Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Random things

Just after I got on my bus yesterday morning, it sideswiped a parked car. The sideswiping happened on my side of the bus, too. But I was on my way to only my fourth personal training session, so I’m pretty sure the bus wasn’t off-kilter because of my massive musculature. Though you never can tell. I was worried I’d be late for my trainer (OK, I was worried about the poor owner of the car too … but to be brutally honest I was more worried about being late for my trainer) but I’d left the house with a 15-minute cushion so I figured we’d be OK as the driver waited for whatever CTA officials are dispatched to deal with sideswiped cars at 6:00 am on a Tuesday. Fortunately, the officials came quickly, and they instructed the driver to get right on Lake Shore Drive (four blocks early!) and get all of us passengers to our downtown destinations. So I was at the gym in plenty of time for a brutal attack on my chest and back.

Because I’m done with my trainer by 8:00 and I have a very short walk to my office, I’m usually the first one to get to work on my training days. One unanticipated benefit: I’m the first to use our bathrooms. Which means I get to pee in the blue water the cleaning staff leaves in the urinals overnight. The early bird really does get the worm!

Speaking of our work urinals, some mouth-breathing cretin has penned a crude drawing of what I assume is supposed to be male genitalia (or else it’s a very disfigured hand) on one of the tiles over our leftmost urinal. Our company shares the bathroom with three other companies on our floor, and the bathroom gets lots of traffic—except, of course, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings when I get to make some frothy “blue + yellow = green” magic in blissful solitude—so I don’t know when anyone would have found the privacy to actually write on the walls without being noticed. (It’s not as though the building management had the basic humanity to install partitions between our urinals or anything.) More disturbing still is the fact that some adult male in an adult office building in big-city Chicago would feel compelled to draw a penis on a bathroom wall. As though he were in a truck stop. Or a grade school. Or a Ted Haggard tent revival.

In other big-disfigured-penis news, Alaska Senator Ted “Bridge to Homophobia” Stevens has been charged with seven counts of felony corruption. And Dubya is leaving what’s left of our country with the highest dollar deficit ever recorded. And Scrabulous has been forcibly removed from Facebook, along with all records of my 30 wins and 20 losses and my 90-something-point score for actinium. Which is so devastating to me, I can’t even find the strength to bring this post full-circle and close it on a pee joke.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Divisible by eight

One hundred and twenty
The surprise refund I got (or, technically, have been promised will be deposited in my checking account) from the IRS last week. As you may recall, in April I got a letter from the IRS informing me I owed them almost $5,000 in unpaid taxes, fees and interest on the more than two-year-old rollover of some underperforming mutual funds into an IRA account. Three weeks, 100+ pages of cost-basis documentation and $600 in tax attorney fees later, I sent a check to the IRS for $1,100—along with a couple pages of detailed tax-attorney math—instead. And last week—FINALLY—the speed demons at the IRS sent me a letter informing me that I'd in fact overpaid and I should be expecting a $120 deposit in my checking account sometime in the next century. Which, if you're going to get a delinquency letter from the IRS, is the best kind to get.

The number of miles we ran Saturday morning. And by "ran" I mean "staggered pathetically through." As always, I blame the heat. But not as always, I wasn't the only one who choked.

Here is my pace group before the run, filled with confidence and innocence and hope:

Here we are around mile 7, when I'd started falling back so much that people felt compelled to run back and get me:

Here's Matthew coming out of the bathroom near our turnaround. I'm including the picture here because Matthew thinks he looks good in it. And because Matthew totally went potty!

And here's a picture of our finishers. Notice who's not among them. I mean besides Dick Cheney:

At our turnaround, I decided to run at a pace I could handle and wait for a slower pace group to catch up with me so I could join them. Unfortunately, I discovered I couldn't keep up with three successively slower pace groups. So I plugged along and ran the last five miles on my own. I did finish, but I clocked in a good half an hour behind my peeps.

One half
The number of my nipples that started chafing before the run was over. I have always been the miracle boy who never sweats and rarely has chafing issues ... and suddenly on top of my exhaustion, discomfort and prolonged wall-hitting Saturday morning, my right nipple started to feel like it was about to be rubbed bloody by my shirt. I'm sure part of the problem is my nipples were laser-hard in my last mile ... along with the goose-bumpy skin all over the rest of my body as I started into the early stages of heat exhaustion. But I was also wearing a moisture-wicking running shirt that was dripping with sweat and water. And—to me, at least—moisture-wicking shirts are more scratchy and irritating than cotton. Which is as welcome as a gay in a Vatican bathhouse among true runner circles. But I like the gays, so I usually run in cotton.

In any case, I took my shirt off for the last mile, something I haven't done since 1) I turned 40 and 2) I started wearing a heart monitor, which I think looks as ridiculous as a divorced Republican presidential candidate at a "family values" rally. Of course, Matthew was waiting at the finish line with his camera, so now there's a photographic record of what I look like with a broken headlight and an electric chair restraint holding up my moobs:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Second week. More advanced.

My expensive, distractingly muscular trainer is trying to kill me. Or make me all muscly. But my money’s on the murder.

While last week was all about getting a feel (ahem) for what I was capable of in the gym, this morning was all about making me throw up. Or at least shake violently when I tried to use any motor skills during the day. We worked chest, back and legs in 45 take-no-prisoners minutes this morning, followed by a sadistic 10 minutes on the stretch tables, followed by a reasonably motor-skilled shower (alone, for the record), followed by a wobbly five-block walk to my office, followed by an entire day haunted by the feeling that I had been secretly filleted in my sleep and the deep, aching pain all over my body was just a manifestation of the fact that my muscles had been surgically separated from my bones in some nightmarish slasher movie.

In 18 years of regular workouts, I’ve done plenty of super sets (a term for rapidly alternating between different exercises that target the same muscles) but I’ve never done super sets that made it super hard to walk as though I'd yet to develop the locomotion skills of a toddler. This personal trainer stuff hurts in my muscles, my bones and even in the cushion in my checking account, but it also ROCKS in all the right places. I should have done this years ago, and I can't wait for Thursday's brutal attack. In the mean time, I'm going to attempt a training run on Wednesday morning. The official target is five miles, but I reserve the right to slash that distance drastically when I get to the end of our block. Because I might feel a lot of pain by then. Or I could feel nothing.

Two years ago today ...

I met a tall, disarmingly handsome fella at a lovely brunch. He laughed at my jokes. He quoted Sondheim. He wasn't subtle about ogling me when I wasn't subtle about showing him the tattoo on my abs.

And now—two job changes, one new condo, one 40th birthday, six new plants, two marathons and a whole bunch of show tunes later—we're waking up alone, half a continent apart. He's in Louisville and I'm in Chicago. He'll be traveling all day and I have a whole day of meetings. And since he won't be home until tomorrow, I might go buy some stuff tonight to strip the hardware on the front door.

While it's not the most ideal second anniversary celebration, I know we still have time to spend an anniversary or two ... or 48 ... together; we made a pact that we'll give this relationship 50 years and then just cut our losses if we decide it's not working out.

Fortunately, early poll data indicate a long, happy run.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Where there's a will, there's an anniversary

I know! By the time you get to the end of this post, you'll be calling the Pulitzer committee on my behalf to show them my deft talents at weaving two disparate topics into one seamless, artistic, finger-on-the-pulse-of-the-American-Zeitgeist headline. What can I say? It's a gift.

But first, I have to tell you that we ran six one-mile sprints yesterday morning. In rain that could be alternately described as sprinkles, heavy downpour and diluvial. And I was wearing what are quickly becoming my least favorite running shorts. The shorts' little pockets routinely cough up the stuff I put in them for safekeeping—keys, running gel, harmonicas, bougainvillea—and spit them to the ground. No matter how carefully I tie the shorts' thick gray waistband cord, it eventually snakes out of the little panty portion of the shorts and hangs down my leg like a steroidal tampon string. And the mesh material in the shorts' panty portion is starting to get chafey. And by "chafey" I mean "sandpapery." Especially when it's drenched in diluvium. I remind you: This diluvial sandpaperiness is located 100% in my delicate panty region. What's more, the domestic partner's running shorts responded to yesterday's torrential rains in a similar fashion. This may be way too much information for some people (Hi, Mom!) but after running for an hour and a half in wet sandpapery shorts yesterday, our ... um ... toys are pretty much ruined for the next few days. So we spent yesterday afternoon snuggled up in bed, swathed in Desitin® brand diaper rash ointment and watching a marathon of My Life on the D List, Project Runway and almost two DVDs of Sex and the City. Which is probably how most gay people ... um ... express their love for each other. But not on the weekend of their second anniversary.

And yet, rusty Buicks won't get in the way of our marathon training. In fact, I'm heading out to run three or five miles (I never decide how far I'm going to run until I hit my first mile and see how my aging joints are feeling) just as soon as I post this bit of rambling. Because six hours of TV doesn't make for tight abs.

But on to the intended point of this post! Finally!

Part the First: The domestic partner and I finalized our wills, powers of attorney and other binding legalities on Friday, spending an hour signing our names and making decisions about whether we want to be left to die with or without nourishment if we ever become vegetative and Tom DeLay tries to diagnose our condition via videotape from the House floor. So we are now bound together by a formidable pile of notarized documents ... and we're as legally married-ish as the United Kakistocracy of God Hates Gay People will allow. And now I guess I should start sleeping with one eye open, because the domestic partner will stop at nothing to get sole custody of my dishes.

Part the Second: The will signing adds one more gift-worthy entry to my 10-day marathon of momentous July anniversaries, which in 2008 mark eight years of living in Chicago and five years of blathering on and on ad nauseam right here on poor, unsuspecting Here's the current lineup, for those of you keeping score at home ... and mapping out your July gift budget:

July 12, 2007: I proposed to the domestic partner
July 16, 2000: I moved to Chicago
July 18, 2008: We signed our wills
July 19, 2003: I started this blog thing
July 22, 2006: I met the domestic partner
July ??, 2008: I accept my Pulitzer

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Oh, the things I’ve done

The domestic partner, his brother and six other friends enjoyed our first concert under the stars together at Chicago’s stunning Millennium Park on Friday night. The program featured Tchaikovsky’s emotional-roller-coaster Pathétique Symphony, preceded by a lovely piece by Jean Sibelius and an impenetrable, shrieky post-apocalyptic thing by an early 20th century composer named Szymanowski, who may have been a nice person, but we wouldn’t have invited him to play at our wedding so it’s probably good that he’s long dead.

After that, we trekked to Navy Pier to experience Maudits Sonnants, a French ensemble that works very hard to defy categorization. Essentially a human carillon, the group hangs from a massive umbrella-shaped chandelier suspended by a crane. They play bells, beat drums and swing from trapezes as they spin around and around as we mortals gasp up in awe from the ground below.

Here’s what they look like via a camera phone without a flash. Those little pendulum things are people attached to huge collections of drums and bells. Heavy drums and bells. Spinning wildly right over our heads!

I’d been worried by Friday night’s relatively warm humid air ’cause we had to get up and run 14 miles on Saturday. Then it stormed during the night. And I mean stormed. And it was still rainy and wet when we met at 7:00 am to start our run. Fortunately, the rain had killed the heat. Also fortunately, I love running in the rain. So I had a kick-ass 14 miles … though I got a pretty hefty blister on my left achilles tendon. And 10 poor-person store-brand band-aids later, it’s still red and oozy and gross. Mmmmm!

We borrowed the domestic partner’s nieces (and their parents and assorted sisters and cousins and aunts) for a matinee of Wall•E on Saturday. Anthropomorphic robots! Adorable cockroaches! Hello, Dolly! clips! Hidden Disney references! What’s not to love?

On Sunday morning we donned bright red stickers and boarded giant buses and found ourselves one pair of culottes shy of being official tourists, but we didn’t care! We were taking the Chicago Historical Society’s celebrated Devil in the White City tour! After a brief slide show, we drove through the historic Prairie Street district, once home to many of the movers and shakers (and financiers) behind Chicago’s 1893 Columbian Exposition. Then we drove past a bunch of houses and churches that were built with recycled architecture from the exposition. Then we drove through the old fair grounds, which are now south-side boulevards, neighborhoods and the property around the Museum of Science and Industry. The tour was interesting, but not packed with enough stuff to merit what the historical society was charging … especially because we got NO drive-bys of what’s left of Dr. H.H. Holmes’ hotel o’ serial killing, which is featured prominently in the book.

Sunday night, we were going to meet friends at Sidetrack for show tunes, but we hit a wall. A wall of laziness. We also hit a big Sex and the City DVD collection, and I have now finally seen most of the first two seasons. That Samantha was a slut.

My boss and I took a prospective new employee to dinner last night for an extended interview at a fancy-ish restaurant in the theater district. There must have been some Judy Garland retrospective (or maybe an artistic evening of Nick Lachey in a Speedo kicking the shit out of John McCain while humming the Sweeney Todd score) at one of the nearby theaters because the place was packed with homos, all of whom giddily disappeared into the night promptly at 7:15. We were just starting to wind up our interview in the newfound quiet when the waiters pulled back a curtain at the end of the dining room and suddenly we were in the middle of a freakin’ open-mic cabaret show. Do you know how hard it is to ask interview questions while a schlubby white girl struggles to channel her inner Latina dancer through three choruses and a bridge of A Chorus Line’s “Nothing”? If Madonna can be a movie star …

So I had my first official workout with my expensive new trainer (the one who can meet me at 7:00 am instead of the one they assigned me last week who was free only at 6:00 am) at my expensive new gym (the one that thinks it’s a “luxury brand” though it stocks its locker room with cans of Barbasol® brand poor-person shaving cream) this morning. Let me just get this out of the way before I go any farther: HOLY SHIT my new trainer is hot! And this may just be the drooling, giggling schoolgirl in me talking, but he also seems to be a kick-ass trainer as well. This morning, we just went through all the equipment at the gym so he could get a feel (ahem) for what I was capable of doing (ahem). On Thursday, he starts treating me like the bitch I am, whipping me into the manly man I’ve always wanted to be. I tried to take a “before” picture with my crappy digital camera this morning before I left the house, but the domestic partner was gone and I couldn’t find a place to prop the camera to take a decent picture. So I may take a delayed “before” picture when the domestic partner gets back tomorrow night. Not that I did any significant growing this morning. Ahem.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Expensive things I have bought this week

Two tickets to the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Devil in the White City tour this Sunday. Serial killers! World’s fairs! All in one bus ride! The domestic partner and I have invited three other couples to join us for the tour, and they’ve all turned us down. So we’re stuck doing it with each other. So to speak.

Two tickets to Kathy Griffin in October. The only seats that were available when I got to the box office (it’s easy to avoid Ticketbastard fees when you work close to the theater!) were the crappy ones up against the wall in the second and the third balconies (survey says no) and one set of stage-left box seats. The guy at the box office described them as “just like the seats where Lincoln got shot.” Sic semper it, Jesus!

An Equinox gym membership near my new office and 48 sessions with a personal trainer. Six months of pain, sweat and 40-year-old gay vanity all for the low, low price of more than two house payments! And so far … I’m not impressed. I walked in off the street and gave the salesperson (who kept calling Equinox “a luxury brand”) a no-effort closing on the most expensive membership package available, with three requests: I wanted a trainer familiar with the needs of a marathon runner, I wanted someone available two days a week at 7:00 am and I wanted to start on Friday. And I was paying top dollar, so I kind of expected these not-unreasonable requests could be met. She said someone would call me on Thursday and set it all up without any problems. Except there were lots of problems. Nobody called. I called three times before I got someone who could schedule me for Friday. Then I had to reschedule because they hooked me up with the wrong scheduling dude. And after way too much “luxury brand” customer service, I finally—at 8:00 pm last night—got a meeting confirmed with … a non-runner who is booked every day of the week at 7:00 am.

But I wanted to get started, so I had my pre-training evaluation today at 6:00 am (yawn) and then did my own workout for an hour. And by 10:00 this morning, I’d already been contacted by a different trainer who is available at 7:00 starting next week. His stated specialty is “building lean muscle mass,” which I hope he means on me.

And while the Equinox facility is nice, it doesn’t really give the impression of being a “luxury brand.” It’s decorated in a minimalist style that is much closer to “not decorated” than “minimalist style.” It has significantly less equipment than the ghetto gym by my house (yes, I’m now one of those self-obsessed homos with two gym memberships). And I’ve seen nicer locker rooms in … um … certain types of locker-room-themed niche movies. But Equinox gets tons of points for its volume of 6:00 am eye candy. There was even one hottie who was strutting around in little black underpants in the locker room when I got there at 6:00 … and then standing around in a towel blow-drying his pubic hair at 7:00 when I started my workout … and then still padding around in just his dress pants at 7:45 when I finally got in the shower. His two-hour locker-room presence was borderline creepy, but he was totally channeling Rami Kashou (naked!) … and I didn’t see anyone complaining.

But it is done. I’ve ponied up my midlife-crisis cash, I’ve booked my time and I’m on my way to … um … whatever it is I’m going to accomplish with the help of a paid professional at what is purportedly one of the best personal-trainer gym chains in the country. And I still have some of my extra-large shirts from when I used to weigh 15 pounds more than I do now. Just in case.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Regular is as regular does

I’m so predictable in the mornings. I mean like a Madonna movie. I have a glass of milk (or a protein shake if I’ve had a run or a workout and maybe a piece of raisin toast if I’m alert enough to fire up the toaster) every morning before I leave for work. And in the first few hours I’m at work, I eat a banana and a cup of Yoplait (cherry or peach or blackberry if I can find it in the store) and I make a bowl of plain oatmeal with some kind of dried fruit in it.

But the kitchen in our ultra-plush, space-needle-like office is even farther from my desk than it was in the ankle wart of an office we just moved out of. And a bowl of freshly nuked oatmeal is HOT. And my hands are already full from carrying all my dry bowl-of-oatmeal ingredients. So I have to stack everything so I can carry it all without burning myself:
Fortunately, my fully assembled stack o’ fiber looks a lot like a hockey trophy, so nobody makes fun of me. And I get to bask in Stanley Cup adoration every morning as I move my bowl back to my desk even though all I’m really accomplishing is a bowl movement of another pronunciation. Which, at my age, is sometimes big news.

And for the record, my tube of oatmeal is all ripped up from being taped shut for the move to our new office. I decided that a disfigured tube of oatmeal is preferable to shaking little oatmeal flakes out of all my file folders for the next month. Am I right? Can I get an amen?

Get a load of how clean my desk looks. That won’t last long. Also: Join me in hating that curvy cutout on my desk. It’s a platform that raises and lowers my computer to the typing height of my choice. But I’m perfectly happy with the regular height. And the huge gaps in my desk are hungry little fuckers that eat pencils and erasers and sometimes even low-carb snacks. And the hardware under the desk that raises and lowers the platform has already severed three arteries and two tendons in my knees. So even though that platform thinks it’s all clever, I will not treat with the respect that it thinks it’s entitled to. Because I am Not! One of its! FANS!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

How to have an exhausting July 4 weekend

Hang out at the lobby bar in your fabulous new office building on Thursday night after work. Drink your first Tom Collins, which just may eclipse the vodka tonic as your drink of choice on the rare occasions when you order an adult beverage. Meet the domestic partner and his brother for the downtown fireworks later that evening. Ooze through the million-strong sea of staggeringly immature and rude Chicagoans on your way back to the train afterward. Collapse in bed almost two hours later when you finally make it home.

Cheer over the demise of the unrepentantly racist, homophobic, warm wet butthole of a bigot Jesse Helms. Feel bad that he didn't suffer more before he died.

Start your next home-improvement project: upgrading your poorly insulated, ill-fitting front door. To get started, buy new deadbolts and door handles that match what you think you'll find when you finally get decades of paint off the the existing escutcheon plates. Also buy gaskets to attach to all four edges of the door to make it more soundproof and able to keep your expensive air conditioning and heating where you want it to stay. Still to do: Strip the hardware you're going to keep. Sand and paint the door. Replace the hardware. Fix the broken quarter-round on the door frame. Find a new door knocker that fits the 5" holes in your door. Figure out a way to maybe upholster the back of the door to add even more insulation so you don't hear every freaking conversation in the hallway. Pick a date you're going to do all this so you're able to guard the homestead against invading miscreants while you have the door off its hinges through all this stripping and painting and drying.

Run five one-mile sprints on Saturday morning and rock at them. Run one 10-mile run on Sunday morning and choke and die in the heat. Also do chest and arms at the gym for the first time in three weeks.

Finally decide what you're going to do for your mid-life crisis: Hire a personal trainer. Which is cheaper than a Ferrari and less pathetic than a combover. Start researching the best place to work with said trainer: your neighborhood gym or one close to your office.

Cuddle up with the domestic partner to watch all the DVD extras on Sweeney Todd.

Have an impromptu barbecue with all your loser friends who haven't already been invited to better barbecues. Ply your hunky straight neighbor with food and liquor so he'll do all your barbecuing for you since it's his grill anyway. Then watch in awe as your friends' very gay conversations don't even faze him.

Spend the last few hours of the weekend singing showtunes and bonding with said friends over even more adult beverages at Sidetrack.

Crawl home. Write a blog post. Expire.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I have pride!

Well, technically I just have pictures from pride weekend. But we'll call it pride anyway.

Here are all of us from AIDS Marathons present and past who decided to wear our AIDS Marathon shirts to the Proud to Run 5K/10K on Saturday morning, even though nobody looks good in yellow:

And here's our intrepid cheering/holding-our-stuff-while-we-run section:

And here are the boys from last year's AIDS Marathon pace group -- back when people actually went to brunch after running and got to know each other and kept in touch, unlike this year's not-very-social crop of runners:

After Proud to Run, we hosted Proud to Brunch at our house ... which was soon wafting with an effluvium of baked egg casseroles, fresh flowers and sweaty runners. Unfortunately, I left my camera in the dresser where I usually hide it while I was busy making eggs and refilling mimosas and stuffing delicious, sugary doughnuts down my throat. So I can share only the pictures I stole from Marc's Facebook page. Here's Marc and me in our dining room. We are smiling because we are very near a table full of food:

Here's Marc with the domestic partner and one of our two token females. I don't speak female, so I have no idea what weird exotic female thing she's doing in this picture, but it's obviously making the domestic partner laugh. And there's nothing better than the sound of his laughter:

Here's Brad and me on our back porch. You can barely see our new bench at the bottom of the picture. Please admire it for its transformative powers; without that bench our porch is just a brick wall and a wooden floor. With the bench, our porch is a brick wall, a wooden floor and a bench. Drop on by and sit on our bench with us sometime. We still have plenty of champagne to share:

Here are Matt and George demonstrating how to enjoy the bench in proper fashion. Food and beverages are optional, but testing has proven that refreshments help raise the bench enjoyment factor (sometimes called a "benchmark") by a number of percentage points:

Here's more of the porch furniture being enjoyed by more of our friends. Note the Asian-inspired lamp on the table. You'll be seeing more of those as you scroll down:

If you have any handsome-gay-brother fantasies, look no further than our back porch. If you have Asian-inspired-lamps-hanging-from-the-beams fantasies, you will be in pig heaven at our house; while we have only one set of handsome gay brothers (and only when they both show up at the same party), we have three hanging Asian-inspired lamps, only two of which are pictured here:

I have no pictures from the parade or the parade-day parties. Just use your imagination and picture a bunch of gay people squinting in the sun (or dripping in the rain) and holding some kind of beverage.

On Monday night, after my first day in our ultra-plush, space-needle-like new downtown office, I met a bunch of friends at El Mariachi for Shaine's birthday. Here I am drinking my first alcoholic beverage of the weekend as a raven-haired chiquita dances in celebration behind me:

And here is our whole party, filled to the point of discomfort with liquor and carbs and complimentary birthday flan. Shaine is the rapidly aging one in the white shirt. Doesn't he look old?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Protect straight marriage!

The straight-marriage experts have opened their mouths and spoken:

Stolen (if that's not breaking a commandment) from Jesus' General