Thursday, September 22, 2005
The Pseudoscience of the Pseudonym
The name is a combination of the archangel Michael and the Biblical evangelist St. John. "John" also had a special meaning to me because it always seemed to me that an inordinate amount of boys I was attracted to had this as their name. (Of course, it is one of the most common male names, but I've always had a predilection for superstitious thinking.)
I've kept this pseudonym as an adult mostly out of sentimental reasons. It seems rather affected and, if you'll pardon the expression, "gay" to me now. (Though it's not nearly as gay as "Anita Mann," which is infinitely more appropriate.) I don't feel the need to hide my identity now, but I would still use "Michael St. John" if I were to be published. I ran an internet search on the name to see if my blog would show up, and I was surprised at how many hits it returned. Apparently there is an artist with this name and even another author. Still I hope that one day I'll be able to carve out my share of the collective consciousness with my own use of this moniker.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
The "No Eye Candy" Diet
I was just at the pet supply store near where I live buying a bag of "Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul." (No seriously...BTW, Iam's is evil, and supermarket food is crap.) Anyway, there was this incredibly good-looking guy there. He had an amazingly handsome face and beautiful blue eyes. You see, the problem is: my desire allowed him to, unwittingly and unwillingly, take a piece of me away with him, just like the other two or three attractive men I noticed on the way home, and I am left emptier and more alone.
He didn't even seem like a particularly good person. Besides the fact that he was totalling unresponsive to my presence (meaning he's completely insane and undoubtedly in league with the devil), he drove an SUV, which I don't like, and he generally had this air of smug arrogance. During my freshman year of college, I was completely obsessed with a Resident Advisor on my floor. He was as close to my physical ideal as you could get—stocky in a muscled sort of way, hairy (but not too hairy), handsome face. I felt an immediate, intensive attraction to him from the first time I met him. He had a hold over me that I couldn't shake even when I came to realize that he was an asshole. He was the first person that I ever "came out" to, and he reacted in the worst way imaginable: he ignored it. I wanted him to love me, but the fact that he didn't wasn't his crime. He offered me no support or concern as to my welfare. He was, after all, charged with looking after the welfare of the students on his floor and, as it turns out, a homosexual himself. If only he had offered me some refuge or support in an extremely difficult, awkward and defining time in my life.
To me desire is like an open vein. The very lifeforce and substance of myself pours out, with no way to staunch the flow. Handsome men remind me of the innocent faith I had that my life would eventually work out in a way I had so zealously fantasized about throughout my entire life. They bring up my rage over all of my unrequited love and unrealized dreams. And they instill in me feelings of hopelessness and helplessness and a complete lack of purpose and meaning in my life.
"Desire is the source of all suffering."
--The Second Holy Truth of the Buddha
Sunday, September 18, 2005
"Hey, mister! What if someone offered you a million dollars to cut off your arm?...But then you didn't cut it off but told them that you did. Then you had a million dollars and still had your arm. And when they found out you didn't cut off your arm, you'd already have the million dollars."
[Our store also sells little boxed sets of random crap, including Voodoo Dolls.] "Hey, mister! What if I made a voodoo doll for you and then stuck a big needle through the heart? Or made a voodoo doll for your kitties and made them attack you? But I wouldn't voodoo an animal. I'm going to be a veterinarian!"
I told them my name, but later I told them to call me "Princess Perfect." (I was bored, ya know...) The younger one (who is precocious in a frightening sort of way) decided she was going to write a note to my manager. She wrote, "Dear [manager], 'Michael' thinks she is a princess, and she thinks she is perfect. She is a big, big liar liar pants on fire!" What can I say? "Out of the mouth of babes..."
Speaking of my retail job, this annoying guy came in yesterday. He was apparently a Brit from London, visiting Los Angeles (and staying at the Bel Air). He kept making demands of me like I was his personal concierge while his prissy wife roamed through the store asking questions and then telling me "never mind" when I tried to help her. Her husband was trying to find some place for lunch. He asked me if I knew any fancy restaurants they could try. I wanted to tell him, "Look, buddy. I make eight dollars an hour. I don't usually dine out at haut cuisine." First he asked me for a phone book (which he didn't know how to use) and then to look stuff up on the internet. Normally I don't mind helping people with this kind of thing, but this guy was a prick. While I was helping his brittle bitch of a wife, he asked me, "Do you listen to these audiobooks? No, I guess not." Yeah, like I'm some "dun ignit" shopkeep.
Also another adorable actor guy came in yesterday. I'm not sure if he's a screen actor. Or maybe a voice actor. All I know is that his headshot is hanging on the store wall, and he's not Ben Affleck. (Though I certainly wouldn't kick either one of them out of bed for eating crackers!) He was a nice fellow...no 'tude, particularly for one so good looking. (This is Los Angeles, after all.—Your looks are the currency of your self-worth.) As I said, he was friendly, but I didn't really chat with him for very long. At least I didn't try to give him my phone number!
Then the original actor boy came into the store today. He never called me this week, by the way, which saved me the trouble of trying to find a walrus. He was only returning an audiobook, so he didn't stay for very long. Pathetic as I may me, I'm not going to act like some scorned witch just because a guy didn't call, so I was friendly and sweet as Jewish wine. It may have been my imagination, but there did seem to be some kind of something between us. And he did say, "It was great to see you again." But then, maybe I was just creeping him out with my intense looks.
Finally, yet a different man came in today, and I thought maybe he was flirting with me. When I asked him about putting a title on reserve for him, he said, "No, but I don't mind if you guys call me any time." But later on he mentioned a son, so I wasn't sure what the story was. He was a little heavy, but he had a cute face. (Honestly, I could be describing myself!) The thing is, he seemed kind of needy and mentioned alcohol and other addiction problems. I don't want to be the pot who called the kettle black. But, my God, can you imagine me being the stable one in a relationship?
Happy Birthday, Tortelloni
Once again, I'm attempting to get a handle on my finances and my weight and my health. Friday night I went to the store and bought two-weeks worth of good food. As I was putting it away, I found a package of tortelloni that expired over a year ago. Cringe! I keep waiting for my life to level out. But I need something positive to hold onto psychologically. The only good thing is that I keep trying and keep struggling for a foundation for my dreams.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Bright Spot Boy
Of course, I couldn't have left things off gracefully and with a little class. I couldn't have had a little hope & faith that, if he enjoyed our conversation, he might come in some other weekend to see me again, and things could progress naturally (which is just as important in potential friendships as it is in potential dates). I had to call my own bluff, show my pathetic cards and cram my phone number into his hand. I must have reeked of desperation! I swear...If you ever see me walking down the street, don't smile at me, or I'll try to give you my fucking phone number! If actor boy ever calls me, I'll kiss a walrus.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
"People are people so why should it be that you and I get along so awfully?"This morning I was preparing for opening when a woman came to the door. My clock said 11:55; hers apparently said noon. Fine. No big deal. I opened the door and let her in. It was obvious that I was trying to count down my drawer and finish a couple of opening tasks, but that didn't stop her from being demanding and peremptory, instead of graciously granting me five freaking minutes to finish up. Then a lady calls me and decides she's gonna pull a 'tude 'cuz we don't have the book she thought we did. She's talking to me as if I'm an idiot and making sarcastic comments because, heaven knows, her remembered version of reality must be more accurate than what I'm looking at right in front of me.
—Depeche Mode, "People Are People"
What really gets to me are the crunchy, Hollywood hippy types. You know that they think they're God's gift to peace & love in the world because they vote Democrat and let their maids call them by their first names. Yet they come in yakking on their cell phones, looking right through me and acting like they're the center of the universe. Last weekend, one woman came in with her ten-year-old brat and didn't say a word to him as he proceeded to destroy the Children's section fifteen minutes before closing time.
This is why I'm not particularly political. I don't believe that lip-service to a particular political ideology is what drives social change. Our individual actions and the way we treat people every single moment of every single day are all that matters, not the bumper stickers on our cars and the rhetoric we scream at one another. It's like those people who sit through an hour of church and then honk and swear at the other drivers as they negotiate out of the parking lot. Take the tragedy of the September 11th attacks four years ago today. They were carried out by individuals, not by countries or religions or creeds. Every day people around the world live with violence and degradation like the victims of the September 11th attacks experienced, perpetrated by fellow human beings and staining history like sin on the soul of humanity.
"Or perhaps you fashionably and happily believe that it's all a simple matter of evil dictators rather than whole populations of evil people like...ourselves."
—School Professor, If...
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Professionalism for Poets
As one might imagine, I have had great difficulty fitting the square peg of such a personality into the round hole of professionalism. And I now work in a law office, which is usually more conservative than even your average corporation. I like my job and generally like the people I work with. If I knew how to manage my money (and wasn't a pill-popping alcoholic), I'd actually be making a fairly comfortable living. As things stand, I live in constant fear of being fired. I kind of see my professional persona as being a cross between Andy Dick's office nutjob in the television show News Radio and Brendan Fraser's cubicle dork in the 2000 remake of the movie Bedazzled.
I've mentioned a few of the troubles I've gotten into in previous posts, and there have been others. I also have a bad habit of blurting things out at work without thinking them through first (usually in an attempt to make some kind of bizarre joke), and below are a few examples of how I've managed to put my foot in my mouth.
- When someone asks me how I'm doing, apparently saying, "I'm not dead. Supposedly that's a good thing." isn't an ideal response.
- I probably shouldn't tell a partner "not to hate me 'cuz I'm beautiful."
- I maybe shouldn't have told another partner that I was going to move into his office with him and that I'd bring drapery swatches round later. (Fortunately for me, he thought this was funny.)
- And today's boneheaded, loose-lipped comment: I really shouldn't have asked the managing partner of the entire firm (who works out of a different location) if he had a pass to be in our office.
I've worked myself into quite an obsessive frenzy about that last one. I'm praying that there won't be any repercussions from it. I wasn't trying to be disrespectful. I wasn't even trying to be a smart ass. He had passed by a couple of attorneys on his way passed my desk, and he had been smiling and laughing with them. I looked up, smiled, gave a friendly wink and then that lame joke sort of popped out of my mouth. Unfortunately, this guy has a reputation for being a bit of a tightass. He kind of muttered something and went on his way. Please God, don't let him make some kind of issue with it! Perversely, I'd almost rather be fired for it than to be called into my boss's office and lectured about my behavior. It would be such a stupid, ridiculous thing to be let go over, and I could take some solice in that and make everyone I told about it view me as a victim of an ego gone mad. If I just get a "you're on thin ice" speech, then I'll be petrified and paranoid for weeks.
When it comes to my job, the only saving grace I have is that I'm damn good at it. I do my work quite well. I complete all of my assignments in a timely manner. I never complain about my workload or when people drop projects on my lap. One good reputation I have at work is for being a guy you can bring a problem/mess/emergency to who will take care of it, do it well, do it in a reasonable time and not bitch about being given it.
My best friend from college is getting married in October. I'm trying to plan my money to pay for a flight to Philadelphia and the cost of the fancy inn where the event is being held. I called her at work today to ask about some details. She was in a rather nasty mood and decided to take it out on me by repeatedly kneeing me in the psychological groin. ("Your blog entries certainly are things *I've* been hearing over and over again." "When are you going to realize that *I* have a real job?" blah blah blah) She and I were intensely close in college and have a long history together, though I won't go into it here.
Because of my love for her, she certainly shouldn't be glad that I'm flying out for her wedding. She's having a very small affair, and I'm truly honored to be invited. However, if she knew about my recent experience on a flight, she should be glad that I'm willing to drag my ass onto a plane for any reason. In July, I flew to Massachusetts to attend the wedding of another friend from high school. I have never enjoyed flying, but I've always sort of viewed it as a necessary evil. People tell you that it's so much safer than driving, but death isn't really the issue for me. I've got to check out some time, but I really don't want to spend ten minutes dropping out of the sky like a stone and thinking about it before it happens! Anyway, on the flight out to the east coast, there was a lot of turbulence. I was crammed into the middle seat and generally annoyed with the tedium of flying. ("A giant bus in the sky" as my brother puts it) About two-thirds into the trip, I started thinking to myself that flying is boring and dreadful, but not really anything to be scared about. Then the turbulence got extremely intense, and the plane shook violently. Then we began to rapidly lose altitude. People were screaming, and I was clutching onto the seatback in front of me saying, "Oh God...Oh God...Oh God." We finally leveled out, but to add insult to injury, that asshole of a pilot never came on the speaker to explain what happened and assure us that everything was all right. It was honestly one of the worst experiences of my life! And I had to board a plane back to Los Angeles two days later!
As such, I'm planning to be unconscious for as much of the flights to and from my friend's wedding as possible. I'm going to ask my doctor to prescribe me Ambien, but I'm only going to ask for two tablets for the reasons explained below.
Adventures in Ambien
Ambien is a fast-acting, short-lived sleeping pill. The first time I took it was in Baton Rouge when I was there for my grandfather's funeral in the year 2000. My brother gave me one of his pills to help me sleep since I was upset. Apparently, a rare side effect of Ambien is to turn an extremely small percentage of people who take it into raving lunatics. Since I don't have all that far to go, this is how it sometimes affects me. After taking the first pill, I apparently decided to take several more. Then I proceeded to act like a maniac. Then we went out to a restaurant, and I ordered manicotti. To this day, I don't know exactly what manicotti is and don't remember ever having eaten it. All of this was reported to me by family after the fact. Another side effect of Ambien is memory loss, and I had that in spades. Seeing how I don't have memory black outs when I drink, not knowing what I did really freaked me out. However, as will become obvious (and which seems to be a commonly known fact), I do not have the capacity to learn from my mistakes.
Flash forward to last Christmas. My entire family converged in Orlando to spend the holiday together. My parents, my brother and his family and my sister and her family were all there with me, the eternal fifth wheel. I should note here that I have a rule when it comes to my parents. EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS *FINE*. I can no longer bear to drag my aging parents into the vortex of existential angst that is my life. They've dealt with enough of my issues. They can't do anything to help me, and I don't want them to know about my general lack of enthusiasm for being alive. Whenever I talk to them, I "accentuate the positive" and put a happy face on everything. The main reason I get up in the morning, go to work and keep everything together as best I can is for them. I love my family and don't want to cause them any pain. They are the only ones who have always been there for me, NO MATTER WHAT.
Therefore, whenever we get together, I do my best to put my best foot forward. Unfortunately, I usually manage to fuck it up. Case in point: When I was in Florida for Christmas, I was going through narcotics withdrawel after a particularly heavy period of use. One of the effects of that is terrible insomnia. I hardly slept a wink the first night, and I was kind of a cranky bear the next day at Disneyworld. (I'm enough of a mess on a good eight hours, so you can imagine what I'm like when sleep-deprived.) I only got a few hours the next night, but I still managed to have a good day at EPCOT with my family. The next day I was supposed to go to the studio park with my mother. I knew I still wouldn't be able to sleep well, and I was worried what the accumulated lack of sleep would do to my psyche. So, yet again, I asked my brother for one of his Ambiens. And, yet again, he gave me one. Mistake! My plan was to take the Ambien, have a beer and enjoy a good night's sleep. Well, once the aforementioned beer and Ambien kicked in, I felt good. Logically, more beer would make me feel even better! So I had several more. I remember watching TV after my the rest of my family went to bed. I remember writing all of these bizarro notes to myself. Then the next thing I remember was my parents, my sister and my brother-in-law standing over me at about 3 o'clock in the morning. Evidently I had thrown up on my bed and had taken to sleeping on the floor in my room. My sister took this all in strides as part of the never-ending saga of my fucked up life. My brother-in-law simply ignored it all in his stoically Norwegian fashion (while possibly—yet once again—chiding himself about jumping into a gene pool without first testing out the waters). My parents, on the other hand, were less than thrilled. The next morning I had to vigorously backpedal to them about how I was afraid of not being able to sleep and how it was a mistake for me to take Ambien since it has an unpredictable effect on me, etc.
Since I have to do something to quell my terror at flying and since I don't have a lot of options available to me, I'm hoping the "limit myself to one Ambien out, one back" plan is a success.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
The SOBER Light of Day
I'm also worried about being so critical of my friend. I don't have enough friends to being squandering the ones I do have. He and his wife have been so kind to me, and I love them very much. Hopefully, he'll forgive me, and I do serve a small purpose in his life. I'm the paragon of "there go I but for the grace of God."
I got up this morning and managed to drag my sorry ass to Church, because I wanted to pray for all of those poor people devasted by Hurricane Katrina. I ducked out a little early 'cuz Father "Chatty Cathy" kept rambling on during his sermon. (One thing Catholics are fanatical about is that Church should not last over an hour.) I had to get over to my part-time job to start the shift I volunteered for yesterday. I got on the computer (it's a slow-paced job) to write this "morning after" entry and was tickled to discover an e-mail from a woman (Stephanie) in Japan who read my blog and wanted to set me up with someone she knows. I honestly can't imagine someone reading through all of my Eyoresque entries with all of their emotional baggage and saying to themselves, "Hmmm...I gotta get some of that for my friend!" I mean, what did that poor bastard ever do to her? In fact, I've often wondered how long I should date a guy before I let him read this blog. Perhaps it's the kind of thing I should save for my first wedding anniversary after I'm non-returnable.
On a more serious note, Stephanie sent me a link to a blog set up by her mother in which she has contributed. Her brother is battling esophageal cancer. Please check it out and read about his fight, particularly if you can in any way contribute to his insanely expensive treatment. Personally, I am going to see if I can send him some audio books since he is having difficulty with his vision.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Give Me a First Date...
I work as a paralegal at a law firm downtown full-time, and one day a weekend I work at the audio bookstore I used to work at full-time. A customer I have known since the begining is an older, Jewish lady. I once joked with her, asking why she hadn't found me a nice Jewish doctor to marry. Later, she attempted to play matchmaker by introducing me to a waiter at a restaurant she and her husband patronize several times a week. I called this waiter, and we had dinner last Thursday. He was handsome, but he was also older than I'm looking for, nelly as Will & Grace's Jack on crack and a speedfreak chatterbox. Still, he was a sweet guy, and we had a good time together. I thought we might have fun "casually dating," and I intended to make my lack of interest in a long-term relationship abundantly clear before proceeding.
Because I am lonely and starving for male affection (and because he constantly made cock-teasing comments), I kind of came on strong after our date. I thought maybe he was being a little coy and wanted to get together, in spite of his protests of tiredness. He promised we would get together on Friday, and I promised to give him a call. I called the next night and apologized for coming on too strong. He called me back but told me he was just too tired to get together and could we make it for Saturday. I was extremely disappointed, and (like an asshole) pressured him to do something, though not necessarily anything physical. (A word about me: I like getting off as much as anyone, but I'm not hugely into *sex* like your average guy. I like cuddling and being with a man, but I don't have to have a sexual encounter to have a good time.) In my disgust and rapidly escalating depression ("I wish I was dead...I wish I was dead"), I ended up going to bed at about 8:30 last night. I made myself get up this morning hours before I had to be at my part-time job. I got my ass to the recycling center and received $17.50 for 375 containers (mostly beer bottles). I went to work at the store and plotted out my financial future for the next month and a half. I volunteered for a shift tomorrow so that I could earn the extra cash I so desperately need.
When I came home, I was of course hoping for a call or two on the caller ID. But there was none. No call from my erstwhile date and no call from my friend (more about that later). I managed to maintain one shred of pride and to not call the boy I was supposedly seeing this evening (even after getting drunk, which I am now). I went online to write this blog entry and saw his "Dear (Michael St.) John" e-mail. I was going to paraphrase, but fuck it. I'm politely keeping anonymity and not mentioning names or posting pictures of my short-lived beau.
The "It's Not You, It's Me" E-mail
Hope all is well and that you had a good day at work, or at least as good as can be expected. It was very nice to meet you and have dinner with you the other night, it's very rare to find nice guys in this town without all the BS. You must think I'm a total flake, which I'm not, only a partial one. After dinner I was already so tired from being up the night before so late with you on the phone. (Which I enjoyed). Then last night, Friday, I was so tired from the week and 2 nights in a row getting less sleep that I took a nap and rested and hung out with [omitted]
Another Long Weekend Alone and Why I Wish I Could Be Dead If Not Unborn
So there I am. I did so much trying to prepare for having someone (even a casual dating partner) in my life. I took off a half day of work to prepare for our date (mostly with a nap). I got my car washed and cleaned out. I plucked, douched and generally fussed about my appearance. I bought new underwear even though I'm broke and can't afford it. All in all, I expended a lot of time and energy for something that, yet again, came to nothing.
My friend has his brother and his brother's family in town, whom I know on very friendly terms. One might think that I could sort of drown my sorrows in visiting with friends, but my friend never called me about getting together. So I ended up calling him. He was, as ever, friendly and forthcoming. He made mention of future plans with his brother and family, seeing if I wanted to join in. I don't know why he couldn't call me about these things, particularly since, when discussing his brother's visit last week, I asked him to call me about plans in which I might be welcomed. It's an alien concept to him that I might want to be asked to visit, instead of having to go down on my knees for an invite. It must be so nice to be so handsome, so self-possessed and to have such gorgeous ego boundaries to always feel secure that people will be coming to you, asking you to spend time with them, and not having to beg your way in and feel grateful that someone whose company you enjoy actually deigns to allow you into his presence.
The Blogger's Aftermath
Well, with this entry (on top of the one before it), I'm sure I'll manage to alienate the only decent friend I have in Los Angeles after five fucking years here. The fact that this is a friend I came into the city having is even infinitely more pathetic. My parents keep dropping hints about how I should get a paralegal job in Memphis, and their desire to have me back in the same city touches me more than I can express. But I can't imagine how horrible it would be to disrupt my life yet again, only to go backwards on top of going nowhere at all.
One of the book ideas I have (one of the many which will never actually be written) is for a book entitled Constricted. In it, a poor stupid schlepp dies, and everyone, including his only friend who is the center character, automatically assumes that he killed himself. However, they are all relieved to find that he died of a tragic asthma attack. Only his friend discovers, and later hides from everyone else, the fact that the attack was choreographed by the man himself. There is a lesson here in the subtext of my own writing idea. Since I want to die and since I can't bear the thought of inflicting a suicide on my family and since I'd like to control the manner of my death (since there are so many horrible ways to die and the only important thing in life is a happy death), the only thing to do is to make it look like an accident. Fortunately, I am an intelligent, creative, resourceful man whose myriad of talents are wasted and thwarted by anxiety and depression for anything constructive but who can at least deconstruct his own existence.