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“Hi. My name is Mark, ” I paused, speaking into the microphone, “and I like Miley Cyrus.” Instead of the expected support group auto-response, the silence in the room was deafening. After a few more agonizing moments, a woman in the front row spoke, “Get out. Get out now.” That’s how my nightmare goes, anyhow. My hubby tells me if I wake up humming “It’s a party in the USA” one more time, I should sleep in the guest room. I mean if you listen to her lyrics, she’s riding along in a LA taxicab and nervous about her trip and worried if she’ll fit in. Jay-Z comes on the radio and…problem solved! She copes, she moves on. She’s a role model. How is it totally okay to adore Diana Ross as a gay man, but not Miley. Let’s face it, Miley grew up around a straight man with an 80s lesbimullet; she clearly understands pain. Don’t worry Miley, I get you.
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(150 words) A Shitload of Purple

She was an aubergine storm trooper. Everything matched. Purple UggBoots, purple stretch pants, purple skirt, purple jacket with purple fur on the collar. It was like she’d violently harvested the McDonalds character Grimace and wore it proudly like a woman might wear a fancy fur to the opera. The sparkle lavender eye shadow finished the look along with shiny, long, weapons-grade purple nails. She stood as the bus slowed to a stop, and picking up her purple lame handbag, exited the bus. “That was a shitload of purple,” said the woman next to me on the bus, unsolicited. “It is obviously her signature look; a lot of work went into it,” I answered. “Do you think it started with the UggBoots in purple? Or the ‘fur’?” chimed in another passenger, using hand air quotes around fur. “I am stuck on what office environment that outfit is appropriate for,” volunteered someone else, "Could she even type with those nails?" “Well, she seemed happy and confidant and blissful, and that’s more than most of us can claim at 6:45 a.m.,” I said, “So her bliss is purple? Who are we to get in her way?” “That is such a hippy San Francisco thing to say,” said the woman next to me. “Proudly so, actually. Doesn’t make it any less true.”
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(150 words) "Straight" Acting

“I don’t get this shit,” he said, pointing at the personals in the back of the gay newspaper. “Is there a more self hating term for a fag to use than ‘straight-acting’? Talk about a boner killer.” “Pro tip: Sucking cock or getting fucked is hardly something a straight person would do. Kneeling and begging for it isn’t incredibly straight either.” “Here we are, decades past Stonewall and someone wants to fuck you, but in a ‘straight way.’ That shit is fucked up.” “Maybe it is somebody’s way of saying ‘I’m new to gay sex’?” “Then just SAY that. It’s time for gays writing personal ads to use their ‘big boy words’ and stop with the stupidity.” "Oh, I know. We could teach an online course, ‘Personal Ads: Let’s get you fucked.’” “I can see you with the Madonna headset, like a pornographic yet inspirational TED Talk.” “It really is all about the accessories, isn’t it? I'm in!”
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(150 words) Grrrl!

The KFAG soundtrack started pounding from nearly a block away. I was just tired of Sunday afternoon television. I thought maybe getting out among my kind might help shake off the sense of isolation I’d been feeling lately. I entered the bar, watching a few guys in the corner cheering the football game on the small TVs, the bar lined by guys that nursed scotches and rye. I walked to the bar and ordered a beer, scanning through the dimly lit space for a spot to stand. I turned to move to my selected perch when a large man ran straight into me. The beer erupted back at me, splashing into my beard and spilling down inside my shirt. I looked up ready to tear into the man that had collided with me. He was 6’2″ or 6’3″, with a chest that fit the scale of the rest of him. He wore a pink nylon shirt with “GRRRL!” in shiny black letters. The giant’s hands were at his mouth, and he looked absolutely petrified. After we both collected our thoughts, the giant spoke in a soft warm voice, “I am so so so sorry, sweetheart. Oh my gosh. You are soaked. Oh gosh, oh gosh.” He then turned to the bartender and in an entirely other authoritative football coach voice barked, “Jim – get him a new beer and put it on my tab.” The giant turned to me, returning to the soft voice, “Why don’t you come back to the back of the bar, we’re selling GRRRL! shirts. You’ll look really cute in one, and I’ll give you another as a gift and get you out of that wet shirt.” He could read the hesitation on my face. “It’s okay, let me make this right.” I picked up my new beer and followed the Giant to the back of the bar. There, in all its glittery glory was the “GRRRL!” booth. I smiled; it looked like an explosive gay Hello Kitty! bomb had detonated. It had all the pink accessories, including the shiny shirts, and all that was missing were the red bows in everybody’s hair. There was no way anyone in the bar was NOT going to see the group of guys. I pulled off my soaking wet shirt. The giant chucked me a small pink GRRRL! towel, followed by a pink shirt. I stood there for a moment, letting myself dry off. “I’m Fritz,” the giant introduced himself. “GRRRL! is teaching gay men self defense to battle all the attacks and crap we’ve had in our neighborhood. We figured we all want to be seen when we’re out in the neighborhood. We’re all on the rugby squad and just started this recently, but it’s really taken off. Do you rugby?” “You’d be a great wing,” said a short, muscular ginger bearded man, slyly running his hand down the hair trail on my stomach. Fritz batted his hand away. “I’d put your shirt on if I were you, love, the boys can be a bit…friendly. They’re nice, but that one,” he said pointing to the ginger, “hasn’t had her shots updated.” I slipped on the shirt. It was surprisingly comfortable and fit like a glove. Fritz introduced me around to the guys in the booth. I took a sip of beer and before I knew it, I was laughing along with the rest of the GRRRLs in the back of the bar.  
51iUIsmiKyL._AA160_ This post is an excerpt from my book “Brief Moments: a collection of short stories” available on Amazon.com in paperback & Kindle eBook.
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(150 Words) puzzle pieces

I sat in the dark listening to rain hit the skylights above the bed like Caribbean steel drums. I rolled over and sniffed deeply into the pillow, reminding myself he’d been here by smelling him on the sheets. We’d met at a party and I invited him home after. The sweetest thing happened. We just fell asleep drunk in each other's arms, like a blissful pair of puzzle pieces. That changed around 4 a.m. when he woke me with such a powerful lovemaking that I called into work sick to keep it going. We had breakfast at the diner down the street and came back here, barely making it through the door before we were naked again. We showered for an hour and a half, laughing, and continued to explore and discover parts of each other that caused shivers of joy and whimpers of “Oh please…do that again.”
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(150 Words) The Royal Donut Shop

The Royal Donut had been a neighborhood destination for decades. The smell of freshly slathered ring donuts hit you as you turned the block. The atmosphere was charged by the childhood memories the smell created. You could almost watch new customers be struck by, and then get lost in, the wave of nostalgia. Oscar was behind the counter, a muscular tattoed man in his mid-thirties. Locals remembered him starting there as a bright eyed teenager. He had run around the place like a whirling dervish refilling coffees, learning to casually, but purposefully, up sell a prepackaged dozen donut holes. When his father died suddenly the previous spring, it was assumed the business would disappear. Surely, we thought, such a prime location would become another trendy Euro cafe with designer lattes and overpriced store-bought coffee cake. Oscar simply showed up behind the counter a week or so later, as if he had always been there. I wondered if Oscar had returned out of a sense of duty. Off in some other life, only to be called up to take over the Royal. I imagined him giving notice at his job, and with solid conviction, returning to the shop on Main Street. The torch passed, the old ladies would gossip over how long Oscar would remain single. Kids would wink and charm their way to a kid-sized bagel. He was very sure to use all of his father’s old-fashioned terms and phrases. “Krullers are fresh; maple bars are fine too.” “Fresh cuppa?” “How about a bag of donut holes with that?”
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(150 words) less than three seconds

The acolytes stepped forward in the hushed room. The kabal surrounded them in a circle, lighting candles. This was the day they'd been working towards their entire lives. A man stepped forward, tightening his inoffensive orange tie, brushing lightly across the starched eggshell button-up. She stepped forward in the navy blue dress, pursing her lips adorned with a purposefully neutral shade of red lipstick. "You are no longer Karen Smith, you are," the speaker paused dramatically, then continued,"Anika Tonkoplis. You are no longer Mike Jones............... you are Domenico Montanegro." Shining on the table next to the box of bagels and individual cream cheeses, were their desk nameplates. Their new monikers carefully engraved phonetically, Ah-Nee-Kuh Ton-Koe-Pol-Ees. She'd carefully crafted it to contain the maximum amount of syllables and dip-thongs, and timed to be said in less than three seconds. They stood in front of their peers and for the first time, and uttered the magic words for the first time. "I'm Anika Tonkiplis, NPR news."
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(150 words) in time

He sat up on the side of the bed, rigid and straight. He’d had ‘the dream’ again, and was thankful that he couldn’t remember much. He started breathing normally, and began an inventory of the items on the bedside table. Doing so reminded him that he was awake and ‘the dream’ was over. He ran his fingers through his hair and scratched his beard. It was ‘the dream’ because in other dreams that is how it was referred to. Other residents of his night time mind knew it by name and feared it among all other things. It surprised him every time it happened, how something so intense and terrible could be created and replayed. He would often have to touch his feet to the floor before ‘the dream’ would totally let go. He wondered if death was when his feet wouldn’t reach the floor in time.
51iUIsmiKyL._AA160_ This post is an excerpt from my book "Brief Moments: a collection of short stories" available on Amazon.com in paperback & Kindle eBook.
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(150 words) making you understand

He opened the windows and for a moment let the breeze dance around him and in his hair. The choir of treefrogs were already at full voice - and a far off fog horn sounded in tandem with the grandfather clock chiming in the other room. He smile at how old world it all felt despite very much in the present. "Imbolc is so far away," he the thought to himself. With the equinox in a few days the winds would start whispering the name Samhain. Spirits of old and new will start visiting his dreams again. He knew in the darkness that time cranked slower, making you understand every moment of the cold and the darkness. He lit the blue candle in the window, as had his father and grandfather. If the spirits were going to come for a visit, he might as well make them feel welcome.
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(150 words) silence

The aroma of the fresh pot of coffee hit me before the alarm. There are few things that make me swoon like that smell. It is my daily reward for getting up before the sun and getting things started. I put on my robe and shuffled to the kitchen. There on the butcher block was my pottery coffee cup. It’s probably a misnomer to call it a cup, since it’s more like a cup-shaped bowl. I moved to the coffee pot in the corner and pour myself a ‘cup’ of fresh, hot morning coffee. I went to the fridge and grabbed the half and half, unscrewed the spout and poured. I knew something was wrong when the carton turned like a counterweight in my hand. Then I heard it splash into my coffee, and the hot coffee sprayed up my arm. Spoiled, cottage-cheesy half and half is something that will make a grown man weep. Inside, my brain screamed "Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!" like William Shatner overscreaming in The Wrath of Khan. Outwardly, I let out a sad sigh, closed my eyes, stopped and observed a moment of silence for the ruined cup of coffee.
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(150 Words) Shostakovich

He got up out of the water and stepped out of the pool. It was the kind of tattoo meant to be admired and seen in a pool where swimsuits were optional. All etched in the darkest black and shadowed the entire length across his body were the treble and bass lines of a piano score. It was so intensely dark it almost looked like it had been bruised onto his flesh versus being drawn. The tattoo began on the back of his shaved head, down his neck, following his spine, through the curve of his butt and then curling between his legs and ending in a circular wave around and down his right leg. It was actually thrilling to watch as he moved. I had, in comparison, an extremely small tattoo on my chest that I’d agonized my way through. I winced a fair amount thinking about how some sections of that must have hurt and itched after being done and healing. He was equally beautiful and tattooed on the front of his torso, the specifics of the ink were obscured by thick black chest and stomach hair. Brooding eyes and a long dark brown goatee tied in an ornamental braid. Across from me in the showers, he caught me at a full stop, admiring him. “Shostakovich…Preludes and Fugues for Piano in E Minor…is an intriguing choice for a body-length tattoo,” I stammered out awkwardly, while simultaneously revealing having stared at it long enough to recognize the score. He didn’t reply with anything but with a gentle, rich smile and a nod. Flustered, I returned to my locker to finish changing. I was getting ready to head home, when he was suddenly towering over me shirtless, wearing a pair of incompletely buttoned blue jeans. The smile still on his face, he looked down at me softly, acknowledging with another nod my tremble and I involuntarily swooned as I turned to look up at him. “Sergei,” he said, in a syrupy-think Russian accent, extending his hand for a handshake.
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(150 words) What they want to see

He'd known from an early age what he'd become. He had begun volunteering to help as soon as he knew what service to others meant. As he matured that became the very thing that defined him. "Must be rough.," she said with sympathy, jolting him out of his daydream, "That way they look at you." He'd become so used to it that he didn't see it anymore. That look of accusation, the stare of harsh judgement. "People who respond to my collar have reasons to." "It's so. mean. to judge all of you like that. so disrespectful." "I work hard to have compassion. and I mean, honestly, if their lives are touched by a someone who has done horrible things, I honestly can't blame them. It's complicated and uncomplicated at the same time. People see what they want to see. Sometimes, I get a smile and a 'good morning, Father.' It doesn't matter to them that I'm Lutheran and not Catholic, or that I'm a hospital chaplain at St. Judes," he finished with a chuckle, "but even priests need a bus ride to work."
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He sat across from me telling me about his day. We’d met on men2date.com. He was, I’m guessing, somewhere in his late sixties, had a couple of days beard, and wore a loose tshirt that read in bright red letters, “line forms in my rear" strained around his large belly. “I’m sorry, I can’t do this,” I said, interrupting. “What do you mean?” “I mean, that you are nothing like your online profile at all. You aren’t fifty. You aren’t athletic and muscular. You came on a date without your wallet. I mean…” “But you saw my pictures and came to meet me. I don’t understand.” “I can’t date who you used to be......... I can only date who you are right now. Which is not who you present yourself as in your profile. I’m into athletic guys who stay in shape that are looking for a relationship. The photos in my profile are updated every month or so; my main picture is usually taken that day. It’s important for me to present myself as I currently am.” In response, the date then removed his teeth, setting them on a napkin on the table. “I can show you a whole new world of great blowjobs,” he said enthusiastically, missing the crispness of his vowels. “See,” I said, after a small pause to collect my thoughts, “that is where I think the disconnect is. I didn’t come to meet you for coffee and perhaps dinner for a blow job. I don’t put date and “new world of great blow jobs” in the same thought process. If I want a blow job, I can go to Blow Buddies or somewhere where it’s ‘just about a blowjob,’ but a date, well, those are for guys that I want to do a wide range of activities with.” He put his teeth back in, pouted and said, “So what you’re saying is, we’re not going to have sex?” “That’s very much what I’m saying.” “Well, then,” he said, picking up his phone from the table. He scooted his chair back and without another word, got up and left the coffee shop. I sat there for a moment a little embarrassed. I looked around the shop and wondered if people had watched the whole thing unfold. At least the latte was outstanding.
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(150 words) Wedding Day

He had promised her he’d come. So he would just grin and bear it. His suit for the ceremony was in the plastic hanger bag behind him. On the counter in front of him she’d left out a razor, shaving cream and some aftershave. “Good try,” he chuckled to himself, as he pulled his long beard together in a tight braid. He actually did shave around the edges, so he could claim some effort. Without thinking, he splashed his face with a little aftershave. Oh good lord, it was Old Spice. Shit. There was no washing it off. He arrived at the church in his construction man’s pickup. It was the kind of whirling dervish that made people pray for his safety every time he got into it. Stepping out in the perfectly tailored dark green suit with a fresh flower in the lapel, even he had to admit he looked pretty good. There she was on the stoop. She greeted him with a smile and a strong hug. “You smell like grandpa,” she teased quietly in his ear. “Yes,” he whispered back, “and revenge will be mine! Let’s get your daughter married, now, shall we?” He stood in the center as the groom nervously watched him and the back door of the church. He wondered what generational stories the boy had been told about the esoteric druid uncle from the woods. He winked at the boy, which didn’t exactly have the calming effect that was intended. His niece arrived in the back door, wearing his Mother’s wedding dress. She strolled forward with quiet confidence. Beginning his opening words, he found his cadence and cast his spell over the crowd.
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(150 words) Writing about Sex

“This project is really hard,” one student offered. “He said hard. Heh, heh, heh,” another responded, in his best Beavis impersonation. “Thank you, one per class, and frankly, you wasted that one,” said the professor, continuing, “Writing about sex is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do.” “Mine reads like IKEA instructions. Bill put part G in Marsha’s Part B…and I hate naming all the parts,” a student said, to understanding nods. “Well, try concentrating on how Bill and Marsha feel.” “Bill feels like a man,” offered a male student, loudly. “You’re a pig,” a woman responded. “You could both be right. Context is important to give in a sex scene. Maybe Bill is sleeping with Marsha to feel like a man. That gives you context.” “That makes Bill a pig.” “Perhaps so…but at least with context he becomes a well- conceived and believable pig.”
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(150 words) Morticia

I saw him walking into the grocery store. I hoped that looking down into the produce would keep him from seeing me.  Mike is a walking CAT5 hurricane of drama and trouble. Always has a new man of the week that he always introduces as his ‘husband’ or has lost this job because of this or that or has to move suddenly because his roommate had threatened to kill him. “Bill!” he screamed across the store, floating towards me. Before I could say hello he flashed his hand in my face, “I’m engaged!” On his hand was a very sparkly large diamond ring. At this point, the husband arrived back at our cart. “Morticia. ,” he said, acknowledging him curtly. He had a zero tolerance policy for Mike, and it immediately showed on his face. “Chuck. ," Mike replied with equal venom. There was an awkward silence and Mike excused himself to find flowers for his fiancé. “We’re going up to the river for bear weekend! Grrrr!,” he said, pawing at the air. “Here’s hoping for a big orgy in the woods!” Just as fast as he arrived, Mike was gone. “How is it nobody has dropped a house on her yet?” Chuck snarled. “I feel sorry for him.” “Morticia? Really?” “Well, her and whomever the fiancé is, if he exists. What aisle is vodka on?” “Why?” “I’ll need it to rinse the visual I have in my head of Mike naked before it ruins the word ‘orgy’ for me, forever.” “Vodka tonic, stat!” We were off to aisle three.
51iUIsmiKyL._AA160_ This post is an excerpt from my book “Brief Moments: a collection of short stories” available on Amazon.com in paperback & Kindle eBook.
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(150 words) Mickey Mouse Club

“How nice and old fashioned! You have an admirer!” said the bartender, placing an icy beer mug in front of him. “The muscle boy in the red t-shirt in back,” mumbled the bartender. He lifted the glass gently, motioning a “cheers” to the man in the back of the bar. “Do strange muscle boys send you beers all the time?” said his friend next to him at the bar. “Can I help it if the boys need Daddy?” “Revolting. You know a boy that age barely knows what gay is.  He is not prepared for that dungeon of yours and sling of the ages. You’ll scar the poor thing for life.” “Softball players are remarkably resilient stock,” he replied with a sly smile. The chatter continued until the softball player and his friends moved towards them. “Don’t look now but the Mickey Mouse Club is coming to pay a visit.” They arrived and the older man got up from his seat and gave the boy in the red shirt a strong hug. “So you know each other already? So he’s been in the chamber of horrors and screamed out for Daddy?” said his bar mate. “Richard, meet my nephew Bryant. Bryant, Richard. Richard is bitter; you’ll get used to it.”
51iUIsmiKyL._AA160_ This post is an excerpt from my book “Brief Moments: a collection of short stories” available on Amazon.com in paperback & Kindle eBook.
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(150 words) that usually follows....

He flipped the radio off. The story was so sad, that even the NPR reporter was careful with his words, and admitted it was a story that was messing with his head. He pulled the car over, and after pulling the emergency break just closed his eyes. So much sadness in the world. Sadness was dangerous to him, because he felt it so keenly versus everything else. He was a happy man in a good place in his life, but the power sadness has to overtake him has never gone away. He pulled the silence in like a blanket by the fireplace. "All of your troubles," he said out loud, to himself, " all of your worries, are nothing compared to what others are dealing with. nothing." As he put the car in gear, he wondered what he could to help. He wonder what we could do to battle the ensuing powerlessness that usually follows. ------------------------ the image used with this post is the birthday photo of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, a toddler in a red T-shirt, blue shorts and Velcro sneakers, found face-down on a Turkish beach. He drowned after the boat he as in traveling from Turkey to Greece, capsized. The photo of him dead on the beach is/was simply heartbreaking.
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(150 words) Sleeping Beauty

He sat with his head leaning against the glass. White earphone cords lead across his flannel shirt to his pocket. Eyes shut, he nodded slowly to the music as a contented sleeping smile swept across his face. He held a large leather-bound journal, liberally decorated with Easter-egg colored sticky notes. He was almost cuddling with it like he was under the covers. He smelled of sandalwood and coffee. He had missed a half-inch spot in that morning’s shave. I was feeling guilty at having him all to myself when his phone erupted in vibration. “Hello…” he said softly. Nodding in agreement, he listened, then said confidently, ”Don’t make it complicated, who equals subject, whom equals object, who is he or she, whom is her or him.” “You’re welcome,” he said, hanging up and curling back up to sleep with his journal. My sleeping beauty was an English major.  
51iUIsmiKyL._AA160_ This post is an excerpt from my book “Brief Moments: a collection of short stories” available on Amazon.com in paperback & Kindle eBook.
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(150 words) Flossing

"I married Sasquatch. I'm cleaning up more of his hair than the cat," she laughed into the phone, "Yeah. Everywhere. Ev-er-y-where.......................Yes. I'm sure if hair would grow on the bottom of his feet it would be there, too......." She laughed outloud, "No, he won't manscape. leave alone wax. LOL," She squealed out another laugh in response to the person she was talking to. "what? flossing? LOL. oh.... down, dear god. I have never .... oh you are just disgusting. no I am not going to describe my sex life to you over the phone. what? no? gross. no! For the one they always called the good girl, you are disgusting. noooooooooooooooo gross. no. stop. Okay. phone call ending. nope. oh look sorry, going into the transit tunnel, losing you." She reached down and hit the end call button. The man next to her let out a long, dramatic sigh. She looked up from her phone to the bearded man sitting next to her. "Well, it was just getting fun." he said with an unapologetic, disappointed look on his face.
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(150 words) Echoes of War and Joy

She stood at the wall staring over the raging surf. The first frost glistened on the stones around her. She pulled the furs around her shoulder to keep the sea from catching her cold. When complete, the fortress would face the ocean wind and be a beacon to the coast. She imagined the thick stone walls would reveal themselves like a ghost in the ocean fog. The golden and red banners flew in the breeze from the spire tops. It would sing with echoes of war and joy to be heard from miles around. She emptied the bucket of water down in a torrent, causing a catastrophic and irreversible sand castle apocalypse. Jackson Pollack splatters of fresh mud struck out across the beach. Somewhere someone called her to supper. She hesitated for a moment, staring back at the waves for a moment. but then she remember they were having hot dogs.
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“I saw the entire sky ‘powdered with stars….'” DSC4576   [caption id="attachment_1400" align="alignright" width="300"]Bill Hayes and Oliver Sacks Bill Hayes & Oliver Sacks
Lovers, Adventurers and Partners[/caption] This is Oliver Sack's writing desk, as photographed by his partner Bill Hayes. They met seven years ago - when Sacks was 75. Sacks died Sunday at 82. "Rendering into words is absolutely an instinct with me," he said. "I used to be called 'Inky' when I was a boy. I was always sort of covered with ink. I still sort of write my books by hand. I'm not very fond of computers." Sacks also didn't like cellphones and other devices that he saw as "impediments to human interaction." Sacks esoterically wrote all of his books by hand. and this set of notes, became a July piece in the New York Times entitled "My Periodic Table" (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/26/opinion/my-periodic-table.html?_r=0) I am strangely preoccupied and touched by the passing of Oliver Sacks. I find myself reading everything I can find. I found myself this morning reading his partner's blog and deconstructing every detail of these photos Bill Hayes took of Oliver. http://www.billhayes.com/photographs/portraits-of-people-nudes/ I imagine if I'd had to wait till 74 years old to find the love of my life. How wonderful these past eight years must have been? I wrote Mr. Hayes a condolence letter this morning. I have always disliked how familiar I am with death. Losing my first friend to AIDS at the age of 21. Friends buried on hillsides in Port Townshend, under trees in Connecticut and on the breeze in the Olympic Mountains. Surviving testing positive myself, surviving cancer myself in 1998, and living. Sometimes all of it seems most impossible. as I said, I'm familiar with death. This passing is stuck in my craw; and I'm not exactly sure why.
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“Blasphemer!” “What?” “Who is Donna Summer? Really? That’s like asking 'Who is Barbra Streisand?' ” “Um,” he said, hesitating. “Good lord honey, do they teach you baby gays anything about your cultural history?” “I know Britney and…” “I know you didn’t just try to group Babs and The Donna with the Mickey Mouse Club?” “The what?” “Oh, nevermind. We’re going to have to give you a crash course: Babs. Donna. Diana. I will tie you down.” “Wait, is she singing about leaving a cake out in the rain?” “You are hopeless.” “Green icing? She lost the recipe? Doesn’t she know about the Googles?” “You should stop speaking now.” “She sounds like a hot mess, this Donna chick.” “Friendship over in 5…4….3…”
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(150 words) Suffocating Justin Beiber

“I had the weirdest dream last night.” “Suffocating Justin Beiber with a sequined pillow, again?” “No, but that one is delicious though. I was working behind a burger counter, with the Madonna headset. I was working retail, can you imagine? Anyways, I was working the counter and these three guys come in, big bears and they start ordering, and keep ordering. And instead of a dollar amount, their order came up in grams of fat and calorie count. They just kept ordering mini tacos, and nacho platters, and then they ordered an extra large onion rings. A giant prize bell rang, and confetti fell from the ceiling. The lead bear got a sash and a crown, “Miss Fat Grams” and he’s all tears and his friends are hugging him with congratulations. I can remember every detail. What do you think it means?” “Your subconscious is a frightening hot mess is what it means.”
51iUIsmiKyL._AA160_ This post is an excerpt from my book “Brief Moments: a collection of short stories” available on Amazon.com in paperback & Kindle eBook.
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(150 words) Only One

Snow White was enjoying the quiet. The guys were off at the mine. The bluebirds were off at a convention and not asking for duets with her. She had finished her chores and was enjoying a cup of chamomile. She should have known better. It was too quiet. She was about to move for her sword when the boot smashed into the side of her face. She tumbled into the corner. “Snow.,” snarled the female voice. “Pocahontas.,” she said, bluntly acknowledging the tall warrior woman, sword drawn now, standing in her living room. “I heard what you did to Ariel. All the legend says is, ‘Cut off their head, absorb their power,’ – it says nothing about filet them and hang them in the harbor for everyone to see. That’s not normal. You’re sick. You need help.” “That’s rich coming from the woman who left her prince to come back and live with seven dwarfling husbands in a small house and one bed. Pervert.” The sword sang from behind Pocahontas and flew into Snow’s hands. “Still relying on fairy god mother to keep you alive with enchantments, eh, Snow? Let’s end this.” The swords clashed in a flash of light and steel. Snow stared her down defiantly and muttered, “There can be only one.”
51iUIsmiKyL._AA160_ This post is an excerpt from my book "Brief Moments: a collection of short stories" available on Amazon.com in paperback & Kindle eBook.
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(Adventures) Raj Routines

I'm starting a new series of posts on my blog tagged as "adventures." My life seems to have them every once in a while, when something or someone crosses my path, and it feels worth writing out as a story. I'll also use this type of post to talk about bicycling trips, travel and other mischief that me, the adorable husband, my dog Miss Kate and my treasured friends get up to. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Recently Miss Kate and I met a new neighbor named Raj on our morning and afternoon walks. Like clockwork, he is standing outside his apartment having his cup of coffee and he gets down on the ground and greets Miss Kate. Every morning he asks her name, her breed, how long I've owned her and if I love her. Every single morning, in that order. He's meticulously kind and courteous and always tells me how he's come from India to visit his grandchildren. In the afternoons, with one grandchild in a stroller, the other either pushing it or on his shoulders. He proudly introduces his granddaughters and his daughter, Ruchira, who is always walking with them. He tells me how he's recently come from India to visit them. He asks about Miss Kate, asks her name, her breed, how long I've owned her and if I love her. He shows Miss Kate to teach of his grandchildren. Tells them how wonderful dogs are and asks them if they've ever seen a dog before. Yesterday, Ruchira stayed to chat with me a bit after several of these repeat encounters. "You are kind to let you and your dog become part of Tata's daily routines," she said softly. Raj apparently has alzheimers and has come to live with Ruchira and her daughters. She is her grandfather, and she says there was no other choice. The kids and her family give him an important grounded life to make it easier for him. She says that many people don't understand how his day completely resets each day. He can remember her and his grandchildren and that is about it. That each day is a new one for him, literally. She laughed comparing it to the movie Groundhog Day only with grandchildren. Apparently each day when he sees Miss Kate and I on our walk, he'll come in and tell her how he met a dog, that she is a terrier, and she is loved. And how nice it is to feel loved. and he'll move on with his day. She says she and her husband take turns staying with him - working from home while he sleeps most of the day. She was very thankful that I endure his questions. I told her that Raj is very kind, and that Miss Kate will turn down the street to make sure we come see him in the mornings
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(150 words) You Smell Really Good

The leather bar was crowded. There must be some kind of event in town. He just wanted to be out and have a cold beer, smoke a cigar perhaps. He got his drink at the bar and found a good people-watching spot on the ledge a step above the rest of the patio. He had already spotted a few lapdogs. The boys who cruise the crowd face to face, bulge to bulge so fast it looks like they are on an exercise program, like Midwestern housewife mall walkers. He’d spotted the chosen: the men that held leather celebrity that people would fawn after and a group of men with them where status in the ranks was important. He’d spent his twenties in that group, polishing his leather, wearing sashes, producing events. Everything had its place in the world, but that wasn’t for him now. Now his leather was part of him and not a social status symbol. The leather he wore smelled of him, and rarely got polished by anything but sweat and spit. He waited for the man that would walk by him, stopping a few feet away and glance back. He’d watch this man as he went back to a group of friends, occasionally looking up and catching glances. He’d look away for a few minutes and the man would find his way back to him. He’d introduce himself. They would stand closer than usual because the bar was crowded. The man would lean in and say, “This is going to sound ridiculous and weird, but the reason I came back to talk to you is that you smell really good.” And he’d tell the man, a warm smile spreading across his face, that in fact, no, that it didn’t sound weird at all.
51iUIsmiKyL._AA160_ This post is an excerpt from my book "Brief Moments: a collection of short stories" available on Amazon.com in paperback & Kindle eBook.
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(150 Words) The Gardener

I was out for my Sunday run and I saw him kneeling in one of the flower beds. The first thing I noticed was his dirty fingernails. The second was the large-scale chain and lock around his neck. He wore a sunhat that was in scale with the rest of him. He was a gigantic man with tattoos seemingly everywhere. He introduced himself as ‘the gardener,’ curiously with no proper name. The Placer place had been on the market so long it really was a surprise when it finally sold. Its yard was overgrown and the house, far removed from the street, took on a southern gothic air. The moving vans came and went, the neighbors all eager to see who their new neighbor was.  The gardener continued his work nonstop until everything was meticulously manicured and restored. Watching him work was like watching someone fulfill the most devout monastic journey.
51iUIsmiKyL._AA160_ This post is an excerpt from my book "Brief Moments: a collection of short stories" available on Amazon.com in paperback & Kindle eBook.
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(150 words) delivery

It was the perfect annoying Monday morning sound. You could hear the screeching of the fan belt from blocks away. Rev, screech, brake, throw, Fwap!, As she got closer, you could hear the Hispanic pop music radio she listened to at ninety Db above the pain level. Rev, screech,  ♪ ♫ ♬ Es que yo sin ti, y tú sin mi ♪ ♫ , brake, throw, Fwap! I imagined her in the cockpit of the vintage 1982 Vega, with throwing arm with biceps rivaling Popeye the Sailor. She would skillfully launch the papers at doorsteps trying, most of the time, to avoid determined joggers and dogwalkers. Rev, screech,  ♪ ♫ ♬ Esto no me gusta, Esto no me gusta ♪ ♫ , brake, throw, Wham! She delivered my paper on target and sped off into other neighborhoods.
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(150 words) purposefully crumpled

He looked purposefully crumpled. The worn flannel shirt was a size or two too big hanging on him like a monk's robe. He set down a coffee cup, with a tea bag crimped and it's string dangling from the lid. Fussing with his backpack, he produced a fountain pen and a small leather bound book. He turned through it, the pages crackling, to an open page. He caressed the opposing page, acknowledging the handwriting and drawings there. He took a sip of tea, took a brief pause to look out the window, and passionately dove into writing. He stuck his tongue out a little on lip, like a five year old thinking about grade school homework. You could hear the sharp tip of the pen dance on the paper. His handwriting, which had began large, quickly grew smaller as if his thought must fit on the single page or be lost.
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(Short Fiction) Meeting George

I was backpacking and staying in a small lakeside campground on Orcas Island. Moss hung from the trees, and my campfire seemed like it was the only one on the entire island. It was a rainy spring, and while that weather chases away most folks, it is precisely the kind of weather that calls my soul outdoors to watch the world refresh and start anew. It was all the more surprising when he walked out of the woods, soaking wet, to sit next to my campfire. He was a blonde lab with the most fascinating blue eyes. Almost intuitively, he joined me under my lean-to out of the rain, circling up next to me. We slept the night together, listening to the raindrops dance on the lake. We sat the next morning over oatmeal and bagels, asking him what his story was. I reached out to pet him and he leaned in strong against my hand, communicating back how good it felt to be there with me. We walked into town and discovered that George had been left at a gas station, his owners getting on the ferry to the next island and never returning. He’d become a wandering mascot of sorts, with the local grocer setting out a bowl behind the store each morning and night like something out of Lady and the Tramp; doggy dinner for one. There was never really a question about whether he wanted to come home with me. For the rest of my week on the island, we were inseparable. I explained to him that I had been left too, that she’d left me after 14 years together. My sense of solitude some of the time had chased her away. I told him we’d found each other on this island and perhaps we should hike together and become better friends. That night in the tent, he moved from the foot of the mattress and, despite his size, circled up against my chest. He returned with me to my small bachelor home on campus. Back home, the sadness of the divorce returned. Despite having found a new home, there were reminders of the failed relationship everywhere in my life. George tolerated my morose dumpiness for a couple of days, but woke me up on the third day bouncing up and down on the bed early in the morning. He licked my hands and my neck and my ears. When I tried to hide under the blankets, he followed me there, finally finding my face. He licked ‘til my beard was wet, finally collapsing next to me, pawing at my face playfully, but so very gently. It was the first time I saw that look in his eyes, “Come on; there is so much more to see.” Over the next few months, he pulled me through the world, to farmers markets, through art festivals, making new friends at the dog park. Each morning, I’d ring my meditation bell, put on soft music and meditate. He decided that next to me, head down in his paws was where he belonged during that spiritual time in the morning. He decided if it was important for me, it should be for him too. We’d breathe together and set our intentions for the day amongst the redwoods. This was the kind of moment that bonded us together so tightly. He understood my need for quiet and solitude, but became the exception to the rule. Even if we spent a quiet night in by the fireplace, he’d lay in a circle making sure I could feel him there. We’d make the walk to campus and he’d circle up on his bed at my desk. I have students that still write me asking about him, and always commenting on what an empathic dog he always seemed to be. We’d spend Saturdays down at the coffeehouse sitting outside, sneaking him torn bagel pieces dipped in creamy coffee. He was never one of those to jump on people. He always approached, and particularly with small children, he learned this adorable little bow. You could feel the tension on the lead that he wanted to say hello. He’d approach and very slowly lower down to a sit. He’d then bow his head, welcoming them closer. He offered them peace and love like no other being I’ve witnessed. He became such an integral part of my life that when he started slowing down I was in a bit of denial about it. The vet was compassionate with me explaining that George was sick, and wasn’t going to get any better. She gently explained that we could take care of things at our home, and not have to make a big scene of it all at the office. The vet came by, we shared a cup of tea on the deck, and then she helped me give George the calmest send off possible. On our first anniversary together, we had packed the car which always caused George to run around the house, wild with excitement. In the old pickup he’d ride along, his head on my leg, watching the trees go by through the window. We went up in the mountains. I knew a campground with a beautiful creek running through it, with a hike up through ancient trees. He would run ahead of me, always staying in sight, and turning his head back to me as if to say, “Come on, there is so much more to see.” It was on our twelfth such anniversary, that I stepped out of the woods to the shore of the small pond. I set my pack down, reaching inside for the small wooden box. The not-quite-springtime mountain air swirled down around as I paused for a moment. “You loved it here,” I said as I opened the box, examining its contents. It was remarkable to me that a blue cloth collar, some off-white dust and a few small pieces were all that could be left. I ran my finger through the fine dust, then in a single motion, propelled it all over the surface of the quiet pond. He had seen me through the largest changes in my life. He never gave up on me, despite times where I’d done so myself. I smiled to myself, realizing that he was my most successful adult relationship.
51iUIsmiKyL._AA160_ This post is an excerpt from my book "Brief Moments: a collection of short stories" available on Amazon.com in paperback & Kindle eBook.
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(150 words) not for the weak

"It's not you, it's me." "I know what you want, and I want different things." "We're at different places in our lives." (and the worst) "I thought I wanted a different kind of relationship but I was wrong. There is no 'why it didn't work' it just didn't, and I need to move on." The Cliche Tsunami continued on for a few more sentences. What got in his craw the most was the laziness. The least amount of work possible. Such bullshit. Once the veneer of a charming smile wore off, that was all that was left. Anyone that's ever been in any kind of relationship will tell you that romance is not for the weak, and it's not the work of the lazy man. He didn't even finish reading it, with a slight sigh, he just tapped delete.
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(150 words) (NSFW) The Fagat Guide

It occurred to me over coffee that what the world needed was a Fagat guide. Enough with Grindr and Scruff - what we need is a rating app. Fagat’s editorial team would enthusiastically curate the best bottoms, middles and tops in 18 cities worldwide and serve them up to you in a fun and accessible way so you can enjoy the best the city has to offer. Along with pictures and descriptions, it would ask users to separately rate the Fuck, Decor, Cleanliness and Service on a 0-3 point scale (0 = fair/poor, 1 = good, 2 = very good, 3 = excellent). These ratings are averaged and presented on Fagat’s 40-point scale. Play buddies are also asked to share witty and insightful comments about their experiences, which their editors would curate into concise reviews that help users make quick and informed decisions. "Martin is a lot of fun, but needs to sing a lot less Sondheim while on the fuck bench."
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(150 words) Eat Fresh, but not too fresh

"And just what is this," he protested, brandishing a Subway sandwich wrapper in his hand. "Proof you've been raiding the recycle bin?" "Exactly, explain!" "Um - I like cold cuts? what is your issue?" "So that Jared guy from Subway plead guilty to child pornography charges," he said tapping his foot, "the guy who told us to eat submarine sandwiches, that eating fresh was the path to a healthier life. Follow me? so now that he's thin and wealthy, he's decided to watch and purchase kiddie porn. It's a slippery slope." "That's like suggesting that if I lost 20 pounds I'd break up with you and start dating women." "This coming from the gay man that watches football on Saturday AND Sunday. Why can't you go to the beach with the boys for Parkn'Snark and beer bust like a good queen? I don't even know you any more!", he said in fake protest. "You have nothing to worry about dear. That I like turkey subways doesn't mean I"m on the road to kiddie porn or becoming heterosexual. need I remind you about the hot homosexual sex in the shower just, " he glanced at his watch, "oh, ten minutes ago." "I think I need to get you some donuts-to-go at the gay Safeway just to make sure." "Whatever makes you feel good darling, let's go we're going to be late."
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(150 words) cadence

The cadence from his earbuds tapped and buzzed from several tables over. Mumbling along with the words silently, he tapped his foot on the pavement. His 5 o'clock shadow beard had been neatly and deliberately trimmed around the edges, betraying it's initial appearance. As the song ended he pulled a small notebook from his chest pocket., He began writing, mouthing words to himself. He took a look down at his writing, rewarding himself with a approving smile. Tapping back the tight dark blue backwards ballcap, he turned the music back on. The percussion seemed to move through him as he listened, eyes closed like he was caught up in morning prayer.
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(150 words) Eeyoreism

"Eeyoreism?" "Eeyoreism. Going to the gym so I wouldn't be fat. Going to work so I wouldn't be evicted. Always painting obstacles in my life as bleak as possible. 'Nobody will want to date me if I'm fat, so I guess I'll go to the gym' , 'I guess I'll never love my job, so I'll just go clock in and collect the paycheck like everyone else.' Once I figured out I was doing that, it became a choice. I go to the gym to be healthier, not to live up to anyone else's measurement. I quit my job and went and found a job I actually enjoy doing. and so on." "I'll be fine, nobody will worry about me. I'm just fine. I'll be okay...." "Exactly." "Just for the record though, I think you've gone from Eeyore all they way to Tigger."
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(150 words) waterfall

The clothes would probably have stood up on their own if he hadn't stripped right into the washer. The campground dust had gotten everywhere. He walked to the bathroom imagining himself leaving a cloud behind like PigPen from the Peanuts. His hair was so dry from the heat and dirt, that he could feel it crackling as he ran his hands through it. There was a fine grit of dirt on his fingernails. He smiled at the memory of almost buying the condo on the basis of this shower stall alone. A big waterfall shower with a stone shelf where he could sit for his infamous soak and thinks. It was almost meditative to touch each part of himself with the soapy sponge. He flinched a moment as the water hit him, but it quickly warmed. He wiped his arm as the fine dust turned to torrents of mud running for the drain. As fun as it was to get dirty, he'd couldn't wait to be clean.
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(150 words) mine alone

Hiking up my boxers, I shuffled into the kitchen. As Dolly Parton says, to "pour myself a cup of ambition." Adding a bit of sugar and milk, I wandered out onto the deck and waited. I can't remember when being there for sunrise became such a ritual for me. It is almost as if you can hear it, as well as see it. The birds start singing and chatting in the trees, just as excited as I am. The shades of blue and gray as the light starts, before the sun breaks the horizon. There is a lot of time to give to others, honestly, and it is my way to do so. But this daily ritual is mine alone, setting my intentions for the day. I make my agreement that gentleness will be the language that I will speak with the rest of the world.
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(150 words) The L Word

"I'll see you soon," he said, lying, "Yep. uh-huh. Gotta run. Yep. Running late. yes. must go. bye." He hung up the phone and let out a relieved sigh. He took a moment, darting into a doorway on the street to get out of the path of the other speed walking commuters around him. Why did he let himself get in situations like this? Why couldn't he be stronger, and just be honest? How did he get another installment in the "desperate stalker of the month club"? Why couldn't he just have a couple of dates of shamelessly hot sex, and then tell them the truth? He didn't want a boyfriend. He despised the "L" word, particularly after just two dates. Love was simply not what he was looking for. He would wimp out and write an email later. He felt like such a coward.
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(150 words) We've got a poop problem!

"Our city has a poop problem?" "The article says they've picked up human poop 300 times in the last year. Pretty much every day but holidays and Sundays." "Hello, breakfast here." "Don't hate on me, I'm just reporting the news," he said, sarcastically, tapping the front of the paper with his hand. "When did local newspapers become the Enquirer?" "Blame the internet." "Ah yes, the internet," he said, pausing then theatrically shaking his fist at the sky, "Damn you, internet, you've ruining everything." "The article is about the rise of homelessness. but if you listen to this woman they interviewed. Ugh. Do you think they just did an internet search, "Whitest, Whiniest, Most Entitled Woman on Earth"? She's worried about poop and masturbation in public parking garages." "What I want to know is," he said, pausing through a mouthful of toast and pointing at the paper,"what miss thing is doing hanging out in public parking garages so she can catch homeless people masturbating. That's. That's the real story here." "The nice weather, brought to you by the California drought, is making homelessness sexy and fun apparently. It's all the rage until it interferes with our morning latte and trip to the palates gym. With a capital "G," And that rhymes with "P" and that stands for poop! Right here in River City." "You are so incredibly gay. You can even make an article about poop a musical reference!" "I know. It's a gift."
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(150 words) a close, intimate friend

The ear becomes so accustomed to the hum of the highway, the cadence of the urban commute, and the sharp shrieks walking by the playground on the way to the bus stop - - that right now out here under the trees, the silence feels like something I could actually reach out and touch. It's almost like the quiet protects me. All I can hear is the soft crunch of pine needles under my boots. The sun is filtering through the trees, leaving cold shadows still filled with morning mist and moonlit cold. Today was the first day I needed a jacket to head out here to my sanctuary.  I come here in the mornings to find the silence, and walk hand in hand with it like a close, intimate friend.
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branoriffic

"That is so gross." "What?"
"That cereal" "You say 'that cereal' like it's a committed a crime or something." "it has. Against good taste. I mean look at it. it's so ...... branny." "Bran happens to be good for you - and accepting criticism from someone about cereal when their choices include sugar smacks, cinnamon toast crack and chocolate cheerios, is somewhat suspect." "This would be great if were about me, but if you refer to the chart on the refrigerator it is only about me on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and today is Wednesday. Which, " he said, over-dramatically looking over his shoulder at the fridge," is...... oh look. it's about you today! You and your bowl of branoriffic kitty litter." "I eat bran cereal because there are two choices: bloated me or regular me. and bloated me doesn't sleep well, therefore hogging the covers, and bloated unhappy me ends up watching way too much Project Runway All Stars. Nobody wants that. Nobody."
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a bit early this year

It is a cathedral of the senses that only reveals itself to me when I am out on my bike when the sun first pours over the horizon. I could hear the leaves dancing on the trees, the gentle gusts of the northerly pushing through the neighborhood and gently washing over me. My bike made that unique hum on the pavement, the sound of dutifully clicking out for a stop sign seeming like the only sound for miles around. I stopped for a moment, letting the sunrise strike me with a gentle warmth that is almost past description. Before departing, I took in the deepest breath, closed my eyes, and mouthed a simple soundless 'Thank you'. The magical time of year had come a bit early this year. The sunrise had been that one-of-a-kind mix of orange and periwinkle blue that could only mean one thing, AIDS LIFECYCLE season was here.
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Her

She landed on his hand and he watched in fascination as the mosquito did an inventory of her choices. He'd read somewhere that mosquitoes can smell individual components in your blood. "What are you looking for?" he spoke to the insect on his hand. Almost as if answering him, she chose a blood vessel near his knuckle that his eye hadn't even noticed. He was surprised how much he could feel her incision. He watched her drink and then pause, He wondered if it was out of instinctual doom. He imagined a briefing somewhere where she'd been warned that if you had a meal on a human's hand, the probability of being completely squashed by the human's other hand were in the ninety percent range.
"No risk, no reward," he smiled, speaking to her again softly. Seemingly satisfied, she buzzed away leaving his knuckle to break out in a large welt of immune response.
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Against the Glass

The occasional lurching stop of the bus bumped his head against the glass. With the arm of his sweatshirt he'd reach up and wipe his nose in his sleep. You could hear the pounding of some kind of rock music from his earphones from several seats away. The conductor came around checking tickets, and the young man produced a wrinkled paper day pass from his pocket. His eyes were tired, and bloodshot, but were soon shut again as the train chugged out of the station into the tunnels downtown.
As a woman gets up to leave, she gives a compassionate, almost motherly look down at the man slightly snoring against the glass. She worries for him, imagining him having to be woken by the same conductor at the end of the line. Having missed his stop - he'd walk slowly and with great effort to the opposite platform and wait for the train going the other way. This time forcing himself to stay awake.
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Absolute Clarity

"He understood you, you know," she said to me, breaking the silence. The December wind whipped around the tombstones in the small country cemetery. The leaves sticking like grade-school decoupage to the different colours of stone. It was an unseasonably warm and soft rain. "Maybe, but he had a horrible track record communicating that understanding." I said, carefully choosing my words. "Being gentle on you just wasn't his way," she said looking away into the wind, "He'd survived the great depression and world war and was determined you would survive and overcome anything in your path." I knelt and traced my fingers through the 2008 on the tombstone, Licking my finger and clearing away the debris. "I laughed the other day, ya know, I turned the age he was when you and I were born. Two vulnerable, fragile children at 48. I don't know what I'd do. I'd be helpless. I'd look into my future and realize when my son and daughter were 16, I'd be 64. When they were 30 I'd be 78. I'd look forward and know I'd never seem them reach their stride. It must have been terrifying to stare into your mortality with such absolute clarity."
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taste

My brain untwists itself and lays me flat. I thought I wanted sex, I think to myself, but god how much I just want someone to touch me. How long can a person live without physical affection? How are people supposed to live like this? All this rushing to do the next thing - get to the next powerfully boring meeting at work, the rush to write that friend an intimate letter that seems to go ignored, what the fuck am I going to make for dinner? nope. nope. stop. mute all that shit. I want someone to touch that rise at the base of my neck. Perhaps feel their breath there shortly afterwards, rendering from deep within me a soft whimper of please do that agains. Do I smell of loneliness and frustration? Do I taste like resentment? Who would want that lingering on their tongue?
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Lumpy Juicy

The crunchy grass of fall met our feet as we arrived for a morning walk in the park. The bright sunrise sending the morning mist hovering over the park scurrying for shelter. As a senior dog, she is never in a hurry. Checking favorite spots and wobbling along her happy one-of-a-kind way. Across the park a man burst into the field with a golden lab puppy. It excitedly played ball with him until noticing me and Miss Kate. Bolting over, wagging a tail almost larger than the rest of him, he greeted us. Miss Kate loves labs, always crushing on them, and he was no exception. His owner finally caught up and clipped his collar with the leash. "Sorry about that, he gets super excited around other dogs." "Totally okay, she knows at her age how to handle a puppy. This is Miss Kate, what is your little guy's name?" "Lumpy Juicy," he said rather quietly, letting out an uncomfortable sigh. Before I could speak, he read the expected look of amazement on my face and said, "I have three girls; one is two and the other two, twins, are four. And they got to name him. And LumpyJuicy is the result." "Good morning, Lumpy Juicy," I said giving him a nice ear rub. Miss Kate got one last nuzzley sniff in before his owner gave me that look of "I need more quiet time with the dog before returning to my house full of energetic high pitched non-stop girl energy" weariness. I am not a parent, but I understood the look clear as day. He walked off into the park, throwing the ball, with LumpyJuicy in hot pursuit.
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Rain

This morning was the first rainy dogwalk of fall. It is always hysterical. Our condo has an indoor courtyard - so as soon as we step outside, Miss Kate can hear the rain. She starts the long slow slog outside, pouting. The trees that surround the buiding amplify even the smallest amount of rain, but at 6am - it was POURING. I popped the umbrella open and we stepped out. She rushes over into the bushes and immediately pees and gives me that look like, "Ok, I'm done, we can go back in now." Instead, we head downstairs to the car where she gets a delayed sentence. We drive to the coffeeshop and once I return with my coffee, she and I have a discussion. "Once you are out in it, it'll be fine. And there is a nice warm towel waiting at home." We drive to the park, and I leash her up and off we go. The rain stops for a while, and she gets in her morning sniffs. But everything is different in the wet, her favorite sleuthing between the pompom grasses becomes like a car between brushes in a car wash. The paths become muddy and everything she brushes up against results in a cascade of droplets. We're about to make a u-turn back to the car and the rain starts again. She stops in her tracks and looks up at me with this "Tell me again how it's going to be fine?", scoffing at my umbrella. We get back to the car, perfectly timed with the weather forecast. NPR says "Heavy showers in the afternoon with possible thunderstorms." and Miss Kate lets out a perfectly timed huff, "Yeah," she says, "we won't be doing that." When it's truly pouring - she'll try making a u-turn back into the house like "oh no we are not...." - and she literally has to get picked up and taken out to the street. It's part of the charm of her companionship in the winter months. (giggle) I have a feeling she doesn't find it nearly as amusing as I do.
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Searching for Orion

The first crunchy frost of fall announced itself as he cut across the green grass in the predawn darkness. He stopped, staring up into the pre-dawn sky, realizing it had returned. He remembered his childhood room, pointing his Sears Roebuck telescope out the westward window hoping for Orion.
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red circle

I circled the date on my calendar. I chuckled to myself, I was still keeping a 6th grade teacher red pen on my desk. September 25th. He's fifty today. He'll jog along the Outaouais, lost with some kind of morning prayer playing in his earbuds he will stop and stare out over the water. His hot breath will make steamy dances in the sunrise. Does he remember the sound of my name? How it rolled from his tongue like a poem of hope and heart break. How his french tongue broke it into so many syllables it seemed impossible. Does he remember standing on my stoop with tears in his eyes? Or is it so many lifetimes ago that it's a memory that doesn't get replayed. He couldn't, he said. When the brilliant orange of fall appears outside my window and Bernard Thibadeau is all I can think of.
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Tuesdays

"How come you never hear people bitch about Tuesday? No 'for the love of Christ it is only Tuesday' memes ...... I think Tuesday is getting off easy." "I think you are thinking too much."
"Monday is hated, Wednesday is hump day, yet Tuesday is nameless, invisible." " Perhaps Tuesday prefers to be the day other things get posted. Happy pet photos, rants about how much Facebook sucks, or My Little Cthulu episodes." "You mean Tuesday is the buffer for all the esoteric psychobabble on the internet?" "Like the patient friend who will listen to you drone on about vapid first world problems. Tuesday is that friend during the week you can say anything to." "So we hate Mondays, Tuesday is our enabler, Wednesday is a horny little sex kitten and we thank god for Friday. What about Thursdays?" "You are not ready for the truth about Thursday yet. We'll leave that for the next lesson...."
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miracle

"The community is there," he responded, "I guess I'd question what kind of community we are though? We're a gang of men that talk about cock all the time, yet someone that enjoys a lot of it, we label a slut. We talk about hot we are in the sack yet most guys have that irritating hesitation, like they suspect that it's really not okay. And they guys that really do let go and find everything there is to love in a man we label a pig. God we can be judgmental bitches. Then there is whole new wave of shit, calling a young, HIV-negative gay man a "Truvada whore" simply for choosing a prevention option with a higher efficacy rate than condoms. Becoming indignant when someone says AIDS is still a gay problem. Turning to the police when you find out the guy that just jilted you is HIV-positive. Putting "I'm clean, ub2" in your online profile. Joining digital stonings via online comment sections when a 20-something dares to come out as HIV-positive. HIV-negative guys barebacking with those who tell them they are negative and shunning the few brave ones who admit they're positive. It is a miracle we ever have sex at all."
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sunrise

I love being awake for sunrise. The trees silhouetted against a creamsickle orange sky. The best part is the stillness and the quiet. As the sun peaks over the horizon it almost as if you can hear the world let out a sigh of relief. The first rays strike the treetops as a raccoon scurries away to its daytime lair. A determined jogger heavy breaths his way down the street. The tin notes from his earphones being first to break the silence. The dog comes to me on the patio, finding me stretched out on the yoga mat. She greets me with that combination of "oh my gosh it is great to see you" and "I am starving, Let me lead you to the food." As I get up and head inside the birds start singing joypusly. They are like a group of housewives having coffee after actively holding in the latest gossip during a Sunday sermon.
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Who is Robert McDiarmid?

I work very hard to live an uncomplicated life in complicated times. The path towards peaceful living has resulted in great satisfaction and at other times great loss - but that's the trademark of any journey worth looking into. I am a published novelist and short story writer - as well as anavid foodie and food blogger. I host a home cooking show on YouTube which recently celebrated it's 36th video recipe & 120th recipe. I am a web developer for a living. I am proud to work at TechSoup Global, a nonprofit software design group working towards the goal of remixing the web for social change through the sharing of ideas, promoting interactivity and challenging the nonprofit web to take it to the next level. Incredibly nifty stuff! You can see a my other designs and portfolio here. I am an avid cyclist - June 2014 will be my 3rd year as a training ride leader and coach for AIDS Lifecycle, a 545 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I bike year around; come out on the road with me sometime! So all that makes me a super busy guy - but I always make time for friends and family. I live with my partner, David, and our lovely wonderdog Miss Kate, in beautiful Palo Alto, California.
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