And It’s A Wrap.

The time has come to wrap up 2004 and leap on in to 2005. While I do like to ramble on about fond memories, I’m not going to bore everyone with a “The Best of J.P. for 2004” type blog entry. Life is too short to just focus on 1/36th of my life.

Earl and I spent the day on a little road trip. I bought some clothes at Bon Ton courtesy of a gift certificate from my father, then we trekked on down to WestFarms Mall outside of Hartford, Connecticut for a nice dinner at California Pizza Kitchen, some shopping at the Apple store and some eye candy appreciation.

With the temps hovering around 55 degrees today, I was tempted to open the sunroof and enjoy the sunshine, after all that’s what we always do on New Year’s Eve in Upstate N.Y., right? I was content to just enjoy the day off with my lover. I did something I haven’t done in a very, very long time. I called into the “Derek and Romaine” show on Sirius Out Q 149. Yes, I was Average Joe listener trying to win a trivia contest. The question? “Name who was stranded on Gilligan’s Island.” I was waiting for my chance to sing the theme song, but no, some lame ass rattled them off out of order. Oh well, maybe next time. It was a nice change of pace to not be exempt from winning a radio contest because of my career choice for a change.

Now we’re going to watch the ball drop, exchange some private moments and call it a night.

Class Act of Generosity.

The news is filled with nonstop images and sounds of the devastation left behind from the Indian Ocean Tsunamis. Unbelieveable stories. So much destruction. But little glimmers of hope. Help is pouring in from all over the world with what could be the worst natural disaster ever. I was a little bit surprised when I logged onto the Apple site today and found this.



That’s right, Apple modified its main web page to solicit donations for relief efforts for those affected by the Tsunamis. Will it help? Absolutely. A PR move? Probably. But who cares? Apple is doing a good thing. And I applaud their efforts.

Simple Pleasures.

An unmade bed, a cat on my head, lover at my side. Who could ask for anything more.

Earl’s quote of the night: “Where’s the rest of the fuckin’ blankets?”

Ain’t love grand.

Same Old Song and Dance.

As I was writing last night’s blog entry, it occurred to me that my resolutions may sound hauntingly familiar every year. So I dug up another old chestnut from my baby blogger days. I think my record is skipping or something…

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Resolution Revolution

December 29, 2001

With New Year’s just around the corner, it’s time to completely revamp one’s life with what I call the Resolution Revolution. I tend to take New Year’s Resolutions very seriously. With the dropping of the ball and the birth of a new year, its the best time to take a new lease on life, slip into the body that I’ve always dreamed about, clear my skin, become more spiritually focused, get involved in civic affairs, become a cook, a gardener, a sky-diver, a nuclear physist, the list goes on and on.

But seriously, I do have hopes of improving my life and well-being around the New Year’s holiday. The holiday holds so much promise.

Last year, one of my major New Year’s resolutions was to become a full-time vegetarian. I had been dinking around with being a part-time vegetarian for a couple of months beforehand, mostly when it was convenient, but I told myself I needed to become dedicated to the cause. If it had the ability to take a dump, I wasn’t going to eat it. That lasted until we went out west for vacation and I discovered “Sonic” and “In and Out” burger. So much for that.

Another resolution I made last year was to not spend unnecessary money. In celebration of this event, I went crazy on ebay and purchased a cash register system from a defunct department store. I guess I needed a place to store all the money I was saving.

One of my better resolutions of last year was to learn to speak French. I did the whole CD tutorial thing, along with “French for Dummies”. Earl and I headed up to Montréal for a weekend, the perfect opportunity to test out my French. Trying to be friendly, I tried to strike up a conversation with a nice older woman in the mall. Since it was July, I simply said “Boy, it’s hot”. After she slugged me with her purse I realized that I had said, “I’m in heat.” So much for French.

The first resolution of this year is the only one I am going to share. I’m not sharing my resolutions with anyone. After years of making promises to myself, and announcing them loudly to everyone within a 50 mile radius of my mouth, people tend to not take me seriously anymore. But after my Resolution Revolution of 2002, suffice it to say that I’m going to be rich, famous, a contributing member of society and absolutely gorgeous to look at. At least until January 15.

Resolution Revolution 2005.

Once again the New Year is rolling around and naturally I’m thinking about what resolutions I can make so that I can be a better person. I don’t know why I really bother making resolutions, to tell you the truth, because I am constantly trying to better myself, dare I say re-invent myself, but nonetheless, with the ringing in of the new year I at least feel like I’m with the crowd instead of against it.

I have two goals this year. Financial responsibility and getting back to my healthy ways.

I’ve always been terrible with money. I’m the first to admit. If I have it, I feel the need to spend it. “You can’t take it with you.” Oh, I live that motto right to the hilt and buy more crap than any other person I know. I poo-poo coupons. I shun sales. I laugh at those looking for a bargain. Ha ha ha ha ha.

In 2005, I’m going to make an honest attempt to be more financially responsible. Today did not set a good precedent, as I spent exactly $9.95 on a piece of software for my work computer that allows me to do the exposé thing that Mac OS X does. (If you have the latest version of Mac OS X, try pressing F9 or fn-F9 if you have an iBook or PowerBook, and see how much easier it makes it to choose what window you want to work with). As I told Earl about the $9.95 I spent on the debit card, he said to me, “So the financial responsibility you were talking about yesterday is gone today?” Or something like that. Chalk that conversation up to lesson learned.

My other goal is to get back on the health track. Last night I hit the exercise bike for 20 minutes of elevated heart rate goodness. Today I did 25 minutes and feel better, though I still feel fat. I’ve gained in the neighborhood of 8-10 pounds over this holiday season and I need to lose it. I’ve been very relaxed with my eating habits. The use of the word “relaxed” is kind of ironic, in that it takes a lot of energy to eat all the crap I’ve been shoveling into my mouth since Thanksgiving or so. For a little motivation, I watched the movie “Super Size Me” about the guy that ate nothing but Mc Donalds food for 30 days straight. The results of his diet were absolutely astounding. He gained around 20 pounds, his cholesterol shot up from 165 to 220-something, his liver was having an absolute fit (who knew a liver could have a fit without an alcohol assist?) and he couldn’t get it up in bed.

Ooh, sign me up for that fun.

So I’m drinking water by the gallons and trying to eat small portioned, balanced meals. It’s not easy with the enormous amount of leftovers in the house, but they’ll all turn green or navy over the next couple of days and then they won’t be a worry any longer. I really want to cut out soda altogether. I’ll probably be super bastarad for the next couple of days until my body adjusts. I should cut out dairy again, but I don’t want to throw my body, lifestyle and lover into shock. We’ll ease into that slowly.

Yes siree, folks, its Resolution Revolution 2005. Let the party begin!

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Dancing Queen.

I mentioned before that Earl got me an iPod for Christmas. I’ve been busy loading it up with music. I’ve been a downloading fool on iTunes. I’m enjoying it, to say the least.

“This Is The Right Time”, Lisa Stansfield.

I’ve turned into a dancing fool.

“Touch Me (All Night Long), Remix”, Cathy Dennis.

I have created another iMix to share on iTunes. It’s called “That Place: Being Gay In The 90s”. I thought I would share a smattering of the songs I used to spin at the bar. The name of the bar was “That Place”. Being cocky, I added “Utica’s Hot Spot.” “That Place: Utica’s Hot Spot”. A competing bar once burned to the ground. I quipped that they couldn’t live up to “Utica’s Hot Spot”, even if they burned the place down. Kick ’em while they’re down. God, I’m harsh.

I hate to sound smug, but I could easily fill a dance floor when I was working the turntables. Men, Women, Bears, Twinks, Drag Queens, Diesel Dikes, they all danced like wild people back in the day. Now they kind of shuffle to this R&B crap. There’s no energy. No sparkle. The only Madonna song they play is “Like A Prayer”, and it’s the version that stops in the middle. Bleck. How can one Strike A Pose to that?

“Finally”, Ce Ce Peniston. There was a little dance we used to do to this dance called the Homo Hop. It was like the hustle, only flashier. Everything homo is flashier.

Anyways, I’m enjoying my iPod beyond belief. I’ve also jumped back into the cycling bit, after taking a number of weeks off. I’ve decided that I need to get back into my exercise routine so that I’m not a total slug come spring. The iPod is making it much easier to tolerate the ambience of the cellar. I desperately want to hit the road and see the lovely Mohawk Valley from my two wheels, but Mother Nature has made sure that it’s going to be a while before I can do that. Today’s high was 11 degrees. And I’m a wimp.

“100% Pure Love”, Crystal Waters

I didn’t think I would be an iPod fan. I lied. I bought Earl an iPod for Christmas last year and he loves it. He uses it while he’s on the road. It’s his music, it’s his radio, it’s his contact list, it’s his calendar.

“What You Don’t Know”, Expose. I haven’t figured out how to make the accented “e” yet on a Mac. On the old VAXstation it was “Compose Character”+ ‘ + e. In Windows it was ALT+130. It’s probably so easy on my Mac that I’m overlooking it.

To think that when Earl had his iMac I was used to scream, “But I don’t know what to do! Where’s the Start button?!?!?!”

“Tragedy”, Steps.

Earl offered to make me a little snack while he goes and watches the Eagles game. Here’s what he came up with.

Sometimes it’s the simple things…

Now everyone back on the floor!

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My Best Friend.

Earl and I are celebrating our eight year anniversary today. It was a very cold day back in 1996 when we exchanged our vows on a pier at Penn’s Landing, overlooking the Delaware River in Philadelphia. Being so cold, there were hardly any people on the pier. There was a boatload of military guys passing by. Rick and Helen witnessed our vows and exchanging of rings.

I can hardly believe that eight years has gone by since we first said “I Do”. It’s amazing what life brings. Ups, downs. Every emotion possible. Many unions fail, while many others succeed. I like to think that we’re a success story.

I’ve met many couples in my life, both gay and straight. I’ve seen many marriages succeed and many marriages fail. While every couple has their own recipe for success, I’ve found one common ingredient. The two people actually like each other.

It’s kind of weird for me to understand, but I’ve seen couples that didn’t really like each other. They do their own thing. They don’t really share common interests. One shops and goes to the movies, while the other plays golf and watches porn. They come together to pay the bills, sleep in the same bed and eat meals. I don’t know if they have sex. Maybe, but I’m guessing its not very often. They stay together for the sake of being married. I find it all very sad.

Earl is my best friend. We do everything together. It’s very rare that we’re apart outside of work. We’ve had people tell us that our relationship is not healthy. We need to spend time apart. We’re (wave quote fingers) co-dependent.

What do they know? They jump from relationship to relationship. They meet, get married, fight and get a divorce all before last call on a Saturday night. Then they move on to the next one.

When I said “I do”, I became half of one. A single unit. What I do affects the other and vice-versa. We go to the movies. We go out to eat. We go shopping. We make dinner. It’s not “me”, it’s “we”. Do I get on his nerves? Of course I do, I’m a pain in the ass. Does he get on my nerves? Yeah, he does. But it doesn’t mean that we need to move in opposite directions and do our own thing. I tell him my concerns, he voices his. Sometimes very loudly. But we work through it. And then we continue on.

When we said “we do”, we said it forever. There’s no bail out baby. We’re riding this roller coaster together, and we’re not jumping out while the ride is still in motion. The ride can be a bumpy one. Sometimes it moves fast, other times it moves slow. Once in a while, we need to stop for maintenance and adjustment. Other times we’re flying down the tracks, moving at a wildly exhilarating pace. Sometimes its scary. It can be exhausting. We find comfort in each others arms. But when we get to the platform, we decide to ride again, looking for new twists and turns along the way.

I’m proud to say that Earl is not only my lover and my partner, he’s also my best friend.

Family.

Earl and I are finally winding down after a busy, busy Christmas celebration. As I type this in our “Great Room”, arranged comfortably on the loveseat, he is lying on the couch, in his underwear with an afghan over him (the blanket, not an Afghan man) snoring away. The noise is music to my ears. He’s worked hard all day and now he deserves the rest. I’m happy that my Powerbook has a relatively quiet keyboard for me to peck at.

On Thursday night we left for suburban Philly to visit his folks for Christmas Eve. It was 60 degrees when we left (so much for the -13 degrees we had at the beginning of the week), but the temps quickly fell as darkness moved in, and it was a seasonable 25 degrees when we arrived at our destination.

We spent the night at Rick and Helen’s (Earl’s step brother’s house). Surprisingly, we both slept very well. We gave them our Christmas present to them early – our old iMac setup. When we bought the new computers, we decided not to sell the iMac and printer that we had but thought that they would enjoy them instead. So we packed up the whole thing and put a big bow on it and there you are. I know that they’re going to enjoy it very much, and at the very least it’ll provide another excuse for our to stay in touch with each other better.

We spent Christmas Eve at Earl’s dad’s house. He’s doing much better in the health department and their seemed to be an festive electricity in the air, as everyone exchanged pleasantries. I must honestly say that I had an absolutely wonderful time down there. Hugs and kisses were exchanged, warm feelings were shared and presents were passed all around. It is a beautiful thing to be accepted at the in-laws so well.

We did our usual mad dash home, leaving Philly around 8:00 to arrive at 1:00 a.m., just in time to get everything set and hit the hay. Earl and I were up early like the little kids that we are and opened presents. A lot of wonderful gifts. I’ll have to model my new clothes and Aussie jacket for the blog. Plus I’m not a proud member of the iPod society. I’m eager to get that going.

We entertained all day today. My sister and her friend, along with my Dad and his girlfriend got here around 11:00, we enjoyed brunch with them and exchanged gifts. They were off around 3:00 and my mom arrived right on their heels. More exchanging of gifts and more great food.

All in all it was a wonderful day. The holidays mean a lot of different things to different people. To me, they are about family. I am a truly blessed person to have such a loving, supportive and caring family and group of friends surrounding us. I’m honored to have my loving partner at my side. I thank Mother and Father God for their gifts every day.

This is truly the most wonderful time of the year.

Happy Holidays to all!

I’ve posted pictures from our holiday gathering.

Holiday Joy.

There are many times when I crank on my blog and just rant about how screwed up the world is today. Times are changing. People are rude. Folks are stupid. Blah blah blah.

Today isn’t one of those days.

Earl and I decided to do some last minute Christmas shopping while we’re down here visiting his family outside of Philadelphia. We stopped at the local mall, I believe it’s called Neshaminy Mall (which has a Chick-Fil-A, by the way) and made a tour of the big three anchor stores – Boscov’s, Strawbridges (we call it Kaufmann’s back home) and Sears.

Sears was Sears. Apparently its not where America Shops as much, because it was not busy at all. But the service folks were friendly and we were able to find a DVD player dirt cheap. For some reason I’ve always equated the typical New York City accent with “rough and tumble”. Harsh. I find the Philly accent to be similar, but not quite as harsh. So once I get past the accent used to wish me a happy holidays, I’m good with it.

We then went to Boscov’s, which I find delightful simply because it feels like a store from about 15 or 20 years ago, but with modern clothes and such. I’m going to continue to seek out Boscov’s on shopping excursions. Again, the shoppers were pleasant and the cashier was friendly as well. Strangers were exchange well wishes, and that does warm the heart for all involved.

Then we went to Strawbridges, which is owned by the same company that owns Kaufmann’s back home. A cashier, from another department, tried to alleviate congestion in the line we were standing in by moving us to another register, which had a longer line. I don’t know what she was trying to accomplish, but we wished her a Happy Holidays anyways as we moved back to the line we were originally standing in. Under normal circumstances, the people that moved out the line to the other register would have been forced to the back of the line by the others and would have been poo-poohed. “So sad. So stupid.” But no, we all decided to let everyone back in their original place in line. Holiday spirit and all. Again, Merry Christmases were shared with everyone involved and smiles were exchanged.

Oh, by the way, Boscov’s and Strawbridges both get major geek points for using their old NCR cash registers year after year and just reaccessorizing them with the latest checkout gadget and software instead. Sears, who replaces their registers every six or seven years, loses points for yet again upgrading their equipment but doing nothing to improve the software.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because it warms my heart a bit just to see that in the flurry of all this crass commercialism that has become bigger than the holiday itself, that the decency, cordial behavior and spirit of the holidays continue to live on. Despite the red or black ink on the ledger.

Enjoy the holidays.

Let’s Name Him Ditto.

As I was taking the time to catch on the world’s events today, I noticed a little furry face plastered all over the cable news networks and the internet. He’s a little kitten, just a cute as can be. He was in a carrying case, around eight weeks old, marveling at the world. Come to find out, he cost $50,000. And he’s a clone.

I find this very sad for a number of reasons. First of all, and most importantly, cloning is not an exact science by any stretch of the imagination. There’s about a million and a half things that can go wrong, and since cloning is very new, we don’t know what can happen down the road to something that is cloned. Health risks, trauma… who knows? Dolly the sheep, the first cloned creature if I recall correctly, only lived six years. Her species’ average life span is 12 years.

Secondly, the woman that had this little guy cloned from his, well, donor because she missed her beloved pet so much. I get the feeling that she’s under the delusion that her cherished pet of 17 years is back from the dead. Of course, this is purely my belief, but I don’t think reincarnation works that way. Personally, I don’t believe that pets even reincarnate. They’re already perfect. They have no need to reincarnate the way humans do. Humans reincarnate so we can continue to experience life and learn lessons. She’s almost cheating the memory of her deceased pet by trying to Xerox him. Let him live on in her memory. Listen for and enjoy his spirit when he comes to visit, scampering around from The Other Side. Don’t cheapen his death by thinking you can play God and make a duplicate, because that’s not what’s happening here. You’re not fooling anyone.

Thirdly, can you imagine the pressure this little kitten is going to be up against? He’s going to be expected to behave exactly as his predecessor, because after all, he should be a duplicate copy of him. Any chance of him being himself in any way different than her former pet is going to be discouraged. This could make him very unhappy. Maybe “Fluffy version 1.0” didn’t like Meow Mix, but “Fluffy version 2.0” does. So sorry, you’re stuck with Friskies because that’s what “you” always liked before. That’s just mean. And delusional.

And lastly, the rich old bag spent $50,000 to have her cat cloned. $50,000! FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS!! Can you just take a moment and imagine how many cats and dogs could be rescued, or even just given more time to live at the animal shelter? There are thousands upon thousands of abandoned, abused and discarded pets that are just looking for a happy home, with a clock ticking away in the background. Even a $10,000 donation would help the local animal shelter immensely. But this old bat spent $50,000 to have her own designer kitten made. It makes me sick.

We Americans seem to be going too far away from nature and the natural order of things lately. The world is getting very weird. We’re forgetting our roots. We’re becoming very selfish. I hope the little kitten I saw today on the news grows up to be a happy and healthy cat in a loving home. And I hope he gets all the love he deserves. I just wish he didn’t have to grow up in such a fushed place and time.