Friday, July 14, 2006

IN THE BELL JAR

I feel so very strange. Unrested. Anxious. About everything. And I don't know why. I think the new sleeping pills my doctor prescribed are making me paranoid and slightly depressed? My dreams are all fucked-up and paranormal. I have so so so much nervous energy. And chills. I feel like something very bad is about to happen. I hope it doesn't, and I don't know why I feel this way. I want to be sedated. I want to move to Antarctica and live alone in an igloo with no neighbors, but maybe keep nearby some friendly non-confrontational seals for comfort and conversation.

I abhore it when people use the word ironic incorrectly. Ironic is the most erroneously used word in casual conversation of my generation. It drives me crazy when my peers do not underestand irony but relentelessly say, That's so ironic. That said, though, without being ironic, apparently everything else bugs me right now, too. I feel like I'm going to flip? Not in an angry way. I feel like I need to go dancing and jump off a stage into a big crowd of people who catch me, people who do not use improperly the word ironic.

I don't know why, I don't know why, I want to know why. My weekend is looking rather calm until Sunday, which means I will continue being paranoid until then (and probably after then). Ever get that feeling that you need to mentally and/or emotionally prepare yourself for some unknown forthcoming event that's creepy or awkward? I can't sit still. I want to chain-smoke but I've quit smoking.

My friends are having a big BBQ for me on Sunday afternoon for No. 31 of my 52 going away parties. But that's not it. A BBQ is not freaking me out. Neither is the dinner party that my flatmate has planned for Saturday night. Nor is the drinks get-together I'm supposed to attend tonight. So what the fuck is wrong with me?

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
I'm drowning in assholes. - Burr Steers

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

PROUD TO BE A MEXICAN

Since I am a Mexican...
No.
Since I am in a longterm relationship with a Mexican...
Nope.
Since I was raised with Mexican slaves who mowed our yard, cleaned our house...
Definitely not.
Since I met these Mexicans...
Nuh-uh.

Since I was raised in Texas and therefore raised on Mexican food for approximately half of my culinary life, the inner-workings of my body and palate have Mexican food cravings way, way, way more often than the average Londoner. Or New Yorker, for that matter. I've tried multiple supposed Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurants in London. And they're all such shite that the "food" is inedible. I even went to the Texas Embassy restaurant near Trafalgar Square once; I just stared in horror at the plastic, flavorless 'food' they brought to my table. I've tried both Cantina Mercado and La Perla in Covent Garden, both of which made me depressed to be a white boy. (Which pretty much goes against that whole racist philosophy in Texas that if you're not white, then you must be a Mexican, no matter your actual ethnicity. Really, it's sad: Non-Caucasian = Mexican.)

At Cantina Mercado, my margarita was delivered to me in a thimble, which caused me to cry into the bowl of Cool Ranch Doritos that had been set in front of me when we had ordered chips and salsa. I've even ventured down to Greenwich and tried a random 'Mexican ' restaurant down there; they served us chips (as in potatoes) and mushy peas with our 'burritos', which were prepared in wheat wraps. I immediately made best friends with the Mexican busboy and in Spanish asked if he could do anything; alas, he could not, as he had given up, too.

For two years I had given up. Then, about a month-and-a-half ago, I met these Mexicans at an international conference in London. As soon as I saw the Mexicans, I ran over to them, wrapped my arms around them, and cried. When they peeled me off, they called security. When the British security guards rushed over, they asked me what the Mexicans had done to me, which only confused my beloved Mexicans even further.

Later, during post-conference drinks, the Mexicans told me about a restaurant called Taqueria in Notting Hill (of all places for Mexicans to be). Naturally, me being me and having no short-term memory, I forgot the name of the place until yesterday. I magically remembered the name of it this morning and demanded to my flatmate that we go there today. And we did. And it was just fucking magical. This little blond Texican was one happy little spicy jalapeno during lunchtime today. I highly recommend it. Plus I had like seven margaritas so it was especially good.

I am Mexican, after all, so I should know. Ok, so I'm not Mexican, but one time when I was a kid, I brought Jose and Jose water when they mowed our yard, and another day Lucia taught me how to vacuum. (Which explains why, to this day, I only know how to vacuum, and am fucking rubbish at cleaning my bathroom or any other grimy household chore.) I always had Mexican babysitters, too, which was pretty liberal of my parents for snobby 1980s Dallas and Houston. The slave trade in Texas is still alive and active today. I'm just sayin'.

I am a TexicanNewYorkerLondoner.

In other news, I love being a man of leisure. I am no longer bored. And I have also (temporarily) fought off the guilt of not being a workaholic for a month...or two. Yesterday, I somehow, magically - this post is just full of magic!, wrote half of that book chapter that's due at the end of the month, and secured another teaching job for the fall. Today, though, for the rest of the afternoon, my flatmate and I wandered all over Notting Hill, Westbourne Grove, and again through Hyde Park - with me taking pee stops every five feet due to the giant To-Go margarita that I convinced my new favorite Mexican waiter to give me. Oh.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
If Jesus was a Jew, how come he has a Mexican first name? - Billy Connelly

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

SNIPPETS

I am convinced that my brain is going to be sporadic and frantic until I land in New York - which is two weeks from tomorrow - and will then continue franticness for some significant time thereafter.

Awesome and I found an apartment. It's in the East Village, but not way over in Alphabet City, and right above Houston - perfect location. It's big. It's clean. I've seen many (hopefully truthful) photographs. It's only for 3 to 6 months because we're doing the 'furnished thing' when we first get back, since the furniture I still possess is in Awesome's dad's house in Dirty Jersey, and also because we don't want to worry about furnishing an apartment the second we return to Manhattan. It's also on the exact same block as one of the bars I frequent that has 2-for-1 Happy Hour until 10pm! Oh. I have priorities.

My flatmate Peter just returned to London after a long absence, and has major plans to be attached at the hip with me until I leave. (Not in that way, you pervert.) So instead of working or packing, I have elaborate plans for the two of us to venture all over London to neighborhoods I've not been to, or have only been for limited amounts of time. Me thinks this week we'll cover the rest of North London because it's the prettiest part. Where else do I need to go before I leave?

Yesterday I went to uni to complete some PhD paperwork. Me thinks this is the last time I will ever have to go there...until January. I was unshowered, wearing shorts, a children's t-shirt, flip-flops, an Abercrombie baseball cap, and aviator sunglasses, when I accidentally ran into one of my students. I talked to her for a good two or three minutes before she even realized it was me. She said, "Oh, I thought you were one of the students! Or, like, somebody's little brother."

My weekend was strangely sporty. But I love how my native London friends play sports: During our boozy Saturday afternoon picnic in Hyde Park, one of my friends retrieved a baseball and bat from his car, and demanded that we all play. Except, all my friends referred to baseball as 'Rounders'. And none of them knew the rules. And the rules that they did know were all wrong. There is a serious problem when I of all people am the only person who knows the rules of a sport. My favorite part of Rounders was that we all carried a glass of champagne while batting, running bases, and fetching the ball. It was like The Alcoholic's Guide to Baseball, and often in slow motion.

Saturday night after watching the Germany vs. Portugal 3rd place game, we frequented some more of my regular Islington yuppie bars. (Speaking of football - how boring was Sunday night's World Cup final?! So boring until penalties...) Around 2am when it started sprinkling on our outdoor table, we decided to call it a night, particularly since we had been sipping wine and champagne in the sun all day. After everyone else got a bus or taxi, I decided to walk home. This was when the sprinkling became a violent downpour. It was hysterical, and one of those Londony moments I will miss. I just kept walking. I passed large clusters of people hiding desperately under bus stops and shop awnings, all staring at the little blond freak casually strolling home in the thunderstorm. I was beyond soaked when I got home but just stood in front of the mirror laughing at myself.

Ryan, my straight boyfriend in New York, was just fabulously hired by Rupert Murdoch to be the new Features Editor of the New York Post. I most certainly plan to be naughty and end up on Page 6 every morning. Thank you. Yesterday, on Ryan's first day, he had to do a random tabloid-y story about Johnny Depp, and interview a straight guy, a straight girl, and a gay guy about Depp's career and sexual prowess. Guess who the gay guy was? I can't wait to read the fluff article in today's paper, at least the online version (um, including the fact that in the article I am outed to all of New York City). Look at me go: I've still got two weeks left in London and my name is already back in a New York newspaper. Heee.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings. - Jane Austen

Saturday, July 08, 2006

DEAR MOTHERFUCKING ASSHOLE:

In order to temporarily escape my post-PhD and -Euro traveling poverty, I am toying with the idea of getting a part-time job when I return to New York, before I begin teaching again in the fall. (This may not be possible because I may need to go down to Dallas for a week or two in August.) I don't mean like as a waiter or bartender, because I have never served people, and I know I would be complete shit in customer service. Sometimes I am rude. I also do not mean as a temp or anything because those people are scary, and not much has changed in the Manhattan temping world since Working Girl. Plus, I would prefer part-time work where I don't have to file other people's paperwork, fetch folks coffee, and get sexually harassed. Rather, if I have time between moving continents and starting work in the fall, I'm considering doing temporary or part-time editing jobs.

About 4.5 years ago when I quit working full-time for my television show to do my full-time MFA, I opted to look for part-time writing or editing work. So, I decided to send my CV to about 10 to 15 law firms, inquiring about paralegal editing/research work. The problem on this fateful day, though, was that I was in a very, very bad mood when I drafted my cover letter, and instead of writing To Whom It May Concern: and then replacing it with the appropriate Human Resources name, I wrote:

Dear Motherfucking Asshole:

This letter is in regards to the part-time paralegal position...

...and accidentally forgot to change it...on every letter I mailed out. I did not realize that I had done this until three days after making my angry mistake. Then, about a week later, I received a positive letter from one of the law firms, stating:

Dear Mr. Hedonist,

Although you have the right attitude, we are looking for someone with a little more legal experience...

Of course I received no response from the other firms. Oh well. Everything worked out for the best - much better than 'the best', actually. So, I have faith that everything will work out for me within the next couple of months, too. It always has in the past, so why am I freaking out about my future now?

In the meantime, I am currently in hell still eliminating all of my worldly possessions to not have to pay for extortionate intercontinental shipping costs; pay for extra airplane baggage (which I already know I'll have to); etc. Moving is so fucking expensive!!!!!!!! Grrrrrrrrrr. Um. Both of my coffin-sized suitcases are only halfway full and already over the weight limit. I am so fucked. But am completely open to all travel suggestions involving baggage weight issues; posting large boxes; sneaking extra personal items across the ocean; and more. Does anyone need a TV? No? How about two stereos? Nuh-uh? Want three giant bags of clothing - both in adult and children's sizes (but all of which was mine)? Maybe I can just write a nice, sweet letter to British Airways in advance, voicing all of my concerns: Dear Motherfucking Assholes...

I will also go procrastinate packing and writing book chapters all afternoon by having a long, elaborate, boozy picnic with a bunch of friends in Hyde Park, which will serve as No. 19 of my 52 Leaving Parties.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
There are no accidents without intentions. - Alex Miller

Thursday, July 06, 2006

POSTPARTUM POVERTY

I am brain-dead. I have postpartum PhD dissertation syndrome. I worked obsessively on this ungrateful 600-page motherfucker for 2.5 years, gave birth to it, and then passed it along for a trio of 'superiors' to judge, who will eventually then pass it to an even larger panel of judges. Is this process really acceptable? You wouldn't pass along your newborn baby for judgment, would you? I mean, unless you were a shallow mommy obsessed with beauty competitions.

I don't even want to think anymore. Especially analytically. Now I just want to be stupid and rich. I want to speak in cliches and buy mass-marketed clothes and furniture and be a silly sheep, lost in a flock of other clones. Ok, maybe not - just typing that last sentence made me queasy with conformative shivers.

I had to give up my baby for adoption! And now I'm supposed to start producing new ones immediately? Just when I thought I had beat the career system with workaholism and over-ambition, I have realized that the career system has turned me into a big cheap whore.

Yesterday afternoon, in attempts to procrastinate researching and writing the book chapters I must compose that have deadlines within the next month, I instead decided to pack. Really. I am still here for three weeks but yesterday I packed up my life. I have two coffin-sized suitcases sitting in the middle of my bedroom floor, both stuffed with clothes, books, shoes, and more. Then I have two (surprisingly not-so-)mammoth boxes stuffed with similar contents, both waiting for a shipping company to claim them - but I sort of need a definite Manhattan address before this can happen. Having a destination to ship my costly winter wardrobe to is probably necessary. Years ago, one morning when I was 22 and hungover (perhaps this is superfluous?) I accidentally wrote only Grandma on a birthday card and dropped it in the mailbox, blondly forgetting that the card would not actually reach my grandmother because I don't live in a Disney film. So, I wouldn't put potential retarded shipping mistakes past me.

My flatmate is out of town this week but when he returns on Monday and sees my empty closets, bookshelves, etc., it will be fascinating to see if he breaks into tears, or if a smile slinks across his face. I'm a leetle bit over-emotional and ridiculous right now. It's the postpartum depression. (And also the fact that I HATE HATE HATE when I have no control over and security with my future endeavors.)

My friends keep asking me if I am a leaving party. And when I say No, they all begin shrieking about my apparent insanity. Uh...most of my friends don't even know each other. And I am quite convinced that they are all so different that should I mix them together, they will explode. Or implode. I've always been that guy who has friends in every single disparate social circle in the world, rather than having a group. I don't do groups. Groups scare me. So instead, I suppose I'm having three weeks of leaving parties since my friends have made elaborate plans during the remainder of my time here. I really prefer this anyway, because whenever I've tried getting automatically repellent friends together, it's so stressful for me, the host.

My friend Kate just moved here from the Netherlands, so I must go meet her now. I am still very poor. She's going to be rather surprised when I explain to her that the best activities to do in London are free - like stealing tourists' drinks in Covent Garden pubs; pretentiously pretending to shop for expensive artwork in fancy galleries; perhaps swimming the Thames; and whatever other free things I can invent this afternoon.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
We were so poor my daddy unplugged the clocks before we went to bed. - Chris Rock

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

THE DRUNKEN PROM KING

I awoke yesterday morning with mud-covered feet and grass in my hair. I'll splain. This is my weekend in reverse, I suppose.

Early Sunday afternoon, my Mancurian friend Dexter and I purchased an entire shelf of beer from an off-license in Vauxhall, and made an alco-picnic in the breathtakingly beautiful park behind the Vauxhall Tavern. I say 'breaktakingly beautiful' because it's not so much of a park, but rather, a big grassy hill covered with empty bottles, beer cans, and other trash; passed out homeless alcoholics; clusters of large muscle-head bald homo men; and the gruffest, most criminal-looking lesbians I've ever been within feet of. Thus, I am being exactly one hundred (100) percent ironic, including - and this is personal taste here - the muscle-heads. What's the attraction of steriods, little peenies, and assuming a group identity? All afternoon Dexter and I found it remarkable how easy it was to find each other in this sea of shaved heads and drug-induced bicepts. But hey: To each his own. Finding each other was especially easy since we were the only people present who had hair and non-matching outfits.

After drinking our own bodyweights in the sun with a small group of large homos, some of whom Dexter knew from Manchesterland, we all pushed our drunken way inside to watch a drag queen do The Dame Edna Experience, which was just mediocre...until the guy ripped off his wig, threw his tits into the audience, and just sang. It was rather strange; this man has an amazing lady-rocker voice and ranks vocally with Pink and Joan Jett. Then, the Vauxhall Tavern immediately turned into a repulsively sweaty den of muscle-heads snorting themselves into K-holes, set to the monotonous tune of bad early-90s techno music. Naturally, I refused to stay inside, and instead spent the next seven (7) hours making new friends outside.

I don't know what the hell got into me on Sunday afternoon. By the end of the day I had played with every group on the hill, which was now a wonderfully disparate collection of Souf Londoners who had just stumbled upon the loud grassy hill. Every time Dexter came out to reconvene, he found me with new strangers, all of whom kindly provided me with tons of free beer and other relaxing party favors. It was like I'd never left the house before in my life; I was king of the hill by nightfall, and shortly thereafter. At one point, after my brain had officially gone home but had left my body behind in Vauxhall, a large-breasted lady convinced me to roll down the hill with her...which we did...which inevitably caused us to roll directly into groups of people...some of which we just knocked over until they rolled down with us, everyone laughing loudly and hysterically. And then we did it again. Four times.

This extreme socializing also helped the wicked hangover I had accrued from the night before, particularly since I drank for about 14 hours on Saturday, as well, and also because I forgot to eat anything but beer. I went with my flatmate Peter, and our friends David and Patrick, to watch the parade, where Irish Paddy and I had decided to start drinking on Oxford St. before noon. It was nice standing in front of Selfridges with a half-liter bottle of Leffe Blonde (well, a few of them, actually) while the Selfridges makeup counter employees sprayed us with sunscreen. (I now have a lovely tan, which always makes little blond me look much healthier, as I was born to look like a surfer boy instead of a sickly city dweller.)

After Dexter walked in the parade and sang in the choir, he came to meet our drunken quartet, and we all made our way drinking through Soho Sq., Leicester Sq., Trafalgar Sq., and every other Sq. (and street, for that matter) in between. Perhaps my most mortifying and memorable moment of the afternoon was when I was standing with a big group of friends and was singled out by two approaching teenage boys. The children specifically targeted me apart from the crowd, presented me with a flyer, smiled all excited-like, and then ran away. My flatmate, who has a creepy predilection for teenage boys, immediately questioned why they only approached me, which then prompted the rest of my friends to wonder the same thing.

Then I looked at the flyer, which read Gay Prom! The UK's first gay prom for ages 16 to 19. At which point everyone in the group who knows my real age (almost 28 - exactly one month from today) errupted with laughter. I then quickly convinced Patrick, who looks nearly as young as I do, to go with me to the prom in two weeks, just because I think it'll be absolutely hysterical. Then Patrick and I spent the rest of the afternoon effortlessly asking elder nearby park-goers to buy us Jello shots from the countless people selling them. Who says you can't accept candy from strangers?

Again, I don't know what got into me this weekend. St. Patrick and I were out of control on Saturday. While wandering aimlessly, I passed multiple people I knew, but did not even realize it until I got texts from them minutes later. At one point I sat in a park next to a few of my friends and did not even realize they were there - they had apparently been talking about my drunk ass for about an hour, and at some point, while wrestling with Patrick in Soho Sq., I texted said friends and lied about being somewhere else. Bad little hedonist.

Saturday afternoon was followed by more exhaustive drinking at our flat. And sticking with the reverse chronology of my liquid weekend, I suppose I should say that Friday night was the boozy starting point at a friend's birthday party in Stoke Newington.

I am so fucking poor. And I am never drinking again. I mean, until tonight, for another friend's birthday. It's not my fault. Blame my prom date.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy. - Frank Sinatra

Friday, June 30, 2006

BEGGING FOR IT

Our New Age Spiritual Leader Faith Healer Magician Yanni (i.e. our Manhattan broker) may have already found us an apartment. I should not say more at this point in time because I don't want to curse anything. Awesome and I have asked Yanni to play hopeful, motivational sounds on her synthesizing keyboard to secure this place.

I repeat: While in a state of ultimate poverty, it is absolutely impossible to have a social life without spending too much money. At least in cities like London or New York. At least when you go out with groups of friends, all of whom have more money than you because you spent all your money traveling all over Europe while they were working 9-5 jobs. This financial pinching is especially difficult when all of your wonderful friends are also wonderful alcoholics. Tonight I've somehow been roped into going to friend's birthday dinner (which is thankfully in relatively less-expensive Stoke Newington instead of, say, Chelsea or Kensington), and then to another friend's birthday party later this evening. Why must people still have birthdays when I am this poor? Yesterday I had to spend more money for two expensive birthday phone calls for more friends, one in the States, one in Germany. Selfish bastards; they should all be able to skip a year.

Also, it is EuroPride weekend in London. Regular readers of this website know damn well that normally during Pride weekend, I hide underneath my duvet in my flat, watching bad action blockbuster movies, and wondering when it's okay for us to go back to being Ashamed. But my good friend Dexter is coming down from Manchester for the weekend, and he's really active with EuroPride, including walking in the parade and performing in Trafalgar Square. He eats fire and eleven-inch swords while stripping. He also makes me go to clubs and drink excessively.

In another strategic move, this morning I sent out a mass email to all my London friends, springing upon them the semi-surprising information that I am moving back to New York in a little over three weeks. Within one (1) hour, five (5) of them sent sad emails, all offering to purchase me countless drinks all weekend. See? I have alcohol strategy. Hopefully this very depressing streak of my leaving will continue until July 26 so I can continue taking advantage of my British friends. What? I'm not ashamed. It's not like I'm begging; I am simply accepting friendly offers. Every night. I am, however, lying, as Dexter does not eat eleven-inch swords and fire while stripping, but rather, he sings in a choir. Same difference.

Also, it is too fucking hot.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
I'm leaving because the weather is too good. I hate London when it's not raining. - Groucho Marx

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

NEW AGE CHIC

I just gave my final UK guest lecture before I move back to New York. Moments before I began my highly motivating, life-altering performance (what?) to a packed room, a prancy girl in a plaid skirt marched to the front row, bent down towards a mousy girl who had been sitting there for at least 20 minutes, and told her, "Sorry, could you get up for a sec?"

The mousy girl rose. Then the prancy girl slid into the seat and stared at the front of the room, completely ignoring her surroundings. The mousy girl was so mortified that she just stood there, staring at the prancy girl. Finally, the prancy girl acknowledged her, and said, "Oh, sorry to leave you standing," and flipped her hair back to face the front of the room.

Again, the mousy girl was so taken aback that she simply collected her things and moved to the back of the room, defeated. I was unable to keep from laughing during the first 10 minutes of my lecture. This prancy girl is my hero. She don't fuck around, man. She sees what she wants and takes it.

In other news, just when I complained about having nothing to do, I made two mega To Do lists, one Pre-Move, the other Post-Move. I now have just enough to keep me busy. Plus, I looked at the due dates for the book chapters I must write during the upcoming months, and two of them are in August - and I've not started researching either of them yet. Woops. This still won't keep me from wandering aimlessly with friends all over London, scouring sewers for miscellaneous change for drinking money.

In even more news, it is absolutely impossible to find an apartment in New York without a broker, especially if you're not physically there. And even if you are there, it helps. During my early 20s I threw away thousands upon thousands of dollars on broker's fees for apartments in Manhattan and Brooklyn. It sucks, but that's just how it works if you want a nice place.

Awesome and I have secured a broker. But, um, her name is Yanni. Yanni. As in the man with the long crimped blond hair who played Live at the Acropolis some years back in front of a crowd of fried Greeks and, presumably, chunky Midwestern middle-aged American tourists. Yanni, as in the man who looks like a deflated, prissy Lord of the Rings character dressed in 1980s lesbian vests, with too much Rave hairspray plastering the yellow mane down his back. I said Yanni. Did you get that? Yanni?

This has, of course, become a regular joke during Awesome's and my multiple phone calls daily, as we now phone each other every two minutes to report everything regarding apartments, employment, insurance, shipping procedures, plane tickets, and everything else that goes with moving.

I'll say, "So have you talked to Enya yet today?" (uncontrollable, cheesy laughter behind two attempted serious voices)
"You know her name is Yanni," he'll scold me, "And yes, I have. She just had lunch with Kenny G." (more uncontrollable, cheesy laughter)
"Well," I'll quip, "If she doesn't find us a place fast, I'm firing that synthesizing bitch and hiring John Tesh instead."

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
I'm an optimist by choice not by stupidity. - Yanni (forever!)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

S.O.S.

Oooooooooooooooh-kay! And now it's time to play Tell the Little Hedonist What the Hell to Do With Himself For the Next 30 Days!!!!

I've gone on my last European trip. My week in Italy was the finale. Wales does not count because it was for a conference, and frankly, Cardiff is shit; the entire city centre looks like Oxford Street (and is apparently substituted for Oxford St. in small-budget films). I was supposed to spend a week in Switzerland in mid-July but I had to cancel this trip because I am too impoverished. I have no money. Normally I might say, Where the fuck did all my cash-flow go? But in this case, please just consult my lovely little sidebar with all my Euro trips. Uh...I don't travel cheaply. I don't know how. I've never even stayed in a hostel. Ever. Never in my life. I went to Switzerland two years ago so it's okay that I'm not going back yet.

I've submitted my PhD coursework. Which feels really, really fucking strange. It's all over. Done. Fini. I'm not officially a doctor yet, though, since this whole process takes so long. My advisors must read my lovely 600-page dissertation (oh, I know - !!!!!!!!!!!), suggest edits, and then approve me to my unknown thesis committee, who then takes a requisite minimum of three months to read it. And since I'm working in New York starting in September (or perhaps August), this means I won't be able to return to London until January to do my Viva. So I'll be back.... (Note: I have a problem discussing my Viva, which in Britian is pronounced Vy-vuh. When spoken aloud with a British accent, this sounds a bit rude, like a naughty part of female anatomy. And I have to defend mine?)

Pretty much every major film premiere, awards show, behind-the-scenes shoot, etc., takes place in Los Angeles over the summer. Nothing happens here in London because there are too many tour groups with matching jackets infesting the city center. Nothing happens in New York because every director and producer is at his/her share in the Hamptons and simply will not work. So my TV job is empty. Done. Fini. Unless some random celebrity dies or gets pregnant with triplets, me thinks that my last London interview and/or shoot is ovah.

So. Now. What the fuck do I do with myself for the next month? I've magically just gone from the most psychotically busy person in London to the most bored person in London. See, some people may think that having nothing to do is a highly wonderful, relaxing time. But I am the type of person who goes absolutely insane if I have nothing to do with myself. I get depressed. I get into trouble. I go cuckoo.

Also, as I mentioned above, I ain't got no dough. I spent it all in Italy. And Hungary. And France. And Portugal. And everywhere else. I even spent extortionate amounts of money in the States, mainly in the Hollywood Hills and in Napa and Sonoma vineyards. I am so poor I don't even deserve my maid. What? Yesterday I actually considered not picking up my expensive dry-cleaning, and asked myself if I really needed those clothes after all. In order to ground myself for at least one full day, yesterday I spent the entire day watching half of my Sex and the City DVDs. You might be thinking, "Oh, that's not so bad, that's just a few hours of DVDs." But no: I mean the entire series; not just one season. I'm not really someone who can sit around and watch TV. All day. Every day. For a fucking month.

What's really tragic is that I can barely afford to drink. And because of this, I cannot continue on with my regularly busy social life. Having a social life is really expensive! I don't have any credit card debt and there's no reason to start now, you know.

See, with all this frightening time on my hands, I made a major plan to wander aimlessly all over London, venturing into random neighborhoods to which I've never been. I was going to start this escapade yesterday. Then it poured rain consistently all damn day. But...like...what happens when I get down to, like, way Souf London, and I'm stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing but pubs? What's the good of wandering aimlessly around London when I can't do a pub crawl? Oh.

I mean, it's not like I'm destitute. Well, it is, but I must save what I've got. I'll sort of need, oh, you know - an apartment when I return to New York, not to mention money with which to furnish an apartment. I wonder if I can have my insanely pricey Scandinavia trip reimbursed? Oh. Guess not. I am seriously considering prostitution but my wardrobe is rather conservative nowadays. Plus, I know that with the "Pay up front" philosophy of whore-dom, I would totally just take the money and run, which might result in getting beaten-up or perhaps even death.

Oh, I've still got work to do. I've got chapters of upcoming books to write. But I've already switched gears, you see - all of these chapters require lots of research in Manhattan libraries and cultural societies. My normal flailing about in the British Library stacks won't exactly be helpful. So during August I'll be hiding out in the Lincoln Center and midtown libraries and shall keep myself busy...at least I hope I will...I work too damn fast. Tomorrow night I am giving my final lecture in London (at least final before I move back) for an important literary society. And then that's all. Then I shall have no point to exist. (Have I mentioned I'm a workaholic? I just did my 4-year PhD in 2.5 years. Before that, I did my three-year MFA in two years.)

So. One month. What to do, what to do? All of my CDs and DVDs are already alphabetized. My wardrobe is ready to be packed. I've got wheelbarrow-sized piles of stuff to donate to charity. I am embarrassed to report everything else I've been finding to do with my time. Yesterday I did not perform an hour-long karaoke performance to Pink's new CD...although I didn't even know the lyrics and did not make them up as I went along. I did not do this three times in a row. The neighbors must think I am mentally retarded.

I hereby take all of your suggestions. I'm desperate here. My Vy-vuh and I are gaping open, waiting to be told what to do.

In the meantime, I will now go pay for one (1) movie but then sneak into three (3) more for the remainder of the day. I'm even packing snacks. I can't afford popcorn.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
He who seeks rest finds boredom. He who seeks work finds rest. - Dylan Thomas

Sunday, June 25, 2006

PIECES OF ME

Everything is all weird and anti-climactic and spooky right now.

I've just returned from Wales, and before that Italy, and before that 18 other European countries. Really. Twenty countries. I've been everywhere. And I promise I'll write about Italy soon; I'm just not in the mood today - I'm exhausted and so out of it and have a bit of a summer cold.

I'm moving back to New York in exactly one (1) month. I'm sitting here in the middle of the living room floor, decidedly alone for approximately one week's time because my flatmate has also been away during June. Sometimes I get in these moods when I tell myself that solitude is necessary and my only option of maintaining a clear head - even though deep down I know that I'll really drive myself temporarily crazy, inside my cloudy brain. I'm in oddball hibernation. During these times I don't answer my phone or my doorbell; rarely respond to emails; and even more rarely, sit still.

There are piles of stuff everywhere. Hundreds upon hundreds of stacks of miscellaneous paperwork, some important, some very important, and much of it soon to be tossed into the recycling bin. I've ransacked both my closets; there are mounds of clothes - tshirts, jeans, nice trousers, button-down shirts, sweaters, jumpers, jackets, cardigans, coats, trainers, boots, dress shoes, and more - everywhere, to be donated to charity. There are giant stacks of books, from fiction to textbooks to travel books to more, congregating near the floor-to-ceiling windows. Bags of electronic cords and computer discs and converters that nowadays seem to serve no purpose. Mountains of random academia I don't know what to do with. Small mounds of leftover international money and loose change - Euros, American Dollars, British Pounds, Hungarian Fornit, Czech Koronas, Danish Krones, Swedish Kronas, Swiss Francs, & Mexican Pesos (why the fuck do I have pesos in the UK?). Overstuffed leather CD and DVD booklets. Dangling press passes from premieres, awards shows, and other big London shoots, all twisted around each other. Overflowing accordian file folders. And more. And more and more and more and more.

And I'm not even a pack-rat. I don't really collect stuff. Where did all this stuff come from? I'm doing again what I did 2.5 years ago - preparing to stuff my entire life into two check-in suitcases and two carry-ons to take from London and return to New York.

So much has changed. But this feels like deja vu. So, so, so much has changed. But the best thing about this - the absolute luckiest thing - is that I am returning to my best friends in the world (and Awesome, of course), the people I left behind. Far more important than all this stuff surrounding me on the living room floor, are the people in New York who've known me since my late teens or early 20s, the ones who know more about me - great, good, bad, horrible, and illegal - than anyone really should. I've met quite a few people here with whom I know I'll remain in contact, but they just don't share with me the complicated history that my New York "family" does. And it's time to return to them. I am tired of jet-setting and making billions of amusing anecdotes in jumpy conversations with people I will most likely never see again...for at least a little while.

The next few months are going to feel really fucking strange with all this (re-)transition. I'm tired. Pleasant, but tired. Proud, but tired. Pensive, but tired. Purposeful, but tired. It's just time...

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
True friends stab you in the front. - Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

THE ENEMY

When I returned from Portsmouth early Sunday afternoon, I hopped on a bus at Waterloo Station that would deposit me back home. The route of this bus went through the Strand and past Somerset House, along the outskirts of Covent Garden, and near Oxford Street. And as we passed through these popular London areas, I watched them from my window. They were everywhere, already, this early in June. They wore fanny-packs and had large boxy cameras swung around their necks. They - those people - stood in groups of 5 to 8 or more, all peering over a gigantic map of Central London. Some of them had small, screaming children in tow, tiny creatures that won't even remember being here. Many of them waddled down the street with enough extra weight that, spatially, one of them = three Londoners. Dressed in pleated khakis or tapered denim shorts, some of them wore uncrunched baseball caps advertising American football and baseball teams. They are the ones who go to Manhattan, stand on the corner of 8th Ave and 41st street with a mega-map, and actually ask native New Yorkers where 8th Ave and 42nd St. is. So in London, they're beyond lost.

I threw my hands over my face in horror when I saw that one of them was already wearing his "My Wife Went to London and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt" shirt. I couldn't look at them anymore.

They will be everywhere - already, so soon in the summer - in Europe. And I leave for Italy early tomorrow morning. The closest airport to Florence is Pisa, so I know that as soon as I get to Pisa, there will be gangs of globular folk rushing towards the city centre to snap a quick photo of the Leaning Tower, to braggartly 'show everyone back home' or 'everyone at the office'. They'll be in organized groups, livestock creatures pounding pavement in herds, all competing verbally about their kids, what trips they've already taken, what tacky tours they've over-paid for in years past.

When I went to Rome and Venice last year, it was ice-cold January, so they weren't around. This time will be different. In Florence I will wonder if going to see the David is actually worth wading through crowds of immensely slow walkers, syrupy talkers, and loud squawkers. Hopefully, Siena, the city to which I travel after Florence, won't be as bad. Perhaps I will dye my hair black and paint my skin olive sometime this afternoon, in order to not be mistaken for one of them. I booked myself rooms in really nice hotels just in case I'm too mortified to mingle amongst them. To avoid them, I will hitchhike into the countryside and shack up with a poor Italian family who makes me homemade pasta and wine.

After Siena, I expect that having a long weekend in Rome shall be safe because this wonder-woman will fly me around the city on her moto, keeping me away from all of them. We'll go back to her villa and cackle about overstuffed Jansport backpacks, tennis visors, and teased and poofed-up peroxided fake-blond bouffants. She and I will dine and drink at authentic city-folk joints, places that are not featured on The Travel Channel, establishments to which Rick Steves has never been. We'll watch futbol with natives all afternoon, and if any of them pass by, they'll wonder why Italians are watching "soccer". We'll snatch fanny-packs and Fodor's guidebooks and industrial sized cameras as we whiz by groups of them.

Mortified. Until I return to London on Tuesday morning.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Why is it called tourist season if we can't shoot at them? - Anonymous

Sunday, June 11, 2006

BUBBLE BOY

Okay, so the city of Portsmouth doesn't exactly have the best reputation in England. That's one way of describing it. Another way is: Portsmouth made me so physically ill that I had to leave early.

Dependent upon where I am, whenever late spring/early summer rolls around, my head begins to explode. My allergies are getting worse with age, and in some geographical locales, I am one teeny step away from needing to be hooked up to a respirator. It's rather freakish to watch, I would assume. Within seconds I go from a happy-go-lucky little hedonist to a miserable Quasimodo. I have sneezing fits; my sinuses sharply ache so badly that my face squunches up in pain; I become a snot faucet; I can't breathe; my eyes go completely bloodshot; sometimes I turn red. Before I moved to London, whenever I would go to Awesome's apartment, he would watch this transformation and question if I was a werewolf (which might be quite fun). Awesome's bratty evil cat was not only the spawn of Satan (it pissed on all the walls whenever Awesome left the apartment), but that creature also made me sneeze like no animal, pollen or weed ever had before. At one point, just as my entire face was running down my chest, I threatened to never go to his apartment again. Um...Awesome's cat now lives on a farm in Wisconsin, where he has lived for the past two years. For Awesome's emotional sake, I hope it's a real farm.

Dallas usually does this to me, too. Last year when I was visiting my mom there, I nearly OD'd on assorted prescription and over-the-counter allergy medication that I kept popping in hopes that my head-exploding would cease. But Portsmouth was such fresh unbridled hell that I didn't know what to do with myself. I would've prefered to snuggle with Awesome's cat than attempt to breathe in Portsmouth.

Even when I was going south on the train, I started having a violent sneezing attack before I even arrived in Portsmouth. It was so bad that everyone sitting near me on the train got up and moved to sit elsewhere. As I walked from the train station to my bed-n-breakfast, sneezing, snotting, coughing, crying, and exploding, I immediately realized that my entire weekend would be like this - and I had to present a conference paper...as the chair of my department sat in the room. So, Friday night I also realized that in order to make it through my weekend of pain, I needed to be drunk the entire time. (I am sure you are surprised to hear this.) Although my cutesy b&b was on the edge of Portsmouth on some random corner called Spice Island, lucky for me there were two lively pubs downstairs, both of which were advertised as Football Free.

I could not sleep at all on Friday night, no matter how hard I tried. Explosions! in my head were nonfuckingstop. You know those allergy commercials where shiny happy people run through fields of flowers? That is my absolute worst fucking nightmare. If I tried to run through polleny fields of flowers, I know I would explode. Why do those commercials show all those breathe-able people dashing through open fields of pollens and allergy-inducing weeds? I wouldn't run through fields of flowers like a loon even if I could breathe in them. These allergy commercials make about as much sense as those Vagisil and other vagina cream commercials that always feature a cured woman riding a horse or kayaking feverishly around a pond. I don't understand? Once you have your vagina burn under control, this means that you suddenly want to hop on a mule or go paddle-boating, while the smiley non-allergic people run by you in the field? Is that how it happens? I can only imagine what exciting outdoor activities might occur after being cured of chlamydia.

Anyway, apparently lots of people in Portsmouth (or at least visitors) have similar allergy problems, so the swanky conference building had allergy-attacking filters in their air-conditioners! I was so happy that I hugged the convener when he told me this. Then we made out a little bit and I let him goose me. I didn't want to leave the building. After I gave another 'performance' that was both attended and received very well, I considered that since I had been a success, maybe I could ask the convener if I could sleep there instead of at my b&b. He thought I was joking, so he said No. Then, once outside again, I victoriously proceeded to restaurant-, cafe- and pub-hop with a cynical gaggle of thirty- and fortysomething highly literate and entertaining British men. I love being the young lad to whom my elder colleagues all want to donate countless pints and live through vicariously. Almost as much as I love kayaking with my horse and a breath-able vagina.

This said, though, I was unable to sleep on Saturday night, too, as my sinuses waged another hellish war on my leetle body. It was so incredibly awful. Soooo awful. See, Portsmouth itself is not necessarily the giant shit-hole for which it's known. There are some nice, cute, charming corners to it. Sure, there are the industrial ports and docks and all that ugly grayness, and there is that giant capitalist debacle of American chain stores that every British city now unfortunately has. But Old Portsmouth is really cute and quaint. However, because I apparently should've packed an oxygen tank for the weekend, there is no way in hell I'm ever going back to Portsmouth. Last night after not sleeping again, I considered finding a 24-hour off-license so I could buy some vagina cream to rub up my nose, and see if it had the same flowery and peaceful affect that allergy medicine supposedly has. I got the first train back to London this morning and skipped Day 2 of the conference. I had no choice, man.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
I used to wake up at 4 A.M. and start sneezing, sometimes for five hours. I tried to find out what sort of allergy I had but finally came to the conclusion that it must be an allergy to consciousness. - James Thurber

Thursday, June 08, 2006

3 YEARS

Well, June 7, actually. I just didn't have time to write yesterday.

Three years ago on this day, I awoke in a bed with Awesome. We're guessing that we met sometime after midnight on June 7, since we stayed at a Brooklyn bar chatting until sometime after 4am. Then, after asking me repeatedly to go back to his apartment, I finally agreed (this was during a period when I had just announced to all my friends that I was trying to work on my extreme slut reputation). Thus, we've now had a three-year one-night-stand. In retrospect, I guess my going home with Awesome ironically ended my slut days. Yesterday afternoon this arrived at my front door, compliments of Awesome:

(I told him this bouquet is symbolic, that he unconsciously chose the colors - it's Aryan and Rican toned flowers!)

As I am the least domestic person alive, and my flatmate is the second least domestic person alive, we do not have a vase. So, yes, that is correct - what you see in this photo is that I have used my Brita water pitcher as a vase. Classy, huh? It was either that or I dug through the trash for assorted empty wine bottles.

That morning, three years ago, I ran off to brunch on the Lower East Side with some friends, casually thinking that I'd never see him again. Now I'm glad he was so damn persistent. So. For all you single people who don't want to be single, please go have as many one-night-stands as possible. Oh. And...um...for all you single people who love being single, please go have as many one-night-stands as possible.

My mom says, "How did you meet Awesome?" And I say, "Grad school."

Oh - and Awesome and I are moving in together in a little over a month. Well, I mean duh. Did you think I was moving back to New York and this wasn't happening? It's been three years. Supposedly three years is the Make It or Break It point. It doesn't feel like three years, at least time-wise. Density and jam-packedness, it feels like more than three years - we've marched all over Europe and the States together, been to family weddings and a funeral, and countless other random personal things that I've never divulged on this website. And now, all of a sudden, we're gonna receive mail at the same address, have joint same-sex insurance, and fear the weekend when both our mothers coincidentally want to visit.

I have to leave for Portsmouth early tomorrow morning, where I'm speaking at yet another conference that lasts all weekend. I've heard that unlike Brighton, Bournemouth and Southampton, Portsmouth is a stanky shit-hole of a town. Um...I'm really excited?

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Assumptions are the termites of relationships. - Henry Winkler

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

AMER-I-CA(N'T)

Last night I was in an ultimate state of simultaneous horror and mortification. But just because of TV. Did anyone else watch that Channel 4 documentary about Patrick Henry College, which is in the States, specifically Virginia? I do not watch TV. Normally. Sometimes when I'm home alone, I'll turn it on just for background noise (I abhore silence), but nothing ever captivates me enough to watch, you know, actual shows. I've tried watching Michael Scofield on Prison Break and he doesn't even seduce me to watch an hour of TV. But last night, this documentary grounded my ass to the sofa, and I was horrified.

This cult called Patrick Henry College is a for-real university where they only accept white heterosexual Christians who sing hardcore Christian carols and, you know, nursery rhymes together like 18 times a day, complete with banjo accompaniment and those real fanatics who sing with their arms up in the air like they have rancid diseases festering in their armpits. And then they all take field trips to the White House so they can tell all the Republican congressmen how much they love them! They go in groups, like it's a special field trip for which their parents signed permissions slips. This is part of the course curriculum. Like Mormons, they dress up in suits and bring bibles to the white house. Well, to be fair, one guy needed a bible to sit on and see while watching a press conference - he was totally shorter than me. I've been to DC before, but I'd never realized that all the Republican senators in the White House need speech lessons, as they all turn two-syllable words into 7-syllable words, and speak really, really loud, as if everyone around them is deaf. Then, the P.H.C. cult members go attempt to pester the Democrat congressmen whenever they can spot one, and harrass them about abortion, gay marriage, women's rights, minority rights, etc. At point I watched a gaggle of female students hypocritically preach to a Democrat senator about how there should not be as many women in the workplace because all women need to raise babies in captivity; it was so odd, as if they didn't even know what they were saying.

Watching them was so spooky. It's like the characters of The Crucible escaped like 200 years later and bought some suits at present-day Wal-Mart that they thought actually looked good.

In one scene, three girls were brain-washed into believing that only "good" families are those where the woman stays at home to cook and clean while the man works in the White House for Jesus (although, as I watched closely, I did not actually see any footage of Jesus in the White House - he must've been in a meeting with Moses, Bush, and the Virgin Mary). In another scene a sophomore stood in front of the entire school congregation and told all the students how he was kicked out of his 19 extra-curricular activities because there were exactly two (2) nights when he drank and smoked (horror, I know!!!!!!!!!!), and "turned into one of the people we all hate." Just by watching him you could tell he had a flask in one of his khaki pants pocket, and a joint in the other, but as long as he lied, it was okay.

They don't even drink or smoke or have sex. They only watch American Idol and play Christian Charades about donkeys and virgins and donkey virgins, and then write letters to Southern congressmen. One guy had never left Virginia before - because he didn't see the point. Another guy was 22 and his balls still hadn't dropped. Another guy looked like a regular frat dude but walked with a limp "that God gave him." That's just not a very good present. If God gave me a limp, I'd give God a permanent broken arm. Rather, I'd give God a hysterectomy with an Exacto knife, no matter God's gender. A female student told everyone that getting a job after college, as well as life in general, is just like playing frisbee golf. (At which point, voilent laughter caused me to spit Chenin Blanc all over myself.) And she was serious about it, with bad metaphors and everything!

Most worrisome: This university has the most interns in the White House on an annual basis!!! No, they really do. No exaggeration on my part. The university prides itself that the White House, the building that governs America, accepts the most interns (and new graduates) more than another other school on earth! How fucking scary is that?

Then, they all go lynch niggers, Jews, faggots, feminists, and Gloria Stuart, that old lady from Titanic. Okay, I'm exaggerating about that last sentence, but I bet they want to. That will be next. Negroes, Queers, and Gloria Stuart. Out of curiousity and fear (and to make sure that this was a real place, that I wasn't watching a fictional documentary or mockumentary), I checked out the university website. They actually have a non-discriminaton policy where they say that black people and other minorities are allowed to apply. Funny, though, I didn't see any minorities in the documentary.

I mean, really. Fucking frisbee golf? That's not even a real sport! I have changed my mind. I am never moving back to America. I can't!

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
You know the world is going crazy when the best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy, the tallest guy in the NBA is Chinese, the Swiss hold the America's Cup, France is accusing the U.S. of arrogance, Germany doesn't want to go to war, and the three most powerful men in America are named 'Bush', 'Dick', and 'Colon.' Need I say more? - Chris Rock

Sunday, June 04, 2006

MANCURIAN MANIA

I am really fucking happy. Most people who read blogs typically enjoy taking an emotional dip into someone else's stress or misery. That's completely understandable. I don't know anyone who would rightfully admit that he'd like to hear someone tell him, "I am SO HAPPY!" on a daily basis. But right now? I am. And I'm not always happy. I had approximately 1.5 years of blogging misery, cynicism, depression, and anger after my dad died. I complain about missing Awesome all the time. I always tell you how stressed I am. But today? This week? These past two weeks? Really. Fucking. Happy. So, since I'm not always a jovial little munchkin, I am not going to be self-deprecating in the least, and revel in my currently explosive joy. If you do not wish to read pure Happy Happy Joy Joy, and instead desire only misery, please click elsewhere. (Don't worry, I'm sure I'll be back to my cynical self soon.)

This said, though, I am so sick of using my brain. So I've resigned from doing so for a little while. Well, at least at the rate I usually use my brain - I still have quite a bit of work to do. See, on Tuesday afternoon, I submitted to my thesis advisors my dissertation (which is, at present, approximately 600 pages of meticulously researched, composed and edited prose and theoretical density), along with my whopping 20-page bibliography, and the massive list of my upcoming publications, past/present/future academic conference activity, among all the extra scholarly things I've obsessively been doing. Once I clicked the Send button and the hefty email finally squeezed its way through virtual reality, I sat there staring at my laptop screen, blank-faced and confused about the rest of my life in its entirety. So I'm tired of my brain. All I want to do now is have sex, eat, and drink - anything that is excessive to my body but does not require thought.

And because of this, I told Awesome that I will be returning to him as a fat drunken whore. His response was so genuinely sweet. He told me, "Awww...baby. You've always been a drunken whore." So, it was sweet in the fact that he did not call me fat, only an alcoholic slut. See? Sweet. Of course, he then followed up with, "Please only concentrate on the drunken part instead of the whore part."

To further explain my happy-go-lucky-ness, my past four days in Manchester was just fanfuckingtastic. I forgot how friendly Mancurians are, especially compared to Londoners. Wednesday afternoon when I was waiting for my friends to get off work, I went to a pub that had wireless internet access. When I couldn't properly configure my laptop, I asked the barman for help and nine (9) strangers ran over to help me. Thinking back now, though, perhaps they were all trying to rob me.

During the past few weeks, I have met the most phenomenal people whilst galavanting around the UK, many of which live in London. Why am I just meeting all these wonderful Londoners right before I move back to Manhattan? I gave another great conference presentation this weekend, and really, genuinely, whole-heartedly enjoyed the gaggle of people whom I met at this conference. It was all just so...fun. I think I've made more friends in the past month then I made during of all elementary and junior high school. And I've still got multiple trips left this month, too.

I also just spent three nights with my Mancurian friends Dexter and Dunkan, whom I have just demanded must come to play with Awesome and me in New York this autumn. I've known Dexter longer than I've known Awesome - we met in Manchester five years ago and spent nearly every night during a 10-day period going barring, clubbing, and/or playing at his flat. Now? We still went out a bit this trip, but now that we're old men (i.e. I'm almost-28 and he's now 30), he and Dunkan were highly domesticized and had people over for boozy nights full of Bree Van De Camp-esque appetizers, and their lively children (i.e. dogs). Awesome will be so proud of me when I report to him that I went with Dexter to take the dogs for walks in the park (for some reason, Awesome likes to do humane things such as this). I'm not particularly fond of animals (and am allergic to most of them), and I don't even know how to microwave soup from a can. I can only make coffee and martinis; the only pet I've had during my adult life was my fish, Nicholas Poindexter Godiva XVIII, and he committed suicide just to get away from me.

Yesterday Dexter and I had a playdate all afternoon where we drank approximately 42 bottles of wine in the sun at a table on Canal Street until we could no longer feel if we were burning to a crisp. Nor could we tell how loud our shameful commentary was as we watched the stream of colorful people parading down the cobblestoned catwalk that Canal Street is (the original British Queer as Folk was not actually fictional, you see). After drinking said 42 bottles in the unexpected blasting sun, I think at one point I climbed on the table and took a short nap from dehydration. At another point I may have peed myself, I don't know.

I have dissertation meetings this week. I've got more conferences coming up. I leave for Portsmouth on Friday morning. I'm going to Italy again next week. There's a helluva lot going on. But usually, at least for me, a psychotically busy hedonist makes a happy hedonist.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
If you see someone in Manchester with a tan, don't believe it. They've just gone all rusty. - Anonymous old woman

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

DAS URTEIL

So, uh...

I am moving back to New York on July 26th.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Don't you ever wonder maybe if you took a left turn instead of a right you could be someone different? - Anonymous

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

TRAIN-SCOTTING

Stirling is so beautiful it made me vomitous every morning. Wait. That didn't come out right. Let me 'splain. I'm getting ahead of myself.

On Thursday I gave a presentation at a conference in London, which went over extremely well. Before my panel, strangers were coming up to me all morning, saying that they couldn't wait to sit in on my presentation just based on the abstract I had written for the bulky conference program. Yeehaw. At most academic/research conferences, there are multiple panels going on at once. When my panel started, there was only a small cluster of people in the room. After the first speaker, another 10 to 15 people flowed into the room. After the second speaker, another huge cluster of people gushed into the room, until every seat was taken, and people sat on the floor. This particular paper is being published as a chapter in an upcoming book - which, oh shit, I just checked my calendar, and it's due in to the publishers today. But this whole reception felt really, really good.

This particular conference was more sociology-based rather than literary-based, so there were all kinds of nationalities, ethnicities, etc. in attendance. Very late in the night, I found myself at a pub near Spitalfields, pissed beyond belief with an Austrian guy, an Italian guy, a British girl, a Mexican girl, a Dutch girl, and a German guy (who was one of those few people to whom I was so incredibly attracted, and just simply yet strangely intrigued with, that I thought I was going melt, explode, or both). What will I do when/if I return to the States and I must only associate with Yanks? I'm such a European snob now. Thank you. I'll have to join a British Ex-Pat group to remain sane. I met the coolest people all weekend; Thursday was just a start.

I am so scatterbrained and in-need of completing my lengthy To Do List today that I cannot even concentrate on reporting drunken nights out and successful work-ish things in London and Scotland. See, I'm only here one day this week - tomorrow I must hop on another train to Manchester to give yet another conference presentation, and to play with my fun Northern friends Dexter and Dunkan until Saturday (yay).

So. Yes. Stirling. Absolutely gorgeous. I was so hungover on Friday afternoon when I arrived that I was barely able to walk around the town. But the parts I did see were so breathtaking that it just did not seem real. Stirling is an adorable town smack in the middle of absolutely beautiful Scottish mountains. My conference presentation here went really well, too; I was on the last panel on Sunday, and after my presentation, the keynote speaker came up to compliment me. So, as far as work goes right now, I'm totally on a high. I was also incredibly hungover all day Sunday. Again. And then yesterday, too. I really must stop this nonsense, but when all these kooky liberal arts strangers get together for just a few days of random introductions, sometimes it's just eccentric, ecclectic madness. And because I have ADD (how else to explain it?), unlike most other people at these conferences, I have turned my entire brain and identity into a multi-interdisciplinary mess, since I've got my hands and ideas in so many different facets of conference and book publication topics. I am making myself bipolar. Or, more like quad-polar.

Sunday night, since most people had already hopped on planes or trains to leave, I ended up hanging out with one of the few people who remained. After sharing about four bottles of wine, we ended up grabbing a fifth bottle and marching up to the top of the mondo hill that features Stirling castle. It was already 10pm, but since Scotland only has like 4 hours of darkness this time of year, we watched the sunset over the spectacular view of the town and mountains. I was kicking myself for not having my camera; now I want massive blow-ups of these picturesque views hanging on my urban walls in London or New York. I also now want to see all of Scotland. I'd been to Edinburgh before, but everywhere north of Edinburgh and Glasgow seems even more beautiful.

Dude! What am I doing!? I gotta go!

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
No one in Scotland can escape from the past. It is everywhere, haunting like a ghost. - Geddes MacGregor

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

50 HRS IN COPENHAGEN


As I mentioned in my Helsinki misadventures, Copenhagen is small, about the size of Amsterdam, if not smaller. The whole city is really laid-back and enjoyable, though. I arrived late Friday afternoon and had walked through the city (in pain) by nightfall. Plus, compared to other Scandinavian cities, perhaps because of its microscopic proximity, Copenhagen is crawling with tourists, particularly American tourists. On the train from the airport, two bickering American couples in their late 30s competed with each other with less-than-impressive travel stories about their adventures around exotic lands like Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Tuscon, Arizona. Naturally, I threw up on all of their shoes.

When I arrived at my hotel, another gorgeous Scandinavian greeted me, only this time it was the flirty fit homo desk attendant. My Danish hotel was nicer (and pricier) than the other hotels of my trip, so I wasn’t really bovvered when it began to downpour on Friday night and I decided to retreat to my hotel. Plus, there was a bar near the front desk, and really, that’s all I needed.

Earlier in the evening, I had peeked my head into a couple homo bars just to see what they were like, as Denmark may just be the capital of the homo world. Homos! Everywhere! The whole city was like a Pride Parade. I checked-out three homo bars and didn’t stay for a drink at any of them. Seriously: I just ran in and ran right back out. They were like any other homo bar in any other city with the same merciless, impending blanket of doom: dark, depressing, soulless dens of misery, with the same lonely people lurking about, searching desperately for a fuck or a conscience. Why don’t homo bars have windows, sunlight, or even light fixtures, for that matter? In this respect, perhaps the reason I do not like homo bars is because I do not think I would like prison. I really enjoy and appreciate light – natural sunlight or artificial light – and also, you must fear what will happen in both prison and homo bars if you drop the soap in the bathroom. Then there are the obligatory rainbow flags that must hang on every wall in every homo bar, just in case you’ve forgotten what type of establishment you’ve entered. Thus, it would only make sense that prisons must have rainbow flags hanging from every wall, as well. Right?


Anyway, when I returned to the hotel that night and ordered three pints from the desk attendant who doubled as the bartender, he asked who was I was meeting. I told him, “Oh, these are all for me, so I don’t have to disturb you in about ten minutes.”

He laughed. We talked for about three hours, with a few other random guests coming and going for a drink. After he had snuck a few drinks while working, and had asked how many nights I was staying in the hotel, he said flat-out, “We’re going to have sex before you leave Copenhagen.” The way he said it, I could tell that this guy has had sex with every homo guest who has ever stayed at this jovial, transient hotel.

Now. Any faithful reader of this website knows that I love nothing more a combination of genuine, unabashed personality display (i.e. no pretense or bullshit) mixed with an incredibly strong, innate dose of confidence. You tell me to go fuck myself and I’m all yours. After I accidentally spit out a little beer on my shirt from being startled, I explained Awesome to my new hotel pal. Hey: at least if Awesome and I ever break up in the near future, I’ve already got a list of people all over Europe who want to have sex with me. I’m in international hooker! Oh. Wait. This promise is exciting in itself, particularly since there’s a cruel part of my psyche that enjoys being an empty flirt. I have a lot of reasons for my monogamy, but thankfully I can upgrade these reasons with innocent, playful, drool-worthy flirting. I do no doubt that Awesome does this when I’m not around, too, so it’s not like I’m faulting anyone. It’s fun. It’s naughty. It’s human.


It rained the entire weekend in Copenhagen. Which was okay, I suppose, since the city really is miniscule. I went to the Carlsberg brewery and when we got free beer at the end, I am not ashamed to admit that I got back in line three times. On the second serving, I told them I had a twin brother; on the third they figured out the truth. I walked along the canals forever (in pain) and saw all the cutesy neighborhoods downtown. I saw the famous Little Mermaid monument, based on Hans Christian Anderson’s beloved character, where large groups of American tourists (‘large’ as in group numbers and globular waistlines) took turns taking photos with the statute, one-by-one, as if it looked different each time. I went to the Royal Library and Theatre Museum in Christiansborg. I wandered aimlessly, all over the city, for most of my time there. I did not go on the tacky tourist tides in Tivoli Gardens.

On my last night, when my hotel bar/desk attendant friend got off work after we’d been drinking for a bit, and after I declined going clubbing with him, I returned alone to my room with a bottle of red wine, and sat on the bay window seat with my laptop, working on my dissertation and conference paper edits (my real world), and watching the Saturday night thunderstorms and lightning. Awesome called my hotel room really late that night, just as I had nearly fallen asleep, pressed against the window with an empty wine glass in my lap. At the end of my Scandinavian tour, my solitude, the thunderstorms, and his familiar, comforting deep voice was far sexier than any of the Finnish, Danish and Swedish supermodel look-alikes I met all week.

Tomorrow I am giving a long lecture at a conference in London. Then, Thursday morning I am off to Stirling, Scotland, where I’m speaking at another conference all weekend. I shall return late Monday. I am still one busy midget. And now you know all my whereabouts. Okay then.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
No matter where you go, there you are. - Unknown

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

41 HRS IN STOCKHOLM


Everyone in Stockholm is a tall thin gorgeous blond supermodel. It was sort of fun, being the only little blond midget whisking through crowds of Amazonian Swedish gods and goddesses. I was like a Junior Swede! And when they’d look down at me (physically, not condescendingly), I would just smile and speak to them in plain English, as everyone in Scandinavia speaks better English than many Brits and Americans do.

While I don’t typically prefer blonds (I must not be a gentleman?), I have no qualms about stating that Stockholm made me curse monogamy. Tall. Thin/Skinny. Pretty face. Arresting eyes with long lashes that catch rain. That is my type nowadays. That’s what Awesome looks like, only with a yummy dash of Ricanness. In my early-20s, my type was bad boys. In my mid-20s, my type was indie rock star types (Awesome’s former and current look). Now, my type is rich. The weekend before I flew to Scandinavia, my flatmate and I were walking down Holborn, and one of his former colleagues drove by in a convertible. The guy climbed out of his car, smoothed back his expensive hair, pricey clothing, and flashed his costly smile. You could tell that he had just come from playing tennis at the country club, or from investing three billion pounds with his stockbroker; either one of these is fine for my fantasy. He may not have even been attractive to anyone else. But to me, hot damn. I thought I was going to shoot a wad clear out the top of my forehead. Oh. Excuse me. So, this is why I was cursing monogamy while in Stockholm. Swedes are so clean and yummy and sophisticated looking. They all look like The Sound of Music children who grew up and became barristers, politicians, and just…wealthy.


By the time I arrived in Stockholm, my back-ass pain (please refer to yesterday’s entry) was at such an ultimate high that I had resorted to sprinkling Hydrocodeine powder into my beers. I mean, look, I couldn't even take level photographs. I was giving myself roofies. If you are a policeman, attorney, tax collector, potential or current employer, student, or my mom, I am exaggerating. Otherwise, you can believe me.

My leetle beety hotel was in Old Town, which I thought was the most charming part of Stockholm. I really, really liked Stockholm. It’s one of my favorite European cities I’ve traveled – it’s clean and sophisticated and friendly, not overrun by fucking tourists, and all just so charming in an adult (not pornographic, just not childish or tacky) storybook sort of way.

On my first night, I stood in pain at 90-degree angle on a street corner near my hotel, pondering whether to cross one street and go into the Irish pub showing the football match, or cross the other street and go into the crowded pretentious homo bar. Not wanting to watch football or discuss hair products, I was so thankful when a little bar on a third corner caught my eye. I walked inside and there were only three patrons, so I fell onto a barstool in pain and ordered the most expensive beer on the menu. Pulling myself up onto a barstool must’ve looked like a difficult Olympic gymnastics event, for which I definitely got last place. Erik, the gorgeous tall blond supermodel bartender, struck up a conversation with me, and ten minutes later, another bartender arrived to take over Erik’s shift.

Then, to my fantastic surprise, Erik decided to stay and drink with me all night long. He was fucking hysterical. The two of us sat in the corner of the bar, downing Swedish beer after Swedish beer, laughing our asses off, and talking about damn near everything. I now have a heterosekshul Swedish boyfriend in addition to my American and British ones. I do not know why heterosekshul men latch onto me so quickly – perhaps because I am a generally non-threatening, non-queeny homosekshul…happily ‘just’ a gay dude… - but I’m certainly not complaining. Me thinks it is also because I laugh non-stop. Yes, that is my duty in life. To unite hetero- and homo- dudes together in happiness and shatter all the gay vs. straight stereotypes with lots of beer and laughter. I can do it.

Erik is a born-and-bred Stockholmian Old Towner, so we made an all-day date for Thursday, as he knows everything about everything. Plus, since he just quit his high-powered, high-paying job to go travel the world for a year, thereby living out his 30-year-old-life-crisis, he is also rich. Thus, I had no choice but to bask in his wealthly looks and attitude all afternoon, for reasons I mentioned above. The only reason he quit his job before the summer is so he can work in a non-crowded bar and watch every World Cup game while drinking with strangers like me.


Thursday morning, after consuming my Hydrocodeine cappuccino, we wandered along the canal forever until we had crossed yet another bridge and reached Djurgarden. We walked aimlessly through the gardens, etc., until we found a random gate that was only 1/4th of the way open, and decided to be brave and crouch through to see where it would lead us. We talked all afternoon, and he informed me that most Swedes would not go to Helsinki if you paid them to do so, and also that Copenhagen residents are like hick versions of Stockholmians. I got the lowdown.

After a while Erik had deciphered that were in Stockholm’s Open Air Museum, which is a really cool collection of old, architecturally disparate buildings scattered throughout lots of well-preserved land. The buildings ranged from old windmills to old-time country homes that were open to the public, among others. After a while, we found ourselves wandering through flocks of large birds and other little animals that nipped at our trainers.


When I saw a bear cub standing just a few yards in front of me, I screamed like an excited fat lady at a pizza buffet and cowered behind Erik’s tall frame. I could tell that he was a bit unnerved at first, too, but then he informed me that we had accidentally wandered into the back entrance of the Stockholm Zoo, which is apparently connected to the Open Air Museum. I was especially embarrassed when the five-year-old boy a few feet away from me (but on the correct, pedestrian side of the fence) was not half as terrified as me. When we saw more bears approaching us, we quickly climbed back into the normal part of the zoo where paying customers walk through. Erik and I played with the bears, seals, and some other animals that have been cruelly taken out of their natural habitats and have been trained to do tricks for tourists. When we reached the entrance, we realized that we had snuck into the grounds of the Open Air Museum and forgone the 80SK, which really wasn’t a problem.

Then, after some more Hydrocodeine (I shared!), we drank for free all night. I really would have preferred a massage from Erik, but I think that asking for this would’ve been a wee bit forward, not to mention the guilt I'd feel when I would have had to tell Awesome that I’d gotten an erotic back-ass massage from a hot Swede. See, sometimes, like once a month, I have a conscience.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see. - G.K. Chesterton

Monday, May 22, 2006

44 HRS IN HELSINKI

At this point in my PhD student lifestyle, I am near poverty. So, you would think that I’d have saved the less expensive countries to travel to during this time of near-homeless hedonism. But instead, I saved the Scandinavian countries and Switzerland – the most expensive parts of Europe – for last. Stupid Hedonist. Bad, Hedonist, bad! Returning to Italy next month ain’t exactly gonna be too affordable either, particularly Florence, Tuscany and Rome.

I don’t know why I wanted to go Finland. Uh…I still don’t know why I wanted to go to Finland? In Helsinki, the best things to do…are…uh…um….well?...uh…I was there for two days and I still haven’t figured that out. Helsinki is really small. I covered the entire city in an afternoon. I walk quickly and (seemingly) with purpose and a keen sense of direction, and thus often speed through foreign cities without ever consulting a map, but still get a thorough, substantial feel for the place, too.

About a week before I hopped on the plane to Finland, I pulled a muscle in my lower back when I’d been running one morning. Awesome has since given me the high-tech medical term for this muscle, the name of which I quickly forgot. So we’ll just call it my back-ass muscle. Not that I have a front-ass, too, but rather, I have severely injured whatever muscle it is that covers my entire lower back and then stretches down into my left ass cheek (this morning, the pain seems to have moved down into my entire left leg, too?). By the end of every day while trekking across three Scandinavian cities, I was in such pain that I would limp back to my hotel. I looked and felt like a raped whore after a 72-hour shift. Picture Elisabeth Shue at the end of Leaving Las Anus Vegas and that's me. Only, on some unfortunate days, I would leave my hotel in the morning limping, rather than waiting for pain to overtake my entire body after a day of walking. (Why do I always break myself at the most inopportune times?)

So, understandably, I was popping Hydrocodeine pills like Tic Tacs all over Scandinavia. If I could have injected it directly into my bloodstream or had a daily Hydrocodeine shake for breakfast, I would’ve. Awesome nursefully instructed me to not swallow massive amounts of Hydrocodeine and then walk around for 8 to 10 hours a day, that it would only make agitate the pain and make things worse since I would have no idea whether or not I was aching. So, me being me, I did the exact opposite of what my private nurse practitioner instructed, and wandered aimlessly in a state of faux joy (!!!!). I! Loved! Everyone!

I know that the sizes of Helsinki and Copenhagen are comparable to Amsterdam. And while I do not remember much of my trip to Amsterdam for obvious reasons, I did my best to feel no pain – NO PAIN, BABY!...well, at least on and off – all over Scandinavia. Thus, I’m not sure if I have an authentic take on any of these cities and countries – but hey, when do I ever? Plus, at the end of every night, when I was literally panting or grunting while limping like I’d been bum-fucked to Saturn and back (this feeling might sound pleasant to some readers, but oh, it was not), I recurrently decided that my only option was to get really, really drunk with strangers, in order to numb the pain in my special middle zone.

But wait! There’s so much more to tell you about Helsinki! I limped around the 1952 Olympic Stadium and completed an entire lap in pain (I pictured a bottle of Ketel One at the finish line)! I rode on a little rickety wooden boat out to Island of Pihlajasaari (I don’t know about you, but this is the sound I make when I sneeze) and gimped about in the lush Finnish greenness! I gluttonously inhaled an all-you-can-eat Finnish food buffet! Oh. Wait.

I’m not really sure what the culinary fascination is with buffets in Scandinavia, but they’re everywhere. Even at posh restaurants. All my life I have had a mondo problem with the concept of buffets. Consider what a buffet is at gloriously white trash American restaurants like Cici’s Pizza, The Golden Corral, Pizza Hut, Fresh Choice (wow, how ironic is that name?), et. al. If, as a restaurant patron, you separate yourself from the buffet-goers, what you see, without slight exaggeration, is a bunch of farm animals waddling up to a trough. It’s unnerving. Who wants to eat from a trough? I don’t, especially with my back-ass pain. Some people must’ve thought I was making passes at them as I hovered over in pain while reaching for salad tongs, and all the while sticking my ass out for all the restaurant patrons to see.

I cannot get involved with buffets because, really, what they ask people to do is to become snorting piggies who dip their hands and ladles into a giant bin of grub. If you really think about this, I’m not even speaking metaphorically. There’s always the big fat piggies who return to the trough like eight or nine times, as if this is his/her last meal on earth; and all the while, they’re glancing around to see if the other farm animals are counting how many times they trough-it-up (and duh, of course the other animals have a piggy tally). Then there are the uncultured suburban child piggies without manners who literally stuff their hands and faces directly into the trough because they don’t know any better, and then wind up with mac-n-cheese stuffed up their snouts and buttermilk gravy glopping down their pink faces. Sorry, but: You (anyone) + buffet = feedin' time at the livestock ranch.

Waddle, waddle; dip, dip, grab, grab; snort, snort; stuff, stuff; check please! That’s a buffet. Or, rather, a trough. So, how and why, then, are these methods of eating so bloody popular all over Scandinavia? I don’t know. You probably don’t know. I’m not even sure that the skinny Finns, Swedes, Danes and Norwegians know either, but buffets are the places to eat in Scan-land. And, um, they’re like way cheaper, too, which is why I went. Twice I even snuck dinner into my bag. I was not pleased when I had limped back to my hotel on Tuesday night and my laptop was swimming in salad dressing – which, at one restaurant, they had accidentally called Rhode Island instead of Thousand Island. (Who knew the smallest state had its own condiment!?)

That’s all I can report about Helsinki. Really. Period. Capesh. Well, other than the fact that I drank with two friendly male Finns for like five hours one night, who then ended up beating the shit out of each other in the street at 3am. I saw at least two fights a night in Helsinki. Those Finn guys love to fight, like it’s a requirement after heavy drinking. Even more so than Irish blokes. Whenever this happened, I would just give in to my back-ass pain, lay down in a pile of my blond midget self in the street, and play dead. Then I would sneakily crawl away when no one was looking. Worked every time.

So. Helsinki. Sort of a thumbs down. (But now I want to go to the north of Finland to play in more pretty Finnish greenness.) Just go to Stockholm instead, which I loved and shall report about tomorrow.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
The cool thing about being famous is traveling. I have always wanted to travel across seas, to like Canada and stuff. - Britney Spears