Yawn, Otter, Yawn

Fuck, shit, fuck, a tragedy just rocked my campy existence. With tears streaming down, I glanced at the vertical mirror. “Hola, muffin, muff top, that is. For half a decade, my weight had stayed consistent. Finally, bagels, pizza, and nachos had taken their revenge.

Leaving the dressing room, traumatized, the inevitable persisted. I caved in and bought a gym membership. The Treadmill became a major yawn. Power walking and jogging ignited a yearning to eat carbohydrates, drink coffee, and read books.

Rather than dying of boredom, coffee shop culture made a surprise cameo on the treadmill, sans the coffee, or treats. Indie rock, a classic novel and the “infamous” Batman journal sustained a tolerable (working-out) experience.

Glancing around the gym, muscles, six packs and pecs were as common as sweat and germs. The guys had the cheesy,” hi, I’m a Chippendale’s dancer” look. Secretly, I wished to have similarly sculpted features.

Alas, in the gay galaxy, I belonged to the bear tribe. Bears could eat as many burritos as possible and still get dates. Chub and fur were the only pre-requisites.

Confidently, I stepped off the treadmill. Basking in my bit of bohemia, an inevitable interruption serenaded gay eardrums. It was the “Scruff” app notifying me of an interested fellow. “Hello, looking for a nice guy to date,” read the message.

Jaded from past disaster dates, I rolled my eyes. However, after a week of feeling rejected by one’s own trouser size, a date would elevate self-esteem. “ Otter seeking bear,” were very persuasive words (Otter is a hairy, but skinny gay guy.).

We chatted; I sent him sexy pictures of yours truly wearing dazzling cardigans. He showed off his colorful tattoos. As expected, I asked him out on a proper date. Being a man of great taste, he naturally accepted.

Meeting at Simple Simon’s (a cool deli in Downtown Riverside), we locked eyes. If you thought, Barbara Streisand came out of the bushes to serenade two gay stereotypes, then you’re somewhat wrong. An awkward handshake greeted me, upon meeting.

His brightly colored personality was a distinct grey in real life. Sitting a table by the window, we ate. Conversation was forced. Diagnosing myself with a slow death from boredom, I threw random and funny topics to gab about. Drinking was one such topic. He was disturbed. “Drinking is stupid.” Geez, in all of California, I find the one gay, who hates booze.

Observing him eat a croissant sandwich served as the only excitement. Finally, hitting the wall of boredom, he took a last bite. The date ended. We parted ways. Like many mature acting gay guys, I immediately deleted him from Scruff. “Going on treadmill for five hours would’ve been more delightful, rejection loomed.

Upon returning home, dad observed sadness. I confessed everything and told dad, “He doesn’t drink alcohol. ”Dad smirked, “never trust a man, who doesn’t drink.” As the old cliché goes, “father really does know best.”

Recovering from chronic boredom, I delved back into my coffee-centric/book-centric life. Most surprisingly, I returned to the treadmill and had burrito daydreams, like a good bear should.

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Bookworm vs The Algebraic Inferno

Congratulations, you’re headed to community college, said, mother. Steam fumed from her ears. Her dream to have a lawyer son faded faster than toothpaste on a zit.

My SAT scores were low, very low. In fact, I just bubbled in bubbles and called it a day. Rather than relaxing the night before the SATs, I hit the town, high school style. Movies, coffee shops, and then dashing home once the police showed up to enforce curfew (on all Riverside teens). No rest for this slacker gay.

A week prior, community college aspirations were cemented. Fuck the high cost of a 4-year university, when community college costs less than a fancy dinner, per semester.

Thanks to my nemesis, algebra, I was on the three-year plan at community college. Eventually, I transferred to film school and received a film degree. To my astonishment, employers in New York City were not so impressed with the film degree. An extensive knowledge of the French new wave did not tickle their fancy.

Eleven years after leaving my hometown, I returned to Riverside. After miserably failing the SATs (over a decade, prior), I was pursuing a new career as a High School English teacher. Although, an avid reader, tests were challenging, especially multiple choice. With the allure of fantastic literature nestled in my bag, studying for the CSETs and CBESTs (California teaching credential exams) took precedent.

“If you study for two hours, I’ll let you read, Trainspotting.” The study-thon commenced. Failing the SATs served as a reminder, “don’t fuck this up, asshole.”

Weeks of studying resulted in a confident future teacher of America. Sitting in the classroom, I opened the test booklet, which led me to CBEST madness. The reading section was somewhat delightful, and breezy.

Then my nemesis reared its complicated head. “Fuck, there’s so much Algebra on this exam.” The first five questions were terribly intimidating. Breathing in heavy, “failure could put a halt on academic aspirations.”

Courageously pressing on, I answered all the math questions. After 3.5 hours, the CBEST was complete. Driving back to the hip people coffee shop, I could finally read leisurely without being attacked by killer Algebra and Geometry problems.

Today, while eagerly awaiting on taking the CSET (the last and final credentials exam), I study. Slacking is terrible, sinful even. Who can forget the great SAT saga? If I get too distracted , there’s always have community college(to further my learning).

 

 

 

Six Floors to Hell

Living in a material world and I’m a material girl.

 

-Madonna.

 

These lyrics were sung at my last New York performance. After numerous glasses of wine, liquid courage drove me to the musical edge. At my going away party’s after party, my friends and I ended up at Uncle Charlie’s, a well-known piano bar in Midtown East.

Thanks to the grapes of California, I delighted the crowd with my Madonna tribute. Of course, I couldn’t remember singing at the piano, but this was just another fun filled day in my last month as a New Yorker.

After almost a decade (on and off) living in New York City, this California native was trading in island living for the hills without eyes. With naïve thinking, everyday would feel like a delightful piano bar kind of day. Unfortunately, one major obstacle stood between campy bliss and myself.

Arising from slumber, I took a look at my studio apartment, which would stand as a memory, within weeks. Books, records, clothes, linens and old US Weekly magazines littered the pre-war grandness.

Jitters arose from a typically perky demeanor (well for New York). This apartment had to be emptied out, cleaned, and everything shipped to California in a limited time. On the excruciatingly hot day, I packed all my belongings.

Like most urban dwellers, my apartment was a fifth floor walk-up, no elevator. Bravely, I carefully made my way down the stairs with goods being moved to Riverside. After hailing a cab, I headed to the UPS store.

Successfully and expensively, the goods were en-route to the left coast. Taking the long way home, Harlem’s temptations were inevitable. Coffee shops, bakeries, and parks to sit down and read. Displaying great discipline, the allures of park benches, coffee, and croissants were dodged.

Huffing and puffing my way up to the tenement building’s top floor, I entered my apartment. “Shit, there was still stuff to ship. I forgot how miserable moving could be.” Even with the air-conditioning running, the extreme humidity bogged down energy.

More stuff was left over than expected. Laying spread eagle in bed, anxiety filled the cranium. “Shit, fuck, shit, I know, I should clean out this apartment in one day, but I’m going out for wine.”

With glorious procrastination, I traded wine and pizza for the hellish joy of moving boxes and cleaning. It was a grand decision. A week later, it was back to moving. Only, my apartment had been filled with more stuff than expected.

Many trips were spent going up and down six stories (the trash bins were in the basement) to thrown belongings and trash out. Sweat formed on my t-shirt, in the shapes of kangaroos, Japan, and apples. It was an exhausting journey.

Everyday moving stuff out, I’d discover a new cabinet filled with more old mail, magazines and clothes. It was more horrific than any Twilight Zone episode. What was anticipated as a single-day move, turned into a week long cry-a-thon of boxes, stairs and man-boob sweat.

With only a few days left in Manhattan, the joyful thought of old Riverside kept motivation up. By the final evening, the temperatures were hotter than a fire-breathing dragon’s tummy. I was still throwing out stuff. Not everything fit in my luggage, either. Stress took over. My car to LaGuardia was to arrive at 4:30 A.M.

Past midnight, stuff was still being thrown out. At 4 AM, I made the last trip to the basement, showered and dashed to the airport. Crossing the RFK Bridge into Queens had a greatly liberating quality. The “Great Move of 2016” was over.

Although, my apartment wasn’t completely empty, it was empty enough. Goodbye, hellish move, hello, California. The plane took off at 7 AM. Below, I glanced at the gridlock below. Cars were rushing into Manhattan, as I had left the island for a new beginning in old California.

Leaving New York didn’t fill me with emotion. Moving out proved a frustrating and mentally exhausting experience. Once, the plane flew past the bustling George Washington bridge into the Mainland U.S.A., aka Jersey, I was officially heading home.

After a layover in Dallas, this California boy made his cheeky comeback. With bags under my eyes, skin, which mirrored Chrysler building greyness, and a tote filled with dreams, I braced myself for a new career in education and suburban living.

Staring at my records, books, and posters, I’m reminded of the struggle, which it took to ship. It makes me cry every time. With a newly minted fondness for Southern California, I reveled in drinking countless glasses of white wine and singing “Material Girl,” in the privacy of my own track house.