Mr. Bookworm climbs a hill

Hills are a nightmare for cubs (chubby, hairy, thirty to twenty-something gay men). One hill served this bookworm, well. Located in New York City’s Morningside Park, the stairs led to a pot of gold. This pot of gold smelled like old paperbacks (if they could only bottle that smell). It motivated yours truly to actually climb an actual hill.

Book Culture (on 112th and Broadway) had the distinct bookshop smell. Along with being a refuge for fellow bookworms, the shop features shelves filled with used books. Murakami, Morrison, and Didion, my hands would sweat the poundage of great literary works. The used bookshop (along with the Strand) inspired a very important career move.

Surrounded by used books, I became motivated to switch careers, from advertising to education. “I wanted to become a school teacher and inspire young minds to read the classics.” My proclamations oozed with cheesiness. However, cheese has always been a friend.

A year later, this bookworm climbed a very different hill. This one led to a classroom. After relocating to (my native) Riverside, I began studying literature. On a painfully warm day, this professional student (me) climbed a steep hill to he American literature class.

Sitting in class, I anticipated the return of (The) Invisible Man research paper (Mr. Ralph Ellison’s version). As the professor handed back the paper, my hands shook in terror. Flipping to the last page (where the grade is), I shut my eyes. I should’ve left them shut.

My eyes opened, shockingly. In blazing red stood the letter D, with a minus at the end. Shit, fuck, shit, it’s been years, since I received a “D” in anything. I’m a “Dean’s List” student, sans that first semester in college.
“Why did I leave Manhattan and advertising? This whole school experience wasn’t working out.” I continued to sit in class. Afterwards, I climbed down the hill, and sped home.

Hiding out in the gayve (gay man cave), teardrops fell. Staring at books, records, and decorations (synonymous with my New York years), relief became a temporary state. Soon, depression took over. Netflix and wine provided escapism.
A whole weekend went by, recovery didn’t seem realistic. Monday, the depression bubble began to deflate. “Fuck, the Charles Dickens research paper was due in three days.” Like any good student, I went back to work (I finished the research paper in a day).

The following day, I climbed up “Cardiac” hill and returned to class. Surprisingly, I sat in the American literature class, nearly recovered from the D- trauma. In a surprising twist, my professor handed back another paper. Rolling my eyes, I flipped to the back page.

“Fuck, shit, fuck, in the best way.” I got a “B” on the Harlem Renaissance paper. Hope restored. Weeks later, while hibernating from the desert sun, Spring semester grades were posted. I passed everything.

Thinking about the steep hill, leading to class, I made a wish. “Book Culture, please open a shop at my college. It would serve as a wonderful community gathering space. There’s also a huge, steep hill to schlep up.

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That Poet Dude

Dude, You’re reading “Infinite Jest.” Like, David Foster Wallace is a genius. I’ve gotten all the way to page 400, said, Skylar (that’s his alias).

“Yeah, I am plugging away. I am on page 200,” I said.

We smiled at each. It was thrilling to meet another bookworm, especially a cute one. His style did scream, “Pacific Northwest Reject.” With sandals, ragged jeans, and a hoodie, he stood as that rare creature unique to the gay (the muscle bound/fashion conscious) mainstream.

After an intellectually stimulating conversation, we parted ways. I tried my best to preserve remnants of cynicism. Naively, I kept thinking about my Skylar.

“Gee, I bet he has a huge, huge, huge book collection. We could swap books. We could read James Baldwin, Joan Didion and James Joyce under a grand Sycamore tree. Heck, we could even get into lengthy debates about Dystopia novels vs. the current political climate.

The following week, I arrived promptly at art class. Skylar strolled in a bit late. He traded the hoodie for a “Nirvana” band t-shirt. Rather than have a serious expression, I decided to make eye contact with him. He returned the eye contact, with a smile.

After an hour of studying Post-Impressionists, I needed to tinkle. Miraculously, Skylar appeared.

“Hey, dude, can I read you a poem I wrote? It’s about some dude who committed suicide, he said.

I shook my head. He read with emotion. The men’s room entrance became a little poet’s den. Rather than a tinkle, Skylar and strolled around the campus. Throughout the walk, I wanted to find out if he were gay. The sexuality question was never brought up.

The following week in class, I brainstormed ways to ask him out. Unlike the previous week, he seemed more rush.

“Hey, where are you parked?” I asked.

“Oh, I am walking home,” He said.

He then left the classroom. I went home, regretting not being more up-front.

Skylar grew more and more distant, each week. We said, hi, to each other. He didn’t make much conversation. A month after meeting, I hit a literary milestone. I conquered reading, “Infinite Jest,” with Its 1,000 + pages.

As for my love life, I predictably lost interest in Skylar. After ending the semester, I still wondered if he was gay. It would’ve been great to date a fellow bookworm. My (future) bookworm boyfriend has been probably hiding under a rock (or the Strand Bookstore’s rows of shelves).

Fortunately, I wouldn’t have to hear his depressing poetry. The art class didn’t bring romance. However, I did receive an “A” on my report card (from that class) & a G.P.A. boost.

The Forgotten Cinema

Sandwiched between a fifties style café and gourmet bistro, stood the mighty cinema. Its tower had distinct turquoise bay windows. Its façade was pinker than a flamingo.

In fact, the whole shopping center was pink. It represented the highest in late 80’s architectural sophistication. Inside the Canyon Springs Cinema, great films of 1989 and early 90’s played.

Moviegoers stood in line for such classics as Wayne’s World, Addams Family Values, My Girl, Clueless, Too Wong Foo, The Lion King and (dare I say) Titanic. It was a gathering place for the community, which included many workers from the nearby, March Air Force Base, and students from UCR.

In the late 90’s, Riverside had a movie theatre boom. Theatres were easily found in two-mile radius. The Canyon Springs Cinema stood strong. Then pinker than a flamingo shopping center began it’s gradual decay.

Soon competition from nearby theatres finally hit Canyon Springs, like an incurable virus. The cinema and its mighty tower eventually faded away.

Once a beacon to mainstream cinema, where tears and laughter filled tacky red seats, neither emotion was ever felt again. Rather than being torn for a more modern structure, the cinema has remained abandoned. It’s interior, emptier than the Great Plains.

The shopping center did have a beacon of hope, curry. The neighborhood’s most delicious Indian restaurant livened up the bland scape. At least one can still have a spicy and delicious Chicken Tikka Masala, in the shadow of an abandoned shrine to film.

Alas in Wonderland

It was my first winter back in Southern California, after years in the New York City. The skies were grey. The hills resembled the robust green of the English countryside. Pea coats, coffee cups, and steaming hot soup replaced flip-flops, iced soy mochas and gazpacho.

The grey skies were welcoming, especially as the only weirdo, who missed New York winters. Orange groves provided the only pop of color. I made the best of my more quiet surroundings.

Like my teenage years, I’d drive the old Honda around Riverside. K-ROQ (local alternative music station) blasted. Cappuccinos fueled energy levels. As the ghettos of University Avenue became ornate Downtown, I felt strangely stimulated.

One condition crippled the brain waves. Writer’s block became a constant enemy. Everyday, I promised myself, “Hey, I’ll write a story. Instead, I looked at a most depressing blank page, and proclaimed, “fuck.”

Did the move out west kill my creativity? Many of my stories were New York-centric. They revolved around Harlem, the subway, East Village, bookshops, dive bars, and snarky Tri-State humor.

New York was in my past. However, I needed its anxiety filled lifestyle in order to function. Comfortably, I had settled into the suburbs. It was too comfortable. I needed to a certain level of misery to write.

It had been a month, since I had written anything. Depressed, I was constantly brainstorming story ideas. No luck, I just kept staring at a blank page. It was the white canvass of death.

The birds chirped. Coffee flowed through the veins. Stimulation was becoming drier than the Santa Ana winds. In the tradition of a well-read intellect, I made a bold move. I flipped on the TV and watched the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

A tear ran down my cheek. “Shit, this can’t be my existence.” As brain cells diminished, gradually, I feared for my sanity. Then I turned off the television. I walked over to my laptop and just started writing.

I didn’t need to be in a specific geographical location. My brain just needed to relax. With a more mellow brain, I completed a story. It was grand. My writer’s block had been cured (for the time being). Now, I could watch shit television, sans the guilty conscious.

An Insomniac’s Solitude

A dusty old bookshop is my solitude. Sifting through titles, finding unexpected used gems (at a discount) lifts dark clouds of depression. Stepping into a curious little literary shop, I was met with a fire-breathing dragon.

Shit, fuck, shit, it’s the Fox News Channel Bookshop. Every shelf was littered with Donald Trump’s book, “The Art of the Deal.” Like any well-adjusted Democrat, I dashed out of the peculiar bookshop.

Eventually, I woke up in own darkened room. Dashing to the Gay-ve, I turned on the light. Smiling back at me were books by Zadie Smith, James Baldwin, Flannery O’Connor, Hunter S. Thompson, Jane Austen, and many more.

The Fox News Bookshop was just a nightmare. Unfortunately, I had eccentric dreams every night. Sometimes they boarded on avant-garde madness. Other times, fluffy dreams soothed the brain’s intertwined wrinkles.

Surprisingly, sleep anxiety didn’t quite build. Feeling increasingly comfortable, I found myself wandering New York City. Short of subway fare, I purchased a one-way ticket to Harlem, via the Seventh Avenue line.

A well air-conditioned train pulled into the 14th Street Station. Taking a seat on the orange seat, I glanced out the window. Dying animals appeared in between the Uptown and Downtown tracks, as the train sped, uptown.

Horses, dogs, and cats were tied to IV machines, clinging to life. The scene was terrifying and the animal hospice continued to line the tracks, all the way to 125th Street. Once again, I woke up with fear. Turning on the television, I was reminded of my safety zone in sleepy California.

The animal hospice dream finally triggered sleepy anxiety. Having nightmares became a frightening nightly occurrence. Each night, I dreaded sleep, not even sleeping pills could deter a mischievous brain.

I battled my own self-conscious by taking imitative. Sleeping next to a journal, I wrote down the nightly dreams, which stirred up panic. Eventually, the panic was turned to art. It was the equivalent of watching art house cinema, at it’s most raw.

From hamburger eating gold fish to being stranded on islands, every night had a different theme. It added to the crazy mosaic fabric of the dream journal. In the meantime, I continue to embrace stories from the subconscious. Yet, I really hope to never end up at the Fox News Bookshop. My liberal self would not approve.

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.

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).

 

 

 

The Dream of the 90s is alive in Riverside???

(yes, this is a Portlandia reference)

Riverside in the 90’s a mystical land. An unsettling amount of isolation paired with hillbillies and grungy gen x-ers turned the unassuming suburb into a slightly eclectic mix, Gen-x rebels and nuclear families

Standing above the hills of masterful, Mt. Rubidoux, the rest of the world seemed more interesting, more cool, and more artistic. Many teenagers yearned to leave their track homes for New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.

I plotted to live in New York. Imagining a life filled with art, breaking into random song on the sidewalk, and plenty of gay guys attributed to high aspirations.

The 2000’s happened, I ended up moving to New York. I struggled for years, cleaning kitchens and washing dishes. Eventually I worked the quintessential admin job with a health insurance plan and my own apt in Harlem.

By my thirties, New York didn’t have the seem appeal. There was a boredom in the air. In fact, many big cities suffered the same plight. High rents, Whole Foods and fancy gyms were turning campy paradises into the suburban conformity we attempted to escape from.

While the major cities of the world were being taken over by 1%centers and their offspring, I plotted to leave Manhattan. But where could I go? Sure, the dream of the 90’s was alive in Portland, but I wanted something a bit off the beaten path.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, I strolled around downtown Riverside. It smelled like the 90’s, when I was a teenager heading from coffee shop to an indie flick festival at the Fox theatre.

Nostalgia built, as high winds blew rare objects into my eyes. My tootsies touched the fine cobble stone pavement. I walked toward Back to the Grind, the local indie coffee shop.

A blue grass band joyfully played for coffee drinkers. The music mesmerized, as did the artsy air. Enough with high rents and fashionable haunts, I am a child of the 90’s and Riverside. I liked my sidewalks like my men, grungy.

With cheap rents, and a sizable artistic community, I decided the dream of the 90’s was really alive in Riverside, possibly. How would I magically move back? I had a life established, New York City.

On the plane back to New York, I imagined a life of reading books and writing. I need to get paid for this grand fete. Grad school? Yes, grad school for MFA in creative writing. I shall converse with scholarly minds, while making a career out of reading books, writing, and teaching others about literature’s grandeur.

“Professor Anthony,” the gushy feeling overcame me, as the plane flew over Midwestern corn fields. Landing at Kennedy, I felt a bit more optimistic about life than pre-vacation.

Two weeks later, I returned to Riverside for the Christmas holiday. Writing samples, a thesis, statement of purposes, letters of recommendation, where due a few days after New Years.

Grabbing my lap top, I headed for Augie’s coffee shop. Gulping down a lavender latte, I prepared my portfolio. My brain went from 1980’s East Village to the Sultan Sea’s desolation. I couldn’t write or focus.

Everything distracted me. The barista’s hip t-shirt. Foam rising from my cappuccino, curiosity about the book being read at an adjacent table. I didn’t cry from frustration, just banged my head against the blond wood table.

My weeks at home were spent frantically organizing my portfolio. The blank canvass effect stressed and alluded me on certain days. Other days, I oozed inspiration, and was quite productive.

The deadline loomed, I wanted to have everything done before heading back to New York. Then distraction, lots of distraction continually dared to detour academic ambitions.

The new Star Wars flick, dinner with friends and cozy evenings by the fireplace, helped lift creative brain cells into oblivion. Relentlessly, I did everything I could to finish my college applications and writing portfolio.

On unseasonably cold morning, I had to fly back to New York. My portfolio was finished. Polishing my personal and purpose statements became grealy important.

After a full day day of travel, distraction once again became an enemy. Returning to Manhattan, I had mere hours to finish my portfolio. Pressed on time, I opened the empty doors to darkened apartment. Dashing toward the fridge, I only had whisky to hold me over.

Unrelenting, I switched on the lap top. Terribly hungry, I could only think of pizza. How I missed pizza. Rather than working on college application madness, I ended up stuffing my face with brick oven pizza and white wine.

The wine made me quite sleepy, but I still had to finish the entirety of my portfolio and application. Nearly falling asleep, I imagined an existence of sunshine, books, coffee shops, and my own car to ride around in. Motivation quickly returned.

Lifting myself from bed, I did not surrender to the wall of sleep. Everything was sent to the university. Happily, I passed out in bed. Dozing off, I would soon learn the answer to the following question. “Is the dream of the 90’s really alive in Riverside?”

  • Special thanks to everyone who sent recommendation letters, proofread and encouraged me along the way.

Porn for Bookworms

New York City is a most ideal place to have a nervous meltdown. Crowds, noise, bugs, extreme weather stimulate the happy neurotic. Exhaustion and agony arise from the trekking up a fifth floor walk-up. With brain cells about to explode into a glittery abyss, salvation is uncovered. Lust awakens.

More potent than a handsome man’s pheromone’s, is the smell of an old bookshop. Familiar, dizzying, and nostalgic, the scent beckons me to lands far from my chaotic mindset. Marvelous little bookshops line side streets, narrow venues, and quirky tenements.

Stacking up on used books, pages slightly bent, words underlined or highlighted with flashy neon serves as an ideal happiness. While practically waltzing on the icy New York pavement, I revel in my deeply discounted literature.

As an introvert, books are merry friends keeping riveted and delighted, in the midst of fear and boredom. The “I love books more than people (most of the time) song constantly delights my ear drums, upon the reading of a new novel. A deep seeded and very first world predicament erupted into my wordy principality.

“Shit, I’m running out of room in my apartment.” My books were pilling up higher than a kite along a windy sky. With closets and kitchen cabinets cluttered with books, paperwork, and sweaters, I took a bold step for bookworms of all kind.

My holidays (and virtually every break) have always been spent at my father’s home in Riverside. I would create my own little bookshop/coffee shop hybrid in his spare bedroom. It would be like being in the world’s greatest library without a subway ride (just an expensive plane ride, of course).

Speed reading through my favorite books, they were soon on a box to Riverside. Studying home libraries, online, my heart nearly bounced out of my chest. It will be a shrine to the literary greats, which inspire me, daily.

The first rounds of books arrived. Excitedly, my dad took pictures for me. With great excitement, I booked a trip to California. Though, my home library remains a work in progress, I already have the role-playing scenario in my head.

Here it is:

I’ll walk up the stairs with my murse (man purse), eager for coffee and a day at the bookstore. Excitedly, I’ll see the books lined beautifully on the shelves and jump with giddiness. “Look, Books, Books, books! Oh, coffee, too! My, what a marvelous world.”

After stuffing a few books in my murse, it will be coffee time. Taking a seat on a very comfortable chair and clipping my own coffee card, I indulge in literary deliciousness. Poetry, novels, autobiographies, Double shot of espresso naturally follows. It will be a holiday to remember.

“What a day at the bookshop/coffee shop. I didn’t even have go on a subway to get here, just a 2,000 something mile plane ride. That is my ideal scenario.

With far out dreaming, I must wait for my next visit to make this bookworm’s fantasy come to true. In the meantime, I thoroughly enjoy my bookshop visits and the high from finding that “Charles Dickens” book, deeply discounted.

Cactus in the Sun

Baristas make art out of festive lattes. Simple Simon’s delights patrons with sandwiches, which fell straight from heaven. Hikers make the pilgrimage to the top of Mt. Rubidoux. Sprinklers splash grasses of Irish green.

Families enjoy the tastes of Mexico at Little Green Onions. Bookworms dig for literary gold along the charming bookshelves of Downtowne Books. This is Riverside, my hometown.

I travel from New York City, several times a year. My father still lives in the home, where I grew up. It makes for an ideal vacation spot.

Not only do I enjoy quirky cultural surroundings, but also proudly raid dad’s fridge and watch endless hours of cable television. Unexpectedly, the trip took a detour, recently.

This weary traveler ended up in the local urgent care, thanks to chest pains. I grew nervous. As I sat in the waiting room with my father, nerves ravaged me. If this were a Broadway musical, I break into an agonizing song and tap dance.

Nonetheless, we continued to wait. Predictably, I thought about death. How about my love ones? Then I laughed. Sorry folks, all you’re getting from me is a collection of used books. I still love you, though.

The nurse called me into a room. My temperature was high, but blood pressure, normal. I waited, impatiently. Dad was calm, which contrasted my neurotic being. After practically bathing in hand sanitizer, there was a knock on the door.

Hello, handsome man in a perfectly white lab coat with a chiseled face and ginger hair. Thank you for being my doctor. Please be gay. He smiled. I smiled. I stared into his blue eyes. It was more thrilling than unicorns, rainbows, and pecan praline ice cream.

“How would you measure the pain on a scale of 1-10?” he asked. Channeling my inner thespian, I gave him a performance. “It’s a 4.5. It hurts. When I move a certain direction, the pain increases and it really hurts, but comes and goes.” He smiled, after I recited my lines.

My dad was cracking up. He noticed my cheeks turn into a tomato red. “My son is here on vacation for a few days from New York,” dad, said. I gave dad a smile, as he attempted to play Yenta (Yiddish for matchmaker).

The doctor didn’t say much. Then he replied with optimism. “Looks like you have stress or have been sleeping badly. “Do you want a shot or prescription medication?” he asked. With hesitation, I replied, “a shot.”

“It’s going to be in your butt, is that okay?” I stared at my dad. He shrugged his shoulders. “Okay, I’ll take in the butt,” I replied, holding back a giggle. This was the closest I’d get to my sexy ginger haired doctor. I was slightly thrilled. He walked away.

Moments later, there was another knock on the door. Excitedly, I yelled, “Come in.” It was a female nurse holding a needle. “I am here to give you a shot,” she said. I rolled my eyes. Thanks, universe; I am always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

She had me bend over. “Which cheek would you like the shot in?” I pointed toward my right butt cheek. For a split second, the needle penetrated through precious skin. Afterwards, she placed a Band-Aid and I survived. Surprise, I didn’t die.

After leaving urgent care, the chest pain slowly diminished. My gaydar needed work, of course. However, if I had to spend vacation time in urgent care, having a hot doctor, helped.

I returned to my regularly scheduled trip. Celebrating a clean state of health, I enjoyed Riverside’s wonders. Shopping for art supplies, noshing on artisanal sandwiches, and wandering the galleria, it was a Californian’s dream. Who knew an urgent care visit could dazzle the senses? Until my next hypochondriac inspired visit, Riverside, I miss you already.