Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"We Can, By God, Let Our Demons Loose And Just Wail On"

Or, "Sunday, And How It Was The Best Day Ever".

Sunday morning, I woke up at 5:15 a.m.  On purpose.  Partly because I'm crazy.  I only got about three hours of sleep, but was too anxious to be upset, because in 2 hours, I would begin running the St. Louis Half Marathon.

Getting ready that morning was a clusterfuck of epic proportions.  I don't know why.  I kept having to make and re-make lists in my head of what I needed to do.  "Get dressed, check.  Do onesies, check.  Oh crap, do twosies, check.  Eat an energy bar, check.  Eat a banana, check.  Grab iPod, inhaler, sweatband, check.  Oh my God, it's time to go."

It was between day and night when we left the hotel.  Kind of dark, barely a little light.  The moon was still in the sky, but it was eclipsed.  I'd never seen a lunar eclipse before, and it was pretty awesome seeing it suspended above the St. Louis Arch.  When we got to the starting point, my friends and I immediately used the porta-potties, because we were obsessed with making sure we were completely empty.  We voided, warmed up, voided again and I contemplated taking a quick shadoobie before we joined the masses.  I voted against the shadoobie, because I barely like to pee in porta-potties.  As it turns out, this would most likely be the best idea ever.

By this time, the sun was up.  My friends and I departed our friends and family who weren't running and joined our pace groups.  One friend was walking, and she headed back to the 15 minute mile pace group.  One friend and I were determined to finish in two hours, and joined the 9 minute mile pace group.  At this moment in my life, the most important thing I was trying to decide on was, "What song should I start the race with?"  After much deliberation, the choice was obviously "Extraordinary" by Liz Phair:  "I am extraordinary, if you ever get to know me."  With our iPods charged, poised and ready to go, my friend and I waited.  And waited.  And waited.

And then we ran.  It took us five minutes just to get to the starting line and once we were there, we took off.  We quickly out-paced our pace group and for awhile, it was great.  Like Forrest Gump said, "I was runnin'!"  After about the fourth mile, my friend and I got separated, which was fine.  I focused on my music, on my pace, on my breathing and just generally enjoyed the fact that there were 17,000 other crazy-ass people who were up at 7 in the morning to run around the streets of downtown St. Louis.  Not to mention the thousands of crazy-ass people who were up at 7 in the morning to cheer on those 17,000 crazy-asses.  Every once in a while, I would hear, "Yeah, go Joshua!" from people on the sidelines who were able to read my name on my racing bib, and it spurned me to go a little faster.

Mile 7 was my demise.  Mile 7 was the beginning of Olive Street, or as I have come to refer to it, "The Hill From Hell".  Olive Street started out as a fairly innocuous hill, which I ran up fairly decently, and was rewarded by a brief downhill slope.  A very brief downhill slope, as it turned out, because Olive Street then inclined again, this time steeper and longer.  I kept chanting to myself in my head "Don't walk. Don't walk. Don't walk.  Remember, this is the year of change.  Change.  Change."  However, at one point...I walked.  I had to.  My legs were burning, my feet were killing me (around mile 6, a blister on my foot, right underneath my first and second toes, had burst and it hurt) and I just needed to stop.  I convinced myself that I'd walk the rest of the way up the hill, and then run the rest of the race.

Wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  As it turns out, I kept having to stop.  For some reason, I just did not have the energy to keep running.  Miles 7 through 10 were the Badlands, the Sahara Desert, Deep Space and I just couldn't do it.  I trucked on as well as I could, running when I could, but it hurt too much.  At one point while running, I grabbed a Hammer Gel packet from people who were passing them out.  Opened it, took half of it, only two discover it was vanilla.  I basically squeezed vanilla flavored goo inot my mouth.  My mouth instantly dried out, and a minute later, I felt like vomiting.  Bad idea ever.

Mile 9?  Nearly shadoobied myself.  My stomach cramped up, and for the briefest of seconds, I thought with horror "I'm going to be the guy woh can't finish the race because he shit his pants."  I quickly devoted all of my energy to making that NOT HAPPEN.  And, thank God, it didn't.

Even after mile 10, I had to intermittently walk.  I kept saying ot myself "three miles, you can run out three miles" but I couldn't.  "Two miles, you can run out two miles" but I couldn't.  At mile 11.5, I wondered how my friend was faring, and if she'd passed me without me reazlizing it.  I looked to my right and nearly crapped myself (figuratively) to see her right next to me.  We briefly conversed for a bit, then walked ot mile 12, where we started running.

At about 12.5 miles, I needed new music.  What I was listening to just wasn't working for me.  I pulled my iPod out of my pocket and kept forwarding it until I heard what I needed to hear:  Taylor Swift's "Change".  I felt a burst of energy, and new my friend would want me to finish the race on my time.  As I listened to the song and run, I struggled to keep from crying because, as always, the song was so relevant to me:  "Throw your hands up, because we never gave in."  I just pushed myself to keep running as best as I could, not caring about my form or speed or anything.  I just ran.

The song ended before I did, and Timbaland's "Give It To Me" featuring Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado came on.  Not what I needed.  My iPod agreed, and suddenly the volume was cranked to the point where I had to take the earbuds out of my ears.  All I had to listen to were the thousands of people cheering us on.

I crossed the finish line and later found out that my time was 2 hours and 5 minutes.  My friend crossed 30 seconds behind me.  We wended our way through the crowd, getting our medals, bananas, water, granola bars, bagels, etc.  We met up with her sister, and walked back to the hotel.

On the walk back, I took my shoe off, because it hurt too much.  As it turned out, the top half of my sock wsa SOAKED with blood from where the blister burst, and then rubbed raw.  I walked back to the hotel in my socks, not even caring, because I'd just finished the St. Louis Marathon.  I later found out that another one of my friends, who is a runner and has completed several marathons, finished the race 6 minutes behind me.  And he didn't walk once.  I walked a total of a mile, and beat him by 6 minutes.

I ran a St. Louis Half Marathon.  Holy shit.

Coming up soon:  the rest of Sunday.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"We're Not Friends. We Never Were."

We're not friends.

To be honest, we stopped being friends awhile ago, for whatever reason.  I don't know what it was.  You were always elsewhere, and I was always just here.  Even when we were both here, it was fleeting and sometimes not worth it.  You had limited time.  You had to go, because there was always something bigger and better to do.

You always missed the important things, all but one of them.  The things that were important to me.  I was your second thought, your third or fourth or fifth.  You were always in the front of my mind.  "Where are you now?  What are you up to?  Why don't you call me, email me, text me?  This just happened, are you safe?"

I visited you, when I could.  You visited me never.  You never even talked about visiting me.  You were close once, physically nearby, and I didn't know until after you were gone.  You didn't give me a heads up, you didn't give a thought of coming to find me.

I wish that I could blame you.  I mean, I do blame you.  But I blame me too.  I know that friendships go both ways, but I also know that I got tired.  I got tired of looking at my phone to see if you texted or called back.  I got tired of checking Twitter and Facebook to see if you replied.  I got tired of wondering when I was going to feel important you again.

I could try harder.  I could text you all the time, call and leave long rambly voicemails.  I could take time off of work to visit you.  I could do all that.  But I've done all that already.  I used to do all that all the time, and look where it's gotten me.  Sitting in front of my computer, talking about how we're not friends.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"Show Business Is A Hideous Bitch Goddess"

Twenty-two years ago, I started acting.  What started as something that I had to do because everyone in class had to be part of the annual operetta turned into something that was just a part of who I am.  Two months ago, I got cast as the lead in a local area production of a show called "Fat Pig".

This was the first time I'd gotten a lead to this effect.  When I say "lead" I mean that out of seven scenes in the play, I was in seven scenes.  From beginning to end.  When we started rehearsals at weeks ago, I never thought that I would be where I am now.  Eight hours ago, we closed the show.  Eight hours ago, I sat on the stage and let my character, Tom, cry for the last time.  Except this afternoon, a little bit of Joshua cried with him.  I've never become so involved in a show before, or gotten so close to the other cast members:  how was I supposed to know that when you're in a show with just 4 cast members total, that we'd become a family?

This afternoon, as I gave my ritual pre-show hugs, it took all I had to keep from crying, just while hugging my cast and crew.  These people...they're my people.  The thing about the theatre is, the people are always the same, but you have to find the theatre that's your fit.  Two of the people--our stage manager and one of our co-assistant directors--are like the inappropriate parts of me.  They're my Bad News Bears (from Avenue Q).  When I'm with them, I can say anything, and they'll laugh.  We can do anything, and it's funny as hell.  It's like someone reached into my head, took all the bad, wrong things I think, and made them into people.  The other co-assistant director?  Man, I don't even know.  She's so out there, and I love it so much.  She says and does things that no one else could ever think of.  And at the same time, her introspection toward the show was amazing.  She made me think things about my character of which I would never conceive.  And somehow, I formed this bond with her that i just can't explain.  If the stage manager and the other co-AD are manifestations of my inner wrongness, than this co-AD is the manifestation of my feelings.  She reads me like no one else and knows how to approach me when I'm upset or angry or sad, in such a way that I actually share what's upsetting me.  That's not something I do.

My castmates...oh man.  The guy who played opposite me reminds me so much of who my best guy friend used to be (back when he and I were actually friends).  I just feel so comfortable around him (castmate) that I can say something like "I don't know why, but I just want to jump on your back and ride you around like a pony" and he says "ok" and then we do it.  Like, that actually happened.  He gave me a galloping piggy-back ride around the theatre while he whinnied and I shouted "Yeehaw!"  The girl who played my ex-girlfriend in the show...I dunno.  We just bonded one night when I gave her a ride home after we'd spent all night at the bar, drinking.  I've shared stories with her, stories that I don't usually share with people that I just met.

And the girl who played opposite me?  Oh man.  We grew up together on this show.  Over the course of the past 8 weeks, we spent so much time together, pushed ourselves so hard...we both improved so much as actors.  Every night, I had to break her heart onstage, and every night watching her heartbreak, my own heart broke in half.  Every night, after our last scene, after the lights went out, we would grope blindly for each other's hands, and share a quick kiss before the lights came up for curtain call.  You can't just let stuff like that go.

And the director.  Everything I can say about her, I can say with this:  because of this show, I want to make acting my life again.  Because of this show, I want to get my MFA in theatre.  Because she cast me in this show, my life got better.

My parents came to see the show.  They drove six hours to see me act onstage for the first time in five years.  One of my best friends drove from Chicago--without telling me--to surprise me.  She drove 7 hours in a day to see me in the show, then left the next day, just to support me.  My friends here in town came to support me.  My co-workers finally got to see me do what I do best.  For once it was "Let's go see Brood's show", and I'm pretty sure they loved it, and saw what I'm really passionate about.

One of my castmates just put it so eloquently:  "Today, I realized that shows are like relationships."  It's so true.  There's a part of my heart that feels empty, sad.  Like when a relationship is over, you wonder "What's next?"  When you're so used to being in that relationship and your every day is planned out, you think "Well, now what am I going to do tomorrow night?  And the night after that?"  Like with a relationship, I'm pretty sure I'm going to wake up tomorrow morning and have it all come rushing back to me that it's over, that I don't have it anymore and I can't get it back.  And I'm going to have to put on a brave face and solider on, and look for that next opportunity.

And when I get that opportunity, I'm going to fall just as blindly in love all over again.

Monday, January 25, 2010

"That, And Some Stuff About Cigars And A Tunnel"

This dream had pretense, which kind of makes sense.  Every now and then you have a dream where you're like "Even though this didn't happen in the dream or real life, I know that Sarah Michelle Gellar and I had been talking about having a lunch date to discuss scuba diving."

In any regard, the pretense of this dream was that a former supervisor of mine--who I'll call Eagle, due to his egaline facial features--had moved to Michigan with his wife and at some point, I'd told him that if he ever made it big and got a big house with a horse farm, he should give me a call because I was coming to live with him.  Because that's all I really want out of life, apparently, is to be a kept man on a horse farm in Michigan.  Isn't that what every little girl dreams of?

In the dream itself, I was at some function.  Nothing terribly fancy, because I was dressed in jeans and a polo.  I'd apparently been having a rough time, as in the dream I felt a bit panicky, like I was missing out on something or had to struggle to get things together--life, finances, whatever.  It was just not a very good feeling.

Eagle was there.  I think I may have been at some sort of national career gathering, albeit one that was very informal (there aren't a lot of national conferences where I'm going to be wearing something as simple as jeans and a polo).  For some reason, I was doing my best to avoid him, like I was embarrassed by my life or lack thereof.  I made sure he was on the other side of the room at all times, or that I was firmly ensconced in a conversation if he ever happened to walk by me.

The one time I let my guard down was the one time he got to me.  I was in a corner by a table, reading an email on my Blackberry when I heard his voice in my ear (yes, I am tall, but Eagle is taller):  "[Brood], can I talk to you for a second?"  I don't know why, but this simple request elicited within me a throat choked with tears that I was trying to blink off.  "I can't," was my struggled reply.

Eagle sighed, took a quick look around to make sure he'd be unnoticed, then picked me up.  Quite literally picked me up.  I wasn't cradled in his arms or tossed over his shoulder, it was more like he gave me a hug and lifted.  I didn't really protest as he took me into another room, because I knew I was being a stubborn shit.

He set me down, then sat in a recliner that happened to be there (for some reason, I feel like this incredibly informal national convention was taking place in someone's plantation house in the south).  I stood there, then felt stupid and reluctantly sit.  Eagle spoke.

"We did it."  I gave him a quizzical look.  "Cat and I got the house.  The big house in Michigan.  There are three horses."  (Cat is Eagle's wife, and I call her Cat because, well...she reminds me of a cat.  I didn't say I was deep or anything.)

"Great," I sighed.  "Your life is great.  Is there anything else you needed to tell me, or can I get back to networking?"

"There's a room for you," Eagle continued, effectively stopping my whining.  "There are actually several rooms for you, a small guest house.  I talked it over with Cat, and we want you to come live with us."  I trembled.  "We know you've been having a rough time and you're not happy with where you are.  So come to Michigan."

Okay, I have to stop for a second, because I just realized that I'm making it sound like I live in Europe and Eagle is trying to sell me on the virtues of the New World and it's utterly hilarious and ridiculous to me at this point.  Anyway, back to the dream.

I looked at Eagle, who looked different.  Somehow he looked taller, thinner, happier.  His hair was shaggy but not unkempt and in an instant, I felt closer to him than I ever had before.

In that instant, Eagle also became a replacement for my brother.  Now I know my brother, Bear (yes, okay, I call him that because he reminds me of a damn Bear, now please move past the nicknames) loves me and would most likely do anything for me--up to and including letting me stay in his house--but the fact of the matter is, I don't talk to him often (right now, the last time I spoke to him was in February after my nephew was born).  I think that when I look for relationshpis with straight male friends, I look for that brotherly connection that I never really got when I was growing up as a child.

God.  Between this and my oral fixation, Freud would have a field day with me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"I'm Lookin' For A Man...A Sales Man"

Twenty-two (22) years ago, I made my stage debut.  The school that I attended (a small, parochial school--when I say small, I mean I graduate from 8th grade with 11 other people) did a yearly play/operetta and when I was in first grade, we put on a production of "Chicken Little and the Day the Sky Fell."  Pulitzer winning stuff, I tell you.

In any regard, speaking roles tended to go to the "upper classmen"--4th, 5th and 6th graders (7th and 8th grades weren't added to the school until I was in 7th and 8th grade).  But for some reason, when casting the role of Turkey Lurkey, the administrators were like, "What about that Josh kid?"  So, in a play full of daunting 4th thru 6th graders was tiny little me, playing a tiny little Frank Perdue.

As part of our costumes, each of us had to wear felt duck feet and mine were made a little too big.  On the night of the show, I stepped forward to say my final line, a simple "Me too!".  However, the theatre decided that my performance needed a little pizzazz.  Unbeknownst to me, my felt duck foot--already a little too big--had ridden a little bit up my heel, leaving me with no traction.  One step, and boom.  I'm on my plump little turkey butt.

The audience, of course, loved it.  How can you not love watching a 6 year-old, trussed up like a Thanksgiving Butterball pre-butchering, fall on his tiny little butt?  I tell you, if America's Funniest Home Videos were around then, I would've made $25,000.

Cut to 22 years later.  Over the time-span I was in more school plays, then branched out into community theatre and found a niche for myself as the Shakespearean sidekick (Roderigo in Othello; Flavius, Timon's steward in Timon of Athens; roles like that).  My last show was in 2007 and I haven't done anything since.  Between 2007 and yesterday, I'd auditioned once, for Rent.  I'm not great in musicals, so I didn't consider a serious audition.  Just a long shot, to be in Rent.

Last night happened as a lark.  I'd planned on auditioning, but didn't get the email about auditions.  At 1:00 pm yesterday, my friend who auditioned for Rent with me and got cast asked if I planned on auditioning.  I thought about not doing it, but then...I don't know what.  Remembered how much I loved the stage?  Thought about my tattoo and how the theme for 2010 is change?  I don't know.  I said yes, I was going to.  And 6 hectic hours later (2 more hours of work, an 1.5 hours at the vet, an hour at the gym and 1.5 hours of interstitial time), I showed up for auditions.

Right away, I was a different person.  I smiled.  I was an outgoing person.  I talked to people.  I was charming and funny.  Why?  Because the theatre is my element.  It's where I thrive.  No matter what theatre I'm in, the people know me, and I know the people.  Every theatre is the same, and I love it.

The audition itself?  I was charged.  I don't know what it was, but I just felt like I was killing it.  The people holding the auditions laughed at all the right places and even some places I wasn't expecting.  At one point, I thought I heard the director say, "He's cute, right?"  I read a monologue, did some some scene readings with a couple of people and then came the "tough" part:  the director gathered all of us into the auditorium for quickfire readings:  saying, "you, you and you, read this" and we'd have to do it, with no prep time.

Even in the room with all of the other actors, I still felt jazzed.  I felt like I had chemistry with everybody I read with, and that's never happened before.  I don't know if there was just, like, a perfect storm of awesome or if Uranus was in retrograde (that's astronomy speak for "back that ass up"...no, I'm not an astronomer.  I'm completely making that up.  It just sounded funny.  LAUGH FOR ME) or what, but I loved every part of the audition.

I actually had my best auditon moment ever last night.  At one point, this girl and I were sitting on rollie-chairs, pretending we were in bed.  The character I was reading for was really happy at the moment, commenting how he felt like he was laying on a raft in the river.  The script said "pantomimes paddling", so I did...and made the rollie-chair scoot forward with each paddle.  Everyone in the room lost it, and the actress auditioning opposite of me just went with it.  She laughed and pulled the chair back so that I flopped back onto her shoulder with a blissful look on my face.  Perfection.

This evening, my intention was to go to the gym at 5:00.  A friend of mine, who is leaving for Australia entirely too soon, was going to be assisting a Zumba class and I wanted to see her before she left.  Life had other ideas and work kept me until 4:40, too late to get my shit together by 5.  I was also exhausted and nearly passed out on the couch reading.

As it turns out, life worked in my favor for once.  Because I didn't go to zumba, I was able to answer my phone when I received a call from a number I didn't know.  It was the director:  "I was just calling to see if you'd be interested in playing Tom."

Though "Fat Pig" is an ensemble piece, Tom is the lead, as it were.

There was a pause as I let that sink in, and I let out a stupid laugh.  "Yes, I would, actually.  I'd love to."  That was when the director...I don't even know.  She made my day.

"I'm so happy you say that.  We loved you yesterday.  I was ready to pick out China patterns with you.  Something about your audition really resonated.  You brought out parts of the character we didn't realize we there."

I've been acting for 22 years.  That's nearly 4/5 of my life.  And no one--no one--has ever said that about my acting.  I was so happy she was talking to me over the phone and not in person, because I was grinning like an idiot.  All I could say was "Thank you, thank you so much."  Finally, I eked out, "I really appreciate that, so much."

The theatre runs through my veins, and I don't know why.  I don't know why I'm happiest in life when I'm dissecting a character, when I'm beign somebody else.  I don't know why I delight in playing bad guys and making people hate me--and find it a compliment when they say that to my face.  I just know that if I go too long without being on a stage, I go a little crazy.  Thank God I'm back.

Monday, January 18, 2010

"That Place Where You Still Remember Dreaming"

The dream started out randomly enough.  I was in a big downtown loft, sparsely furnished.  As is custom in some dreams, I was naked.  And there were other people in the room.  Luckily, the other people in the room were also naked.  I use the word "luckily" very loosely, as the other two people in the room were two guys, whose body types could only be described as "John-Goodman-circa-Roseanne".  Legitimately luckily, I was on the living room floor, wrapped in a rug of some sort.  Possibly bear-skin.  I don't know.  I'm just happy no porn music was playing and that the two portly gentleman were more interested in each other than in me.

Surreptitiously, I got to my feet and dashed off to the other room, bear-skin rug draped around me like that Versace dress Jennifer Lopez wore to the Grammys.  In the other room were clothes; normal clothes, like jeans and a t-shirt.  There were also six-inch platform heels, but I didn't think I needed to totter around at 6 feet 8 inches tall and risk breaking a foot, an ankle, a leg or my dignity.

As I walked back into the other room, I was thankful to see that the two naked men were gone, and were replaced by a few fully clothed people, sitting around a table and having a discussion about things that were not sex, obesity or my naked adventures on the hardwood floors.  I walked toward the table and was not surprised to see Crush #1 sitting there, partaking in the discussion.

This makes me wonder what the pretense in my dream was, that I was expecting to see Crush #1.

What I was surprised to see was that Crush #1 was holding my cat, Velcro.  In real life, Velcro resides with my parents, in a permanent state of calico bitchery, complete with claws on all four feet.  She mostly keeps to herself (and, for some reason, loves my mom unconditonally) and doesn't really get angry unless you get all up in her grill.

She also doesn't purr in people's laps, so I was understandably taken aback to see Crush #1 (exactly as he is in real life) holding Velcro the Bitchy Calico (exactly as she is in real life) without having his skin julienned into shreds.  Astonished, I walked toward him to get a closer look and ask him how he tamed the beast.

Said beast, upon seeing me approach, bolted.  (And why wouldn't she?  When we got her, in real life, I found it hilarious to chase her around the house.  Yes, I was 15 and have no excuse but dammit, it was funny to see her skitter on the linoleum floors.)  Crush #1, having never worked at a Cat Care Clinic like yours truly did for a brief five-month stint, did not know the Golden Rule for bolting cats:  do not try to restrain them.  Seriously, let them go.  I have four scars from four feline incisors encircling my left wrist that prove why that rule is Golden. (Sidebar: I had to run errands that day, and I did so wearing my uniform (scrubs) with a big, white bandage covering up my wrist.  The inside of my wrist.  Where the arteries are.  I kept getting the hairy eyeball from people undoubtedly wondering, "Is he safe to be out?  Where's the nearest exit?  If he freaks out, what's the number for 9-1-1?")

Anyway, Velcro bolted, Crush #1 tried to restrain her, and received a couple of swipes to the face, as she was trying to bolt over his shoulder.  Crush #1 let go, as you would with a cat who just tried to get clawed traction from your eyeballs, and Velcro was gone.  I was immediately apologetic as I should have known Velcro would do that.  I raced to Crush #1's side and tried to assess the damage, but he got up and walked off to the other room.  I followed, to administer first aid.  Because I"m a caretaker.

In the other room, Crush #1 took a seat in a recliner that could only be described in comparison to a dentist's chair (the only surreal part in this otherwise realistic dream).  Crush #1 reclined, and I sat on a stool at the head of the recliner and checked out his wounds, which were surprisingly minimal.  In fact, there was only one slight, shallow scratch that could barely be seen unless you knew what you were looking for.

However, if you listened to Crush #1, you'd've thought somebody just tried to flay his face off, like Ken the Demon in that one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  ("That one episode" my ass.  It was "Anne", the opener for Season 3, and Ken was played by Carlos Jacott, who also played a different demon in a season one episode of Angel entitled "Bachelor Party".  Yeah, I"m a good party trick.)  Crush #1 was especially worried that his nose had been mutiliated.  Holding his head in my hands so that I could get a good look at it, I just smiled a secret smile and shook my head.  "Don't worry, you're adorable," I said.

Out loud.  I said out loud.  Not in my head, like I was thinking.  I thought out loud.  Right out loud.

As soon as I said it, my skin flushed and I hated myself a little bit.  Crush #1 is off-limits.  He's so off-limits that it takes a three-day boat ride and a mule train to get to him.  I just sat there, feeling stupid that I said it, wishing I could take it back.  But you can't unring a bell.

The three seconds between "don't worry, you're adorable" and Crush #1's response stretched on like an eternity.  I felt myself turn 30, then 40, then 80, then die, then be reincarnated as something much, much smarter than myself in those three seconds.  But then:

"Good Lord, you move at glacial pace."

I looked up to see that Crush #1 had sat up and turned to face me.  His eyes were bright, his hair was like it was the first day I met him and his smile was mischievous.

"Hunh?" was my reply.  Yes, I was slack-jawed.  Yes, my left side of my mouth was hooked up into an ignorant sneer.  Yes, my eyebrows raised up so high they shot off my face and hovered about a foot above my head.  Crush #1 just smiled that smile.

"You know what I mean."  And I did, just then.  And even though he was still off-limits, Crush #1 was suddenly obtainable.

With my heart pounding, I leaned in to Crush #1.  "I'm just...I'm going to do this, okay?"  I cupped my hand around the back of Crush #1's head and pulled him to me and before I could hesitate or stop myself, pressed my lips against his.  I don't think Crush #1 expected this.  His breath hitched a little bit, a surprised "oh!" escaped his throat just before my lips found purchase.  Seconds passed, gently, and I started to pull away.  But Crush #1 had other thoughts and brought me back for Round 2.  Nothing racy, nothing greedy, just more...fervent?  Passionate.  He was kissing me back.  And in my dream, it was everything I thought and hoped it would be when I daydreamed about it in real life.  Me kissing Crush #1, Crush #1 kissing me back.

A couple of sweet kisses (and I hate how gay that sounds, and that the phrase "sweet kisses" is a Jessica Simpson album, and that I'm gay enough to know that there's a Jessica Simpson album called "Sweet Kisses) was all my subconscious would give me, but it's all I wanted.

In real life, it's what I think about every time I see Crush #1.  And boy, does that suck.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Because These Things Will Change"

#1. I got a new tattoo tonight. It's the Chinese symbol for "change".

#2. I haven't written a blog in so long, it surprises me that "change" has been a theme for me for quite some time now, unbeknownst to me.

So, Taylor Swift has this song called "Change". Yeah yeah, I get the cliche: big gay homo jonesing over a Taylor Swift song. To that I say: Suck it. (Cliche #2: Bitchy gay man.) I never really cared for the song until November 2009 when I realized the song is my life, and the life of my parents.

Hard-Hitting Lyric the First: "Somebody else gets what you wanted again."
The guy I'm crushing on is back together with his boyfriend. Someone else got the spot for the conference I wanted to attend. I lost my scholarship. They hired someone else for the job I wanted. I'm not saying that I never get what I want, or martyring myself, or anything like that. I'm saying that there are the haves and the have-nots. And my parents and I tend to fall into the later category.

HHL the Second: "It's hard to fight when the fight ain't fair."
See above, re: HHL the First.

So what do you do when life is like that? Give up, roll over, play dead and let life have it's big, dirty way with you. You can do that if you want, but I'm a hopelessly pessimistic optimist. I choose to believe that at some point, things will change. and it seems that lately, they are.

HHL the Third: "They might be bigger, but we're faster and never scared."
I got ways around this. We got ways around this. My parents started to reached their limit and they got themselves out there. Finally, finally, the universe throws them a bone. The house they've been trying to get out of for the past three years because it's a piece (leaky roof, shoddy wiring, rotting floor, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera): they got out. It was like the universe saw their old place, saw this new place and said "We're going to make this shit happen."

HHL the Fourth: "But I believe in whatever you do, and I'll do anything to see it through."
What I make sure my parents know on a regular basis. Maman and the Prince of Darkness know that I will bend over backwards to get them whatever they need. If that's money to help make the down payment, a back on which to strap furniture like a pack mule or someone to advocate for them when they won't advocate for themselves, I got their back. I'm all over it.

And now, let's just quote the final chorus
"It was the night things change, can you see it now?
These walls that they put up to hold us back fell down.
It's a revolution, throw your hands up 'cuz we never gave in
And we sing hallelujiah."

Fuck yeah. They never gave in. They kept going and going and going, no matter what life did to them or throw at them. The Prince of Darkness found a job he likes. They saved a little bit of money. They got an awesome place, a home to where I look forward returning. Son of a bitch, they never gave in.

But I did.

I don't want to say I've become complacent with where I am. Contrary to popular belief and the amount of bitch I let out on a daily basis (Cliche #2), I like it here. I like my job, I like my people, I like this city. But I got sick of complaining about things and decided to just feel miserable about it and that ain't cool, man. Total L-7 square. And then I remembered the tattoo.

Back in May, I saw the Chinese symbol for "change" and right away, knew I wanted it as a tattoo. I already have the symbol for "freedom" and the symbol for "strength." When I saw "change" I immediately planned my next two tattoos. One leg would have "strength" and "change": I have the strength to change. The other leg currently has "freedom" and, at some point, will have "live": the freedom to live.

I need that reminder. If I don't like where I am: change it. If I don't like how that boy made me feel: change how I feel. If I don't like the clothes I'm wearing: change them. It's that simple.

2010 is going to be about change, but for the better. And if I ever start to forget about it, I'm going to glance down and realize that it was important enough to make it a permanent part of my life.