Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hang 'Em High, or Dem Ol' Cotton-fields Backs Home

Yesterday was the first day of Spring, and I spent most of it in a hot tub. the Czarina and her darling Andrew and I sat about, exchanging kind words, barbs, and knowing glances - good friends or long-time lovers simply know.

It was a working holiday; Andrew - a Jack-of-all-Trades (Master of Many) - repaired a car, built a wall, installed a sink, and did something involving the (front) bumper of a Lincoln Town Car - not mine. the Czarina - did I mention she was once a CFO? - and I did taxes, discussed the economy, and opined about Barack Obama's "Rainbow Tour."

We are both of the opinion that Tim Geitner will likely pull a Joceleyn Elders soon enough.

Mais, n'importe quoi ...

Last night, it was "A Streetcar Named Desire," and I could not resist either of the twin urges to ogle Marlon Brando (it should really have been in his contract that he appear naked at all times) ... and/or to affect an over-the-top Southern accent.

Despite the near constant mention of Blanche's and Stella's ancestral home, it was all too clearly an Antebellum beauty - something divine that ceased to exist once the South fell, something borrowed against for which nothing could be forgiven; Belle-Reve indeed, a ... beautiful dream.

As I lay in the Czarina's bed - betwixt she herself and the Great Prince Andrew - sultry horns beat out the soundtrack, Stanley Kowalski sweat and bulged through his shirt-sleeves, and I marveled at the terrific prominence in the night of Jasmine. There is Star Jasmine in the garden, and it emits - offers forth, really - a fragrance second only to Magnolia blossoms in Summer (heat). If there were ever a competition for the scent of the Divine (ambrosia), the two would battle to the very death.

It was as I lay (living) that I determined to revisit New Orleans, or Savannah, or maybe that hellacious heaven from which Ole Miss comes - a land that indeed spawned Blanche DuBois and Stella Kowalski.

The Old South, notable for its fallen aristocracy, is known for two very important things: lynchings and (amazing) characters.

In what I consider a great and kind, long-standing tradition of this Old South, passive aggression is at its best enacted. The Frenemy - a hateful, often soul-less, wanton thing - is never averse to taking advantage of the misfortune(s) of others. Amanda is an old frenemy and neighbor of the Czarina and Great Prince; she purchased a car from them, and lives in one of their homes. Kindness can only lend itself out so far, so, when Amanda failed to pay her way (again), the Czarina took back the car. While this process could certainly have flowed smoothly, it proved neither likely nor true. Amanda took up expletives, and a baseball bat.

In the end, petty threats and pointless offers notwithstanding, the vehicle in question was back in the Czarina's palace driveway - where it languished for only a day. The Frenemy, upon hearing of this great and varied mayhem leaped upon the opportunity. In his defense, the 1987 (Indy Pace Vehicle) Dodge Dakota - with racing stripes (and cum stains - his doing, mind you), was not QUITE his style. He actually desperately wants my 1979 Lincoln Town Coupe, but that's neither here nor there; I am not giving up the lovely beast.

Given the option(s) of dual power seats, digital displays, leather interior, and a very cold A/C, the Frenemy is in whore heaven (and once again, my mind wanders to New Orleans). Before my night of Jasmine and the Quarter began, the Frenemy pulled away (in his big, green Town Car) beaming and, in theory, ready for a "busy" night.

As to the heretofore alluded passive aggression let me say simply that the Great Prince commented that he'd rather have my car - a solid steel concoction with mechanical rather than digital parts. Computerized engines and internal details are trouble - mechanically and otherwise. Amusingly, my 1979 Lincoln has 150,465 miles. The Frenemy's 1994 Lincoln has 230,000 miles! I drove the '94 Lincoln yesterday; somewhere around 92 miles per hour (digital read-out) I thought it was perhaps a car worth having. If the car lasts more than a year, I'll be amused.

He's happy now; that's enough, no?

And on the implied subject(s) of naivete (and/or idiocy), I was at my usual haunt - Web House - when I encountered a beautiful man, He was 6'5" or so, broad-shouldered and narrow-hipped (with one hell of an ass); he sat alone and looked a tad forlorn. I talked to him, as I have done many a man and woman over the years. I asked, among other things, his age - at some point in our dialogue - "22 and a half," he replied. It was so innocently and simply offered I almost laughed/cried. Later, in the course of advising him on a girlfriend (and flirting), he made mention that he (thought he) should be settling down, thinking of kids.

I have had few occasions in life to guffaw. Out of politesse, I refrained this time.

The beautiful boy received flirtation well, reminding me of the blond beau in "Carrington" - with whom Lytton Strachey was in love, who was in love with the ambiguously sexual Carrington. He, too, was pretty and simple. I expressed my interest, to which he replied that he realized he could truly (innocently?) love a man. We parted ways that evening - his debit card was declined and he promised to return to pay his tab. I may (or may not) encounter him again.

And on the subject of the guy I'm seeing - it is unfortunately true that I also may never see him again. the Czarina and I exchanged a knowing glance during the infamous scene in which Stanley - having, in a drunken state - beat his pregnant wife - shouts / begs, "STELLA ... Stella ..."

While Mark will never beat me, the depths of his devotion are very much in question. He apologized for a faux pas that happened the other night - a general lack of attentiveness; and yet, I have not seen or spoken to him in over a week (this after the previous occasion when I had seen or spoken to him in over a week, which was what led to the apology in the first place).

If nothing else, in the aftermath of that incredibly potent scene between Stella and Stanley, it was clear that what they shared was a tremendous bond of love ... and the sort of hunger and passion for each other akin to addiction. It was fire and heat, horns blowing sultry rhythm into the balmy Louisiana night; it was clumsy fumbling and rough humping. It was all kinds of Southern (and down below). Beneath. Right up in there ... as they say, and I am not just talkin' 'bout the sex.

What was on that screen is not in the room when the guy I'm seeing and I are there; it seems to be, it felt like it was (and surely was) on Valentine's Day ... and yet, things change - if only in the course of a fortnight.

It is now a lazy Sunday afternoon, and I am sorely in need of getting out of my clothes and mind. The familiar strains (and shouts) of Gospel music penetrate the wall between the kitchen and where I lay; I would give anything to be somewhere else - preferably in a shabby New Orleans apartment, languishing under hot and humid air, barely clad in wife-beater and cotton pants, barefoot, bawdy, and drunk.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"What is Victory for a Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?"

Among the myriad advantages to living at home (e.g. a free place to live; utilities, cell phone, etc. paid for; the new flat panel TV ...), there are other odd perks. Speaking as one who is fond of both antiques and pretty things, the fact that my mother was an avid shopper and my father cheated on her for 30 or so years provides its own unique advantage. We come from the old Southern tradition - the one where wives looked the other way when husbands stepped out, and accepted - for their ambivalence - a fur coat and the occasional new Cadillac. My mother had a mink, a new Cutlass every two years, and there are seven sets of silver in four different antique cabinets - in the near vicinity of the eight sets of China.

That said, I am drowning my sorrows with vodka in a cut crystal high-ball glass, filled with 2" x 2" cubes from a vintage '50s steel ice tray. The glass weighs more than the bottle of vodka from which I'm filling it.

the Czarina, her husband and I crawled into bed again last night - it was "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," and Maggie the Cat was my spirit animal. I had the urge for whiskey and the desire to enjoy a rainstorm on a Southern night in a deep, dark, Bible Belt evening ...

(lynching notwithstanding, of course ...)

I experienced a little Blanche DuBois-esque breakdown of my very own just the other day. It was a dark and stormy night - actually, just cold and oddly clear; I was wearing virgin wool and thinking unimaginably dirty things about the tall, thin, bespectacled guy who occasionally wanders into Web House ... and sitting with my darling lazy-eyed friend, the one with the Joan Crawford car who can suck his own dick and is celebrating turning 30 by shooting a porno (while claiming to be 29 still), when shit went down.

It was not only bad enough that the guy I'm seeing walked into the bar without saying hi or otherwise acknowledging my presence; I am not so easily undone. No, I was actually undone by a coat. It was a cheap coat, something simple of an indeterminate fabric, black and white - checked - a coat my mother wore every cool day and winter evening throughout my childhood. At first, I just thought it was familiar ... and then I saw the stain on the left pocket, and the torn lining - something my mother always intended to fix, but never did. There was a hipster where a 5'7" black woman should be - a slight woman, very pale, with that odd, bi-level cut / color thing ... with bleached blond hair on top and chocolate brown hair on the bottom, layered, blended and falling to mid-back.

I thought she seemed out-of-place, in the coat and the world at-large. I suppose I would think that of anyone in my mother's clothes. I never caught her name, nor did it matter. As an avid vintage and thrift store shopper, I cannot fault her for the coat - although I shudder at the thought that she was wearing it ironically, as hipsters tend to do.

My father came into my room earlier, as he is want to do; he made mention of several things - large and small, tedious and mind-numbing, and then he reminded me of March 13th. Not far from the Ides of March, March 13th was my mother's birthday. She'd be 92 this year, and I neither forgot nor remembered the day. It seems odd to run into such an obvious reminder of her so close to her birthday; it was just two days ago now that I saw the hipster in the black checked coat, two days after Mom's birthday.

I find myself saying / thinking, once again, how odd it is that - although in many ways I still feel like a child, or at least a petulant teen - I can say that something happened 20 years ago and know that I was alive and aware and living in it all that many years ago. 20 years ago I wrote my mother's obituary; I planned a funeral and couldn't cry because it had yet sunk in that my whole world was in that coffin. I saw only another decade of ennui before me - living with my father's cooking and my unending loneliness.

Did I mention that my probation officer is a little person? She is less than three feet tall, and rather stacked for a short woman. She rides about on a Rascal (motorized cart), her badge affixed to the basket in the front. I must say I was a bit taken aback, but I am a good Southern belle and find that one should always put a brave face (and a fifth of whiskey) to whatever challenges life might offer up. In truth, the little person I met the other day is not my probation officer; rather, she was covering for my probation officer - who, on a side note, resembles Kathleen Turner's "V. I. Warshawski" - a terrible film, but a really impressive woman.

I do have the sense that my P.O. could kick in my teeth and not muss her bangs. She has a curling iron and a can of hair spray sitting on her window ledge, a detail I find odd given how butch she appears to be ... but then the midget I met with the other day had a back-up battery, a can of soup, and a picture of the Pope (Jon Paul II) on her desk; what we do with our individual offices is not necessarily in keeping with one's level of butch ... or ability to walk.

Is it wrong that when I encountered the midget P.O. I thought not of "Little People, Big World" but rather the porn star, "Bridget the Midget"? If you have neither seen nor heard of her, you must go immediately to Wikkipedia (she does have a page, of course). It bears saying that for a little girl, she can do quite a lot - and yes, as a black man, I observe that we are indeed all that big. In any case, I somehow doubt that the Midget P.O. - papal decorations and all - is a gang-bang slut who does anal like I watch TV - without thought or much interest.

Speaking of anal cum sluts, I think I managed to oust the Frenemy (again). I have very little interest in his company, and even less in his opinions, and it seems that that point finally came through. The other day, when the Auto-Fellater and I were gassing up at a nearby station, Steven stopped by to chat at us. I was neither in the mood for or tolerant of his company, and it was short work dismissing him. I ordered him away, and his unwillingness to be embarrassed in front of someone he might try to seduce drove him away. He has not called or emailed since then, and I find it refreshing.

Given the name, the Frenemy, it should come as no surprise that Steven often endeavors to undercut or otherwise insult me, but some of his recent actions / statements proved too much. It is not enough that he stole from me the first guy I ever dated - carried on with him behind my back, and moved in after only seeing each other for 2 weeks; it is not enough that he threw me out of his house because he wanted to be alone with the diseased hooker on whom he heaped his affections; not enough that he speaks down to me and brags about his frequent and constant sexual exploits; he is also attempting to undermine my relationship(s) with several people, including Erik (an old friend and minor love interest), Tom, and the Czarina.

When I mentioned, that fateful night with the coat and the meltdown, that I had a date, the Frenemy's bemused incredulity was at-once patronizing and pissing me off. Of course, the problem with patronizing statements is that they bear a burden of truth. I say that I hate to hear, "Oh don't worry, your time will come ..." whether regarding a job or my love life, it is just the height of crap to hear that wretched bone thrown out yet again.

For better or worse (and it surely seems to be bad), Steven is dating. In addition to his sexual meandering, the Frenemy has taken to trying to find true love - by way of a 26" waist, a short, thin, mildly girly 20-something, and a lot of hickeys. While I am still struggling to find a regular friend with benefits, and the holy grail of a boyfriend who acknowledges my presence in the room (or, for that matter, existence in general), Steven had 4 dates last weekend. Insult to injury, he called me to plan the dates - endeavoring, obviously, both to rub in that I was date-less while simultaneously taking advantage of my creativity.

I am thankfully immune to his particular brand of clumsy unpleasantness, disinterested in picking up the lonely threads of his negative discourse; I am, however, lonely and in need of a hand down my pants. Something about the nature of the guy I'm seeing and myself - our relationship - leaves me cold.

What a difference a day makes ... 24 little hours ...

If I were in my own home, alone in my old apartment - my much-loved and very missed apartment - I would have that song on, playing low and quiet in the background while I type away these missives and think about how best to approach this new (old) job - scoring tests at Pearson (formerly Harcourt).

It is nearly 3AM. My father's parked his car on the front lawn again, and I am nowhere near sleepy. It is a good night for an open window and some comfortably crawling jazz ... too bad I have neither at my disposal just now.

I find myself in need of repose. I am - to put it simply - overwhelmed and undone these days, barely hanging on to what is clearly a life not-quite-ordinary. That brings me to the movie, and to the line from which I draw the title of this submission. "What is victory for a cat on a hot tin roof?

In Southern: "Just stayin' on, I guess ... for as long as I can." I - my darlin' - am just tryin' to stay on, I guess.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

There is No Good Reason for Stripper Heels and Spandex (Before Noon), or Maternity Club Wear - WHY!?!?!

Last week, when the Czarina and I climbed into her big, comfy bed and invested three hours in a History Channel piece on China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, we both marveled at the way in which the Emperor dealt with his enemies. It is said that - when he took on a neighboring province, peopled as it was by those who were cruel to the Emperor and his family during his youth, Qin Shi Huang did not simply conquer his enemy; he wished to eradicate them. The Emperor made sure the people of Han ceased to exist.

I am sure I am not the only person who has thought from time to time that kicking someone out of my life would be somehow insufficient. For some - a certain select few - it would work well if they simply ceased to exist.

I had that thought about the Frenemy this afternoon. He has done nothing in particular to engender such a thought - at least not in the recent grand scheme of things. He came over the other day with the promise of free clothes - a result of him clearing out his closet. I am by no means above hand-me-downs / cast-offs / and the like, but they were my own. Steven showed up with XL T-shirts (neither my size or at all my style) and pants he'd borrowed from me or otherwise co-opted in his heavier days. Now that he is thinner (although still a size or two larger than me), the Frenemy decided - rather than taking these too-large and out-of-fashion items to Goodwill - to plunk a garbage full of things onto my bedroom floor. He also ate most of the salad I made for lunch, and - when they came out of the oven - ate most of the scallops and half the new potatoes.

Having whined about his love-life (a "where is this going?" line of thinking re.: a guy with whom he's had 2 dates!!!), bragged about his sex life, lamented the loss of his transvestite alter-ego - Tori, and asked me - again - to plan his date that evening, the Frenemy swept out of my home in a flurry of brash and bravado. I should say that he wanted me to come with him to pick up his truck - which the Czarina's husband was repairing at the time. Logic would dictate that I drive as I had plans that evening, but that would have inconvenienced Steven mildly and thus it did not happen as it could have.

That same day, on another note, I met a man online who was enthusiastic about meeting me - very enthusiastic. I expressed a lack of interest, which was enough to inspire the Frenemy to get the guy's number from my phone and contact him separately. I cannot say that I cared, save perhaps that Steven's eagerness to leap upon someone I was uncertain about abandoning was rude and all too typical. He actually called to complain about my taste. The Frenemy had immediately approached this fellow, Beto, and - under the guise of his alter-ego / whore, Tori, got Beto to send him pictures - via a camera phone. The results were - to say the least - disappointing.

I will not bemoan the sad state of my love life (again), but let us trip down this (primrose) path a moment, shall we? I met Beto while looking for a phone sex partner - it's a tad ol'-fashioned but the old party line thing modified by way of corporate greed meets lust is a tiny bit refreshing. Anyway, this darling boy was eager to play with me - despite being straight. We exchanged numbers; he called almost immediately; his eagerness, though amusing, proved psychotic ... before even meeting, Beto proposed that we become regulars (fuck buddies, to reinvigorate a grand ol' chestnut). While he was talking his way out of my good graces, the getting to know you phase began: he lives with his mother; he is 18 years old, and - need I mention here - just out of jail (for the second or third time); he has no car.

When he called - the fifteenth time in a three hour period - Beto suggested that he would tell his mother he was going to a movie and wanted me to pick him up in the parking lot of a Whataburger a few blocks from his home. We thus had an hour and a half or so to play, before his curfew. I pointed out that we had nowhere to play as my father was at home; he suggested I pull my car into the garage and we do it there - so we could have privacy. I (mentally) questioned his ability to walk and chew gum at the same time - let alone his ability to put his penis in whatever hole he's thinking of attempting.

I demurred his attentions and thwarted his intentions; to date, I am still holding on to my innocence (ha!). Oh, and so the Frenemy's "exploration" proved informative. Beto, it seems, rather than being the 5'11", 200 lbs. solidly built fellow he claimed to be has not only more chins than the proverbial Chinese phone book, but also manages somehow to be as wide as he is tall (which would appear not to be 5'11," mind you).

This does wander back toward that whole last rites line of thought; my career hasn't sprung to life as yet (the old ladies chained in a room with prayer beads and cups of coffee clearly are overworked - my prayer circle is back-logged!). My love life - for all its lovely moments with the guy I'm seeing - does not exactly a Barbara Cartland make. Danielle Steel would scoff, but that's not saying much ... and Jackie Collins would shame me for not doing more anal.

And on the subject of shit-holes, I am in rehab. As another costly aspect of my probation process, I am in rehab. I haven't the foggiest notion what this entails, although if the class I overheard (for the 3 hours I was sitting - waiting to be processed) is any indication, I will become very well acquainted with movies involving drug and alcohol abuse - as shown in a negative light, that is. For the life of me, I can't really think of any; then again, I consider "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" a weekend guide-book.

I got there at 9AM and did not actually do the paperwork that is the intake process until noon. I had spare time for social observations and biting commentary. Among them:

It occurs to me that while the men in jail were equally vicious or otherwise hardened criminals, at least they were better dressed.
I could not quite figure out how it was that everyone was so singularly ugly. This is a city with a lot of really hot, thin, (vaguely homeless) guys wandering the streets (and / or legal system), and yet it seems none of them were arrested in the past few months. In addition to the plethora of pregnant woman - many of whom had golden hued hair and stripper heels - there were men so large that the whole place was a sea of bling and tattoos, really BIG cotton T-shirts and, in the case of one guy, Dickies capri pants.

I considered bumming a smoke from the 8 months pregnant woman chain-smoking while yelling into her cell phone but thought the karmic debt would surely kill me. And then I spotted HIM. No, not Jesus - although he may have shared the name. Among this sea of pregnant cholas and the waves of Tommy Hilfiger clad men I went to high school with, there was a tall, thin, ripped Latino interpretation of Michelangelo's David. He seemed sculpted from a dark, smooth stone ... high cheek bones and coal black eyes suggested an air of something unique in that unfortunate place.

Upon closer inspection, this flawless man had his share of bumps ... three children for starters, all under 4; his wife, or at least the woman with him, was also pregnant. Her tattoos seemed to complement his while also speaking to her devotion to Christianity. His teardrop tattoo was a simple enough statement - as was the bullet in his head. I turned on the heels of my driving moccasins and walked back into the small seating area behind a large, steel door.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Moments of Greatness, or The Night The Lights Went Out at Web House

the Czarina and I had a marvelous day. I went over ostensibly to hang out, and to make a payment on my fabulous, big car. We had gumbo. We ran a few errands. And then the mayhem ensued. In her grand defense, Warren is no longer drinking. Job-hunting and a sinus infection have kept him off the bottle (and on the wagon) for just over a week now. It is a pleasure to see the Czarina I used to know - fresh, clear-headed, witty, biting (not bitter), sharp and just a bit silly. I was offered tea. We watched a 3 hour piece on the History Channel, and when I wandered off at the end of a lovely, smart, innocent evening with a dear friend, we were in the midst of "Casablanca."

Mind you, the evening was not entirely free of "event." Andrew, Warren's partner, had friends over - two people who were about three steps from a Jerry Springer episode. The 20-something "wife" attached to the 40-something trucker showed up at the house lit, loud, and demanding vodka. Warren and I retired to his bedroom and RuPaul, and Andrew entertained the motley two downstairs.

Side note: RuPaul; if you don't have LOGO - and really, who does? - you may be unaware of the most recent among the crop of reality TV competitions (a la Bravo's "Top Chef," "Project Runway," "Shear Genius," etc.). RuPaul Andre Charles - of "Supermodel" fame (in the wee small hours of 1995) - hosts a show wherein drag queens compete for the title of drag superstar, It was a whole lot of over-the-top with nods toward AIDS, charities, and cut-throat bitches (or just another night in any gay scene anywhere).

And speaking of over-the-top, at one point while the Czarina and I were watching a documentary, Andrew wandered into the bedroom pant-less and bitchy. The trucker, it seems, peed his pants. How this actually relates to Andrew being without pants we remain unsure. There was also some concern that the peeing happened inside the house where various couches and rugs could have been harmed in the making of this mockery.

Eventually, Andrew - the nicest guy in the world - got into a screaming match with the live Springer episode in his driveway; he threw them out and one of the other hangers-on - a 30-something virgin - drove the white trash home. Warren and I watched the proceedings from their upstairs balcony, before returning to our DVR and the first emperor of China.

None of it seemed the least bit out of the ordinary, really; I learned some time ago that one of the best things about having good friends, and quite a few of them, and friends who themselves tend toward the dramatic, is that you get to see the most interesting shows. You also have quite a few very odd experiences yourself.

Two weeks ago, my friendship with Warren, and the various members of the gay car club - the Classy Chassis - led to going away for the weekend. I may have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating; we enjoyed a splendid weekend of food and drinking, laughing and fishing, and all manner of old movies and bad '60s TV shows on DVD. "Lost in Space," darlings ... "Lost in Space."

Last night was also about food and drink. I suppose all the best times are. I was at Web House one more time - the straight boyfriend tends bar there now; last night was his first night. Clad in all-black, with a fedora and a goofy smile, our favorite artist and barista turned bar-wench smiled his way through a good night and learned how to pour a drink or two. the Man and the Crazy Russian were both in house, getting along strangely well and rekindling all their old positive energy. It was, dare I say, sweet ... charming even. I tried to leave a time or two, and Manny leaped upon me - actually buying my drinks. I was there until nearly 6AM - chatting, drinking wine, helping with the closing.

I am at the end of what was a very short (8 weeks) and relatively pleasant semester. Post-jail, I needed the orienting experience of being a graduate student; however, more and more I realize that if I have any chance in hell of advancing either my career or myself, I need to move. I need to leave this city - with which I have actually fallen in love, give or take being a native - and pursue something else. I need a rigorous graduate program - a doctoral program seems in order now; academics are more forgiving of legal faux pas than some other practitioners.

And - per the incredibly esoteric and obtuse conversation(s) I enjoyed last night - about anthropology; linguistics; modern art (sculpture); Russian versus French literature; even local government / politics - I know that I am destined to be the geek I was before drugs and a social addiction got in the way. Have you ever seen, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"?

I am thinking of George and Martha at the moment; I am thinking of that hellacious night in that cozy shack, that crowded collegiate space with books and booze. That was my apartment. That is my present TV room / bedroom. And I am both that "bog" professor and his embattled wife - Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, which is a fitting description of the various aspects of my personality (and the war within).

I think I'll go rent that movie for this evening; after class, after the semester ends (this evening); after I attempt to see the guy I'm seeing, a movie seems in order. "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" - I love romantic comedies.


LIVE NUDE JAZZ!!!, or A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Toilet

It is when you least expect it that the truth of the world creeps up on you. Sometimes said truth is more pleasant than one expects. Last night, the guy I'm seeing and I went dancing. Well, we didn't go dancing. We danced. It was at Web House - the odd and lovely happy shack I've made my home away from home. There was a jazz band, an art happening, drinks and more drinks and then some drinks. The straight boyfriend was wearing holey, skin-tight jeans and a funny hat.

The place was alive and kicking as I have actually never seen it before, and somewhere in the midst of all this flash and fab there was Mark - my bright and shiny, talented and charming guy - who takes my breath away every day. Or is it every night?

I won't waste my time, or dampen my life-long cynicism by going on and on about the happy cute-ness; suffice it to say that things were a little bit magical. There was a DJ spinning (is that even an accurate phrasing, given that all the music came from a PowerBook?) ... and Mark and Mark danced. It was a first. There have been a few of those lately, including:

The frenemy being a frenemy (and selfish) could not locate me when he wanted to, and thus - in addition to calling my cell phone eleven times - also stopped, upon seeing the guy I'm seeing, in the middle of the street, to ask Mark if I was with him the night before. I, of course, was not.

In fact, the night before, I suddenly got into the mood and - around 4AM - headed to the '09 to meet Sean78209. I spent the night with him, a lovely and very fun night - satisfying, silly, comfortable, intimate (insofar as one can achieve intimacy on a first meeting). What does it say about me that - having had morning sex, and a shower, with Sean, I wanted to stop by and see Mark?

I wound up back at Web House, cleaning toilets and wiping out ash-trays, but that's a whole other story. I also wound up dancing, but before all that the guy I'm seeing
told me that he knew all about what I did the night before (by way of the frenemy). He was playful, non-judging, and - to my surprise - just a little bit jealous.

I am new to this - all of this - so note that I am only vaguely in awe that the guy I'm seeing is actually responding like someone who wants to be with me. Jealousy, though a generally unpleasant state, is all kinds of flattering and informative - in the right hands.

I am getting my life in order, although I think that that process is a little harder to pull off than my life plan would indicate.

When I was in jail, it was all too easy to plan and advance a fairly well-explored agenda; in the real world, however, life can be a tad tricky to pull off. I am on probation, hoping for a job-hunting miracle (reference that whole "last rites" comment from my last blog), have no clue how I am managing something of a relationship, and my father and I have not recently tried to kill each other. I bought a fabulous car. I have even managed to keep it together long enough to reestablish some friendships that had fallen away.

I am proud of what I have done, but I am also just barely hanging on (to sanity).

Did I mention there was jazz last night? It was loud, so loud that at some point, conversation inside the building was nearly impossible. It was hot, cold outside but fabulously hot jazz with a few hot jazz players. I was contemplating the rather absurd Adam's Apple of a particular guitar hero when it occurred to me that with no money and a little sweat labor, I was having one hell of a good time.

I looked up from time to time to see Mark - spotlighted as it were - painting and otherwise drawing my favor and attention.

All our clothes stayed on, for better or worse; nonetheless, there was jazz and it was very much LIVE and fun. Going outdoors has its merits. I say it often enough that now that I am no longer a shut-in, I get to experience all kinds of silly and lovely things. The guy I'm seeing, who I recently discovered is older than I thought he was (40-something was one thing, but well ...), pulls me onto dance floors and merriment ensues.

I have so got to get a job. I kind of already have a life.