Madonna on a T-Shirt

“I feel like I just took a bath, a bath in my own sweat, ” said I. Welcome to summer New York. It’s that riveting time of year, when the garbage gets stinker, rich people flock to the Hamptons and shirtless men jog along the Hudson River.

While most New Yorkers hate the slushy sidewalks of winter, I find my greatest inspiration in a snow -covered city. Though the weather may not be as delightful as an autumn walk in Riverside Park, I still open myself to the inspiration around me.

That’s right the inspiration was all around me. Unfortunately, writer’s block had captured my brain cells. I cried a bit.

As I struggled in literary purgatory, I wondered, if my creative streak done was done with. I stared into the blank page of death. In the grand tradition of logical Manhattanite, I brought my problems to that most treasured of New York characters, the Upper West Side therapist.

“I feel a certain amount of guilt lately. I don’t know if it stems from too many of years of Catholic school, but I am around all this inspiration and can’t write for shit,” I told her. She shook her head and glared up from her decorative journal.

“It’s ok to not feel inspired, but I do have something for you,” she said. I looked on with great curiosity. She pulled out a very mysterious little cloth bag. As she handed it to me, I looked in puzzlement.

“Those are Guatemalan worry dolls. You tell them your worries and place them under your pillow at night. At night you wake up and your troubles will diminish,” she said with an honest smile. I shook my head and thought, these are stick figures made from real sticks and adorned with yarn, but if she says so, I’ll place them under my pillow, “I said to myself.

As predicted, I told the stick figures my troubles and placed them under my pillow. To my surprise, writer’s block didn’t go away, but it made for a good laugh.

The odyssey out of writer’s block land continued. I sat out in coffee shops in the East Village, took field trips to Brooklyn and wandered Harlem, but alas writer’s block became a chronic condition.

Unexpectedly, I ended up on Fifth Avenue in the 50s. I waited to meet up with a friend. The humidity levels blanketed Midtown’s glamorous office towers. I craved the artificial chill of a chain store on a summer’s day.

I headed to Uniqlo. I was wow-ed by (of all things) the t-shirt collection. The t-shirts were a bit of artwork. There were artist interpretations of London’s Big Ben & Paris’s Arc de Triomphe. However, I was most delighted by the musician’s collection.

As a Madonna fan, I loved the t-shirts featuring the queen of Pop. In the middle of t-shirt land, the walls of writer’s block crumbled. “I found my inspiration, a story about t-shirts,” said. Although, I hadn’t worn t-shirts in years (button downs and polos are more of my style), they were a significant part of my life as teenage fashionista; it was an integral part of my identity. A story was born. The paragraph started like this:

Growing up, I would take trips my favorite clothing shop.  I would pick out very decorative t-shirts. I adored the art work the most. They represented my love of travel, newspapers, New York and status as a teenage reject.

After my trip to Uniqlo, I quickly put my fingers to a keyboard and wrote my t-shirt story.  My battle against writer’s block ended at that moment. The blank page had been adorned with words about my adolescence. I once again felt like a well-inspired and fun loving writer. I stared at the Guatemalan worry dolls and proclaimed, “Hey you guys tried your best.” Then I turned off the lights and fell into a world of imagination.

 

Left Coast

Coffee sops, art galleries, gastro-pubs, old buildings, and a mismatch of political views; this isn’t New York’s East Village. It’s surprisingly, a world away, Riverside, CA.

Riverside may not be one of the world’s great cultural centers, but it’s ideal for a lovely holiday. Nestled in Southern California’s Box Springs Mountains, the city played host to my greatest daydreams. Growing up there in the 90s, the same thought persisted. “Oy, I want to leave this town surrounded by brown mountains and move to New York City,” said I.

I eventually moved to New York in my early twenties. In Manhattan, I have most recently resided in a small fifth floor walk-up. My windows overlook a quintessentially New York landscape. To one side, there are charming brownstones. If you glare up, the imposing redbrick projects, smile back. If you step outside onto my fire escape, the Midtown skyline flashes brightly way down the street.

This is my New York reality. Hence, my father’s home in Riverside has always been a lovely escape. Going out west has always meant delicious food in the fridge, cable TV and chirping crickets, thanks to the serene terrain.

Like any good Californian transplanted into a New Yorker, I’ve made an art form out of not driving a car. Traffic, parallel parking and freeways send my neurosis levels to skyrocketing high levels. Typically, I have my father and/or generous friends drive me around. However, I gave driving another shot.

My dad gave me the keys to his car. Like any proper creature of habit, I decided to re-create my East village routine in the heart of Downtown Riverside. I drove there, one Saturday afternoon.

Firstly, I commenced with a walk. I admired Riverside’s antiquity. It’s flower shops, restaurants gone al fresco, little fountains and street musicians provided a tranquil, but surprisingly lively vibe in the heart of suburban madness.

That afternoon, I enjoyed a latte at the local indie coffee shop and explored the titles at the favorite used bookstores. After a whole lot of strolling, I headed for a sandwich at the gourmet deli, Simple Simon’s.

After a day, which mirrored my routine in New York City, I still longed for that most suburban of moments. Risking loosing my cool urban card, I set off for that delicious slice of American peach pie.

“This top 40 station stinks,” said I. Quickly, I switched to 80’s music. Missing Persons, Culture Club & Depeche Mode were the soundtrack of my road trip. It brought me back to a time, when I romanticized about being an adult.

I parked in a parallel parking spot and stared up into the bright blue California sky. There it is, the Galleria at Tyler, Riverside’s premier shopping destination, where Nordstrom meets Forever 21 meets Cinnabon.

My first stop was Nordstrom’s. Since, we don’t have a Nordy’s (Nordstrom’s nickname), I went wild. I always adored their sneakers department. The sweet smell of men’s cologne dominated my nostrils. As, I secretly wished I had a boyfriend to enjoy this suburban moment.

After Nordstrom’s, I snuck into the actual mall. It was interesting. This was a world I once longed for, but like braces, had been buried in the graveyard of teenage angst. The galleria was secretly an enjoyable experience.

Also, the people watching was intriguing and different from my usual East Village/Upper West Side afternoons. There were soccer moms, different tribes of teenagers from gothic people to preps, families representing virtually every culture and college kids. After my quick run-through, I had my mall fix for a long while.

I returned back to my dad’s house, feeling slightly accomplished. That afternoon, I stepped out into the back patio and sniffed around, “oh it really smells like the suburbs,” said I. The suburbs smell like grass, but I most prefer the exotic smells of New York, when it’s not on the subway in summer.

 

Texas

3:30 AM in New York City, the neon lights of Times Square awaken the evening sky. Hold on, I don’t live near Times Square. Why are there flashing lights uptown? Shit, it’s a thunderstorm, said I. While still half asleep, I couldn’t go back to bed with the pitter-patter of raindrops.

On that dreary Thursday morning, I was off to that most grey of places, sunny Palm Springs, CA (insert laughter). As I wrestled with the notion of going back to bed, I had a 4 am car picking me up. As I almost shed a tear to accompany the sad sky outside, I prepared my outfit for the great expedition out west.

I was all packed up for the trip. Feeling like Mr. Cary Grant, I sashayed down my walk-up, schlepping a very heavy carry-on. The thunder persisted, which caused me to make a less than glamorous dash into the car.

As my car drove slowly through the rain soaked Tri-Borough Bridge, the Manhattan skyline was fogged in. From a distance the Chrysler building is was adorned with white lights.

Hello Queens, I arrived at La Guardia. The road from New York to Palm Springs, would take a detour into Dallas-Fort Worth. By 5 AM, I was already cranky and exhausted. However, grand images of Palm Springs play like great actors on the Broadway stage; the grand mountains with windmills, desert sands, kitschy 50s architecture, pool parties with tons of gays and most inspiring of all, seeing my father, who lives in California.

I successfully reached the gate and get ready to board my flight. “The layover in Dallas was a quick one. I must get my power-walking New Yorker skills into play,” said I, while flipping through the duty free guide. The rain falls into hibernation. I gleefully stare out the window. “Sorry folks, we’re having electrical issues, we will be delayed for few minutes,” said the pilot.

It was like an intense needle scratch on a precious Beatles tune for my ears. “What I can’t be delayed, I have a flight to Palm Springs to catch. I really want to have a burrito at Las Casuelas with my dad. I listened to my most calming golden oldies, while the plane remained stuck at LaGuardia.

By 6:30 AM, the problem had been fixed; the plane took off like a bird headed south for line dancing.  Good-bye New York, see you in four days, said I. Then I closed the window shade on the Northeast. I watched a campy gay film on my laptop. I drank airplane coffee, which has always been a frightening concept.

I re-opened the shade, while flying somewhere over Texas. The land was flat and green. I imagined, Texas to be less green. Slowly the airplane approached the Dallas. The houses were wide and came accompanied with crystal blue-watered pools.

As the plane continued its path, quintessential Texas images emerged. Football fields, water towers, expansive freeways and more large houses. The Dallas skyline in the far distance was in a sea of haze as the expanse

9:05 AM, Finally, the plane made its final descent into Dallas-Fort Worth airport. It landed. I called my dad, to let him know I was halfway to California. Dashing from the plane, I stepped into DFW, which like Texas was sprawling. You could fit several generations of Smurfs and still have plenty of room for more. It was also clean and modern, as opposed to other airports (cough, cough LGA & JFK)

I dashed through the terminal, passing many chain restaurants and weary travelers. “I may have a short window, but I’ll make this flight, I told myself. “It’s right across the terminal, since every airline is housed in one marvelous terminal,” said I. Swiftly, I looked up at the very high escalator with signs directing passengers to distant fairy tale lands. These lands were DFW’s other terminals.

Reaching the top of the escalators, I entered the air train. For once, I too felt like a lost puppy dog. With great confusion, I asked a friendly Texan, “Excuse me, is this the right way to gate D14? She smiled and said, “Yes, this is the right train. It goes in a circular loop around DFW.

Fortunately for me, my terminal was at the end of the loop (not). I listened to melancholy 90’s music. The train looped around every terminal. Round orange lights shined brightly every time; the train arrived at another riveting terminal. My New York neurosis levels rose to extreme highs. This was a true fete, which could only be accomplished outside the five boroughs.

“Goodbye burritos from Las Casuelas,” said I. ” Guess, it’s Applebee’s at DFW for me. Oy, airport food,” said I. “

Texas BBQ, sausage, pulled pork, sausage with a beer,” said my brain while speaking gently to my taste buds. “That’s right, if I get stuck in Dallas, I could call my friend, Nicky and head out of the airport for real Texan style BBQ, a foodie’s dream, naturally.

After many commercial breaks, I arrived at my terminal. Secretly, I wanted to get stuck in Dallas, as an excuse to eat really well. So, I walked just a bit slower. My flight just happened to be at the very end of the terminal. When I finally arrived at the gate, my anxiety levels and reality kicked. Shit, I have a hotel in Palm Springs, I must check-in, said I.

As I proceeded to obtain my boarding pass, the agent gave me a stern look. “Did you give away my seat?” I asked. She shook her head, yes. With one nervous gulp, I said to myself “At least, I’ll have a good food coma, if I have to take the nighttime flight.” Miraculously, the travel fairies sprinkled their dust on my head. A seat happened to pop up.

I boarded the flight to Palm Springs. “Sorry Dallas, I didn’t get to explore your delightful culinary scene, but there’s always a sequel to DFW somewhere in my future. “In the meantime, it was hello Palm Springs, ” said I.

The plane took off. I met a wonderful new friend and had an amazing land locked flight. After three hours, I landed and experienced the crown jewel of California summers, dry heat. I was lovingly reunited with my father. As predicted we had a very large burrito from Las Casuelas.

Then in a scene out of a Woody Allen movie, the weather became slightly neurotic, especially for old Palm Springs. Boom, there was rain with a hint of humidity, followed by rain. “Oy, you can take the boy out of New York for four days, but the shit weather will follow is the moral of this story.

Augusten

Droopy ears, a button nose and a tail, which wags to the sounds of Ethel Mermen, this character isn’t another gay date for me; it’s my ideal future puppy.

Augusten (named after author, Augusten Burroughs) resides in the figments of my imagination, alongside all my imaginary friends of yesteryear. The idea of having a puppy didn’t quite find it’s home in imagination land, until one spectacularly chilly April afternoon.

While out in the East Village, I decided to visit my favorite coffee shop, The Bean. It’s a most wonderful cozy place, on the corner of Ninth and First Ave. Regardless of the unseasonably cold temperature; I bought a Mona Lisa (a cousin to the Frappuccino, an ice blended beverage with vanilla flavoring). I sat outside on one of the inviting benches and people watched.

While watching, hipsters, old people with rent control and clueless tourists, I started to shiver. However, I continued to sit on the bench, since I was thoroughly enjoying the free entertainment. As I peered to my right, a very attractive silver fox (attractive older guy), strolled Ninth Street with an adorable, but gigantic, black lab.

“Geez, big dog= big apartment,” said I, while sipping into the final stretch of my blended drink. The black lab walked toward me. I didn’t pay him any attention, since I was listening to Tori Amos and drifting into never land. The dog parked himself in front of me. His frustrated owner tried tugging his leash, but the dog wouldn’t budge.

“Sorry about that, he’s never done that before,” said Mr. Silver Fox. I played with the dog a bit, but really I was interested in the owner. My thoughts were “this dog is a yenta.” He’s trying to match two lonely New York gays. Finally, after a few minutes with the dog and Silver Fox, they left. No romantic connections, but the playing with the puppy kept me thinking.

” A dog, such a novel idea. We could go play at the dog park at Madison Square Park, take long walks in the East Village and watch great John Hughes films from the 80s at night, said I.

It was simply magical. Especially living by myself all the way uptown, a dog would be a great companion. I could also join doggy owner groups. It was also a fantastic way to meet guys. The gays do love their dogs.

As the idea became more endearing, I called my cousin. “You with a dog. I can’t see you picking up poop,” said she with a giggle. Poop, that’s right, they do poop, said I to myself.

Bringing Augusten, home didn’t seem so wonderful. I realized at this point in my life, I didn’t spend much time at home and need a bigger apartment.

Hence, my puppy will become a reality years down the line. In the meantime, my (0wn) droopy ears and I will enjoy treats, while listening to super duper gay Broadway show tunes.

Across The East River

Across the East River from glamorous Manhattan, lies the borough’s hip and stylish counterpart, Brooklyn. Within Carroll Gardens, one of Brooklyn’s most charming neighborhoods lived a lawyer. He was gay, single, late thirties, and lived in a most charming Brownstone. One icy Sunday night, he logged into okcupid and connected with a creative type across the East River.

In the upper, upper Upper West Side of Manhattan (Harlem), lived a thirty-something, gay, singleton (yours truly). He resided in a modest walk-up.

In a shocking state of events, he had also logged into okcupid on that icy Sunday night. Through messages about a common love of Japan, high neurosis level and coffee, Brooklyn decided to embark on a journey to meet Manhattan.

While waiting in the midst of the East Village’s St. Patrick’s Day mayhem, Manhattan locked eyes with Brooklyn. “Wow, he’s has that cute, intellectual, nerdy, yet easy-going vibe about him, thought Manhattan to himself.

After enjoying wine, and an authentic Thai dinner, Brooklyn needed to head to a jazz concert in Midtown. However, Manhattan couldn’t resist Brooklyn’s charms and insisted on going to a passé gay bar in Chelsea instead. Brooklyn caved in.

In a classic gay bar with videos of drag queens, a dancing Donald Duck, and David Bowie playing in the background, Brooklyn interlocked with Manhattan through a kiss.

A week later, Manhattan made the trek to Carroll Gardens. It was an easy ride, since he had been visiting old friends in (semi) nearby, Greenpoint.

At the corner of Union & Smith, the irresistible eye contact persisted. Margaritas were drunk, childhood stories exchanged and a kiss over guacamole, commenced.

While strolling along Carroll Garden’s immaculate brownstone blocks, Manhattan had to return home. With one faithful swipe at the Carroll Street station, Manhattan waived “so long to Brooklyn” at the other end of the turnstile.

Like something out of Nora Eprhon flick (When Harry Met Sally), Brooklyn swiped his unlimited metro card, dashed to Manhattan and gave him another very long, passionate kiss.

The G train arrived. With the wind from the train blowing across the station, Manhattan could barely walk from the highs of romance. He managed to step into the allusive subway train, which doesn’t actually go into the city.

After transferring to the A, then to an Uptown 3, Manhattan came to an inevitable realization. “Shit, Brooklyn is far from Harlem,” said our lovebird, who had just been struck by (ok) cupid’s arrow. Regardless, of distance, the romantic prospects were simply thrilling.

As time flew in a New York minute, Brooklyn and Manhattan texted each other. There were novel worthy texts, naturally. However, the distance factor persisted.

Brooklyn stepped foot in the city for work, only. While, Manhattan adored Brooklyn and his very lovely Carroll Gardens flat, but it was a long trek. Strangely, our gay superheroes were in a long distance relationship within New York City.

Winter faded to spring, though the romance blossomed slowly. Then the text messages grew tiresome, Manhattan just wanted to go to brunch with his friends and partake in bottomless mimosas. He did just that. In great spontaneity, Brooklyn crossed the mighty East River and met Manhattan for a sandwich.

On fourteenth and Seventh Ave, two familiar lips locked once again. This time, Manhattan headed uptown without an encore, kissing performance on the subway platform.

Once, he arrived at his modest walk-up apartment, he had some Pringles and called it a night. Who needs romance when potato chips await? Said Manhattan.

Brooklyn and Manhattan continued to live a world away from each other. However, with the magic of bridges, the two could find each other again, with a side of guacamole, of course.

 

Hello, Polar Bear

EXT: New York City, post Polar vortex

The skies were a crisp and lovely shade of blue. Trench coats, pea coats and scarves retreated to their spring/summer home, the closet. Tulips and roses bloomed across the city. From Midtown East to Greenwich Village, the blossoming flowers re-created the charm of an English garden. However, post Polar vortex New York was more hot Tottie friendly than conducive to frozen margarita madness. A bit of cold air still lingered.

For this polar bear at heart, the cold weather was splendid. I paraded around the East Village in my pea coat and fancy sweaters. Then one weekend, this urban polar bear felt a strange sensation. A drop fell from my forehead and into the sidewalk along a merry festival of historic West Village brownstones. I gazed into the sun. “Shit, it does finally feel like spring. It’s hot,” said I, whipping the sweat from my brow.

I made the best out of my sweaty scenario and ventured into the Hudson’s waterfront. The breeze from the river was quite refreshing.

While walking along, everyone seemed delighted. The sidewalks were bustling and not one remnant of winter could be felt. As I crossed the West Side highway into Christopher Street Pier, I looked around there were shirtless gays everywhere. “Ok, maybe spring isn’t too bad?”

The next day, the heat intensified. Like most New Yorkers, I cooled down with a mimosa at brunch. While sitting at a charming restaurant with my friend, Jennie, she suggested we venture into a most cliché of scenarios. If you guessed Central Park, than congrats you know Manhattan quite well.

“Why don’t we go sit in the grass?” asked Jennie. “I don’t wanna sit in grass. My tuckus will get green and I just don’t want to get my shoes dirty, said I.

“Oh common, said Jennie, as she sat amongst the other park dwellers. I continued to stand. Giving a smirk, I grew weary of standing and finally caved in. As my tuckus hit the green and wet grass, I gave out a whine. “Geez, I don’t get sitting in the grass. I mean, I am not a wilderness kind of guy, said I.

Jennie giggled and replied, “Look around, you don’t exactly live in the country.” I smiled and indulged in some people watching. Typically, I enjoyed New York parks on a bench, but the grass wasn’t so bad. That was my idea of roughing it and oddly enough, it was enjoyable.

The next day, springtime heat disappeared. With a sudden shock, the aftermath of the Polar vortex returned. It was a happy spring, indeed. My pea coats returned from their closeted confides, after a weekend away. It even snowed, briefly. I enjoyed a bit of winter, since the roar of summer was en route.

The Witty Wordsmith

New York, late winter, the sky is an intense shade of grey. The trees remained bare of any lively bright leaves. In the midst of the eerie grey, a remarkable bit of sunshine played peek-a-boo behind a rainy cloud.

On such an idyllic winter’s day, I set off on foot for St. Nicholas Park in Harlem. It’s a most wonderful park, which fades into hilly fields of green. Regardless of the cold, I’ve always adored sitting on a park bench and reading a good book. Quality time with a book is my ideal form of therapy. I fade into a character’s shoes and forget any of the day troubles.

On one riveting expedition, I sought a most wonderful park bench. As, I picked a perfect little spot for literary madness, the cold winds penetrated through my layers, and pea coat.

For once in my life, I shivered. The goose bumps on my arm grew more sensitive. At that point, I had to look elsewhere for a romantic date with my used book from the Strand bookstore.

I wandered through Harlem’s Hamilton’s Heights neighborhood. It’s the perfect backdrop for any quirky film (Wes Anderson’s Royal Tenenbaums was filmed there). The brownstones are eccentric yet sophisticated characters in their own right.

The hills have provided an escape from the quintessentially Manhattan painting. Bay windows, dramatic stoops and old world charm could inspire poets, painters and playwrights of life to create a proper work of art.

While heading up the hill toward Broadway, I was craving a hot chocolate from the Chipped Cup (my favorite coffee shop, uptown). On that pleasantly quiet Sunday, everyone had the same idea.

The quaint coffee shop was filled with patrons. I was disappointed, since I just wanted was to read a good book. So, I headed back down to 145 street.

To my disappointed, Dunkin Donuts was also filled to the brim with people. I didn’t want to go back to my apartment, since I was really craving a coffee shop. Instead of giving up hope, I took an unexpected turn.

The Eighth avenue subway provided the ears with a classic sound, which only a raspy record player could rival. I found my reading spot, a seat on the subway platform. Even though, the subway has many distractions, I’ve always found it an easy place to concentrate on a book there.

When the A train arrived, I boarded it merrily. I even found a seat. However, distraction found me. “Why don’t you put a chip in me, so you know where I am at all times, said a girlfriend to an equally angry boyfriend. They fought. They whole train watched. Trying to hold back laughter, I tried very hard to not loose concentration on my book.

The arguing heightened into theatrical satire. “Fuck it, I can’t think with this racket going on. At least, there aren’t break-dancers on this train, ” said I. “Showtime,” yelled a boy with a boom box.” Break-dancers with a giant boom box appeared from the blue to everyone’s annoyance.

My eyes didn’t leave my book. Anyhow, my brain was completely distracted. I made it to West 4th Street. Randomly, I decided a cannoli would be amazing.

So, I boarded the F train to Second Avenue and ended up in the East Village. I headed up First Avenue and into the old world charm of Veniero’s (legendary dessert restaurant in the East Village). I ordered a cannoli and opted for a cappuccino rather than a hot chocolate.

I took out my book and found a swell place to concentrate. It only took a long walk, two trains and another somewhat long walk to find my literary Zen. Regardless, my literary Zen was a whole lot better with a delicious cannoli accompanying it.

Celebrity

I don’t own a T.V. (love it, but doesn’t fit in my budget), but my father does. I take up surfing every time I visit him, channel surfing that is. There are the reality TV shows on Bravo, endless hours of CNN and my favorite, IFC’s Portlandia.

When chimes 2 AM, the endless vodka sipping and Botox injecting reality world of Bravo fades. In it’s place, appears the grand dame of late night T.V., the infomercial. It dominates practically every channel. However, in the midst of potato slicers and pimple creams shines a rainbow.

That rainbow comes in the form of QVC & the Home Shopping Network. It’s always on and features a star-studded cast of characters. From Suzanne Somers to Joan Rivers, everyone has a fashion line. Why buy a pair silk pajamas at Target? You can always buy a via QVC. There’s also the possibly to chitchat with Suzanne Somers on how marvelous those pajamas fit.

Speaking of marvelous, that word dazzled me. I wanted to design something too. However, I didn’t go to fashion school. I harkened back to my childhood.

My great-aunt always knitted. She would watch the Price is Right (game show), while sewing together everyone’s Christmas presents. Mittens, socks and fashionable hats were her specialty. Even in the midst of retirement boredom, she always found excitement in her knitting.

“By George, I will take up knitting, said I. Coincidentally, my friend Rachel had been knitting up a couture empire. She kindly invited me to a dinner party/let’s teach Anthony how to knit party. On a pleasantly cold New York evening, I went from the 14th Street subway to the ever-thrilling M14 bus. While heading cross-town, I was delighted to take on a new hobby.

When I reached Rachel’s apartment in Stuy Town, the smell of roast chicken was like sweet perfume for the soul. I enjoyed a few glasses of wine. After an amazing dinner, the knitting lesson started.

She showed me how to stretch the yarn, and then stick the needle through. I giggled a bit. The needles mirrored chopsticks. If I could eat with chopsticks, this would be quite easy.

I tried it out and the yarn wouldn’t budge. She showed me once again how to properly stretch the yarn and commence with the knitting process, but no luck.

I wasn’t quite getting it. Regardless, I could envision myself with a homemade scarf, strolling around the East Village. I gave it another shot. The yarn wasn’t budging.

Then, I realized is my brain not functioning from the glasses of wine and big dinner? I think so, said I. After another shot, we called it a night. Even though I didn’t quite getting knitting the first time, there was no giving up.

Knitting a scarf remains my goal for the year. Even though, I didn’t quite get it the first time and maybe not even the second time, I will be triumphant. Like the folks on QVC, I look forward to saying marvelous a whole lot, once my homemade fashion accessories are born.

Illuminate Yourself With A bright Red Tie

The immense fog of San Francisco married the flurries of Alaska. Afterwards, they traveled east to New York for a dream honeymoon. They made their presence known, engulfing the city’s tenement masterpieces into a sea of grey.

It was a sight to wake up to. While, a part of me, wanted to order food from seamless web, watch endless documentaries ranging from fashion photography to the art of sushi making and (just plain) hibernate, the Indiana Jones in me longed for an adventure.

Rather, than having wanderlust about the lost arc or being chased by a giant rock, I got all dolled up. I placed by tortoise shell glasses on, which accentuated my navy blue pea coat.

Something was missing. I dug deep in the far reaches of my closet. My archaeological dig did not produce a missing link to the T-Rex family, but I did find a precious relic.

“My red tie, here you are, ” I said to myself. I tied it over my grey blue shirt and put my favorite grey cardigan on. It was more Upper West Side than Indiana Jones, but it was most fitting for adventure seeking in the city.

I gained fuel at my favorite diner on Amsterdam Ave. Afterwards; I walked up 72nd Street toward Central Park. In the midst of snow and intense grey, New York lacked color. It was the equivalent of fading into an old black and white film. The only hint of color was leaping from my fiery red tie.

The pitter pater of snow persisted. I reached the imposing apartment blocks of Fifth Avenue. Snow banks, Barney’s NY shopping bags and well-heeled ladies in fur coats created a most quintessential Upper East Side memory.

I walked toward Lexington Avenue with the intent to grab the 4/5 train downtown for an afternoon nosh (snack) and cappuccino. While craving my adrenaline rush from a coffee bean, I experienced a cinematic moment. Truman Capote referred to Lexington Ave as charmless.

Walking from the East seventies to the fifties.  Lex (which I walked on a million times or so. Lex is how we refer to it here) was actually proving to be quiet lovely. Old bookshops, cafes, mom n’ pop restaurants, pre-war buildings and side streets with imposing brownstones birthed a classically New York scene.

I saw the F train station at 63rd street. “How wonderful, I’ll take the F train to the Lower East Side,” said I. When I reached the station, it was a confusing mismatch of platforms and escalators. In my whole history in New York, I had only been lost on the subway once.

This time around, the lack of platform signs indicating uptown/downtown confused me. I was officially lost in translation and on a Queens bound F train. Rather than becoming flustered, I thought to myself ” oh this train stops in Roosevelt Island (an island in the middle of the East River), I’ll just switch over to a downtown train there.

When I stepped off the subway at Roosevelt Island, curiosity captured my heart. I saw another intense set of escalators, which were so high, I wondered if I would be dancing in a sea of clouds.

The explorer in me wanted to see a part of the city, which I had never explored before. As I leaped out of the F train station, the snow morphed into a light dusting of frost.

Roosevelt island was filled with steel and glass modern apartments. However, one sight would be the red tie to an otherwise colorless day.

My eyes met the Queens-borough Bridge. It jutted across the island. The tram moved slowly (there’s a tram which takes residents from Roosevelt to Manhattan) in the midst of the background of the Manhattan skyline.

It provided me with the holy grail of New York memories. I strolled around the island a bit and finally headed downtown. After entering the subway, I could officially say “I’ve been on Roosevelt Island.

After exiting the Second Avenue subway station, I marveled at the grey skies. The snow stopped. I walked toward a coffee shop, which had vintage rock n’ roll posters and plenty of electrical outlets (to charge my phone). While trying to resist the temptation of heading inside Katz’s, an epiphany came into my brain.

That particular day with it’s snow filled skies, Kodak worthy pictures of the Queens borough bridge & overall happy spirit, will remain one of those special nostalgic memories. “Wow, sometimes, I really am the Indiana Jones of Manhattan. If Indiana Jones wore a bunch of cardigans and wrote a blog, of course,” said I.

Ma, Where Do Teletubbies live?

When a gay boy leaps out of the closet, the doors open into a modern day Oz. There’s a yellow brick road, which leads into a most majestic land. Purple teletubbies parachute from the turquoise sky.

“Welcome to gay-landia,” sing the four loveable teletubbies. Dorothy, the tin man, lion and scarecrow skip down the yellow-brick road, passing out skittles to the newly out gay. Prince Charming rides into the hilly green terrain on unicorn.

“Hello, I am a gay prince. Marry Me,” says Prince Charming. So, he sweeps the gay off his feet. They ride toward a castle and live happily ever after.

This is the ideal painting for every gay who’s come out of the darkened closet. However, if this were actually true to life, we wouldn’t have so many sad love ballads.

As a gay boy, who loved Rent (the musical) too much, I wondered who would be the Burt to my Ernie (insert Sesame Street reference)? In non-Sesame Street language, it’s called a boyfriend.

“I see you dating a guy with an English accent. For some reason, I can see you two getting dressed up, while cooking omelets in the morning, said my high school friend, Grace. “

While she spoke, I delved into imagination land. More specifically, I saw myself in a kitchen covered in French country style wallpaper with an English chap. We laughed as we cracked eggs; fired up the stove and made gourmet omelets.

“That’s it,” I proclaimed. As I journeyed back to my high school reality, I uttered the following words, “I must meet a boy, who I can make omelets with.

It took a while to meet a boy. Growing up in a conservative town and high school, didn’t exactly equate an enormous pool of eligible bachelors. However, there were cool spots for gay boys, especially arty ones to meet.

One particular night, I went to the local indie coffee shop, Back 2 the Grind. It hosted bands, art and was a meeting place for the town’s alternative and gay crowd. While, sipping on a cappuccino, I spotted my friends.

Unexpectedly, I took a trip down the yellow brick road. He stood there, looking most ideal. Rather, than riding on a unicorn, he walked out from bustling sidewalk.

I found out we grew up close to each other, but had never met. My brown eyes met his blue eyes. My already rosy cheeks were on fire. I could explain the sensation, which followed.

“Wow, these feel like hot flashes. I remember my mom telling me about this. Wait, am I getting menopause? I naively thought to myself. “No, no men can’t menopause, (still debating this one)” I later assured myself.

There wasn’t a Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin-Man, lion or teletubbies, who could save me. “What was going on?” I thought to myself. The electricity ran through the wires keeping my brain intact. I could hear the song, “kiss me” by Six Pence none the richer playing in my head. The sensation went from scary to enchanting.

“Wow, this is better than Oz,” I thought to myself. I cleared the sweat from my brow as I continued talking to the fellow. My friend whispered, “he’s pretty cute right?” Shaking my head “yes,” I bravely continued the conversation.

My face turned from pepto bismol pink to a cherry tomato red. The fellow did not seem too talkative and the conversation turned into blur from my nerves. Like the mighty Lion (in the Wizard of Oz), I gained some courage.

“Can, I get your number?” I asked. “Shit, I really did it,” was my initial thought. He gave me his number. I stared at it a bit before calling. Finally, I just pressed the damn number.

We talked, but he didn’t seem interested. However, we made plans, but he canceled. Eventually, I was rejected.  I am sure he couldn’t make a good omelet. I do have a special intuition about these things.

It was my first foray into the world of rejection. It was more evil than the wicked witch of the west. As time, went on I couldn’t just tap my ruby red slippers and wish it away.

Instead, I developed a thick skin. After all, I’ll always have my own private Oz. It’s that mystical land where teletubbies sing, the rain consists of brightly colored skittles and all the men can make an extraordinary omelet.

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