My Blog Has Moved

Well folks, I've finally done it. I've switched to WordPress and my blog is now on my own domain. So say good-bye to Blogger and good-bye to the bling. But don't be sad. Life is full of change. Change is a good thing. It keeps us on our toes. It challanges us and makes us stronger. And as your next President... oops, I got a little speechy there, didn't I?

Anyway, check me out at:

http://www.meandtheblueskies.com/

I'll look for you there.


Monday, June 30, 2008

Life, Family, and my friend, Erin

Erin and the Gang
(with a little help from Photoshop)

My co-worker Erin’s Mother passed away yesterday. Erin sits next to me in a four person cubicle at my work. She works on the company website doing everything from adding new products to creating company email newsletters. She has also helped me with putting my blog together. But Erin is more than just a person who I work with, I also consider her a friend.

Erin is a pretty diverse individual. In addition to the company website, Erin maintains her own website and blog, www.erinblackwell.com. (It’s on my favorite blogs and sites list in my sidebar) On her website/blog you can read about her many adventures with her husband, John, and the true loves of her life, her dogs. Both Erin and John are Disney geeks and you can’t be friends with Erin and not have some sort of Disney in your life.

Like me, Erin and John are both involved in local theater. Although I have never done a show with Erin, we do run in the same theater circles and do bump into each other from time to time. We have worked in shows with many of the same people so there’s a disconnected connection that we have, if that makes sense. And some day, I truly hope I can do a show with her (and John, too).

Erin has a very strong personality and sometimes that throws people off. Sitting next to her for quite some time now, I have come to see the value of this quality in her. Erin knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to voice it. She is a hard worker who hates to have her time wasted with petty actions and obtuse rules. She believes in fairness and is a loyal friend who will fiercely defend you. She is, for lack of better words, the genuine article.

Erin has had her share of grief in her life. Her father passed away when she was young. She had a miscarriage that put her in a spiraling depression. And now, her mother has passed away unexpectedly. Having dealt with the deaths of very close loved-ones, I realize that there are no words I can say to comfort her. I could spit out some platitude like, “Time heals all wounds,” but that won’t really help.

But time does help. Erin can take heart in the fact that her mother will be remembered because Erin has written about her so lovingly on her blog and website. And maybe she can find some comfort in knowing that her many friends have read her stories and felt that same warm love inside them. The Wizard of Oz said it best to the tin man, “A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.” Erin’s mother certainly fell into that category. So does Erin and that’s her mother’s legacy.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Magic, The Gathering Cards & Me


Have any of you ever played the game, Magic, the Gathering? It's a really cool card game that started in the early 90's. My ex got me into the game and I use to love to play it. It's been quite a while since I've had anyone to play the game with but I would still enjoy playing it, if I can find someone.

For those of you not familiar with Magic, it's a war-like card game that involves creatures, spells, and enchantments. Wikipedia describes it as, "a collectible card game created by mathematics professor Richard Garfield and introduced in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast. Magic is the first example of the modern collectible card game genre and still thrives today, with an estimated six million players in over seventy countries.[3] Magic can be played by two or more players each using a deck of printed cards or a deck of virtual cards through the Internet-based Magic: The Gathering Online or third-party programs.Each game represents a battle between powerful wizards who use the magical spells, items, and fantastic creatures depicted on individual Magic cards to defeat their opponents."

The card above this post is an example of a Magic card that I personally created on the website, www.magic.falseblue.com. (You can click on the title of this post to go there) I used my picture but I kept it fairly true to the text of real magic cards. Another card I created on magic.falseblue is this one:


Not bad, eh? I thought I'd make two magic cards that were tributes to martinis and blogging. (You can click on the cards to see bigger images) I really did love playing Magic and I bet it would be fun to play with a deck of cards that I entirely created myself. I know it would be a hoot. I made a third card using a picture of my dear friend Sandy's son, Evan. He was getting his first haircut and I sorta had an epiphany and this was the card I created:


Cute isn't it? Anyway, if there are any Magic players out there, let me know. I'd especially be interested in meeting people who play the game in South Jersey and who like to play the old way, before the stacking rules. (It's a long story but essentially a few years back the people who make Magic cards changed the way you play the game and I didn't like the new rules) Maybe we could get together for a few games or even create our own cards and decks. Mine would be a killer blog deck.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Who Suggested Starting a Blog Anyway!?



I've tried very hard to use a new template and every time I download one, it won't let me use the new header image that I want to use. I was, however, able to get the current template to accept the new image so I did that and played around with the colors. Of course, I lost all my links but this time I wrote them down so I can add them again.

Pleae let me know what you think of this new look by taking the survey on my sidebar. I could return it to it's original state or keep it this way. I just don't know enough about HTML to make it as cool as I'd like. Where's Erin when you need her!?

Can't See the Boyfriend for the Trees


My friend, Scott, sent me a text today asking if I was going to join him and his partner, Sean, at a 4th of July party on July 5th at their friend’s house in Vineland. Now, he asked me this before but it was when Matt and I were together so I wasn’t sure how to respond. I still hadn’t heard from Matt and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to this party stag, so-to-speak. Well he needed an answer right away so I said yes.

I can’t “not do” things just because I haven’t heard from Matt. Besides, my not doing things list was getting way too long to handle. I was discussing this with Heather over dinner tonight. I asked her what she thought about me calling Matt and she told me it was strictly up to me. As far as she was concerned, Matt was probably being insecure and feeling that I didn’t want to see him because I hadn’t contacted him, a sort of catch-22, if you know what I mean. I was feeling that she was probably right when my cell phone rang. I bet you can guess who it was.

Yep. It was Matt. And yep, he figured I had written him off since I hadn’t called him. In fact, he saw me on Gay.com and because I didn’t say hello, he figured I was ignoring him on purpose. The funny thing is that I went on Gay.com over the weekend to see if he was on it. I didn’t see him so I wasn’t ignoring him but he was on there and thought I was ignoring him and well you can see how it just all got way too complicated.

Anyway, last night he remembered I said I was blogging and it had something to do with blue skies. After searching Google for a while, he stumbled upon my blog. After reading the post where I wrote about him and discussing it with his friend, Steve, he decided that we both were just being insecure and he would call me the next day.

So there you have it: two insecure boobs who let their worries get the best of them. He came over last night and we talked about it some more. He admits he’s insecure and so do I. He doesn’t call a lot because he’s not a phone person and I’m the same way. He did admit he missed my martinis. We are so alike in some ways it’s scary. Anyway, we decided that we just won’t let this happen again. If he wants to talk to me, he’ll call me. If I’m worried that he isn’t calling me, then I’ll call him. It’s simple. I should have been able to see that. It must have been because of all of those trees.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Gay Marriage: Lezzies and Trannies and Bears! Oh my!

Well, California has done it. Now gay couples can get married there. During the past week, the headlines screamed "Hundreds of Same-Sex Couples Wed in California!" First it was Massachusetts and now California has joined the band wagon. Could NJ be far behind?

It seems like "same-sex" is the new pc way of describing a gay marriage. Yee-haw! "Same-sex Marriage" even appears on Wikipedia, stating that "The Netherlands was the first country to allow same-sex marriage in 2001. Same-sex marriages are also legal in Belgium, Canada, Norway, South Africa and Spain, along with two states in the United States, Massachusetts and California." Hey, it must be legit if it appears on Wikipedia.

I realize that these are historic times and we are setting precedents that can affect and shape the lives of future gay generations. Still, it's been a little hard for me to get overly excited about it. Currently I am without a partner and I really don't need all this "same-sex" marriage hoopla to remind me that I don't have one. I know it's selfish and it really irks me that I feel that way. And then, something happened that made me feel better.

One of the blogs I enjoy reading regularly is mattbites. Matt lives in Southern California with his partner Adam and a couple of doggies too. I got a big kick out of the personalized Christmas card he put on his blog this December. Matt writes about food and photography and the trips he takes with Adam. And last week they tied the knot!

I can't begin to tell you how excited I was to read about it in his blog. Apparently they had a major commitment ceremony 3 years ago but having the state recognize their union literally blew him away. Not only did they get married, but they were one of the first groups of same-sex couples to get married in Los Angeles County. And Matt brought his camera along to document the whole thing.

I really do believe this is something that you should all read. What happened here transcends the gay/straight issues or what's legal or moral. It gets down to basics. It's about love and validation of that love. And who doesn't need love and validation? We all do whether we are gay, straight, or somewhere inbetween.

So go take a look at his blog and let him know I sent you his way. And if you are reading this Matt, Congratulations. Thanks for reminding me what it's all about. Oh, and thanks for sharing your love story with the rest of us.

http://mattbites.typepad.com/mattbites/2008/06/making-history-tying-the-knot.html

A small side note: I was trying to redesign my blog template and inadvertently deleted some of my links and Widgets. I am still a novice at this so please bear with my while I work to fix the situation.



Monday, June 23, 2008

Entertaining Thoughts

I was going to write about why I didn’t go into work today, but I had decided when I started this blog that I was not going to use it to write about work. (Another thing to add to my not doing list) Anyway, while I was thinking about why I didn’t come to work, it made me think of another time I didn’t come to work and a very funny story that went along with it.

You see, not so very long ago I had an issue with a hemorrhoid and that made me think of the movie, Butterflies are Free. In this movie, Goldie Hawn makes friends with a blind guy who is living next to her. His mother is played by Eileen Hackett. In a particular scene, a director is telling the group about a play that Goldie is going to be in where she is lying naked on the floor dying from an overdose of heroin. Eileen Hackett expresses her disdain to which the director replies that it’s all part of life. Eileen retorts back, “So is diarrhea, but I wouldn’t classify it as entertainment!”

I wouldn’t normally classify hemorrhoids as entertainment but this is kind of funny. Anyway, I’ve never had this kind of problem before and decided to drag my sore butt to see Dr. B. She’s a wonderful doctor and I’ve been going to her for over 16 years. She’s a great lady too. She was feeling confident that this could be treated with medicine and not lanced. That is, until she saw it.

“This has got to go.” she told me matter-of-factly. So with nothing but a t-shirt on, there I was laying on my stomach on this table in one of her offices. Now in order to get to it properly, she had to spray my butt with some adhesive and then strap my butt checks down to the table with lots of tape. It was somewhat awkward and yet pretty hysterical being taped down like that. And she used a lot of tape!

She got the needle ready and warned me that she was going to have to numb my butt and that I might feel some pain from the needle before the area numbs. Just as she was ready to give me the needle, we hear from behind her in my sing-song voice, “It’s time to take your medicine!” This is my pre-recorded reminder to take my blood pressure medicine at 6:15. Now what are the chances that she would be just about giving me a shot in the butt at the same time I needed to take my meds?

Needless to say, she nearly jumped out of her skin. I explained that it was my cell phone and since the alarm kept repeating and I was strapped down, so-to-speak, she had to go routing through my pants to give me my cell phone so I could turn it off. After I turned it off, we had a pretty good laugh about the whole thing. It also helped relieve some of the tension. Just then, Heather texted me to see how it was going at the Doctor’s office. Dr. B went to work doing what needed to be done while I texted the story to Heather. After what happened with the alarm, I figured a little texting while Dr. B worked wouldn’t hurt anything.

Well maybe it wasn’t THAT funny but you should have been there. And since I already brought it up, if you haven’t seen Butterflies Are Free, you’re missing out on a classic, early Goldie Hawn movie. Go rent it. It’ll be more entertaining than hemorrhoids or diarrhea.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

People with Glass Phones Shouldn't Throw Stones!

It’s been six days since I have heard from Matt. The last time I saw him was Sunday night when we agreed we would call each other and make plans to get together again. No calls have been made yet. Now I admit that I am as guilty of not calling him as he is of not calling me. I made a conscious decision to not call him to see how long it would take him to call me. I guess you can add one more thing to my “not doing” list.

Part of me does feel a little childish regarding waiting for Matt to call me. But I was feeling like I was doing most of the calling so I just wanted to see how long it would take him to call me if I didn’t call him. The problem with doing this is you have to be prepared for the worst. What if he doesn’t call? Beyond that, why hasn’t he called?

The problem with answering those questions is that I just don’t know him well enough. What I do know about him is that he is a very warm and caring individual who usually puts others before himself. In fact, he puts others before himself to all fault. For instance, if we go out to dinner and I ask him where he wants to go, he replies, “Wherever you want to go.” If I am making dinner at home and offer choice between chicken or pork chops, his reply is, “Whatever you want to eat.” If we want to do anything, it’s always, “Whatever you want.” In fact, if I offer him a beverage he says, “Whatever you’re drinking.” Now I don’t mind making decisions, but gosh, I’ve got OJ, Milk, Sparkling Water, and Cranberry Juice in the fridge, why can’t he tell me which one he wants?

Now in all fairness to Matt, his partner was a school teacher who, from what I’ve heard from Matt’s friends, ruled the house like he ruled the classroom. He also had a tendency to put Matt down. Now don’t get me wrong, he also was a very well-loved school teacher who moved back home to take care of his ailing mother. I just think he had a very strong personality and Matt has an insecure, submissive one. He died suddenly from cancer just a little over a year ago and Matt took it pretty hard.

Matt is also very insecure with himself and he's dealing with the depression of losing a partner of over 7 years. I’ve had issues myself in this area (although Wade only left me and didn't die inspite of all those needles I put in that damn vodoo doll) so I do understand how people feel insecure and unloved sometimes. With Matt, it seems his mother puts him down a lot and he’s always been with domineering men. He’s also insecure regarding his looks and his eccentric hobbies. Again, I can relate. But he puts himself down so much that it becomes obsessive. I have some friends who do that and it drives me nuts. If I chose to date you or be your friend, it’s because I think you’re a worthy person. Putting yourself down is like putting me down. After all, isn’t your life complete now that I’ve decided to be your friend? Hmm????

All kidding aside, I’ve always believed that my friendship would be a positive force in the lives of my friends and the men I date. With Matt, I don’t know if he’s not calling me because he doesn’t want to see me or he doesn’t want to look “clingy” or he thinks that I don’t want to see him. And maybe he’s wondering the same thing about me. I know that I can be insecure and clingy sometimes. Just look at my past relationship with Wade. But I have taken steps to do something about it.

Do I want to see Matt again. Yes, but only if he wants to see me. Do I want him to step-up to plate, so-to-speak? You bet, but because he wants to and not because I made him do it. Do I want him to call me first? Definitely, I think. Am I overreacting and over-thinking this? I have no idea. Should I drop the pretense and call him? I don't know. What do you think I should do? Ah, insecurities. It’s a good thing I don’t live in a glass house…

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Focusing on the Plan

5 Pounds of Nasty Fast Plus 1

I am winding down to the end of my first full week of not smoking and it seems that I have gained four pounds. Yikes! I know it’s all a matter of self-control but I feel like I am running into self-control overload. I am currently trying to not smoke cigarettes, not overeat, not go out and buy a cam, not use the company internet for personal use, and not drink too much. That’s a lot of not doing things going on here. In addition to all that not doing stuff, I want to exercise more, give the dogs longer walks, work regularly on my blog, organize my bills, and clean up my bedroom. So, where am I successful?

I certainly have stopped smoking and I haven’t bought that stupid cam. I am NOT having a drink tonight although I’ve had some the past few nights. I was doing well with not using the company internet until I started the blog. I am constantly finding myself standing in front of the refrigerator all night long, although so far tonight I have resisted eating anything after dinner. Of course, it’s only 9 pm. The night is young.

In regards to doing things, I am much less successful. I haven’t started exercising or walking the dogs longer. My room’s a mess and I have only half-heartedly started organizing my bills. I am pleased to say that I have been able to bang out a post to my blog almost every day. So my two big success are blogging and not smoking. That’s not too bad.

I think it’s a matter of priorities, planning, and focus. Just like a jack-of-all-trades is a master of none, focusing on too many changes all at one time reduces the chance of having success with any of them. So my focus is on where I am most successful now - not smoking and blogging. As those become easier and easier, I’ll select another change to focus on. If I slip on one of the other “non-focus” items before that time, like overeating, it won’t matter that much because I’m keeping it all in check--one focus at a time.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Exploding Memories and Walt Whitman

I was recently going through some of my old things when I came across a book of poems I wrote for my Nanny for Christmas 1976. I must have written at least 100 poems in my lifetime and most of those were written in my teens to early twenties. I felt a little odd reading these poems, some of which I had totally forgotten about. But not a bad odd--more like a pleasant, melancholy, nostalgic kind of odd.

One of the poems in the book was a poem that won first prize in a poetry contest. I was a junior in high school and my English teacher had suggested I enter some of my poems in the Walt Whitman Poetry Contest being held at Rutgers University. I had just finished a new poem and, of course, it was my favorite at the time. I don’t remember it’s title and unfortunately, it’s not in the book I did for my Nanny. But I do remember the first two lines:


The weeping willows, languid in their sight,
Are gloomy creatures stirred by fading light…

Anyway, it was all about a night in the bayou and I thought it was the best poem I ever wrote. So I wrote it down and sent it in. Then I wrote down about 10 more poems and I decided I would send one entry per day. The next day, I sent the second poem and I never sent in the rest.

Well, weeks went by and then my teacher said she had an announcement to make. My poem had won first prize in Rutger’s Annual Walt Whitman Poetry Contest. I was very excited. She asked me if I knew what poem had won. I told her yes and that I had it memorized. She asked me if I would read it for the class and I agreed. Of course, I read the poem about the night in the bayou. Everyone clapped and I even had people who barely spoke to me come up to me after the class to tell me how much they liked my poem.

The day finally came where I had to go to Rutger’s to accept my prize and read my poem. I was so excited as my mother drove me to the University. I remember being greeted by a man who vigorously shook my hand, telling me how much the judges liked my poem. I was so pleased as he handed me back the copy of my winning poem. The only problem was that it wasn’t the bayou poem. The winning poem was the second poem I entered. A random poem that, by nothing more than chance, happened to be the second poem on the pile of poems I planned to enter. I didn’t even remember sending it. It was a poem about war and death called “Explode!”

You can imagine how shocked I was. I thought my beautifully artistic poem about the bayou had won and instead the judges liked a very dark and gloomy poem about war, death, and losing your faith. I sat there listening to the runners up trying to figure out how they could possibly pick this poem as the big winner. When it was my turn, I walked up to the podium, placed my poem in front of me, and stared out at the audience. I took in a deep breath and then in a very deep and clear voice I started reading my poem. As I read, I looked out at the audience and every eye was on me. The judge who had handed me the poem was standing in the corner with the wild-eyed gleeful look on his face, like he was so excited to finally hear the poem’s author’s voice.

When I finished the last line, and the poem ends with the word “die”, you could hear a pin drop. Everyone was staring at me wide-eyed, half with their mouths agape. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get praise or get run out of the room on a rail. Then, all of a sudden, they started clapping. Over a thousand different feelings rushed over me from relief to surprise to giddy pride. It’s an event in my life that I had thought I would never forget, but somehow did until I came across that book I wrote for my Nanny. I know this post is getting long, but I must share the poem with you.

Explode!
Explode!
Explode!
As the bombs fall towards the earth
Let the toy soldiers drum of death
For what it’s worth
For all it’s worth
While famine stretches boundaries wide
The bullets fly; the bombers glide
It’s what’s inside
You cannot hide
The stench of slaughter fills the air
As mothers weep a mournless despair
But no one cares
There’s no one there
A looking glass of shattered lives
Views the earth through blinded eyes
What really lies
Beyond the skies?
To those who know the horrors cry
They echo through a well run dry
Passing us by
With a heartless sigh
So we wait and watch for a hopeful cheer
But our hopes are lost in a single tear
Yet do not fear
There’s nothing waiting here
Explode!
Explode!
Die.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Creating the Not Smoking Habit

It’s been a week since I have decided to quit smoking, and to be quite honest, it hasn’t been that hard. I still do struggle a little bit when I get into my car, have a cup of coffee, finish a meal, have a martini, or sit home watching TV. Actually, that seems like a lot of struggling. Since I still struggle, I’ve decided that I have to identify when I get the craving and what is actually causing the crave. For the most part, I believe it’s simply a habit that has been reinforced with a nicotine addiction.

For example, I get in the car and I want a cigarette. It’s an automatic feeling that washes over me like some mild medicine kicking-in. It’s a feeling I get during those other moments too. I guess you could say that my body is telling me that this was the time I smoked and it is expecting me to have a cigarette, darn it! If I ignore it, the craving eventually goes away only to rear its ugly head at the next designated crave-time. Recognizing those trigger points is half the battle and I believe that as time goes on, those cravings are going to diminish.

So far I have been able to resist these urges. In fact, I am craving a cigarette right now. Rather than smoke, I thought it would be a good idea to write down what I was feeling. Instead of smoking or writing, I could be in the kitchen right now stuffing my face with a piece of very delicious apple butter pie Heather made today. It’s a recipe she found that someone’s grandmother made for them because they didn’t like pumpkin pie. It resembles pumpkin pie in consistency but is slight darker in color and a bit sweeter. Boy, I know I could eat plenty of that. But I won’t because I’ve already gained two pounds and I don’t want to replace my smoking habit with an eating habit. (I’ll ask her for the recipe and post it at a later date)

I know I can do this and it’s not just the money anymore. My car does smell nicer and looks cleaner. My teeth look whiter already. I actually feel physically better. My chest doesn’t feel as tight and I bet my blood pressure has gone down. I’ll check that and post it later. I know it’s only been a week but every little bit of positive reinforcement helps.


The best way to provide positive reinforcement is to do those things that trigger the smoking craving and then just don’t smoke. And you need to do them over and over again. Your mind will get use to not smoking, instead of wanting to smoke, when you do those things. I think I’ll start with having a martini. Hey, I gotta start somewhere.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sangria Recipe


It really is unfair to mention the wonderful Sangria I make without offering the recipe. Every time I make this Sangria, it goes in a flash and guests are crying for more. So make plenty but make sure you let it marinate a day or two before you drink it. This recipe is designed for a large party but is easily cut in half for smaller groups.

2 - 750 ml bottles of Cold Duck
1 - 64 oz carton of Fruit Punch
1 - 2 ltr bottle of Ginger Ale
2 - cups (appx 500 ml) of Mango Rum
Assorted very ripe sliced fruit like strawberries, cherries,
blueberries, oranges, lemons, rapsberries, peaches,
plums, grapes, apples (make sure you slice all of the
fruit, even the small fruits like cherries & blueberries)

Pour the liquids into a large punch bowl or container. If you plan to serve it in the punch bowl, simply add all the fruit, cover, and refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours. If you wish to put the Sangria into pitchers, you will need at least 4 two-quart pitchers. Evenly divide the fruit into each pitcher, fill with Sangria, and refrigerate.

You can subsitute regular rum or a different fruit flavored rum if you want but I have found that mango rum tastes best. Most people probably won't even know what cold duck is - I think it was popular in the 70's - but it adds a nice touch of tartness to this sweet, summer drink.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day - Scrapple & Martinis

It’s 9:30 am on Father’s day. I’ve just finished eating my Father’s day breakfast of scrambled eggs and scrapple. I even added a little condensed milk to my eggs. And yes, I had scrapple. I truly believe that if there’s a God, the breakfast food He loves best is scrapple. Wikpedia describes scrapple as “a savory mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and flour, often buckwheat flour. The mush is formed into a loaf, and slices of the scrapple are then fried before serving.” Scrapple is a unique, regional dish from Delaware, Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and Maryland. It’s yummy.

I’ve actually been up since 6 am. I’ve been dating this guy, Matt, and he came over last night for dinner and drinks. He loves lamb so I grilled some lamb for him and a boneless strip steak for me. I steamed some fresh asparagus and made some martinis. For those of you who know me, you know that I absolutely adore martinis and I am so thrilled to find a man who loves martinis as much as I do! Matt really likes my bloody hot martinis so we started the evening with those.

A bloody hot martini is a very easy drink to make and I am going to share it with you:
2 ozs. Absolute Peppar Vodka
1 oz. V8 or Tabasco Bloody Mary Mix
Lime wedge
Jalapeño-stuffed Olives

It’s really important to use an all-juice mixer like V8. Tabasco makes a 100% juice extra spicy bloody mary mix which helps to add an extra zing to this drink. This drink was originally made with Clamato but that contains high fructose corn syrup. HFCS is a sweetener found in almost everything and is arguably the worst thing you could ever put into your body. To make the perfect bloody hot martini, fill your shaker half-way with ice and add the vodka and mixer. Cover and shake vigorously for a good ten seconds. Rub the inside of a martini glass with the lime wedge. Discard. Skewer 2 - 3 jalapeño-stuffed olives onto an olive pick and place in glass. Pour drink over olives and enjoy. (Special Note: Skip the lime step if your martini glasses are chilled)

Anyway, we started the night off with dinner, bloody hot martinis, and good conversation at the dinner table. Matt’s a very interesting guy and quite different, physically, from the men I have dated in the past. I don’t mean that as a bad thing--he’s just different. What I find very interesting about Matt is that we have as many things in common with each other as there are things about us that are uniquely different. And I like that. I want a man who is enough like me that I don’t have to make too many changes and yet different enough that I don’t feel like I am dating a carbon copy of myself.

So we sat there chatting away and tossing down those tasty martinis. We enjoyed them so much that sometime during the evening we switched to chocolate martinis. (No recipe supplied) I view chocolate martinis with the same anticipation that a 6 year old does a frosty glass of milk and Hershey’s syrup. And I drink them just as fast, which may not have been a good thing considering how much I had already drank. So it should come as no surprise to you that it hit me, in mid-sip, that I had had way too much to drink.

Fortunately for me, Matt is a very understanding guy. He placed my drunk butt in bed and even cuddled up with me. While a little bit of alcohol can make me feel amorous, a lot of alcohol only makes me sleepy--very sleepy. The last thing I remembered was feeling drunkily warm and sexy cuddled up in Matt’s arms. (Is drunkily a word?) I woke up around 2 am and Matt was gone. Matt has sleep issues where he has his days and nights partially switched. I’m quite sure he went home and started cleaning his kitchen. I fell back to sleep and woke up at 6am where I got up, drank a lot of water, and walked the doggies.

So that’s how I started off my Father’s Day--slightly hung over eating scrambled eggs and scrapple. Later today, Matt is coming back over and we are grilling steaks with Heather and Aaron. But no martinis and not because I had too much last night. Inside my refrigerator is a wonderful Sangria, which has been marinating for the past two days. Mmmmm, Sangria! Ah, but that's another post!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Facing the Summer with no Facial Hair

The bearded Preston & his daughter Christmas 2007

This morning I got up and shaved off my beard. Now some of you may be saying, “Hey! Wait a minute! You’re beardless in that picture to the right.” That makes me guilty of what almost everyone does on the net: Posting an old picture of themselves. That picture is a good 3 ½ years old. I chose it not because it best represented how I look today but because of the expression I had on my face. I had the wild, bug-eyed look of a man who has just realized that his fingers were becoming a permanent part of his keyboard. It seemed to suit the blog. But back to the real story -- the reason behind my clean shaven face.

To understand why I shaved off my beard, you need to understand why I had it in the first place. Actually, the first time I grew a beard was out of shear laziness. I hated shaving and a beard seemed like a natural solution. I was in my early 20’s and I liked that it made me look older. Even though I hated shaving, I discovered I still needed to trim and sculpt. And so began my facial hair journey starting with an all over, Grizzly Adams beard to goatees to moustaches to the perpetual “2-day” closely cropped and trimmed growth.

I had facial hair through most of my 20’s and 30’s. I would occasionally shave it all off but that never lasted more than a few weeks. Then something happened that changed my opinion of facial hair forever. I was turning gray! Men are much luckier then women when it comes to going grey. A man grows some gray hairs and he’s considered well-aged and distinguished. A woman goes gray and she’s considered old and past her prime. It’s unfair and yet I too was worried about just how old I looked. The clincher was five years ago when I found myself unexpectedly single. I decided to shave off my graying goatee and everyone said that I looked so much younger. I was hooked!

Speed up to just 8 months ago and my decision to grow a new beard. I was nearing 48 and I wasn’t dealing with just gray facial hair--gray hairs were popping up everywhere. I was still single and, quite frankly, tired of playing the “guess how old do you really think I am” game. So I decided that there was no harm in looking my age and grew a new beard in all its graying glory. And everyone told me how distinguished I looked--like a college professor. Hey, I could live with that.

So then why did I shave it off? Perhaps I wanted to give myself a new look along with my new “smoke-free” persona. Perhaps I was tired of looking distinguished. Perhaps I wanted a change. Perhaps. But I know the real reason. While training a new employee at work, we were watching a video about the company. There in the video was the beardless me from just a few years ago. I pointed it out to her and she said, “That’s you? You look so, [pregnant pause] so different with a beard.” Different!? What happened to distinguished college professor?

There you have it. The subconscious decision had already been made. First thing in the morning, my beard was getting the axe, or the razor, if you prefer. Cleanly shaven, I sauntered into work this morning, slyly grinning in anticipation of my co-workers reaction. And guess who noticed right away? The new gal. Everyone else took a little longer. It was like their brain’s computer kept loading the old “Preston cookie” with the bearded image a few times before refreshing. Eventually, everyone figured it out. And what about the distinguished college professor look? A co-worker friend of mine summed it up best when he said, “Oh, Preston, you look so much younger without a beard.” Hey, I can live with that.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

First Time for Everything

Well here I am sitting at this PC with a million ideas flowing through my head and none of them are reaching down to my fingers. It's kind of funny that I would decide to start a blog and quit smoking at the same time. Perhaps I am looking to replace one habit with another. Or maybe I am looking to fill up the time I spent smoking with the time I'll spend blogging. I think it's probably just timing. I've been thinking about blogging for a while and the quit-smoking thing was a spur of the moment action. That is, if you can call having to decide between buying a carton of cigarettes or putting gas in the car a "spur of the moment" thing.

It's been three days and I am not smoking because I can't afford to smoke. It's that simple. And that makes it easy. I've been not doing things my whole life simply because I couldn't afford to do them. I've never been on a cruise, purchased caviar at the supermarket, or driven home in a shiney, brand-new corvette. That's why I think it's easier for me to quit smoking for financial rather than health reasons.

That's right folks. I didn't stop smoking because I disliked it or to improve my health. I didn't do it to make my car and home smell better. No, it was simply a financial decision. When it takes 50 bucks to fill my car with gas every week, how can I justify spending 35 dollars on a carton of smokes? And that's only if I drive to Delaware, which by my calculations cost me about $9.50 in gas. I knew how bad smoking was for me yet that never stopped me. But hit me in the wallet and boy do you get my attention!