Monday, June 29, 2009

Proud to blog

Pride weekend in Chicago was one of the best I can ever remember. And not just because the weather was perfect. And our bathroom renovation was finally done. And I finished the Proud to Run 10K in 55:21—an 8:55 pace, which is well within the parameters (though still on the slower end) of my personal acceptable-pace continuum. And for the first time in nine years of Chicago pride festivities I didn’t even have a glimmer of a panic attack, which is how my lifelong social anxiety disorder and I have traditionally chosen to respond—often by hiding in the house—to the horrifying prospect of large crowds of happy, friendly people who want to talk to me. Social anxiety disorders are retarded, and I’m pretty proud to report how far I’ve come in beating down my own personal retard in the nine years I’ve lived here. (That metaphor probably came out a bit harsh, but words cannot describe the anger and frustration I feel over all the living I’ve lost while hiding in my house as the world partied on happily outside without me.)

Wow. I didn’t mean to go there in this post. But I did and I’m not taking it back. Because my pride weekend this year had an extra level of pridyness that I've never enjoyed before. And it felt great!

PLUS! I took pictures!

We started pride weekend at a rooftop party at Boytstown's fabulous Center on Halsted. We didn't know many people there so I didn't take many pictures because taking pictures of complete strangers is kinda creepy. But I did snap this view of the Chicago skyline rising above some of the heads of some of the aforementioned strangers. For those of you who are new here, this picture contains Chicago's four tallest buildings in order of height (though since they're not built right next to each other, the height hierarchy isn't readily apparent): the John Hancock Center (#4) is the black building peeking out behind the brick-y buildings on the left, the oft-forgotten Aon Center (#3) is the flat-topped white building with the vertical black stripes three buildings to its right, the so-new-it's-not-totally-finished-yet Trump International Hotel and Tower (#2) is the silver thing gleaming in the center of the photo, and the soon-to-be-called Willis Tower (née Sears Tower, #1) is the noble black structure climbing skyward on the right:

We left the Center on Halsted to head to a couples' party at the lovely home of some boys from our book club. But I don't know any of the guests well enough (yet!) to post their pictures on my blog. So you'll just have to use your imaginations to picture us all laughing mirthfully over some wry anecdote I've told about my New Yorker subscription as we stand around swirling authentic Champagne and chomping hand-rolled canapés in our velvet smoking jackets. You can't tell in this picture but under my velvet smoking jacket I'm wearing my new basketball shirt. Seriously. It has a picture of a football with the word "baseball" under it. Get it? It's funny because I don't speak sports!

Unfortunately, we couldn't stay at the party long because we had to be up early for Proud to Run, the big gay 5K or 10K (you choose!) that always kicks off pride weekend in the sweatiest, shirtlessiest of ways. I wasn't functioning well enough to use my own camera so early in the morning, but our friend Shaine was at the finish line, and he provided the only photographic evidence of my participation in the event:

Since we live mere Ks from the the finish line, we always invite all the sweaty runners we know over to our house after the race for Proud to Brunch, a festival of delicious pastries, warm egg casseroles, dehydrating beverages and ridiculously hot friends:

Some of these ridiculously hot friends were race winners. And they shamelessly rubbed our faces in their bemedaled superiority:

Or they just stood around our house being hot:

Sometimes I sneaked my way in the pictures to show off my tattoo, which still has the power to shock me with its way-bigger-than-I-thought-it-would-be-ness:

And sometimes, like some Lawrence Welk sister act, I posed with other tattooed friends to show off our "ink," as the cool kids in prison call it:

And just to prove that we count a few women among our hot runner friends, here is a gratuitous Proud to Brunch chick shot:

We spent the rest of the day hanging with other friends at Pridefest, the street fair that takes over Boystown for the two days leading up to the parade. It was actually my favorite part of the whole weekend; we ran into everyone we knew, we ate food out of paper wrappers, we drank fruity drinks (some with alcohol!) and we spent almost the entire afternoon and evening with another couple we'd previously only kind-of known as bar friends. We ran into them the moment we got to the street fair and we really enjoyed laughing and eating and drinking and gossiping our way through the rest of the day together. Except we all stood too close to the speakers for the perhaps-named-after-a-misspelled-Cole-Porter-song Inaya Day concert. And 48 hours later I'm still having trouble hearing out of one ear. Uff da.

The next day was the pride parade, which the domestic partner and I marched in ... in one of the ass-last parade entries. We were so ass-last, in fact, that we met up with our fellow marchers before the parade at Fullerton Avenue, a whole freaking mile south of the parade's official Belmont Avenue starting point. But, in a fit of possibly unintentional homosexuality, we had our pre-parade doughnut party in Oz Park, which was built in honor of Wizard of Oz creator and Chicago native son L. Frank Baum. And you know what a Wizard of Oz-themed park means, don't you? DOROTHY STATUE!

And as a true friend of Dorothy, I can't think of a more fabulous photo op to sum up a more fabulous pride weekend with a more fabulous domestic partner in always fabulous Chicago.

Friday, June 26, 2009

What the hell do gay people have to be proud of?

We’re proud because despite relentless persecution everywhere we turn—when organized religion viciously attacks and censures and vilifies us in the name of selective morality, when our families disown us, when our elected officials bargain away our equality for hate votes, when entire states codify us into second-class status, when our employers fire us, when our landlords evict us, when our police harass us, when our neighbors and colleagues and fellow citizens openly insult and condemn and mock and berate and even beat and kill us—we continue to survive.

We’re proud because pride is the opposite of shame—and despite what the Christian hate industry works so hard to make the world believe, there is nothing shameful about being gay.

We’re proud because more and more, we are able to live our lives openly and joyfully without fear of losing our jobs, losing our housing, losing our families and losing our lives.

We’re proud because we are smart enough to overcome the self-loathing that our increasingly venomous, mindlessly theocratic society forces on us, and we have the power to stop its destructive cycle by fighting back and by making intelligent choices involving sex and drugs and money and relationships and the way we live our lives.

We’re proud because after all we’ve been through, the world is starting to notice and respect us and emulate the often fabulous culture we’ve assembled from the common struggles and glorious diversity of our disparate lives.

We (and from this point on, I really mean “I” when I say “we”) are proud because we woke up this morning all snuggled up next to our domestic partner and we paused to savor what we had built together: a happy home, a safe environment, a mutual respect, a reciprocal love and a blissfully stable marriage.

We're proud because we'll be marching alongside our domestic partner in the parade on Sunday in a celebration of our relationship, our happiness, and the extended family of both gay and straight friends we have.

We’re proud because this weekend we'll celebrate with drag queens, leather queens, muscle queens, attitude queens and you'd-never-know-they-were-queens queens, and together we can see through the “pride” in our parade and enjoy the underlying Pride in our parade.

Quite simply, we’re proud that we have so much to be proud of.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I got screwed!

But not in the inappropriate-to-blog-about way. My cordless screwdriver—which has enough torque to turn a stalwart "family values" Republican like Mark Sanford into an international-mistress-screwing-while-the-kids-are-home-alone-on-Father's-Day adulterer—slipped out of its screw (if you know what I mean) and practically severed an artery while I was installing our new shower curtain rod last night. If you're into grisly pictures of death, read on:

But! I did finally get to use my new quarter-inch masonry bit to drill holes in the shower tile. And that baby can ream some impressive tile holes. If you know what I mean.

I also finally took the toilet out of the tub and re-installed it over its designated floor hole. Which means I got to enjoy the occasionally-in-a-lifetime experience of squishing a toilet down on a fresh wax ring. And in this case I'm gonna bet most of you don't know what I mean. And I feel sorry for you, because peeling the wrapper off a wax ring—the softish, malleable gasket that keeps used toilet water going straight to the sewer without seeping onto your floor—and then using your bodyweight to squish the toilet down on it to create a watertight seal is one of the most satisfying things you can do with your butt. If you know what I mean.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Back on track!

The tile is higher, the mirror is up, the switchplate is accessible, the tools are hiding in the sink where you can't see them ... and check out the subtle downlighting over the backsplash:

Even better, there's now a light above the mirror. And it's mounted nice and safe on a brand-new not-gonna-burn-the-house-down-like-the-developer-intended junction box:
Fun fact! I have a weird thing about lightbulbs. Specifically, I hate seeing them. So I will allow only lightbulb-hiding fixtures in my home. Which really limits my selection. Because apparently the whole damn world likes looking at lightbulbs with their little backlit way of announcing Hey! I'm 60 watts! From GE! And telling you this by having it written on my backlit head makes me classy!

And yes, I'm aware I'm once again posting gratuitously shirtless pix all over the Internets. But our air conditioner is on the don't-produce-cold-air-on-the-hottest-day-of-early-summer-while-Jake-spends-four-hours-on-home-renovations plan. So I did the aforementioned home renovation in my underpants. Because my cargo shorts got so wet I couldn't get up and down off my step stool. So off they came. And contrary to what you might think, hiding your lightbulbs is much easier in relatively dry underpants than in moist, saggy cargo shorts.

Two steps forward, four steps back

So I installed the fabulous mirrored door to our fabulous mirrored medicine cabinet last night. And—just as I suspected but still hoped wouldn't be the case–the door stuck out so far that it totally covered the light switch on the wall next to it. So at 8:00 pm I took the whole medicine cabinet down and road-tripped back to Home Depot for one more sheet of tile so I could raise the backsplash four inches. I got it all glued to the wall before bed and then got up at 5:00 this morning to grout it before I headed to the gym to meet my trainer. Here's what everything looked like as I stumbled out the door this morning:

(The red toothbrush, by the way, is a 59¢ special I bought for cleaning grout. And for lending to our special friend Pat Robertson on the nights he stays over. Ahem. And the new tile will totally match the old tile once it dries. Or I'm just going to burn the whole house down and start over.)

On the plus side, I managed to find a Home Depot employee who genuinely seemed to know his shit last night. And he helped me find a junction box I can attach to drywall—which is way preferable to ripping out the drywall and trying to attach it to a stud—and under-cabinet lighting that can be hard-wired to the light switch ... which, thanks to the extra four inches of backsplash, we can actually use. So last night's setback should end up bringing the bathroom much closer to the level of awesomeness we'd originally intended to have. Or I'm not Pat Robertson's secret lover.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sneak peek at the new bathroom

or gratuitous shot of ... um ... our new backsplash tile:

There was supposed to be dramatic under-cabinet lighting to highlight the textures and shapes of the backsplash tile—because indirect lighting is the hallmark of a civilized society—but the moron/worst employee of the month at Lowe's sold me a lighting package that couldn't be hardwired to the switch in the wall. Even though I asked him specifically to help me find under-cabinet lighting that could be hardwired to the switch in the wall. PLUS! When I took down the over-cabinet light that the developer installed when he rehabbed the condo a mere six years ago, I discovered that HE DIDN'T INSTALL A JUNCTION BOX. The light was just screwed into the drywall with the wires dangling out of a piece of conduit.

If you don't speak electricity, you need to know just two words to understand why the actions of the developer and the Lowe's employee are so appalling: electrical fire. Oh, and douchebag. Here's how to use them in a sentence: My bathroom remodeling project is still not finished because of douchebags like these guys whose dangerous lack of knowledge about their jobs forces me to change design plans and keep running to (reputable) hardware stores so I can correct their oversights and prevent electrical fires in our condo.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Every argument against marriage equality is horseshit

While it has yet to articulate a single argument against marriage equality that meets basic standards of plausibility or verisimilitude, the gay discrimination industry has coughed up a litany of anti-equality arguments designed to appeal to the gullible and the intellectually compromised. These arguments get parroted about so frequently that even thinking people start to become inured to their irrationality and ridiculousness.

Fortunately, none of these arguments could survive the academic scrutiny of a marginally sober third-grader. In the best light, they’re just hollow platitudes. In the worst, they’re vile, desperate lies. And if you ever get caught in a conversation with a discrimination parrot—or if you want to defend marriage equality in an angry blog post or a letter to the editor—feel free to steal the simple refutations below with complete impunity.

Gay marriage will destroy the sanctity of straight marriage

Wrong. Britney Spears’ 55-hour just-for-fun marriage destroys the sanctity of straight marriage. Rush Limbaugh’s three temporary marriages destroy the sanctity of straight marriage. John McCain dating and proposing to his second wife while still married to his disfigured first wife destroys the sanctity of straight marriage.

We can’t redefine marriage
• The concept of “redefining marriage” is a linguistic distraction designed to pull the spotlight away from the underlying hatred behind “traditional marriage” propaganda. Giving gay people equal access to the rights and protections of marriage will not change the definition of marriage. Nothing about gay marriage alters heterosexual marriage. The definition of marriage between heterosexuals will remain exactly the same.
• If we hadn’t redefined marriage in the 1960s, Barack Obama would still be a bastard in the 19 states that wouldn’t allow the interracial marriage of his parents when he was born.
• Ronald Reagan, the divorced patron saint of the modern conservative theocracy, redefined marriage into something temporary and easily revocable in 1969 when as governor of California he signed the Family Law Act, leading the United States into an era of no-fault divorce.
• Other historical “redefinitions” of marriage involve the transition of marriage from a business relationship between families to a property relationship between a man and his wife and then to a relationship based on relative equality between a man and a woman.

Marriage is the foundation of society
One could argue that the true foundation of society is a successful public health policy. Or a working economy. Or an equitable system of education. Whether marriage—specifically heterosexual-only marriage as this argument goes—is also some kind of "foundation" depends on a broad range of definitions of foundation. In any case, this argument is little more than a hollow platitude designed to sound meaningful when other arguments against equality implode for lack of substance.

Homosexuality is not natural
Wrong. Since it occurs randomly in nature across all species without any identifiable outside influence, homosexuality is completely natural. Religion, on the other hand, is created entirely by the human imagination. Which makes it, by definition, unnatural.

Americans think gay people are gross
Americans think obese parents, pregnant teenagers and Newt Gingrich are gross. And they’re allowed to marry as often as they want.

Gay marriage teaches children it’s OK to be gay
Exactly. Just as organized religion teaches children it’s OK to embrace the supernatural over the real. And there are no laws against that.

I shouldn’t be forced to explain gay marriage to my kids
An unwillingness to expose children to the diversity outside their family is no justification for denying adults equal access to financial and legal protections for their own families.

Marriage is designed to produce children
No it’s not.
• Straight marriage laws carry no reproduction requirements.
• If they did, infertile or menopausal people wouldn’t be allowed to marry.

Children deserve a mother and a father
That's how they're usually made, yes. But since marriage is not contingent on producing children—and vice versa—this argument is just an emotional-heartstrings-flavored distraction deployed to change the subject when other anti-equality arguments are exposed for their implausibility and desperation.

Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to men marrying dogs
No it won’t. And anyone who makes this imbecilic argument is not emotionally or intellectually fit to participate in any conversation that affects public policy.

If we allow men to marry men …
The slippery slope argument uses wild conjecture in place of reason and fact, making it the last vestige of the intellectually desperate. Since it’s based on nothing but imagination, the arguments can go in an infinite number of directions. And these arguments are easily trumped: If we allow people to vote on gay marriages, we’ll have to allow people to vote on marriages between adulterers and divorcees. If we allow Christian mythology to influence our laws, we’ll have to allow Wiccan theology to influence our laws as well. If we follow Christian mandates on marriage, we’ll also have to follow Christian mandates on adultery, divorce and the subjugation of women.

The institution of marriage is under attack by gay people
No it’s not. Gay people want to emulate marriage. The only people attacking the institution of marriage are the people currently allowed to be married: heterosexuals who divorce or commit acts of domestic abuse and adultery.

I’m defending marriage against a catastrophic threat
No you’re not. If you truly want to “defend” marriage, define it as a bond between one man who’s never committed adultery or been divorced and one woman who’s never committed adultery or been divorced. Adultery and divorce are the only real, measurable threats to marriage. Advocate for anything less and you’re just campaigning to hate gay people.

Marriage should be decided by the states
No it shouldn’t.
• Speed limits should be decided by the states. Sales taxes should be decided by the states. School calendars should be decided by the states. People’s relationships, legal protections and tax benefits shouldn’t change when they drive across state lines.
• Allowing marriages to exist and dissolve as couples cross state lines is at best illogical and at worst viciously hateful. If individual states were free to ban marriage between divorced people (as the Bible says), a staggering majority of voters and “pro-marriage” lawmakers—especially the legions of divorced ones—would be deafening in their assertion that marriage equality is NOT a state issue.

Marriage should be decided by voters
No it shouldn’t. Individual marriages should be decided only by the two people entering into them.

Gay people don't deserve special rights
Equality is not a special right. Calling it a "special right" is an ugly distraction tactic designed at best to pull focus from the underlying hatred behind anti-marriage-equality arguments and at worst to mislead and inflame the passions of gullible, low-information voters.

We should just agree to disagree
People “agree to disagree” about frivolous things like music or sports teams or religious beliefs. The active denial of legal equality is not frivolous; it has real consequences for real families. Either you’re for marriage equality or you’re against equality. There’s no room for friendly disagreement in the equation.

No offense, but I don’t think gay people should marry
Believing that one class of people does not deserve equal protections under the law is extremely offensive. Especially when there is no logical, rational or even plausible reason for your belief.

I don’t hate gay people—I just believe marriage should be between a man and a woman
Denying people equality for nothing more compelling than “belief” is a form of hate. If you work to marginalize gay people, it doesn’t matter whether you act out of malice or selective interpretation of religious dogma. Either way, you are endorsing a system designed to hurt people.

Defending marriage is not hate
Wrong. Calling hate "defending marriage" is the most vile, cowardly, deliberately misleading form of hate.

I don’t believe in the homosexual lifestyle
Good. Because there is no such thing as a universal homosexual lifestyle, just like there is no universal heterosexual lifestyle or Christian lifestyle or atheist lifestyle. The “lifestyle” argument is nothing more than a gross overgeneralization built on the implication that gay people are all whores, and it’s used to demonize us in an attempt to justify denying us legal equality.

Marriage is a religious institution
No it’s not.
• Marriage licenses and marriage certificates are issued by governments, not churches.
• If it were, we wouldn’t allow atheists to get married.
• If it were, we wouldn’t allow people to get married by a justice of the peace. Or a ship’s captain. Or an Elvis impersonator.

The Bible says ...
The Christian Bible says exactly nothing about marriage between same-sex couples. But it has plenty to say about virginity, adultery and divorce as they pertain to heterosexual marriage. Here is a tiny sample of incontrovertibly unambiguous quotes:
  • “Thou shall not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:13-15
  • “Anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Matthew 5:33
So any rationale to “preserve biblical marriage” without the attendant prohibition of adultery and divorce is nothing more than a campaign of willful misinterpretation of the Bible to promote hatred of and discrimination toward gay people.

Gay marriage is not compatible with religious belief
Gay marriage may not be compatible with selective interpretations of some religious traditions. But that has nothing to do with marriage equality. People are certainly free to embrace any religious beliefs they choose. But those beliefs apply only to their believers, and they end the moment they begin to hurt people who choose not to embrace religious theories. An elective belief in a trendy mythology does not give anyone moral authority to deny basic equalities to other people.

Homosexuality is a sin
Only to those who choose to believe in religious dogma. And religious dogma—especially when it’s used to victimize an entire class of people—is not appropriate in a discussion of legal equality.

Churches shouldn’t be forced to perform marriages they don’t approve of
They won’t. Churches have always been free to refuse to marry anybody for any reason they dream up: divorce, adultery, religion, race, gender … even basic family snobbery. On top of that, most marriage equality legislation to date includes language specifically permitting churches to continue to engage in this discrimination.

Being forced to accept gay marriages is a form of discrimination
No it’s not. This meaningless argument is simply a distraction tactic designed to make bigots look like victims.

Domestic partnership is the same thing as marriage for gay people
No it’s not. Many rights bestowed on straight married people by institutions ranging from the IRS to insurance companies to private employers are denied to gay people in domestic partnerships. Marriage by any other name is simply not marriage.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Proof that I might be gay:

Proof that I might be renovating a very small bathroom*:
* Seriously, how brilliant is an over-the-shower hotel towel rack (even though it's called a "train rack" here) to solve our small-bathroom storage problems? We've gone more than two years with no towel bars (and who designs a bathroom without thinking to make room for towel bars? Larry Craig?) for wet towels and no storage bigger than the top of the toilet for dry towels. Now we'll have a place for both! I'm so excited I could just ... fold some towels!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

How I drink alcohol at a street fair

Step 1: Carry a water chaser:
Step 2: Give alcoholic beverage to a friend after about ten sips.

I drank more alcohol today than I've ever consumed in an entire month. Which is still only about three drinks. How much do you want to party with me right now? I spent the weekend trolling the Andersonville (a used-to-be-Swedish neighborhood in northern Chicago) Midsommarfest (which inexplicably happens before summer even starts) street fair (which is just an excuse to sell non-Swedish tchotchkes, drink outside and snarl up traffic) this weekend. I did all of Saturday on two Diet Cokes. Or maybe it was three. But today my friend Peter was on a mission to get me drunk. I've never been drunk in my life and I had no intention of starting today, but he didn't believe me so he kept buying me drinks ... and I kept drinking parts of them and then quietly passing them off to other people while I discreetly nursed my water. It cost me nothing, and I got to try a lot of drinks I've never tried. But don't be impressed because it's all the drinks you normal people have on a regular basis, or at least the ones you tried in high school and quickly moved on to more adult beverages: vodka/7-Up, vodka/soda, flavored vodka/cheap juice. Seriously. I am the definition of party. Drop what you're doing and come shake your flowing rocker hair with me.

Speaking of, I hurt my neck tonight shaking my imaginary rocker hair to the earsplitting song stylings of something I think was officially called the Hair Band. They were the closing act of Midsommarfest, and I'm pretty sure they were good, but they were so damn loud it didn't matter. In any case, I chugged my water and shook my fists and waggled my butt with all ten million people crammed into the street in front of their stage for a good hour tonight. But I was quickly worn out and as far as Peter knew I was drunk and my husband, who is out of town this weekend, called in the middle of it all and I just wanted to go home and chat with him after at least 15 hours of collective street-fair fun. So I said my goodbyes, passed off my last drink, threw my water cup in an overflowing trash bin and worked my way through the crowd toward the relative quiet of my condo. But not before one last defiant fist punch in the air and one last shake of my shining, gleaming, steaming, flaxen, waxen hair. Dude.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Plumbing FAIL

Actually this is just a sneak peek at the bathroom renovation. The muddy gray color (Benjamin Moore kendall charcoal) on the walls is a base coat that will peek through a light khaki (Benjamin Moore revere pewter) glaze. I'm planning on doing broad vertical brush strokes to create an abstract grasscloth/bamboo texture. If everything works out the way I'm picturing. Which at this point is still a big if. Because I'm totally making it up as I go along.

Once I'm satisfied I haven't screwed up the paint, I'll install minimalist/Zen-inspired plumbing/electrical fixtures and a dark teak vanity topped with a Danish modern alabaster sink and a pebblestone backsplash. And, of course, subtle under-cabinet lighting to highlight the pebblestones. Because indirect lighting is the hallmark of a civilized society.

It should all end up looking like a fabulous spa. Or a big amateur dog's breakfast. Either way, there'll be pictures. And a toilet that actually hooks up to toilet plumbing. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: I had half the walls faux painted when the domestic partner came home and struggled mightily to find a diplomatic way to tell me the khaki color with the dark showing through it looked like primer on a dark wall. And I have to agree with him. And I have no plan B. Sigh.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

1:56:03! In pictures!

The Joe Photo pix are in from Sunday's 13.1 Marathon (which, for those of you just joining us, is foo-foo gay marketingspeak for "half marathon"). After last month's Soldier Field Ten Mile no-photographic-evidence-that-Jake-even-participated debacle, I made sure my bib number was completely unobstructed every time I saw a photographer in this race. And I was rewarded with about 10 pictures ... most of which make it look like my shorts are being eaten alive by my ravenous man-crotch.

Thankfully, I'm too cheap to actually buy the photos. And in this one I stole off the web site, my ravenous man-crotch is obscured (albeit in a big zero) by the photographers' do-not-steal-this-photo-and-post-it-on-your-blog watermark:

The run was fabulous—the weather was perfect, the crowd was nicely spaced out thanks to an organized program of starting waves, and I was numbed by a handful of Ibuprofen so I was able to beat my best half marathon time by a whopping 15 minutes without realizing I was completely destroying my IT bands. To pass the time in a long run, I sometimes do mileage-related math in my head (when I'm not singing show tunes, of course). But I'm not always a clear thinker when I'm under physical duress, and though I thought I was on par to beat my time by 20 minutes, which would have qualified me for a fast-person start corral in the Chicago Marathon this fall, I realized in mile 11 that my math had been off once again and I had to run the last two miles in 7 minutes each to qualify. And for an 8:30-pace runner on a good day, 7-minute miles are as laughable as Obama's "fierce advocacy" for gay equality. But I thought I'd give it an Ibuprofen-numbed try anyway and I sprinted as fast as my rapidly deteriorating IT bands would carry me. And here I am approaching the finish line a full 16 minutes later, which put me comfortably on the fast side of my heretofore-unbroken 2:00 wall but still 4:04 too slow to qualify for a starting corral:

But my shorts look normal and I didn't pay a cent for the photos and I did get an impressive new personal best out of the run. So I'm not going to complain about my time. Much.

Monday, June 08, 2009

New things I have done

Run a half marathon in under two hours. I finished the 13.1 Marathon—which we all know is just foo-foo gay marketingspeak for “half marathon’”—in 1:56:03 on Sunday morning in freakishly perfect running weather. And while I shaved a whopping 15 minutes off my previous best time and I’m as giddy as a schoolgirl with a squirrel in her panties to have broken through my 2:00 wall, I was still 4:04 too slow to get a qualifying time for a cool-people starting corral in the Chicago Marathon. Everyone in my running group has qualified for a starting corral but me. Which means unless I find another qualifying race to run in the next few months I’ll be starting the marathon with all the common folk and running it completely on my own in October. But! I seem to run faster on my own than with a group (I’m sure I could make some lucky therapist extremely wealthy trying to figure out why I cycle into an ever-slowing dejection loop the moment I fall behind in a training run). So even though I’m trying to position a spectacular new personal best as some kind of failure, it may actually turn out to be a good thing.

Demolished our guest bathroom. Technically, “demolish” is probably a bit misleading. Because all I did was remove the towel rods and mirrors and sinks and vanities and lights and anything else attached to the walls and then fill the gaps with spackle this weekend. But “demolish” sounds so rugged and masculine and destructive—just like me!—and I did make a bunch of dust in the process. Which is a common side effect of demolishment. So there’s that. And all this week I’ll be painting and wiring and installing a thousand dollars’ worth of cool new bathroom stuff assembled in the hope of creating a soothing spa-like oasis in the middle of our condominium. There’s even a backsplash of gray slate tiles! And expensive indirect lighting! And minimalist faucets! And a paint glaze that will look like grasscloth! I hope! And I took “before” pictures so I can create a dramatic before-and-after blog post sometime in the near future. Be excited!

Opened a Twitter account. I think.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Insult to injury

So on top of the Great New York Marathon Snub Of 2009, it seems there’s no photographic record of my first big run of the season. The indignities just don’t stop coming when you’re Jake, I guess.

See, I got up at freaking 5:00 in the morning on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend—which means I went to bed at 10:30 on the first night of a weekend packed with barbecues and parties and chatty brunches with high-powered celebrities, assuming I had been invited to any of those things, ahem—to run the Soldier Field Ten Mile run.

Aside from the lack of fun—and chatty brunches with high-powered celebrities—that it caused, the run was totally worth it. The weather was on the cool side of fabulous, which is actually even better than fabulous when you’re running. The runners were focused and easy to run with (most likely because they were serious runners who had enough training under their belts to run ten miles so early in the season). And the food before and after the race was plentiful and delicious. We even got free bottles of Muscle Milk®, which sounds kind of dirty but I get the feeling that’s on purpose.

Oh, and it finished on the freaking 50-yard-line of freaking Soldier Field. I’m a big ’mo who hates football and even I was impressed by the fact that I was standing on Soldier Field when the race was over.

Best of all, I beat my goal time by a whole eight seconds according to my watch. But when the official times were posted, I’d actually beat my goal time by a whole TEN seconds. Which makes me some sort of demigod in certain cultures.

But! Like in any big race, there’s an army of Joe Photo people all along the race route snapping your pictures, which you can eventually find and purchase online simply by searching for your bib number. And two weeks after the race, with all the photos ostensibly tagged and ready to be found, my bib number searches still turn up everyone in the race but me. Like these dudes:
I’ve even slogged through all the unidentifiable photos of guys who got snapped with their bib numbers obscured. And I’ve searched for individual segments of my bib number on the off chance that I was photographed with a hand in front of my bib—not that a thespian of my caliber would ever let himself be photographed in a moment of not-ready-for-his-closeup sloppiness. But just in case …

And still: no pictures of me.

So it seems that all I have to show for the race is my entrance receipt, my medal and my unphotographed bib. And the picture of those dudes who aren’t me. Which I guess I will treasure forever.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Always a bridesmaid

That's my third NYC Marathon rejection in a row, for those of you keeping score at home. And I found out on National Running Day, no less. The indignity! But three consecutive rejections means I'm guaranteed to get in next year. Except I don't want to train for a marathon next year. The plan was to run Chicago in October and New York in November and then retire from the sport for a while. Or forever. This is my seventh summer of training and my back and knees and ankles–and social life–are really starting to fight back.

But it gives me another year to save up for a hotel in Manhattan, I guess. And maybe I can make 2010 the Year Of The Traveling Marathon. I've always wanted to run DC as well, and as long as it's in early October and NYC is in early November, I think I could swing both of them. Plus I could sit on the sidelines in Chicago and just cheer people on for once.

But now is not the time to be all excited and hopeful about the future. I prefer to dwell on the rejection for a bit longer. Which is why I'm always so fun at parties.

It’s National Running Day!

I was all set to pound out five miles this morning with my new weekday running buddy, a former co-worker who runs at my EXACT SAME PACE and lives only TWO BLOCKS AWAY FROM ME and OTHER CAPITALIZED WORDS.

But he texted me at 6:00 to say he had to go into work early. I got up anyway, laced up my shoes, found a shirt that wouldn’t stick to my gooey new tattoo, snarked down a peanut-butter-and-honey sandwich and a giant glass of water, and headed out the door to run on my own.

And it was COLD outside. Cold enough to make me curse the June weather gods. Cold enough to make the buttons pop on the man-turkeys. Cold enough to warrant ANOTHER capitalization in this blog post. It was that cold. To make matters more miserable (alliteration runs rampant!), the mild headache I thought I’d shake off during my run just got worse as I tried to stretch. But I fired up my running watch and took off down the street anyway.

And by the time I’d galumphed my way to the end of the block (which is only one building away from our condo) I’d made the executive decision to abort my training mission and head back home to my still-warm bed. Which I did. With no regrets. Aside from the shirt covered needlessly with tattoo goo. And the still-lingering headache. And my long-ago investment in Tyco stock.

Of course, I didn’t know it was National Running Day until my weekend running buddy Paul directed me to his post about it on his spiffy new blog … well after I’d completed my little adventure in not running. And tonight I have plans to buy a new bathroom sink at The Home Depot so I can have our guest bathroom all gay-fabulous in time for a brunch we’re hosting over pride weekend. Which means I won’t run a step on National Running Day, unless I get to count my early-morning loping down the sidewalk in front of the building next door to ours. Or the Amex tab I’m going to run up at The Home Depot tonight. (Get it? Run up! It’s funny because it’s … oh, never mind.)

But at least our guest bathroom will finally stop looking so boring-white-walls/boring-white-tile ghetto. And the paint chips that have been taped to the doorframe for at least two years can finally be replaced with actual paint. And the gays will finally stop judging us at our pride brunches. And I’ll have a colorful, directional logo supporting me as I run (Get it? Run!) my errands tonight.

Monday, June 01, 2009

I don't have time to blog.

I don't have time to call my mother.
I don't have time to put away my laundry.
I don't have time to bury the bodies.

But I somehow have the time to get another tattoo.

But "another tattoo" is a bit of a misnomer because I'm just expanding the coverage of the one I got in March, which I had intended to be a tiny little thing on the back of my triceps. But the tattoo artist sketched out something that totally wrapped itself around the meaty part of my triceps in a shamelessly vain look-at-my-triceps kind of way and I loved it. At the time, she also traced what she might do to extend it up onto my deltoid. And I loved that too. So I went in tonight to have her complete the project. And now I'm sitting in bed with a dark gray towel draped over the headboard and tucked under my butt to catch blood smears and/or drips, blogging on my laptop, and wincing in pain every time I move my arm far enough for my fingers to reach the qwerty row of keys. Vanity is not pretty. But it is smeary.

Anyway, my tattoo lady likes her smokey treats and she took her first break after she outlined the new tat tonight. So I took a picture of it while I waited for her to come back. That purple line in the mirror—though irritating—is part of a larger tattoo-all-the-non-human-things-in-the-room theme that pervades the entire tattoo parlor. They even painted tattoos on the photocopy machines. So what can you do? But notice the dude in the bottom left corner of the pic. He was sitting there watching his Trixie girlfriend get a tattoo on her shin. But he left once the tattoo artist finished drawing on the temporary tatto and finally fired up the needle. Wimp.

Here I am fresh out of the shower and slathered in nourishing layer of A&D Ointment a couple hours later. My camera phone doesn't give me a very accurate preview of what all I'm photographing, so I had to crop the pic a bit once I saw everything I'd accidentally captured in pixels. Because this is not that kind of blog. (Hi, Mom!) But see how awesome the tat looks on my deltoid? I! Love! It! It is totally worth the pain ... and I'm talking about the pain to my person, the pain involved in washing blood out of my towels and sheets for the next week, and the pain I will cause my mother when she reads this post and has another coronary. (Hi again, Mom!)

If you'll excuse me now, though, I'm actually dripping blood. And even though it's landing on a dark gray towel, that can't be a good sign. So I'm gonna go slather on some more magical A&D Ointment and try to figure out how to sleep in such a way that my shoulder doesn't touch anything. It should be a long, painful, eventually-someday-worth-it night.