Champion of the West  

Tuesday, December 25 : 2:21 AM : 0 comments :

I've been playing fantasy football with (nearly) the same nine guys for seven or eight years now. The crazy thing is that I barely know most of them outside the realm of fantasy sports. However, I'm probably in more daily contact with them -- mostly via AIM conversations -- than most of my non-fantasy friends. It's a nice little set up. I love being able to geek out and talk to people who are really into the same thing I am. There's very few people in my ordinary day to day life whom I can talk sports with so I gotta get my fix somewhere right?

Half the guys in the league are friends of mine from Michigan, the other half are my childhood friend Evan's friends from Stanford. Plus two guys from UCLA, one whom I've known since way back in middle school but never talk to now, and the other whom I've met just once but I talk to all the time. It's crazy how these things work out right? Friendships formed over the Internet and around a common hobby. I love it.

Typically speaking, the fall months are amazing for me as football Sundays are in full gear and the NBA is just taking off. This fall in particular was spectacular as my keeper fantasy team, The Dirty Birds, finally won a championship. For so long I've been shut out of the championship circle (since 2002) that I had to tell the whole wide world about my biggest accomplishment this year. Yes, fantasy football is that serious to me.

I used to play fantasy football with Evan back when there were hardly any computers and we had to rely on the newspaper every Monday in order to tabulate scores. I feel like I was there at the beginning of fantasy sports and I've seen it grow into a behemoth. Now, it's become a dependable source of joy in my life and I can't wait to order my Jostens championship ring and flash it for all the world to see.

The craziest thing about this win is that my Michigan roommate and fellow team owner, Greg, is the co-champion. Get this: In the Super Bowl game, we tied! It's rare enough to see a tie but to have the championship game between two really good friends go down to the wire and then end up tying, that's pretty much miraculous. A recap of the final game is located on our league's blog -- Catch the Damn Ball -- and I couldn't be prouder to share a championship with someone.

Parents Just Don't Understand  

Friday, December 21 : 2:24 PM : 0 comments :

Today at 10:45 pm: Picking up my other half. Insert "better" in there if you really must.

Did you know that much of James Dean's appeal, and iconic status, is due to his androgynous sex appeal? I thought he was an icon just because he's the ideal of old school cool with his leather jacket, poofed up hair, and lazy cigarettes but apparently Dean devotees admire him for his experimental lifestyle and much has been made of his sexual orientation. When asked whether he was gay, he once replied enigmatically, "Well I'm certainly not going through life with one hand tied behind my back."

I recently watched Rebel Without a Cause and while the movie is certainly dated and somewhat of a disappointment, it's impossible to ignore Dean's powerful charisma. The movie makes no sense and is, to contemporary eyes, heavy handed and lacking in nuance but as a part of cinematic history, it plays a powerful role I guess. Sal Mineo stars as the most effeminate sidekick in history and is often credited with portraying the first homosexual teenager on-screen. It's odd to think that this was over fifty years ago.

How much further have we come since then? Not a whole lot I'd say. I mean, Brokeback Mountain was recently hailed as a breakthrough but really, that shit was watered down and took no chances. Plus, Heath mumbled his way into an Oscar nomination, which was probably the most controversial thing about the film.

As a skinny, frail-looking guy with a penchant for jewelry, I'm often assumed to be gay. I can't tell you how many times I've been cornered by some random guy as my friends die laughing from just off-stage. I mean, I certainly don't mind it, aside from the momentary uncomfortability, but I feel like it must be horrible to have this one thing play such a prominent role in the way people perceive you. Forever and ever, you'd be known as "the gay guy" or "the lesbian girl." Yada yada.

Then again, what's the difference between that and ethnicity? I'm always asking "So, what ethnicity is he/she?" in order to achieve some context. (It helps with my stereotyping if I can get a quick tip-in as to the person's skin color.) In the right circles, I'm sure sexual orientation trumps everything else as an identifier.

I feel like there must be some taxonomy order of operations for this kind of thing. Like how Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, etc. works you know? Before I meet someone, for example, I'd like to be able to identify them according to: Ethnicity, Sexual Orientation, Age, Where from, Job, Significant Other?, Economic Status, Religion, Interesting Errata, Name.

E-SO-A-W-J-SO-ES-R-IE-N. Somebody come up with a mnemonic for that...

Bonus: Check out these fun "gay-themed" scenes from Chasing Amy and Reality Bites (apparently PFLAG is a real organization?!).

Where the Heart Is  

Tuesday, December 18 : 3:15 PM : 0 comments :

Well, I'm having a hell of a week. It's amazing how much time you've got when no regularly scheduled programming interrupts your life. In a rush to move on and out of LA and to re-insert myself into San Diego, I tried to see as many people as possible, to do as much as possible, and to get things cleaned up as fast as possible. Snowboarding, a Christmas party, an old fashioned sleepover, and one hasty move out later, I'm back and already arguing with my mom. Maybe moving back home wasn't such a great idea. She thinks I don't care about my health because I don't eat lunch. I think she's overbearing and motherly. After all, what have I been doing for the past few years? Slowly dying due to lack of lunch? Hardly.

You know Jack Kerouac often spent down time at his mother's house? In-between cross country drives and raising general ruckus, he would regularly take extended stays with her in New York (or later, Florida). I wonder if they clashed over his habit of staying up late and never rising before noon. Did they fight over when he ate or which bathrooms he chose to use? How about this one: Did they have issues with him falling asleep on the couch as the TV droned on? Or how bad staring at a computer screen all day would be for his eyes? I bet they did. No wonder he was on the road so damn much.

All Quiet on the Western Front  

Monday, December 10 : 3:31 AM : 0 comments :

Driving in California is such a relaxed experience. Wide open roads, well behaved pedestrians, expansive freeways. Just hop onto any street and it's cruise cruise cruise. Manning a car in New York is, in comparison, like going from a walk to a trot on a horse -- your ass is in the same seat but it's a totally different ride.

Going up and the down the streets of Manhattan, I felt like all my spider senses had to be on. Don't bother me, don't bust the music, stop squirming in the backseat; I need to concentrate. In my rented (bright yellow) Aveo, otherwise known as the smallest car ever, I felt like a toy waiting to get smashed. Or I was certain I'd kill someone as they haphazardly stepped out onto the street.

My death defying stunts this weekend were all worth it though, as one of my best friends from college got married. In a small way, I feel somewhat responsible for Greg and Caroline getting together since it was through me they met. Basically, I used to hang out with Caroline a ton her freshman year and one day she called for me but Greg picked and said I wasn't there. That was how they started talking. When they read "their story" at the wedding and I was name checked, I swelled with pride. I feel like I got to befriend both of them separately and equally before they were a couple and that's something rare and special.

I was also there at the beginning of their romance. Ever since we were freshman, Greg and I had planned to visit the Natural History Museum together. Well, we finally got around to it the summer before senior year but during our day long excursion, I couldn't get Greg to match my enthusiasm looking at all the (dead) animals. He kept on hanging back, waiting, sitting, talking with Caroline. I couldn't figure out what the hell was going on. Only later that summer, when I was told that they were kind of going out did I realize that I'd been an unwitting third wheel yet again. The two of them even took me to this make out spot in Queens that night, one that beautifully overlooked the city. I was totally clueless.

At least it was all for a good cause.

During the wedding, Caroline's brother was bawling. He's twenty three or something and looks like a typical New York ruffian. The two of them are super close and he's got the same New York - FOB accent as Caroline (even though neither are FOBs; it's just a very particular accent). He used to always call Wilmot and ask "Iws Cawoline thwere?" Anyway, Andy really seemed heartbroken to see Caroline leaving the house. He was a fountain of tears the whole night and during his speech -- which he had written on his Sidekick -- he was alternately tearing up and saying the funniest things of all time.
Some of it, paraphrased:
"Caroline sniff sniff thank you so much for everything. Scroll scroll. Thank you for teaching me how to be the man of the house, because you always were. Thank you for driving me around that one time when some boys jumped me and you took me to go look for them. I'll miss hearing you scream during Knicks games. And Yankee games. Thank you for teaching me how to...sob sob...curse!

Greg, I don't have much to say to you because all you ever said to me was 'Hi' and 'Bye.' I think Buster (the family dog) talked to me more."
All in all, the wedding was really fun, with the best wedding food and catering I've ever experienced. It was like a mini-college reunion and laughs were had all night. Greg always said that college would likely be the best part of our lives but as he and Caroline will prove, there's some good stuff after that too.

Pictures: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Dancing With Myself  

Wednesday, December 5 : 2:06 PM : 0 comments :

Apparently a date with myself costs twenty bucks. Movie, popcorn, taquitos, and horchata. I have no clue how people date. Imagine doubling the bill. Probably more since no girl would be happy with just taquitos for dinner and a medium popcorn, right? Can't look like a cheap bastard and get the medium when clearly two people need a large bucket with free refills. Dating (other people) could be quite an expensive habit. I think I'll stick to personal movie nights.

I walked into tonight's movie as the previews were running. Not a soul was in the theatre (I checked the back row for hideaways) and I sat there thinking I paid ten dollars to sit by myself in a theatre? I wanted to light up a cigarette for the novelty but then decided against it because that would be so immature. Instead I took the best seat in the house and pretended like this was my personal theatre located in the catacombs of my soon to be had big baller mansion.

In unrelated news, today was my last day at the office -- I guess buying that mansion will have to wait. I officially quit Monday I guess but I was in there the last couple of days settling things. Long story short, many of the managers also quit and though parts of me wanted to stay, I think it was a good time leave. Sad really, how this story has played out. I was really thinking I would be doing this particular job for awhile. But things as they are, the company veered off in a different direction, lots of people came and left, and my heart just isn't in it anymore.

A large part of any work experience is the people and in that particular respect, the job was amazing. Everyone, from managers on down, was really great. So many interesting characters, perspectives, and life stories. I'm sad about leaving my team behind and I'm going to miss "my kids" but I think they'll be okay.

For me, the next move is just get back home, reconfigure a few things, and see what I want to do next. This weekend is New York for Greg and Caroline's wedding, which has been a long time coming. And then after that I think I'll move back to San Diego, and then possibly go to San Francisco and crash with George for awhile. I'm hoping that I can avoid normal work for a few months until summer hits and I can start traveling again. Winter is no time to be visiting the Midwest and East Coast, that's for damn sure.

I'm a little fearful I'll slip into the days of doing nothing again but I think I'll be motivated enough to try my hand at real freelancing, plus I have the book to revise and finish up. Ideally I'll just read, write, watch movies, and prepare for whatever comes my way next. So, who's got an open couch? I'm an excellent squatter.

(Save) The Last Dance  

Tuesday, December 4 : 5:18 AM : 0 comments :

Yesterday at 5:32 pm: Negotiating safe passage for my crew. We'll rendezvous at the bar around two.

Nobody said leaving was easy right? So many times when we're trying to get out of a sticky situation, the first instinct is to kid-glove it, to say the right things, to soft-pedal a reason, any reason. While that occasionally works, reasons that don't have the ring of truth too often sound hollow and unauthentic. Plus, when people ask you to give the real reason, they aren't generally asking for the (whole) truth. They're really looking for a reason that satisfies them. "Okay, that makes sense. Sounds logical. I understand."

It's much easier to give a reason when you present it as just your decision, independent of any outside forces. But that's never the truth is it? The classic line is, of course, "It's not me, it's you." Problem is, it's always me plus you plus us plus whatever but it doesn't always help to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth right?

There's no happy divorces, just the happily divorced.

I always have a problem leaving though. To me, the past is always golden and there's perpetually the promise of another rainbow over the horizon. I'm learning though, that some things just aren't meant to be. As we get older and as time ticks that much faster off the clock, we learn that it's far worse to slowly waste away than to just cut the cancer out with one burning swipe.

Anyway, it's typically better to leave a bit early as opposed to too late. Last one out turns off the lights... There's a certain time allotted for everything and when that time is over and done with, it's time to pack up and move on. Isn't it?
"When the beating of your heart
Echos the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!"
-Do You Hear the People Sing, Les Mis-

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