Sunday, June 27, 2004

What the hell do gay people
have to be proud of?

We’re proud because despite relentless persecution everywhere we turn—when organized religion viciously attacks and censures and vilifies us in the name of “morality,” when our families disown us, when our elected officials bargain away our equality for hate votes, when entire states vote us into second-class status, when our employers fire us, when our landlords evict us, when our police harass us, when our neighbors and colleagues and fellow citizens openly insult and condemn and mock and berate and even beat and kill us—we continue to survive.

We're proud because pride is the opposite of shame—and despite what the Christian hate industry works so hard to make the world believe, there is nothing shameful about being gay.

We're proud because more and more, we are able to live our lives openly and joyfully without fear of losing our jobs, losing our housing, losing our families and losing our lives.

We're proud because we can overcome the self-loathing that society forces on us, and we can stop its destructive cycle by making intelligent choices involving sex and drugs and relationships.

We're proud because despite all we've been through, the world is starting to notice and respect us and emulate the often fabulous culture we've assembled from the common struggles and glorious diversity of our disparate lives.

We (and from this point on, I really mean "I" when I say "we") are proud because we have pumped the iron and pounded out the miles and pushed away the junk food with enough discipline that we were invited to dance shirtless on a float in this year's parade.

We're proud that we were able to dance, smile, wave and remember all the words to "If You Could Read My Mind" without stumbling or even remotely betraying the fear associated with doing all these things seven feet off the ground on a moving platform that stopped and started with alarming jerkiness for two hours.

We're proud that we were smart enough to realize we could see our reflections in some of the store windows we paraded by—which helped us remember that we weren't 25 anymore and we should never forget to hold in our stomachs.

We're proud because when the fat angry lesbians squirted us with their Super Soakers as we paraded by, we knew the water would just make our cargo shorts stretch out and hang a little bit lower on our hips. And we knew we hadn't eaten anything but a protein shake and a yogurt and a handful of strawberries all day, so our abs would look nice and ripped as they climbed higher and higher over our moist waistbands. And we got a little thrill out of that.

We're proud that when the parade wound past those two pockets of bible-thumpers with their hateful signs and bullhorn-amplified vulgarities, we remembered everything we had to be proud of, and we didn't do or say anything to undermine the joy of the day or give them the satisfaction of getting a reaction out of us.

We're proud that when we saw that hot straight co-worker in the crowd after the parade and he was wearing something that showed off his sexy little bod, we were able to scope him out with some practiced discretion while still engaging him in lively conversation.

We're proud because when that hunky blond with the tattoo around his belly button who's been ignoring us for four years finally smiled at us and said hi today, we knew he was a game player who would take our phone number and get our hopes up and then never call, so we were mature and level-headed and just kept walking by.

We're proud that we remembered to wear SPF 45 for our day in the sun, even though we obviously missed a few spots and now our splotchy sunburns make our torsos look like a map of the Caribbean.

We're proud that we were able to have fun at two post-parade parties but then have the presence of mind to come home at a decent hour and write in our blogs and get some sleep instead of standing around in a bar trying not to get jostled by drunken homos.

Quite simply, we're proud that we have so much to be proud of.

Friday, June 25, 2004

My night as a celebrity

I just got back from the Chicago Magazine Top 20 Singles kickoff party.

We Singles, you see, were the "celebrity" draw tonight at a charity fund-raiser/kickoff event for the issue that features us. How on earth I can achieve any level of celebrity status simply by virtue of the fact that I can't get a date is beyond me, but I won't let rational thought get in the way of enjoying the opportunity for some fawning attention and free sodas on a beautiful summer night. And I actually had a great time.

The day didn't start off so well, though. I could NOT get my hair to look good.

And then I had a hella stressful day at work. But I eventually made it -- only 15 minutes after we Top 20 Singles were expected to show up. I took my officemate Liza as my date, and I wore my new $105 gay-clone shirt (you know: striped, collared, fitted, untucked, sleeves too long, etc. etc. etc.) that Bill convinced me to buy for the occasion. So we get there, and the place is pretty packed. It was held at the beautiful Chicago Historical Society, and it was almost more fun to admire the architecture and the grounds than the people there.

(Speaking of the people there, the only big-ticket fund-raisers I've ever been to are populated by gay people. Fussy, elitist, social-climbing gay people. So I was a little shocked to be at a party where 1) strangers were extremely friendly to each other, 2) the guys don't look like cartoon characters, 3) I recognized the music they were playing and 4) people clearly don't know how to dress themselves. I swear, I've never seen a bigger collection of women who really, really need gay best friends to help them build wardrobes of flattering clothes.)

Our obligations as the Top 20 Singles were pretty small: Congregate behind the stage so we could be introduced to the crowd, and then line up on a magnificent circular staircase in the museum for our Brady Bunch photo.

The being-on-stage part seemed pretty easy. When the hosts for the evening started introducing the singles, they asked questions about their jobs and their interesting lives. When they introduced me and read on their little cue cards that I'm a singer, they asked me to sing. AS IF. The conversation went something like this:

"Will you sing something for us?"

"I'd rather not." (I'm not warmed up and I'd sound like shit. Next question, please.)

"Why not? C'mon -- sing for us!"

"No thanks." (Really. I'm not interested in sounding like shit in front of 500 strangers who may or may not be potential love interests.)

"Are you sure? Why not sing a little something?"

"Um, no." (Why is this such a hard concept for you to grasp?)

"OK ... that was Jake, everybody! Our next single is ..."


So if my fag-centric profile in the magazine weren't embarrassing enough, I'm also now the boring old homo who won't sing like a trained monkey for the straight people. No wonder I can't get a date, they must be thinking.

I ended up standing on stage next to Jennifer Schefft as they introduced the rest of the singles. (We were introduced alphabetically, you see. Which for once in my life put me at a standing-next-to-a-quasi-celebrity advantage.) I'd never seen the dating show Jennifer was on, so I wouldn't have known her if someone hadn't told me who she was. She's really rather short, and not too talkative. At least not with me. She sure was animated around the other gay guy in the Top 20 Singles, though.

And speaking of him, the boy either underdosed on his ADD meds or overdosed on his ecstasy tonight. He was as wired and unfocused as a Madonna movie, and during the Brady Bunch photo, the photographer actually had to yell at him -- repeatedly -- to get him to stand still and smile for the camera. Sheesh!

And speaking of running into contestants from nationally televised dating shows at the party, I'm pretty sure I saw "Bachelorette" reject and fellow social-anxiety-disorder-sufferer Jamie Blyth there. He's a little shorter than I'd expected, but he's dreamy in a Shaun Cassidy kind of way. And -- being true to our disorders -- Jamie and I never even acknowledged each other the whole evening.

Other highlights from the evening:

• Host Larry Potash is cute, but noticeably not as cute in person as he is on TV. (I have the opposite problem; I'm cute-ish in real life and I look like Ichabod Crane on TV.)

• Straight guys actually talk to me like I'm one of them. (After a lifetime of evidence that people rarely can tell that I'm gay when I meet them, I'm still always surprised that I continue to "pass" as straight. My paranoia about this is clearly just in my head -- though it was not unfounded tonight; anyone who read my gay-ass profile in the magazine probably expected me to bourrĂ©e in en pointe and sprinkle fairy dust on everyone I met.)

• It's a small, small, small, small world. Liza and I hadn't been at the event for 10 minutes when a woman RUSHED up to me all excited ... and it turns out she and I had done The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas together eight years ago in Iowa. An hour later, we bumped into the son of some of my parents' best friends in Iowa. Good Lord ... why are all these Iowans stalking me?

• In keeping with my unflattering and wholly unfair theme of gay/straight dichotomies in this post, I noticed that gay guys just have better bodies and better wardrobes than straight guys. Straight guys are far more friendly and fun and easygoing to hang around with, but homos sure can jack up the eye candy factor when they populate a room. I'll go to a bar or a gay event and find myself thinking lustful thoughts about a good 50% of the people I meet there. Tonight, I think I saw three guys I wanted to see naked.

Anyway, the party's over. I didn't get any numbers from anyone and only two strangers came up and talked to me all night (not that I expected to make a lot of love connections at an event marketed to a straight demographic). And I'm climbing into bed to rest up for tomorrow's Proud to Run 10K, which starts at 8:00 am -- ACK! So early! -- and kicks off all the Pride festivities in Chicago.

Night!

Thursday, June 24, 2004

33 years ago today ...

I became a big brother.

And while my little sister and I fought like cats and dogs all the way through junior high, we've become best friends as adults. She's an excellent teacher who keeps her kids wrapped around her little finger; a spectacular mommy who's raising the two most delightful, articulate children; and a beacon of inspiration for anyone who's ever tried to be a thoughtful friend, get the best deal on a car, manage a household, organize a party, or live with a frustrating food allergy (in her case, gluten ... which is in EVERYTHING).

Happy birthday, little sister. I love you!

* * * * *

In other news, there was a guy on my elevator this morning reading my queer-ass Chicago magazine profile without realizing he was standing right next to me. Trippy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

10 things to know
about training for a marathon

1. Running makes you uncomfortable and ugly. Your nipples get chafed, your butthole gets kinda pokey-outey, and your skin gets as pink and flushed as an Easter ham. That's how you know it's good for you.

2. When you run a lot, you go through clean underwear and clean socks faster than Rush Limbaugh goes through wives.

3. If you have even the slightest doubt that your jiggly bod doesn't look good running in those shorty-shorts or that scoopy-neck tank top, you're probably right.

4. "Runner's high" is something real. Unfortunately, you have to slog 597 miles through Runner's Sweaty Buttcrack and Runner's Throbbing Lumbar Region to get there.

5. Pedestrians are morons. If they can find a way to look one way and walk another as they wander directly into runners, bikers, bladers and/or drivers, they will. Sometimes they get hurt. This is called "thinning the herd."

6. Some people run funny. If you laugh at them you can fuck up your pace.

7. Well-fitting, low-mileage shoes are essential for an enjoyable running experience. Almost as essential as underwear that doesn't creep up your ass.

8. Even if you only kind of feel like you have to poop before you run, make sure you do so.

9. Most energy bars make you gassy.

10. It's hard to fart quietly when you run.

Monday, June 21, 2004

We are family

Another family reunion has come and gone, with rekindled family friendships and promises that we'll do a better job of staying in touch -- now that we have this newfangled email and all -- though we know we'll barely hear from each other and we definitely won't see each other again for another two years.

The reunion was on my mother's father's side on the family farm that his grandfather built from nothing in rural northeast Iowa before the Civil War. Sturdy, stoic Norwegians all, my ancestors weren't in the habit of reproducing until late in life -- and apparently weren't very fertile until my generation -- because there just aren't many people over my age still alive to come to these reunions. We had 23 people there, 10 of whom were ages 1 to 15 (and my niece and nephew were by FAR the cutest -- not that I'm biased). But we're an extremely friendly, low-drama clan, and we had a great time lounging and visiting and eating (and eating and eating) and admiring the rolling, bucolic Iowa scenery from the porch on the ancient farmhouse that was always so magical to me as a kid.

We also found some ... um ... interesting old photo albums. See, my grandfather was one of five brothers and two sisters -- the last of the fertile Norwegians until the 1990s -- and the siblings spent a great deal of time entertaining themselves by putting on little plays. Plays that involved a LOT of cross-dressing. All of which was carefully documented by some amateur shutterbug.

And while the men of that generation made some butt-ugly women, they had some serious butt-ugly competition among the genuine women. Talk about a genetic horror threatening the distant offspring across the decades. Ouch.

One horsey great-great aunt in particular was RARELY photographed in anything but men's clothing, and she was often seen canoodling with uncomfortable-looking women we didn't recognize as family members. We laughed about her brazenness, but my heart ached for her, all alone a century ago on a painfully rural Midwest farm with probably no one to love and no one even to talk to about her feelings. We do know she eventually married -- in her 50s. And we have often suspected that my grandfather -- and my mother's aunt on her mom's side -- had gay tendencies. Which makes me think there's some kind of recessive genetic component to homosexuality (though I'm the only (out) homo in this generation and it's too early to tell about the next ... but there was one boy at the reunion I'd bet money will make some fella very happy one day).

Poor, lonely homos aside, we also have a family history of strong, enduring marriages, many of which were on display this weekend. And seeing all those happy, stable couples with decades of history together made me VERY aware that I'm 36 and still single with no real prospects for changing that on the horizon. I'm certainly not at the desperate-to-find-someone-ANYONE stage, but I'm more than ready to start my own strong, enduring marriage.

The abovementioned shutterbug showed us one more thing: Our family obviously has a genetic compulsion to take pictures of our cats. And that little tidbit makes an excellent segue into the other newsworthy event of our weekend. My brother-in-law, a borderline cat hater, actually went and picked out a cat as an anniversary/birthday present for my sister. We all road-tripped to the Humane Society to pick up the cat on Friday, but the Humane Society had somehow screwed up the reservation and adopted our cat to someone else. It was really no big deal -- except to my infinitely organized brother-in-law -- and we picked out another kitty. Unfortunately, our runner-up kitty was broken (something about having a uterus) and there was a two-week waiting period to get her to the vet to be fixed before we could take her home. So in the mean time, my sister is prepping her kids about the joys and responsibilities of cat ownership ... and struggling to hide her own glee about having a kitty in the house again.

I got back to Chicago Sunday afternoon in time to squeeze in a three-mile run before heading off to chorus rehearsal. It was my first time among friends since the ugly-photo, faggot-stereotype Chicago magazine Top 20 Singles profile came out, and there was no end to the grief I got from people. (And it wasn't good-natured grief. It was more along the lines of why-does-Chicago-magazine-hate-you-so-much? grief.)

I cannot WAIT for this embarrassing chapter in my life to blow over. I just hope it doesn't get in the way of starting that enduring marriage.

Friday, June 18, 2004

June is bustin' out all over

As always, June is shaping up to be an expensive month for me. And this year, it's even more expensive than usual. To wit:

• My folks' 40th anniversary
• My sister and her husband's 10th anniversary
• My sister's birthday
• Father's Day
• Fix The Air Conditioner In Jake's Car Day

And speaking of my car and my family, I'm taking off momentarily for a road trip to Iowa for a family reunion. Be good while I'm gone.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Being recognized by strangers

It's started, and the Top 20 Singles issue hasn't even been out for a week -- hell, it's not even on newsstands yet.

Two guys have recognized me from the Chicago magazine profile so far (even though I'm well hidden behind that grotesque photo):

1) This guy, who found me on Friendster, and

2) One of Red Shirt's friends, whom I met briefly on Sunday night at the Andersonville street fair. I hadn't told Red Shirt about the Top 20 Singles thing (mostly because it would have some creepy -- and pretty arrogant -- "I just met you but I'm already projecting a lifetime of happiness on a few dates and I want you to know that you may be faced with a world of competition for my affections in the coming months" subtext), but he seemed to see the whole thing as kinda fun last night when he told me about his friend discovering me in the magazine.

I've gotten some other feedback from family and friends as well. Here are a few (some paraphrased) quotes:

"Jake, this is HUGE!"

"That's a horrible picture of you."

"My friends told me the profile doesn't even sound like you."

"I wondered why you didn't tell me about this. Now that I've seen the picture, I know why."

"It's about time they featured gay guys who aren't afraid to be openly gay."

"I hate the profile they wrote of you. It doesn't capture you at all. It captures the stereotypical gay male as viewed in the eyes of ignorant straight people. I find it offensive."

"That can't be the best picture they took of you."

"Did YOU pick that picture? It's awful."

"Congratulations! I hope you win!"
(This quote is from a friend of my parents who obviously doesn't get that it's not some sort of competition.)

And speaking of Red Shirt and last night ...

Date Three was just as fun as dates One and Two. We saw The Stepford Wives, which is neither good nor bad but simply a lot of fun. We held hands during the movie, which is a MAJOR cool thing for me. We discovered our shared obsession for bargain hunting and then regaled each other with stories of great deals we've gotten on everything from clothes to furniture. He revealed his "dirty little secret" to me: He's a Republican. (I already knew that, though, through my spy, Anders.) And while anyone who willfully associates with the Republican party is a little suspect in my book, I'm more horrified by toe-the-line partisan politics on either side of the aisle than by Red Shirt's measured, selective association with the so-called Grand Old Party. Best of all, we capped off the night in each other's arms on his couch. Mmmmmm.

On the down side, our schedules are NOT date-friendly over the next two months. In fact, we've found two dates where we can get together between now and the end of July. On the upside, we've locked in those dates for each other, which means there's still a mutual spark. Next date: June 28!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The celebrity curse: Day One

My first full day of being a celebrity is winding down ... and let me tell you, it's been EXHAUSTING. The press tours! The autograph hounds! The paparazzi!

Actually, the magazine hit Chicago-area mailboxes on Saturday -- so I've really been a celebrity for three full days. I just didn't know it. So I've decided to measure the demands of my celebrityhood from the moment someone thrust the magazine in my face at Monday morning's staff meeting to show me the grotesque photo and misleading profile that have my name on them.

Here's how it's shaken down so far:

WORK
People I encountered:
I think we have about 200 employees
People who've made comments: About all of them -- but that's only because of the office gossip network

THE GYM
People I encountered:
Not too many -- maybe 20
People checking out my famous ass in the shower: None

THE TRAIN HOME
People I encountered:
I was able to get a seat, so maybe about 50
People who fought to sit by me and cop a feel: None

SUPERCUTS
People I encountered:
10
People demanding haircuts inspired by my famous mane: None

THE LAKEFRONT TRAIL
People I encountered:
Tons, but I was too busy focusing on getting in four miles before the sun went down to count
People hiding in the bushes and snapping photos of me to sell to the Sun-Times: None

SIDETRACK
People I encountered:
A whole bunch -- it was show tune night, you know
People staring hungrily at me as they sang "One (Singular Sensation)": None

MY BEDROOM
People I encountered:
Just me
Supermodels showing up at my door in nothing but towels, demanding that I kiss them: None

THE 147 MORNING BUS
People I encountered:
Standing room only
People craning their necks to see exactly what a glamorous celebrity listens to on his iPod: None

CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN
People I encountered:
The place was about half full
People walking by our booth and stealing surreptitious glances as they basked in my celebrity glow: None

MY INBOX
People able to reach me via the email address the magazine set up for me:
Infinite
People who've crafted seductive e-poems in celebration of my shining famousness: None

As you can see, I've developed a true empathy for my fellow celebrities today. Keeping up with the constant demands for my attention -- not to mention keeping myself photo-shoot pretty at all times -- can really take its toll. I don't know how Julia Roberts and Gilbert Gottfried do it.

I'll be back tomorrow with more tales from the front. In the mean time, duck if you see me. The crowds can be vicious.

Monday, June 14, 2004

I'm a celebrity!

The Chicago magazine Top 20 Singles issue is out -- quite a few weeks earlier than I'd expected.

And there I am. Rubbing elbows right there in print with Jennifer "The Bachelor" Schefft and Hunter "The Bears" Hillenmeyer. Near as I can tell, there are just two homos in the Top 20 mix -- and neither of us is shy about being totally out in a nationwide high-end glossy magazine. The other gay guy -- whose last name starts with a W but who has an Emmy -- has a bigger picture on a more prominent page while I'm tucked away on the last spread with people whose last names start with Y and V. Even though my S cognomen puts me waaaaaaay higher in the alphabet hierarchy. Harumph.

And I don't want to complain too much -- especially since the Top 20 Singles editor promised that with this exposure "the heavens will rain down marriage proposals on me" -- but I have to say I'm not completely thrilled with my photo. It makes me look kind of smirky, like I just farted and I think I'm going to get away with it. And nobody wants to date a farter.

(Friends who've seen it say it doesn't even look like me. Which is good to hear, especially because the low-res version makes me look like Grandpa Munster. For the record, I actually look like this.)

And my profile -- duly flattering but factually shaky in many places -- spends an inordinate amount of time focusing on my brief foray into the world of drag. (Jeez -- you wear a dress just once (OK, four times) and suddenly you're a big ol' drag queen.)

But enough kvetching. I'm sincerely flattered that Chicago magazine found me interesting and attractive enough to take up space in its magazine. Even though the photo they printed makes me look like a bar mitzvah clown. And I'm thoroughly intrigued by where the whole thing might take me socially and romantically. And you, dear readers, will get to hear all about it. Assuming the cartoon photo and drag-centric profile don't undermine my ability to get any dates and generate any stories worth posting.

In the mean time, I'm not losing focus on whatever could develop with Red Shirt (next date: Wednesday!), and I'm already busy worrying what I'm going to wear to the Top 20 Singles kickoff party on June 25 at the Chicago Historical Society. The event is also a fund-raiser for the Bone Marrow Transplant Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Tickets are $55 in advance and $65 at the door.  Get your tickets here if you want to join us.

And check your newsstands for the July issue. (Promise not to laugh.) I'm on page 86. The same year I graduated from high school. Cosmic.

Friday, June 11, 2004

A weekend in the country.

How amusing. How delightfully droll.

I take off this afternoon for a weekend chorus retreat in bucolic Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

On the agenda:
• endless rehearsals in rooms designed NOT to carry sound
• bonding rituals
• mediocre food
• a couple miles' running if the weather is nice
• the always-fun No Talent Show, for which I didn't prepare anything this year

The place where we're staying is a huge campus of cabins and meeting rooms rendered habitable year-round by a series of glassed-in, above-ground tunnels -- not unlike a giant Habitrail.

And when I get back on Sunday, I have a second date with Red Shirt -- albeit a second date at a crowded street fair with a group of his friends -- some of whom are my friends as well. I can't decide if it will be awkward or fun.

I'll let you know either way.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

A voice mail from the nephew

beeeeeeeeeep

You have ... ONE ... new voice message and ... FOUR ... saved messages.


Say, Hi Uncle Jake.

Hi, Uncle Jake!

Tell him what you did today.

Guess what I did.

No, TELL him what you did today.

I rode my bike for four blocks. Without training wheels.

Tell him you're really proud of yourself.

I'm really proud of yourself.

No, tell him you're really proud of YOURself.

I'm really proud of MYself.

Say, I love you, Uncle Jake.

I love you, Uncle Jake!

Say, goodbye.

Bye.

beeeeeeeeeep

10 things I'm digging today

1. It's cool and rainy here, with NO cruel, oppressive humidity.

2. I'm wearing my sexy new jeans.

3. Scrubbing Bubbles (lemon scent) -- it turned my grungy, scaly shower curtain into a shiny thing of beauty -- without scrubbing!

4. Agnes.

5. I was telling a friend about Red Shirt, and my friend not only knows who he is but he's jealous as hell that we've had a date.

6. Hot guys in jeans and flip-flops. WOOF!

7. I got a semi-promotion last night (when I was here until 10 pm) -- I'll be "acting ACD" in charge of a whole account. It doesn't involve any more pay, but it's a significant step forward in my meandering journey to ACDhood.

8. Peanut butter and jelly. (Of course, I've been digging PB&J for lunch almost every day for the past 30 years.)

9. The way this guy writes. It helps that he has some pretty fascinating stories to tell.

10. Spring produce. Right now my kitchen is filled with the aromas of fresh nectarines and juicy strawberries and ripe pears. Mmmmmm.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

10 things that are bugging me today

1. It is MUGGY in our office, and the humidity is zapping my will to live.

2. Work is crazy busy, and I had to cancel my noon workout and my dinner/movie plans with Bob tonight so I could sit at my desk and type.

3. Microsoft Word keeps formatting and unformatting parts of my copy decks with random abandon.

4. Red Shirt hasn't called today, and I'm not sure if I should call him. Infatuation can be SO vexing.

5. I got a shot in my ass this morning at the doctor's, and it's actually affecting the way I sit.

6. A disarmingly cute (and probably straight) co-worker keeps getting all buddy-buddy with me. But I kinda like it. In a frustrating kind of way.

7. "In the White House, Reagan proved a maddeningly contradictory figure. An eloquent advocate of traditional values, he divorced his first wife and was often estranged from his children. A fierce advocate of balanced budgets, he never proposed one. ... An icon of button-down morality, he led an administration beleaguered by scandals. ... He mangled facts ... presided over a dark recession in 1982-83, seemed uncaring about the emerging HIV/AIDS crisis, and, in the Iran-contra scandal, came perilously close to—and may have committed—impeachable offenses." —Newsweek, June 14, 2004

8. It's June 9, 2004, but for some reason I'm holding a Newsweek dated June 14 that's covering a death that happened June 5.

9. Did I mention Red Shirt hasn't called?

10. I'm dangerously close to crashing if I don't soon find some 1) air conditioning that works and 2) sugary treats.

Friday, June 04, 2004

10 MILES!

10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! (ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch) 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES! 10 MILES!

I ran my first 10-mile training run tonight! Woo-hoo! And aside from some knee pain in mile 7, I never really hurt and I never hit a wall.

So now I only have to tack on three more miles to be ready for the Chicago Half Marathon. And that's not until September.

A salute through the ether

I think I just found my favorite new blog.

This man is a truly gifted writer. I am humbled in his cyberpresence.

Dragged through the mud.

I met Jim and Keith and Jason and Jeremy last night for Dance Divas, a drag show featuring dancers from all the professional companies around Chicago. The show was great, the music and choreography were a lot of fun, the Fairmont Hotel ballroom was pretty spectacular ... but we had serious issues with some of the costumes the girls wore. Drag queens do not -- I repeat, DO NOT -- go out on stage or even in public in Butterick dresses.

There was a VIP cocktail reception beforehand with huge muscleboys working the crowd to sell raffle tickets. I bought tickets from one of the guys -- and he slipped me his phone number in return. WOOF. So I'd like to think I won the raffle before they even had the drawing.

In other news, why can't I find the Tony Awards on the TiVo menu? I've looked under Tonys, The Tonys, Awards, American Theatre Wing and even Broadway, but the show's not listed. And I won't be anywhere near a TV this Sunday when they're on. ACK!

Thursday, June 03, 2004

100 Things About Me

All the other bloggers are doing it. I’m just following the herd.

I updated this list on 1/19/07 to mark a pretty big life-changing event.

1. I was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
2. Aside from college (30 miles away) and four faraway summer jobs during college, I lived there until I moved to Chicago at the age of 32.
3. My parents are still married (to each other), and I have a younger sister who’s married with two uncommonly photogenic children.
4. I am in one of those blissfully happy relationships—the kind that probably makes other people want to throw heavy objects at us.
5. My boyfriend and I own a condo together and plan to get married whether or not the government and other curiously interested parties think it’s OK.
6. I used to get upset about gay-marriage inequality on a theoretical level. Now that it affects me directly, it makes me so angry I want to hurt people.
7. Fortunately, my boyfriend is so incredibly awesome I can never stay angry about anything for more than a couple minutes.
8. See what I mean about item #4?
9. Before this one, I had one long-term relationship (3 1/2 years) and two short-term relationships (9 months each).
10. The breakup parts were never fun, but I’m still friends with all of my exes.
11. I love pets, but I’m more a cat person than a dog person.
12. Mostly because cats are self-pooping and self-cleaning.
13. I’ve had three cats: Patches (who lived to be 19), Ester and Emma.
14. I am currently catless.
15. I first started noticing other boys early in grade school.
16. I thought those weird feelings I had inside were just jealousy from thinking the other boys were cuter than I was.
17. When I finally hit puberty, I realized what those feelings REALLY were.
18. I came out to my family July 5, 1984. I had just finished my sophomore year of high school.
19. Things were NOT good in our little Republican household for quite a while after that.
20. But my family is pretty awesome and quickly unlearned all the stupid prejudices they had been taught by our hyper-religious society.
21. I’m mostly Norwegian with a bit of German and Swedish thrown in.
22. My family celebrates only the Norwegian part of our heritage.
23. I grew up Lutheran, but I knew early on that my true religion was None of the Above.
24. I do not understand why people think they need mythology—especially a divisive, solipsistic, culturally destructive mythology—to live happy, moral, altruistic lives.
25. I find so many inherent flaws in the idea of religion that I have a hard time respecting people who embrace it with unbridled enthusiasm or who talk about it like it’s something real.
26. I feel the same way about astrology.
27. I don’t consider myself an atheist, because atheism seems obsessed with the existence of a god as well. I simply don’t believe and I totally don’t care
28. Of course, I’m often forced to care when religious people try to enforce their religious opinions on me.
29. In 1988, I lost five friends in two plane crashes and my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.
30. One of those friends was murdered by the December 21 terrorist bomb that blew Pan Am flight 103 out of the sky over Lockerbie, Scotland.
31. I’d never really had an opinion on the death penalty until then. Now I’m a huge fan.
32. I studied the piano from second grade until I was in college.
33. I’ve taken tons of dance classes, and I’m still a pretty good tapper.
34. My voice is trained more for musical theater and opera than for pop music.
35. Actually, I suck as a pop singer. There is no danger I’ll appear on American Idol.
36. I’m a HUGE and unrepentant show-tune queen.
37. So is my boyfriend. Even more than I am. Way more than I am.
38. I sang and danced and played the piano in theme park shows all four summers I was in college.
39. Since college, I’ve done a ton of singing and dancing and choreographing in non-professional shows and theaters and choruses.
40. I still kinda wish I’d pursued a career on the stage.
41. But then I look at my actor friends who are living job-to-job in their 30s and 40s and I’m glad I found a more stable career.
42. I have a degree in literature of the Northern European Renaissance and most of a minor in Spanish. And I made a very short-lived stab at a master’s degree in history.
43. I got a job as an advertising copywriter when I got out of college just to pay the bills.
44. I’m still here. And I neither love nor hate it.
45. But I must be good at it because my stuff keeps winning awards.
46. Now I’m an associate creative director at a cool little ad agency. I like the job a lot, but it can be pretty exhausting.
47. I was a skinny, 155-lb scarecrow all through high school and college.
48. Tired of being ignored by the guys I was attracted to, I joined a gym after I graduated, and I’ve been lifting weights 5 days a week since then.
49. I peaked at 205 lbs when I lived in Iowa and had a highly motivated lifting partner and nothing better to do than work out.
50. Now that I live in Chicago and have a ton of stuff to distract me, I’m holding my weight at 195 lbs.
51. By the time I was 25, I’d developed stubborn little love handles that in my mind were HUGE.
52. They bugged me so much, I had the little fuckers sucked out in December 2004.
53. I thought it was no big deal, but a few friends and blog readers got outright angry at me for it.
54. I don’t think the surgery made much of a difference, though, and today I tell everyone who’s considering plastic surgery that it’s a huge waste of time and money.
55. I started running in 1994, and even though I never really liked it I somehow got kind of addicted to it.
56. So far I’ve done two triathlons, two half marathons and three marathons. I’m currently training to run the Chicago and New York marathons back-to-back in 2007.
57. I’ve probably taken five sick days my entire adult life.
58. I haven’t thrown up since I got food poisoning on my 23rd birthday.
59. I was born with my tongue connected to the bottom of my mouth and behind my bottom teeth, and I had to have surgery at birth and again in junior high school to correct it.
60. Just talking about it still makes the end of my tongue tingle. In a bad way.
61. I broke my arm roughhousing with my cousin when I was in 5th grade, but I’ve never had a broken bone since.
62. I had my tonsils out when I was in 1st grade, my wisdom teeth out when I was in high school, and LASIK and lipo in 2004.
63. Other than that I’ve never been operated on or hospitalized.
64. All my life I’ve gotten sweaty, panicky and physically ill in crowded social settings like classrooms or bars or parties.
65. For me, talking to strangers was more terrifying than jumping off a building or being chased by lunatics with giant knives.
66. After seeing a therapist in 2003 and getting diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder, I at least had something with a name I could fight, and I made great headway in overcoming the problem on my own.
67. But I still wasn’t better, so I saw a hardcore therapist for four months at the beginning of 2006 and now I finally feel like I’ve escaped from my prison.
68. I’m having way too much fun walking up to strangers and starting conversations. Just like normal people.
69. I am extremely loyal to my friends and family and would never say or do anything to hurt them.
70. But if you do something malicious or hateful or staggeringly immature to me or anyone I care about, you will have almost no chance of regaining my respect or friendship.
71. I don’t smoke or take party drugs, and I never have.
72. I never drank alcohol until 2006.
73. Now I drink only in extreme moderation (really only just to be social with all these strangers I’m no longer afraid of), and I still don’t particularly enjoy it.
74. I will never understand why people need to get wasted or be in a drug-induced fog to have a good time. Life is amazing enough without the help of chemicals.
75. I have a tattoo of Mickey Mouse on my left ankle.
76. I have a tattoo of my first marathon date and time on my lower back.
77. I have a tattoo of a tiger (a ferocious tiger who’s not afraid to use his claws or his biting sarcasm) crawling up my abs.
78. I want two more tattoos: on the inside of my right bicep and maybe something on my right hip and buttcheek.
79. In fact, my boyfriend and I are talking about getting matching hip/buttcheek tattoos. Probably of our initials, which are identical.
80. I also want one of those used-to-be-trendy tribal armband tattoos, but I think my body has only a few good years left on it where the tat wouldn’t look silly and a little delusional.
81. I got my nipples pierced kind of on a dare on May 1, 1999.
82. One of the piercings fell out in 2004. When I couldn’t get it back in, I decided it was time to take them both out and return my nipples to their natural state.
83. I’ve been skydiving seven times.
84. I’d do it again, but now that I’m an uncle, dangerous things like skydiving have lost their appeal.
85. Being an uncle has also made me more emotional. I’ve suddenly started tearing up over the most benign things. Like Kodak commercials. Or the National Anthem.
86. I’ve always been a sucker for patriotic stuff, though.
87. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who don’t look where they’re going. I’ve been known to get in their way so they bump into me, and then I wait patiently for them to apologize. I look at this as a public service.
88. I also hate partisan politics. My opinions do NOT fall neatly within approved Democratic or Republican platforms, and I find it hard to believe anybody else’s do, either.
89. My favorite color is blue.
90. I have a wide array of superpowers. For instance: I can tie a bowtie.
91. Also: I can drive a stick shift.
92. One more: I can fold a fitted sheet.
93. I won’t buy something until I have the cash to pay for it.
94. I rarely buy things (from salad dressing to clothes to furniture) that aren’t on sale.
95. I don’t mind stopping back and “visiting” things until they go on sale, either. It’s like a game to me.
96. I don’t consider myself to be a picky eater, but other people probably think I am.
97. I don’t like seafood, nuts, coconut, coffee, pickles, asparagus, red onions, canned peas, melon or dark chocolate.
98. But I like tuna salad with pickle relish in it.
99. I eat peanut butter and jelly almost every day.
100. Creamy Jif. Whole-grain bread. Any kind of jelly.