Monday, September 29, 2003

From playing Pirates to playing Packers in just three days

Chris, Bill and I met for drinks tonight at a dive bar around the corner from our office. It was a total guys' night out, complete with beer and salty bar snacks and talk about chicks—except I was always available to help keep things nice and gay.

After Chris took off to catch his train to the suburbs, Bill invited me over to his place to watch the first Bears game in the newly refurbished Soldier Field—which, contrary to popular opinion, I kind of like. Yes, it looks like a giant toilet bowl/space ship parked inside the shell of the old Soldier Field, but the two elements provide a spirited dialogue between the stately, controlled march of the original columns and the swirling, asymmetrical vortex of the new stadium. And the ongoing uproar over the renovation has not only underscored the obvious importance of architecture to us Chicagoans, but it's also reinstated colonnade into the vocabulary of civil discourse. Everybody wins!

So Bill, his wife and I sat in their living room all night multitasking our collective asses off: While we used the magic of Picture In Picture technology to watch both the game and the final, gripping episode of Temptation Island 3, Bill heated a pizza in the oven, Laura studied for an actuary exam, I tried to develop a meaningful friendship with their new dog, and Bill beat me in a high-scoring game of Scrabble. (While I racked up an impressive 45-point quote, he managed to squeeze a whopping 77 points out of sizzles. The bastard.)

Bill and I capped off our evening with a rousing medley of show tunes at his piano. But the biggest news of the night came when we discovered—after working with each other for five months and working out together five days a week for almost as long—that we have the same birthday. Who knew?

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Uncle Jake and the 40,000 cheering fans

My sister and her family got here Friday afternoon for our fabulous weekend together, and we hopped right on the train—my four-year-old nephew about shit himself sideways from all the excitement—and headed downtown to my office so I could show him off to my adoring co-workers. Then we went to what I always considered to be a tourist trap of a restaurant at the base of the mighty John Hancock Center—and it was fabulous! The menu puts delicious twists on standard restaurant fare, and the décor has this Goudí-inspired organic vocabulary that creates a fascinating, otherworldly ambience. Our tummies happily engorged, we waddled over to the evil consumerist mother ship down the block for some incredulous gawking before we headed home to chat and pull out the couch so Gunnar could have a sleeping adventure.

Saturday ranks as one of the great mountaintop experiences of my singing career: I sang the National Anthem with with the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus in front of 40,000 rabid Cubs fans right before the Cubs clinched their division victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in a frenzied double-header.

I couldn't decide what I was more afraid of as we marched onto the field (through a gate fittingly labeled Q): getting booed (or worse) when we were introduced or becoming disoriented by the sound delay sure to ricochet around the stadium when we sang. But neither nightmare happened. Everyone cheered when we were announced, and the sound system made our 90+ voices resonate with a stirring power that sent shivers up and down my spine and tears rolling down my cheeks. People continued waving and cheering as we left the stadium—and when they passed out the chorus' comp tickets for the game, there were miraculously four left over ... so my whole family suddenly got to go to the double-header together. My brother-in-law, the quintessential sports-loving straight man, was like a kid in a candy store all throughout what was a historic (and pretty exciting) first game. Gunnar had enough patience, though, to last only nine innings, so he and my sister and I bought Cubs hats and went shoe shopping while Steve stayed behind to watch the second game with all my gay friends. And when it was all over, the four of us capped off the day with dinner at an Evanston restaurant built in an old firehouse—which all but sent my little firefighter-obsessed nephew over the edge.

This morning, after a breakfast of Mickey Mouse waffles and Ralph Vaughan Williams, we headed to the Chicago Children's Museum for more Gunnar overstimulation and quite a few exhibits that were probably more interesting for us than for him. (And while fascinating and surprisingly clean, this museum appears to be a terrible place for picking up men.)

Now everyone's gone and I'm left with a quiet house to put back together and some pretty amazing memories to keep me company.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Yet another late night at work. Then a date with a guy from Paris. WOOF. I made it home in time for the late rerun of Tuesday's Queer Eye -- the only episode so far I haven't seen the first time it aired. (Hey, you have your hobbies, I have mine.)

Now I'm cleaning and degaying the condo for the weekend visit of my sister, her husband and my precocious four-year-old nephew. Our weekend plans include the Lincoln Park Zoo, Shedd Aquarium, the Children's Museum on Navy Pier and the simple, wide-eyed excitement of riding the CTA train. We may wear out the poor little kid, but Uncle Jake plans to have a great time!

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Long day at work today. Le Divorce tonight with Bob. The movie has Merchant Ivory charm by the truckload, but Kate Hudson's wig is abysmal. And that bit with the flying bag is too self-consciously Meaningful -- and too graphically amateur.

We stopped by the downtown Jewel before I grabbed the Red Line home and we saw two stunning men -- one of whom was wearing short shorts to show off legs so muscular they were almost cartoonish. WOOF.

R.I.P. Troll


A year ago today my parents had to put Troll to sleep. Troll was the replacement cat for Patches, the venerable old kitty who lived with us for 19 years and who is buried under the resurrection lilies in the back yard where she liked to hide and watch the world go by. Our family went catless for a few years after her death, but we eventually missed the feline companionship, and Troll came to join us. (And by us I mean them; my sister and I had already moved out by the time my folks adopted Troll.)

Why Troll? We're Norwegian, see, and there's no better way to honor your heritage than to name your pets after elements of your heritage's culture. But with us Norwegians, there isn't a rich lode of adorable pet names to mine. My sister got the best one long ago: She named her cat Loki, after the Norwegian god of mischief. After Loki, the cool choices drop precipitously. Personally, I would have picked Lutefisk (a traditional white-Jell-O-looking dish of cod soaked in lye) or Lefse (a potato pancake that looks more like a napkin than a food) as pet names before I would have picked Troll (a generic figure in the folklore of many cultures). But Mom and Dad liked Troll, so Troll it was.

Anyway, Troll was a pretty good cat. She was always charming, always friendly and (almost) always willing to be petted when you needed some kitty love to cheer you up. Her head was installed a few degrees off kilter and she had a HUGE belly and a scraggly little tail, so she was funny-looking enough to be amusing even when she was trying to be dignified. And she was briefly christened Tickle-Me Troll by Dad during that Elmo doll fad because she'd burp out a cute little meow-purr every time you touched her.

One of my favorite Troll stories: Mom was having a fussy-little-old lady meeting at the house one night, and Troll managed to jump her chubby little body up on the fireplace mantle, plop down right in the center and start licking her ass with ravenous earnestness as the ladies sat around eating their finger sandwiches and talking of Michelangelo.

But when my niece began to crawl last year, Troll apparently mistook her for feline competition and started peeing all over the house to mark her territory. My folks tried changing her diet, sprinkling the entire house with stuff designed to dissuade cats from peeing and even putting her on kitty Prozac. But she wouldn't stop, and her many charms were soon eclipsed by the frustration they got from living in a giant litterbox. Dad said she pissed her way out of a pretty good deal.

Dad, who always pretended he didn't even like cats, was ironically Troll's favorite in the house. She followed him everywhere, and he always had to make a place for her on his lap or next to him when he read or watched TV. He also got elected to take her to her final visit to the vet. It was actually a pretty devastating day for our family, but we keep her memory alive by reminiscing about what a great cat she was -- and when the house gets particularly humid, we still remember exactly why she isn't with us anymore.

So rest in peace, little kitty. We miss you.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

A day in the 'burbs

We had a one-day chorus retreat (which is code for day-long rehearsal in a place far enough away that people will commit to rehearsing and won't be coming and going all day and being disruptive) today in Oak Park. We got a lot of singing done, but best of all we had some silly social games that forced us to get to know each other better. With 150+ members, it's easy just to talk to the people you know at rehearsals and never expand your circles -- and today I had a really good time talking to some of the guys I've been on only a nod-hello basis with. And now we're best friends forever.

We also had a two-hour lunch break, and one of the chorus members gave us an abbreviated walking tour of the historic Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the neighborhood where we were rehearsing. The architecture and the neighborhoods are really quite beautiful -- moreso than their photographs lead you to believe -- and it's always refreshing to walk along streets with more empty parking spaces than cars.

Tonight I'm on the party circuit: A new-chorus-member reception in Boystown and a birthday party at Paul and Mike's in East Rogers Park.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Pizza and an interesting DVD with T., whom I haven't seen in over a week.

About T.: He looked as hot as ever, and we spent the evening wrapped around each other on his couch. That man is fun to touch.

About Dustin Hoffman in Confidence: How can a man who mumbles every word he's ever said be considered a good actor? I can't stand him or any movie he's in. Luckily the movie also featured the disarmingly handsome Edward Burns and the outright hot Brian Van Holt.

Now it's 11:00 pm on a Friday and I'm hitting the sack so I can be up early for an all-day chorus retreat tomorrow. Have fun tonight without me.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

It's started.

Kelly, who sits across the hall from me at work, has plastered the wall outside her office with Internet photos and bios of all the contestants on The Bachelor. And now the entire office keeps crowding around what I'd like to consider to be my office's front porch to discuss, analyze and mock the women and what they have to say about themselves (like the improbably named Misty's pride in her "cheerleading, tumbling and dancing abilities").

So far, I have nobly restrained my urges to draw curious disfigurements and patches of facial hair on all of them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

The team presenting the World's Biggest RFP that kept me living at work for the last week just called to report that the potential client loved loved loved our stuff. Which, in the irony of success, will probably just mean more work for us.

But it's great to be back into life. Last night I headed up Michigan Avenue after work to visit our newest gay store -- which was actually kind of a disappointment. (What's with this foo-foo embroidery trend? Practically everything at H&M was covered with tendrils of embroidery. And that's not good. If we as a society embrace embroidery, then International Male has won.) Then I balanced my checkbook, played on my computer and watched Queer Eye with Matt -- who was back from the Mediterranean with some decadent cruise stories to share.

And I have dates tonight and tomorrow. If anything newsworthy transpires, you'll be the first to know.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

What's brown and sticky?

A stick.

My first stripper buck!

The show went over fabulously well -- despite the fact that we had no technical rehearsals and I had a bitch of a time hearing the piano on the monitors. And someone even stuck a dollar in my pants while I was singing! Woo-hoo!

The show was about half drag queens and half people singing live. The drag queens, of course, always haul in the bucks for their coutured histrionics. We singers are just lucky if we remember all the words. And since the show was in a bar, the audience wasn't always inclined to listen to the quiet stuff. My song started out quiet, but by the time I hit my money notes at the end, I think I had every ear open and every mouth shut. And I think we raised a good chunk of change for our benefit organizations.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Show Tune Therapy

So my week has royally sucked, but tonight I get to sing on stage at a benefit for Chicago House and the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus. The benefit is a birthday celebration for drag diva Truly Scrumptious -- and it should be a total hoot! Come join us at @mosphere tonight. Doors open at 7, show starts at 8.

I'll be the one belting Liza.

Wait. That sounds bad. I'll be the one belting a song made famous by Liza. And (this time) I'll be dressed as a boy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

So I crawled home last night around 9 and started fixing dinner. Then my phone rang.

See, there's this guy I've known very casually since I moved here three years ago. He's adorable. We've had lunch. We've flirted shamelessly. He was in a relationship. Now he's not. And now he lives in my building.

He had just gotten home from a long day himself, and he wanted to unwind together with drinks. He came down with his martini. We chatted. We went up to his place because he has a balcony and a MUCH better view. We chatted some more. We flirted.

But it was late. I was tired. But sigh. He sure is cute.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Summer is officially over.

Last night was the first rehearsal for the chorus' performance season. It was great to see everyone all tan and summer-slim and colorfully coiffed (including yours truly). And in addition to my usualy favorite eye candy, there was new meat to inspect and flirt with. Being gay can be so much fun!

Prurient interests aside, it was also great to hear us raise our mighty voices together after our long vacation. Our director always challenges us with spectacular arrangements and creates so much beauty with our raw talents. Plus, he's put his twisted mind to work dreaming up yet another fabulously clever season of music.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

I picked up my half marathon registration packet last night. I apparantly can't cancel my entry, so I decided that since I trained for so long for the race, then damnit, I deserve the T-shirt and the free rice samples and the coupons for the running socks.

Then I hosted the first Big Gay Movie Night of the season. Ten fags. Two spiffy new chairs. Two fabulous DVDs. And now a refrigerator full of leftover pizza.

Friday, September 05, 2003

The dream dies.

So the half marathon is in two days. I haven't run in four weeks. You do the math.

While my hip-flexor injury is slowly getting better on its own (aided, no doubt, by lots of stretching, weekly yoga classes and -- oh yeah -- NO MARATHON TRAINING), it's still a huge barrier to completing little tasks like, say, running to catch a bus.

So I finally broke down and went to the professionals at AthletiCo. And when I learned my that free initial consultation would be with a male physical therapist, I started entertaining all sorts of porno fantasies. But they weren't meant to be; the guy was cute enough, but he was wearing one of those fashion faux pas WWJD bracelets. ACK!

Anyway, it took two cute-ish physical therapists to evaluate me, and they determined that 1) I have severe problems with inflexibility and 2) I should probably see a doctor and get X-rayed because there might be something more that's wrong. Yay.

In the mean time, I have an illustrated page of stretches I can do discreetly (or so I hope) at my desk. And a list of sports-medicine doctors to call -- after I figure out which ones are in my insurance network.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

J. the dreamy dance captain for The Lion King didn't come to yoga today. Or last week. So it's been two weeks since our mini lunch date where we realized our lustful interest was kind of mutual. Sigh. At least I'm getting in a more focused yoga workout without him bending and stretching his lithe dancer body so distractingly on the mat next to mine.

Speaking of The Lion King, here's some interesting babboon news.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

I suck at this game.

So I go to the EL last night and I walk past a hunky (though young-looking) dude sitting in a sleeveless T-shirt and baggy gym shorts on the platform. He doesn't even look up, and I keep on walking and I wait for the train at the other end of the platform. The train comes, I get on, I sit down, I start reading ... and I suddenly notice he's sitting right across the aisle from me.

Which means either:
1) He randomly wandered to the same train I'm on and my imagination's just in overdrive.
2) He followed me 'cause he wants me BAD.

And it definitely means:
1) He's smokin' HOT up close.

Then both of us keep "looking" around the train, craning our necks this way and that in a shameless effort to just happen to lock eyes once in a while. Which we do. A lot.

Then we get to the part where I have no idea what to say or do. "Excuse me, but I noticed we seem to be flirting. Wanna see my nipples?" "Dude. Nice legs. They'd look great wrapped around my neck." "Man, it's hot in here. Mind if I take off my shirt?" The possibilities are endless ... if you're doing bad porn.

Anyway, we get to my stop. He's momentarily distracted by his book. I get off. He doesn't notice until the doors close and the train starts pulling away and our eyes meet once more through the window.

And ... I guess this story doesn't have much of an interesting ending. I'm sorry. On many counts.