Monday, February 26, 2007


Tonight I started packing up my apartment in preparation for my move to the condo next Sunday. As I took down books from my bookcase, I felt a twinge, as I suspected I would.

While this apartment is not the "nicest" place I've ever lived -- it has wall-to-wall carpet that's hard to keep clean with two dogs, it has little of what you'd call architectural character, it has low ceilings and is drafty -- I think I've felt more
at home here over the last three and a half years than I have anywhere else I've lived as an adult.

I moved into this place after breaking up with my partner of eight years, with whom I'd lived for six. That was "our" home and yet not -- part of the reason I'm only now a homeowner for the first time. I lucked into this English basement apartment a mere twelve days after starting to look -- with a big back yard for the dogs' and my exclusive use, with lots of light in the living room (the bedroom has the more typical English basement cellblock-style window), with a friendly and accommodating gay landlord upstairs.

The first months I was here, I took lots of hot baths. The winter of 2004, I taught a graduate-school course (not my usual teaching fare), and I spent hours and hours at the desk at which I type this now, planning the class discussions, finding readings. When I think back on that season, I don't remember being anywhere but at this desk by my bed.

I didn't entertain here as much as I imagined I would. I remember saying, after the breakup, when people would ask how I was doing, that I was going to become one of those gay men known for their fabulous dinner parties. While there have been a few memorable gatherings, the song "Send in the Clowns" comes to mind: "Well, maybe next year . . ."

The dogs have been great companions. They'll be downgrading a bit in the new place, as it has only a small walled patio, not a yard. But I plan to plant as many interesting green things as possible for them to sniff and feel surrounded by. Fortunately, since it's only a block and a half from here, they'll still be going for their walks on more or less the same streets. I hope they're okay with the smaller outdoor space; they certainly adjusted to the joint custody three and a half years ago without batting an eye: "Two homes with our favorite people? And this would be a problem because?"

This apartment has been a place of healing for me, of solace, of sanctuary, of new friends and acquaintances. Letting go is always a little hard for me. I tend to feel a strange loyalty -- literally, loyalty -- to the homes and places I've lived in. When I moved into the city from the suburbs almost twelve years ago, I felt as though I were betraying my roots and the particular town I was living in at the time (Takoma Park, Maryland). Now I can't imagine wanting to live anywhere but in the city.

It seems significant that after looking as far afield as Capitol Hill, I ended up finding a place to buy just about a block away, in the same neighborhood -- Adams Morgan -- I've lived in since 1995 (in three different homes, both single and coupled). As I've put it to friends, I don't think Adams Morgan wanted to lose me.

The truth is, I don't think I wanted to lose it.


Today, after a week of spackling, sanding, cleaning, priming, and other tedious but necessary tasks, I finally put the first strokes of color on the walls of the new place. I can't get over how beautiful it looks.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Life Is Short

This StoryCorps segment on NPR this morning -- a 14-year-old girl interviewing her lesbian mother -- made the tears run down through the shaving cream on my cheeks. It's a familiar story, but that doesn't make it any less moving. If you have a couple of minutes, give it a listen.

Flipping through the new PostSecret book, The Secret Lives of Men and Women -- like all of the postcards on Frank Warren's blog and in his previous books, alternately sad, thought-provoking, deeply disturbing, and occasionally hilarious -- I especially noted these (which I think qualify for the sad, if not downright depressing, category):

"I'm 46, I'm gay and I still have not told my family. As a boy we used to be so close. Now I feel so distant and lonely."

"I knew I was gay on our wedding day but wanted children and feared AIDS."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

All We Are Saying . . .

I'm all about whirled peas these days.

Ever since inventing the delicious Saga Blue and Green Pea Pasta (which I've enjoyed many times), I've been experimenting with everything from whirled peas on pizza to whirled peas in an omelet (I had that for dinner tonight before heading over to the condo for more painting). The best invention since the pasta was a fabulous spread I came up with last week. It contained, among other things, whirled peas, cream cheese, and walnuts. I need to refine the proportions and think of a name, but as soon as I do, I'll print the recipe here. So easy to whip -- er, whirl -- up when unexpected guests drop by!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bow Wow Wow

For the second night in a row, I find myself at Tryst. My DSL stopped working a few days ago, and it hardly seems worth it to call Verizon when I'm going to be at my address for only a couple more weeks. Last time this happened, it turned out that the phone jack in my bedroom (where my desk is) was corroded with rust. I was also told that DSL sometimes goes out when there's heavy rain. I'm thinking this time it might have to do with the snow; I can't get online in either the bedroom or the living room. But if it that's not the problem, I can't bear the thought of waiting around a whole morning or afternoon for a Verizon repair person when I'll be waiting around most of tomorrow at my condo for two appliance deliveries, with more such waits probably in the near future.

As the Germans say, na ja. Oh, well.

Speaking of which, Tryst is blaring '80s pop hits -- as I type, "99 Luftballons" ("99 Red Balloons"). There's a frenetic quality to the place tonight, lots of loud shrieking. I've changed my table about four times, most recently to be close to a power strip.

Na ja.

The dogs joined me today and will be with me for the next week. I've had an extra quilt on my bed during this cold snap but won't use it tonight. Patsy would get it dirty, and it's too nice for that. She'll keep me warm.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun

These wintry evenings find me over at my vacant home-to-be (when I'm not teaching or reading students' work) wielding putty knife, razor blade, sanding block, and caulk gun.

I can't believe I just used "me" and "caulk gun" in the same sentence.

I don't really know what the hell I'm doing, and the tedium of this stage of the process -- prepping for painting, which I hope to start this weekend -- sometimes beggars description. But images of my rooms -- their colors and arrangements -- are taking root in my mind.

Can you imagine a bedroom painted Light Daffodil? I can! It's not what the name might lead you to believe but rather a pale, pale yellow with a hint of green.

I went to my cute gay doctor yesterday. We've both just bought condos, it turns out. This is where his is. You would never say "Billy's condo" and "loft-like" in the same sentence. He asked me about mine, "Is it big?"

What kind of a question is that -- "Is it big?" (Don't answer that.)

I really like him; he's the most friendly, thorough, and attentive doctor I've ever had, but . . . is it big?
Different worlds. He wears crisp suits, bright ties, and cool glasses. I wear wool-and-dog-hair sweaters and wrinkled pants.
Okay, I have cool glasses.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Laff of the Day

The name of one of the paint samples I picked out today as a possible color for my new condo: Timid White.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


"DENVER (Feb. 6) - One of four ministers who oversaw three weeks of intensive counseling for the Rev. Ted Haggard said the disgraced minister emerged convinced that he is 'completely heterosexual.'

". . . Haggard said in an e-mail Sunday, his first communication in three months to church members, that he and his wife, Gayle, plan to pursue master's degrees in psychology. The e-mail said the family hasn't decided where to move but that they were considering Missouri and Iowa. . . ." (AP)

Monday, February 05, 2007


You know how Oscar winners and Olympic gold medalists are always thanking their father or grandmother or best friend for making them believe "I could do anything I put my mind to"?

It occurs to me that I've never in my life, for one moment, thought I could do anything I put my mind to. I have no idea what that might feel like.

I accomplish goals, with limits. I take things only so far. I assume failure in many matters and don't even begin them. I'm usually surprised at my successes.

Not the makings of a very good Oscar speech.

It's possible to have done well in eighteen and a half years of school and feel this way. It's possible to have been loved and praised by your parents and feel this way. It's possible to have friends and lovers and people to whom you are, yes, a mentor and feel this way.

It's very hard, though, to achieve the things you've dreamed of, or imagined, and feel this way.

There are people for whom lack of confidence simply does not compute. You can see it in their faces, their inability to process the data. You learn not to go to them with your insecurity.

Doubt can be a killer. And precious.

Frederic Church, "Twilight in the Wilderness," 1860