Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Master Cleanse: T-24hr

24 hours to go, and I am not doing well. I eat a piece of cheese and all I can think is, this will be my last piece of cheese for ten days. And for everything ... it's goodbye coffee. I'll miss you most of all. Goodbye potatoes. I'll be back. Goodbye nuts. Don't go bad while I'm gone, ok?

It's not helping that this is my first day off the patch and with no smokes for emergency back-up. That's 24 hours of no nicotine at all. I. Am. Bounce. Ing. Off. The. Walls. I'm going to need an ambien or something. The tequila didn't help. Nor did the whiskey. Well, the whiskey was cheap, so what can you expect ... but it was damn good tequila.

Sniff. Bye-bye tequila.

But on the other hand, I had to go to Ross's [Fashion! For Less!] to get a work-out shirt, as mine was covered in mud from my bike ride this morning. I skimmed the discount rack and picked up some sweet and oh so stylish - I'll be a hit in Paris, I know I will - shirts that were maybe just a little small for my current body but which will fit me just fine in my new one. Which is due to arrive in ten days.

I just got my body fat tested, and took my own measurements, so here's the old body ... not bad ... but not what it's gonna be: 195 lbs, 14% bodyfat [or 26.6 lbs of fat, but waist:hip ratio say 20%], waist 36.5, hips 39, chest 43, arms 15, thighs 23, calves 15.5.

So [get ready for a Bridget Jones' moment], 15% bodyfat is the healthy cutoff for men. I'm too close to the border - especially given how much I work out and bike. Every pound of fat equals 1/4 inch in the waist. 10% bodyfat will give me a 35"waist and 187 pounds.

And all I can think is - only a 35" waist???? Frak that. If I'm going to suffer I want to see better results than that. I need to be fabulous by Paris. My clothes demand it.

Flight Plans

This is more for back-up and my own easy access. I'm really not doing it to taunt you.

Although, if our frakkin president does try to invade Iran, at least you'll know where I am. If I'm in Paris, I'm staying. If I'm in the desert, and heading deeper into it & hiding until it's over.

Not everything is set yet. I'll come back and fill it in as we settle on details.

  • Thu Mar 22 / Honolulu-Dallas / American Airlines 102 / depart 8pm arrive 8:10am Friday
  • Fri Mar 23 / Dallas-Paris / American Airlines 48 / depart 5:25pm arrive 8:55am Saturday
  • Sat 24 - Mon 26 in Paris at Hotel Jarry, 4 Rue Jarry 750104, 10e arrondissement
  • Tue Mar 27 / Paris-Amman / Royal Jordanian Airlines 118 / depart 5:40pm arrive 10:15pm
  • Tue Mar 27 - Thurs Mar 29 in Amman at (not set, possibly Hotel Canary, Al Karmaly Street, Jebel Weidbeh). Billy arrives Wednesday at 2:50 pm
  • Fri Mar 30 - King's Highway Amman to Petra (not set)
  • Sat Mar 31 - Sun Apr 1 in Petra at (not set). Rich arrives ... sometime in here.
  • Mon Apr 2 - Wed Apr 4 in Wadi Rum trekking with Aodeh
  • Thur Apr 5 (not set, either Madaba or Aqaba) at (not set, possibly Mariam Hotel)
  • Fri Apr 6 / Amman-İstanbul / Royal Jordanian 165 / depart 12:20pm arrive 2:40pm
  • Fri Apr 6 - Sun Apr 8 in İstanbul at Hotel Ekelktik in Beyoğlu. Billy arrives Saturday at 6:35 am.
  • Mon Apr 9 / İstanbul-Heathrow-LAX-HNL / Turkish 1979, AA 137, AA 297 / dep 8:05am arr 8:55pm

Master Cleanse, D-2

Thursday will be my last supper, and Friday is D-Day ... I start Master Cleanse then. It's really my last chance - Paddling Season starts March 12, and there's no way I can do a fast during the racing season.

The basics: you drink as much as you want to this mix, for ten days:
  • 10 oz water
  • 2 TB Organic Grade B Maple Syrup
  • 2 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/10 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Drinking a laxative tea [whatever the frak that is] at night, and 32 oz water with 2t salt in the morning, is optional.

Gah, it sounds vile. I've never done a fast, so I'm curious what it'll be like. Giving up coffee will probably be the hardest part. I'm looking forward to the health benefits, and maybe even the spiritual benefits, and dreading the pain.

There's no particular reason for me to do this particular fast, except that a few friends have now recommended it. It seems as good as any - although I'm having serious problems with some of the ridiculous claims I read online about it. It's as if none of these people have an inkling of how the body works [one promoter claims being tired on the fast is a symptom of your body fighting off toxins - as opposed to the more obvious explanation that you'll be tired because you aren't getting enough calories].

There's all kinds of new-age nonsense tied in with it, but all that is balanced by one amazingly graphic article from the Guardian, The Enema Within.

So I'll have to ignore the new-age ramblings, buck up, and suffer for ten days - until I either find my abs or find god. I'll go with whichever comes first.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Rosie's Response

From Rosie's blog ... I'll give her some respect for this ...

2 day i found
beau sia
on you tube

with great delivery
wonderful editing
set in a school room
he spoke

an open letter to all the rosie o’donnells

“ching chong ching chong
is not an accent
it is a racist interpretation of a language
often associated with
being buried alive in a mine shaft”

“i would never make fun of who u r
and then make u feel wrong
for just trying to inform u
of y i shouldn’t say
whatever it is i am about to say
about plus sized lesbians”

“so listen 2 me
because i dont think ur evil
i dont care if ur mean”

“learn from this rosie
apologize darling
tap into the humanity
i know that u posses”

2 beau
an open response
to ur informative creative
and quite beautiful video

i apologize
for any and all pain
caused to any and all
by my comments
lack of compassion - empathy

u r right
i didnt get it

i know
my intent
was not to harm
yet obviously i did

there ya have it

and beau
before u refrain from all observations
comments or comedy
in any context or capacity
about the queer community
in all it variations

arttst 2 artist beau
say whatever it is u need
i trust
after seeing u 4 all of 3 minutes -
ur soul is in the right place
ur aim is 2 enlighten
not debase
as is mine

peace out
rosie o’donnell - plus sized lesbian


Still on the anti-racism trip tonight. This? Is awesome.

FOX attacks Obama

Where the fuck is the DNC and the Civil Rights organizations? I don't care if a trashy heiress or a washed up comic says n___a on tv, or if a retired basketball player thinks I'm a faggot. It's all wrong, but in the grand scheme of things, minor. This, now ... this is racism in its most vile incarnation.

Mud and Discos

It was a pretty busy weekend here - it started with a nice bang, but ended with me being all dressed up & with no place to go.

The dinner Firday night went well. I'll post the good recipes in the next post. The avgolemono, potatoes, chickpeas, and watermelon are all keepers. I still need to work on my bean recipes - I still can't seem to recreate some of the awesome white bean dishes I had in Turkey and Greece.

I slept at Allen's Friday night. We woke up at 4:30 to a cold, cold rain. I wanted to bag,& if I had been at my own place I would have. Instead, Allen, Roz, Rob T, & I piled into his truck & headed onto base. We couldn't find an open coffee shop, so I had to make do with Red Bull. It was horrid. I refuse to believe that anyone actually likes this stuff. I think they've all been brain-washed to think it's cool, and that everyone is scared to admit that, really, it tastes like a chemical soup.

At least the rain stopped. It turned out to be a beautiful day. We had four teams running (top), and maybe the same amount there to drink and cheer them on (bottom). I placed myself near the biggest mud puddles to get some good action shots (second). I did a bit better this year in getting more pictures of our guys (third) and less of random hot marines (fourth). Partly, it was because there were fewer random hot marines [there were still a ton, but it wasn't as overwhelming as last year]; partly, it was because my camera battery was low.

The full pics are online here.

Saturday evening I went with Billy and Jerome to Restaurant Epic [Grand Cafe's Anthony Vierra's new place downtown - he partnered with the Changs of Little Village to open it. He's still at Grand Cafe, but (according to the waiter) GC is his mom's restaurant, while this one is his]. The food was very modern, and very well done - we ordered a mess of appetizers, the best of which included seared scallops in a mango sauce, wild-mushroom blintzes, a spinach salad with hot bacon dressing and a poached egg on top, and a "fire and ice" mousse with Mexican chocolate and a touch of cayenne.

They didn't have their liquor license yet, but they claim to have a 'signature' sangria. I'll be the judge of that ... but based on the menu so far I'd guess that it'll be good.

Afterwords I joined Dawn for her birthday party at Pearl. Pearl claims to bring the "luxury lounge experience to Honolulu." Why, they even had velvet ropes! I think that must have impressed all the girls in little black dresses (all of which were far too tight for their chunky little bodies) - the place was packed. If I ever want to find a Filipina wife, I'll come here. There was a whole wall lined with bachelorettes eyeing every man who walked by. It would have been so easy to score here. I don't know why straight men complain so much.

It's located on the roof of a mall, so it didn't surprise me that the velvet ropes were guarding a minor ante-room to hell. And while I was impressed with the decor, the service and music sucked beyond words. I finally managed to buy two bottles of wine for our table after about forty minutes of negotiating with our waitress. Dawn was bummed out about some issues when I got there, but she agreed to dance. We found a dance floor with tables in the middle of it (which makes no sense to me) and packed with girls holding cocktails. Which - that's just trashy. Don't ever bring glassware onto a dancefloor. Even Britney knows better than that.

So we danced half a song to some mediocre hip-hop, and then the dj switched to heavy metal oldies. I'm serious - it was Sweet Child of Mine. Not remixed, and not redone ... it was the original whiny ballad in all its whiny glory. We tried to dance, but between the Asian girls on one side doing faux-lesbo hoochie moves and white girls on the other doing rocker-chick groupie moves to the dj it was all too much. We fled into the night.

Too bad, 'cause I had just enough wine in me that hell was starting to be fun. At least I didn't pay to get in (jumped the queue, but that's another story). Dawn dropped me off just outside Waikiki, just after midnite ... and that was it. I was all dressed up, didn't want to go home, and didn't want to go to frakkin' Angles or Fusions. So I walked around a bit, tried calling some guys who I thought might be up [no luck], and finally gave up on the night.

Sunday was recovery. One of my cichlids went on a killing spree, so I caught him and moved him to a guppy pond. I went to the petstore to replace the victims, did laundry, did the dishes, cleaned up the corpses of the birds my cats caught while I was out playing, and studied some more Arabic. Exciting all the way.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Asleep in the Midnight Kitchen

Not really, but that's what someone just asked. I'm wide awake, and there's no sleep in sight. My studio is a disaster, and the kitchen is two steps away from a Chernobyl style meltdown. I'm in full mad-cook mode.

Tomorrow I'm set to serve dinner for forty jocks, to carb-load them before the Swamp Romp. I'm trying to get what I can done today. Or tonight already. On the menu: roasted garbanzos for an appetizer, fingerling potatoes roasted in chicken fat & cracklings, white beans baked with sun-dried tomatoes, watermelon-feta salad, couscous, and chicken avgolemono. Pics and recipes [of what works] will follow eventually.

I had $200 bucks to play, or $5 a person. I splurged on the fingerling potatoes, organic free-range chickens, & sun dried tomatoes. Everything else I'm dong from scratch to keep under budget. So I've been soaking my beans, rendering the fat out of the chicken, making stock, grinding spices, and pretty much just going overboard.

As for the weekend, it was good. I meant to camp on the beach, but by 1pm the first day I was bored. I ended up calling Billy and crashing at his place in Pa`ia. I'm just not the right kind of guy to lie around on the beach all day. Staying with Billy was good, and it looks like he'll be joining me in Jordan, so - yeah! The rest of the weekend, I watched the hippies dance at Makena on Sunday, and though I meant to be a freak with them I just wasn't feeling it. On one hand, I admire the culture they created. On the other hand, they have no rhythm at all. They just get stoned, pound a simple beat on their drums, and do the hippy-dance. I climbed a tree and watched them for hours. It was hypnotic.

And that's all the news for now ... my chicken is calling me. Back to the war zone.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

No Going Back

Oh yeah - why the bus? Because two days ago I lost Reverse on my van. It just wasn't there. I took it as a metaphor. Yesterday, driving with Steve out to White Plains, I lost 5th Gear. The other gears kind of worked, but in a bit of a random order. No first, so I'd start in second, shift to third [which would act like first], and everything higher was missing so I'd down shift to second, which turned out to now be fourth. It made no sense. The metaphor was getting confused. We ended up riding with Kurt. I refuse to accept that as a metaphor.

So now I'm on the bus.


Frak. I'm leaving in fifteen minutes to catch the bus for the airport, and there's a cold rain outside.

My plan was to pitch a tent & chill at Makena for two days, & then spend Tuesday doing site visits for work. I packed work clothes, a change of t-shirts, a couple books, and a tent. I figured I wouldn't need many clothes, that I'd just spend the next few days nekkid. But it's been cold at night, so I added a sweatshirt, and borrowed a sleeping bag from Roy. And in case it rained a lot I figured I should add some gym clothes, and maybe some more indoor clothes. There's not much to do on Maui if the weather sucks - go to the gym, go to Borders, go to the movies. C`est tout.

And now my bag is overflowing. I'm going camping with three changes of shoes, and there's something wrong with the whole picture. I'm not sure what happened to the guy who once hitched around Europe for three weeks with a knapsack. He's probably in my bags somewhere.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Civil Unions Bill

This email has been flying around the gay community fast and furiously. I think I found close to ten copies in my box this morning. It's coming at me from all directions.

There's a good chance that the majority party (Dems) will caucus on this bill sometime in the next two days; which means that the Reps. will take an informal, private, vote to see if the measure has a chance of passing on the floor of the House. Therefore, it's also VERY important that your own Rep. hear from you. So, in addition to contacting Rep. Waters, it's also important that you call and email your own Rep. Go to if you don't know who your Rep. is.

If you guys/gals want this - make your voices heard! This shit does not happen on it's own folks.


I went ahead and wrote Rep. Say this morning. I think he has a good track record, but, for what it's worth, I've added my voice.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More Friendly Fire

And this, sadly, is an America I know all too well. I say we give the South back to Mexico and France. Watch the set-up, and then fast forward to the final 3:30 minutes.

Friendly Fire

The subtitles and sound don't match up, but ... this is rough. It's the footage the British tabloids released of the cockpit recordings from a US fighter pilot firing on a British convoy in Iraq four years ago. It's killing as a video game. It's a world I no longer recognize.

MC vs. Britney, Rematch

My weekend was lame, but kind of fun. Hers was fabulously douchey [tm Becki Newton]. I stayed home Friday to catch up on sleep [lame]. She hit the newest clubs.

Britney 1, MC -1 (points docked for not even trying).

Saturday I joined Dave C, Dirk, and Jeff at the Pro Bowl. It was fun, and David dressed us up like his favorite players. Dave C was LT, Jeff was Brett Favre, and I was Junior Seau. Dirk was Dirk. In the strange alterna-world of professional sports, that meant that we were instant best friends with any stranger wearing the same jersey - and would be expected to answer the most obscure questions about the player. I think this is how straight men bond. We were lost ... all I know is that Favre is hot, that LT is a gentleman, and that Junior Seau beats up women in bars.

I didn't learn much at the game, either ... I kept getting distracted by a minotaur with a godlike body straight out of antiquity. I'm not sure what team he was a mascot for. All in all, I had a great time hanging with the guys - 1 point.

Britney 1, MC 0 (She didn't make the tabloids, so how interesting a day could she have had?)

Saturday night I went with Robert to the as-ghetto-as-it-gets part of Waipahu to visit sick islanders and ended up missing Doug Simonson's book signing party. Minus one point. Britney hit more clubs. Robert and I headed back to town, vowing that we could rage with out hitting Hulas/Angles/Fusions circuit. We pretended that he had a choice. We didn't. We couldn't find any other party, and ended up on the same circuit as every other boy in town. Lame. Minus one point. But fun [thanks, Johnny Walker!]. Call it even. I even had a chance to score, and he was tight and muscled and hot & pretty much what I like. He heads to Iraq soon, and - in his words - had never been with a white dude before. It could have been fun, but he was too drunk to even walk straight & that cancelled out all the positives.

Britney hits some more clubs. She already scored for this, and has maxed out. Zero points. MC loses points for not supporting our troops and for not doing his part to promote racial harmony.

Britney 1, MC -1

Sunday I nursed a hangover at the beach, and then hit the sunset beer bust at Hula's. It was more crowded than I've seen it in a long time. Britney, meanwhile, projectile vomited all over her new SUV. I think I won ... but by default. It's like winning a game of pool because your opponent scratched on the eight ball - it's only a technical victory.

This weekend is carnival. Saturday is Jake's surf pa`ina at White Plains. Sunday I'll head to Maui, pitch a tent at Makena, and read and surf the rest of the holiday weekend. Try and beat that, Ms. Spears.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Meth and Man Ass

So, Dave C calls a couple days ago and asks if I like football. That was an easy one. No.

"Oh. Well, never mind then."

And ... hold on. "You're not about to tell me you have tickets to the Pro Bowl, are you?"

And well, sure enough, he does. And I do so hate to be left out of a party, and baby I can change my tune on a dime. "Wait - football? Yeah, I could like football." Fake it 'til you make it, right? So I'm laying low tonight, as the tailgate starts at 10am tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I know I was all empathetic with Ted Haggard earlier. Well, empathy can only last so long. This is too good not to share ... Donnie Davies' tribute to the Reverend, Meth and Man Ass. Click at your own risk.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Death of a Poet

I got word last week that Dan Pendergrass, a friend I'd served with in the Peace Corps, had died. He'd been teaching at the American University in Dubai, and missed classes two weeks ago. His coworkers went to his apartment, and found him. There were no signs of drugs, foul play, suicide - & no explanation. Just, he went to bed, and died.

I've been out of touch with our group for awhile, but we've been slowly getting back in touch. You form these friendships in intense situations that seem like they will last forever, and you promise yourselves that you will always stay in touch ... but when you move back to normal life you find yourselves slowly drifting apart. There are times of my life that have faded and hazy. I see people and can only dimly recall their names. There are other times that remain vivid, the colors remain sharp, and the friendships deep. When you do reconnect and cross paths again it feels as if time hasn't passed, as if your lost friends had been with you all along.

But this is a bittersweet reunion, and it's death not life that is bringing us together. And time has passed, of course. The last I had heard of Dan - and this was years ago, almost a lifetime ago - he wasn't readjusting to life in the States, and had headed overseas again. Fine. A lot of us never really re-adjusted to mainland life. He went to Korea, I think. That's the last I knew.

AU Dubai posted a memorial for him, and realized how much I had missed - that he had continued teaching, that he had continued writing, that he had taught in Istanbul and dreamt of Cambodia, that he had been writing poetry in secret & that fear had kept him from submitting them for publication ... and that when he finally did he was published seventeen times in one year, and that Arabesque Press published his first collection, 23 Istanbul Karabitsi, this past year ...

There's always so much we don't know. Here's a few things that I've found in the past couple days:

from Along the Mekong
I was greeted and signed in – the extent of his English – by a young Laotian fellow who would see to my needs, delicious coffee Lao and those wonderful Laotian breakfasts based around fried eggs with French-style baguettes, plus directions to this or that place, and finally a quick ride out of town, in a careful and efficient manner for the next few days. He would have been ‘the boy’ of old, as in the boy who would have impertinently suggested to the French officers that the jungle might not be the best place to put the fort. The boy Graham Greene would have sent out for another pipe at a dubious time, or that Somerset Maugham, in his later period, would have had lying around in a kimono just for local color. The boy who would have handed the Americans in mirrored sunglasses a neatly rolled-up flag and wished them a pleasant helicopter flight out from the place where officially they had never been. A timeless and unflinching witness to the civilizing influence of the Western world. He was a nice kid, and smiled a lot, although I never caught his name.

Luang Pabang was fairly busy with visitors for the rainy season, and at the time it seemed that it could only get bigger. Since then, Hmong guerillas or bandits – remnants of the war to stop the spread of communism in Southeast Asia – have become more active in the area of Vang Vieng, a nearby town which has grown along with the tourist boom; buses have been machine gunned, with some actual Western People comprising a noticeable minority among the victims.

But why is this happening? The Hmong have considered themselves perhaps rightly an oppressed minority, like many people who live high up, for eternities; is this not merely a continuation of a centuries-old situation seen in many other places? ...

On the other hand, to follow the line of thought common in some American political circles these days, one senses the hand of religious extremists in all this. The menacing specter of weapons of mass destruction, of cleverly disguised Mosque-littered spheres of influence, which need to be absolutely, finally, conclusively and beyond all question bombed into potential Wal-Mart parking lots. Of grim-turbaned death squads looking for flirtatious blond women to slap around, of people in this area who the powers that be have been meaning to decapitate for a very long time now. But have the right people for the job been notified? Have the deadly mechanisms been self-righteously and irrevocably set in motion?
People who like things spelled out clearly/
Wake up standing in dark rooms late at night,/
Rummage through the back of old bureau drawers,/
Looking for something which is not quite there,/

They expect semi-regular mail from time-lost acquaintances,/
Think they will hear answers in a foreign language,/
Play chess in their minds, move people like pieces,/
Concoct noble roles in fluid dramas, see them through to a logical end,/

Which may or may not happen, but tidy in the mind/
Bypasses the generous effects of discovery/
Found less than neatly piled on what remains/
Even in the leavings of our losses/
And finally, Lost Wig Talk
Light night on the mountain:
Soft evening, colors, yellow and green,
Playing down through the windows,
Through us—
To the dog in the back seat
Leans his head out the window, —
At the wind, —
Blowing through your hair this night
Even not only your hair, some
Just covering that side you shaved —

‘Like everyone now’

My isn’t the night slow like its own fog tonight:

Us flying off the mountain in a fast car
When the sun is going
And so do we:
The windows left open
And the dog in the back seat
Leans his head out the window, —
At the wind, —
Blowing through your hair,
Your yellow and green hair.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Junkie's Life

OK, it's not like life totally sucks. Work is good, and there are some fun things happening in February - Jake is throwing a surf pa`ina at Bellow's, and I'll be cooking for the Swamp Pigs again at the end of the month. I can almost forget that V-Day is smack dab in the middle of the month & that Gregory House is doing a benefit & that I might have to show up and smile or something at all the disfunctional couples who are acting happy when you know for a fact that they haven't had sex with each other for 17 months & that both are having affairs on the DL & that one is still smoking crystal even though his partner thinks he's sober.

Oops. I was trying to be positive. I almost did it.

I went back on the nicotine patch this morning. I've been in an amazing state of denial that I had started back up again, but I was having too many conversations along the lines of Are you smoking again? (no) What's that in your hand? (Oh. Hmm. Yeah). Don't you know that's bad for you? (yes I know it's bad for me). So you're smoking again (I'm not really. Only on the weekends. Sometimes). It's Wednesday (It's been a long day). It's 8 am (oh fuck off).

So I know, this is part of the reason I'm dragging. I can feel it in my system. I'm not as active. I see the change in my eyes and skin - I look older & moisturizer doesn't help. I lose sleep because I stay up too late, smoking the final one or two or three in my pack, thinking that if I only finish off this pack I won't buy one tomorrow. And sometimes I wouldn't. Sometimes I'd go three or four days without. I'd tell myself that I only smoke when I drink - so I'd pour myself a drink so that I could have a smoke.

So here I go again. Back on the wagon. Or off the wagon, I can't remember which way the metaphor goes. Get ready for a week or two more of very, very bitchy posts.

Naupaka, and a Ramble

I saw Naupaka last night - Peter Rockford Espiritu's Hawaiian opera, based on the doomed love of the ali`i Naupaka and the kauā ‘Ōhikimakalo. It was a powerful and beautiful piece, & one that it is still being developed.

It was also a great way to end a mediocre weekend - one that reminded me of what was good about Hawai`i [and yet, even then ... a significant and innovative work plays for one Sunday night, while plays by Pat Sajak - I kid you not - play for five. I just can't escape my cynicism these days].

The story was made for opera. Peter started out with the birth of Naupaka, blessed by the gods. The second scene moves to a kauā family. The kauā were outcasts and slaves, used for human sacrifice. ‘Ōhiki's mother dies in childbirth. Her father, before killing himself in despair, turns the child over to the blind grandmother saying "you know what to do" - i.e., kill the baby.

Up to this point the opera was erratic. I could appreciate it intellectually, but it wasn't hitting home emotionally or physically. The sets were confusing [I thought ‘Ōhiki's mother was a sea monster for awhile, before realizing that she just had really bad hair], and the transitions were jumpy. But the grandmother's first aria, when she was preparing to sacrifice the child &, at the last moment, decided to shelter her and keep her alive, was magnificent.

The whole night was like that. Each individual scene was great, and some were absolutely fantastic. Yet it almost felt like a greatest hits review - we got all the high points, but missed a lot of the story that held them together. But it's a work in progress, and last night I saw the framework of a masterpiece.

So that was that. Every time I'm ready to throw in the towel & quit Hawai`i I stumble on something that reminds me of why I'm here, of what we have that no one else does. But I still don't know. I talked to Paulo yesterday, and he made a good point - I've been orphaned here. As in - one by one almost all of my closest friends and lovers have left the islands. Each year brings new goodbyes.

That, and the post-35 dating pool is tragic. I've met a lot of wonderful tourists and seasonal residents, but haven't had a single substantive date with someone who actually lives here since Roy and I broke up.

Which - damn. Now that I see that in hard cold letters it's just depressing. I was kicking myself earlier for living for vacations, for spending so much mental energy planning weekends in Paris and İstanbul when my life was here. But I gave it a go, and wandered this city from one end to the other this weekend, and though it was always pleasant [except for when I tried to go dancing at Fusions ... the music sucked and the crowd tired ... and Angles was the same drunks as always ... and Hulas was dominated by stocky guys with shaved heads and goatees who tended to close ranks when anyone got near them who didn't look exactly like they did ... so ok, the weekend wasn't always pleasant, not at all] nothing excited me.

And equally depressing - I don't know where I'd go. Most of America just doesn't appeal to me. I used to love San Francisco, but the City today - at least the gay portion - is stressed out and tense. The guys I know there aren't happy. San Diego sounds nice - but everyone I know who moved there also left. New York is amazing, but even Manahattan is turning into an island for rich trust fund kids. I can't afford the rent. I like people in LA ... go figure ... but hate hate hate traffic.

Europe, though ... Europe could work ...

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Stranger In My House

This town blows, and I need to move on. I want to be gone by the end of the year. And I know I'll be leaving a lot of good things behind, but I need more out of life than this.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Me & My Camel

I had drinks with Bob last night, and he gave me endless tips on what to see and do in Paris. I think I'm already in love with the city, and I haven't even seen it yet. Funny how the it wasn't even on my radar until about a year ago, and now I can hardly wait to visit.

The trip is shaping up nicely. I found a cheap hotel in the 10e Arrondissement - the Hotel Jarry at 35 euro a night! It's an immigrant neighborhood south of the Gare de l'Est, totally outside of every tourist map I've found, yet walking distance from the Marais and the Champs Elysees. And I don't care that it's ghetto; it's still Paris in Spring. I don't have much of an agenda beyond wandering a lot, seeing the Louvre, Versailles, and the Picasso Museum (thanks to Bob for that rec) - and eating lots of cheese.

From Paris it's off to Amman. I haven't bought tickets for this leg yet, but the prices look pretty stable. I'll do three nights in Amman, three
exploring Petra, and then it's off to Wadi Rum for a three night camel trek! This is the part that excites me the most. I've been talking to a Bedouin guide online, Aodeh Abdullah al Zlapeh (left). I'll meet him Monday morning on April 2, we'll plot a course, he'll introduce me to my camel, and then we head out into the desert. I've been chatting with a Kiwi who might come along, but otherwise it's just me, the Bedouin, and our camels.

Of course, I've never actually touched a camel - muc
h less cared for one for three days. Everything I know about camels I learned from watching The Amazing Race - so my knowledge is limited, though I think I'm ready. I found this online, which I figure is a good enough start ...

Camels, if well treated, are more inquisitive and affectionate

Camels are quieter and gentler than horses.

Situations that could panic a horse will scarcely cause any concern for a camel. If a horse gets really spooked, it could bolt and run off. Camels will rarely act in such an insensible manner. However, camels will sometimes buck, for no other reason than sheer exuberance.

Camels seem smarter than horses about getting themselves out of a precarious situation. If a horse gets tangled up in a rope, it may struggle violently and get rope burns (or worse). A tangled up camel will, after briefly testing the bonds, sit quietly and figure out what to do next.

Camels can carry more weight than horses.

Riding a camel is quiet and peaceful (that is, once the camel is well trained enough that it no longer grumbles along the way). Camel's slipper-like feet make hardly any noise. Without the clip-clop of hooves, you can hear the wind sighing in
the brush, the rustle of autumn leaves, a coyote howl in the distance on a moonlight ride.

Camels' minds seem to be more complicated and interesting than horses'. Of course, this can be a disadvantage as well!

Horses have a lighter touch and are more responsive to cues than camels. This is because they are in general more reactive and sensitive.

Horses are more sure-footed than camels.

Horses have more impulsion than camels. They are more willing to move out. Camels are by nature barn-sour and herd-sour. One of the biggest challenges in camel training is in getting them to leave home or to leave the herd. Even a well-trained lead camel may need to be led out of the yard before mounting. Camels tend to be more "mulish" or "donkey-like" than horse-like in their responses.

Camels seem to take mistreatment more personally than horses do.
Yeah, that seems like my kind of critter.

After that, it's off for a weekend of R&R in İstanbul. I'm returning to the Hotel Eklektik Galata, in the heart the modern cultural district. This time, I'll be a man with an agenda. I won't leave until I've had a bath at the Çemberlitaş Hamamı (left, designed by Mimar Sinan, one of history's greatest architects, in 1584), tour the Hagia Sophia and Topkapı Palace, and shop until I'm broke at the Kapalı Çarsisi (right, started in 1464 and one of the largest covered markets in the world). And if I still have energy (as if I won't), I'll hit the clubs and dance the night away to Sufi and Turkish house.

Easter night I'll watch the sunset over Sultanahmet, and then prep for the long flight home.