This Christmas 

For a long time,  my Christmas was a regiment of obligations, parties,  people,  and travel, things I moved 1,800 miles away from for some quiet and freedom. 

Christmas eve was reserved for my dad’s side of the family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends would pour into my parents’ house for a night of drinking, games, and so so much food. It would end promptly a few minutes before midnight as all the good catholics in the family rushed off to midnight mass. Then after the leftovers were packed, garbage thrown away and house cleaned, my sister and I opened gifts and went to bed. 

At 4am we were shaken awake and marched to whatever car was warming up in the driveway. Invariably it was whatever my dad had just finished fixing up,  and our test drive of the brand new motor he started for the first time was a road trip to Oregon to see my mom’s family. Our first stop was gas, and the second stop was usually as the sun came up,  somewhere in northern California  (and I’m not talking San Francisco or Sacramento as northern California,  we’re taking Willits, Red Bluff, Yreka, or Weed) for breakfast at the most dive diner my dad could find. His ability to find a yard sale is impressive, but his ability to find a hole-in-the-wall place to eat is unequaled. 

Hours later we would arrive in the Willamette Valley to another house full of family. Instead of tamales and handmade tortillas, we dined on skillet fried potatoes, beans and cornbread. 

This Christmas I’ll be dining on leftovers. The few years I have gone to California for Christmas, the travel and ordeal nearly drives me to drink…more. So I’m staying put this year. Hoping the tamale fairy stops by tonight, cause the vodka fairy came last week and left a BIIIG bottle behind. Tomorrow I’ll wake up,  realize Santa started a “oh hell no” list, and left me with a lazy dog and dishes to do instead of gifts. Which is ok,  but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the obligations, people, parties and family I was surrounded by for so long. 

If I wasn’t so stubborn, cheap, and babies didn’t cry on planes, I’d be there in a heartbeat. Next year…maybe, but grubhub is hard to give up for a broken down Chevy with no heat in the syskiews on the way to eat someplace called Joe’s Trash Shack. 

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The American Dream

When I think of the “American Dream,” a cute house in the burbs, two cars, husband, kids and dog all pop into my head. Thats always been what I thought of as making it, and being successful. When I was fresh out of high school, shoot, even into my mid twenties, thats all I wanted. Its what I worked, dated and cried for. I thought that by moving to Chicago, it would be easier to find. Guys with a similar mindset, lower cost of living, all of it. I thought may be a bit more accessible there than in San Francisco. Things have changed…

As my seemingly never ending trip to California rolls on (all of November basically), I have come to realize that what I want out of my life has changed. There was actually a moment, an exact point in time I can pinpoint when exactly it changed and the fog in my brain lifted and I said to myself “I don’t want this.”

“This” being the expected outcome of my life.

I babysat my nephew the other day. He’s a doll, I love him to death. SO much fun, full of life, energy and his little speech impediment is kind of adorable. Spending time with him made me realize, I really don’t have that parental gene. I totally thought I had it, I really did. I always told myself that I wanted kids and that I would have some of my own some day, you know, when the right guy came along. Now, I’m very happy to babysit (as long as they’re well behaved and I don’t have to change diapers), but I actively don’t want kids (not that I’m in danger of accidentally having one since I’m a raging homo and the thought of sex with a…I’ll just stop there.).

Its not just kids that my opinion of has changed. The house, the yard, the dogs and general picture of the American Dream can pretty much suck it. While helping my parents put away patio furniture, over the deck that needs to be replaced before I fall through, walking across the grass that I mowed for years, and into the tool shed which I helped build many moons ago, I realized, I don’t want anything to do with this either. I’m just going to say that thing you’re not supposed to say, it’s too much work and I don’t want it. I don’t care enough to do it. If I came across a windfall of cash and I could pay someone to keep up a yard and house for me, I’d be all about it, but I can write checks like no one’s business. I understand the pride that comes from making a space your own, but, um…I’m over it.

I see myself much happier in a great condo, apartment or townhouse with a small deck or patio or balcony with a great view in the city. The money that I save on not having children, patio furniture, dogs or redoing the roof of the house can go towards fantastic vacations, hobbies, cars and spoiling my nephews and nieces.

I still do want a husband in there somewhere, especially if he likes to cook and doesn’t mind that I’ll never do laundry (I keep small businesses in business by taking my clothes to be fluff and folded, SO worth it.). But I’m hoping he’ll be a little easier to find now that my standards aren’t quite so stringent.

I don’t think that all of the American Dream is for everyone. But I feel like we’re all supposed to want it. Its like that is what we are all programmed to want. It feels very strange taking an anti stance on it. After being of the mindset that it was what I wanted out of life for so long, I feel like a rebel. But I have a feeling, I’m just getting to the party a little later than everyone else. Fashionably late if you will, and luckily, not in dirty clothes from cleaning the yard.

The Single Life

So, a funny thing happened a while back, well, maybe not exactly “funny haha,” but more like “what the F just happened right now” kind of funny. A friend who really has gone above and beyond for me went to the San Francisco Court House, convinced the clerk to process paperwork so I wouldn’t lose my pending (at the time) condo, got a copy of it of the documents, and sent them to me. They were my divorce papers. Not going to lie, it threw me for a loop when I actually saw them processed, done, final, I’m now a divorcee (I prefer bachelor, but it’s not technically right). 

I wrote once about what being married to Laura was like for me and what it meant to me. Now I have to talk about it in the past tense although not a whole lot has changed; She’s still one of my most amazing and best friends; we’re still close and I feel I can confide anything to her; I still miss seeing her on a regular basis; and it makes me sad that we can’t share a plate of hummus and pita on the back patio of our favorite restaurant in Noe Valley randomly on a warm summer night. 

At the same time, a lot of what was awesome about our marriage, is now gone. For instance, not that I’m sure anyone would stop her, but she can’t come visit me in the ER at a hospital if something were to happen to me, or inherit anything from me automatically if that trip to the hospital doesn’t go well. My niece and nephew don’t have to call her Aunt Laura (not that they ever did), and I now am 1,800 miles from my family, the vast majority of my friends (whom I consider family as well), and sometimes I really feel alone. That is a first for me in a long time I think. It’s a feeling that won’t be changing anytime soon either. 

Why?

I think my marriage to Laura was the closest thing I’ll come to a long term relationship with someone. That’s not the bitter “dating stories” person talking here, it’s the “take a real look at life and the world and be honest with yourself” person talking. Not everyone finds someone. Not everyone ends up with a happy ending. I’m not trying to play the sympathy card, but I just don’t think I’m one of those relationship people. I think I want to be, but every time the opportunity comes along, I bail.

I’m not saying I “yearn” for a relationship or that it’s even something I feel like I need, but do I tear up at weddings, because I’m so happy my friend has found someone to share their life with. I’m not saying I hate couples because they look happy and I’m not but sometimes I need a hug that is more than a pat on the back. I’m not saying I hate dating, it’s supposed to be fun after all, but I would like someone not expect to round the bases for buying me two beers and a calamari platter. 

On the other side of that, do I make it easy for guys who are interested in me to get to know me better? Nope. Emotional walls up all over the place? Firm and in place. Do I sabotage good things with guys that I shouldn’t pass up? Sure do. I’ve fucked it up many more time than I choose to revisit at this point in time, with guys who actually would have/did treat me amazingly. Am I disappointed in myself for it? Sure am. Have I made an effort to change? Honestly, no. 

I don’t really feel like I need to change. Lets be honest, I’m a single gay man in my early 30’s. As far as society is concerned, there is no pressure to be married, or have kids, or be in a steady relationship (thanks stereotypes!). I think I’m expected to be “fabulous” (barf), travel (check), spend money (check plus), and party my ass off in a sea of shirtless hotties every weekend (check minus, like, serious minus, like I’ve done that like twice in my whole life kind of minus, like, may as well not even be a check). I’m not going to be disappointing anyone if I don’t get married, and I think it would shock to  people if I did. 

So I continue to live up to everyone’s non-expectations of me. Maybe one day, I’ll be sending out my wedding invitations and say to myself “What the F is happening right now”  and chuckle when I remember that I never thought it would happen to me. For the time being I’m a bachelor, dinner and a couple beers with friends will do, maybe a calamari plate once in a while. 

2 Years Ago

One Upon a Time…

But really 2ish years ago, a boy with a name that Starbucks baristas, restaurant reservations people, or his grandparents, couldn’t pronounce or spell, lived in a magical land of fairies, queens, prince alberts, and billionaires who thought it was trendy to look homeless. The boy and his friends had many adventures in and outside this magical place where tiny girls and asian boys (and once in a while a moo-cow) flew through the air with the greatest of ease. The boy’s family lived in a nearby magical land where people played tag with sharks in the ocean and everyone was the color of raisins all year round even if they didn’t try to be. The boy was happy, his life was easy and fun.

One day, the boy and his friend decided to time travel and they visited the 90’s. They spent time exploring a city full of ironic mustaches, it’s Voodoo doughnuts and got drunk and made new friends whom they cheered with when the clock rolled from one 90’s year back to another. On the long journey from the 90’s back to the magical land, the boy told his friend one day he would leave the this place of mission style burritos, and would see what life was like away from it all. The boy’s friend laughed and said that ever since they got drunk on elixir and yelled at people on stage (also known as the night they became friends), the boy had been saying he was going to leave but never did. The boy realized his friend was right, but he was ok with it because his life was fun. The boy’s friend said he should stop talking about it and set a date for this adventure instead of planning it, or it would never happen. In a moment of defiance and courage, the boy set a date to leave the magical land and find a new place to call home. He claimed he would leave by the time the clock struck midnight on the eve of his 30th birthday, and he put it in his daily planner.

Well that didn’t happen, and the boy was very sad and disappointed in himself for not being able to follow through with the specific date in mind (he was loyal to his planner after all). Then his friend took his planner, and moved the date. Suddenly the boy realized he still had a chance, and began telling everyone he was leaving before the big parade in the magical land. Well that didn’t happen. The boy marched in the parade and threw Asians, and got kissed by the sun too often and wasn’t ready to say goodbye just yet. So he partied with his friends and family a little while longer. When the party was over, he put his most valued possessions on the street for someone else to value (mostly old shoes and a few tshirts that didn’t fit). He packed up his trusty steed Maxwell and they headed towards the sunrise and a new tomorrow. For 4 days they rode, though unexplored lands, deserts, valleys, the great continental divide, until they came upon a lake. The boy told Maxwell, no further old friend, we will make a home near this beautiful lake, as it reminds me of the ocean (but with less waves and there were very few people the color of raisins who played tag with sharks), and I will be happy here as well.

And the boy lived happily ever after. The end. But not really.

Not surprisingly, moving to a new place isn’t easy, it isn’t always fun and sometimes, you don’t think it was worth the effort. Mostly the thoughts of “this is totally not worth it” happen when you’re sitting bitch on a tin can flying through the air for 4.5 hours, and the pilot of the tin can tells you when you land, the temperature is going to either melt your face off or instantly give you frostbite. Thats when you’re like “seriously, why did I do this.” Then, you unlock the door to your own apartment, one which you never would have been able to afford in the city you fell in love with so many years ago and things change.

Seasons change. Seasons are awesome. If you’ve never seen them or lived in them, i highly recommend them. Spring is like, genius. I’ve never been so stupid happy to see leaves on trees as I am during spring. Summer, is amazing. People are out and about, everywhere (but not me, I prefer AC), drinking, socializing, making plans for fall. Fall, gorgeous. Can’t recommend it highly enough, a cool nip in the air and hoodies all day long, brilliant. Winter, is a cold heartless bitch. She is unrelenting, mean, freezing your contacts to your eyes scary, and it’s awesome. Do you have any idea how alive you feel when you step out of your house and your body gets a shocking dose of cold? It’s refreshing, revolting, and every part of your body feels it at one time, and you’ll love it (especially if you love jackets and scarves and boots as much as I do).

Seasons aren’t the biggest changes to your life that will happen. You’re going to miss people. You’re going to miss your friends, your family, the regular activities you participated in for so long. They’ll all be different. It’s awful, scary, and if you don’t know how to embrace it, it will ruin you. Moving to a new place and finding a new life isn’t about doing your old thing in a new place. It’s not about being the same you in a new place. It’s about becoming a new you. When you relocate, you can totally reinvent yourself. No one knows you. No one knows you’re a bitch. No one knows you hate going to large parties. No one knows you’re not 28. Maybe in this new place, you’re super nice. Maybe in this new place, you’re a person who is super social and loves it and loves attention. Maybe in this new place, you throw parties people can’t wait to attend. Then again, maybe not. The point is, you start over. Do you have any idea how insane that is? You start over.

That’s exactly what I did. Started over. Did I cry myself to sleep countless nights? Yes. Did I delight in finding new places to travel, new neighbhorhoods? You bet your ass I did. Did I take advantage of dirt cheap rent and pay off all my credit cards in two years? Sure did. Did that allow me to buy a condo, with a lake view, more space than I need, in a building that I love (yes, I’m bragging, but I don’t do it very often, so let it go). I sure did. Do I think moving was the hardest, yet best thing I’ve done for myself in the past 10 years…

Yes.

Would I do it again?

I plan to…

Day 01,13

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It’s great bike riding weather someone said. I’ve been lifting weights all winter, so it’s time to get outside I told myself. Well, I’m 3 miles from work and am contemplating throwing myself in a freshly melted lake to end it all. Starting off with a 7 mile ride was not the best idea.

Things I Say to Myself During Workouts

Here is a little list that will provide a little insight to what is happening in my head when I’m between sets at the gym (along with my rationalization for saying them). Not that anyone actually cares, but I’m pretty sure I caught someone staring at me when I was mouthing the words to “Hit Me Baby One More Time” the other day, so I’m sure I mouth these things more than I should. 

  • 5 6 7, pull 1 2 3, out 5 6 7 double 1 2 3 …
    • Seriously, once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader. That was me pulling my imaginary scorpion and then hitting an arabesque and doubling down, which I actually mark with my arms and look like a total fool. Keeps me entertained
  • OMG, I’m in love with him! PleasePleasePlease look at me, fall in love and take me and my glitter shoes home with you.
    • A boy can dream. There are many men in my gym who have stopped me in my tracks on more than one occasion.
  • Why is his trainer making him do that? It looks awful! 
    • Yes, i know that fitness can get real ugly, cause I get real ugly when I’m working on, well, anything really. But sometimes, I look at someone who is working out with a trainer and I think, I would be cussing and yelling by then, cause that just looks like hell. Then again, thats probably the reason I’m working out in a mumu and he’s in a tank top sporting noodle shoulder straps with his nipples out and pointing in two different pectacular directions. Ho hum.
  • There are muscles there? I don’t think I have those, I’m sure was born without them.
    • There are a few raging homos at my gym who are toned to a redic level. Seriously? I know you’re not a bodybuilder, you just like to look like that when you go out and about?  Not gonna lie, it’s a little creepy.
  • I see you looking at my bedazzled shoes, don’t hate. 
    • Do I wear workout shoes with glitter on them to the gym? Damn right I do. I like to think that it fucks with people’s heads when I’m doing reps with a fully loaded leg press machine in them.Image.
  • OMG I’m so hungry. I swear I’m going to, why hello Mr. Powerlifter…
    • A good distraction from hunger is hot mens.
  • Why are you wearing jeans in the gym?
    • No seriously, why? Do you not own shorts? If you’re embarrassed by your legs, workout pants are an option you know, but jeans? Thats just weird.
  • I hate him, seriously? I want arms like that. FUUUKKK him. Oh wait, tiny legs, I win
    • When I see guys with nice big cut arms and defined pecs and shoulders, I get jealous. I can’t help myself. Even when I was swimming 4 hours a day I never had that. Luckily, 4 hours of treading water and keeping all of this afloat and moving from one side of the pool to the other landed me squarely NOT in the “looks like a potato on toothpicks” category of body types. And for that, I’ll be ever grateful.
  • What, is, that, smell? Please don’t let it be me, please don’t let it be me. 
    • The gym can be close quarters sometimes, there isn’t much you can do about seeing, smelling other people.
  • And now I’m dizzy, great. Should have eaten something before I did this.
    • Happens pretty much every morning. I hate eating before I go to the gym, all I can ever get down is some yogurt and even then, its only sometimes. Meanwhile, I feel like if i make myself dizzy at the gym from hard work, I’m doing something right.
  • Ugh, those weights look real heavy…I don’t think I really want to, oh fuck, that dude is lifting more than i am. FINE! 
    • And then I pick up the heavy weights in order to save face in front of the twink who was giving me the side eye because we were just curling the same weight and he did it without looking like he was going to die.
  • Oh, crunches between sets, thats SUCH a good idea, I’m totally going to do that
    • Right after I check in on Foursquare, check my email, Facebook, app messages, and stare at him for a little while. Oh look, break time is over, time to go back to lifting, I swear, between the next set.