lonely lovely city

lonely lovely city

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Meanings....

What I enjoy most about Thanksgiving is that it doesn't pertain to gift giving-the exaggerated sense of commercialism that drains the joy out of Christmas.

Thanksgiving is actually a non-traditional holiday in that it can be celebrated however you wish. One can visit their family and reflect on the ties that bind them together. For some, including myself, it is a day about being with friends at home in New York City.

I comprised a list of five things I am thankful for in 2010.

1. My new apartment in the East Village . I moved into this place during the spring. Not only has this saved me over forty plus hours a week in commuting from Brooklyn and over $1200.00 a year in transportation, but it has given me stronger calves. I walk everywhere and haven't rode the subway since May. I love that it barely takes twenty minutes to walk home and how my surroundings are decorated with fresh, clean lines. My thanks to the broker, Nick, who showed me an awesome pad.

2. Friendships. I feel grateful for knowing these cherished individuals and how they've improved the quality of my existence. If you are reading, thank you.

3. More self-confidence. I feel that in order to get closer to another person, I have to take stock of where I am going. Sometimes it can be challenging figuring out who you are. But, I feel wiser and appreciate the strength my obstacles have provided. I am thankful for this clarity.

4. Being alive. I am fortunate to be able to rise each morning and stretch. To get out of bed and brush my teeth and run down the stairs and head to the gym is quite simply, euphoric, if not a gift. I came across a book about an Australian man and motivational speaker, Nick Vujicic, who was born with no limbs. I am even more aware of the little things that too many take for granted and how being happy is truly a choice. My constant thanks to him for his inspiration.

5. My job. While at times, I mismanage stress, I am grateful to generate an income in this uncertain, financial climate. Thank you to my employer who has tolerated my wavering moods and attitudes with loyalty.

These are just some of the many things I am thankful for. Silly to some, but certainly, not lacking in it's validity.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A forbidden, foreign land...



My good friend, Lory, is from Sydney, Australia. She lives here in Manhattan, but often misses her city a lot. I am in love with their accents and branded casualness of life. They just seem so relaxed and all too approachable. Many of us New Yorkers can learn something from the folks down under. I am thinking how we as americans could mitigate stress and appreciate the finer things-maybe just a glorious sunset and grilled shrimp on the barbie?

Every night as I walk home, there's this tiny place on St.Marks and Ave A. It is an Australian restaurant and bar. There are Tim Tams(native cookies), Vegemite (their rendition of Nutella-a sour like anchovy based paste) with Foster's beers lining up against the glass window from below which faces the crowded one way street.

Aussies from all over the city, gather outside near the entrance as if there is this secret underground club. They smoke, laugh and seemingly have a blast. There are novelties everywhere inside. Flags and photographs adorn the walls. Even all of employees hail from the beloved country. They carry themselves with this innate pride that is infectious. Wouldn't it be cool if I just got on a plane and went?

Perhaps this isn't in conjunction with my theme, but I couldn't resist. I love this commercial. Better yet, I adore this animal. So cute and funny. I wish I could snag him out of the television and play. Go Australia!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Finally...

I just read a probing piece from CNN. It was about a pastor from Georgia who just came out of the closet. He had been married for over twenty years and produced four children. The catalyst that took him out of silence was the September suicide of a student from Rutger's University. Apparently, he felt that he could no longer surrender to silence.

I am proud of his decision, even if I don't know him. It must be incredibly difficult to ration with one's homosexuality under a veiled, secretive existence, especially, if one has a family to raise and a church to operate. I am not a religious person by any means. But, what struck me about this is the power of change through the medium of religion. If anything conceivably can come good out of a terrible, unfortunate situation such as that kid jumping off the George Washington Bridge, it is a man of the cloth who can confront the world with it's hatred and ignorant views.

Growing up as a Catholic in rural Nevada wasn't easy. O.K. Basically, it sucked. I knew I was gay since I could remember, yet I chose to nurture my encompassing guilt. I wish I had positive role models at that time who I could have trusted. What this guy has done is open up the discussion for acceptance in the church. As a pastor, I am sure people look up to him as role model.

When a person is grappling with their sexuality, it feels comforting to know that there are other people in the world who are just like you. It isn't out of character to be a openly gay anymore. Now, coming out is the status quo. What it isn't the norm is committing suicide-especially if you know you're gay. Suicide is never the answer, no matter how painful something is.

As a gay man, I feel confident for the most part. It took awhile. I just had to move to the other side of the country, free myself from Catholicism, most of my relatives and organized religion all together. While my family rejected me as I was coming out, I did my best to surround myself with people who were receptive and kind.

I didn't feel comfortable in the Catholic Church. Truly, it was a confining,hypocritical experience and I don't regret putting it behind me. When I think of religion, I carry the notion that it is supposed to be universal in acceptance and unconditional love. If that is what "God" is all about, the entity that is supposed to be loving and accepting of all of his (or her for that matter)children, what is going on? Why are people so quick to judge and condemn?

A lot of people are afraid. Some are weak. And, others are selfish in their beliefs, thinking that God will love them, just not the gay kid down the street. Deplorable.

One of the things I thought was that this man can offer affirming change to those that are in fact gay and don't want to relinquish their religious infrastructure. If anything good can come out of mass suicides around the world from gay teens, it is the idea that out and proud pillars of religion will make acceptance readily available.

I hope he can expedite the process of education and show others that you can be religious, respectfully if that's your thing, and be gay too. If religious leaders could be more like him, wouldn't the world would be a better place?

Friday, November 5, 2010

The first ten

It is official. I am a New Yorker. On November 1st, 2000, I moved to New York City. It is common knowledge that after ten years in New York, one can refer to one's self as a New Yorker. At least that is what Carrie Bradshaw claimed on Sex and the City in Season three.

It's hard to believe that a decade has been swept away. It was a lifetime ago really. At twenty-five, I thought I could change the world. Perhaps I am outdating myself, but I feel more confident at thirty-five, than I ever did in my twenties. Life has changed. I have grown up and become a man.

One of the first things I remember about my foray into the city was a room I rented in Staten Island. GASP. Yes, it is still technically part of New York City. Until I moved into Manhattan, I rented out a cheap room in a B&B for nine months until after the week of 9/11. It was on the third floor in the attic. There was one window and a shared bathroom. The view from the window was the WTC. I loved it. It was large, bright and luminous. Every day as I took the ferry into the city, I fell in love with the skyline.

I would always think of the film, Working Girl, where the WTC was one of the beloved characters. I thought it was the coolest thing and whenever I was lost in the West Village, I would refer to the towering stature. It reassured my disorientation as a city virgin- a beacon of strength and wonderment.

I wish I could revert to that time when just hanging out downtown with a few dollars in my pocket, eating a slice of cheap pizza with a friend and getting lost was pleasurable. Before myspace, facebook, twitter, reality shows, iphones, and a bevy of other things took over the word, there was a different feeling in this town. I felt that anything was possible and that I would be young forever. I still think that anything is possible. I still want the things I have always yearned for.

Weirdly, I also remember when an unlimited monthly metrocard was just $63.00 and a ticket at the movies was under $9.00. I didn't feel as hurried or pressured to be something or someone.

Life is vaster now. Many of the friends I met when I arrived are no longer a part of my world. They have either dissipated into thin air, moved out of the city to live in normalcy as married couple with children, or they simply moved back home because they couldn't hack it. I miss them. But, others do enter into your circle for a reason and exit it-sometimes unexpectedly or unabashedly.

Regardless of the progress I have made or lack there of, I am proud to be a New Yorker. Amidst the goals I have yet to achieve, NYC is home. It knows me. It embodies my secrets. It reassures me. It has remained when everyone else couldn't. It's the only dwelling where I truly belong to. From time to time, I feel caved in and want to flee the routine and pace of this condense, urban sensory overload. I always do, but can't wait to get back when I descend on the tar pit of JFK after a long vacation. I feel comfortable here and love to walk and explore and interact with strangers and friends that share the similar views as me. New York City is indeed a rough town with a lot of bumps. However, if you can manage ten years in this jungle, come out to the other side like I did and still want to be here, anything can happen.