Good Night, and Good Luck

I have had one of the most emotionally draining weeks of my entire life. As I mentioned in my previous post, my grandmother (YiaYia as we call her in Greek) was in the hospital battling cancer. She has since passed away and I spent last week in Westford with my family attending her wake and funeral, and also trying to stop World War III from being waged in my household. It’s never easy to lose a family member, especially a grandparent that’s been around you your whole life. I’m still in shock and disbelief that she is gone and I’ll never see her again. What is helping me get through this difficult time is the knowledge that she was a well-loved and respected member of the community. So many people from our church came out to pay their respects and tell my family how much they loved my YiaYia. The outpouring of support was immense and, despite our sadness, we all made it through the wake and funeral.

Whew.  Today was my first day back at work and it almost felt like I never left. We had a delightful little flood on my floor today and, thankfully, my office remained unscathed save for a small portion of our Resource Center.

I have a few dating updates but they’re so inconsequential that I hardly feel them worth mentioning. All I’m going to say is that my Match.com membership expires next week and I am ECSTATIC. I wish I could have a ceremonial burning of Match.com profile, but a click of the delete button will just have to do. I actually have my (hopefully) very last Match.com date on Friday. This fine gentleman is 33, lives in Somerville and works at UMass Medical. He has a fierce and undying love for Amy Sedaris and Strangers With Candy which, if you know, is the way to my heart. From his Match.com picture he looks to be cute, but I had to become his Facebook friend to be totally sure. I like to have all my bases covered. I believe we will be imbibing a beer or two somewhere in Inman Square on Friday evening. Exact location and time TBD.

I must trot off to an evening program here at the local Suffolk University. I will try to restrain myself and not eat every slice of pizza I lay my greedy little eyes on.

Cancer Can S a D

2010 has not quite kicked off in the way that I had hoped. Life has thrown a huge curveball and boy, is it a doozy.

It all started in October when my grandmother was complaining of some trouble she was having swallowing her food. We thought this rather odd, but it seemed to be a simple case of acid reflux and her inability to keep to a prescribed diet. The immediate solution was to start her on some medication and limit her diet. This didn’t seem to be any cause for alarm and things continued along as usual. However, she soon complained of a pressure on her esophagus, especially when she was swallowing food. My dad scheduled an appointment for her to have this checked out and, after many rescheduled appointments, they found that she had a golf-ball sized nodule pressing on her esophagus. Whether it was cancer or not was TBD, but after the biopsy results came back it was confirmed: this shit was malignant.

Cut to the first full week of January 2010. My grandmother’s stage 4 cancer was not only in the form of a nodule in her chest, but also in tumors up and down her spine and neck. In the time span of 1 week the cancer spread to 2 places. How did this happen in such a short time? How was this not detected earlier? My grandmother is a cancer survivor, having had breast and lung cancer in the past. She was always able to to bypass chemotherapy in favor of radiation and this time it seemed like she would be able to do the same.

Cut to this week. She was admitted to the hospital last Friday and they’ve been trying to make her as comfortable as possible. She was on some drug cocktail that made her a bit loopy and unable to even eat pureed food, but that’s been taken care of and she’s hooked up to a good ol’ morphine drip now. I visited her in the hospital yesterday and she was in good spirits. For someone whose body is wracked with cancer she looked a million bucks, although her usually perfect coif was just a touch out of place. While I was there she had a snack of strawberry Ensure, the first “real” food she had had in days. What she really wanted, though, was a hot dog with mustard on a soft bun. She was being cute about it.

I spent the good part of the day at the hospital just visiting and spending time with my family and grandmother. The whole experience was emotionally draining and it took all the will power I had within me to stay strong. Only one other time in my life have I gone through such an ordeal: May/June 2008, when my other grandmother was slowly failing. I feel like I’m reliving that experience all over again. Losing my mom’s mother was the single most traumatic experience of my entire life. I don’t think that anything will compare to the loss I have felt from her passing. I’m not even sure that I’m entirely prepared to lose another grandmother. How can I be prepared? One doesn’t expect to lose a loved one. You always think that your grandparents and family members will live forever but that’s not how reality works. The higher power that governs us chooses to give and take life when he/she sees fit. It may not make sense to us but we have to accept it.

Things have gotten a bit worse since yesterday’s visit. The radiation treatment my grandmother was to undergo these next couple of weeks has been stopped. The pain she is experiencing has become interolerable. The hospital staff has unhooked her from all the machines she was tied up to save for the morphine drip. The goal is to make her as comfortable as possible in her final days. It is not her wish to have her life prolonged unnecessarily; she would like to pass peacefully and with dignity. The worst part of this is the waiting. We’re unsure as to the amount of time she has left on this planet.

I may sound matter-of-fact in my description of my grandmother’s illness but in real life I’m crumbling. My family is crumbling as well. It must have broke my dad’s heart to go to the funeral home today and plan the wake and funeral for his mother. It is sheer torture for my mother to go through this again not 2 years after her own mother passed away. My grandfather is beside himself, restless and nervous for the day when his wife leaves him forever. My sister has been ever-vigilant at the hospital, visiting with my grandmother and other family members.

I can’t even describe what I’m feeling right now. I feel so apathetic toward my surroundings and those around me. I can’t even register a real emotion. I’m like a god damn zombie. The muscles in my neck are tense and tight from stress. I hardly have any semblance of an appetite.

I wish she would recover. I wish she could sit in her chair again and piece together the afghans she so lovingly creates. I wish she could have the simple joy of going to the hairdresser. She was always so diligent about her appointments, and no wonder, with beautiful, thick hair like hers. I wish she would make ask me if I had “met any nice girls”.

I guess I just needed to write down my thoughts and sort of make sense about everything that’s been happening. It feels like so selfish to call up a friend and just blab about this kind of thing. I’m aware that that’s a totally irrational statement, by the way. I know that I have great friends I can depend on; I just hate being a burden.

My grandmother is Greek, and I only find it fitting that I include the Lord’s Prayer, in Greek, as I think of her tonight.

ΠΑΤΕΡ ΗΜΩΝ Ο ΕΝ ΤΟΙΣ ΟΥΡΑΝΟΙΣ
ΑΓΙΑΣΘΗΤΩ ΤΟ ΟΝΟΜΑ ΣΟΥ
ΕΛΘΕΤΩ Η ΒΑΣΙΛΕΙΑ ΣΟΥ
ΓΕΝΗΘΗΤΩ ΤΟ ΘΕΛΗΜΑ ΣΟΥ,
ΩΣ ΕΝ ΟΥΡΑΝΩ ΚΑΙ ΕΠΙ ΤΗΣ ΓΗΣ
ΤΟΝ ΑΡΤΟΝ ΗΜΩΝ ΤΟΝ ΕΠΙΟΥΣΙΟΝ
ΔΟΣ ΗΜΙΝ ΣΗΜΕΡΟΝ
ΚΑΙ ΑΦΕΣ ΗΜΙΝ ΤΑ ΟΦΕΙΛΗΜΑΤΑ ΗΜΩΝ,
ΩΣ ΚΑΙ ΗΜΕΙΣ ΑΦΙΕΜΕΝ ΤΟΙΣ ΟΦΕΙΛΕΤΑΙΣ ΗΜΩΝ
ΚΑΙ ΜΗ ΕΙΣΕΝΕΓΚΗΣ ΗΜΑΣ ΕΙΣ ΠΕΙΡΑΣΜΟΝ,
ΑΛΛΑ ΡΥΣΑΙ ΗΜΑΣ ΑΠΟ ΤΟΥ ΠΟΝΗΡΟΥ.
ΑΜΗΝ.

On A Clear Day…

Ah, 2010. I’m going to grab you by the balls and you are going to like it!

I’ve refrained from writing a 2009 retrospective because I would much prefer to leave all that baggage behind. 2009 was basically a cheap extension of 2008, and 2008 was not the best year of my life. Each year does get better and better as I learn more about life, the pursuit of my own happiness and the world around me.

In this upcoming year I plan to accomplish some significant things in my personal and professional life. I’ve been running a mental list of things that I’d like to participate in, foods I’d like to cook, activities I’d like to engage in. I am such a procrastinator and constantly put things off that I should be doing, ie joining a gym. I really want to get in shape and it’s time I quit bellyaching about it. Here is what I have compiled thus far:

  • Slow cook at least one dinner per week
  • Join a gym (this MUST happen ASAP…the gold’s gym near my apartment is running a special)
  • Read one new book a month (I have a degree in English. This should not be difficult.)
  • Travel and discover new places, whether it be a weekend trip to NYC or a week-long sojourn to LA.
  • Take French horn lessons
  • Find a volunteer opportunity in my community
  • Write one poem a month….and get at least one of them published
  • Paint my living room
  • Sing “Don’t Rain on my Parade” in its entirety at a piano bar (I attempted this once but forgot the words. Oops.)
  • Cut the shit with online dating and meet people in real life
  • Overhaul this damn blog and migrate it to my domain
  • Audition for a play and a musical

If I think of anything else I’ll be sure to include it in my next post. In closing, my dearest lady friend JulieQ found this perfect YouTube clip for me:

House Arrest

I’ve been in Westford for approximately 8 hours and already I’ve exhausted all possible options for entertainment. I ate, watched “Steel Magnolias” with my parents and went for a run. Consider the walls climbed.

Work today was such a waste, but I got to have a delicious, FREE Boloco burrito for a second day in a row. My Boloco experience was punctuated with scintillating conversation with Jamie Depelteau and Matt Kurkowski.

Eat lots of turkey, get drunk and bump against your loved ones inappropriately. I will certainly be engaging in the first two items on this agenda. Mazel Tov!

An Autumnal Favorite: Pilgrim Pies

One of the work-study students in my office, Shalini, recently brought in a unique snack for the Off-Campus Housing Office to sample…Pilgrim Pies! No, she didn’t bring in crusty pies filled with dismembered pilgrims, etc., but delicious pumpkin whoopie pies. I loved them so much that I just had to have the recipe and make them myself. They were extremely easy to make, coming from someone who does not deem himself a star baker. I brought them into work today and they received RAVE reviews!

Pumpkin Cookies

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (15-oz) can pumpkin
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Filling/Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 to 5 cups confectioners’ sugar (i probably put in about 2 1/2 – 3 cups and the frosting had just the right amount of sweetness. start with less and see how it tastes; just add as you feel necessary)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the eggs, brown sugar, oil and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl until smooth. Stir in the pumpkin. In a separate bowl combine the flour, pumpkin spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture a half cup at a time, blending each time until smooth.
  2. Drop a heaping (a normal size will suffice, otherwise they’ll turn out huge) tablespoon of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet, using a moist finger or the back of a finger to slightly flatten each mound. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. While the cookies are cooling, prepare the frosting. Beat together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract in a bowl until light and fluffy. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar a half cup at a time until the frosting is spreadable.
  4. To assemble the pies, turn half of the cookies bottom side up and spread a generous amount of cream cheese frosting on each one. Top them with the remaining cookies (turned right side up). Makes 10 to 14 Pilgrim Pies.

Here’s the finished product :

Enjoy!

Blogtoberfest!

Lords and ladies, here here! I attended my very first blogging event last night, Blogtoberfest, hosted by the lovely Jenny Frazier of http://alleyesonjenny.com/. Yay blogs! Yay networking!

Prior to this delightful fete, Sarah Stewart and I dined at Stephi’s on Tremont. I had merely imbibed here once before, but Sarah and I saddled up to the bar for a delicious nosh and nibble. The sass and frass of the Kunty Kitchen flew at lightning quick speed while we both crunched on our delicious salads. There was an awkward lady seated to my left and between annoying phone conversations she insisted upon having she would look over and stare at Sarah and I. It was a tad rude and unsettling. If you want to say hello or include yourself in our sparkling conversation, do so with grace and ease. Don’t be a creep. Eff off.

And then we moved on to Blogtoberfest at 28 degrees. It was simply a delight. Sarah and I flitted about the room like bees to honey. We networked. We schmoozed. I made so many new friends and received a ton of lovely “calling cards”. I have been inspired to create my own via vistaprint.com!

Thus, the weekend is upon us. Happy blogging and tweeting, you bitches.

The F*g Heard ‘Round The World

This past weekend we celebrated the joyous occasion that was Ariana’s christening. The church service was a bit long, but that’s how things are when you’re Greek Orthodox. The godfather had a christening gown specially made for the occasion…so the baby was dressed in couture from head to toe. She looked so cute! The night before my parents and I watched my sister’s christening from 20 years ago so it was interesting to see how much the two girls look/looked alike. My sister screamed her head off when she got dunked in the font and Ariana wasn’t quite so fussy.

The Greek culture and Orthodox religion are not only steeped in tradition and custom, but they are also steeped in…food. Naturally we had a delicious meal after the christening but what started out smoothly did not end as such. There were a large number in attendance at dinner so we were all grouped together in tables of 12. I was seated with my family, grandparents, some assorted family members and my younger cousin’s girlfriend’s parents. We struck up a conversation about hotels and bed and breakfasts in Boston, to which Ali’s (my cousin’s girlfriend) father responded that he had never been to any B & B’s in Boston, but he stayed at a B & B in Newport, RI a few weeks ago run by a couple of fags. As soon as the word left his lips I shot him the dirtiest look possible. He clearly knew that he had put his foot in his mouth. I commented that some of us at the table would take offense to a comment like that. He apologized and tried to explain that he was being funny, but I told him that words like that should never be said in conversation.

My cousin and I discussed the situation later on and he basically defended his girlfriend’s father and made it sound like I was the one to blame. I was not assigning blame to anyone in the first place, but I feel that what he said was not appropriate in any way, shape or form. One does not use that word in conversation or ever. It creates an environment of hostility and hate. That entire situation colored my day in a very negative way. I think I’m still annoyed by it on some level.

In more uplifting news, today is my Friday! Months ago I decided to take a staycation around Columbus Day and honey, I’m glad I did. I need a break like you wouldn’t believe. I feel anxious and annoyed and all-out drained. I need some rejuvenation and relaxation. Who am I kidding? I’ll probably end up cleaning the grout in my bathroom with a toothbrush.

What Hemisphere Am I In?

I woke up this morning with an irrational fear that plagues Americans on a daily basis. What day is it?

I went to bed before 10:30pm last night, a feat I have rarely been accomplishing as of late. I nestled myself among my nest of sheets and comforter and promptly started a night of sleep. I woke up at approximately 6:00am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. However, I thought it was Friday and that I had somehow forgotten to wake up for Thursday, teach class and go to work. It’s a panicky feeling when you wake up and you have no idea what time it is, where you are or what day it is.

Needless to say, the rest of the morning continued without catastrophe. I breezed into the shower, birds sang while I towel-dried myself and my housekeeper laid out my clothes for me. Ah, if only that were true.

I wore a pink shirt today and realized, upon entering the Office of Diversity Services Coffee Hour today, that today is the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Yay boobs! It is also the start of LGBT History Month, a time that is near and dear to my heart. Ironically enough, I led a class discussion on the LGBT lifestyle which was sparked from a reading my students had to commplete for today’s class. This sista got up on her high horse and had a few things to say about LGBT rights, that’s for damn sure. My class was held in the palm of my warm little hand. It was fabulous.

After a brief hiatus in writing that brief little account of today’s activities, I am rounding out this post with a cry for help. I need a new blog layout! Ah! If anyone is savvy at this kind of graphic design I would appreciate any and all help. Since my blog is entitled “on a clear day, you can see forever” I would like the theme to be drawn from the movie of the same name, with a subtle Babs-inspired motif. Think it can happen? Eff yeah, it can!

The Other Side of 25

On Friday September 11, 2009 I celebrated my 26th year of existence. I rang the day in at midnight with Julie, my downstairs neighbor. She came upstairs to surprise me with a nutella covered madeleine and a stunning rendition of “Happy Birthday” all whilst donning a Happy Birthday party hat for the occasion. We had a dance party to Barbra Streisand and imbibed champagne and wine.

I had Friday off from work and I set about the preparations for my intimate birthday cocktail hour. I went to Shaw’s and Marshall’s to pick up a few things and ended up loading myself down with bags. It was certainly a sight to see. However, it was worth it because I made some delicious Dinner Spanakopitas courtesy of your friend and mine, Ina Garten. I must say that they were a little slice of perfection. I would daresay they rivaled the homemade goodness of Theresa Gemmellaro. I also slow-cooked my signature kielbasa, but I fizzled out on the stuffed mushrooms. It was probably for the best as I had a ton of spanakopitas over which I brought to Melanie’s going-away BBQ today and Ms. Lark will be receiving some for lunch tomorrow.

I think about 17 people ended up coming over for fellowship and community and a good chunk of that came out to Paradise later on in the night. It was actually a lot of fun dancing it up at the dirty ‘dise. I had a completely scandal and drama free birthday this year and at the end of the night I crawled under my comforter alone. I didn’t even have the wherewithal to properly bed myself.

Ah, another year old and another year wiser. Here’s to 26!

What’s a blog post without mentioning at least a little something about my (nonexistent) dating life? Well, on Monday evening, after dinner with Dillon, I check my email and find that the gentleman of late has written me something. We went on 5 dates over the course of a few weeks and things seemed to be going well. We talked a lot, spent some fun time together and genuinely seemed interested in getting to know one another. His email put the kybosh on that real fast. It’s true that I felt his personality could have used a little pizazz, but I was willing to work through that and get to know him a bit better. He, however, did not share my sentiments. What an awesome start to my birthday week!

My other grievance, shall we say, concerns guys who act interested, indicate they are interested, but don’t follow through. If you’re “so into me” and “miss me” and “want to hang out” then you should make it happen. Take the bull by the horns and set a date and time when we can meet. I’m a busy guy and I don’t have time for your wishy-washy BS. It’s also frustrating when I ask YOU to hang out at specific times and you flake out. I have no patience for this kind of tomfoolery and flim-flam. Shit or get off the pot. If you’re constipated, take a laxative. Just make sure I’m not around when you do.

Today we celebrated Ms. Melanie Becker before her departure to South America on Thursday. Melanie has been an integral member of the OCHO since I even started, so we’re certainly sad to see her leave us. We wish her the best of luck during her 4-month South American journey! I can’t wait to see pictures and hear all of her amazing stories.

Tomorrow begins another fun-filled work week! YV and I have been up to our eyeballs in programming and this week shall prove to be more of the same. Bring it on!

With all there is, why settle for just a piece of sky?

I will be on the other side of 25 come Friday. Where has this past year taken me? What notable notables have occurred in my life?

I still live in Cambridge (hopefully through my 26th year…more on that later). I still work at Suffolk. I’m still gay. I’m still single. I’m also still a tad crazy.

A year ago I had gotten dumped at the beginning of August and took some time after that to focus on the wondrousness of my being. Work was keeping me quite busy so I really didn’t have a lot of time to go out and be on the dating scene. I had a few blips here and there, but nothing took. Given the last few dating experiences I’ve gone through I think I have a better idea of what I’m looking for and what kind of relationship I would like to be in. I’ve learned a lot about myself through my interactions with people, not just in the dating arena. I’ve lost and gained friends, reconnected with those that had fallen to the wayside and realized how important my “urban family” is to me. While my biological family is always going to be there for me, it’s the relationships I have forged on my own outside of them that will keep me sane and support me when others cannot.

I think back to where I was a year ago at this time. I remember feeling a knot in my stomach form about three weeks before my birthday, a day shared with a national tragedy and the three-month anniversary of my grandmother’s death. I felt selfish and silly for getting excited about the day of my birthday when all I could think about was the day of a death. YiaYia, as grandmother is known in Greek, would have wanted me to celebrate my life and be happy. There was never a dull moment when YiaYia was around, whether she was yelling at you or laughing at something that tickled her funny bone. She was remarkable and that’s what I held in my heart when I celebrated my 25th birthday and it’s what I still clutch onto this very day.

This year will bring positivity and more growth. There are certain things that I wish to accomplish this year and, if I stay positive and true to myself, I will accomplish them.