What's worse than waking up at 5:00 am to catch a 7:00 am flight?
Right. Waking up at 6:30 am and realizing you just royally fucked up an important business meeting with a new client.
Fortunately, my presence at this meeting wasn't of the be-there-or-we-lose-the-business variety. And a lifetime legacy of punctuality and reliability made the fact that I sent my colleagues off without me this morning more amusing than irritating. At least that's what they told me.
And I was able to fly standby at 9:00 (saving the company a whopping $900 in change fees) and get to NYC in time for the post-meeting lunch at the fabulous (and very gay-waitered Abboccato Ristorante (which should be called A Visit From The Carb Fairy)) with the client. And I was all charming and shit, so there was no real harm done. And we all got back to Chicago in one piece. Together.
Which means, of course, that I flew to New York today just to have lunch. Which means that Sondheim is probably going to write a satiric paean to me and my people. And I hope Patti LuPone doesn't sing it because she chews on her vowels.
Unknown benefit to flying standby: Even though I had to sit in a middle seat, I at least got a middle seat in an exit row. Probably because I flirted* with the gay guy behind the ticket counter.
*And by "flirted" I mean "whored myself so I could get on a flight" and not "made sexual advances that I had any actual interest in following through on."**
**Does that make me a bad guy? An evil queen? A dedicated corporate drone? A shameless Dubya-type who will stop at nothing to cover my own culpable and not very shapely ass? Story at eleven.
Confidential note to the cunt princess next to me on the flight home: Just because you have a cell phone doesn't mean the whole plane wants to hear you tell Bambi or Candi or Amber or whatever the fuck your stupid friend's name is how you threw a fit because they made you check your oversize carry-on and now you're going to be late for the wedding AND all stressed out about it when you get there. Shut the fuck up. And sit the fuck still when you're in your seat. You had NO idea how your constant fidgeting and your digging through your THREE bags and your endless bumping into me made you THIS CLOSE to having your poorly streaked head and your bejeweled sweater stuffed up your stinky little cooter.***
It doesn't look like much from the heavens, but apparently there's a massive nor'easter crippling New England AND giving the whole country an opportunity to talk like salty old fishermen tonight.
I was supposed to take off at a civilized 8:00 pm today and sleep in a civilized cushy-bed hotel tonight and be all refreshed for a business meeting tomorrow, but my flight was canceled early this morning -- and I couldn't be rebooked until Thursday. So now I'm flying out at a decidedly uncivilized 7:00 am on Thursday. Which means waking up when the crack whores are stumbling home and spending the day trying not to get too wrinkly in front of our totally cool new client.
On the flip side, I get two more days to contemplate my new-client wardrobe. And change my mind about a billion times. And then probably fly out in the outfit I packed last night anyway.
I've spent my weekend acting in an independent film that's being entered in a 48-hour film contest. And it's been fun!
The filmmaking teams—as I've been told—are given a few required elements (character, location, plot twist, etc.) on a Friday night and 48 hours to write, cast, shoot, edit and submit a completed film. A guy in my office is one of the producers, so I got sweet-talked into auditioning—and, 48 hours later, I've memorized lines and blocking and delivered consistently nuanced performances take after take after take. (Are you listening, Hollywood? I'm that good.)
Little-known fact: The secret to good film acting is junk food. I've eaten nothing but junk food while I've been on the set, and I've given my most wooden award-worthy performance to date. Coincidence?
Anywho, it's a national competition, so I have no idea if I'll ever get a chance to see myself on a local silver screen—not that I think I could sit through even a few seconds of my face blown up bigger than Tom DeLay's arrogance—but it's been a hoot being fussed over and lighted and catered to and closeupped and coached. And everyone on the set has been incredibly professional, learning lines and moving set pieces and swinging each other's booms (that's not a metaphor for anything) and doing whatever it takes to get done in the alloted time.
And—unless I end up coming off as wooden as I felt—I promise to somehow show you-all the final product here when it's done.
Start practicing your applause for my acceptance speech.
After all my kvetching yesterday about the dog’s crusade to make me feel like the Most Unpopular Human Ever every time he's alone at my house, he was actually quite … well … doglike last night. He bounded up to see me when I got home, he stayed happily at my feet while I went through some paperwork and slurped down some soup and TiVoed my way through three episodes of CSI, and he contentedly snuggled up against me all night.
The only logical explanation? He read my blog. Which makes him the Smartest. Dog. Ever.
Except he farted in the elevator last night when we were heading out for a poop. And—trust me on this—you do NOT want to be trapped in an elevator for fifteen floors with a creeping dog fart.
In other news, I did my first leg workout yesterday since I started marathon training last spring. I figured it would be less boring smarter for me not to risk injury in the gym when I was running so much, so I gladly stopped doing all those squats and leg curls and extensions and calf raises and focused on my endurance and distance for the last six-plus months.
And as my thighs and calves grew meatier and stronger this summer, I figured all that running was the perfect alternative to all that lifting. I also figured that when I finally started hitting the weights again I’d have great workouts and easy recoveries.
I figured wrong. When I woke up this morning, I felt as though giant blond bodybuilders with smooth, tan skin and thick, rubbery lips all the demons in hell had spent the night pounding railroad spikes into my calves and pouring liquid tar all over my thighs and hamstrings. And every time I’ve tried to get up and walk after spending more than 30 minutes at my desk today, I’ve had to be retrained in the finer points of balance and locomotion.
Needless to say, my walks to meetings and other meetings and even more meetings have not been runway-fabulous.
And one more thing: My hunky friend Scott has his own marketing and design firm, and he has a little survey he’s designed for a client. So click here if you want to participate. It won’t take five minutes of your time, and it might make Scott so rich he buys me some new legs.
This morning, the dog and I left his real house in the car! And we were excited! Because we were going for a ride! In the car!
But when we pulled in to Jake’s Garage of Abandonment, the dog suddenly remembered: Garage of Abandonment = Endlessly Excruciating Days With The Stranger.
So before we even got out of the car this morning, the whimpering commenced. And the listlessness. And the sulking.
Thankfully, the dog’s drama-queen histrionics never involve things like biting and growling and indoor pooping. At least so far.
But there are endless hours of long, sullen stares. And conspicuous snubbing where the dog will acknowledge me with his eyes but will not exert the energy necessary to lift his head to look at me. And let’s not forget the pathetic, audible sighs.
Don't get me wrong—I love this dog. (And I'm not even technically a dog person.) He's well-behaved, extremely friendly, accident-free and able to make me laugh just by doing his everyday dog things in his cute little dog way.
But caring for this dog alone is not unlike talking to a social climber in a crowded bar: He’s constantly surveying the landscape beyond you, and every noise, every door and every opportunity to go outside to pee is a potential sign that this cruel incarceration in Loserville is almost over. (Oh, if ONLY we required that shameless social climbers had to go outside to pee…)
But the joke’s on you, my canine friend! Aside from two visits with your dog walker, I’m your only source of lovin’ until Saturday night. You can enjoy the same lovin’ you get at home (only with more room on the bed!) or you can choose to sulk in the corner by the bookshelf.
And—despite all your audible sighs and your moping and your refusal to wag your tail unless I have a treat in my hand—I’m still gonna love you and I’m still gonna invite you up on the couch with me and I’m still gonna make room for you on the bed.
And I’m still gonna pick up your damn poop.
And I promise not to use you as bait for picking up hot men in the elevators.
I'm the new marketing director for the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus, and it would be a travesty of biblical proportions if every single one of my readers didn't order season tickets to our shows this year. And nobody wants biblical proportions.
Order before October 30 and you'll save 10% on all this:
A Cowboy Christmas December 9-10, 2005 Slip on your boots and jump on your horse ’cause you’re about to enjoy a rootin’, tootin’ holiday hoe-down just like the cowboys had in the Old West. (The gay ones, at least.) When you’re with CGMC, there really is no place like home (on the range) for the holidays.
The Ten Commandments: The Musical April 21-22, 2006 Relive the ten plagues of Egypt! Watch the Red Sea part like an expertly styled coiffure! Discover just how flaming the burning bush can be! Cecil B. DeMille captured it on film, and now CGMC is bringing the Ten Commandments to life on stage. Except we’re doing it with better shoes. (You are totally going to covet them!)
Midwest Pride 2 June 23-24, 2006 CGMC continues our longstanding tradition of celebrating Pride with a guest chorus. This year the Indianapolis Men’s Chorus joins us in a joint concert of stirring anthems, sequined show tunes and all the joyous irreverence you’ve come to expect from CGMC.
When I stepped on the train tonight after work, I found myself face-to-face with a totally hunky, totally straight guy, who looked up at me for a half a second and then disinterestedly went back to examining his manly fingernails.
Fortunately, the only available seat on the train offered me an unobstructed view of him, which I took advantage of every time I got to a boring part in the Newsweek I had with me.
At the next stop, though, the train started filling with people: a Russian family with two sullen children and a dad whose left eye was so bloody and sunken I assume he’d been in a bar fight that afternoon; a man dressed as Jesus, complete with a flowing robe, a scraggly wig, a five-foot cross over one shoulder and a man-purse decorated in a sequined Virgin Mary motif over the other; an overgrown frat boy whose cotton pleated pants only accentuated the girth around his middle; a mousy girl in a big floppy garden hat; and another hunky straight guy in a muscle-hugging brown sweater who promptly stood next to the original hunky straight guy, significantly raising the property values in their section of the train car.
So my question is this: Is there a polite way to tell Jesus to move His faggy man-pursed self the hell out of my way so I can scope hunky straight guys? Or is there some sort of Commandment forbidding that sort of thing?
I ran a marathon on Sunday. I never stopped running (save for a handful of 15-second walks so I could gulp down some water) for four hours and twenty minutes. And aside from some minor stiffness in my quads, the only real pain I developed was in my knees—and they flared up only when I was trying to go down stairs.
In contrast, I got a tetanus shot yesterday morning in my left shoulder. It lasted maybe two seconds. And now every time I turn my head, use either arm, try to type, stand up, sit down, grab the phone, scratch my butt or reach up to make sure my hair is pretty for the cameras, I feel like a trailer home after a tornado.
In short: Marathon = minor discomfort Tetanus shot = KICKED MY ASS
The marathon photo people are slowly sifting through the brazilians of pictures they took on Sunday, retouching unsightly wrinkles and matching bib numbers to runner email addresses—and the early returns (the picture matching is only 5% complete, according to the web site) show that: 1) I actually did run in the marathon, and these damn sore knees aren't just a sign that I'm getting closer and closer to death. 2) This year's shorts look better than last year's shorts* but they appear to ride up in the middle when I run, as though they were concealing a ravenous vagina.
The marathon photo people are a clever bunch, though, and their web site shows only tiny thumbnails of the lush, colorful photos they want to sell you. But for those of us with Photoshop and a rudimentary proficiency at using layers, a rudimentary montage of thumbnails can be produced in under five minutes.
*Last year’s shorts were far baggier, and their unattractiveness was further compounded by a sandwich bag full of Gummi Bears that bounced around like a vulgar appendage in one of the pockets. I forget which “friend” recommended that I carry Gummi Bears with me in the marathon, but Gummi Bears are a shitty idea because: 1) They’re heavy and they bounce around and slap against your leg when you run, and not in the junior-high-boner kind of way. 2) They require water, and when you’re running and parched and you decide to eat them you kind of choke because you’re nowhere near a water station. 3) They really don’t offer much of a sugar-carb pick-me-up. 4) All that heaviness and bouncing make half of your marathon photos unusable because the damn Gummi Bears end up looking like two birds are fighting to get out of your shorts because you farted or something. And nobody wants to see pictures of that.
So marathon #2 is over, and it was just as spectacular as I'd hoped. I didn't quite reach my goal of beating four hours ... but I did beat last year's time by 16 minutes, sparing me the endless humiliation of having to admit I got even slower to friends, family members and blog readers across the galaxy. And I finished 15,710 out of 33,012 runners, so those 16 minutes moved me into the top half this year. Woo-hoo!
I knew I had to maintain about a 9-minute-mile pace to hit the 4:00 mark, and I did almost exactly that until mile 15, when suddenly my knees started feeling as though they would seriously buckle backward if I landed on them wrong. So I slowed down, stopped to stretch a couple times and made damn sure I landed every stride with my knees pre-bent in the proper direction.
I had to pee about half an hour before the race started, but I knew if I left the starting gate and got in one of the endless lines at the porta potties, I could damn well miss the entire marathon. And I didn't dare stop DURING the marathon for fear of losing precious time. (I did, however, see a lot of runners peeing in alleys, behind bushes and on the outsides of busy porta-potties along the route. Runners are weird people.)
My mom and sister came in this weekend to help me carbo-graze all day Saturday (Mmm ... Chipotle! Mmm ... garlic cheese bread!) and to navigate the crowds and the El to cheer me on in four spots along the marathon route, starting at the endless Boystown party at mile 8. I swear, there is a special place in your chosen heaven for all of you who come out to cheer on friends, family members and even perfect strangers in races. Your woo-woos and whoops and noisemakers make all the difference between excruciating pain and excruciating pain with a huge rush of adrenaline. Bless you, every one.
My GO JAKE GO shirt proved once again to be the best $10 I've ever spent—being cheered on by name when you're seriously worried your knees are gonna do something gross and embarrassing is priceless. Some nice lady at about mile 19 (you know who you are) even yelled NoFo at me when she saw my shirt. (At least I hope that's what she yelled.) How cool is THAT to be recognized as one of America's premier blogging talents for my blog even in the middle of a sweaty, Gatorade-soaked knee crisis?
So I'm all done running for the year. The running togs are scheduled for a thorough washing today, and then they're going in a drawer for a good long time (and away from the shower rod, where they've spent the entire summer drip-drying). The knees and thighs and feet are scheduled for some serious stretching and maybe a nice massage this week. And the pictures, as long as they're flattering once they become available, will appear on a blog near you.
The training is over, the family is here to cheer me on, the kitchen is filled with bananas and pears and kiwis and Gatorade, the medicine cabinet is stocked with Ibuprofen, the running clothes (marathonsemble?) are (is?) laid out, the goals are set, the fingernails and toenails are clipped, the race packet will be picked up this afternoon ...
Fifteen years ago, a young citizen emerged, bright-eyed and optimistic, from the ivory towers of higher academia and wandered out into the world to seek his fortune. Thanks to scholarships, miserly careful spending and sometimes up to three concurrent part-time jobs, he’d managed to make it through four years of college (and a misguided semester of grad school) with no loans and a small pile of money in the bank.
It was the dawn of the first Bush presidency, though, and eight years of Reaganomics had left no suitable jobs that were worthy of our hero’s august credentials. Indeed, our hero’s local paper, which usually featured a good 10 or 15 pages of job openings, offered only one page of jobs for most of the first year of his bachelor’s-degreed existence. Our hero had to fight to land a job as a waiter that first summer … and he had to live his first few years out of college with his parents. But that’s not really the point of our story.
The point is this: Our hero was going to be RICH and HAPPY and have a fulfilling career and a fabulous boyfriend and maybe write a semi-popular blog just as soon as blogs got invented.
But it takes money to make money, and our hero was determined to start early with his investing. So, acting on a hot tip from a rich friend with a distractingly round butt, our intrepid hero bought $377.31 worth of stock (including a $43.93 commission) in an up-and-coming company that developed disposable surgical supplies. The wave of the future!
But disposable surgical supplies never managed to capture medical consumers’ imagination, and the up-and-coming company spent the next decade bouncing around from merger to buyout, devolving from promising superpower to parts-is-parts corporate jetsam.
And one day, our hero woke up to news about a company called Tyco whose corrupt CEO and CFO had been shamelessly and quite conspicuously robbing the company and its investors blind … and our hero suddenly realized that—thanks to all those corporate buyouts—he was now one of those bilked investors.
And thanks to his minuscule initial investment, our hero owned a mere six shares of Tyco, which over the years earned him quarterly dividends that ranged anywhere from 8¢ to 60¢. And—thinking back to that original $43.93 commission (in 1992 dollars)—our hero believed that selling off his meager holdings would involve modern commissions completely eclipsing whatever value remained in his initial investment.
Until last week, when our hero casually mentioned his predicament to his investment advisor, who casually mentioned that the current investment company would probably buy back his meager holdings with only minimal feeage.
And when our hero called the 800 number and navigated clumsily through the frustrating voice-activation menu, he learned his investment advisor had been right! For a mere $15 selling fee (plus a bonus commission of 10¢ a share plus certified postage of $8.37), he could cut his losses, be free of the embarrassing stocks and laughable dividend checks, and probably see about $150 in cash within a few weeks.
Which is still a net loss of $225 (before inflation), but our hero trusts that the loss will also include some modest benefit on his tax return, which is always better than a kick in the pants and a case of the clap.
And thus our hero’s noble experiment ends. His lesson? Rich friends with cute butts do not investment advisors make. Plus: Well-managed mutual funds, diversified IRAs and licensed investment advisors can help you grow your wealth steadily and reliably. And jettison bad investments with minimal financial impact.
I ran my last marathon training run on Saturday: eight beautiful, sunny miles up and down the lakefront. My legs were feeling a bit sluggish after last week’s sprints (and a yoga class I probably threw myself into a bit too vigorously), so I decided to do no more below-the-waist activities (please keep your giggles to yourselves) this week so I can be completely healed and fresh for the marathon on Sunday.
The last run is always kind of hard in a weird, sentimental kind of way. I’ve developed little emotional attachments to certain landmarks and stretches along the trail, and I’m seeing them for probably the last time until spring: • The Land o’ Shirtless Gay Muscleboys between Irving Park and Belmont • The Gateway to Bigger Accomplishments between Belmont and Diversey (if I cross Belmont, that means I’m doing something more epic than a basic 5-mile run) • The majestic Native American statue perfectly framed in a grove of trees near Diversey • The drinking fountain at Diversey (BLESS YOU, city planners!) • The Art Deco bridge and the gorgeous lake views between Diversey and Fullerton • The four-headed drinking fountain at Fullerton • The Land o’ Shirtless Straight Muscleboys between Fullerton and North (hot musclebodies + acres of beach volleyball courts = lots of welcome distraction) • The outdoor chess pavilion and the concrete jungle south of North (you’re running right along Lake Shore Drive here, which generates a sense of urban street cred … but you have to hold your tummy in so people driving by just inches away from you can’t see how gooey you are) • The Gateway to Supernova Coolness between Oak Street Beach and Navy Pier (if I’m running down there, I’m doing at least 15 miles, which makes me the prettiest little pony in the UNIVERSE)
Notice I didn’t mention anything north of Irving Park. It’s pretty enough, but there’s almost NOBODY running up there, so the whole area is a Land o’ Boredom that’s just something to endure at the beginning and end of each run. I won’t miss it one bit this winter.
While I’m not running this week—and since my four-month work glut has come to a welcome pause at the moment—I’ve been getting in some seriously hardcore upper-body workouts over the last few days. I’m in no danger of becoming a International Male physique model in the near future, but it’s been awesome feeling a serious pump in my muscles again … not to mention that achy burn feeling when I pee the day after a good workout.
And now, all that’s left to do is wait. And carbo-load. And pick up my race packet on Saturday. And not oversleep on Sunday.
And then beat 4:36:31 … which I think I could easily do, if only because I’m not running injured this year. My goal is to beat 4:00, but that involves shaving more than a minute per mile off last year’s run. (Again: I’m counting on that not-injured-this-year thing to help.)
And on Monday? Perhaps a nice massage. And a good shaving of my tummy, which I’ve been leaving un-manscaped so it won’t rub or itch or chafe during the marathon. And then, perhaps, a long and rambling blog post. Or two.