ChiTown Weekend

Quick disclaimer:

If it were up to me, we might very well relocate to Chicago*. As such, my opinions on the city in question are probably less than objective.


Here we are at the Hotel Allegro. Our room is fairly nice. The decor is rather in the style that Denis calls “Early Gay Bar,” which works for us, and we’re both enjoying the very strange and presumably retro light fixture above our bed, which looks like one of those little pincushions with a flat top and chenille balls all over the sides rendered in glass and upended on the ceiling.

That said, the marbled mirror tiles on the wall at the foot of the bed are a bit much. Likewise, the carpet. Wow. Um.

The bed itself, however, is rather delightfully comfortable.

Today’s plan is to hit up the Shedd and then either do class at the Joffrey or catch a play based on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. I’m leaning towards the former because it doesn’t involve an hour-long transit trip (two hours on the train is a long time on a really short vacation, y’all!) and also because ballet.

Right now, though, we’re on the hunt for breakfast.

Anyway, more to come. That’s it for now.

*We’d have to bring our friends Kelly and Jim with us, and my Mom-in-Law, Phyllis — but then we could all live together like some kind of giant hippie co-op, I guess? …Only with better hygiene. And doors. And not so much of that free-love thing.

Monday Non-Ballet Brain Dump

We’re going to Chicago this week for the long-time-coming finally-legal wedding of a couple of our dearest friends.

As such, I’m in Trying To Finish All The Things Before We Go mode, which is totally something I’ve caught from Denis*.

So today I have:

  • done yet more laundry,
  • completed the drawing part of a painting I need to finish before we depart (it’s a watercolor, so it’s entirely possible that I will be able to finish it),
  • initiated the packing-for-the-trip process (which I never, ever do this far in advance),
  • topped off the Tricross’ tires,
  • ridden the Tricross to the grocery store,
  • slayed the grocery run for the next three days (along with some extra food because I couldn’t pass up a really good bargain that I can freeze),
  • ridden the tricross home,
  • put away the groceries,
  • and started dinner prep.

I also had a complex internal conversation with myself about why we still use gender-specific insults even though this is the 21st century and the perceived gender of an individual has no bearing either on that individual’s ability to be a total jerk or the qualities of that individual’s jerkitude**.

Later I will finish making tacos and maybe begin trying to figure out how to set up a rooting dish for my pineapple.

I don’t know why I’m so into growing this pineapple all of a sudden. Denis suggested it when I told him I brought home a pineapple, and it just seemed like a really awesome thing to do. Meanwhile, a friend of mine on G+ has decided to attempt to grow an avocado from an avocado pit, and suggested that perhaps her avocado and my pineapple could be pen-pals.

I think that idea is so ridiculously fun that I’m just going to have to give it a whirl. First, though, I will have to think about what a pineapple would even write to an avocado***.

I am writing this brain dump thing because I find that doing this helps me feel like I’ve actually done something on a given day, which makes it easier to see that my mood disorder has not, in fact, totally torpedoed my life. Sometimes that’s hard to see.

I get that, like schizophrenia (to which it is genetically linked), bipolar disorder involves cognitive deficits.

This means sometimes my brain works better than other times. Right now, it’s not at its best (though I did, for once, remember to buy cookies for Denis). I think this is why sometimes it’s hard for me to imagine what I’ve done all day, which can feel … I dunno. Weird. And less than great.

So I’m doing this thing to keep a handle on my brain. So far, it does seem to be working.

That’s it for now.

More to come some time soon from Pineapple Paradise.

*Did you know that traveling like a grown-up is, um, transmitted by AHEM close physical contact? Well, now you do. #TheMoreYouKnow
**That said, I have noticed that the use of historically gender-specific insults is at least somewhat more flexible than it used to be, so … um … I guess that’s maybe one small victory in the fight against sexism, if not in the fight against everyone being jerks to each-other in other ways?
***Here’s a possiblity:
“Dear Avocado,
I am finding life in a dish with some pebbles and water reasonably acceptable, though far less fun than life in the tropics might be.
How is life in the dirt?
I am really bored so if you have any suggestions of video clips that might be relevant to my interests, please send them my way. Thanks!
Your friend, Pineapple”

More Small Victories (Now with More Pineapple Picture!)

Today, I butchered a pineapple. I ate some of it (it was absolutely delicious; the best pineapple I’ve had in years, in fact) and chopped the rest up into little chunks. The chunks went into a freezer bag; the freezer bag (perhaps unsurprisingly) went into the freezer. Soon, we will have delicious frozen pineapple drinks.

While I was butchering the poor, innocent fruit, I saved the top of it so I can try to grow a new pineapple.

Apparently, growing a pineapple takes a couple of years: but I can be patient, and it sounds like fun to try. Fun, at least, for me — the last time someone presented us with the gift of a plant (an aloe that continues to limp along next to my sink), I immediately asked, “What has it done to deserve this?”

Except for a brief stint successfully training bonsai trees from seedlings in high school, I have generally been horrible about keeping plants alive. So it’s possible that I’m violating some UN accord by trying to raise a pineapple at all. My theory is that the bonsais did well because they lived outside, beyond the radius of my plant-killing aura, but I have also failed at growing garden plants, so who knows?

Anyway, attempting to grow a pineapple is kind of like saying “I will still be alive in two or three years to see if fruit happens,” so there’s that.

I also did a couple of iterations of laundry and continued updating the books.

Oh, and I made lunch, thereby using up a bag of Lipton noodly stuff that’s been hanging around uneaten in our food cabinet forever.

A little at a time, I move forward.

If I was in a better place, I guess all of this would probably seem pretty minor. Like, “Big deal, you washed your hair.” (Technically, that was last night.)

But I am where I am right now, so all of these feels like it matters.

It’s my pineapple and I’ll grow if I … you’re right, that doesn’t even make sense. Sorry.

Tomorrow I'll add a picture of my pineapple-to-be. Right now, though, I'm going to bed.


My husband has been obsessing about creating, for us, a giant Postmodern Hippie Bus. The idea is that we’ll live in it and roam around the country (or, at any rate, to roam sometimes — perhaps more to be able to roam).

I think it would be great if we could even roam beyond the country — roam to Canada, roam to Mexico. I guess we’d have to park it to roam to another continent, but there’s a contingency for that sort of thing in the works as well.

I call it a Postmodern Hippie Bus because the vision is a little more IKEA catalog than Mother Earth News. We are only quasi-hippies, but there’s room in the universe of traveling people for all kinds.

Anyway, up until now, the Postmodern Hippie Bus has been entirely theoretical — diagrams, research, lots of scoping out YouTube videos about tiny homes and living in buses.

But today, we bought the kitchen sink!

At least I assume it’s the kitchen sink. Maybe it’s the bathroom sink? I don’t know. I didn’t ask.

But it was at the Habitat Restore, and Denis had seen it before, and he said, “Oh, my bus sink is still here,” and I said, “You’re going to buy it, right?” and he said, “Oh — well, I didn’t know if you’d want me to.”

I figured, it’s a nice sink, it’s a good price, and we’re definitely doing the bus thing at some point — so buying it makes sense.

So we bought the sink.

Somehow, that makes the Bus seem like something that really is actually going to happen someday, maybe sooner than I was thinking.

And that seems pretty cool.

The other cool thing is the process of designing the interior living — of really thinking about how we live, how we use space, what we want in our space, and so forth.

This is something I’m kind of doing in my own life right now.

Living with bipolar disorder — finally being willing to look it in the eye and call it by its name and accept it for what it is — has forced me to sit down and really think about my plans, goals, and dreams, and what is and isn’t possible for me.

I has forced me to think about how I want to arrange the furniture of my own being; if you will.

For a long time, I felt like saying, “I am not able to do this thing or that thing” was like quitting, or admitting defeat, or whatever. I think I saw it — for myself, but not for anyone else — as a sign of weakness.

I’m starting to see that it takes a lot of strength to accept your own limitations, and that transcending them doesn’t always mean living as if they don’t exist (though sometimes it can).

Rather, it’s like working with (for example), watercolors. There are things you can do with watercolors and things you can’t — in other words, there are limitations inherent in the medium.

If you want to paint beautifully with watercolors, you learn to accept the limitations of the medium — which are, in fact, at least partly responsible for its beauty — and you work within those limits. Maybe (as, for example, Andrew Wyeth did) you push those limits as far as you can. Maybe you don’t.

But there’s no point in pretending the limitations of the medium don’t exist. Instead, you use them to shape your paintings; within their constraints, you create beauty.

So I am not going to medical school and I don’t think we’re going to raise kids — at least not from the tadpole phase, and definitely not for a while. Maybe not at all.

I am, at this juncture, okay with both of those things, though it was tough getting there — especially med school. That took a lot of internal struggle.

The funny thing is that it’s getting easier. I didn’t expect it to, somehow, but I guess letting go, accepting limitations, and redefining abilities is a skill like any other. The more you do it, the easier it gets.

Anyway, it’s late, and I should try to get to bed. So that’s it for now. We did class today, and it was lovely, but I’ll cover it later.

Keep the sunny side up.

“Productivity” is Relative

One time I saw a sketch from some old comedy show about a dating service called “Lowered Expectations*.” I’m guessing you can kind of get the gist of it from the name of the service.

To an extent, that’s kind of how I’m feeling about living with bipolar disorder right now. The secret to success at the moment (as opposed to overall, long-term success) is to lower my expectations a bit and celebrate small victories.

Really, really small victories.

So, basically, I am like, “Heck yeah! I put laundry in the washing machine!” or, “Right on! I managed to put the receipts in order by date! Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!”

Now, admittedly, between bipolar and ADHD, putting the receipts in order by date is kind of a huge thing for me. It also makes me feeling like I’m a step closer to disentangling the horrible Gordian knot I’ve made out of the bookkeeping (the finances, meanwhile, seem to be going along without crashing, mostly because we’ve grown rather paranoid about large purchases since the books are a huge mess right now).

I actually think this might be a good strategy. Yeah, it’s kind of ridiculous, but you know how it is. If “ridiculous” gets you from point A to point B when nothing else will, then you might as well embrace it, right?

This is particularly important because, frankly, doing stuff is hard right now, guys.

Like, I had no intention of writing this post. I paused in my laundry process, sat down on the sofa, and cracked open my lappy for some darned reason. Problem is I haven’t the faintest clue what that reason was — and, in fact, hadn’t the faintest idea by the time I was done logging in.

This happens to me a lot right now.

My mind is feeling clearer right now than it has in a while. I wish I could really explain this — mania kind of gives me mental tunnel vision (though often it feels deceptively like laser focus, which it isn’t); depression makes me feel like I’m walking around with a 2-meter thick wad of cotton wool wrapped around my brain.

That said, it’s still hard for me to maintain attention. I mean, harder than normal. Task-switching is particularly hard; I forget which task I’m switching to before I get through the switch (task-switching is never easy for me, for what it’s worth — like everything else, it’s just harder than usual right now).

Anyway, I’ve done some looking into things and discovered that, unfortunately, my schedule isn’t going to play nicely with the Honors program curriculum, so it looks like that’s out — but I probably will stay until May for reasons I might discuss later. I’ve added an intro-level exercise science class to my schedule because A) it looks interesting, B) it might actually prove useful to my future plans, and C)it’s an online class, so why not? It doesn’t add commute time or classroom time.

I also bought a plain black V-neck t-shirt for ballet class. Up until now I’ve been dancing in my bike race t-shirts, because my gynecomastia makes me shy about wearing plain t-shirts in general. I bought a green version of this t-shirt to go with another outfit and discovered that the fit works well, so I decided to try a black one. The black shirt looks pretty sharp on me. Looking forward to seeing how it performs in class — the fit is a bit more athletic than the average t-shirt I’d wear (go figure). An athletic fit is good because it gives your teacher a better sense of how you’re using your body.

Okay, gonna close here. Obviously I’m still a bit on the uptick. I’ll be going to see my psychiatrist on the 24th, so I’m hoping to maybe work out some kind of medication plan that works. I’m not sure how this is going to work, since Lithium and Risperdal are right fracking out (I was on both in high school, with disastrous results, including the gynecomastia that continues to be a big problem for me).

Keep the upside up!

*Googled it. Turns out it was on MadTV.


*Ha!   At 3 AM, nothing is ever really resolved.

Point the first:
I am going to talk to the honors program folks.   I’ve been nominated like four times.  Might as well have a crack at it.

This will probably mean staying an undergrad til May.   I am pretty okay with that.

Point the second:
I need to figure out how to pay for corrective surgery for my gynecomastia.   I have waited long enough.  

As ballet continues to grow into a more and more significant part of my life, I find that I would really like to be  comfortable in the studio.  

Believe it or not, tights and a t-shirt add up to a more revealing ensemble than bibs and a jersey.   Also, nobody touches you in cycling unless you either crash and need help or grab the last Chimay.  

In ballet class, people be handsy, yo.

So that’s one more huge reason in my list of reasons to just get it done, for goodness’ sake.

Point the third:
This might mean taking a year off before grad school (to rebuild financial stores that the surgery – which is rarely covered by insurance, which justly considers it cosmetic – will most assuredly deplete) .  

I might end up doing that anyway, while I try to get my bipolar really stabilized and myself mostly functional before I traipse off to spend two or three years living alone in a strange city with only occasional visits from my husband.

Obviously, I am still somewhat manic.   I didn’t take a sleep aid tonight, and so here I am, not sleeping.

Oh, one last resolution.   I am finally going to get a driver’s license.   Not that I expect to use it much, but health things have happened in my family that make Denis want me to be able to Get There Fast.  

I’m hoping to go to grad school in Chicago, which is a long bike ride from here; he wants me to be able to come home on zero notice of necessary.   The MegaBus and Southwest Air make that fairly possible without driving, but he’ll feel better if I can drive legally, so that seals it. 

He is making a huge, huge sacrifice by potentially letting me go away for what could be the better part of three years – so I can make a much smaller one and get my Legal Driver card.

So that’s it for now.  I will chat with the honors program folks this week, I guess, and see what I need to do.

Holy Calories, Pizza Man!

So I have not been having the best time eating.

Specifically, my appetite has evaporated, and nothing sounds terribly edible, so I am not eating much (I am trying).

Today, around lunch time, I made it all the way to the supermarket (feeling weak and whinge-ful the entire way) before realizing I hadn’t eaten since yesterday, and that yesterday I’d undereaten by something like six or seven hundred calories, minimum — so I stopped at Little Caesar’s to snag one of their Lunch Special deals.

Little Caesar’s lunch special, in case you’re wondering, comprises about half a pan pizza (along with a 20-oz bottled drink; I got diet Pepsi). Maybe it’s not quite that big. I’m not sure, because I’m not really into pan pizza so I’ve never ordered one of LC’s pan pizzas.

I seriously hope that I’m overestimating, because if I’m not, the “lunch” portion runs something like 1,590 Calories.

1,590 Calories, people!

That’s like, the vast majority of a day’s share for most people (unless you’re riding a century, in which case it’s just elevenses).

Fortunately, I put in about an hour on the bike, so if I have any desire to eat anything else at any point I can at least swing a reasonable meal without automagically gaining 15 pounds.

I’m not saying that’s, like, wrong and should be banned. Personally, I’m rather glad that I can cram 1,600 down my gullet in a sitting somehow, — there are times in every serious cyclist’s life when maximizing calories ingested per effort expended ingesting them is essential.

However, if I was someone who didn’t know much about how to keep track of my caloric intake, and worked near a Little Caesar’s, the Lunch Special could prove to be a huge stumbling block (of note, the nutrition facts for the Lunch Special are not yet posted on the LC website).

Just something to think about in America’s ongoing battle of the bulge. It would be awesome if LC made the nutritional information for the Lunch Special more readily available. I think people would still choose to buy it, but they might also choose to eat half the pizza (which is what I ate earlier today; I ate the second half for dinner) instead of the whole thing.

In other news, I’ve been kitting myself out for the upcoming wedding of two of our dearest friends, so here’s me looking … well, frankly, ready for the first day of 10th grade or something:

In case you're wondering, I own maybe two of the shirts in our closet.

In case you’re wondering, I own maybe two of the shirts in our closet. The belts, on the other hand? Almost all mine.

But, anyway, I’m posting this because I really love this shirt, which is super-sharp, and which actually fits me (well, it’s a little roomy, but that’s fine).

I am short-coupled and I have short arms, and that makes finding dress shirts a huge pain. Recently, I discovered that clothes made for the Asian market tend to fit me (evidently I’m Korean on the inside?); that said, this shirt isn’t marketed as such.

So anyway, if you are a short-coupled, short-armed Velociraptor of a dude, and you find yourself in need of a dress shirt, you could do far worse than Stacy Adams’ “Rome“. It even comes with a set of basic cuff links, though I ordered a pair in purple because Fashion! (They match the tie I’m wearing in the terrible selfie above).

I’ve got some reviews pending for Levi’s 511 commuter-line trousers and shorts. Bottom line: BUY THEM, especially if you can find them on sale. I didn’t expect them to be all that, but found some on for a ridiculous price, so I bought some anyway.

I have been pleasantly surprised with their fit and functionality, so consider me schooled.

Anyway, that’s it for now.

On Ballet! — Monday Class Notes. About Danged Time.

We missed class on Saturday, because I was woozy as heck (trazodone!) and Denis was out picking up our truck from our mechanic, whose wife is one of his oldest friends, and stopped to chat with the wife. An hour and change after I figured he’d be back, I called to make sure he was alive. By then it was too late to make it to class, so needless to say: no ballet.

As such, we high-tailed it to Margie’s class tonight after I wrestled with the incredibly delicious smoked duck our friend Kelly prepared for us (it did not want to reheat).

There were only four of us tonight, and we had a brand new dancer (who did, I think, a lovely job; I hope she’ll be back soon), so it was a slow and easy class — which is good, because slow-and-easy means you get to really focus on your technique.

Which meant my tendus looked kind of awesome, I found the connection between my leg and my back again (that probably only makes sense to you if you dance?), and I kept everything strung together so my grand battement wasn’t wiggly. At least, not on the right. The left was a little wiggly at first.

I also worked on making my arms do graceful things while doing adagio, and so forth. We honed our glissades (both with and without a change of foot). I got distracted and playful towards the end. That might actually be a good thing: I realized during the first bit of barre that I am often screwed down so tight at the beginning of class that I couldn’t dance* if you tossed me onto a hot skillet.

I’m still not sure if I’m really “back” yet. I won’t be doing Wednesday class because we’re taking our nephew to the opera. I’m considering hitting up the Wednesday morning Intermediate class, even though it would be a reach in terms of my abilities right now. But, hey, your reach should exceed your grasp, right?

I just don’t want to be the obnoxious, under-skilled interloper who screws up everyone else’s class. So we’ll see.

No awesome carefully rendered ballet graphics this time. I blew my creative energies this morning working up a poster for a totally imaginary movie for no good reason and I just can’t think of anything funny to present.

Besides, I was pretty much mostly not a spaz in class today, except for the part when Margie told us, “Don’t do this thing,” and I did it A) to demonstrate and B) because I was curious about what would happen. Apparently, I’m still that kid. You know. Every class has one.

So, anyway. More ballet soon. ‘Til then, keep it together. Sunny side up, rubber side down, etc.

*Doing Ballet Stuff is not necessarily the same as Dancing. You can execute a perfect pirouette, but if it has no musicality and no soul it’s not dancing.

Aggregated Thoughts

First, it’s Digital Book Day, peoples, so go get your free digital books! Who knows — you might discover a new favorite author.

If you get an “Error establishing a database connection” message, be patient. Some of the categories (mystery and thrillers in particular) seem to be pretty overwhelmed, but once you get a given category to load, you can ctrl-click or right-click > open in new tab/window (or however Mac users do it) and the individual pages for books load fine (they’re on different sites — so far, I’ve downloaded maybe four or five promising titles from Smashwords and two from Amazon).


Second, it seems that everybody but me considers the word “twink” to be an insult. Who knew?

Last year, Thomas Rogers contributed a thoughtful article to The Awl about twinks, what the world thinks of them, and what happens after they outgrow their category.

As someone who both self-identifies as a sort of permatwink (or am I a “party ferret?”) and tends to be perceived as such by the world at large, I found Mr. Rogers’ article to be both informative and thought-provoking. I honestly had no idea that basically the entire gay universe assumes that “twink = walking disaster area” is a natural law, but there you have it.

I should say that I self-identify as a kind of permatwink in a way that perhaps doesn’t align neatly with all assumptions about what “twink” means: I am not a slave to fashion. I am not … okay, well, not always … a disaster area. I would say I’m not a party boy, but in fact I do like going to parties and clubs and dancing — but that’s where I draw the line. I am a sort of chaste, mostly-sober party boy, I guess. Yawn?

The thing is, I suspect the same can be said for a lot of us who get sorted into the “twink” slot — perhaps especially those, like me, who wind up there by default, because they are slim and hairless and young or young-looking and playful and like to dance and don’t particularly feel any need to change any of those things. Seriously. I embrace my twinkhood, but it’s not because I’m trying to be a twink. I just am what I am. If the label fits, wear it.

Re-reading bits of Mr. Rogers’ article on twinkhood (yeah, you’re right, it does feel weird to say that) and how maybe we should evolve our assumptions about it (check out Rogers’ list of Important Historical Twinks!), it occurred to me that a lot of the behavior that we attribute to some kind of defect endemic to the twink population is, in fact, simply young-people-trying-stuff-out-and-sometimes-getting-it-wrong behavior.

We sort of expect adolescents and young adults to try on different identities, experiment with different form of self-expression, and basically ride the failboat all the way to Failtopia. Mostly, we kind of roll our collective eyes and say, “Oy vey, I hope they grow out of that.” We assume that they’re doing stupid crap because they’re, you know, young. Basically, we sort of assume they’re inexperienced and still figuring it out.

Meanwhile, when twinks do stupid crap, we evidently assume it’s because they’re, you know, twinks. Basically, we sort of assume that they’re (should I, as a permatwink, say “we’re,” here?) somehow defective human beings who cannot hope to transcend their current mire.

In short, we expect young people to grow out of it. We don’t expect that of twinks … though I don’t know what we do expect of them. Do people expect us to grow into Sad Old Queens? Do Sad Old Queens even exist anymore? If so — beside the discomfort of being Sad — what’s so awful about being Old and a Queen? If there’s one thing the gay male community needs to learn, it’s to honor the elders. Sad Old Queens are, by definition, elders. At least, I think so. I guess it depends on what you mean when you say “Old.”

I’m not going to try to come off all smug and superior here, by the way, like I’m the One Person Who Never Judges The Twinks.

In my experience, while we are eternally the laughing stock of the queer universe, nobody is harder on twinks than twinks. I am as guilty of this as anyone, I guess. I recognize that when I point out that I’m the chaste and mostly sober twink at the party — the one who doesn’t use recreational drugs, keeps a tight grip on his alcohol use, etc. — and that I’m not some trend-worshiping fashion victim, I’m making value judgments.

Likewise, there are other denizens of the Twinkiverse who would decry me as an uptight, elitist, silver-spoon-fed bore.

Covertly, I am basically saying, “Yeah, I’m a twink, but I’m not like those twinks; those guys have problems.” In fact, they probably do, and so do I, and — here’s the rub — my problems make it much more likely that I will not be a terribly productive member of society (fortunately, I’m a twink, so I’m decorative … right?). Other twinks may seem defective, but they tend to go on to be productive human beings. Meanwhile, I’m struggling with a serious mental illness that will make it much harder for me to contribute my share to the world. So, yeah. There’s that.

At the end of the day, though, other guys are still going to sort us all into the “twink” box and make all kinds of assumptions about us that probably aren’t correct (or, well, that probably aren’t exhaustive, and that aren’t correct all the time even when they are exhaustive).

Here’s the thing: I don’t think you’d catch a member of the bear community throwing his fellow bears under the bus like I throw other twinks under the bus and so forth. The bears (and their leaner friends, the otters) possess a sense of community; of fellow-feeling that makes them more forgiving of each-others’ faults (though, being pretty much the opposite of a bear, I have only observed bears from the outside, and thus could be totally wrong here.) They certainly don’t seem to do the whole, “Other bears are like x, y, and z, and I’m totally not like that,” bit — which is, by the way, what I just did to my fellow twinks and meta-twinks and permatwinks and whatever the hell else we are these days.

I suspect that lack of community spirit, of coherence and brotherhood, is one of the reasons so many of us — so many twinks, that is — eventually adopt some other queer identity. It’s not just that “twink” appears to be an age-limited category, but because it’s one that includes no built-in community. Maybe that’s because it’s a category one we’ve basically accepted as pejorative, and one that we assign to others far more readily than we assign it to ourselves.

Seriously, I am the only guy I know personally who embraces the word “twink” as a descriptor relevant to his own identity.

In short, every twink is an island.

So, yeah: I grok that I am part of the problem; that I have on more than one occasion attributed someone else’s idiocy to his twinkhood.

And, like Thomas Rogers, I’m really not sure what twinks evolve into (though “party ferret” sounds pretty fun, I’m not sure that’s what I’d want to put on my CV, if I was forced — bizarrely, because why would this ever, ever happen? — to categorize myself according to my place in the spectrum of queerness).

I’m not even sure why we’re so obsessed with categorizing ourselves. I grasp that a lot of our queer sub-categories operate as a kind of mate-finding shorthand, but what makes us extend those categories to the far edges of our identities? (I say this, mind you, as someone whose memberships in the broader categories of “cyclist” and “dancer” extend all the way to the borders of his selfhood and splash out all over the world around me — so maybe a lot of us just really like categories; I don’t know.) What makes us retain them after our mates are, you know, found? Yeah, “twink who likes older guys” was a convenient label when I was single. Now I’m a twink who’s married to an older guy, so……

Anyway, this is something I intend to think about. Who’s afraid of the big bad twink, and why?

Lastly, because this is now a bajillion times longer than I intended it to be, it’s Tour Time and I am once again basically failing to watch the race. I have decided that I am Cycling’s Leastest Fan (yeah, that’s grammatically incorrect, but it scans better, so there).

I peripherally sort of enjoy the thrills and spills of bike racing, but I am apparently not capable of being committed enough to actually watch races if it involves making effort (if Le Tour is on in, for example, a pub where I’m shoving pizza into my maw, then I’ll watch as if hypnotized; I won’t, however, go dig up a feed on the innertubes).

But, anyway: the Tour is happening, so if you’re into watching it, go watch, and let me know what happens, because I can’t be bothered to find out for myself.

That’s it for now.

Sunny side up, and all that.

Quickie: A Hundred Pounds of Rocks in the Tour (Not So Literally); Ballet Dreams (Literally)

I’m taking a more conservative approach than I have in the past to managing my bipolar disorder.

This means that I haven’t returned to a three-classes-per-week schedule yet, or even a two-classes-per-week schedule. I wanted to go to class last night and did not feel ready, end of story. I need to learn to listen to that voice or reason, even though sometimes it feels like it’s standing between me and my dreams and goals.

I try to tell myself, instead, that it’s like not pushing yourself too hard on the bike when you’re recovering from a serious physical illness (like the last time I had pneumonia, or the time I broke my leg). You have to build back into it with a modicum of caution. Sometimes that means it takes longer to reach your goals than you had hoped.

Dottie (my therapist) and I talked about a similar thing yesterday. I found myself telling her about how frustrating and sometimes disheartening it is when this whole bipolar thing throws me off the rails, and how I sometimes really resent my difficulties instead of really appreciating what I can do; what I am doing. We also talked about how I tend to forget that I am living with a serious mental illness; one that can be really debilitating.

We wound up with this crazy Tour de France analogy: living with this is like riding the Tour de France with a hundred pounds of rocks in your chamois. The Tour isn’t easy for anyone, but it’s really freaking hard when you’re carrying a hundred pounds of rocks (or maybe when you’re the domestique and you have to carry … all … the water bottles?!)…

Terrible drawing of domestique hauling all the bottles.

Here is a high-quality graphical rendering, replete with cheering fan, to help you visualize this concept. (An oldie, but a goodie! You might remember this from last TourMonth July, in fact.)

Riding the Tour with a hundred pounds of rocks doesn’t mean you don’t get there. It does mean maybe you don’t ride all of every stage, or maybe sometimes you don’t ride a given stage at all. It certainly means that you’re probably going to finish each stage long after the crowds have gone home.

It means that, if you’re smart, you might be willing to accept some help — maybe a motor to get you up Mount Ventoux, maybe a partner to carry some of your rocks when you’re really struggling. Maybe an extra book of matches or two.

Maybe, sometimes, you even stop halfway through a stage and climb into the team car.

Maybe you try medication. That’s why they make medication.

In short, carrying a hundred pounds of rocks on the Tour takes a hard job and makes it harder. It makes you reassess your goals. When you’re carrying that load, there’s no way on Earth you’re going to win — not even if you ride the best eBike in the world and hop yourself up on so much EPO and caffeine that your veins stick out like the Alps on a topographical map. Instead, making it to the finish becomes a goal worth achieving — in fact, sometimes, just making it to the end of the day is a victory.

Anyway. I didn’t mean to wax on about that for quite so long. I meant to write about literal ballet dreams.

Lately I dream about ballet all the time — that is, about dancing. Literally, it’s like I’m practicing in my dreams on the days I don’t do class (and, in fact, these dreams often take place on the nights following would-be class days; I should say will-be class days, because I will work back into it). Last night I had a long, long dream entirely devoted to perfecting the very simple combination (demi-petite allegro? ;)) from Margie’s class on Saturday — tombé – pas de bourrée – glissade – assemblé.

It was kind of a dream about mastery, I guess, and about confidence. And also about the fact that my arms are a heck of a lot less awkward than they used to be.

It was, in fact, a pretty cool dream. I love dancing, and my dreams are extremely vivid, so it was like having the opportunity to dance for a long, long time on a day that I didn’t get to dance in my waking life.

It will be interesting to see if the dream in question has, in fact, acted as practice. There’s good evidence supporting the hypothesis that athletes (including, presumably, dancers) are not just exercising their egos (a nebulous concept at best) when they use concentrated visualization, but actually firing the neural circuits they would fire when performing the athletic task in question*.

Anyway, today I’m feeling fairly okay, I think. The challenge is not to tip myself back over into mania. People who do not suffer from bipolar disorder often imagine mania to be a pleasant state, and it can be — but for me, mania is often “black,” characterized by immense irritability, agitation, expolosive rage, near-psychotic paranoia (though I suppose I don’t really talk about this: because it’s only near-psychotic, I know it’s irrational, so I simply try not to give in to it), and a restlessness that prevents the completion of even the simplest tasks.

I know I’m not “better” yet, not quite back on an even keel, because I’m not feeling much need to sleep and I keep forgetting to eat (among other things). But I’m at least close enough to earth orbit to be getting stuff done, and the agitation and anger have passed for the moment. I’m into the kind of hypomania that can be very pleasant (Lots of energy! Reasonably positive mood! The ability to talk about things! Fast but not totally out-of-control streams of thought! Accomplishing lots of tasks! Wild productivity! Not so much total inability to feel the presence of G-d!) as long as I don’t let it get out of hand.

Okay, well. This is now much, much longer than I intended for it to be — but I guess it’s illustrative, nonetheless.

So far, I’m feeling kind of okay about being more open in this blog. Recently I had a long and awesome conversation with another person with bipolar disorder who seems to experience her disorder in much the same ways that I experience mine, and that was very heartening in a totally unexpected kind of way.

If even one other reader stumbles across my ramblings and goes, “Hey, this sounds really familiar. Maybe it’s not just me,” and it helps … well, that would be really awesome, and make it all very worthwhile.

*Non-athletes do this as well, as far as I know. I believe there have been some studies of this process in musicians. I’ll have to see if I can dig them up.


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