Monday, April 19, 2004

Yeah, I know you don't know who they are

Just got off the phone with Michael Thomas Ford, and frankly, if I wasn't in a committed, long-term monogamous relationship, tomorrow morning would find me on a plane to San Francisco, nervously clutching a bouquet of roses and a box of Milk Bones for his dogs. I did my best to stick to my prepared interview questions, but we ended up tangenting and having a lovely conversation about gay spirituality, the Lambda Literary Awards, and what makes our pets randomly vomit.

Now, all I have to do is have coffee with David Sedaris (author and humorist), open for Suzanne Westenhoefer (famous lesbian comedian), and at some point, make out with Dean Coulter (gay pornstar) and/or Gina Gershon (what do you mean you never saw Showgirls?!) and my life will be complete.

Also, for the sake of convenience and the off-chance they might be reading this, I would be perfectly happy to make out with Gina and Dean at the same time, weather and scheduling conflicts permitting.

Never celebrate interviewing your favorite author with massive doses of caffeine and cigarettes; it totally adversely affects your journal entries.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

"That's where they keep the maids who steal."

I went to an open house last night, hosted by one of my company's clients. It was basically a showcase for her interior designer, so it was a pretty big affair. I usually don't get a chance to use words like "opulent," "sumptious," or "so obscenely wealthy it makes me want to vomit all over my cheap slacks" in the same sentence, so wow. In situations like this, I always start worrying that I reek of off-the-rack; like wealthy attendees will start wrinkling their noses and asking one another, "Do you smell lower-middle class? Quick, check your shoes..." To quote author Joe Keenan, I was horrified by the excess, and terrified of not fitting in.

I did get to mingle with some upper-crust types, though, so that was fun. I managed to slip a business card to a costume designer who just designed draperies for Robert Rodriguez, and I curtailed my alcohol intake to one glass of wine, so no slurry comments or off-color remarks bubbled out of my mouth. Except for the fact that this mansion is located in a gated community only blocks from my run-down condo, which made me feel like the friendly neighborhood squatter, a good time was had by all.

Favorite overheard conversation of the evening:

Jealous Socialite #1: "Is their wine cellar bigger than mine?!"
Jealous Socialite #2: "Yes."

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

It's problem, cause, SOLUTION, people

I've been reading a lot of blogs lately. Some of them are very, very funny, and others showcase interesting perspectives on society, and some... well, some are kind of bitchy. Don't get me wrong: I'm all for free expression and the healthy release of anger, but I'm getting a little tired of complaint without follow-through. That is, the mentality of "This given situation pisses me off; it's an annoyance that no one should have to put up with; however I have no imput as to solutions that would make this situation better; I just like ranting."

Maybe this comes from my forensics background, where the "Problem, Cause, Solution" model was drilled into my head through Persuasive Speaking and Program of Oral Interpretation. In those events, you identify a particular problem, explore the root causes, and offer feasible solutions. I wish there was a way to apply this model to some of the blogs I've come across. Unless the authors just like being in constant bad moods, in which case, the Internet is slowly turning into a passive-agressive pissing contest: " You think YOU'VE had a bad day? Well here's what happened to me today on the elevator..."

Overall, I think society in general could benefit from this. Angry Poets would still be able to rant about social injustice, but could follow up with a list of all the things they're going to do to work towards improvement of the situation. The Democrats could win the next election by working cohesively towards a common goal instead of just chanting "We want Bush out of office" and waiting for it to happen. Rush Limbaugh would implode. The world would be a beautiful place, my little friends.

(Ed. note: yes, I have posted bitchy, whiny journal entries in the past, so this entry is both hypocritical and self-righteous. Thanks for noticing!)

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Something to ponder

How do you ask your favorite cartoonist to collaborate on a project with you, without sounding like an opportunist or a stalker?

Friday, April 09, 2004

Listen carefully to hear Red Delicious' head explode

I just received my next writing assignment from OutSmart Magazine: interviewing Michael Thomas Ford (a gay humorist/essayist; the source of the majority of my forensics pieces; my idol) about his newest book. As if that wasn't enough to give me an aneurism, the editors gave me all the relevant contact info and were like, "Have at it." So now I'm calling his publicist in New York, leaving Very Important Messages, etc. I feel so grown up, I could just plotz.

In other news... wait, there is no other news. I get to call up one of my favorite authors and have a nice chat about literary things. Here's my secret, cunning plan: MTF is going to be so impressed with my professionalism and earnestness, he's going to give me his address and say, "Drop by next time you're in San Fran," and I'll be all, "Sure thing, Michael Thomas Ford!" And then when I write my first novel, he'll endorse it, and I'll win the Lambda Literary Award, and in 50 years, we'll sit on the front porch of the Retirement Village for Gay Writers of the Early 21st Century and talk about times past, and how our friendship has been such a grounding influence all throughout our lives.

Yeah, good times.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Now with more kvetching!

Poetry has been pissing me off of late. Actually let me clarify that. The poetry isn't pissing me off: the poets are pissing me off. I know I'm overly-sensitive to begin with, and I can be quite idealistic at times, but c'mon, guys. Argh. Spit spit spit.

A couple of weeks ago, I competed in another poetry slam, attempting to get qualified for the Houston-area Slam Off, where people compete for a slot on the Houston Slam Team. I gave an okay performance in the first round, with a high enough score to bump me into the second round; in that round, I took the top score. Unfortunately, my cumulative score was not enough to get me into the finals round; had I made the finals, I would've automatically qualified for the Slam Off. And you know what? That's okay. I'm still relatively new at this, so I'm not always going to bring the house down. What got to me, though, was that the three finalists were already qualified. They were just competing for the sheer joy of it, I guess, which is understandable, except for the fact that everyone I've ever talked to from the Houston Team says they want more people involved, more awareness of slam in general, etc. But if the same people qualify every year, and then continue competing in "official" slams, thus preventing other poets from qualifying, isn't that in direct contradiction of their goals?

I think part of the problem, for me, is that slam reminds me too much of forensics (intercollegiate competitive speaking, not dead people). I was okay in forensics. I usually ended up in finals rounds at local and statewide tournaments, and I always managed to qualify events for the national tournament. Unfortunately, competition brings out ugly things in me, and I spent the better part of my forensics career bitter, resentful and jealous. After I graduated and began coaching, those feelings intesified, to where I was constantly pissed off at my students for not listening to me, and pissed off at the other coaches I worked with for second-guessing me, or at least not backing me up.

I started going to poetry slams because I liked the idea of returning to competitive performance, but under my own direction and jurisdiction. Unfortunately, I'm not really getting anything out of it, other than reminders of the dark side of forensics, coupled with the "you suck" factor. See, in forensics, the competitors are, for the most part, professional with each other. People may absolutely loathe you and everything you do, but during a tournament, those people will at least pay attention when you perform, and clap politely when you finish. Not so much in slam. At two separate slams, I've had people come up to me to tell me what they thought I did wrong, or what they didn't like about my poems. Which would be great, you know, HAD I ASKED FOR FUCKING FEEDBACK, but I hadn't. I know when I give a crappy performance, and I know when I'm facing a less-than-ideal judging pool, and I know how to tell the difference. I do not need people to give me unsolicited advice on how I'd be so much better if I'd just perform the way they do. You know what? I'm actually publshed, bitches, so slam that! Rahr! RAHR!!!

*Whew* That felt good. Catharsis can be so cleansing., yeah. I'll be less snarly next time, promise. If attending my first seder taught me anything, it's that instead of succumbing to bitterness, we should use it to grow stronger (and then we ate horseradish, which I don't really think of as a bitter herb. But then, I'm just a Gentile fagala, so what do I know?).

Not Unemployed! Kind of!

Depression is not a pretty thing, especially when it's not chemical. While I've always suffered from mood swings, anger-management issues, etc., I've never really been depressed before. Totally sucks, it does.

Lobo Bookshop and Café officially went out of business on February 11, 2004. It was the last true gay and lesbian bookstore in the city. I sank into an abyssmal state, because I was suddenly unemployed... again... but also because a major hub of the Houston gay community was gone forever. Gathering my wits, I did what any artist worth his Epsom salts does, and filed for unemployment, only to learn that because I only worked at Lobo for two months of the last fiscal year, and because previous to that I worked for a religious nonprofit, I am COMPLETELY INELIGIBLE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT. Zilch. Zip. Nada. Nyet. Smackdown. Pick up on total suckage part the second.

Granted, I had a little bit of cash coming in from freelance articles, and Jack's doing well at his new job (ad sales and marketing for OutSmart Magazine), so it wasn't like I was destitute or anything. Mainly, I just had nothing to do. I went on several interviews, and some seemed promising, but inevitably, none worked out (although my favorite was the anonymous communications firm that strung me along for months by telling me I had a job with them as soon as one particular temp finished his last project, then called me up to say they hired the temp full time; yeah, that was a happy little kidney punch).

Salvation reared it's musty head in the form of my buddy Jhonny (pronounced like the New Age musician), who got me a job with his best friend from second grade (gotta love those lifelong friendships: excellent for networking and starfucking). Now, I am the office manager for a locally-owned... um, interior decorating firm. Not that there's anything wrong with that: it's just another really gay job on my increasingly sequined résumé. To date, I've sold all-natural skin and hair care (and had to give makeovers to twelve-year-old girls: I made them all look like Jodie Foster's character in "Taxi Driver"), run the video porn section of a GLBT bookstore, and worked as a houseboy/maintenance man for an order of Catholic priests. All I need now is a stint as a professional drag queen, or maybe a high-priced rent boy, and I'll have collected them all, you know?

The new job's okay, though. I have, like, no responsibilities, other than answering the phone and occasional filing. I spend an average of 6 hours a day alone in an office, so I've managed to get work done on a lot of other projects. And my bosses (Ricky and Lucy: I swear I'm not making that up) are very cool people who fight like a married couple but take me out for margaritas on Monday nights.

Overall, things are okay. Not great or mindblowing, but slowly getting better. If anything, I'm glad I'm pulling myself out of the depression rut without the use of controlled substances...

...which I couldn't get a hold of anyway: I owe my psychiatrist, like, $400.