Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shoes before cruise!

The domestic partner and I decided to take this year off from gay cruises … so of course 2011 ends up being Atlantis’ 20th anniversary of cruising and of course it books the mega-hella-massive Allure of the Seas for its epic 20th anniversary cruise and of course all our friends in the known universe will be frolicking beSpeedoed on that ship next month without us.

But! Gay cruises are expensive once you factor in airfare and hotels and port adventures and glitter. We figure we’ve spent up to $3,000 each for every cruise we’ve been on – and we don’t even drink alcohol or have to carry bail money for drug busts.

So while our friends booked the best balcony rooms and stopped eating carbs and invested in new Speedo wardrobes, we stuck to our financial guns. And we’ll be landbound next weekend when they all set sail into the warm Caribbean.

Plus we’ll also be $3,000 richer than everyone else.

And there’s only one way to celebrate saving $3,000 on a cruise: spending $400 on clothes!

To assuage my disappointment in not cruising this year, I gave myself a $200 $300 $400 allowance to go hunting for some new shirts, pants and shoes that were 1) appropriate for the casual-funky-slightly-dressy sartorial look I’ve imposed on myself for work, 2) comfortable to wear and easy to wash, and 3) big enough to accommodate my slowly (very slowly) growing physique.

And thanks to the awesome deals at Filene’s Basement and Nordstrom Rack—not to mention the attitude and/or incompetence of the Puma Store employees that alienated me, the almighty consumer, into not spending $260 on their full-priced stuff—I eventually stumbled home with two pair of shoes, two pair of pants and ten (twelve? fifteen? I honestly lost count) shirts.

As usual, I wanted dressy gym shoes I could wear to the gym without looking too dressy and to work without looking too gymmy. And I found these fabulous Pumas (but not in the attitude-and/or-incompetence-riddled Puma Store) marked down to $49 from $80:

My years of brutal personal-trainer workouts and mountains of chicken breasts and gallons of protein shakes are slowly (very slowly) paying off, because I’m slowly (very slowly) growing in all the places I’d hoped I’d grow. And a lot of my short-sleeve shirts that looked merely questionable for work two years ago now look downright desperate the way the shoulder seams ride up and the sleeves barely cover my arms. So I made a point to buy (still fitted) shirts in sizes bigger than you typically find in the American Girl Store.

But! This week when I was searching online for synonyms for the word “plus” (for a client’s product-naming brainstorm! honest!), made some rude assumptions about my motives when it placed its paid advertisements on the results page:
Dear Suddenly wearing bigger shirts does not make me a big girl. I’ll thank you for keeping your interpretations of my shopping and/or word-searching habits to yourself.

While I was updating my look (and abandoning Atlantis) I also decided that the formerly-garish-but-now-grungy orange Atlantis gym bag I’ve carried around with me every day for the last four-plus years was looking kind of … um … tacky.

I leave the house at 6:00 every morning and carry my whole day in that bag—including clothes, dopp kit, protein shakes, water, pain relievers, healthful lunch, healthful snacks and reading material for the bus—so it’s a permanent part of my person. And formerly-garish-but-now-grungy orange doesn’t really match my classy, not-frat-house-dwelling personality. I wanted to find a plain black bag with no logos on it, but that’s like finding an article of the Constitution Michele Bachmann has actually read. So I settled for the bag on the right, which is significantly classier and more not-frat-house-dwelling than the formerly-garish-but-now-grungy orange thing on the left, which found a new home in the garbage can moments after posing for this picture:

So now I have two (three? I honestly lost count) weeks of cool new clothes to wear and a new bag to carry and two new pair of shoes to choose from—which means I'll embark on an exciting new sartorial adventure every morning for at least two weeks—so who needs a stupid cruise with stupid hot men in stupid Speedos on a stupid mega-hella-massive ship with live performances by stupidly hot Cheyenne Jackson? Harumph.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I sang Happy Birthday to Dolly Parton! Twice!

For realz! So I can finally cross that off my bucket list.

We went to the Chicago grand opening of 9 to 5: The Musical this week, and Dolly herself showed up, complete with a walk down a laughably short red carpet, given how close the Bank of America Theatre (née LaSalle Bank Theatre, née Shubert Theatre) is to the street and how elfin its vestibule and lobby are.

The fact that she was going to be at the show wasn’t widely publicized, so there wasn’t a massive, Dolly-worthy crowd waiting for her. Which meant one thing: more room for us to see her!

Unfortunately, that elfin vestibule gave her about 1.4 seconds to wave to the crowd on her right as she walked in … and by the time those 1.4 seconds were up she was so close to the lobby door that it looked like she wouldn’t even turn to face those of us on her left. So I panicked and took this picture of the back of her head:

Of course, the millisecond after I took the picture she turned and waved at us … as my iPhone struggled through its 17-minute process of thinking about the picture it just took. So the above picture is all I have to show Dolly and I were in the same room together … no doubt both thinking about how good I’d look in her red Best Little Whorehouse in Texas finale dress.

But! She was introduced to the audience before the show by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who takes awkward speeches and ill-timed references to funerals to an all-time low. And when he mentioned it was her birthday, the whole audience spontaneously broke into a chorus of Happy Birthday. And since only gay men and women who can’t get dates go to musicals written by Dolly Parton, our Happy Birthday was in full harmony.

And after the show, the cast interrupted their bows to bring Dolly back up on stage, present her with a cake … and sing Happy Birthday with the audience again … this time with a full orchestra! And again with the harmony.

It was enough to drive you giddy. If you let it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Things to celebrate

1. Jury duty was a breeze on Monday
This was the third time I'd been called to jury duty in Maywood, Illinois, which is so far west it might as well be in Sarah Palin's reading library double-wide. But this time Maywood didn't look like the gang-warfare video game I recall it being. And sitting in the jury waiting room all day gave me a chance to catch up on some freelance writing. Even though I could not escape the bleatings of Let's Make a Deal and The Price is Right, which are both so stupid they make me want to kick puppies. And that "all day" two sentences ago is kind of a misnomer; all the cases that day settled out of court, so even though we potential jurors were denied the opportunity to send miscreants to the hoosegow, we all got sent home in just enough time for me to get my oil changed, run a bunch of other glamorous errands and start un-Christmasing the house. And I eventually got to use miscreants and hoosegow in my blog. Hoosegow!

2. Traffic court was everything I'd hoped for on Thursday
Aside from the fact that I had to go in the first place, I mean. I had (allegedly!) not seen a no-left-turn sign in a snowstorm way back on December 4, and the cop actually took my fucking license as though I were a third-offense drunk driver. I at least had the presence of mind to make him take my AAA card instead (fun fact: your motor club card usually works as bond when someone tries to take your license!) but I still had to go to court to get it back. I, being a lifelong hater of confrontation, was nervous as heck walking into court (so nervous, in fact, that I accidentally left my coat at the security check and had to run back to get it). But when I didn't see my license-taking cop in the courtroom (at least I didn't think I saw him; my guy was white and the three cops in court were a white guy who kind of looked like my vague memory of my cop and two black people, who I was able to eliminate as my cops through my otherwise keen observational skillz) I calmed down. Sure enough, the white cop was not my white cop, and since there were no witnesses against my (alleged!) traffic misdemeanor, all the charges were dropped and this (alleged!) miscreant didn't get sent to the hoosegow. Woot!

3. I had a good physical on Friday
The lab took eight vials of blood to monitor my hyperthyroidism and elevated prolactin and a host of other 42-year-old indignities, though. So I'm still kind of woozy in a vampire-in-the-daylight kind of way. But otherwise the doctor said I'm fabulous! (And healthy.)

4. I updated my blog template today
This new look -- which I don't like as much as the one I abandoned -- isn't really the reason I'm celebrating. But upgrading to a new Blogger template was the only way I could extricate myself from the clutches of the Echo commenting software I didn't want to use anymore ... even though it means I lost eight years' worth of comments in the process. Blogger promises me I can still access my old links, which I hope to incorporate into this layout in the near future. But in the mean time, the five of you who still read my blog can make comments again. Not that you've been doing a lot of that recently anyway. Ahem.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Update my blog at least once every 21 days

Figure out how to convert my commenting to Blogger
Before Blogger offered a commenting feature, I used a free commenting app called HaloScan, which last year converted to a pay program called Echo. But I get about 5 comments per post, and now Blogger offers free built-in commenting capabilities … so it seems dumb to pay for the feature. Unfortunately, Echo offers NO help in shutting off its commenting app, which seems to have hijacked the DNA of my entire blog. So the five of you who want to comment on this post are just gonna have to hold tight until I can figure everything out. Since Echo has a lock on my commenting link but not on my credit card, you can comment all you want but I can't access your comments to approve them.

Write and mail my epic holiday letter
At this point I have a Word doc that lists all the months in order from 2010. So I’m almost done.

Gain at least two pounds a month in the gym
I started the year around 205, including bad holiday weight. I was 208 this morning, which seems to be good weight. Or at least I’ve-been-very-good-in-the-food-department weight. Then again, it could have been post-intense-workout water weight. But still. 208! Woot!

Outgrow some clothes
I mean in the vain-gymrat way. In December I reached the point where some of my narrow (not skinny—I’m not that delusional) jeans clung to my quads and calves and wouldn’t fall back down to cover my ankles when I stood up. So they’re currently at the bottom of the jeans pile. And my lats (which is vain-gymratspeak for the sides of my back) have gotten so wide (but never wide enough!) that I’ve had to do the douchebag cut (armholes down to the waist) on most of my workout shirts, which were already douchebaggy because I’d cut all the sleeves off.

Stop obsessing about getting bigger in the gym

Give up soda
I haven’t had a Coke Zero (my vice of choice) since January 2. I miss it worse than John McCain misses his integrity, but this attempt to quit comes with a built-in incentive: Drinking soda seems to have become a trigger for migraines and heartburn, and I haven’t had an episode of either since I quit filling myself with delightfully fizzy adventures in processed chemicals. Late last year they (the migraines and heartburn, not the delightfully fizzy chemicals) started kicking in at least twice a month, so I’ll jump on any bandwagon that looks like it could reverse that trend.

Buy some new ChapStick®
I've been reduced to digging out the last dregs from my current tube with my masculinely short fingernails. For the last month. It's probably time to pony up another couple bucks for a fresh tube.

Judge more people
I had jury duty yesterday, so I came this close to sitting in judgment over a whole world of miscreants. Unfortunately, every trial that day settled without going to court. So I was denied my right to pass judgment and send miscreants to the hoosegow. Though it did give me the opportunity to use miscreants and hoosegow in my blog.

Volunteer more
I was so impressed with the way the Center on Halsted GLBT community center went out of its way to help us when we filmed our It Gets Better Project video marathon there last October that I took its volunteer training class so I could give something back to the center in thanks. Unfortunately, all the volunteer opportunities available so far have been during my workday or have required degrees in law or social work ... or have specified that volunteers have legible handwriting. Seriously. And as a man with the handwriting of a drunken toddler, I assume I would be laughed out any note-writing events on behalf of any nonprofit organization with even Sarah Palin standards of capability. But! I’m on the Center on Halsted email list and I keep waiting for something to pop up that I can contribute to. In the mean time, I’ve gotten myself on the marketing committees for two big GLBT events in Chicago: Lambda Legal’s Freedom to Marry event in February and TPAN’s Chicago Takes Off in March. Watch this space for details about both events. They should appear every 21 days.