Religion, Politics and The Great Pumpkin

“There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people… “ - Linus Van Pelt

(I may never get such a convenient opportunity to use that title again… it applies on several levels today… though, I’m actually working backwards.)

First up, my Halloween recap:

I went back to Salem… and actually had a much better time then before. Now, the stuff I said last year still applies, so I won’t repeat that. But the biggest difference was that this year… I went in costume. So not only was I “people-watching”… but I was also being watched by people.

Now, I did put some effort in to my costume. When I have the time to actually plan out in advance and make my own costume… I do pretty well. Last time I did was in 2001… I went as a tiger. To be precise… I was Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes (greatest comic strip ever). I was simultaneously cute and lovable, and scary and terrifying… exactly like Hobbes himself (just ask him). Man, I wish I kept that costume…

But this year, the concept of it was a little more simplistic… but still required a bit of advance work… and I made the extra effort this year.

So what did I go as?

Charlie Brown… and his costume from It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

When I went online looking for patterns and instructions how to make it… all I could really find was “just get an old sheet and cut a bunch of holes in it. You’re all done!”

No. Sorry… but that’s stupid. That’s what he did in the cartoon… but this is supposed to be a real-life representation of it. In the cartoon, a hole in the sheet shows a black oval. In reality, it’s a hole… that you see through, and see the face beyond. There’s no blackness involved. Plus, when you drape a sheet over yourself, there’s extra material falling where you don’t want it, and not enough material where you need it… you don’t get the simple cylindrical-shape that you get in the cartoon… because it’s a drawing.

I wanted to look like I came right out of the TV and started walking around. Sure, maybe I’m a tall Charlie Brown… but I think I did okay, all things considered. I bought a sheet and sewed it to try and get the right shape, and stitched black felt “holes” all over myself. For the eyes? I bought black mesh, folded it up and put it over the eye holes. No one could see in, but I could see out fairly easily. Yet, when it got dark, I knew it’d be even harder to see… so I’d have to eventually take it off. So, I made sure to make a yellow shirt and stitched the black scribble across the belly… for the full Charlie Brown effect.

But the part I’m probably most proud of… I had an Mp3 player with built-in speakers. I loaded the music of Vince Guaraldi on it… and when I walked around, you could hear “Linus and Lucy” (commonly known as “The Peanuts Theme”) quite clearly.

I am nothing if not dedicated.

Yet, I was incredibly surprised by the number of people that not only wanted my picture… but wanted a picture WITH me. I was stopped quite frequently by people politely asking for a photo op. It was really neat… I’ve *never* had that happen before. And when they heard the music… their smiles got so big it just made me smile, too.

Though… there were a very few select people that DIDN’T know what my costume was. A few were young kids… calling me, “That tall polka-dotted guy.” (I’m tall? Well… maybe to them.) Those I can understand… maybe they just never sat down and watched the show in their mere 10 years on earth. But I did run into an older woman who apparently thought I was the “ghost of a spotted cow”… but it clicked in when I told her. The coup de gras, however… a woman ran up to me and said, “Excuse me… I’m from Channel 4 news. What are you?”

“Uh…. Charlie Brown?”

“Oh, okay.” And then she walked away. The cameraman wasn’t pointing the camera at me or anything, so I don’t know why she bothered to tell me she was from the news… but I really wanted to say, “You don’t recognize an American Cultural Icon of Halloween for the last 50 years… and you’re job is to inform the masses????” I can understand the occasional person not figuring it out… but someone in the media shouldn’t be one of them. Am I wrong?

Anyway, like I said… I had a good time. Got a lot of pictures of other good costumes, met some nice people… even saw a guy dressed as Jeebus with a sign saying, “Judgment Day is Nigh! Show Me Your Tits and I Will Judge Them.” (Which I thought was *really* funny. I hope it pissed off the obnoxious street preachers who were constantly spouting how everyone deserves Hell. Why you gotta preach hate?)

One thing I’m surprised I *didn’t* see? More political costumes. A friend and I were remarking how we hadn’t seen any all night. I only saw one as I was walking back to my car… a guy dressed as John McCain. But that was it.

I found that surprising, as we were just 4 days away from Election at the time.

Of which… to take the opportunity of a segue…

Yes, of course I voted. I got up an extra half-hour early, left my house early so I could hit the polls before work. (I knew I wouldn’t have time afterwards) The most difficult wait was the traffic. But the voting itself? In and out in less then 5 minutes. We didn’t have the new-fangled electronic voting booths in our town. Ours was the old fashioned pen-to-paper kind. Your ballot is basically a scan-tron sheet like in school, and you blacken in the little circle for the people you’re voting for. And apparently, there are no propositions right now in my state, so we’re just voting for the people. *shrug*

Normally, I keep my voting selection private… because I am and always will be an Independent. I don’t go with the whole “Are you a Republican or a Democrat?” crapola. That’s why I don’t vote in the primaries. When you enter the building, they ask you which side you want to see… and they register you AS THAT SIDE. I’m not saying I AM a Democrat… I just want to see what they have to say. I plan to do the same for the Republican side… but they don’t allow that. You’re only allowed to listen to one side in the primaries, and I’m not down with that. I want to look at one set of options and pick what I think is the best. Then look at ANOTHER set of options, pick the best one from there… then have those two choices start talking to try and convince me. They don’t let you do it that way. In the election, you can be independent… in the primaries, they have to label you. So I don’t do the Primaries.

But I did vote for Barack Obama. I think in large part because he’s more inspirational then most other candidates in the last 20+ years. And I think national esteem and identity is at a low point… and overall we NEED someone inspirational now more than ever. It’s a damn good country we have… and we want to feel good about being Americans again. I think National Identity is kind of important.

So I think that this IS a historic moment in a few ways. And not just because of the color of Barack’s skin. (Of which it’s technically false to call him the first African-American President… because he’s Bi-Racial. His mom is white, and his dad is black. Which makes him a great bridge of the two worlds, yes… but media likes to throw out buzzwords without always having the accuracy to back it up. I’m just saying.)

I’m not saying that John McCain would be a BAD leader. In fact… frankly, I think he wouldn’t be too shabby. The personality he showed at his concession speech was the same one he showed at the very beginning of his campaign… but had completely disappeared throughout the middle. Had he showed that grace in the last several months, I would have listened to him more. But I think the strategists in the Republican Party (who don’t care about policies, politics, or the best man for the job… they just care about winning) told him, “This is what you need to do to win. Now do it.” So the mudslinging started. (Hey, Obama’s camp had them, too.)

I also believe those same strategists told him to do what would become the absolute deal-breaker for me. He picked Sarah Palin as a running mate. I believe they came up to him and said, “America doesn’t want to see 2 Old White Men in the White House this time around. No matter what, the Democrats are giving them something different… so we HAVE to shake this up or we’re done for. Here, this one seems like a good puppet!”

When I first heard she was picked… I said, “Okay, let’s give her a chance. I know nothing about her, so let’s see what she’s got.” The first thing I read: She’s a staunch supporter of Abstinence-Only Education.

“I’m out!”

Yeah… because it doesn’t work. The numbers tell you it doesn’t work. The kids themselves tell you it doesn’t work. Guess what? It doesn’t work. Her own DAUGHTER is a teenage pregnancy… though, apparently that’s okay because “they’re planning to get married, anyway.” (Even though the guy’s MySpace profile clearly stated he didn’t want to get married or even have a long-term relationship with the girl. The same profile that mysteriously disappeared shortly after… Gee, who did that, I wonder?) That’s not even talking about all the OTHER things I read shortly after.

2 weeks after she was announced, I saw a book in the bookstore with her picture large and in-charge on the front… the title of the book was “Sarah: How a hockey mom turned the political establishment upside down”. Sorry, she didn’t “turn it upside-down”. It only made so much news because it was a completely nonsensical choice, that has no basis in this, or any other, plain of reality. She is not a “maverick”… no matter how often she says the damn word. I don’t care for her being a “hockey mom”… which is no slight on hockey moms. I’ve known Soccer Moms and Football Moms and many other types… but NONE of them are people I would want to place on the other side of the table… from Kim Jong Il. Or any of the other 1,000 psychos with political power in this world. (Hilary, at least, would grab them by the balls and twist… figuratively AND literally.) She has contradicted herself several times, shown ignorance and intolerance… and knowing that she might be a heartbeat away from the presidency… honestly scared me. That’s what shot McCain in the foot. If it was anyone else he picked… I would have had a harder decision.

So, I feel we dodged a bullet with this election. For that, I’m very thankful. I went to sleep Tuesday night pleased.

Woke up Wednesday, however… not-so-pleased.

When I discovered that Prop 8 in California passed. Proposition 8 is for the Ban of Gay Marriage. (Arizona and Florida passed it, too.)

I don’t care that I’m straight. I don’t care that I no longer live in California. I called that state “home” for 7 years, and many people that I love are still there… so I feel I have a vested interest in what happens out there. Finding out that several of my friends now are about to have their marriages dissolved, as if they never happened. And many more that are now told they’ll never be able to marry the person they love.

Those that know me, know that I would take bullets for my friends. But there’s nothing I can do about this. And it hurts so much, I’ve actually cried over this.

In the same 24 hour period of electing a historic president… a culmination of a movement that started with Abraham Lincoln and gained momentum with Martin Luther King Jr… as one minority group is validated, another is pushed down and is now LEGALLY considered to be second-class citizens, and not granted the basic human rights of others.

Hell, I was shocked to find that it was such a close race! (51% to 49%) I felt sure that it would be blown out of the water! But no. Why there are still people who so readily promote hate and discrimination on such a grand level… astounds me to no end.

I’ve heard their arguments… “the government doesn’t have the right to legislate the definition of marriage that’s been around for hundreds of years!” Pardon me… isn’t that EXACTLY what you’ve just done? You’ve used legislation and the political process to legally define what marriage is??? That is known as Hypocrisy.

I’ve heard their logic… “to protect the sanctity of marriage”. Okay, you’ve just opened up a can of worms… because they’re constantly using the word “sanctity”. “Sanctity” refers to something that is “Sacred”, which is a term to refer to something that is Holy or “From God”. That means you’re talking about RELIGION.

First amendment of the Constitution (correct me if I’m wrong) explicitly states that we’re allowed the “Freedom of Religion”. So what’s “Sacred” to one person isn’t so to another person… and that’s a-okay! You can’t infringe on their BASIC freedom of religion!

Wait a minute… what’s that say? Right there… look… here, at the Constitution. A little further down. What’s this, “Separation of Church and State”? Oh yeah… that means that Religion and Government have to stay as FAR away from each other as possible. One cannot dictate or influence the other.

So if marriage is a RELIGIOUS institution… then you can’t say anything, because THEIR religious beliefs allow them to marry, and we protect that with blood, sweat and history… and government can’t do anything about it.

If marriage is a LEGAL institution… then religion has absolutely nothing to do with it. Since the sole arguments against Gay Marriage is all about religion… then they have NO argument.

And if it’s both? Well, you’re doubly fucked. So take one of them and sit the fuck down. Take the other and shut the fuck up.

Proposition 8 should never have been on the ballot in the first place.

But hope remains.

There are some lawsuits already filed… trying to get this overturned. The one that I think is the most logical one has to do with “minor” and “major” changes. In California, minor changes are “amendments”, and are passed with a majority vote (51% or more). But major changes, “revisions”, have to be passed with a 2/3 majority vote.

Does taking away the civil rights of an entire demographic qualify as a “minor change”? I think not. Hopefully, the State Supreme Court of California will also see it that way. If so… then Prop 8 is 15% short, and it will be overturned!

People may have failed… but maybe Justice can still win.

So we have to remain hopeful. As hopeful as we were Tuesday night when we told the world who we wanted our new leader to be.

As hopeful as Linus, who dutifully sits every year in the most sincere Pumpkin Patch he can find… believing and hoping that The Great Pumpkin will finally arrive.

Now I’m waiting, too.


PostSecret Update: UVM

I said I’d do it… and here it is.

I finally got to go to a PostSecret event.

The last one that came close to my area… got cancelled a few days before it happened. Yeah, me not happy about that. Now, when I heard that the University of Vermont was hosting one… well, it’s the closest it has since come to me… so I’m going.

Burlington, Vermont is a 3 hour drive from me… so it was going to have to be a day trip. I figured I’d take a half-day at work, leaving at noon… and just get back REALLY late that night. The website said it was scheduled from 7pm to 10pm… so I was expecting to be home a little after 1:00am, probably later. Sure, the lack of sleep was going to be hell… but something about planning for it way ahead of time doesn’t make it seem so bad.

Of course, had I realized that the day before was Columbus Day, of which I had the day off… I might have just taken a full day for an extra-long weekend. Oh well.

After about a 3 hour drive, I got into Burlington. Now, I’d been there once before, about 11 years ago with some friends for a small day trip during college. But I didn’t drive, and I only remembered this little outdoor-mall area. As far as I knew, that was the extent of Burlington. I had forgotten the whole town was built around a fairly big school. (Or maybe it was vice-versa) I actually lucked out with my parking… I got into a tiny lot not far from the building where the presentation was going to be. Just as some lady from New York State was pulling out of a space, I snagged that one. (Score!)

I went to pick up the tickets (I ordered them online in advance… I’d be damned if I drove 3 hours to and from just to find that they were sold out), and saw that it was actually a chapel. Most of the buildings I saw looked to have that “chapel-like” architecture… but this was an actual chapel, yet it didn’t look like it was used for actual services. (If it was, they were very sparse with the religious iconography) I did see a sign that told me it WAS used for Tae-Kwon-Do classes… which I think is great! Hell, if I had that near me, I’d have gone to church more myself. There was a group of student workers setting up a table display of all 4 PostSecret books… and by “setting up”, I mean they were sitting and reading them. Couldn’t blame them… I’d be doing the same. Got the tickets from them, and called my friend that I was meeting.

She’s an old friend from college… I don’t think I’ve seen her since before I first went to California, but we kept in occasional communication. She’s the one that got me onto Facebook (or rather, the final person to prod me before I finally caved), and she drove up 2 hours herself to get there. She took the whole day off, and spent the whole day in Burlington.

I headed downtown to meet her, and on my way passed a picture stuck to a lamppost. It was a flyer advertising some local band concert or event (I don’t even remember what it was)… but as many of these college-type advertisers do, they grab humorous pictures from wherever they find (mostly the Net these days) and use them on their flyers, regardless of the copyright. Since its college, no one ever really cares. This picture… was of Chewbacca grabbing Princess Leia’s boob, and both turned giving a faux-shock gasp. This wasn’t a drawing… it was a PHOTO. And I *don’t* think it was photoshopped. My guess is it was a picture they took behind the scenes while goofing around during Empire Strikes Back. This part has nothing to do with PostSecret… it just made me laugh.

Met my friend and we went and got sushi. Mmmmm…. Sushi. We talked, did some catching up, and then headed to the chapel, as the doors were scheduled to open soon. When we arrived, there was already a fairly respectable line formed. We sidled on up and got in line. Soon after, the line started REALLY growing. Thank Jeebus we got in line when we did. The young lady that stood right behind us struck up a conversation, and we chatted for a bit… asking where we were from, how we heard about PostSecret and all that small-talk stuff. She was a nice gal, very pleasant, even ended up sitting next to us inside.

Looking at the rest of the crowd… I think my friend and I were probably the oldest ones there. Hmmm… I guess I was hoping for a little more age variation in the audience, but then again, it’s a college campus… what was I expecting? I also found myself surprised by the fact that there seemed to be very few guys in the crowd… it was probably 90% girls. Normally, I don’t mind being genderly outnumbered… but this situation felt a little off. Maybe it was just the combination of the two. *shrug*

Some security came around for a quick camera check (they weren’t allowed inside), and we started to slowly file in. The seats were pews (it was a chapel, after all), and we actually ended up with a pretty good view I thought. We weren’t right up to the stage, but we weren’t far back enough to have trouble seeing or reading anything that was up there. I thought we got a good spot.

We waited there for a while longer, and a little after 7:00, it started. Frank Warren, the guy who started and runs the site, came out… a very calm, unassuming guy. He didn’t exude an overpowering feel-good touchy-feely fakeness, he seemed humble, modest… normal. Hearing him talk, it felt… genuine. He wasn’t giving pseudo-pschological Oprah/Dr. Phil-style speeches about how you should feel good about yourself… in fact, the things he did talk about, and the stories he relayed… were about listening. He wasn’t the kind of guy that did a lot of talking… he listened.

That’s the best part about PostSecret… even the best part about when I was going to therapy for the time I did… just being able to have someone LISTEN to you. I mean, *truly* listen… without judging or just waiting for their turn to talk. And when you send in a postcard, you really do have someone listening… potentially thousands. But guaranteed… at least one.

When it came to the part of the presentation where the audience was invited to share their own secrets… with 2 microphone stands set up in the aisles. A few people started to get up and formed a small line at each. Frank had mentioned how the lines were always small at first, but quickly grew (mainly because few people are comfortable being first). After a few secrets were told, I turned to my friend and asked, “Should I?”

In retrospect, I know that just saying that is me looking for a “yes, go.” So even though she said, “I don’t know… do what you want”… I decided to get in line.

I’ve sent in secrets, texted them and randomly placed them around my gym… it seemed almost silly to drive 3 hours there and NOT say something. Was I going there for the experience to be just voyeuristic… or for it to be cathartic? I don’t know if it was ever about voyeurism (maybe a little bit)… but the other always seemed more important to me. So I got up.

Just after I did, Frank asked that no more people got in line… but we would hear those who were already there. I looked behind me… no one. I looked at the pattern of going back and forth between the two microphones… and figured out that I was going to be the LAST person that spoke one. More than not being first… I didn’t want to be the LAST one. Maybe the performer in me felt slightly pressured to give a really good last secret for people to end the night with, but mine wasn’t that kind of secret. But… when it got to me, I just said what I was going to. I tried to say it simply… I didn’t want to give explanation or a set-up, and I tried to pick the words carefully so it wouldn’t take long. I tried to say it like I would on a postcard.

Probably didn’t make a lot of sense to all the others… but it’s what I wanted to say, so screw ‘em.

The presentation ended not long afterwards… actually, I thought it was going to go a lot longer. It definitely could have. It was only about 8:30 when it finished. Frank was being taken over to the next building for the book signing portion of the evening, and most people were either leaving or heading over there. My friend decided to get on the road and head home… I wanted to hang around just a little longer.

I didn’t bring any of my PostSecret books to be signed… which is okay, because I’m not really into the autograph collecting. To me, the experience of being there was more important… and that happened whether I have an ink scribble to prove it or not. But I got into line anyway… because I just wanted to shake his hand. He’s read my secrets, he listened… as he’s done with a few hundred thousand others… and never violated that trust. I’ve only witnessed integrity from him and the website… and I think that’s worth a handshake.

When I got to the front of the line, and it was my turn… I told him, “I’ve sent in secrets… I’ve texted them, and even randomly placed them around…

… But never this one.”

And I handed him a folded up piece of paper… where I had written another secret. One I’ve never told ANYONE… one that I’ve never even formed into words, spoken or written. It’s not something *I* think is bad… but something that I was made to be ashamed of when I was a kid. I’ve never told my best friend… nor any of my girlfriends, not even the one I thought was “the one”. But I told him.

He smiled and thanked me, and shook my hand. I said, “Thank you… for all that you do.”

Then I turned around and walked away… then drove 3 hours to get home.

And you know something? The 6 hours of driving was completely worth it. While driving and reflecting on the trip… I started to tear up a little, and I’m not even completely sure why.

He’s been called, “The Most Trusted Stranger in America”… he humbly says he’s not so sure of that.

I think there’s a damn good argument for it.


Do-over Make-over

I seem to be going through a bit of a makeover. Granted, it’s a slow, subtle makeover… but a makeover all the same.

I just got a new pair of glasses, for one. The last time I had glasses was the pair that I lost when I was in Grad School… about 8 years ago. I never bothered to replace them, and have just used my contact lenses ever since. I had that particular pair for about 7 years by that point… and they just didn’t go well with my face, anyway. (Maybe they did at one point… but in growing, my face changed shape a little, and I just didn’t like the way they fit… so I wasn’t heartbroken or even slightly stressed when they got misplaced)

I had shopped around a couple months ago, toying with the idea of going with glasses again (because putting in the contacts everyday can be annoying)… but the store I went into had the salesman wanting me to try on “all the latest styles”. I asked for a particular shape of frames, and he just told me how they “don’t really have any in that shape… they’re not in style. But these look good on you!” Yeah, thanks Sparky. But this isn’t a t-shirt or a funky pair of jeans… these are significantly more expensive… and are meant to last upwards of a few years, at the very least. So the LAST thing I want is the “latest style”… which will look very stupid as soon as the NEXT style is “in”. I want something that’s going to look good on ME… and compliment my face, no matter what the latest “style” is. No matter how often I said, “I don’t care what the latest style is”, he kept saying it. I eventually left, making it clear I wasn’t buying anything from him. Screw his commission. Maybe he should try actual customer service.

Then, a little over a week ago, I got a notice at work… I’ve been paying into a “flex medical spending” account all year. (If you buy anything vaguely medical… you can get reimbursed from this fund, as you’ve already paid for it. Mainly a handy way to keep some money aside for random medical stuff that comes up.) Apparently, if I don’t use up what’s in there before the end of the year… I completely lose it. So, I could just buy a bunch of cough syrup in December… but then I figured this is a good time to get those new eyeglasses.

So, I put the call out to some female friends and relatives… looking for anyone in the area who’s available to help me pick out a pair, or give suggestions. A female friend did say that she thought I’d look “delicious in glasses”… which was nice encouragement. One of my cousins said she was available, and recommended a store that she always had good luck with. I also got suggestions from my gay friends. (Because that’s who I trust for fashion advice… women and gay men. It seems to work.) I was told to look for “round, frameless lenses”… as they would compliment the shape of my face (which can look a little “blocky”), and be subtle enough to let my face be seen and not distracted.

That part actually fits my personal tastes. I don’t want something that says, “LOOK I’M WEARING GLASSES”. It’s like my shirts… I don’t do a lot of printed t-shirts with logos or funny sayings on them. I’d rather have people look at me and see *me*… not some clever art or gag that someone else wrote.

I think I did well with the glasses I picked out. They are frameless… and roundish (if not perfectly round). Not many people seem to notice them at first… but some eventually said, “Did you wear glasses before?” Yeah, I think that means they’re subtle enough.

The other big makeover element… is that I’ve been hitting the gym. Now, I don’t want to get to a point where I invalidate last year’s post about my fat days… but rather, I think this move compliments it. In the past, I had started working out after I was feeling particularly good about myself… this particular instance started a little differently.

I was at a friend’s house for his 8-year-old daughter’s birthday. I was there making animal balloons, juggling, etc… most of the stuff I used to do when I did children’s parties back West. Anyway… those kids tired me out WAY too quickly. And when I used to work with a Kid’s Theatre Group… I was helping to deal with 30+ kids every day for 5 days a week, for up to 6 weeks at a time. Now, one day for a few hours… I’m dead tired. Some pointed out, “Yeah, but you were in the Bounce-House… that will tire anyone out!” Which is true… maybe I shouldn’t feel so bad… but I still felt like I should have lasted longer than that. I so quickly got to the point of “over-exertion” that it seriously felt like something was wrong. So the next day, I went to the gym closest to my work, and signed up. (It helps that my work reimburses me for half the cost of the gym)

I do like this gym… much better than when I used to go to Schmally’s Total Fitness. Here, they tout it as a “judgment-free zone”. (Nice thought… but how do you control someone “thinking”?) They also have a trainer on-hand to help you out, almost all the time. When I joined Shmally’s… one of their bonuses was a “free hour with a personal trainer”, which was basically a one-hour advertisement to spend $1,000 to hire him. Wasn’t useful at all. Here, they actually sit down with you and create a personalized workout plan based on you and what your goals are. (My goals: “To have more energy, and to look good naked.” Hey, everyone’s thinking that… I just had the balls to say it.) That’s exactly what I need… a structured plan. If you just give me a bunch of machines and say “Go for it”… I’ll do a bunch of excercises, but I’ll end up missing a lot of key muscle groups, because I won’t know what I’m doing. They also gave me a little dietary advice, and they’re always willing to answer my questions whenever I ask. This is a much better place than Bally-… I mean, Schmally’s. (Don’t want to do any endorsements either way)

I started that program in mid-August. My goal was to hopefully see some decent results by Halloween. Figured 2 ½ months was a reasonable amount of time to do so. Well, since then, the bathroom scale has constantly said “205 lbs”… then again, my cat stepped across it the other day, and I could have sworn it said “205 lbs”… so I’m thinking I can’t exactly trust it. My arms have gotten a little bigger… and my legs are a little slimmer… yet I haven’t really noticed anything in the belly-area… the part I was mainly concerned about. But last week, when I went for a haircut… the girl that I go to asked me if I’ve lost weight, saying I look a little slimmer. That comment just ensured me going back to the gym for the next 2 months.

Some minor elements of the slow-make-over… I’m trying harder to upgrade my wardrobe. Last winter, I sprung for a new suit… which was a big step for me, actually. The first suit I ever got was the one my parents bought for my Senior Pictures in High School. Which I ended up also using for my Senior Pictures in College… and several other instances in between and after. I also got some hand-me-downs from relatives and whatnot… but no matter how often they said, “Wow, it looks like it was *made* for you…” I knew it wasn’t. It wasn’t *my* suit. None of them were. So this… in a very real sense… is my first suit. (I also picked up a navy blazer with it. Thank you, Men’s Wearhouse.)

Fashion-wise… my tastes are fairly simple. Most of my dress shirts and even t-shirts, are solid colors. I’m not big on patterns… but I’m trying to keep an eye out for striped shirts that I think look good. Again, though… it needs to be a simple pattern for me. Not 17 stripes of different shades of the same color… that’s too noisy for me. Even if they look good on me… I don’t like it. Pants… I like khakis mainly, but I’ll only wear my black slacks for work or something.

One of the qualities I’d really like to find in my next relationship is someone with a good sense of style. Someone that I can go shopping with and will do well with helping me to look nice. (Yes, I’m a man that doesn’t mind going shopping.) With my last relationship, we didn’t do that very often… I would have liked to, but not having a lot of money to do that with puts a damper on it. (The curse of the starving artist) She did help me pick out my first leather jacket… which I never wore that often, actually. I think the reminder of her (this was *that* relationship) dissuaded me from wanting to wear it… but thankfully, it doesn’t bother me that much anymore. (Which is good… because it’s coming up on the not-so-happy anniversary. Yes, I hate the fact that I still remember that.) So, these days I’m trying to wear it more often.

Now, I’ve tried to go through a few “make-overs” over the years… and oddly enough, usually whenever I did try to have a make-over… or at least make some “change” to myself that was noticeable to others… I found I got noticed by the opposite sex a lot more than usual, and sometimes would end up in a relationship within a couple of months. After I shaved my head (for a show) and sported the “bald” look for a while, I found several instances of being noticed. Same thing after I started dyeing my hair blonde and returned to school after working out for a summer. Maybe it was the confidence of feeling like a new person that showed through… or the drastic change that caught their attention… or maybe a bit of both. Who knows?

This certainly didn’t happen ALL the time… in fact, only a few relationships started after a make-over. Most of the time it was just little ole me from start to finish.

But the thing that I’ve noticed about make-overs… they’re not permanent. We think of them as potentially life-changing kinds of things… but after a period of time, we do fall back into old habits. At best, make-overs tend to be “temporary ego-boosters”… which can be a good thing. Many of us need more self-confidence more often. (I know I wouldn’t mind it) But the brief nature of them… can be a bit depressing.

Maybe that’s why I’m sticking to the “slow” make-over. Doing it slowly, over a longer period… trying to work on one element at a time, which will hopefully be healthier for me both physically and mentally. If it’s a choice between feeling FABULOUS about myself for a very short time… or feeling “pretty darn good” about myself for life. I’ll take the latter.

Sure, the changes will be subtle and gradual… so anyone that already knows me won’t overtly notice it right away. Plus, it’s a LOT harder to do it long-term… it’s easy to shave the head or dye the hair or get a new suit. But the hair grows in, the dye fades, and the suit won’t get worn all the time. But just maybe, while walking around on a normal day somewhere down the line, I’ll be able to catch the eye of someone new… someone that’s worth noticing, and who will find me to be noticeable, too.

At least now I’ll be able to see them… because I gots new glasses. :)


Awesome Autumn

Ah, October… this really is my favorite time of year.

Autumn is the best for me, hands down. And to me, the Fall begins in October. The Summer ends on the 31st of August… and September was always that weird limbo-month when school started. But it’s officially Fall when October hits.

When I was living on the West Coast… this was always the time of year that I missed New England the most. From October 1st to Thanksgiving… if I ever got “homesick” it was then. (After that, it got too freaking cold. I’d spend a week back home for Christmas, get my fill of snow in that time… and most of the rest of the year can be nicely experienced in the fairly tepid temperatures of the Pacific Time Zone.) Northern California had *some* similarities to New England… mostly in the Geography (at least the area I was in), but you still didn’t have the color changes of the leaves. Up there it was almost all Evergreen trees… which were pretty on their own, but you couldn’t tell if it was the Dog Days of Summer or early February just by looking around.

In fact, the changing of the leaves is what really signifies Autumn. The colors of Fall are yellow, red and orange… and you get the best color-changes here in New England. You even get people from out-of-state that make trips solely to see the leaves change color. Personally, I think that’s a *tad* on the extreme side. It’s all great to look at when you’re on your way to see or do something else… as part of the journey… but as the destination? That just seems… a little boring. If you’re only reason to come to New England right now is to watch leaves die and fall off their branch… you *really* need better hobbies. We do have a few amusement parks, and other things worth looking at, you know… not just rotting plant life. (Which is essentially what it is)

But still, whatever floats your boat, I guess. Though it actually is a bit on the appropriate side to go out of your way to see death and decay… because October is also the time of Halloween!

Yeah, I admit… that’s probably my biggest reason for loving Autumn. It’s the closest thing that I have to a true “religious holiday”. (In fact, I *am* taking that day off work this year.) Sure, my first Halloween back here wasn’t the greatest, as I mentioned last year, but I’ll always be hopeful. In fact, I *am* planning to give Salem another shot this year… so we’ll see if it goes any better than last time.

But even if it’s too commercial or “sell-out”… New England is still THE place to be for the Halloween season.

Face it, New England INVENTED freaking Halloween!

(Okay that statement is 75% mistaken… and the other 25 is a flat-out lie… but hopefully you know what I mean…)

You wanna know why Halloween in New England is the best? Because living around here… is like living in an actual horror film.

There’s a damn good reason that Steven King and H.P. Lovecraft set 95% of their stories in this region. Because it can get pretty damn creepy… and that’s WITHOUT specialized decorations or any effort at all.

Looking at the history of the United States (as an entity)… this is the oldest part of it. Yes, I know that the Native Americans were all over the place long before that… but this is where the silly Europeans first landed… and brought with them all the superstitions and religious fire-and-brimstone stuff that scared the piss out of them in the first place. The native tribes looked at us like we were slack-jawed “furr-en-ers” and decided not to clue us in on what we should and shouldn’t really be afraid of in nature. (So, we ended up getting some of the ideas flipped)

But silly ideas and superstitions are what made for good atmosphere… so we had witches and spooky nights almost from the get-go. So now New England has atmosphere in spades, moreso then probably any other area of the country… and I eat it up like a kid’s sugar-laden loot after a hefty trick-or-treating haul!

Speaking of which, the art of trick-or-treating seems to have declined. I consider them sad, almost tragic, stories when I hear of houses that “didn’t get many kids this year”… or in some cases, none at all.

The last time I went trick-or-treating was actually in Graduate School. I went with a bunch of friends in my Improv Group… we dressed up, grabbed pillow cases for sacks, and headed into the suburban neighborhoods and went trick-or-treating. The fact that we were all in our 20s (I was the oldest at 25) notwithstanding… we wanted our candy! (and the people were fine about giving it to us) I didn’t even care much about the candy, and I think I just threw a lot of it away in the end… but the experience of it was so much fun. It was a nice substitute for not being in New England that year.

Halloween is such an “overall” experience for me… I can’t just be satisfied with a one-night thing… it’s a full month-long celebration!

Every movie I see… I want it to be a horror film. I especially love the old ones… the black and white ones. They just help give me the “feeling” of Halloween so much more. And I’m not into the blood and gore (which I’ve talked about before), but the actual scary stuff. It’s annoying when studios make horror films and release them in August and September… but *rarely* in October. *That’s* when I want to see them! Not in the summer, or limbo-month! At Halloween! November? Why bother??

The books I read… have to be scary stories. I break out my scary story anthologies, and read them with the biggest smile on my face.

TV… I always try to catch the “Halloween Specials” that my favorite shows inevitably have. And thanks to DVD, I can watch them at MY schedule. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is always required viewing (I have to see that, or it’s guaranteed to be a bad Halloween that year)… if I watch The Muppet Show, I watch the episodes with Vincent Price or Alice Cooper. I always wanted The Simpsons Halloween Special to be a part of that tradition… but they always show the newest one AFTER Halloween. Like the November Horror movies… why even bother?

You see… for me, Halloween is a bit like male sexuality. It works best with a slow build-up… almost teasing. Gradually getting more and more intense and fun all the way up to the pinnacle, the climax… the coup-de-gras… Halloween night! And once that’s over… my interest COMPLETELY falls off. (A bit of an uncouth comparison… but an accurate one all the same)

Yep, as soon as it hits the morning of November 1st… I am finished with Halloween for the year. I don’t have much interest in eating Halloween candy… I’ve had my fill of horror movies for awhile… if I’m thinking of it, I *might* go to the store and get some discounted stuff to prepare for next year (but I rarely remember)… and all I care about is cleaning up and putting my attention to the upcoming Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday. (Basically going from one extreme to the next) Sure we can hang around a little and talk about how much fun we had… but when the calendar changes… I’m looking forward to what’s next.

As much as I love Halloween and horror… it isn’t my life. (Some may argue this) I just enjoy the season of “my” holiday, and like to get the most out of it. And that usually tides me over quite nicely until next year.

But for now… it’s only the beginning of October… and I’ve got lots of plans for the next few weeks. :)



Secret for Secret...

My love of the website PostSecret… ironically, is not a secret.

I last wrote about it almost a year ago… about the first postcard I sent in. Since writing that, I’ve made more postcards (like I said I would) and sent them in. Probably about 5 or 6 more. It *did* get easier to send those in. Some, I just wrote simply on the postcard, others I tried drawing.

None of them were ever posted… but like I said before, if you send it in with the expectation of them appearing on the site, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. The guy gets over 1,000 a week, and posts 25 of them. Odds aren’t in your favor.

But it’s the telling of the secret is the key. It’s entrusting it to a complete stranger… even potentially the world. Maybe even getting away from it. Giving the secret to someone else… because you don’t want it anymore.

Since last year, the site now has a presence on MySpace and Facebook, of which I also check every now and then (though not as often as the main site). These sites are mainly used as “what’s going on” with the site, and upcoming seminars/exhibits and whatnot… while the main site is solely for the weekly postcards, and nothing else.

Last Saturday, I was looking at the latest MySpace blog… and people have started posting their cell phone numbers in the comments section… for the purpose of letting strangers text-message secrets to them. The “instructions” just said to go to the latest one posted, and send it to that person. I thought that it could be dangerous… but honestly… I think the only people that READ the PostSecret MySpace blog… or the main site itself… are the kind of people that wouldn’t abuse it. Plus… you can always go back and remove your comment if you get too nervous.

I sent off a few of my own to some numbers that were posted. And a few minutes later:

I posted my own cell number.

Within 2 minutes… I got my first text-secret.

It… was a bit heavy. More so then I was expecting. It definitely showed me that this is an experience that isn’t F**king around.

But the trust it shows… to send that to *me*, and who the hell am I? It absolutely humbled me. Sorry, I won’t say what it is… because it *is* a secret. Entrusted to me, and I don’t tell secrets that aren’t mine to begin with. I took the secret so this person wouldn’t have to keep it. Hopefully, it helps them… they said it did.

Within the hour, I got several more. For the next 3 hours, until I went to sleep, I just lay on my bed, texting secrets back and forth to strangers from across the country… some told me their names, some asked for feedback. But I always exchanged a secret for a secret. I believe that’s part of the trust.

It felt… very intimate. Sharing some things that even people I’m close to don’t even know about me. I actually felt connected to so many people at once… it kinda feels like falling in Love. The trust I felt… the trust I gave… the vulnerability, seeing and feeling it… and especially NOT suffering embarrassment for it, or having it shoved back in your face.

I think I can honestly say… it was one of the most Beautiful experiences I’ve ever had. And you know I don’t take the word “Beautiful” lightly.

I was still texting a few people the next morning… continuing conversations. Now, I don’t have unlimited texts… but frankly, I don’t care. I’ll pay the extra fees… this experience was too wonderful to not continue as long as I could. I even got some new people texting me… even though there were more recent numbers posted after mine.

I wanted this to continue… I wanted to do something more.

So, I wrote out several secrets of mine… and when I went to the gym for my daily masochism/work-out… I placed them all around. (I don’t think anyone saw me) Didn’t put them in obvious places… but hopefully places where they would be found. I did notice a few people actually saw them… fewer actually picked them up to read them. But I don’t think anyone threw them away… at least when I was there. But the next day they were gone. So… I put out a few more. I’d like to think that someone was picking them up and keeping them… and not tossing them in the trash, but who knows? Maybe the gym isn’t the most empathetic place to hide secrets at… but the place does advertise itself as a “judgment free-zone”… so that makes it sound kind of appropriate. It’d be hypocritical if they frowned on my behavior… don’t you think?

Hiding those secrets… was fun. And a bit cathartic. Because like the texting and sending in the postcards… it’s a way to get away from the secret. To get rid of it, in a sense (though not really).

This whole past week has been filled with PostSecret for me. I discovered that there’s going to be a “PostSecret Event”… basically a seminar and exhibit, given by the founder, and it’s coming fairly close. By “fairly close”, I mean about 3 hours away. But it’s the closest the tour has come to me yet… about 7 months ago, another was scheduled that was closer… but it got cancelled a few days before it happened, much to my chagrin… so I’m not skipping *this* opportunity. I’m taking a half-day at work, and driving up for that evening. Sure, coming back so late will suck… but I think it will be worth it.

And I’m sure I’ll do another update when that comes up in a few weeks. Count on it.


Nobody knows…. How Dry I Am… (sing if you know it!)

I don’t drink.

Now, to answer the questions I’m most often asked, from the start:

No, I’m not a recovering alcoholic… no, I’m not Mormon, or otherwise religious in any way… and no, I’m not allergic to it.

I just don’t drink. In fact, I’ve *never* been drunk.

Whenever someone asks me, “Why?”… I usually say something like, “It’s just something I never got into”, and leave it at that. Admittedly, this isn’t much of an answer. Almost sounds like I never had the access to alcohol, or was never in a situation where it was available, and just grew up feeling that’s the norm.

Oh please… I’m not, nor ever have been, THAT sheltered. I did not spend my childhood in a Sense-Dep Tank… and while my High School socialization may have been limited, it wasn’t like I didn’t have a clue where to find alcohol. Access and opportunity were not lacking in my world.

There are several reasons why I don’t drink… though if I had to pick ONE as the root of it all… the answer is simple; My dad.

Now, my dad is not an alcoholic… as one might think when I mention him as a reason. No, he never let the bottle affect work, or the normal day-to-day functioning of his life… he was just a blue-collar shmoe that liked his beer, like most people. He’d have one, maybe two in the evening after work… and when he had a day off, he’d have… more than that. If you look at all the instances or him pissing me off, upsetting me, or (when I was young) flat-out scaring me and making me feel horrible and stupid… let’s just say it’s no coincidence that those stories almost invariably begin with the words, “Dad had a few too many beers that day…”

Combine that with an already short temper, a wavering idea of personal space, and a stubbornness that borders on self-delusion… No, he’s not an alcoholic… just a complete obnoxious asshole when he *is* drunk.

Some people fall into similar patterns of libation-consumption that they witnessed growing up… Some people rebel, and go the opposite way… only to eventually end up in those same patterns… some learn actual moderation and end those patterns in a responsible way. Me: I just rebelled 100%, and never stopped.

Now a lot of people have looked at my personality and lovingly tell me I’d be a “happy drunk”, and how I most likely wouldn’t be an asshole. But you know… after years of the kind of aforementioned stories, and hearing some of the most horrible, hateful, insulting things spoken (or “yelled” would be more accurate) while under that influence… I really don’t think that’s something I care to even take a chance on. Nah, I’m all set on that.

Even on a practical level… I hate the taste. We can also attribute that to my dad. When I was a little kid, Dad would let my brothers and I have little sips of his beer. For me, I would then go about a year or so before I thought “I forgot what that tastes likes”, and ask Dad for another sip, which he’d oblige. THEN I’d remember why I went a year plus without trying it. Henceforth, it always confused me when people told me how beer was an “acquired taste”… because if you put something disgusting in your mouth… what on earth would give you the bright idea to do it AGAIN??? Jeez… little babies figure this stuff out.

Though what may be a missing piece in that story is the *brand* of beer my Dad drinks. Apparently, my “hate-the-taste” position makes sense to some people when they hear it, as it seems that brand is universally referred to as the “rat-piss” of the beer drinking world. I probably shouldn’t mention the name… but I will say that it rhymes with “Shmold Shmilwaukee”. (And if that’s a proud export of Wisconsin… they should stick to the cheese.)

Now, I’d be lying if I said I’ve NEVER had a drink (since being legal). My first one was a “Suffering Bastard”. I specifically wanted that to be my first… solely because of the name. (It seemed like it fit.) I finished maybe a quarter of it… IF that. Another time, I had a Zombie. Again… for the name (Cause zombies are cool), and still only finished a fraction of it.

I did try wine a few times… and wine was actually something I would have liked to know more about. It just seems like a very “James Bond” kind of thing to know… the years of vintage, the regions it comes from, and how to accompany it with crackers and cheese to help bring out the subtlety of the flavors. You’re not even supposed to get drunk on wine, it’s supposed to be a sipping/tasting experience. If you want to get drunk, you drink whiskey or vodka or something of that ilk… not wine. If you’re drinking wine with the intention of getting drunk… I think you’re doing something wrong. Wine is about the actual flavor… of which the few times I tried, I didn’t really like. I was given half a glass one time, and I nursed it for about 3 hours… and by that point, I’d only finished maybe a quarter of what was poured (so not even 1/8 of a glass). I wasn’t so much “drinking” it… as I was “letting it evaporate.”

I think the taste of the alcohol itself is just kind of repulsive to me. And since I’m not used to the taste of it… when it does exist in my glass, it’s pretty obvious. I’ve taken a drink of punch before, to find it had been spiked. I then found out it was *very lightly* spiked, and that no one else had been able to taste it… but I did. *shrug* I’ve been told several times that I “just need to find something I’d like”… and I’ve had many offers to “help” me with that. I don’t know… maybe there IS something out there I’d like. But I don’t think I have any interest in finding it. (And if you want to “help”… Worse have tried… and Better have failed.)

Even though, I seem to find a lot of disadvantages to not drinking. That seems like an odd statement, I know. Most people can immediately think of several reasons why it’s good to NOT drink (even though they are drinking themselves)… “It’s healthier”, “saves a lot of money”, “you’ll never do anything you regret”, blah blah blah.

Yeah, that’s what they SAY. But I think the subconscious says something different.

Alcohol is very much a social lubricant. It lowers inhibitions and gets strangers talking, opening up a myriad of possibilities both bad and good. We walk around with our guard up all day, and to relax we want to let that guard down… and most people don’t consider the bad possibilities 100% of the time (otherwise, they’d NEVER let their guard down). Always keeping your wits about you… can be hard work and stressful on its own, so who wants to constantly worry about that? It’s nice to feel you can let that responsibility go… which alcohol can do, artificially.

Me… I’ve always got that guard up. Now, from my point of view… it’s a little tough having an intelligent conversation with someone who’s visibly inebriated. For them, I can only imagine what they’d be thinking… anything from “What a stick-in-the-mud, he’s no fun” to “I’m vulnerable and he’s not… oh my, this is uncomfortable” to “I’m engaging in a horrible vice and therefore, he must think he’s so much better than me, the bastard”, etc. Sure, they “say” it’s good I don’t drink… but they talk more/flirt more/get-to-know the other people that ARE drinking. (I *do* meet people who drink that are 100% a-okay with it and really don’t care that I’m a teetotaler... but it’s rarer than you think.)

In all honesty… I don’t care if other people drink. My “no drinking” policy is only for me and me alone. I hold NO one else to those standards. I think some of my past relationships felt a little awkward with it… being in a situation where they wanted to have a drink, but knowing that I wasn’t. Whether they felt pressured by my presence to not drink, or didn’t want to “leave me out”, I don’t know. But I want my friends to have a good time… and if that entails knocking back a few… go for it. I will never tell someone they *shouldn’t* do that. It’s our inalienable right to do whatever you want to yourself… that’s the beauty of America. If you’re my friend… especially if I’m dating you… then I’m accepting flaws, vices and all. If I’m THAT opposed to something you practice/engage in… I’ll leave or just won’t get involved in the first place. (In which case it really is an honest-to-goodness “it’s not you, it’s me” situation. I don’t like the idea of asking anybody to change for me… as I don’t think I have the right.)

Yeah, there are times I do feel a little “left out”. I wonder if it would be nice to get vulnerable like that. Hell, maybe I’d have had a lot more sex in life if I did… (but I think I’d rather have sex that I *remember*… and not have to regret later)

I think it’s a trade-off.

I’ll gladly be the designated driver. Sure, maybe I’ll be a bit bored while sitting around and people-watching drunk strangers… but if I know my friends are having a good time, that’s okay by me. As long as I have my wits about me… as long as I have control over myself, I have control over the situation. There are a lot of bad possibilities that *can* happen. At least I can make sure that those things don’t happen to my friends. If you get drunk-sick, I’ll hold your head over the toilet… and when you have the hangover, I’ll bring you the vitamin B and water.

Call it another part of my inner Superhero complex. If you’re with me… you’re getting home safe… I guarantee it.

I’ve seen some people at their absolute worst while drunk… alcohol combined with medication (or even alcohol withOUT medication that they should have been on), borderline alcohol poisoning, falling off the wagon, getting violent and even acting downright stalkerish while under the influence.

I’ve also seen people become scared for their own safety, and the safety of those they love… deathly afraid that they are going to be hurt or scarred forever from someone who was drunk and not in control of themselves. I’ve seen too many tears and have heard of far too many stories of good friends turned into victims and statistics.

Since there’s almost nothing that pisses me off more than that, I say this with as much passion, rage and utmost seriousness that I can muster:


(God help whoever tries to F**K with me on this one.)


Looking Through Another Eye

I first started getting into photography when I was in Graduate School. I had gone home for Christmas break, during which I had bought myself my first digital camera. It was 1.3 Mega-pixels, (which at the time was a half-decent resolution) and I barely knew anything about it.

My only experience with taking photos was earlier failed attempts with a “regular” camera, using actual film. Rarely did those pictures even come out... at all. It was pretty frustrating to take a few rolls worth of pictures, send them in for developing, spending 5 bucks or more per roll, waiting a few days for developing, making a trip to the store to pick them up… only to find that just about all of them were too dark, too fuzzy… and totally incomprehensible. When I figured I’d be in events or situations that I wanted to take pictures, I bought a few disposable cameras, and hoped for the best.

So, I was pretty happy to get a digital. You can see right away how the pictures come out, and if they suck… you can instantly delete. Plus, they hold a LOT more than regular cameras, and no film to change. If I wanted a hard copy… you can even get prints of them at the store. (And eventually, even print them out myself) In the long run… they would be a lot cheaper… so, on a practical level alone, it seemed worth it.

Wanting to get my money’s worth, I carried it around a lot. Just threw it in my bag, and if a sudden Kodak moment showed up, I’d be ready… (even though it wasn’t a Kodak). People noticed I had it… and for some reason, everyone assumed I knew how to USE it. Not many people had digital cameras (it was still in its relative infancy in the market), and since I was in the Theatre Department… I got requests. Some of the directors doing the small tiny one-act plays were asking me if I could take pictures of their shows, so they could have them for their own portfolios. Or if the Film Majors needed a photographic prop for their film, they came to me. These were all people I liked, so naturally, I’m going to accommodate and help them however I can. So I found myself, several times, being the “show photographer”… sometimes even listed in the program as such. (I considered it an unnecessary credit… but they wanted to put me in there.) When I actually found myself taking archive photos of the large-scale, highly-funded official Department Musical… I looked at my tiny, low-end 1.3 Mega-pixel camera and thought, “How the hell did THIS happen?”

But everyone seemed to like the photos I took. Granted, I knew nothing about lighting, or shutter speed or anything that “real” photographers use to get the “perfect picture”… but hey, if the customer is happy, right? And it’s not like I didn’t learn anything. I did figure some things out… like the darker the room, the brighter the picture would end up being. (The shutter has to stay open longer to absorb the little available light… and usually absorbs too much, hence… brighter picture.) Plus, my camera did have a neat feature… panoramic pictures. Not *real* panoramic pictures… but rather it would take up to 5 photos and stitch them together, so you had to make sure you lined them up right from shot to shot. It was neat to take a picture of someone, have them move a few feet to the side, take another picture… and stitch them together so there’s two of the same person in the same picture.

Plus, once I got the pictures onto my computer, I could play with them even more. I guess the word would be “photoshopping”… but I never actually had Adobe Photoshop. Rather I had the really cheap program that came with the camera… but I got by nicely. My favorite thing was (and still is) to add captions or “word bubbles” above people… mainly to give myself a laugh (and I think occasionally other people find it so). That’s why I love the “candid shots” more then the “oh-there’s-a-camera-let’s-pose shots”. There are more possibilities with the split-second looks on people’s faces which can be drastically misinterpreted from the original context. (That cracks me up)

Once Grad School ended, I figured that was the end of my Photo career. I had no training, very little knowledge… and the camera is not the kind of Pro equipment one would need. Honestly… my heart was not broken. It was such a small part of my life… a minor hobby, really… that I barely thought of it.

Then, when I was living down in Los Angeles, I got involved in a weekly ongoing monologue show. The subject of all the monologues were sex and relationships… so it was considered an “adult-content-show” even though there was no nudity or anything like that. Now, all the actors were supposed to have their own poster… in a town full of actors, everyone wants to promote themselves… it made sense to have it like that. So after my first night of performing, the director mentioned that we needed our own posters, and she would call the photographer that did the last batch… and I noticed she didn’t seem too happy to pay the guy again for more pics. Well… I saw the last batch of posters… I didn’t think they were that great, frankly. Not to be elitist or judgmental… but for a show talking about sex, the posters weren’t very sexy.

I raised my hand. “You know… I have a digital camera. I know it’s not much, but if you’d like… I’ll take the pictures. No need to pay some guy for it.” I mean, this was a no-budget off-off-off-off-off-off-off-broadway theatre show… let’s pinch pennies where we can. I had no problem helping to promote a show I was a part of. (Call it a vested interest) She emphatically took me up on it. This way, I could make appointments with each person individually, take as much time as we want (so you’re not shuffling people one after another just to get the job done and over with in one sitting), I’ll put the text on at home on my computer… e-mail the finished product to the individual… they can print it out and make as many copies as they want… voila. Cheap show posters.

When I got together with each person… I gave each person the exact same spiel:

“Okay… just so you know: I’m NOT a professional photographer. I’m just ‘the guy with the camera.’ I have no interest in asking you to do anything you’re not comfortable with… frankly, I’m making this up as I go. So, if you have ANY ideas about what YOU want for YOUR poster… please, let me know. Cause I need the help.”

Everyone seemed to respond favorably to that. Some of the women that didn’t know me from Adam had brought along their large, karate-expert boyfriends because they didn’t want some “creep asking them to take their pants off”. They would later tell me that they thought I was a total sweetheart, and thanked me for being so respectful. Some even said they considered me more professional than most photographers they worked with. And everyone was happy with their posters.

(And yes, there is a poster of me… half-naked with a white sheet draped over my shoulder. One of the actresses took the picture for me. No, you can’t see it.)

No, I never asked them to take their pants off… though some did it anyway. (Only in L.A…) Since we only had to “imply” nudity under the sheet… that did give some leeway. Plus, when I looked at the “last batch” by the guy who got paid for it… they were all from the same level and angle. Almost like he just set up a tripod and lined people up, took one picture and moved onto the next.

I tried to give a little variety. I tried from lower angles, higher angles… tilting the camera a bit. Played around with them sitting or standing… anything but the same angle and level… all the while trying to leave room on the side for the titles and show info to go on. I didn’t want any words or info overlapping the actor… I figured that would be bad. They’re not the background of the picture… they ARE the picture.

After I took all the pictures, I went home, chose maybe 10 of what I thought were the best ones, e-mailed them to the performer, who would make the final decision. (Like I said… it was THEIR poster, so they should have that right.) Then I make the final poster, and when I saw them at the next show… I brought a burned CD with the finished poster and every picture I took of them. I know a lot of professional photographers actually claim legal “ownership” of the pictures they take… but what the hell was I gonna do with them? I think the subject of the photo has every right to know and control where that picture is seen. Sure, I kept copies for my archives… but they never have, nor ever will be released to be used by anyone else.

Like I said, people were happy with the photos and posters… which was a nice compliment for me, I thought. But I was getting bored… with the SAME corner inside of the SAME building, and everyone wearing the SAME white sheet. There’s only so much variety I can get with that situation. So, without telling the director… the next person that joined the show and needed a poster (it was a rotating cast… I was one of the few that was with it for so long)… said, “Yeah, I think I’m supposed to be wearing a sheet or something, right?” I replied… “*Actually*… I’d like to try something different…”

We got the hell away from that corner. I asked the performer to pick out a few of her/his own outfits… ones that they felt Sexy in. Not ones that other people said were sexy… but ones they FELT comfortable in and FELT Sexy in. (Big difference) Some women would come in black cocktail dresses, or a business-type outfit, or an artsy-kind of getup, or PJs, or even just jeans and a t-shirt. (Most of the guys came in jeans and a t-shirt… go figure.) But that’s what they felt sexy and comfortable in… (and I think “comfortable” is always sexier anyway). And some would come to my apartment, or I’d meet them elsewhere… anywhere but that damn blue corner. We tried different places, different outfits… different ideas. Now that we had more options… we came up with a lot more ideas for each shoot.

I quickly became very surprised at what I could get people to do when I had a camera. Having one guy stand in my shower, fully clothed, with water streaming all over him, soaking him and his clothes to the bone, and me snapping pictures… Again, I thought, “How the hell did THIS happen?”

And I really liked how the pictures came out. They looked sexier than the ones before… and they even had more clothing than the sheet. (Funny how that works, huh?) When the final picture was selected and the poster made up… it was shown to the director. Who loved it. Finally! I was away from the white sheet and that blue corner… and allowed to do whatever I want.

Plus, I started getting a little money. I started asking for about $5- $10 to help cover the cost of making the posters (really for the ink and paper from the computer)… everyone gave me at least that with no problem… quite a few actually gave me more. One women handed me $50… and when I told her I didn’t have change, she said, “I didn’t ask for change.” (That helped with groceries that week)

Wow… I was technically getting paid for making sexy pictures of people... with my low-end crappy 1.3 Mega-pixel camera. (As the technology got better and cheaper, the more adjectives I added to describe that thing.) Kick ass.

One night, after a show… a guy not much older than me had seen the show, and asked me, “Hey, who took the pictures of the posters that are outside?” (I signed them all… “Photo by Victor Riley”, adding to the history of not using my real name.) I told them, “Actually… it was me. The name on there is a pen name.” Then, this guy told me about a project he was doing… he had made an adult board game version of “Spin the Bottle”… with drinking rules and everything. He had a prototype, and needed some photos taken for the website and promotional stuff… he asked me if I was interested.

I had to tell him… “Uh… just so you know… I’m NOT a professional in the least. And the camera is NOT a high-quality camera. It’s just this little crappy thing that’s getting us by.” (I believe in letting people know exactly what they’re getting.)

He said, “Well, you bring your crappy little camera… and make some money.”

About 2 weeks later, I was in this guy’s apartment… with 2 attractive young women he hired for models… taking playful/suggestive/sexy pictures of them next to and playing with this adult-themed board game.

When the guy’s business partner was standing next to me, looking into the camera’s viewscreen with me… and whispering to himself, “Oh Baby…yes yes yes…” Admittedly, I was a little creeped out… and once again said to myself, “How the hell did THIS happen?”

Only in freaking L.A.

But apparently, I was good at making people look sexy. Even fully clothed. I think me doing all this with the other actors inspired my girlfriend-at-the-time to suggest that we “take some pictures” of our own. You’re not getting details… that’s a little *too* personal… but suffice to say , these were not going to be seen on any poster to advertise the show. I did make an effort to make them look more artistic rather than pornographic… and I thought we did that nicely. I even experimented with shadows and silhouettes… and suffice to say (again), we had fun. When we broke up… I looked at the CD we had the pictures on, the only copies of them, and gave them to her. I figured they were taken in a state of trust in our relationship. Now that it was over, the only way to honor that trust was if SHE had the only copies of the pictures. I don’t know if she realized I was giving her the sole copies… but that’s what I did.

(I did tell some friends later that I actually kept another copy of them… but I really didn’t. I said that to try and make myself feel better, like I still had some kind of advantage or something. Going further will get into a subject I don’t care to devote time to anymore. Anyway… yeah, I’m a lying liar who lies.)

I did actually get some requests from friends… ones who weren’t connected to that monologue show… “Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask you… could you take some pictures like that of *me*?” (They were implying the “fully-clothed-sexy” ones of the show posters, not like the private ones that they didn’t know about.) I did mentally kick around ideas of some things I’d have liked to have done, picture-wise… but I never did get around to shooting photos for any of them. But it was a nice compliment that they thought I’d do good at making them look sexy.

When I got back to the East Coast… my brother gave me his old digital camera. It was only a few years old… is about 5 mega-pixels, has a great lens… and is a MUCH higher quality that my little 1.3. Looking at it… if I had THIS camera in L.A… I would have felt more confident about actually pursuing more paying options with it. At the time he got it (he won it from work), it was worth over $1,000. Nowadays, there are more powerful cameras that are cheaper… but it’s still a very nice camera.

Most of my pictures these days are of the “candid” variety… (because I love putting those word balloons in)… or more landscape-type pictures. I’m a sucker for good scenery. My new letterboxing hobby helps me with that. I take pictures of the different places I go and hikes I do, and put them in my logbook. It keeps me snapping pictures, and makes my logbook more interesting to look at.

That’s my photo career as it is today. Back to being a nice hobby rather than a pseudo part-time (not even “part”… more like “fraction-time and low-paying-but-interesting”) career.

But you know… while I’m usually behind the camera, rather than in front of it… that does me just fine. Because picture composition is pretty interesting to me… and whether I’m taking photos of models or scenery, I have fun with it. Who knows… maybe in the future, I’ll once again be put into a photographic situation where I’m saying:

“How the hell did THIS happen?”

Cause at the very least… it’ll be a lot of fun.


Zen and the Art of the Late-Night-Parking-Lot-Conversation

My first real job (not counting a paper-route from 8th grade) was at a small family-style restaurant in town. The majority of us employees were all High School students… except for a few older ones that did the slow day-shift. When it came to evening rush, along with cleaning and closing up shop… that was left to us High School kids.

In school, I didn’t really have friends… just a lot of “acquaintances”. Relationships and friendships are built on “experiencing” things… and I never was able to get invited to the parties, or even take a lot of initiative to pursue “hanging out” with people (I was terrified of rejection)… so I never did a lot of “experiencing” with people. My world was the world of school. While there were people I liked being around (they were actually decent to me), if you asked me the bottom line… School was a big ball of misery.

But this little family-style restaurant… suddenly became another world for me. One I actually didn’t mind. In fact, I liked working there. Sure, washing dishes was messy and a tad smelly… the late-night rushes of large groups were stressful and filled with muffled cries of, “God, I’m never going to get out of here!”… but for me: It wasn’t school. And I wasn’t at home. I was somewhere else… with people my age (give or take 2 years) and actually Experiencing with them.

And my favorite memories of working there… were the late-night-parking-lot-conversations. These *were* fun… every single time.

We would finish cleaning anywhere between 11 and midnight… the dishwasher, the cook and the supervisor would be the last three to leave. Most of the waitresses (yeah, there were no male servers… the owner was a bit of a dirty old man) finished up before that, so they were usually gone already. So it was just us guys. The walk from the front door at last lock-up to the cars at the end of the parking lot would be filled with the in-jokes and previous topics of the night (attractive waitresses was a common one). When we arrived at the cars, all parked fairly close together… we’d still be chatting, so we didn’t get into our cars and drive off right away. Oftentimes, we’d just stand outside the cars… and continue talking.

Sometimes, for up to 3 hours. Suddenly, I didn’t care about school in the morning, or any other reason I had to go to sleep… and we just hung out right there, in front of our cars… and talk.

These conversations… would run the gamut. From life, love, lust… to colleges, problems, personal philosophies, fears, rants… Everything! Something about being in a wide-open parking lot… few to no other cars around… alone in the night air… allowed me, them, us... to open up ourselves. Conversations were uncensored, brutally honest, always real, and always known to not be blabbed about later. The Late-Night-Parking-Lot-Conversation is always considered “not for gossip, on the QT and the down-low.” In the open air, yet behind closed doors. I always respected that. That unwritten rule is what made ME feel comfortable to talk.

But I especially loved to listen.

I wonder how many things I heard that had never been told to other people before? How many things have never been told to anyone since? (Probably not much… but maybe something.)

In the years since working there… I’ve had other Late-Night-Parking-Lot-Conversations. (Not all of them were even in a parking lot, technically.) But they were all in the open air… late at night… no one else around. I often forgot about the specific phenomenon until I found myself in one and remembered, “Hey… this was my favorite thing about my first job… and here it is again!” As soon as I recognize that I’m in that situation… I find myself listening more intently, and speaking more honestly than maybe I usually do. I don’t often get the LNPLC as much as I used to… so when I see it, I don’t want it to go without savoring it as much as possible… and appreciate exactly what it is I’m hearing.

A few weeks ago… I found myself in another LNPLC. A fairly new friend of mine and I were walking to our cars, continuing our earlier conversation that took place during a weekly Geek Game we play. We weren’t talking about the Geek Game, we had moved on to other topics… and we got to our cars, and just stayed there chatting. Fairly early on, I recognized the start of the Late-Night-Parking-Lot-Conversation… and at first opportunity, I took a seat on my car… ready for a wonderfully long conversation.

I got it in spades. It actually wasn’t as long as some LNPLCs I’ve had… but it was high up there in quality. The honest and the revelations… hell, just the plain old fashioned getting-to-know-someone aspect… was nothing short of Beautiful. Like the best ones I’ve had in the past, this was uncensored, honest, real… a real glimpse at the genuineness of another human being.

Reflecting on it later… made me remember how much I loved it. I remember his story… but will never repeat it (remember: The unwritten rule)… and that’s the way it should be. Because to me, empty parking lots are bastions of honesty… places where your soul can be poured out, and not be soiled by the gravel and dirt, nor trodden on by the hundreds of cars and feet the may trek it in a day.

I’ve always been a huge fan of one-on-one conversation… a *really good* one-on-one conversation, that is. And late at night, outside in the open air… with few to no one else around… is my favorite way to have it.


Bedroom Communism

Because it’s too good of a title to NOT use.

The starting idea for this entry came from a conversation I had with a friend about the topic of “Threesomes” or Menage a Trois. I simply stated:

“I look at Threesomes in much the same way that I look at Communism. Sounds like a great idea… Looks great on paper… but just doesn’t work in the real world.”

I still stand by that. It seems to be something that adds a lot of unnecessary complications to something that is already, by its very nature, complicated. It’d be like throwing a wrench into a monkey-house… someone will get hurt before they get the banana. (Wasn’t sure where I was going with that sentence… but it actually makes a bit of perverted sense in the end.)

I’ve can think of two dissertations on the arguments favoring Threesomes. One is an early episode of Sex and the City. One of the characters talks about how the best way to have a threesome is to be the “Guest-Star”… the outside individual that is not in a relationship with the other two, so you have no emotional connection or commitment, and therefore has no obligation or even a care if any ensuing drama commences. (Kind of a cold approach to it… but admittedly valid.)

The other was from author/blogger/podcaster Violet Blue, who runs and writes a website called Tiny Nibbles, which is, in my opinion, a VERY good sex-education site... one of the best. It’s fun and informative, she’s open and intelligent… and extremely easy on the eyes. (But then, I may just have a thing for Beautiful Brunettes in Glasses. Or just Beautiful Brunettes. Or just Beautiful.)

Anyway, one of her podcasts talks about Threesomes, and methods to introduce it into your relationship should a couple want to do so. She talks a lot about “laying ground rules”, lots and lots of communication, as well as using a nonsensical “safe word” should one start to feel left out, knowing when to stop, etc. All good concepts… and I’d agree, if you’re going to bring in a guest-star, that DOES sound like the best, healthiest way to go about it.

I’m just not a fan of the logistics. Not in the preparing and communication parts… I’m all for those. I mean the logistics of the actual ACT of the Threesome.

I’m a guy that likes to please my lady (when I have one). Bringing in a second... now I have to please ANOTHER? Sheesh! I try to give it my all to my partner, so that means I have to either double my effort… an even more tiring prospect… or split the effort. At the very least, I’m splitting my focus, and I don’t like doing that. That’s not an area I want to squeak by with doing a half-ass job, know what I mean?

As a counter-argument to that, I’ve had some people tell me, “Okay… but you could also just lie back and have 2 women pleasure YOU.” I guess that’s true… but I actually don’t like that idea. I don’t like sitting back and being greedy, without putting forth effort myself. I think half the pleasure is being pro-active… and getting without giving would just make me feel guilty, and hence I wouldn’t be enjoying it as much.

Plus, I don’t like being a hypocrite. Because if I have the desire to be involved in a Male-Female-Female Threesome… then by rights, I have to be okay with the idea of being involved in a Male-Female-MALE Threesome as well. Frankly, I don’t think I like the idea of sharing my lady with another naked dude. Nope. Not for me. (Though if it’s for you… more power to ya.) Sorry… In that manner, I *am* greedy.

I can only recall one instance that I heard of a Threesome actually “working”. Chatting with 2 friends one day… talking about dating, and one guy told us his “once-in-a-lifetime-chance-encounter” of how he met two girls at a party… they all hit it off, and that night, they had a threesome. No one was in a relationship with anyone else… and no one felt any emotional pain or jealousy afterwards. Clean break for all involved (seemingly, at least). The guy said it “just happened”, and was a total fluke, the chances were one-in-a-million (though it was in Hollywood… so if there’s any place where the chances may increase, it’d probably be there. So “2-in-a-million”, then), and won’t happen again, no matter how hard he tries.

In a normal “Threesome” situation, a clean break won’t be so easy to attain. Two of the people will be in a relationship, and committed to each other. In something like that, if it’s going to happen, both partners have to truly *want* the experience, 100%, gung-ho, “let’s-do-this-thang!” When one partner is pushing the other (mostly the guy trying to get the girl to go with it… big surprise there, right?), that’s just a recipe for disaster and pain. If one is 100%, and the other is only 95%... you’re better off NOT doing it.

In fact, it’s a major annoyance of mine to hear when some guys are really pushing for it because of the fact that their girlfriend is a Bisexual… “So *obviously* she’s into it!” Uh…. No. Guess what, Sparky? Just because she’s attracted to guys AND girls… doesn’t mean she wants them AT THE SAME TIME!! Hey, I like Milk and Orange Juice… but I don’t drink them simultaneously! *sigh* Assholes.

(and by the way… just because your girlfriend is singing along to “I Kissed A Girl” doesn’t mean she’s bisexual, either. It just means she likes modern music.)

Of all my Bi-friends… more have told me they felt “pressured” into a Threesome, then there were ones that were suggesting it in the first place. And if you try to pressure someone into doing something they don’t really want to do… well, for one, you’re not going to get their best effort… so will it really be worth it? Plus, they’ll probably end up having more than a tad bit of resentment towards you. Yeah, suffice to say, you will lose a few brownie points with them, at the very least.

Then again, what do I know? I don’t have a lot of experience in that area… I’ve never had the opportunity for a Threesome… never been offered, never had it suggested, nor have I ever suggested it myself.

I just do a LOT of thinking. And there’s still so much that confuses me.

I’d even go so far to say that the formal Sex Education I got in school was pretty horrible. In our school system, it was first introduced in 7th grade… and didn’t really tell us much. They showed the disgusting side-view dissections of the penis and vagina… and that was pretty much it. In all honesty… I didn’t even know the concept of “insertion” was involved until about 4 years later when I got a glimpse of my first adult film as a teenager. Isn’t that freaking pathetic?

Birth control was barely touched on… they never even mentioned masturbation as a healthy, safe alternative, or anything about emotions and feelings. Alternative lifestyles? No such thing… It was just a lot of fallopian tubes, ovaries, testes, glands and other medical words… coupled with “Don’t do it.”

Wow… that was unhelpful. The only sexual-thing I learned in public school was, “be ashamed of your spontaneous erections. They’re not normal in the least and are the easiest thing for kids to make fun of you for.” Sweet Jeebus, I got better Sex Ed watching The Electric Company than I got from that school system.

Most of my learning came from my own research. Normally, I wasn’t crazy about reading non-fiction outside of school… but face it; Sex is a REALLY interesting topic. So, to quote one of my favorite stand-up comedians, Emo Philips:

“I learned about women the hard way… through books.”

Yeah, I read a lot. I was a late bloomer in terms of physically dating… but when I actually got to it… I was fairly well-researched, theory-wise. My first girlfriend really didn’t believe that she was my *first* girlfriend because she told me, “Well… you seem to know what you’re doing.” (Sure, there’s the possibility it was just ego-stroking… but I’ll take it.)

Thankfully, with the advent of the Internet, it’s gotten easier… sure there’s a lot of porn out there, but there are also a lot of useful sites. Like I mentioned before, Violet Blue’s Tiny Nibbles is a great site for that kind of info (on ALL aspects of Sex and Sexuality). But there’s also the radio show Loveline with Dr. Drew Pinsky (a celebrity doctor that actually knows what he’s talking about… he’s a *practicing* physician.)… they stream it online, but you might also be able to find a local radio station that carries it. It’s probably one of the best resources out there for young people wondering about Sex and Health.

Yet, as interesting as I found it, Sex was never something I put THAT much emphasis on, when it came right down to it. Now a friend once heard me mention that, and she interpreted that to mean that I “didn’t like” sex. Far from it. Hell, I’d love to get it every day if I could. What I meant was that… Yes, it’s an enjoyable thing… but there are also lots of OTHER things I enjoy. Being on stage… hanging with friends and laughing till your face hurts… having a great conversation... As great and important as Sex is, there *are* a lot more things in life. That was always my philosophy… so it always enabled me to easily wait for the lady in the relationship… and let her dictate the pace, sexual-wise. Sure, some relationships went faster than others… but no matter how brief or how long I was with someone, I do not regret ANY of the women I’ve been with. Nope. Not one. (Though there hasn’t been that many of them)

But these days… I *am* putting more emphasis on Sex. I still believe there’s more to life… and I will still wait on the lady, and all that. But now, once its introduced into a relationship… its downright unfair and callous to try and remove it, without severing the relationship altogether. Beforehand… I think I wasn’t putting ENOUGH emphasis on it. It’s like when you’re sewing two pieces of fabric together. You can easily get by without putting in the Sex Stitch… but once you do, trying to pull it out later will just make everything else unravel. I’ve been in that situation. It sucks… AND blows. More than you can imagine. Having that intimacy and then NOT having it… is not just about physicality and orgasmic gratification. And it unravels more than just a relationship.

(Though I have been told I think a bit “like a chick”)

One last thing I wanted to mention before the end of this… is the fact that I absolutely HATE the idea of “Damaged Goods”. I’ve heard more then a few people over the years that consider themselves as such… and it’s at the point now where it flat-out pisses me off. We’re humans… not “Goods”. We are not bought and sold… (or at least, we shouldn’t be) and I don’t like people using slave terminology when referring to their options of happiness.

I know some women that consider themselves as such because of the fact they are single mothers. In a roundabout way, that’s partially laying blame on the existence of the kids… and I kind of take it personally when a kid is being blamed for something that’s not their fault. (More accurately, that’s the kind of thing that would incur my wrath.) Plus… it’s blaming them self for not picking the right partner in the first place. So what? You made a mistake in judgment. It happens to the best of us. Yes, some choices bring about consequences, but you know what? It’s never too late.

A woman having kids is NOT a deal-breaker for me. I’ve briefly dated women with kids before… and I’ve been *rejected* by women with kids before (even with the old, “Sure-let’s-do-this-again-and-then-never-return-my-calls” method). As long as I know that some time can be carved out for me… I’m okay with the idea of dating a single mom. (But I do need to know the Sperm Donor is out of the picture… if he’s still allowed to make life a living hell, that’s a sign of deeper problems, in my humble opinion) Yes, there’s a lot of guys that won’t want to get involved with a single mother… but there are guys that don’t mind it at all, and even think of it as less of a problem than *I* do.

The other type of woman that seems to consider herself as “damaged goods” is the “promiscuous” type. I put that in quotes because I think it’s a word whose definition isn’t the same as it used to be… in fact, it’s all a matter of perspective on what you think “promiscuous” is. 80 years ago, a woman that’s slept with 1 guy out of wedlock would be a “harlot”. Nowadays, some people can hear a number up in the 20s and consider that “normal”… while others would hear it and think “slut”.

There was a non-fiction book I read called Fast Girls: Teenage Tribes and the Myth of the Slut. (This was the book that gave me the quote which inspired the whole “anonymous forum” part of this column.) It was all about dissecting the idea and archetype of the “Slut” in society, and looking at the specific stories of women who were branded as “the Slut” when they were young. Some of the rumors spread about them were true… most were false… and all of the stories were remarkably similar. It’s not so much a book about promiscuity… but rather more about how cruel the “Grapevine” can be.

If you take one of those girls, and actually assume that the stories are true… they slept with 50+ guys, or whatever. Well, we live in a Cause-and-Effect world… these kinds of actions have their origins and seeds from earlier on. Maybe a sexual assault, or abuse growing up… something made it click in the gal’s head that sex = approval or abuse = love or however they’re thinking of it… but they’re getting around, searching for that love and approval. (It could also be, they just REALLY like Sex… and nothing to do with any trauma. It happens.) Are these women truly less deserving of finding Love?

Hell, I’d argue that they’re probably MORE deserving of Love, because they were dealt such a lousy hand that gave them these skewed ideas in the first place. (You won’t recognize Heaven until you’ve been through Hell.) We all make relationship mistakes… and some people will make a lot more than others. Why would you be rejected for being human?

The only concern that I would have, personally, is that of Health. As long as I’m truthfully told that disease is not to be worried about… as our modern technology brings us protection and medicines to help PREVENT that sort of thing (sometimes even just blind luck)… I don’t see a problem. She likes you, you like her, you’re both clean… what’s stopping you from giving it a shot with each other?

Do guys still have a fascination of being with a Virgin? Yeah, I guess you don’t have to worry about some of the health things I mentioned above… (But SHE may have to worry about them from YOU) and maybe guys look at it as “she has no frame of reference, therefore I *will* be the best she’s had! Huzzah!” Hmmm… Maybe that’s why they don’t like the so-called “loose” ones… they’re afraid of being compared to other guys, which means it’s their own insecurities holding them back. Well… I’m actually confidant in my own abilities, thank-you-very-much… and always willing to learn. Being a Virgin isn’t going to be a detriment (like the “kids” thing)… But, it’s not going to be a point of attraction, either.

Frankly, I don’t care if I’m your first.

I don’t care if I’m the 10th… or the 50th… or the 100th.

I only care about hopefully being the Last.

I let everyone start on equal footing, regardless of their history. Everyone is the same… just like Communism.

Which is the only part of Communism that I think is worth a thought.