Wednesday, December 19, 2012

We Really, Really Care This Time, I Promise

In the wake of the most recent school shooting, the argument has been made that if we just armed everyone with a gun, preventive shootings would prevent mass shootings. If one guys shoots the crazy person who is about to shoot a bunch of other people, the pending tragedy would be averted and everyone lives a happy life.

Of course, this simply raises the question of how does one determine which crazy person to shoot to prevent the next gun-created massacre? We're not quite at the Minority Report point in society, so precognition is out. However, this argument assumes that non-crazy people are able to divine the insanity level of others and thus judge whether or not to kill someone based on... Magic, maybe?

As a country, we're becoming used to the idea of acting before evidence is proven out. We went to war in a country for over a decade and sacrificed many lives on a hunch that they might use weapons we considered off limits. We've accepted that all of our communications are probably being read and analyzed by our government, and we submit to embarrassing invasions of privacy just to travel to visit our families for the holidays.

Thought: if we as a country don't care about our myriad privacy rights or the rights of other countries to self-govern, why should our opinions be accepted concerning whether we're allowed to own a weapon of minor to moderate destruction?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Beg, Don't Demand, It's The Only Way We Win

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

No need for a title

I wanted to test out this mobile bogging business, particularly because Blogger has a great mobile app for Android (go figure, Google optimized one of their properties for mobile).

No clue if anyone still has this in their rss feed, but I'm tossing the idea around to start this up again. We'll see!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Changes Abound

I know it's a bit of a cliché, but it's also pretty much true: You never really know what life is going to throw at you. All you can do is hold on for the ride and hope to get some fun out of it in the end.

A year ago, my husband and I were ramping up for the holiday season. He would need to be working insane retail hours, and I would need to be investing unhealthy amounts of time gazing at shopping sites and deciphering the maze of downtowners as they hustled through the department stores. Not that I really enjoy shopping, mind you, but there's a certain allure to watching the madness of it all.

This year is a bit different. This year we're hankering down and learning to enjoy the quieter, family-focused side of life while celebrating the end of old things that Winter has been known to represent.

My husband isn't working retail anymore, so gone are the days of never knowing when we would get to see each other for the next six weeks. In fact, that's one of the ends we're celebrating. He's starting back at school in January and he's going to be working toward a brighter future for us while doing work that he wants to do.

As for me, I'm celebrating another kind of end. I'm leaving the company that I've spent the past five years working for and moving toward the career that I've really wanted since college. I'm currently working in logistics for a large food service company. It's a very corporate environment with the typical corporate trappings: politics, red-tape, HR. It's been great work, and I've met some amazing and intelligent people, but it's really my time to move on.

My new company is quite a different direction. It's a marketing research firm that focuses on social media. They have a very progressive concept of employee relations and they are still a very young company with a strong sense of "start-up" still built in to their core. But most importantly, I'll finally be able to start working in the field I fell in love with back in 2003 when I took my first marketing research and consumer psychology course.

It's scary. Our lives are full of changes right now. New jobs, new careers, new schools, new lifestyles… Lots and lots of new. It can be difficult to say goodbye to the things we know and are comfortable with, and that's what we're working through right now.

I always had a vision of the 30-year old me (well, when I got to an age where I could conceive of myself being that old) that was put together, calm, and settled into his life. I just knew that the "adult" me would be the bastion of security and boring repetition. I'm learning now that things will always be changing, and I'm becoming OK with that.

I can't always plan for changes and I can't always be prepared when they come, but what I know I can do is learn to accept them as they happen and realize that, with just a little work and effort, things will turn out alright.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I Have Seen The End And It Is White And Flakey

It happened today. Our first snow of the year. Our closest call yet to an actual freezing temperature. Our first flirtation with The End... Of all things fun in Chicago, at least.

I already mentioned my disdain for winters in general, but Chicago's winters in particular are the very definition of "not fun." I won't cover that again. However, what I will say is that the feeling of impending doom and the feeling of watching said doom actually pend are quite different and certainly unique experiences.

While there is still a small sliver of hope in the impending doom scenario, the actual doom being rendered removes all hope and supplants it with the correct emotions of dread and despair. The sun is gone, the warmth is gone, and all we have left are our family, friends, and pets to keep us going for the next 4-6 months.

I first heard reports of snow flurries this morning after getting to work, but I was easily able to ignore said reports as hogwash because I hadn't seen these flakes. Therefore, they did not exist. End of story.

But as the afternoon drudged on and I was forced to exit my building to find warm food I was also forced to come face to face with the conclusive evidence that winter has arrived: snow was falling from the sky. It landed on my head, my skin, my eyelashes. Big, thick flakes coming down at an utterly unacceptable pace for early November. I was shocked and, indeed, appalled.

I'm afraid that there's nothing to do for it now. We're stuck praying for an end to the protracted frost-bite inducing temperatures from now until some point in the unforeseeable future when Momma Nature decides to wake the hell up and turn on the heater again.

Until then, I don't suspect I'll post anymore self-loathing anti-winter stories. My position is clear and my petition has been received by those who govern weather (although, it's clearly being disregarded). I suppose all I can do now is pretend that snow is pretty or that wearing so many clothes that I now look like I qualify for The Biggest Loser are good things. I hope you "winter people" are happy now!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Burgers, Beer, And Scream 4

The husband and I decided to have a little celebration last night, mainly reflecting on the good things that have been coming our way lately. Not that we've been overwhelmed by goodness or anything, but in time of drought, even the little things are worth toasting.

Our little party included beer, burgers and a movie. I'm not sure what could have been more perfect about that.

We don't watch horror movies that often in our house. Well… correction. My husband doesn't want to watch horror movies that often in our house. There's something about me being a jumpy, screaming mess who likes to latch on to his leg and leave bruises that he just doesn't like. I can't imagine why…

In any case, not many horror movies are viewed in the house. But as it was a celebration, and as I am a huge fan of the series, my man broke down and suggested we watch Scream 4 last night. It may have been that he just wanted to stuff that blu-ray back in the mail to Netflix since it's been sitting on our coffee table for weeks, but he told me that it was because he knew I wanted to watch it, so I'll just have to believe him on that one.

Being a kid in high school in the 90's and college at the turn of the century, the Scream flicks were all pretty much canon for my cadre of friends. Knowing the movies, getting the internal and external references, and appreciating the nuance of how they transcended the traditional horror/slasher flick while maintaining the heart of the genre were all prerequisites to hang out with us. So you can understand that when Scream 4 was announced and released, I was just a tiny bit excited.

Except we didn't go see it in the theater. Again, something about me whaling like a banshee and my sudden bruise-inducing kung-fu grip embarrasses my better half. Whatever…

Back to the point: we finally watched Scream 4 last night. Conclusion: I don't think I could have been any happier with the movie.

I was thoroughly thrilled, spooked, and fooled. I relished in the nostalgic feel of the movie, and pleased by their ability to update the franchise and keep it current and relevant. And I loved that the main characters were back AND that we were still drawn in to a new cast of characters to love and appreciate.

Yes, I squealed and yelped, and yes, I may have Vulcan-death-gripped my husband's leg once or twice (I've gotten better at this, assuming there are helpless pillows around to squeeze), but that's all part of the fun for me. And although he rolled his eyes at both my antics and the silliness of some of the gore, I think that my husband liked the movie too and that he secretly enjoyed watching me squirm.

I don't think this is going to change our horror movie watching habits. I doubt that Halloween marathons or that regular viewings of Prom Night or Carrie will be on our future agenda, but I am glad that we were able to enjoy another spookfest together. Next up is getting him in to a haunted house with me. Next year, though… Next year.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Love Halloween!

Halloween has to be the absolute best holiday of the year. Lets take all sorts of men wearing revealing or just plain sexy costumes, add obese amounts of alcohol, and then throw in piles upon piles of sugary treats and goodness, and you may have discovered the secret recipe to my heart.

My diet and waistline, however, are not fans of this holiday.

Those whiney bitches aside, I always look forward to this holiday. I love dressing up and just getting silly with my friends. I love it so much that I've even been able to convince my husband to be completely enthused about it, which is no easy feat.

My office this year decided to have a Halloween party-ish... thing. Really, they just asked people to bring food and snacks and drinks and a few of the women decided they'd dress up and give each other awards like "cutest costume" and "spookiest cube." Offices being what they are though, absolutely no one brought any real food. All we had was junk food, including this loverly rendition on the "mud pie" concept:

They called it the Kitty Box Surprise. I called it quite possibly the most disgusting thing I've ever seen set on a table generally meant for consumption.

The real kicker for me though was the Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake, which encapsulates my three favorite treats into one massive pile of artery jamming concoction: Pumpkin-flavored anything, Pumpkin Pie, and Cheesecake. It wasn't even that good, but I simply couldn't let it just sit there. It had to be consumed!

Lucky for me, I'll be back in the gym tomorrow. I've been avoiding it lately due to some back pain issues, but either that's resolved itself or the sugar is blocking the pain receivers in my head. Either way, I'll be getting back to running and lifting things and grunting and sweating, all in the effort to lose the 15 pounds I'm sure I gained yesterday.

Monday, October 24, 2011

If Gay Men Went To Summer Camp

If you've ever been curious what a gay cruise is all about, I can sum it up for you: it's summer camp for gay men. But I'll get back to that in a moment.

This being the year of gay travel for us (P-Town, Southern Decadence, Vegas... It's close enough), we picked a gay cruise as our final big gay trip for 2011. Like many of our vacations, we went in to this event a bit blind, but relying on the information we had gathered from friends and the ever-trusty interwebs, we decided to book a room with Atlantis Events for their Mexico cruise.

We truly had no idea what to expect.  Originally, I assumed that this trip would be a lot like our vacation to Riviera Maya. We stayed at an all-inclusive there and really enjoyed our time on the resort. I just assumed that the cruise would be more of the same kind of thing as the resort, only with a throng of gays. But that turned out to be very, very incorrect. At the resort, we barely met anyone, we spent the majority of the day lounging about the pool or beach, and the entertainment, while not horrible, was just OK. In comparrison, on the boat we met several great people, we spent our time between lounging, partying, and socializing, and the entertainment options were all top notch.
I have to admit though that I was a bit mortified to be going on the cruise. The idea of it sounded great, but the realization that I'll be on a boat floating over the ridiculously vast ocean while millions of unknown and unseen critters swim beneath us just waiting for one of us to fall off and become the next sharktopus snack… well, that spooked me a bit. So my husband wisely drug me to a bar shortly before we were scheduled to board and ordered a pitcher of beer that we just had to drink in 40 minutes, which went a long way in relaxing me enough to be able to get on the ship.

Once we were on the floating kraken feeder boat, I was fine. The room was nice, if a tiny bit small, the layout of the ship was pretty intuitive, and there was plenty enough room for everyone to be able to kick back and relax. And this is where the summer camp feel started to kick in.

Every day we were greeted with a little pamphlet listing all the various activities going on that day, when and where. For someone like me who is a habitual planner and someone who if given a schedule must follow it, these little booklets of "fun" soon became an ordeal. Luckily, I have an understanding husband who quickly learned to hide the packet from me and only allow me to choose one activity throughout the day that we could plan for. Everything else would just be happenstance as we lollygagged through the boat or lazed about the pool.

Really though, there was just a ton of stuff going on every day, so there was no need to plan unless there was something in particular you wanted to do. Shows, shopping, game show things, bingo, comedians, string quartets, cabaret acts, Broadway stars, singles and couples meet-and-greets, movies, gambling, and that doesn't even cover everything. Through it all, these abundantly nice crew and staff members were around to help direct you to events or provide you with whatever you needed. Oh, and then the requisite camp boat announcements from the camp cruise directors.

What really amazed me though was that with a boat packed full of 1900 gay men, I believe we only encountered one genuine act of bitchiness, and even that was rather mild. Everyone was just nice. And there was a pretty solid mix of people on the boat too, although the demographic certainly skewed well in to the mid-30's or later for average age range, but even the age and other differences didn't stop everyone from just kicking back and having a great time together.

I was also surprised by how many people on the boat that were interested in sparking up friendships. The boat was fairly big (the veteran cruisers said it was average, but for us newbies it was huge), and there were plenty of people on the boat, but we did manage to meet quite a few people that we enjoyed hanging around. By the second day of the cruise we had made quite a few new acquaintances, most of whom we talked with and hung around with throughout the rest of the trip.

True to the summer camp feel, the cruise directors threw a huge going away party on Thursday night and one last t-dance on Friday, which allowed us all to say farewell to the trip and to get the contact information for everyone we met that we wanted to stay in touch with. Of course, keeping in touch is vastly easier these days with Facebook and all, but we still heard quite a few people saying "keep in touch, ok?" Atlantis even offers an alumni website to help facilitate these connections, which is pretty nifty.

When Saturday morning rolled around, everyone's face shared the same somber yet wonderfully tanned look. Except mine. Because I somehow failed to inherit the tanning gene that allows the rest of my family to so perfectly tan. Anyway… we all knew we were heading home, but we all had a great time on board. Certainly, there will be quite a few memories from the trip. Especially for that one couple that decided that 4 a.m. Wednesday morning was the perfect time to go through a nasty breakup. In the hallway. While drunk. I'm sure they'll remember the trip quite fondly.

So you can see how this Atlantis cruise really was like summer camp for gay men. With alcohol. LOTS of alcohol. The husband and I really enjoyed the experience and will likely do it again. We've reserved a cabin for the same cruise next year, basically just in case we do want to go. From talking to the people on the cruise, it seems like cruises are much like tattoos: once you do one, you want more. And even though I'm certain the next time I get on that boat Cthulu will rise up out of ocean and devour us whole, I think it's a fair trade off for a great week with some like minded travelers!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Putting In Your $1.05

One thing people tend to forget is that Freedom of Speech also means that individuals have the Freedom Not To Speak. Perhaps we should all exercise that freedom just a little more often.

We're hearing more and more stories about anti-gay weirdoes spouting off their beliefs in unnecessary or unusual places. Some of those people, like this guy, are being punished for their inopportune and unwelcome comments. And some of those people, like that same guy, are being propped up as martyrs in the fundamentalist Christian community.

The thing is that, while he does have a right to speak his mind, he doesn't have a right to do so without repercussion. We all have rights and privileges in this country, but those come with responsibilities as well. The responsibility to speak about appropriate topics in appropriate ways and in appropriate settings strongly correlates with the right to free speech.

For example, I am free to discuss topics like my bedroom activities with whomever is around me. But that may come at a cost. If I choose to speak of these things with friends at a bar, that cost will be laughs or friendly jibing, but if I choose to do so in front of my boss, that cost may be the loss of my job, or if I choose to do so on Facebook, that cost may be the "unfriending" of family and friends who are not keen on participating in such discussions.

You see, I am free to discuss my bedroom antics, but I am also subject to the cost of that freedom. Conversely, I am free to simply not speak of such things, thereby avoiding any cost, and I am free to selectively share, thereby incurring only the costs I am willing and able to pay.

Clearly, there are people who are unaware of the costs of their Freedoms. Perhaps if people continue to lose focus of the societal costs of their freedoms, we should enact the $1.05 policy advocated by Team America: World Police.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dreading Another Chicago Winter

As the chill starts to settle in here in Chicago, my well-documented hatred of the cold and winter and snow is resurfacing. Chicago is not known for it's lovely and majestic winters. This city is pretty well plagued by piles upon piles of snow each year coupled with sub-zero temperatures and winds that are fond of knocking me off the sidewalk onto my ass in the middle of the street. Oh, and those winds have the magical ability to drop the temp another 10-20 degrees.

In short, I really hate the winters here.

By contrast, the summers in Chicago can't be beat. It could be a bit warmer for a bit longer, but I think the shortness of our warm season is what makes the summers here as amazing as they are. The city comes alive, people are out and about, street festivals are packed into every weekend, and the beaches are always full or sun-loving people soaking up every minute of warmth they can get. This city celebrates the warmer months like no other place I've lived.

Which just makes the winter months even more despondent. It's almost like we are forcing ourselves to have fun in the summers because we know that once December rolls around, we won't be going outside for anything less than absolute necessities for a good 5 months. Everyone shuts themselves in doors, socialization slows to a crawl and the memories of summer are all we have to keep us going.

OK, that last paragraph may be just a little melodramatic, but it does mostly convey my thoughts on the issue.

So each year around this time, the husband and I talk about moving. When we first met, he was steadfast in not wanting to leave Chicago, but over the years he's become more open to the idea. I want to live somewhere warm. Like no snow kind of warm. Where sunlight isn't a precious commodity and houses are only equipped with heaters for "just in case" moments. Where 90-degree weather isn't seen as the second sign of the apocalypse and being outside in January doesn’t involve 3 layers of clothing, 2 coats, a hat and a prayer that the wind gods won't take you as a sacrifice to their cruel sense of justice.

Of course, when he asks where I want to move, my only answer is "South." "Where South," he asks. And I say "I don't know, just not here."

Very helpful and direct.

Truth is I don’t know where I'd like to go. Atlanta has been mentioned several times, but I just have a bad impression of that city for some reason, and a strong opposition to Georgia in general. Austin and Dallas have been bandied about, but then there's the whole living in Texas thing to contend with. New Orleans sounds interesting, and we both really love that city, but that whole finding a job thing might prove difficult there.

Then there's the West Coast to consider. We're both open to pretty much any of the big West Coast cities: San Diego, San Francisco, L.A. We've even considered the northern ones like Portland and Seattle because we hear snow isn't a real issue there, although the lack of heat may still be an issue. But we've never been to any of those places, so right now they sound like these mythical places of wonder, but we have no clue what they'll really be like.

There's also this notion of starting over again socially. I have experience moving around, did it a lot as a kid and I uprooted myself to Chicago a few years back. But just because I've done it before doesn't mean it'll be easy and/or fun. I love the friends that we've made here in Chicago. It's taken a few years, but the friends we've cultivated here are really great people. We have to ask ourselves if we really want to start over again and forge new friendships.

All that said, it's just an idea. The logistics of moving all of our stuff, finding jobs and transferring schools, finances, and all the other stuff that comes with moving is a bit overwhelming. Yes, I'd love to move South and get out of these wretched winters, but I'd also like to be making 3 times my current salary and shopping for a summer home. I'm not sure how many more of these Chicago Winters I can take though. I'm guessing at some point the hatred I have for this season will finally out weigh our apprehensions about moving and we'll make it happen. But I don't think that's this year.

Meanwhile, I'll just come back here to bitch and whine about the cold.