Wednesday, March 19, 2014

THINGS I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT

...and my follow up post, of things I simply can't function without. Here goes (again).

#1 MY APARTMENT

Built in 1927, and previously occupied by a single woman who may or may not have died in here, it's 900+ square feet of hardwood floors, crumbling crown molding and shaky plumbing. It's also the place I have lived the longest in my life. Not only is the rent reasonable, I fucking love the neighborhood I live in. LONG LIVE LINCOLN SQUARE!

#2 iPHONE

My first iPhone was a present from my father, 6 months after it was released. I was making fun of everyone who had one or wanted one. How quickly I became a convert. My fifth one literally sleeps on the pillow next to me at night. Perhaps I will develop testicular cancer from always having it in my left pocket, but I don't care. I can't exist without it. 

#3 GIRLS/LADIES/FEMALES

With the obvious exception of my sometimes awesome roommate, I have have managed to surround myself with a plethora of truly remarkable woman. They not only keep me sane, but also ad and abet in a serious of never ending inside jokes that no one would ever think is funny, but make me literally cry. I may not be into women, but I LOVE them. 

#4 CHICAGO

I feel blessed, lucky even, that I was born and raised here. Of course, I spent my childhood in the suburbs, starting fires and collecting lightening bugs in jars, but as an adult I have resided in this grand, slightly fucked up city, and there is no where else I would prefer to live. Maybe Vancouver, or Auckland...but for now I'm staying put. 

#5 WORK

Even if I hit the lottery tomorrow, I wouldn't quit my job. Not because I like it that much (I do) but I would just be so fucking bored. Maybe it's my latent Catholic School upbringing, but I don't mind wearing a uniform or having a set schedule. In fact, I crave that structure. It keeps me grounded. And in a weird way, I consider my current job as a hobby. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

THINGS I HAVE LEARNED TO LIVE WITHOUT

Life has presented me with a serious of challenges lately, but I think I have adapted well. Living in a big city isn't always easy, but sometimes you can do more with less, and appreciate it accordingly. Of course, the lack of certain things leave me wanting for more, but, in a roundabout way, it keeps me modest and appreciate that little things. Here goes. 

#1 Car

Whenever I see an Acura RSX Type-S parked on the street, my heart swoons. I loved that car dearly and it really, fucking sucked when it was stolen. However, she was a pricey bitch; between gas, insurance and the monthly payments, it was over $500 a month, more than my rent. So I am actually grateful to be relieved of it. BUT...not a day goes by I don't miss it.  

#2 Boyfriend

I constantly go back and forth on this one, but at least right now, I am happy being single. Relationships are a lot of fucking work, and yes, rewarding, but sometimes is better just dealing with my own shit, on my own terms, without the added work of dealing with someone else's. That being said, I have no idea how I landed a hottie like my ex; but like my beloved, departed car, probably more trouble than it was worth. 

#3 Marijuana

For over 15 years I was very much an "enthusiast" of smoking weed. And not weak shit either; I was lucky enough to have almost constant access to extremely, strong hydroponic shit.My tolerance was ridiculous, and now that I don't smoke that anymore, I get absolutely HAMMERED when I do. Just 2 weeks ago, I took 2 hits and thought I was going to die. For real. I'll stick with PBR. 

#4 Contact Lenses

Since the forth grade I have been prescribed corrective vision of one kind or another. At first, I was all about glasses, but when I attempted to play sports, I got contacts. Around the 6th or 7th grade until about 2 years ago I struggled with putting those fucking things in my eyes. NEVER again. And I won't het LASIK either. Instead I just got another pair of glasses, and I shall wear them until I die. 

#5 Cable TV

Being a homebody, as I tend to be, I watch a lot of television. As a child of the 80's, I was fortunate enough to grow up on Nickelodeon, MTV and HBO. I didn't think I could live without it, but I cut the cord last year. Netflix, Hulu and picking up books has more than made up for the lack of video-based entertainment. I do not miss it, nor am I am willing to pay through the nose for it. Comcast...eat a dick!  

Next up...THINGS I CAN"T LIVE WITHOUT!
   

Thursday, February 6, 2014

DANKEY KANG

This phrase has been uttered by yours truly far too many times in the last 72 hours. Used as a phrase, adjective, pronoun, verb and whatever the fuck else grammatical device is possible to be destroyed by someone with a slight-to-pronounced Chicago accent. 


For those not in the know, this female contestant was asked a question, clearly the answer is "Sonic the Hedgehog", but also mispronounced the words "Donkey" and " Kong". I am not making fun of her. Quite the opposite, I think she is accidentally brilliant. It just rolls off the tongue...and sounds really dirty. 

And can be applied to SO many situations! Such as:

-I just Dankey Kang'd my pants
-Suck my Dankey Kang
-Bro, don't bogart all the Dankey Kang
-Give me a minute, I have Dankey Kang in my eye
-Does this sweater flatter my Dankey Kang's?

You see where I am going with this. Totally immature humor, which I love the fuck out of. I might have a proper educational background, and am 34 years young, but I still leave little notes around the restaurant for co-workers, many involving crudely drawn penis's. 

BOTTOM LINE: We all need a bit of weirdness on a daily basis! 

HEY BITCHES, I'M BACK!

Although I would LOVE to regale you loyal readers with fantastic tales of uninhibited awesomeness, the real story is that my life, with still quite fulfilling, has been dull as of late. And I like it! I work, come home, have a beer, watch something on Netflix and fall asleep (often sitting up in the chair I am writing this in). BUT - that's OK!

Work hasn't been kicking my ass, as much as I have been kicking it. However, the schedule is all over the goddamned place; late nights and early mornings, often with less than 8 hours between the two. Couple that with the lack of sunlight, the ridiculous winter we've been enduring in Chicago...I have been eating like a champ and hibernating. 

There are reasons, I think for my wanting time alone. The last few years have been FUCKING HELL. Unemployment, dealing with my DUI, my weird EX that I don't care if I ever hear from again. And I know other people have/had it harder than myself, but that doesn't discount the stress I have been under. Perhaps I bore the load more than I had too...

...However.    

I believe I am slowly, yet surely turning over a new page. Easing into being myself, as it were. For better or worse, I am an efficient, dysfunctional human being that honestly loves the place I am in right now. Could I improve myself more actively? Perhaps, but that's not something a gym membership, sobriety nor a boyfriend can provide. 

As I get older, I am more ME. And if some people don't appreciate that, well...go Fuck Yourself. That's not to say I don't value different points of view; in fact I seek and entertain them. Everyone has a voice. And should express it in any form possible. To me, THAT is attractive. Not necessarily in a "sexual" way, just being human.    

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

HOW TO BE GAY, OR NOT

This morning I was lying in bed and listening to NPR (as I'm want to do) when they interviewed David M. Halprin, professor of "sexuality" from the University of Michigan. Although admittedly, slightly hungover, and I'll also admit, I could have taken his opinions the wrong way, it launched me out of bed to write this...

From what I understood, Mr. Halprin was wistfully reminiscing about the "good" old gays of gay culture, when expressing one's sexuality (and thus humanity) was confined to the closet, or defined by secrets/deviance/shitty techno music.

But first, a little history about myself. I didn't come out until the ripe age of 25. I grew up in a affluent, white, male dominated culture, and didn't have any gay friends, or even friends who had gay friends. Thus, I didn't have a reference point to adhere to, or a way to express my sexuality (except in my own private way). 

I understand the reason to cling to gay cultural "signposts", be it speaking a certain way, dressing a certain way or acting a certain way. But what has always been represented gay culture to me growing up, never appealed to me, nor could I identify with it.

After I came out, and moved back to Chicago proper, I tried my best to assimilate to the urban gay mindset. I went to the Boystown hot spots, hooked up with people I regret and endured horrible music too numerous to list here.  

What I'm getting at, is that I didn't or couldn't really identify with my straight friends, nor could I successfully integrate to the gay culture I was exposed to. You know what's more difficult than coming out? Being rejected outright by the very people that preach acceptance. 

In the past these phrases have been said to me, and etched into my mind:

-"You know this is a gay bar, right?"
-"Honey, you aren't gay, you just want to be."
-"You drink PBR?"

Don't get me wrong. I'm not nailing myself to a cross, and I fully realize that many other gay men have traversed roads FAR rougher then mine. But it still irritates me that gay culture is now too mainstream, or too integrated within the larger world. Wasn't that always the point?

And what's worse, for a lot of people, IT'S NOT THE MAINSTREAM. There are still people afraid of coming out, who are shamed when they do, seeking nothing but a modicum of tolerance. Of comfort. Maybe even love.  

But I can only speak for myself. I'm proud of the man I am. My family, friends and co-workers know I am gay. Perhaps, I, as a white man, have it easier. But that doesn't diminish my own struggle. And I certainly don't need anyone tell me where I do or don't belong, what to listen to or how to appear. 

Homosexuals have made so much progress, that I am infuriated by certain people's reminiscing about "the good old days" when LGBTQ individuals were marginalized, or felt false pride for being "different". ALL people are different. What makes us human is what we have in common. 

At the risk of being redundant, I think we can all agree that what binds us together is the simple, honest and human need to be loved, spiritually, mentally and yes, physically. This doesn't need to be over thought, discussed or written about, or worse...taught


Thursday, October 17, 2013

PIZZA+BOURBON+KAYNE=NEW WI-FI NETWORK

Holy motherfucking shit, it took me hours, lots of of crushed ice and a not pleasant conversation with a less then helpful man of Indian decent to erase the demons that have been plaguing my home internet(s). For fuck's sake, if I'm paying $75 for "blazing fast" broadband, I shouldn't have to wait 30 seconds for a web page to open. 

To say nothing of waiting for gay porn to buffer. White People Problems for sure, but internet connectivity is like oxygen, I can't really function without it. Which is to say, I have been a bit of a hermit as of late. This current pattern involves: a) working, b) drinking and c) sleeping. Shake and repeat. 

*garnish with a tiny bit of generic Zoloft (more on that later...)

It's not as dreadful as it might seem. I am actually a whole hell of a lot more content than I have been in YEARS. I am finally over my EX (although I still think about him all the time), settling into a groove with my job, which, I might add, am kicking ass at. And by the way, I am proud to say I now a unionized employee. 

In Chicago. 

After all the shit I ate working at other bars and restaurants, I cannot over-empathize how big of a deal that is. At a 4-star hotel no less. The other day I served oysters to a certain rock star whose name I shall not say here, for obvious reasons. Needless to say, my recent professional success has resulted in a new found confidence I haven't felt in a long time. 

But it's not all shits and giggles. My sleep schedule is completely out of whack, hence the reason I am writing this at 5:39AM. And it's not because I don't get enough sleep, quite the opposite. I sleep easily, for prolonged periods of time. Peacefully. It's just that, I like being awake at odd times, when everyone else is sleeping. Walking the streets at night suits my demeanor.

So, um, yeah, this is a bit rambling, but a fresh update no less! 

Far and away this is my favorite song right now:

     


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

FUCKING 34

Thanks in advance. YES, it's that time of year, when I notch another year to the headboard that is my life. Holy hell, I am still here. 


Not that my birthdays are a big deal; I am far too self conscious to have a "day" or worse a "celebration" directed toward me. Instead, I just drink and hang out with a few friends, listen to the obligatory story from my Mom about the day I was born, jerk off and pass the fuck out. It's kinda like any other day.  

Except I usually NEVER work. Today was the exception. For whatever reason, I did not request the day off, and dutifully reported to the HOTEL at 8:30AM, scanned the room (it was very quiet) and plead my case to my manager. And did the "well, it's dead, it's nice out and...IT"S MY BIRTHDAY". 

So I left after an hour and a half. Tossed my suit in the uniform bin and walked around the Gold Coast on a remarkably beautiful day (*with Ex-Roomie - those poor hippies, I hope they aren't in jail). Here's the view I peeped from the lake...


My current Roommate is on her way to West Virginia, of all places, so fuck it, I'm smoking inside, playing Chance The Rapper far too loud and drinking whiskey. And taking pictures. 

PS - In the middle of writing this post, I went to get beer from the corner, and I encountered a UPS driver with 3 boxes. With my name on them. I got THIS: http://www.yescomusa.com/5in1_32_in._Foldable_Round_Studio_Light_Reflector_Stand.html

Cheers All!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

KILLED IT (IN A GOOD WAY)

MANAGER: "You know *** isn't working tonight?"
ME: "Yeah, um, you make the schedule, but I'll be fine". 

Despite that slight hesitation, I seamlessly acted as a conduit between:

-4 Managers
-3 Servers
-5 Chefs
-4 Food Stations 
-2 Bussers
-1 Restaurant
-2 Bars
-70+ guests
-2 Floors

And no body cried, screamed or threatened to quit. To be honest, I was concerned. Ensuring quality and timely service to 70+ people isn't like climbing a mountain; and I don't want to let my head swell, but it's not easy keeping all these disparate elements together, especially when the majority of the guests arrive in limited time frame. 

Like when 50 people arrive within an hour of each other, ordering 4 courses (not including bread or drinks). Sure I have help. But besides the managers, my co-workers have their specific tasks. Taking orders, making drinks, prepping and/or cooking the actual food, busing tables, etc. I don't have to much of those things, but...hold the FUCKING GLUE together. 

While I was ducking for cover for a brief minute, this image popped into my brain: 



That is what I do. And also present the actual food to people, with lavish descriptions in hushed tones, careful to NEVER revel the back of my hand to plates I am laying ever so carefully down. OR letting anything fall out of place, lest the person paying $$$ for a 4oz piece of fish be let down. I actually take it to heart if a single piece of lentil falls astray. 

It's frustrating...but also really fucking rewarding. When things so right, as they did tonight, I mean...the money doesn't even matter that much (lies). What really does is just KICKING FUCKING ASS. And it's not that I am that smart, it's just that I have absorbed the knowledge other people have been generous to lend me, and me passing it on. 

Just an random example: this particular plate of scallops is accompanied by exactly 8 dots of japernero yogurt. This guy asked for more of it, "OK, no problem sir)". I knew it would be easy to ask chef for more...but how to properly present it? I ran around for 3 minutes, sweating, looking for the correct container, a tiny piece of ceramic I could blink and miss, buried in the kitchen that is four times bigger than my apartment, and found it. 

What I mean is, compared to the restaurants I used to work at, even if the money isn't too much different...I just GET OFF on being challenged. Sure, I might have a day or two when I just don't feel like working, but had I stayed busting out beer/burger joints, GOD - HOW FUCKING boring

PS - Best quote of the night = "Tonight's cheviche is..."

Friday, August 16, 2013

CHICAGO IS MY HOME

"Fuck it, I'm not leaving, I'll die here". - My Brother

Many years ago my older brother said that, and I must concur. Months ago I was high on mushrooms with one my dearest and best friends, sitting on the banks of the Ohio River, in Louisville (great place) when she told me I should move to another city, just to gain a different set of life experiences. And she's right, I should. 

There are several cities where I can see myself living: London is one in particular, so is Vancouver, and perhaps I'd be happy in Toronto (where I was born). Or perhaps (wild card) Mexico City. But certainly not LA, or New York City. I have tried both, and although I like both places for various reason...they can both go FUCK OFF. 

Chicago is like a vacuum. People all over from the Midwest, be it Iowa, Indiana, Michigan or even Ohio move here in there early 20"s, seeking the "Big City" life, get a taste and then fled for higher ground for reasons ranging from having kids or seeking better employment. To each there own. I could have done the same, and who knows, perhaps one day I will. 

But for now, with all the various uncertainties that is my life, there is one thing that I am 100% sure of, it's that, Chicago is my home, and GODDAMN if I'm leaving anytime soon. I've watched close friends, family and co-workers take off and then in hushed whispers, reveal that they didn't leave and in more importantly, desire to return. 

There is a reason why I have the flag inked on my arm. Because no matter where I go, or what I do, I will represent/defend/embellish where I am from. 

No matter where I go, I will come back here to die. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

THE POOR SERVING THE WEATHLY

Although my current job involves many of the same qualities as my previous jobs, in that it involves "putting on a 'service smile'", there are a myriad of subtle yet significant differences, both positive and not that I have embraced, or perhaps, become accustomed to. As a self-identified optimist (and closet realist) I have come to accept, if briefly thrive within the confines of my new captor(s). 

Here's the deal: I went from working in a neighborhood grill, which slung burgers to rich. young couples with little kids - the kind that are recently married/parents who have great jobs but maybe still yearn for their early 20's, but will probably move to the 'burbs soon so their kids can get a decent education (I can't blame them) to a very different sort of clientele.  

I work at a Four Star Hotel, or rather the Restaurant within it that serves these guests. I used to wear whatever I wanted to work, and now I must wear a suit and tie. 3 months ago I couldn't tie a tie and now I can do it without looking in the mirror. I still wear ratty clothes to work, but in the space of 10 minutes, I seamlessly transform into a person that doesn't have a hair out of place. 

Or that's the goal. I'm not bragging that I serve people whose name's I can't name, and the money isn't all that much different from slinging burgers and beers...it's just different, and it can be really fucking annoying for a variety of reasons. But the simple fact is this: whereas before I sweated away in a good, but typical neighborhood bar, one old with age, I now stroll down a street and see a Gleaming $300 million tower...

...and think: That's my OFFICE. 60-some stories tall. Of course I just work in the restaurant, or mostly in the kitchen (expatiating orders - i.e. YELLING AT THE COOKS TO MAKE SHIT) and ever, so, gently delivering food to the very wealthy people who can afford this product. It's a ongoing learning process, and I make mistakes daily, but when I get it right...it feels so GOOD.   

OTHER PERKS:
-Health Insurance! 
-Paid Time Off!
-My uniform is dry-cleaned and pressed!
-I don't have to change/lift kegs!
-The latest I have to work is 11PM (instead of 3AM)!
-At least 75% of my co-workers are "family"!

That all being said, it's not all chocolate covered roses. The cooks can be dicks, and wearing a suit in a hot kitchen is less than comfortable. And I need to watch my fucking mouth. But so far the benefits outweigh the opposite of that. And instead of getting drunk at work after the doors are closed...I just go...home. It's both more complicated but far simpler. 

PS - I know this blog has been static for awhile, but won't be going forwards. Please keep in touch/reading!