Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"I love you."

There are moments in time when I wish my life was a movie. Sometimes I would fast-forward past the scary parts, but mostly I would pause, rewind, and press play so that I could see that look in her eyes again as she slowly backs away from me, taking a sharp intake of breath before saying I love you for the first time. I would relive her fingers slipping from mine before she pushes off into the stream of pedestrians on Lexington Avenue, back turning but her scent lingering.

Unlike the mind, the scene would never degrade. And then I would play the moment all over again.

"Somebody just touched me."

My story takes us back to the summer of 2006. I was on a first date with a woman who had responded to my dating manifesto on Craigslist. While not exactly a home run of a OFAG candidate, my date and I had a good time nonetheless, first starting at Cocoa Bar in Park Slope followed by a couple of beers at The Gate, the later of which was expectedly packed with weekend revelers. We found space to sit off the back of the bar on vinyl padded benches in a tiny, narrow room where people could play darts.

For a while we had company in the form of a guy and girl at the end of the bench. The room was small enough that probably only a couple of meters separated my date and I from the other two. But after a while they left and it was just the two of us. My date sat on my left and there was nobody on my right.

I should mention that although it was late -- probably 1 or 2 am -- and the fact that I had had a few glasses of wine and a beer, I had managed to sober up.

My date and I had been talking about something, probably the upcoming Sufjan Stevens concert at Town Hall, when I felt someone run their hand slowly down my right leg.

I jumped and immediately whipped my head to the right to see who the hell was groping me because they needed to step off.

No one was there.

It wasn't my date who had gotten frisky with me. She was sitting to my right and I had been looking at her as we talked, my back to the length of the bench and the dart board. And no, there was no way anyone could have gotten in and out of the room because my date was in full view of the entrance.

"Somebody just touched me," I said in shock. "On my right leg."

"I never saw anyone over there."

Spooky . . .

Monday, October 29, 2007

"And I said no no no."

I'm getting too old for drama, especially the lesbian variety. The Halloween party I went to ended up in near fisticuffs with me having to separate Holly's 22 year old roommate, dressed as Amy Winehouse incidentally, and my drunk 35 year old friend Carm. I was dressed as Mrs. White from the movie Clue and while it was a far cry from last year's serving wench look, I still looked hot -- too hot to be playing adult when things took a turn for the dramatic.

Anyway I learned a couple of things:

* Apparently dressing as Amy Winehouse for Halloween is en vogue for 2007 (photos, photos). There were two at the party on Saturday. And apparently Amy gets around too. She was spotted at a party in the DC area.

* Never get in the middle of two drunk girls fighting, especially when one is dressed as Amy Winehouse. She'll fight dirty and crazy.

* I'm too good for Holly, especially after meeting her "boyfriend" at the party for the very first time. I was a little nervous at finally meeting the infamous J, but when he walked in the door I started laughing. I win. I win hands down compared to him. And I felt smug that given the chance to meet him, however awkward, I looked fucking hot. Take that!

* It was me with the candlestick in the kitchen. It was a bloody mess.

And that, my friends, is all I wish to ever blog about Holly ever again.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"I feel like I've been asleep forever . . ."

Ever since Holly and I ended our little experiment at dating, which in all fairness can't be likened to real dating, I've been unconsciously phasing her out as a friend. Now I'm starting to realize this is partially because I needed space and partially because she's one of those people where you have to work at having her in your life and it's not like she brings a lot to the table when she is around. My words might sound harsh but time has granted me some perspective, mostly in the form of Oh my God what the fuck was I smoking??

In her absence I've moved on and made some of the best friends of my life, friends whom I hope will be in my life for a very long time. And I've also seen what a real relationship can be when someone is fully emotionally present even if not always physically.

When Holly asked to have dinner with me the other day I had to offer Friday as an alternative because Ms. K was going to be in town. There was a touch of nostalgia because there was a time when we were always meeting up for beer and dinner in the East Village. We went to a couple of our old haunts -- Brick Lane and Burp Castle (hmm, what an odd juxtaposition of names) -- and spent the evening catching up.

"It only feels like a few weeks ago that we went to Galapagos for Halloween," she said, our table full of curries and samosas to feed our growing intoxication.

"Holly, that was 2005."

"I know. It really feels like only a few weeks ago. I feel like I've been asleep forever and everybody has moved on with their lives."

Was she including me in this statement? She should because I've certainly moved on from 2005.

We chit chatted some more, drank our Kingfisher beers, and got ridiculously stuffed on dahl makhani, during which she referred to a boyfriend by the name of J.

J? Wait. That's the same name as her married boss.

"You're seeing him again?" I asked, eyebrows raised over the perch of my glasses in a way that Ms. K has come to dislike. "Isn't he married??"

"Only technically."

Good God.

You know when you have those moments in your life when you realize just how far you've come and just how far someone hasn't? Yeah, that was one of those moments.

I laughed out loud, my voice cutting through the sound diners and Indian music. I wasn't meaning to be cruel, but there was a air of the absurd to her admitting that after all this time and whatnot she was still caught up in the negative cycle of dating/fucking/whatever her "married" boss. I even think I laughed when Holly admitted that the boss wanted to get married when the divorce was final.

Comedy gold.

"Just so you know," she said, eyes full of emotion, "that when we were dating there definitely wasn't anything going on between J and I."

I laughed again. Don't worry, Holly. There wasn't anything going on between you and I either, mainly because you admitted on more than one occasion that you were still in love with J.

I sat back, patted my full belly, and thanked Christ for letting me get off the Carousel of Stupidity™. I even wanted to call Ms. K then and there and thank her for being super awesome.

Later Holly and I got a beer and things didn't feel so much like old times as they did at the start of dinner. I felt a little weird, especially when she introduced me to Random Bar Patron as her best friend. My reaction, albeit internal, was If I represent the high point or rather one of the most valuable relationships in your life then you have some serious work to do my friend. And to that I felt nothing but pity.

It's nice to move on.

Friday, October 26, 2007

"Doesn't your family already know that you're gay??"

I'm not especially close to my parents, a relationship that was further estranged by my forced coming out ten years ago. Since moving to New York I see them once or twice a year and normally it's just a phone call every few weeks to let them know that I'm still alive. Then there's the fact that I have no relationship with my only sibling.

While these facts might shock Ms. K, who is very close to both her mother and brother, for me it is what it is. My familial relationships are complicated and I'm not sure if they will be anything else. My point is that I have no idea what my parents think about my sexuality. I don't know because we don't talk about it. They could secretly be totally fingers crossed waiting for me to announce my engagement to a man. Or they could secretly be PFLAG members. I just don't know because I'm too pussy to ask.

Right. So I did something interesting on Wednesday.

My cousin Amy, who lives in Hawaii and who I haven't seen in a few years, gave me only two hours notice that she was going to be in the city and wanted to have dinner that night. Oh, wait. I already have plans, I warned. Maybe I could combine my plans?

What I didn't tell my cousin was that I was supposed to have dinner with Ms. K. This presented me with a bit of a conundrum. Do I come out to my cousin or do I do the whole this is my friend routine?

I opted for the former strategy. Except passive aggressive.

When we all met up for dinner I introduced Ms. K as my girlfriend. Then I waited for a flicker of recognition, something to show that the news had registered.

But nothing happened and Amy chatted on as if hadn't said anything the least bit scandalous. Did she already know or was it a non issue?

I relaxed and took secret pleasure in the knowledge that Amy would be staying with my parents in a few days. Would she mention that she had dinner with me and "my girlfriend"? I imagined the news like a drop of ink slowly diffusing through a glass of water.

Ms. K took everything in stride, especially the news that she was going to have dinner with my cousin who may or may not know that I am gay, but she was bewildered by my coming out tactic.

"Doesn't your family already know that you're gay??" she later asked.

"Yes. In theory. But the genius is that I've injected the situation with fresh verve. Then maybe the issue will be forced."

In my head I likened my tactic to setting forth events into motion, two catalysts that could either explode or foster something altogether new -- I'm hoping for the later. I'll just have to wait till Christmas to see how my experiment played out. What do I have to lose?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Your blog post concerns me. I want you to breathe all the time."

Ms. K doesn't quite like the name Operation Pimp My Body and its connotations, but I like the double entendre. And because I'm working the whole OPMB angle, I went to the gynecologist for the first time in six years. Six. Why so long? Because the last time I went I had a traumatizing experience. I know, poor excuse to be so caviler with my health, but look how proactive I'm suddenly being?

The Apnea people called today to let me know that they have written me prescription for a CPAP machine and mask. Now all that has to happen is for my health care to cover it and somebody to set up an appointment to deliver it, which reminds me that having health care rocks. Seriously.

And despite having an iron lung in the bedroom I'm very much looking forward to having a good night's rest. I'll paint and decorate my bedroom with a soothing aquatic theme and pretend that every night I'm scuba diving through the deepest depths.

Friday, October 19, 2007

"Wait. What did you say?"

The problem with living like a libertine is that eventually the devil catches up with you. Mind you my boozy debauchery is endearingly light compared to others, but nonetheless there are biological ramifications that I am slowly becoming aware of. Yes, I'm talking to you, Ms. Beer Belly.

It's a hard reality when you realize that you can't remember what it felt like to be properly rested and when low energy and hangovers become the norm. Today I finally got the call from the sleep clinic to let me know that my test results were ready. Straining to understand through the doctor's thick accent, the extent of my sleep apnea became clear. Actually it is quite severe.

"Do you drive?" asked the doctor.

"No, I don't drive." Small lie since I've driven Ms. K's car, but people who drive in New York City are a rarity.

"We advise that people with this severe a case of sleep apnea refrain from driving because they have a higher chance of falling asleep while driving."


"I will write a prescription for you and someone will call you in seven days to set up an appointment to deliver your CPAP mask for a fitting."

Seven days? SEVEN DAYS?! You just told me that I have "severe" sleep apnea, which by my trusty internet research tells me that I stop breathing 30 or more times an hour. These pauses in breathing can be for 10 seconds or more, the point in which oxygen levels in the blood start to decrease and all sorts of bad things can happen. So now I have to wait another seven days before I can start having a normal, restful sleep again?? I'm not exactly hearting this delay. Nor is my oxygen deprived brain. Poor, poor brain.

So with this news and the fact that I'm staring down that last year of my 20s, I'm beginning to realize that, perhaps, my rock star days are waning. Yes, time to take better care of myself because, you know, I've been in need of some singular focus in my life now that OFAG is over. Even before I got my test results today I had been thinking that it's time to put some work into me. Yesterday's lunchtime pedicure wasn't a bad start, and as the man at the pedicure station massaged my feet, I thought this isn't that bad. I should get people to massage me more often.

I was even further inspired when leafed through a battered copy of Vanity Fair and read of Christopher Hitchens's attempt to shock & awe his way back to a healthy regimen. Despite the fact that Hitchens is a neocon apologist douchebag, I liked his highly literate and witty observations on the deconstruction of his bad habits and the lengths to temper them with good ones. He started out his regimen with a trip to a Four Seasons spa. However I will have to start mine with a sleep apnea mask. In seven days.

Is this the start of Operation Pimp My Body?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"OMG It's Columbus Day!!!"

Christmas came early to Post No Bills in the form of $200 worth of sex toys from Babeland courtesy of Ms. K. Since she is Jewish, we agreed that instead of my Christmas analogy, we would stick to calling it more of an interfaith sex toy celebration. Our interfaith celebration, which included this, this, this, and this, lasted till 3 am.

Praise the lord!

PS: The links are kinda NSFW.

Monday, October 15, 2007

"Mark my words, you will become a super genius once you start getting proper rest."

New York Magazine's recent feature on the biological impact of sleep deprivation was well timed for obvious reasons. Mind you the article focused mostly on the relation of sleep and the cognitive development of children, but this really struck a chord with me:

"While the neurocognitive sleep discoveries are impressive, there’s equally groundbreaking research on how sleep affects metabolism. Five years ago, already aware of an association between sleep apnea and diabetes, Dr. Eve Van Cauter at the University of Chicago discovered a 'neuroendocrine cascade' that links sleep to obesity.

"Sleep loss increases the hormone ghrelin, which signals hunger, and decreases its metabolic opposite, leptin, which suppresses appetite. Sleep loss also elevates the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is lipogenic, meaning it stimulates your body to make fat. Human growth hormone is also disrupted. Normally secreted as a big pulse at the beginning of sleep, growth hormone is essential for the breakdown of fat."

Curious. I've gained weight recently, which I attributed to stress (stress always equals weight gain for me). And since diabetes runs in my family, I'm scared shitless of getting it. But could my recent weight gain correlate to The Apnea or is it more complicated than that?

At best what I can look forward once I get my apnea mask is a better night's sleep. And if more sleep equals better cognitive functions, then I can expect to be a "super genius" as Dennise has theorized. But I can also look forward to more energy and less of that pesky neuroendocrine cascade. And that, my friends, would be awesome.

Friday, October 12, 2007

"Don't worry, I won't take it as an official diagnosis."

As I previously mentioned, it has been speculated by more than one person that I have The Apnea. Begrudgingly I went to my doctor who then referred me to a sleep clinic in Hells Kitchen. So on Wednesday night, carrying my overnight bag, Ms. K escorted me to the clinic for my overnight stay.

Not knowing what to expect, I was a little nervous. Would the clinic be this grim laboratory like place, all linoleum and florescent lights, that I was expected to sleep in? The reality was more like a hotel that happened to have a doctors office in it. The staff was super nice and answered all my questions as they put electrodes onto my scalp, strapped my chest with a monitor, and stuck EKGs to me. On my right index finger they slid another device to monitor my blood oxygen levels via a laser.

I had my technician take pictures.

The room they had me in was austere but clean. The bed firm but comfortable. Dressed in my pyjammas, my technician helped me into bed with the warning that if I stopped breathing during the night of my monitored sleep that she would wake me up to put a special mask on me to help correct it. Then she turned off the lights sometime around 10:30 pm.

Bed time! Except with cameras, lasers, tubes up my nose, and wires. Lots of wires.

Sure enough my technician woke me around 12:45 am or rather I woke up to discover her by my bed fiddling with the various devices there.

"Was I breathing?" I asked groggily.

"No, you weren't breathing." Her tone was sweet, as if to say awww, you weren't breathing.

Then came the Apnea Mask, a strange device that fits over the nose and hooks to a machine about the size of a VCR. A tube forces pressurized air into the nose via a plastic tube, the sensation of which can be likened to having a heavy fan blowing air into the nasal cavity. Sexy.

"Do you want me to take a picture of you with the mask on?" my technician asked helpfully.

"No, that's okay. I have a feeling I'll have one of my own soon enough."

It took me some time to get used to, but I eventually fell into a deep sleep after I figured out how to breathe -- deep enough that I didn't wake till my technician turned on the lights around 6:15 am. As I groggily sat on the bed, she unhooked the many wires and electrodes from my body.

"Thanks," I yawned. "Now I feel less like a robot. So what did you see last night?"

"I'm not supposed to tell you because I'm not a doctor, but --"

"Don't worry, I won't take it as an official diagnosis."

"-- you immediately fell into Stage 3 sleep, which meant to me that your body had been really craving that level of sleep. The first two hours before I put the mask on you weren't really breathing and the body couldn't get past the first two stages of REM sleep."

Poor poor body. Not getting the sleep that it needs. Apparently I'll get my official results in 7 days.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"Any woman who doesn’t love an ample-bosomed serving wench is, clearly, crazy."

Most of the great conversations in my life have been over a meal or a drink with some of my very closest of friends. Often I think we must look like a down-market version of the characters from Sex and the City -- whip-smart urban women flowing easily from topics of sex to spirituality. We endlessly hash out what it means to find love in this vast metropolis and rally with all our strength when it seems that one of us is faltering.

There was something about yesterday that seemed to be underscored with weight. Maybe it's the ongoing negative atmosphere at work, but a couple of my very dearest friends/colleagues went to the Tibet House for a beginner's meditation class. With thoughts of refreshing ourselves and recharging out psychic batteries, we welcomed the peace. My mood yesterday already had been one of reflection, analyzing how far I've come in the last year, but I found it hard to turn my mind off and focus on my breathing.

Afterwards we sought out dinner, coming upon a strange little relic of a restaurant in the West Village -- the kind of place that still thinks it's 1962 with red jacketed waiters who look like they've worked there all their lives. After two bottles of rioja and an order of paella, our conversations became deeply revelatory and I had the sense that our friendship, while already close, had cemented into something more.

Its a wonderful achievement to have very close friends, especially since I've only been in this city for nearly three years and I remember when I once had zero friends here. Finding good friends is almost as hard as finding a girlfriend, which I suppose has silently been OFAG's opposite -- something that could have been called Operation Find A Friend. Now I have them. Score.

Another achievement is that I've managed to acquire myself something of a girlfriend. The next few days will mark the three month point since meeting Ms. K. How did this happen?? I'm still gobsmacked that she's completely the opposite from the nonsense I've dated in the past. Case in point: this photo.

Last Halloween I dressed up as a serving wench. I looked hot. REALLY hot. Some of you may remember I was dating Holly at the time -- a sort of experiment that can be likened to seeing what happens when you bang your head against a brick wall. Repeatedly. The nadir of this experiment came sometime around the moment I realized that despite looking extremely hot, Holly was clearly not interested. I was crushed.

Ms. K has since seen the photo of me in my serving wench costume, tits hoisted up to my chin courtesy of a tightly laced corset. Her reaction was "where is this costume and why aren't you wearing it all time time?" See? Already I'm miles ahead of where I was a year ago. Score. And I get flowers too!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

"You have a package here."

My heart sank when I saw the dark patch on the foot of my duvet this morning. Then I discovered its mate further in the tangle of sheet and duvet, a massive wet area that could only mean that one of my cats had peed on my bed again. And fuck me if I hadn't only ten minutes before cleaned out their box and put in fresh litter. I wanted to cry.

Damn you cats, damn you.

Tears of defeat soon subsided to rage as I angrily stripped my bed -- the kind of anger that weighs heavy on the body and that is only good for smashing and killing. I eyed my cats Jasper and Theo when I was done with my dirty work. They huddled together under the coffee table watching me for any sudden movements. Who peed on my bed?? I demanded. No answer. Theo looked the guiltiest. I grumbled an empty threat of stuffing and mounting him before seeking out the Spray & Wash from the kitchen.

The rage took a while to subside. I was late to work and the look I gave all my coworkers was a hearty don't fuck with me. Then I lost myself in a cup of coffee, two Advils, a spirited G-chat conversation, and my iTunes.

Around 1 pm I got a phone call on my work line. The extension flashed that it was the front desk calling. "You have a package here," the receptionist said.

What? A package? I wasn't expecting a package. How strange.

The route it takes me to walk to reception means that the desk is in full view as I approach. Instead of some nondescript cardboard box or envelope awaiting me, I was met with the sight of a rectangular base of cellophane and tissue paper cradling two dozen roses of reds, oranges, pinks, and vermilions.

Were they for me? Were the cats trying to apologize?? I stared at the card in shock, blushing as red as the flowers. Yes, they were definitely for me. There was no mistaking my name typed on the rectangle of paper dangling from a brown bow.

"Just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you. XO"

Woah. Someone sent me flowers. Ms. K sent me flowers. But wait, I never get flowers. I am like the girl who always gets picked last for team sports only. But now it's like I got an enviable top draft. Me? Me?? I got a little teary eyed. The receptionist smirked at me as I gathered them in my arms, blushing deeply.

This is the first time in my life a lover has sent me flowers. Seriously. As my best friend Dennise put it:

"Wow, she doesn't want you to die AND she sends you flowers. I think my bones may be taking a shine to her . . ."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"Like super centerfold hot."

One of the more interesting outcomes of having someone sleep in my bed is the speculation that I just might have sleep apnea. What is sleep apnea? Well it's when, while sleeping, the body pauses breathing only to restart with a gasp. Obviously continual breathing is preferred, especially since sleep apnea can over time lead to such fun things as congestive heart failure. And if one is extra lucky, the body sometimes just stops breathing all together. I'm aiming to avoid this.

Ms. K isn't the first person to tell me that I may have sleep apnea. In fact it was back in January while staying with my friend Fals in her tiny London studio that she told me that I had been gasping in my sleep. And then there's the fact that my brother has been diagnosed with having sleep apnea, so I already have a genetic predisposition.

Having been told repeatedly by Ms. K to get myself checked out "for realsies" as she would say, you'd think that I'd rush off to my doctor. But I have dragged my heels on going because I'm not enthused about having to go to a sleep clinic and having to wear one of these while I sleep for god knows how long.

What a pain in the fucking ass. And not sexy. I don't want to wear a mask when I sleep.

"I really don't think the apnea is good, it's scary to constantly hear you stop breathing like that. Because you know breathing is awesome."

Okay, if you put it that way . . .

Promising Ms. K that I would do so, I finally called my doctor yesterday and set up an appointment with him for Friday morning. Then I suppose I'll be sent to a sleep clinic where they will film me to see if I indeed have the apnea. Awesome. I guess it's cute that Ms. K has been so adamant in making sure that I continue breathing.

Yeah, you need to tell him that you think that you have sleep apnea. Because I really, really think that you do. Or if you don't think you have the apnea (even though you do), tell him that I think you have the apnea. I'm the boss of this. And I think that you would look amazingly hot in a sleep apnea mask. Like super centerfold hot. So let's not let fear of having to wear a mask be a deterrent to getting the apnea fixed, okay?

Centerfold hot? Okay, I guess there's a fetish for everything . . .

Monday, October 01, 2007

"Because you know breathing is awesome."

September was a hard month for me. Not for any known pressures but rather for internal reasons that are difficult to pinpoint, internal reasons that have left me listless and withdrawn. My blog writing even decreased 50% compared to August. WTF?

But wait, Rouge. Don't you now have a hot ladyfriend with whom you participate in frequent, hot girl-on-girl action? Why so down?? Get yourself together, woman, and celebrate!

I know! I am trying! Emotions are funny things, especially since I'm so analytical with them. I get unnerved when I can't figure out why I'm feeling a certain way. Is it because of work and the fact that it has been blowing? Is it because I don't see Ms. K very often? Is it because there's no food in my fridge accept for eggs and some condiments? Why have I been feeling this way??

Whine. Whine. Whine.

Then I had an epiphany yesterday morning. I am subconsciously scared, scared of repeating my past history with girls, scared about letting love into my life for fear of getting hurt again. I've also been reserved with my feelings for Ms. K because she lives in Pennsylvania. I live in Brooklyn. Long distance relationships suck, but they suck more when you're in love with someone who is not around. N'est-ce pas?

Here's my plan. I stop overthinking. Just simply be. Simplify. Breathe.

I think it will work.