Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Another (yawn) Republican Queer

I'd usually launch into my Claude Raines imitation from "Casablanca" about now ("Gambling?? I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked!")

But even that seems trite at this point.

Some asshole rightwinger, married with children, self-loathing closet case from Washington State (on the left) has gotten caught (in lingerie, barebacking) with some manwhore (on the right) during some Repuglican conclave, somewhere.

If you're surprised, raise your hand! If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!

If you want to read all the gory details, click here.

In other news...

Still obsessing about that damned coffee-pot, only now I've managed to drag some of my friends into the funfest.

For Halloween this year I'm pretending to be normal. No one will suspect a thing.

I spoke at a 12-Step meeting at 7:30 a.m. this morning. I was told, early on in my sobriety, that I would always have to be willing to go to any lengths to protect my sobriety and that I was never to say "no" to the program. So I said yes. Sometimes I wonder how coherent I am at 7:30 in the morning while still nursing my 1st cup of coffee after a 50 mile bus ride from central NJ into Manhattan.

We have to be quiet for awhile... they're filming scenes for an upcoming Law & Order Criminal Intent episode in our boardroom today.

My stomach is gurgling, it must be lunch time.

Have a great Halloween everybody!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Passing of Being "Other"

Nice front page article in today's NYTimes about the disappearance of gay ghettos all around the country as more gay people get (more or less) permanently joined in holy deadlock and move to the burbs where they have 1.9 gaybies, 2 Jack Russell terriers and His and His SUVs.

Not to mention the gayest restored Victorian in town. And a garden that's to die for.

And they garner the enmity of every red-blooded, straight, married-male in town who is constantly nagged by the wife "Why can't OUR place look that nice? The boys have invited us for brunch on Sunday. Wear decent clothes. I don't want you looking like crap, like you usually do."

There was a time, of course, when if you grew up in East Jeebus, or South Bumbutt, you spent your formative years YEARNING to escape to "the big city" be it on the west coast, or the east coast. Without a shred of evidence to support the idea, you just knew, deep down inside, that somewhere "out there" were others like yourself.

Not at home, though. In fact, we LGBTs are the only minority on earth that spend our formative years with nothing to identify with. When a black child comes home at the end of a day he or she generally has some black people to identify with. LGBT kids come home to a bunch of heterosexuals. The miracle is that more of us don't kill ourselves than already do.

So, if you were like me, you couldn't wait to escape. And escape I did. All the way from Wilmington, Delaware to New York City (about 126 miles from one end of the NJTurnpike to the other). And I did by way of Seattle.

Don't ask. I needed a change of scenery.

What surprised me most about Seattle, after I got over the 10 months of yearly darkness, was the huge gay community there (this was 1976, after all). By the fall of 1977 mayoral candidates came into the gay bars to press the flesh.

At the same time, in SF, the Castro was bulging with a burgeoning queer population. As was Greenwich Village, Key West, West Hollywood and The Big Easy, New Orleans.

When I moved to NY in the spring of 1978, you could barely walk down the sidewalks of Christopher Street on a Saturday night from Seventh Avenue to Hudson Street without having to step out into the street several times, due to the congestion on the sidewalks.

And then things changed. And people started dying. And bookstores and bathhouses started to close and people got scared and got into relationships and lived together "happily every after."

And the ghettos started to dry up and disappear. Christopher Street moved uptown, to Chelsea. I don't know what happened everywhere else. I no longer was everywhere else.

What happened, at long last, is what happened to every other immigrant group that found it's way to these shores. We started to assimilate. To move to the burbs with our gaybies and lovers and terriers and trucks.

And suddenly, the straight guys started hanging over the fences getting home makeover tips from the lesbians who moved in next door.

And the ghettos started to disappear. And the Evangelists started to look more and more like the dessicated dinosaurs they truly are.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ann Coulter Nailed in WeHo Gay Eatery!

Please ignore the above photo until later on, when I get around to actually talking about it.

Before you read anything else today, read this about Ann Coulter:

Ms. Coulter was nailed, and nailed good, dining in a West Hollywood Swishery called Murano last night. There's photographic evidence. The place is owned by two dykes. She was called on it and feigned ignorance of the English language. The owner's were appalled but insisted they "had to serve her."

As the article points out, she's clearly a hypocrite who says outrageous things, probably causes unwarranted deaths amongst gay teenagers, and clearly demeans bunches of people merely to make enough money to dine out with her favorite peeps, gay people who can actually stomach her blatant hypocrisy.

Please read the article. I hope you'll be as appalled as I am. Why somebody doesn't slug this bitch is beyond me.


Weekend Update.

My brother and I went to see "30 Days of Night" about vampires in Barrow, Alaska during the annual month of darkness up there. It got flayed by the press but my bro' and I are afficianados of the horror genre and we both agreed, it was pretty good and gave us some good frights. This isn't Anne Rice territory. They aren't beautiful nor seductive. They're evil and violent. You've been forewarned.

Then came Sunday morning and catastrophe. (You may now refer to the above photo). The Braun coffeemaker died (that's not a Braun, obviously). After 13 years of faithful service except for 3 years when it lived in my brother's garage while I got sober. I'd already ground the beans and filled it with water. It wouldn't start. Luckily, I had a little spare one that made about exactly 1 cup at a time (I brewed two cups).

So I became a man on a mission Sunday afternoon. To find THE coffeemaker of all coffeemakers. I went to Linens & Things, Best-Buy, Bed, Bad & Beyond, Target and the supermarket.

No dice. Oh, I saw plenty of perfectly suitable coffeemakers, any one of which would've been fine.

But here's the problem. One of my major character defects is indecisiveness, brought about by a fervent need to be "told" what to buy so that when it doesn't work out, I have somebody to blame for it other than myself.

Wait, wait. Let me explain. I don't know how to be decisive. In fact, it pains me to be decisive. If you ask me "Where should we eat?", I'll hem and haw and drag my feet and say, "Oh, why don't YOU choose?" That way, when we both hate it, you can't blame me for your lousy decision! But I can blame you. It's important that I'm always right and you're always wrong.

Brilliant! No??

Look, I'm a recovering drunk and believe me, not exactly a hot-bed of mental health.

I even called everyone I know and left them voicemails asking for advice. The recovering drunks I called are on to my tricks and called me back with "pick the damned thing out for yourself." My earthling friends earnestly offered advice regarding coffeemakers, none of which I intend to take.

I know the one I want. I saw it at Bed, Bath & Beyond. It's the Cuisinart model I posted above. It's metal (indestructible), heavy-duty, and bound to last until I die (which is my goal when purchasing any appliances or automobiles).

So next Saturday, after I get the car serviced and my hairs trimmed, I'm trotting my buns right over to B, B & B and plunking down $80.00 to buy myself a coffeemaker that won't give up the ghost after a measly 13 years.

And if see Ann Coulter I'll be sure to throw a scalding cup in her face, where the damage won't be very noticeable.

I'm tired of fucking two-faced media whores like her.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Journey vs. Destination

If you're like me (God help you, you poor thing), you've always been a destination kind of person, not much interested in the journey.

I know not where I lost interest in the journey, but I did. Early. Obviously. It was, therefore, with only the greatest reluctance that I began to "accept" the premise that the 12 Steps of recovery were not, in and of themselves, "events" but, rather, that each of them was, in it's own way, a sort of metaphorical journey along the road to recovery.

An unending road, so it turns out.

I got a phone call last night from a young fellow in the program and I reminded him in the course of our call that I'd been doing this for 9 and a half years now, with no end in sight. He didn't seem much interested in knowing that and he reminded me of how I was in my early days.

I wanted 20 years of sobriety in 20 minutes and didn't understand why I couldn't have it. After all, I was smarter than just about everybody and I had certainly suffered more than everyone else, so I was obviously much more willing and prepared than most to achieve "instant sobriety."

Bzzzzt. Wrong. Thanks for playing. We have some lovely parting gifts.

Every time I look at those 12 Steps, either in our literature or hanging in a big poster on the wall of a meeting room, I am astounded by how much my understanding of them has changed over the years.

It was easily up to year 2 or even 3 of my sobriety before I got a clue that the Steps were individual journies and not individual destinations. Each of them would turn out to be an on-going, unending, process.

I didn't just admit that I was powerless over alcohol and that my life had become unmanageable one time and that was the end of that. I've had to admit, every day of my recovery, that I am powerless over alcohol (no matter who is drinking it) and that unmanageability is going to be a hallmark of life from now until the end of it. I control nothing. I take actions and let go of the results. I am not in charge, nor do I get frustrated by the fact that I am not. There is a Higher Power and I'm not Her. It's pointless to be angry at God. God does not care how pissed off I get. It's none of my business what other people think of me. It's none of their business what I think of them. Therefore I must practice restraint at all times. Restraint of pen, tongue, e-mails, facial expressions and audible sighs.

I must always be about the business of cleaning up MY side of the street, not everyone else's. And mostly importantly of all, I must acknowledge MY faults to others, try to pass along what I've learned in recovery and at all times try to practice these principles in all my affairs.

Getting sober is easy.

Living sober can be a real bitch.

Are we there yet, Daddy?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Paging the Beaver and Abe Lincoln

You've seen those commercials for a sleep product. Abe Lincoln and the Beaver are having a heart-to-heart chat with some poor schlub who can't sleep and telling him about how much "they miss him" because, since he can't sleep, he can't dream.

Oh, and there's usually a deep-sea diver in the background, brewing a cup of tea or something.

Well, I was awakened at 4:00 a.m. this morning by a dream. A very vivid dream. Sometimes it doesn't pay to get a good night's sleep. Sometimes we dream about things that are unpleasant. I don't know what triggered it. But I had what we in 12-Step programs call "a drunk dream."

In it, I'd been sent to Los Angeles on a business trip for the firm (but I had to use MY credit card to charge everything... knowing full well that they'd play the float on my back after I handed in my expense report). That wasn't bad enough. Somehow or other they'd managed to resurrect my late mother, the heavy-hitter, to accompany me on the trip. I've come to forgive mom over the years, but I doubt it would be a good idea for the two of us to be alone in a strange city with an expense account. I'm pretty sure I'd need a cocktail after flying across country with her. Needless to say, in the dream, it wasn't long before I found myself in a restaurant, ordering a drink without a second's thought as to the consequences. As I finished that drink the waiter came over and whispered to me that my guest, the person I'd been sent out there to meet, would be a few minutes late.

It was then that I realized that I was thoroughly buzzed off of the first drink and was in no condition to meet him. Worse, it dawned on me, only then, that I'd have to start "counting days" again when I returned to my home group.

I felt disgusted and afraid.

I woke up. I was relieved... and afraid.

It's been 9 and a half years since I've had alcohol. And this is how powerful the obsession and addiction are and remain, even after all that time.

We have a saying (as I'm sure you're tired of hearing me say) that goes "Once the cucumber has become a pickle, there's no going back."

It then falls to the pickle to avoid getting pickled for the rest of it's life.

You can't imagine the relief I felt, sleepy as I was, that the pickle was only dreaming and that, given a choice, it will remain so... just for today.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Whole Truth, Truth be Told

Memory is awfully convenient. I'm a real artiste at having it serve my purposes, whatever they are.

For example, I've always sworn up and down that I'd never slept with a woman.

Well, that's not completely true.

See, I was sitting in my 12-Step meeting this morning when another gay man started to share about how drunk he used to get... so much so that one time he woke up in bed with a .... gasp... woman.

And I was sitting there just nodding my head in identification when all of a sudden it hit me. "YOU DOPE" I said to myself, "YOU WOKE UP IN BED ON NEW YEAR'S DAY IN 1977 IN SEATTLE WITH DAVID W. AND ROBIN W." (not related), all of us naked as the day we were born.

About an hour after the meeting I remembered that it wasn't New Year's Day, but rather the morning after a rather wild night of drinking, sometime in the late fall of 1977, when this happened. David and Robin were part of a crowd I had joined in the summer of '77, after I'd jilted yet another boyfriend who'd served his purpose and I'd started hanging around in gay bars and discos once again.

The point of this is that even after nearly 10 years of sobriety, the truth is still leaking out, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, sometimes with a bang. Like today.

Then I started wondering what motive I might've had for denying such a simple thing for all these years. Was I afraid of it for some reason? Did it make me feel "less gay" to acknowledge it?

Sexual identity is a fluid thing. Look at the Larry Craig's and Roy Cohn's of the world. "I AM NOT GAY, I JUST HAVE SEX WITH MEN" is their mantra. Because to them being gay means 1) shacking up with a guy and 2) decorating the shit out of the place for the holidays.

Ergo sum, they are not gay because they shack up with women who do the decorating for them (Larry Craig -- I don't think Roy Cohn ever shacked up with anybody).

But me? The act of having sex with a man identifies me (to myself) as being gay. I do not decorate the shit out of the place for the holidays (I barely run the vacuum as it is) and I am not (currently) shacked up with a man. [CLARIFICATION: It is not merely the act of having sex with a man which defines me to myself as being "gay"... it is equally as important to understand that men have been and are the sole objects of my desire and also have been and remain the focus of my romantic feelings.]

Therefore, I can only and logically and in total denial state that I must be straight.


And I am Marie of Romania.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Absolutely Fabulous!

I nearly started to feel jinxed today. Bev tried to hang me with being responsible for the death of her friend, Michele (Yes. She was kidding). But that didn't matter. In some sick, twisted and perverted little corner of my mind, I WAS responsible. Because I AM THE MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE!!!!! ... when I'm not busy being lower than whale crap at the bottom of the sea.

I have a friend in recovery who will celebrate his 1st year of sobriety tomorrow. Yesterday morning he stormed out after a 12-Step meeting, convinced that he was going to "resign" from the Program.

He showed up this morning and shared about it. He's lucky that he has people around him, myself included, who remind him that it's perfectly natural for him to be particularly crazy around this, his anniversary time, and that we've all gone through it AND continue to go through it every year around the time of our sobriety birthdays. God, around my anniversary every year I start to feel like Mr. Spock being drawn home to spawn in whatever episode of the original ST series that happened in.

I have another friend (again, in recovery) who is under the gun at work and at school right now. I had to point out to him that he's feeling anxious and under attack because it goes to the heart of his disease ... his perfectionism. Alkies like us are fine as long as nothing ever goes awry. But we are capable of taking even the most insignificant personal criticism and turning into the worst year of our life because, of course, we're perfect... or should be... and we know this because we do everything else perfectly... mostly.

He'd forgotten that he's afflicted with terminal perfectionism. It brings down many a drunk who cannot tolerate the slightest hint of failure.

My blog title yesterday was "What's Wrong?" and, of course, nothing was. I was just alone in my head with my thoughts ... not a good place for a recovering drunk to be without adult supervision.

Thank goodness for 12-Step programs and the friends people in recovery make in them. A few minutes spent every day speaking with another person in recovery, sharing our experience, strength and hope with each other, is the key to right and stable thinking. As is working the Steps and going to meetings.

And so, today (and JUST for today), I am absolutely fabulous!

And so are you!

Monday, October 22, 2007

What's Wrong?

Nothing. Today, so far, has been an absolute dream. So was this weekend. Perfect weather. It's been the longest "Indian Summer" I can ever remember. We've only had a very brief cool spell, and that was a week or so ago and didn't last long.

I'll try to keep in mind just how enjoyable it was when the water is lapping at the windows on the 27th floor of my office building on Third Avenue in a couple of years... after the Arctic completes it's meltdown.

No matter, though. By then we'll all be engrossed in WWXIV (between Melanesia and the Portuguese Alliance).

Even this morning's commute into Manhattan went off without a hitch. And THAT'S weird, believe me! Wednesday is coming, though, and if the last 3 catastrophic Wednesday's are any indication, I'm sure the New Jersey Turnpike Authority probably has something up it's sleeve for this week, too!

Sorry. Sometimes I "project the wreckage of the future" as we say in 12-Step programs.

I'm always leery of the other shoe being about to drop. I try hard to be a "glass-half-full" kind of guy, but there are times when it's just easier to expect the worse and to be delighted when it doesn't happen.

I heard a woman share at a meeting recently that "things look fine until I put on my FEAR goggles, then everything looks like shit!" Boy, did I relate to that!

Nobody is about to die. I have no debilitating conditions (well, the diabetes is kicking my ass, but I'm not at death's door (yet)). My bills are paid, I have food, clothing, a roof over my head and a car and the dogs aren't nipping at my rear end.

So things are not only not "wrong" they are, in fact, great.

So how come I don't feel great?


I think I know one reason. It just dawned on me (I'm so thick sometimes) that the Repuglicans have finally stopped bashing gays (wouldn't want to get too associated with the Matthew Sheperd killing, after all) and have started bashing what gays want, instead.

It's a subtle distinction, rather like it's no longer okay to string up black people, but it's still okay to string up their rights.

I guess I'm a little dispirited because I'm staring down the barrel of 60 and yet I'm still forced to live in 1954.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Long Week....

I blogged last about taking Tuesday off to see Dr. Pancreas. Then, yesterday, things got hectic at work and I didn't have a chance to post anything. It's all I can do to find some time to scan read my dear friends' blogs, skipping all the bullshit savoring every detail.

I kid, but the fact is, I'd rather read my friends writings than write my own. It's like cooking, I can cook, but thank God I don't have to! Nothing bores me more than sitting down to a meal I've prepared, even though everyone raves about it. Okay, I've seen it, I've tasted it and I'm ready to toss it about the time that we're all sitting down at the table (or I'm mousing on the "Publish Post" button) to eat it (or read it).

Now, however, I find I've gotten a reputation. People are actually starting to read me regularly (God love 'em! They must need professional help.) So now, of course, I feel obliged to post ... and to be witty and charming and full of bon mots and stuff like that there.

But I'm sure there were times when even Noel Coward got tired as shit of being Noel Coward.

Sigh. They don't make queers like they used ta.

Before I wander much farther afield, I'll close with this for today:

The internet has brought me a bounty over the years ... of a few good and dear friends and one or two outright scoundrels.

I'm happy to report that the scoundrels have all scuttled back under the rocks they inhabit and the beloved friends continue to be a part of my life every single day. No matter where they are.

I am truly blessed and grateful to appreciate their love and to be able to give them my love in return.

Have a great weekend! I'm going to see some movies ("Elizabeth", "Rendition" and "Michael Clayton" are on the short-list).

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dr. Pancreas

If you're traveling to D.C. anytime soon you might find this to be of some use.

I took the day off yesterday for my thrice-yearly visit to my endocrinologist, whom I call Dr. Pancreas 'cause it sounds close to Dr. Pangloss, a character in Voltaire's "Candide" who preaches a philosophy of "All's for the best in this best of all possible worlds."

Dr. Pancreas took one look at me and instantly determined that the bellyful of gila monster venom I was shooting twice a day was having absolutely no effect on either my weight or my A1C, so he instantly ordered me to stop taking the stuff. This meant, of course, that I had to deal with MegaDrugCo, a wholly owned subsidiary of MyUselessHealthPlan, LLP, because I had just sent them some scrip to renew my prescription for a 90-day supply of the poison-pen injectors and I needed to stop them from sending it and billing me a bajillion dollars for same.

After wandering in voice-mail wildnerness for 20 minutes and pressing "Zero" 87 times before a human being finally came on the line, (Lydia LovelyVoice, "I didn't understand your last response. Let's try it again!" (ZERO.... ZERO, ZERO, ZERO, ZERO, ZERO).

So I nipped that catastrophe in the bud. No Byetta. Meanwhile I have about 300 disposable "sharps" which attach to the pens that I have no idea what to do with. I don't know any junkies who get their shit from their dealers in disposable pens. Keeping them is no use. If I ever have to go on insulin the needles are too fine to allow the insulin to pass through them.

After seeing the good Doctor I went down to Hamilton (where the post-office that had the anthrax scare is located) to go to the movies. I want to see the new Cate Blanchett/Elizabeth I movie (I'm a sucker for costume period-pieces). The theater was closed. It was too early (don't they open at dawn?) I got an early lunch (soup and a salad) at a nearby Bob Evans' (eschewing the greasy breakfast specials). I went back to the theater. It was going to be another hour before they opened.

I gave up and started for home. I made quick trips to Tarjay, El Banco de Coca Cola, Super Fresh and Blockbuster.

Okay, I admit it, I rented "Transformers." Okay, I admit it, it sucked unless you're an enormous fan of Shia LaBoeuf. I watched it. I napped. I had a light supper consisting mostly of some chicken. I yakked on the phone to a couple of other recovering drunks. I turned in around 9:30.

Not much of a day, really, unless you count the visit to Doctor Pancreas. The good news is, I don't have to see him again until February!

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Streets of Philadelphia

I've always loved Philadelphia. I grew up just down the road apiece in Wilmington, Delaware. In my day you could take the train from Wilmington to Philadelphia for about $2.00, round-trip. I think the fare to and from New York was six bucks. That's when the rail line from DC to Boston was the Pennsylvania Railroad. Just before the advent of Amtrak.

The oldest part of town is over by the Delaware River. That's where you'll find the roots of America. Between 5th & 6th on Chestnut Street, lies Independence Hall. To this day it never ceases to stun me when I see it and recall the dramas that unfolded in that very building where this monumental and precious dream of ours was born. Nearby is the Liberty Bell, and the Betsy Ross house. If you have any breath left in your body, the sight of these sacred patches of earth will take it away.

As a teenager I'd regularly run away to Philly for a Saturday excursion. I used to take myself to the Franklin Institute, which is a great place to introduce kids (and adults) to complex science by means of simplistic demonstrations. For a real treat I'd ride the trolley out to the old Arena at 46th & Market every winter to see the Shipstad & Johnson's Ice Follies. Yeah, I was queer for ice skaters as a kid.

It also became a tradition with me to come up to Philly every year the day after Thanksgiving (keep in mind, I was 14 or 15 years old) to do my little Christmas shopping at the main branch of John Wanamaker's Department Store, on Market Street, across the street from City Hall with the statue of William Penn standing on top. The store had a wonderful pipe organ that would play concerts all afternoon during the holiday shopping season. Those where the days when department stores were owned by families and they had a sense of "community" with the people who patronized their stores. The same went for Lit Brothers and, of course, Gimbels Department Store.

There used to be a statute that no building could be "taller than Billy Penn's cap" atop City Hall but that got rescinded in the Reagan years and there are skyscrapers everywhere in Center City these days.

In the middle 70's Philly became my "cruising grounds." I was in college at Delaware at the time and Delaware didn't have any really good gay bars to speak of, and no discos at all. A bunch of us would get all dolled up at least once a month and drive up to Philly to hit the bars and discos, of which there were plenty. I had some good times in those days.

Despite all the changes over the decades, the town retains much of it's Colonial charm. The streets are, for the most part, narrow and paved with either brick or cobblestone. There are gaslights all over Center City, reminiscent of the Victorian Era. Then there is the Academy. That's what the locals call The Academy of Music. It's the oldest continuously used concert hall in the United States. In 1938 (on its 100th anniversary) it was commandeered by the Disney people in order to record the Philadelphia Orchestra for the soundtrack of the movie "Fantasia," conducted by Leopold Stokowski.

Rittenhouse Square is the poshest of the posh neighborhoods (well... it and Society Hill). On the south side of the Square are numerous apartment buildings, private residences and The Ethical Society. And that's where we had our roundup this past weekend. I saw a bunch of old friends and got to make some new ones (no, nothing romantic... boo, hiss .... but only time will tell).

Sunday afternoon I had brunch with one of my oldest friends, a man who was a college roommate of mine. We were joined by his wife, youngest child and a star border who recently moved in with them. It was wonderful to reconnect with them, to catch up on all of our lives, to relive some priceless moments and to speak of our dreams and plans.

In fact, it was a wonderful weekend to reconnect, period. With people, and places, and warm memories.

Sometimes I forget that I have warm memories. It's all too easy to dwell on the painful ones.

It's October 15th already? Jeebus, and I haven't even sent out my holiday cards yet!!!!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Off to Philadelphia

Oh, me name is Paddy Leary from a spot in Tipperary
The hearts of all the girls I'm a thorn in
But come the break of mornin it is they who'll be forlorn
For I'm off to Philadelpha in the morning

chorus 1:

With me bundle on me shoulder, faith, there's no man can be bolder
I'm leaving dare old Ireland without warning
For I lately took the notion for to cross the briny ocean
And I'm off to Philadelphia in the morning

There's a girl named Kate Malone sure I'd hope to call ne own
To see my little cabin floor adornin
But my heart is sad and weary, how can she be Mrs. Leary
When I'm off to Philadelphia in the morning

When they told me I must leave the place I tried to wear a cheerful face
To show me hearts deep sorrow I was scornin
But the tears will surely blind me for the friends I leave behind me
When I'm off to Philadelphia in the morning

chorus 2:
With me bundle on me shoulder sure there's no man can be bolder
I'm leaving just the spot that I was born in
But some day I'll take the notion to come back across that ocean
To me home in dear old Ireland in the morning

You may have heard this song in the British version of the Titanic story "A Night To Remember". Or not. It tells the story of thousands of young Irishmen and women who fled the poverty and famine of home to seek a new life in the Big (scary) Cities of the US. My own grandmother, who came over slightly later, in the 1920's, was convinced that the streets of New York were, literally, paved with gold.

The sentiments of the song still resonate with me because I know the hardships they faced when they got here. And how they struggled to give their children and grandchildren better lives than they had.

But I digress. I really am Off to Philadelphia ... for the weekend. It's time for another Roundup and I'm booked into a chic gay B&B. I won't be home until Sunday afternoon and, hopefully, will be able to give you all a full report then.

Until then, behave yourselves.

I probably won't.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I managed to get home last night in time to join a bunch of other recovering drunks in giving a big sendoff to one of our prodigies, a young man I'll call "Fred."

Fred arrived to us six years ago, fresh out of college and jail, to begin his post-baccalaureate work at a minor liberal arts college in New Jersey called Princeton. In Chemistry.

He whizzed through his Masters (amidst meetings, 12-Step work, more meetings, service and working with others) and plunged into his doctorate work.

Yesterday he successfully defended his dissertation to the faculty and was awarded his doctorate.

Today he leaves for a Western State to begin working for a privately held company that does super-secret work for the nation. He'll be up to his eyeballs in security clearances by the end of the year. We'll probably never see (or hear from) him again. If we do, even accidentally, he'll probably have to kill us.

So there we were, about 35 of us, jammed into a Thai-fusion restaurant out on Route One, giving "Fred" the Big Goodbye (he has to start work on Monday). There were "joke gifts" and serious gifts and a big poster that all of us signed to remind him of us... and of how far he has come from being a broken-down-wreck of a college student, hung up on alcohol and booze and barely able to remember his own name, to a brilliant Chemist about to embark on important work in the Nation's Interest.

Who would've thought it possible? When we first start getting sober most of us cannot conceive of a world where we are welcome, a world where we have something to contribute, a world in which we have a life that's actually worth living.

"Fred" has that life now. And it's a life any of us can have, if we just put down the booze and become teachable.

"Fred" is a miracle.

And so is every recovering person in the World.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Wednesday is rapidly becoming "Pileup Day" on the New Jersey Turnpike. A tractor-trailer overturned up near the George Washington Bridge around 5:30 this morning prompting one cop to comment, "It used to be Dunkin' Donuts, but now it's Krispy Kreme."

There were also two separate auto pile-ups somewhere along 495 between the exit from the Turnpike and the helix down into the Lincoln Tunnel.

We were a half hour late getting into town. I jumped off my so-called Madison Avenue bus and ran down into the subway outside of the Port Authority in the hopes of catching an uptown E train to the east side faster than the bus would make it. It worked, but that was about the only thing working this week.

Last night, after work and for no other reason than it "was Tuesday" downtown subway service was virtually non-existent on the E train. It took me 20 minutes to get to the Port Authority. Luckily, bus service was as bad as subway service and I was forced to wait another 35 minutes for a bus home.

It just keeps getting worse and worse.

It's almost bad enough to make me want to blow a grand on a tailor-made interviewing suit, another couple of hundred on a fancy-schmancy resume writing service and to start putting myself out there... a lot closer to home than I work now.




Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Fear of Economic Uncertainty

In my 12-Step program we have these things called "the Promises" which are a list of character traits that will come to us as time goes by. One of these "gifts" will be, so the literature has it, that "fear of economic uncertainty will leave us."

It's certainly been true in my case. I've talked here before about how, when I first got sober, I had (what I thought was) a mountain of insurmountable debt which would never disappear. How wrong I was! Not only is it gone, but my credit score has gone from "deadbeat" to "give this kid a basket of cash!"

You would think that I learned an important lesson here, that it's okay for me to spend a few $$$ now and then on something that might be less than a "must have" and more like a "I want!"

But nooooooo. Not me. I've been wrestling for weeks now over spending $180.00 for a really nice Spring/Fall Melton wool bomber type jacket that's chic and good looking. I go so far as to fill up my on-line basket with the goods and proceed to checkout. I even fill in the name and address fields on the Purchase Page.

But then I get cold feet and click the "Emergency-Close" white "X" in the red box in the upper right hand corner of the browser.

I'm a wuss.

I was also lusting after a 48" Sony LCD-HD tv at BJ's the other day. It's down to $3,500.00. I can do that. But then I think, "hey big spender! aren't you supposed to be buying a CONDO?" Well, yes I am. Drat it.

It wouldn't matter if I made a bajillion dollars a year, either. I'd find some reason to procrastinate spending on things I could easily afford.

It's just part of me, I guess.

In some ways, I still haven't lost that old "fear of economic uncertainty."

Maybe next year.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Hot enuff fer ya?

It's sure as hell hot enough for me and I LOVE summer. My fellow blogger, Jake over at NoFo (and his huzband-to-be, Justin), had a heck of a time during the Chicago marathon yesterday, along with 100's of others, until the race organizers finally called a halt to the damned thing.

Now Chicago's weather has arrived here in NYC. It was hot last night. I had the a/c blasting in my bedroom all night long. I was still hot. When I got up it was hot (the house is an old Victorian, so only select rooms have window units). The bathroom was like an oven.

I can take this weather in July, but it's the middle of October, fer cryin'-out-loud, and although I'm no great fan of winters in New Jersey, I do the like the certainty that when the weather gets wearisome, no matter what the season, it will change in just a few months. But these days I'm starting to wonder.

I sat down at my desk this morning and my cellphone immediately "dinged" to let me know that somebody had sent me a text-message. Someone, who shall remain nameless but she's spending today with her mother and cousins, had awakened in the dead of night (as is her wont) and, in a fit of boredom, couldn't get her iPod to reboot and wondered if I'd send her the instructions for rebooting it. I located the instructions (all 4 paragraphs of it) and realized that it would take me an hour to key it into my cellphone. Throwing caution to the wind I called her (6:30 a.m. PDT)and talked her through it (thrown the little switch on top. Hold down the "Menu" AND "Select" buttons simultaneously for about 10 seconds until the Apple logo appears. Lather, rinse, repeat if necessary. By then, though, her mom and cousins were up and they were all apparently ready to dive into the sauce (so I believe) so it was pointless to try to have a coherent conversation with any of them. These so-called "Cousins Days" of hers seem to me to be little more than excuses to get hammered and to card-shark the hell out of each other.

I hope they're having a good time today. (They usually do!)

Whilst websurfing this ayem I came across an item (the Huffington Post?) about Bob Novak (remember him? Valerie Plame's outer?) saying he'd alleged that most of the Republican membership of the Senate (and probably the House, too) had always known about Larry Craig, not just that he was gay, but that he was a notorious tearoom queen, too.

Not to be outdone in terms of co-signing Larry's denial bullshit, another item alleged that Idaho has proposed to induct him into their Hall of Fame. I only wish I were kidding.

Apparently the Roy Cohn Memorial "Whatever the fuck it is that I am, I'm NOT THAT" Club in Washington (and Idaho) has a huge charter membership on both sides of the partition, er, aisle.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Bulk Buying!

I tend to take giant baby steps forward in life. Let it never be said that I was particularly adventurous.

In January I finally broke down and got a cellphone! (woo-hoo!) And I recently joined a discount warehouse chain (BJ's).

As I feared I would, I fell in love with the joint the first time I got an eyeful of the Charmin Ultra Mega 48 roll-pak. At long last, a lifetime supply of toilet paper in one plastic wrapper. I was ecstatic to find that I could buy a month's supply of hamburger patties in one package, buy trailmix bars in 35 bar boxes and get enough Ivory bathsoap and alcohol-free Crest mouthwash to last a year.

Unfortunately, in order to get all this crap into the house, something had to go. And go it went. I found that buying crap in bulk is the only way I have at my disposal to help me overcome my natural proclivity to be a pack-rat.

Oddly enough.

Look, I know it doesn't make any sense, but it would if you lived between my ears.

So now I've got enough soup (Progresso) to float a battleship, cans of tuna (Bumble Bee Premium All-White Albacore in Water!) to reconstruct the fish, Hellmann's Mayonnaise to make a potato salad the size of Milwaukee (if I were allowed to eat potatoes) and Liquid Plumr to unstop every drain in town.

My theory is that it never hurts to be prepared.

After all, you never know when we're going to have an unusually lengthy ice-age!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Work Week from Hell - Who's Lurking Out There?

I didn't get a chance to post much this week. It was the work week from hell. Every day I'd arrive at the office fresh from my morning 12-Step Meeting, conveniently located across the street from my office (unless some DODO had crashed his 18-wheeler on the Turnpike in the middle of the night AND, due to budget restraints and cutbacks, it took 9 hours for the 8 year old with a wagon to clear the wreckage) only to log in and face a barrage of overnight e-mails from the 3 lawyers I work for.

And they never said, "Hello! I hope you had a good nights rest." They usually began with "print the 32 attachments and get them to me ASAP." Now the 3 people I work for NEVER talk to each other so they have zero idea of what my workload is really like. All they see is THEIR shit and neglect to multiply it by 3.

By 5 o'clock yesterday my eyeballs were bleeding from all the revisions to various corporate documents I'd been making all day. It was not a good day.

I hate to bitch about the office because, frankly, it's usually a walk in the park compared to my old firm (and by far a better deal than being a corporate vice president of a major Wall Street brokerage house, which was another former gig), but this week really got to me.

The commutes from hell, both ways, several days this week, didn't help.

But it's over and TGIS. A little down time is going to be lovely.

I've mentioned before that I have a little widget on this blog ("Sitemeter") that sort of keeps track of who visits the blog. No names, of course. This isn't "caller id." But it does give the city & state and, sometimes, the name of the sponsoring organization. Most of them seem pretty innocuous and I'm pretty much able to figure out who is checking in from places like Davis, California and Washington State (Hi Bev! Hi Alan!).

I even have some lurkers (people who routinely observe but never comment). There's a law firm in Los Angeles that provides me with a regular reader. Somebody in Bangor, Maine checks me out daily. This week I even had a drop by from the New Jersey Department of Transportation (right after I posted my glowing compliments of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, surprise, surprise).

But it never occured to me until this week that under the current Fascist regime in D.C. a number of those unidentified, yet oddly consistent readers might very well be "fronts" for intelligence gathering groups in D.C., such as the NSA, doing a little "data mining", looking for subversives here at home (I AM, I AM! It's my intention to do everything within my legal power to see that the Republican Party gets it's ass kicked in the next elections and I'd like to see you try to stop me! NEENER, NEENER, NEENER!!!)

Or maybe not. Maybe there are just some people (gasp) who actually derive some yuks from my stuff, or who identify with my wacky world weary witings (sic). When I'm alone with my thoughts it's like being in a bad neighborhood. After dark. All alone.

Weekends used to be made for Michelob (well, they REALLY were made for Chivas because I never liked beer), but nowadays they're made for restoring some semblance of sanity to my life.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

More good news to post, but that'll have to wait for now.

Love to you all....

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Been a Long (been a long, been a long) Day.

Name the show the lyric in today's title is from and win absolutely nothing but my undying love and affection. And that should be good enough, you greedy pigs.

Yesterday certainly was a long day. I awoke at the usual time to find out from the smiling bubble-headed bimbos and bimboys on WCBS-TV (NY) that somebody had done something and there was a giant pile-up that had started at 3:30 a.m. on the Turnpike (northbound -- of course) and it was going to be several hours before they could get the mess straightened out so we should all shake a leg getting out the door.

Unfortunately, about eleventy-bajillion other commuters heard the same thing at the same time so that water pressure in Mercer County dramatically dove as everyone hit the terlets and showers at the same time.

My usual one hour commute took exactly 2 hours and 45 minutes. That's to travel a whopping 52 miles.

Lance Armstrong could've bicycled to New York faster.

This is hardly a rarity. This hardly comes as "big news" to the jerks who run the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. These are the same jerks who, when I suggested they install "anti-rubbernecking barriers" the length of the Turnpike, informed me that "they were looking into it. California has had them for years, but I guess nobody had figured out yet how to make a lot of easy money by skimming the project of millions.

To round the day off I didn't get home until 7:30 (lawyers get inspired at 4:45 p.m. daily. Never before).

It was, indeed, a very long day.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Downwardly Mobile (Not a New Cellular Service from Verizon)

I admit it. I've been downwardly mobile for over a decade and a half now. My best year ever, financially, was also the worst year ever of my life. 1994. I made a bundle that year, mostly because I got fired in May and was immediately taken back, as a consultant, for the remainder of the year. I'd be embarrassed to get specific with numbers, but it was a hefty (low) six-figures.

A year after that I made nothing. And that continued for another two years. I was just blowing the principal I'd managed to acquire working on Wall Street.

Today I make a respectable chunk of change, although nothing near what I used to make.

But even at that, it's sometimes tough to make ends meet (and to continue to put aside a hefty percentage of my gross every year into my 401-K).

My friends all have a pretty good idea what my situation is. And they all know about my storied past on Wall Street (God knows, they've had to hear it often enough).

So imagine my surprise when one of my closest friends in my 12-Step home group, a man I respect a lot, stopped in the middle of Third Avenue at 60th Street this morning to announce to me that he'd like very much to go into business with me.

I have never been afraid of hard work, nor have I been afraid of plunging in and learning new things. But I HAVE been afraid of success for my whole life. I spent the 80's doubting my good luck and convinced that it was only a matter of time "before I got found out and the axe fell on my neck." Even though that never happened (we alkies love to live in 1) resentments and 2) irrational fears.)

Could my Higher Power, whom I recently asked to hit me over the head with some good stuff, be pointing me in a direction She'd like me to go?

Is it possible to reverse the Tides of Fortune?

More will be revealed.....

Monday, October 01, 2007

Reaching Out

Ever since I got sober I've had more than my fair share of well-meaning friends who were "noodging" me towards dating. Oh, not during the 1st year of recovery, when such things are frowned upon (no distractions), but later on, in year 2, 3 & 4 (up to 9, where I am now). I've mostly ignored their good-natured comments, hoping that the surprise of a "non-dating gay man" would eventually lose it's cachet and they'd move on to greener pastures.

Alas, it was not to be. Several friends in particular (although not my Sponsor) have niggled and badgered and cajoled and generally made pains in the asses of themselves over the fact that I keep running away from golden opportunities to get laid and/or married.

These are mostly straight men who think gay men get laid all the time and they just can't understand why anyone would turn down getting laid when the opportunity presents itself since they're married and almost never get laid.

I've tried to explain to them that I'm in no big rush to repeat any of the mistakes of my past regarding boyfriends, and that I have certain, few, requirements regarding any potential fuck-buddy/husband material. First and foremost being, NO LAWYERS.

I've gotten better about all my other previous requirements. I no longer insist on the age thingie (the same age, or nearly so), economic thingie (okay, we can be about 20% apart in terms of income) or height thingie (I've given up on hoping to meet another 6'4" hunk like me -- JUST KIDDING).

Still, my friends have pushed. One has gone so far as to "set me up" not with a boyfriend or a date, but with a telephone conference with another gay man who went through something similar in his recovery, until HE found the boyfriend of his dreams, and they've lived happily ever after for the last 15 years. So I did spend a half hour on the phone with him yesterday afternoon, and practically the first words out of his mouth were, "there's NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU", which were very reassuring because I am starting to feel like some kind of a freak. He had a similar childhood and he talked about his trust issues and how they kept him on the sidelines for a long time, too. Mostly, though, we talked about how hard it is to restore trust in others and to "un-do" a lifetime of habits acquired in self-defense as children (shutting down, isolating, running away, unfinished projects which fulfill the prophesy of unworthiness). It was a very nice, very revealing conversation and we finished by me asking if it would be okay if I called him again sometime. He was very gracious and said yes.

I saw the friend who arranged this telephonic tete-a-tete this morning. I told him that I had spoken with his other friend yesterday afternoon. He wanted all the details. I told him they were none of his fucking business. I love seeing the looks on people's faces when I set boundaries with them for the first time. They go into shock.

I love my friends.

They're crazy as shit, but I love 'em.