Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Reminiscing

My one and only trip to New Orleans was actually part of a larger trek around the United States with my whole family. Way back when my brother and I both attended elementary school, our parents convinced the Powers That Be at school to let us go a month early for summer vacation, espousing how getting to see first-hand all those images and places that we've read about in books would give us a better understanding of America. The Powers That Be agreed and at the beginning of May, my brother and I helped stock the motorhome with clothes, food, games, and anything else we could think of that might be of use for our four-month journey.

Jumping ahead, about three weeks into the trip, we finally crossed the Texas border into Louisiana and made our way to a campground somewhere on the outskirts of New Orleans. I remember the weather being warm, a little muggy, but nothing unbearable. We did, however, spend quite a bit of time in the cool waters of the swimming pool. After we set up camp, I wandered to the camp office and found a map of the city. But not just any map. This one pointed out all the haunted houses and graveyards within the city limits. (A happy little creature, looking more like Boo Berry rather than a real ghost, waved at me from each otherworldly locale.) My eyes widened. Pay dirt! I just started getting into ghost stories and all those scary, late-night movies and now I would be able to see an actual, real-live haunted house! I ran back to the motorhome and began circling which places we would have to stop at during the next few days.

Our first trip into New Orleans found us smack dab in the middle of the French Quarter. We wandered up and down Bourbon Street, listening to some of the live jazz coming from the clubs, stopping in a few shops for mementos, and just soaking up the atmosphere. I pulled my map from my back pocket and found one of the ghosts not to far from where we were standing. I kept trying to tell my folks that we had to go see this house. It would be so cool! My Mom asked why, and I said because it's supposed to be haunted. (NEVER tell that to anyone. They'll look at you as if you'd lost your mind.) She grabbed my map, gave it a quick once-over and shoved it into her purse. My Dad and brother had already started up the street so Mom took me by the hand and hurried after them. I never did get to venture inside one of those haunted places.

We ate lunch at a restaurant called Sparrow's, which was supposed to have been an auction house during the slave trade at one time. President Lincoln, according to the brief on the menu, had introduced the Emancipation Proclamation from this very room. After lunch, we wandered around the Quarter a bit longer, then headed for the Mississippi River. My Dad talked to a man at a ticket booth and made reservations for the next day to travel up the Mississippi on real riverboat. We headed back to the motorhome, swam in the pool while Mom prepared dinner and then off to bed.

The next day, we lined up at the dock and boarded the Natchez Queen, a big, white riverboat with red trim, a gigantic red paddle wheel at the back and two long black steam chimneys on either side. The boat slowly coursed up the Mississippi, and I thought it was kinda cool going through the locks, watching the boat rise and fall with the water, listening the muddy water churn underneath the large wheel. Other riverboats passed by or we passed them, some with the large paddle wheels on the sides of the boat, or with couples dancing along the upper decks to Dixieland. A voice through the speakers started telling the history of New Orleans, but Mom and Dad sipped wine while my brother and I made do with Cokes, paying more attention to the River than to his speech.

We packed up our gear that last day and headed through downtown New Orleans so we could cross Lake Ponchatrain.

Seeing what's happened in the wake of Katrina has made me a bit nostalgic for that little bit of time spent in New Orleans. I still want to wander through the haunted houses one day, take in some of the night life of Bourbon Street now that I'm of age. Until that time, we all need to work together to help in any way we can. Visit Network for Good to donate to any of the charities and relief agencies assisting with getting New Orleans and the surrounding area back on its feet.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Adventures in Dating: Keeping My Mouth Shut

I'm not saying anything about meeting someone new last week.

I won't discuss his driving to my house yesterday to see The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which possibly had us laughing the entire time.

I won't breathe a word about us maybe having a nice dinner at one of the streetside restaurants on Main St. and talking about books, movies, music, theater and travel for two hours.

I'm keeping my mouth shut about walking back to my house and having a wonderful evening.

So don't even ask.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Everything's Coming up Penes!

Not that that's a bad thing; just unexpected as far as the Friday and Saturday were concerned.

I met a large group of friends on Friday evening at Jerry's Famous Deli before heading to the theater. With it being so close to the Performing Arts Center and a few other theaters in the area, Jerry's has become a traditional meeting place before almost any show. The food is good -- and they give you tons of it -- and the restaurant has that theater feel to it, with photographs of old Hollywood stars tacked up alongside posters for almost every play or musical imaginable. The booths are covered in deep red vinyl with retractable walls separating tables and black phones without dials set strategically among the room. In case someone needs to make that all-important call to a producer or director.

Most of the group that evening purchased tickets for Little Shop of Horrors; RG and I decided to be rebels and were seeing a local theater production of Urinetown at a little theater in Costa Mesa. Neither of us knew what to expect going into the show except that it was set in the future during a 20-year drought. In order to control the amount of water left, urination became regulated. No more private bathrooms. If you had to go, you had to pay a fee. If you did't pay the fee, you were sent to Urinetown as punishment. Interesting fare for musical theater: a night filled with toilet humor.

Surprisingly, that wasn't the case. The story involves young Bobby Strong rebelling against the amenity fee hikes imposed by the greedy Urine Good Company. He's put up with the dastardly dealing of the corporation, even witnessing his father being dragged off to Urinetown for peeing without paying, and gathers a small band to fight for what he knows in his heart to be right and just. Along the way, the musical gently pokes fun at other musicals -- Evita, Les Misérables -- and offers up a wonderful score of music ranging from rousing gospel to power ballad to pop. It also doesn't take itself too seriously. Officer Lockstock often talks directly to the audience, trying to explain the show and how musical theater works (too much exposition can ruin a scene, how a title can make for a bad show, etc.).

We laughed hysterically during the entire show and were duly impressed that the little Costa Mesa Civic Playhouse pulled it off. They took a big gamble with this show, and it paid off. Great choreography, wonderful singing and acting, impressive set design for such a little theater -- all made for an incredibly entertaining show.

Saturday, CS, myself and two friends (JW and DN) from the Disneyland Gay Passholders group drove to Santa Monica to celebrate CS's birthday -- which is today, by the way, so Happy Birthday, CS!. We dined at The Lobster, a seafood restaurant right along PCH and next to the Santa Monica Pier. CS and JW both ordered the 1 1/2-pound pan roasted lobster, DN a grilled Kobe sirloin and for myself, the grilled Alaskan white ivory King salmon. The waiter brought CS a chocolate bread pudding for dessert, complete with a single candle for his birthday. No one sang, thank goodness! Great food, but the service was a bit slow and all the tables jammed close together so we were literally dining with the people at the next table.

From the restaurant we sped to the Santa Monica Playhouse for the world premiere of Pecker Patter, the straight man's answer to The Vagina Monologues. However, we had to find the theater first, and CS and I walked past it more than once until he called JW on his cell. (It's directly behind a Thai restaurant called T-Thai.) Patter relates the history of the penis (thanks to a newly discovered 69th book of The Bible called the Book of Testicles -- pronounced tes‘ ti cleez) and how it has affected civilization, from caveman through the Renaissance to the hippie-loving '60s to today. Good acting by everyone involved, especially King Stuart as Sigmund Freud, David Pavao as Brain and Jon Collins as Heart. (And the handsome guy in the pic, third from the left? That's the utterly hunky Adam Huss. He was supposed to play the Penis. Unfortunately, we had a stand-in Penis who performed adequately but was a little limp in many of the scenes.) I just didn't enjoy the show. Whereas The Vagina Monologues showed how women felt about that part of their bodies, how it affected their lives and the way they approach people and relationships, giving insight into a woman's views about life and sex,Patter was all about getting some "pussy," as they continually referred to it throughout the show. Just one big frat party with no real insight into men save for stereotypes. The show was incredibly straight -- not homophobic because they mention having sex with other men and don't talk down about it, but gay men didn't figure much into the equation. Also, they kind of looked down upon safe sex and condom use, making it come across as one of the worst things you could do to a penis. The show had its moments (such as the entire Viagra scene), but as a whole, I disliked the show.

At least the restaurant was good.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I Got the Music in Meme

No, I haven't been tagged, but I liked this meme and decided to do it on my own. Music has always played a large role in my life. My Mom used to play the piano for us growing up, and I taught myself by watching her and then skimming through the songbooks hidden inside the piano bench. I've played the clarinet since the 4th grade, as well. Not to forget my large CD collection (and the two cases of cassette tapes and a few LPs). So without further ado, I bring to you the musical meme:

List ten songs that you are currently digging ... it doesn't matter what genre they are from, whether they have words, or even if they're no good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying right now. Post these instructions, the artists, and the ten songs in your blog.

  • America by Simon and Garfunkel
  • Clocks by Coldplay
  • So Easy by Röyksopp
  • Learn To Be Lonely/My Own Morning by Sally Mayes
  • The Chauffeur by Duran Duran
  • The Big Sky by Kate Bush
  • Love Is Everything by k.d. lang
  • Fun Zone by "Weird Al" Yankovic
  • Home by Marc Broussard
  • Clubbed To Death by Rob Dougan

And, I'll just leave it at that.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Channeling Sally Field

After almost two years of blogging, I've finally been hit by the Comment Spammer! Someone found my little blog worthy of spamming. "You like me! You really like me!" Yes!!! I've hit the Big Time!!

I'd like to thank all the little spammers who helped me get to where I am today. To the Rockport Shoes and Steve Madden Shoes Guy: Thank you for taking the time to leave unwanted links to your merchandise site. To Black Rock Discovers Blogging: I simply enjoyed the link to your free trials site which "pretty well covers all free trials related stuff;" it kept me going through those lonely nights when I wondered if my blog had reached a dead end creatively. To Cash Advance Loans for showing that I don't need to have anything important to say -- or, in fact, related to me at all -- in order to sell anything. I'm humbled by your mere presence.

I know that I'm forgetting someone. Please forgive me if I left your name out! But thank you all, each and every one of you!

(Now, where the Hell is my free basket of swag?!)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Dancing Hobbits

CS and I drove to Beverly Hills for dinner with some friends at The Grand Lux Café in the Beverly Center. They originally emailed CS, inviting him to join them for dinner and a CD release party somewhere in Los Angeles, and he kindly asked if I would like to tag along. The trip to LA was surprisingly fast, and we didn't run into any traffic on the 405 North. I almost thought we were in some kind of alternate universe until we switched to the 10 Freeway and ran smack dab into the slow-moving congestion of cars, SUVs and big rigs. (However, we were exiting the 10 fairly quickly so even that little bit of traffic didn't bother us.) We exited, raced up La Cienega and quickly found a parking space at The Center.

DN and JW were waiting for us in the bar of The Lux, and we decided to eat in the bar rather than in the regular dining room. (JW had a bit of a crush on one of the bartenders which is why we ate there....shhhhh!) The entire restaurant is fashioned after an old Venetian palace, with incredible tile work on the floors, large columns in the main dining room, faux mosaics on the walls, and intricate carvings, woodwork, and stenciling to give a European flare. DN said that everything on the menu was excellent -- ranging from burgers made with ground Angus beef to fresh lobster to a Molten Chocolate Cake. I ordered the Indochine Shrimp and Chicken, kind of an Oriental/Indian stir-fry served in a saffron-curry-plum wine sauce and topped with dried cherries and apricots. Can I just say that it was like eating candy? Sweet and spicy...I could have eaten plate after plate of just that. But, we had to sample the Molten Chocolate Cake for dessert: a chocolate soufflé that erupted with hot, melted chocolate when the fork cut into it, served with a scoop of vanilla iced cream for contrast.

From the restaurant, we decided to head to the bar early, even though the party wasn't until 11 PM. So we arrived at Molly Malone's just a wee bit early: 7:30 PM. In all honestly, we spent roughly 20 minutes trying to find parking as the neighborhoods surrounding the pub were permit-only. We eventually found street parking a few blocks away near the LACMA and the La Brea Tar Pits. (I have a feeling, though, that if we had arrived later, we would have been forced to park even farther away.) Once inside, we found a table near the back of the tiny place, order a few drinks and waited. The pub itself is rather small and dark inside, with paintings of what I figured to be famous Irish-folk screwed to the walls. Our table was close to a tiny stage, and we all wondered if the place would be able to hold the musicians as well as the fans/guests. Awful country music was coming from somewhere so DN snuck a look around and found an entire extra room behind a closed green door. That's where he found the stage and plenty of tables, chairs and space for a mini-concert. In fact, that's where the country music came from; a duo was performing when DN popped his head in.

So we continued to sit and wait. JW filled us in on what we were about to see. Many months ago, he and DN saw a show in LA, and they immediately fell in love with it. The show, Fellowship!, was a musical spoof of the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and they managed to get to know a few of the cast members as well as the director, Joel McCrary. A bunch of friends gathered together at a bar, poking some lighthearted fun at the film, coming up with simple, improvised songs and eventually turning that into a full-fledged musical. The show gained a kind of cult following, and someone finally convinced them to create a cast recording. And, tonight was the official release of that CD.

A few hours later, around 10 PM, we finally mustered up enough courage to venture into the back area. The so-called country group finally finished, and various folks milled about so we grabbed a table near the front of the room and continued with our drinking. (I only ordered one beer the entire night and nursed it from the time we arrived to the time the release party finally started much., much later.) Another group was setting up their equipment, and when they finally started their set at 10:15, we figured it was going to be a long night. This group turned out to be way better than that country act, and they did justice to a cover of Elvis Costello's I Want You as well as a few good tunes of their own. They finished just after 11, and took a little time getting their gear off stage. Finally, at 11:45, the CD release party began, with the entire cast staggering to the stage to sing Happy Birthday Bilbo!. From then on, we experienced a raucous, raunchy evening filled with drunken singing, an elf and a dwarf (both played by women) getting it on while on stage, a hobbit with an incredibly high falsetto, and actors enjoying being themselves and being able to do what they wanted. Arwen (Edi Patterson) channeled Steve Tyler for her duet with Aragorn (Matthew Young). Sam's (Peter Allen Vogt) touching and overtly homosexual song with Frodo (Cory Rouse) had our table rolling. Plus, Peter Allen Vogt's longe lizard version of the Balrog was hysterical.

We left with our official cast recordings a little after 1 AM. Definitely one of the best evenings I've ever spent in a straight bar. Now, I just need to find out when they're going to perform the show so I can take it all in!!!

Friday, August 19, 2005

In the Pink

Last night, CS and I headed to UC Irvine to check out Bill Murray's latest film, Broken Flowers, written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. Murray stars as Don Johnston, a wealthy but bored "Don Juan" who tends to hop around from woman to woman. As his latest girlfriend Sherry leaves him, he receives an anonymous letter in the mail - a pink envelope with pink paper and red typing -- telling him that he has a 19-year-old son who may be looking for him. He shows the letter to his neighbor Winston, an amateur sleuth who decides to help Don find out who the mother of his son is. Winston assembles a list of the women Don slept with 20 years ago and sends a reluctant Don off to reconnect with his former lovers. As he meets with each of them, Don slowly begins to realize that while all their lives have changed, his really hasn't, and it finally sinks in that he must stop letting things pass by and to discover what he wants out of life.

Bill Murray is wonderful as Don Johnston, with his smirks and glances, his matter-of-factness with the delivery of lines, his ease with the character. You feel sorry for him and laugh along with him. Jeffrey Wright -- whom many may recognize as Belize from Angels in America -- is equally endearing as the nosy, mystery-solving neighbor. And the former lovers in Don's life -- played by Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange and Tilda Swinton -- all give fine, albeit brief, performances. The story itself is very slow paced and quiet, but ultimately a charmer as CS, myself and the almost-packed theater laughed and empathized with Murray's character.

Something that I find makes for a good film is that CS and I continued to discuss it as we walked to our cars and then for another 10 mintues after we reached them. I think this might be the sleeper film of 2005. Go see it!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The De-Gaying of Orange County

Last night at The Center OC, David emerged from his little office and joined in our conversation about what's been happening recently in Orange County. (David Hart is a Program Manager at The Center and likes being "in the know" with OC events affecting the GLBTQ community.) CS started to talk about the impending closure of The Ozz Supper Club thanks to CalTrans' desire to expand the Interstate 5 Freeway. They declared eminent domain, and in a few weeks or months, the club will close its doors. We'd all known about that, but then CS added that he'd heard of another prominent gay bar/club that would be shutting down in the very near future: The Boom Boom Room. Supposedly, a straight organization purchased the club, its restaurant and inn for $10M -- though no one could confirm that amount. I think the idea was to tear it down to create a family -- meaning Mom, Dad and the 2.5 children -- friendly resort right on the beach in Laguna. That came as a blow since The Boom has been around for 30+ years. (I wonder how the straight folk will manage when they learn about Blow Job Beach?)

None of this shocked David, and he had another log to add to the fire. Apparently, The Center is $120K in debt and may be forced to halt operations in about 6 weeks. All our mouths dropped in astonishment. With budget cuts, federal grants being dissolved left and right, and lackluster fundraising efforts, The Center has been losing money. They've been forced to cancel programs and even to reduce the number of staff, many of whom are now on part-time status. The Center was one of the few places to which I could turn when I started coming out. The men's discussion groups, LifeGuard programs (an HIV risk prevention group which I ran for a little while), and the Coming Out Group which helped me deal with all the strange emotions and all the questions. I experienced my first HIV test from their free testing center. I've made some long-lasting friendships through volunteering - CS, RG and joela. I even met my first boyfriend at The Center. Just imagine all the other men and women who've had similar experiences with The Center. No other organization in Orange County offers these types of services for the GLBTQ community, and for it to close is unconscionable. Where will everyone go who has questions? who wants to meet other gay men and women in a safe environment? who needs HIV testing but is afraid to visit the family doctor?

The Center used to be one of the three largest in the nation. And now....

David told us that they hired a professional grant writer to help in any way that he can to get the money coming in. He was optimistic that things would turn out okay. He had faith. Having grown up in Orange County, knowing too many conservatives who would do anything to smother such an organization -- I wish I felt the same. So for my part, I'm putting a call out to help raise funds. I know, I know -- the last thing you wanted to read was me asking for donations. However, The Center holds a dear place in my heart. If you or anyone you know would like to donate, follow this link or call The Center and speak with David at (714) 534-0862, ext. 131.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Adventures in Dating: At the Movies

Saturday evening I drove out to his place, trying to get there by the agreed-upon 7:30 PM. But, CalTrans tried to make things difficult for me, first by closing the on-ramp at Beach Blvd. which forced me to take a 10-minute detour to the next closest ramp; and second by creating a stop-and-go parking lost with their expansion project for the 22 Freeway. That wasted another 30 minutes, but I planned ahead, leaving an hour early just in case. I arrived only minutes late.

He gave me a quick tour of his apartment, which looked very small on the outside but was quite spacious on the inside. The two huge bedrooms, a good-sized kitchen and a large living room duly impressed me. The bathroom housed shelves full of his shot glass collection which also trailed across the counter. Not a bad place for what he and his roommate were paying in rent. We didn't stick around too long as we were both hungry and needed to buy the movie tickets.

We ate at a Corner Bakery Café in downtown Brea and talked a bit about movies, what we like and disliked. Some of his dislikes really surprised me, especially since they were films I enjoyed and watched over and over. I think my taste in movies may have unsettled him, too, as I talked about some of the silent films and classics from the 30s and 40s. Through the rest of the meal, we seemd to force the conversation to continue. The evening seemed to turn a complete 180˚ from the phone calls and first few dates, and I couldn't wait to get through the movie. I just felt out of place, as if I were dong everything wrong.

As we were leaving the café, his roommate called. He and his boyfriend were going to join us for the movie. So we wandered over to meet them, talking about nothing really important, stopping into one of the many shops to look at shoes, and finally crossing the street to buy tickets for The Skeleton Key. We stood outside the theater, waiting for his roommate to show, and discussing the upcoming movies that were being advertised in the lobby. It felt as if we were just going through the motions, both of realizing that something hadn't quite clicked tonight but needing to finish what had already started. My mind kept whispering that I had made a mistake somewhere but wouldn't tell me where.

The roommate and his boyfriend showed and after purchasing their tickets, we crossed the street to Starbucks for coffee and a hot chocolate. I sat back as the three of them chatted away about mutual friends, restaurants, work, etc. occasionally directing a statement at me but not really enough to join in the conversation. I continually glanced at my watch, too -- not a good sign for me. We eventually hurried back to the theater to find seats before the onrush of people. The movie started and turned out to be much better than I expected. A good story even though I was able to figure out early on a few of the plot turns. Gena Rowlands, Kate Hudson and John Hurt gave fine performances, and I must say that the twist at the end really caught us all quite off-guard. No one suspected it, but, like The Sixth Sense, all the clues were there if you paid attention.

We said good-bye to the roommate and then drove back to his place. As I got out of the car, he said that he would walk me back to mine. Just a short little walk with minimal small talk. We hugged, then I started my car and began the trek home.

And that's where things stand at the moment. Not sure what the next step is, but I get the feeling that that little voice in my head was right.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Just Like Bogie and Bacall

Minus the gangsters and the hurricane. And the Florida Keys. And Bogie and Bacall. Okay, the Key Largo at which CS and I dined last night had absolutely nothing to do with the movie. This Key Largo is a restaurant on Broadway in Long Beach not too too far from the Gayborhood. And, believe it or not, many of you fine readers have probably seen this restaurant before: its facade was used for the restaurant in The Broken Hearts Club -- though nowadays, the owners dotted the roof with light-up pink flamingos, and the interior decked out with light-up palm trees, fountains and yellow-textured walls. The décor fit with the caribbean theme. Plus, the food tasted incredible so we didn't pay too much attention to what was around us. CS ordered the Olive Chicken -- a boneless breast of chicken lined with olives and spices and baked in a puff pastry shell. I chose the Flat Iron Steak with roasted asparagus and a large roasted garlic clove. Wonderful!!!

From there, we headed to The Paradise Café to meet with joela for a few drinks and some great music. I have to admit, there was an ulterior motive to heading for The Paradise last night. A few months ago, I wrote a post about the singer/piano player, Saif Eddin. As it turns out, a friend of his found my post and showed it to Saif who then emailed me a few days ago. (Saif, I made a few changes, such as getting your eye color correct. But, the rest is true!) So I invited my friends there last night to introduce myself and to enjoy a fun night with other gay men singing songs (The Carpenters, John Denver, showtunes, jazz/pop standards), enjoying the sights (lots of attractive men - like that hispanic hottie with the shaved head in the black muscle t-shirt and white pants; the bartender dancing on the bar; an unexpected show in the bathroom), Saif singing The Mary Tyler Moore Show Theme, and catching up with friends.

That's what the night was about: hanging out with friends. I didn't worry about meeting or hooking up with anyone. I sat back, singing shouting along to Country Roads, and having the time of my life. We all need to that much more often.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Adventures in Dating: The First Second Date

We talked on Sunday, allowing us a day to settle down after our flights and business meetings, and I invited him to have dinner in Huntington Beach on Monday. He mentioned that he wouldn't be able to leave work until 6 PM, but if I didn't mind a late dinner then HB was fine with him. That decided it, I gave him my address and we said our goodbyes.

Monday night rolled around, and I met him in front of my brother's house. Only because my house is near impossible to locate if you use Yahoo or MapQuest since it borders an alley that neither mapping system recognizes. He handed me a tall, shiny bag with a bottle of California sparkling wine (i.e., champagne) as a congratulations for my award from the business meeting last week. Off to a good start, I think, blushing as I lead him through the gate to my house. My brother happened to be out back watering the plants so I introduced the two of them. (Not as awkward as I though it would be.) Then, I showed him the place I call home. I don't know that he was too impressed, but he oohed and aahed appropriately so I was pleased.

He commented on how much cooler it was along the coast than where he works at a University; the temperature dropped probably a good 15 degrees from where he had been inland, plus a cool wind blew in from the ocean making for a pleasant stroll into downtown. We decided on Ruby's at the end of the pier but were disappointed. After such a long walk, the wait at the restaurant was a minimum of 45 minutes so we turned around and headed back to town. At least we watched the beautiful sunset from the pier; that was a plus. The next restaurant we tried was the Inka Grill. Unfortunately, as we approached, we noted the locked doors and the lack of any lights. Turns out that the restaurant closes on Mondays. Great. So I walked us to The Longboard, a great local hangout with café dining right on Main St. We sat and talked for an hour about favorite and least favorite places to travel, gay TV, college and other pleasantries.

Around 9 PM we headed back to my place and watched a little of the Miss Teen U.S.A. Pageant. I walked him back to his car, we hugged, he said he'd call me, then left. Hmm.

The unopened bottle of champagne California sparkling wine is still chilling in my fridge.


8/11/05 Update!: We're going to dinner and a movie (The Skeleton Key) on Saturday.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Coast to Coast

I woke Wednesday at an ungodly hour and made it to the airport by 5:45 AM. Thank goodness for my having an e-ticket, or else I would have had to wait over an hour in the check-in line, then another 20-30 for the security screening, eventually missing my 7AM flight altogether. Instead, I scanned in the barcode on my ticket, printed boarding passes and then waited the 20-30 minutes for the security screening, making it to my plane in no time at all.

The layover in Cincinnati was to last 40 minutes; however, the plane arrived late so I made a mad dash to my connector, snapping together my seatbelt with 5 minutes to spare. Sitting in my seat, the engines tried to start once, twice before we finally taxied to the runway. Only to have the pilot announce that roughly 35 pieces of luggage did not make it aboard so we were taxiing back to the gate. We finally left 45 minutes behind schedule and landed in Boston an hour late. This extra time allowed me to finish one novel (Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon) and about 250 pages of another (Fly on the Wall by Rupert Smith). Unfortunately, I landed during rush hour so my cab ride lasted another 30 minutes, but it's always an exciting trip with a Boston cabbie. He was chatting away in French on his cell phone while dodging cars, making illegal left turns and coming within an inch of the car in front before stopping. Gotta love it.

I managed to arrive at the hotel -- the Hyatt Regency Cambridge -- just as my Area Manager and a few team members from Los Angeles stepped from their cabs. We hugged, and I was introduced to some of the newer members of the team while waiting to check-in. At the counter, the clerk gave me my room info and asked how many keys I wanted. I asked if my roommate had checked in, and she looked at me funny. (No, not like the everyday looks I always get.) She typed a few things on her keyboard and said that she had me listed by myself with a king-sized bed. I blinked a few times. As it turns out, my roomie had to cancel so I was bumped into a larger room on the second floor. So I dragged my two carry-ons to the second floor and opened the door to my room and was blown away with how big the place was! Not quite a suite, but it did have a gigantic, incredibly comfy king-sized bed with four feather pillows, two large chairs, a desk, a big TV, two phones and a small hallway leading to the bathroom. From my tiny balcony, I could see the Charles River and the buildings of Boston through the pine trees. Elated with the room, I quickly unpacked and took a nice hour and a half nap before dinner.

The next few days were filled with many meetings and learning sessions, tons of great food, one night of bar hopping (even though we all returned to the hotel at 11 PM because we were just too tired), an incredibly embarrassing awards dinner/reception, an annoying DJ at the closing dinner, and tons of co-workers reliving their college days dressed as throwbacks to Flashdance or a women's college basketball team or a hippie who burned her bra in the courtyard (not kidding here; I watched it burn) or loads of drunken frat boys and sorority babes.

I still seem to view myself as an anomaly in my company. I love the company and the people with whom I work, but socially, I'm the exact opposite of everyone. Boisterous, schmoozy, wacky sense of humor, social butterflies whereas I sit quietly, enjoying watching everyone else, eating my meals and thinking about the reports I need to complete once I return to the office on Monday. I'm not the best in large social situations but I made a point of sitting at a different table during each meal instead of with familiar faces which helped to loosen me up a bit. I think the bottle or two of Newscastle helped, too. After dinner the second night, a large group of us -- probably 20-30 people -- converged on some of the bars in Harvard Square, and I enjoyed talking, listening to jokes, telling stories about college and work.

Friday night, a few of us from the gay contingent were going to head out to a strip club, but the surprise thunder and lightning storm put a quick stop to that. Instead, we stood gawking at our buzzed co-workers dancing to every single college frat party song the DJ could find. It was probably better for me not to go out clubbing, anyway, as I needed to be at Boston/Logan Airport by 5 AM the next morning.

The trip back was much smoother, with my layover in Atlanta lasting only 45 minutes. Somehow, we managed to take off early and land in Orange County about 20 minutes ahead of schedule. It was nice to be back home, and I plopped myself on the couch and slept for a few hours. Ahhh....home at last.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Adventures in Dating: Then and Now

Feeling a bit nostalgic, I read some of my blog entries from a year ago to get an idea of what my life was like way back when.

Then: I recently returned from a company business meeting in Las Vegas, NV -- the first time in almost 15? 20? years since I'd been there. Hours of meetings, hundreds of quarters lost to the one-armed bandits, a ride on the Manhattan Express, pictures with the Folies Bergères girls and the opportunity to finally put a face to the voices and email addresses from work. Oh, and ungodly, oven-like heat.

Now: I leave tomorrow morning for another company business trip, this time to Cambridge, MA. A 7-9 hour flight with a stop over in Cincinnati, OH on the outbound flight and in Atlanta, GA on the return trip. I get to sit through more hours of meetings and to meet with old friends and new ones with whom I've emailed, IMd and spoken on the phone. Oh, and ungodly heat with isolated thunderstorms.

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Then: Trying to find a new place to live, close to the beach but not too pricey. Yeah, right.

Now: Living in a nice bachelor pad not more than half a mile from the Huntington Beach Pier at an insanely low price and very close to my family.

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Then: My ex decided, while I was in Las Vegas, that he wanted to move closer to his family in Reno, NV. He didn't ask if I wanted to accompany him. He packed up and left California on my birthday.

Now: About a week ago, someone responded to my add on Yahoo. We've emailed back and forth, then talked on the phone. Sunday was our first date -- at Disneyland, of all places. We've chatted a few more times on the phone and planned the second date for next Monday because we will both be out of town this week (me in Cambridge, MA; him in Salt Lake City, UT). He called tonight from the airport before boarding his plane just to say hello.

You should see the grin on my face. :-)

See all y'all on Sunday!

Monday, August 01, 2005

"With your looks and my money, we can honeymoon in Pomona!"

Saturday evening found myself and three other Disney friends at CS's for cocktails and chitchat before heading to The Ozz for dinner. We sat around the coffee table sipping wine or root beet, nibbling on cashews and enjoying the different cheeses and crackers that CS set down in front of us. I tried not to eat too much, what with us meeting a few others in an hour or two for dinner, but I downed three plates worth of food. They were small plates, though.

A little after 7, we headed to The Ozz for dinner and to see the cabaret show. Three ladies were waiting for us when we arrived, all good friends with one of the founders of the Disney group, and they joined us for what turned out to be a wonderful meal. Not that the food was orgasmically fantastic, but we all enjoyed listening to the three ladies. Two of them have been together for over 33 years, and one of those two along with the third lady had participated in Roller Derby back in the 1950s and 1960s. They told "war" storied about how they became involved with the sport, their experiences traveling, injuries, the different teams, past relationships, etc. Their stories had recently been filmed and edited into a short documentary that is currently making the rounds of the festival circuit. (When I learn the name, I'll post it here.)

Dinner was followed by a short trip to the cabaret room to see an Orange County favorite, Rudy de la Mor, in one of his final performances at The Ozz. We sang, clapped, tapped quarters on the tables and had a raucous time to his antics. Rudy's performances are always filled with wonderful singing and piano playing, quite a few risqué, gay-centric jokes, a hat for each song, many of his Rudy-isms (such as the quote that opens this post), and the general embarrassment of certain audience members by bringing them on stage with him. The first victim turned out to be DN from our group, who added some unique gestures to the song Do Re Mi. (I'll never think of a deer, a female deer the same way again.) Next, he dragged a young man from San Francisco on-stage, tied a baby bonnet onto his head and serenaded him with Babyface. CS dressed as Carmen Miranda and shook his maracas to the enjoyment of the room. Then, he called me to the stage to perform a mini-ballet to Saint-Saëns' The Swans. All while wearing a pink flamingo hat and pirouetting en pointe. (CS has an incriminating photograph that I will destroy when I get a hold of his cameraphone.) And, I wasn't even drunk.

Sadly, we had to call it a night at 11:30 PM. Rudy packed up his hats and sheet music, kissed and hugged friends in the crowd, and slowly walked out the doors into the parking lot.

I'm going to miss his OC shows.