Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Hello. I Must Be Going.

Just set the alarm for 6 am. I need to be at work at 8:00. Tomorrow we start training the new staff at 10:00. We have a welcome speech by one of the owners. And then computer training for servers and bussers. Then bartenders. Then host orientation. Then steps of service for the servers and runners. That's all before the lunch break. After lunch, in addition to all the training, there'll be a musical run-through for the dancers for Tuesday's private party in addition to a sound check. As well as sanding, wallpapering, retail sales training, main bar set-up, food tasting and a host of other things that need to be accomplished. I don't expect to be back home much before 9:00. Tuesday should be even longer.

Apropos of nothing I passed SNL alumnus Rachel Dratsch outside the Food Emporium at Union Square today. She's incredibly tiny. Almost pocket-sized. Why are TV people all so unexpectedly small? I'm starting to wonder if Mikell's theory that they really are inside the little box may be true.

Apologies in advance if I disappear for a bit. Not drinking, just busy.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

True Story

Friday morning. Heading in to work at 9:30. I stop in the bodega on the next block for my fortifying V8 and my mind-numbing morning NY Post. It's not a good day without a dose of Page Six. Nothing seems amiss and it's not particularly busy. But it is broad daylight. The morning clerk rings me up. I hear a shout from outside the store and I look over. A medium sized gray rat comes walking in the front door. He walks along the baseboards, notice I say walk, not run. He turns and follows the line of the checkout counter, passing directly in front of my feet. I'm not particularly afraid of rats, and watch in bemused fascination as he passes by me, hangs a right and disappears under the counter across the aisle. The cashier notices and expresses his dismay. He looks at me in shock and embarrassment, unsure what I'm going to do. I shrug my shoulders and hold up a hand to wave goodbye.

"Rat." I say and pick up my bag and go.

Friday, March 23, 2007

It's Been A While Since I Put It In

That's right. I got a paycheck. I hadn't had the chance to piss and moan about the bad news I got during my ill-fated trip to New Jersey. My boss went with us for computer training and it was there I was told that managers were on a bi-weekly pay schedule. Which meant the $130 I had barely budgeted to get me through one week would have to get me through two. Impossible you say? You have no faith. I actually had figured out how I was going to accomplish this with many cans of tuna, ramen and mac and cheese in my immediate future. Unfortunately, it meant going further in to debt and being late on several payments this month. The only thing I had to look forward to was the fact that I would get a fat paycheck and my roommate's share of the rent all in the same weekend. Eventually, if I could hold on I'd be flush.

But this evening Allah smiled on my homosexual soul, as it was revealed that my boss was in error. He is considered administrative and thus he falls in to the bi-weekly category. I am fortunately still lumped in with the restaurant employees and as such, I'm paid weekly. Halle-fucking-lujah! The casual way he handed me my first paycheck was totally offset by the way I waved my arms in the air and did a "I got some ice cream, and you can't have none" dance. After depositing the check in the bank and remarking to myself how long its been since I filled out a deposit ticket and how very long it has been since I earned a solid week's pay. I took off for home and pulled out .... an ever growing pile of bills. I proceeded to pay four of the most immediate and glaringly outsized bills at once. Next is the Amex card I've been living on all month. The thing most people hate about Amex is my favorite feature. The whole bill is due every month, which is a drag, but there's no interest and once you pay it, that debt is gone. I always feel like I've taken a satisfying poo when I pay that bill. Happy and noticeably lighter.

Since You Asked, Pt. 2

David asked from the comments if we were ready to open the restaurant/club. An interesting question to be sure. Here's the 411. Training for the new staff starts on Monday morning. We believed we would have the main floor to work on as the staff training will include bartenders, bussers, hosts, servers, bar backs, food runners and about 25 retail sales people. Turns out the main floor probably won't be finished and what parts are ready will be given over for rehearsals for the back up performers for a major recording artist, performing live in concert for 250 invited guests, who our media/PR people have gone and booked for Tuesday. On our 2nd day of training. Followed by Wednesday and Thursday training, followed by a Thursday night party for a top European Billboard recording artist, here to promote his album in the US. Two parties before the restaurant is anywhere near completed, followed by three nights of soft openings. After which we'll open to the public. Assuming our valid liquor license comes through.

We will have ice machines and therefore ice by the end of the day tomorrow. But as it stands now there is no finished bar to make these drinks, no soda system hooked up and no beer taps connected. The kitchen could crank out something along the lines of food if pressed. Maybe they'll enjoy bottled water and hot dogs on toothpicks.

Now I can't tell you who will be performing live this week. I'm sworn to secrecy, and if it got out and was traced back to me I'd get in a mess of trouble. So I guess you'll have to rack your brain and try to figure it out from this obscure reference. His or Her People Magazine nickname rhymes with that gold ring thingy around an angel's head. But I can't tell you, so don't try to get more clues.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Since You Asked ...

Here's the list of wines I sent in as a suggested sample. I'm no expert, but I think it's a decent selection of reds and whites at various price points. I've had most of the wines on this list at least once. I wouldn't say any of them are less than fine. Nothing outrageously fancy though.



750 Chardonnay Res 2004

750 Cabernet Sauv 2004


750 Chardonnay 2005


750 Merlot Res 2000

750 Petite Sirah 2000



750 Beaujolais Villages

750 Chardonnay 2004

750 Pinot Grigio

750 Pouilly Fuisse 2005



750 Pinot Grigio


750 Merlot 2002

750 Pinot Noir Estate


750 Chardonnay Reserve

750 Cabernet Sauv. 2003

750 Sauvignon Blanc 2005


750 Fume Blanc 2001

750 Oakville Cab Sauv 2002


750 Pinot Grigio 2005

750 Sauvignon Blanc 2005


1.5L Cabernet Sauv. 2003

1.5L Merlot 2002

1.5L Pinot Grigio 2003



750 Montelpulciano 2000


3 Palms Merlot


750 Cabernet Sauv. 2003



750 St. Emilion 2003


750 Pinot Noir

750 Reisling

(Proprieter Series)

750 Cabernet Sauv Briarcrest

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Far Too Early, Even Sober

Up at 7 am today. I have to make my way downtown by 9:00 so I can hitch a ride with a new co-worker. We have to go to New Jersey (!) and train on the new computer system. In theory, after today we'll be proficient enough to teach the system to the staff. Riiiiiiiight. I spent all afternoon pouring over wine catalogues to come up with a serviceable wine list. I'm pretty happy with the result. My wine knowledge is limited to the gallons I've drank over the years, and whatever I've picked up from restaurants or reading. Deliveries start arriving on Thursday and staff training is scheduled for Monday afternoon. They've pushed back the opening but only by a few days.

Woke up with a killer headache today as yesterday we worked with the windows open to alleviate fumes from sanding, painting etc. I was in a chilly draft for hours.

Today is 42 days sober. 6 weeks. The longest I've been sober in over 10 years, maybe 15. My reward?

Jersey ... pray for me.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sunday Is Supposed To Be A Day Of Rest.

Instead I painted part of the living room. First I took down some shelving and spackled all the holes. FYI they sell a newfangled spackle that is pretty much instantly dry and ready for painting assuming you're just covering up little nail holes. Perfect for impatient types like myself. I had to lighten the custom shade I bought pre-mixed at my local hardware store for $4.99, but it came out exactly how I pictured it. I guess you'd call it a light purple. It's one of my favorite colors. Very forgiving dirt-wise and so befitting a Duchess. I had more than enough paint for two coats. Next I have to pry the mirrors off that I attached to the only unpainted wall. That wall will be a light shade of pink. Trust me, I know what I'm doing.

I also took Jet out to the park and brushed him for 1/2 hour. You would not believe how much hair I pulled off him. I could have done more but he started to lose patience. I even lifted up his dog collar and brushed the hair around his neck. He must have liked it. He made the same noise I make when some guy sticks his tongue up my butt.

While I was at the hardware store I bought a large planter pot. One of the plants in my kitchen is thriving and I thought it would benefit from a new home. I also relocated it to another room. I'll have to keep an eye on it. One of the best ways to kill a plant is to give it a new home it doesn't enjoy.

I also spent the morning customizing my PC. Here's a couple of free fun programs, particularly if you have MAC envy:

Stardock: ObjectDock is a nifty download. You can duplicate the MAC dock and customize it accordingly. You can even replace your start bar entirely if you wish. Plus, it's cool.

Style XP is a great download. You can download and install free XP themes. It will default download and install the MAC Panther theme. Brushed metal is sexy. Plus, I got that little blue apple down in the corner instead of the start button. And I didn't have to spend $1,500.00.

There are lots more ways you can make your PC more MAC-like. I like to trick out my desktop and settings periodically to keep from getting bored. Try a Google search and see what pops up.

This blog post was brought to you via Windows Live Writer (Beta). It's finally working correctly and set to post directly via my Blogger site. I like it now that it's working.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Top O' The Moron To Ye!

I don't celebrate St. Patrick's Day. When I drank, I hardly needed another day as an excuse to partake. Any day that ended in "day" was good enough for me. If you ask me, St. Patrick's Day is even more of an amateur event than New Year's Eve. Maybe because the drinking starts in the afternoon. People seem particularly sloppy from evening on. New York City is no stranger to a city-wide bender when it comes to St. Patrick's Day. Neither is my neighborhood. Several local bars and taverns have opened around the area the last few years. Mostly it's increased drunken behavior on the weekends. Today, most of the neighborhood bars were full from early afternoon on. Right around the corner is the Police Academy. The recruits aren't allowed to drink, at least not in uniform. But the building is home to the local police precinct, as well as a firehouse around on the next block. Nothing says party like a bunch of drunken men in uniform armed with loaded weapons! I guess I should count my blessings the area doesn't have a reputation for police/fireman drunken brawls. They usually save that for the boroughs.

Since I got up all week at 7:30 for work, I slept in today and didn't stop snoozing until 9:30. Actually, I had plans to go in for a few hours around noon as I had some manuals to read through and I wanted to be there if anyone showed up to fill out an application. And I'm totally brown-nosing my boss. I ended up not getting in until closer to 1:00. The snow had piled up in banks overnight from the shoveling and plowing, and I spent some extra time walking Jet as he LOVES to bound through the snow. The school playground was open and snowed in and I let him off leash so he could tear it up running in circles for a bit. I'm lucky he's really an all-weather dog.

After that I took some time to pick up a weeks worth of socks and discarded clothes from the bedroom, and just gave the house a general tidy up. After a brief winter respite, Jet is shedding again and there's hair under and on every piece of furniture. It's next to impossible to keep up with. The next spring-like day we have I plan to open up the windows, shake out the furniture covers and give Jet a good bath. I hope it helps.

I put in a few hours at work. Once I was satisfied I was caught up I cut out and headed for the gym. I didn't end up working out due to time constraints, but I did have a scalding shower and took some time to shave .... um... areas that needed shaving. I had time for a fattening coffee drink before going to a Gay-A meeting. In case you're wondering, we made fun of you drunken idiots for a while, although surprisingly not as much as you'd think. Mostly we bitched about how you lurch about all day blocking sidewalks and doorways. A girl in a giant green hat and antennae (I think it was a costume) turned around at Starbuck's and walked directly in to me.

After my meeting I returned home, made a nice dinner and played with the dogs. I caught up on some reading and took a few minutes to try and find some money somewhere I had overlooked. Naturally, I found a little. Call it the really super duper I'm not kidding broke account. I also figured out how to save it for an even rainier day. Hopefully, that won't come anytime soon. Then I spent some more time cleaning, and while I was at it, I took the back off my computer and blew out the fans. Surprisingly, the dog hair hadn't got inside there yet. I'm planning on continuing the living room touch up tomorrow. I should be able to get the walls spackled and painted.

As a souvenir of the day, someone was courteous enough to throw up on the sidewalk, directly in front of the building. It appears he or she enjoyed some sort of gumbo, at least temporarily. Happy holiday!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pull Your Dress Down Dr. Freud, I Can See Your Slip ...

I must be doing something right, they're printing me a set of business cards. I got out right on time today and could have gone directly to my HIV+ support meeting but I decided to skip it and spend a couple hours with Jet. I've been leaving him every morning at 9:30 and not getting home until 9 or later. I have time to walk him, stuff my face and watch about 1/2 hour of TV before bed. That's not a complaint. I'm having a great time working, and my fears about being able to put in a full day without getting tired appear to be unfounded. Between the fact that I'm not always hungover and I actually like what I'm doing and the people I work with, I have plenty of energy to get through the day. I actually had to be reminded today that we could go home, as I hadn't checked my watch in a while. It will be nice to pull a few night shifts when we finally open. At least I can walk the dog a couple times and spend some time in the park with him before I have to leave for work. I'm not planning on closing every single night however. That gets tedious after a while no matter who you are. And since the bulk of the problems happen at night, I'll take my share of less hectic day shifts on occasion thank you very much.

The last couple of days have been spent doing interviews, follow-up interviews and callbacks for interviews. I'm notoriously casual when it comes to interviewing. I usually skip over the standard questions and ask them about their family, if they have kids, where they were born etc. I spent the first 15 minutes of one interview getting information about weather and beaches in Brazil from one young lady. What can I say, I ask what pops into my head. You try interviewing 100+ people over three days. I have to get creative to keep from getting bored. You still get a good sense of what they're all about. I'm assuming a bartender can make a martini. If not, we'll find out soon enough.

One challenge that came up yesterday happened when my boss asked another manager and me to take some time this week to go to neighboring comparable establishments and suss out their drink prices. Pretty standard task when you are opening in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Problematic for a man in recovery however. I thought about calling someone to go with me. I could buy them drinks and get my info that way. But believe it or not, I'm not currently close enough with anyone not sober to call on in that situation. A free drink budget and no one to waste it on, can you imagine? Oh, the humanity! I mentioned to one of the other managers that I was having an issue with the assignment as I don't drink. I followed that up with, "Still, nobody says I have to finish it". He quickly corrected me "You mean drink it". Of course, I meant drink it not finish it, didn't I?

Yeah, that's it.

I won't be getting my first paycheck until next Friday. I have around $130 until then. Oy.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Day 1, Day 34, Daylight Come An' Me Wan' Go Home

Oooooooo Lawd!

Up at 7:30 so's I can leave for my first day on the job at 9:30. Yes, it takes me two hours to wake up and get ready to leave the house. In my defense, around 40 minutes of that involves walking and feeding the dog and a hot shower/shit/shave (for me, not the dog). A couple cups of coffee, some general pokiness and two hours fly by. I like to ease in to things rather than roughly plunge into the day's sphincter. I'm sensitive like that. Sometimes, I like to rim the day for about 20 minutes, but that's another story.

Anyhow, as expected, I've landed in a huge undertaking as far as jobs go. I'm working with a manager/consultant and another manager. Two more have been hired but they don't start for a week or two respectively. Unfortunately, by that time we need the entire staff hired and trained. Bussers, hosts, waiters, bartenders, runners, at least one Maitre d' and some barbacks if we can find any. Also, reservationists and seaters while we're at it. This while construction is ongoing, bars are being built, the waiter stations are purely theoretical, intricate computer wiring and soda systems need to be completed and beer lines have to be extended, hooked up and refrigerated. I need to come up with a wine list that will work for the time frame allotted as well as please the consultants. We need inventory sheets and a whole host of request forms, training manuals and legal documents. Bar supplies need to be ordered as well as all the liquor and food, linen napkins, aprons, bar mops and a million other things I haven't listed.

I spent today touring the facilities, offering up opinions for storage options and doing interviews and arranging call-backs for people already seen at least once. Talking on the phone is usually one of my least favorite things to do, but I must have called 20 people this afternoon. My irrational fear switch appears to be turned off. I hope it lasts.

The other new manager is gorgeous. And really nice. He's got very distracting fingers. But that might just be me. Anyway, we met with one of the (many) owner/investors, who was nice enough to take us through the storyboards for the entire concept. From bars to retail to entertainment to custom made state of the art recording booths to the real time on-line performance cams to the projection billboards over Broadway. To say that millions of dollars are being spent on this project would be a gross understatement. It could potentially be a destination complex for tourists worldwide. Even if it reaches flash-in-the pan status, I see it having a great 5-10 year shelf life in NYC and I also see huge potential for expansion to Vegas, Disney and anywhere else huge throngs of American Idol wannabe's gather. Assuming I don't dive headfirst into a giant martini glass, this could be an enormous source of income and a great coup in my career.

I put in a solid 8 hours and then headed downtown. I missed the first 15 mins. of a Gay-A meeting. I'm a little stunned I'm at 34 days now. I could have waited an hour and gone to a later one but I wanted to get home to Jet, and after a brief assessment of how I was feeling I was sure that there was no way I was going to spoil today by falling off the wagon. By the by yesterday found me skipping game day with the POZzies. I opted for getting caught up on my vomit crusted laundry. And I made it to the Alka-Palooza for the afternoon session. After catching a Gay-A meeting I popped over to Union Square Whole Foods for a Buffalo Chicken paninni that was div-ooon before returning for the big meeting in the school auditorium. I caught the last 15 minutes of one speaker. Shortly after the next speaker began, my head rolled forward as my seat-tray table returned to the "nap" position. I feel asleep. If you go to a meeting but sleep until the closing prayer it still counts, right? I mean, I was there ...

Well, I have to give the puke-meister his last walk now. I'm on day shifts at least until we get the joint open so by midnight I want to be in bed with a vampire DVD of some sort playing. That always soothes me to sleep.

Amazingly, they're sticking to the opening date of April 5th. I expect we'll be gluing down floor tiles right up until the doors open.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I Can't Believe I Almost Forgot Again!

I guess it was all the distractions with the job interviews and the Gay-A meetings. But I almost missed a momentous occasion. Wednesday, March 7 came and went and I forgot to note that it's been 4 years since my HIV diagnosis. How time flies when you're gulping down pills! If you want to read all about the fun and frolic involved with an HIV diagnosis, by all means go to the first month of archives (I would link back for you, but those early posts don't seem to have link info for me to grab) back where it all began. Then come on back and wish me a happy belated POZiversary. I don't think my virus looks a day over 2.

In other news ...

I know it's last minute, but if you're around town today and at a loss for something to do, here's a couple of options:

If my deluge of Gay-A posts have you intrigued, or you're worried about your drinking or have a thought that maybe sobriety could be an option for you, you can check out Manhattan Share-A-Day. It's an all day event comprised of 40+ open meetings, as well as 12 step workshops, information about Spanish AA as well as Al-anon and Al-a-teen. It's free and runs from 9 am - 5 pm. Details and directions are here.

SIN NY (The activity/meeting group for HIV+ men in NYC) is holding a Boardgame & Pot Luck Event on Sunday from 12 noon - 4 pm. This is also a free event. You can bring a game or food (kitchen facilities are available for heating) or just come down and meet some fun, friendly POZ guys in a more casual setting. Details are below:

Date: Sunday March 11, 2007

Time: 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Location: Westbeth Community Room, 155 Bank Street (Btw the West Side Highway and Washington Street in the West Village)

GAME LIST (Partial): Loaded Questions, Moods, Scrabble, Boggle, Wit's End, Pop5, Loaded Questions, Carcassonne. Please feel free to bring additional games; last time we had Uno, Truth-or-Dare Jenga, traditional 52-card.

Whatever you decide to do, it's a gorgeous sunny Sunday in NYC. Pull on some kicks and your favorite jeans (I recommend going commando on Sunday) and get yer ass out of the house. So says the Duchess!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Breaking ...

It's official. I'm about to call back my new employer and accept their job offer. I'll be returning to work sometime Monday. I'm pretty excited and a little anxious. One day at a time ... One day at a time ...

As a public service ...

If you currently have a Palm gadget that uses either the Palm OS or Windows Mobile, the fine folks at Palm have provided a software update to account for the change in daylight savings time that threatens to cause mobile calenders and schedulers to pitch fits, or at least throw you off by an hour every day. If you didn't get the e-mail, you can find and download it here.

This Just In ...

Your latest postal rate hike put to good use. The US Postal service is spending what I'm assuming is a gazillion dollars to turn post office mailboxes into R2D2 replicas in honor of the 30th anniversary of Star Wars. Oh, and by the way, the 2008 cost to mail a post card will be $2.49.

The Post ran an interesting piece on Ronnie Spector, star of the 60's girl group the Ronettes. She's about to be inducted into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame. And she's been locked in a fascinating if not tragic spiral of mean spirited madness with ex-husband, hair victim and alleged murderer Phil Spector for the last 40 years. I worked at a club that Ronnie performed in for the last several years. She wasn't particularly odd as performers go. She never left her dressing room until it was time to get on stage. Backstage, she never removed her sunglasses and never looked up at anyone. After the show, she returned to her dressing room until everyone had gone. But the article paints a woman obsessed with her supposed fame, neglectful of her adopted "children" and willing to place the blame for every bad thing that ever happened to her squarely at the feet of her sad little ex-husband. Here's an excerpt from the last few paragraphs of the article:

As for what became of Ronnie's adopted children with Phil, the eldest, Donte, was last reported to be HIV-positive, homeless and living in a car blocks away from Phil's mansion in Beverly Hills. He and his brother Gary have both spoken on the record about the physical and sexual abuse they claim to have suffered at Phil's hands.

"I met Gary," Ribowsky says. "He grew up in a mansion, but they locked the door to his bedroom on him. He had to go to the bathroom in a pot. You can't make this stuff up."

Ronnie claims to have a good relationship with her adopted sons - especially Donte, "the half-breed like me." She pauses. "Four years ago, Donte's saying, 'Mom, I have AIDS.' I don't know if that's true - he may be trying to distract me from what I'm doing."

She says she heard from Gary last Mother's Day, but that call didn't go so well either. "He called me saying, 'Mom, Dad's the celebrity.'" She was outraged. "I'm like, 'I'm the celebrity!' " She says they have caused her so much anguish she can't deal with them anymore: "I had to let my husband Jonathan deal with the kids so I could deal with my own life," she says.

Which, for her, reaches its culmination when Keith Richards inducts the Ronettes into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ("I wanted Keith! They wanted Cher," Ronnie says). Talley will be seeing her cousin for the first time in 15 years this Saturday, when the Ronettes rehearse. "It should be interesting," Talley says, laughing. "Welcome to my world!"

Ronnie, however, is thinking only of her legacy, which she now regards as secure. "I was at a private party [for inductees] the other night, and they gave me a chocolate disc with my name on it, and it was the best party I ever had. The guy from the Village People hugged me - that's my reward. It was all about me." She pauses. "I'm so, so happy to be getting my due. And it is due to me."

So sad ...

Eww! Gross!

More gross than my feminine hygiene joke. Which I thought was brilliant, by the by. Anyway, Jet is throwing up. This afternoon he puked his meal up, on the couch. I didn't see or hear him do it and I came thisclose to sitting in it. I changed the slipcover and hand washed one of the pillows. Tonight after I got home I was perusing some blogs and heard him retching. Problem was he was on my bed. Turns out he's a fairly quiet puker. I rushed over just as god knows what came out in a huge chunky mass. He managed a bonus round before I could shoo him off the bed. He then proceeded to jump on the couch and bring some more up. I can't really get mad, he obviously has some sort of doggie stomach bug. Why my dog prefers to throw up on upholstered furniture and not a more convenient hardwood floor is beyond me. I guess for the same reason he can only poo in dirt or grass. And I'm not sure what he ate, since I hadn't fed him since the morning. Oh well, I guess the bed linens were due for a change anyway. Needless to say my laundry bag is completely and prematurely full.

My new employer called this evening. Finally. I was at a Gay-A meeting so I missed it but I'm supposed to call in tomorrow. I'm assuming we'll arrange a meeting or discuss salary/schedules etc. over the phone. I have a couple hundred dollars that I'll need to streeeeeetch out until I get a paycheck. It would help if I could cut down on laundry bags full of vomit crusted furniture covers.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Paranoia, The Destroyer

I didn't hear from my new employer today. Supposedly, they were going to check my references and make me an offer. I'm sure my references will check out, assuming they can track down a few alcoholic bar managers. Not always an easy task. I know I'm being paranoid, but I've had so much shit dumped on me the last two years that I'm understandably a little gun shy. I'll feel better when I hear from them.

I'm officially well and truly over winter. Except for a brief respite, it feels like it's been cold for weeks and weeks. I usually walk all over, but I've taken to the subways and buses in order to avoid the frigid winds. Jet gets a no-nonsense walk around the block, and if he doesn't get all his business (read: poop) done by then it can wait 'till next time.

I found a recipe for veal stew that sounded pretty good. I modified it with some pork cubes, and then got really creative. I gave it a quick taste just now but I'll wait 'till tomorrow and season it up some more. If it's as good as I think it is I'll publish the recipe.

Yesterday, after braving the cold and heading across town for a Gay-A meeting, I arrived a few minutes early. A homeless man had come in, obviously to get warm, not to get sober. He was standing by the refreshment table with a cup of hot coffee and several shopping bags. His nose was dripping snot and he was dunking and sloshing and eating cookie after cookie, all the while talking incoherently in a mix of English and Spanish. I took a seat and took off my coat, heading for the coffee pot to get a warm cup. It was completely empty. Dejected and freezing I returned to my seat as the homeless man continued eating and babbling. I pictured myself running him right through his bloated belly with a shiny silver samurai sword and calmly sitting back down. I would say I'm not a nice person but after all, I didn't actually kill the poor man for real.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

We Interrupt This Decline Into Poverty ...

Unless something goes horribly awry, some idiot has gone and given me a job again.

I'm back in nightclub management, and I'm opening a brand new operation right in the center of Broadway. It's a huge undertaking, and I need to hit the ground running as the current plan is to have it up and running by the first week of April. Construction is well underway, but this ought to test the bonds of my new-found sobriety all right. I am, however gratefully aware that I probably wouldn't have been able to land the job if I hadn't stopped drinking. Here we go ...

I Hope It's Feed A Cold ...

I had a fever all night last night and the accompanying wacked out dreams. I had an appointment this morning and kept waking up every hour thinking I had slept through the alarm. The apartment was freezing and my cold made it worse. I took a super-hot as I could stand it shower until the heat warmed me through. Unfortunately, my trip into Midtown was as cold as could be. I came right home, had a sandwich and collapsed on the couch. The coffee table hadn't been delivered and I just watched TV, organized my mail, talked to mom and waited. And waited. And had soup. It was 7 pm before I took the dog on a trip downstairs to see if maybe there was a notice on the door. I would have been disappointed because UPS is usually pretty reliable. As it turns out, the UPS truck was in it's delivery spot for my block. Just as Jet was getting ready to walk, the delivery man wheeled up to my apartment.

I got back from the walk and hauled the box upstairs. I was supposed to go to a Gay-A meeting but I opted to start putting the table together. I thought I would have time to do both. I was wrong. I skipped my first Gay-A meeting today. In my defense, I'm sick and wasn't up for a trip across town or even to the East Village. And besides, I'm shooting for 90 meetings in 90 days, not 90 days of meetings. The last two weeks I went to two meetings on both Thurs. and Fri. So technically, I banked a few meetings for just such an occasion. Did I mention I was sick? *sniffle*.

The coffee table looks great! I was afraid that it wouldn't be sturdy for such a low price, but it's way sturdier than the junky old one. And the corners don't have doggy chew marks on it either. Nor will they if he values his stubby tail. I painted two pieces of furniture to match and the living room looks much better already. That's without wall paint or a fresh coat of polyurethane for the floor. Once I finished assembling the table, I visited with my roommate for a bit, ran out for dog food for my boy and made a nice piece of fish with leftover pasta. I washed it down with half a pint of Haagen-Dazs. I may have a cold, but my appetite appears unaffected. Nor does my constant whining about the cold seem to have any affect on my ability to enjoy fattening frozen desserts.

Oh yeah! I've been meaning to tell you ... I'm not much for video games. I have no XBox 360 and the only Wii I take is the one that wakes me up at 7 am. But I do have one or two PC games. The usual suspects, Spider-Man, The X-Men, a couple of Star Trek games. I do have a few free games on my system as well. I like the free games because they're usually fairly easy to play because ... well... they're free. I just missed the age of video games so I'm sorely lacking in skills. I do have a joystick, but I was born with it. And it does provide many moments of joy. If not for others certainly for me. Here's a couple of free games I've found. Free. No sign-ups, no gimmicks. Just download, install and play. You'll be glad you did next time you're stuck at home sick.

Highway Pursuit -courtesy of Adam You try to keep your car on the road. Bad guys try to knock you off.

Penguin Adventure - His Mom was kidnapped by evil polar bears. He can run, jump and slide on his belly in his quest to find her.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

It Snot All Bad News

My hand is much better. The swelling is still there, but the pain is considerably less. Yesterday, I could barely put on a glove. Today, I didn't bother with the ACE bandage, and all but the really complicated dexterity has returned. I still can't lift anything with any kind of heft, so cooking is a problem (I can't lift and turn the pots and pans) and so it goes without saying I can't use my damaged hand to piss. THANK YOU! There's another show at 10. Try the lamb.

From the bad news department, I was turned down for unemployment. I didn't work/make enough last year to be able to reinstate my benefits. It was a longshot. And despite a valiant effort, I lost the battle to beat back a cold that was coming on. I felt a little run down the last couple days, and slept over 10 hrs. the other night. I was coughing a bit and my throat got scratchy. This afternoon I started to sneeze every 1/2 hour or so. A sure sign I was sick. By the end of today I was a snot factory. And since the temperature outside already dropped over 20 degrees today, the cold went right in to my bones. He doesn't always, but Jet seemed to have mercy and accept a few quick walks around the block. I'm currently sipping apple cinnamon caffeine free tea and waiting for the Ambien to work it's magic. Remind me to talk about the controversy that breaks out in Gay-A camps about whether or not over the counter and prescription drugs should or should not count in sobriety. It goes without saying I stand firmly in the some pills are good camp.

Yesterday I made a pasta with carbonara sauce for dinner. I saw the recipe on a Food Network show from Italy and it looked so good and so damn simple. I had to try it. Here's the original recipe:

Spaghetti alla Carbonara Recipe courtesy Enotcea Corsi, Rome Italy Show: $40 a Day Episode: Rome, Italy

1 pound spaghetti 4 eggs 1 teaspoon black pepper 3 teaspoons Pecorino Romano, plus extra, for serving 2 teaspoons cream, optional 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil 3 slices pancetta
Boil the spaghetti in salted water until it is al dente. Drain and set aside. Beat the eggs. Add the black pepper and cheese to the beaten eggs. Set aside. Add cream to this mixture, if desired, for a creamier dish. Put the oil in a saucepan with the pancetta, and saute for 5 minutes. Add the spaghetti into the pan and saute for another 3 minutes. Turn off the flame (this is important) and add the egg and cheese mixture to the pasta and mix. Serve with additional Pecorino Romano on top.

Now, I did modify the recipe slightly. I used spaghettini instead of spaghetti, it's thinner and it cooks faster. In the saucepan with the oil and pancetta I added chopped white onion and garlic. In the beaten eggs I subbed Parmesan for the Pecorino and I dropped the cream and subbed a bit of skim milk. Trust me. Then I took the pasta and saucepan together, took it off the heat (Very important!) and added in the egg/pepper and cheese mixture. Toss it all together, sprinkle more cheese on top before serving and top with a generous sprinkling of Italian parsley. Make a quick simple tomato and cucumber salad with a lo/cal Italian dressing, top that with a couple of pepperoncini for heat and you're at the table in 1/2 hr. tops. It was really, really tasty. I immediately thought it would also be good tossed with shrimp.

I spent last night and tonight painting furniture. I've been haunting the secondhand stores for a coffee table to replace the rickety one I bought from Housing Works a couple years ago. It served it's purpose in that is was the right height to eat on and was easy to clean. But it was too clunky and big for the space, and if Jet gets to roughhousing he invariably knocks the loose top half off, along with whatever drinks, candles etc. are on it. I found a used one at The Goodwill for $50. It was the wrong color wood but it had two square marble inlays on the top. I figured I could strip and stain the wood. Then three day ago I was shopping on Overstock just to kill a half an hour, when I came across a new coffee table in black, that was the perfect dimensions. And it was a clearance item on sale for $69. Could you die? More important could you resist? I couldn't. It's being delivered tomorrow, so I wanted to get a few of the pieces painted so I could see if my vision for the living room will work. Total money spent so far: $82.00 I found the perfect lamp for the room but unfortunately, the thrift shop wants to sell them as a pair. I haven't tried to work my magic on them yet. Stay tuned.

Well, since you're reading this on Tuesday, "the little Alkie that could" is now 28 days sober. I bought my own copy of the Big Book, and I'm actively looking for a sponsor. I'm ready to start getting more in to the steps of sobriety, and I've started doing service, hospitality mostly, to help out at meetings. Didn't drink today, and didn't want to. Hmm.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

This Week On EBay

Superman, Batman, Robin and Elseworlds.

1986 Superman The Man Of Steel #1-6 complete series.

Robin II The Joker's Wild #1-4
complete series + bonus Robin reg. series 1st issue!

1980 Untold Legend Of The Batman #1-3 complete series.

1996 Kingdom Come Book Four.


I totally jammed up my left index finger. It's slightly swollen, I can't pick up anything heavy in my left hand, and I can't curl it closed without considerable pain. Trouble is, I have no idea how I hurt it. My working theories are that it got yanked in the dog's leash or I may have bent it back picking up a weight at the gym. But I have no clear memory of doing either thing. It just got progressively stiffer and more painful as the day went on. Mystery injuries weren't all that uncommon when I was drinking. A scratch here, a bruise there. Sometimes I remembered them, sometimes not. Fortunately, my ability to masturbate remains unimpeded.

I made it to the sober dance tonight. There was a cabaret show before the dance started. Or rather, there was a drag show, where various selections from the movie Dreamgirls were re-created to varying degrees of success. The dance followed, and my social retardation kicked in right on cue. I suck at "bar conversation". After "How are you?" and "I'm fine" I'm pretty much out of material. I used to cure this bit of awkwardness with a round of shots. Then I just stopped going out altogether. Curiously, I'm fine at a restaurant over a meal. I can eat, pop in and out of the conversation, make jokes. I'm like an actor that needs stage business to fill in the times when I'm listening for my cue. Fortunately, it left me feeling slightly down and feeling sorry for myself but without the urge to drink as a punishment. Baby steps.

I'm gonna go ice my finger. Or masturbate. I can't decide.

Update: My index finger and hand swelled up considerably overnight. The throbbing has finally stopped and I've wrapped my hand in an ACE bandage. No weights for me for a couple of days until I heal. I can still do cardio if I'm so motivated. So far today I'm not.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Damn! I'm Pooped!

This having a sober social life is exhausting. Thursday evening I went to my HIV+ men's group at 6:30. There were quite a few guys in attendance, more than usual. So of course, instead of making sure we had a good meeting, some of the "regulars" chose that night to be particularly obnoxious. And that's not just me saying it. Several people approached me asking what I thought we should do. One guy in particular has a habit of monopolizing the conversation. And he speaks in a monotone, telling stories in the most maddeningly minute detail. No matter the subject, no matter who is speaking, somehow all roads lead back to him. He's pushing 60, and he never fails to mention his amazing former crystal meth habit, and all the hot sex and all night orgies he hosted. It's pathetic and slightly revolting. Several of the newer guys simply got up and walked out of the meeting part way through, as it became clear that nobody else's issues were going to be addressed. The facilitators that are supposed to help steer the evening can't seem to control this guy. My theory is that he's far too narcissistic for subtlety. Somebody is going to have to blatantly tell him to knock it off.

After that, I went out for a cup of coffee with a couple men from that meeting. Pleasant enough. Then it was back for a Gay-A meeting. I'm finding that the speaker portion of the evening is usually pretty uninspiring. Most people are pretty bad at public speaking, and even though Gay-A speakers aren't supposed to be "professional" but instead "real", they have a tendency to ramble and wander. And then so does my attention. I frequently nod off. I'd feel guilty about that, but when I am awake I can't help but notice how many people spend some time during the speaker portion "meditating". The member shares after that are usually where the interesting bits are found. I got invited out for dinner after the meeting, but I begged off for once, as my current budget only allows for that luxury a couple times a week, and that's pushing it.

After dinner at home and a quick walk in the pouring rain for the dog, I got a pretty good night's sleep. Friday morning around 10 am I got a call from one of my POZ group guys. We had plans to see a movie in the afternoon. I returned the call around 11, and we made plans to see Dreamgirls (I know, finally!) at an Upper West Side theater. I had to get the dog walked and fed and grab a yogurt and a V8 for myself before leaving at 12:30 to make a 1:30 show. The UWS is totally inconvenient to get to from where I live, but I'm feeling all adventurous in my sobriety so I made the trek. Needless to say, the movie was terrific. I really liked how they fleshed out the stage version, the performances were wonderful and I loved LOVED the costumes. And I have to give credit, Beyoncé Knowles was really, really good in this movie. Better than anyone seems to be mentioning.

After the movie, we stopped for coffee and chatted. He's a nice guy. very funny and sardonic, which I love. We made plans for lunch and another movie, probably next week. By then it was time for me to head back downtown. I had no time for errands. Instead I stopped for a quick chicken taco (OK two, and some rice&beans) before heading to another Gay-A meeting. After that let out I had to go from 9th Ave. to 2nd so I could pick up the dog for a walk. He hadn't been out in almost 8 hrs. So you can add in a quick walk around the block, plus trips up and down five flights of stairs. Then I walked back from 2nd to 9th and took in another Gay-A meeting. This one is for HIV+ alkies. I make sure I get to this one every week. It's probably the most important to my recovery. Of course, I had to make one more trip across town to get home. No gym today, but I figure all that traveling made up some. I got home and rested for a couple minutes, then I brought Jet out for a trip to the dog run. The last hour before it closes is usually pretty busy, and there were plenty of doggie friends for him to sniff butts with. Finally got home for the night around 11 pm. Grabbed a late dinner and caught up on some e-mail. Tomorrow I have today's undone errands, a workout, laundry if there's time, the obligatory Gay-A meeting and my first sober dance. Can't wait to tell you how that goes.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Damn. Things Suck For HIV+ Peeps In Peurto Rico

Special Report for -by Nicole Joseph

Jose F. Colon has spent the last six weeks fighting what he calls an “unbearable crisis” in the Puerto Rican AIDS community. The 54-year-old activist has met with local politicians. He has spoken to newspaper reporters. He even fasted for 33 hours. All from his bed at the Hospital Auxilio Mutuo in downtown San Juan.

“I decided to work from the hospital,” says Colon. As a sick man with both AIDS and diabetes, he says, the grim truth about Puerto Rico’s HIV care emergency has been staring him in the face. “I feel horrified. I feel like it’s 1980.”

You don’t need to check into the hospital to see that financial negligence and mismanagement are pushing Puerto Rico’s AIDS care to the brink. Earlier this month, two AIDS clinics shut down for lack of funds, cutting loose 1,500 HIV positive patients. An estimated 130 people are going without treatment on a waiting list and many more are in need; at least 10,000 Puerto Ricans are believed to be living with HIV.

But now a coalition of furious activists, including several groups from heavily Puerto Rican New York City, are saying enough is enough. They are insisting on federal action—or at least some acknowledgement of responsibility—and wondering whether a crisis of these proportions would be allowed to continue unchecked in any of the states on the U.S. mainland.

Puerto Rico, a U.S. “commonwealth territory” where locals are deeply divided over their relationship with Washington (many call for statehood instead or complete independence), got $58.4 million in HIV care funding last year from the federal Ryan White CARE Act. The average Puerto Rican is less and less likely to see those services, however. The funds’ distribution to local health clinics and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) has gotten painfully slow.

Funds or no funds, many clinics have stayed open anyway—sometimes without working bathrooms, telephones, air conditioning or adequate staff. Some have scraped together cash on their own and invoiced the Puerto Rico Department of Health and the San Juan AIDS Task Force. But with reimbursement now sometimes stretching to as many as nine months, more and more clinics have been forced to go out of business.

“This is something that has been going on for many years, but it has gotten critical in the last three,” says Anselmo Fonseca, co-founder and vice president of Pacientes de SIDA Pro Politica Sana. “Peoples’ lives are in danger, and too many key players either lack competence or…don’t give a damn.”

Last month, Fonseca and other local activists directly invited the feds to intervene. They sent a letter to the government official in charge of Ryan White distribution in Washington, DC: Dr. Deborah Parham Hopson, associate administrator of HIV/AIDS at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

The activists recommended that a “third party” step in to dole out the money. The idea would be to put the funds in the hands of a “competent and trustworthy local agency such as the Puerto Rico Certified Public Accountants Chapter, or the office of a federal judgeship.”

In a statement to POZ, HRSA officials said that was one option among several they are considering, and that they are working in conjunction with the San Juan office of Mayor Jorge Santini to “improve the local situation as quickly as possible.”

Members of the New York-based Puerto Rican community who are monitoring the crisis hope that is exactly what’s in store—and have put their weight behind the request for federal help. The Latino Commission on AIDS (LCOA) wrote a second letter to Parham Hopson and also joined representatives of the National Minority AIDS Council and other groups at a February 9th meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in D.C. Then last week, the Caucus issued a third letter: this one to Michael O. Leavitt, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, urging “prompt and decisive action to ensure that patients receive the care that Congress intended.”

The question is: How many more letters will be written before somebody steps up to the plate?

The situation is grave, with the CDC reporting that the island’s rate of infection for 2005 was 26.4 per 100,000, nearly twice the rate for the rest of the U.S. (Most Puerto Ricans are infected through injection drug use.)

“Our goal is to get HRSA to take this seriously,” says Dennis de Leon of the LCOA. “Some groups haven’t been paid in the last nine months —that part of the problem [will] be corrected whenever someone decides to correct it.”

This isn’t the first time Puerto Rican leaders have come under fire for mishandling AIDS money. In 1999 and 2000, several former officials of the San Juan AIDS institute were convicted of stealing more than $2 million of federal AIDS funds for personal and political gain. Last December, the FBI, the IRS and the Human Services Office of the Inspector General turned up the heat again by raiding several AIDS program offices in the municipality of San Juan, confiscating thousands of files and copying hard drives.

The San Juan division of the FBI declined to comment on what was found, or whether or not any charges will be filed, but advocates are concerned that the absence of those files might further delay the delivery of federal funds to the island’s increasingly needy CBOs.