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July 2002

A Visit Up Your Alley

I made a last-minute decision to fly out to San Francisco this past weekend to visit some very good friends and check out the Dore Alley Fair. Fun time, nice things to see, nothing earth-shattering to report. On the whole, everyone was a lot friendlier than any of the Folsom Street East fairs I’ve been to. Somehow I also managed to run into more analog and online friends on the other side of the country than I ever do at the street fair here. Go figure.

Anyway, some snapshots:

Where's Carmen Miranda? Part I

Stop #1 on the UltraSparky World Tour: This one's a giveaway, easy as pie. So I'll pose a bonus question: who was I visiting? Leave your answers and feedbacks in the comments, please.

Big Bang Theory

My sex life gets more theoretical by the day. In theory, it's on its way to becoming richer and more satisfying, but the stark reality is that’s been a while since I’ve gotten laid and this kid is getting frustrated.

I was dating a guy who I really fell for just as our sex life evaporated for a number of reasons, and then I wans't so eager to look for rebound booty once our dating life evaporated and we passed into just-friendship. The whole experience of getting involved with someone really outstanding, though, reminded me of what I’d been learning all along: I think sex, or even no-strings-attached (in the metaphoric sense, heh heh) play with people I know and like for more than their bodies, is much more intense and satisfying than trolling for random booty. Because of that, I haven't really been making much effort to grab any old piece of ass that’s come within my reach.

Instead, I’ve had an eye out for guys who are really interesting, even if it's clear that it's just for play and not for eventual involvement. As I once explained, I’m all for play as long as it's not just run-of-the-mill scratching of the itch: I’ve had enough of that over the years to realize it doesn’t scratch the right itch for me. Still, I’m getting horny...oh my, yeah. And I’ve been cultivating some interesting potential playdates, but life has been ridiculously hectic and my cultivation has been requiring a lot of patience, and a lot of creative flirtation to make sure the interest doesn't fade.

And with all this theorizing I’ve had time to really be imaginative, so the end of my slump ought to be quite a hootenanny. Fellas, take note.

Clean-Up

Being a nerd visiting nerds (sorry guys, but you know it's true and you know I say it with love), I impose myself upon my hosts in totally different ways than when I visit family or less-wired friends. I don't worry so much about leaving my razor in the bathroom or my pillows and blanket on the couch. Instead, I worry that my greatest impact is the way I interfere with the carefully maintained environment of the computers I use. Not only does my obsessive e-mail checking get in the way of my hosts' obsessive e-mail checking, but I feel rotten about the cookies I'll leave strewn around, the questionable URLs I deposit in their browsers' histories, and all the preset logins and passwords I have to undo in order to get into certain common sites I have to use.

I'll probably do a little digital clean-up, but I think the fellas don't mind. It's been a lovely trip so far, a standard blend of old friends and new, despite the low profile I tried to maintain. It's been great to have some bonus time with someone I already adored something crazy, and it's been great to spend more time with someone I knew and liked a whole bunch who I now adore just as much. You guys rock my world.

My troubling mutant power of causing two people I like a lot to go careening into each other's arms has reached an all-time peak, but I don't begrudge them their good luck this time, because they really may be onto something. Besides, I really earned a favor this time for doing it. You guys also rock my world.

I’ve also run into a shocking amount of familiar faces from home, especially a few swell people with whom I’d clumsily lost touch. So a little change of scenery is good for a fresh start after all.

Where in the World Is Carmen Miranda?

Where in the World Is Carmen Miranda?Where in the World Is Carmen Miranda?

(Yeah, it's a stupid name, but it came about in a stupid way and it stuck. Sue me.)

Okay, so I'll be coming and going hither and yon for the next few weeks, so we're gonna play a game. (Can you guess the stupid name?) I'll go places, take pictures, post them, and then you guess where I’ve been. Easy, right? But there's a catch While I’m back in town I’m also going to post pictures from places I’ve been before. So not only will you have to guess where they are, but you'll have to figure out which are my current destinations and which are the fakes.

No, it won't be the hardest thing you've ever seen, or even the cleverest, but it'll be suitably goofy and you'll see dumb pictures of me you can make fun of, and I won't have to struggle for stuff to post while I chill out.

Boa viagem!

Hideous Mutant Freak?

I’m becoming better friends with my body. (This isn't about masturbation, so there's no need to get grossed out and stop reading.) What I mean is that I’ve been getting over this bad attitude I’ve always had about my body, like it was some burden, some troublesome alien entity that was fixed onto me, but not really a part of me. My body made demands that I tried to meet, but I didn't want to deal with it too much since I wasn't so crazy about it. I made occasional attempts at regular maintenance like check-ups, infrequent and haphazard exercise routines, and eating and sleeping and such, but mostly I just didn't want to be bothered. Inner life is the true mark of a man, right? What a crock: I was just insecure but too lazy and pessimistic to do much about it.

Last year was a big wake-up call, though, a reminder about taking care of myself that I couldn't ignore. As I turned things around and tried to function like more of a well-tuned machine, I also started to pay more attention to the physical needs I used to ignore: I’ve been eating better (note to self: try to eat dinner more regularly, and cook for yourself now and then), getting more exercise, and even gasp! resting when I feel overwhelmed and stressed out. I even have regular moments of thinking I’m not so scrawny, not so funny-looking, not so invisible. I’ve been figuring out how to accept the body I’m stuck with (even if I’m not crazy about it), how I can adjust it to my satisfaction, how to remember it's part of me, not just a shell or an annoyance. Trust me, these are the hallmarks of an all-new, never-before-experienced Sparky. I don't have the whole act down pat yet, but I’m still trying.

My friend João, a Brazilian choreographer and dance teacher, has been visiting us from Germany while he takes a class here. He's extremely, sometime shockingly, observant, and very sensitive to how people move and carry themselves. When I picked him up from the airport a couple of weeks ago, he immediately remarked on the difference in my bearing in the two years since he'd seen me last. He picked up on the way I carry less tension around, how I stand with a little more confidence, how I focus a little bit more on what I’m doing at a given moment instead of wandering and fidgeting. (None of this was in evidence at lunch yesterday, when I realized how jumpy I was after a stressful morning and had to consciously remind myself that no one warms up to a fidgety freak.) Lately, I actually pay attention to how wound up I get, and start making small adjustments until I let it go a bit. It's been weeks and weeks since I was so tense that I walked around looking like I’d just been shot in the small of the back.

Still, I have an utter lack of objectivity about my body and the way it looks. Every so often, I take out the camera and do a batch of self-portraits so I can get an outsider's view. Photography, of course, is not totally objective, but it does give me a chance to get outside myself and see what everyone else might be seeing. It's hit or miss, without a doubt. I can still understand why I’m not everyone's type, but I can also see how some things about me actually work well enough. More importantly, I can see the change. I can see that my thirties, my change in attitude, and my concerns about my health seem to be treating me pretty well. It was just a matter of realizing the body isn't a loaner: it's mine and I have to treat it that way.

Polkatharsis

Yesterday morning I was largely a basket case, due to the unearthing of some mounting frustrations that I had been trying to articulate in a very overwrought e-mail, but the worst of it had passed by the time I forced some composure onto myself. It didn't help that later on the shrink kept getting me all pissed off, constantly missing the point of what I was trying to explain to him.

Salvation came, though, in the form of a surprise phone call from my oldest pal, Eddie, who was making a quick, surprise visit to to the East Coast for a bunch of meetings with some entertainment types. Luckily we had time to get together and catch up and run around last night, and it was exactly the thing I needed at exactly the right time a beloved pal who's basically known me my entire life who gets the whole point with a minimum of explanation.

I also got a last minute reminder about a show at the Bottom Line I’d really wanted to see, so we wound up topping off a late-ish evening by getting our southern grooves on with the ass-kicking stylings of Hayseed Dixie and the band that has never failed to make me happy, Brave Combo.

There's no way I can explain to you how much better I felt after a good polkatharsis. Unless you've experienced one, you'll just keep scratching your head and laughing at me, just like you are right now, I bet. Well, the joke's on you, pal: sometimes it's just what the doctor ordered.

Roll out the barrel! We'll have a barrel of fun!
Roll out the barrel! We've got the blues on the run!

I may be in a sleep-deprived walking coma all day, but I think that may leave me properly unhinged and susceptible to the cathartic roller-coaster ride of Kiki & Herb tonight.

Cry-Baby

Working in a huge office sucks. There's nowhere to go and really hide when you can't stop bawling your eyes out. If this is how I’m starting the day, it's gonna be really ugly when I go for my inconvenient midday shrink appointment and have to start talking about my goddamned feelings.

I don't want to be lonely. I’m fucking sick of being lonely! I don't want all that loneliness further complicated by the very real danger I now present. I want a little positive reinforcement from the men in this world once in a while. I want to be something other than the nice guy, everyone's best friend. I want my effort and the depth of my feelings for someone to make a difference once in a while. I wanna someone to let me give the same satisfaction I keep seeking. I’ve always wanted that, but now I also wanna feel like I can pursue people I have crushes on without worrying about how I might be the loaded gun that could accidentally fuck up somebody's life forever. I wanna believe that I wouldn't deserve the blame for something like that if it ever happened. I wanna know how it happened to me.

It was always hard enough to have my feelings reciprocated so rarely. It was always hard enough to get so little attention in the first place. It was always hard enough to worry that I had to be better than everyone so I wouldn't be a disappointment. Yes, I can keep changing my attitude all that, but it's fucking hard to peel my way past all that junk, get a breath of fresh air and a shot of good will about myself, then remember that there are still disappointments and hardships to deal with that are real, that have nothing to do with my self-confidence.

I get all the reassurance in the world, but I still never get more than a glimpse at the reality that makes the difference.

Excerpt

OK, here's a bit from an unfinished rant:

I’ve had plenty of casual dating and sex, and I think it can be a whole lot of fun if you're in the right frame of mind to just enjoy the ride without the longing for anything more. It's fun and cathartic and even educational with the right guy, but I want more. I want more than you can get from a quick roll in the hay or two. I want to get my mind and my emotions involved. I want to make someone dizzy with anticipation and lust. I want to make someone feel secure. I want someone to let down his guard because he knows it's alright. I want to get past someone's reservations and get into the whole man inside. I want to open up my head and my heart and feel a more complete version of myself tingle. that’s not casual.

Citations

I have a number of things bubbling around in my overactive brain, but I haven't quite pulled them together enough to say much about any of them. So in lieu of snappy, original content, I’m just going to let a few quotes do the talking today:

To fall in love is easy, even to remain in it is not difficult; our human loneliness is cause enough. But it is a hard quest worth making to find a comrade through whose steady presence one becomes steadily the person one desires to be.

Anna Louise Strong Everyday you must say,
"So how do I feel about my life?"
Anything is hard to find
when you will not open your eyes.
When will you accept yourself? I am sick and I am dull
and I am plain.
How dearly I’d love to get carried away.
Oh, but dreams have a knack of just not coming true
and time is against me now. Who and what to blame?
Anything is hard to find
when you will not open your eyes.
When will you accept yourself,
for heaven's sake?
Anything is hard to find
when you will not open your eyes.
Every day you must say,
"How do I feel about the past?" Others conquered love but I ran.
I sat in my room and I drew up a plan.
But plans can fall through as so often they do,
and time is against me now. And there's no one left to blame.
Tell me when will you,
when will you accept your life,
the one that you hate?
For anything is hard to find
when you will not open your eyes.

The Smiths

Yes, I’m a moody teenage girl now and then, especially when I’ve got an iPod full of old songs. And no, you don't quite know what I’m getting at with those quotes and I’m not explaining right now.

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