Saturday, December 31, 2005

Quite A Start To The New Year

So this afternoon found me at the Doctor's. I was getting fresh numbers from my most recent blood work. For those keeping track, my last test had my viral load down to 1163. My newest number? .... wait for it .... 95. Almost undetectable (which is technically under 50) In addition, my T-Cells that came up last time at 452 are now a whopping 616. According to my Doc my T-Cell percentage is testing the same as a heatlhy HIV negative person. Of course, I'm not. What I am, is in pretty damn fine shape and starting the New Year pretty healthy for a sick person. Oh, and in spite of the fact that I stuffed my face all week with homemade Christmas (sorry, Holiday) cookies and ice cream and pasta I actually lost about three pounds. Don't hate me.
To celebrate I bought three new blouses at the Old Gravy and some new storage shelving for my DVD's.

Here's a hot guy in a Speedo to help us all celebrate.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Now With Tasty Marshmellows!

So I finally got around to setting up a photo page with a Flickr account. You can have a look see here. I'll be putting a permanent link on to my blog, probably tomorrow. I realized that I have a ton of pictures of family members and other things that none of my friends and family have ever seen. So we'll be keeping all Flickr posts on the tasteful side so as not to give any interested cousins the vapors. I'll be uploading pictures over the next few weeks if you care to see such things.

Fortunately, we're under no such Rules of Decorum here at From The Ashes, which is why I'm free to give you pages and pages of Some Guys Butt. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Back On The Mean Streets

My vacation in Buffalo (!) has come to an end, I've returned to Nueva York. Something has changed. In me. I feel ... different. Stronger. And definitely less afraid. Also, I'm thinking in sentence fragments. Christmas here apparently was ... interesting. The Ex threw his back out again. He's walking funny but he's able to work. The Hellcat had a bad tooth act up and ended up in the emergency room Christmas night because of the pain. He had a root canal yesterday. The interesting part of all this? I don't really care. I think I'm done with these two.

On another note: As I mentioned before, I password protected my gadgets before I left town. I discovered to my frustration that using system restore won't bypass a lost (forgotten) password. Logging in as the administrator and deleting the passsword is the way to go.

A Little Housekeeping ...

I feel a site re-design coming on ... in the meantime, I've updated the list of sites I link to. I'm also considering de-listing a few I've grown disillusioned with. Here's a question: Have any of you taken down links to sites that don't link to you? Or how about because you don't approve of other sites they link to? There's a couple bloggers out there who regularly attract comments and attention from others I genuinely despise. Is it petty of me to drop them from my links? I'm just sayin'... In any case, I thought I'd call your attention (as I do from time to time) to some newly discovered (to me) blogs of note.

The Diary Of A Lost Boy - The site itself is a tad busy for my taste and fer god's sake pick a type style! but she's HIV+ so that right there gets you listed. From The Ashes is openly HIV+ biased. Considering some of the shit we have to go through, it only seems right.

Completely Naked - Jared is kinky and has a knack for writing about it. What's not to love?

Shitty Blogs - I've been through the entire site including the snarky comments posted by other readers. Good for some shits n' giggles. I just pray I never end up there.

This Thing Of Darkness
- He's a 24 year old hooker here in the Big City. And we know I loves me some prostitutes. But Christ! I hope this boy lives to tell his tales. Quite a start, though.

There you have it. If nothing else, I've pointed you to a couple of sites that should get your man parts all tingly. Now I'm off to the gym to work off the mountains of food I inhaled over Christmas. Ta ...

Friday, December 23, 2005

Holiday Sign-off

I'd forgotten how pretty a foot of snow on the ground looks. I have to admit, despite a slew of problems and decisions facing me after the new year, it's good to be home. Or as close as I'm likely to get to that abstract (to me) concept. Mom and Dad appear to be in good health. My niece is whip-smart and a fabulous dresser (What more could a GUncle* want?). I'm surrounded by memories, both good and bad, thankfully, mostly good. The room I'm in right now is outside the boys' and girls' bedrooms that we grew up in. It's fairly large, and currently being used to store toys and games that my niece has no room for at her house. There are various (unfinished) art/craft projects scattered about and furniture pieces that currently don't have a home. There's a computer desk and my mom's aforementioned woefully slow desktop PC. I've managed to squeeze out whatever speed is left in the creaky processor and noisy hard drive, making checking my e-mail and composing this missive tolerable if not quick. The desk is surrounded by casino games (for Mom) and puzzle and Barbie games to entertain my niece. Everywhere in every room including this one there are family photos in and out of frames, on the wall and tucked into other photos. They are of my father's fairly large family and my sibling's and our (limited) progeny. I will miss my sister this whole week. Thankfully, as the years pass the mourning becomes more wistful and less a painful ache.

Directly behind me is an alcove that I briefly moved into as an older teenager. Preferring the lack of real privacy to the symbolism of moving from my childhood bedroom. It's been filled as well with unused furniture and more pictures. Most of them are of my sister but there's an 8x10 of me tucked in there as well. I don't believe I've duplicated the smile beaming out from that photo in many, many years. But I want to, and that counts for something I guess. There are ceramic and fabric angels scattered around the pictures as well as several candles in holders of glass and brass and other decorative settings. Yet another preference I'm only now realizing I may have unconsciously brought from home.

At the center of the alcove and indeed by default the focal point of the space, sits a 3 foot tall orange glass vase. I remember the why of picking it out if not the when, but I'm thinking I was a young teenager. I vaguely recall paying for it myself and I'm absolutely certain I picked it out alone. At first blush now, a case could be made that it's hideous. Judging by it's display here amongst treasured photos it seems my folks disagree. And so do I. It was a gift freely given, because I wanted to brighten up not just Christmas, but every day in this home we shared. And I thought that it was beautiful. When I turn around and see it sitting there, and the memories of Christmas' past and family gatherings and those we have lost come flooding into my heart and soul, to me, It still looks beautiful.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone and a safe, happy and joyous holiday weekend. I'll speak with you again after the holiday.

*Gay Uncle

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Greetings From Buffalo

It was about as painless and easy commute to the airport that I've had in years of travel. Who knew the most effecient and easiest mode of travel between Penn Station and my castle high atop Second Ave. was to walk? I left almost a full hour later than planned but arrived at the LIRR platform a serendipitous 5 minutes before my train was departing for Jamaica. I pulled into the station in Queens and found I had an hour and a half to complete the final leg of my journey to the airport. I found myself happily dialing up friends and family, smugly relating how I was planning on casually making my way toward my listed terminal.

Of course, I hadn't counted on my carrying an expired non-driver's ID getting me pushed into a line of suspect travellers that were sent through metal detectors, interviewed and scanned again with a detector wand. I hadn't counted on my luggage being swabbed with some sort of cloth device and having said cloth loaded into one of those new-fangled "sniffing" machines. I most certainly didn't expect the machine to emit a series or warning beeps, at which point my "Safety" inspector began stomping her feet and swearing at, I assume, the prospect of having to actually do something. And I definitely didn't have an answer when I was informed that my luggage had tested positive for explosives. I resisted the urge to offer a theory that me and mine tend to test positive for things (THANK YOU! I'll be here all week!). But after answering a series of what seemed to me completely lame questions and having my suitcase and man-purse opened and emptied, I was set free to explode whatever I intended to.

All of which still left me with plenty of time to buy a newspaper and bottle of water and relax for a few minutes before my flight began to board. So here I am, safe in the bosom of my passive-aggresive family. I've been told I look good "now" as opposed to last time I visited when I "had them worried". Oh.

Expect regular updates, in between me trying to breathe some life into mom's tired old PC. I don't think she's run a window's update ever and it looks like her anti-virus software hasn't been updated since my last visit.

I hope all your travels this week go as smoothly as mine did. Minus the suspected terrorist part, of course.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Anybody have a good suggestion how I can get to JFK on Wednesday afternoon? I have a flight to catch.

Seriously, I have to say that except for the anticipated difficulty I'll be having tomorrow getting out to JFK, I wouldn't be suffering much as a result of this "crippling strike" that has "gripped New York". That's assuming I wasn't getting out of Dodge. I'm one of those New Yorkers that has basically seen to it that all my needs can be met within a 10 block radius of the apartment. I have food, liquor, laundry, movies and music all in walking distance. My therapist and doctor are a brisk 1/2 hour walk across town. The fact that I use a phrase like "my therapist" should be a clue as to how entrenched I've become. Theoretically, there's an Upper West Side. I haven't seen it in years. My nose bleeds from the altitude above 57th st. I could always dial up a hooker for delivery. I've always wanted to try and time it so the hooker and pizza would arrive at the same time. I've only come close.

I spent the day finishing up last minute preparations for my holiday visit back to Buffalo. I had a therapy session that dredged up more questions than it answered. More on that later. I plan on spending my Christmas vacation relaxing and pondering my next move. I'll have lots of time to work things out and share my thoughts if you find that sort of thing interesting.

I filled out an application for unemployment. My employment history these past 10 years has alternated between legitimate and sketchy but The Ex seems to think I may have put in enough "real" time to be eligible. That would be sweet. It would mean I could take a few weeks to find a new job I actually gave a rat's ass about.

I watered the plants and did a load of laundry. Nothing sucks more than coming home from a trip to a giant pile of laundry. And dead greenery. I took a few minutes and put password protection on my desktop and laptop. Normally, I wouldn't bother but I've been feeling anxious about being away from the apartment for so long. I'm hoping that the boundary challenged people I live with will resist straying into my room and rifling through my computer files, but I ultimately lost that battle to paranoia (or common sense) and locked down everything. I pre-paid the credit card bills and I charged up all my gadgets. Cellphone, Palm and digital cam all in working order and ready to record those precious holiday memories. That's if I can get the fuck out of this city.

As I said, I'll have a lot of downtime, spending the next six days (holy fuck!) along the banks of Lake Erie, but I will be using Mom's dial-up PC to update so there will be precious little in the way of pictures. See you again at the end of my travels!

Update #1: As suggested, the plan is to make my way to Penn Station and take the LIRR to Jamaica, Queens and the AirTrain. However, news coverage from yesterday saw the LIRR stations a complete cluster fuck. So far, it seems they've worked things out today. I'll be leaving my apartment at 1:30 pm to try and catch a flight out of JFK at 5:30. Check back to see how I fare.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Have Yourself A Bloody Little Christmas

A bit of controversy was stirred up in a couple of articles that ran this week in The Post. To my surprise, the story went national as I tracked down coverage in the San Francisco bay area as well as a Boston TV news station. The most accurate reporting I could find regarding the story was here. The reason I'm mentioning it? One, it's pretty funny. Two, I think this whole national "debate" regarding the use of Happy Holidays versus Merry Christmas is about the most retarded waste of time ever. Three, the people who put up the display are my neighbors.

Just on principle and in my limited capacity as an "artist" I would defend these people to the end. And as a bit more backstory only the Christmas lights and Santa are new. The bloody doll heads in the tree are year 'round. There have been demands to remove the display and even some thinly veiled threats to rip it down. Over my dead Bloody Barbie body. New York City has a rich and storied live and let live tradition. This is not Southern California. We don't censor our controversy. We embrace it. At the very least we stop, take note, shrug and move on. That's why I live here. If you think little Suzie might be traumatized by an artistic display you may have to (gasp!) take a moment to explain to her then here's a thought: Walk on the other side of the street, moron. Just don't mess with my right to have myself a bloody killer Christmas.

In Other News ...
It seems a bit of a controversy of another sort has broken out surrounding the accursed Blog Awards. It's taking every ounce of self control in my possession to resist weighing in beyond my previous ridicule. So for now I'll just keep reading and snicker on occasion.

Also, something's amiss in the land of Movable Type. It seems almost all the Livejournal Blogs have rolled back anywhere from three days to a week. With no explanation as of yet, I'm left wondering if the substantial bank deposit I made yesterday still counts.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

When Being An Empath Can Suck

To my own lack of surprise, I was indeed fired this afternoon. And while I'm sure there are one or two people gleefuly rejoicing at my perceived come-uppance, I assure you this is no tragedy. There were some real difficulties associated with my job that I tried not to bore everyone with. Not the least of which was how it impacted on my free time. I thought that taking a position at a lower profile bar versus the mega club I had come from would be less intense commitment-wise. And while I did manage to lower my everyday stress level while at work, I found that my free hours began everyday around twilight. That was cute when I was a 20-something bartender, not so much as a 43 year old man. Starting your day when One Life to Live began and having breakfast during Oprah (that's at 4pm here in New York) can start to wear on a body. To say nothing of how I was struggling to stay on, let alone remember to take, regular doses of my meds. Taking into account I also started my new job without a moments break from my old one, and adding in that horrid bout of depression I fell into and well, I've been god-damned tired for months now.

I've had to make some adjustments in my life. Not the least of which is to admit I'm not Superman anymore. I need rest. Used to be I could be up and out of the house after a six hour re-charge in the sack. Now I struggle to get my old bones out of bed after 8 hrs. And then I need another hour and a half before I'm ready to shower and actually leave the apartment. As an example of what I was up against, I would frequently go to work on Friday around 7 pm (OK 8) and not get home until after 6 am. I was expected to get back in on Saturday by 5 0r 6 pm. In reality, it was usually closer to 8 again. Even then I was exhausted.

On top of that, it was increasingly apparent that they were expecting me to spin gold out of crap. Specifically, there was no money for advertising, promotion or salaries. In the end, including mine. No hard feelings, we just can't afford you.

There's more to say but it's late and quite frankly, I'm drunk. Everything will work out fine and I'll do laundry and finish this post tomorrow. I've booked my flight home for Christmas. Worry not, faithful readers. Good things are ahead.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Some Extra Free Time?

I spent today relaxing around the apartment. Truly taking a day off from any and all responsibilities. I sorted mail and fluffed the pillows and watched stories about extremely fat people on TLC. Early this evening I got a burst of creativity and popped out for some glossy photo paper to make up some prints. Eventually, I would like to have all the photography in my room be a display of my work. Here's a shot I haven't posted from a trip to Central Park in May of 2004. It's inside the underpass next to the Bathesda Fountain. It has since been closed for repairs and is all boarded up. The late afternoon sun made for some great shadows.

Central Park May 8, 2004

I suppose it's a good thing I spent the day regrouping. The owner has called me in for a meeting tomorrow afternoon. I have a very strong suspicion I'm going to be fired. Not to worry, if it happens I'm totally prepared for it. Gotta go now. Look at the time. Iron Chef is on.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Checking In

I'm healthy and fine, thanks for asking. I'm also ridiculously busy. Between work and the parties we booked and the parties we're attempting to book I have very little free time lately. I basically work, sleep and jerk off once in a while. I have pages and pages of bookmarked news and sites as well as party pictures to show you, but I haven't found the time to properly highlight them yet. I'll try to update further this coming week. Two things I guarantee you won't read about here:

Brokeback Fucking Mountain

The Urban Fucking Blog Fucking End Of Year Fucking Blog Awards (0f any kind).

Enough already! At least I only tell you I masturbate, I don't fucking pass it off as an interesting subject.

Although I'm a very good masturbater.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Killer Squirrels! Like I Don't Have Enough To Worry About

A Russian news agency is reporting that a pack of murderous squirrels descended en mass from a tree and visciously gutted a large barking dog. Observers saw them scamper away with bits of their kill still in their tiny homicidal paws. Ominously, one of the squirrels stopped half way into the forest and pointedly stared down a six year old boy. If it's an uncorroborated report from an obscure Russian town, you know it must be true. I shudder to think how long it will be before wilding bands of killer squirrels begin rampaging through Central Park. This one's for you, Ray.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

And Now, A Word Or Two About My Ass.

Since I have a spare half hour, even though there's probably work I could be doing, I thought I'd clue you in on my ass-attack and why I was feeling so craptastic (pardon the pun) all last week. It started the day before Thanksgiving with what I ass-umed was hemorrhoids. It's not something I suffer from often, but when you've had jobs that require you to be on your feet and walking for hours and hours, the 'roids can "rear" their ugly head from time to time. Nothing a little "brown eye cream" can't take care of. But it's still painful and if it flares up at work, well, it can make a shift until you can get home to a hot bath and some Prep H seem interminable. By Thursday, I had added the runs to my repertoire of Thanksgiving gross-outs and by that night, I was running a low-grade fever that came and went for days.

I'm not sure when the spasms started. You know when you're having a piss and the door buzzer rings and you just know it's the UPS guy with the package you've been waiting for so you pinch off the stream so you don't miss the delivery? It's totally voluntary. Well that particular spasm kept happening to me over and over again. All day and night. Sitting down, standing up, attempting to sleep. And they were painful spasms. Really, really painful. As I described it, it was like someone sneaking up behind you and jamming a white-hot metal pipe up your ass and yelling "surprise!" There was no warning, and no rhyme or reason to when it happened. Although walking seemed to increase the frequency, so I started avoiding that whenever possible. But even the simplest of movements, like reaching for a water glass, could cause me to shift just enough in my center to trigger a spasm. Which soon enough would result in me crying out in pain followed by a lot of cursing. It was exhausting. Because the spasms would cause me to clench every muscle from the waist down, my leg muscles grew sore. I was sleep deprived, being woken by waves of pain every hour. The pain and spasms continued through the weekend, and I did still have a case of The 'Roids. Add in some HIV meds-induced diarrhea and basically nothing good was associated with my ass for several days. And that's saying something.

Finally Monday came and with it, the return of normal business hours. I wasn't much improved and put in a late afternoon call to my doctor. Do I feel thankful that I even have a regular doctor that will return my call within an hour or two of my making it? Yes I do, but unfortunately he couldn't see me that day or the next. I explained that with the pain I was in I wasn't even sure if I could make it to work the next day and I didn't care who I see as long as I see someone. With that, he made an appointment for me with another doctor two days later with the advice that if my condition worsened I should get to an emergency room. By then, I most definitely didn't feel I was getting any worse and decided to wait it out.

Now you know by the time Wednesday night came and my appointment was coming up most of my symptoms had subsided don't you? Of course they had, and I debated keeping the appointment at all. But I was still a little tender and I was curious what the hell went wrong with my innards so I ended up going. I ended up getting cultures done from anywhere on my body that had a hole (yes, there too), a quick urinalysis that came back negative (for what, I never found out) and a digital inspection of my innards. Commonly called a finger wave, if I recall correctly. The diagnosis? Bacterial infection of some sort that resulted in prostitis. The source? No way to know for sure but here's a telling exchange between me and the kindly doctor:

Her: "Have you had any unsafe sex in the past couple of weeks?"

Me: "No, not in a long long time."

Her: "Including oral sex?"

Me: (pause) "Oh. You're counting that?"

Regardless of the source she ended up prescribing a butt shot of antibiotics as well as a back up oral dose and an admonishment to avoid bumpin' uglies with another man until Mary's typhoid was cured. Not really a problem as my aching innards and my ass 'roids made me feel about as sexy as Tara Reid asleep in her own vomit. And there you have it, one minor medical "crisis" survived. And me just a day or two away from being back to my ass-tounding self. Sorry.

MY ASS (Part 2)

So I'm takin a spin around my blog links and I find myself down under with one post in particular a source for inspiration. Nobody appreciates a nice butt shot more than me. As I said, it was early in the day and I found myself inspired, challenged even, to come up with an equally appealing hiney pic. I took several timer shots 'till I felt I got what I was looking for. Unfortunately, I failed to take into account the butt load of antibiotics I had shot in my ass the day before. And I had no idea she had bandaged me afterward. So you tell me, even as damaged goods, how's my ass?