Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Needles and music and moxa, oh my!

I had my very first acupuncture experience last night. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the friend who’d given me a gift certificate always raves about how great she feels after her session. I know most people use acupuncture to treat ailments or injuries, but I wasn’t certain what my goal or target was since, well, I have more medical crap going on than most octogenarians in China. Because acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine, those healthy seniors must be onto something.

When I arrived, the first thing that captured my attention wasn’t the pot of hot water and varieties of tea bags, the bottled water, Eastern religion figurines and artwork or the soft music. It was the smell. There was a distinct odor in the air that I hadn’t smelled since my last visit to a college dormitory. Kind of a sweet yet musky, cloying aroma. Yup. It was the scent of really low quality marijuana.

As she was ushering me into a private room, my acupuncturist quickly explained that the odor was not cheap pot but a recompounded herb called Moxa, derived from mug worth. Their office burned it as part of the treatment and in lieu of other incense.

Once in the room, we went over the health history questionnaire I’d filled out and determined that my focus for the visit would be simply, a fresh start. I’m embarking on several personal growth projects and need a clear mind and refreshed body. As soon as the decision was made, my acupuncturist grabbed her needles and went to work.

Picture this: you’re laying in your underwear on a massage table, covered by a sheet, pillow under your knees and a few strategically placed heat lamps warming you. Your legs are uncovered from the knee down, and your arms are on top of the covers. Suddenly, a needle is poked into the side of your calf. Strangely enough, no pain.

My friends know I’m needle shy. The surprise of having no pain was short lived, however, when the second needle insertion sent a tingle down my other calf, much like a weak electrical shock. I was more nervous than hurt, but I did have to engage in some relaxation breathing so I wouldn’t feel stressed at the thought of more needles.

In short time I had needles in my feet, near the insides of my elbows, at my wrists and in the webbing of my thumb and forefinger, at the top of the bridge of my nose between my eyebrows, sternum and even in the crown of my head. The acupuncturist patted me and told me she was leaving me for about 25 minutes to go “release someone”. She said I may feel sleepy or like I’m drifting in and out of consciousness.

I lay there, soothing music in the background, heat lamps on and felt exactly like a bug pinned to an entomologist’s specimen board. Well, maybe not a regular bug…perhaps a prettily colored butterfly. I did drift off to a state of semi-consciousness, drowsily clearing my mind until a sharp rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat-tat threw me back into reality. My eyes flew open just to see a cardinal perched outside the window, tapping at the glass. As soon as I lifted my head, he flew off. Odd, but it really seemed as if he knew he was rousing me from relaxation.

After a comfortable amount of time, my acupuncturist returned, removed the needles and had me flip over onto my tummy. She then inserted a needle several inches below my neck, in the upper part of my back, and two in my lower back, an area that has always been sensitive to touch, whether it’s wind, fingertips or otherwise. This is where the moxa came into play. The burning of the herb on my body produced a localized heat that spread through me in a deliciously soporific manner. I could have lain there for hours, feeling less like a pinned down bug and more like a pampered socialite at an expensive spa.

Leaving the office was entertaining. I felt languorous, almost as if I was in an altered state of consciousness. And yes, folks, I drove home. The rest of the evening can be summed up this way: ate dinner, drank copious amounts of water, sank into a deep, deep sleep. I’ve definitely become a fan of the needle.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

My Roommates Think I'm Crazy

We've upgraded our kitchen with a new fridge & stove this week. Thanks to Darren's impeccable taste, we have a gorgeous stainless and black side by side refridgerator and matching gas stove. Because of his impeccable taste, he decided to save money and install the stove himself, with OR's help (other roomie, David). Before you immediately freak, please keep in mind that Darren does a majority of our home repairs, from plumbing to weather stripping to painting, etc. He isn't your typical flaming queer...he knows how to do more than a trendy faux finish and window treatments. Think of him as all of the Queer Eye guys combined.

They had some trouble with the gas hose, since the old one appeared to have been built into the wall since the dawn of time. In fact, it wouldn't unscrew at all. So now we have the old hose attached to the new hose attached to the stove. The next day I came home and immediately announced I smelled gas. Sure, it was faint, but my nose knows. And since it wasn't overpowering, I knew it wasn't the dog.

OR arrived home from work and confirmed he, too, could smell something although he wasn't certain it was natural gas. Darren thought the house smelled musty. Our house is usually devoid of foul odors, unless you count the cat box right after Jenny Craig has made a deposit, so my panic set in. Darren had a dinner planned for our friends and I was terrified we were going to die in a fiery explosion that would rock the neighborhood and be felt as far away as Slaughter Lane.

Darren & OR listened to my worries of impending doom for a short while (about 3 minutes) before deciding I was crazy. After calling the gas company and being transferred to the emergency gas leak department, they were irritated as well as firmly certain I was crazy. The gas company said a tech was on his way out and to please not turn any lights, appliances, cell phones or computers on. I meekly asked what could happen if all of the above were already in use (the t.v., washer & dryer, dishwasher, my cell phone, numerous lights AND a lighted candle that Darren was employing to show me my fears were unfounded). The gas company representative admonished me to leave it all on but to please wait outside the home.

After turning off the lights, the boys decided to go to the grocery store. I blew out the candle in the living room, grabbed Harley's leash and a Lone Star and went outside to wait on the gas company. Yes, I left Jenny Craig indoors to fend for herself.

The tech, Pete, arrived just as Darren & OR got back from HEB. He listened to my story and said that he didn't know me well enough to confirm I was crazy but he'd definitely be able to tell us if there was a leak. The boys assured Pete that there was no need to debate my insanity, whether or not a leak was found. A scant 10 minutes later Pete was back outside to discuss the findings.

He found no major leak but said the hose-on-hose action was a major taboo. The old hose is badly in need of replacement and could have a minor leak that he was unable to detect. Pete said the odor added to gas is much stronger than the actual amount of gas leaked, and our home was safe. He did caution us to replace the hose with one single new one.

I endured the wisecracks from the guys all evening, but hey, it's better to be safe than sorry. Or crispy crittered.

And Darren made a fantastic spaghetti & meatball feast, with no explosions or other catastrophies. Those of us lucky enough to eat his balls can tell you they are quite tasty. Just a hint of garlic, a whiff of thyme and a kiss of oregano. Delicious!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Nothing Says Love Like a Humiliators Show at Trophy's

My favorite ATX rockers pulled off another fabulous show last night. I heart The Humiliators. Because it was the lovers holiday, the guys pulled out all the stops in rockin' the house. The stage featured a Godzilla-like creature, clawed hands in air and toothy snout open wide in a snarl. The King of Monsters turned from side to side and spewed out a haze of smoke, much to the audience's delight.

The band played at Trophy's, one of the dives in Austin that "forgets" there is a no smoking ordinance. I definitely do not miss the days of free-for-all smoking in clubs. Another interesting bit of trivia about the bar is useful knowledge for the ladies. The bathroom door doesn't lock, but there is a piece of knotted rope attached to it and a handy nail on the right side of the door frame. Also, the bathrooms aren't heated, so last night I think my potty break was less than 20 seconds long, from dropping trou to washing my hands.

The group's tight sound had me grooving along with the infectious beat. Their original tunes are a refreshing change from the cover bands heard all over town. If you want plain jane rock & roll, go troll the shows on 6th Street. If you want hard hitting, down and dirty fun times jam, come to the next Humiliator's show. There's one tonight at 11pm at Headhunter's on the patio stage.

And ladies, don't forget to throw your panties on stage. It's tradition. Last night the drummer took home a naughty little scarlet lace thong. Show 'em some love and leave 'em with your undies.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Screw You, Cupid

I hate Valentine's Day. There, I've said it. I think I've had only one, maybe two good VD's, ever. And even those had drama attached---or whisperings of drama to come.

No, I'm not dating anyone. No, I've never been married. Yes, I've been in long term relationships. Some of my exes are actually still speaking to me. Well, least one. Would I be lying if I said I wasn't bitter? You betcha. At least I admit it, own it. I'm bitter because I'm no one's Valentine. So this year I'm pooh poohing the holiday. Screw you, Cupid.

One of my good Valentine Day's was when I had a different date for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The drama was that I was in a relationship and obviously a cheating player. I think perhaps I haven't paid that karma off yet. It's doomed all the VD's to follow. My bad karma is still hanging over me. Damnit, why couldn't I have been a good girl when I was younger? I'm paying the price now.

Last year was good, but those of you in the know just winced. Uh huh. At least I can laugh about Bradley's chocolate box. Bradley had the sweetest smelling chocolate box ever. And he had cherubs flying out of his chocolate box. You know I adore you, Sperm Donor. Let me know if you're working on I can stop by to sniff your chocolate box again.

I am going to put my free time tomorrow to good use and go throw my panties onstage at Trophy's. The Humiliators storm the stage at 9pm. Nothing says "I love you" like my thong landing on the bass player, right? Who wants to meet up with me? B.Y.O.C.C. Bring your own calcones & cash....Trophy's does not accept credit cards. They's old skool.

I'm not the only person who feels this way. Like the card I saw on Postsecret today, which is posted at the top of the blog. Yes, I have company out there. I think our spot is ready at the restaurant of Love. "Bitter, party of thousands, your table is ready. Bitter?"

So smack me on the ass and tell me it gets better. That we pair off like Noah's animals on the ark. That one day my prince will come. Or tell me that this is reality and I need to shut up, stop whining and make the best of my world.

And to those of you whom I love with all my heart, you know that you are my Valentines. My friends, familia and my special R-M family...I heart you all.

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter—bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
"Because it is bitter,"
And because it is my heart."
—Stepen Cranefrom The Black Riders and Other Lines

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Songs That Define My 80's Experience Part 2

Continuing on with my 80's music theme, here are more songs that spark a memory or nostalgic flashback for me. I linked them to youtube videos for your viewing pleasure.

"She Bop" by Cyndi Lauper - In 1984 it was racy and scandalous to even talk about girls indulging in one-person-sex, much less sing about it. Cyndi busted through the uptight attitudes and celebrated "good vibrations" in her catchy pop tune. My friends and I giggled and blushed knowingly whenever it came on the radio.

"Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham! - further cementing my love for gay men, I immediately fell for George Michael. My gay high school pal, Stace, was the first to clue me in on his sexual orientation...same as he did for Boy George. Yes, I was a bit naive back then and my gaydar hadn't developed yet. Now we know, if I'm attracted, the man is either gay or married. Or both.

"St Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" by John Parr - This song immediately calls to mind my first girlfriend, Angela. I can't hear it or see the movie without thinking back to that first love, the all consuming, young hearts on fire, passionate craze of emotion. That, and remembering the look on my sister's face when she walked in on us fooling around.

"The Wild Boys" by Duran Duran - Guaranteed to get me on the dance floor doing my best tragic dance moves, this song was also sung as loudly as possible while cruising Forsythe Park and the West Monroe mall. I think it is the perfect theme song for an all male burlesque review.

"Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco - Fresh off my falling in love with Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart's music, and the 1984 hit movie, Falco entertained me with his silly yet loveable song. I also loved "Der Kommissar". Like Amadeus, Falco died at an early age. When I hear this song, it makes me want to hear "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik".

"Wishing Well" by Terence Trent D'arby - The song that was playing the first time I ventured into a gay bar. I'll never forget the women-dressed-like-men and the bartendress who called me "baby" and checked out my legs. I was the only person there wearing a skirt, and that includes the one bad drag queen. I was terrified and honestly thought I'd have a panic attack or that somewhere in my parents' house a light had gone off on a board marked "She's gone to the dark side and will never be's so much more fun there.". This is the song that started me on 20 years (and still counting) of hanging in the gay bars. What? You thought it would be something by Dead Or Alive?

"(I've Had) The Time of My Life" by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes - There's nothing that will bring back my first semester at LSU faster than this song. I watched Dirty Dancing over and over and incorporated the message of the movie into my life. And what do I think that message is? "Nobody puts Baby in a corner!" Yes, thus cementing my lifelong role as an attention whore.

And last in my list, which could've been much longer than this two-parter is "Miss You Much" by Janet Jackson. I had just moved to Austin after a brief stint in OKC and this song never failed to remind me that life just isn't the same without Freddy. It also reminds me of Jo, the dyke who managed the Taco Mayo where we'd go for dirt cheap food. She liked me, so she'd let us bring beer in as long as we were discreet and poured it into TM cups. Toward the end "dirt cheap" meant "free" and "she liked me" warped into "was obsessed". It's all good.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Songs That Define My 80's Experience - Part 1

Everyone has songs that give them a flashback to a moment in time. I thought I'd share a few with ya'll and tell you what snippet of 1980's emotion or event I relive when hearing the song.

"Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler - This is the ultimate 1983 cruising with my girlfriends song. We'd pour all our frustrated hormones into singing the lyrics as loudly as we could.

"And I need you now tonight / And I need you more than ever / And if you only hold me tight / We'll be holding on forever / And we'll only be making it right / Cause we'll never be wrong / Together we can take it to the end of the line / Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time / I don't know what to do and I'm always in the dark / We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks / I really need you tonight / Forever's gonna start tonight / Forever's gonna start tonight"

It was probably a bad karaoke moment, fueled by Boone's Farm Tickled Pink but hey, it was all about living in the moment. (Yes, underage drinking went hand in hand with cruising. No wonder so many of my high school friends died in drunk driving accidents.)

"Mickey" by Toni Basil - This 1982 smash was an instant hit and had every girl in our school singing along. This song doesn't bring back a specific memory, but more of a general feeling of happiness, teen crushes and unrequited love.

"Another Brick in the Wall" by Pink Floyd - Okay, it was on their 1979 album, but since I was in a podunk town in Louisiana, we didn't hear it until the 80's so cut me some slack. As a teen, I had no defineable insight into how this song speaks volumes about social reform and anti-establishment sentiments. I just knew it was cool and anti-school. The local top 40 radio station, FM102 played it every year on the last day of school.

"867-5309 (Jenny)" by Tommy Tutone - Catchy, memorable and still serves a very useful purpose. All the girls in my high school did it and probably still do: give out Jenny's number as our own to drunk guys insisting that they're the future love of our life. The video is great for immortalizing the skinny ties and bandanas that we thought were so cool. Only in my school we folded the bandana into an inch wide strip, knotted it in the middle and tied it in the back as if it were a fabric necklace. Go figure. It was the 80's.

"Open Arms" by Journey - I can't hear this song without thinking of my crazy mad unrequited love for Travis Flock. We danced only one slow dance together and it was, of course, this tune. Like girls are wont to do for their first loves, I still have a soft spot for him in my heart.

"Twilight Zone" by Golden Earring - We sang this over and over all the way to Florida on a St. Paschal's youth group trip. On the trip I bought some orange blossom perfume that made me smell like the very cheapest of skid row whores and a nifty tee shirt with my name airbrushed on it.

"Mr Roboto" by Styx - Thank you, Kevin for having a driver's license and a truck. Because you did (and you were cute) I asked you to go to the Styx concert in Ruston at Louisiana Tech. I wish I could remember your last name. I can't forget that you "love me a fountain Coke", the concert was incredible, I saved for a month for the tickets, and on our way home you had to pull off highway onto the shoulder and run around the truck to fight off fatigue. I still can't believe my parents let us go to another town for a concert.

"Footloose" by Kenny Loggins - It was Tami, Kimi Rosa, Kim and Kay at the movies, rooting for Ren and Ariel, Willard and Rusty to triumph over the ultra strict religious ban of dancing and rock and roll, not to mention Ariel's bady boy ex. The movie launched the careers of Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Penn but catapulted Kevin Bacon into stardom. For my friends and I, the movie showed us that if we believe in something good and do our best to promote it, we'll win out over wrong every time. And we played the album until it was scratched and skipped. The music still makes me want to dance. Viewing the movie as an adult, it's pretty darn hokey...but I love it anyway. And will someone please buy me Ariel's red boots?

"The Reflex" by Duran Duran - brings back my MTV watching days. My friend Toni, sister Kim and whomever else was home at the time would watch hours of MTV (back when they showed videos). It was cutting edge technology to us.

Which leads me to "Thiller" by Michael Jackson - quite possibly the best video ever made. We had a premiere watching party and cheered when the video started. The video marked the first time Jacko said to a girl "I hope you like me the way I like you...I'm not like other guys. I mean, I'm different." Wonder if he used that line on Debbie Rowe?

"I Feel For You" by Chaka Khan - Not only is this a damn good song, but for me it immortalizes Stace Cascio. Stace lived with us briefly when his parents kicked him out for coming out. He met with tragedy in the 90's after shady dealings with drug runners. His tortured and mutilated body was unearthed in a shallow grave in Columbia, a victim of drug traffickers. My first openly gay male friend taught me that believing in yourself is of utmost importance, laughter is a daily requirement, Capri cigarettes are cool and we must must must start off our ride to school by popping in the cassette and playing this song over and over. I love you, Stace, but I still haven't forgiven you for that hit of poppers you "gave" me while I was asleep on the road trip to St. Francisville. When I get to Heaven we're gonna talk about that.

To be continued!