The Santa Skivvies Run is not a race; runners strip down to the bare essentials and make a mad dash through the chilly streets of San Francisco. Any money we raise goes to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, to help prevent new HIV infections and promote the health of people living with HIV/AIDS. Thousands of individuals benefit from their programs and services. If you’d like to donate to the cause (and get a photo of me on race day) I’d be delighted for you to sponsor me.
I initially set a goal to reach the “underwear” donation level, and have already met that; I’m going to try to double that amount if I can. But this means, barring injury or some force majeure I will be out there in the cold on Sunday. (Thankfully, current forecasts are saying a little warmer–60°F and little chance of rain.) If you’re local and want to see this madness, come to the Lookout Bar (3600 16th St & Market St) on December 5th!
Now onto the hardest part—finding the right pair of red underwear for the run. There’s a very fine line of support, coverage, exposure, comfort and style that they have to straddle.
I’m nervous today. After procrastinating for a couple of months, I have committed to spending a not-insubstantial amount of money on some of the last dental work I need. My old insurance technically runs out Saturday, so I am getting this done at literally the last possible moment. My dentist described the insurance approval as winning the dental insurance lottery, because the coverage was so good. I’m still not sure if she meant winning the lottery for me or for her. But I’m in, and trying not to panic about it. (Having played a lot more D&D lately I keep thinking about it from that perspective. I’ll make an endurance check and a save vs Fortitude; my dentist will use her Heal check, and hopefully won’t have to Lay On Hands today.)
I’ve had a lot of work done on back teeth over the years, but they’re working on teeth in the front this time. There is some actual medical need for this but the biggest impact will be aesthetically. I have had a guarded smile for so many years because of ugly anddamaged teeth. I know I have friends who can relate. (One in particular just had a ton of work done. I hope we can smile broadly at each other again someday.)
But it’s not the fear of the massive long dental appointment that made me put it off. (Though that–and the prospect of Novocaine injections, triggering my needle phobia–doesn’t help.) I feel a little bit like I’m giving in to vanity, or worse–artifice. I’m losing the last visible natural teeth I had and replacing them with a false front. The thing I railed about doing personally for many years. But I am not my teeth; the body is merely the vessel, not the captain. We all have at least some false front facing the world. I’m in denial if I think I can be somehow superior to that. And hubris–for me, at least–always gets repaid in spades. Or dental implements. Let’s hope they don’t need to use a spade to do this today.
The doorbell rang while I was writing. I forgot that we’re having fixtures in the bathroom downstairs re-porcelained. My teeth and the bathtub, all on the same day.
I am waiting on the electrician to show up so I can let him in. This is annoying. I am waiting to run until the electrician gets here so that I go my full planned distance today. I am waiting to eat breakfast until I can run. This makes me more annoyed. It is hot today, which is annoying already, so the longer I wait the hotter it will be when I run, which will annoy me more. And my parents and I are going to the Impressionists show at the DeYoung this afternoon, so if he is too much later I will not be able to run before they get here, which will annoy me even more.
And that any of this annoys me kind of annoys another part of me.
Though I do appreciate that one of the iconic paintings from the exhibit is The Floor Scrapers. Looks familiar.
My nose is running, and I am occasionally coughing hoarsely. My face is bright red, and my white legs are getting stares and catcalls. I can’t see from the sweat coating my glasses and running into my eyes. I gave up wiping it too much because I have a tiny stinging abrasion just under my right eye that I think is bleeding very slightly when I wipe it with my shirt. Either that or it’s just stains from my toxic sunscreen, which hopefully I haven’t completely sweated off from my already-red-and-tender neck. I know I shouldn’t be using the shirt to wipe my face because my nipple is slightly raw from rubbing against it, but I long since destroyed the tissues I brought with me. The toes that aren’t callused from rubbing against the shoe are a little tender the next day. And I’m not sure if my back is sore from running with the wrong posture or because I’m overcompensating for the day when I have an accident and my knees completely give out, like my father’s did.
And today, someone opened their front gate into me as I passed by. I managed to deflect off of it with my hands but it startled us both. And it probably would be been all right if I hadn’t, since I was bleeding anyway. I couldn’t have looked any worse.
So why do I keep running? Because it makes me feel so healthy.
I hesitated to post much about Sam‘s death because I knew I would turn it into something about me. But this is a blog, after all—by definition it’s all about me, isn’t it? And on the other hand, Sam never really pulled his punches when he wrote (at least, not that you could tell) so the least I can do in his memory is present my unvarnished post to the world. Juvenile innuendo intended.
I knew Sam online before he was even out of the military, back when he was a pseudonym dodging Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. When he had just moved to San Francisco, while he was together with Jeff, the God Of Biscuits, we’d finally met—we’d had cocktails together once or twice, had hung out at house parties, had said hey at street fairs. We were hardly close friends, but between the small town that is San Francisco and the targeted intimacy that is the Internet, you can’t help but get into everybody else’s business; you feel like you know a person as a confidant, not just a member of their studio audience. And while you rarely expect someone to die, you particularly don’t when they are young and vibrant, finally righting themselves out of chaos, doing things they enjoy, being with someone they love.
I admit I am new to the business of death. My grandparents have passed on, and some aunts and uncles as well, but I have been able to separate myself from that emotionally, or generationally. I grew up just after generation of men felled by AIDS. I don’t know yet what to do with death right here among my peers. What I will do when it happens closer in my family. Not quite sure where to put grief after it has outstayed its welcome. Still uncertain and slightly guilty to allow mine to sit next to the grief of someone who has lost more deeply. But here is all we have, so here is where I have to learn to get used to the feeling of knowing someone is gone. That they affected me, like I hope to affect others once we have ceased to be. Even if we are little more than a Twitter feed or a Facebook status update, maybe a little of us remains in everyone we know.
I haven’t met Sam’s partner Greg yet, but I hope to shake his hand at the memorial for Sam at the Eagle on Wednesday night. Greg was kind enough to keep Sam’s extended internet circle involved up until the last moments. Knowing only secondhand, and only through the same narrow internet channels where I’d known him before, that Sam had fallen so suddenly and so far…I couldn’t help project myself in and imagine the dark place I’d be sitting at the side of The Boyfriend, or being unable to comfort him as I tended to the business of dying. As the Cowboy Junkies sang, “To Love is To Bury.” I can only hope to be as strong when it happens.
Jeff posted a comment about the Flying Dutchman recently, the three-mast tall ship I had never seen before which pretends it’s the top of Sutro Tower. As it’s that time of summer, the tower is frequently engulfed in fog. And since we’ve moved upstairs, the tower is now my regular view out the bathroom window. So I see the ship there almost daily, start singing the Tori Amos song of the same name, and, these days, think of Sam.
Though neither Sam nor I actually believe in that sort of thing, it is comforting to pretend that the dead look back somehow, aren’t gone forever. That they are out there somewhere, sailing across the sky. Smiling in our windows.
OK, I don’t actually avoid eggs in my diet. However I do try to avoid them when they’re thrown at me.
I suppose my ridiculously white legs in black shorts with a yoga mat were too exquisite a target to ignore. I was late out of the house trying to make a 4pm yoga class at the gym on a Saturday, only the second class I’ve ever taken in public. I decided to save time by heading there in my workout clothes. Picked up my yoga mat and shuddered. I was going to be one of those people walking around in public with my yoga mat. I always projected that those people walking around the financial district were ready to hit people with their soft rubber emblems of superiority. “Move it, people; enlightened one coming through! Namaste, motherfuckers!” I readied myself for a new kind of walk of shame and hotfooted it out the door.
I knew I was going to miss the start of the class but hoped I wouldn’t be too much of an interruption entering late. Yet again, I was going to be That Guy. My self-opinion was starting to waver. I considered turning around, but marched on, down 15th street past Truck. (Yes, this happened right outside a gay bar. I’m not convinced that was mere coincidence either.) Suddenly something hit the pavement with a crack in front of me, and I leapt back a step and saw the egg splattered there. I looked for open windows; I looked for cars and bikes passing; I looked for a chicken’s nest in the trees above me, incredulously. No sign of whence it came.
Angered, I thought again about turning around, but something had steeled in me. Thank you for my rage, egg thrower. I went on, determined that I would make my class, that I will do my thing no matter what the universe throws at me—literally or figuratively. That’s a lesson I keep having to learn, to persevere on my path and to wear persecution at worst as a talisman, or as an award, or ideally as nothing more than a meaningless souvenir I picked up on the road to a goal.
A short while later, in the middle of Head-to-Knee pose, while trying to concentrate on my posture and my breathing, my eyes focused instead on a small yellow stain plastering down the hairs on one leg. And all I could was laugh.
Last weekend, before going to the birthday party of a friend who is separating from his partner, I found out an old blog friend was about to die. I tried to have a good time surrounded by the affectionate fellows at the party, but really just locked lips with Jose Cuervo and tried not to contemplate how young men shouldn’t suddenly pass away. The next day, the Boyfriend (who had just celebrated his birthday) and I (who, like most grooms, was slightly hungover) registered as domestic partners. Well, we got notarized, at least, at the P.O. Plus. Which was on the same weekend that another longstanding pair of blogfriends announced that their vacation trip to Massachusetts was partly because they were getting married there. The next day after I ran (while trying not to think of my first major crush and his friend, the friend who was my age and a runner and who had just died unexpectedly) I hit the kinky gay street fair. I attended with a friend in an open relationship; I flirted and got flirted with a number of men in unusual costumes, and then I came home with a beer buzz to try and cook a Norman Rockwell dinner for my husbandmy domestic partnermy increasingly inaccurately termed spousal equivalent The Boyfriend.
It’s been complicated.
And in the time that I’ve been looking at this entry thinking about all this, of course, the District Courts in California overturned the ban on gay marriage, and gay weddings here might start again as soon as Friday. (I expect not, but possible.)
I have had a number of feelings on all of these matters. They’ve all been complicated.
I’ll try to get them out eventually, hopefully before I trip over any more milestones. Who left all these here?
In black shorts, a black running shirt, black socks and black tennis shoes, my white legs are probably reflecting more light back onto Dolores Park than the windows of the former Norwegian Lutheran Church. I am just feeling the stride of my third mile and about to mount an attack up the hill, which will surely leave me wheezing like I need my inhaler. I check again that my ID and house keys are still held together by the binder clip in my pocket. The woman in front of me, who just jogged out of an Adidas commercial, might mistake it for an obscene gesture. Just because she has no stains on her spandex doesn’t mean the wet spots on my cotton shorts are anything to worry over; even so I think she has the 9 and the 1 pressed and her finger hovering over the second 1 just in case.
But I soldier on. I’ve got MC Frontalot on my Nike+, and I don’t even pay attention to her or to the tanned jocks passing me on their ninth mile (“Just a quick workout today, bro; I’ve got a Tri this weekend.”) It is sheer NerdCore pushing me up the hill. It is what lets me walk into a gym for the first time since 1987 and not run back to the safety of an office chair and an LCD monitor.
I could slow down and walk on the stairs in the park, but I keep pushing. I am a middle aged nerd and I am claiming this body just as hard as anyone else on this hill can claim theirs. I may be slow going up but I am pulling fast downstream speeds here. And I check my email at the top of the hill.
(Shout-out to my friends at the Original BANC. I would have posted this on Tumblr but it turned into a blog post. Go figure.)
Just walked into the kitchen and heard a strange repetitive noise coming from the freezer. It sounded very much like it was saying, “Ow…Ow…Ow….” I opened the door, reached in and freed the metal arm of the ice maker, which was being held down by a big block of ice.
It stopped making the noise.
Had it actually sighed in relief like I expected, there would be one more occupied bed at the psychiatric ward this evening.
At Adobe’s San Francisco office in a room full of Photoshop gearheads…er, I mean, professionals. Kind of neat, actually, though I still want to find someone in the Flash group and ask them why it’s so crashy. Pretty cool that my friend Courtney and her studio have set this up.