June 2007


It’s 4:30 AM and I’m already wide awake, drinking my coffee and listening to Julia Fordham. I crashed after feasting on duck dinner while watching tv last night. (I faintly remember the taste of hoisin sauce lingering in my mouth as Clemens grounded the last batter out to end the top of the 1st inning of the Yankees-Mets game.) I was supposed to hang with James, one of the guys I met last Thanksgiving in Honolulu, as he was in town for the weekend hanging out with his college buds from UPenn. I woke up an hour ago to my phone vibrating with voice messages and missed calls. I guess that is what my life has come down to — Friday nights at home making tv dinner out of Chinese food while watching men in tight suits bat balls. It seems to me that it used to be that my life was so much more exciting (if excitement were to be measured by a frenetic and hectic Friday night schedule.) I could still remember the not-so-distant past wherein I would just be getting home at this time, slumping out of a cab drunk out of my ass, or just falling asleep in someone’s arms in someone else’s apartment, bare-assed and still as drunk. Now, I’m wearing boxers and onto my 3rd mug of coffee, writing a few feet away from my unmade bed, windows wide open welcoming the cool breeze of early summer morning. My life may not seem to be that exciting right now, but I find this quiet moment as exhilarating. Or maybe it’s just all that caffeine rushing through my veins.

Undoubtedly, a lot of this comes with age. I’m turning 30 in 2 weeks and I really don’t want to romanticize this event. I am a sucker for symbol and all that but I just don’t want to mislead myself into thinking that I’m plopping down onto a bed of immediate maturity or monkish reflection as I go on into my fourth decade. (I don’t even know why I’m getting all hyper about this since I probably won’t even remember this 10 years from now. God knows I don’t know what I did when I was 20.) What I do know is that I’m plopping down onto my bed earlier and earlier. My boss was out sick for the most part this week and I’ve been having really long and stressful days at work that I’d come home exhausted and fall asleep right after dinner. (I actually passed out Thursday night after eating 2 bananas slathered with peanut butter. I guess it’s okay then that I pigged out on duck the following night.) Now, I do know why they call it “falling” asleep. It’s like an unexpected and inescapable trap that sticks you into a pit of slumber, ,unless either coffee or a pesky live-in husband comes to the rescue, God knows I’m a much more effective competitor in this vicious market I work in (than when I first started) but I know that to go on with my daily routine the way I do necessitates a trade-off with my nightly schedule. I can pump in 10-hour days but my nights have got to give back just as much, if not less. My weeknight schedule of eating dinner out, going to the gym, running across the Brooklyn bridge and back, even watching Jon Stewart and going to a Bway show have got to be rethought and planned out. Growing old, realizing this as I turn 30, means that my will and my wants have got to negotiate with my body. Growing old is getting deeper into a relationship, not only with other people, but also with myself. I think that is, after all, the ultimate negotiation – when I attain a compromise with my own self.

But I also don’t want to demonize this rite of passage. God knows it’s already been stigmatized enough. Being homo, I know how intense ageism gets. I’ve read more than enough online profiles that misrepresent one’s age and have met more than enough men whose ages keep on going up with each consecutive date. (There was this one guy who was 32 when I met him, and jumped to 39 after our third date.) Everyone seems to want to be still in their 20s or, at least younger than they really are. Do I? I mean, my 20s were a blast. As it comes to an end, I realize that it’s turned to be so much more than I could have ever imagined it to be. Looking ahead into my 30s seems to be so much more exciting. I’ve always luvd older men. (Ugh, I hate it when amateur shrinks oversimplify this statement and contextualize it as merely looking for a daddy-ish figure.) Maybe this decade will demistify the allure, as I weave myself into the web of who’s older. I also luv hanging out with them. All my good friends are in their mid 30s – an ex-top tier lawyer who’s now a psychotherapist, a lab chemist, a magazine writer, an army doctor, a music director for the Lutheran church, a publishing exec, a commodities trader, a licensed architect. I’ve known them for a long time now and have witnessed each other grow, from entry-level angst to grad degrees to professional licenses to job jumpings to successive promotions. The 20s were fun, non-stop and freewheeling, but it seems the 30s offer the promise of ongoing fulfillment, stable and dynamic and consistent. (Maybe I’ll just be 30 for the next 5 years.)

I’m seeing them all as I have my bday dinner to celebrate this passage this week (since my good friends from Seattle and San Diego are in town for Pride and I thought I might as well do it while they’re here.) Then, we’re all off to my Fire Island house for the weekend. (Geez. I still remember when I used to day trip so many years ago. What a schlep that was.) I better rest up.

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I’m drinking my coffee (whom my housemates in Fire Island have affectionately called mud since I like my coffee the way I like my tops, alpha strong) as I write this with the a/c buzzing in the background. I live in a studio and this wall unit suffuses my entire apartment with cool, crisp air as if it were centralized conditioning. Tim, still tired from his OffBway show last night, is still sleeping, huddled up in my purple comforter (which, at 4 years old, is ready to be replaced by a bluegreen one I just got on sale at Bloomie’s Home.) I’ve been reading the Sunday Times online and browsing through the website of my newest athlete crush, the Serbian player Novak Djokovic. (He replaces my old crush, the hottest torso in town, swimmer Michael Phelps, who replaced Spanish tennis star Tommy Robredo who replaced the yummy Jewstud ballplayer Gabe Kapler. Anyway, you get the picture.) It is the first Sunday in June and I’m happy to have found my life at a momentary standstill, It’s surprisingly quiet I think I could still hear my heavy dinner last night churning in my tummy.

I had dinner with my old spinster aunts last night. (My friends have branded them my lesbian aunts, which they’re not.) We went to our reliable, fave Chinese restaurant on Grand Ave. and I feasted on duck, lobster, sea bass and salty fish fried rice. I must’ve practically starved myself all day to prepare for the meal. (After eating so much meat last weekend at the Pines house, this was a refreshing treat.) I always feel bothered by a sense of distancing from my family (in both the physical and emotional sense, a la the film, Babel) and every opportunity I get to bridge this gap without crossing intimate personal lines, like non-threatening dinner at Ping’s, is always welcome. (I’m not out to my family which my friends disclaim since they do claim that anyone who hears me talk – well, there is a fem inflection somewhere – and sees me act – okay, so I flail my arms when I’m excited with fey abandon – with half a brain can make their own educated guess,) But what struck me last night was not so much the news at the table (such as my bro-in-law, this yummy but pretty dumb surfer dude shacking it up with my sister in Waikiki, getting busted for cocaine, which I already knew before they did) but the scene in the Asian supermarket. I’ve been so used to going to my neighbrohood Keyfood chain that I forget what happens in Asian ones. Suddenly, I feel like I was back in my mom’s kitchen, recognizing the different stuff she uses for her signature dishes. What rekindled this memory, I guess from sheer repulsion, is watching the fish vendor go on with his routine. I was supposed to look for flavor sauces to take home to Brooklyn but instead got transfixed at the fish counter. A customer selects a fish from this murky tank, which the vendor scoops out with a net. He raises the caught fish high enough so that the buyer can see it, wildly moving, in its final seconds, before he overturns the net in this single theatrical swoop and drops the fish to the ground where he deals it one fatal blow with a mallet. (It was a thud followed by a bop.) He hoses the fish down, scales it and guts it with this badass knife, as he pulls out its internal organs, all these while the fish’s tail is still flapping wildly. The fish vendor puts the bloodied fish in a clear plastic bag, labels it $4.99 and hands it to the client, as if he were at a deli handing over half-a-pound of pepper jack cheese. (I forget that dead fish never shut their eyes — which I blame on every anthropomorphic animal animation from the Little Mermaid on — so gazing at the bloodied dead eye, lolling itself on one corner through the clear bag, was enough to make me shudder.)

Come to think of it, I had fish at a Chinese restaurant less than a mile away from that Chinese supermarket last night. I think I’m getting a tummyache.