Monday, July 31, 2006

The Hills Are Alive...

I have been looking for a unique holiday destination that would take me someplace I have not yet been while also being something of an adventure. I have tried to recline and relax on the beach but after an excrutiating 5 minutes of nothing, I start needing something to do. Today, I have found a trip that has my name all over it and if all goes well and I can pull it off, I am going to do it ... The Beijing - Lhasa Express

As I have already been to Beijing a few times, I am not planning to spend any time there, but basically just hop aboard the train for 2500 mile trip to Lhasa, Tibet. The train makes 6 stops, including on in Xian, where I plan to deboard and see the Terracotta Army and another at Tangulashan station, which sits at an altitude of 16,640 feet making it the highest train station in the world, before pulling into Lhasa. At the peak altitude, iPods and computers stop working, pens and sealed bags can explode, headaches and nausea can occur and all passengers have oxygen masks to help with the decrease in oxygen at that altitude. Anyone going on the trip has to sign a declaration that they are free from heart disease and any other ailments that might be heavily affected by the altitude. I am so looking forward to the adventure. Now the only questions are: Do I go this fall or next spring, and who is coming along?

There I was, scouring CNN for the breaking news of the world, when who's name do I come across but Joan Jett. Yes siree, the very same Joanie that gave us "I love Rock and Roll" close to 3 decades before Britney would claim it as her very own. I have often spent a sleepless night wondering what happened to her, and there she was in the headlines talking about punk. Mel Gibson, who has made a big deal about taking the moral high-road, has bashed homosexuals, produced "The Passion of the Christ" and slammed Jews as being the cause of all wars in the world, has just entered rehab... Guess he should have given it some thought before casting that first stone... I say Amen. By the way, for anyone who is not aware, the Jewish people did not kill Christ. The simple fact of the matter is, Jews in that day put people to death primarily by stoning. Hanging people on the cross was a Roman practice. Not that I think blame needs to be shifted to the Italians... And also, I don't understand why people get so angry about the crucifixion. If it were not for the crucifixion, there would be no Christianity today as the very foundation of the religion is the death and subsequent ressurection... I have a feeling we would now be seeing a shortage of unblemished lambs... or perhaps we could just clone them.

Sunday afternoon, I saw the film "The Lake House". Being the hardcore romantic I am, I wanted nothing more than to find my own magical mailbox and fall in love. That probably explains my less than optimistic mood Sunday evening about love and all things even semi-related to Cupid. Of course, it would be my luck that the one person it worked out with lived 2 years away from me.

Not only can Adam talk dirty like nobody else I know, but he can deliver the goods, baby . That was one mean macaroni and cheese he made last Saturday (not to mention the deviled eggs that I managed to eat way more of my share of, to the point I thought I was going to have to pull a Naomi and do a bit of purging). Of course, I didn't get to have as much mac and cheese as I wanted as a glass was dropped on the counter right nest to the pan and while I was tempted to throw caution to the wind, decided it was better to wait for another batch I could call my very own.

Perhaps a snack to take on the train...

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Love is like oxygen. Love is a many splendoured thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love. Well, I don't buy all that anymore, and like Karen Carpenter, I am saying goodbye to love.

Not to be a downer on my own blog, but sometimes it is just all too much to be 39 and single in the gay world. It is a place that is all about external appearances and there is always someone better, bigger, cuter, younger, tanner, etc., just around the next corner. Nobody seems at all interested in the internal working of someone else... Intelligence takes a backseat to muscle, humor is cast aside for the possible hour or so of steamy sex and it is the rare person that can hold a conversation with eyes focused on you instead of scanning for the next target. It seems like everytime I meet someone remotely interesting, they are in love with someone else, think I am the perfect friend or aren't even really aware that I exist. I am beginning to think there is only so much one person can take, and I feel I am at the end of my dating rope. I have been single for some time now and while I am ready to meet someone special, that person seems to keep alluding or perhaps avoiding me. And in the gay world, there are more ways than ever to get rejected. Sometimes it is just all too much and I wonder if and when it will end for me. I always assume the best will happen and I am always surprised to find that I have once again erred on the side of the romantic ideal. I don't think I am asking for a lot, but it does seem to be too much at the moment.

Could it be that love, like youth, is wasted on the young? And if it is, when is last call?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Dirty Talk

When will the insanity end? I am still coming to grips with the fact that a member of N-SYNC is gay when I find out that poor little Tori Spelling only gets $800,000 of her fathers $500 million and to further complicate matters of the world, David Hasselhoff was denied boarding on a flight from London to Heathrow. But, amid all this chaos, turmoil and confusion in the world, there is a bright spot. Pamela Anderson is getting married again.

I have just started back at the gym a few days ago, trying to whip my body into some sort of shape. For me that means no alcohol, eating only healthy foods, drinking my protein drinks, no cola and no coffee. So imagine how I felt when my friend Adam calls me and starts talking dirty. I don't mean a little dirty, I mean completely vulgar. I can still hear whispers of "macaroni and cheese", "deviled eggs""and the one that threw me over the edge, "coleslaw". I would have hung up immediately, however I was intrigued to find how far he would take it, but he stopped shy of "cornbread" and I was left to complete the fantasy myself. Normally those foods would not get my attention, but living in Holland, those are some hard to come by dishes and it is amazing what passed for everyday food at one time, suddenly becomes a treat. About 6 months after I moved here, I craved 2 things... Soft shell tacos from Taco Bell and Captain Crunch cereal with Crunch Berries. We can get Captain Crunch here at a specialty store, but a small box will run around 12 dollars and it is most likely a year or two past its sell-by date. Adam comes from the south and that boy can BURN (see how I incorporate ghetto slang so easily?). He is our very own version of Bree van de Kamp, and is at his happiest either cooking up a mean dish or cleaning something... I don't know what his parents did to him, but it just isn't normal. Anyway, he is making a birthday feast (with all my favorite foods) for Garad on Saturday, so my 6-pack abs will just have to wait until another day.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Is it that time of the year already? It seems like only yesterday when I turned 38 and now suddenly I have another birthday rushing toward me like a TVG train. I don't know about you, but when I have a birthday on the horizon, I lay aside all the petty issues of my life and focus on the real key issues which weigh heavy on my mind and soul, questions which come from that deepest place inside of me. Questions like "Do I need Botox?"

My friend Ann refers to Botox as "Weapons of Mass Destruction", and leading up to the war in Iraq, I decided to go under the needle and try it for myself. I hate needles. I really, truly hate them. I know that people get Botox injections, but being a professional when it comes to denial, I assumed they meant there was some pill I could take that would miraculously whisk me back to my mid 20's. It was not until I was in the white, dentist-style chair with a needle coming at my face that I realized that they really meant injections, and with a needle of all things! 18 of them in rapid succession all around my eyes, feeling like minor mosquito bites and I just kept telling myself that I was temporarily visiting the dark side of glamour and it would all be over soon.

It takes 10 days for the full effect to take place and at the end of 10 days, a follow-up visit is required to make sure there were no missed spots. That brought the total of injections to 22. Ann kept telling me in the hours after the injections that she could already see them working. I would get excited, run to the mirror, see nothing and then come back and agree with her that they were kicking in fast and furious.

To watch one's self look younger by the day is an amazing thing. I highly recommend you all try it at once. What they don't tell you is what happens after 3 months or so. Botox works by paralyzing the muscle that the skin is attached to, which means that while the muscle isn't working, the skin can relax and in time the wrinkles go away. That is the process that takes 10 days. What they don't tell you, is that when the effect wears off, it takes about 20 minutes. It was like watching a car crash in semi-slow motion. The other thing that happened to me, is that when the frown line between my brow woke back up, it developed a twitch that made me look like I was constantly raising my eyebrows. I was facilitating workshops in San Jose at the time and the twitch started. People would look at me, look away, look at each other, look back at me and repeat the cycle, yet not one single person commented.

Finally the twitching subsided and the memories of that horrible 20 minutes have almost faded into the misty watercolored kind that linger in the corners of my mind, but for now, I have decided that I will leave the Botox to those more wrinkled and crinkled than I. At least for now.

But check back with me next year.

Trading Places

I just read about a man, a red paperclip and his blog. It seems that Mr. Kyle MacDonald of Montreal used his blog to trade his red paperclip for something of a bit more value. He ended up with a fish shaped pen, which he then traded and whenever he got something new, he traded it for something better, including such highly desireable items as a Budweiser sign and a ceramic knob until, at long last, he ended up with a house. A 3 bedroom, 1,100 square foot home. So to all my friends out there, I have some string I would like to trade for a boat. Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?

I am officially in a state of shock. I have just learned that former N-SYNC member Lance Bass is gay. I had not seen that one coming at all. I obviously need to take my gaydar into the shop for recalibration because it is severely malfunctioning. Personally, I find it highly irresponsible that a former member of a boy band would just come out and drop a bomb like that.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Loose Change

When it comes time to get caught up on the news of the world, there is only one place for me to turn. CNN. Try as I might, I have not yet found another news source so adept at infotainment. Thanks to CNN, I have been kept completely up to date with the birth of Brad and Angelina's baby, Carmen Electra's divorce, Oprah's response to the gay rumors and the tasty tidbits they manage to occassionally squeeze in about that little war going on in Iraq. And this breaking news just in... a headline from the top of the CNN website - Christie Brinkley's husband says "I'm sorry"- Now if that isn't news, what is? Yesterday, thanks again to CNN, I got brought completely up to date on the world of inflatables and their related tragedies. It seems that in the UK, there was an inflatable piece of art that was tethered to the ground and the visitors could actually go inside or climb on top of (not really sure which it was, I was just in shock such a thing even existed) and while full of or covered with guests, whichever the case may be, a gust of wind came along, blowing the aforementioned piece of inflatable art 30 feet into the air, afterwhich is came crashing down, killing 2 and injuring others. I only just discovered the niche world of inflatable news, otherwise that bulletin would have passed by unnoticed. Thanks CNN. (Oh, and if anyone from CNN is reading this, I'm still waiting on pics of baby Suri!)

Speaking of news (and I have not checked this out myself), I was reading in the latest issue of Vanity Fair (my other reliable news source) about a documentary around 9/11 put together by some guys that just had some questions like "How did American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon, disappear into a 20 foot hole, leaving no trace of its 124-foot wingspan on the building?" and discreprencies like how Hani Hanjour (one of the alleged hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77) who had trouble controlling and landing a single engine cessna when he did test runs, managed to execute a perfect 330-degree turn at 530 miles per hour, descending at 7,000 feet in two and a half minutes, in order to crash the 757 into the Pentagon. According to a former commercial and air-force pilot, "(Flight 77) could not possibly have flown at those speeds which they said it did without going into a high-speed stall". Those are just a couple of the many discreprencies, questions and issues the documentary and site raise. The site is at

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Naked in Baghdad

After a somewhat restless sleep due to the warm nights, I woke up this morning to a fantastically sunny day. I did my weekend sunny day morning ritual of sitting in my fatboy, with a glass of water or juice and a good book. The choice of book this morning was "Naked in Baghdad" by Anne Garrrels. She is a radio reporter for NPR who was sent to Iraq during the build up to US invasion. It is not so much a book of politics, however in any conversation about Iraq, politics are entirely unavoidable, but rather it is a book of people and chornicles her life and experiences being a reporter in Baghdad. It is about the women, the children, the families, the government, the oppression, the fear and uncertainty that the people there face. I have just now into the first few days of the war itself and with everything happening now in Lebanon and Israel, it takes on even a more personal tone for me.

While growing up, places like Iran, Lebanon, Kuwait and Israel were always "over there", places whose names I knew but really didn't think much about and they really didn't have any impact on my life at all. In past years, I have spent quite a lot of time in Israel, and have a lot of friends from all over the Middle East. My first trip to Israel was over Christmas in 1996. I went to stay with my friend Eli in Tel Aviv and decided to spend Christmas Eve in Bethlehem. Eli, being Jewish, was not able to join me. As we all boarded the bus in Tel Aviv, we were told that due to the escalating violence in Hebron and other parts of the occupied territories, that we would first go to Jerusalem and then changes to busses that would better protect us in the event of an attack. In Israel, most tour busses are like busses in any other countries, but busses that go into Palestinian Territory are completely different. The windows are covered with a steel grid that looks womething like a chain link fence and looks more like what prisoners in the US would be transported in as opposed to regular people just taking the bus. We were told what to do if the bus should be attacked by rocks, or gunfire and also told that in the event they deemed the whole situation too dangerous, we would turn around and head back to Tel Aviv. The atmosphere on the bus got quite tense as we started climbing the mountain into Jerusalem, wondering what the night would hold for us all. Soon, nobody was talking and we all just waited and hoped for the best. When we got to Jerusalem, we were told that we would be able to remain on our current bus into Bethlehem. As we crossed the border, the scenery changed almost instantly. Bombed out building, everything in shades of brown and grey. There were piles of rubble and a few burned out cars and buildings. We got to Manger Square (even Bethlehem is not above the kitsch marketing when it comes to tourism) and we were all totally and completely unprepared for what we saw. I had imagined it to be a very quiet, reverent event, lots of praying and perhaps people even looking for a miracle to occur. Instead it was a party. There were bands and singers and games and kiosks selling falafel and Old Milwaukee beer. There were people dancing and singing and kissing and hugging and all of this was taking place under the watchful eye of the armed Palestinian soldiers standing on the rooftops, ready for action should the need arise. On big video screens, the scene from inside the Church of the Nativity was played without sound and there was Yassar Arafat about 100 meters away. It was odd to think of someone I had grown up seeing on television and hearing about was here, in the same place I was, celebrating Christmas. Midnight soon arrived and the first person to wish me a Happy Christmas was a Palestinian soldier with his weapon hanging off his shoulder. It was one of the most special and amazing Christmases of my life...

I remember the first time terrorism really became real to me. It was long before 9/11. I was watching CNN when all of a sudden, breaking news showed a bomb blast at a little cafe in Tel Aviv by the name of Apropos. That was cafe was right around the corner from where I used to stay and I spent many mornings and evenings sitting on that very terrace with great friends having a great time. I have always known of the dangers, and even when seeing uzi-clad soldiers walking along the beach, the real intensity of the situation never really registered. I had seen buildings in Tel Aviv which had been damaged during the Gulf War, the rusted tanks and jeeps that litter the highway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and had seen the thick layers of candle wax and the massive amounts of "peace" graffitti at Ytzak Rabin Square, where he was assasinated, but somehow it was all of a time long ago, a news story, a situation I could not in any way relate to or understand.

Suddenly, watching CNN that day, I saw a place I knew. A place I had just been weeks before. I searched the screen for faces of friends that lived there in the area. I wondered if they were hurt or possibly dead. I was glued to the television hoping to see them, even just one of them but it was all a blur. Phone lines were overloaded and all there was to do was wait. None of my friends were hurt physically, but I have learned over the years that every bomb, regardless of where it goes off, takes a toll on everyone. I was back in Tel Aviv a short time afterward, and went for a glass of wine at Apropos. There on the ground was the dark smudge left by the bomb blast, and life was going on as normal all around, as though it had never happened. I have never come close to anything like that and once again my experience was based on memories and a news story while sitting the comfort of my living room, made real by the people I knew and the times I had spent sitting in that same place. I asked friends of mine how they deal with it, the constant fear, wondering when and where it will happen next. They told me they couldn't let themselves think too long about it or they would go mad. Once again I find myself worrying for friends and watching the news for faces or places I recognize and once again I wonder where it will all end.

Friday, July 21, 2006


As Marilyn (Monroe, not Manson) once sang "We're having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave" and baby, it is hot in here. My fans are working overtime moving the hot air from one corner of the room to the other but not really sure if that is making things worse or not, and to make matters worse, I have decided to do the Betty Ford thing, so there is not a bubble in the house that can exist outside the bathtub. It's a dark day in Amsterdam.

It's just past 1 in the morning and I just finished my last little blog and as the fires of inspiration seem to be surging through my veins, I decided to just keep on bloggin'. I hope I am not breaking some sort of bloggers code by double blogging. If so, someone just let me know and I will whip myself into complete online submission.

I did search "the inflatable mattress" after I posted my blog and guess what? There were exactly 20,400, and mine was on the top of the list! Not only did I get to see myself, but I was at the top and I made such a nice round number! What are the odds?

Well, I have had a few emails from people asking what my new flat is like. Well, it isn't really that new anymore, as I moved in last September, but I haven't been the best at sending pictures - well, ok, I haven't sent any at all. The fact is, my flat is amazing. My building is over 200 years old, although the exact date is unknown and my floors and ceiling beams are all original. It is in a loft-like layout (read large studio) with pretty much a wall of windows at one end, with a Franch Balcony - that meand I have 2 floor-to-ceiling doors that open in with a raining in front of the window, not a real terrace. But I do get direct sun for the bulk of the day, starting with sunrise, so I often plop my bright red Fatboy (brand of beanbag chair/square/thing) in front of it on the weekends, have my yoghurt with meusli, coffee and read whatever book I happen to fancy that day and other times I browse through all the top news of the world according to Vanity Fair. I have one wall that is the brick exterior of the building next door as it was built first and that has all been painted white. The kitchen is small and has lots of stainless steel, which I loved at first, but it as soon as you look at it, it smudges and after I lived here for 30 minutes, I gave up on it.

My flat is located in the very center of Amsterdam, just on the edge of the Jordaan (or garden). I live about 10 minutes walk through the canals to the Anne Frank house. This time of year is perfect in the city. All the boats are out in the canals and I go out often on the little boat of some friends of mine. It always looks about one drop of water away from being submerged, but it does keep us afloat and we keep it loaded with champagne, cheese, pate, olives and other assorted goodies and we boat aimlessly around the canals. In fact, planning on taking it out tomorrow for a spin along the Amstel and out of the city - Hopefully she will be up for the voyage. The boat belongs to two friends of mine who live on a houseboat and when they were on holiday, I and my friends Garad and Adam took it out... All was going great, we got it started and as we are responsible adults, we took the boat first to the get some petrol so we wouldn't have to get out and push. Once that was done, we called our friend Marco who lived just up the canal from where we were and he came aboard with more drinks. We push away from the edge and then can't get the engine started. We finally got it going and as soon as it went into gear, it stalled. We repeated the process. We repeated the process again. And again. And again. the whole time drifting to the middle of the canal. The canals here are quite narrow, but when you are in a boat with no engine and no paddle, even the narrowest canal can seem like the South Pacific. The sun was beating down on us, Adam was getting sea sick and, I think heatstroke. Things were getting desperate. To make matters worse, the world cup was in full swing and there was not another boat to be seen anywhere. So, always being one to take charge, I decide to have a quick look at the engine. I popped the cover, looked at it - yep, it all seemed to be in perfect working order - and closed the cover. Adam is moaning and we don't even have a flare gun. It becomes very clear to Adam, Garad and I that this is all Marco's fault. The engine worked fine until he came aboard. We thought of throwing him over as a sacrifice to the small craft engine gods when all of a sudden came a boat. Words were exchanged, ropes were thrown and suddenly we were being towed. It was great... Chauferred yachting at it's finest. I cracked open the bottle of Diet Coke I had been saving for just that occasion (I was scared we might have to start rationing food and beverage), kicked back and left the driving to them. Adam was going green and plaid and I just hoped he would point it overboard. The very nice couple towed us back to the houseboat where we docked the boat, Adam bolted for home and I wrote an apology note for killing the motor. Turns out the engine just needed some cleaning and maintenance (I must say that in my professional opinion, it did look a bit oily when I looked at it) and now she is a happy boat bravely navigating the rough waters of Amsterdam.

Inflatable inspiration

So, I put up this blog at the suggestion of my friend (codename: Wonder Woman - you know who you are, darling!), to whom (or is it who? I never can get that straight) I began writing little email stories about my adventures I had while just trying to get through life, going from A to B, hopefully having a bit of champagne in between. She said to me, and I near quote "Your stories are fantastic, you should put them on a blog" - so I, being the complete follower that I am said OK, and during a jetlagged induced stupor while staying at her fabulous and well appointed house high above San Francisco, I signed up and suddenly, I was a blogger. It was amazing, I posted what stories I could find that I had saved and sent out my little email notice to all my friends and non-friends alike. I had every intention of keeping this up, writing about this and that and keeping my friends and non-friends entertained. I was going to blog and blog until there was just nothing left for me to say. Then I decided I would write my first real post when I returned home. I was at the time en route from home to home while heading constantly east - Amsterdam - Seoul, Beijing - (ok, I do know that Beijing isn't east of Seoul and there will be a few other exceptions to that during this trip) San Francisco - Las Vegas - Seattle - San Francisco - Amsterdam, all in less than 2 weeks and I was brimming with all sorts of useless details, pointless ideas and perhaps even the random epiphany. I arrived home all motivated and full of procrastination and decided that, like Miss O'Hara, I would think about that tomorrow. Well, as it does in my world, tomorrow turns into another one and before I know it, a whole bunch of tomorrows had piled up in the middle of my living room and like most spring cleaning, seemed such a daunting task to begin that I decided to wait until tomorrow.

We are currently having a heatwave here in Europe and as I live in a building that has been around pretty much as long as the US has officially been a country, I do not have airconditioning. What I do have are two ceiling fans which are doing an absolutely amazing job of blowing the hot air around without actually cooling anything down, although I should not complain as most people living here don't even have a fan as we tend to get only 2 days of really nice weather here per year. This year has been great. I love the heat, I really love it, except when trying to sleep. I am a cuddly, indulgent sleeper. I cuddle with my pillows, comforter, teddy bear and anything else I can get my hands on and in this heat that just isn't possible. I have tried compromising and sleeping with just a sheet - not cuddly enough. I turned on the ceiling fan above my bed - too noisy and I don't like air blowing on me when I sleep. I have put teddy on the shelf - his crying keeps me awake. I put the comforter just over my legs - not really cuddling, is it? And on and on the drama went until at last I decided to give up and get up. I don't have a television and I don't really have the energy to decide which of the current 5 books I am in the middle of I want to pick up and read, and then, like a bolt from the blue, I decided now would be a good time to sweep that pile of tomorrow's right out the window and onto the group of loud toursists eating on the terrace two floors down. And then it hit me - what would I write about? And then I heard that little voice "just think about that tomorrow" it screamed at me and so I went to and decided to just browse around and see what other people wrote about. Now, there is some boring things going on out there in the world and now I know that when things get really bad for me, I just need to let my fingers do the walking and I will find something to be thankful for within a couple of clicks... And then, when I thought I had seen it all, I came across the one that would give the the ultimate inspiration to write at this very moment. It was so amazing I could not put it off one minute longer. It was a blog of news stories about inflatables. People who had been rescued after their inflatable raft had them stranded in the middle of a river. People killed when their inflatable over inflated and exploded. And on and on it went. I was mesmerised, hypnotised and confused. I thought "why?".

Suddenly I felt the urge to write, the need. I felt if I didn't get this out, I wouldn't sleep regardless of how cuddly my blankey may be. And it get's even wierder. I just tried to find that blog back because I actually want to read more. It's like a drug. But when I do a search on "the inflatable mattress" as that was the name of the blog, there were 20,321 results. That gave me pause and realised that with my own little insignificant entry, I have raised that by 1 and as soon as I post, I will do a search, just so I can see myself.