Ooh, Burn(ed)

Someone please remind me that I am, indeed, Irish/Scottish/English/Whatever other EASTERN European ethnicity, and not, in fact, the Italian/Latino ethnicity that I always wished I was…

20140515-014354.jpg

Advertisements

It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time

I said so myself…  I might have been wrong.

This idea of using the daily photo prompts to take pictures and write blog posts, seemed like a thing.  It really did.  Clearly, though, it was not a thing I could keep up with.  And I’m so bad at letting these things go and moving on from them that when the first time I didn’t get it done, I thought, “Well, shit.  But that’s ok.  I’ll just double up tomorrow.”  And of course, “tomorrow” came and went and no pictures were taken and no posts were written, and before I knew it, I had a backlog of pictures to take and post and I didn’t know how I was going to make that happen and suddenly, it’s been, what? two weeks since I wrote anything.

But really?  I mean, really!

Let’s take a look at the prompts I did not fulfill, shall we?

January 8th:  “Lucky Number”

Okay.  So I actually had (or rather have) a decent way to accommodate this.  I don’t really believe in “luck” per se, and as such, I don’t really have a lucky number.  I do have a favorite number, 23, which comes up in my life frequently and without reason, but I wouldn’t call it a lucky number and I couldn’t give you a discernible reason for its prominence if you asked.  On January 9th, K and I went back to the tattoo shop where I got my latest tattoo done.  She got a new tattoo, adding on to one she’s had for several years.  (In fact she got it at the same shop where, and within a few weeks when, I got my first one.)  We went together, and when he was finished with her new tattoo, he cleaned up, set up fresh equipment and did my touch up/repair/augmentation work that I alluded to.  As it happens, I incorporated the number 23 into the additional art and could have taken a picture of that for the photo prompt…  Except it didn’t happen until the day after the prompt and wasn’t really ready for photographing for many days after that.  In fact, the tattoo as a whole, still isn’t.  It’s been two weeks today and much to my surprise, and displeasure, it still isn’t healed.  The sun rays done in the colors of the pride flag, were touched up and extended farther onto my shoulder, which, can I just tell you, was not a pleasant experience!  For some reason, those blocks of solid color have taken a long time to heal.  They’re much better now, but there are still dry and scaly patches that are bothersome and difficult to resist the urge to pick and scratch – which is disaster for a tattoo.

It’s already evident that I will have to go back for at least one more touch-up, but that most likely won’t happen until May.  My swim class starts up again tonight, and while I don’t expect our instructor will actually have us get in the water tonight (he didn’t the first class last semester), I wouldn’t be able to anyway, because it’s not smart to get into a public pool, while a tattoo is still in this scaly stage.  I think I’ll be okay by Monday, but I don’t know for sure.  Fortunately, it’s the first night of instruction and it’s about getting comfortable being in the water and floating, ducking under the surface and kicking against the wall.  If I have to sit that out, it will not be a big loss.  Strangely, I am equal parts excited and trepidatious about class starting up again.  I really enjoyed the class last semester (and will again) but I also haven’t been in a pool since the last class I attended last semester.  I’m sure whatever endurance I’ve built up has been lost.  I just hope I haven’t taken too many steps backwards in terms of technique…

January 9th: “Natural”

The instruction was to take a picture of something natural or created naturally.  The possibilities for this are endless, and yet, with what was available to me, fairly boring.  The same goes for the follow-up prompt the next day…

January 10th: “Man-Made”

Take a photo of something made by man.  In a lot of ways, this would have been even easier, because everywhere you look you can see things that are made by man.  But that almost makes the prompt uninteresting, because I could easily have taken a picture of my television, or my furniture, or my computer, or…  Well, pretty much anything in my house that was not fresh produce.  And since I didn’t leave the house that day, the photo would have been something in my house.  It quickly becomes uninspiring.

But you see, this is an ongoing problem in the realm of photo challenge photo taking.  If I don’t leave the house, then the opportunities for the photos are greatly reduced.  If I do leave the house, do I really want to lug my camera around with me everywhere I go?  The answer to that is two-fold, because yes, I do want to take it with me everywhere I go.  And, NO!  I don’t want to have to carry it around and keep track of it and make sure it doesn’t come to any harm everyday, everywhere.  Anyway, while I’m unemployed and have limited reasons to leave the house, I spend days at a time inside my home and therefore have far fewer options for creative photos that meet the challenge and don’t become redundant.

January 11th: “Looking Down”

Once again, without leaving the house my options were limited to looking over the railing of the stairs leading up to my front door, which would be…  concrete sidewalk, or very poorly maintained grass in the side yard, or looking out a window.  Which wouldn’t really be “down” so much as “out”.  Of course, I could have taken one of those ubiquitous pictures of my feet, or of my shoes on my feet (which I don’t wear in the house), but that’s not particularly interesting in my mind.  Pass.

January 12th: “Something colorful”

I didn’t leave the house.  Like the song says, “Second verse.  Same as the first!”

January 13th: “Makes me Smile”

This one I actually could have done, with only the smallest bit of cheating.  I always figure that the point of the Photo-A-Day challenges, is to take a photo that day that goes with the prompt, however, I was actually with K when she took the photo she posted for “natural”, only it was “lucky number” day.  Maybe it’s the thought that counts?

Anyway, I took this picture of Lil’B a couple of weekends prior while we were on an outing to the Hyde Street Pier and exploring some of the ships that are moored there.  Lil’B always makes me smile.  So if you don’t worry about the fact that I already posted this picture once, or about meeting the date, then it’s all good.  🙂

Taking a picture of Lil'B, taking a picture of me.

Taking a picture of Lil’B, taking a picture of me.

January 14th: “Three Things” 

This one might actually have been pretty interesting.  The instruction was to take a picture of three things.  “They might belong together, or they might be totally random”.  But of course, by this time, I was a week behind on this endeavor, and in my mind, I couldn’t have participated in this one without having done all the ones that came before.  This leads to my new challenge for myself to be further discussed at the end of this post.

January 15th: “Black and White”

This prompt is much like the “upside down” prompt in that, with modern technology, any picture can be black and white with just the press of a few buttons.  I could have made a picture black and white using settings on my camera, or using iPhoto to edit it that way.  There’s no real challenge in that, and once again, I only left the house to work.  Irony being what it is, I could have taken a “selfie” at work and posted that, since my uniform for most bar tending jobs is a white shirt with black pants, tie and vest.  But again, I didn’t want to bring my camera along to work.

January 16th: “Sun”

The instruction was to take a picture of the sun.  Of course this was totally doable, even without having left the house.  But again.  I was too far behind.

January 17th: “Tiny”

Does this really need any explanation?

January 18th: “Happy Place”

I wouldn’t even know where to start with this one.  (Plus I worked again, that day.)

January 19th: “Breakfast”

“Take a photo of your breakfast, or where you were for breakfast time.”  This was a Lil’B Sunday.  I picked him up earlier than usual so we could go to the Oakland, Zoo.  I slept through breakfast, and well?  Really?  Does anyone really want a photograph of my bed?  I don’t think so.  I took lots of pictures at the zoo, though I haven’t yet had time to edit them.  But those photographs had nothing to do with the prompt.

January 20th: “To Do List”

I suppose there might be something interesting in this.  The instruction was to take a picture of the actual list, or a series of pictures of things I did.  At the moment, my to do list, is only in my head, and it’s so long that it’s actually debilitating and nothing gets done.  Something I absolutely must work on.  But anyway, this photo prompt wasn’t doable either for many reasons.

January 21st:  “Blue”

Sometimes they’re just too easy, which I guess I shouldn’t complain about.  While I am not consciously aware of having a favorite color, or a strong preference toward any one color, until recently, a quick glance at my closet would have told you that blue is unequivocally my favorite color.  Finding a blue thing to take a picture of would not have been difficult.  Then of course, there’s always this:

Me and my new car, taken outside the dealership, Half Moon Bay, CA

Me and my new car, taken outside the dealership, Half Moon Bay, CA

Heck, even the blue Honda over my left shoulder was mine.  That’s the car I traded in for the Mustang.  (Don’t talk to me about the monumental difference in gas mileage.  I will cut you!)

And that leads us to today, January 22nd: “Nice!”.  The instruction just says, “take a picture of something nice”, which, again, could be anything.  Hell, I could even just direct you to scroll up an inch or so.  There’s something pretty nice!  Maybe I’ll take some additional pictures today, maybe I won’t.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Anyway, my new challenge for my self, as alluded to with January 14th: “Three Things” is to not get so caught up in the idea that I have to post one thing before I can post something else.  Especially when that one thing is something that I am avoiding doing for whatever reason.  Maybe that thing will get posted, maybe it won’t.  But I shouldn’t let that thing prevent me from posting other things.  I have, in the past, had a problem with holding back on those thoughts because I hadn’t posted the other thing yet, and then I end up losing lots of ideas that I wanted to convey.  Probably this won’t lead to anything earth shattering, but at least it should help me keep my writing muscle exercised…  Lord knows it’s the only one that’s getting any exercise.

 


My Town

I have always had a habit of thinking about “today” or “yesterday” or “tomorrow” in relation to when I sleep and wake up again, rather than by the traditional means of following the clock.  In the strictest sense, it is already Saturday and as with all the other’s so far, this post is “late” because it’s for Friday’s prompt.  I say, however, that it’s the thought, the intent, that matters and not the very “letter of the law”, so, whatever.  Here it is.

The Fat Mum Slim Photo-A-Day prompt for Friday, January 3, 2013 is “My Town”, which is actually kind of a neat coincidence, given that the town I live in, Oakland, California, is known as “town” or “the town” because of its geographic location across the bay from San Francisco, commonly referred to by the locals as “the City”.

*Quick side note:  I’ve always held the philosophy that there are hundreds of “the city”s in existence.  When I was attending my one semester of University in 1993, I was attending a relatively small school about 40 minutes east of Oklahoma City and many of the students at this university referred to Oklahoma City as “the city”.  I always thought that was kind of funny, quaint even, because I had often heard people on television refer to New York City as “the city”.  Then I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and heard the locals talking about “the City”.  It didn’t take long for me to adopt the vernacular and begin referring to “the City” myself.

I finally arrived at the inescapable conclusion that it is all accurate, but in its own way; it just depends on how you spell it.  Observe:  Living outside Oklahoma City when my friends and I wanted to go to the nearest metropolis, Oklahoma City, we made plans to go to “the city”.  I suspect that anyone living near a metropolis, could, and many do, refer to that metropolis as “the city”.  I now live in a significant town with a population of over 400,000 people.  With a large downtown business district and new housing and arts and shopping areas popping up all the time, Oakland is a metropolis in it’s own right, however, it is overshadowed by the specter that is its sister city across the bay, San Francisco.  Therefore Oakland isn’t “the city” because there is a larger city within a reasonable distance.  San Francisco is “the City” (notice the capital C).  New York City, however, is the city with the highest population in the country at nearly nine million people.  With the nations financial center and the east coast hub of the entertainment industry, it is easy to see how New York City would be “The City” (also written as THE City).

Anyway, for the part of the country where I live, San Francisco is “the City” and that makes Oakland “the Town”.  (I’m not making this up.  I actually read this recently in a local paper.)  Since today’s prompt was “my town” I decided to go out into “the Town” to get some shots of a few local iconic sites.  There are literally dozens, if not hundreds of things I could have taken pictures of, but I decided to limit myself to three basic concepts.

On the southwest edge of Downtown Oakland, near the Lake Merritt BART station (a name that has always amused me, given it’s distance from Lake Merritt) is a smallish community college campus, which happens to be the location of my swimming classes.  The main, most identifiable building on the campus is a three sided structure, roughly nine or ten stories tall.  Tall enough, that with an unobstructed view it is visible from quite a distance.  If I had been out late enough, I would have attempted some evening shots as well.  The script sign at the top of the building is repeated on all three sides and created out of green neon lights, making the building distinctive, and distinguishable even after the sun has gone down.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Arguably the most notable and iconic sight in the Downtown Oakland skyline is the Oakland Tribune building’s clock tower.  It’s visible from all directions, again if your view is unobstructed.  Also created using neon lights, this time in red, the Tribune sign at the top of the tower is visible day and night.  There’s a long, rich history, I’m sure, but unfortunately, I don’t personally know anything notable other than the fact that one Sunday afternoon a few years ago, an employee of the paper climbed up to the clock tower and jumped to her death and since that’s not an uplifting story, we’ll just move on to the pictures.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Next I made my way to the Port of Oakland where there were lots of things to take pictures of.  The iconic view that I wanted to capture was that of the cranes used to off load the shipping containers when the cargo ships come into port.  The entire area is surprisingly bustling with 18 wheeler tractor/trailer trucks rumbling around constantly.  I was standing on one street corner with my camera at my eye, positioned just so and ready to take a crucial picture when a truck pulled up along the curb in front of me completely blocking my view.  The driver got out, detached the trailer from his rig, then climbed right back in the cab and drove away.  That shot was not to be had.  But that’s okay because it forced me to walk a little further down the street and ended up with a better vantage point of what I wanted.

While I’m sure this is anything but common knowledge around the country, it is commonly held lore around these parts that some of these cranes were George Lucas’ inspiration for the design of the AT-AT Walkers seen in Star Wars: Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back.  (I am a bit disappointed to have just read this article which seems to definitively debunk that theory.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Of course, my town wouldn’t be my town without the equally iconic views looking out.  From my vantage point at a public park located in the midst of all the activity at the Port of Oakland, I was able to get some nice shots of “the City” (my City – or so I wish!).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One last shot worth sharing.  This sign was posted at every pedestrian and mobile entrance to the park.  Guess what I spent the entire time avoiding walking in…

No Dogs Allowed posted at every entrance to the park.  Spent the entire time dodging petrified dog poop.

No Dogs Allowed posted at every entrance to the park. Spent the entire time dodging petrified dog poop.

Starts With G

Have I already bitten off more than I can chew?  Hmmm.  I wonder.

The Fat Mum Slim Photo-A-Day prompt for January 2nd is “Starts with G” which seems simple enough.  Who can’t find plenty of things that start with the letter G?  Only, I ended up with eight photos, all of things from around the house.  I actually took more than eight, but after I downloaded them and did some basic editing in iPhoto, I realized some of them were no good so I deleted them.  Actually several of the ones I deleted were duplicates of the ones I saved (’cause you always take multiple pictures in order to get the good one, right?  Right.)

Anyway, after staying up most of the night last night, and accidentally sleeping all day today, followed by going out for dinner with a friend and not getting home until around 9:00, I didn’t have a lot of time for taking pictures.  Here’s what I came up with:

First up is my swim goggles.  I wore these goggles twice a week, nearly every week from August to December as I took the “Fundamentals of Swimming” class at the local Community College.  I nearly drowned twice before I was six years old, once in the Pacific Ocean when a large wave crashed ashore, knocked me over and then began to drag me back out to sea as it receded and again at my father’s apartment complex when I fell into the deep end of the swimming pool.  On both occasions my father immediately pulled me to safety, but the experiences traumatized me enough that for a long time I was afraid of the water altogether, and once I got over that, I was not willing to get into any water where I could not see the bottom and could not stand up.  I finally decided it was time to conquer my fears and to learn a means of exercise that I would actually enjoy doing.  After one semester of swim classes, I can safely say “I know how to swim”, but I’m not very good at it and I still haven’t gotten into water in which I can’t stand up.  The next session starts up on January 22nd and I hope to make vast improvements during this next class.

Anyway, after each class, I would bring my bag home from the pool and unpack my gear, take my goggles into the bathroom to rinse them off and hang them from my bed post to air dry and be ready for the next class.  They have been hanging from that post since early December because I haven’t been in a pool since the class ended.  Along with the new piercing I vaguely (or not so vaguely) eluded to the other day, I also have a new tattoo I’ll share about sometime later.  Both instances of “body modification” needed to be mostly healed before going into a public swimming pool, essentially exposing “open wounds” to the potential soup of other peoples’ bacteria we’d all prefer not to think about when we go for a swim.

Swim goggles hanging from bedpost.

Swim goggles hanging from bedpost.

The next two pictures go hand in hand.  One is my glasses.  I made a very unspecific reference to these when posting something completely unrelated several weeks back, but as of mid-October, I am officially a full-time glasses wearer.  I picked these glasses while my eyes were still dilated which is certainly a risky proposition.  I had some assistance from one of the opticians in the vision center, but I wasn’t completely sure what I’d be getting when I went back a week later to pick them up.  I must have done a fairly good job, because when I arrived at work later that day, no one seemed to even notice that anything was different, as if I’d had the glasses all along.

My first ever full-time wear glasses.

My first ever full-time wear glasses.

The other picture is of a mirror that hangs behind my front door.  The mirror has hooks along the bottom from which I have always hung my sunglasses.  I have multiple pairs so that I could always match the color and style to the clothes I was wearing that day.  The sunglasses have been rendered somewhat obsolete by the introduction of the glasses in the picture above and a pair of prescription sunglasses.

Mirror with sunglasses on hooks.

Mirror with sunglasses on hooks.

Some of the other pictures I took are pretty self explanatory.  A few G words around my kitchen:

Gas flame from my stove.

Gas Flame

Gas Flame

Double Gs:  Green glass sweet and dry vermouth bottles in my bar.  And a bonus G:  The green label on the back of the Apple Puckers bottle you can just see on the bottom right side.  

Green Glass Vermouth Bottles.

Green Glass Vermouth Bottles.

And a green Starbuck’s label on the front of a plastic reusable cold drink tumbler with a green, plastic, reusable straw.  Heck it’s even “green” in the environmental sense.  Boom!  Triple Gs!

Green Starbucks Label

Green Starbucks Label

In my bathroom, there is grout between the 12 x 12 marble tiles that make up my floor and shower surround.

Grout.

Grout between tiles.

And finally, still starting with G, the kind of “green” we all know and love, money.  As a Bartender, I come into possession of many small bills so this is not a terribly large some of money, it’s just the money I had left in my pocket when I came home tonight.

Green Money.

Green Money.
“You don’t want to know what I have to do for $20s.”

The Continuing Saga of My Close Personal Friendship with Aisha Tyler

If you’ve been around these parts very long, (and with a couple notable exceptions, I’m certain you haven’t) you already know about my long-standing personal friendship with the beautiful, hilarious and talented actress, comedian, writer, podcaster, and Co-host of the daytime talk show The Talk on CBS, Aisha Tyler.  If you’re new here, you can read the story here and here (though if you bother to look at those, I apologize that many of the pictures and links are broken, which makes them less exciting to read, especially the first one) and even here (though that last one is less about Aisha and more about an odd and confusing experience I had which happened to be on the same night as my last visit to one of Aisha’s shows.

That unavoidable, once a year event, which we often wish we could ignore is coming around again…  really soon.  And to celebrate Michelle and I went to dinner at a restaurant I had never been to before called The Dead Fish.  (Rumor is that’s a famous line in the family that started the restaurant.  The kids would ask mom, “What’s for dinner” and mom would say, “Dead fish.”)  I had heard lots of good things about the place and had high expectations, which, sadly were not lived up to.  It’s a nice enough place and the food was fine, but I expected better and more.  I had “Crispy Pork Shank” which was not crispy at all and, in fact, was rather the consistence of pot roast, something I do not care for, and had a lot of fat on it.  Plus, I ordered a Bombay martini, having recently discovered that Bombay Sapphire gin is actually quite smooth and pleasant – something that came as quite a surprise to me as I wasn’t much of a gin drinker.  I wasn’t as specific as perhaps I should have been while ordering, but I was disappointed with what I was served.  It did not come in a martini glass but rather some sort of goblet, almost like an old time champagne glass (non-flute).  The goblet held very little liquid and they left me with an ice filled shaker with the rest of my martini in it.  By the time I was ready to refill my glass, the ice was half melted and my martini was severely watered down.  On top of that, there was noticeably too much vermouth which, for my tastes should really just be there to take the edge off the gin slightly, not be a notable flavor, particularly in a martini with such quality gin!

Dinner was followed by the late show at Cobb’s Comedy Club in San Francisco.  My good friend Aisha Tyler was headlining.  As far as I know she hasn’t toured since starting her stint as one of the cacophony of voices of The Talk which is in the same vein as The View.  I told Michelle, “It’s better than The View, but it’s still a bunch of ladies sitting around a table talking over each other for an hour.”  (I was disappointed when I found out my good friend was joining that show, but I am happy for her and her well-deserved success – and paycheck.)  I was sure that after such a long break she would have a full set of new material, and for the most part she did.

After the show we waited in line to talk to Aisha, get a picture taken with her and an autographed copy of seasons 2 and 3 of her very funny, animated, FX sitcom Archer.

(This is the part where you find out just how close Aisha Tyler and I really are…)

Given the way I‘ve been feeling this weekend, I was feeling ever so slightly insecure and as we were waiting in line, I mentioned to Michelle that I was going to be disappointed if Aisha didn’t recognize me after so long.

We walked up to her and she greeted us as graciously as ever!  She and I shook hands and ended up talking over each other.  She said, “It’s nice to meet you.” as I said, “It’s been a long time.  It’s nice to see you again.”  A moment of unmistakable confusion darkened her eyes before she brightened up again and, with evident enthusiasm, said, “Hey!  I didn’t recognize you for a minute.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking, and if it were anybody else, I might agree with you.  I just don’t want to agree with you.  And, only because of what she said next, do I choose to believe with certainty that she was sincere.  She looked me over from head to toe and then looked back in my eyes and said, “Every time I see you, you’re skinnier than the last time!  That’s why it takes me a second to recognize you!  You look fantastic!”  (Incidentally, her inscription on the cover of season 2 of Archer was “So foxy!”  Those of you who are Archer fans will understand: on season 3 she wrote, “Sploosh!”)

See, I can’t help thinking that she really does recognize and remember me, because, “Hey you used to be way fatter!”, while complementary in its own strange way, isn’t really the way to fake remembering someone who may not have been fatter before.  Given what I’ve observed first hand about her kindness and grace, I can’t believe she would choose that tactic.

Besides…

I used to be way fatter…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

(Really wishing I’d worn a better shirt.  That shirt is WAY too big and is now in the “to donate” pile.)

Metal Mouth (No More)

It’s a pretty momentous day here in the Riggledome.  And by “momentous”, I mean something that matters a whole helluva lot more to me, than it does to you…

In a conversation last night with “The guy” (and yes, there’s a “the guy”… after a fashion at least – there’ll be more on that later…  sometime… probably) we were talking about fitness and exercise.  When he’s not learning and developing people (there’s a cryptic detail about him), he works part-time at a local gym teaching boot camp and spin classes.  We were discussing my personal ideal fitness goals and he said, “If you want a different body, think about WHY should your body change.  If you never run up and down stadium stairs, why should it not look like an office worker’s?”  My response was “Because I’m a shallow gay man in the Bay Area and I want to look like it?”

All of that is to say that, like most everyone, I have a fair amount of vanity, and insecurities about my appearance.  I know!  It’s hard to believe!  I had always hated my smile, and didn’t like the way my teeth looked.  For whatever reason I have a slight and barely perceptible misalignment of my jaw which resulted in some crooked and prominent canine teeth.  I always felt like I had fangs and didn’t want people to see them.  I never smiled with showing teeth in pictures…  When I allowed pictures to be taken… at all.  Once I got a job that paid decently and some good health insurance options, I subjected myself to the process and began Invisalign treatment.  It seemed like a great thing, especially for a vain person.  No bulky, ugly, metal teeth.  Straightening what’s crooked.  What could be wrong?!?

It didn’t work out so well.  It requires a lot of commitment and dedication and in the end (3 years later) I had run through the whole process, hadn’t achieved what I wanted to and couldn’t go any further with Invisalign.  I had the choice to either be happy with what had been achieved, or go to an orthodontist and get real braces…  I bet you can guess which one I chose.

I got my braces off nearly a year ago and have, for the last year, been wearing retainers the vast majority of the day.  That, in itself was pretty momentous, but now, after so many years of this process, I am officially free!

Sure, I’ll have to continue to wear my retainers at night.  Everybody who has ever had braces has had that instruction (a lot of people don’t do it), but wearing them at night is a far cry from wearing them all day every day!

I’m free!  I’m free!  I’m free!  (Can you tell I’m happy?)

Freedom from metal mouth (during the day at least)!

Freedom from metal mouth (during the day at least)!