The Perks of Sleepwalking

When I feel nuttier than a peanut, walking cracks my neurotic shell. Endless walks, whether in the snow, rain or heat, relaxes me. I’ve been avid walker, since my teenage hood.

Riverside, circa 1998-

Man-made birds flew over suburban homes, nestled on hills. They hid behind the mountain ranges, but quickly re-appeared. Longingly, I stared into the blue skies, which were tainted with brown from smog.

“If only that man-made bird could sweep me away from suburban monotony.” Soon after, the man-made bird disappeared into a few of the cotton balls, which ravaged the sky. I was not rescued. My feet were still planted on the concrete, which I dread most.

Sulking a bit, I pressed on with my strolls. Birds chirped. Dogs barked. The hazy sounds of cars zooming through the freeway haunted souls. In the midst of serenity, my imagination escaped.

The little houses were capsules of charm. I pictured scenes from a Norman Rockwell painting. Families gathered for a scrumptious steak dinner, with mash potato and apple pie, every night. Senior citizens playing bridge, having (the television show) Jeopardy on full blast. While teenagers listened to No Doubt, contemplating their grand escape into stimulation land.

Strolling in sunny Southern California came with an unexpected perk. There were always plenty of men enjoying the outdoors. It was the land of the hyper/alpha male. Guys fixed their cars. They washed their trucks, shirtless. Football posters hung like fine museum pieces, inside the garage.

I had so much in common with theses burly men (insert sarcasm). Secretly, I wished they were gay or at least had a phenomenal show tunes collection. My gut would tell me, they were more into Tupac Shakur than “A Chorus Line: the original Broadway score.” Regardless, it was excellent motivation to walk and breathe-in tidbits of fresh air. Walking, both relaxed and stimulated my mind. Hello, endorphins.

I enjoyed imagining life as a Norman Rockwell painting. Oh, and shirtless guys aren’t a bad thing, either. Eventually, I was captured by one of those gigantic man made birds. It flew me to the east. I found a quiet nest to call my own in Manhattan.

Walking around New York, I had a more jaded impression of life. I didn’t quite have the Norman Rockwell cheerful outlook, while peering into lit apartment blocks. “What was really behind the fanciful façade?” Despite questioning everything about life, my walks always perked up dreary thoughts.

Then, I fell ill. My zest for walking deteriorated. Crowds were overwhelming. Pavements had terrible effects of stress. Smells of garbage, bakery goods, and fuel disrupted the aroma of pleasant thoughts. I was cooped up in my nest, unable to rid myself of the blues.

While vying for a Sir Laurence Olivier worthy performance, my brain exploded. It exploded with art, naturally. I drew. I wrote. I read many great novels and short stories. The grey clouds met their match. Art transformed my soul. I still needed to force myself out of bed and face the world’s vibrant hues.

By summer, New York was steaming. I made my walking comeback. My legendary long walks had returned. The stimulation further awakened my artistic soul. The gloominess faded faster. Some days were tough, but I eventually regained energy.

I schvitz. I freeze. I don’t ever mind seeing a shirtless guy. More importantly, I get my best ideas, while walking. Whether I’m in a quiet hillside suburb or trying not to loose patience, navigating Midtown (trying not to scream my lungs out from people traffic), a good walk is always beneficial. So let’s all sing Kumbaya, eat granola, and join me on another exciting edition of “I love walking.”

Weirdo

In high school land, subcultures are everything. Jocks, slackers, theatre geeks, science nerds, cheerleaders, rich kids, emo kids, it’s a smorgasbord of distinct tribes. Where do I belong? In my four years of high school, this question constantly baffled me.

I was the gay kid (insert, surprise appearance) with major gay vocal cords to prove it. My gay voice made Liberace look butch. In the grand tradition of gay kids, growing up in a conservative catholic school, I had stereotypical interests.

You might a psychic, if you guessed the following about me. Hey, Anthony, I bet you were into musical theatre, European travel, Madonna, glittery disco balls and drag queen revues. Congrats, if you guessed these mind blowing facts, friend. I’m just going to file you under, Dion Warwick and the Psychic friends network.

I fit many gay stereotypes, which led to a life oozing with arty experiences. After graduating from film school, I followed my tribal heart to New York City. It’s the ultimate right of passage for gay men. I found a fantastic urban family. Surprisingly, I struggled to find my own tribe within the gay scene.

There’s always been a hierarchy of beauty within the gay male community. Here’s what the ideal man sounds like: Hi, I’m a perfectly sculpted, six-figure earning, handsome, well endowed, twenty-something, gay male living in Chelsea, love me.

For us alternative kids, this can be a freighting expectation to stride for. Many of us value individuality and no obeying by stringent standards. This leads to the philosophical question of the century. Is adulthood, just an extension of high school with rent payments and broken hearts?

While at one of my many boozy brunches, I complained to my gal pals. “Where are all the anti-establishment, alternative, bagel loving, granola eating, anti-gym bunny gays at?

Kelly suggested, “join a gay book club.” The bacon strip nearly slipped from my mouth. “Wow, a writer’s group, that sounds most satisfying.”

As a self-proclaimed bookworm, I have an extravagant book collection. Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, Gertrude Stein, Langston Hughes, Isabelle Allende, J.D. Salinger, Jorge Luis Borges, their books line my shelves. Every day, I glance through the titles with great pride.

A day after brunch, Kelly sent me the link for a gay book meet up. I joined. The book chosen didn’t tickle my fancy. In fact, I procrastinated. I was too busy finishing up “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.” The weeks approached and I still put off my reading assignment.

On a humid, Sunday afternoon, the book club was meeting within hours at an indie bookshop. So, I rushed to Barnes & Noble, found the book and attempted to skim through it. With the turn of every page, I proclaimed, “Gee, I wish I was a speed reader.”

To my surprise the book was an okay read. It’s nothing I would buy or long to have in my collection, but not terrible. Feeling confident, I dashed toward the book club meeting. Every granola gay from the East Village to Upper West Side was in attendance, along with our lesbian friends.

We sat around in a circle and discussed the book’s many euphemisms and metaphors. My brain farted. I couldn’t remember a damn thing I read. As the circle went around, they picked people at random to discuss an aspect of the book. Predictably, my brain was still gassy.

It reminded me of the time; I skipped reading a chapter of (George Orwell’s) 1984 and had a pop quiz. That same sensation crippled any intellectual functions. Time was ticking and boom. Our group’s designated meet up time had ended. I was obviously relieved.

Even though, I didn’t quite finish the book, I still had a “gay old” time (gay in the happiest use, possible). It was thrilling to know, I wasn’t the only granola, book-loving gay in town.

It was satisfying to know, there many gays more interested in flexing their literary muscle, as opposed to biceps. I found a possible tribe, to call my own.

Adulthood is very similar to high school. There are the popular kids, cliques and oh, so much drama. Fortunately, detention or fears of being stuff in a locker are not part of the experience. Oh and sans the pop quizzes on Animal farm.

I once dreamed of being tackled by the football team. These days, I seek something different. That’s right, I yearn for a geeky man and his huge book library. Since merging our collections could mean further literary grandeur. Life would be swell and filled with interesting nouns, adjectives and verbs.

Parental Advisory

In the 90’s, record shops were the axis of cool. Digging for the soundtrack of one’s youth was exhilarating. Top 40, soundtracks, the golden oldies, and of course, alternative rock, they were travel companions on Memory lane.

One force threatened my musical euphoria. “This album cover says, parental advisory suggested. Nope, I am sorry. I can’t have you listening to dirty music in the house,” said, my mother. She sure took the fun out of artistic expression.

Since I am a genius, I’d convince dad to take me to the record shop. He didn’t look at labels. He didn’t care. Even when I blasted my Madonna and Beastie Boys cassette tapes, dad would just nod his head. The words, fuck and shit didn’t bother him.

When I would return home, I’d play my filthy music when mom was watching television (at full blast). Only once did I get caught listening to a filthy music. It was Nine Inch Nails. She snuck behind me and demanded the cassette tape, which was yanked into inevitable death.

Music wasn’t her only target. I was forbidden from watching cable television. For the first twelve years of my life, I watched television through the infamous rabbit ears, aka an antenna.

I made the best out of living without a cable box. Fortunately, there were breaks from monotonous television viewing. As a kid, I really looked forward to it.

Momentous road trips were a staple of growing up in California. Motion sickness always kicked in on those long drives from Riverside to Santa Barbara. However, I always had the same reaction. “Oh, look, ma. It’s the Pacific Ocean. It’s so pretty. Look, surfers. They look hot. Help, help, help, I have to puke. I hate the back seat. “

After hours of dizziness, Smashing Pumpkins, and spontaneous photo-ops, we would arrive in Cambria. It’s a seaside town characterized by pebble stone beaches and an air of small town America. Of course, we stayed at a delightful inn.

Rather than jumping in to the Pacific, I indulged in cable television land. “Anthony, I don’t want you watching MTV, all day. That stuff is filth,” my mother would yell, sternly. It didn’t matter much, I could choose from a variety of exciting cable programming. It didn’t have to be MTV. I really wanted to watch Beavis & Butthead, though.

Upon returning our hotel from dinner, my parents fell asleep. Sneakily, I took the control from my father hand. I switched it on and lowered the volume down. Predictably, I switched on MTV. Wow, Beavis & Butthead was on. It was the episode where they forget how to pee.

Holding back giggles, I heard a ghostly sound. Giggles, where are these giggles coming from? It couldn’t be my mother. She was as humorous as a guard at Buckingham Palace. The giggles intensified.

In the darkness, I could see mother trying to hold back laughter, too. She noticed me. “That’s hysterical, they forgot how to pee. Then they flooded the classroom in piss, funny right?” she said. My face was stunned. After years of unnecessary stiffness, Beavis and Butthead finally broke down her rigid walls.

Two days later, we returned to Riverside. Inevitably, her rigid walls were resurrected. Within months, she caved in. Our (then) new cable box was installed.

Finally, we could all enjoy endless hours of music videos, news, and cooking shows. Of course, mom always scolded me for my love of music videos and Real World viewership. In turn, I reveled in my unlikely status as media rebel.

After endless re-runs, Real World casts, and sneakily watching Queer As Folk, I reached adulthood. Surprisingly, I grew into an adult, who lived without television. “The humanity,” my father would proclaim.

Cable television didn’t fit into my budget. Naturally, I spent considerable time reading books, lots of wonderful books. These days, I stare out my window at the flashing lights (from tenement buildings across the street). I feel wanderlust. “Wow, they must be watching E! Television shows and endless hours of CNN.”

Even this bookworm misses the endless stream of television channels. One day, I shall relive the 90’s. I’ll buy a house; pump up Nine Inch Nails, and DVR every interesting program. The American dream, it’s alive and living in a Harlem walk-up.

Town Hamlet

Earthquakes strike. Elves bolt through a patchwork of tiny village houses. It characterizes the town hamlet. A Fire-breathing dragon attacks with fury.

An Earthquake erupts. Imposing bean stocks spring from the soil, corrupting the precious cobblestone roads. This scenario exists in my head. In fact, this is my head on stress.

Here’s my head, while reading a good book. Somebody cue that song, Mellow Yellow (by Donovan). Elves cheerfully dance along fields of green. Jellybeans fall from a cloudless blue sky. Even the fire-breathing dragon is happy. He morphs into a sassy drag queen with killer heels and a blonde wig.

Back in New York (aka, reality), I didn’t see dragons in drag or merry elves prancing down First Avenue. Instead, I always find my own pot of gold, at the end of sparkling rainbow.

Across (approximately) 2,000 miles of Middle America, the Rocky Mountains, and the Hudson River, it arrived. Naturally, the pot of gold came in a standard UPS box. “Oh, my god. It’s my care package from dad.”

I opened the box with great enthusiasm. Books upon books were haphazardly piled on each other. Don Quxiote, Valley of the Dolls, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, Emma & Three Lives were a few of the delightful titles. In the grand tradition of care packages from dad, he left many pairs of socks under the literary grandeur.

“Hello, stress relief.” The first book I read from the pile was “Engulfed in Flames” by David Sedaris. From coffee shops to park benches, I reveled in it’s witty humor.

Since I have a long subway commute to work, reading a funny novel always provides a nice kick. While indulging in espresso-like inspiration, handsome man sat next to me on the train. In a very New York style, I avoided him and concentrated on the words of Mr. Sedaris.

From the corner of my eye, I could see him casually glancing at the book. Soon, his eyes wouldn’t deter from the page. There was a certain connection in sharing the book together.

The elves in my head sent a signal, “talk to him, you, yutz.” A certain earthquake erupted inside of me. “Hello, anxiety.” Palms were sweating, leaving wet marks on delicate pages. More pages turned, his eyes still glued to every word. The train was closer to approaching Times Square.

Alas, I glanced at him, quickly. Unfortunately, I didn’t build up bravery. The elves sighed in misery. I left the train, without uttering a word to my literary lover. At least, I had a nice train ride. I can’t say that every day.

Books are my stress relief. I read many. They delight me. I admire authors and dream of having my future novel sold everywhere from Powell’s Books to the Strand. In the mean time, my town hamlet remains a peaceful utopia for elves and that fire-breathing dragon, who adores heels and blonde wigs.

Grumpy Bird

I spent countless hours drawing owls. Happy owls, grumpy owls, eccentric owls on Xanax, they lived harmoniously in a modest sketchpad. With a soundtrack consisting of cheesy show tunes and angry 90’s alternative rock, I turned anxiety into art.

The owls were a perfect distraction from the madness in my head. With every stroke of the pencil, I became increasingly passionate about my art. With my owl family tree hooting their lives away, I grew surprisingly tired of drawing owls.

I took a giant leap for (would be artists) everywhere. Inspired by cartoons of my youth, I began drawing Beavis & Butthead. The sketching proved a challenge for a new artist. “Oy, I just can’t draw, I just can’t draw, I need to go back to writing,” I would say to myself. The obvious negative thoughts attacked my peaceful bohemian existence.

My first sketches were disastrous. I doubted my sketching abilities. While the negative thoughts persisted, I took a coffee break. While fueling the latte economy with my caffeine dependency, I was determined to re-draw Beavis & Butthead.

Cranking up the best in Broadway musicals, I put specialized pencil to a blank page. Carefully following the contour of each character, I drew a carbon copy of Beavis & Butthead.

The fear of fucking up quickly died. Rather than fearing failure, I made the drawing experience, enchanting. Daria, Doug, Fred Flintstone, Yogi Bear & even Charlie Brown, I drew them all. Upon opening my sketchpad, the characters made me smile.

Quickly, the art bug bit me, again. I had great aspirations for a pop up/3d art project, utilizing cartoon characters and a shoebox. I designed the characters and daydreamed of a land within a shoebox’s confines. The madness, which ravaged my brain, was (in turn) producing interesting art.

Though, the shoebox, pop up/3d art project continues to develop, I revel in every moment. Rather than hurrying along, I spend many hours, daydreaming. I found a new calling through visual arts. It was unexpected and scary. With great bravery, I continue to lovingly sketch my life away.

Geekdom

Before pimples, braces, film school, New York and coffee addiction, there was Garden elementary school (in Riverside, CA). It produced well-behaved and impeccably mannered private school children. Inevitably, I was the lone rebel.

Staring at brick walls, detention, and infamous phone calls with my parents remained a mainstay of elementary school memories. Nothing symbolized my zany brain like my desk.

Fridays were known as feather duster day. Our principal would tour the classrooms. The class with the cleanest desk would win the feather duster and receive additional recess time.

When the class would lift their desk’s interiors, books and paperwork became a shrine to organization. Nervously, I awaited her reaction when she peered into my desk.

Books from Charlotte’s Web to Fudge-A-Mania were scattered. Crumbled paper work, broken pencils and cassette tapes representing 90’s grunge were a shrine to childhood disorganization. Her eyes widened in disgust. “Mr. Alas, your desk is a mess,” my principal would proclaim.

Naturally, the well-organized future lawyers and doctors of the class were displeased. They gave me the death stare. I shrugged my shoulders and threw more crumbled up paper planes into my desk.

Eventually life took me to Geekdom. It’s what I lovingly call my New York City apartment. It remains a shrine to geeky living. The Star Wars theme played on repeat.

Like Mars, it was desolate. I had always been the only inhabitant. It’s served as an ideal retreat from the annoyances of Manhattan’s glittery existence.

Aliens, dinosaurs, and unicorns paraded freely as figments of my imagination. Geekdom resembled my elementary school desk perfectly. It was cluttered.

The closet and kitchen cabinets had been filled to the brim with linens, books and old paperwork. Wall Portraits were lopsided. My bed hadn’t been made. I was drowning in a sea of clutter.

Everyday, I walked in and declared, “today, I will organize my apartment.” When I actually arrived in my home, nothing was actually cleaned. The tiny hills of paper work, clothes and books threatened to obstruct my sanity.

I laughed off my disregard for organization. Lovingly, I declared it, “creative chaos.” With the embrace of chaos, I grew tired of dramatic expeditions to find a missing Isabelle Allende novel or that black cardigan.

I grew tired of digging. On a spectacularly spring morning, I uncluttered Geekdom. The man made hills were flattened. Exotic novels discovered. Sanity emerged from the rubble.

Geekdom was resurrected for my alien, unicorn, and dinosaur friends to stroll freely (without tripping on random boxes). I was delighted, too. Shockingly, I grew to enjoy the perfectly organized closet and book collection. It brought continued peace into my unconventional existence.

However, I wouldn’t take a one-way trip to Type-A personality land. I still needed that one cabinet filled with crumbled-up paper work and magazines. Disorganization exudes comfort. It reminds me of my childhood and chaos, which remains inspirational.

No feather duster days here. I was proudly disorganized. Even in a Type-A world, I stayed true to my Type-B self. No brick walls to stare at, just art formed in the hills of used books, sneakers, and cardigans. It was home. It was Geekdom.

Quirky in L.A.

The Cranberries, Blur, & Nirvana played on an old car radio. Palm trees swayed with the brutal force of Santa Ana winds. Automobiles nearly collided. Smog paraded merrily along an ideal turquoise sky.

Houses with 50’s American charm were reminiscent of the California dream. Freeways, empty sidewalks, and breezes from the Pacific exemplified a land of wanted boredom. This was L.A. in the 90’s.

Often times, my family and I took day trips there. Growing up in nearby Riverside, L.A.’s Fred Segal was a perfectly packaged representation of la la land.

It was (and still is) the legendary store were celebrities shopped. They did lunch, bought super duper, cool graphic t-shirts, and browsed for hip home décor. My mother would take me to Fred Segal’s for a very important initiation.

“You like donuts, don’t you?” asked, the statuesque Nordic sales lady. I unapologetically shook my head, yes. Unlike most perfectly quaffed Fred Segal clientele, I had a pimples and a tummy pregnant with tacos and chimichangas.

She recommended products to diminish my pimply woes. As she applied the best of Scandinavian skin care products, 90’s alternative rock blasted for the trendy Angelenos. Glaring to my left was the alternative to grunge.

Standing tall was the ideal L.A. man. Perfectly sculpted, handsome and confident, he tried on various graphic tees (in the neighboring t-shirt shop). My teenage soul sank to the ground. I wish I didn’t like chimichangas, so much, I thought to myself.

Lust filled my existence. After my facial treatment, I stared at a face full of red dots. If I get bored, I could always play connect the dots with my zits. Staring at my normal exterior made me a bit disillusioned. However, my interior was filled with art and wonderment.

I wouldn’t grow into a Gucci model, but it didn’t matter. By the teenage years, I knew I would venture east. Everything about New York fascinated me. The East had promises of intellectuality, classic architecture, public transportation, seasons, and a less vain society.

After several years in New York, I found that my city had embraced L.A.-isms, the gym, frozen yogurt, and yoga. Had New York become the new L.A.? In the midst of New York’s great beauties, I couldn’t get a date.

Although, I had a gorgeous complexion, I wasn’t exactly an Adonis either. I spent many nights alone with Chinese food and sitcoms. Alas, a handsome (or any) prince had not yet rescued me from fifth-floor walk-up land.

Were my quirky looks igniting perpetual rejection? Strolling New York, I was quite melancholy. At therapy, a breakthrough arose. “I’m alone,” with those words, I took a giant leap for gays, everywhere.

For years, I brushed off lonely sentiments. Instead, I put on a brave face as independent boy about the world. After therapy, I embraced vulnerability. Maybe, I am not that muscle guy from Fred Segal? Maybe I am not that handsome? However, I returned to the beauty within.

That week rather than focusing on dating apps and outward appearance, I channeled my inner author. Compiling a collection of short stories, I printed out the pages. Musically, the pages spewing out were Mozart to my ears. When the last page arrived, I held it close.

My heart pounded rapidly. In my hands, I held my first book. It was mine. Ideally, my inner art produced outward beauty. The pages were warm and smelled of a pine tree adorned forest. I found my happy moment, even in the midst of loneliness and insecurity.

This quirky boy still longs for a trip to Fred Segal. I’ve haven’t been in years. I loved their Santa Monica outpost. One day, I’d like to linger in their café and play, connect a zit. It’s the game, which best exemplifies my quirky teen years. Luckily, I no longer have the zits to play with.

Bear In A Cardigan

In the midst of rugged mountains, track homes, and vast freeways hides a surprising counter culture. In Riverside, CA, weird rules. Odd balls gravitate to the suburban sprawl like guacamole to a tortilla chip.

Growing up in Riverside, the counter culture frequented Back 2 the Grind, a coffee shop. It had comfy couches, art, and a dizzying array of books. Back 2 the Grind served as the perfect life alternative to my Catholic school conformity.

It’s where gay kids would hang out. They sipped lattes, listen to bands play, and form wanderlust of a world beyond rugged hills and orange groves. Conveniently, it was located next to a gay bar.

On any given night, disco lights would shine from the bar’s window onto the sidewalk. The Thompson Twins’ campy classic, “Lies” would seduce the gay eardrums. For a teenager (like yours truly), it was mesmerizing. A room full of sweaty, dancing gay guys, it was almost surreal, especially steaming from a conservative upbringing.

Curiosity blinded my senses. I declared, one day, I’d like to visit a gay bar. There were the obvious allures of sex and friendship, but also experiencing a life altering liberation.

After experiencing my first gay bar, it was exciting. Then, I quickly grew out of loud, sweaty bars. I found more liberation in myself rather than an institution.

Living in New York, I preferred cozy dives, where the bartenders knew my favorite drinks and life biography. I also couldn’t stay up super late, anymore. Taking the subway at 3 A.M. seemed as appealing as being chased by ferocious bulls in Pamplona.

Mirroring my Riverside upbringing, I preferred the warmth of a New York coffee house. I adored reading my books and writing on any given Saturday night. One night, I took a time machine ride back to my youth, thanks to a night out in Hell’s Kitchen (New York’s big gayborhood).

Thanks to a few whiskies, I was lured into one of those loud bars with a sizable dance floor. While the room was spinning, loud pop music threatened my eardrums. Oy, I think I am too old for this. Indeed, I was. My bladder agreed with me. I spent most of the night, peeing, which gave me practice in social skills. There was always a bathroom line.

When I wasn’t in line, I tried dancing with friends. Since, I am a wallflower, dancing didn’t come as easy. Then, I spotted a guy. Our eyes locked. He was dressed in a preppy manner, with wavy blond hair and blue eyes. Instantly, he grabbed and kissed me.

I was shocked, but secretly enjoyed it. Does this make me a male cougar? He seems a few years younger, I noted to myself. Instead, I giggled and declared, “why yes, I still have it going on.” He brought out the tiger in me, but it was only a kiss.

Fearing a burst of misery on the late night subway, I took a cab home. Happily, I noted my night out as a life experience.

The next day, I sipped on coffee, listened to an indie band, and enjoyed tacos with my neighbor. I realized that I am still a mellow, Riverside boy. Although, getting kissed by that cute guy will remain a most wonderful memory.

A Quirky Bookworm

Writing a novel, it’s what you do when unemployed. In fact, fun-employment land had its perks. While eating bacon donuts, browsing the titles at Powell’s Books, and breathing in the crisp (and very clean) Portland air, I declared, “ wow, fun-employment isn’t so terrible.”

A few weeks later, I returned home to New York City. Gone were gatherings around a bonfire, hills filled with rustic pine trees and the left coast laid-back attitude. Rather, than getting depressed over my lack of employment and many rejection emails from companies around the city, I created my Bohemian utopia.

I lovingly branded this era as the “great bohemian retreat.” Predictably, I wrote stories, lots of stories. Frequenting coffee shops from the East Village to Upper West Side, I sipped the stimulation of a strong coffee. I also read lots of books. Indulging in the eloquent and often humorous words of favorite authors inspired my writing.

Then one day, I looked at my bank statement. “Oy, I really need a job,” said I. While I continued job hunting, I was depressed. “God, I miss working,” said I.

I stared at the Upper West Side from that most dramatic of views, Lincoln Center. The epicenter of operas, which ignite great pathos served as the perfect location for my melancholy moment. While feeling beyond sad, I couldn’t write or daydream without feeling sad.

“What’s one place, which always makes me feel better?” I asked myself. I walked toward the Time Warner Center (it’s a mall, even though New Yorkers would never call it a mall). Going to the mall always cheered me up.

As I stared at the most cinematic city views from the second floor, I received the call, which would change my life. I was re-hired at my old ad firm. The sadness melted like a snowman in spring.

I really wish life were a Broadway musical, since I could’ve broken into the happiest song possible. Rather than feeling like a New York reject, I was happily returning to work.

On Monday, I picked up a $.75 coffee from the deli. I made my way to the subway and opened up a good book. After transferring trains at Times Square, I arrived at Grand Central Station. In the midst of typical Monday morning chaos, I smiled. That train ride led me to a new life and most importantly, I had officially left fun-employment land.

Although, it had difficult moments, fun-employment land had its charms. I spent quality time in Palm Springs with my father, marveled at Portland’s quirks, and found adventures in New York. Looking back at the bohemian era, I can smile and proclaim, “I got a three month holiday, which I probably won’t get again.” Goodbye to the great bohemian retreat. Hello, bohemian life with a job.

Gay-mer

“My future husband is just hiding under a rock. I can feel it.” Said I. Strolling the East Village provided me with a plethora of attractive men. Gawking was delightful, until awkward eye contact was made. This was followed by the even more awkward head turn (to avoid contact) maneuver (from the random guy).

“Whoops, I guess that one wasn’t interested. I must’ve had a booger in my nose or something. Why would any man not want some wonderful eye sex,” I said with optimism spewing from my tongue.

Typically, I stroll with a tote bag (man purse) full of books. Since, I live so far, Uptown, I kill boredom with the words of David Sedaris, Maya Angelou, & Gertrude Stein.While parading around Tompskins Square Park, I found a most inviting park bench to feast upon.

Yet, I couldn’t concentrate on any book. Behold, the Tinder dating app. “No, no, no, I shall not be distracted with men and dating. Hell, I’m not getting any younger here. Damn it, I am caving in,” said I.

Pulling out the phone app, I was met with the evil lord of rejection. There were so many gym bunnies and hipsters. Some guys were a hybrid, hipster + gym bunny (muscles, beards, and flannel, accompanied by a swig PBR beer). Holy shit, where are all the alternative guys? Where are the guys, who said fuck you to the gym, but revered Ezra Pound? Asked I.

In the midst of clones, I found a rebel. “A video game nerd and major dork in general?” I asked myself, while scrolling through the witty profile of an attractive guy (with glasses). I must like him. Surprise, he liked me back, and I finally got a match.

A family of folk singers magically appeared. They played a little jig with their traveling banjos in celebration. As the folk music intensified, I messaged my gay-mer. With fingers crossed, we connected. Quickly, we made plans for a date.

Preparing myself for a voyage across the East River to Astoria, I thought about interesting topics to bring up on the date.” It was my first date with a gay-mer.

“I did have a Nintendo back in the 80’s, been to an arcade and even danced, danced, danced to the dance, dance, revolution. However, I was never particularly good at video games. That’s it, I’ll suggest that he teach me the ropes, “ I thought to myself.

Eventually, I arrived in Astoria. It was chilly evening. Steinway Street was bustling with shoppers in pea coats and fancy wool hats. Through a darkened side street, I found the charming little restaurant for the date.

I walked into the grilled cheese and beer specialty restaurant. It was an intimate place with exposed brick walls, long tables, and a very arty crowd.

“Dinner for one,” asked the friendly host. “Two please,” I replied. He walked me over to the communal table. I ordered a beer. My date arrived, dressed in a pea coat, black beanie and decorative glasses.

He was cute. My glasses were in the primary stages of fogging up. “Was this the animal lust, Cosmopolitan magazine always talked about?” I wondered to myself. “Quick, quick, think of video came terms. He arrived at the table. We hugged. I felt at ease.

“I’m unemployed, 31 and live in a walk-up,” I told him. He responded, “I work two jobs and have several roommates. We laughed and drank beer, noshed on delicious grilled cheeses and had wonderful eye contact. After dismissing the men of New York, I found my ideal geek. He understood my geek-dom and I relished in his quirks.

After four hours of gabbing, two geeks strolled into the Queens night. The pubs were bustling. 24-hour markets were alive with neon. Green cabs raced through Broadway. The sounds of typewriters shattered the evening quiet.

We were cold. Our teeth became musical instruments, as we shivered the night away. Walking toward the subway, I didn’t want to say, goodbye. Along the above ground, Broadway train station, cold winds awakened our spirits. More good conversation followed.

The train arrived. He hopped off on the last stop in Queens. I returned to Manhattan. In my own geeky universe, I was head nerd. However, I needed someone to help me rule the kingdom. Luckily, I received a text from him. He wanted another date. This was a brave step for two boys with highly decorative glasses.

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