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Happy Chrismahannakwanzakkah

Just swinging by to wish everybody a great holiday season. Much news, I'll be back soon. Peace, Bob

'Bye Real Estate - THIS IS BIG!!!!!!

This afternoon, I had the opportunity to show a "unique fixer-upper opportunity" to a potential buyer in Berwyn, the suburb just south of Oak Park. Today marks the first day of the third year of my ill-fated Realtor career. The house was a beautiful old place that's been heavily vandalized and is vastly overpriced. It will take six figures worth of renovations and in the end the place will probably be at the very top of the market if a contractor -- like the buyer this afternoon -- tried to buy it and renovate it. This would make the place VERY hard to sell, and somebody would probably have to buy it, renovate it as a labor of love, and live in it for at least five years to make it work. Banks don't want to touch the house because it's a wreck. I was totally honest with this guy and probably talked him out of making an offer on the house, because he really liked it. I walked out of the place, called my partner Jim and told him "That's it, I am just not enough of a bullshit artist to be a salesman. I quit. I simply don't know how to lie well enough to be in the sales biz, and I'm too old to change." He totally agreed, and doesn't want me to change. So now I need to find something totally else to do in my life. I feel like a HUGE weight has been lifted off my shoulders. WOO-HOO!!!!!

Writer's Block: No Laughing Matter

What do you think is too serious to joke about?
Rape. I was myself 29 years ago this summer and it will never be something that can be taken lightly.  

Hey, friends. Back from CA. Actually landed late last Friday, but it's taken me a week to really get acclimated again. Missed you guys, my family (kids, Jim, dogs) and accomplished what I set out to do: examined what was happening in my life and where to take things from here. Decided that real estate isn't where it's at for me right now, at least on a full time basis, and so I've started looking around at other options. My challenge will be to try to find a flexible income generator, preferably something that I actually enjoy doing, that still allows me to spend quality time with my kids. Tall order. I would like to try something in mediation or conflict resolution, with or without using my law license.

I promised when I went to CA that I would bring back pics of my trip. Although none of them are naked, here goes:   
This was my very favorite spot at the B&B where I stayed. virtually all day sun, right next to the hot tub. This is the spot where I have the ultimate relaxation moment from this trip that I can now envision when I meditate. Lovebirds singing in the cage right there, feeling safe in a great welcoming environment, warm sun enveloping my entire body. Bliss.

The B&B where I stayed is very conveniently located in Golden Hill in SD, and is run by an extremely cool woman who has catered to gay men (particularly bears and leathermen) for twenty years. The place is a little run down, but very reasonably priced for CA. It's just south of Balboa Park and convenient to Hillcrest and all of the local highways. My room was on the left, just off the pool and hot tub area, with private bath and a small fridge. Worked out perfectly.

There were two delicious (unfortunately straight) Italian exchange students staying at the place when I was there. They were a lot of fun to party with, and I was particularly taken with their buddy Emilio (lower left) who came by one evening to hang out and chill with us. Sweet, quiet, and fit. Yum.

On my last full day in town, I drove over to Ocean Beach and grabbed a bag lunch at a deli I knew from when I stayed there four years ago. I went up to Point Loma to enjoy the view while I ate, it's one of my favorite contemplation locations on earth. Such beauty, and a commanding view of the ocean where you can just park and enjoy relatively unscathed. On this day in particular, there was quite a bit of shirtless eye candy running along, as well, although I was respectful and refrained from taking pix (damn my polite upbringing.) 

This house is located opposite the last few pictures. For as many millions as it is worth, I can't imagine having my privacy invaded as much as the people who live here, considering they live right on Point Loma in a location where tons of people come and go constantly, day and night. The gray Mustang was my fun machine for the week, the 40% that I got off on Priceline was a great deal and made my vacation. The other pic is me taking my hostess and her niece out for dinner on my last night in appreciation for their excellent hospitality for the week -- they were very sweet.

I instinctively "sniffed" out the ocean from the airport in Long Beach after my flight home was delayed so that I could have one last relaxing, enjoyable sit. I have an inexplicable attachment to water, it has a very calming and therapeutic effect on me in my life. I was intrigued by this beautiful monastery facing the ocean there:  I walked by it on my way to say goodbye to the Pacific and couldn't help but wonder who lived inside, what their life goals might be, and why they lived in seclusion in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Like those living inside, I left CA with some new answers, and more new questions. Such is the ongoing mystery of life. My blessings are many:  love, family, home, health. The rest will come in due time if I have the patience and the wisdom to continue to do the right thing each day. So far, so good.

So I had my first "stalker" at the gym yesterday. 

I have been reflecting over the last couple of days, rolling over and over in my brain a phrase that our friend Delmarmar used in his comment last week related to my son's bar mitzvah, "everybody's hot to somebody."  I got a good chuckle out of it. Well, it got turned on its ear this week!

When I've talked about my health club, I've mentioned that it is a pretty "straight" place, for better or for worse. Well, when I went to take a shower the other day, there was a guy that I ran for the school board with coming out of one of the stalls. Just as I was about to say "Hi" to him, this BIG blonde guy barged past him and, in no uncertain terms, gave me a look that meant he was lusting after me. There was a pregnant pause, after which my friend simply walked on, no comment.

 

Whoops! Not good!

 

I went into my stall, big blondie into his. I took a LONG shower. I listened, and I started to hear the creaking of blondie's stall door, back and forth, back and forth. We were the only two in the shower room, it was mid-day. When I came out of my stall, he had this glare on that I'm sure he thought was hot, but was CREEPY, to the max. (When I say "big", BTW, I mean he had an enormous belly - just to set the record straight, or correct in this case.) I walked right past him without responding at all.

I had to shave, so I went over to my locker and got my stuff. I usually don't bother to wear a towel around my waste, but I sure did that day (I had coming out of the shower stall since I heard the creepy creaking.) I took a LONG time to shave, and positioned myself so that I couldn't see blondie standing back in the corner staring/watiing for me. For at least ten or fifteen minutes. No eye contact (I made sure.) But he just WAITED there. This was very odd, and has never happened to me before. Flattering? Not really, because it went on for almost three quarters of an hour in total, from start of shower to exit, and he didn't take a hint. More like just creepy, creepy. I don't know if I handled it right, if I should have said something or what. Eventually, I got dressed looking away from him and left, totally ignoring him (he had kept his shirt off almost the whole time, half dressed, standing in the corner of the row of lockers.) There was almost nobody around, or he would have been more self-conscious, I'd imagine. He walked out with me and we went our separate ways. Yikes.

    
 THANKS A LOT, YOU GUYS!
  


Feeling a little bit philosphical today. Perhaps looking both back and forwards, taking account of events and trying to put everything into perspective. As I mentioned in my brief note yesterday, all went very well at both the synagogue ceremony and the afterparty on Saturday for my son's bar mitzvah. (The only near-meltdown was in the car afterward when my son insisted we drive to the nearest electronics store to buy a Sony Playstation3 NOW on the way home...we didn't. He was just overworked from the day's the excitement. The next day, he maturely decided to wait for the new 120G version since the 80Gs were sold out in our area, a complete reversal!) Part of my philosophical musings have been a real appreciation for my newfound friends here on LJ. Last night, within an hour of my posting the good news that things went well, fully a dozen wellwishing pals had posted "Mazel Tovs" congratulating my son and my family and me, and again about that many have since then. I've been on this site less than six months, and after having placed myself in virtual isolation from folks in my own personal world while I cared for my family for the last couple of years, the warmth and caring that so many of you guys have shown here (especially bigfundrew, brchase, cellboy, cublikeme, delmarmar, equus_albus, everinbluejeans, houjeepx, hungcub, mrdreamjeans, msclwolf, muddster, oceanlux, randomcub, sabearfan, shirtlifterbear, spatts5, wrascalbc, and xephyr_42) has really meant a lot to me, particularly during the time leading up the events of this past weekend. Not having to go it alone (or rather with just Jim and me) made it a LOT easier going. OK, I'm not gonna get TOO sappy (oops, too late!) but I really do appreciate it.

Long and short of the events themselves:  my ex- belongs to a conservative synagogue in River Forest, IL.  Two and a HALF hour ceremony. JEEEEZ! Most of it was in Hebrew. My son KICKED BUTT in his parts, he was great and did not stumble once. I was so very, very proud of him. Interestingly, my ex- sort of ran the show, which I understand is sort of Not Done usually in her temple, but she has rather of a strong personality, so although there were some male frowns and the Rabbi seemed uncomfortable at times, Mimi was the ring leader. Lots of standing (at least the Catholics get to kneel once in a while!) and not one, not two, but THREE Torah's (the Jews among you will understand that this is exceptional.)  My son mentioned in his speech that since in Israel, you don't become a man (i.e. serve in the Army) until 20, he would see everyone back right there in seven years and faked walking off the stage. Perfect comic timing! Very funny, and particularly great for an autistic kid! The party went really well, too. There was a magician and a caricature artist (who did NOT capture Jim's handsomeness but did OK with me)  And even I must admit that the Powerpoint was well received, overall. It was bizarre and ironic having to introduce it, but I wanted my son not to have to deal with discord and so I bowed to the wishes of my ex-wife. May she rest in pieces some day (not necessarily soon, of course.) She doesn't know it yet, but we're gonna be talkin' child support reduction soon:  I think after thirty months of no reduction after I decreased my income 90%+, it's probably overdue. I wanted to get past all of this drama first.

The food was quite good, although they did run out early so that was unfortunate (not sure how that happened.) There was a full bar, although I resisted the temptation to tie one on (that's not really my style anyway, although I kinda earned it - not sure if my comments would have been better or worse.) There was an ice cream sundae bar and two kinds of great chocolate cake (both my ex- and my son are chocoholics.) Her office building is a pretty impressive brand new one, built last year near downtown Chicago and so that part worked out OK as well, although it was very much all about her, as we very much knew. Still, my son was very pleased that the DJ was a good one and he and all of his pals danced their butts off and he was, as usual, the limbo prince. There were only a few kids from the Hebrew school class that had been less than nice to him, and they were outnumbered by his classmates from his special school, so they were on their best behavior. My daughter was inexplicably quite inappropriately dressed in a low-cut turquoise evening-type gown that gave her cleavage she does not possess (apparently supplied by Kleenex) so I don't know what the hell was going on there. (My dear friend Kathy had warned me that this was going to happen - she and Mimi had conferred in advance - so at least I was forewarned but it was still rather awful.) God help me when my daughter goes through this process in November of '09. But for now, Jim and I are basking in the glow of a successful day! 

Speaking of which, off to San Diego next Monday to Friday to hang at the clothing optional B&B and check out the nekkid gay beach at LaJolla (and others at Ocean Beach and whereever else my rented convertible directs me to stop.) Anybody in the area that wants to grab a beer or a bite, or have the luxury to journey to the beach on a weekday, let me know and I'll be very happy to make plans. And again, thanks one and all for keeping me afloat!
 

Whew....

 
More to come tomorrow, still recovering from the festivities....here is a pic of me congratulating my son on his successful bar mitzvah yesterday and introducing his also successful Powerpoint show (yes, my ex-wife actually appointed me the introducer, and I was nice and went along!) More details later, but all went well and no meltdowns, no fistfights, no nothin' negative. Whew, and woo-hoo!

New post-fireball hairstyle


My son and i got our hairscut today in preparation for the big day on Saturday, his bar mitzvah. Have not had my hair this short since grade school, it's a look. I got my money's worth on the haircut, and my mother likes it. At least my e-wife's fancy doctor uncle from San Diego won't have to see me with mascara eyebrows this weekend as a result of my goofy BBQ antics last night. Then this morning, I managed to get him to synagogue ten minutes late by going to the wrong door, serves them right for letting a goy (non-Jew) drive the bar mitzvah boy to a 7:30am ceremony. He played Heroscape for 11 hours today, I figured let him do what makes him happy, right? His mother would have driven him crazy.  

I picked up my Mom and sister from Midway airport tonight, coordinating with another sister to also pick up yet another sister and her two young kids and my dad (got all that?) My parents spend January, February and March in Naples, Florida (yeah, me too) and my sister lives in Bellingham, Washington. All came in for the festivities for my son. My sister that came back with her two kids has a schmuck unemployed husband that we are all trying to get her to divorce. Loser went down to Florida on last Monday, a couple of days after my sister and the girls did, to visit my folks for a few days. He smokes, a big no-no, and my dad is a health nut, so they are oil and water. Loser boy also stayed down there for four extra days so he could go to a superduper 85 band concert, renting a car, etc. We're talking about a guy who only made it through two weeks of a 45 day post office career civil servant test period because he couldn't keep his mouth shut. My sister has a good enough job to support the entire family, but they still have to have a nanny because he can;t handle the two kids on his own. Don't get me started.

My sister spent a lot of the car ride to my parents' house talking about a guy in her office who, GET THIS, she had played racquet ball with, had the desk next to hers at her office, who had broken up with his girlfriend, and who went over to her place, and ended up killing her and then himself. HUH? The woman's 11yo and 9yo kids heard the shots and came running. We had an extended conversation about the talks she has had with therapists, about this guy's controlling personality, why my sister was in some ways a threat to him, how he tried to bring her into his narcissistic sphere (and failed because her personality was too strong) and so their relationship became awkward, Awkward? With a murderer? OK. AAAAAAARGGGHH.

Not gonna belabor this one a lot because it could have been a whole lot worse. But I am thanking Jah or whomever is looking after me and feeling pretty good about always treating people with kindness and good will tonight. I decided that I would use the gas grill on my upstairs deck so the kids and I could have yummy grilled burgers for dinner. The other night, Jim and I discovered when we went to grill steak, that the electric starter was frozen. Jim does all the grilling, and I vaguely remember him saying something about using a match to get the thing going, but I didn't understand why.

I do now.

Some of you can see what's coming, but as I said the results could have been a LOT worse. I used, yes, a LIGHTER to start the damned thing. I got it going OK, but not knowing how to work it very well, I managed to adjust the flames in such a way that it went out. Oops. Momentarily. Then, I opened the damned thing up, lit the lighter, and BLAM, a HUGE ball of flame shot out. CHRIST it just about scared the hell out of me. I then smelled a most unpleasant smell. Never having smelled singed hair before, I knew not what it was. We have a bathroom on our fourth level, so I ran into it, and.....where were my eyelashes? Why was my goatee so short? My left eye was tearing, and I knew I'd burned the top of my hands, but it was not all that bad. Mostly, I was scared that my kids were going to have to see their dad go to the hospital.

But they didn't, and the end result was that I blessedly was wearing glasses and a hat, and I really only lost the tips of my eyelashes and after trimming my goatee short, I just looked a little gayer. I'll get a haircut tomorrow and my hair will be fine. My eyebrows, somehow, were almost totally spared. My left eye still tears up a little, and the burns on my hands are minimal. I turned off the grill, went downstairs and didn't even tell my kids what happened. Jim tsk-tsked a little when he got home, but was mostly relieved that I wasn't really hurt. I felt pretty foolish, particularly in light of the fact that I should bloody well have paid better attention to what he'd said a couple of nights earlier. Except that he really ALMOST ALWAYS COOKS! 

Chalk it up to Karma. Be good to people and it comes back around. I could have looked like a total asshole at my son's bar mitzvah on Saturday. Instead, I'll just look a little gayer. No harm in that, right? I figure, all things being equal, my ex-wife has that coming, anyway.

PS THE NEXT DAY:  in retrospect, it was keeping the grilltop closed, not matches v. lighter, that was the dumb thing that I did. I'm still letting Jim cook from now on.

I don't pay much attention to local high school basketball, since my alma mater is not the public high school but a Catholic (formerly boy's, now co-ed) Jesuit school in the city. (I know, I know, explains a lot, blah blah blah!) So when a bunch of boysterous boys were making much noise in the steam room of my health club late yesterday afternoon, I didn't think much of it. I had heard of Whitney Young, a city school that was well known for their team, and I secretly wished this bunch of strapping white kids luck against what I knew to be a mostly African American, highly seasoned team that night. They lost, but not by much, as it turned out (http://www.wednesdayjournalonline.com/main.asp?SectionID=7&SubSectionID=7&ArticleID=10573). What I did not expect a little later, however, after I had done my laps and taken my shower and was in the process of shaving, was for one of the better built, and as it turned out, better endowed, of those boys to flash me in the mirror, inviting me to follow him into the shower. HAH! Imagine that! As the above article explains, there are fourteen team members graduating, so there might be a percentage-wise chance that he was eighteen, I suppose. But was I gonna take that chance? NAH. Besides the fact that I am totally not attracted to younger guys (THAT young), and I would never play at the gym anyway. Still, as my Jim says when he occasionally gets hit on - online or offline, fine man that he is - it's nice to be asked. I'd like to think that keeping this kid's stuff intact helped him play better, but who knows? I do know that youngun's are getting bolder all the time. HAH!