Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 - The To-Do List

File Under: Things to do in the new year


This is just a list of things that I came up with while sitting here at my desk waiting for corporate to process payroll. I may add to it later, I may just leave it alone. It's my list for living in the new year. I may not accomplish everything on this task list, but I'm certainly going to try. I challenge each of you to try doing one or more of these things in 2009.

Live. Live a healthy life. Live for tomorrow. Live your life be free. Live on the edge. Live green. Live each day like it’s the first day of your life. Love yourself. Love your family. Love your pets. Love someone who needs to be loved. Love your Country. Make love. Make someone’s day. Make yourself happy. Make breakfast. Make a difference. Make a change. Give hugs. Give hope. Give a damn. Give yourself a pat on the back. Give back. Take a vacation. Take a chance. Take two, they’re small. Take pictures. Take care. Take the scenic route. Take five. Take your time. Take a friend to lunch. Take time to smell the roses. Take a bubble bath. Relax. Enjoy. Dream. Breathe. Hope. Jump for joy. Celebrate. Be yourself. Be there for someone. Be happy. Be the best person you can be. Laugh. Cry. Shout. Sleep. Reach out. Reach for the stars. Don’t just sit there. Don’t worry. Don’t lose hope. Don’t skip dessert. Don’t overdo it. Don’t forget. Don’t go to bed angry. Wave at small kids riding in the car next to you. Hold the door for an elder. Hug a rock star. Thank someone who has made an influence on your life. Smile.

Did I miss anything?

Get busy!

Get Ready For 2009

File Under: A Proper Farewell to 2008

A New Year. New Beginnings. I’m ready for a new year, are you?

As a whole, this has been a really great year. At the beginning of the year, I was looking forward to my 26th Go-Go’s concert, in Chicago. My good friend John attended with me and we went backstage and met the band. I enjoyed being able to share the experience with my friend and I know he appreciated it.

"The Collective" began planning what turned out to be a really fantastic adventure for all of us, in celebration of my best friend Dan’s 40th birthday. Luis had a vision of what he wanted to have happen and I think we accomplished our goal. It started with a fantastic backyard party and ended with fireworks in Florida. Oh wait...and a hurricane. :)

Street festivals were alive and well in Chicago, the most memorable was Andersonville’s Midsommerfest, practically in my back yard. As always, it was a big bunch of fun. Not to mention booze.

Dan and Luis bought their home together and already it has been the site of many great gatherings, from Dan’s birthday, to Halloween on the porch, to our Christmas gathering, just to name a few.

My family, while small, is close and we actually enjoy being around one another. My mom still gets around and always has an entertaining quip or two when she returns from her outings. She has her issues but she’s handling them. My sister is around when she can be but she’s got her hands full with my 19-year old nephew who, with the exception of having some ADHD issues, is a good kid.

I have the most incredible group of friends. I must sound like a broken record because I mention them a lot. Dan and Luis, Denise, Tina and Polo are like family to me. Vahona is someone with whom I’m joined at the brain – we share similar thoughts much of the time and laugh at things that others just would not understand. There are many others, those who aren’t mentioned don’t mean any less to me than those who are mentioned.

My online friends are worthy of a mention of their own. QTS is the message board I belong to and I feel as close to that group of friends as I do to the ones that I get to see on a regular basis. There are a couple overlaps. Both Vahona and my friend Anthony are on the board, too.

I am employed. I have a job that I like and that I do well. I am proud of the job I do. I complain on the days when employeees call about stupid things or I have to drive back and forth between buildings when the weather is bad, but overall, I’m happy. I have some really great coworkers and we have fun.

So I had a couple of events that were downers. The optimist in me looks at those as opportunites to grow and try new things. I’m a believer in Karma, we’ll leave it at that. :)

The door to 2008 is closing, we’re about to step into 2009. We’ve got a new President coming into office. I’m excited about that, and it gives me hope for the new year.

On that note, I wish all of you a very Happy New Year. Here’s to a year filled with good health, prosperity, generosity, laughter and hope. Cheers!

XO

Jim

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pampering

File Under: Proper Grooming

Tonight I'm seeing Brian. I haven't seen Brian in months. He makes me feel good. Very, very good. He's young and handsome and has a really hot body. Brian does my nails. :)

I love manicures and pedicures. the last one I had was on the 16th of August, and I went to someone else. Tonight, I get to spend some time with Brian and I'm happy.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Proper Music

File Under: 2008 in Review

I was going to do my "Top 10 Albums of 2008" list but when I surveyed what I purchased this year, I only bought 9 albums. So instead of ranking them, I'm just going to share with you what I bought this year and comment as necessary.

Detours - Sheryl Crow. I have a thing for female singers and Sheryl Crow's voice is one that I am particularly fond of. She's had her ups and downs in the past couple of years but has such a good spirit. I was pleased when she released this album and it didn't disappoint. This goes back to her earlier days, a bit more folk sounding with really clean production.

Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings - Counting Crows. I didn't like them when they first rose to fame but later on I came to appreciate their sound. Adam Duritz, the lead singer has a lot of emotion in his voice when he sings and his lyrics are fantastic. This album was written during a time when he was going through a depression so a lot of the songs have a darker feel to them.

Funplex - The B-52's. The quintessential party band. Who does not LOVE The B-52's. Sure, this album sounds a lot like the rest of their catalog but they do what they know best. This is definitely a feel-good album and puts me in a happy mood.

X - Kylie Minogue. Cute, Euro dance pop. Nothing deep here, just fun.

Hard Candy - Madonna. Not my favorite Madonna album but I suppose I would lose my gay card if this wasn't in my collection. I think I've listened to the album twice since purchasing it back in the spring.

Crayons - Donna Summer. This purchase was more of a curiosity than anything. Back in the late 70s/Early 80's, I loved Donna and remember begging for an advance on my allowance so that I could go buy her album "Bad Girls." This isn't a bad album, at all. It's nice that she was able to release an album and have some success with it.

Funhouse - Pink. I really like this album. It's sassy and fun, the lyrics are great. I've played the song "So What" a lot these past couple of weeks.

Day and Age - The Killers. I JUST bought this album tonight. I LOVE The Killers but was previously preoccupied and didn't get it when it was released back around Thanksgiving. This is one that I'll listen to from start to finish many times. It has a really nice flow.
,
19 - Adele. I adore this album but unfortunately, for now I can't listen to it. It was kind of a centerpiece of my (brief) relationship and the songs make me sad. With that said, I think Adele has a gorgeous voice and writes beautiful lyrics. The production values are simple and don't drown out the voice. She's been nominated for multiple Grammy awards, I hope she wins them all. She deserves it.






Friday, December 26, 2008

Poor Rory!

File Under: Guilty Pleasures

I love the show "Gilmore Girls" and was sad when it went off the air. I thought the writing was brilliant, the pop culture references were sharp and fast, and the acting was great. I want to live in a town like Stars Hollow with all it's quirky residents and places to go.

This morning I was sorting laundry and found an episode being shown on ABC Family. Once I heard the theme music, I was hooked. Mind you, I can watch it any time, I have the entire series on DVD. But, to find it on TV was a treat. It was an episode from season 2 or 3. Rory apparently had just broken up with Dean and was so sad. She was having trouble relating to her friends and her mom.

Twice during the episode, I found myself near tears. I felt so bad for poor Rory. I wanted to hug her and tell her that I understand and that it'll be okay. I have never cried during an episode of the show, but this morning I was close. How pathetic am I? I'm laughing about it now.

I eventually got out of the house, made it to the laundromat, the book store (half-off calendars!) and The Gap ($21 pants!). Afterwards I hit the gym.

Now I may run to Target. I don't necessarily HAVE to run to Target but I'm drawn to it just because it's a big shopping day and I don't really feel like schleping out to Macy's. I still have $119 to spend on my Flex Spending account, which expires 12/31. First Aid kits for everybody!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas

File Under: Favorite Christmas TV Specials

Of all of the Christmas Specials, "Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special" ranks as one of my all time favorites. I watch it every year. Last year I posted the opening number, this year I give you GRACE JONES!

Jane Wiedlin Has Spoken

File Under: Friends who ROCK!

(Jane Wiedlin, me, Charlotte Caffey - March 2001)

I'll spare the fine details, I've been a Go-Go's fan for well over 25 years, yada-yada and I'm at the point where they know me by name, and not because it's on a restraining order. I still become a little tongue-tied around them, however Jane is the one with whom I feel a connection and am totally at ease when we talk.

I've been processing a lot of stuff lately and music has helped me through some of the tough moments. When I consider those songs that I listened to, they are mostly songs authored by Jane.

Yesterday I emailed her to wish her a Merry Christmas and to let her know that her music has been an inspiration to me during a breakup. I tried not to gush and blab on about stuff, I kept it short and sweet. This morning, I got such a sweet reply from her.

Dear Jim,

It was great to hear from you, and I really enjoyed your letter. I'm sorry that douchebag dumped you, but he is obviously a douchebag, since he dumped you!! haha

Stay wonderful, stay warm, happy ho ho ho lidays!
xoxo
Jane


So Jane has spoken, M is a "douchebag."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's Christmas Time

File Under: Fa-la-la

Another Christmas is upon us.

I love this time of year. I love the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, I love the television specials, I love getting cards in the mail from friends, near and far. And of course, I love food! Bring on the cookies!

When I was growing up, Christmas began on Christmas Eve. Everybody would gather at my house and my parents would host the big family get-together. We would open our presents on Christmas Eve and have a light dinner. Then the kids would go off to bed and the adults would stay up late. When we awoke on Christmas day, stockings would be hanging, filled with fun things. Then later in the day we would have a big dinner. I remember lots of food, standing rib roasts and turkeys.

The family eventually fragmented and the big gatherings ended. We still hosted Christmas Eve but it became a party with close family friends and their children. The house was loud with laughter and the sounds of excited kids opening presents. Eventually that tradition ended, too.

Now, we still have Christmas Eve. My mom and I host our friend Karen. She comes over after dinner and we have dessert and coffee and open presents. It's very quiet but just as nice as the big gatherings, just not quite as loud.

On Christmas day, my sister and nephew will come over. We used to go to Georgette's house for dinner but I decided it made more sense to cook dinner at my house rather than drag my mom out in the bad weather. Tomorrow my home will be filled with the aroma of roast turkey and dressing and we will exchange presents. It will be very laid back and casual but nice.

With all that said, my best gift this year are not the material things that I'm given, but the love and support of all of my friends. I can't imagine my life without my very best friend Dan. He has taught me so much and is a constant source of inspiration and light. We get each other. We both surround ourselves with good people, hence the happy group of us, including Luis, Denise, Polo and Tina. We are a family. I also have my online friends at my message board, QTS, many of whom I have met in person, some I've never met but I feel equally close to every one of them. Then there's Vahona, who is both a QTS friend and a local friend. She and I balance one another and we make each other laugh like nobody else can. Lastly, there are you, those who visit this blog and comment and provide support and laughs. I can't thank you enough for your kind words and I feel a connection to you as well.

I wish all of you a very Happy Holiday Season, whichever holiday you are celebrating. Peace.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Inventory

File Under: Returned

Matthew dropped off my DVDs and "other items" this afternoon. I was in Administration when he got there. I did not see him.

In a Target bag, I received the following items:
AbFab DVD collection
French and Saunders DVD
"Testosterone" DVD (no, not porn)
A pair of black socks
A toothbrush
Small glass canister that I bought for sugar. I take sugar in my coffee, he doesn't use sugar. Yes, the sugar is still in the canister.

I'm surprised though. My pillow was not returned. He probably trashed it or kept it for his tricks.

To his credit, he did not return any of the gifts I gave to him, including Ina Garten's latest cookbook (autographed), James Taylor CD (sent to him in DC), Kodak digital photo frame (his birthday gift when he returned home), assorted CDs I burned for him, an "adult" DVD (porn), and 4 Christmas ornaments for his sad little tree.

So I'll confess that I did the following. Last night, I came into work to drop off a tin of cookies. I brought with me an ornament that he gave to me. It's really pretty but I didn't want the reminder so I took it off my tree at home. I hung it on the tree in the lobby, at eye level, facing the reception desk. My hope was that he would notice it because he would recognize it if he did. I won't ever know if he did.

Apparently he was quick to walk in and walk out. They offered to page me for him, he said "oh no, that's okay, just see that he gets it" and he walked out.

It's done. I even looked in the bag right away to see what was there and I was fine. It's over. I'm relieved.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pre-Blog Friends

File Under: Remember Me?

Yesterday I emailed Marc (Echo Chamber) and refreshed his memory that we actually met for dinner, about 3 years ago. We exchanged emails, laughing about it, he recalled it well once I reminded him of it. I told him that he could discuss more details about it in his blog, so stay tuned.

(edited to include link and tidy up my text a bit)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What Does It All Mean??

File Under: Signs?

Prior to meeting Matthew, I didn't know who Diana Krall was. Okay, I'd heard the name, maybe I saw her on Martha Stewart's show or something but didn't think twice about her music. Matthew loves her, and so I came to appreciate her vocal stylings and recognize her voice. I downloaded a few songs as well as her Christmas album from iTunes.

So of course, everywhere I go now I hear her. In the grocery store. In Macy's. In Starbucks. In my own house! I was in my bedroom and my mom, who was in the kitchen baking holiday cookies, was listening to our public fine arts station and who was on last night? Uh-huh.

I went out last night, figured a night out would do me good. Back at my usual place, Jackhammer. I know a lot of the bartenders there, they take good care of me. it's close to home, casual and often fun. My friend John was working, we chatted all evening, I got hugs from him, and he kept my glass full.

I ran into another friend, who was there with someone we both know. I went over and talked to them and learned that these two have been "busy" for about 6 months. The one friend has actually been seeing someone for a couple months. So suffice it to say he's been very busy. They both came over to where I had been standing and had a drink, and proceeded to make out. They soon left together. The downward spiral of my mood went much faster at that point.

I wandered the bar for a while and saw nobody of interest, so I went home. The temperature had dropped dramatically since I had arrived, yet I decided to just walk since I had worn my ugly but warmest coat. Mind you, I was somewhat drunk so the fact that the 20 mph winds that were hitting my face weren't really bugging me too much, nor was I caring that the unshoveled walks were making the walk quite difficult. I was pissed off at the world and I just wanted to get home.

About 1/3 of the way home, up one of the streets I was passing, a man was singing at the TOP OF HIS LUNGS. Of all the songs he could be singing, he's singing "Chasing Pavements." That's Adele's song. The first couple of lines he sang I thought "gosh, from where do I know that song?" Then I hear "Should I give up or should I just keep chasing pavements..." At that point I screamed at the top of my lungs "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? SERIOUSLY???" The singing continued and he was walking my direction, behind me so yes, I heard quite a bit of his version of the song. I tied my hood tighter to try to muffle the sound, that didn't work. Finally I just ran.

Really, what are the odds? Why do THESE songs/artists keep popping up?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Time Release Boots

File Under: Wardrobe Malfunction

Last night I met my friends Robert and Maria, along with their sweethearts out for dinner. Robert, Maria and I used to work together, they left, I stayed and we've kept in touch. Our other friend Priscilla was not able to join us last night.

I knew I would be consuming alcoholic beverages so I did not drive. We had snow that day, so I put on my boots and left the house. Mind you, these are the same boots that I walked to and from work in that same day.

I got about half-way to the train station and my left boot felt funny, like something was stuck to the bottom of it and it was flopping. A few more steps and I suddenly stepped down father than usual. I looked back to see what had dislodged from my boot. Turns out it was the sole.

My boots were a pair of Timberlands that I bought about 8 years ago. I don't wear boots all the time, just when the snow is deep enough to warrant the wearing of said boots. I don't like the feeling of having something around my ankles. The remaining boot was completely sealed, there were no tears that exposed my foot, inside. I picked up the sole and kept walking. But then I had to decide if I should go back home and be late, or go to dinner with my modified boot. I decided to go on to dinner.

A few steps later, I decided I would stop at DSW on my way to dinner, buy a new pair of boots and then continue on. It definitely on my route to dinner, it just required a detour. I had about 20 minutes to make a purchase.

I got to the train, got on the train and then looked at my right boot. It was doing the same thing!!

I got off the train, with the sole from my left boot in hand and now with a floppy right sole. I got downstairs, reached down, tore off the second sole and kept walking.

I arrived at DSW at 7:05 pm, purchased a new pair of boots by 7:15, and was at the restaurant by 7:25. I was the last to arrive but given that our reservation was for 7:30, I was still early.

Am I the only one that something like that happens to? Have you had any articles of clothing self-destruct?

Contact!

File Under: Mine, and I want it back.

Matthew had my AbFab seasons 1-3 DVD collection. Originally I was just going to let it go but the more I thought about it, the more I decided I wanted it back. It wasn't so much wanting back the object, I think what I wanted back was my dignity. If I just walked away and didn't ask for it, the chances of getting it back were slim. Sure, he could easily have just dropped it off or mailed it. Actually I kind of think he would have done so. But as I was talking with friends last night, they told me that I needed to ask for my DVDs to be returned. This morning I sent a note that asked for them and also told him when I would NOT be at "Lakeshore" so that he didn't have to worry about seeing me. He replied back this evening.

Jim,

No problem. I won’t be around Monday so it will have to be Tuesday. I have some other stuff here that belong to you as well.


Take care,
Matthew


My friends on QTS were on the other side of the fence. They didn't think I should have bothered to ask for them back. It was akin to picking a scab on a wound. I value their opinion and love them for looking out for me but to me this was symbolic of not just asking for my stuff back, but walking away with my pride and dignity.

As for the "other stuff," I'm guessing it'll be the CDs I sent him for his birthday, the ornaments I bought for his tree, the jar I brought over to his place in which I kept sugar for my coffee and a pillow. If I'm REALLY lucky, I'll get the Kodak digital photo frame I bought for him for his birthday, too. I really just want the DVDs, but whatever. I know when I get the stuff back I'll be sad and I'll probably just dump the bag in my closet and not look at it for a while.

Did I do the right thing? Should I have just left well-enough alone? What's done is done, but I'm curious to know what you would have done.

Friday, December 19, 2008

At Work - Part 2

File Under - "Lakeshore"

This is office # 2 at a location we call Lakeshore. It's a block from Lake Michigan. If it weren't for the buildings across the street, we would actually have a view of the lake. But we don't.

My office is much smaller than my "Central" office but very charming. Within a week of moving in, I decorated it. I refer to it as "Paris" since the artwork is all pictures recycled from a calendar with vintage Paris photographs.

Every year for Christmas, the facility holds an office decorating contest. This year I have entered the contest.

To you, I present "Lakeshore!"

My little tree. Does it remind you of the tree at Central? It should, it's the same tree. All of the ornaments are red, green and silver this year.

















Standing behind my desk, this is the view - my HR and Payroll filing cabinets. Exciting, huh?
















My funky monkey ornament. I bought it last night. He's sitting on top of my lamp. My autographed Belinda Carlisle poster is looking down at monkey.

















Again with the pictures. Below the photos is a charming row of penguins that I got for next to nothing at the end of the last Christma season.
















Looking towards my desk. The garland on the wall is one I'm really proud of this year. I think it really stands out. The random red balls that you see are suspended from ribbons hanging from the ceiling.

















The cabinet with the pictures and penguins and my plants. On the front of the cabinet are my Travelocity "Roaming Gnome" magnets, a gift from Dan.

















Just another picture from in front of my desk.

















A better look at the garland and my dangling balls. LOL - Okay I didn't need to post another picture but if I didn't, I wouldn't have been able to mention my dangling balls.

















I am in a windowless office. At one point, there was an empty offce in Administration and it has a big picture window. I jokingly asked if I could have it and I was being considered for it but instead our Controller got it. Right now I'm glad it's not my office.

Today it was a cold and snowy day in Chicago.
View, looking north:


















And looking south: :-(

















Thanks for visiting my offices with me. Hope you enjoyed the tour. Please watch your step. :)

At Work - Part 1

File Under - "Central"


I believe I've mentioned here before that I work out of two offices. I'm a Human Resources/Payroll and Benefits Coordinator for a national hospital chain with four facilities in Chicago. We're one of a few "cluster markets." Because of our size, they've consolidated some positions, mine being one of them. Instead of just doing Payroll and Benefits for one facility as occurs in some markets, I was first given the additional responsibility of HR for one building, and then a termination caused them to rethink the structure and decided to let me be the guinea pig and try out doing what I do for two buildings. Three years later, I guess it worked.

With that said, I thought I would share with you my offices. This would be my office at "Central."

My little tree. Lots of balls on it. No real theme this year, just very colorful.

















The view from across my desk. My bulletin board is 80 percent pictures of friends and 20 percent work. Every year I put a garland around it for Christmas. My desk is a mess.
















Close-up of the bulletin board. So many friends on there, along with places I've traveled. Oh, and a payroll calendar.

















The view from one of my doors. My office has two doors. The one that you see closed opens out into the lobby. I keep that door closed at all times. The door way that I'm standing is in the corridor that is the Adminstrative suite.

















The view at my desk, the direction I'm usually facing since I'm at my computer 95 percent of the time.
















Next up, my office at "Lakeshore"

Drama Moment

File Under: Guess I'm not as over it as I thought

This is my first blog post from work. I thought this site was blocked but apparently I was wrong.

I'm at my Lakeshore office today. I've been here a lot this week. Why is today different? Because I just walked out to the lobby and looked across the street and saw a light on in Matthew's apartment. I think I previously mentioned the fact that he lives directly across the street from one of my work locations.


I don't know why seeing a light on is bugging me, but it is. I guess it's just knowing that we're about 300 feet from one another yet are functioning as if the other doesn't exist.


I wonder if he's affected at all, knowing that I'm a short distance away. Probably not.

Anyway, this isn't a full-on return to the pity party, it's just a moment, which like the others, will pass.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Perspective

File Under: My glass is half-full

Yeah, I had a shitty week. I got dumped, thew myself a grand pity party, I was miserable to be around at work and did my best to be lively and fun at two parties I attended over the weekend. I made it through the weekend and the week has been busy so that's been good.

I'm not going to feel any guilt over my sadness. Yes, the relationship was short, 3 months to be exact, but the experience was woe-worthy in my book. I don't think I'm fully over it, I don't know if you ever fully get overthe feelings when you get the sense that you've connected with someone. But I digress. Here's where I put it all into perspective.

On Tuesday, I got a call at work from one of my favorite employees. A nurse who has been with the company for years and when I took the job as Payroll Coordinator, I helped her with some issues that had until then remained unresolved. She was surprised that I not only took the time to talk with her, I actually fixed the problem. Now when she comes to my office, or sees me in the hall, she always has a hug and a kiss for me. She remembers me at Christmas, too. She called to ask about Leave of Absence paperwork, and I instructed her that she had 8 weeks remaining (she broke her in September and was on leave, but I only put in 4 weeks for her). She explained that her husband was seriously ill now and she didn't know if he was going to make it and she was concerned about her insurance. I told her that I would not let ANYTHING happen to her insurance coverage while she was gone she was absolutely not allowed to worry about it, I would not allow it. She was only allowed to worry about her husband and making sure he got better. At that point she broke down crying and all she could say was "Jim, I'm so scared!" At that point I was starting to cry and I told her to just be strong for him and again not to worry about anything at work. She thanked me, we said that we would talk next week about LOA paperwork.

Last night, her husband died.

I feel horrible for her. I don't know for sure but I believe they were together a very long time.

It's events like that which put things into perspective. I met a guy who, for whatever reason, had a lapse of judgement and decided he didn't want to be with me. Boo hoo. I'm better off, really. I don't think I lost the love of my life. I've got a cool family, some of the most amazing friends a guy could wish for, a job that I like (that's two positives!), and some really fun coworkers. I'm so extremely lucky.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holiday Baking

File Under: Fa-La-La

Beth posted a blog about holiday baking. I try to make something each year, either for a dinner party, or for work, or just to have around the house during the holidays.

This is a cake I made back in 2005.

The pan is actually a mold that is in 2 parts, front and back. It was something I ordered from the "Martha by Mail" catalog back when she sold products online and by catalog. I baked it for Dan's Christmas dinner. It was an involved process but so worth it. I had fun making it and it was delicious.
This weekend, we're gathering at Dan and Luis' place to have dinner and do a gift exchange. I'm making another snowman cake. I'm looking forward to it. I am faced with the challenge of getting all of the candy elements to decorate it. Macy's on State Street (formerly the flagship Marshall Field & Company) has a large candy counter in their basement, I may take a trip down there to see what they have.
I'll take pictures of the cake when it's done.

Gourmet Twinkies

File Under: Recipe Corner

For Joy, Beth and anybody else interested, here is the recipe for Twinkie-misu. Below is the recipe as published in The Twinkie Cookbook. Afterwards I will let you know what modifications I made.

Twinkie-misu
Serves 6 to 8

1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding
1 3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup Amaretto
1 cup strong coffee, warmed
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup Kahlua
2 cups frozen nondairy whipped topping, thawed
10 Twinkies
Unsweetened cocoa for dusting

In a bowl, combine the pudding mix, milk and Amaretto and whisk. Set aside until quite thick.
In a separate small bowl, combine the coffee, sugar, and Kahlua and mix until the sugar dissolves. Refrigerate until cool. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and set the Twinkies on the paper. Slowly drizzle the coffee mixture over each Twinkie, allowing the liquid to soak in.
Fold the whipped topping into the pudding mixture. Spoon one-third of the pudding mixture into an 8 x 8 baking dish.
Arrange the Twinkies evenly evenly over the pudding. Spoon the remaining pudding over the Twinkies.
Refrigerate for 1 hour, or until set. Dust with cocoa just before serving.

My notes:
1. I made a double batch. 20 Twinkies (2 boxes), 2 boxes of pudding, 2 containers of Cool Whip (the tub, not the can).

2. I am not a fan of Amaretto. I love Kahlua. I did not buy Amaretto, decided to just add 1/4 tsp. of almond extract to the pudding mix and I substituted Kahlua. The bit of almond extract was just fine. Not overpowering.

3. I didn't brew enough coffee. I should have had 2 cups, I only had about 1. I made up the difference with Kahlua. I love Kahlua.

4. I didn't drizzle the coffee mixture onto the Twinkies, I used a basting brush. I brushed and brushed and brushed. I got tired of brushing and ended up pouring out about 1/4 cup of the Kahlua/coffee mixture. Sad, because I love Kahlua.

5. The container I used for transporting the dessert was a foil pan, not large enough for the Twinkies to be a single layer. 12 fit in the first layer, then I added more pudding then the remaining Twinkies on top, then the remainder of the pudding/Cool Whip mixture. There wasn't enough pudding/Cool Whip mixture to completely cover the second layer. I decided that was rustic. Or white trash. As if it would have been anything but had it been neatly arranged.

6. I forgot to sprinkle cocoa over it. Nobody noticed.

7. I made it mid-day and didn't serve it until evening. It was fine, I was concerned it would have become really mushy but it did not.

It might be good with berries in it, or if you're a fan of egg nog, using that instead of milk to make the pudding. Or maybe not.

Enjoy!

More Music That Makes Me Smile

File Under: Therapy Music

Today I was commuting between offices, listening once again to "Unforgiven." I decided to listen to the next song on the CD. It's a song called "Apology," and the lyrics meant more to me today than they ever have. While the entire song doesn't precisely describe my situation, they're pretty close. This is the first lyric and the chorus:

I will find a way to move on.
Discontent has had its stay,
the pleasure's gone.
If you asked me to describe,
what I could want with all I've got
I'd say "good days, and thank-you's"
Instead of all these question marks.

When I found you, I thought my life
was charmed and we'd be safe from what
has happened now, has happened now.

Apology - I'm sorry
Apology - Oooh, I'm sorry
Apology - I'm sorry but I have no regrets.

Music and Lyrics by Valentine/Heatherton

Now a couple notes. The name Heatherton, above, is actually a close friend of mine. She lives in Los Angeles. She was in a band, their first batch of songs were produced by Kathy Valentine of The Go-Go's. Heatherton brought a song called "Train" to the studio. Kathy loved the melody and the song and asked Heatherton if she could rework the song for the Go-Go's upcoming album. Heatherton was honored and of course let her use the song. It's one of my favorite songs on the CD.

I mentioned in my letter to Matthew that we failed to communicate. The Tuesday before he dumped me, I found myself questioning whether the relationship was worth all of the unanswered questions and the constant wondering what was on his mind. So when I was listening to the song today and singing along with the lyrics, I realized how much I could relate to those words. :)

I'm doing better. I'm processing stuff, getting past it all. Blogging has helped. :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ruined Music

File Under: Songs that are no longer the same

I recently discovered Adele. I think she's an amazing singer. Matthew heard a song of hers in my car a few weeks ago and was so excited because he didn't know who she was, but I did. He bought her CD.

Then there was the whole "listen to the third track from the end, you'll understand."

Then there was the whole "I don't think we should see each other any more."

Now I own a fantastic CD, probably one of the best CDs I purchased this year and I can't even listen to it because Matthew has ruined it for me.

On Saturday, I was talking to my friend Andy. He and I love music and grasp onto lyrics. We had a lengthy conversation about music and songs as tools of communication, and we agreed that it's a really shitty thing to "lose" a good song. For me, I can't listen to "Make You Feel My Love" without associating it with Matthew and his way of expressing how he's feeling. That angers me.

For three days after the final phone call, the song was stuck in my head. I haven't played the CD, but it was as if the song was on repeat. The irony of the lyric "I know you haven't made your mind up yet, but I would never do you wrong," just makes me shake my head in wonder.

Andy and I were also discussing our love for Belinda Carlisle. Yes, I'm discussing her, again. he and I are in total agreement that without her, The Go-Go's would not have meant what they mean to us. We were drawn to that voice from the first time we heard it. On Saturday, my anthem for cancelling out the other song was "Unforgiven." There's a line that Belinda sings that says "But when it comes to you, I know I said 'I do,' but I don't, no I don't!" The last six words span 6 seconds. The tone in which she sings, the pitch, the arc in her voice during the last three words is a defining moment for me. It's what makes me love her.

Others won't get it. But they could say the same thing to me about Paul McCartney's voice or that of Bruce Sprinsteen, or even Britney Spears, and I wouldn't get it. And that's okay.

I'm glad that I didn't waste a Belinda Carlisle song on Matthew. Had I, at a moment of extreme weakness, sent him "Mad About You" and said "you'll understand," I would have been really angered to have ruined a song that means so much to me. At least I was smart enough not to play that card so soon. :)

Does music move you? Do you hear lyrics and relate to them? Do certain artists have the ability to provide you with the soundtrack of your life? Have you ever wasted or ruined a perfectly good song on someone?

Observations

File Under: getting noticed

This is one of those odd things that I noticed that happens when you're dating someone. When I had a boyfriend, I noticed other guys looking at me, and not in that "wow, you're odd" sort of way. You know when you get that look from someone who may be interested. You notice the glance, you look away, then when you look up, you're being looked at again. Perhaps your eyes meet.

Last month, there was a very attractive guy at my Starbucks that I saw a few times. He was always seated in the corner, working on a laptop but often was looking my way. One morning he even smiled. I politely smiled back. I haven't seen him in a couple weeks. Figures.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Close of the Weekend

File Under: Friends and Laughter

As far as weekends go, this was a pretty good one, all things considered.

Friday was an OK day at work. Everybody was in lively spirits because it was the day of our annual Holiday party and it was our first year back having it with all 4 of the area hospitals. This means major fashion show. Something I enjoy very much. It helped too that I was at my Central location, away from Lakeshore, and not constantly reminded that Matthew lives in the apartment building across the street. That was always a convenience feature, when I visited him, I could park at work. Now when I'm in any of the administration offices or in the lobby, I look directly across the street and see not just his building, but his windows. But...I digress.

Friday night, the party was a blast. My friend Sonny made certain that I never had an empty glass. She has been so supportive and caring during all of this. The party was non-stop laughs and good times. My CEO from Lakeshore came over to me, put her arm on my back and rubbed it and said "I am so glad to see you here." I said "well, I'm glad to be here, and I wasn't going to miss it. I'm having a wonderful time." She said this because I was anything but glad to be at Lakeshore on Thursday, a mere 12 hours post "the phone call." I was pathetic in the building all day. People sensed it. Anyway, it was sweet of Diane to seek me out and check on me during the party.

Afterwards I met up with my friend Steve and his partner Ben. Steve is someone I knew from long ago, we have an interesting past. He moved to San Francisco about 5 years ago, and I hadn't seen him for probably 4 years. He read my Facebook status update and immediately emailed me and asked me to meet them for drinks since they were going to be in Chicago for the weekend. They were so sweet, and we had a great time catching up.

Saturday was "return day" and I made a mad dash thru Old Orchard, taking back Matthew's Christmas gifts. For those of you who said I should have bought myself stuff, I will wait until after the holidays and reward myself with something fun.

That evening was Dan and Luis' "Christmas in Delaware" party. It was so much fun. 21 people showed up. There was obnoxious Christmas music, trashy food, and some sinful desserts, including my "Twinkie-misu" a version of tiramisu made with Twinkies, Cool Whip, instant vanilla pudding and 3/4 bottle of Khalua. I have to say, it was delicious! The gift exchange was fun as always. I came home with a book on how to talk to kids about drugs as well as a Britney Spears journal. Or, as I referred to it, Britney's autobiography (blank pages! - LOL). Towards the end of the night, I started to feel a bit blue about things but managed to get busy helping to clean up. Tina drove me home and I think I fell asleep not long after I arrived at home.

This morning I awoke having a panic attack. I popped a happy pill and laid back down for a while. I eventually got up, ate breakfast, had some coffee then hit the gym. Afterwards I went in search of a small Christmas present for Sonny who has been so nice during my ordeal. The gift I got her relates to a running joke between us. I'll photograph it and post it later this week.

Tonight, I relaxed. I poked around on the internet for a while but spent most of the evening chatting with my QTS friends.

I feel pretty good about things. Tomorrow will be a bit of a test because I'm back at Lakeshore. I haven't heard from M in response to the email I sent. I don't expect to, and that's okay. I'm going to believe that he read it and hopefully gave some thought to his actions both in how he ended things and in how he handled the relationship as a whole. For me, it's going to be onward and upward. I was reminded this weekend that I've got the best bunch of friends that a guy could ask for. From my QTS crew, to those who chimed in on Facebook, to my work friends, and of course my Chicago pals. I love them all so very much.

And, lest I forget, I love my blog friends, too.

Many Happy Returns

File Under: Christmas in reverse

Yesterday I went out to the mall, not because I still have holiday shopping to finish, I actually had things to return. Matthew's presents went back to their respective stores. I needed to not look at the packages any more.

I got kind of generous with him. After he bought my matching bedding set, I decided I would buy him a nice set of sheets to go with his new bedding. Macy's day after Thanksgiving sale had some really nice sheets, reasonably priced.

Then, after he announced that he was having trouble figuring out what to buy my mom for her birthday and for Christmas, I went out and bought him a sweater from her. Banana Republic was having a big sale.

Last Monday, when I was at Matthew's (the night he cooked dinner for me and wanted me to watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas" with him), we watched his show "Gossip Girl" afterwards (I had to teach him that with TiVo, you could watch a program currently being recorded and it wouldn't stop the recording from finishing. But I digress. In one scene, there was a party and champagne was being sipped out of cyllindrical champagne glasses and he mentioned how much he loved them and wished he could find some just like them. Well, I did a little online searching and found them and Crate and Barrel. "Exclusive Design!" On my day off last Wednesday, I bought six of them for him.

But, since Wednesday didn't end on a high note, I found myself with some gifts that would not be given.

There were a couple other items that I won't return, I'll keep and use. I bought him a winter hat from LL Bean. We had been looking at hats at Target and I found a hat in their catalog that was cute so I bought one for each of us (different colors). I'll wear them both, nice to have options. I had also ordered him a pair of funky reading glasses. Like me, he wears readers when he's got his contacts in and his coworkers were making fun of his drug store readers, so I ordered some from my online source for cool glasses - Debby Burke Optical. We wear the same strength glasses so I won't mind keeping these. They were inexpensive and purchased with my flexible spending account. :)

My QTS friends encouraged me to return and for each return, I should buy myself a little happy. I decided I would be "happy" with the charges reversed on my credit cards. Suze Orman would be proud of me.

So, I'm officially no longer a rule-breaker and every gift that I'm giving this year will be valued at $30 0r under.

His loss. My gain.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Music That Makes Me Smile

File Under: My Soundtrack

This is one of those songs that comes in handy when I've experienced a breakup. Admittedly I think the lyrics don't exactly apply to my current situation but it's the song I've been playing to get the song that I was told "you'll understand" out of my head.

The video to this song isn't on YouTube, which probably isn't a bad thing because it's a really stupid video for an otherwise good song. It's The Go-Go's (of course), a band that I love and has written more songs that I can relate to than any other band.

This video was actually filmed by me, in Las Vegas, in January 2007. I love my little digital camera.



Lyrics are as follows:

Always trying to clean up my catastrophes
Taking full responsibility
Living my life like every day is the last
remodeling the wreckage of my past
But when it comes to you,
I know I said "I do"
but I don't- no I don't

(chorus)
You're unforgiven
so go on living
knowing that I've unforgiven you
And my Thanksgiving,
came the day I saw it was OK
to unforgive you

Confessing every sin doesn't make me a saint
even though it's obvious I've changed
Once I forgave you but I did not forget
now I'm taking back everything I said

(chorus)

But when it comes to you,
I know I said "I do"
but I don't - no I don't!

(chorus)

Lyrics by Caffey/Wiedlin/Armstrong

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Letter

File Under: Having My Say

I felt that the conversation I had with Matthew last night was mostly him expressing his thoughts and me (barely) responding to them. I decided that I needed to have my say. I don't think he'll reply. I don't want a reply. I just wanted him to know how I felt about things. I'm sharing this because you've all been along for the ride so you deserve closure, as do I. As I often do, I think I took the high road. I have no desire to argue any points or engage in any further discussion. Let me also say that I'm not opening dialogue for hopes of reconciliation. If doubts have presented themself now, who's to say they won't reappear at some point in the future.

Dear Matthew,

Please allow me to have my say, as, in and relationship, regardless of what stage its in, both parties involved should have an opportunity to express what is on their mind. I believe you did that over the phone last night, this is my turn. I hope you'll read this and not just delete it.

Last night you said that you didn't feel that you were in a place you thought you should be at this point. I'm unsure of where you thought you should be, because at least early on, you seemed very much into this relationship. Examples being your affection towards me, and your talk of future plans. The big revalation came the night before your birthday, when you had asked if I listened to Adele's CD. You then told me to lsiten to "Make You Feel My Love" and said "you'll understand." Whether intended or not, it sounded as if you were telling me you loved me.

Now, a bit about me. I haven't had good luck in relationships. Historically I fall fast and I fall hard. I went into our relationship determined not to do that. But then, talks of "next summer we can do this," or "you should get a passport, it would be nice to have you join me places," or "I bought your matching linens so that you would feel more at home at my place" made it extremely difficult to not think that you felt a connection between us. So, eventually I fell.

Be it spoken or not, I think we were on the same page, at least at some point. Your gestures were so generous and thoughtful. But, I think one of our flaws was our inability to speak what was on our mind. I felt bad not being able to communicate with you, partly because I felt intimidated trying to talk to you, I worried about upsetting or offending you. You are a man of few words at times and I felt like I was guessing your moods.

I understand you have a lot going on in your life. Your job keeps you very busy, more so than the typical 9 - 5 job. You have family concerns, you have health matters you're dealing with. In your birthday card, I meant every word of what I wrote, including the "Love" part. I never said it to you, but I fell in love with you. I wish I had been brave enough to say it to your face.

That being said, I don't expect that anything I should have said would cause a change in the outcome. Your feelings are your feelings. I'm just not convinced that you weren't in the same place I was. I'm sad because you couldn't talk to me in person about it and when you said the words, your tone was very matter of fact and void of emotion. I wish you would have felt me worthy of more of an explanation. I don't think you intended to be hurtful but I won't lie, I hurt, a lot.

I hope you find happiness and contentment. I'm sorry that I can't be a part of that. Once we broke down the walls, we would have been great together.

I don't expect that you'll reply, I just wanted you to know what's on my mind.

Love,

Jim

Drafts

I sometimes type blog posts that I file under "drafts" and never post. This is the crap that bounces around inside my head.

Drafted on 12/1

Call Me Crazy
File Under: Neuroses

I've got a great boyfriend and it scares the crap out of me.

Here's a little history about me. I came out kind of late. I've been out for just over 10 years. I missed a lot. Before then, I didn't go to gay bars, I didn't have gay friends, and obviously I didn't date. My *ahem* experiences were limited to internet hookups.

When I finally was out and had met someone, it happened to be someone who wasn't a good first experience. I fell fast, and hard and it fucked with my head.

My one "relationship" lasted less than a year. When I felt it was the right time to say "I love you," his answer was "well, I have loving feelings for you." He never said "I love you."

I dated a guy for a month and it was going great until he just cut off all contact with me. I wasn't smothering, I gave him space, our last date was a great time. To this day I have no clue why all contact between us ended.

I lusted after someone for months and when I finally had the balls to ask him out on a date, he informed me that he had just begun dating somebody.

I met a guy with whom I totally connected, but he didn't live in Chicago. He told me that he was single. I entertained the idea of exploring a long-distance romance only to find out that he was in fact in a relationship and had been for some time. That one threw me for a loop, big time.

I've had numerous single dates that ended with "I'll call you," only to never hear from them again.

I could go on, but you see where I'm going here. It only takes so many rejections before you begin to believe that you're the problem.

Now I'm dating a really great guy. I could go on and on about what makes him great but I think I've done enough of that in previous posts. I enjoy being with him so much and I wait anxiously for each next time we're together. But, there's that side of me that, given my past history, is waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It's stupid. It's foolish. It's driving me crazy.

I'm trying to keep focused on all the good things in this relationship and enjoy the "now" and stop thinking about what might happen in the future.

- - -

Drafted on 12/09

File Under: Things I lack

They say that patience is a virtue. I'm not very virtuous in that regard. I have never been. I don't like waiting in line. I don't like being on hold. I hate being stuck behind someone slower than me when I'm walking through a store. It's all about instant gratification.

I understand that there are advantages of waiting. Good things come to those who wait. With waiting, you get to appreciate the build-up. Think of watching flowers bloom. You see the buds on the plant, the next day they're a little bigger, then the next day they're starting to show signs of opening and then the next thing you know, you're seeing something gorgeous.

With relationships, you experience one of the biggest exercises in patience. There's no set journey, the road has unexpected twists and turns that you know could come up but you hope they don't. You hope for the best.

I'm on this road now. I'm enjoying the ride. At the same time, I'm completely neurotic and I
(this is where I stopped, I decided I would revisit this at a later date)

Where's the On/Off Switch

Explain this to me, please. How does someone go from "I can't wait until I'm on vacation in two weeks so that I can make dinner for you every night?" to "This relationship isn't in a place where I think it should be at this point."

I don't get it. This isn't the first time I've met someone who seems to have an on/off switch. Not even a dimmer switch, it goes from ON to OFF.

I want one.

I also want sleep.

I've been to the kitchen and looked out the window. It's not an exciting view. I went to the living room and sat on the sofa for a while. I curled up with Mistletoe Bear and had the first real cry.

Bless Dan and Luis. Dan was the first person I called after it happened and he told me to come over. The three of us talked for about an hour. Deep down, I know this isn't my fault, it's not something I did, but I feel like I've been taken on this ride and pushed out of a moving vehicle far from home.

Past relationships and entanglements (not significant enough to call them relationships) taught me to keep my guard up. I generally fall fast and I fall hard. I went into this with Matthew with the intention of treading lightly. But when someone says to you "it would be fun to explore new places with you, I wish you would get a passport because I keep getting sent to these great places and I have nobody to enjoy them with," or "I wanted you to feel at home at my place when you spend the night so I bought your identical linen set," it kind of makes it difficult to keep ones' guard up.

Don't get me started on the song (see post 11/21).

I fell for him. I love him and now he wants nothing to do with me.

Makes me wonder why I have trust issues.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sorry...I broke the rules

I know we're not blogging today but I just wanted to post the fact that I'm single again. Matthew broke up with me tonight.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Television Specials

File Under: Fa-La-La on TV

Matthew and I were discussing Christmas TV specials the other night. These questions arose. I Googled and found the answer. Did you ever wonder...

In "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer," there's a dolly that is among the misfit toys. What's wrong with the dolly? She's got two arms, two legs, a seemingly normal face and hair. What makes her a misfit?

In "A Charlie Brown Christmas," where is Peppermint Patty? Was she not invited to participate because she's Jewish? Were she and Marcie "otherwise occupied?"

Okay, I'll admit it. This isn't much of a post but it's all I've got right now. :)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Memories

File Under: Retro Fa-La-La

Here's a picture of my family from Christmas 1971. (Note the date-stamp says January 1972, the date that the film was developed.) Standing are my mom, complete with her fashionable mini-dress and headband, my sister Georgette in her festive red top, swingy skirt and knee socks. My sister Jill and I are on my dad's lap. We're quite the fashionable bunch, aren't we? My mom was so proud of our outfits. Jill's vest has fringe on it. My outfit is a matching vest and knickers (yes, KNICKERS!) and a puffy shirt. My dad matches Jill as he's wearing his orange and pink checked shirt.
The holidays were always fun at my house. Ours was the go-to home. My mom (who wasn't much of a cook) would try with all of her might to fix a big meal (with great success, as I recall). My grandmother from my dad's side would come help, as would my aunt Marianne, my dad's sister.
We probably had a dozen to 15 people in the house, which was all decorated. In the background you can see things affixed to the mirror above the mantle. My grandmother loved her crafts and made felt mittens, covered in sparkles, and they were put up every year. Sorry I don't have any more detailed pictures of them. The colors were never right as she was color blind. That one probably had turquoise and orange and brown sequins on it. But, for a long time, I remember those went up every Christmas.
Though it's not a Christmas memory, I remember my dad's shirt from another occasion. The fall of 1972 I started Kindergarten. On our supply list was a large shirt to be worn for painting. My dad gave up that shirt so that it could become my painting shirt. I loved painting because I got to wear my dad's shirt. I had the coolest shirt in the class. :)
Share with me some of your favorite Christmas (or other holiday) memories. I'll post a few more pictures during the season.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Fa La La

File Under: 'Tis the season

The holidays are happening in my house. The tree is up and is in the process of being decorated. Packages are being prepped for mailing. Calendars are being coordinated with all of the parties and activities.

I actually began putting ornaments on the tree earlier this week. I came home yesterday to find that most of them had been removed because Z decided I was doing it wrong. Smaller ornaments need to first be placed INSIDE the tree so that there's depth. I'd have done that, but I was putting some of the big fancy glass ones on, just because I like hanging those better. When it's done, I'll post pictures and you will see what I mean. The tree is really quite spectacular when it's finished.

This is the first holiday season that I can recall where I've actually had to compare calendars with someone and see what time we'll have together and what parties we'll attend together. Matthew won't be attending my work holiday party because of a work obligation. I'm sad, I was so excited to bring him with me and introduce him to my coworkers. I'm blessed that I work with a very welcoming group of people, many of whom are gay and bring dates to work events. I had hoped it would be my turn to do the same. Oh well. I'm more excited though about the fact that we WILL be attending a couple get togethers with the bunch known as "The Collective" (that would be Dan, Luis, Polo, Denise and Tina - the term "The Collective" came about when all of us were planning Dan's 40th birthday party...so I guess that means that Dan isn't part of the collective...but maybe he is now, since we've passed the big 40). I want them to get to know Matthew and for him to get to know them better.

Today, I need to run some errands. I have to grocery shop because the weather's just a bit too treacherous for my mom to venture out to the store. I need to visit The Container Store and the gym. I'll also continue to work on making my place more festive for the holidays. Pictures will be posted when it's all done. That's a given.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

All Is Forgiven

File Under: Tongue-untied

Yesterday on my way home from work, I called him. He was already home from work. I asked how his back was feeling. "Better, thanks." I asked how his cold was "It's better, still sinusey and I'm not certain it a cold, may just be allergies." I then said "How are we?" "We're fine." He got my apologies which he deemed "not necessary." I was told to let him sulk when he's mad.

That's fine, now I know. But...if I'm being told there's something wrong, then I'm either going to defend my actions, or if I know I've done something wrong, I'm going to apologize. There's no way I'm going to leave things unspoken.

I'm a communicator. I provide information, I provide feedback. I want feedback. I'm not used to dealing with someone who is mum. If I'm over-stepping my boundaries, I want to know. If I'm not doing something, I want to know. It's a talk we need to have.

It's a learning process...it's something that we will improve on, over time.

Thanks to those of you who asked, I appreciate your concern.

XO

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tongue-Tied

File Under: People say stupid things

People = me

Last night I was on the phone with Matthew, who was rehashing his bad day and the concerns on his mind. In my mind I was thinking how everything he was discussing was interconnected and how it could potentially be complicated. Instead I said "Wow, you're complicated." I didn't even think about the fact that I hadn't verbally expressed my thoughts as intended. He became offended and abruptly ended the call and then sent me a text message indicating that he was hurt by my comment. I called him back he didn't answer.

If you haven't figured things out by now, I'm completely neurotic and a bit of a social retard when it comes to relationships. I was horrified and went to bed hypervantalating, completely convinced that I've ruined everything.

I didn't sleep much last night. I got up at about 1 and composed a very carefully worded apology, and I emailed it to him. He keeps a Blackberry for work so I knew he would see that it came in when he got up this morning. He hasn't replied to it but my first text message from him was a traffic alert for an area he thought was close to my office. I replied right back (I never fell into a deep sleep) and thanked him for the alert.

I'm still sad about my foolish mistake and hope he'll realize that it wasn't intentional. There's not much else I can do to express this to him.

I chose to wear a blue sweater to work today, it matches both my mood and the giant bags under my eyes.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

World AIDS Day

File Under: Remember


December 1 is World AIDS Day. I can go on about it, but what I would rather do is refer you to Dan's post about it, here. He put it much more eloquently than I could.

Read his post here.

Homecoming

File Under: Happy Days and Nights

Yesterday Matthew returned home after 10 days of travel. In his line of work, he travels often. He has made it clear that this is actually a slow season for him and I should start getting used to the idea that he'll be gone a lot next year. I don't know if I'll ever get used to it but I definitely feel like he's worth waiting for and the homecomings sure are nice.

This was a special event though, because we finally got to celebrate his 40th birthday. I had a present waiting for him and even Z sent over a card for him. He liked that, a lot. I cooked dinner - I made proscuitto/spinach/ricotta ravioli and a tossed salad. And I baked him a coconut cake which was beautiful (I promise it was, I just forgot to take a picture of it). I made pomegranate cosmopolitans, too.

We visited, ate dinner, watched Christmas movies on Lifetime - "A Diva's Christmas Carol" and "White Christmas," before going to bed. He was in a lot of pain because he twisted his back at the airport. I told him that it sucks turning 40. LOL

This morning, I made breakfast. I made whole wheat pancakes with a strawberry sauce and applewood smoked bacon.

I think he's happy to be home. I know I'm glad he is.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

File Under: Turkey Day



(photo credit: I don't know, but my friend Mark posted it on our message board, QTS, so thanks goes to Marky Mark for this)

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dancing With the Stars - The Finale

File Under: Television Obsessions

The Finale:

All of the previously eliminated contestants came back, most danced, others just visited and reminisced. That was the first hour of the show.

Warren and Kym were the first to do their final dance. They re-did their Hustle and were scored 27/30, bringing their two-day total to 80/90

Lance and Lacey were next, dancing their nautical-themed Jitterbug. This is the dance where Lance lost his shoe but kept going. We’ll see if the footwear remains on tonight. Yup, shoe stayed on. This time the number had a few more tricks. It was great. Score 28/30, bringing their two-day total to 81/90.

Brooke and Derek were last to dance, they’re redoing their Viennese Waltz. Seems to me they went safe by choosing this dance. It’s a beautiful dance though. Nothing new about this go-round. It made Carianne cry. The other two were also happy. Oh look, her fiancĂ©e is in the audience crying. Their score, 30/30, bringing their two-day total to 88/90.

First one out…Lance and Lacey! DAMN!

Miley Cirus. Bleh

Tonight’s champions are…Brooke and Derek!

A well-deserved win. YAY! I would not have been sad for them if it had been Lance and Lacey, but I’d have been really shocked if it had been Warren and Kym.

Another season of DWTS draws to a close.

Season 8 begins in March! Stay tuned…

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dancing With The Stars - Week 10 - The Finals, Night 1

File Under: Television Obsessions

Season 7 is about to draw to a close. Tonight the three finalists dance two final rounds. They are scored by the judges on both and also receive viewer votes. They will dance one more round tomorrow night, and the judges scores will be factored into determining a winner.

They’re starting off the show with a recap of the Stars’ favorite dances from the season, both ballroom and Latin. This is obviously just a time filler. 3 couples and the show is 2 hours long tonight. Go figure.

Brooke and Derek – Favorite ballroom dance, the Quickstep. Favorite Latin Dance, the Paso Doble.

Lance and Lacey – Favorite ballroom dance, the Tango (the goth number). Favorite Latin dance, the Mambo.

Warren and Kym – Favorite ballroom dance, the Viennese Waltz. Favorite Latin dance, the Paso Doble.


Next up is the “Samba Smackdown” where all three couples dance together and then do individual portions of the dance.

Brooke leads, then Lance, then Warren. Brooke and Derek look good. Lots of hips and leg moves. Her Samba roll looked a bit stiff. Lance and Lacey look good. His posture is nice. They did some cute little added thing. Warren came out and did a handstand! He’s moving nicely. She’s not outdancing him so far, he’s doing his share of moves which is good. Not bad. Okay now the group. Hmm…that ending wasn’t needed. LOL Oh well. Len liked Brooke the best, then Lance, then Warren. Bruno commented on Warren’s footwork. Carrie Ann is kissing all their butts but nitpicking little things.

Scores:
Brooke and Derek – 28/30
Lance and Lacey – 26/30
Warren and Kym – 25/30

Finally, it’s the Freestyle. Sometimes these are fun, other timese these are tragic.

Brooke and Derek are doing a “Grease” inspired number, complete with lifts, twirls somersaults and antics on the judges’ podium. Lots of energy. Wow. Bruno compared some of the positions to the kama sutra. LOL Carrie Ann has said that they “brought it!” Len called it the “best free style he’s ever seen. “ Score: 30/30. 58/60 for the night.

Lance and Lacey are doing a hip hop number, no lifts. I’m not sure what to judge here, I’m not sure what to look for as far as moves. It’s good, and they’re in step which is a good sign. Lots of energy. Hope the judges like it. Carrie Ann liked the beginning and the end but was lost on the middle. Len loved it. Bruno was very complementary. Score: 27/30. 53/60 for the night.

Warren and Kym are doing something with lots of lifts. It’s a quick number to “Proud Mary.” Very energetic! Judges all enjoyed it and called Warren a true entertainer, but Carrie Ann spotted a mistake. Score: 28/30. 53/60 for the night.

I’m torn now. I think Brooke and Derek are great and I would love it if they won but I really enjoyed Lance and Lacey. They came a long way and deserve it. Warren and Kym are pure entertainment but I think they’re in 3rd place.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Birthday Surprise

File Under: Team QTS!

QTS stands for "Queens Talking Shit," and it's a message board I've belonged to for years. I've got some fantastic friends on that board, we have a good time. We talk about EVERYTHING. We've seen one another through surgeries, mourning, births, new boobs, new jobs and new relationships. Members of the board live in different parts of the world, but mostly we're from the United States.

My friend Linda lives in Alexandria, VA. This happens to be where Matthew has been staying. Knowing it was his birthday, Linda volunteered to be my inside source and get something to Matthew on his birthday, his 4oth.

I sent a parcel with 2 CDs, wrapped with a card, on Wednesday, it arrived Thursday. Now, Linda could give Martha Stewart a run for her money (as could I), without the insider trading stuff. I sent a bit of money for her to use as gratuity at the hotel, as well as for embellishments. In my mind, I pictured a couple cupcakes in a box, to be placed next to the gift and the card. Well, bless her heart, Linda ran with it and with my approval, she included party hats, candles, matches, a votive candle and purchased cupcakes from a swanky little shop near her home. Here's how it all turned out.

The selection of baked goods, at Buzz.


The patrons, enjoying an early afternoon at Buzz.



Oooh, a cute little box. Wonder what's inside...


Mmm....cupcakes! Vanilla with vanilla buttercream frosting, just like I suggested!


Back home, there's the gift and card that I sent, along with the party hats, bag, cupcakes, candles, matches (in the "a great flame" box), coordinating tissue, and gift bag.


The finished product.


At 1 pm my time, I gave my final approval on the package and left for the gym. On my way over to Matthew's apartment (from where I'm typing this), he called to say Thank You, the bag had arrived. It was in his room when he went upstairs. He was very surprised and a bit stunned, I think. He of course said "you didn't have to do that." I said "Duh, but I did anyway, it's your birthday and you're working and I wanted you to have at least a moment where you stopped and smiled, I'm thrilled it happened mid-day since after a long day of work." I then gave all sorts of credit to Linda for making it happen. She added the "WOW" to the presentation.

So, our mission was a success. Of course as it was happening, we were talking about it on the message board, so it became a group effort. Kudos to my dear friend Linda for going above and beyond to make a good guy feel great on his birthday, and for making me look like a star. Shout out to "Team QTS" for their involvement and encouragement. They're a great group of friends and I love them so.

Shopping with Z

File Under: Family fun

My Mom, whom I often refer to as "Z," goes grocery shopping every Saturday. She takes the car and goes to the local Jewel and shops for the week. She comes home from the store, I unload the car, and then we unpack the bags. During this time she usually complains about people in the store. Today's story is one of the better ones.

According to Z, "Today must have been, bring your scooter to the store day because there were all these people blocking the aisles, getting in my way. One guy had a tag on his that said 'I Count.' He was slumped over in his scooter, not moving and he was in the middle of the aisle. Well I count too, buddy, so get out of my God damned way!"

Whether she actually said that to him, I don't know. Would I put it past her? No.

She went on to say "I do feel bad for those people but the would get a little more compassion out of me if they didn't shop when I was trying to get my shopping done."

Perhaps this will help you all understand a bit better from where I get my odd take on things.

Adele - Make You Feel My Love

File Under: Music with a message

Last night, I was told to listen to this song, that I "would understand."




Thursday, November 20, 2008

Adele - Chasing Pavements

File Under New(ish) Music

New for me, but I guess this has been out for a while. She was on Letterman over the summer. I actually saw this video on VH1 some time ago and was mesmerized by it but didn't remember who it was until I heard the song on the radio a couple weeks ago, then found the video online. Great song, cool video. Love her accent.

Adele - Chasing Pavements

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Little Surprise

File Under: Another one turns 40

Matthew's 40th birthday is Saturday. He's feeling a bit uneasy about it. Matthew also travels for his job and he's on the road now, gone for 10 days. He'll be out of town on his birthday.

Mind you, I've known him close to 2 months. Not a long time. Yet, I remember my 40th birthday and it was an absolutely amazing time. My friends threw me the most wonderful party. To this day, guests still tell me that it was one of the best parties they have ever attended. I've also had a part in planning 40th birthday parties for Dan and Luis, both of those events were really special too. I think everybody should have a celebration. Matthew doesn't seem to have a lot of local friends. Perhaps that's because he travels so much. He's got a small group of very close friends. There was early chat of doing something with them. Last night I asked him what he wanted when he returned home from his trip, he said he just wanted to play it by ear, but wanted me to spend the night on his first night back. I'll cook dinner and make him some cupcakes or a cake.

But...he's in Washington DC for his birthday. He'll be working. His dear friend Dana, who works in the same field as him will be with him.

I have friends in DC. My friend Linda, whom I've never met in person but with whom I chat online daily, thanks to my message board, has offered to be my messenger.

I bought a couple CDs for him. He mentioned that he loves James Taylor. I read an interview with James Taylor on CNN.com last week, discussing his new CD. I quizzed Matthew about it, his answer indicated he didn't have it.

The CDs, wrapped with a card attached, were mailed tonight. They should arrive in DC on Friday. Linda will take them to the hotel on Saturday. The hotel is about 2 miles from her home. She's been given creative license to add anything to the parcel, I suggested a couple cupcakes, boxed. The items will be delivered to the concierge and with a gratuity (enclosed), they will be delivered to his hotel room, waiting for him after he returns from his day of work.

Well, that's how I have it planned out. Hopefully it'll work. Linda and her partner both work in the hotel industry, she consulted a concierge at her hotel and was told that similar deliveries are common. Fingers crossed that all goes well.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

DWTS - Week 9 Results

File Under: Television Obsessions

As predicted, Cody and Julianne ended their run this week. Moments before, it was revealed that couples Lance and Lacey and Brooke and Derek would compete. With Cody gone, that leaves Warren and Kym.

Final prediction:

3rd - Warren and Kym
2nd - Lance and Lacey
1st - Brooke and Derek

I didn't see all of tonight's show. I was at Matthew's house, it was on in the background while we were doing other things. Mind out of the gutter, kids. He's leaving town for 10 days tomorrow and we were going over things he wants me to do in his apartment while he's away. I'll be watering plants, getting mail, checking on the housekeepers, and tossing things from his refrigerator.

Come to think of it, we should have been doing "other" things. Oh well.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dancing With The Stars - Week 9

File Under: Television Obsessions

Tonight is the semi-finals. The remaining contestants will dance the one ballroom dance that they did not dance during the competition, plus another of the “new” dances this year.

Brooke and Derek – Jive; Hmm…Brooke seems off. She’s got energy and some of the moves but just isn’t the usual WOW that she puts forth. I don’t like what she’s wearing or the routine. Yeah, her ending was about a second after Derek’s. Judges were not pleased. Carrie Ann said there was a “blatant illegal lift.” 21/30.

Cody and Julianne – Paso Doble; Ack…he looks so stiff!! His timing is off, too. This is an odd Paso Doble. The judges were not thrilled. 22/30

Warren and Kym – Mambo; It’s a big boy mambo. He’s got some smooth moves but started off looking a bit clumsy. Overall, it’s looking pretty good. Judges were critical. 24/30.

Lance and Lacey – Mambo; ooh, sexy! Wow, this looks good. Nice leg work, good theatrics. I think it was the best of the 4 dances we’ve seen so far. YAY! Len loved it. Bruno loved it. Carianne called it a show-stopper. 28/30

Time for round two:

Brooke and Derek – Salsa; This is much better than their last dance. Her pants bug me but she looks so much more confident here. Wow…fancy spin thing at the end. That was fantastic! But will the judges think so… Bruno said “fever pitch” but it sounded like he said “viva bitch.” LOL Carianne liked it, so did Len. 28/30.

For the night – 49/60.

Cody and Julianne – Salsa; Jilianne lost an earring, Cody looks like he’s laughing about it. Cute dance, looks kind of messy though. Judges are critical of technicality of the dance but thought it was a nice performance. 24/30.

For the night – 46/60.

Warren and Kym – Jitterbug; So far not a lot of jitterbug moves, just some playful stuff. Meh…just doesn’t have the “BIG” feel of a typical jitterbug. Warren is wearing his funny orthopedic shoes again. Mixed reviews from the judges. 25/30.

For the night – 49/60.

Lance and Lacey – Jitterbug; OMG…one of his shoes flew off! Wow, that was really well done. What fun! I love the jitterbug. Bruno called it “brilliant.” Carianne and Len loved it as well. 29/30.

For the night – 57/60.

I think Cody has danced his final dance tonight. He was a good contestant but I’ll be surprised if he makes it to the finals. The only other one I can see not making it to the finals after tonight’s round is Warren but I think he’ll make it.

Tomorrow night we’ll find out who goes to the finals. Stay tuned…

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bed

File Under: The comforts of home



Welcometo my bed. Please just focus on the bed and not the clutter on the floor around it. I'll take care of that one of these days.


Linens-n-Things announced their going out of business sale a few weeks ago, I went over and snapped up some bargains, including this bedding set that I'd been eyeing for a couple months. I love the colors but hat that it's so shiny. I think it looks cheap, but it was The entire set was about $60. Cheap is good because I have a cat with claws so inevitibly things end up snagged or torn.


Friday night, after Matthew and I had dinner, we retired to my bedroom, to watch TV. Honest! While we were laying around, he commented on my bedding. He said "I like the green, but there's too much brown. Get rid of it, I don't like it." I told him that I would if he bought me new linens. Laughter ensued.


Saturday I went over to Matthew's for dinner. When I arrived he said "I got you something." I like presents so my ears perked up and he held up a bundle, it was a package of linens identical to my set. He said "I want you to feel more at home here so I bought these. " I said "but you didn't like the brown." He replied "after I said that, I realized that the linens were growing on me. I like it now.


I already felt at home over there, but what a sweet gesture.

Bad Gay!

File Under: Fight for the right

Yesterday, in cities all throughout the United States, rallys were held protesting California's passing of Proposition 8. My best friend Dan, his partner Luis and good friend Polo attended the Chicago rally. I was asked to go but did not. I'm a little ashamed that I did not go and voice my opinion. It's not that I don't agree, I just didn't go.

True, I had other things that I needed to do - my mom didn't feel up to grocery shopping so it was up to me to take care of it. True, I needed to go and have my glasses adjusted, they had become bent. True, I wanted to go to the gym, I've been slacking this week. I did those things, but I could have found time to do those things later in the weekend. I could say that I'm uncomfortable in crowds, which I am. But that never stops me from going to street fairs and concerts, which sometimes are more rowdy than protests. In the back of my mind, I was picturing the Chicago riots of 1968, when the Democratic National Convention was held here. War protestors clashed with the police and things got ugly. Silly, I know.

According to the Chicago Tribune "thousands" were out there. Would my presence have made the difference? Perhaps, or maybe not.

I feel a bit like I let my friends down and I'm sad about that.

I vow to do what I can from a behind the scenes, to show my support for this cause. If that means writing letters, I'll do it. If that means additional support for the HRC, I'll do that, too.

To those of you who attended rallys, I love you for doing it, I thank you and I won't let you down.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

File Under: Time to reciprocate

All of the meals that Matthew and I have had together have either been out to eat or at his place. Tonight, he's coming to my house for dinner. I've ordered food from Reza's, a local Mediterranian restaurant, I've bought a bottle of wine and I've cleaned house. Tonight he gets to see where I live and he gets to meet Z (aka my Mom), and Millie (the cat).

I'm picking him up in 30 minutes.

Fa-La-La

File Under: Christmas cheer on a budget

My friends and I have proven that we're capable of extravagant gifts for the holidays and birthdays. Big parties have been thrown, trips have been taken, fancy dinners have been consumed. But now times are a bit different and we're all watching our wallets and pocketbooks.

All of my friends with whom I normally exchange Christmas gifts, have agreed that we will do Christmas on a budget this year. A maximum of $30 will be spent, handmade gifts are always welcomed. I love this idea, as it's easy to find "the perfect gift" and even thought it's expensive, you know it's just right for the recipient. With limits, thought is required and it sharpens the focus on the creativity. I think this is going to be fun. I've made a couple purchases. Today I'm off from work and my quest will continue. I've got my list, I'm checking it twice and I'm hitting the road.

What are your Christmas plans, and will your shopping habits be changed this year?

Blog Anniversary

File Under: Always late for the party

November 5th was my Blog's 1-year Anniversary. I actually looked late last month and made a mental note to post about it but I guess I became distracted. Oh well.

YAY!

Thank you, readers for having a look, leaving your kind words and becoming my friends. Here's to another year of random thoughts and mundane tales of my life.