Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Weekend adventures: patriotic edition

The holiday weekend brought our numbers waaaaaay down on Saturday morning. We usually have about eight of our 12 pace group members at each marathon training run, but Saturday morning we had only three. And Fearless Leader Matthew, who always brings his camera, was among our missing. So I brought my camera, complete with four dead batteries. Fortunately, New Running Buddy had his camera phone, so we were still able to record our post-six-mile glow for all posterity. (If you look closely, you can spot the giant in the picture.) This Saturday: 14 miles! Woo-hoo!

I met my folks and my sister at a state park in western Illinois Saturday afternoon for a lovely picnic. We’d talked about finding a halfway-between-home-and-Chicago point to do something like this since I moved here (six years ago this month!), and we finally did it. It was a beautiful day, and we found a secluded picnic table under a charming little wooden shelter and enjoyed fried chicken, homemade deviled eggs, homemade tapioca pudding and this fabulous hearty bread with whole cloves of garlic baked right in that I found at my friendly neighborhood Jewel. On the drive home I got a bad case of the Almost Falling Asleep At The Wheels, so I stopped at a McDonald’s for some caffeine and greasy food. And when I set it briefly on the top of my car so I could unlock my door, the wind knocked everything over, dumping all my fries on my hood and spilling half my diet Coke down my windshield. But I was really hungry for those fries, so I discreetly put the least dirty of them back in my bag and ate them in my car, far away from the scornful stares of the other, less-inclined-to-die-of-ptomaine McDonald’s patrons.

I took about $700 in tax writeoffs donations to my local Brown Elephant on Monday. The stuff had been cluttering up my closets and drawers and bedroom floor for over a month, and I felt like I’d just given birth when I finally cleared them out of the house and left them at the tax writeoff donation table. And I’m just getting started …

There’s a guy at my gym who has two shirts. One has a TV station logo on it and the other has a big red cross on the back, as though he had worn it as a lifeguard in college. He and I work out at the same time every day, and I’ve always noticed which shirt he was wearing and how long he’d been wearing it. And when I packed up my gym clothes on Friday to bring everything home to wash over the weekend, I noticed I’d gotten myself whittled down to only three workout shirts, which I at least wear in rotation. But they’re all white, they all have logos from various races I’ve done, I’ve cut the sleeves off all of them (because the Clone Council mandates that all gay men cut the sleeves off their workout shirts) and they’re all getting really dingy, so I pretty much have been wearing one shirt to the gym every day. (Example! See the picture above.) So while I was at the Brown Elephant, I combed through their $3 T-shirt rack and came home with six broken-in workout-y shirts in every color but white, which I promptly cut the sleeves off of (see Clone Council, previous sentence), washed and packed with my gym clothes. So today’s workout will be a sartorial adventure!

While I was out driving around with my AMEX, I also bought a shelf to subdivide a cupboard filled with wasted storage opportunities, some khaki jeans and two of those trendy foo-foo silk-screened T-shirts all the kids are wearing (all on sale! all with a gift card that had more money on it than I’d thought!) at Old Navy, and new padded socks and two pair of hardcore running shorts (short but not too short, filled with pockets for energy goo, made of space-age breathable material, more expensive than Rush Limbaugh’s Viagra co-pay) at Fleet Feet.

My freakin’ sinus problems are still with me—now in their sixth sold-out week! I dug around this weekend and found an unfinished, unexpired prescription I got for this very problem last spring/early summer, looked it up on the Internets to make sure it’s what I thought it was and started taking it again—along with an over-the-counter sinus medication that together have given me my first taste of pain-free life in almost two months. Though one of the drugs gives me the sensation that my teeth are falling out. Sexy! The trouble seems to have migrated to my left eye, too, as it’s become red and oozy and altogether delicious looking. Somebody kiss me!

I took some new pix of my tattoo this weekend that aren’t as racy as the ones I’d posted here earlier. I forgot, though, that when I replace the batteries in my camera it defaults to the low-quality photo setting, which is what I blame for all the wrinkles and double chins and goofy expressions graininess and visible pixels you see here. I was going to post a pic featuring my red, oozy eye, but I decided I needed the Photoshop practice you might think I was just doing it to be patriotic, so I mopped up my oozy pixels and re-whitened my sclera (I had to look it up too) and I can now show you what Trashy the Tiger looks like when he’s all healed and partially clad in denim:

I had two really nice dinners with friends on Sunday and Monday nights. Both started at off-the-beaten-path Boystown restaurants, and both ended up at the sidewalk tables outside the ice cream shop at Broadway and Aldine. (The ice cream was my idea. I’m running 20+ miles a week. I can eat all the ice cream I want.) When I moved here six years ago (this month!), there were two things that to me epitomized being a gay man in a big city: sitting at a sidewalk cafe with friends watching the boys go by (and I’ve been here long enough that this weekend my friends and I knew about every third boy who walked by as we ate our ice cream) and going to at Sidetrack, the giant, cheerful clean video bar that is the polar opposite of the smoky, dark, depressing, used-to-be-a-McDonald’s gay bar in my home town. In fact, after our ice cream on Monday my friend and I headed to Sidetrack to sing show tunes and run into even more people we know. Both evenings played out exactly the way I’d hoped my life would be when I moved here, which is a pretty good feeling. Except I ended up closing the bar on Monday night—and I am too old to be staying up that late, even when I don’t have to wake up the next day. Oy.

I asked around and couldn’t find anyone who was interested in watching the fireworks with me on Tuesday night. I did hang out with some friends Tuesday afternoon eating pizza and watching three of the worst, most insulting gay indie films ever made, but Tuesday night I stayed in and did laundry and watched the fireworks out my window alone. Which is actually pretty cool; I’m on the 24th floor with an unobstructed western view that stretches panoramically to the horizon. And every July 4 the suburban fireworks displays transform the horizon into a dancing explosion of color and light whose coolness is almost impossible to describe (and whose beauty is impossible to photograph with my ghetto camera). Unfortunately, I had to turn off all my lights so their window reflections wouldn’t block my view, so some of my laundry got folded a little crooked. But sometimes you have to suffer to appreciate art, and Old Navy shirts never fold very straight anyway, so if that’s my biggest complaint about the weekend, I’d say I’m doing pretty well.

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