Friday, April 30, 2004

Inbox blues.

Portions of this post originally appeared in an e-mail to Mark

OK, something's wrong.

I just checked my inbox, and I got all excited because it said I had THREE new messages. And that's, like, more than I've had at one time all day, which is annoying because I figure that, in a week when I've written a reunion soap episode and kept the blog fun, I should be getting all praise from people.

But, I looked at the messages, and, um, they were all from me.

Self-sent spam resulting from the maintenance I did on the reunion soap site earlier today.

So instead of getting to be all happy, I was, like, "Oh, I'm my own best friend."

And, considering what I wrote on the blog last night, that's just too telling.

Of course, Lupo just wrote me that my "14 roommates" detail is more embarassing than my "nocturnal activities."

It's all good.

Random thoughts at the end of a good evening

I get paid the next time I go to work. Both jobs. So I'll get my usual sum from the publishing company. And maybe I'll get enough from the bookstore to fund popcorn and a Diet Coke at the movies.


I'm listening to Liz Phair music from her sexy bitch period and a geek-rock song called "Reconstruction Site" that was on a free CD. It's by this band called the Weakerthans, a band I've never heard of before but, for some reason, this song is so nuts that it's like my theme song. More my theme song than Ben Folds' "There's Always Someone Cooler than You." A temporary replacement for my usual theme song, Josh Joplin Group's "I Am Not the Only Cowboy."

I wish I had my own TV show sometimes.

My life would be way more interesting if I had a staff of writers.


One time, when I was walking through the Gwinnett Place Parisian with my friend Vic, I pulled her into an impromptu swing dance routine in Men's Wear. On one of the more complicated twirls, I accidentally tripped her, and she fell in the middle of the aisle. I felt bad, but I couldn't express my regret to her because I was laughing entirely too hard.


Weezer's song "The World Has Turned and Left Me" reminds me of my two-week affair with Welsh Guy. It's my official travel theme song.

Wait, no, it's not.

It's the song that makes me think of the best lover I ever had.

Damn it. Where is he?


It's late, but I'm wired. I had coffee with fellow bloggers Kurt and Mark tonight, whose kickass personalities were nothing like my own, and it was a lot of fun.

I was, surprisingly, relatively quiet through the whole thing.

I did stand up at one point and tell the story of my redneck stepfather's appearance on the 6 o' clock news - true story - when I was in the eighth grade.

He and my mother had witnessed a fatal helicopter crash at Lake Lanier, which isn't actually funny.

But my stepfather's eyewitness account of it, which is burned into my memory, is hilarious.

Seeing my account of the incident, Mark told me that I needed to take it on tour. I think he was being sarcastic. Maybe.

Kurt told me I reminded him of David Sedaris. Ah, flattery.


I'm listening to "If You Leave." Jenipher says it's one of the few songs you can actually do the "Molly Ringwald" to.

The Molly Ringwald is that kick dance that its namesake did on the library steps in that scene of THE BREAKFAST CLUB.

Jenipher can do it.

I want to do the Snoopy Dance.


I met Sedaris once. Lupo and I went to a reading, and he signed a book I got my hetero friend Doug, another blogger, as a gift.

He signed it,

"To Doug:

Everyone thinks you're gay.

David Sedaris"

Dougie was very happy about that. He showed it to his mom.


Ric Ocasek is considered geek rock, right? I'm making a RealPlayer playlist.

In the '80s, I actually wondered if my family was related to The Cars. I was 6.


In my three-and-a-half years of college, I had 14 roommates. (Get me drunk, and I can name all of them, even the Korean ones.)

One of the best ones was named Tommy. He was nice. He stayed on the top bunk and only once complained to me about how often I jacked off, even though it shook him awake all the time. (OK, that was too much information, but, whatever, it's late. And, in my defense, how else was I gonna get to sleep?)

Tommy's the one who got me hooked on DAYS OF OUR LIVES in college, even though I was trying to break away from its evil influence and mature. Tommy would record it and reruns of THE GOLDEN GIRLS everyday and force me to watch it before we went to sleep. (OK, maybe "force" is the wrong word.)

That was when DAYS had Marlena possessed by the devil, an illusion accomplished through bad special effects and having Deidre Hall wear green contact lenses.

So, for those of you who think I'm way too melodramatic, blame my family. And blame Tommy.

"It's all good" is what he used to tell me every time I freaked out, which was often. By the end of the quarter, I had more than a small crush on him, even though he told me he wasn't gay - which I'm not sure I believe in retrospect. (Come on, reruns of THE GOLDEN GIRLS??? How straight can he be???)

I wonder whatever happened to him, even though I'm afraid of what he must've told people about my sleeping habits.


I feel better than I did earlier this week.


I'm listening to Ben Folds now. I love Ben Folds.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

My name is "Riley," and ... I'm a soapaholic.

Every day this week, the beloved Dr. Marlena Evans Black has been sitting up in her hospital bed, confessing to the brutal murders of nine of her friends and family.

Those at her bedside, anxious to hear why she'd slit her ex-husband's throat on his wedding day or why she'd stab a girl and stuff her in a Thanksgiving turkey pinata, have been outraged at each subsequent confession. Marlena, under the influence of a truth serum, has been telling all about the murders to gathered loved ones, giggling and laughing while regaling in tales of death.

You might think me sick or perverse, but her laughing and making jokes while talking about savagely beating her alcoholic best friend to death with a liquor bottle was HILARIOUS.

The only thing she has yet to explain is why she did it.

It makes absolutely no sense for her saintly, immensely popular character to do this sort of thing, which is why she long went unsuspected of the crimes.

And it's absolutely great, campy TV.

Two or three weeks from now, "Days of Our Lives" has planned another shocking twist in the tale, and you better believe that I can't wait to hear what it is.

The writers say the murderer is not Marlena's evil twin. (She had one ... but that one was murdered onscreen in the '80s.) It's not someone who had plastic surgery to look like her. (In a hilarious twist, that character came back a couple weeks ago only to confess that she had nothing to do with it.) And Marlena's not possessed by the devil. (She was possessed by the devil in the early '90s, and they went through all the flashbacks of that a couple weeks ago to prove that wasn't it.) It's not some brain-implanted microchip making her do this. (They did a head scan of her a couple days ago to prove that she wasn't under outside control.)

At this point, it looks like Marlena's just a killer, which is maybe the best twist of all.

As a result of this increasingly preposterous yet self-aware story, I've become, after long periods of trying to stay away from the show I started watching when I was 11, addicted to it once again.

I'm not ashamed of it. I'm not ashamed that I've started going to lunch at the Blimpie near my office every day at 1 p.m. because they play it on TV. (Heck, I think the Pakistani family who runs that Blimpie learned to speak English by watching Marlena's shenanigans. And, hey, if Julia Roberts can admit to watching it on "Oprah," then I think it's OK to confess my addiction.)

For some reason, DAYS, while remaining more than a little bit stupid, has gotten me involved in it again.

Damn it.

Belittle me.

Today, when I was sending out the news of my job transfer to the Buckhead store to the majority of my friends, I concluded the note with this line:

To me, this is a big deal. Is that weird?

Most people wrote me back to let me know that it wasn't weird, that it was a big deal and that it's a pretty wonderful thing to move outside of your comfort zone and take risks.

But, talking with Black tonight about why I phrased it that way, I told him this, "Even though it matters to me, I know that it's just a bookstore job and that it's essentially the same job I'm already doing. And I thought, not to sound strange, that my life would be bigger than this."

I told him that, as soon as I found out I had the job and got excited about it, the first thing I did was think of it in comparison to former colleagues of mine. I thought of the fact that I'd probably end up waiting on some of them at one point. I thought about the other work that some Red & Black alumni are doing, working for the AP or what-not.

It reminded me of how, when some customer asks me where I went to college, I'm quick to assure them that my University of Georgia journalism degree didn't land me at Barnes & Noble - but that I choose to work there for fun, away from my "real" job at McGraw-Hill.

When I started at Barnes & Noble, I assured myself that I'd only really be there or need to be there for a couple weeks until my temp job went permanent or I got something real. It's been four years, and I'm still there.

And though my life now is better than it was when I worked at CNN or the Augusta Chronicle and that I'm more mature and happier and handle things better, I sometimes look at the scope of my life - what it is versus what I thought it would be - and get disappointed.

Black told me that was a natural impulse, yet he also told me that it was defeatist and wrong to do.

"The greatest poets and novelists in the world have all had jobs they had to take in order to get by," Black said. "And they worried about the humdrum and the minutae in their lives, just like the rest of us. When we study them, we don't study that. But everybody has small things to deal with. So, if something happens to you in your life and you feel good about it, don't question that or think of it in terms of what more you think you should be doing or say to yourself that it's just a bookstore or you're just doing the same job in a dfferent place. Just feel happy about it."

"If it's a big deal to you, that's OK," he concluded.

He told me that it was admirable that I'm doing well in my small jobs. He said it was even more admirable that I continued to believe that something better and bigger was going to come my way.

I think I owe myself an apology.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Into the depths of "Hello."

Jenipher used to get mad at me when I called her. Now, Lupo's starting to wonder if I have no sense of phone etiquette. Larry says each phone call from me is a treat because I cut through all the crap and just launch into whatever the hell it is I intended to talk about.

I don't say "Hello" when I call people. And, consequently, I don't say "Goodbye" usually either.

A couple days ago, this got on Lupo's nerves. I was calling him, I think, to talk about the momentary disaster area that was my office building after a breaker exploded and forced us to stop working.

I was so excited and such that I didn't even bother to say hello.

Today, I was calling, wondering about an e-mail that he sent me, and I started in on the question and then remembered, "What was the? ... Uh, hello..."

He cut me off, sounding frustrated ... probably because I didn't say hello. Then, he told me to hold. Then I heard some commotion. Then he told me to hold again.

Then, he was telling me to call back, then he put me on hold again.

So I hung up the phone, figuring I could call him back since he was in the middle of telling me to call him back anyway when he was called away from the phone.

Things are weird. And I'm a rude jackass on the phone.

If you get a phone message from me, usually I launch into some diatribe about whatever situation I'm stuck in themiddle of, rather than just requesting a callback or, I guess, even bothering to be nice and polite.

When calling Jonathan the Bartender once, I left him a message talking about how I wanted to get something to eat and have sex with somebody. When he called back the next day, he told me that the message made him laugh hysterically on his way to work.

I'm not setting precedent here. On "The X-Files," they never said "Hello." At my house, my redneck stepfather answers the phone with his trademark, two-syllable utterance of "Yeah???"

Still, I need lessons in phone etiquette.

Sorry, guys.

Big news.

I spoke with Maureen, a manager at Barnes & Noble Buckhead, just a few minutes ago, and she let me know that they had heard great things about the work that I do and that I'd try to fit me into their employee schedule in a couple weeks!

This means that, ahem, I'm the new part-time employee in their music department.

After four years, I will no longer work at the Mall of Georgia in Buford.

I will now get to work in the store 10 minutes from my apartment! The store where the protestor in the photo above stood during the Hillary Rodham Clinton book signing last year!!!

And, because it's a far busier store, I'll probably get to work more often, sleep less, get paid more and get harassed by customers from a higher tax bracket!!! And I'll get to kick homeless people out of the handicapped bathroom stall in the men's room!!!

Additionally, since it's one of our higher profile stores in the region, I may get to work during other celebrity book signings. So I could meet more protestors!

I'm actually really happy about this. It'll get me more involved in the community where I live. I'll get to deal with a larger volume of customers and learn how to work with a different set of people. And I'll get to figure out how to fit in with a new set of co-workers, rather than being one of the longest-working employees in the store.

So wish me luck.

Connecting Point A and Point B.

I just sent an e-mail to Doug and Black, reasoning that these two friends of mine should become friends.

Here's what I wrote.

Doug, this is Black.

Black, this is Doug.

You both live in Birmingham now. You're both opinionated. You're both political. You're both smart. You're both friends of mine. You're both single. You're both heterosexual. You both went to UGA. You both like movies. You both like to read. You both know Miss Gibson. You both like to drink.

So you should know each other.

Write each other.

Make me proud.

I hope they actually get together and get along. I think it'd be cool if all my friends knew each other, thus furthering my efforts to turn my life into a giant, contained ensemble sitcom.

I think my logic here is sound.

Since they both live in Birmingham, they can share the miseries of Alabama.

Marley's moving ...

My friend, my Valentine and my personal-favorite moviegoing companion Marley begins her relocation to Los Angeles this weekend. So she's been doing all the stuff you apparently need to do to move cross-country.

Reading her blog's taught me several things, interestingly, including how to actually go about holding a proper "Moving Sale" and how to apply for a job outside of your region.

Beyond just missing her pre- and post-movie conversation, I think I'm going to miss a lot of the "lessons" she tried to give me, like about the etiquette of visiting someone's house or how to better tell when I behave like a loudmouthed jackass in a movie line.

I'm sure there was a lot more to learn. But she's leaving to go to a better place, a place she'll probably enjoy more than the city she dubbed "Craplanta," which she said is too cold for her and nowhere near a good beach.

So she's going to California.


Sometime between yesterday and today, the hit counter hit #12,000.

That's sorta cool, I guess.

Mark suggested to me a couple days ago that I should maybe add feedback to the blog, a move I have opposed for the longest time because - I don't know - I don't want to write some horrid post about incest and have some random stranger crack obscene jokes about it on a comment board.

I figure that if people want to comment, they can just e-mail me.

I've not really gotten many requests to add feedback. But the #12,000 count makes me pretty sure that my original six readers aren't just reloading the site over and over.

Trivia team update.

Though I bowed out last night, Debi didn't know for certain whether I'd be there.

Since the last thing I wrote her about yesterday was having to pay to park, she wrote me this morning to ask me if I had spent the night driving around the restaurant, looking for free parking.

So I told her about my shift at the bookstore.

She told me the team came in third last night, a better showing than last time (when I was there). She said it all hinged on the bonus question.

Apparently, the team also won a drawing last night, which got them $10 in house cash.

I didn't ask her if they salted anyone else's drink in my absence.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Oh, happy day!

Meanwhile ...

Gabe and Jenipher of the Chicago-based "Gabe and Jenipher Are Better Than You" website married today when their cruise ship docked in St. Thomas!

Though I wasn't able to attend, I must wish them both my heartfelt congratulations.

Jenipher, who spelled her name that way when I met her, is one of my oldest, dearest friends, and I'm very, very happy for her and Gabe.

OK, forgive that last post.

I shouldn't write something that conclusively depressing on here.

I had decided not to go to trivia tonight, and now I have a good reason for not going. The bookstore has called me up and asked me if I wanted to pull a shift in the music department at 7 p.m.

So I'm working there more than one day this week. Yay.

The paper says that men are less likely to discuss depression.

Can we talk about life in a way that makes it sound as happy as it is sad? Can we understand how finances work well enough to know that there will be bad times and be good times? Can I be spoken to like I'm a competent adult when it comes to how I'm managing my own life?

I want a place where there's promise. Where I don't feel, more or less, forced into seeking another job.

I'm tired of my parents talking to me about how life is depressing, how much it sucks, how working sucks, how your future is naturally going to disappoint you.

This is what they've been talking to me about ... my parents.

They essentially have said, "Life is awful and terminal and depressing ... and you can't win. Get used to it."

This, on top of financial troubles that have gone on longer than they thought they would, has been discouraging. Reading articles about depression in the newspaper, in addition to this, has been bad. Not filling my prescription for the medicine I need to heal my leg because I can't even really afford the small amount that it would likely cost to fill it ... has been impossible.

Tough month.

You believe the best about yourself.

You start the month in London, wondering what it would be like to live there and thinking that you can find your way to a better way of living.

You end up broke, borrowing money from your mother, with a leg injury and the feeling that your life is going nowhere and that you're going to have to find a new job as quickly as possible.

You hate everything about your existence except your apartment and your friends. You invite your parents out to lunch because they'll take you to better restaurants and pay for it. The staff at the Blimpie near your office asks you why you haven't been by all week.

You get uncontrollably ill in your apartment, and you have to throw out your clothes. And you're embarassed about that.

And you start to believe the worst about yourself.

Monday, April 26, 2004

The quick and easy plan.

Larry told me tonight that, in order to save myself from financial difficulty, all I needed to do was write a bestseller.

"Yeah," I thought. "I'll get right on that."

Actually, he later clarified that I just needed to devote my time to doing work that I truly care about, like writing.

But it's not like I'm broke, so I come up with the basis for a hit novel to make everything better.

Planning that sounds like the aquarium escape plan in "Finding Nemo," where the fish agonize over getting out of the tank ... yet they breeze past going out the window, dropping five floors, getting across a four-lane intersection and going off the dock.

Maybe that's how I should think of my big goal, though. Maybe if I just get myself to the hard part, where I have time to come up with a book, write it, get it marketed around, get an agent, get a publisher, hope it generates notice, write another book, get it published, hope it doesn't exhibit a sophomore slump, go on a book tour, then write another book and go up for the National Book Award.

Piece of cake.

Of course, the other option is not trying. Or, worse, continuing to write and yet not publishing anything, leaving my work to people in my will so that they'll have to do all the hard work of getting me published.

Why does this seem so daunting?

Why can't I just find another job? Or two other jobs?

Because I want to do this right. And cautiously. And yet, I want it done now.

Talking to myself.

If this were the beginning, how would I introduce myself?

Hello, and welcome to the show known as my life. This journal functions as a sort of "Doogie Howser," end-of-the-episode commentary, except it sometimes makes less sense than Doogie's did. I don't have any one story to tell. And if I could or if I believed that I could tell a story effectively, I believe I'd be considered good at it. But, as of yet, I've not been able to tell any one story, not even my own. There are layers upon layers of me, and I talk about different layers pretty much every day. I sometimes think that no one will ever get me or want to get me, and that scares me. But then, I comfort myself by realizing that some friends already do see me for who I am, and that gives me hope.

So then, this is like some sort of "Sex and the City" thing, what with the themes and the writing and the how-I-cope-with-modern-personalities-and-romance schtick.

I don't think it's schtick. It's funny sometimes. Sometimes, in the case of some of these essays, it's pointless or depressing. I don't really write so much about other people's lives, and I guess mine is interesting enough, even when nothing happens. I wish this were more about romance. I wish I knew more about dating. I wish I knew how to stop the comedy when it comes to my own dating life sometimes. And sometimes I find it comforting that I can, when it's bad, find something to laugh about.

Why are you writing this in the middle of the night?

Because my mind goes screwy in the middle of the night when I've had more caffiene than anti-depressants, and I have ideas that just pop into my head, making me curious about the potential for these ideas. So I write them down and see where they go. And soon a half-hour of writing here becomes two hours, and I realize that I have to work in the morning and haven't yet gone to bed, even though my eyelids were heavy when I started writing this.

Where did you see yourself in five years five years ago?

Four years ago, I interviewed with the bookstore, and I told them that, within five years, I wanted to have a book on their shelves and time to focus and work on it. Though I've tried and failed to find "my medium," mostly because I was either too busy or too lazy to realize that it wouldn't just happen and that I had to work at it, the closest I've come to writing a book is working on this blog, which I guess is longer than a book at this point.

When it comes to my professional life, I think I'm a failure because I don't really like the work that I do and know that I should find something else. Yet I'm still a little bit scared to try and do something I might enjoy more or be better at. And I feel comfortable enough where I am to sit sedately in a cube for months on end, doing a not-good-yet-not-bad job. At this point, I think I'm qualified to do absolutely nothing. My copy editing skills are out of date, and I hated the hours at that job anyway. My reporting skills, though still good, are also only as good as the next kid just out of journalism school, and I make more money now than I did as a reporter, anyway. And now I get to live in Atlanta, as opposed to Augusta.

And I do date more now than I did then. But I haven't really had a boyfriend since Augusta five years ago. But I didn't really like the boyfriend I had when I was in Augusta. So there's that, whatever that is.

What are your goals in your personal and romantic life?

I don't know. I really don't know. I'm here typing this partly because I realized that I haven't had good sex, really, since April 1996. It's been THAT LONG since I felt comfortable with a guy, that long since I enjoyed a guy or enjoyed who I was with a guy. I have the weird, haunting feeling that I'd be bad in bed now, were I to actuallly have sex again. Weirder feelings involve that I feel like I've never really been good at sex, except when I felt comfortable with the people I was having sex with. And that happened maybe with two people ever. Maybe that's why I don't have sex now. Maybe that's why my brain and my body disagree about the sort of guys I should be having sex with. Maybe my time is yet-to-come. Maybe I'm supposed to learn more, get lessons or something. Maybe everybody has these feelings, and it's just insecurity. Maybe I need to feel comfortable with someone again.

Maybe it has to do with romance, comfort, familiarity, joy, celebration and truly wanting to do something to make someone else happy. Maybe it bugs me that sex has for too long meant nothing to me or not enough to me. Maybe I should have more sex or less sex. Maybe I should have relationships. Or work my way through life with the friendships I have, hoping to learn from them.

Or maybe I'm goddamn great in bed, and I've just been with some lousy damn people.

Maybe my past and my present add up in just such a way that this is where I'm supposed to be and how I'm supposed to feel right now.

Life isn't through handing me experiences to learn from, and maybe I just need to risk and challenge more to grow into who I am.

Maybe that will involve someone else. Someone who wants to be there. Maybe it doesn't.

Maybe I just need to be happier. Or just wait. Or just work on myself some more. Or concentrate on myself less. Or work on myself some more while concentrating on myself less, if that makes any sense. (OK, that sounds schizo.)

I can't think about it less. I process. I'm a processor. I get anxious while processing. I want to be in control. I can't be in control.

OK, you just sounded "Sex and the City" there, until the part where your writing disintegrated into psychobabble jibberish.

Yeah, except "Sex and the City" had a coherent theme-per-episode. In the episodes of my life lately, there is no sense.

Since I've come back from London, and I know I keep talking about how great London was, I feel like I'm sleepwalking through things here. My own humdrum life annoys the ever-loving-hell out of me.

I want stuff that's different, like days at the park, moments with new friends ... I want time with people who know me as someone with potential, not look at me like I'm someone stuck in the same place.

Why is it, I guess, that it'd be easier for me to change my attitude if everyone else changes their attitude about me first? Waiting for that seems like a way to misplace some of the blame once you've failed.

Because then you'd have to take risks.

And I'd have to take more charge of my own life. And I'd have to defy expectations.

And that's scary as hell.

Life doesn't neatly fit into episodes.

It can. If you think about it in terms of conflicts resolved, lessons learned and commonality-of-situations, there are beginnings and endings in "episodes" of life. If you think about it like that, it feels more like a set pattern than random chaos.

Still, you're growing and progressing and moving forward.

So now that you've decided you want to move in another direction with your life, which direction do you choose?

I don't know.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Fairies in Piedmont Park.

So I was lying in my bedroom about noon today, watching my old VHS copy of "Broadcast News" and wondering if I was more like Holly Hunter or Albert Brooks in it, when Kacoon called me up.

"What are you doing?" she asked me.

"Uhh ... nothing," I said, half-awake and ashamed to realize that I was more like Albert Brooks.

"So do you have to work today?" Kacoon asked.


"Do you have plans?" she continued.


"OK, Benji and I just drove by your exit," she said. "And I realized you should join us for lunch."

"Um ... OK," I said.

"So where can you meet us?" she asked.

I considered a shower. I considered what dirty, wrinkled clothes I could throw on and still look presentable in.

Then, I realized that entertaining her four-year-old is, like, one of my favorite pasttimes.

"Um, we could go to the park," I said, looking toward the drawn blinds in my bedroom. "How's the weather today?"

"It's beautiful today," she said.

I've always wanted an excuse to go to the park. I live 10 minutes from it, so I know I don't technically need an excuse to go. But, hey, I don't go.

"When can you meet us?" she asked.

"Um, half an hour," I said.

Surprisingly, 50 minutes later, I was standing in the parking lot two blocks from the park, and Kacoon was pulling Midget's toys out of her trunk.

Given a choice for lunch, Midget picked Einstein's, and soon his cute face and happy demeanor were charming the staff, which included a number of cute guys that Kacoon and I both eyed.

Of course, waiters looking at me with Kacoon and her son did mental math and came up, naturally, with the wrong answer. And, to the staff of cute guys my age, I became "Sir," a decently cute hetero with a young son.

"Will you need a highchair, sir?" the tattooed, hair-gelled masses of tanned, black T-shirt-clad waiters asked. "We'll get you a kids' menu, sir."

Kacoon found that sorta funny, for she has seen the mildly flirty way that gay waiters usually treat me. As an apparent hetero, I became invisible, which was kinda cool because then I couldn't go about making a fool of myself. With the boy there, it couldn't be about me. So, yay. I needed that today.

All smiles went, of course, to the adorable four-year-old boy and his collection of rubber lizards and spiders.

"Look, mommy, that guy doesn't have a shirt on!" he yelled, eyeing a muscled jogger running past the patio.

"Yeah, he sure doesn't," I said.

Kacoon smirked at me.

Later, we went to the store and bought ourselves a whiffle ball and some scoops.

Kacoon vetoed my suggestion that we take her son into Outwrite Bookstore to see if hilarity ensued, and we hit the park.

We walked along the paths, and Kacoon reminded me of why I liked her so much when she said that the scenery was nice but that the "scenery" during Pride was better.

She wasn't dressed for the park. She was wearing jeans and a black shirt, and she said she hadn't even shaved her legs.

"We were going to the movies when I left the house," she said.

"Well, I like this better," I said. "I should come here more often."

We took Midget to see the lake. He sat on the dock, watched for small fish and tried to summon pigeons to come talk to us. He complained about the lack of skipping stones, and I told him that next time we'll have to gather them on the way.

"Like 'Amelie,'" Kacoon said. (Immediately, I knew I should put this all in the blog, for Lupo hates when I reference "Amelie.")

We sat on the edge of the dock for a bit, me skimming the bottom of my sandal along the surface of the lake.

"I love today," I said to Kacoon. "Thank you."

At the playground, Midget made friends with some older kids, and they started to challenge one another.

That's how we ended up at the big slide, where Midget's determination to climb the highest ladder left Kacoon, projecting her own fear of heights, in a near panic attack.

"He's going to fall," she whispered to me when he got about four feet off the ground. "Sweetie, do you wanna come down???"

Other kids about his size climbed past him, urging him on.

"He's fine," I said.

"He's gonna fall," she whispered again. "Oh my God ... Don't look down."

Midget looked at her, confused. He wasn't sure what to do. He's still 3-feet-tall at this point, even though he's 4.

I looked at him and prepared to climb up there, even though he was at our eye level.

"Look ahead of you and look behind you," I said. "There are less steps to the top than there are behind you. Just go a little further. It's almost over."

I reached toward another ladder, and Kacoon said to me, "No, get behind him, so if he falls ..."

So I told Midget to go up two more rungs, then pull himself to the top of the slide. Then, I got to the top next to him.

And we held hands and went down the slide, which wasn't very slippery. At one point, I was still at the top, and Midget was midway down, telling me to let go of his hand.

So I did. And down he went.

Then, I came down after him.

And he went to the smaller slide, while Kacoon, relieved, berated herself for projecting her fears.

"It's OK," I said to Midget. "You had fun, right?"

"Um," he said. "The smaller slide is faster."

"Well, now that you've climbed something that high, then you know you can do it ... whether or not you want to again," I said, realizing that I'd somehow become my father for a second.

We left the playground shortly after that, to save Midget from potential dangers or save Kacoon from further panic attacks. Maybe both.

We played ball on a field for a couple minutes, then Kacoon and I abandoned that because we were hot and tired. We spent time looking at the clouds, the cityscape and shirtless guys playing football in the sports field.

Midget pulled up dandelions and blew all their seeds off.

On the way back, Kacoon pointed out mushrooms to Midget, telling him that fairies were living underneath them and hiding in their shade.

He crouched close to the ground and tried to look at them.

"Don't get too close to them," she said. "They get scared around people."

"Why?" Midget asked her.

"Because they don't want to be sold in pet stores," Kacoon told her son.

"Oh," he said.

We walked away from the mushroom, down the path.

I snickered at her and said, "So you're saying there are fairies here in the park?"

"Yep," she said, looking at me. "And I'm with one of them."

Later, as she continued talking about how much the fairies in the park like mushrooms, she began laughing at herself, saying, "That just sounds so wrong when we're here."

When we walked past Einstein's on the way to the car, Midget waved at the wait staff on the patio, and they all cracked up.

Before saying goodbye, we capped off everything by having ice cream.

Midget and I both mixed Oreo cookies and chocolate ice cream, though mine was a milkshake.

And I need to go to the park more often.

Friday, April 23, 2004

The movie I forgot to mention.

In the midst of all that I've had going on - or in today's case, the whole lotta nothing I have going on, I forgot to mention that the movie I was leaving on Friday night when I suddenly found that I couldn't walk was "Connie and Carla."

Well, I didn't really so much neglect to mention it. There's just not much to say about it.

It's one of those not-funny-enough, not-distinguished-enough gay comedies that doesn't really pay enough mind to their gay characters to make them into distinguishable individuals.

It's a cross-dressing movie about girls who could never actually exist in real life that spend their time singing showtunes.

If I could've walked away from the theater any faster, I would have.

Between my screenings of "Kill Bill, Vol. 2," "Laws of Attraction" and "13 Going On 30" and momentarily losing my ability to move, I completely forgot that I'd even watched "Connie and Carla."

So there.

Out of the ordinary.

Lunch with Dad today was unfortunately tedious. He brought me a gift certificate to AMC Theatres that he received from his company for his birthday, and he told me to use it because he wouldn't.

We went to our usual restaurant, ordered our usual food from our usual waitress and sat, mostly in silence, not talking about much.

So I turned the talk to politics early, thinking that might spur him to chat. And it did, a little. But he didn't want to voice disagreement with me, and I didn't want to sound like I was deliberately antagonizing him.

So then we talked about sports. And we watched a baseball mid-game fistfight on ESPN. And a piece on CNN about an NFL player killed while serving in Iraq.

And then talk turned back to politics.

Until we stopped talking again. And he watched golf on one TV, and I watched the beginning of "All My Children" on another.

He asked me where I planned to take my next trip. I talked about meeting up with Miss Gibson again and heading with her to Paris, an idea I came up with while visiting the Waterloo Station a couple weeks ago that I haven't mentioned to anybody yet.

He told me he was going to Key West in August. And he told me that I should come see his new dog soon.

We were talking in these disjointed statements that led nowhere. It was a little depressing, I guess, but it's one of those days where I'm talking even though I don't really have a damn thing to say.

Last night, talking with Black, I spoke of how it's sometimes healthy if you go against your norm and attempt to shake up your own life.

Yesterday, I told people that, for some reason, I had the urge to go to an amusement park and behave like a 14-year-old. People told me that sounded like fun.

Sometimes, I really miss fun.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Trivia team update, Kacoon update and a blow to my self-esteem.

Even though I was there with the team last night - and we moved our group out to the Joe's patio to enjoy the warmer weather, we lost. We lost because I forgot Ronald Reagan's middle name. We lost because I can't rank the Great Lakes by order of size. We lost because I got the Fathers of the A-Bomb and H-Bomb confused. We lost.

But, funnily enough, it didn't matter because I had a great time last night. Kacoon had come with me, and she got along like gangbusters with Debi and everyone at the table.

One of the first things Kacoon heard was that Debi found out that her future husband was circumcised when they first met ... but she didn't find out his last name.

We were having such a good time the whole night, in fact, that we ended up talking long after we would've usually gone home. We did vagina impressions. We told parents-having-sex stories, sick-drunk stories and all that sort. Because I wasn't drinking cider and being obnoxious this time around, Michael the Artist doused my sweet tea with salt this time around.

That incident led me to putting a dash of salt in my hand and throwing it over my shoulder for luck, which would've been fine if there hadn't been people sitting right behind me.

The funniest moment of the night, though, came early.

For some reason, I was talking with Kacoon about the sheer number of cute guys that always manage to be at Joe's during trivia. Or something like that.

And it led me to randomly compliment myself on my post-London attitude.

"I've been feeling really good-looking lately," I said to Kacoon earnestly.

Midway through my self-aggrandizing statement, Debi burst into a fit of uncontrolled, high-pitched, lingering giggles.

I think my face turned red. Then, I started laughing.

"What was that?" I asked Debi. "Am I not good looking?"

She just kept laughing. And Kacoon started laughing.

People with permanent confidence, I imagine, don't say those kinds of things randomly.

Throughout the night, whenever talk would turn to me, the statement, "... who feels really good looking," would be added.

To concede, I offered to worsen my limp and regain the 15 pounds I'd lost, but Debi just told me that it was the joke-of-the-week regarding me, "like last time with the cider." So, apparently, this is a running thing.

Debi's son Ian saw fit to point out Jeff the Waiter several times to Kacoon, so she'd know the one I always flirt with or hit on, even though he acts completely retarded and talks like a pullstring kewpie doll.

"Jessika ... Jessika ... THIS IS JEFF," Ian kept saying to Kacoon, while Jeff was STANDING THERE, TAKING OUR PLATES. "Jessika ... this is the one he hits on ..."

My eyes almost fell out of their sockets, swear to God.

So, to not be completely embarassed, I introduced Jeff to Kacoon. And then, after he left, Kacoon proved that she did the best impression of his intentionally squeaky, slow-talking voice.

Later, I mocked Ian's behavior, calling him a "son of a bitch" in front of his mother.

Yeah, we're a fun group. The fact that I'm the target of most of the pranks and mockery, I think, is a good thing.

Next week, Nick the Cute Waiter is supposed to join us, which should prove to be even more fun.

Hmm ... I wonder if Nick will help me play a prank on Ian.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Disappearing, reappearing gay men.

I don't appear to have arthritis, first of all.

My left hip was X-rayed yesterday (after I waited in line with the hottest guy I've ever seen in my entire life and we compared our charts), and it appears that I don't have any bone damage. It's likely just muscle strain. The doctor is set to call me in a couple days with a full explanation after the photos are analyzed by a radiologist. But things look good.

So that's good.

American Express is going to send over a large man named Guido to my apartment if I don't get them a sufficient sum of money by the end of the week. So I had to talk to my mother about it, which was as emasculating as Guido could be, I guess.

On the plus side, I'm playing trivia tonight.

And two gay friends - for lack of a better term - that I knew a long time ago managed to find their way back onto my radar yesterday.

The first one was Snapshot, the almost-sorta friend I first met last July and remained in contact with until we had a falling out around August. He saw me online yesterday and said hello, asking me if I remembered who he was. I was blunt as I showed him that I did recall him. But, from that, we actually had a bit of a conversation. The next time I see him online, I will say hello ... something I would not have done before yesterday. So I guess that's progress.

The other guy I ran into yesterday was this cute guy named Jason McFall. He was at the Kroger near my house buying groceries. I was picking up some Bite-Sized Frosted Mini Wheats.

Jason and I go back about four years, sorta. A couple weeks before I left CNN, I met him at Phipps Plaza. (He said last night that I "cruised him" at the Doubleday Bookstore, and that's how we met. I most certainly did not. I do not "cruise.")

Jason and I have been through a long series of amusing, up-and-down, near-miss dates. I suppose we're friends, but, truth be told, I just kept passively persisting whenever I ran into him - at a mall, on an escalator, via returned phone call - because he never actually went on the date with me that he and I arranged four years ago. And, when I see him, I feel like there's a spark there. (Not sure if it's so much of a spark at this point, but it was fun to revisit that last night. I got his number for I've not called in a year and a half... and he's single once again, but to actually go on a date now just seems sorta ridiculous.)

So, anyway, it was funny to run across - more or less - some old friends.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Memoirs of an Apparent Space Alien.

Last night, I was unable to walk for about 20 minutes. I was moving from the Hollywood 24 movie theater to my car in the parking lot when, somewhat suddenly, the range of motion in my left leg completely left me. I couldn't lift it more than an inch off the ground without intense, lingering pain shooting into my groin and thigh areas.

I moved an inch forward, a step forward, until I reached a tree at one of the landscaped islands in the parking lot. Then, I grabbed onto the tree, tried to steady myself and rest for a moment before continuing forward. Someone else walking through the lot asked me if I was OK.

Since then, my limp's been worse than usual.

Today, I was walking through Phipps Plaza with my friend Aaron. This guy, holding hands with his wife, walked by us. And, in the moment he passed me, his eyes concentrated noticeably on my feet, then moved up my body and hit my eyes.

When he got to my eyes, I broke away from what I was saying to Aaron, muttered an annoyed but direct "Cerebral palsy" to the man and kept walking.

And Aaron, chuckling as we kept walking, whispered, "Da-a-amn," to me.

"What?" I asked. "I just answered the question in his head."

"I know," Aaron said. "I'm just amazed at how you dealt with it."

I get looks like that all the time. Little kids are the only ones to say something out loud or prove brave enough to ask me about it. And, when the kids do ask, their parents are usually embarassed. (That always amuses me, for I don't mind the kids asking about something they don't understand. I object, though, to the kids being taught that it's rude or wrong to ask about something.)

My eighth-grade math teacher Bonnie, who reads the blog, asked me last week if I'd be willing to serve as a "representative gay" for a survey her students have been assigned to do about gay marriage.

I agreed to do it, though I asked her to serve as a go-between to keep my e-mail address from them, and she's supposed to e-mail me their questions sometime soon, which should be fun - and surprising for Bonnie - since I'm not entirely in favor of gay marriage.

I hope this has a fun, educational benefit for the students and for me. I'm curious what they think, for the questions will come from the current senior class at my former high school. I'm curious how they deal with homosexuality and what their thoughts on it are 10 years after I've graduated.

Tonight, I spent hours in my usual gay bar - talking to Jonathan and Michael S. (who wants to help me with my book). And, in the moments when I was by myself, I tried to make conversation with people, and everyone thought I was making a pass at them if I spoke to them for very long, which wasn't always what I was trying to do.

The looks I received tonight, the confused whispers that went on in front of me and the annoyed eye-contact looks made me feel like I was a space alien. Because I could talk and initiate conversation. Because I was maybe sitting at the bar for too long, and they thought I was creepy bar-sitter guy, instead of someone who once worked with Jonathan for about a year.

So I thought over why I was feeling this way, that my brain was working against me.

And I decided that I was overthinking things.

So I relaxed a bit. I avoided the bad-glance people and had a better night, thanks to it.

Friday, April 16, 2004

My mom likes bunnies.

My mother, despite repeated attempts to get her to stop treating me like I'm six years old, called me today and in a babyish voice asked me why I hadn't come by.

She told me that my chocolate bunny had been waiting for me all week and that he was crying and lonely.

"Chocolate bunny?" I asked her.

"You said you were going to come by and do laundry and bring me a book," she said squeakily. "You're supposed to get your chocolate bunny. He's waiting ..."

"I didn't realize there was a sense of urgency behind it," I said.

"So then you're coming by next week?" she asked.

"Um, I can come by tomorrow," I said. "I'm supposed to work at the bookstore, and I'll come by."

On Easter, I was working at the bookstore. While I was there, she left me a voicemail, singing me a "Happy Bunny Day" song. I played it for one of my co-workers, who was caught in a fit of giggles and disbelief over it.

In front of my co-worker, I called my mother back and sang her a medley of happy bunny songs. (Sometimes, I am so a six-year-old.)

She works in mortgage loans and is considered quite accomplished and formidable. The people at the bank probably haven't heard her squeaky bunny voice.

My mom's usually cool, but Easter comes and she goes all OF MICE AND MEN-style bunny-crazy. The only year I didn't get a proper Easter basket from my mom was my junior year in high school, when I skipped out on my family's annual Spring Break vacation to Panama City Beach, the shittiest vacation destination on Earth.

My mom likes bunnies. My mom likes me. My mom liked me best when I was 3 and sang songs and was cute and needed someone to take care of me because I was different and she didn't want the other kids to be mean.

That's what the bunny-baby-talk is about, I guess, and I'm used to it.

Once when I was in high school, I sorta punched my mother in the chest.

It was early. I was half-awake and tired. She came in to wake me up, singing her "Good Morning ... Good Morning ..." song, this sing-songy thing that - when you're tired - is the most damned annoying thing you've ever heard in your entire life.

Good morning, good morning,
There are things to do today ...
Good morning, good morning,
It's time to wake up and play ...
Good morning, good morning,
Let's go and greet the day.

So I'm laying there. And I hear the song, which was her way of waking me up every single day I went to school. And, half awake and lying down facing away from her, I swung my arm back. It hit her in the chest, and she said "Ow" really loud. And my stepfather asked her what had happened. And I apologized and told them that I wasn't really awake and that it was a reflex.

I didn't mean to. I don't think I meant to. I don't know. I hit my mother. It was early. I wasn't thinking right.

Nobody spoke to me the rest of that morning.

(My therapist, hearing this story later, told me that I probably did it because I was "sick of being woken up like a damned infant.")

Until I was about 10, I spoke at home using mostly baby-talk. Seriously. It wasn't until my mother met my stepfather - when I was in the fourth grade - that they decided to break me from the habit.

Weirder, I still do it when I'm in my car, talking to myself. (I said something to Lupo a couple days ago, using a tone, and he referred to it as my "Fievel Mousekewitz" voice.)

My mother told me a couple years ago that, when I was a toddler, she and my father used to speak in baby-talk to one another because it was the only way that they could avoid arguing.

My mother called me this morning, talking to me in her office in that voice about how my chocolate bunny was lonely and crying.

And, remembering that I'm almost 30, it just struck me as a little twisted.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Stand alone.

I got really, really frustrated with myself today. And I don't know how to fix my problems sometimes.

I know I have friends who love me. I have friends who love me in spite of the really, really difficult periods.

I am nice. And I am smart. But I have issues. And they're huge. And some people prefer not to be around me or dismiss me because, frankly, they don't know if I'm honestly worth the trouble.

But an investment in me will pay off. I've worked too damn hard to give up on myself.

Why does this always have to be so hard? My brain works against me.

I'm not the sort who relaxes. I'm not the sort of person who can just let go of control.

It's not a matter of me just being stubborn. I'm not wired that way. My process doesn't work that way.

I don't know what to do.


Miss Gibson and Mark, who needs a nickname if he's going to be mentioned here much more, have helped me adjust my date-dar.

I apparently make things too complicated by asking the wrong questions.

They say:

It doesn't matter what you call a potential date. It doesn't matter what you think it is. It's more important to show up and have fun. Whatever "it" becomes will be determined in spite of your efforts to define it.

Repairing my date-dar.

Can someone help me hone my date-dar? Most people need gaydar. I think I'm OK there. I need date-dar. I can't tell when people are flirting with me until it's too late. Or I think they're flirting with me, and they're not.

It causes awkwardness. And, in the cases where I'm attracted to someone but the closest that I can ever get to them is fantasy, it causes callouses in my hands.

So I need to actually date more. But, to do that, I need to hone my date-dar so that I can start going out with people I'm attracted to who are additionally attracted to me.

In some cases, I go out with people I'm not attracted to ... just because they're attracted to me. Usually, this is a frustrating disaster.

In other cases, people are flirting with me seriously, and I think they're kidding. Or people are joking with me, and I think they're serious.

Midway through an actual date once with Crocker, I asked him if he thought we were on a date. He said yes, and then I went from just acting like we were friends and being relaxed to being sorta pent-up and tense.

I feel like I should know if a date is a date before I go on it.

Sometimes, I can't tell if my date was a date until I pick his underwear up off my floor the next morning. And, seriously, I think that's a bad way to figure it out.

I don't know how to fix all this.

Marley was talking to me about it a couple days ago, asking me to define whether me going to coffee with Mark was a "date" or not.

I told her that I didn't know, so I put it in the "non-date" date category, the category where I put my outing with Nick the Cute Waiter.

That's where you're going out to a place with someone that you technically could date, doing date-things ... but it's not a date because romance, though hypothetically possible, is not the intention. Hence, I suppose all my first initial outings with gay friends that I barely know are "non-dates" or "maybe-dates."

It isn't until after I've been on them that I know whether they're dates or not. (In both Mark and Nick's cases, they're both cute, charming and smart. But neither event was a date.)

Marley told me that I was making things too complicated ... again. It's a date. Or it's not.

I prefer to keep an open mind.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Trivia team update.

Debi wrote me and said that, in my absence to attend "Kill Bill," the trivia team lost last night.

we came in 4th by two points. Brian was glad you weren't there. You
better be there next week. Missed you not just because you have the
right answers.

I guess Brian must be on another team or something, for I think I've met a Brian there. But I don't know which one he is. I don't think he's the flirt-by-acting-impaired waiter who I spoke to a couple weeks ago.

It was nice of Debi to say I was missed.

My high-praise, spoiler-free KILL BILL, VOL. 2 review.

"Kill Bill, Vol. 2," which I saw in a sneak preview last night, is exactly the way you want it to be. It's overtly stylized, violent, interesting and filled with cliffhangers and obscure movie references. It also holds the answers you seek in the story and contains some great dialogue and acting.

Uma Thurman's character of The Bride is given a name and fleshed out so that she becomes more of a human being and less of a single-minded killing machine. Keith Carradine's Bill is given a face, several great speeches and a personality that is both charming and frightening. Daryl Hannah gives a career-best performance, frankly, as the jealous, scary Elle Driver. And Michael Madsen creates Budd as a killer more world-weary than scary. Oh, and Gordon Liu's performance as Pei Mai is very funny.

"Vol. 2" is as good as the first one, which was very good, but "Vol. 2" is great in a completely different way. It has dialogue, emotion and depth. The full weight that the story carries becomes apparent in "Vol. 2," and Carradine and Thurman have some great scenes.

The two halves of "Kill Bill" are so different, in fact, that it's difficult for me to imagine them together.

They're both stand-alone masterpieces.

And I suppose that's about the best compliment I can give this.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

My worst trip to the movies.

Since I go to the movies at least once a week, it's fun for me when the individual viewing experiences stick out in my head. My best trip to the movies, which I can relate another time, was going to see "The Silence of the Lambs" by myself at age 14. The most fun I've ever had with friends in a movie was the screening of "Crossroads" at Mall of Georgia with Doug and a lighter-waving Kacoon two years ago.

Trying to think up my worst trip to the movies, I racked my brain for memories of bad moviegoing experiences. (This isn't about seeing a bad movie. It's about a bad theater experience, like when the theater once switched reels on me and showed me the end of "Needful Things" before the middle or when I went to see "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" last year with Edmondson and that drunk woman behind us was singing the theme song over and over and playing horsey-ride in her chair.)

The worst trip to the movies that I can remember was seeing Milos Forman's "The People Vs. Larry Flynt" at the AMC Colonial 18 in Lawrenceville, Ga.

I'm just sitting there, watching and enjoying the movie, when a dateline comes up onscreen to introduce a scene.

"Lawrenceville, Ga."

People started applauding, and then I remembered what happened to Larry Flynt in Lawrenceville, which I'd forgotten.

While on trial there, a gunman shot him and left him paralyzed. The gunman was never caught.

So I go looking around the theater for strange people, thinking that the gunman could very well be sitting right near me, while some people kept applauding all through the Lawrenceville segment.

"Yay!," I imagined them thinking. "Our town's the site of a famous shooting!"

It was like sitting in Ford's Theater and watching a play about Abraham Lincoln.

Black out.

Black and I have been playing phone tag for about three weeks now, ever since I left for London. He started his new job in Birmingham yesterday, but I only know that because he left a voicemail on my phone while I was away from it. I replied, leaving a voicemail on his phone. (On a related note, I saw Steven the Phone-Tag Champion this weekend. He was, ahem, polite.)

Today, Black and I did exchange e-mails, which I will list here.

RILEY: I think you're missing. Alabama is a gigantic black hole that you've fallen into, and I'm never going to hear from you again.

BLACK: Heh. Not missing, still here. I'll call later.

RILEY: You're upset with me. You think I'm horrible and that I betrayed you. You want to drag me through the streets by my hair until my scalp is forcibly ripped from my skull. Then, you want to stamp on my head until I'm horribly disfigured and near death. Then, you'd make me watch "Ishtar."

BLACK: I'd never make anyone watch "Ishtar."

Where you are when you are who you are.

Mark and I are meeting for coffee tomorrow, and the old me has emerged to work against myself in the midst of anticipating it, even though it's just coffee.

Noting what I was doing, Mark told me to not freak out or apologize anymore, be myself ... and relax.

When my immediate reaction was to say, "I don't relax," I realized that I'd somehow managed to lose sight of who I was in London. Who I am when I don't worry.

So, strangely, I went back and read "Consider Yourself," my OWN essay on the topic that I wrote when I was in London. And I found comfort from myself.

Then, I wrote Mark this:

I don't really feel like myself since I came back, which is more than a little bit maddening, and I didn't mean for my frustrations and insecurities to be obvious to you.

I get nervous. Even small things make me nervous. This debate goes on inside my head. And I obsess over stuff.

In London, I was different. If I wanted to do something, I did it. If I wanted to talk to someone, I spoke to them. I wasn't worried or intimidated or apologetic. Frankly, I found myself to be cooler there.

Now, I come back here and again feel like I don't fit. Or that I'm trying too hard. And people poke fun at me, and I don't relax about it. Or I remember my high school awkwardness or my college awkwardness.

I'm a really smart guy, I guess, but it drives me kinda nuts. Being back here after feeling better about myself somewhere else. Not knowing where I stand. Trying to meet new people on my own.

But I want to get back to who I was there. Even though I was only gone for a week.

It's not been an easy time for me, though it's not been a bad time ... and it's been a breeze compared to the week you've been having.

Tell me how you're doing. I haven't asked today.

Mark wrote back that I just need to ask myself, "Do I want to trust my process or someone else's?"

Apparently, this is a theme of his, for that's the name of his blog.

So I'm going to slow down, take a moment to breathe, trust my own process and be fine.

Monday, April 12, 2004

The Bride Wore Black.

There are times when I'm really happy that I joined the Peachtree Film Society.

Like when I found out today that I have passes for an advance screening to "Kill Bill, Vol. 2," which I think is probably going to be completely kickass.

Marley and I are going to see it, and I'm advised not to bring anyone, following the "Jersey Girl" screening debacle that occurred the last time we invited people to come with us.

Even though the "Jersey Girl" thing was mostly my fault because of my bad behavior, I decided that it's best to avoid the situation altogether.

Incidentally, "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" comes out on DVD tomorrow. And, if you haven't seen it, it's a lot of fun.


Since I started writing about Michael, Jerry, Robbie, me and the 1998 UGA fires while drunk last night, I suppose I should be obligated to tell the rest of the story at some point.

I always wanted to write a big book about it anyway and call it "Flaming."

Those of you who know me and have heard the stories over and over, I hope that you'll find whatever I write about it entertaining.

Those of you who don't know me, feel free to write me and ask me what it's all about. I'll forward you links to the relevant news articles and such.

Those of you who think what I wrote last night shows me at my most scary and most potentially slutty, get over it. I'm a single gay guy who kisses random people. (And Michael's my friend, anyway. And, when I kissed Steven, it was another friendly thing.)

I'm also a guy with a past involving friends who were victims of arson. Or not. (Read the book when I write it.)

You may have to take my word for it on this one, but I'm sorta cool and good to know. And I'm not really any more or less screwed-up than anybody else when you get right down to it.

So, now, if I'm going to continue this story, I suppose I should write about the night I met Michael S.

But it's late. I can't start writing about it now.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Prologue or ending.

I kissed Michael S. tonight. I haven't kissed him since I graduated from college. But I only kiss him when it matters. And I don't kiss him in a romantic way. It's not like that.

Tonight, I was talking to him - while he tended bar near my apartment - about our collective past. And, from that, he thought I was sweet.

He is sweet. And he loves me and still thinks me beautiful.

But time has changed Michael and me. And it hasn't. I'll always love him more than he loves me. And he'll always "get" me.

And apparently, I'll still kiss him when the moment's right.

My college life, in fact, ended with a kiss to Michael S. Drama students out for a night of drinking were standing there watching us that night in Boneshaker's and told him to go ahead and kiss me. Because he'd told me that I could have whatever and whomever I wanted. And, in response, I worked myself up and gave him a soliloquy about how it wasn't true because he knew I wanted him and couldn't have him. I was at my most kissable during that speech. The actors watching me deliver it just STARED at me.

That was the last time we kissed before tonight. That one and this one were both friendly. But they both meant something.

I'm repeating myself and not explaining enough.

Tonight, I was talking to him about seeing myself for who I am. How I'm completely different. And uniquely remarkable. And how we all are.

But let me give you the immediate context of the kiss. I'd been drinking scotch, and I'd just read him a speech that I'd written on notecards about how he made me feel during college and how he still makes me feel. He makes me feel like a kid. Seeing Michael makes me want my chance with him - since he slept with everyone else, married everyone else, regarded everyone else. But he's not hunky. And he's not unapproachable. And it's not that he didn't love me. And it's not that we couldn't have then. And it's not that we almost didn't then.

Sometimes I like to think that I'm special because I'm the one he didn't sleep with. Because I still love him. And he still loves me. But we don't talk on the phone.

It's a long story. Me and Michael S.

It's my book actually. It's my story of coming out. It's my story of first falling in love. It's my story of really falling in love after thinking I did the first time. And it's my story about the fires. The one I set. The ones set by other people.

Tonight I talked about Jerry. And Robbie. And those years. And how Michael hurt me, even though he loved me and never promised me anything. It's difficult to not be the only one not asked to dance.

Beyond that, I talked about who we are now. And how he makes me feel like a shy kid when I see him even now. He's surprised that I come to realizations he's been trying to teach me about myself for years.

Instead of hearing him when he first tried to teach me my own worth years ago, I remember him undressing in front of me in his parents' house, preparing for a night out bowling. I remember the conversation we had in the dressing room at Gap in North Point Mall and how people were just staring at us while I spoke to him and he was changing pants.

It's weird, I guess, that he loves me and knows me, and I sometimes can't see it because I'm too ridiculously caught up in lusting for him and not thinking myself worthy. But that's how it was then.

Tonight I reminded him of the weeknight he called me at 1 a.m. back in 1997 and rushed to my dorm room to read me a column he'd written about me. He'd written a column about how strong I was, how capable I was. (It actually dealt with all people with disabilities and how Michael found their perserverence remarkable. But he dedicated it to me.) He showed up in my dorm room one night to read me something he'd written mentioning how great he thought I was, something I wasn't ready to hear. But he read it. And he'd written me a note at the end of it telling me just how much he cared for me. Maybe he meant to love me that night. There was a charge, a vibe.

I still remember what he wrote me at the end of that column.

"Never forget that you have true strength. Thank you for showing and reminding me. Love, Michael."

Thinking back on his old columns, I remember when he used to give me backrubs in my newspaper office. My friend Erin saw one of them and asked me how long we'd been dating, not believing me when I told him we weren't. When Michael and I wrote a Point-Counterpoint debate for the newspaper, as well, the connection between us, in my head at least, gelled. (My column, for posterity's sake, was better than his.)

Tonight I also reminded him of the Valentine's Day dinner we had together. How we watched "The Lion in Winter" while I gave him a back rub that became something more than friendly when I urged him out of his clothes and studied his body with my hands for hours. Hours I spent in wonder that I was there - and that I was showing restraint - until Michael fell asleep, completely relaxed. I kissed him on the back of the neck, then whispered to him that I didn't think I could go much longer without kissing him more, kissing him deeper and kissing him elsewhere. So Michael, half awake while wearing underwear and glistening with oil on Valentine's Day, pulled out the side bed, and I slept there.

I'm the one who didn't have sex with Michael. And I'm still the one who didn't have sex with Michael. It defines me and makes me special. Or stupid. Or naive. Or the one he wasn't attracted to.

But we get each other.

His first husband - because Michael doesn't date so much as marry for a couple years - was one of my exes. His second husband was one of my exes. His third husband was someone I flirted with and kissed on a couple occasions. (Luckily, I have no ties to his current husband, though he is a nice guy.)

And now I think I liked all of them and only really loved Michael. Why is that?

I went to that bar tonight to say hello.

I didn't even know tonight that I wanted to tell him these things, and I ended up kissing him. He had hugged me. A couple times. Once while talking about Robbie. But another time because I said something nice. They were lingering, eye-contact hugs based upon understanding, love, survival and history.

And I was ready to walk away, but I thought there'd been a moment where I could've kissed him and missed it. So I went back, put my hands on his face and pulled him to me, kissing him. A friendly, reciprocated one.

"We only do that when it matters," I said to him. And I walked away.

Ours is a love story. And it's not.

But I can pitch it better than this. You've heard love stories before, and this one's different. Not because it's gay. Not because it's true. Not because it's about a couple marginal, bizarre crimes that are no longer relevant.

This one's just different.

I confess this all to you because I've been drinking, partly, and because I've always wanted to tell this story to someone.

People can learn from the fires. People can learn from what happened to my friend Jerry. And, I guess, what happened to me and the others in relation.

The story of the UGA hate-crime fires in 1998, if I ever tell it because I know all about it and it's my story to tell, begins not when I met Jerry.

It begins the moment I first saw Michael S.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Let's play ... "How Scary Am I?"

I think I sent one person 75 e-mails today. Several of them were one-sentence. Some of them were one word. I'm going to talk to my therapist about impulse control the next time I see him.

I also argued with my supervisor. And I called a meeting with my boss in which we agreed that we had no idea how to talk to one another.

Though I appreciate my confidence and boldness today, I'm also trying not to be some kind of creepy villain.

It seems like that line should be more clear to me.

I ain't country.

My almost-sorta-brand-new friend Mark likes country music, so I e-mailed him to begrudgingly let him know what my "country music cred" was.

I wrote:

I need to confess something to you. Try not to gasp. I don't know how important this is to you in considering potential friends. I am not a huge fan of country music, but I can get by if need be. I'm better with older people than with modern, even though I begrudgingly admit that Kenny Chesney is kinda hot.

Here's my country music cred:

I once followed a group of cloggers onstage during a country music concert that my mom took me to, and I tried to fake my way through the dance - even though I just followed one of my friends onstage not knowing she was a performer. I was wearing sneakers. This incident is referred to in my family as "The Accidental Clogging."

One of my sitters as a child was a HUGE Alabama fan. Another was a Conway Twitty and Crystal Gayle fan. I used to watch "Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters," that TV show with the Krofft puppets. My hometown was used to film the Kenny Rogers movie "Six Pack." I remember seeing Sylvester Stallone and Dolly Parton in "Rhinestone" at the movie theater. I interviewed Whisperin' Bill Anderson once when I worked for newspapers. I liked "Hee Haw" when I was 7. I recommended Garth Brooks' "Friends in Low Places" for the senior class song in high school - as a joke. I met Travis Tritt once in the lobby of the Omni Hotel at CNN Center. I've seen Willie Nelson in concert, know that Johnny Cash is cool and know that Patsy Cline's "Crazy" is always the best song on the Waffle House jukebox.

I think Toby Keith is a gigantic tool. And I like the Charlie Daniels Band but disagree with them politically.

The last country albums I bought were the Dixie Chicks' "Home," Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Essential" album, Nanci Griffith's folky "One Warm Summer Night" and the absolutely awesome Dolly Parton tribute album, "Just Because I'm a Woman." I suppose you could consider the Bonnie Raitt album I bought over Christmas as a crossover.

Anyway, write back if you're not mortified by my complete lack of country cred. I appreciate education.

Mark wrote back and asked me to marry him.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

The art of non-conformity.

Once in high school, this girl Kelley was trying to dissuade my crush on her because it meant that, as long as I vocally liked her, more popular kids were sitting away from her at the lunch table.

So, one night on the phone, she told me that she didn't want me sitting with her at lunch anymore. Because, even though I was smart and nice enough, the popular kids were fleeing because of me, she said.

"Well, why would you want to be friends with people like that?" I asked.

"Because I'm trying to fit in at a new school," she said to me.

"But people who would judge you because you sit with me are dumb for doing so," I said.

"You're probably right," she said, "But I still don't want you sitting with me."

And I got upset.

So Kelley said to me the following statement, which immediately became carved-in-stone in my memory.

"You're a non-conformist, and that's good," she said chirpily. "John Lennon was a non-conformist. Then again, so was Hitler."

I don't fit in. I never have. Heck, with my leg, my family, my mouth and my mind, I don't think I was ever designed to play to the crowd.

Last week, I wrote that I fit in by standing out, which is what I suppose I'm supposed to do ... if you believe in design or fate.

This week, back at work with people who don't "get" me and aren't particularly tolerant of my methods - even if they see my competence, I'm a little frustrated.

They want me to be more even, more predictable, more focused and more involved in the work that I do.

But the work that I do is, at face value, boring and sorta unimportant. And I'm not the sort that you promote. This is stuff I know.

I'm capable of more. And I want to motivate myself to something more personally involving than this.

(I'm not alone. Last week, Miss Gibson, facing a similar ceiling, wondered aloud to me if she had "too much personality" to be successful. If she were quieter, less opinionated and less frankly herself, she reasoned that she might hit fewer glass ceilings. I can't personally imagine that version of Miss Gibson. And I don't think she can either, which is why it frustrates her.)

My favorite old boss Bob, who called me the worst kind of employee because I was a "performing non-conformer" - meaning that I could do good work but didn't want to follow the rules, talked to me about my frustrations today, spurned by the fact that my supervisor Ethan finds me capable and yet unmanageable.

I thanked Bob for understanding me, for pushing the right buttons with me and for, to be honest, encouraging me to do something that I wanted to do while I was still young enough to face a change and not get stuck.

"You're a procrastinator," Bob said. "I understood that. You dawdle around during the day, then push yourself to get a lot done at the last minute. I'm the same way."

"I learned it reporting for newspapers," I said, which I guess is kinda true. (How else do you think I write these occasionally long blog entries during the workday? I'm fast and distracted and get bored easily and want to do something that I find personally important and challenging. The right job might make me a better worker. I fear my current one, other than providing me with a paycheck, won't make me a better worker.)

"I try talking to people, but they don't listen to me and walk away," I said to Bob, laughing. "I don't get why they want me to be less than who I am when I'm here."

"Nobody wants you to be less than who you are," Bob said to me. "But the challenge is to occasionally be more than who you are."

I feel bad about this. There's an inevitability to the whole situation, and I fear I know how it's going to play out. I have to go eventually. I have to try. I have to take a risk.

Bob said he understood. And he said he got what other people couldn't get about me. They're too busy being frustrated by me to see how I tick. Bob wasn't forgiving it, certainly, and blamed me for it. But he also knew that the solution isn't here at this office at this time.

I like Bob. Even though he called me the worst kind of worker, I felt completely cool about asking him for a reference on my resume, which I decided to update after four years. (My four-year anniversary at this job, which I began as a temp, is tomorrow, actually.)

He has a bit of the non-conformist in him, too. Which puts me in better company than Hitler.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

You can take the bookseller out of the store ...

If you've ever read Michael Chabon's excellent, Pulitzer-winning novel, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY, then you should be very excited about this comic book coming out in the near future.

It supposedly "archives" the original issues of "The Escapist," the book-within-a-book created by Sam and Joe in the novel.

As soon as I saw this excellent cover art, I got excited.

If you've not read KAVALIER AND CLAY, by the way, I know that Barnes & Noble was selling tons of discount paperbacks of it really, really cheap a couple weeks ago on the bargain shelves. So run out and get one. And get a copy of Jonathan Franzen's THE CORRECTIONS, which is also there on the overstock area.

Thus concludes my sales pitch.

Cool things that London has that Atlanta and the U.S. don't have.

1. Miss Gibson. And her friends.
2. Ads for books in the subway stations.
3. Photo booths in the subway stations.
4. The tube stations, in general, for they actually go someplace useful, unlike MARTA which, if your lucky, will take only 45 minutes to help you travel 20 minutes away - not that the station is, um, ANYWHERE NEAR ANY USEFUL PLACE.
5. Restaurants and bars that are OLDER than the United States.
6. Book jackets that are completely different-looking from crappy, American book jackets.
7. Neighborhood pubs that you'd actually want to go to.
8. Gay people kissing in the tube station without people, other than me, looking at them.
9. Indian restaurants so competitive that they send salespeople out into the streets to usher in business from people who just happen to be walking by.
10. People with British accents.

Things to do ...

1) Clean your apartment.
2) Wash all those damn clothes in your bedroom, AND PUT THEM AWAY.
3) Update your resume THIS WEEK.
4) Check on the bookstore transfer.
5) Practice listening to people.
6) Develop film from your trip to London.
7) Keep up-to-date on your bill situation.
8) Check the mailbox. It's not going to bite your hand off, like you're apparently afraid it will.
9) Try to arrive at work at around 8:30 regularly, for jet lag has - surprisingly - taught you how to wake up in the morning in time to do things besides rush to work.
10) Get friggin' groceries. Friggin' use your friggin' kitchen.

Lunches with my parents.

Since my parents are eager to see me and talk to me since I went to London by myself and returned to them safely, I had lunch with my mother yesterday. And I'm having lunch with my father today, but I tend to do that once a week or so anyway.

Lunches with my father tend to be really interesting. We go to the same restaurant, order the same food and have a completely wacky conversation.

A couple weeks ago, my dad and I were talking about going to college in Ohio in 1969 and 1970. He spoke to me about how other campuses reacted - and how his campus reacted - to the Kent State uprising.

The Bowling Green campus was apparently the only one that didn't erupt in protests after Kent State, but my father told me about how he and my mother were driving around campus the day after it and saw that National Guard troops had been placed on call there, in case anything happened.

It was scary, they've both told me. Which doesn't say much.

But when my father tells these stories, his mind wanders, and he starts getting this looks of full recognition on his face. So real fear registers on his face. Real laughs occur to him when he thinks about an old friend who got drafted or how his friends from the dorms used to camp out in their apartment living room, falling asleep in front of the TV.

At lunch, I asked my father once how he proposed to my mother. He said he didn't remember ... but that he remembered asking my grandfather's permission and being scared about that.

My father, though, told me that he did remember his draft number.


Watching the draft on TV, he said he knew that he'd be dead if his number had been picked. He imagined himself as a soldier and knew that it wouldn't work. He had an attitude problem. He didn't like conflict. He was bad at taking someone else's orders. And he thought that firing a gun would be amusing. He imagined himself dead. He was 21.

Luckily, his draft number was high. He watched the draft with a friend of his, and, when it became clear that his friend was headed over and he wasn't, the two of them left my mother in the apartment and went to a bar to drink.

Remember yourself in college. Think about your parents doing the same things in the same way. It's weird.

That's why I have lunch with my dad. Because he reminds me of myself. And I remind him of himself.

Lunch with my mom is usually different. There's generally an occasion involved.

Yesterday, my mom wanted the gift that I bought her at a duty-free Harrod's store in the London airport.

It was a Paddington Bear, from the book she used to read me when I was about 3. The bear that she used to dress me up like. The book that she looks for when she comes to my bookstore now.

She LOVED the bear. When she saw it, she cooed. Then, she told me that she'd put it in her office so that she wouldn't have to "share" it with either of my stepbrother's children.

For lunch, we went to Blimpie because I didn't really have much time. Since I go there all the time, my mom thought it was funny that the staff knew who I was and what I wanted to eat without asking me. And then they gave me a free, broken cookie.

For some reason, we continued talking about toys at lunch. I think it had to do with the fact that my cousin won't buy her daughters any Barbie dolls because it subjects them to confining ideas of beauty and sex.

"Well, I was pretty good about that, I think," my mother said to me.

"Why?" I asked her. "Because of my She-Ra dolls?"

When I was in the fourth grade, my mother bought me She-Ra dolls and her Crystal Palace playset because "She-Ra: Princess of Power" was my favorite show on TV.

Apparently, my stepfather - who doesn't know that his now-married, redneck Baptist son initiated my first three dozen or so sexual experiences - told my mother last week that it was no wonder I was gay since she let me play with dolls.

"They were action figures," she said.

I think that was our stance at the time, too. They're just action figures with frilly outfits and long, flowing hair, my mother and I said back in 1986 - aware of our own senses of complete denial.

My stepfather apparently said to her last week, "You shouldn't have let him have them. You should've just told him that they were for girls."

Whatever. She-Ra knew how to swordfight and beat up ugly, evil creatures like Hordak - even though she rode a beautiful, white unicorn. She-Ra RULED.

Even though I laughed at her story yesterday, I feel bad for my mom, having to hold such a stupid conversation with someone who doesn't understand the nature of human sexuality in general or my sexuality specifically.

I remember how I explained it to her once, when she asked me what "caused" this gay thing. Is it genetics? Is it conditioning? Is it a mixture?

"I don't know, and I don't think that's the right question to ask," I said to her when I was 19. "All I know is that, for whatever reason, I was given this to deal with. And not everyone has it. So either I can choose to behave honestly about it - acknowledging it - or I can deny it and lie to myself. I don't want to lie about it."

So, anyway, yeah. Lunches with my parents are good.


Apparently, my friend Jonathan the bartender, who introduced me to Debi on my trivia team through Enlight Atlanta, has now told her of the Scotch Test. And she's joking with me about it.

Three glasses of Black Label. I kiss someone. Usually, this is funny. Usually, I don't see the person I kissed again. Usually, I shouldn't have kissed them.

This is the sort of reputation I don't mind - but don't want.

Third time's a charm.

So, last night, I returned to the Joe's on Juniper trivia team, and, though we had changed our name, the results of the game were inevitably the same.

We won. I've been with the team on three occasions at this point, and we've won on all three occasions.

(The thing is, I think, that I know some answers in categories that other members would doubt. And the things I don't know are stuff that other members of my team are sure of. Stating this aloud, though, it sounds obvious, not profound.)

So, last night, before I had too many glasses of cider, I was treated to jokes about how selfish it was of me to abandon the team to go to London last week.

And there were LOTS of jokes about my cosmetic Shoreditch-hip glasses - which Ian the Teen dubbed "toupee glasses" when he found out they "didn't do anything."

The funny thing about last night was that, wearing the glasses, people whom I'd met before didn't know who I was.

I walked past one of my teammates, whom I met before, and I looked him straight in the eye. But he said later that I only looked vaguely familiar to him.

Another teammate, Jim the Smart One, talked to me for three minutes, answering questions about how the team did last week, before I said he was looking at me like he didn't know who I was.

He admitted he didn't, and I took off my glasses.

"Oh, it's you," he said.

That's when I started drinking the cider.

(Miss Gibson would - and did - say that cider is what Americans drink when they want to come off as trendy and European. I just so happen to like cider.)

And, while I was drinking the cider later in the evening, one older, gay member - who was joking about with me - put salt in my last glass everytime I got up. And I didn't notice. Until there was lots and lots of salt in it, apparently.

"If you're trying to prepare me to taste something salty, it's not going to work," I told him, in my drunken, mistaken attempt at subtle flirtation. (Yes, when I'm drinking, THAT'S subtle. Sad, huh?)

My friend Jonathan the bartender, who doesn't work there but works at Burkhart's, was there, too. But he was at a different table. And, upon finding out from my team member that I was ogling people who walked past the table, he came over and told me to have some scotch. And I told him to stop it, for the Scotch Test - wherein scotch leads me to kiss someone - only works at Burkhart's.

At one point, our waiter Jeff - the one who told me that I was scowling at him a couple weeks ago - kept coming over and talking to me. And touching me on the shoulder. And stealing glances and smiling at me.

"Is he flirting, or is he just typical waiter-flirting?" I asked the guy who put salt in my cider.

Well, basically, I concluded Jeff was kinda flirting with me, right around the time that I decided that Jeff's dumb blonde routine was too RAIN MAN for an adult to find overwhelmingly attractive.

"Does he really think that's cute?" I asked the guy who put salt in my cider.

The table kinda mocked me last night. And I kinda deserved it because I sorta had too much to drink. But I'm invited back next week.

And I'm having tea.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

And #10,000 is ...


In her acceptance speech e-mail, she writes:

Whoo-hoo! I’m 10,000! I’m 10,000! Yay!!!!

I’m so proud I don’t want to close your browser…I will never ever be 10,000 again.

I liked your photos, by the way…they almost have a little red-coat girl in “Schindler’s List” kind of look, in that they look mostly black and white with some pale color.


Oh my God, the counter's probably going to hit #10,000 today.

If you are #10,000 on the counter at the bottom of the page at any point today, it is imperative, even if you are a complete stranger, to E-MAIL me.

My photo booth idea.

Hopefully, Miss Gibson won't mind that I'm posting the photo booth shots of her and CK Dexter here on the blog, as well. The shots are good, though, so I don't think she'd have a problem with it - other than that whole condition of anonymity thing.

Isn't she lovely? That gamine look, evoking Audrey Hepburn. Those fabulous eyebrows.

We took these photos on Thursday afternoon after sleeping in. I told them that I had a "crazy, American tourist" idea that would allow us to all have snapshots of each other. You get four photos through the booth, and they both gave me one of theirs.

(I told them to trade them like "baseball cards." As a result, Miss Gibson and CK Dexter have a photo of me that isn't published here. The shot of me published here is from the day before.)

I wanted them to remember my trip, plus I was caught up in the whole "Amelie" feel of everything. It seemed like it would be a fun souvenir, anyway.

This is CK Dexter - who told me to come back to the city sometime, who talked to me about books and who let me sleep on his floor over the weekend because I was scared that returning to Miss Gibson's apartment might mean that I'd have to drink absinthe with her roommates.

Absinthe, since I'm a fan of modern art, scares the crap out of me. If you ever see a painting called "The Absinthe Drinker," which I own a print of, then you can tell that it looks like the most frightening drug this side of crack. (Of course, you know, if I were into seeing Kylie Minogue in skimpy clothing as a green pixie a la "Moulin Rouge," then I would've downed the absinthe. But Kylie Minogue in skimpy clothing - and a green glow - doesn't do anything for me.)

Why aren't there photo booths in every subway station in America? After watching "Amelie," which I loved, I went looking for photo booths everywhere and couldn't find one. They were, on the other hand, all over Britain. Is it because the homeless would sleep in them? Is it because Americans aren't as likely to get passports on the run since another country isn't just a train trip away?

I love photo booths.

All right then.

Thank you, Michael Edmondson, for teaching me how to properly adjust the size of an HTML image.

Now, for good or for bad, people will have an idea of what I look like when I write something on this blog. I like the photo, personally. So, yay, now you all know what I look like.

The photo booth shot.

OK, I guess this is my first technical vacation photo, since it was both taken and processed while I was there. This was taken in the passport photo booth at Old Street Station.

I tried to smile. Seriously I did, but something happened. I found out that only one side of my mouth ever curls up when I smile, like I've had a stroke or something.

Anyway, I liked this shot, for I figure I look properly rumpled. Miss Gibson was keen on it, too.

If anyone can give me proper HTML advice and let me know how to make it smaller, then I'll repost it.

(Yes, for the record, I did shave that day.)