Happy Thanksgiving Thursday, Nov 25 2010 

PJ made this delicious pie totally from scratch to take with us to Thanksgiving dinner, which we had with our friends Rick and Nicole and their friends. This was our first attempt at making pie crust, which came out wonderfully! He wanted it to look rustic, and the crust thin and delicate. I think we probably should have cooked it about 10-20 minutes longer, but it tasted delicious, and now we know how to make crust.

Having Thanksgiving with people we barely knew turned out to be more fun than I had expected. The other three couples all have children the same age, which is how they all know each other. Dinner was delicious, and the three courses of wines were an education in and of themselves. And having three six-year-olds and two babies around reminded me how lucky we gays are that we don’t have to worry about pregnancy or raising children unless we really want to!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Celebrating National Man Day Monday, Jun 14 2010 

Today was declared National Man Day by two of my fellow Hoosiers. According to a story I saw on The Huffington Post,

Ninteen-year-old Joel Longanecker of Celestine and his 26-year-old brother Aaron, of Indianapolis, have for months been rallying thousands to their masculine cause on Facebook. More than 260,000 people have pledged to “stand up and do manly things” on Man Day.

I’ve decided that the “manly thing” I want to do to celebrate National Man Day is probably a bit more queer than the originators had intended: I’d like to celebrate some of my favorite hot, manly men!

Hot Manly Tennis

Throughout this year’s clay court tennis season, I’ve been enjoying watching Fernando Verdasco, one of the hottest players on the ATP tour:

Among tennis fans, Verdasco has been recognized for his hotness for a couple of years now, but this year his fame has grown. On the one hand, his tennis has improved over the past year. He was one of the top clay court players this year — so much so that he over-played and ended up costing himself some of his competitive edge when it came to the big tournament, the French Open.

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Sunday, Feb 14 2010 

While, like many people I know, I’m hesitant to indulge the commercial interests of Valentine’s Day, I do think it’s nice to have at least one day a year on which to reflect on the love in my life. I’m eternally grateful for the love I share with PJ and for how much he loves me every day we’re together. We’ve been incredibly lucky. We were able to get academic jobs at the same institution without having to spend too many years apart. We have two great cats who bring us joy. And we share so many interests and experiences that enrich our lives together.

So, in celebration of Valentine’s Day I thought that I would take a few minutes and share five of my favorite love songs, all of which I dedicate to my dear and loving husband.

My absolute favorite love song is John Denver’s “Annie’s Song,” which I would love to have sung at our wedding if we were to ever get married:

It totally sums up how I feel about PJ. I love everything about my life, but what I want most is to give that life to him, to share it with him for as long as possible, since he’s what makes it complete and joyous.

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Happy Valentine’s Day Saturday, Feb 14 2009 

I thought I would celebrate Valentine’s Day by quoting a short passage from W. H. Auden’s “The Common Life.” This poem has long been a special one for me. Today it’s a reminder of what Valentine’s Day is all about for me, a celebration of the common life one builds with someone special.

My favorite excerpt is from the middle of the poem:

…………………. What draws
singular lives together in the first place,
loneliness, lust, ambition,

or mere convenience, is obvious, why they drop
or murder one another
clear enough: how they create, though, a common world
between them, like Bombelli’s

impossible yet useful numbers, no one
has yet explained. Still, they do
manage to forgive impossible behavior,
to endure by some miracle

conversational tics and larval habits
without wincing (were you to die,
I should miss yours). ………….

How two people come together and create a “common world” is amazing. That it can be sustained for years at a time is almost incomprehensible. Yet, somehow I’ve managed to do both with someone I love very much. I’m tremendously lucky.

I also love the poem’s final lines:

……………………  though truth and love
can never really differ, when they seem to,
the subaltern should be truth.

Celebrating My Birthday Thursday, Jun 26 2008 

Today is my birthday. It’s been a good, relaxing day. It’s not a particularly big year, so I don’t feel any specific anxiety about aging or anything like that. I’m healthier than I’ve been in a while, eating well and exercising. Since my last birthday, I’ve lost 20 lbs. and I’m feeling good. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the obvious fact that I’m balding, but that’s not particularly birthday related. My relationship with PJ is the best it’s ever been, and my career is going well. All in all, I’m happy with myself, my life, and the world around me. So, having a good, relaxing day seems in order.

I woke up early and opened my presents from PJ. These included a iPod nano, which is what I had wanted most this year, a soapstone Ganesha, and the first two seasons of Sex and the City on DVD.

I spent most of the day loading music onto the iPod. Of course I just started loading stuff without really knowing what I was doing. This ultimately meant that I ended up downloading many more tracks individually than I would have had to if I had just slowed down, read the instructions, and thought about it for a second. (I have music on two different computers, and that led me to make a poor decision early on.) But now I have 150 tracks on the ipod and lots more room — about 98% — left to slowly add more music over the next few days.

Soapstone Ganesha

I’ve decided to sit my new Ganesha on my desk. Here’s a picture of it. Click on it to see a larger version. This is my third Ganesha statue (or statuette — they’re each only about 5 inches tall). I also have some postcards of Ganesha.

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New Year’s Day Hike Wednesday, Jan 2 2008 

In addition to eating black-eyed peas and ham, going for a hike in the ridges above Athens has become one of PJ’s and my New Year’s Day traditions. Our friends M and CJ have hosted the hike for three years now. I feel a little bad for them; the problem with starting a tradition is that people expect you to continue it every year no matter what. This year they got home from their holiday travels on Year’s Eve, which meant they had a lot to do before everyone started arriving at their house less than 12 hours later!

The hike seems to grow a little larger each year. This we we gathered at M & CJ’s house around 10:30. We then took a small trail up from their back yard to the Rockhouse Trail. We followed it around to the Athens trail and the took the Paw Paw trail back toward their house. Here’s a map of the trail system:

Athens Trails

You can find out more about the trails by looking at the Athens Parks and Recreation Trails page or Athens Cycle Path website. The latter page even has recent descriptions of the trail conditions. We basically hiked on the yellow and pink trails in the bottom left-hand corner of the map.

I’ll include a few of the pictures I took after the jump ….

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Can We Stop Talking about Religion Now? … It’s Christmas! Saturday, Dec 29 2007 

The title for this post comes from My So-Called Life. PJ and I have been watching the series again on dvd. Today we watched the Christmas episode. Early on, Danielle (the main character’s younger sister, who has become my favorite character this time around) is tired of her family talking about whether they believe in God and why they don’t go to church (a conversation instigated by Angela) so she asks, “Can we stop talking about religion now? … It’s Christmas!” In a sense, this statement ironically sums up the episode’s commentary about the holiday: that it’s not really about church-based religion but should instead be about people learning to really care about their fellow human beings (in this case, homeless and abused teens, lonesome neighbors, etc.). Or something like that.

I started blogging so I could keep track of my thoughts and impressions on various aspects of my life — movies, books, teaching, travel, etc. This Christmas was quite a bit different from years past, so I definitely think it warrants a brief commemoration. It was so much better than last year, the worst Christmas ever, though I didn’t write about it in those terms at the time, which raises an interesting question about the ethics of blogging that I should write about at some point.

I’ve always thought that Christmas was just for kids — the presents, the cookies, Santa Claus, bad t.v. specials, etc. The transition from me being excited about Christmas to my little sister being excited (she’s 9 years younger than me) was an easy one. Once we both grew up, the holiday didn’t seem very special. Now that I’m in my early late thirties, I can’t say that I find Christmas all that exciting. On the one hand, I hate traveling in the Christmas season. All the hustle and bustle, combined with everyone else’s travel stress, doesn’t appeal to me at all. And I’m at a point in my life when I want to be in my home with my loved one at Christmas.

On the other hand, the whole presents thing is overrated. I’m not particularly good at buying people great presents, and I usually have no idea what I’d like to receive on Christmas morning, though that doesn’t stop me from being vaguely disappointed anyway. The best gift, the truest gift, is the companionship and love I share with PJ every day — nothing in a box is ever really going to compare with that. And while presents are really supposed to be expressions of love and affection, in reality there are other kinds of expressions that I appreciate and crave much more.

Writing about presents reminds me of a great clip from John Waters’ Female Trouble that I ran across this week:

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The Perfect Christmas Mix CD Monday, Dec 17 2007 

I brought a slight cold back with me from New York. It’s left me with reduced energy. Since I didn’t feel like working on anything important yesterday, I decided to spend an inordinate amount of time compiling the perfect Christmas music mix CD. I think I’ve succeeded (at least to my own satisfaction). Here’s the playlist:

  1. O Holy Night by Josh Groban. “O Holy Night” has always been my favorite Christmas carol. Groban’s isn’t my favorite version of this song, but I really like his voice on this track. I think the key to singing this song — like most songs — is sounding like you really believe it. He does a great job doing that, and I think this song fits his voice well.
  2. Silent Night, Holy Night by John Denver. I love the purity of John Denver’s voice. His acoustic version of this classic is so simple and pure — it makes what used to be a rather boring song for me into a beautiful little ode.
  3. All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey. It’s really tough to get a new Christmas song to succeed. Pop singers keep trying, but very few of them actually become classics. This song, co-written by Carey, is an exception. It’s a great pop song and a new classic. As I read somewhere, one of the things that makes this song so successful is its throw back to the older pop sound of the Beach Boys. It’s a great song.
  4. Go Tell It on the Mountain by Mahalia Jackson. Mahalia Jackson’s voice is one of the few voices that can truly be said to be incomparable. I have a CD of her Christmas music; every track on it is great. This song reminds me of my childhood for some reason — maybe we listened to it a lot when I was a kid.
  5. Frosty the Snowman by Gene Autry. This is the original version of the song. You can’t have Christmas without Frosty! When I was three, my mom and I were living temporarily with my great grandparents. It snowed that Christmas, so on Christmas Eve we built a snowman. The next day he was gone. My mom had torn him down over night, but she told me that Santa Claus had taken him to the North Pole so that he wouldn’t melt. It totally freaked me out. (more…)

Gone to Texas Tuesday, Nov 20 2007 

PJ and I are leaving for Texas and Arkansas in a little while. First, we’re flying to San Antonio. We’ll be having Thanksgiving with my sister. On Friday, we’ll fly to Little Rock and spend the weekend with PJ’s parents.

I’m so far behind on my blog. I’ve been meaning to start a section on cats — mine and other people’s. One of my favorite blogs, Kenneth in the (212), routinely writes about his cat. I want to do the same. In that spirit, here’s a YouTube clip of our boy, Marlowe, getting down from a tree. We’re constantly impressed by his climbing and jumping abilities.

The sad looking flower bed at the end of the clip is the result of Marlowe wallowing in the dirt. I have to get a new border for it someday — something more durable. Right now, Marlowe is engaged in a fierce territorial war with our neighbor’s cats. Our neighbor leaves out food for her cats, and Marlowe is desperate to conquer their yard and claim this food source as his own. We terribly embarrassed by his ambitions — I think he must be the reincarnation of some English imperialist. I have an assortment of other clips and pics (mostly of other people’s cats) I’ll add from time to time.

I might try to blog a little while we’re gone. I also want to write about the Asylum Street Spankers concert we went to on Saturday.

We’re off to the Columbus airport.

Merry Christmas Monday, Dec 25 2006 

Merry Christmas! This year I’m spending Christmas away from my family and even from PJ. I decided some time ago that I wanted to have some time alone to work, wear my pjs all weekend, and eat macaroni and cheese. I did this a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it as a kind of anti-holiday. I hate holiday travel, and I really do need to finish up some projects. Plus, I tend to be a bit reclusive anyway, and it doesn’t get any more reclusive than spending Christmas alone in Athens!

On the whole, it’s been a good weekend of reflection and self-analysis. I feel like I’m getting my life in order and working through some stuff that I should have worked through a long time ago. But now that the big day’s here, I’m kind of regretting my decision. I love my family and I miss spending time with them. So, I thought I’d bring myself a little family Christmas cheer by thinking about past Christmases with them and posting a picture from my little sister’s first Christmas:

A’s first Christmas

This picture was taken in 1979. She is 3-months-old here, and I’m 9. It’s crazy to think that she’s now married! She’s a grown woman with a husband and two dogs. In so many ways, I still feel like I’m the 9-year-old in this picture.

My earliest memories of Christmas are from when I was 3-years-old. My mom and I were living with my great grandparents. It snowed that year, and we built a snowman. When I woke up the next morning, the snowman was gone — my mom told me that he had gone to live at the North Pole like Frosty so that he wouldn’t melt. I think all of my subsequent mechanisms for dealing with loss stem from that day!

Besides 1979 bringing me my little sister, that year was also a great Christmas because I received a lot of Star Wars toys. I lived, breathed, and ate Star Wars as a kid. The movie, of course, came out in 1977, but I didn’t see it until late 1978. (My parents thought I was too young to see it at first.) And 1979 was the year that I finally started raking in the loot: action figures, ships, the soundtrack, etc. I didn’t get everything that holiday, but the Star Wars wave began. I think I had gotten a few things for my birthday that year, but Christmas was special because (if I remember correctly) that’s when I got Darth Vader, some Stormtroopers, and the Millennium Falcon. (By my birthday in 1980, I was really set: I got the Death Star, and 1981 brought me Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer and many of the action figures from The Empire Strikes Back.)

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