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Chased by a Bear

Sitting in my shrink’s waiting room on Monday I picked up the new Harper’s and turned to the index, which informed me that the new San Francisco mayor donated $500 to George W. Bush’s campaign. This sums up why I don’t like writing about politics. I’m too much of an idealist, and while I have a good grasp of human nature and can understand complexity and ambiguity in others, in politics I don’t have the same patience. I’m aware that Gavin Newsom probably had his ulterior motives for kicking off this man-on-man/woman-on-woman love parade here in San Francisco. But I preferred to focus on the risks he was taking, and what that said about him as a leader. But politics is, well, politics. Decisions are made and actions taken that serve so many hidden agendas and interests that an idealist like me, who prefers to keep things simple, gets a little overwhelmed and feels all naive and trod-upon and generally indignant at how politicians just can’t act like normal people for a change. I naively expect a Democrat to support other Democrats. And I expect my left-leaning Democratic senators to support equal rights for all citizens, rather than whine about it being too soon and all that crap. Yeah, I know that most Americans aren’t ready to accept gay marriage yet. There was a time when most Americans weren’t ready for civil rights, either.

The U.S. government routinely sets deliberate fires to selected wilderness areas to make room for new growth. This is called a “prescribed burn”, and it sums up my life lately. I’m only hoping that the new growth makes up for the third-degree burns.

A couple of times a week I climb on the elliptical machine at the gym for an hour of cardio. This guy who’s usually there at the same time called me the energizer bunny. The only thing that gets me through is my iPod. And yesterday I was listening to this house mix from 1998, which contains my absolute favorite transition from one song to another: as “Annihilate” thunders on towards its climax, you can hear the woman who sings “Music is the Answer” warming up in the background. The beat stutters, kicks in place, holding the song back for several seconds. And then it springs forward like an adrenaline rush, taking you over. And when it sprung forward I got all choked up, and my eyes got wet but I squeezed down, refusing to cry while doing cardio at the gym. All the fires can burn everything down, but I refuse to believe that my lot in life is one of sadness, that I will always lose the things I care about the most. I refuse to buy into that story. And so I don’t cry.

And the way that song builds up, the beats intensifying, as though someone’s winding up a toy car before placing it on the floor: that is how life has felt for longer than I care to remember; I’ve been winding up and winding up and holding a part of myself off for someone who’ll never turn in the claim ticket. And now I’m ready, fuckers, I’m all wound up, and I want to take off.

Yeah, it’s just one long episode of Oprah around here. Next I’ll be using words like “processing my feelings”.

I made an appointment with a local tattoo artist for the end of March. I’ve been wanting to do an embellishment/cover-up of a tattoo I’ve had for over ten years. I decided it was time to forge ahead, and I found a local woman whose work is exquisite, which explains why I have to wait a month for the appointment. But that gives me time to make sure I’m getting what I want, and to fine-tune the details. I stopped into her shop over the weekend to look at her books and there was a nice vibe in there. Women can be so much cooler than men.

Spent much of the past week trying to teach myself Photoshop and Dreamweaver, in an effort to get a little more self-reliant around here. I’m using the “..for Dummies” series of books because, well, the shoe fits. Learning these two programs and their attendant vocabularies is like learning two foreign languages and knowing that they will both be extinct in a couple of years. It’s pretty cool tinkering around and creating new funky images, but I doubt I’ll ever become a web designer. It’s too time-consuming, and my writing is feeling neglected.

I rented lucky number 7 cabin down in Big Sur for this coming weekend. Going for a solo trip, two nights, my first time there. It’s time to start doing things instead of just talking about them.

Friday night I had dinner with Brian and Bearbait in the Castro. Afterwards I parted company with them for my weekly bookshop visit. On the way back to the car I passed this hunky bearded guy who was saying good-bye to some friends on the sidewalk before turning in the same direction I was headed. He had a new pair of construction boots on and one of them was squeaking a bit. I could tell by his footsteps that he was about to pass me. He pulled nearly even with me, then turned into the new Superstar Video store.

Brian has pointed out that I should stop whining, because I get cruised all the time but I never cruise back. So I actually turned around at the same time that the hunky bearded guy did, and I smiled at him which was about as brave as I could get. I turned around and I kept walking. And I hoped that I might hear that squeak again behind me.

And I did. My heart kicked up its pace as the squeak closed in, increasing in frequency and volume and in about five seconds he’d catch up with me and he’d say something that would make me smile, but in those five seconds I thought about how my butt looked in those jeans and I thought about the dinner I ate and the gum I didn’t have. I thought about how your movements change when you know you’re being watched, and I thought about the sparkle of the new sidewalk outside Superstar. I thought about the stories we buy into and the risks we never take. I thought about the smell of stale beer coming from the Pendulum, and how San Francisco men are such flakes and if men on the East Coast are the same way. And how it doesn’t matter since there’s so many other things to do now. And how a friend who had his own heart broken told me afterwards I want to hire someone to beat the shit out of me so that my outsides match my insides. And how my barber and his boyfriend want to introduce me to their whip collection, and how I want to and don’t want to. And I wondered what he was going to say when he caught up with me and if it would even matter.

And it did and it didn’t. And later as I drove up 17th Street I opened the windows and let the cool air in. And the song was quiet and it was Friday night and I was all wound up and set down, the streetlights tracing patterns on my windshield. And I thought about the things you can predict, and the things you’ll never figure out.

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