Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You’re not going to believe this

I don’t really like running with music. I have this weird adorable little compulsion to run on the beat if I have a song blaring in my ears. Which is great when my iPod plays Hooked on Classics or the One Tin Soldier club mix. But when it cycles to a tender love ballad or anything from A Little Night Music, I mess up my groove and trip all over myself. So I usually run with nothing but my wandering imagination to keep myself occupied.

And while my wandering imagination takes me to some weird places—I recently found myself explaining direct-mail basics to a federal grand jury—it works for me. And nobody gets hurt. So I stick with it. But that’s not the part you’re not going to believe.

You see, on this morning’s run as I fought to ignore the foreboding tightness in my left hamstring, my mind wandered to the bus I would be catching to go to work in an hour. In the little story playing out in my head, the bus driver recognizes me when I get on, asks me if I’d lost something the day before, and hands me my poor little homesick phone. And everybody likes a happy ending, so I kept replaying the story over and over in my head for five hamstringy miles. But still, that’s not the part you’re not going to believe.

My bus route starts a block north of our condo, so I’m usually the first person on my bus in the morning. I have to get off downtown when the bus is its most crowded, so I always sit in the same seat right across from the back door so I can beat a hasty exit through the morning throngs. When I got on the bus this morning, the bus driver wasn’t the driver I’d had yesterday. In fact, she wasn’t even one of the three or four drivers I’ve come to recognize on my route. She was pleasant and smiley, but she didn’t hand me my damn phone. No biggie, I thought. There’s still a minuscule chance the phone will be sitting in my seat when I get back there.

Armed with this delusion, I lurched my way to the back of the bus as it rumbled down the street. And when I got to my seat—and here finally is the part you’re not going to believe—there was a goddamned cell phone sitting right where I usually plop my butt. True story!

Unfortunately, the damn thing wasn’t mine.

But, flush with the idea that karma is a benevolent mistress, I rushed the phone up to the bus driver so she could turn it into the CTA’s lost and found. And when I got to work this morning I called the CTA’s lost and found myself to reap my sweet reward.

But my reward wasn’t a triumphant reunion with my poor little phone. No! It was the smack-in-the-face reality that my phone had never been turned in. Karma, it turns out, is a fickle little bitch.

And she’s totally gonna suffer the consequences when I rat her out to the federal grand jury.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Why today is sucking

I spilled yogurt on my shirt when I got to work, so I look kind of clumsy and disheveled today.

Oh, and I left my cell phone on the bus this morning. I had the ringer off so as not to disturb the other bus riders, but also so as not to have any of them hear my phone ring the hundreds of times I’ve called it hoping to find a friendly neighborhood Chicagoan who could help get my phone back to me.

And I don’t even want to think about the hundreds of non-backed-up phone numbers I’ve lost. Or the adorable text messages from the fiancé that I couldn’t bring myself to delete. Ugh.

I figure the phone is lost to the ages, so I called Verizon to at least disable it so bus-riding agents of evil wouldn’t run up exorbitant phone bills calling Dick Cheney. The Verizon operator was very helpful until we got to the part where I asked her if I’d have to pay full price for a replacement phone or if I’d get some sort of existing-customer discount. She blabbered out three corporate-speak answers involving plan names and code numbers and all kinds of other stuff that I as a consumer was guaranteed not to understand before I finally had to put it as simply as possible: If I go to a Verizon store today and get a new phone, will I have to pay full price—yes or no? Unfortunately, she was still incapable of providing an answer. Though I suspect her confusion translated to yes.

On the suddenly bright side, my phone battery is so crappy it doesn’t hold a charge for more than a day, so by sundown nobody will be able to read my mushy text messages or access my dear friend Paris Hilton’s number and interrupt her busy life with meaningless chatter. So there’s that.

And when I get a new phone, maybe it will have a better camera in it so the photos I post here won’t look like they were taken by an astigmatic squirrel. So it looks like you-all owe me a big thank-you for being so irresponsible.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

8 miles!

The word of the day on Saturday was muggy. So muggy, in fact, that I actually produced sweat. One of my lucky genetic aberrations—at least as far as running goes—is that I barely get moist on even the hottest, stickiest days. Which is lucky in that I never have chafing issues … but unlucky in that I tend to overheat quickly and collapse in a puddle of light-headed delirium. Not unlike the Dubya administration.

Speaking of delirium, the fiancé and I took Matthew to dinner on Friday for his birthday … which is technically in May, but coordinating our three schedules has been a bit of a challenge this summer. We found a nice little outdoor Italian place where we could carbo-load before Saturday’s big run while we watched Chicago’s hoi polloi saunter by après work. The restaurant’s dessert menu was kind of lame, so Matthew suggested we head up to the Ghirardelli store in the heart of touristville and indulge on fatty ice cream sundaes. Which we did. And as we were sitting at the Ghirardelli (motto: Ice cream sundaes with just a hint of ice cream!) sidewalk café, I noticed the table next to us start staring wide-eyed at the sidewalk. Then Matthew and the fiancé started staring wide-eyed at the sidewalk. And since my back was to the sidewalk and I am nothing if not subtle, I whipped my head around to see what all the wide-eyededness was about. And there, in all his delirium-inducing (See? I eventually got around to paying off the first sentence of this paragraph. And you were worried I’d go off on a tangent.) dreaminess was gracefully aging hair-band rocker Jon Bon Jovi. Swoon!

But Jon’s hotness apparently threw off the barometric pressure or something similarly weather-man-sounding because by the time we woke up on Saturday to run, the air was like unset Jell-O. Or something slightly more weather-man-sounding. It also must have done something to Matthew’s camera, because I came out looking more than a little goofy in most of the pictures he took. For instance:

For some reason—either the moist-like-a-Duncan-Hines-cake weather or the fact that Saturday’s eight miles constituted a “short” run after the 17 miles we did two weeks ago—only five of our 15ish pace group members showed up this weekend. So this week’s photos show a vastly diminished dramatis personæ.

Here we are at the mile 5 water station. See my tank top? It started out as a jogging bra, but the humidity stretched the damn thing out until it looked like a kicky A-line camisole. Notice the sexy sweat pattern under my aging manboobs:

Here we are a mile later on the Belmont bridge. My jogging bra is now billowing like a Mayan burial gown, the sweat patterns make it look like I’m overdue to feed the baby and Matthew’s goofy camera makes me look more stunned than Dubya being asked to name the days of the week at a press conference:

By the time we’d slogged our way through eight miles of Jell-O, I had somehow found my halfway-normal face and I even got to hold the sign (for the second time this summer!) in our weekly team photo:

Next week we’re running 20 miles, and early weather predictions include words like “high temperatures.” I don’t speak weather, so we’ll have to wait until next weekend to find out what those words mean. And if they’re capable of killing a blogger who’s just learning how to sweat.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Harry Potter rejected ending option #7,356

Harry and some other character (I’ve never read the books so I don’t know any of the characters’ names) are fighting. Maybe in a castle. Or in a moonlit woods. Or possibly in front of the Hot Topic at the mall but they’re really careful not to let the fight spill over into the area in front of the Orange Julius because the manager there keeps calling the mall guards and they don’t want to get kicked out again because the other character’s mom is totally not gonna let them hang out in her living room tonight because she just got a new couch at the Rent To Own and she doesn’t want them spilling Coke or getting stab wounds all over it.

They each have an arsenal of weapons including swords and amulets and ancient curses and screeching owls named Diablo with sharp talons and really stinky owl butts that can kill in one whiff. The battle is epic, with sleights of hand and … um … other wizardy stuff.

Suddenly one person seems to be winning. Then the other one does. Then the first one does again, only this time with some jingoistic catch phrase that makes it clear he’s about to be the victor.

Then one of the owls screeches. For effect.

Then, just as the almost-victor is about to drive his sword or his lightning bolt or his your-mother-related insult into the almost-loser, a third character appears from the shadows, wielding a giant weapon of some sort. The third character swings the weapon and it’s not clear which of the first two characters it will hit. Everyone gasps in anticipation as the weapon comes crashing down.

And then darkness. And silence.

Through the inky blackness, you see a hand groping for … something.

There’s a bit of a crash as an implement of some sort falls off a table, but the hand eventually finds what it’s looking for: a light source. A table lamp, actually. With a plaid shade.

The lamp comes on. Through the dim light, we can just start to make out the shadowy figures of …

Bob Newhart and Suzanne Pleshette in bed together, both clad in pajamas. Bob turns to Suzanne and speaks:

“Honey, wake up. You won’t believe the dream I just had …”

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Harry Potter and the Irrelevant Blog Post

There are NO Harry Potter spoilers in this post

So a co-worker spent the weekend devouring the last Harry Potter book. She was being VERY careful around the office not to say anything that could remotely spoil the fun for anyone else who may still be reading the book. But since I haven’t read any of the books and I’ve seen only one movie that I barely remember anyway and I honestly see no future involving me reading any of the books, I followed her into her office, closed the door and asked her in hushed tones to tell me how it all ends.

Which she did. In hushed tones. So now I know. And I am not spoiling anything by saying that the ending is so convoluted (it took her about 15 minutes to explain it all to me) and involves so many characters I’ve never even heard of that I couldn’t possibly explain any of it to you even if I were the sort of asshole who went around deliberately spoiling people’s fun. (Hermione’s a dude!)

Even though I don't plan on reading the books, I’m thrilled that the series has people (especially kids) reading so enthusiastically. And that it has religious wingnuts so apoplectic over its juggernaut-like influence in the spread of witchcraft, child-eating and kitten-spanking. I also love stories about curses and secrets and magic and castles and intrigue and girls named Hermione who turn out to be dudes, so you’d think I’d be eagerly devouring Harry Potter books as fast as they’re written. But as it is, I can barely keep up with my growing piles of Times and Newsweeks and New Yorkers, so I have no interest in piling seven hefty Harry Potter books on my shrine to reading failure.

I have had time, though, to make two date nights in a row with the fiancé. Last night we saw Hairspray, which we adored. I know some homos were wanting to get all boycotty on the movie because of John Travolta and Scientology and homophobia, but we quite frankly couldn’t work up much of a lather over any of that. (Since virtually all religions have underpinnings—or downright foundations—of homophobia, what religious actor isn’t involved in a homophobic religion? And how perfect is “lather” in a paragraph about Hairspray?) In any case, the movie is delightful, the costumes and wigs are fabulous, the choreography (though filmed in a way that makes it hard to watch at times) brings a fresh take to ’60s standards, and James Marsden is positively dreamy. John Travolta doesn’t bother me at all in the movie, and in fact I like the humanity he brings to Edna. I do think Zac Efron is way too young to play Link, though, and Amanda Bynes is kind of dull as Penny. And holy shit is Elijah Kelley charismatic as Seaweed. And even though I’m still bitter I didn’t get cast as Velma, we’ll totally see it again.

Then tonight the fiancé met me at work and we walked to Millennium Park with a blanket and a bag of treats and enjoyed Ravel’s hypnotic Boléro on a program of 20th Century French Orchestral Works That Jake’s Otherwise Never Heard Of on the lawn of the Pritzker Pavilion. It’s all part of Chicago’s free Grant Park Music Festival, and we intend to go back as often as we can this summer. And next time we plan to bring snacks that are a little healthier (but no more refreshingly delicious) than these:

After the concert, we wandered through the Millennium Park grounds and even took an obligatory tourist picture of our reflections in The Bean (officially known as Cloud Gate):
Let the record show, though, that The Bean is a curved surface, so any weird distortions you see here do not reflect the naturally manly shapes of our bodies. Or our names aren’t Hermione.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My short list:

• Current presidents of the United States
• Microsoft Word
• The legal department that sent me a letter addressed to “MasterCard Card Cardholder”
• People who say “sandwidge”
• Current vice presidents of the United States
• The painful little running injury that travels between my right hip and my right calf
• Anyone who uses the words “one man and one woman” or “sacred institution” or “portion” (I just hate the word “portion.” It gives me a rash.)
• Keebler Chips Deluxe for being so sinfully delicious
• On a note completely unrelated to the Chips Deluxe: my slowly growing midsection
• “Lucky Star” by Madonna
• High-waisted pants

Dear Newsweek,

RE: Your July 23, 2007, “Split Decisions” Periscope article on page 10

The Institute for Marriage and Public Policy recently concluded that the destruction of marriage is caused by no-fault divorce. Who saw that coming? Imagine the embarrassment the framers of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act must feel now that they know the real threat to marriage has been coming from straight people all along. As gay men, we expect their prompt, profuse apologies for throwing the blame at us all these years … along with revised legislation allowing us to get married ourselves.*

Jake and Justin

*I know: This blog has gone all Tom-Cruise-on-the-couch lately on the Jake’s-in-love and people-opposed-to-gay-marriage-are-retarded threads. But the IMPP article appeared this week just begging for a snarky response. The findings of the study technically were limited to the fact that no-fault divorce was directly responsible for 10% of divorces overall, though, so my analysis-response model contains a few self-servingly convenient jumps in logic. Then again, logic hasn’t historically played a prominent role in any argument against gay marriage, so I’m just keeping the playing field level.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

One year ago today ...

I met a fella at a party. And my whole world changed.

Meet Justin. He can turn the world on with that smile:

Friday, July 20, 2007

A weekend in the vowel states

The boyfriend, his cousin’s girlfriend and I (got all that?) are picking up the boyfriend’s cousin (who is also the boyfriend’s cousin’s girlfriend’s boyfriend) at the airport at 1:00 am Saturday and deadheading to Dayton so I can finally meet their grandmother and assorted sisters and cousins and aunts, some of whom have become regular readers of this here blog thing. Which means I like them already. Especially if they can pick out all the show-tune references in this post.

A year ago Sunday was the fateful party where the boyfriend and I first bonded over show tunes and puppy-dog eyes and repeated—albeit completely accidental—brushes up against each other. While I never thought I’d meet a prince, I certainly never thought I’d be celebrating a one-year prince-a-versary on a 5-hour road trip. With relatives in the car.

And I couldn’t be happier.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

17 miles!

Today is my fourth anniversary of writing this silly little blog. It’s also Jake Is Really Busy At Work And Too Tired To Put Much Effort Into A Blog Post Day. So I’m going to let the photos from Saturday’s run do all the talking. And I’m not going to undermine your enjoyment of them with too much thoughtful commentary. I can be a giver like that.

We lucked out on Saturday with the weather—it had been warm and muggy all last week, but on Saturday morning it was cool and overcast and downright perfect for running almost 2/3 of a marathon. The weather was so perfect, in fact, that Matthew took a picture of the overcastness in homage to its perfectness:

A lot of the runners this year have been wearing the yellow AIDS Marathon moisture-wicking T-shirts we were issued at the beginning of the summer. I find the shirts to be rather itchy—and I’ve been told by two people I look bad in yellow—so I never wear mine. Besides, all that extra sleeve fabric makes me too warm when I run. But I still had last year’s yellow AIDS Marathon tank top, so I decided to follow the crowd and wear it on Saturday:

Chicago is pretty flat, so the only real “hill” we have to run is the North Avenue bridge, which arcs steeply up like Dubya’s growing disapproval rating:

And then back down like Dubya’s shrinking approval rating:

All those hills can make a runner hungry, so we took our first PowerGel break soon afterward. PowerGel, for those of you who eat only real-people food, is a hyper-concentrated little packet of sugars and carbs and electrolytes and who knows what else that you can squirt in your mouth, practice not gagging and then actually feel the exhausted cells in your body come back to life. It’s magical stuff, but it’s more disgusting than a French kiss from Karl Rove. It’s also impossible to eat gracefully:

Word to the first-time PowerGel eater: Bring something else, though, to follow, since no one should swallow it without liquids. Which are equally hard to consume gracefully when your entire head is exploding from all those carbs and sugars:

I know I posted a picture similar to this one last week, but I just want to repeat how much I love living in Chicago. Our lakefront trail is just so darn beautiful:

Argentina’s first lady deserves Buckingham Palace. Which is neither here nor there. But Saturday’s halfway turnaround was at Buckingham Fountain, where we were given giant pretzels to replenish our plunging sodium levels. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a picture where we weren’t all chewing:

On the way back north, we ran into a guy who trained with us last year but who’s now training on his own. Poor Marquese—without having us around to push him each week, he’s practically turned into Edna Turnblad. Except with less hairspray:

My calf seized up around mile 10, and by mile 12 I was the limping wounded. And when I tried to stand up after this picture was taken, I knew I had five seriously painful miles ahead of me:

There’s a water station in Lincoln Park (which on Saturday was our mile 13) where we get free Gatorade and a chance to NOT RUN FOR A WHILE. It is truly a gift from the gods:

Our home stretch is a glorious thing. Though when Matthew photographs it over his shoulder as he's running, it can look as though we might be Adam and Steve running from a herd of ground-rattling dinosaurs in a diorama at the Creation Museum:

We always do a group stretch after we finish. Here’s an embarrassing picture of Ryan I’m posting here solely for the purpose of showing you how flexible he is:

17 miles can make you exhausted. Here we are waiting rather placidly for the fiancé's pace group to finish so we could all head out to breakfast:

It can also impair your judgment. Here we are flashing our butts for the camera as though we were butt-giggly 8-year-olds (well, 8-year-olds who understand escrow). Notice we were too tired to actually pull down our pants. At least most of us were too tired to actually pull down our pants. And even then not all the way:

By the time the fiancé's group approached the finish line, one of us (ahem) had the brilliant idea that we should be cheerleaders and form a welcoming pyramid. Note to self: George has sharp knees. Follow-up note to self: Try not to laugh like a donkey when cameras are present:

Here’s our traditional final photo. Notice that no matter how boring my earlier photo captions were, I have shown no improvement over the course of this post:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sparkle fingers!

We’re smack-dab in the middle of a 10-day run of Jake-iversaries, and the gifts are gonna get expensive for you-all before we emerge on the other end. Here’s the rundown:

July 12, 2007: I proposed to the boyfriend
July 16, 2000: I moved to Chicago
July 19, 2003: I started this blog thing
July 22, 2006: I met the boyfriend

And don’t you think it’s high time you met the boyfriend as well? I’ve been keeping him a vague, shapeless little ghost on here for a number of reasons this last year: privacy, manufactured drama, his own reticence about being splashed all over the Internets, keeping his handsome mug all to myself, the fact that he may or may not really be a ghost …

But if I’m ever going to post wedding pictures, I have to slowly acclimate him to the high intensity of my 24/7-paparazzi blogger life … and I have to slowly acclimate you to his white-hot blinding awesomeness.

So we’ll start off slowly, with a candid snapshot taken the day we met:

As you can see, I was obviously first taken by his beauty. His inner beauty, naturally, but his beauty nonetheless. He was still in his blue-eyeshadow-and-cotton-crotch phase, but I knew from my own embarrassing youthful swim in those waters that he’d move on quickly. A lifelong wearer of dark neutrals, I wasn’t terribly keen on his taste for sparkle and glitz. But I have to say he wears it with confidence, and that’s all we can really ask of a person, isn’t it? And just as the discovery of weight shift propelled the flat, awkward Medieval painting traditions into the excitingly dimensional world of Renaissance art, his personal use of angles and space on the day we met brought him alive in ways I still admire to this day.

Stay tuned for more color pictures and amusing little tales as we slowly Meet The Boyfriend. Next up: the awkward years!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Putting the gay in engagement

I know: Thanks to the tireless efforts of intellectual visionaries like George W. Bush and pillars of nuptial morality like Newt Gingrich, our engagement is legally little more than a delusional fantasy. If Bob Allen could empty his mouth long enough to speak on the subject, he’d parrot the usual litany of right-wing inanities against our little folly: gay marriage is some yet-to-be-defined “threat” to straight marriage, the gays don’t deserve the “special right” of marriage, if we let men marry men we’ll have to let women marry Ann Coulter their own dirty vaginas, etc. etc. etc. ad stupidium.

While I obviously find every argument against gay marriage to be a bigger load of crap than the entire Dubya kakistocracy, the fact remains that the boyfriend and I are currently stuck as second-class, no-real-options citizens on this front. And while I bet that gay marriage will be a complete, non-straight-marriage-threatening reality within a decade, any kind of wedding we stage in the next few years will have all the legal standing of a party with exceptionally delicious cake and a huge AMEX bill.

But that doesn’t change the fact of us: two men who through dumb luck and a mind-boggling string of coincidences managed to cross paths a year ago this week, discover in each other that elusive missing piece—that once-in-a-lifetime emotional symbiosis that the poets celebrate and the Delilah callers can only dream about—and realize that it’s a good thing we like each other because this relationship is bigger than the both of us and we’re in it for the long haul.

The fact is, we’ve been talking about our wedding since the day we met. I think we were introduced with words to the effect of you two should meet each other—you both love Sondheim. Within an hour we’d assembled a list of Sondheim songs we jokingly—jokingly!—said we should have sung at our wedding. Two months later, the night before he left for a month to train for his new job, he asked—with the most adorable quiver in his voice—if I’d be waiting for him when he got back. I took his hand and said, “You know how we’ve been joking about all those wedding songs for the last two months? I wasn’t joking.” Then I took a deep breath and resigned myself to being a lonely little wedding singer for the next four weeks. Thankfully, I soon lost my job and the developer of my new condo got murdered so I had a billion things to keep my mind occupied during our separation.

Early this summer, we started talking seriously about planning some kind of commitment ceremony. While the missing legal component will remain a violent slap on our faces, I really feel it’s important to declare our love for and commitment to each other in front of witnesses. And then have exceptionally delicious cake. And that will have to tide us over until we can drag our elected officials kicking and screaming into reality. Where we can beat them. Somehow we landed on a late fall 2008 target date for our wedding, probably because late fall offers the cheapest rates if we follow my ultra-cheesy, gayer-than-a-televangelist-on-his-knees little dream of getting married at … and I am almost embarrassed to admit this … Disney World. (One practical benefit: As established adults, we already have way more stuff than we want or even need. So we figure if people pay for a trip to Disney to celebrate with us, they won’t have any money left over to buy us linens and gravy boats and other things we’ll just end up tripping over until our next garage sale.) A proper Disney wedding is probably more expensive than either of us dares to imagine anyway, but I’m still holding on to my little dream until it’s ripped violently from my poorly manicured middle-class fingers.

A month ago, I decided that if we’re really going to have a wedding, we’ll need to have an engagement first. And since there are no gay-proposal cultural traditions I could follow, I had to hack my own way through the engagement jungle. I figured we’d probably want to pick matching wedding bands as a couple, so I decided to find relatively inexpensive engagement rings to use for the proposal. And I bought them from an old friend in Iowa when I was home helping my folks move during the Fourth of July weekend. I’ve never bought jewelry before, though, so I didn’t know that 1) even halfway-decent rings aren’t “relatively inexpensive” and 2) jewelry stores don’t habitually keep an inventory of every ring in every size, so our rings had to be ordered and shipped to me. Thank goodness for Sondheim, or I’d never know any of this stuff.

The rings—I ended up buying some pretty fabulous tungsten carbide steel ones—finally arrived early last week, and I’d planned on proposing this coming weekend, on the anniversary of our meeting. But once I saw the rings, I realized I did not have the patience to wait that long. So Thursday night I cooked us a lovely dinner including a pudding custard that I put in martini glasses with little raspberries acting as bubbles so we as non-weeknight-drinkers could toast each other after the proposal. It was a beautiful night, so I suggested we enjoy it on our semi-private rooftop deck by candlelight. But not so I could have a nice starlit setting for a wedding proposal or anything silly like that, of course. The boyfriend looked skeptical, but he gamely helped me schlep everything up to the roof in the dark … only to discover our neighbor was sitting up there with a cooler of beer, a pack of cigarettes and a cell phone with a full battery.

After a suitably awkward wait, we headed back downstairs, where the boyfriend sweetly apologized over the fact that my little romantic rooftop evening idea had been ruined. Which actually was the best possible thing he could have said to set the scene for a proper proposal. And then I suddenly realized: Holy shit! I’m REALLY going to do this. You might say I was excited and scared.

The boyfriend has a slightly irritating (in an adorable, one-of-the-many-reasons-I-love-him kind of way) habit of deflecting anything romantic I say with a joke or an insult or some sort of deprecation. So since the romantic thing I was about to say was pretty high on the importance continuum, before I creaked my ancient knees to the floor, I informed him gravely that if he laughed at what I was about to do, I’d punch him in the balls.

And then I was on one knee in front of him. And I was actually doing it. I was actually stumbling through the romantic little speech I had practiced in my head a couple hundred times, looking up at his beatific smile and knowing that this was exactly what I was supposed to be doing at this moment. And even though I messed up a good half of my speech and in my confusion I slipped the ring on his right hand, he of course said yes and my heart soared and somewhere in the ensuing celebration we managed to toast each other with pudding martinis and take a picture of our hands to post on the blog (because there are priorities) and talk and laugh and kiss and hold each other and fall asleep in each other’s arms with the kind of contentment that not even Sondheim himself could summon the poetry to describe.

And no matter how much gay-hostile sophistry the vast right-wing moronity dishes out to its voting base, the wheels are turning. We are in love, we are deserving of equality, we are fiancés and we are getting married. And we are doing it all with exceptionally delicious cake.

Something is stirring,
Shifting ground.
It’s just begun.
Edges are blurring
All around,
And yesterday is done.

Feel the flow,
Hear what’s happening:
We’re what’s happening.
Don’t you know?
We’re the movers and we’re the shapers.
We’re the names in tomorrow’s papers.
Up to us, man, to show ’em …

It’s our time, breathe it in:
Worlds to change and worlds to win.
Our turn coming through,
Me and you, man,
Me and you!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

He said yes!

Snapshots from a Toronto business trip:

4:15 am
It’s dark. I’m a morning person in the same way Bob Allen is a heterosexual crusader for our country’s moral health. But I manage to wake up and shower and shave and put on my foo-foo expensive impress-the-client shirt and head out to the airport in plenty of time to get checked in and through security without any problems.

Flying United
The United web site tells me to check in at the Air Canada desk in Terminal 2. I go to the kiosk since I have no bags to check and it tells me to check in with a United gate agent in Terminal 1. But the United gate agent in Terminal 1 tells me the kiosk couldn’t have possibly told me to talk to a United gate agent and he directs me to use a United kiosk. When the United kiosk tells me once again to talk to a United gate agent in Terminal 1 and I show the screen to the agent I'd been talking to, he looks me right in the eye and says—and I am not making this up—“That’s not what it’s telling you. It’s telling you to check in with an Air Canada gate agent in Terminal 2.” By the time I get back to Terminal 2 and reach an actual gate agent—a mere 30 minutes before I am supposed to board—she looks at me sternly and says “You’re late.”

United/Air Canada: You are the Dubya administration. You suck and I hate you.

Getting through security
I keep a tiny little travel toothpaste in a zippered pocket in the the professional-looking carry-on I use for one-day business trips. I rarely use it, but it's nice to know that if I have a tooth- or breath-related emergency at 40,000 feet, I'll always have a dentifrice at the ready. In any case, it’s sailed unnoticed through countless security checks at airports across the country for years. But yesterday, it was suddenly a Dire Threat To World Security because it wasn’t put in its own private plastic bag and sent through the scanner in its own private gray tub. I am given a stern talking-to because I’d tried to “hide” it in my carry-on.

On the way home, I simply put it in my pants pocket and it sails through the security check unnoticed yet again. Don’t you all feel safer knowing how easy that was?

Flying with drinkers
The guy seated behind me orders a double vodka and soda. At 7:00 am. Suddenly I don’t feel so bad about drinking Diet Pepsi for breakfast.

It’s just like America, but it’s a whole different country. We should probably fear it. Maybe even invade it. Different can’t possibly be good.

The Hertz NeverLost GPS device
It doesn’t have the most intuitive interface, but once you figure it out, it sure gets you where you want to go with remarkable ease and simplicity. Except when you’re searching for a restaurant located at the back of a vast strip mall with only one access road and the device dumps you off in the middle of a highway bridge about 100 feet (or meters or metres or dodecahedrons or whatever they use in Canada) past your turnoff.

Cell phones
I hadn’t bothered to check what my phone/calling plan can do in Canada. I quickly find that I can send and receive text messages and make and receive calls, but I can’t check my voice mail. And I can’t send photos. Not even this one of a sign I see on a door:

The whole trip is designed for me to meet the clients I’ve been working with over the phone for almost a year. You could say that yesterday I flew to Canada and back just to have lunch … and then go to 15 meetings. By sheer coincidence, our lunch party consists of me, my female colleague and about 20 females from the client office. As we are finishing up, a creepy old man comes up to me and swats me on the back to congratulate me for being able to “land” so many lovely ladies. Then he asks what my secret is and wonders aloud if it could be my cologne.

Dear creepy old man,
Here’s my secret: I don’t treat women as some kind of prize. I don’t belittle an entire table of them by using language comparing them to an elusive sea bass or a troubled airplane or whatever ridiculous metaphor you were going for when you used the word “land.” But if you have a hot son, I’d be more than happy to “land” him in front of you and your wife so you can share in the celebration of my ongoing conquests. P.S. I don’t wear cologne. What you were smelling was probably laundry detergent. You should look into it.

If you can possibly manage it, avoid customs agents with booshy moostaches. They tend to enjoy their jobs a little too much.

Small world
As we wait for our delayed flight home at the Toronto airport, a picture of an old college friend appears on the international news on the TV monitor hanging above the table where I scarf down a surprisingly good airport sandwich.

Amy Jacobson and I had been partners in the University of Iowa’s Old Gold Singers waaaaaay back in the late 1980s, where I often entertained the thought that I was dancing all sexy behind her in her “Le Jazz Hot” solo. If I knew which box my photo albums were packed in, I could probably find an embarrassing photo to scan and post as fluffy-haired proof. She was strikingly beautiful and a little famous for dating Jeff Moe, the pretty-boy media darling of the Iowa basketball team who many of us chorus boys secretly hoped was using Amy as a gateway to meeting us. I’d all but forgotten about Amy until 10 years after graduation when I moved to Chicago and found her reporting nightly on the local NBC affiliate. We’d run into each other a couple times since then—and she’d even spotted me in the crowd as she waved from the NBC-sponsored floats in the gay pride parades over the years.

And now she’s staring down at me from a TV monitor in a Canadian airport. It seems she’s been fired from her job for being caught on tape having a pool party with the husband of a missing woman—a story she’s been covering recently. The tape was “exclusive video” from the Chicago CBS affiliate, which is widely regarded around Chicago as the poor man’s “A Current Affair.” And now the story has been picked up internationally. Most reports make a point to mention the fact that Amy’s wearing a bikini in the video footage, though not one of them describes the pool attire the missing woman’s husband is wearing.

As the cab pulls up to my house just before midnight, I hear my trendy sunglasses clattering to the floor from somewhere in my carry-on. I pay the driver, grab my glasses and my carry-on and crawl my tired little world-traveler butt toward the house, where the boyfriend greets me with the Best Hug Ever. Once I get in the light, I discover that my trendy sunglasses are safely tucked away in my carry-on, and I am now the proud owner of someone else’s trendy sunglasses as well. I’m gonna put them in the dishwasher before I wear them, though, because they’re covered in greasy facial DNA. But hey! Free sunglasses!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

So ... very ... tired ...

The boyfriend is supposed to get home from a trip at 1:00 am ... a full 12 hours after he was originally scheduled to get here.

I just got home from a cocktail party. There was vodka. I wore a flowered shirt. There are pictures.

My alarm goes off at 4:00 tomorrow morning so I can be on an international flight by 7:00.

If there's one thing more fun than sleeping on a plane in dress clothes, it's being charming in front of a client when you're exhausted. And wrinkled.

Have fun while I'm gone.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Uncle Jake’s Guide to Aging Gracefully

Tip #1: Don’t trim your nose hair with a disposable razor.

Getting older is not for the weak. You creak in funny places, you jiggle in not-so-funny places, you have to pee more … and you suddenly sprout weird little patches of hair where you really don’t want or even need weird little patches of hair. Like on your shoulders. And down your back. And in your nose.

I usually trim my nose spiders with a pair of scissors at the sink. Interesting story: The scissors I use are all that’s left of my pre-med aspirations; they were a part of the dissection kit I had to buy for my college biology class, and I’ll be damned if they aren’t still as sharp and precise today as they were the first time they cut into a cow eyeball.

But this morning when I was shaving in the shower, I noticed some spider legs hanging out my nose and I was already running a little late so I just grabbed my nose and made a quick little swipe with my razor … and I shredded the heck out of my right nostril. And since extremities like noses have lots of capillaries near the skin surface (I’ll be damned! I did pay attention in biology!) and they don’t clot well in steamy environments like showers, the fluffy white towel I used to dry off this morning now looks like something that dreamy Danny might bag-n-tag at a CSI: New York crime scene.

And despite the gob of Neosporin I tried to stop the blood with, my damn nose is still bleeding well into the afternoon today. Which is making me feel very sexy in meetings.

I tried to discreetly take a picture of it on the bus this morning, but my stupid camera phone suddenly developed wound-healing powers – at least as far as photographing carnage is concerned. Which is probably for the best; the boyfriend routinely shields his eyes with his hands whenever they show fake carnage on CSI, so a picture of my real blood might push him over the edge. Unless Danny was there to tell him it’s OK, of course.

In any case, here’s a cell-phone picture looking up my nose on a bus. Maybe it will start another blogwide meme like the time a couple summers ago I posted a picture of my scabby foot in a flip-flop and tons of other bloggers posted pictures of their feet in flip-flops in mockery of homage to my wide-reaching creative influence. Or not.

7 miles!

We’ve reached the point in our training where we start halving our long runs every other weekend. So since we ran 14 miles last week, we did only seven this week. In theory, we increase our long-long runs by two miles every time we run them, but next weekend we’re mysteriously running 17 miles. I’m still working on wrapping my brain around that extra mile.

On Saturday, we had weather that was just on the warm side of lovely and we pounded out our seven miles with no troubles at all. It was warm enough, in fact, that I dared run without my shirt for the first time—which made me more susceptible to suffering heatstroke, blinding innocent passers-by with my Marie Antoinette-like pastiness and enduring the derisive laughter of children:

Here we are at mile two. See that guy I’m running with? We talked about kitchen renovations almost the whole run:

Here we are a mile later, still discussing the finer points of tiling our backsplashes:

By mile five, we’d exhausted all things kitchen and we talked about ... um ... oh, we were probably still taking about our kitchens. Long runs can really undermine interesting conversations that way:

Here we are in our traditional post-run portrait. And for the first time in two summers I GOT TO HOLD THE SIGN:

We were missing two people in that picture, though, because young Ryan had missed enough long runs he decided to do 12 on Saturday. George, who already runs two miles from his house every morning just to get to our training runs, graciously ran with him. So they got their own private finishers’ portrait. If I still had Photoshop, I’d try to blend them badly into our team picture, but I don’t so I won’t:

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows!

The fine folks at Hotmail seem to have given up on us Mac users, so I made the switch to Gmail yesterday. I painstakingly transferred my entire address book (299 people! I'm more popular than Dubya!) and sent a cold, impersonal mass email instructing everyone to update their own address books. While I was bothering all those nice people, I also put in a shameless plea for AIDS Marathon sponsorships (click the red box to your right if you're apoplectic with guilt for not sponsoring me yet) and included the URL for my blog along with current phone number and address info.

Then last night as I lay in bed, I realized to my horror that my most current blog post was spewing with invective and f-bombs regarding the theft of my boyfriend’s car radio. And since I actually do know people who aren’t in the habit of swearing as much as I do, I thought I should at least make a post that wouldn’t burn off the eyebrows of my more genteel friends. And colleagues. And my boss. And some of my parents’ nice friends who have sponsored me in the past. (Hi, everyone!)

So here goes. I sure hope I can pull off the nice-boy act convincingly, at least for one blog post:
Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows,
Everything that's wonderful is sure to come your way
'Cause you're in love, you're in love,
And love is here to stay!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Dear Jim Wong,

Your buddy left his to-do list in my boyfriend's car. When he was stealing the radio.
Apparently he ran out of time before he could finish making the list. Because he left off the parts about 1) stealing radios, 2) not knowing what "PIN" stands for and 3) being a stupid, list-leaving, cousin-fucking goatfucker.

Speaking of, he stole the radio less than half a block away from the intersection where Coppy McGoatfucker and his Chicago Police Department goatfucker buddies hold regular fundraising stings where they approach cars en masse, wave them over to the side of the road and lean in the windows looking for reasons to issue tickets. Which is why he didn't get caught. Because driving while listening to Delilah is a far worse offense than stealing car radios.

But the joke's on your buddy, because the boyfriend was listening to Delilah when he last turned off his car. I'm not proud of this fact, but that stolen radio is forever tainted with the stink of stupidity and emotional desperation all wrapped up in a ballad by Air Supply. So your PIN-number-saying, list-making, stuff-stealing, goat-fucking friend won't get anything but heartache when he tries to sell it on the black market.

Who's calling Delilah now?

14 miles!

I am back from my trip to Iowa, and I have a lot of stories to share. But I’m feeling all OCD so I have to go chronologically. Which means I have to start with my Saturday morning training run here in Chicago.

First of all, Saturday gave us perfect running weather: cool and breezy with no sign of Dubya and Scooter skipping shirtlessly through the shrubbery. We were slated to start at 6:00, so the boyfriend and I got up at 5:00 to hydrate, stretch, eat sensibly, apply sunscreen (which I actually think we forgot to do), pick our outfits and make it to Foster Beach in time for the 6:00 send-off. Which, thanks to lots of dawdling and speechmaking by the organizers, didn’t happen until more like 6:30 but nobody’s still bitter over lost sleep time.

Thankfully, Fearless Leader Matthew took lots and lots of pictures. And he even tried to get individual portraits of each of us as we ran.
Some turned out cheesy:

Others turned out cheesy:

And some—like this self-portrait—just turned out cheesy:

One random over-the-shoulder shot did turn out pretty cool, but you know what they say about monkeys and typewriters:

We ran all the way down to the Ohio Street Beach/Navy Pier area and back this week. Here we are taking a walk break just past the turnaround. We’re on a desolate stretch of concrete that is raked so steeply that it can’t be good for your ankles, but I love running here because casual pedestrians avoid it so the only people you encounter are other serious runners. It makes you feel totally legit:

Make it north through the Hall of Broken Ankles and you’re rewarded with a patch of manicured lawn, sweet sweet shade and a skyline view that makes you glad you pay taxes:

Just past the skyline is North Avenue Beach, where we get free Gatorade and bathrooms and a chance to pose like really sweaty, really gay gang members. Though I’d say only half of us are gay. And I don’t sweat all that much:

There’s another free Gatorade station in leafy, trendy Lincoln Park. The entire stretch of the running trail in this area is covered in soft, cushy pulverized gravel. Which I understand is better at shock absorption than concrete or asphalt—and it certainly feels like it is—but I still don’t understand how densely packed rock bits can be in any way softer than densely packed rock bits stuck together with glue. But I accept this fact on faith and continue to run on pulverized gravel every chance I get:

I still lagged behind my group this week, but unlike the week before when the heat made me a whole nine minutes slow, this week it was just my wheezy old age that slowed me down, and I waddled in only a mere 30 seconds (or so) behind my compatriots:

George leads us in a yoga warmdown after every run. Thankfully, there are no pictures of me doing this on Saturday. While I like to think I’m pretty good at yoga, all bets are off when my body is in 14-mile shock. But in the interest of fair and balanced journalism, I am including this picture of George yoga-ing in fine form next to one of my compatriots yoga-ing in Jake form:

And here we are all stretched and happy and posing like the Waltons. Only with more breathable fabrics and fewer melanomas:

After our long runs (and our obligatory brunch, which was not photographed for posterity this week), the boyfriend and I usually nap hard for a couple hours. This week, though, I climbed in my car and drove five hours without falling asleep behind the wheel (much) to head to Iowa for the Great Family Moving Adventure. Which I am still waaaaay too tired to write about. So you’ll have to come back sometime in the near future for all the details.