another fine meal at the Alcatraz Brewing Co.

Sunday - you guessed it - another trip to Disney's California Adventure with the Gay Annual Passholder's group. We had some drama regarding the dinner reservations that CS made over two weeks prior, but I'll leave that until we learn the outcome - only because it involved the Director of Food Services for California Adventure and the General Services Manager for the entire Disneyland Resort. Hopefully, news will follow soon.

A busy weekend. Yes, I know I should have taken it easy after the procedure, but two days stuck at home can give a guy cabin fever. I'm a rebel. What can I say?


please note that pictures WERE NOT taken by me

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Stick It In!

I awoke at 5 Am, showered, dressed then stretched out on the floor of the bathroom to insert the suppository. I'm not sure why I still needed to use that; I pretty much got rid of everything the day before so what was left? The colon itself? Stick it in, keep your cheeks closed for 15 minutes no matter how bad the urge, then let loose the raging torrent inside. Only I didn't have the raging torrent. I quietly sat on the toilet for a good 10 minutes until RG finally said we needed to head for the hospital.

At 6 in the morning, Beach Blvd. was almost deserted. Stars still dimly sparkled in the sky. A few people waited at bus stops, and fewer cars drove along the boulevard. Huntington Beach Memorial is easy to find, located across the street from Condom Revolution and right next door to a cemetery so they can get you coming or going. We made it to there in less than 10 minutes and easily found a parking space in the Outpatient Lot. The lobby was a surprisingly warm environment, not the sterile white and blue-grey I remember from other hospitals. HB's offered almost Victorian-style furniture with dark woods and rich reddish-brown fabrics, Persian-styled rugs, potted palms and soft lighting. The tiles were a soft grey and melded into the grey carpet lining the hallways. I checked in at the Admitting Desk where Frank the attendant fastened a yellow bracelet to my wrist, then RG settled onto one of the comfy sofas while I chose a high-backed chair. But, I didn't get to wait for long because almost immediately, a nurse stopped by with my info on a clipboard and asked me to follow her to the lab. I gave RG my keys and ID and followed her through the double doors and onto the laboratory.

Along the way, she asked for all my information to check against the clipboard and also checked my yellow bracelet. She looked tired, as if she'd been on duty during an incredibly eventful night in the E/R. We wound our way through the halls; I'm gald she knew the way because I probably would have left some bread crumbs so as to find my way back. At the lab doors, she told me to wait until they called me back then, afterwards, they would bring me to the G.I. patients room. She handed my clipboard to a man behind a small counter who asked for my info and double-checked my yellow bracelet. He disappeared behind a wall and surprised my by opening the lab doors and beckoning me to follow him. He pointed me down a small, narrow hallway into a smaller, narrower hallway with a padded blue seat across from a counter covered with boxes of latex glovbes and a beige filing cabinet next to it. I sat in the seat as instructed and rolled up my sleeve. Now, I hate needles. Just looking at one makes me cringe uncomfortably not so much for what it is but for what is going to be done with it to me. He tied a latex band around my upper arm, told me to make a fist, then swabbed my inner elbow. I squeezed my eyes shut until I felt the small prick then watched as the tube slowly filled. When he withdrew the needle, he pressed a cottonball on my inner elbow and told me to keep pressure on it. He turned back to the counter, separating my blood into four different colored vials - blue, green, orange and purple - for testing. I pressed the cottonball and glanced about the room, making note of the beige filing cabbinet. The top drawer was labeled 2005 with the others labeled 2002, 2003, and 2004 respectively. Two yellow labels across the top of the cabinet read Pathology Reports/Autopsy Reports. Everything else was white and unremarkable. He finished with the vials and finally taped the cottonball to my elbow, which didn't work too well as I have hairy arms and the tape stuck to the hairs. He then led me to the G.I. patients room where the same nurse as earlier greeted me with a bag for my clothes and a chic hospital gown of white with blue stripes.

After I changed, she showed me to a gurney, placing my personal items on a tray beneath it while I placed myself on the thin cushion. She draped a heated blanket over my legs and asked again for all my personal info and if I were allergic to any medicines - which I am. (Lucky me, I got to wear a red bracelet along with the yellow one. Two bracelets! I felt so special.) She closed the curtains, blocking my view of the patients room, and returned quickly with an IV bag. She hung the bag behind me then spread the needles, connector tubes and bandages on my lap as if I were a table. The needle was much longer than I had anticipated. She swabbed the back of my right hand with alcohol, asking me to make a fist so she could see the veins, and carefully jabbed the long needle into my hand. God! It was worse than the one used to draw blood. And it stung for a bit afterwards. I mentioned this, but she said it was normal. Then, I waited. And waited. I read almost 50 pages of To the Lighthouse and waited some more. The man in the next bed was having the same procedure, from what I overheard, but he was snoring away. An elderly woman was wheeled in via wheelchair. The nurses made a fuss over her and all knew her by name. Apparently, she'd been in numerous times for I think 3 spinal chord surgeries. Today, a fourth was in order for her because of some hypoplasty due to her last surgery. She seemed in great spirits from the sound of her voice. I contiued to wait and to read as nurses, doctors and anethesiologists came and went.

Around 8:30, the nurse from the G.I. lab came for me and wheeled my into the examining room. To my right were a number of cables attached to varying machines; to my left, a machine to read my heart rate and above it, a monitor showing a picture of my backside from a distance. I figured that must be the camera and was about to ask when she clamped an oxygen reader on one of my fingers, hooked an oxygen tube beneath my nostrils, and told me a little about what was going to happen next. She was going to inject some Demerol and Versed into the IV. The Demerol would make me sleepy whereas the Versed would relax my muscles so that I wouldn't feel the tube inside my colon. She prepped the needle and was about to insert it into the connector tube when she hesitated. She asked the other nurse in the room what she thought. Nurse #2 turned my right hand toward her and said that my hand was a bit swollen. The IV must have been inserted incorrectly. They carefully removed it, trying to minimize the discomfort. Nurse #1 one said they would have to insert another IV into my other hand. Great! Just what I needed! I'm a human pincushion! Nurse#1 inserted the new IV needle, waited a few moments then injected the Demerol. She turned and flicked a switch on a machine, and I swear that I started to hear a musak version of Für Elise. The nurses carefully rolled me onto my left side. I heard my doctor enter the room and ask how I was feeling. I mumbled something as the nurse said, "You should start feeling slee--."

I awoke 45 minutes later in the recovery room. Don't remember a damned thing about the procedure. Apparently, things went smoothly, and the doctor discovered only two small pouches, or diverticula; the rest of my colon was polyp- and blockage-free. His recommendation was a high-fiber diet and Metamucil. No surgery! Woo hoo! A different nurse handed me my clothes and closed the curtains so I could have a little privacy. Outside the curtain, she handed me a manila envelope with pictures and my results. I staggered, with her help, back to the lobby - both elbows and the backs of both hands bandaged from all the needles. RG had the car pulled up waiting for me and helped me into the car.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Tired

I survived the exam but have been pretty much useless today. I'll give details tomorrow after some much-needed rest. Thanks for the tip, Jess!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Test, Tests and More Tests

A nurse from the hospital just called to ask some preliminary questions: age, height, weight, etc. so they can get my chart ready for tomorrow. She hangs up, but after I take my second Zelnorm tablet, she calls again wanting to know if I've had my blood test yet. "It says on the chart that he wants a blood test and a CBC test," she tells me. No one informed me of these beforehand so now, instead of showing up at the hospital at 7 AM, I have to report at 6:30 AM for the tests. This means not only getting up earlier but having to shove that damned suppository much sooner than expected! I just can't win!!!

Zelnorm

It works. That's all I'm sayin'....

Cleansing

Many of you won't really care to read this, but in my research, there's very little about diverticulitis on the Web. I did find a Yahoo! group with members of varying degrees of severity. Some have a mild case, which is what I hope think I have; others have had partial or full removal of their colons; a few are even relegated to permanent use of colostomy bag. I'm hoping that perhaps this will help someone else who's going through or is about to go through the same process.

In 24 hours, I will be lying on an examining table with a long tube being shoved up my ass. So that means today I start my cleansing ritual. First order of the day, a tiny pill called Zelnorm which is usually prescribed for women to combat irritable bowel syndrome. It's designed to help regulate the intestinal muscles in order to improve the flow, so to speak. I take another pill at 2 PM.

My doctor prescribed a Fleet Prep Kit that contains four Bisacodyl (laxative) tablets, a bottle of phospho soda and a suppository - I'm lucky I didn't get the two kits with full-on enemas in them. The kit also offers complete dietary guidelines to prep my colon for the exam. At noon, I'm allowed one poached or boiled egg, and that's the only solid food that I'm allowed until after tomorrow's procedure. Every hour after that, I'm restricted to a liquid diet: Water, Jell-o® (as long as it isn't red or purple), boullion, teas, ice popsicles, even Gatorade (as long as it isn't red or orange). At 6:30 PM, I take one-third of the phospho soda mixed with a clear liquid, and then the remainder of the soda every 20 minutes until it's gone. Drink more and more clear liquids until 9 PM when I swallow the four tablets and begin to know my procelain temple on a first-name basis.

The next morning, an hour before I'm to leave for the hospital - 6 AM - I get to use the suppository. The instructions say to hold it in for 15 mintues, even if the urge is almost too much for me to handle. (I guess this is some strong shit - no pun intended.) Then, it's off to see the wizard. I should be out of there by 10 AM. Hopefully.

I'm spending today getting my house ready for RG who will be taking me to the hospital. After the procedure, I'll be under enough sedation that I'm not allowed to drive myself home so he has graciously taken Friday off work to help me in my hour of need. I'm very nervous about it, even though I've lived through something very similar before. When I was in elementary school, I had trouble going to the bathroom. For some reason, my colon appeared wider than normal which caused my body to miss the natural signal for the need to poop. When I finally felt the urge, it was an immediate need, and I had to make it to a bathroom quickly. (Not fun when you're in the middle of a kickball game and you have to run from the field to the closest bathroom which was also the dirtiest on the planet. I'm talking toilet paper and shit everywhere, not to mention the sickening odor of stale urine wafting through the stalls. Many times, I would force myself to hold it until I returned home just because of the school bathrooms.) The family doctor scheduled me for tests at the UCLA Medical Center, and I suffered through a more stringent cleansing process - 4 enemas and a liquid diet for 2 days. The exam itself consisted of a doctor inserting a large angioplasty balloon into my colon and inflating it. All I had to do was to tell him when I felt any kind of pressure or need to go to the bathroom. And, of course, I was a test case for some visiting French doctors so the room had seven people chattering and oohing and aahing when I didn't respond until the ballon was about to burst. I'm not kidding; you probably could have shoved an entire fist up there and I wouldn't have re-acted. (And, no, I'm not into that.) As expected, they told my parents that my colon was wider than normal. The way to help this was to start going to the bathroom at regular times - even if I didn't need to go - just to retrain my body. The UCLA doctor called my principal and gave explicit instructions for me to be able to use the teacher's restrooms instead of the normal one's because of how unclean they were. This made me unpopular in school and branded me as a Teacher's Pet. But, at least I used a clean bathroom.

P.S. There are a lot of entries on blogs about poop, lately, huh?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Shut-Eye

Or rather, a lack of it. For the past few weeks I've been waking up at 4 AM without the ability to go back to sleep. And it's frustating to no end!!! It could be because my asthma's been on full alert for the past few weeks. Maybe it's the lack of any kind of sex life. (My wrist is starting to hurt, and there's only so much of Eric Evans in Harry Squatter and the Sorcerer's Bone I can handle.) Most likely, it's anxiety about my impending colonoscopy this Friday. I've known about it for over a month, and the waiting is driving me nuts! I want this thing over and done so I can relax and get back to some form of normalcy. At least I'm getting a four-day weekend out of it....

Monday, April 04, 2005

My Big Fat Gay Weekend

HomoBowling

Friday night, I met a few friends at the IHOP just up the street from my office. We may have scared the waitstaff -- six gay men crowded at a corner table, talking loudly and obnoxiously (as only gay men can) about past boyfriends, penis size, flirting, body piercings, and bowling while gnawing hamburgers, mozzarella cheese sticks and pancakes. The lively conversation continued once we made it to the bowling alley.

Imagine 20 lanes of loud gay men and women bowling, drinking, flirting and having an all-out good time. The league playing just to our left wasn't too happy about it, especially when the black lights clicked on and the loud rock music began. But it was all in fun and raised a goodly sum of money for programs at The Center OC. Prizes were given away for team costume, best male outfit, best female outfit, etc. Unfortunately, no one on our team won. You would never have known that I had once bowled in a Gay league with a high score of 210. My best game was a 114 on this night, and yes, I was a bit disappointed with how I performed but that wasn't the point of the evening. We all had a great time, RG demonstrated his patented Princess technique for flicking the ball down the lane with a quick wrist movement, and we all ogled many of the hotties in tight t-shirts that fit almost too snug over the arms, chest and abs as they slowly strode down the lane only to let loose their balls with a quick snap and flowing arm movement that accentuated the form and muscles. Oh, and we raised some money.

Afterwards, a few of us made our way to the Lion's Den in Costa Mesa. A bit dead for a Friday night - an almost empty parking lot, two or three people at the bar, and no one on the dance floor. We played a few games of pool and decided to call it a night at 10:30.

The Gays Are Out and They're Jungle Red

Another Saturday at Disneyland - this time with red shirts as far as the eye could see. Every year, an unofficial event is held at Disneyland called Gay Days. During one weekend in October, gay men, women and their friends and families converge upon Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure, sporting red shirts. This used to be a separate ticketed event, held once a year during the evening. The park would close early, then re-open to a kind of gays-only Disney circuit party, but very unfriendly and cliquish. With the advent of the Gay Days, the gays mingle with the straights, enitre families attend to show friendship and support, and the entire day is spent meeting people, riding rides, laughing, and just having a good time. Disney knows about these and even welcomes them, but they won't publicly recognize them. And we all wear red shirts. Why? Don't know. These have become so popular, though, that the organizers decided to hold a mini-Gay Day in April, six months from the big, 3-day event.

April 2nd was the day! My small group of four (me, CS, KL and everbear) soon turned into seven men in varying red shirts, fighting our way through the ungodly crowds. We managed maybe one or two rides before the group picture at 2 PM in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle. Due to some personality disagreements (i.e., two queens who didn't get along), our group split into two with our branch staggering over to California Adventure. Even though we mostly sat and talked, we had a blast just catching up, enjoying the people watching,a dn munching on ice crea-filled waffle cones. We did eventually meet up with the others for a ride on the Tower of Terror and a bowl of broccoli cheese soup in a sourdough bread bowl from the Pacific Wharf Café. We split again before the night was over, but this time I think feelings were hurt. I'd mentioned to CS that one of the men was being overly touchy-feely with me. I'm not the Great Communicator when it comes to men so I thought that pushing his hands away, putting others between us and generally trying to avoid him would have given him a clue, but in line for dinner, this man made a point of quizzing CS about me. Thankfully, CS mentioned that I had just started seeing someone. (quick thinking!) The man stopped asking questions and actually turned fairly cold for the rest of the evening. KL's left knee was hurting most of the day, and though we tried to coax him into a wheelchair - which he continually refused - he'd finally decided to go home. He and everbear headed for the tram while CS and I did a little shopping (a 50th Anniversary t-shirt and The Lion King 1-1/2 on DVD for me).

Thank you to CS for how he answered the questioning, but I feel bad. I should have had the cojones to tell the guy I wasn't interested instead of having someone do it for me.

Sinful Underpants

I survived the loss of an hour during the night. CS didn't. He was supposed to call after 12 noon to discuss meeting for the play, but by 12:45, I still hadn't heard from him. So I called, left a message, and when he called back, he finally remembered the change. (I hope he re-set his clocks when he returned home....) He'd decided to get in his car and to drive around, finding himself in the southern part of Orange County. We met halfway at a movie theater to see Sin City which we both enjoyed. It took me some time to get used to the look of the film - all black white and varying shades of gray, the stylized violence, the CGI work - but once I did, I must say I was impressed. The movie contains three stories, told in a cyber-punk film noir style. The bad guys are very bad, and the good guys are questionable on the outside but have hearts of gold and are doing what they feel is right and just. Great acting by everyone involved, too.

After the movie, we drove to Laguna for an early dinner at C'est La Vie on PCH. My double-cut pork chops in apple brandy glaze were incredible; CS savoured his filet mignon smothered in roquefort cheese. And the chocolate mousse with strawberries.... We walked from there up Broadway to the theater for the 7 PM performance of The underpants, a German play adapted by Steve Martin. I'd seen a production last year at the Geffen and wrote my review on March 28, 2004 so I won't repeat what I wrote. A few things changed such as turning from a two-act play into a one-act with no intermission and some of the visual jokes disappeared, but this is still one hysterical farce about lust and underpants.

We ended the night at Bounce (formerly Main Street) for a few drinks and to relax. I chatted with the attractive guy (ag) sitting next to me while CS was approached by a cute-but-stupid (cbs) blonde hunk who mumbled something about his friends betting that he couldn't walk over to CS without falling down. Yes, he was that drunk. If a fly landed on his shoulder, he would have collapsed. CS said something to me, but the noise was too loud for me to hear what he was saying, and ag was trying to talk to me as well. cbs eventually staggered away; CS seemed to think he may have been trying to play a prank of some kind at his expense. I would have hoped that as gay men, we would be past that kind of shallowness, but cbs and company did seem like the types to do just that. We stayed a while longer until the singer for the evening started shouting instead of singing. At least, I think it was singing. ag and I hugged but didn't exchange nubmers. I'm sort of glad about that; he subtly hinted that he was interested in getting to know me -- if you call saying that he would go to the bathroom to help me, subtle. I'm not used to being the center of that kind of attention. I'm the wallflower. I'm the one everyone glances at and then moves on. It was flattering and unnerving at the same time. CS and I talked about it on the drive back to my car. Maybe I'll run into ag again. Who knows....

Friday, April 01, 2005

Moving Gayly into the Weekend

Itinerary for the weekend ahead:

Friday: Homo Bowl at the Irvine Lanes. Just a bunch of gay people throwing big balls down a long piece of wood.

Saturday: Unofficial Mini Gay Day at Disneyland.

Sunday: The Underpants at the Laguna Playhouse with CS.

Fascinating, isn't it?