Saturday, February 10, 2007

Today I am a writer.

Yesterday and today I have felt more like a writer than I have in a long time. Yesterday I finished the two essays for my U.T. application, and I spent a good amount of time working on a short piece I'm writing for an online magazine about Buddhism and the arts. The piece is an essay on the particular challenges of being an artist and a Buddhist at the same time. And I shuffled through the scraps of scenes that want to be my new screenplay.

Today, I finished the artist/Buddhist piece, a first draft, anyway. And I really dove into the screenplay. Over the last several days, mostly in my head, but I took a few notes just to ensure that I kept it straight, I had made some big changes in the main characters and their relationships to each other. I sort of folded an aspect of one character into another character. Changed a co-worker into a roommate, and gave the former roommate's personality to somebody else. Stuff like that. Which solved a heap of problems, untangled a bunch of loose threads. But it also created some unfortunate dead ends and puzzles.

So I spent the afternoon untangling. It's still a mess, but a slightly smaller mess.

The script is about a handful of urban homosexual men figuring out love and sex against a background of frequent, routine public sex and the risk of HIV infection. It's a tricky story for me to put together, because each of these men has a different attitude, a different set of beliefs and practices that he has put together to control the level of risk of emotional and physical harm. The differences are subtle, and I have to be very careful to keep them straight.

But in a way that's what the story is saying, that getting the hang of it, these days for gay men, is like juggling dozens of different versions of a story, sorting through information and advice that conflicts, changes often, and usually seems like it's meant for someone else.


I had that date. It was good. He's cute. We met at a coffee shop. We talked for a good long time, and then we walked around the grounds of the capitol building a couple times. We sat on a bench and talked some more, until we got too cold. He drove me home, and we kissed in the car. Okay, we made out in the car. There wasn't a damn thing wrong with any of it. Did I mention he's cute?

We talked on the phone tonight. And we're going to get together Sunday afternoon.

Friday, February 9, 2007


I finished my tax returns today. Besides the federal return, I have two state returns. Good thing there's no state income tax in Texas, or I would have three. The reason I'm doing it so early is that I need the information when I fill out my financial aid application.

I was hoping, even if I didn't have a refund coming, that I would at least break even on federal taxes since I had money withheld from my checks at my restaurant jobs in San Francisco and Utah, but I owe $128 because of the $4000 I made for the drug study I did last fall. Because of that (and $28 in royalties for The Egg Man in a 9-year-old episode of Premium Blend that they rerun on Comedy Central every summer), they consider me self-employed, so I have to pay self-employment tax.

But I will get small refunds from California and Utah, so, in the end, I'm not too far in the red.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

A date.

Maybe I have a date tonight. That must be why I'm so distracted. I met him in an online chat room. We were going to meet on Monday, but I had that eye thing, and he was doing laundry and packing for a business trip, so we postponed. He returns to Austin this evening and is going to call around eight and let me know if he's not too tired from his trip to meet.

I'm going to suggest we go for a walk or sit outside somewhere and talk and enjoy the beautiful weather (it got up to 75 today). My ulterior motive is that I'm hoping I can impress him with my fascinating personality before he finds out that I'm a dirt-poor, unemployed artist. If we were to go out for dinner, I'd have to ask him to borrow money, which might not make such a great impression on a first date.


I was bumped from the drug study I was supposed to start Friday, because they found on my ECG that I have an atrial pacemaker, whatever that is. I signed up for another one. This one is for a new drug for diabetes, and it's 11 days straight in the facility, instead of broken up into several visits. I think I'll like it better. Just get it done. It starts February 15, so I may not have the money until after the rent is due, which could be a problem.

Everything but.

I can't seem to focus today and stick to my schedule. To be honest, I've been having trouble for the last couple of weeks sticking to my schedule. I do well with the first part of the day, which consists of about two and a half hours (depending on when I get up, I have until noon) to read the paper, have breakfast, and do email. Then from noon till one, I take a shower and meditate. From one to four I write. All these activities are generally going well, though, in the last few days, I haven't really done much concentrated writing. I'm doing quite a bit of reading now, research for the screenplay I'm writing, so I've been rationalizing that I can do the research reading during my writing time, so that I don't cut into my scheduled reading time, during which I have a stack of non-research books to read.

Then from four to five, I eat. Okay, that's going fine, too. But, from five to six, I'm supposed to journal. I haven't done that for over a week. From six to eight, I'm supposed to work on my U.T. application. I've been procrastinating on that. I have most of it done, and I still have a few weeks before the deadline, but there are two essays I need to finish and I haven't even started on the financial aid application.

From eight to midnight, I read or occasionally I watch a movie or go out for a beer. (Well, I can't go out for a beer now, because I don't have any money, but I can watch a movie from (those are already paid for) or sometimes Jay rents a movie and we watch that.)

But today. I did laundry. That wasn't on the schedule but had to be done. (I need to give myself a regular errand and miscellaneous activity day.) And the last couple of hours, I've been reading blogs, looking at naked body parts on the craiglist mfm listings, listening to music, melting cheese on top of a rice cake.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Pet peeve.

Is anyone else bugged by this new use of the preposition "around"? I've only noticed it in queer activist/academic circles since the 80s, but that may be because of my taste in reading material. What bothers me, besides the jargoniness of it, is its imprecision. It's used to mean "having to do with" as in "questions around gender," or to mean "about" as in "conversation around sex," or "regarding," as in "knowledge, attitudes, and practices around influenza vaccination." When I see it in a sentence, it implies frustration because, for me, it invokes the "everything near, but not including" or "everything but" sense of the word "around."

My theory is that this usage came about among activists because, at least as I remember from my ACT UP/Queer Nation days, a lot of the discussion was not really about anything as much as it was just going around and around and around with the same problems, arguments, grievances, and issues.

Does anyone know where and when this started? And why? It doesn't seem like quite the right word in any of the above examples, but maybe I'm missing something. Do we need this new sense of "around"?

All my trials.

I got the call yesterday that I've passed the first screening for the drug trial which starts Friday. (They take your blood pressure, height and weight, temperature, do an ECG, and test your urine for illegal drugs, your blood for HIV and hepatitis and who knows what else to make sure you fall within the parameters required in the trial protocol.)

I go in for a physical on Thursday, and, if I pass that, I'm in.

My eyes III.

In case you're wondering, my eyes are almost back to normal this morning. That was a weird little episode. I'll certainly be much more careful now not to touch my eyes after petting a cat.

Angels in America.

Jay and I watched the rest of Angels in America last night. I spent most of the three hours with my mouth hanging open and tears running down my face. I'm still reeling from it. I have never been so profoundly affected by a work of art; and I've encountered a lot of art that I've been deeply moved by.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

My eyes II.

I asked J. if my eyes look any better today, and he said they do. "Yesterday they were all shapely." I think he meant "misshapen." They feel better, not so itchy, but they're still all puffed up. I look like an old Tibetan man.

I have a date this afternoon, but I'm going to cancel. It's a first date with a guy I chatted with online a couple days ago. (He's going to call this afternoon when he gets home from Molly Ivins's memorial service. The fact that he's going to Molly Ivins's memorial service seems propitious.) The last first date I had, I threw my back out the day before and had to cancel because I was still pretty much immobile. That was right before Christmas. By the time I was on my feet again, I was leaving town to visit my family. In the meantime, I guess we both lost interest, or momentum. Anyway, we didn't get in touch again.

What a beautiful day, in the 60s and sunny. Our neighbors next door are having a yard sale. J. bought a kitchen table. It's a little smaller than the one we've been using (on loan from a friend), so it doesn't feel quite so crowded in there. Perfect!

My eyes.

We went to the anniversary party, which was really lovely. They had a small black cat who reminded me of Jimmy, our little black girl who squeaked instead of meowing. (I've realized lately I think about and miss Jimmy much more than the others. Don't know why, maybe because she was the most trouble.)

I didn't know anyone at the party, except one of the women in the couple whose party it was, so I befriended the cat. She found me, really. Cats do that. She sat with me on the couch and I petted her while various friends gave short testimonials in honor of the anniversary couple. There was one particularly moving speech which made me cry, but then I kept crying, and my eyes started to itch. Soon, they were burning, and I could feel them swelling up.

I ducked into the bathroom to take a look. They were bright red and very puffy. I washed my face and hands, and remembered the last time, the only time, anything like this happened was at my friend S.'s apartment years ago after I'd been playing with one of her cats. I'm not generally allergic to cats, but every once in a while, I'll react to a particular cat. I must have rubbed my eyes when I started crying and gotten dander in my eyes.

I walked out of the bathroom right into the middle of a silent prayer. Everyone was quiet for a few minutes, and then they all rose and headed out the front door and into the yard for some kind of ritual. I grabbed Jay and asked him to take me home. By this time I was a little panicky. My eyes were really swollen and burning. We stopped at CVS on the way home and Jay went in to get some Benadryl. I took some as soon as I got home, and I put ice on my eyes and lay down for a couple hours.

I got the first disc of Angels in America from yesterday, so Jay and I watched that and I sobbed practically through the whole thing. I'm sure I would have found it very moving regardless, but the fact that my tear ducts are primed helped.

Now it's after one, and my eyes still look a mess, but they don't burn as much now.