Bringing Up “Baby”

I don’t know what reaction I expected. But definitely more than a blank stare and half-hearted shrug, punctuated with “So, would you like Jasmine or Black tea?”

My throat, scratchy from the grip of a monstrous sinus infection, croaks out a little fractured air and a tri-syllabic sigh. I stare out the floor-to-ceiling windows, across to the blue blip on the far field where Andy putters around in a fluorescent sweater.


My mother mills about the kitchen, banging pots together with an unexpected ferocity.

Maybe she thinks it’s a bad idea.

With the terriers’ muffled snores being the only other noise funneling up to the hobbit home’s domed ceiling, even my internal dialogue seems crushingly, boisterously loud.

Well if Mom acts like this, there’s no telling what Dad will say.

And I’m not disappointed. Well, I am. But not surprised. When Andy returns and Dad blows in the side door, I keep the fading conversation stoked, prodding it along with wheezes and coughs, like blunted fire pokers to dying embers.

“So…I mean, we’re just, you know, in the…beginning stages of course…” I wheeze.

Andy sits upright and relatively motionless, aside from the slight nervous twitch of his feet.

Mom continues to hum along in the kitchen, and Dad dusts off his gloves, and scratches his head.

“…but it’s something we’re seriously considering. Probably in two to three years.”

Dusk is setting in, and the fading light streaming down the solar tubes illuminates my parents, as if they’re on stage, readying for their monologues. But instead of sagacious advice, or a heartfelt, emphatic show of support, Mom chirps, “Well, yes, that’s a lot to think about. And of course the cost.”

As if conditioned by the word “cost,” Dad exits, stage left – down the hall to their bedroom, and closes the door.

The funny part is we’re not even asking for money. We’re just trying to start an ongoing dialogue about us potentially adding a wee biped to our geriatric Chihuahua duo.

Dumbfounded, I stare at Andy. Mom asks if he’d like tea, too. I can’t stand it.


Mom stops abruptly, as if a sheet of ice has popped up in front of her.

“WELL, of course.”

My mouth hangs open – both to breathe, and to add a touch of dramatic flair. But mostly because my mom’s exclamation is not nearly as glass-shattering as I’d envisioned. This whole conversation reminded me of when I came out – no emphatic exultations, no hubbub. Of course back then I was more relieved than anything. But now, I’m sort of pissed.

Isn’t this what most parents want to hear? That their family isn’t just going to die off?

Instead, the conversation dies off amid my wheezes and coughs. And then Mom slams home the final nail in the coffin.

“Oh, honey. Let me get you set up on my nebulizer. Poor baby.”


Nebulized yet snotty, I whisper back and forth with Andy as we tuck ourselves in. Especially since he’s about as pleased as I am.

“I just don’t get why they’re being so calculated with their responses.”

“I know. I mean, let’s be honest, I figured it’d be harder to convince your parents.”

But we’d actually discussed it in a surprisingly thorough fashion. Or as thoroughly as you can without having a bun in someone else’s oven. We’d even gathered around their kitchen table for fuck’s sake!

He nods. I snuffle.

“It’s almost like they’re waiting for us to reveal that we already have the kid, and we’ve kept’em in the garage this whole time.”

“I just don’t get why they’re so…noncommittal.”

“It’s sort of their way of doing things. Especially now. Rather than voicing overwhelming support or utter disdain, they just sort of smile and nod, thinking the non-pushy way is best – less smothering. BUT FOR ONCE, being pointed and direct would be fucking helpful.”

I guess what surprises me the most is the fact that I’m legitimately upset, especially since I haven’t always been on board with having a kid. What’s even more amazing is how much this potential child is becoming more like the eventual child. But first, we have to get our footing – and it always helps when you can count on your family to be there for some semblance of support.

We chat back and forth a bit more, and then fume ourselves to sleep.

The next morning, we putter around a favorite antique haunt with my sister, whose support and perspective we always value. She bounces ideas off of us as we half-heartedly sift through hoards of junk for bits of Fiesta, Harlequin, and Riviera.

“Yeah, you know, it’s weird. You’d think they’d be more excited about it.” She holds up a cup and considers it briefly. “But I just don’t get it.”

All we glean is ambiguity. Which is apropos, I guess – because who really knows what in the hell they’re getting themselves into when they start thinking about having a family. It’s all a welter of confusion and intrigue and terror and exhilaration. More so when you have to intensely strategize the kid’s conception and entry into this crazy world.

Regardless, there’s beauty and comfort in the ambiguity.

Comfort that stems from me indulging the paternal tugs I feel while seeing some cute kid doing something absurdly endearing with their parents, and even whilst witnessing absolute meltdowns in the grocery store.

Beauty in realizing that my hardened, cynical shell is quickly gladly cracking.

Knowing that I may one day be thinking about all of this while running errands, and then hear a little voice from the backseat squeak out, “Dad.”

Oh, childhood.

Fortune Seeker

The carefully wrapped blue foil crumples away, revealing the fortune cookie – its tip hardened by a thin sheath of white chocolate. Like always, the brittle cookie explodes apart rather than breaking in a predictable way, and the fortune’s edge sticks out awkwardly. I toss half of the cookie into my mouth, the crumbs falling from my hand into the jadeite candy dish on the weathered kitchen table.

Bold pink lettering amplifies the fortune, more so than its capitalized letters.


Beautiful things await you

I inhale deeply. For someone who floats in the atheistic end of the religiosity pool, I’ve always read more into these repetitiously contrived sayings than I should – as if the folks shoving these innocuous messages into their baked shells trend into the designation of sagacious seer rather than underpaid, likely mistreated Third World worker.

Though ordinary, the sayings always give me pause – force me to let my thoughts float around in the ether, search for meaning to the words printed across the slim papery slips. This time, the words resonate with the power of a thunderous gong clash.

I look around as the apartment darkens and the lights from our dried-out Christmas tree illuminate the slow rising and falling of Toby’s tummy. And I think about this year. The last few months especially.


It’s pretty clear to anyone who reads my digital chicken scratch that things have been a bit off lately. I’m all for blaming it on the weather or busy schedules, or both. But really, the blame rests squarely on me.

This year has been filled with so many great things – especially our marriage. But even the happiest glimmer can be dimmed by my naturally-endowed cynicism. Over the past few months, we’ve been racing about and putting ourselves through our paces, and getting ourselves all stressed out thinking about where we want to be and how far away that nebulous place seems.

I rationalize the stress. But there’s no rationale that really sticks. I’d like to say that it stems from me busily throwing myself into writing – actually nearing the end of the unknowingly long, strenuous path of writing and publishing a book – but, as shown by my lack of blogging, that’s just not the case. With that, I’ve unknowingly flipped a switch to autopilot, hoping that everything will just fall into place. Thankfully, though, I’ve gotten a few reminders that we have indeed made progress. Still, I need to get my shit together.


A little more than a week ago, we returned from a foray across the Southeast. We got to see a few friends, and missed seeing more – but reveled in the limited family time we had. We walked around cherished haunts in Sanford, saw how Raleigh had changed. We visited holes-in-the-wall along our track to Alabama, freeing pieces of beloved Fiesta, Harlequin, and Riviera from dusty shelves in warehouses plopped beside I-85.

We let my parents’ woods absorb our stress, the long-leaf pines’ needled tendrils acting as natural sieves for all of the anxieties and worries we’ve carried along with us – letting the residual mess trickle down their barky bases into the micaceous red clay.

Into the AL woods

And as we did in North Carolina, we discussed the possibilities of having a child – a concept I once found completely alien and strange – and envisioned that little being taking in a sunset similar to the fragmented one we watched through the swaying trees.

And during our visit, in typical fashion, my fragile personal ecosystem got disrupted by sinus mess – an acute, almost expected souvenir courtesy of the places from whence we fledged together. So as we flew from Atlanta to LA – our slightly-too-large, Fiesta-packed carry-on’s safely, somewhat surreptitiously stowed from the flight attendants’ view – I watched how veins of lighted life pierced the darkness below, and wondered what life decisions were being made in each and every one of those little bulbs of existence.

Once home, we collapsed in a tired heap and slogged through this past week. Though somewhat welcome, my return to routine sometime carries with it a gray lining – a mapped, limited normalcy. Which Pearl obliterated on Christmas Eve with two seizures and a subsequent race to the vet. As we waited and wondered what our aged little girl was going through, I couldn’t help but wonder how excruciating it must be for parents whose kids are sick. And I thought about how I’d handle it if we actually become parents. My eyes kept welling at the thought – not at the contemplation of parenthood per se, but at the amazing power that the wee (non)existent being already has over me.

After the doctor explained the potential problems, and we bid Pearl goodbye for the night, we watched the card swipe through the reader and returned home to sit in silence as A Muppet Christmas Carol played on. And reconsidered going to our pre-purchased double feature of Into the Woods and The Imitation Game.

And yesterday, while we got updates regarding Pearl’s examinations and continued with our plans – despite our pangs of guilt – I digested all of the messages I gleaned from Into the Woods as Andy talked animatedly about standing beside Brad Goreski and Gary Janetti at the Coffee Bean outside the theater. About how it felt as though we’d come full circle – that two years ago yesterday, we’d been in the exact same place with so many unknowns ahead, rubbing shoulders with the exact same people. But how markedly different everything was as well – that we now lived a short commute away from where we were standing, that we had two furballs in our fold, two new jobs, and more than a few new goals on the horizon.

The dynamic dog duo

And we wondered where we’d be in two more years. That if so many things have happened in such a short amount of time, the possibilities for the next few years are endless.

Now, with both pups home and relatively healthy, I have a new, permeating sense of optimism overriding everything else. Because I’ve reminded myself that fortunes aren’t made – they’re created. Experience by experience, goal by goal. One infinitesimally small step for humankind, one giant leap for personal salvation. They’re neither measured by the number of zeros on a check, nor a large home. Each is a treasured secret that is gradually brought to fruition through measured, calculated gains and fortuitous happenstance.

And the journey to make inroads to it starts with the most basic step of all.

Living: it’s all a beautifully delicious kind of disorder.

Please Have Your Breakdown Somewhere Else. I’m Trying to Be Antisocial Over Here.

Pearl halfheartedly side-eyed the screaming man as he slung horrendous accusations at his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend.


The woman crossed the street and yelled some unintelligible riposte. Which is when Toby retracted his face into his three chins, and gave them both a healthy fat-eye.

The infamous Toby fat eye!

And I muttered about how nice it’d be to walk the dogs in a post-apocalyptic world where the streets would be deserted and the only fuss I’d hear would be anguished, short-lived cries from a fellow survivor being eaten by disease-plagued zombies.

Oh, to dream.

I had a similar thought as I walked home earlier that day and passed a woman perched on her bicycle seat who narrowed her eyes at the sewer drain as she screamed into her phone.


I shuffled past slurping my long-drained coffee, and looked down at my nonexistent watch.

If I learned nothing else from engaging my crazy K-town apostle-stalker, it’s that it’s best to always have something immediately within reach that can occupy your full attention at a moment’s notice – for instance, when you see your stalker, but he doesn’t see you, put the phone to your ear, or get yourself suddenly engrossed in your book, or pound back that completely drained coffee. It’s your escape, your camouflage.

It’s not as though I’m trying to become less invested in social interaction – it’s just sort of happened, and I’m not entirely certain I want to make a concerted effort to stop the process. Now, it’s not as though I’m backsliding into my misunderstood goth years when the World, in all its Unfairness, decided to rage against Me (and when I decided every other word in my angsty journal entries had to be capitalized). I guess I’m entering that phase of my life where I give much less of a damn about what anyone thinks, and acquiesce more easily to my internal 800-year-old grandpa — who demands I be in bed by 9:30.

And I’m fine with it.


It comes as no surprise that, lately, I’ve been a little out of touch. Not only with my writing, but with everything and everyone in general. I’ve felt like crap, am getting burnt out at work, and have had a litany of health stuff crop up – most of which is due to fatigue and my genetic predisposition to inherit every horrible trait I possibly can.

But there’s something else I’ve realized, too. As fun as the past year in WeHo has been, I’ve let myself become a cliché – running to work and home and the gym in some sort of masochistic cycle that leaves little to no room for fun, much less spontaneity.

That, though, has come to an end. I’ve intentionally thrown a wrench into the entire working system of cogs and gears that’ve collectively ground me to a pulp. And even though I’m building more cake mass than muscle mass lately, I’m much happier. Because, together, Andy and I are reclaiming our weekends, and have started a little routine of our own: a non-routine road trip every weekend. Whether it’s to Sierra Madre or Pasadena, we’re setting out on our own terms and reminding ourselves why we moved here.

And while our first road trip involved Toby barfing all over the backseat, we found great Fiestaware haunts and plenty of fun, fascinating places along the way. Which is why we’re starting to get that moving itch again. And no, it’s not pushing us to scratch outside state lines. Just a little northeast – to Pasadena.

Walking around and taking in Pasadena, we reveled in everything that this smaller LA suburb has that we crave:

Historic, thriving downtown. (Y’all, it means more than you know. At least to me.)

A wee bit of downtown Pasadena.

Historic, financially accessible neighborhoods. (Holy shitballs. We may actually be able to buy a house one day! MAYBE EVEN A CRAFTSMAN.)

Reasonably priced antique malls. (ACTUAL good, fair priced stuff. Not that crappy chair grandma died in that’s now retailing for $5,000 because it’s “vintage.”)

A $2 movie theater…among other theaters. (Okay, so LA and WeHo have plenty of theaters, but they don’t have the $2 one.)

Tons of local eateries sans trash-talking twinks. (Yes, there’re good, local eateries almost everywhere. But at least in Pasadena, there’re fewer asshats sitting around carping about calories.)


Believe me, I ask myself that all the time. And as much as I’ve enjoyed putting down roots in LA and WeHo, let’s face it, they haven’t really taken hold, much less thrived. It’s partly due to a lack of trying, partly due to the gritty grind of LA, and WeHo’s super young thumpa-thumpa demographic.

I never thought I’d write it, but I actually want to move to a suburb. But not to a little box on a hillside: somewhere that’s moderately clean, that has stuff to do, and where if I walk to the store in slightly worn jeans and a plain white tee I won’t feel quite as many judgmental stares from gym bunnies.

It’d also be great to get away from the hipster couples with kids who’re flocking to our neighborhood. If I have to hear one more damn conversation about how little Rainforest just can’t have his soy snacks anymore because his sister Daisy-Greenhouse can only eat things that taste like chalk, I’m going to put an add out for Twisty the Clown’s removal services (y’all, I love some American Horror Story, but that damn clown is flippin’ terrifying).

So, here’s my First World conundrum: I don’t want to be around a bazillion club-hoppers that’d probably kill a prize-fighter for a sandwich, but I also don’t want to be around a bazillion hipsters, even though we’re sort of hipsterish. And I certainly don’t want to be around a bunch of bubbas.

Perhaps the solution is the same one my parents came to when they retired: move out to the middle of goddamn nowhere. That way, if anyone does visit, you can shoot them, drag their body to the pond, and let the gators do the rest.

Or, we can stick to our guns, hunker down, and start saving money for a house while living somewhere that has what we want, at the scale that we want. Like, say, Pasadena.

As maddening as it is to realize, it’s actually freeing to know that what I want to do in my free time revolves around a few hobbies: being with our little family, watching movies, eating good food, exploring historic areas, being artsy and writerly when I can, and antiquing for ALL THE FIESTAWARE.

Oh, Fiesta.

That’s it. That’s what I do.

I don’t need to live in the heart of Boyztown to feel as though I’ve “made it,” or that it’s the only place I can feel at home. I don’t need the glitz and glam of Hollywood, and I couldn’t give two healthy shits about celebrities. Now, is it cool to see Jane Lynch waiting in line at the grocery store? Sure. Is it necessary to be happy with where I live? Hell naw.

Of course, I’m not saying that everyone who lives in WeHo lives here for those reasons. WeHo has a ton of great stuff happening, and a lot of great people. But most of the activities are geared more for people who don’t have regular jobs, or have crazy scheduling flexibility during the week. And as much as my former Goth self would hate to hear it, I’d prefer to be somewhere quieter and more subdued, where we can have a little more space without having to sell our kidneys to make rent.

Sort of like how Mary-Louise Parker’s character in The Client got that little white house with a walk-in closet, and how Diane Lane’s character pushed open that iron gate and claimed that amazing Italian villa in Under the Tuscan Sun.

Sans murder-witnessing and slighted romance.

The hardest part in all of this is figuring out what it is you want to build on the foundation you lay. And, right now, our foundation is pretty rock solid.

It’s just time to start building again.

If I Could Turn Back Time…I Wouldn’t

As the geriatric Chihuahua’s disproportionately large penis sticks sloppily to my arm, I survey the crowd at the boarding gate and wonder where everyone’s going; why one man keeps gingerly massaging the guy one seat over, who may or may not know him; and if the mousy woman watching some raunchy sex scene montage on her iPad has actually ever had sex.

It’s inching close to 5 AM at LAX, and my sleep-deprived mind realizes something.

I’m 30. Thirty. 3-0. 15×2. 6×5.

It was inevitable. Like sneeze-farting in public.

And then.

I wonder if there’s a Starbucks around here?

I hopscotch right over what’s supposed to be a horrendously awful milestone and skip it across some unseen reflecting pool — as if I haven’t been panicking about this day for the past few weeks, despite my best efforts to play it cool and be all “Turning thirty is no big thing, y’all.”

Turning 30 is a big deal. It’s the point where the last vestige of adolescent immaturity is hung up for good, like a raincoat on a California hall tree. Where those sometimes ill-fitting “I’m an adult!” clothes become more tailored, with less wrinkles. And when you really start coming to a gut-wrenching, yet bizarrely cathartic understanding of “This is who I’m going to be. For the most part.”

Of course, none of this happens smack-bam immediately. For me, it’s sort of been like playing a game of Jenga-Tetris: figuring out where all of these seemingly disparate elements of my life dovetail, and how I’ll make them interlock on a semi-balanced plane.(Okay, fine. I was never great at Jenga!)

Lately, Andy and I have talked/argued/mused about the importance of balance — of keeping ourselves in check and how exactly that will translate to reality. Because, like most people, we have big dreams that must sometimes be re-imagined; goals that we want to achieve, but whose timelines need to be more accurately re-adjusted (ahem, book deadline); hobbies that need to be dusted off and revisited. Balance is what I want most out of my thirties, and with enough patience and gumption and support, I’ll get close to having it.

Because this is the first decade I haven’t stumbled into; it’s something that’s been looming on the horizon and something for which I’ve prepared — at least somewhat.

And with what I know now, I’ll view every bit of what dawns with it as less of a mystery and more of an experience.

Something to enjoyably behold and mold as I see fit. (Sans Chihuahua penises.)

Paper Weight

It’s hard to understand how something so thin can become charged with such power and weight. But I only have myself to blame.

I spent a large portion of Labor Day with paper rather than a plate of barbecue or a poolside drink: accordion files full of bills and pay stubs and leases and doctors’ visits and every possible thing imaginable from the past few years. And I ripped each apart, over and over and over again until my hands cramped.

I ripped through two years of our life together. From when we first met, to our frenetic scribbles back and forth with property management companies on the other side of the country — ardently attempting to convince them that, yes, we were both gainfully employed and that, no, we were absolutely not trying to pull a fast one.

Some more sentimental people would keep a lot of that; and I’ve kept some of it. But most of it had its place, and now its place is with tofu leavings and congealed grease. It’s time to move on and away from that shaky beginning.


We’ve lived in our current apartment for almost a year. A year. I can hardly believe it. Mostly because it seems like just a few weeks ago that we could barely move with the cardboard boxes — even when flattened — nearly reaching the ceiling. It was an exhilaratingly terrifying time.

Would we be able to make it?

Is this our next step?

Where does this all lead?

And, very occasionally, blips of hope penetrated that tornadic activity — and we sought them out and acknowledged them. Knowing all too well from our journey to those exact moments that we could easily stumble and see it all fall to pieces.

So as the confetti fluttered down to the floor, a certain catharsis rippled through me — all the way down to my ink-smudged, paper cut fingers. And I wondered.

What’s next?

As I lifted the two massive garbage bags out of the apartment and lugged them down to the dumpster, I couldn’t help but marvel at the weight — at just how much these relatively scattered, mostly meaningless pieces of our lives have added up to so much. And how much of a burden they can be.

That’s when it hit me: the burden.

It’s no secret I’ve been struggling with figuring out what’s next with writing my book. I thought I was finished a little while back. But it only took a week of distancing myself — having a wee break — for the creepy-crawlies of anxiety and second-guessing to get me editing out whole chapters and scraping pages by the handful.

Now, though, the heap is beginning to resemble a manuscript again — those fluttering bits pulled back in and twisted into something quasi-intelligible. But rather than frighting away from the weight of the whole thing — the experience of writing it, the uncertainty of what comes next — I have to remind myself that I’ve been carting it all around with me for years. And now, it’s time that I reach for that finish line, knowing full well that it doubles as a starting gate.

And that I should get ready to sprint — enjoying the rush, the wind pushing against me, and the race around the track, regardless of where the next finish line may lay.


Is this happiness?

Asking that age-old question is never easy — whether of yourself or others. Because it usually bubbles to your lips during a spat, over the course of draining a few vodka tonics, or after returning home at the end of a long, frustrating workday to a pile of Chihuahua shit.

But as most adults know, happiness isn’t some state of being. Not some odd plane of existence where the sun always shines and butterflies dance along the tops of lilies. Rather, it’s a nugget we unearth here and there as we excavate through a gray matrix of pestilence and anger and hard work that often compose our loud, loud lives.

It’s something to cherish and remark about, and enjoy in the moment — because it can be gone in an instant.


With another year inching closer, I’m incredibly frustrated — more so than I usually am around my birthday. There’s just something extra pulling me down, like a wool coat in a cold, icy pond that Macaulay Culkin pushed me into. But right when I feel like I’m dipping below the surface, one of those nuggets appears — a calming hand on my back, a wet dog nose against my cheek — and the all-consuming drag isn’t as severe; and I can breathe.

Less than a month from today, I leave my twenties behind. And all I can do is clap my hands and yell, “Good goddamned riddance!” Because the same idiots in high school who said “These are the best years of your life!” are of the same ilk as those who declared “Your twenties are your best years!”

Save the past few years, my twenties sucked. Mostly because they went a little something like this:


21: I CAN DRINK! This is so cool! I just threw up. I’M GRADUATING SOON. 

22-23: Grad school is hard. I can do it. I can’t do it. I hate it here.

24: So much for that Ph.D. This motel-hopping whilst writing my thesis and defending myself against angry Travelodge prostitutes is getting old. 

25: FINALLY. Grad school is almost over. Oh hey, what’s that bump on my face? Cancerous lesion? Fab.

26: Seriously, these motel prostitutes are really irritating. The Great Recession? I’m sure it’ll blow over. Why am I so broke? Wait, is this my life now?

27: Goodbye motels, hello military installation? Never saw that coming. Time to move. I LOVE GETTING DRUNK ON PORCHES. Wow, my job sort of sucks. Time to move for me. Oh hey, other LGBT people! Cute guy! I HAVE A BOYFRIEND!

28: HE MOVED IN! IHATEMYJOBIHATEMYJOBIHATEMYJOB *Glitter bomb* Let’s get the fuck out of here. HE GOT THE JOB!

29: California is beautiful and weird and scary and fun. I GOT A JOB THAT ISN’T AWFUL. GERIATRIC PUPPIES! HUSBAND!   

Okay, so 29 wasn’t horrible. It’s just been crazy-busy. And even though I feel old and curmudgeonly sometimes, I’m not going to fright away from a new decade. I’m welcoming all of it.

True that.

Because I really, really, REALLY need this to be a decade full of more good things than bad, more happiness than heartache. And I think it will be.


I think one of the main reasons why I’m so all over the place lately is that I feel close to a really important goal of mine — something I want to achieve by my big 3-0 — but am absolutely terrified that it’s not going to pan out.

That’s part of the whole life package though, right? Everything doesn’t always work out the way we want.

But I can try my damndest to make it happen, to make real my Neverland — where youthful dreams and fun and potential greatness remain alive and well.

So, while I may not be able to fly, I’ll keep flapping my arms mightily. Because, who knows, I may blow by Peter Pan and surprise myself.

After all, I’m no longer a Lost Boy.

Partly Cloudy, With A Chance of Testicles

Like most people, I leave the house every morning completely expecting to be killed – by a runaway car, falling airplane engine, wiener dog stampede – and so everything must be orderly and spotless beforehand. No sofa cushion is left slumped, no dishes in the sink – nothing that I can be posthumously mortified about.

And if I’m not killed, I assume I’ll be asked to disrobe so that the bank robbers, pirates, or Animorph can use my clothes as a getaway disguise. Meaning, I must always have on nice underwear. Or at least underwear I’m not ashamed of being seen or interviewed in. Because if I’m not killed during the holdup, afterward news anchors will assuredly ask me about the whole ordeal, while I’m standing there in my underwear screaming, “It sounded like a freight train, y’all!”

Today, though, is laundry day. Which means I have on the most hideous pair of underwear I own.

Utter. Disaster.

All of this completely rational thinking came screaming into sharp relief this morning. Right before I stepped in front of a news camera.


Five minutes before, the pet of the week is running circles around my legs, the leash wrapping around and around as I try to woo the wily Chihuahua with treats. But before I succeed, the Tom & Jerry situation is fully realized, with me tipping slightly toward a hard fall. Thankfully, right before I face-plant, I catch myself; the skinny jeans, however, aren’t having it.

The rip nearly makes my heart stop. I look between my legs, like some My Body, My Self infomercial, and see a gaping hole with my underwear peeking through.


The pup playfully jumps up, and I cringe and inch up to the melody of ripping fabric. The hole grows wider. This whole situation is like the beginning of a porno. Minus the dog. Now all I need is a tall, swarthy lighting tech with a handlebar mustache to saunter up with, “Do you need to be helped backstage, sir?”


But there’s no time to freak out. It’s showtime.

The meteorologist recites the forecast, and I mentally interject my fears.

“It’s partly cloudy with a chance of…”



I do feel a slight chill. But I’m pretty sure that’s the air conditioning billowing through the studio and across the polished concrete floor into my pants.

Saucy air conditioner.

And then we’re on. The meteorologist crouches beside me, and I control the dog while kneeling as awkwardly as possible to avoid an on-air wardrobe malfunction.

I nod wildly at everything he says, even completely false, incorrect statements.

“And she just loves to play with unicorns!”


Okay, so he didn’t say anything about unicorns. I don’t think. Eventually, the camera angles away and I skitter into the darkness with the dog.


On the drive back, a rickety car with a massive Hello Kitty logo flaking off the back windshield nearly sideswipes me. Which causes me to shift and throw my mom arm across the pet carrier.

Which is when I hear another rip.


An exit later, the dog is back and I reverse course. But not before stopping to gas up, where I’m treated to a squabble between the gas station clerk and a clearly delusional man waving a chicken sandwich.

“I want this warmed up, goddammit!”

He motions to a defunct microwave tucked beside a fly-covered condiment station.

“Next in line!”

“Yes, hi. I need my receipt for Pump 6.”

“It didn’t print out there?”

Yes, but I really wanted to hear more about this sandwich.

He prints it without waiting for a response, and I inch past the befuddled man.


The clerk groans and mops his brow, clearly used to dealing with this particular character.

“Yes, fine.”

Exceedingly pleased with himself, the man turns and smiles at a rack of wrapped candy.

“And imma take one of these.”


He reaches out a calloused hand and gingerly selects a Kit Kat.

Wise choice.  

He holds onto it with a mighty intensity – so much so that I hesitate before leaving completely.

I consider him for a moment, and think of how easily we gloss over the little victories every single day. And realize how monumentally important a tiny detail can be – the smidge of courage to ask a question, to be bold.

Like a thread, a little victory can mean the difference between calamity and bliss. Even if we’re threadbare, our resolve as thin as paper.

Even Dream Boats Can Spring Leaks

For the longest time, I got lost in the realm of the grandiose — those wonderful dream worlds where everything magically happens with little to no work on my end; just a flick of the mental wand and I’d have everything I’d ever wanted.

A big, cool, old house.

Dream house.

Some dogs.

A man.

Constant financial security.

And then I grew up.

And things got hard.

Life sort of takes a meat tenderizer to those dreams, and beats out all of the drippy leavings until you’re left with a damp, bloody cloth and wondering how you’re going to use it to clean up your wrecked reality.

But then, something funny happens. Amid all of the hubbub and disgusting experiences requisite of trying to figure things out comes something great: an idea; a different course; a life-preserver to get through just one more day of a horrible job. You gut up, take a deep breath, and soldier on.

It’s no secret that I’ve been slacking with writing lately. There’s something pulling at me — something I can’t really describe. Whether or not it’s apathy isn’t really the question I’m trying to answer; I think I’m just trying to polish my dream of publishing a book — but I’m using that damned bloody rag and getting nowhere fast.

When I started writing down my everyday musings — from childhood stories to crazy happenings in the day, to glitter bombing my office — I had this end goal of what exactly it was all for. It wasn’t anything major, just something to be proud of and to laugh about; something that’d help propel us forward and onto the next fun thing.

Somewhere along the way, I lost some momentum and remembered that all of that “one day” talk will forever be “one day” as opposed to “here and now” — that is, unless I get my shit together and keep working.

It’s always hard to admit when you stumble, or your dreams don’t quite pan out the way you thought. That degree doesn’t translate to an amazing job; that second glance at a grocery store doesn’t lead to an awkwardly amazing first date; that big risk you took didn’t quite pay off in the ways you’d imagined it would.

The other day, I sort of came a little unhinged and lashed out at a troll who lives in the building next to ours. Granted, she’d upset Andy and the dogs, and I’d just been waiting until I had a moment to tell her what a vile creature she was, and relishing how horrible I’d be to her. And my moment came. And I said some horrendous things — much to the delight of another couple in our complex who’d been in the process of receiving her wrath when I saw what was going down and let my emotional Italian self take over. When the dust settled and I huffed inside, I told Andy what I’d done, and was a little proud of myself.

And then I started thinking about how angry I was, and began wondering why I’d held onto that when there’s been so much going right these days. Amid the intensely horrible things happening around the world — bombings, plane crashes, shootings — Andy and I are starting to make headway toward some of the goals we’d set for ourselves late last year. But still, I chose to hang onto the most negative aspect of a given week and let it fester until I exploded at a complete stranger — who, according to another resident, “got the shit scared out of her.”

I’d stopped listening to myself, to the part of my daily mantra I always repeat on my way to work: “I will not let negative people or any negativity I may encounter today get the better of me.” More importantly, “I will always be cognizant of the fact that I’m incredibly fortunate to have what I have, and to experience the things I experience, and to be able to share them with family, friends, and loved ones.” The latter part, my friends, is the kicker: the smack in the face that I need every now and then to bring me back.

To make me realize that childhood is childhood, and that adulthood can be pretty great.

Things may not have happened in the order I’d planned. But I’m pretty damn happy with how things have turned out so far.

With him.

Wedding Day 106

With them.

Her ladyship. His highness.

And even our little slice of West Hollywood. (Even with the trolls.)



There’s no one way to make lemonade out of the lemons our childhood dreams may have turned into. Hell, sometimes it’s even hard to find a cup to fill. The only thing any of us can really do is hold our heads up, keep smiling, and raise a glass of whatever we squeeze through our mental juicers — pulp and all.

And at least imagine our glass is halfway full.

Don’t Make Me Towanda Your Ass

Have you ever had one of those days where your collective rage for humanity bubbles out just when that last wee straw flutters down from the great above to break your back?

Like this afternoon, after a horrendously long day, I see an unattended, unaltered dog without a collar shuffling along Santa Monica Blvd — you know, just one of the busiest streets in California — when a random passerby stops me.

“Is that your dog?”

“No, I think he belongs to that guy in Hamburger Mary’s.”

A complete and utter oaf stands gawking at his phone while this dog riles up Pearl and Toby. But the passerby isn’t having it.

“Hey, is this your dog?”

Oafy plasters on a goofy grin and thumbs through his phone.

And y’all. That’s the straw that makes me go Towanda on his ass, clutching one dog under each arm as I stomp over to him.


“Uh, yeah.” He tries to play it cool in front of his twiggy friends.


Which is when the passerby stops and stares slack-jawed, and I cross Santa Monica, screaming “ASSHOLLLLLLE!”


For fear of sounding like an ancient fossil, I’ll just write that I don’t understand younger generations. (Yes, I fail mightily at not sounding like a fossil.) Mostly in the realm of how many of them are choosing to enter the employment pool. (I know, worst segue ever — but the dog douche was the age of the people I’m writing about. Stick with me.)

Hiring someone takes so much more work than I ever imagined. Reviewing resumes. Setting up interviews. Doing the interviews. Assessing the candidates. Offering the job. So. Many. Steps. And still, you have to do your job.

I’ve found that there’s this insanely bizarre sense of entitlement that I find pervasive and utterly baffling. It’s like early twenty-somethings just expect to flutter to and from some job at a whim when they don’t feel as though their skill-sets are being utilized to their highest potential. They just cut and run without the slightest sense of professional decency.

So, to make myself feel better, I cobbled together my personal do’s and don’ts for job interviews.

(1) Avoid asking basic questions that’re clearly answered in the job announcement. Spending time on those during an interview communicates that you haven’t taken the time to read what you’re applying for.

(2) Never ask about compensation or benefits during the initial phone interview, unless broached by the employer. If you have to ask yourself, or preface a question with, “This may not be the time to ask, but…” go with your gut.

(3) After every phone conversation or in-person interview, always send a follow up thank-you email. ALWAYS. If communication is key to the position (meaning, yes), it is a clear red flag if you don’t thank the interviewer.

(4) Answer questions as succinctly and directly as possible. I don’t care about your life story.

(5) Avoid the overuse of “like.” Unless you’re a Valley Girl. In which case I will give you a tour of our zombie pen.

(6) Extend a hand. I will not allow my dog to bite it off. Unless you’re a zombie.

(7) Dress professionally for your age. Don’t go for “edgy” or your idea of “chic.” Bump Its are never chic.

(8) Avoid being overly familiar. We’re both gay. I get it. Move on.

(9) Avoid pointed questions. Such as, “So what do you do?” You are not interviewing for my job. I will cut you for my job.

(10) Visit the organization website more than once. If they don’t have a website in this day in age, they’re  probably planning to kidnap or eat you.

(11) Always proofread your resume. And pay attention to the file name. “Draft resume.docx” or “LOLresume.doc” does not convey professionalism.

(12) Don’t copy and paste your resume into the body of an email unless expressly requested by the employer.

(13) Cover letters should be doubly proofread. This is where you’re selling yourself. Or sailing yourself downriver.

(14) During an in-person interview, maintain eye. During a phone interview, avoid long pauses. If I have to ask if you’re still on the line, it’s not a good sign.

(15) If you’re wanting to transition into the “nonprofit realm” then expect to make less, regardless of what you do. That’s part of the package.

You’re welcome.

Now, go get hired and stuff. And take care of your dogs.

(And I swear I’ll actual write a real blog soon. Not just ranty stuff.)

Marriage, Symbolism, and Farting Dogs

“Honey. HONEY!

I’m paying more attention to my stubble than my side view mirror. And the Prius pays the price.


The sound from the pylon-Prius contact makes me cringe.

I get out to assess the damage, but a nearby imbecile distracts me.

“Don’t worry about it!” he hoots, his over-sized Hawaiian shorts billowing in the wind, “I’m sure your parents will just be happy that you’re okay!”

He follows with a har har har, which is when I reach over, grab his head, and slam it into the car hood repeatedly while screaming, “I’M 30 FUCKING YEARS OLD! MY PARENTS ARE THE LEAST OF MY PROBLEMS!”

Or at least that’s what I wish I did. With the sickening scraping noise reverberating between my ears, I scowl, mutter, and get back in.

Then stare out at the steady traffic and sigh.

“Is this day over yet?”

Andy sighs in agreement and pats my leg.

Soon enough, we’re picking up cupcakes and wedding cake and coordinating a shopping trip that goes slightly according to plan, albeit tinged with a modicum of requisite family drama. But hey, with North meeting South on the West coast, I’m just glad we all managed to survive with someone being shanked (my side doesn’t play, y’all).


The two sides!

By go-time, we’re all gathered in our small apartment and sweating slightly. Our friend Amanda rocks an awesome dress, and holds the iPad with the ceremony proceedings as Andy and I step up to our places.

The dogs are milling about underfoot, and the sun is setting, throwing light behind us. We’re all together — both sides finally together and sharing in a symbolic day that so many take for granted.

And as I stare through tear-welled eyes to Andy, I know that all of the stress and exhaustion and traveling and hard work have been worth it. That we’re damn fortunate to be surrounded by our supportive families in a state where our “I Do”‘s stick legally.

“I do.”

“I do.”

We do!

Then, Toby farts.

Gassy sausage

And everyone’s eyes well with tears.

And then it’s over. We’re husbands — as beautifully alien sounding as it is familiar.

Now, it's time to drink.


Dust devils twirl along the plains, whipping up bits of trash and desiccated plant life. We pass a deserted, ghoulish mining hamlet dotted with windowless clapboard shacks and decapitated, dead palm trees. An audiobook version of Deception Point plays as Andy dozes. The landscape around us is like that of another planet, which is fitting given our audiobook choice.

With the pups boarded hours ago, their empty crates rattle slightly from the backseat. We pass Palm Springs, and I wonder if we’ve made a mistake as Arizona draws closer. After all, we’re not even heading to Sedona. Phoenix is firmly fixed in our sights – an unlikely destination for a honeymoon. But we’re not exactly accustomed to doing the expected.

Andy nods awake and smiles over at me. And I inhale deeply, knowing we’re going to have a wonderful time rescuing antiques from the hellacious heat and lounging at the historic resort.

Fiesta time!


The drunken man slumping down in the overstuffed eat-in movie seat next to Andy wheezes and grunts before deflating into an intoxicated stupor.

“Muhumf. uhuhahhhh.”

Annoyed, Andy stares at me over his milkshake and inches closer to the edge of his seat. The plushy cushions make farting noises every single time I press the button to recline, drawing attention from neighboring viewers slopping quesadillas and nachos down their vodka-lubricated gullets while wiping their hands across the pleathered arms.

As if sensing the question bubbling to my lips, Andy leans over.

“I wonder if they disinfect these seats.”

I nod, then punch the recliner button one more time.


The opening scene of Tammy reminds me of the time a deer slammed into the side of my dad’s truck on his way out to our property to hunt. With no other humane alternative, Dad returned home with a kill without ever having to fire a shot.

The drunk smacks his lips and adjusts himself, and the teenage attendant asks if he wants anything.

“Lotz ah beeeer,” he slurs.

A heated conversation ensues, during which Andy nearly claws his way over the table rest between our seats. With the teenager gone, the man reclines a bit more.

“Oomphah.” Pffft.

Minutes later, he stands up, turns, and lets loose a yowl as he tumbles headlong down the stairs. No one moves to help him. Somewhere from the back, an inebriated woman sums it all up.

“Well, shit.”

He never returns. Andy relaxes, and we watch one character chastise another about hustling and working your ass off to get to be where you are, and how, as lesbians, she and her partner didn’t have anything handed to them. A row back, a man sighs and smacks his lips is dismay. And I’m reminded we’re not honeymooning in a blue state.


Pearl and Toby snore loudly on the sofas as we watch Orange is the New Black and unwrap our antiquing spoils. My ring slips on my left ring finger, and I nudge it back with a smile.

And think about the long, long roads we’ve both traveled to get to this point — and how grateful I am to have learned from the past few years and everything that’s come with them.

And how excited I am to embrace and shape what comes next.