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My friend Handsome, who also knew Tina quite well, came over to the new place before we did the AIDS Walk on Sunday, housewarming orchid in hand. He scanned my room appreciatively and said, “this would be the perfect tweaker room”, meaning, I think, its quiet surroundings and abundance of privacy. Well-suited to sex. Easy on the paranoia factor.

Schwinng’s last roommate before me was an out-of-work speed freak who had boys over 24/7 and generally made the house not a home. Schwinng literally burned sage when the guy moved out, cleansing the house of all evil spirits. I’m pretty sure it worked. The room doesn’t feel haunted. It just feels like mine. Which doesn’t mean I’m not haunted by the ghosts of summers past. I don’t think sobriety is necessarily harder during the tough times; I think addiction sneaks up you when the going’s good. It taps a wee finger on your shoulder and whispers “Man, you’ve got it good. Let’s celebrate.”

With such a perfect abode, I’m tempted to stay home more often. But what I’ve learned through my experiences with addiction and depression is that I need to stay,er…busy…to stay healthy. Shit, that sounded so lame, I know, but it’s true. My current Human Bullet campaign is working, mainly through physics. A body in motion stays in motion, no? Seven new pounds of muscle propelling me forward. No, not that kind of muscle, you perv.

When my friends were helping me move, I happened to casually mention that I disliked the full-length mirrors on my sliding closet doors. I said I wanted to get rid of them. Oh, my god, you should have heard the screams.

“NOOOOO!!! Oh my GOD they are so HOT!! You HAVE to put your bed in front of them. Are you CRAZY?? You’re SINGLE now, you HAVE to put them to use.”

So I backed off. And honestly, the only place my bed worked was directly across from them on the opposite wall. So I’ve been trying to get used to them. But sometimes I happen to glance up while I’m watching TV or reading, and I look like a TOTAL dork; a slack-jawed, vacant-eyed slouch of a man. They’re unnerving.

I admit it, I don’t want to see myself when I’m having sex. Sue me. If it’s an esteem problem, well, there’s always therapy. I wouldn’t mind seeing the other guy reflected back a few times, though.

Speaking of, I broke my 4-month spell this weekend. Yes, ladies and gentleman, the DogPoet got laid. And did he ever…:) Love? mais no. Two men in heat? But of course. I can truly say this guy knew how to press all the right buttons. Although after it was over, I can’t say I wanted a date. And we did it at his place, so I still haven’t broken in the mirrors. So to speak. The search continues.

In my subversive attempts to access my blog at work, I’ve been using a “virtual” browser that doesn’t block sites and that, apparently, covers my web-surfing tracks. All this, and I don’t even surf for porn. Well, yesterday I made the discovery that if I try to update my template on the virtual browser, all hell breaks loose and my site becomes useless. So I spent a few hours last night tweaking the HTML (which I don’t actually know very well) so that you, the reader, can get your fix of the aesthetically brilliant combination of green and orange. Not to mention Louie’s sad-eyed photograph at right. There’s still some minor font crap going on, but eventually I needed sleep.

Thank you for the congratulations and blessings you’ve all sent my way the past few days. It’s been especially nice to hear from those of you writing me for the first time. If I haven’t said it before, I love hearing about your lives.

Louie and I love the new place, our only minor complaint being the extended walking commute to work; what used to take ten-minutes now takes forty, and the way home is ALL uphill. Soon I’ll get the car, so the sweat is worthwhile. Our street is lined with fragrant eucalyptus trees, and all I hear at night is the wind through the leaves. The fog blows over the hills and past my window at night, and even then my room gets more light than my last place; the pale orange glow of the city at night is cast across my bed, and I hug my pillow tightly as I drift off. I find I want to take more time off from work just to stay home and enjoy the place. But my ongoing campaign to become a human bullet demands attention. The alarm wakes me at 6, I burrow deeper under the covers for two snooze respites, and then I pull myself out of bed, go upstairs for coffee, then back down to pack the gym bag. By 7:30 I’ve dropped Louie off in the office and am struggling through sit-ups at the gym down the street. My routine stays disciplined only through momentum; I must be faithful.

While honing my physical shape, I quite naturally think a lot about sex. Love, too, but not as often. I hear myself telling friends lately that sex and love are the last areas not yet fully integrated with the rest of my life. I haven’t exactly lived up to the gay male promiscuity cliche the past year. No regrets. Besides, few men could have held on through the ride I’ve endured. The extended periods of abstinence haven’t exactly been by choice. If you’ve been reading the Campfire for awhile, you know I’d jump Ski if given half the chance. But an obessession doesn’t count as “integrated”; its shape and weight throw my life off-balance. I can’t yet say I’m completely ready to let it go, for whatever reason. Maybe I’m afraid it’s the last good chance I’ll get; a ridiculous idea. Of course there will be other men. Of course I’ll fall in love again. Of course it’ll hurt like hell. All this the mind knows. But the heart, the dick, they’re slow to learn.

So get this. My new roommate Schwinng made a cake for me and the friends who helped me move on Saturday. A cake. With fresh strawberries and powdered sugar. Bearbait and I grabbed three muscular sober boys after a meeting and we got it done in two and a half hours, and later we sat around the dining room table eating cake. I kid you not. Then the next morning (my first in the house; heavenly) he and I sat at the table reading the Sunday paper with coffee, and he asked me if I wanted an omelet. What, like I don’t want an omelet?

Within three days I had the Studly Couple, the Tattooed Monk, and my new friend Smart-Ass (you can take it) over to see the place. The Monk put it best as he looked around my bedroom and said “You have a home now.”

After they had all left, Schwinng asked, “Where do you meet all these nice, well-mannered men?”

I should have said “At my bible study class. Which reminds me, have you found Jesus?” That would have been good. Instead I told the truth. “AA”, I said.

Some other blogger lists as one of his pet peeves, “Recovery stories”. I’m not going to link to him because a) I can’t remember who he is and b) I’m pissy that way. It’s easy sometimes, in the company of good friends, to forget what’s at stake in sobriety. This past weekend Bearbait and I heard some news about another one of his sponsees who had checked himself into a treatment center for the third time. On July 5th, he swallowed a fistful of pills and downed a bottle of something and eventually his esophagus exploded and he drowned in his own fluids.

And this is what happens in “recovery”: people die, people drink, people disappear. And each time it happens we are reminded of the stakes, of the work needed to survive. And each time it happens I scan my life for flaws, and instead find it full of people I love, people who make me laugh, people who know the dark corners of my soul.

I wish for everyone a home like mine, but I especially wish it for the people I love.

I’m moving tomorrow, and nothing else has made me this happy in a very long time. Seriously, I’m levitating. Let me talk about it just a little more, okay?

The passive-aggressive roommate was showing my room last night to three different people, so I tried to make myself scarce doing laundry and chatting on the cell in the backyard. I figured it best not to meet any of the prospectives, should they ask me why I’m leaving. However, the couple cornered me as I folded whites. “He’s going to charge $50/month more than you paid. He has it posted on Craig’s List and we keep asking him for a copy but he won’t give us one.”

“Really?” I asked.

“And he told us that as long as he likes the applicant, it doesn’t matter if we do or not.”

Oh, I’m floating. Really, I am.

Home is so primal to me. Having a new place has opened a little door in my head, one that was locked and nailed shut over the past year and three months. Behind the door were all the various insults and degradations that I simply tucked away out of survival. With the door open again, they’re slipping out, running and screaming through my cerebral living room. They’re trashing the place. But then they pass a window and are stuck dumb at the vision, the simple idea of the new apartment. They’re speechless. In 24 hours the truck will be packed.

I fed two more garbage bags full of clothes to the streets of the Mission again last night. This morning a single pair of baggy Nike shorts lay on the sidewalk. What can I say, I never liked them, either.

A bus passed me as I walked home today carrying empty boxes for my upcoming move. An ad on its side declared; “One out of ten Asians has chronic hepatitus B”, and underneath someone had scrawled “And ten white guys are always bitching about nothing.”


Attended the Living Sober conference this weekend; a gay AA and Al-Anon convention of sorts, in the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium downtown. My second time at the rodeo. On Friday night one of the main speakers, a funny Latino boy from L.A., was talking about his childhood, and the lack of real life skills his parents had given him. He recounted a conversation he had with someone when he first got sober. He was bitching and moaning about how his parents taught him nothing when his friend stopped him by saying, “Look, Carlos, they never taught you how to suck dick either, and you know how to do that pretty good, right?”


Yesterday evening Bearbait and I arrived early at the convention to save some good seats for the final meeting in the main auditorium. We slipped through the doors into the vast dark space and out of the shadows ahead I saw a figure approaching, a familiar swagger of sorts that sent a jolt through me, a warmth that spread outward from my belly as Ski emerged from the darkness, smiling, saying, “Heeeyyy” in his deep Jersey voice. When we embraced I could once again feel the entire length of his body against mine, holding him to me for as long he’d allow.

I bought him a Coke from the convention vendor and watched as men walked by and stared at him, feeling that uneasy envy and possessiveness kick within me. We went outside and leaned against the stone building and tried to catch up as people began arriving for the final send-off. Constant minor interruptions, boys to greet, each of us pulled in other directions. It wasn’t the time, one half of the Studly Couple reminded me gently, to resolve the situation; a resolution I both crave and dread. I need to get over it.


After the big final meeting a young woman lugs crates of vinyl records into the auditorium and they clear a large space in the center, near the stage. A sober dance; something that I’ve always found…lacking. I’ve stayed out of the clubs for nearly two years, kept still my feet that love nothing more than to get lost in the beats from towering speakers. But I stay for a bit, drag the Studly Couple out on the floor and, as the familiar grooves shake me about, I kick it out and relax and smile at the people around me, dancing for nothing but the sheer love of good music. Around me in the dark figures jump and spin and sway from one foot to another. My friends drift away but it’s been too long for me, I stay put, my feet finding their way again, my bright new Adidas gliding in the intricate patterns I’ve settled into over the years. I sweat, my jeans stretch out and fall lower on my waist. A boy passes me on his way off the floor, shakes his head at me and smiles ,” You’re a great dancer”, he says, almost incredulously. I’m a white boy from the Midwest, a child of two uncoordinated farm kids, and I don’t know why, but I can dance.


I ask Bearbait for a ride home, dumbly missing the fact that he was in the process of leaving with someone he had just met. “All right,” he says, “but I’m dropping you off first.” The three of us step out into the cool night, my wet, warm clothes hanging limply from my body. I happen to look back and see this very adorable dark-skinned boy with a shaved head watching us walk off. I know his name but little else, and in a moment of tired contentment and courage, I smile at him and he smiles back. It lasts a couple of seconds, long enough to count for something.


I turn the key in the door quietly at home; it’s one in the morning. The house is dark and silent. I slip into my room, thinking “this is the last Saturday night I’ll spend here”, but something is wrong. Before I switch on the light I know my roommate’s cat, the one who spends all of his time in my room, has pissed somewhere in my room. I turn on the lamp and the fucking cat has pissed all over my bed; the dark circle is a foot in diameter, and the urine has soaked all the way through to the surface of my mattress, through my sheets and the new $200 down comforter I just bought. I am so exhausted, and I cannot seem to escape fast enough.


This morning the roommate left his dogs in his tiny room for a few hours and I woke to the sound of one of them alternately barking and chewing her way through the wood door.


I take my last Sunday walk from the house to the gym, determined to get back into my routine. As I close my locker and head for the weight room, Mr. Adorable, he of the smile and the shaved head, is walking in. We both startle a bit and smile again. I introduce myself and we chat inanely about the conference, grinning in that goofy mutual you’re kinda cute way. I’m feeling rather conspicuous standing with him in the heavily heterosexual locker room, and I chicken out before getting his number. I tell myself I’ll see him again. It’s a small town.

Five days till the move, and I’m already packed. So I’ve settled in with some take-out pad thai from the little hole in the wall down the street, having just finished, regretfully, this book. Since his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, I’ve followed Chabon, rolling through the chaotic, heartbreaking journey of The Wonder Boys, and now his Pulitzer prize-winner. Throughout the past few weeks I’ve passed several people with this book in their hands, on the bus, on the street, in the backseat of a car. Each time it’s brought a little smile to my face, knowing there are others half-submerged in his world. I won’t describe it; I’m sure others have done that better than I could, but I’ll buy you a copy if you ask. Sorry, you can’t have mine.

I haven’t spoken much of my other two roommates, the couple, mainly because the three of us have reached a fairly companionable co-existence in the house. Their puppy had months ago driven me nuts with its separation anxiety, but then one of them went on disability for Huntington’s Disease and so is always at home; not the best solution to the problem, but one that’s kept the peace.

Tonight I ran into one of them while sorting through some boxes in the garage, and he asked where I was moving to, and I told him. “We’re really sorry you’re leaving,” he said, “really sorry.”

“Really?” I asked. For some reason I found it hard to believe they’d miss me.

“Yeah, really,” he said. We kind of smiled at each other. “How much do you pay for rent, anyway?” he asked. I told him, and he shook his head, adding our combined rent and subtracting it from the total. I did the math too, twice, because the sum wasn’t what I had always believed it to be. “He’s a putz”, my roommate said, and we left it at that.

The Tattooed Monk lives in a building in the heart of the Castro, where Market and Noe and 16th Sts all intersect, across from Gold’s Gym and the Metro bar, where at this moment drunken post-parade revelers have crowded out onto the balcony and are singling out cute boys walking below on the sidewalk, yelling in unison; “YELLOW SHIRT! YELLOW SHIRT! YELLOW SHIRT!”


I fell asleep pretty quick last night, especially considering that his bedroom looks out onto 16th St and the Pink Saturday block party was in full swing. At around 2 am I woke to a voice teetering on the verge of rage below the window saying, “I didn’t kiss him the way YOU did, Kevin! I didn’t kiss him the way YOU did! LOOK AT ME! I DIDN’T KISS HIM THE WAY YOU DID!” The voice passed by and I fell back asleep.


I woke late, rinsed off, threw on some clothes and drove quickly to work, where we loaded up a van with people and dogs and drove downtown where the parade contingents were gathering in the bright morning sun. Drag queens adjusting each other’s fake jewelry, boys in sequined thongs practicing synchronized dance moves, flatbed trucks draped with rainbow crepe and peacock feathers. Two men twirling batons in the shade under the overpass, throwing them high in the air, the MCC choir warming up nearby. Human Rights Campaign Fund guys pulling identical t-shirts over their conservatively gym-toned bodies, rival radio stations kicking out thumping beats from the back of monster pick-up trucks. A flock of dykes and pit-bulls gathering under a sign that reads “Bad Rap.” We are leashed to a variety of panting dogs; a deaf dalmation, a chow named Zeus, a lab named Thelma, an assortment of mutts and four six-week old Rottweiler pups that we divvy up and carry in our arms for an unprecedented people socialization opportunity. We feed them ice-cubes as the hours pass. We are contingent #55, and it seems forever before the floats ahead begin to move. As we round the first corner onto Market St in the heart of downtown the crowd is ten deep on the sidewalks and they’re cheering and waving and capturing a thousand moments on a thousand different cameras. I carry one of the pups in my arms and walk near the crowd, and for the entire length of the parade there is a wave of “AWWWWWWWW!!!”s as the people ahead catch sight of her. I wave one of her little paws at them and they wave back. I know exactly what I am doing.


Later I am exhausted. I drive alone back to the Castro and lie on the couch in the Tattooed Monk’s dark living room. For a weekend dedicated to pride, it certainly fucks with our heads. Another year has passed and I again resolve to do more next time; I will be happier and better-looking; I will have a beautiful body and a beautiful tan and beautiful new tattoos and I will dance to the music I love in the crowded sweaty streets. I will have more, more of everything that seems to matter the most on weekends such as this.

Instead I say a little prayer of gratitude for all the shame and disgust and secrets endured by those who came before me; the silence and the erasable lives, all the ones who died and are dying in all the beautiful cities, the girl trapped in the wrong body, the boy tied to a fence in the dark Wyoming night. I still love my parade, my people, my motley group of queens and dykes, my bears and bikers, my gliding dreams of rainbow crepe and peacock feathers.