Thursday, July 31, 2003

Moving forward.

The apartment complex in Buckhead has accepted my application, and I will be officially moving in on August 20.

So I'm no longer one of those outside-the-Perimeter people in Atlanta, for the first time in my life.

New worries abound, of course, as they always do.

But right now I'm going to take this moment at the end of a stressful month and enjoy it for what it is, an accomplished goal.

An open book.

I wrote this to my friend and confidante Miss Gibson, who recently returned to London though she visited me about a month ago. Miss Gibson wrote me that she had a problem with self-esteem.

I wrote her this. I think I should keep it around, for it would be useful for me to be reminded of this sometimes, too.

Miss Gibson,

You're one of the most charming, intelligent people that I've ever had the pleasure to know, and I've now had the pleasure of knowing you for nearly 10 years. (Oh my God, has it been that long?)

You're beautiful. You've always been beautiful. You're fun. You've always been fun. And you're intelligent.

But you need to understand something that I'm starting to understand. The most important, attractive thing about you is that you're interesting. It's my best aspect, too.

It's the thing that, after 10 years, means that we'lll still always have something to talk about. It's the thing that keeps people around you. It's the thing that makes you a good friend, a good date, a good worker - and those friendships, dates and jobs only fuel you to make you more interesting. It's cyclical.

As a journalist, you know there's nothing worse than a slow news day. You know that there's something profoundly disturbing about a blank page.

Blank-page people are the worst kind of people, I think. I take my life and, literally and figuratively, write stories and plots and twists and jokes all over it. Good ones. Bad ones. I'm multi-faceted, vulnerable and verbal.

On my evening with Jason the Real Estate Masseuse, he noticed I seemed a little tense. He asked what could make me that tense, and I said to him, "My life is like a big open book, and you've barely begun to read the first chapter."

What will keep me forever with you, what will keep those worthy from never dismissing you off-handedly is that there's always more to read within you.

Anyone lucky enough to notice that you're worth far more than a passing glance, anyone who talks to you and realizes you're wacky and flawed and funny and cute, will realize that they've managed to come into contact with the human equivalent of a page-turner, one you never want to put down.

Never tell me that you think a worthy catch would actually dismiss you without taking the time to regard you as you deserve. Anyone who does dismiss you so flippantly is not a worthy catch.


Looking back on July.

I had a rather silly panic attack last night, so I didn't end up going to the bookstore at all. I sat at my desk in my office until 10 p.m., and I honestly don't know if I should be worried about anything. It's weird.

I don't like to be kept waiting. I don't like the "what if" of it all, wondering what I'm going to have to do if something goes wrong. I'd rather just know and go from wherever I end up than not know where I'm going.

I talked to my friend Jonathan once I finally got home last night, and he helped me see outside of myself. I just sat and listened to him talk about his problems, which helped me. We agreed that July has been a hell month, and I, for one, am glad it's ending on a note of promise.

I've not heard from Snapshot regularly lately, but he may have just gotten bogged down in the same month that seems to have hit all of us the same way. Or he may have realized that the attention he was paying to me was the attention he should direct to his boyfriend, which is the right thing. I don't know where our friendship goes from here, if it goes anywhere, but it doesn't matter, really. He's not the only guy who'll like me in my life. Heck, he wasn't even the only guy that liked me this month. He was just the one I liked the most, complete with a dash of that "wrong number" happenstance and the fact that he was willing to talk, listen and comfort me.

Jonathan, listening to me vent as well, told me that there's one thing to appreciate about Eddie Bauer Guy. Though what he was willing to give me wasn't what I wanted, at least he was honest about his intentions. I may not understand Eddie Bauer Guy's intentions, but he was up front about them.

As for the apartment, I still don't know where that's going, but Jason the Real Estate Masseuse is keeping me entertained about the whole thing and seems to be keeping things well-handled. It's my own impatience that's causing me to freak out, and I don't think I can be blamed for that. That's the sort of person I am.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Hurry Up and Wait.

I'm still waiting to hear about my apartment. I don't know why. I think they have all the information that they need. I personally went to Barnes & Noble, got the form they were to fill out from them and sent it along last night. They've gotten my check.

Now I just need to hear.

I'm sure everything's fine. I'm sure everything's fine.

To concentrate on other things a moment, my Friendster friend Lance says that I should abandon my blog because journals should be private and all I write is smut. (I don't know if he was joking. I'm guessing he was, but maybe only halfway joking.)

His comments were a far cry from anyone's telling me that I'm publishable.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

My Gaslight Theory.

What if this horrible situation with my hot water was all a hoax? What if, you know, my landlord couldn't come up with any proper grounds or didn't want to have to go through all the legal trouble inherent in trying to evict me but wanted me out? How do you get rid of a tenant that you, for whatever reason, just don't like?

I'm a messy tenant in Buford because I'm never home. There are dishes always left in the sink. Clothes everywhere. I don't really make my little train-track crackhouse into a showplace of an apartment, at least I haven't since Kacoon stopped doing her monthly cleanings of the place for low, low prices. My rent's been late. I pay the rental rate, by the way, set by the old owners of the building, and I'm not under lease so there's no real way to adjust the amount I pay. Additionally, I seem vocal about all sorts of things, like the ever-changing address of my landlord or the complete lack of a drop box for my rent check anywhere, let alone anywhere within reason.

Yesterday, while talking to Lupo, I told him about my theory behind all the recent "breaks" to my on-again/off-again hot water heater.

Brace yourselves, though, because it's a sure sign that I've seen too many old movies.

One day, right before the weekend, my landlord finds out that my neighbors, who just had a baby, are vacating the premises. (The pregnancy didn't stop my neighbor from indulging her two-pack-a-day habit on the patio, and I think the stretchmarks she got over time may have severely distorted her plethora of body art. Hey, the rent's cheap.) The girl upstairs, the one of us three tenants "grandfathered" in from when Mrs. Fricks owned the building, left the building a couple months ago.

So I was the only one left. And I'm never home. Though I was looking for an apartment, it didn't seem, I guess, like I was in any hurry.

Because I'm never home, what if my landlord decided it was time for something majorly wrong in the apartment to force my hand and force me out? Though it could look like a routine error, what if my landlord or someone were able to go in and shut down something like, oh, my hot water heater while I was gone during the day?

The first time, if it was before a weekend, I would probably not be able to get help for a couple days, right? What if, beyond that, the landlord went in, turned the hot water back on ... and then turned it off within the next couple days? How many times could I cope with continually breaking hot water before I was forced out?

I'm saying, "What if this is all a ruse?" What if he's turning my hot water on and off when I"m not there so that I wouldn't know it's not really broken?

When I'm there, I check the switches and the fuses, but how am I supposed to know the key to turning the mechanism back on?

I think my landlord might be "gaslighting" me about my hot water in order to drive me crazy and drive me out. I think he's doing it so that he can get rid of all the old grandfathered tenants not under a lease.

This all could be happening under my very nose, and I wouldn't know it.

My landlord called me yesterday after hearing from the apartment complex I applied to move into. He said I shouldn't have any trouble from him regarding the move and that he would consider our conversation my notice. I told him that I wouldn't give an official notice until I found out whether I get the new apartment. Later, while I was at the store, he called to tell me that my hot water has been fixed again and that he hoped everything would be working during my last month in the apartment.

Monday, July 28, 2003

A more colorful profile.

My Friendster friend Lance tells me that my profile there doesn't do justice to my "colorful life." He wrote this after I told him that the real estate agent has suggested, if my hot water is broken, that I stay with him for the night, no matter how late I'm working tonight.

I wrote back this:

My life's always been colorful.

I don't think it'd do in my profile, though, to refer to myself as a handicapped, intelligent gay man with a touch of innocence that I don't particularly want. It probably wouldn't do to say I'm movie-obsessed because it was my means of escapism and provided me with art and sophistication, while I was otherwise being raised by absentee rednecks. In malls, I adapt quickly like a native. I watched too much TV as a kid. I have anecdotes from my horrible dating life now but no active dating life to speak of. And more than three people have fallen for me on the strength of a couple phone calls.

Sounds arrogant and psychotic to me.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

What a Difference a Day Makes.

This is going to sound completely silly and totally sudden, though for many not sudden enough, but I've found an apartment, more or less, in Buckhead that seems nice and affordable, and I'm going to put in the application. I hope beyond hope that everything turns out all right. I hope that I never again have to worry about my Buford-based, hot-water-less existence. The real estate agent is calling me tomorrow morning after he calls the complex. And I owe Larry and David, once again, a debt of gratitude.

The real estate agent, Jason, is a friend of Larry's. (Those of you who know Larry can illustrate the context of that friendship, more than likely, without me saying much more than, "No, they didn't. But it's an interesting story nonetheless, involving one of his Pride Parties." The rest of the details, for anyone who's attended one of Larry's Pride Parties, would fall into place.)

When we called Jason today through the Pride Realty listing in SoVo, he didn't recall at first who Larry was.

"My friend Larry thinks you might be a masseuse he once hired," I said over the phone.

"Excuse me?" Jason asked me.

"Oh," I said to Larry. "I guess he's not that Jason."

"What are you talking about?" he asked me, and Larry told me to drop it.

"It's hard to explain," I said. "Never mind."

"What's the problem?"

"Um," I said. "My friend seems to think he got a massage from you. But that's another Jason, I think."

Something in him lightened up. I don't know if he was acting offended because he thought I was acting like there was a stigma to being a masseuse. (I guess he's technically a massuer, but whatever.)

"Who is it who's referring me from the table?" Jason asked eventually. "You say it's someone I know."

"My friend Larry," I told him. "Apparently, he hired you for a party once."

"Oh," said Jason.

He directed me to the apartments website using light flirtation. It was rather amusing. When he told me that I needed to increase my flexibility, I knew he didn't just mean my price range and planned moving date. The man knew his stuff, though. He kept pointing me at available rentals on "Sidney Mucus," as he called it, but one of the complexes was three minutes from my office, so we went to check it out.

But that part of the story's boring, so I'm going back to explain how Larry knows the real estate agent.

My real estate agent was the door prize at a party Larry held a couple years ago, the party that I think Lupo attended with me. Apparently, after Lupo and I left or while I was helping Lupo off the floor of the bathroom, Jason the real estate agent/masseuse, caused a bit of a spectacle. When he and Larry got on the phone together, for Larry started to talk apartments with him, Jason was able to refresh his memory.

"You live in McGill Park?" Jason said. "Oh my God, I know who this is. I know who this is! I fucked that guy in your kitchen!"

It was a rather wild night, aside from Jason's audience-attended dalliance. (I didn't see it.)

Lupo only attended it because a wedding reception he attended was raided by cops. Within 10 minutes of our arrival, I ate a strawberry off the ass of an exotic dancer (don't faint, Jenipher!) to save Lupo's virtue, for I wanted to make a good impression with him. (I don't know why, but it was my project for that summer. I'd known Lupo for months, mostly during my dark period of employment-enhanced depression. But he was leaving town, so I decided to finally show him that I could be a bit more fun than I let on by taking him to places that had strippers, like Swinging Richard's or Larry's apartment on the weekends.) Later, while I was holding Lupo's hand on the floor of Larry's bathroom and making sure he was all right, the strawberry dancer came into the room to redress. Lupo, though a bit under the weather, was able to recognize the strawberry dancer from his illustrious career in hardcore porn video, a moment in our friendship that I reflect on with a smile to this day.

(Lupo said something like, "Without that goatee, you look like a guy in a three-way I once watched." Or something. Maybe it was, "Hey, don't I know you from BUTTFUCK NATION?" But that would be too funny.)

So anyway, Jason pointed me at a nice, apparently affordable apartment in a gated community. If I hurry, I can solve everything within two weeks, still go out of town to Ohio with my family, begin my new life and never have to worry about the Bufordite squalor or about being incredibly late to work due to the heavy traffic (for the place Jason recommended is minutes from my office) ever again.

Larry says his massages are top-notch. His help with this apartment, if I don't end up getting this one but end up getting another one, is what's calming my nerves right now.

Life, though once again not at all innocent or pretty, is getting good.

The Perils of Pauline.

My therapist says I'll always be melodramatic. It's been that kind of a month, I know. I could swear to you all, swear up and down, that my life isn't always like this. That there are times when my car works, my feet work, my friendships work, my apartment hot water is running, times when I'm calmed by a pleasant flow of romance through my life or a contentment that comes from knowing that everything is going to be all right.

It's late now. I'm not at my apartment, for I've called the landlord to tell him that the hot water has, after one shower and a load of laundry, died on me again. For the fifth time this month. He's gotten so frustrated that he either no longer believes me or believes that I'm doing something to cause it. I have to force myself to be polite, and he has to do the same. It's not pleasant talking three times a week to the man that I used to merely tolerate and stay out of the way of.

The hot water situation has left me unhinged, forcing me to make decisions that I wasn't prepared to make yet. I mean, I was going to move sometime this fall. I had planned for that, mostly. I don't have the right amount of money just yet to do everything that I need to do. Still, I've revved up my internal drive for apartment hunting. This situation has got to end soon.

Spoke to Snapshot today while he was on his way to play billiards, and talking to him gives me a weird vibe. But it looks like I might, with effort, be able to return to a friendship with him. This is good because it always pays to know a couple good photographers.

I also spoke with Eddie Bauer Guy, vacationing currently and visiting family, and we might, oh God, "hang out." To be frank, I miss sex. I miss affection. I miss someone touching me. It's been ages. I mean, it feels like ages. Granted, if I mess around with that one, I'll be asking for whatever trouble I get. But the jackass is the only one stopping at my well for water, and I need SOMETHING, SOME SMALL THING, to go just a little bit right this month.

Case in point, I was meeting my friend Brad today. Or I was supposed to. He was coming to my store at 4, where I'd be waiting for him after my shift ended at 3. Brad hates phones. Hates them. So I didn't bring my phone with me and just assumed that everything was going to be OK. (Granted, I should've realized that Brad is the sort of guy who, like me, makes anything far more complicated than it needs ot be.)

Brad calls the store and gets one of my co-workers before coming over. Though I'm there at the store waiting for him, they tell him I've left work. So he hears that I'm not there and doesn't come to meet me. And he doesn't leave a callback number when he tries my cell phone, which I didn't have with me because he doesn't use phones. It's not my fault. It's not his fault. It just happened.

Larry, who I'm staying with tonight because we were watching THE WOMEN together when it came on Turner Classic Movies (and because of the aforementioned hot water debacle), says listening to what has been happening to me this month is like watching THE PERILS OF PAULINE. Someone's in dire straits, then they get saved only to fall into dire straits again.

I think something good is going to come out of this month. Something good, besides what Miss Gibson is calling a "creative peak" in my insanity-laden writings, should come out of all this.

I know. What if I get an apartment that's lovely? What if the job transfer comes through so that I don't have to commute so much anymore? What if I devote time to keeping my house and car clean and maintained? What if I stopped being mean or sarcastic? What if my legs magically healed and I became a marathon runner? What if I just became an entirely different person? What if I started focusing on things outside of myself, beyond my own problems?

That last question is what I really need to do. Really. Whether I get hot water or not. (OK, so it's all right to make that water thing a bit of a priority.)

Still, though I realize my woes are small ones, I feel like I'm suffering admirably through them, moreso than I would have a couple years ago when a minor car breakdown alone would've caused me a complete hissy fit. (Think Pauline-tied-to-the-train-track level hysterics.)

I don't feel overwhelmed by problems, so much as annoyed at how I can't figure out how to quickly fix them. If I have to "suffer," so to speak, I'm glad I suffer a bit well.

Friday, July 25, 2003

FROM THE ARCHIVES - "To Hardly Know Him Is To Know Him Well"

5/6/03 - Written as part of the "Letters to Crocker" series

Last night, talking to my friend Doug on the phone after THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, I told him the truth about why that trip to the dinner-and-movie event had become important to me. The reasons, which I thought were odd and potentially desperate, are actually quite human, Doug told me. Unfortunately, this is one situation I'm in that I cannot easily fix for myself. It's not a problem. It's just something that makes me a little sad.

When I found out in an article that the restaurant Commune was doing a night screening of THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, I wanted someone else to see that it was going on. I wanted someone else to know how I felt about the movie. I wanted someone else to invite me to it.

But you can't wait for others to make your life happen. And you can't expect others to read your mind.

I made the reservations myself, a table-for-two in the hope that I'd be able to find some friend to go with me. Next best thing. If not, and I didn't really have a problem with this because this is eventually what happened, I went by myself, and I had a rather good time. I laughed at all the jokes in the movie that I usually laugh at. Eventually, hoping to accentuate the communal aspects of Commune, a group asked me to join them at the end of our shared, long table.

The waiter Charles was unnecessarily nice to me, asking me about the movie. He's 22 and said he guessed that his favorite old movie was STAR WARS.

"STAR WARS is old now?" I asked. "I guess it must be."

"It came out before I was born," Charles said. "How old are you, if you don't mind me asking?"

"26," I said. At least, I'm 26 until next month.

He asked me later in the movie what was going on. It was my favorite scene, the one where Jimmy Stewart and Katharine Hepburn are both drunk, dancing and arguing. Their words, all those words, eventually lead them to this searing kiss, even though he's in love with another woman and she's due to marry someone else within hours. Katharine Hepburn's character is so completely overwhelmed by champagne and by the idea that someone sees her as she wants to be seen - beautiful, passionate, vulnerable, smart and human - that she gets swept up in the moment.

I told Charles that he asked me right at the best part, when Jimmy Stewart proves himself to be the one that she should end up with.

"So she and Jimmy Stewart end up together?" Charles asked me.

"No," I said. "She picks Cary Grant because he's Cary Grant."

"Who is Cary Grant?" Charles asked me. "I'm not good with these movies."

I looked at him and said, "OK, we really need to talk."

Later, and this is beside the point because my night's not about the waiter, he asked me the location of my Barnes & Noble. I chuckled and said, "Mall of Georgia." And I got that moment that I always get when someone inside the Perimeter finds out that I'm not one of his brethren. His face kinda fell into a frown, and he said, "Oh, well, thanks for driving all the way down."

I went to dinner by myself. I had some wine by myself. And I watched one of my favorite movies. (OK, I'll go ahead and declare it my favorite movie. It's about time I made that choice, I guess.)

But you can't manufacture what I wanted from that evening. I wanted to be asked. I want someone else to know, without invitation or prompting, what my favorite movie is. I want someone, besides my mother, to walk through a store and say, "You know, I bet Benjie's like that."

How silly is this? Is it vain? Ungrateful? I'm not without the regard of friends and others. I realize that.

My friend CJ, who urged me to ask the notorious Mr. Princeton to PHILADELPHIA STORY and suggest other actual dates to Mr. Princeton even though Mr. Princeton says he's not at all gay, took me to see a sneak preview of A MIGHTY WIND a couple weeks ago, just because he thought it would be something that I'd like. He thought of me, and that made me feel good.

I told CJ how I felt about this PHILADELPHIA STORY thing, and he told me that it was fairly common to occasionally fret over something minor like that, which you still have no say in it. He told me he once remembered getting sick in high school, and he got annoyed when none of his closest friends called him to see if he was all right.

I had minor sinus trouble last week. My friend Steve, at the end of a phone call, told me that he hoped I'd feel better. And that courtesy meant something to me.

My friend Michael is there when I need him. My friend Kacoon gives me tons of tough love when I require it, and she gives me funny stories that make me laugh when I need some cheer. And you let me write these things to you.

A night featuring a nice risotto and my favorite movie, though, spark something else in me. And asking friends like you is different from what I wanted. And to ask instead of waiting to be asked, though not passive, is a concession from what I wanted.

The chef in the restaurant downstairs from my office was named Rodney. He was about 35, larger and African-American. He was more family-centric than I was. He has a boyfriend named Greg, who worked downstairs at the cafe, too, until Rodney had to fire him. He had a goatee, a moustache, cute eyes and a way of laughing at me. He wore baseball caps and sweatshirts almost every day. We'd talk about food, love, neuroses, art. This started months ago. Eventually, he would plan his meals around when I'd eat so we could sit together, though he denied that's what he was doing when I asked him. But, everyday like clockwork, we'd have lunch while he worked.

I don't quite know what I, as a goofy nerdy little gay white boy, became to him, but I became something to him. We didn't really have that much in common, but, because I could relax around him since he didn't seem to fit my type, he and I developed this completely unspoken, never-acted-on thing. I flirted with him because I could, because I knew it could never become anything at all. It just felt like it couldn't become anything, most of the time. He and Greg were still together, even though he had to fire Greg from the cafe. (I can't imagine that was comfortable for anyone.)

Once, Rodney asked me to an Etta James concert. So I told him to buy tickets, and I would go. But he didn't buy tickets. So we didn't go.

And he'd get my phone number from me, even though I knew he wouldn't call it. And he wouldn't call it. And we'd keep eating lunch everyday.

It was what it was.

A couple weeks ago, when I told him that I was "dangerous and scary" in all seriousness, Rodney started laughing out loud.

"What???" I said. "I'm completely serious."

"Sometimes, there are things that I wish I could just tell you," Rodney said.

"I know," I said.

"But I can't because ... it ... would ... just ...," his words trailed off.

"I know."

He left the cafe last week, transferring to another one. He got my number again before he left, and I laughed while I was giving it to him because he doesn't have to call me and I wouldn't know what to do if he did because then, if this makes sense, nothing becomes something.

I don't know how to date. I'm most attracted to people who are completely unavailable. I don't know what I want. If I got someone to date, I'd only date them for a little while before somehow ruining it or pushing them away. At this point in my life, I'd be bad for someone. I'd be scary and crazy, and people shouldn't laugh at me when I tell them this.

My therapist says that light sex and casual dating isn't in the cards for me. That's the price I paid somewhere.

Is arm's length the closest I'm ever going to get to someone? Is that the safest I feel? Do I push people away both consciously and subconsciously because I can't handle real affection right now?

People tell me that, sometimes, I'm hard to know and harder to like.

This is true.

I've been accused of overthinking everything in my life, of analyzing everything to a paranoid degree.

I do.

Understanding all that, is my evening out with THE PHILADELPHIA STORY important or indicative?

Yes, but not really.

Why I can't do a roommate and other apartment queries.

Lupo asked me why I don't think I'm capable of having a roommate.

I'm the boy who had 14 roommates in college, all of which ended due to reason or circumstance. On paper, I'm all charming, but, in life and in my apartment, I'm a freaking mess. My car indicates this. My apartment indicates this.

Knowing that about myself makes it either self-fulfilling prophecy or clever reasoning, I'm not sure which. I've not done a roommate situation in five years, for I know that I'm a bad roommate and that I can cause all sorts of un-fun tension with the wrong person.

I am venting.

My landlord called me and told me that the hot water is fixed - but I don't know if he means "You should never have this problem again" fixed or "We put a Band-Aid on the burst aorta again, which should help things for, like, a day ..." fixed. That, more than anything, is what has been driving me up the wall about this situation, the fact that it keeps happening over and over again.

If I have another good day at my apartment, though, that means there's another moment that I would have to mooch off Larry and David, about which I feel guilty (though apparently not so guilty that I stop intruding upon them).

I question my commitment to the fabled move to Atlanta, as well, though I have, to my credit, saved some money. I just keep talking and talking about it, not doing a damn thing. I feel like such a yutz.

If this water situation helps motivate me out of that damn apartment, then I'll ultimately be happy that this whole nightmare happened. Isn't that funny?

It's not what happens to you. It's how you use it.

Publisher's Blues.

Larry, by the way, is telling me that I should start to publish my essays. He said I should hit the open-mike circuit, read to anyone and everyone who will listen to me and prove myself as a brilliant writer.

Though it feels good to think that I'd be capable of such a thing, I don't think I'm "there" yet. I can do readings, certainly, but I can't write long-form pieces at this point, and all my previous attempts at fiction or looks-like-nonfiction have not proven satisfactory to me.

I don't know what direction I'm going in, but I think I'm moving forward. And I'm occasionally, to no one's surprise, plagued by unnecessary doubt.

Get out of town.

I'm leaving my apartment. No, really. I'm serious. It's not just my dreams of a better life anymore. It's about my damn need for hot water.

This is beyond ridiculous.

My landlord tells me that it's not his fault or a malfunction in the water heater that's led it to break three times this month, making me even more stressed than I have been as a result of the two jobs, the change-of-bosses at McGraw Hill, the car repair, the hurts-so-much-I-can't-move foot pain at the bookstore that led me to seriously consider buying those expensive damn shoes, the bills to pay and the failed attempts at, what's the proper word, courtship. My landlord says the city is inadvertantly causing my lack of a hot shower.

I have money saved now. Not "enough" per se, nor as much as I would like, but this whole hot water situation has me frustrated. I mean, this is downright bullshit, going three weeks without regular hot water. I feel like asking my mom for help ... and that means the situation is pretty damn dire.

I shouldn't have to leave sugary sweet, highly fucking tolerant messages on my landlord's voicemail, "Um, I'm so sorry to bother you, but the hot water heater is off again." I shouldn't have to use my friend Larry's spare room - the week of his retirement, no less, when he has too much to do besides worry about me. I shouldn't know how many times I have to fill up the percolator to get a pleasant amount of bathwater.

How quickly can this be solved? How quickly can I save myself?

Thursday, July 24, 2003


Completing the unfinished business of the day I met Eddie Bauer Guy, I went back to the Clarks store and ordered my Steve Madden shoes last night during a really fun shopping excursion with a newly blond-streaked Vic.

Vic ended up getting a cool retro striped dress, as well, at the Ross store, and she looked all kickass and busty in it. If I were a girl, I'd want breasts like hers, even though people at her job who don't understand and are afraid of her breasts make her feel unnecessarily self-conscious of them. She should be proud. It's a nice rack.

Anyway, about my shoes.

We were supposed to see WHALE RIDER last night, which for some bizarre, fascinating reason is playing at the Mall of Georgia movie theater but probably only for a week, but Vic was barely able to contain her hyperactivity when we met at a bookstore. She told me she wanted to go dress shopping instead, for we have fun when we do that. I eventually agreed, though I really want to share the joy that is WHALE RIDER with the world, and we ended up at a better-than-average strip mall. (I'm sorry, but the inclusion of a DSW can upgrade any strip mall.)

Sadly, the DSW failed us last night. Vic wasn't able to find any cute shoes that managed to have toes.

There's a mandate at the mental health facility where she works that all the women's shoes must have toes. Apparently, concerned more that the patients with fetishes would get out-of-control, the facility isn't aware at how severely the choice of cute women's shoes are cut when a toe mandate is put into place. Mandating toes (in the middle of summer, mind you) limits the cute shoe choices about 95 percent. The toe mandate seems unreasonably cruel, Vic and I agreed while perusing the DSW, looking sadly upon the toed-shoe selection.

So we ended up back at the Clarks store in the Mall of Georgia, where Charity, the same clerk waited on me from Eddie Bauer Guy day, was working. While Vic perused some really nice Mary Janes that looked both cute and comfortable (yet weren't in the right color and were a bit expensive), I tried on my Steve Madden Rascals again to see if I wanted to order the shoe. (I have to order them, for I wanted the brown-on-brown, but they only had the black-on-grey in my size. The brown-on-brown are better, and I can wear the brown-on-brown to my bookstore job without outwardly violating our shoe dress code.)

They were comfortable and nice, and the 8-and-a-halfs I need seemed to work well on both of my feet, though my cerebral palsy causes me to have two different shoe sizes. (The left foot is about a half-size smaller.)

So I ordered the shoes. And trying to get a photo of them to send to Jenipher, because this is what we write each other about in the middle of the day, I went to the Steve Madden website and found them cheaper than the price at Clark's last night, which I've already paid. (I thought they'd be more expensive online because the Steve Madden store in the mall was more expensive. Oh, silly me, shouldn't I know by now that everything's cheaper online.)

Anyway, I'm getting a cute pair of comfortable shoes. Vic's thinking of protesting her work's toe mandate, and she's got a cool dress. And I didn't step on Charity the clerk's fingers this time.

Here's what they look like. It's like a movie about my shoes, and you can make them move around and around.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Where dinner chat will lead you ...

For those of you who liked my previous entry, The Circle, I thought I would provide this link, as well, for much of the imagery in John Donne's A VALEDICTION: FORBIDDING MOURNING was borrowed for my piece. In fact, some of the phrases remain the same.

I feel sorta ridiculous comparing something that I wrote to the Donne poem, but there are intentional and unintentional parallels to it throughout my essay.

At dinner last night, a discussion of the poem and its influence led to me re-reading it alongside "The Circle," and it proved an interesting comparison, though the subjects are completely different.

This is completely pretentious, I realize, but I thought I'd give everyone interested the opportunity to juxtapose them, as well.

So, if you've never done yourself the favor of reading it, here's the Donne:

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say
The breath goes now, and some say, No:

So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move,
'Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears,
Men reckon what it did and meant,
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers' love
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
Those things which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined
That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assur'd of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th' other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must
Like th' other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.

-- John Donne

Much to Lupo's chagrin, here's a link to "The Mole."

Ugh, I can't believe I wrote this once, and I can't believe that it was well-received. I mean, don't get me wrong. I'm still proud of the notice it got, otherwise I would bury it, and I still feel that a lot of the criticism it received was due to a complete misunderstanding.

Considering that it was among the first of my personal essay collection, oh dear God, and that the essay itself generates chat because everyone regards it as they would a car accident, I thought I would include a link to
The Mole for the curious to peruse.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

On a far lighter note ...

Crocker called me yesterday and left me a voicemail, yet my outgoing message apparently caused him to laugh so hard that he wasn't able to stop by the time he had to start talking, which I consider a compliment.

My outgoing message currently is:

"Hi, this is Benjamin, and I can't come to the phone because I'm probably living through some horrible experience that I'll be able to elaborate on with a clever twist later. Please leave a message after the beep."

Crocker called me to tell me that he enjoyed the copy of Good Omens I bought him a couple weeks ago. In fact, he said it was so funny that he passed it along to his friend Alan.

I always buy my friends, at some point or another, a copy of that book, which is very British yet highly amusing. I've gotten Vic, Mike, Crocker and a couple others to read it. It's like a chain letter, too, because they always recommend it to someone else.

I found out about the book and the author Neil Gaiman because of Pam, my highly-cultured ex-girlfriend with impeccable taste in art, books, music and film. (Yes, I have ex-girlfriends.)

So thanks to Pam, I guess.

Monday, July 21, 2003

The Circle.

There is a circle made from different-colored bricks at the center of my hometown. It connects two monuments in the middle of the town square. And, once I got my drivers' license, it became my usual destination if things in my life or at my house were turning sour.

Two sidewalks running in opposite directions to the ends of the town square cut the circle in half. Where the sidewalks meet, the bricks form a small square at the circle's very center, big enough for you to fit both of your feet in. It's where you start the walk, always, and where you end it.

When I was a teenager, the circle stood at the exact center of everything that was wrong or confusing about my life. In front of me was the Baptist Church, of which I am still a member. To my left was my first newspaper office, where I'd go inside no matter the hour and talk to the reporters to avoid being at home. Behind me was the way home. To my right, I guess, was the rest of the world that I was afraid to face, road after road leading out of Buford to the Interstate, to Atlanta, to all the other places where I was afraid to drive.

If something's wrong, you go to the circle and walk it. You stand at the center, seeing all the directions you could be pulled to compelling you, and look to the lines to guide you, going back to the left toward the newspaper, away from the church. When you've reached the circle's dark gray edge, you change direction, walking along its circumference.

In the middle of the night, when it's just you inside the circle and the only light available is coming from different spots in town, you can shout anything you want. The town pays no attention. Most of the sound is drowned out by crickets, anyway. The circle is your stage, your friend, your place of peace. The walk is your ceremony and meditation. Your shouts and frustrations are for you to hear, and they're aimed at the sky.

The circle is not a happy place for me because of what it represents of my past. When I walk it now, and I still do and did last night, I wonder why I still go there.

I've brought my friends to the circle, but I don't know if they know or "get" what it means.

If I can't pay a bill, if I fail in something big or small, or if I have some sexual encounter that I know in my heart I shouldn't have done or didn't want to do, the feelings of childhood flood back, so I go back to the circle, finish the pattern.

There are more definite answers in math and science than there are in literature and history. Pattern, repitition, time, measurement. The circle is something complete, finite, in the middle of infinite possibilities for good and bad all around me.

Inside it, chaos in thought or in life comes into better focus, and problems become malleable, solvable. Try walking the edge and not losing your footing. Stay in line. You're at the center. The end is the beginning. The tasks are clear. The walk is outlined for you, and you know when you're here what you need to do - even if you can't understand why you're in the circle.

The circle helps make sense of things. When lost in aimless madness or disappointment, it gives you workable goals, a place to align yourself and your thoughts.

The last time "it" happened when I was a kid, just as quickly as I could get my clothes back on, I jumped in my car. He ran after me, telling me that we never had to do "that" again. I told him something incomprehensible. I think I just told him that I had to go. I ended up at the circle, screaming and walking. I remember that time more clearly than any of my other trips there.

You see, I'd started talking with my school counselor about "it" happening, about how I liked it as "it" was going on but didn't want to want "it." I didn't understand how, if I understood intellectually that what I was doing and who I was doing it with was wrong, I couldn't stop myself from doing it. It's not about being gay. It's the gray area I have to go to when I tell people I was "molested." So to speak.

It's about it being my choice or something that was done to me. I made choices in the situation, and they weren't always ones where I was saying no. I kept control of certain aspects of the "abuse." I suppose we can, but you can't do that action to me. I suppose we can, but I'd rather you not do that. I don't want to do that. This feels nice. No, it isn't. I can stop myself. No, I can't. This wasn't my fault. But I sometimes chose for it to happen and liked it. And I can't tell if I was the victim of this or if I was someone inflicting an equal amount of hurt and confusion upon someone else.

Four years, it had gone on. Four years, I hadn't talked about it with anyone. Then the stupid situation with that cute boy from down the street, the one who kept coming to visit my family, and how I was jealous that the boy down the street liked my "abuser" better than he liked me. That he didn't know what kind of person my stepbrother was. That something might happen to the boy down the street. That "why doesn't that boy like me?" feeling.

So I went to my counselor and I told her that I was upset with my stepbrother. I told her that I liked this boy down the street and couldn't figure out why I was jealous that he liked my stepbrother better than me. She asked me if I loved the boy down the street, and I said, "No ... I guess ... Yes ... But not like that." Only it was like that, but I didn't really see it.

When I told her I was worried that my stepbrother might do something to the boy, that's when the story of my abuse started to come out. I was a senior in high school. I don't really remember how old I was when it started. Whether it was four years or five. When days bleed together, you can't tell when anything starts.

I don't know if I was really trying to protect that boy down the street, even though I told the counselor I was worried about him. That boy down the street was stronger than me, so nothing bad would happen to him. He wasn't confused like I was. I was easily manipulated, I thought, and other people wouldn't be hurt by my stepbrother. He wouldn't be able to get to them. Besides, he wasn't an aggressor or evil or anything. It was something that I could do for him, while it was at the same time something that I hated myself for doing.

The last time it ever happened, I ran to the car, and he came after me in concern, and he said that we'd never have to do that again. But I'd already started talking about it with the counselor and hadn't intended for it ever to happen again. I told her that I wasn't going to do it. I told her that I wanted to stop. But I'd done it anyway. The motions started, and I just went along with it because someone else wanted it and I'm easily swayed. It was in the living room. My parents were out. It was just he and I.

I'd failed myself. I'd failed my goal. And I ended up at the circle. And I walked around it again and again and again, talking to myself, thinking over what I'd done. How I'd failed. I'd said I would stop it, and I hadn't. You can't face the church in front of you, God's nowhere to be found. The newspaper is closed. There's no escape. You can barely drive. You can barely move. You walk, and you yell. And this is what the circle means to me. This is what the circle is. This is where I go when I can't go home and there's nowhere to go. And I need comfort.

I was there last night. There are places to sit when you're there. Someone had drawn a hopscotch course across the bricks in white chalk, but I can't hop with my disability. And my legs were tired. But I tried anyway. It seemed necessary to do something else other than walk the circle, for it's time to break patterns and move forward.

I walked it anyway, for it does help. But the Baptist Church is gone. The newspaper, too. And I was bugged by something else, something at face value that seemed completely inconsequential. A phone call or lack of one.

I was thinking about love. How I can't seem to find it. How I can't seem to relax into it. How I seem to need it to an unhealthy degree, how I need a lover to help me move beyond my past and give me sexual experiences and memories that don't upset me.

There is no moving forward, breaking out and moving on at that time of night. Any possibility is gone for the day. Feeling good is something that only a night's sleep and a fresh morning can bring you.

It's late. You're alone. You can't or won't go anywhere. There is only the circle.

While there, everything is tied. Everything ends where it begins. And, in the circle, there is comfort and sense - if only within the lines.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

ODE TO EDDIE BAUER GUY, as written in picture-book form.

Me like Him.
Me ask out.
Him not gay.
Oh wait, Him gay.
Him get Me to call.
Me call.
Me ask out.
Him not interested.
Me ask Him why Him make Me call.
Him want "friends."
Him can bang friends.
Him thinks Me cute.
Him thinks Me smart.
Him thinks Me funny.
Him implies that Me could be friend he bangs.
Him won't date.
Him will bang not date.
Me no want to compromise.
Me ask Him out again.
Him wants to "hang out."
"Hang out" sounds like date to Me.
Him sounds like non-committal, flaky jackass.
Me decide Me no much like Him.


I can be friends with someone that I'm attracted to, particularly someone who can maintain a good chat. I've done it before. Lots and lots and lots of times. (I'm eager to continue taking risks to find someone who I don't have to do this with, but that's not happened yet. That's what's going to happen.)

Snapshot and I spoke last night, and all is friendly in the world. Today, I will meet him to see about taking him down off of any sort of pedestal, for, to be friends, there needs to be no pedestal.

I found his website. His photos are good. I'll post a link.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Good trouble.

I've met someone. Sorta. A photographer. I'm going to go all "Dear Abby" and call him "Snapshot." He's trouble. Good trouble. And I've not been involved in good trouble in quite some time.

Here's what's happened:

1) I had a disaster date with Snapshot's roommate.
2) Snapshot's roommate called me during the Pride festival using Snapshot's phone.
3) I called the number back a week later.
4) I got Snapshot, not his roommate.
5) Snapshot and I, in the middle of all the confusion, actually had a long talk about nothing-in-particular that had nothing to do with his roommate.
6) Encouraged, I called Snapshot again.
7) Snapshot left a message for me.
8) I had a bad night Sunday and called Snapshot to vent.
9) Snapshot and I talked for four hours. He's smart, experienced, nice, foul-mouthed, understanding and a good listener, the sort of things his roommate was distinctly not.
10) Around Hour Two of the four-hour talk, I asked Snapshot out, and he told me he had a boyfriend of four months but had been keeping that from me because he actually found himself enjoying our talks. We talked for two more hours.
11) Snapshot found a photo of me online and said I was cute during our next chat.
12) Snapshot ended our conversation when it was time for dinner with his boyfriend.
13) I called Snapshot last night, and he sounded really, really tired. And cute. He said we'd talk later, that he was tired.

I've never seen him. He has a boyfriend. His roommate, who is supposed to be my friend now, doesn't know that I've been calling. I really, really like talking to Snapshot, but any move in any direction has to be his decision. I cannot call him again.

Telling a story.

I'll not be on this much today because I need to rethink what it is and what I want it to be.

Now that I do have some content on here, it would be useful to come up with a clear point to it all.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

My most famous piece of writing.

I was talking to my friend Kathy about this just recently.

See it here.

Dude, Where's My Rainbow Flag?

My friend Lupo was recently featured in an article on an academic conference he attended.

There, he presented a paper on the implied homosexuality and the meaning of masculinity as interpreted by the films of AMERICAN PIE star Seann William Scott.

His paper was called, I kid you not, "Stifler's a Fag!" Read the article. (I have yet to get my hands on a copy of the paper.)

Apparently, Lupo makes mention of gay or gay-ish activities that Scott engages in within his comedies. I know it sounds silly, but think about it. There's stuff in the AMERICAN PIE movies and ROAD TRIP. (I don't know about FINAL DESTINATION.)

Oh, and this photo's not gay at all.


In life, is the glass actually half-full or half-empty?

I say I'm a realist and that it's half empty, but others filling out the survey have countered me, saying they too are realists but that the glass is half-full. (Real people have said this, too, not just religious freaks and Republicans.)

I don't know what to think, other than the usual "I'm right," of course.

Speaking of water (though metaphorical water), I wonder if my landlord finally decided to send a plumber to my apartment. When I called him yesterday, he still hadn't done it.


I want to read something major, AND I want to finish it.

Lately, the only book I've both started and finished, aside from the book of short stories that Crocker got me, was HARRY POTTER, which was damn good.

But I want to read something both classic and fun, both notable and funny.

I've never read CATCH-22. I've never read SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE. I've never read Faulkner. Nor Dostoevsky. Nor Iris Murdoch.

I'm going to read something. And I'm going to finish it. And I'm going to do it quickly.

Anyone remember this book?

Some days I still feel like I'm living the story of this book. Of course, today hasn't been bad.

My car's fixed.

My car, which was still running but making that terrible squealing noise that reminded me of my ex-boyfriend Greg, is now ready to go home from Parker's Service Center. To the tune of $250, which is, like, almost free in the world of car repair, isn't it?


Ahem, I have no social life.

I occasionally look up my own name on the Internet.

Today, I found this. It's disturbing, not because it's a will by someone with my name. It's disturbing because it's the will of a slave owner.

JULY 14, 1796

My friend Lupo sent me this survey. These were my answers.

1. What's your full name? Benjamin Jeffery Carr

2. What kind of pants are you wearing? Khaki pants!

3. What are you listening to right now? "Hairspray," Original Broadway Cast Recording. I am so gay.

4. What was the last thing you ate? Sausage Egg and Cheese Sandwich at the Waffle House with my dad.

5. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Burnt Sienna.

6. Where did you go on your honeymoon? Vic and I once faked a honeymoon at a B&B in Charleston, S.C., so I guess I have technically been on a honeymoon. (We had the Honeymoon Suite, and we stayed up all night watching the Oscars. I am, I repeat, so gay.)

7. Last person you talked to on the phone? Vic.

8. What's the first thing you notice about the SAME sex? Arms.

9. Who sent this to you? Lupo.

10. Do you like the person that sent you this? I suppose. Hee hee.

11. Your favorite drink? Chocolate milk.

12. Favorite alcoholic drink? Lately, I've been partial to Amaretto Sours. I am so gay.

13. Favorite outdoor activity? What, you mean I have to go outside?

14. Favorite sport to watch? Baseball.

15. What's the next CD you're going to get? Macy Gray's newest one, probably.

16. Did you ever wear braces? No, I wasn't one of those poor, unfortunate freaks. Oh wait, I had leg braces post-surgeries. Do those count?

17. Best memories: My stepfather beating the hell out of a hotel smoke detector out of frustration until it fell off the wall because he had to indulge in a pack of Winstons. My stepfather urinating in the middle of the road on our way out of a Lake Lanier campground to show his displeasure with the service we received while there. My stepfather, having witnessed a fatal helicopter crash, getting interviewed on television about it and making all the crashing helicopter noises and descriptive arm-waving movements that he could during his interview. Winning almost every spelling bee I ever entered. Having Coretta Scott King call me "really cute" when she saw me sing with the Atlanta Boy Choir when I was 5. Bringing my She-Ra dolls to Fourth Grade Show-And-Tell, only to have Sheila Scroggs chase me around the playground for them.

18. Favorite restaurant? T.G.I.McScratchy's GoodeTyme Foodrinkery (Very funny, Lupo. It reminds me of when I told you we should go eat at some "generic American cuisine place.")

My favorite is, surprisingly enough, the American Cafe or, if I'm feeling the urge for a Kickin' Chicken Sandwich, Zaxby's.

19. Siblings and their ages? Brother named Dan, age 25. Stepbrother named Jeremy, age 28.

20. Favorite month? October

21. Favorite foods: Kickin' Chicken Sandwich with Tongue Torch Sauce from Zaxby's.

22. Last movie you watched? 20 minutes of 28 DAYS LATER.

23. Are you too shy to ask someone out? Apparently, I'm not.

24. Favorite place to go on a date? A bedroom, I suppose.

Roller disco (Liar. Your life ain't TALES OF THE CITY.)

25. Do you like scary or happy movies better? Both.

26. Summer or winter? Winter. It's too damn hot in Georgia.

28. Your idea of the perfect vacation? I've always wanted to hit a film festival.

29. Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate ice cream.

30. Who is most likely to respond? Usually me.

31. Who is least likely to respond? Lupo.


33. What's on your mouse pad? My mouse.

34. Favorite magazine? Entertainment Weekly

35. Favorite smell? New car.

36. Least favorite smell? Old lady.

37. Worst feeling in the world? I'm not sure if it's a defined feeling, but the sentiment is usually expressed like, "No one loves me. I want to die."

38. How many rings before you answer the door? However long it takes me to put on clothes and turn off the VCR ...

39. Future child's name? Jonathan or Nellie, to remind me of the person who sent me this.

40. Glass half empty or half full? Half empty. I'm a damn realist.


42. One nice thing about the person that sent this to you? He's pleasantly endowed.

43. What's under your bed? Porn. Laundry.

44. How long do you spend on the computer? 7.5 hours, according to the McGraw-Hill payroll.

45. Many friends or one best friend? My best friend is whoever's paying attention that day.

46. Favorite current TV shows? 24. GILMORE GIRLS. Oh, and I watched WHICH GOLD-DIGGING, PAST-HER-PRIME TRAMP WANTS TO BE MY DAD'S VAPID TROPHY WIFE last night. To my surprise, it was on NBC, not Fox.

47. What is your #1 obsession? Ask my therapist what his name is THIS week. I also like writing Amazon reviews.

48. Did you like this questionnaire? It passed the time pleasantly, and I liked that I tried, once again, to be both honest and shocking.

49. When is your birthday? June 21. (Oh, I see ... This was all a thinly-veiled reminder that Lupo's birthday is approaching. Very clever.)

50. How many kids do you have? The last kid I had was named Ryan, but he doesn't call me anymore.


For some reason, in their daily recommendation of occasional classics and occasional kitsch, the Internet Movie Database has selected director Corey Yuen's THE TRANSPORTER, which was one of the most unintentionally funny films I've ever seen.

From the archives, here is my original "review" of it. I think Amazon removed my review of it from its site after thinking some comments I made were in bad taste. Whatever.

Date: 4 November 2002
Summary: Dude, this was so damn funny. Take a friend. (SPOILERS)

Oh my God, THE TRANSPORTER was incredibly funny. CROSSROADS funny. ORIGINAL SIN funny.

It works like a parody of one of those '80s action movies, where the villain has henchmen who shoot machine guns at the hero but don't hit him. Meanwhile, the hero finds ways to effectively use a random object, like a sweatshirt, to subdue large groups of people.

Seeing Jason Statham in SNATCH and LOCK STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, I was not prepared to see him completely ripped, cool and awesome. And the whole movie plays like one of those Clive Owen BMW ads, except without the deep emotional resonance or without the obligation of having to make any sense.

After the first two action scenes, including the kickass opening chase scene, I looked over at Kacoon and said, "My God, I want that man ... now."

Unfortunately, in the movie, his love interest is Miss Horrible Asian Stereotype (whom he gives noodles and, strangely, chopsticks when he first entertains her at his home).

She apparently can read and follow an English cookbook recipe despite not being able to read it aloud. Her broken English line-readings are, I think unintentionally, the funniest damn thing in the film.

"That ... is ... point of romantic swim, no? No ... witnesses..."

There are also the typical moments. The cheezoid rap music that segues into the romantic violin music when a fight scene ends with the hero encountering Miss Asia. A villain walks into every scene with the same facial expression. A cop walks away from the hero's seaside home castle but isn't able to hear or return to the scene when it's attacked by a barrage of cruise missiles and machine-gun fire two minutes later. (When the first missile flies toward the house, I laughed out loud.)

Then comes the scuba-diving escape scene. Kacoon told me that the hero probably keeps two full diving suits and equipment under his house for just such an occasion. I told Kacoon it was lucky that Miss Asia was a certified diver.

We were 40 minutes into the movie, and Kacoon turns to me and says, "You know, we still haven't figured out what the hell this is about."

Soon, another guy shows up in the film, wearing so much pancake makeup that I told Kacoon he looked like Little Richard.

When you do realize the plot, though, it's so wildly implausible that I was asking Jessika. "OK, so the hero's trying to stop people from smuggling illegal Asian slaves in the back of MACK trucks through the French Riviera? Where are they going? Who keeps Asian slaves in Europe? I thought Asia was the only place where they could employ Asians under deplorable conditions at a slave wage."

(Later, I mentioned to Kacoon that the scene where Miss Asia frees the slaves reminded me of the time when Catherine Zeta-Jones saved Mexico single-handedly in THE MASK OF ZORRO.)

At one point, during one of the hero's slow-motion, shirtless running scenes, I pretended to be running with him. And Kacoon howled.

"No, it gets more gay!" Kacoon said to me. "Soon, he's going to be covered in oil!"

It did. At one point, the hero, shirtless and doused in barrels of oil, deeply kisses a dead man underwater - to stay alive. (Yeah right.) I almost fell on the floor I was laughing so hard.

This reminds me, where can I hire myself an evil henchman? You know, someone who only exists to run at my more heroic enemies only to get killed?

And the ending, when Miss Asia frees the slaves (while I was wondering why they weren't all sick from being stuck in the back of a truck during an elaborate, multi-accident chase scene), also has her deliver what must be the worst line in the history of film.

Kacoon and I laughed so hard that we both cried. We're going to gather a group of people to see it again later this week. I suggest you do the same.

Dorothy Parker.

Parker, one of my favorite poets, will be one of the rotating quotables on this page.

If anyone has a favorite quote, send it along.


Does anyone know how to HTML code a mailto link for an e-mail address? I'm trying to remember, and I think I've got it wrong.

Anyone who recalls, please cut and paste into their e-mail and write me how, for otherwise I'll never be able to get this right.

Monday, July 14, 2003

FROM THE ESSAY ARCHIVES - "From Here to Burger King"

I will occasionally repost an article or essay I wrote years ago on my blog. I thought people might enjoy this one.

Date: Thursday, June 21, 2001 1:09 PM
Subject: From Here to Burger King.

OK, I'm really tired because last night, after closing the store, I went with friends for a little post-midnight birthday celebration. Darren and Vanessa from the store took me to TGI Friday's, and I invited along Yusuf, a new employee whom I've had a couple good talks with.

Yusuf is a 21-year-old devout Muslim born in Lebanon but raised in Trinidad, and we usually talk about politics. When I asked him to join us, initially he was reluctant because it was against his religion. Yet he said he wanted to have a beer anyway, since I told him it was my birthday and I was buying.

So I'm quizzing him on music, Palestine, religion, Osama Bin Laden, poetry and stuff. He talks about all this stuff anyway, in fact I think that's why we get along well.

In regard to Bin Laden, Yusuf is reading a bio about him and said that he agrees with many of the man's beliefs but none of his methods.

I said that was really good because I liked Yusuf a lot and didn't want to die at his hand. (Trust me, he and I have talked enough so that he can distinguish my sarcasm.)

Yusuf talks about praying, how he's done with prayer for the day and really shouldn't drink because it means he has to stop praying for 30 days. He says he's just going to disregard that.

I said he didn't have to do so.

"It's my birthday, but I don't want to get you in trouble with God."

On a completely different tangent, I mention Madonna. He notes that I like her and asks why. I say, "It's pretty much a given." Then, I note his non-existent reaction to that and mumble, "Oh, you don't know."

"Don't know what?" Yusuf asks.

Everyone at the table shuts up, so I say, "Nothing."

Then later, Yusuf's looking at a blinking light sign up on the wall or an annoying couple or something and says, "Damn, that's really gay."

"That's really what?" I ask.

"Gay," Yusuf said, noting my concern. "I'm sorry. Are you a Republican?"

"No, I'm gay," I said, so bluntly that Vanessa started to laugh. "No one told you?"

"No, but that's cool," Yusuf said. "You know, whatever you like, that's your business. So, are you a Republican?"

"Raised Republican, but no."

So we discuss the gay thing amongst the whole table a little bit (though Vanessa and Darren tire of the topic), and Yusuf says that I'm the first gay person he's ever met. He transfered here from Miami and worked at two Barnes & Noble stores. Something tells me I'm not the first, I say.

"You're the first gay person I've ever met who I met and then they told me they were gay," Yusuf clarified. "You're the first one I've gotten to know, anyway."

I nodded. Then, Yusuf dropped this aplomb bomb into the conversation, and everyone at the table immediately adored him.

"Gay people to me are like monsters. I only see them on TV."

So we all just start laughing, and Darren says to Yusuf, "Oh, you're going to start going out with us more often."

So Yusuf starts talking about more stances, asks us all if we smoke marijuana.

Darren used to. Vanessa has once. I never have.

Yusuf grew up in Trinidad. He's been smoking since he was 12. It's a part of his culture, he argues.

Midway through him talking about how he stopped wearing dreads recently and instead opted to wear clothes from Banana Republic, we toast my birthday, and I start giggling. I thought I had a friend to fit every category, and Yusuf is so fascinating and unique to me that I realized he didn't fit into any available vacant slot in my head. He was completely new.

So I told him, "Oh my God, I've never met anyone like you. You're my first Rasta-Arab."

He thought that was really funny.

Darren thought it was cool, too, that the two of us proved to be new firsts to each other.

I know not to hit on him. I know that he likes reggae and fireworks. I know that he gets mad if I call it Israel.

Later, Yusuf gives us his full name. Yusuf Ataf Alfitav Diab, or something like that.

He said it's a Muslim custom for a man to take the names of his previous male ancestors. From the table, Yusuf looked out the window to measure a hypothetical distance in his head.

Then he said, "Given the chance, every Muslim would have a name from here to Burger King."

Yusuf and I stayed up until 2 a.m. in the parking lot, after everyone else had left, chatting about our respective stances and trying to determine how to relate with each other.

He said that, when he started at the store and began gauging people, he identified with me best because, using his expression, "our blood was the most alike." He would talk about the Middle East, express his opinions on it, and I knew what he was talking about. We were both really chatty.

He asked me questions. I answered them as best I could. I asked him questions. He answered them as best he could. There's still a lot of uncharted territory.

We talked about girls, about boys and listened to cool Kuwaiti pop music. At one point, Yusuf even taught me to speak with a Trinidad accent.

"There are no 'th-' words, only 'd-'s, and we have a lazy language," he said. "If I were to revert to it, you wouldn't know what I was saying."

Eventually, "dis is 'ow 'e was speakin."

It's different, but, for my birthday, I got an opposite-of-the-spectrum friend, and it's a pretty cool gift.

28 DAYS LATER, Four years old.

Last night, Kacoon and I went to a movie. For, like, 20 minutes.

Because while we were watching the violent, graphic zombie horror film 28 DAYS LATER, which I'd seen before, a woman walked in front of us with some popcorn in her hand - and her four-year-old daughter.

It was sick. Absolutely sick.

This is a movie, appropriate for adults who understand what they're getting into, that features machete killings, massive amounts of blood, full-frontal nudity and, oh yeah, the possible end of human civilization.

I went to complain to a manager right away, but the manager, as I understood, couldn't do anything because the mother was of legal age and best determined what was all right for her daughter to see.

Kacoon has a 3-year-old boy. She couldn't do it. She couldn't sit and watch the movie because that little girl was seeing more than she should. Kacoon knew, because of what I told her, that the violent-from-the-start movie was only going to get worse.

We tried to think of ways we could actually approach this woman about what she was doing wrong.

I thought of offering to refund her ticket myself. Kacoon said she was thinking of going up and offering to babysit, but she said she couldn't bring herself to talk to the woman because she would end up calling her angry names.

Someone told me that there are worse things a child can go through than watching a graphic movie. I replied to him that he was right, worse things do happen.

But I can't do anything about all the horrible things that people do to children. I know they happen. I know they happened to me. I know you can't see everything and stop everything.

But, in just the case of this little girl and that movie theater, I felt like there was something more that I could've done, but we left the movie because we couldn't enjoy ourselves due to our thoughts about the girl.

I'm not prudish. I don't believe in censorship. I think the MPAA ratings are messed up in how they're managed and executed by theaters.

But what I saw last night was a parent subjecting her child to a barrage of inappropriate images. And, instead of protecting a child, she ate popcorn.

My Dick Tracy Relationship Semantics Decoder Ring.

My friend Doug, bless him, told me to cut Eddie Bauer guy some slack, which I fully intend to do.

Heck, I did call the guy.

But I don't think I'm the only one of the two of us trying to figure out what something is before it's time has come.

I think Eddie Bauer guy is doing the same thing as I am.

Doug wrote this:

Consider that as a retail manager, he's probably not used to being asked out
by customers. Particularly male customers. Yes, you were ballsy in asking
him out, but for that very reason you have to cut him some slack if he acted
a little addled and awkward.

And don't get worked up over the "semantics" of whether he technically
accepted your date or not. You were telling me not too long ago that you
were worried you didn't have enough friends. So here's someone who wants to
be your friend, take advantage of it. And if y'all end up sleeping together,
count your blessings. You know very well how many times I've tried to sleep
with friends, and how rarely that's worked.

Sometimes you spend so much time running an incident through your Dick Tracy
Relationship Semantics Decoder Ring that you don't even pay attention to the
opportunity sitting right in front of you to make a new friend or to have
fun with someone. Go out and do something with him, not expecting anything.
If you like hanging out with him, great; if it's just too much hassle, don't
do it again. But it's kind of silly to make those judgments before you've
actually spent any substantial amount of time with someone.

Emily Watson's forehead.

My friend Kacoon refuses to watch PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE, which is a great movie, because Emily Watson is in it. Kacoon says she can't get past Emily Watson's "monstrously large" forehead.

If I recommended a movie at all last year, she asked me, "Is Forehead Bitch in it?"

"Emily Watson's a good actress, Kacoon," I said.

"Whatever," she said. "I can't get past her damn gigantic forehead."

Strangely, Kacoon dragged me to two Emily Watson movies at the end of the year. She said that Emily Watson's forehead was the worst part of RED DRAGON.

And she took me to EQUILIBRIUM, not knowing that EQUILIBRIUM was an Emily Watson movie. Kacoon said that Christian Bale shirtless and doing gymkata more than makes up for having to look at Emily Watson's forehead. (I was the only one in my group who thought EQUILIBRIUM, despite good stuntwork, sucked.)

Kacoon thought it was Emily Watson's best film.

"She had bangs, so her forehead wasn't as scary," Kacoon concluded.

In a completely unrelated note, Renee Zellweger kicks ass.

Once again, at, Renee Zellweger proves that she completely rocks.

Sexy Renee Zellwegger shocked a German couple in a Los Angeles restaurant this week by interrupting their conversation about her - in fluent German. The bilingual actress overheard the pair moaning about her height and her scruffy dress sense, and when the woman asked her partner if Renee was married, the Bridget Jones's Diary star angrily retaliated. She told them, "No, I'm not. I'm 5 foot 3 inches and always dress this way in the morning."

Because it just wouldn't be right for only one thing to go completely wrong.

My father drove me to work because the belt on my car engine is loose. But I locked my car keys, which I was going to drop at the mechanic's, in my house before my father picked me up. Kacoon, using a spare set of keys, will drop them off at the mechanic's later today.

My apartment still doesn't have hot water, but the landlord said he'd have someone by my apartment today in order to fix it.

And I learned the true benefits of sponge bathing over the weekend. I had a basin, a pot of water heating on the stove and soap burning my eyes because I couldn't rinse as often as usual. It felt very LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE.

Gay man seeks straight answer.

So, I was really bold this weekend, and it seemed to not work in my favor. I was shopping with some girl friends of mine, and they went into a chocolate store. While they did that, I retreated into an Eddie Bauer to avoid temptation ... and met a guy.

I thought he was the sales clerk. He wasn't -- he was the manager. Egged on by my friends, I actually, in a move that can be best described as uncharacteristically ballsy, asked him out on a date -- before knowing whether or not he was gay. (For those of you straight readers, this is never something done lightly.)

His reply to my question was, "Um, this has never happened to me before."

"At a clothing store?" I asked. "If you worked at Banana Republic, it would probably happen a lot."

"This is really awkward," he said.

At which point, I apologized profusely of course, though I was kinda hoping he'd laugh it off and eliminate potential weirdness between us.

So I felt like crap, so embarassed I wanted to crawl into a hole. So embarassed that I bought nice, tan, lightweight summer cargo pants.

And so we finally left the store, and my friends handed me the guy's phone number. Because he was a superior, he didn't want to appear to be picking me up, yet at the same time he felt so bad about the situation that he wanted to get an opportunity to explain everything to me later.

And he told me I was brave. And cute. And funny.

He also told me that he doesn't date because he isn't ready for that in his life, yet he's more than happy to be friends with me. And that he has friends that he sleeps with.

So he says "no" to my face and makes me feel bad, only to say "yes" in a covert way behind my back. He leads me to believe he's not gay when he is. And then he gives me his phone number, wants me to call him, tells me that he likes me but sees that there's no future in it. Then he tells me we can be friends and that he sleeps with his friends.

Oh, and he told me that I think too much.

Friday, July 11, 2003

I told Jenipher this blog's duty is to make her famous.

And she replied:

I think I could be famous, if anyone even goes to that silly website, that is. Not I-have-meningitis-and-was-arrested-for-crimes-of-immorality-but-wrote-some-lovely-plays-before-all-of-that-mess kind of famous, but well known in my own kind of way.

That said, I'm not quite sure if I'd consider sodomy a crime of immorality at this point, for I know the Supreme Court of our own nation wouldn't dare say so after the decision last month, but I suppose that's beside the point of Jenipher becoming famous in her own way.

I mean, I've known this girl forever. She's smart. She's pretty. And, when we were teens, she had dreams involving Mindy Cohn, chase scenes, drugs and making out with Tim Daly.

The Oscar Wilde quote.

"Either that wallpaper goes, or I do." - Oscar Wilde, his dying words as spoken while lying in bed in a Paris hotel room

Jenipher and I are debating the legitimacy of this. I say that, if anyone could've said something that clever on their deathbed, I'm betting Oscar Wilde could do it.

Jenipher said this:

I like my theory better, where there's just some random person hanging out in the room writing down witty things he might say.

"I'm dying of a life-threatening disease of which there is no form of treatment at the turn of the century. I'm in pain! I'm now going to say something clever! Hey, you, write this down!"

Anyone else have an idea?

I pray I put away those porn tapes.

I called my landlord, and he's going to let me know what's wrong with the hot water heater after he looks at it.

My SO not-clean apartment is going to have to be looked at by that man.

I hate this.

An open letter to my secret love, Benno Furmann.

Dear Benno,

You and I have had some good times together, haven't we? I mean, even though my German is marginal at best and, outside of my fantasies, I believe you're actually heterosexual, we've had some pretty good times. Like the moment we fell in love, when I was watching THE PRINCESS AND THE WARRIOR for the first time and your lustful, beautiful glance looked at me - and me alone - and pierced my very soul. Or that time that Kacoon watched my copy of THE PRINCESS AND THE WARRIOR on DVD and said to me, "You're right. He's really, really good-looking." Remember the time I watched that crappy horror movie you did called ANATOMY and started laughing as you frolicked half-naked with the girls onscreen? You're such a good actor.

We'll always have those memories, my Benno. But our time together, at least for the moment, has to come to an end.

It's been ages, frankly, since I've seen you, and someone new, a guy named Cillian Murphy, has caught my eye. He's not nearly as beautiful as you, certainly. (I doubt a mortal man can be.) But he's pretty good-looking, even when he's killing people with a machete in 28 DAYS LATER. (He goes from being completely awful looking in that movie to really good looking, just by getting a haircut and shaving. You'd think he went on one of those makeover shows. What's most puzzling is that he managed to do a great job cutting his own hair, which you'd think he wouldn't be able to do or compelled to do since he's one of the few people left on Earth. I mean, who cares what your hair looks like then?) I figure Cillian and I will have ourselves a productive relationship. I mean, we speak the same language. He's British, and I've always gotten along so well with the Brits. (Oh Ewan and Jude, how you've grown since my tutelage ...)

Don't blame Cillian, Benno. This time had to come someday. I mean, you're in the new Heath Ledger movie about murderous priests. Didn't you see that Shannyn Sossamon was in it? Don't you realize that working with her is one of the few unforgivable sins in this world?

Nonetheless, Benno, you still hold a place in my heart.

Perhaps one day, mein Freund, we'll be together again.

I only pray you'll understand.

Auf wiedersehen,


Another thing I enjoy more than I should.

If you guys aren't doing the Hollywood Stock Exchange and consider yourselves movie fans at all, then you're really missing out.

If you are doing the HSX, then I'm probably beating you since I'm one of the game's top players. (And I read articles and update my better-than-average portfolio everyday.)

If you need a referral, come to me.

Art house movie choices fo the weekend.


I think I'll see both and eliminate the need for a decision.

And another one.

My friend Jenipher, who is probably looking at this right now and wondering why anyone would write a blog to begin with because she told me that she has no idea what they are, thinks that my obsession with writing Amazon reviews is also funny and of note.

You can track down my reviews and my Listmania lists here. Jenipher's personal favorite is my review of EMMANUELLE IN SPACE.

While I'm on the topic of obsessions ...

Those of you who've heard me going on and on about my new favorite movie theater, the one where I outed the ticket usher by using a game of Boggle and the one showing the revival of DONNIE DARKO, I thought I would provide you with a link to their website.

Great movie theater, the Madstone at Parkside. No other theater plays obscure art house movies, serves Ben & Jerry's and offers up glasses of imported beer.

I wanted to host my failed attempt at a large-scale birthday party there. But instead I got to attend a free screening, so that was even better.

My obsession.

I confess, I confess ...

You may have been able to tell from reading my previous posts about ALL MY CHILDREN, how I seem to be ranting and raving about the rape of beloved Bianca Montgomery.

A couple months ago, if you passed me on the street, you'd probably have caught me telling people that it's completely impossible for Victor Lord to have returned from the dead on ONE LIFE TO LIVE, for he died all the way back in 1976 when the multiple personalities of his sexually-abused daughter Viki and would now be about 100 years old. And it didn't make sense, and still doesn't, that Mitch Laurence was able to kidnap his own wife, pay for a surgery that involved cutting out her own heart for a transplant - and didn't get arrested and convicted for it when 75 witnesses saw him do it.

A couple years ago, even, you probably heard me talking all about RYAN'S HOPE and how the show has sucked, in reruns, since Kate Mulgrew and Ilene Kristen left it. When they finally killed off Mary Ryan, I was actually pleased, rather than upset, because the character's been annoying ever since Kate Mulgrew went off to star in MRS. COLUMBO.

Of course, I can't watch these shows during the day because I'm at work. And I couldn't have watched RYAN'S HOPE with any degree of comprehension because I was 2 when all that stuff happened with Kate Mulgrew.

But I'm a SOAPNET addict. Completely and totally.

I may as well have a long-lost twin, a severe case of amnesia and a spouse I've told no one about. I'm a SOAPNET fiend.

Now that they have started rerunning episodes of ANOTHER WORLD from 1987, I fear I'll develop a new obsession because, ahem, this is the first time that SOAPNET has started playing a daytime soap from around the time I actually started watching them. (Of course, I didn't start watching ANOTHER WORLD until 1988, when Amanda Cory and Sam Fowler's daughter Alli was born ... but that's beside the point. I'm clearly insane if I remember that, right?)

It's only going to get worse in September, too, because SOAPNET just made another announcement. They've acquired the rights to DALLAS and will start showing those, all 13 seasons in order. They'll probably even do a marathon of a week's episodes every weekend, like they do with AMC, OLTL and GENERAL HOSPITAL, which I wouldn't watch if it wasn't the only thing playing on the weekends.

I'm hooked. And it's such bad TV, most of the time. But I can't help it.


Thank God for Progressive. My auto insurance will renew automatically tonight, and I just called them to confirm it. So I don't have to worry about that. And my payments have lowered.

The Computer Helpdesk at my company's main office in New Jersey is trying to figure out what's wrong with my Inbox, so that'll be fixed soon.

Now, I just have to talk to the dreaded landlord about the hot water problem, which I'm not looking forward to doing. The landlord doesn't like me. I don't like the apartment and want to move as soon as possible.

But that's being taken care of, too.


Today, I'm coping with a shower that has no hot water, e-mail that doesn't go to my Inbox, my car insurance policy lapses today ... and I have to go to both jobs today.


Thursday, July 10, 2003

Katharine Hepburn's death book.

OK, I just found out that a new book about Katharine Hepburn, done with her cooperation and written by renowned biographer A. Scott Berg, is being published this week, for it was arranged by Hepburn to be published posthumously.

Though this seems a particularly savvy move on the part of Kate Hepburn, but, I mean, who wants to arrange a tell-more if not tell-all bio to be published after they've died. I mean, that's the time when, though the rules of libel no longer apply to you, I would assume you'd be all right with people talking about you.

All right, I'm calling in reinforcements.

My friend Doug has a totally awesome blog, so I e-mailed him and asked him for tips on formatting. Or, at least, when he looks at this post, he will realize that I want advice on things like how to add photos to the blog entries, how to add a poll and links to the sidebar, how to shrink the size of the text and, most importantly, how to make it so kickass that you have to visit it as often as possible.

Props to my friend Doug.

About AMC.

Check this out.

It's GLAAD's response to the AMC plotline about Bianca's rape.

OK, this is completely silly.

But I want to see if I show up on the main site when I post this.

I know I shouldn't be watching ALL MY CHILDREN in the first place.

Yesterday on ALL MY CHILDREN, though, something happened to the show and daytime TV's sole lesbian character which actually bothered me. Bianca, played by actress Eden Riegel, was raped.

I've been watching soaps long enough to know that rape is a pretty regular occurrence, as well as a topical issue that needs to be addressed in a public forum like television. But the rape of such a groundbreaking character, one who was only allowed her first televised kiss a couple months ago, bugs me to no end.

Why is it that it's all right for them to show scenes of a graphic rape but it's still taboo to show two same-sex characters in a loving, consensual sexual relationship?

With such a new sort of character, couldn't the writers have explored other avenues with Bianca than they usually do with other popular, high-profile soap heroines? Are they just not creative enough to come up with something that's not a cliche?

It's just a soap opera, I know, it's just a soap opera.

I have no doubt they'll handle the realistic implications behind this plot twist well, for they always do. But this really bothered me.

Cast of Characters


Born June 21, 1976. Thus, I'm a Gemini-Cancer cusp, for I was born on the summer solstice two weeks for the Bicentennial. The fact that my mother's due date was, actually, July 4 of that year means that I've never been particularly patriotic, I suppose. Or maybe I was really in a hurry. I don't know.

I was born in Georgia and grew up in a town called Buford, where I currently have an apartment that I eagerly want to leave behind. I have a mild case of cerebral palsy. I went to the University of Georgia getting a bachelor's degree in newspaper journalism. While there, I came out of the closet, then went back in, then came out, then went back in and then, finally, came out and stayed out.

I see too many movies, the last one being "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl," which was good (despite its title) whenever Johnny Depp was onscreen seeming to channel some kind of drunken Jamaican drag queen. Last week, I saw "Whale Rider," "28 Days Later," "The Guys," "Terminator 3," "Legally Blonde 2" and caught "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" again. I told you I see too many movies. The Regal Cinemas Crown Club may as well consider me a gold member.

This is my first blog, though I, as stated before, write personal essays and have a long history of journal-keeping. I'm also in therapy, have a minor case of obsessive tendency, have articles and essays published in notable publications and consider myself friendly, most of the time, despite my occasionally venomous sense of humor.

My deepest, darkest secret was revealed to my best friend Kacoon last week as we left "Legally Blonde 2." Because I am no longer ashamed of my past, I will share it with you now. In the 7th grade, I had a perm so that I could have hair like those kids from New Kids on the Block. My mother, who told me at the time that I looked cute with it, still has the photos hidden somewhere. (I think she was going to sell them to the tabloids if I ever ran for public office.)

Anyway, enough about me ...


Kacoon also, sadly, lives in the Buford area and wants to escape it. She has a husband and a son and a sister and a mother and me. Some of her stories, which she shares on nights out at our favorite watering holes, are better than mine. She said tonight, though, that her jaded sense-of-humor is one of the newer aspects of her personality, which surprised me because I imagined that you had to hone a good wit over time. Kacoon, in a couple months, will be a certified EMT, which means that I only need to befriend a lawyer in order for my life to follow regular soap opera cliches.

But more on that later.


CJ and I have practically known each other since infancy, and he is one of the people who always has my back, even when I don't believe in myself. He, once the class clown, is now one of the most sincere, straight-forward people you'll ever meet. Currently on a tour of Europe, CJ will be back in a couple months to, surprise, attend law school, thus completing my life's transformation into a silly soap opera.

But more on him and other people who inhabit my life later ...

All right, this is absolutely brilliant.

I wonder if I can do only text or if I can start adding things like photos and links and what-not.

I actually tried to do a website once before, but that didn't work out so well.

I called it The Blank Column, much like I named this blog.

OK, there are kinks.

I'm still trying to figure out how all of this works.

I think I'll wait until I do that to tell anyone I know that this is here.

And it starts like this ...

My friend Doug told me earlier this week, when we were having yet another of our long phone calls past midnight, that it seems like I'm trying to be too much of a character.

Because I write personal essays (and because one of my bad dates can become, essentially, a stand-up comedy routine or read like someone's worst nightmare in a dream journal), his fear (and a fear that I share sometimes) is that I've become more interested in collecting good anecdotes than meeting good people. I get so busy attempting to create this perception of myself that I cease to recall why I started dating in the first place, the goal being to meet someone who I can be comfortable around who's comfortable around me and stick with them for awhile.

At this point, and I know it's not uncommon, I feel like I've had so many bad dates (and been a bad date to so many other people) that I've essentially given up on the original goal, which wasn't to find a spouse or a great love or someone to "complete" who I am. The goal is just to have a good time and click with someone.

Low self-esteem, again not an uncommon problem, gets in the way of this goal. Worrying too much about it, which I may be doing more of by writing this here, makes things worse, as well.

But those are tangents.

I don't think that I'm actually sabotaging dates and potential relationships just to get a good story to tell at parties. ("Hey, did I tell you about such-and-such, the arsonist I went out with?" or "Oh my God, you're not going to believe such-and-such's deep dark secret! I definitely can't spend the rest of my life ... or even the rest of the week ... with that freak guy.")

I will admit that I'm a gossip, but I don't think, and I have to make this clear, that I go out looking for gossip to spill.

I go out with someone, and I determine, pretty quickly sometimes, whether sex or anything more than that is viable. They determine, at the same time, whether I meet their needs or fit their standards, and it goes on from there.

But it's been so long since anything with me in the romance department has gone well.

I'm 27. I'm less jaded, frankly, than I was at 24. But I still can't tell if it's all going to work out or if I am better off alone.