Thursday, September 29, 2005

Off to Hawaii

It's my last day at work before my 10-day vacation in Honolulu. I'll be visiting family for my brother's new daughter's christening (I'm the godfather) and my cousin who'll be getting married in Kauai. Who can even think about work?


Monday, September 26, 2005

The Reunion was Fun

My 20th college reunion was fun. I did meet folks who I remembered from way back. We all looked a little older, but not much different. I met quite a few folks from the journalism program, a few of them are screenwriters now, which is the glamour route--and one that would make any writer envious. One guy had flown to L.A. for the emmys because he writes for Bill Kurtis' "Cold Case Files" series (he didn't win, rats).

Most importantly, I felt my drinking had a decidedly desperate quality. While I enjoyed myself, I realize now how over enthusiastic I can get. Hyper-animated is how I'd describe it. I'm sure everyone I know will tell me that's how I get when I drink, and typically, it's fine. I mean, we're all partying. But it's a lot of energy. Maybe energy better spent in other activities.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


I'm about to go to my 20th college reunion. The sound you hear is me falling off the wagon.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Starting to Imagine

I've started to imagine the person I'm going to be in the second half of my life. I don't have many definite pictures, but I believe that man is going to know other languages. I've been trying to pick up my native tongue (Tagalog--Filipino) from language tapes and things are starting to gel. I believe this will be a way out of the alienation I've felt from "my people" for most of my life. If I can take any step away from the assimilated American I've become, language is THE step. It's the only substantial thing that keeps me culturally separated from the race I was born into. I can see that now that I've started to understand my relatives. It's a revelation and one that will help build my personal esteem.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Toying with People

I used to think having a job as a writer meant churning out words like sausage makers grind out sausage. I was out again with the co-workers for lunch (with girls and a guy this time) and when you work with writers, the cadence of the chat quickly moves to gallop. The "in" jokes have a voice, perspective and mischief. You have to be accurate or you'll be called out (someone said Pagan, I described dancing naked with trees and they pointed out the difference between a Pagan and a Druid). And when you make them laugh, you know you've been witty. Smart people are hard to push over. But they want to be.

I want to be. I'll drop down in that dunking booth water. But you'll have to hit the bull's eye first.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Working Stiff

My latest idea for a new one-man show is called "Working Stiff." I sometimes get an idea by working off a title first. Part of the inspiration came from my first "guys-only" lunch at work. I'm out at work and the guys still are not quite sure what to do with me now that I've been coming into the office every day. In any case, the Friday guy thing happens to turn into a scoping session for babes and MILF. I'm the fifth wheel in that it all does nothing for me. I typically don't bring the sex brainwaves into work and when I do bring it up, I'm often the joking "twist." I wasn't quite sure what to make of all of it, except that the job could provide interesting fodder for artistic exploration. It has to. I'm stuck there and I just won't have it any other way.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Playing with Numbers

I'm playing a little game. It's called MY LIFE. Actually, it's called ALEKS and it stands for something. I'm doing an online accounting class and I, of course, have been dragging my feet ... because it's accounting. However, I have done some work with balance sheets and income statements in past lives so okay, whatever. Well everyone in the newsgroup is chatting about the Pie. The Pie. The dreaded Pie.

Well, I'm wondering what they're talking about. So I finally get to the "tutorial" of ALEKS. It's 25 painstaking questions about assessing gross margins over three years and determining credits and debits and after a ton of "I don't know" click enters, you get your Pie. It's color coded in about six sections with each section having the inner portion darker if you're smart. The more your wedge is dark the smarter you are. I had light Pie. Pie light. One and a half quarter shaded wedgies, and a lot to learn. Depending on how light the piece is means the difference between three or 10 questions you have to answer to complete the wedge. In order to pass the course, I have to complete the Pie.

For the next five weeks, my life will be about this Pie.

What's your next five weeks like?

In woe I compose a haiku:

Fie on this damed Pie!
It's five weeks and accounting
Ah me, for I Pie.

Bad poetry brought to you by frustration and angst.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I fought traffic today without packing my light saber and Viking shield. I lost. A light rain killed me and worse, I missed an 8 a.m. interview I scheduled yesterday with a big-wig from a major convenience store chain. Rats. But no bitching or complaining. I take responsibility for my inability to leave the house on time or bring my cellphone (whoops). I hope to learn from these missteps and throw my frustration back into the effort.

The article I'm doing is about a man who went from one conveninece store in Quebec to engineering the largest purchase of a North American c-store chain the industry has seen in decades--the 2,000-plus Circle K chain which Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard bought in 2003. I've been listening to a DVD of interviews done by a film crew before Labor Day of thoughts from this man's co-workers. What surfaces again and again is how he inspired others to join the adventure. They talked about being given an offer they couldn't refuse in that the passion with which he spoke of his dream was overwhelming. They talked about his vision and being taken aback when he suddenly announced they would be the best convenience store chain in Canada (they only had 50 stores at the time). They thought it was pie-in-the-sky, but together they accomplished that and moved across the border into the U.S. Today with Circle K, they are rivaling 7-Eleven.

I think the difference between a visionary and a dreamer is that a visionary accomplishes what he sets out to do. Yes, you have to be a dreamer before you're labled a visionary, but ultimately, to be a visionary in the past tense means you've made it. To be a dreamer in the past tense evokes a sadness, a pity over someone who always saw himself one way and how reality never returned the favor. I think that's why people say you have to dare to dream.

Whenever I fail, like I did this morning, I try to take less and less time dwelling on it. I try to forgive myself and resume the journey. Since my life has been adrift lately, I haven't been living with the passion that I used to have. But seeing it in the lives of others inspires me to get in touch with my passion again. I remember having it. I remember being just like this convenience store entrepreneur I'm writing about now. Years ago, I started a not-for-profit that's still alive and doing better every day. I gave my all to a dance company for 18 years and traveled the world. I engineered an life in the arts by working as a professional journalist, meeting deadlines by day and dancing by afternoon and night. What happened to that guy? He needs to jump into that phone booth and burst out in that red cape and those blue Spandex tights.

You can't see me now, but I'm beating my chest, dammit. It's time to get in touch with my passion again, stir it up, get angry, pick up the sword, scream the charge and return to the ranks of those who die fighting.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I Like My Little Blog

I haven't had a place to "hide" like this is a long time. I remember when I was a kid, wanting to run away from home and my stupid family who did not understand me. I'd go to the space underneath an outdoor staircase that my Dad put a door on so we could store our bikes. No one would know I was there, but in my mind I'd think, you know I'm here, and you know I'm mad. See. I'm not coming home. Ever.

I guess this blog is a cyber version of that little storage space. People know I'm here. But they don't care. And there's something comforting about that...about how I really am alone.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

I Keep Talking About Not Drinking...Again

I may be at the point where drinking can now drift away. To even write it on this blog will elicit titters from the peanut gallery. But hear me out. About seven or eight years ago I had hair down to my waist. It was pretty hair. Black and wavy. Just thinking about it now makes me sigh. I loved the way it flowed and in dance, it made for a wild prop (imagine Proud Mary and being able to flip it back and forth when Tina got "rough"). After five years of having it that long, I began contemplating cutting it. Those thoughts danced in my head for weeks. Then, just as I was teetering on the edge of keeping it or cutting, my massage therapist said, "All that hair drains your energy." I cut it off that week.

Back then, I was into keeping my energy. Today, that's still a goal, but deep down, I just don't want to get fat. Since leaving the dance company I was with for 18 years, I've continued a regiment of exercise, but it'll never be as much as I did when I was dancing. And wine, beer, etc. It's all sugar.

I was also inspired by my other half Bob. We had gotten into the habit of opening a bottle of wine every Friday before we went on our weekly dinner "date." Last Friday he said he wanted to get back to his diet and forego the wine. I had always wanted to keep our "couple" moments sacred, but since he wanted to stop, I was inclined (of course I didn't. I had been thinking again about not drinking but I wasn't ready at that moment to stop, so yes, I opened a bottle.)But now, with the barrier of our couple ritual gone, I have one less excuse.

Three things will happen when I stop drinking. I'll save a boatload of money, I'll have more energy and I'll lose weight. All that and I won't be doing any more or less than I have been. Money, energy and supermodel waistline. Hmm.

Well, here I am again. Saying for the thousandth time that I'm going to stop drinking. I tell you what. The second I fall off the wagon I'll tell you.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

My Blog's Purpose

The systematic collection of detail from gathering, to digestion, to disposal may be at least one purpose for this blog. I will try to share my findings as I compile, sort and make sense out of (or attempt to infuse meaning for whatever reason into) what I find. What I am finding is that I truly want to create an internal, artful engine. This blog is merely a manifestation of what I believe will be the fuel for my artistic evolution.

I chatted for a while last night with my friend John. He and I wrote for a magazine here called Gay Chicago, which was kind of a blog before blogs were possible, except that (mostly gay) people picked up the paper and read our thoughts. In any case, we chatted about how our lives were moving into a place were the single goal was gone. Peering into a vague future was not inspiring. But in lieu of personal religion, I rely on my innate optimism and one of my newest scientific life conceptualizations: If you sit on it, it will hatch. Meaning, sit on a problem long enough and the black box between your ears will produce magic.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Laura Pact

At 41, I’ve been teetering on the edge of adulthood and feel like the death of my cousin Laura last week has allowed me to fall forward. All my life, I’ve been really good at playing. I’ve lead the artistic life of a dancer with a jazz dance company here in Chicago for almost 18 years. I’ve traveled through England, Europe, Russia, New York and dance festivals throughout the East Coast and the Midwest. But I’ve always supplemented the idyllic bohemian lifestyle with the fact that I’m bright, resourceful and articulate. I’ve worked as a freelance writer all during that time and have won numerous business association awards for my work.

Since leaving the dance company last December, I’ve been making motions towards becoming the adult—moving from freelance to fulltime; starting an online Masters in electronic business. Unfortunately, I haven’t been trotting down my new path willingly. I’ve been watching my waistline grow and I’m not happy (where did that girlish figure go?). I’ve begun drinking too much and have even got the shape-up or ship-out talk at work (not for showing up drunk or anything, but certainly getting a bit too red and a little too happy at cocktail receptions). I’ve been able to sneak in one musical during this busy work-all-day, school-all-night schedule, but it was rough.

Then seeing Laura bravely battle cancer and finally succumb at 37 has forced me to say, hey you. Tinker Bell. Grow up. Stop whining. Fulfill your “destiny” … But not in the way I was despairing. In the way Laura lived. Laura never became a novelist, screenwriter, painter or dancer. She lived life “artfully.” That to me means thinking past set parameters of logic and reason, and then turning around and dancing with them. Seeing what’s there and barrel beyond. Becoming more than who I am now, because she would if she could have.

My dragon has been detail. All my life I’ve been about style, saved only by an ability to think on the fly. The Man of Substance comes from the systematic collection, review and command of detail. I’m not afraid of this man anymore. Laura has allowed me to expand his definition; she’s helped me see that he only earns his substance if he retains and indulges in his artistry. Man, I really want to do this guy now. But more importantly, I’m ready to be him.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Why start my blog?

I crashed at my cousin Celia's pad in old downtown L.A. last week. It was the penthouse of a seedy hotel that lead out onto the roof. Buildings jutting up, some glass and steel, others ornate terra cotta. Old radio towers from the RKO era. Great view but this visit was because her sister, my cousin Laura was dying. Throat cancer had turned her into 70-pounds of bone and loose skin. So those two-and-a-half days were about waiting for her to die, watching her clutch for air and hoping she'd get lucid enough from the morphine to recognize we were all there. She was brought home to her apartment where her husband James was at her side. We thought at any moment she would die, but she kept breathing. And so we'd go back to Celia's place and crash. Well, drink first. Wine, beer, shots of tequila my god. Me, eventually running around crazy and hitting on her poor roommate. I think the low of being with Laura in her final moments shot me back up to some tequila-induced high that I needed. She died the third night I was there. We were at dinner and rushed back to experience those odd moments when you have a dead body in the house. Then we went back to Celia's. Talk about time to, shots, everything. Hysterical laugher. Over-the-top storytelling. I had a hot time on the roof with one of Celia's friends. Dag was it hot. My bruises are just now healing. When I got back to Chicago, I remembered to check out my cousin Laura's blog. She started it to help cope with how the cancer was slowly robbing her of life and it startled me--especially the pictures. I e-mailed the blog address to friends because it seemed that she found meaning in sharing. I don't know exactly why I started this blog. I know I'm not going to be completely honest. And I really don't have time to devote to it. Maybe I'm doing it because of L.A., and Laura and that rooftop. And how I deperately needed someplace to crash.

My first entry

I've always been hyper-aware of my virgin experiences. This is my first blog entry. Pop.