Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What Am I Reading?

Do I really want to admit to you that I get a good amount of reading accomplished in the bathroom? I don't mind admitting that, actually. I guess the real question should be, do you really want to know that about me?

I just finished reading a children's novel on the loo, over the last few weeks, one titled The Trouble Begins. It was about a Vietnamese boy who immigrated to America with his grandmother, and the troubles he had while trying to assimilate in his new school. I was surprised to find out that the author was a white woman who had been an elementary school teacher in San Diego before she died. Do you think she exploited her students' real life experiences?

Or is that what most writing is all about?

With another book out of the way, I can now try turn my attention to the other books that I have been neglecting. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, has replaced the children's novel in the guest bathroom drawer. BFF Kathy loaned it to me, highly recommending it. I was eager to read it after having read an article about the book and its author in Oprah's 'O' magazine a few years ago. The accompanying photo of the handsome Italian man posing with the author didn't hurt, either.

Kathy also loaned me Cormac McCarthy's The Road recently. I have no idea what it's about, but Kathy always recommends good books. I try to do the same for her, now and then.

I am more than half way through Gregory Maguire's A Lion Among Men. So far, I love it, just as much as I have loved and enjoyed his other novels. But I try to read a little bit each night before I go to sleep, which means I don't read very much at one time since I get too sleepy too quickly.

There is never enough time to read, it seems. Or enough time to write. And yet we must! We simply must!

Once I finish the above mentioned novels, I will finally indulge my inner teenage girl and start on the Twilight series that I received for Christmas.

This post was inspired by a recent one featured in the Radiant Cheryl Klein's Bread and Bread blog.

Thanks, Cheryl!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Don't Touch Me, I'm Dirty

One of the more memorable performing experiences I've had was being in the ensemble for Jesus Christ Superstar. I was cast as one of the singing-dancing apostles in a civic light opera production of the musical, and I had a blast.

During the intermission, there was no break for the thirteen actors playing Jesus and the apostles. Instead, the director wanted us to do a quiet improv' at the foot of the stage, of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.

Gary M. played Jesus. Unexpectedly, during dress rehearsal for this improvisation, I began crying when Gary started washing my feet.

"What are you doing?" I asked him. "I should be washing your feet, not the other way around. I am not deserving."

At the time of doing this particular show, I had been involved with ex-gay ministry for almost three years. I saw the support group as a good thing for me. I didn't see the twelve-step program as a bad thing in any way, the way it can be vilified in pro-gay press.

But I freely admit that the ex-gay program only reinforced the shame I felt for being homosexual, shame that I had harbored since the age of twelve.

Don't touch me, I thought, when this real-life representation of Jesus tried to express such humble servitude to me. Don't touch me - I'm too dirty, too sinful. I fall more than short and I am beyond help.

Gary, bless his heart, stayed in character, and quietly explained that that was the reason he had come among us. Still feeling resistant, I continued to cry as I allowed Jesus to wash my feet.

The director told us how pleased he was at the outcome of our improv' rehearsal. Gary gave me a huge bear hug. I was feeling the kind of post-storm relief that I usually felt after throwing up.

I have carried that memory and specific moment with me for almost two decades, now. I will never forget it. Whatever conservative nay-sayers may think or say about the incongruity of homosexuality and Christianity, they can never take that moment away from my memory. They cannot undo the quiet, personal faith that was already in place from years before.

Whatever your beliefs, whatever your reasons for celebrating this season, I wish you a peaceful and joyous holiday.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Twenty Years Ago

Twenty years ago, I was 22-years-old.

Twenty years ago, I got my heart broken by a guy for the first time.

Twenty years ago, in 1988, I paid $125.00 a month in rent for my own small bedroom in a four-bedroom house.

Twenty years ago, I switched scooters, from an old Vespa P200 to a brand new Honda Helix 250.

Twenty years ago, I thought it might be realistic to still date girls.

Twenty years ago, I was still working at Disneyland, in the Character department, until they fired me.

Twenty years ago, I started working in a dance clothing and supplies store, after being fired from Disneyland.

Twenty years ago, I was taking as many dance classes as I could afford to, dreaming of the day when I would be a real, working dancer.

Twenty years ago, fifty dollars allowed me to sign up for as many units as I wanted to take at the local junior college.

Twenty years ago, I used to withdraw five dollar bills from our credit union's ATM.

Twenty years ago, I could still wear Levi's 501 jeans in W30 L30.

Twenty years ago, I was not brushing and flossing regularly.

Twenty years ago, I was still using an electric Brother typewriter.

Twenty years ago, I still felt inferior for having dropped out of college.

Twenty years ago, I still believed that Christianity could help me stop being gay. At least, I wanted to believe that.

Twenty years ago, I used to wonder how my life would turn out when I became an older adult in my thirties and forties.

Here's to the end of the current year, and the beginning of the next.

Here's to the next twenty years.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My First Prostitute

I have never actually had sex with a prostitute. No, really. But it wasn't until right before my thirtieth birthday that I was approached by my very first prostitute.

I was in Japan at the time, right at the end of my first contract for the Ocean Dome theme park. Some of the American performers decided to go out for a last night of karaoke and drinking in the small town of Miyazaki, before our time together came to an end.

The streets weren't crowded that night, but there were quite a few locals out, as well. A middle-aged Japanese woman called out to me.

"Oi-deh, oi-deh, wakai-ko!"

Loosely translated, it means, "Over here, over here, little youth."

Really? You thought I was young? Thank you! On the brink of thirty, I was quite flattered.

She looked like she was in her forties. Why did her advanced age make me think of my mom? I didn't want to encourage her, but neither did I want to come off as rude. I deliberately answered in English, in as polite a tone as possible.

"No. No thank you," I said, smiling and shaking my head.

A few years before that, I had gotten some of the best advice from Johnny. Johnny was from Nassau, Bahamas. He was the boys' line captain in the show we did on the island of Guam.

"If you're ever approached by a prostitute," he said, "and you're not interested, just tell her, 'Baby, I just got done.' She'll leave you alone."

I think it's some of the best damned advice ever given to me, although I have never had the opportunity to apply it, even in Miyazaki. I didn't really know the Japanese for that.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chocolate, Corn, and the Quik Bunny

I love the combined tastes of chocolate and corn. Well, not actual corn, but processed corn products.

I am totally serious.

One of my favorite comfort foods from childhood is Kellogg's Corn Flakes with Quik cocoa powder sprinkled on liberally right before the milk is poured. Toasty brown flakes and light brown powder. When we were kids, my brother and I used to joke that we were eating dirt and dandruff.

I must have first developed a hankering for this dessert-like-breakfast in Japan, where they sell Choco Flake. Choco Flake, as the name implies, is basically chocolate-covered corn flakes, sold in the candy aisle. Yum!

This C&C fetish was further reinforced by chocolate ice cream cones. Not the pointy-end sugar or waffle cone, but the flat-bottomed wafer cone or "kiddie cup," which is surely a processed corn product, as well.

Using Hershey's chocolate syrup makes more sense, as it adheres to the flakes better than powdered cocoa. But the Quik brand just tastes better, somehow, even with the inherent risk of hacking if you happen to swallow a small pocket of dry cocoa powder that the milk has missed.

Sure, there are several chocolate cereals to choose from, now, most of them corn-based, even. Honey Bunches of Oats just came out with a new chocolate flavor, earlier this year, and it is pretty darned tasty! But if you're a true Chocolate Monster, like me, there is no such thing as too much when it comes to rich, chocolatey goodness. To gank another word from Golfwidow, I like my flavor intensity at the chocola-tillion level. At the chocola-katillion level, even.

What are your favorite comfort foods?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Time, Time, Time - See What's Become of Me

I wish I had more time.

I wish I had more time to blog, and to read every single detail of my friends' blogs.

I wish I had more time to play on facebook, reconnecting with old friends and checking in on new ones.

I wish I had more time to exercise and stay fit. I miss the two hour workouts that I used to have both time and energy for, when I was still waiting tables.

I wish I had time to do more writing, enjoy more reading, and work on more choreography.

I wish I had more time to still take dance class, and yoga, and cooking, and French, and maybe even ceramics.

I yearn to audition, still, and to have the time (and the energy - oy!) for rehearsals and performances.

I wish I had more time to go at my elderly dogs' pace and take them for leisurely walks when they're ready to, instead of waking them up while it's still dark outside and forcing them out of warm, snuggly blankets, just so I can feed them and still leave for work on time.

I wish I had more time to spend with friends and family, to enjoy doing whatever together, to just enjoy being together.

Right now, I know that I just need to make time when I can. I know I need to appreciate each spare moment that I get to do any of the above.

This working-full-time thing really gets in the way of all of that. Who knew? I do like that regular and reliable paycheck, though.

Maybe in retirement . . .

Tuesday, December 2, 2008



Sometimes, life is as simple as pulling into my neighborhood at night, and feeling grateful that I arrived home safe and in one piece, once again, from my scooter ride on the freeway.

Uncomplicated is good, and I try not to take it for granted.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I love riding my scooter. It can be a time of joy and praise. It can even be a time of quiet meditation. Usually, I sing to myself while riding on the 10 freeway, to work and back. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes, I simply pray that more animals are placed in loving and protective homes so that we'll see fewer of them on the freeway.

Maybe it's a measure of how good my life is, but I become very sad when I see a dead dog or cat on the freeway, even the ones that are still in one piece and look as if they're sleeping peacefully. I try to focus on the fact that their pain and fear are already over.

And I pray that the end came as swiftly as possible for them.

When I see objects on the road that I'm quickly approaching, I'll pray, "Please don't be dog, please don't be a dog." I'm always relieved and grateful whenever it turns out to be an old jacket, or some tire tread, or a rumpled blanket.

Last month, I saw a dog resting on the shoulder of the carpool lane. It was obviously still alive. It was also four or five lanes across from the nearest freeway exit. I immediately pulled over into a safe parking spot for my small bike. I couldn't believe that no other vehicles were pulling over after seeing the dog. I couldn't just continue on my way to work and leave a live animal to risk its life. I couldn't just not worry about the poor creature.

Risky as I knew it was, I walked over to the dog carefully, hugging the shoulder. The poor thing was resting against the wall of a merging ramp and I wanted to make sure not to scare it right into oncoming traffic. The dog was not happy to see me. It ran further up the shoulder and tried to hop the small wall, over into the Metro Link train tracks.

One of its hind legs was bleeding, not a lot, but obviously the dog had been hit. I was glad that the injury probably - ironically - kept the dog from jumping over into the tracks.

I saw that the dog was wearing a collar with license tags. It looked healthy, so it was probably some one's pet that had gotten lost. I got close enough to hold out a fist for the dog to sniff, but it snapped at me. The dog was probably in pain, and very frightened. I didn't blame it for snapping.

A tow truck pulled up close to where my scooter was parked. A bus in the carpool lane slowed down, and the lady bus driver told me that she had called for the police to come and help. Thank God for mobile phones! (I had mine - why didn't I think to dial 911?)

The police arrived almost immediately. After swerving back and forth to slow and stop traffic, they parked in the middle of the freeway. They brought out one of those metal poles with a wire noose, which the dog let them slip onto its neck without a struggle.

I was beyond relieved that the dog was taken safely off of the freeway, no matter where it may have ended up. At least the dog would not have to suffer a painful and fearful death. Still, I was crying when I got back onto my scooter, and safely back into the car pool lane.

The poor dog was so damn vulnerable, and it made me feel vulnerable.

Whenever I see a dead animal on the freeway, I think, That could be me. I am that animal, small and vulnerable on my scooter. Or I could be.

When I was about seven or eight, I actually spent time feeling sorry for homeless dogs and cats. When I was older, my mother said it was probably because I felt emotionally abandoned by my father, even though he was always present, physically.

I am that animal. I didn't feel loved and protected enough from my father's anger and his emotional damage while growing up.

And that's probably why I adopt dogs from a rescue group or shelter. It's why we took in a four week kitten, last year, that had been abandoned on our roof. It's why I'll take in hamsters when our cat brings them to us, half alive, and give them a plastic home from Petco instead of turning them loose again in our backyard.

And it's why I stopped on the side of the freeway for a dog that was still alive, foolish as it may be to leave my vehicle and walk so close to traffic.

Fortunately, that had happened on Veteran's Day-Monday. Traffic was much lighter than usual. Had it not been a holiday, I probably would have driven by another dead dog. It took me almost the rest of the week to stop feeling so shaky and vulnerable. I wasn't able to blog about it right away.

Thanks to Mike Valentino for inspiring this post with one of his own.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I am blocked, once again, from "social networking sites" at work.

I don't mind having to actually work at my desk, but it sure is inconvenient, the way it interferes with the constant and regular maintenance necessary for keeping up with y'all on cyberspace.

For any negligence you might feel, even the slightest, I humbly apologize. Please don't feel slighted.

This is why I'm too permissive whenever I work with children - because I'm compensating for those with overactive control issues.

I'll catch up with you this holiday weekend (I can't stay up that late on school nights).

I have much upon much for which to be thankful. I hope you do, as well!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Faux Paparazzi

Prince had asked that I go into more detail about what exactly the Faux Paparazzi gigs are all about. Since I am perpetually panting with lust for that man, I am more than willing to oblige.

Did you read that, Prince? I am more than willing.

Fun Friend Ben had been after me for months to join him and our other former coworkers from Disneyland on these weekend gigs.

"C'mon!" he had wheedled. "It's easy money, and you'll get to see everyone from the good old days (the 80's)."

"What is it we have to do?" I asked.

"We pose as fake members of the press while guests are entering a party, walking across the red carpet. We flash cameras in their faces and act like tabloid reporters, asking rude and pushy questions. In general, we just have to act like a bunch of crazed loons. It's a blast!"

Usually the parties are at Sony Studios, in Culver City (who knew?). I wasn't very good, my first time. I've never been what you would call 'skilled' with improvisation, so I wasn't surprised. But I got better, especially when I started acting like a tabloid photographer from Japan, with a horribly thick accent.

"Hi! Heh-roh! Peek-sha, pu-ree-zu. Onegaishimasu! You so fay-muss-oo een Juh-pan! Hai! Arigato!"

I stole my idea from Lorena, who holds a microphone and interviews approaching guests entirely in Spanish. She plays a Telemundo reporter.

I may not be very good at improv', but I can hold my own when renaming the party guests as they enter, for any celebrities they may even vaguely resemble.

"Look! There she is! It's Mindy Cohn! Is it true that you and the other cast members of 'The Facts of Life' don't get along?"

"Look! It's Rue McClanahan! Is it true that you and the other cast members of 'The Golden Girls' really don't get along?"

"It's Delta Burke! It's Delta Burke! Is it true that you and the other cast members of 'Designing Women' swap husbands?"

"Tina Yothers! Tina Yothers!"

Okay, so I can only reference sitcoms of the 80's off the top of my head, which is just fine since most of the guests are usually around my age or older.

For only about an hour's work, not including driving time, on a weekend night, it's been yet another supplemental resource for building up my trip-to-England fund. And a fun one, at that!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What Am I Doing?

I'm ganking the idea for this post from a recent one by Master Gomolvilas (he makes me call him that when I'm down on my knees, begging to have my way with him). And I'm ganking the word 'gank' from Golfwidow.

1.) I have been teaching children's dance again, this year, at my friend's church where he is the choir director. Mostly, I like it. Lately, though, it has deteriorated into more of a babysitting gig. I'm not much of a disciplinarian, and I don't find it all that necessary to try to control kids who are simply acting their age. Plus, I always get to clock out at the end of the hour's rehearsal.

2.) I have been subbing for the bass section leader at another church at which my same friend used to be the choir director.

3.) I have been doing Faux Paparazzi gigs on the weekends with friends that I used to work with at Disneyland. What is Faux Paparazzi? You may well ask! We pose as goofy press characters on the red carpet as guests are entering a party. We flash cameras in their faces, stick mics under their noses, and ask them to confirm the rumors: "Is it true that you're dating all three Jonas Brothers at the same time?"

4.) We are babysitting Otis the Pug, again, for two weeks. He is a very energetic 2-year-old puggy and absolutely adorable. He gets walked twice a day while he is with us. At night he snuggles into bed with Domestic Partner and me and our two old lady pugs.

I have also been looking at the minute amount of blood in tissues after blowing my nose - blood that is always a symptom of my allergies kicking in during dry and windy weather. With the recent fires in southern California and all that people have lost, I choose not complain about it, or even worry about it.

Sadly, I have been neglecting my writing for the first Young Adult novel, Scooter Boy. I sheepishly submitted two incomplete chapters to my writers group for this week's meeting.

And that's the worst it gets this month in Peter's Plastic Bubble World (so far).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Happy Ending

From the journal of Peter Varvel, August 5, 1987:

Kind of psychologically revealing, huh? The preceding story . . . nah. The friends that I've shown it to are worried about me, as if it's my way of reaching out for help. I'm fine. I've already made the conscious decision not to commit suicide, mostly because I'm such a coward about pain.

No, I think the tragic ending to the story symbolizes my anger and frustration that has been building up again, lately. I think I made the ending abrupt because I have been feeling like I'm going to do something rash, something hasty, I'm going so crazy.

I think I've been under spiritual attack, lately. So many guys around me look so good. And I'm craving physical contact. Is it because I'm trying to get closer to God?

Dear Friends and Faithful Readers of 2008,

Thanks for the responses and comments. And for your concern. I am okay! More than okay. I am alive and well, still, twenty-one years later, and very happy. Sometimes I feel like I am the Luckiest Guy in the World! I have much to be thankful for (click here), on a daily basis.

I'd like to point out that because I did get into a safe place, emotionally - eventually - it has been safe to dig up some of the pain from the past and exploit it for your reading pleasure.

I am currently living my happily-ever-after, and trying to remember not to take it for granted.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Story of The Boy, Part the Last

(part one and part two are before this post)

One night The Boy went to visit the Older Man because he wanted to stay friends with him. Unexpectedly, the Older Man told The Boy about his new boyfriend. The new boyfriend was young, tall, and muscular.

The Boy was envious of the Older Man's new boyfriend. He was angry at himself for feeling envious. When The Boy hugged the Older Man goodbye the Older Man held The Boy for a few minutes, like he did when they were still going out the year before. The Boy felt that the Older Man still wanted to go out with him, in case things did not work out with his new boyfriend.

The Boy still wanted to go out with the Older Man, too. He would have waited an eternity for the Older Man. But he knew that if he went out with the Older Man again, it would not be long before he would have to stop the relationship because God did not like it.

The Boy felt trapped in a vicious circle. If he went out with boys he felt he should go out with girls, instead. If he went out with girls he felt he should be by himself. If he was by himself he got lonely for boys. The grass was always greener in the other yard.

The Boy truly felt he was stuck in the middle: If he went out with boys he could not stay with God; if he tried to stay with God he felt he was being untrue to his natural, unchosen feelings.

After much torment, tears, loneliness, frustration, guilt, and disappointment he decided that there was no solution to his life's problem.

So he ended his life.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Story of The Boy, Part 2

(read part 1 here)

The Boy had an Angel for a friend. The Angel had long, golden hair. In the summer The Angel came to work in The Park, too.

Most of the time when The Angel worked in the park, she wore short, dark hair. That summer The Boy and The Angel became close friends because they were in The Park together so much. Many times they were both in a parade!

The more The Boy got to know The Angel, the more he fell in love with her. This helped him to forget about wanting to kiss boys. The Boy told The Angel that he loved her. She accepted his feelings but she did not return them. The Boy was not hurt. He like God and she liked God. They had a beautiful friendship. It was a beautiful summer.

The Boy thought that if he could be with The Angel always he could forget about wanting to kiss boys forever.

But The Angel had to leave. She went to live at a school that liked God. She could not come to The Park anymore.

It was a lonely, rainy winter. Once or twice he went out with one of the Other Boys, but only for a little bit.

Once in the winter, The Boy went out with a girl. He almost kissed her but then he lost his nerve. He did not go out with her again.

When it was summer again The Boy met a Friendly Girl. She had long, almost-golden hair. She almost resembled The Angel. The Boy and the Friendly Girl went out a few times. They had fun together and The Boy even kissed the Friendly Girl. It was actually pleasant. He wasn't grossed out like he thought he would be. But it still wasn't as nice as kissing a boy.

The Boy could not go out with the Friendly Girl anymore. It wasn't enough. He wasn't in love with her.

To be continued

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Story of The Boy, Part 1

From the journal of Peter Varvel, August, 1987:

Once upon a time, there was The Boy.

The Boy wanted to kiss other boys, but he heard people say it was bad. He heard people say God said it was bad. The Boy's mother and father liked God and he realized that they, too, must think it was bad.

The Boy liked God, also, so he did not kiss other boys. He did not tell anyone that he wanted to.

One day, The Boy went to The Park. He was in a parade! In the parade were Other Boys who wanted to kiss boys. The Boy soon found out that Other Boys who wanted to kiss boys were all over The Park! The Other Boys did not say that it was bad for boys to kiss boys. So, The Boy went out with some of the Other Boys and he kissed them. And he was happy.

But only for a little bit.

The Boy soon found out that most of the Other Boys did not like God. Or they said that they did but they did not show it. The Boy began to feel guilty. He became confused. Soon, he felt he was developing an ulcer.

During this time The Boy went out with an Older Man. He did not kiss the Older Man that much but he fell in love with him very quickly. The Older Man took care of The Boy's emotional needs. The Older Man was decent, responsible, and funny. But he did not like God. Like many of the Other Boys, he did not hate God, but he did not like God, either. So, The Boy finally had to leave his beloved Older Man,

Soon, The Boy finally became disgusted enough with the Other Boys, since they did not like God, and he decided not to go out with them anymore.

To be continued

Friday, November 7, 2008

This One's for You, Kevin!

Thanks to Prince for providing such a great icon!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mixed Emotions

I am beyond thrilled about the 2008 election results, and feeling hopeful and optimistic about our country's future, as well as the entire world's.

However, because Proposition 8 passed, I feel like boycotting all legally recognized weddings and marriages, especially here in California.

I'm sorry if that sounds bitter, whiny, and petty, but if some people are not going to be supportive of me and my rights, why should I feel obligated to do the same for them?

As far as gay rights are concerned, there has been tremendous and significant progress in my own lifetime. It is encouraging, and I am confident that we will continue to make further progress before my life is over.

This is not over.

Monday, November 3, 2008

On Dancer!

"In the 80's" Lilia was my supervisor at Disneyland. She even attended my audition for the Character department. I remember telling her, in the small group interview, about my desire to perform versus my parents' desire for me to go to college.

"Ah, yes, the age-old story," she had replied.

One of my favorite memories of Lilia was when she caught me breaking the rules. I was working as Tummi Gummi Bear during a rather slow day in Fantasyland. I decided to hop into a fenced-in area of grass and dance around to the beautiful music coming from the nearby Snow White stage show.

After a well-executed turn (I thought) in the big blue bear suit, I saw Lilia standing with her arms crossed in front of her, trying not to laugh. My instinctive reaction was to jump away in fright, as if Lilia herself was the Evil Queen from the famous fairy tale, and flee to the far end of the enclosure. I didn't know, until someone told me later, that in my hasty retreat I had mowed down a child that had climbed into the fenced-in area after me.

That was exactly why we weren't supposed to hop fences while working.

I think I got written up, a sort of documentation of being slapped on the hand.

I also remember Lilia's response when I expressed surprise at being cast as one of the dancing reindeer in the park's Christmas stage show - I was a few inches short of the regular height requirement for those particular costumes.

"Apparently, they were willing to make an exception for someone who could dance up a storm," Lilia explained.

That was more than twenty years ago, and I have never forgotten that compliment or how good it made me feel.

I may be a couple of decades late, but thanks, Lilia!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ghosts of Halloween Costumes Past, Part 2

My favorite Halloween costume was Edward Scissorhands, in 1991.

Click here to read why.

No matter how old I get, no matter how much I may grow up (reluctantly), I will always be Edward Scissorhands, inside my Inner Child, and in my heart.

Happy Halloween, 2008! Stay safe and sane.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Twelve Year Itch

Domestic Partner and I have been together twelve years, now, this month.
I am very happy about that, but we didn't do anything special to celebrate.
I can be too sentimental for my own good. DP is not. He is a good counterbalance for me.

I remember the exact date we met. DP does not. Recently, he asked if we had been together - what? Six years? Nine years? It doesn't bother me. I'm used to it. And he almost never remembers which month my birthday occurs in, although he does acknowledge it every year. He never wants any fuss or big fanfare for his birthday, either. He is practical, pragmatic, and introverted. He is a big ole fuddy-duddy, sometimes. A lot of times. Most of the time.

And he is my stability.

We are so different, and people always wonder why we are still together.

For one, the emotional drama between us is extremely minimal. DP was surprised to hear me say this. He doesn't agree. I told him that it is minimal compared to what I grew up with in my family. I do not take for granted the peaceful home life I have with him. I don't have to walk around on eggshells with my Domestic Partner.

And we adore our pets. It may be about the only thing we truly have in common, but we are ridiculous when it comes to spoiling our pets. We both get the same delight and daily joy out of our animals. He gets a bit more impatient with our dogs than I do, and he'll yell an exasperated "Stop it!" when they get too rambunctious. But that's as bad as his temper gets.

I realized last week that I am lucky to be with someone who is kind to animals. Even if we have nothing else in common, that one fact alone speaks volumes about a person.

And I feel lucky that he still wants me around. It is easy for others to get the impression that he is too needy because he feels neglected if I am out too much at night and on the weekends. He hated being the "Performer's Widower."
A divorced friend recently commented on how nice it was that I have someone who still wants me to be home, especially after more than a decade together.

Maybe I need someone who needs me around.

Domestic Partner and I have no plans to marry each other. In the current controversial climate of Proposition 8, in California, we support same-sex marriage as a civil rights issue. But for us, all is fine and peaceful the way things are between us. What we have certainly isn't perfect, but neither is it broken to the point to need that kind of fixing.

If I continue to be lucky, we'll be together for another twelve years and beyond.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Scariest Halloween

BFF Kathy's daughter is Little Miss Intelligent. I know almost every parent and proud aunt or uncle probably thinks this about their own children, but it's scary how much LMI is able to comprehend as a six-year-old.

Little Miss Intelligent was asking her mother about the signs on some of the front lawns in their California neighborhood, signs displaying the number 8. Kathy decided it was the right time to explain to LMI about Uncle Peter and Domestic Partner, and how they are "more than just friends" who live together.

LMI understood, Kathy told me. Little Miss Intelligent wasn't surprised or shocked. She was accepting of it. When her mother asked, LMI said the new information didn't make her feel any differently about Uncle Peter. Kathy went on to explain how the 'Yes on 8' signs meant that some people wanted to stop two boys from getting married, boys who were like Uncle Peter and Domestic Partner.

The house right across the street from Kathy's has a 'Vote Yes on 8' sign on their lawn. It is right in the middle of the house's Halloween decorations, perfectly centered among the tombstones on the lawn. It is featured in the lead role of a ghastly musical number, backed by a chorus of skeletons hanging from the front porch.

Little Miss Intelligent commented on the tombstones and skulls and ghouls she was able to see through her front window.

"You know what scariest part is?" she asked. "The scariest part is the 'yes on 8' sign."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ghosts of Halloween Costumes Past, Part 1

I usually plan months ahead for an extravagant costume for Halloween. This full-time working thang has really gotten in the way of that, though, in recent years.
In lieu of a sadly lacking costume for this year (so far!), here is the first of a few costumes from previous years.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Starved for Affection

Cheryl has had me thinking about my days as a Disney Character (well, that, and getting back in touch with so many of my Disney friends on facebook). Her responses and kind comments show that she really understands what that job was all about, and what it meant to me.

She should have been a Disney Character.

"Don't you get hot in those things," people used to ask me, "especially during the summer?"

Well, yeah, of course it was hot. But the work was so enjoyable and interesting, that it almost didn't matter. I loved being mobbed as Pluto and feeling like a celebrity, trying to accommodate as many photos and autograph requests as possible.

And the hugs. I got so many hugs, from children and adults. One of the things I first became aware of while working in costume was how much children were able to communicate in a single hug. This particular body language became painfully obvious in quite a few clingy children. Even through all of the costume's thick padding and fur, I could feel the desperation in their little bodies, how starved they were for reassurance and physical affection.

I was that child, even at 19-years-old, still. I was sad for the children I met who were probably not getting enough hugs at home. I was sad for them because I was still sad for the boy-I-used-to-be that never got enough hugs, either.

When do we outgrow our Inner Children? Maybe never. And I am okay with that. I hope I can cherish my Inner Child for as long as I live, and continue to actively love him and reassure him.

I feel lucky to have spent as much time as I did in the Character Department.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poor Bunny

Miss Drama, The Constantly Dramatic One, has met Glenn Close. I haven't, but Miss Drama reminded me of one of my favorite stories from Disneyland, when Miss Close was visiting the park. Unfortunately, I wasn't working at the time.

Alice in Wonderland and the White Rabbit were out greeting guests in the park when Miss Close arrived. The Mad Hatter spotted her first, and walked right up to her.

"You!" he screamed at Miss Close. "You stay away from Mr. White Rabbit! I've seen what you do to poor, helpless, little bunnies."

Glenn Close laughed her head off, I'm told.

Monday, October 13, 2008

15 Random Facts

I was tagged by The Constantly Dramatic One. I almost never respond to tags, and I've been feeling a little guilty over not responding to the first coupla' times she tagged me.

Plus, this tag really appeals to the narcissist in me.

15 random facts about me that you may or may not know.

1. I prefer to pee sitting down. Yes, I can aim if I'm standing up, but not perfectly every time. There are too many unpredictable angles in the stream of pee, with mine anyway. And what doesn't end up on the toilet rim - or beyond - ends up spotting my boxers when I pee standing up. Comedienne Margaret Smith says that if women had wieners, "you know we would daub 'em." That's me.

2. I was Purple Peter for over two decades. At first it was just a ploy for attention, an easy way to be different. But I genuinely liked the color purple. I wore something purple every single day from 1981 to 2001. Sometimes it was just purple socks, or only my purple watch. On other days it was just purple underwear or purple shoelaces. I had an entire purple suit with a double-breasted blazer.

3. I was enrolled at UCLA right after high school. I started out as a biology major, which was a big mistake. I dropped out after a year, and started working at Disneyland. My parents were really mad at me.

4. I am a former band geek. I played trumpet for eight years, from the fifth grade to my senior year in high school.

5. I am estranged from my father. He has stated that he cannot accept my homosexuality. The estrangement is mutual. He was a great parent, and he has the ability to be a great human being, but I do not miss him.

6. I was a contestant on two T.V. game shows - "Win, Lose, or Draw" (kind of like Pictionary) and "The Grudge Match." Richard Simmons was my celebrity team mate on the first one.

7. I was born in California but I lived in Japan and Saudi Arabia while growing up. My father teaches ESL (English as a Second Language) so we moved around a lot. People thought I was an army brat.

8. I don't mind if my dogs lick me in the mouth. I have never died or gotten sick from letting them do that, even though it grosses out everyone around me.

9. In addition to being a band geek I was a drama dork in high school. Musicals were my favorite. My first musicals in high school were The Fantasticks, Grease, and Godspell.

10. I won my first trophy in the fifth grade. I was one of the winners in the school district's safety poster contest. My poster's slogan was, "Don't be a litter bug - feed the trash cans (I stole it from McDonald's - I was ten). My dad framed the poster and displayed it in the living room.

11. I cried when I brought my school pictures home and my dad said, "Oh, Peter, this is terrible," because I had a closed-mouth smile. Neither of us knew, then, that you were allowed to retake your school picture if you didn't like the first one. I made damn sure to show teeth in the following year's photo.

12. I first had sex when I was 15, and only once. I didn't have sex again until I was 19 (and working at Disneyland).

13. I believe that being angry is better than feeling sorry for yourself. Anger can move you to action, at least. I wasted too many years in self-pity.

14. When I was involved in ex-gay ministry, I tried being celibate throughout most of my twenties. I wasn't very successful.

15. I saved over ten years' worth of fingernail clippings and then gave them as a wedding gift to BFF Kathy when she got married. True story.

Consider yourself tagged, if you are so inclined.

This One's for Louise on the Left

Dear Louise,

Thank you for indulging my constant-need-for-attention (you must be an experienced parent!), and for stroking my ego.

I adore being stroked.

I would ride proudly as your Curly-passenger to your Laurie driver,if you were to drive a sparkly, metallic purple golf cart with the white "fringe on the top."

I was Purple Peter for well over two decades, so the former me - the Artist Formerly Known as Purple Peter - cheered triumphantly when I saw a metallic dark purple smart fortwo car on the freeway last month! (it's not a standard color choice; those are custom made).

Also, I have been meaning to post a rather lengthy blog entry during this past busy & hectic week (after being tagged by The Constantly Dramatic One). So, I also thank you for giving me a time-efficient entry to post.


And to my Iowanian cohort, Sunshine, here are the poses with 'the guns,' just for you! Thank you for stroking me, too.

Who else wants to stroke me?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Lookit Me! Lookit Me!

It's here! It's finally here!

Less than nine months after putting my name on the reservation list, I received my brand new smart fortwo car.


It has been great driving around the southern California freeways, already! It is very satisfying to simply see this big little car parked in the garage.


First impressions: the automatic option is slightly jerky in the first two or three gear shifts, but using the manual option - which is clutch-less, by the way - makes for a much smoother ride.

The smart fortwo has three cylinders. Is it lacking in power? Not as much as you might think. I live near a huge hill of a freeway. When making my way up the incline, downshifting one gear from 5 to 4 gave me enough power to pick up speed and pass a few other motorists. I was weaving in and out among cars, going up that hill in my tiny little space egg, until I remembered that I forgot to put the new insurance policy in the glove compartment.


And the attention it brings . . . YEAH, BABY!

As anticipated, my candy-yellow micro car turns heads. I have enjoyed the looks I'm getting, everywhere I drive. People point from their cars and smile. Pedestrians try to look as if they're not staring, with little success.

The gas mileage is great for a non-hybrid car. I'm getting well over forty miles per gallon on the freeway.

I'm still driving my scooter into work five days a week. As small as the car is, it would still take an hour and a half in traffic to get to work, versus thirty-five minutes or so on my putt-putt. Maybe I'll leave an hour earlier for work on rainy days.

For now, the sun continues to shine. "Lookout, Weekend, cuz here I come!"

Friday, October 3, 2008

Milkin' Honey

I heard this riddle at work today:

Q: What kind of bee makes milk?

A: A boo-bee.

LMAO! No matter how old I get, there is a small but permanent part of me that will always be 8-years-old and get a kick out of those kind of jokes.

How did I go more than 40 years without ever hearing that one before?

Your turn. Tell me one of your favorite childhood jokes or riddles.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Favorite Peter

Orchids and gratitude go out to published author and blogger, Cheryl Klein, for sparking the idea for this post.

Cheryl had suggested, in response to the previous post, that one of my childhood nicknames - Peter Underpants - should be the name of a new clothing line, or at least, the title of a second blog.

She is automatically entitled to residuals when the profits start pouring in.

Can you imagine? Firstly, what the name 'Peter' insinuates, alone. Secondly, pair that with the word 'underpants' (get it?) and you instantly get a mental image. Or I do, anyway.

To me, 'underpants' is one of those words with specific gender representation, like 'panties,' or 'tighty-whiteys,' or 'thong,' although that last one has enjoyed increasing gender equality in the last decade or so.

Oh, and 'manties.'


Cheryl's comment reminded me of a clothing label I happened to stumble upon years ago while in Japan - "Favorite Peter." The tags on the inside of their sweatshirts said "Favorite Peter." The label tags also featured a little cartoon logo of a boy sporting spiky bangs and a backwards baseball cap. It was cute, it was youthful, and it was sooo Japanese. It was me! (back then, a dozen years ago, I was still able to pull off "cute and youthful." Now I'm just Japanese)

I must have bought a half dozen of those shirts, some that had "Favorite Peter" blazoned across the front, and some that merely had "Peter" above the cartoon-boy-logo. People thought I had them custom made.

And I found a souvenir sweatshirt in Japan for my brother, Danny. It also had a cutesy cartoon boy, which was more of a stick-figure drawing. Below the smiling stick boy was "Danny First" in large letters.

"We can't both wear our shirts," he said to me, once I was back home and as we were preparing to leave for a family get-together. "One narcissistic brother is amusing. Two is just obnoxious."

When people commented on my sweatshirt, I would usually respond with, "Everyone has a favorite peter, whether their own or someone else's."

Okay, so maybe that's being a little phallo-centric. It's likely that Cheryl doesn't have one, a favorite peter, that is. Unless she wants to count me.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pete & Repeat

I used to hate my name. Even as a five-year-old I thought it was really nerdy.
I wanted to be called something more normal and mainstream (years before the extrovert's desperate bid for attention kicked in). I wanted a name that was more American. I started writing 'John' on all of my kindergarten art work.

"Look what I made for you at school!" I'd proudly announce to my mom.

She thought I had taken the wrong Crayola masterpiece home with me.

"You'd better take this back to whoever John is," she told me.

"No, that's me," I tried to explain. "I'm John, now."

"No," my father said, "you're Peter and you'll always be Peter."


The name Peter is such an easy target for nicknames and teasing - Peter Pan, Peter Piper, Peter Rabbit, Peter Parker (although, being associated with Spiderman wasn't so bad) Peter-Peter Pumpkin Eater . . . Peter-eater.

Okay, that last one became a given. But back then, who knew?

Even in the suburbs of Tokyo, my Japanese classmates called me Peter Pan ("Pee-tah Pan"), which, in the Japanese language, naturally evolves into Peter Pan-tsu. The literal translation of that is 'Peter Underpants.'

I eventually learned to joke about it, myself:

"Peter-Peter, pumpkin eater
Had a wife and would not eat her
Put her in a pumpkin shell
'cause he did not like her smell"

There are worse things than being born a boy named Peter, however. My parents had names picked out before I was born. If I had been a girl, my name would be 'Arlette.'

Blech. No thanks!

(Thanks to Sunshine and her post on alternate names for inspiring today's entry!)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Former Band Geek

Before I became one of the Cool People in Life, thanks to my status and identity as a dancer, I was a Band Geek.

Starting in the fifth grade I played trumpet all the way through to my senior year in high school. I never played any sports, so Marching Band inadvertently - and thankfully - provided a built in social life in high school. I never would have attended a single football or basketball game, otherwise. Thanks to the other band geeks, I have good memories of going out to pizza, attending school dances, and toilet papering each other's houses.

It was a little harder playing trumpet when I got braces. There was a lasting imprint from the wire on my front teeth, on the inside of my upper lip, from the constant pressure of the metal mouth piece.

I would have rather been a cheerleader. Maybe it's better I didn't, though. One of my friends was the school mascot and got picked on, sometimes. At football games, dressed in the cougar costume, he would throw candy from a basket into the bleachers. Mean guys would grab the candy and pelt it back at him as hard as they could.

I might have gotten my ass kicked at that school if I had been a cheerleader.

When I did start getting work as a performer, I thanked my parents for making me play the trumpet. The years of musical training came in very handy for vocal auditions and singing rehearsals. Musical directors were always pleased with those of us who read music.

P.S. If you couldn't already tell, I just now finally learned to scan pictures, last week, so be prepared to see even more geeky photos from my past.

You've been fairly warned.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Curse you!"

The funniest thing was when, one Christmas, I had given my niece a Baby Furby.

When she unwrapped it, her father - my brother - looked at me and said, "Curse you!"

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Vermin in Da House

Our menagerie continues to grow. About a year ago, we rescued our then-feral kitten off of our roof. Now fully grown, that koo-koo kitty bestowed the gift of a dead mouse to us, this week. Or so we thought.

When I looked closer, I realized it was a tiny hamster at death's door, stretched out on its side and barely moving. Fur slamped down with kitty spit, it was still breathing and twitching a paw or two. My first instinct was to toss it in the outdoor garbage can. Instead, I gently wrapped it in a paper towel and put it in a shoe box to see if it might get better.

Less than an hour later, it was sitting up and bristling its whiskers, nose twitching this time - normal hamster behavior from what I could tell, as if it hadn't just been traumatized in the jaws of our merciless feline. I cut up half a grape and put in a couple pieces of cat kibble. I wasn't sure what else to feed it until I could get to the market for some Purina Hamster Chow.

I also wasn't sure if fresh grapes would provide our minuscule refugee with adequate hydration. An eye dropper seemed to be the first logical choice. I was too lazy to search the house for one, however, and I ended up soaking a cotton ball with water, which the teensy hamster took to right away.

I thought it might be a baby hamster. But as the cat saliva dried, making mini-Hamtaro look less like a drowned mini-rat, the fluffy light brown fur and white underbelly confirmed that it was probably a dwarf hamster. The poor thing's eyes were squinty at first, too, which also made me think that it might be a very young hamster, just opening its eyes. But maybe that's what happens to hamsters' eyes when they are traumatized and ready to give up the ghost. One eye had opened fully by the first evening, and the other by the next morning.

I dropped the better part of fifty bucks on a cute Critter Trail habitat (wheel, food dish, and water bottle included), hamster chow, cotton bedding, and absorbent cage litter. Thank goodness the hamster was free, at least. I also dropped an empty toilet paper roll in the habitat so that Winky Winkles would have some place to hide (as well as chewing material).

I worried about her/him being all alone in its tiny kingdom. Luckily, that darn cat found another miniature hamster this morning, in our backyard. Domestic Partner held the cat back while I trapped the petrified creature under a drinking glass before adding it to the plastic vermin condo. Neither hamster attacked or threatened the other. They have been fascinating to watch, like a larger version of an ant farm, only better.

Where the heck are dwarf hamsters coming from in our suburban neighborhood? Were they part of a newborn litter in one of our neighbors' houses? I don't think hamsters can survive in "the wild," especially with all of the stray cats on our street.

Hopefully, there won't be anymore that need to be rescued. And hopefully the two that we have already are of the same sex.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Defined by Seven Spaces

My obsession over the anticipation of a new car continues. I asked Quin and Prince this weekend, after breakfast, what choices they might make if they ever got vanity plates

I have been contemplating personalized license plates for the smart fortwo. I haven't had vanity plates since my first car in the early 90's, a Geo Metro. I miss that car! It was white but the license plates said PTR PRPL. I was Purple Peter or Peter Purple for more than two decades. I wore something purple everyday from 1981 to 2001.

Then I stopped.

I still love the color, and I still have a lot of residual purple pieces in my wardrobe. I just don't wear it every single day like I used to.

But, back to the new plates. I've been thinking. Maybe:


As my car is going to be yellow, I've thought about getting plates that would play on the theme of my Asian background:


'Hapa' is the Hawaiian term for half-Japanese, or half-Asian. Plus, as I had mentioned in the previous post, the smart fortwo is pretty much just half of a car.

I had meant to look into getting a personalized plate for my scooter, such as:

KUL RYDR (an ode to 'Grease 2')
WCKD RYD (an ode to 'Wicked')
FYR LZRD (an ode to author Anne McCaffrey, because the scooters are like little fire lizards).

I've always wanted the plate PER4MER, but I think my dancing and singing days are behind me.

Hmmm, speaking of favorite authors, perhaps TESERCT?

What do you think of FRBY GUY or FRBY CAR? Then I could put a matching yellow Furby on the dashboard. Perhaps even FURBY <3, now that the choices for vanity plates include such symbols as a heart, a star, and a hand.

How about you? What would your personalized plates say?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

smart forme

Sorry, Plastic Bubble Playmates, nothing too profound to report on or reminisce about this week.

I have been too distracted by the email message I received, stating that I can expect delivery of my bright yellow smart fortwo car by Thanksgiving or before.

I love my scooter, but I am just way too excited about getting this car! I have been without a car for over a year, now, and I am looking forward to tooling around on the Los Angeles freeways, once again, in my little space bug.

"It's a glorified golf cart," was one opinion I read online of the smart fortwo.
Another one described it as "an all-weather motorcycle." Yes! That's a perfect description for it!

Really, it's basically just half of a car. That's probably why it feels so roomy inside because it's standard sized for the front half of an economy car.

Is it practical? No. Is it safe? Enough. A few people have expressed concern about the safety of such a tiny car, especially if I were to ever be in a collision. Deja vu. I've already survived similar naysayers when I first got a Geo Metro almost two decades ago. I'm giving the same answer today that I gave back then: any car, no matter how small, is going to be much safer than my freeway scooter.

Anyone want a ride? Now booking appointments. One at a time, please.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Part of the Process

Still slogging away at the First Novel, Scooter Boy (although I will admit that the slacker in me neglected to turn in the pages that were due to my writers' group, last week).

The story is based on my own youth. Thankfully, neither my childhood nor adolescence was very traumatic. I have been going back in time, once again, in order to exploit my own memories for more raw material. I have been deliberately getting back into the mind of the seventeen-year-old that I used to be. And I have been feeling very protective over him, latelty, un-traumatic as things may have been back then.

This weekend's writing session took me back to when an issue of Time magazine arrived in our mail and had the topic of homosexuality blazing across the cover. 'Homosexuality in America,' the cover blatantly stated, followed by 'How Gay is Gay?'

"Oh, Peter should read that," my younger brother had said at the dinner table as my father went through the day's mail.

I knew he was just being his usual jerky ten-year-old self, trying to get a rise out of me. It didn't bother me that much. It sure upset my dad, though.

"That's not funny," my dad had said, the anger very clear in his tone of voice.

But it wasn't as if he was defending me. I have gone over that moment several times in my mind. Why did he react in such a way to my brother's idiotic comment? Did my father suspect anything about my sexuality, even when I was a young teen?

Writing about this incident in fictional form was not upsetting, but the writing came more slowly than usual. I anticipate that the writing process may become more cathartic, more therapeutic, as I immerse myself deeper into the fictional world that is based upon my past reality.

Scooter Boy takes place in 1983 and opens with the protagonist, Eddie, riding on the back of a Vespa. While riding the scooter, Eddie experiences brief intimacy with the young, male driver, whom he has just met.

Now, in 2008, I ride a freeway scooter to work and back, five days a week. In my recent feeling of protectiveness over my Inner Teenager (as Alex Sanchez puts it), I've been envisioning my seventeen-year-old self as a spirit from the past, riding on the back of my current scooter, and holding on to me with trust and loving devotion.

And I pray to God to keep us all safe on the journey, past, present, and future.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


"You have no filter," a Young Coworker told me, today (one of the few that is left, anyway). "That's what I like about you. You just say whatever's on your mind, so I know I can do the same with you."

My Young Coworker had just expressed his discomfort over a clever but rather lurid drawing of an old woman on some one's dry erase board.

Because she had been drawn with over-inflated red lips, I did indeed say the first thing that came to mind, and I encouraged my Young Coworker to imagine what it would be like to make out with a lovely senior citizen as such.

"Ewww!" he said, which only goaded me, further.

"It's not gross," I insisted. "It can feel really good, especially when she takes out her false teeth and goes down town."

I have a "church button" I explained to him. I do find myself back in church, now and then, and since lightning does not strike when I enter, I make sure to flick that button on: "Censor Shields - UP!" Fortunately for me, most work places are not like being in church.

Having worked in entertainment and in restaurant jobs my whole life, I have been crass and inappropriate with coworkers for the majority of my varied career. In a friendly, camaraderie-like fashion, of course.

"I can't believe you just ate that old, leftover food," a coworker might say to me.

"Please," I'll protest, "I've had much worse in my mouth."

"You're not going to be able to adjust to appropriate speech patterns," Domestic Partner predicted, "when you start working full time at a regular job somewhere.
You'd better be careful," he had warned.

So far, so good. I survived the cuts at work last week. But I better not push it.

"Push it good!
P-p--push it real good
Yo-yo-yo-yo, baby, par-tee, you come here give me a kiss
Betta' make it fast or else I'm gonna give in
Can't you hear the music pumpin' hard like I wish you would?
Now push it

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My Life is a Constant Trial

Aaargh! I am blocked, once again, from reading blogs at work. I am also blocked from facebook, after becoming hopelessly addicted to that form of online socializing, as well as from other "social networking sites."

Now, what the hell am I going to do all day?

My life is a constant trial.

They have been cracking down at work, it seems. I shouldn't complain, though. Nohow, contrariwise. I should be humbly, humbly grateful. Last week, almost half of our team was "let go." Four people were told in a private meeting that if our workplace was American Idol, then "they were not going to Hollywood."

I wish I was kidding. That's seriously how they were told.

There are two staff members I am sorry to see go. I was shocked and disappointed. And feeling shaky - it could've been me, too.

I cannot take for granted that I am still employed, that I have employment at all. On top of that, I usually remember to be grateful, on a regular basis, for having a job that I actually enjoy.

Now that our team of Admissions Representatives is down to about half its former size, I anticipate that the workload will almost double. I am okay with that. Things have been slow, this year. With the problems of the economy and the increasing obstacles our students face when attempting to secure financial aid, numbers have been down all around.

But playtime is over, at least, during work hours. It's so inconvenient!

For those of you whose blogs I read regularly, I apologize to you if it seems that I am dwindling into the silent part of your reading audience. I will continue to lurk as much as I can, after the hours of 6:00 pm.

You just may not hear from me as much . . .

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Here's the Story

I was a huge Brady Bunch fan-geek. Huge. In addition to the regular sitcom series, I also loved the animated "Brady Kids" series. I even loved the short-lived Brady Bunch Variety Hour, which featured the Brady family singing such classic disco hits as "Shake Shake Shake" by KC and the Sunshine Band and "Car Wash" by Rose Royce.

"In the 80's," when I moved into a new apartment with Disney Roommate Ben, we threw a Brady Bunch house warming party. Disney coworkers came dressed as Cindy, Greg, Carol, Jan, and Marcia, and even Alice. Ben and I dressed as the Silver Platters, in our own homemade version of the blue and white costumes that the Brady Kids wore when they first sang and danced on T.V. ("We're gonna keep on - keep on - keep on - keep on dancin' all through the night!")

We gave out prizes for the best costumes. Julie won for being dressed up as "Aunt Ginny," Imogene Coca's character (the one that looked exactly like Jan when she was a girl). Wendy was given a prize for showing up as "Bebe Gallini," the cosmetics CEO all dressed in pink, as portrayed by Abbe Lane.

Linda's boyfriend won for the Most Obscure Brady character, "Phil Packer," by simply donning a fake mustache. My fellow Brady-philes may recall the episode when Peter wore a fake mustache so that he could look older and go on a double date with Greg.

Everyone knew how geeked-out I was for the whole Brady revival. When the tour of the Real Live Brady Bunch stage show was scheduled to come to Los Angeles, I had four different friends offer to take me for my birthday. Four offers! Instead of buying my tickets the second they became available, I sat back and gleefully anticipated the different episodes I might get to see acted out on stage, including "Getting Davey Jones."

I did not end up attending a single performance. I had foolishly counted on my friends to come through - at least one out of the four, even, it didn't matter which one - for what was surely to be one of the most important and memorable entertainment events of my life.

As if to make up for this grave and regrettable injustice, I was asked a few years later if I was available to do background work as a dancer for the Brady Bunch Movie (thanks, Peggy Hickey!). It was for the dance-in-the-gym scene. How thrilling to be able to see up close and in person the actors portraying Marcia and Greg! You can even spot me behind "the new Jan Brady" when she comes out of the restroom, proudly sporting her big, black afro wig.

I have to credit the Brady Bunch as one of my influences for wanting to become a performer, at least, partially. I will usually list the All New Mickey Mouse Club and Fame among my first influences, as well as Dick Van Dyke. But the Brady Kids showed me that everyday suburban kids could become singers and dancers, too.

"How did they end up getting in the recording studio?" I had asked my dad. "How did they get the music that they're singing to?"

"Well, Greg wrote the music and the studio musicians recorded it before the Brady kids went in to record the vocals," my dad replied, his tone mock serious.

It was as simple as that. But at 10-years-old, even I didn't believe it was that easy, much as I may have wanted to believe that that's the way reality works.

Still, I was a committed fan. I watched the repeat episodes so many times that I had memorized the order in which they appeared. I knew which episodes came before the ones that they sang on, so that I could prepare my dad's reel-to-reel tape recorder to capture my very own recording of their songs. I had to - a trip to Thrifty's in 1976 had not resulted in owning a vinyl record of the Brady Kids songs as I had hoped.

I finally got the songs on CD in the early nineties, a CD which I still have today. As a true Brady fan, though, I was disappointed that the CD did not include "Good Time Music," as sung in the last of the three episodes that featured the Brady Kids singing.

Luckily for me, that was one of the songs sung by the fake Brady Kids of the 90's in "A Very Brady Sequel." Sing it with me, now:

Let me hear some of that good time music that I love to hear
I've got plenty of blues and sort of bad news and I need to find me some cheer

There's no sense in walking around with your feet stuck to the ground
It's much better to put yourself together
Create a lot of love and good vibes for humanity - that's fine with me!

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I have been teaching children's dance, again, at a church in Pasadena. So far, we've had three performances of "Praise Dance" in Sunday morning services. Morgan is one of the younger and more enthusiastic dancers.

The first two songs that the children danced to were well known worship songs, beautiful ballads that were perfect for elementary ballet and basic arm movements. They were also kind of boring. The young dancers and I asked the Children's Director if we couldn't dance to something a little more uptempo. She agreed.

The song chosen for the third performance was "Shackles," performed by Mary Mary. It has a kid-friendly beat and a specific gospel message. Morgan, very excited, took her CD copy home to practice. However, once her guardian grandparents learned that it was a "hip hop" number, they pulled her from rehearsals.

It was a little heartbreaking to see Morgan's obvious disappointment every time I walked into the Sunday School class, before rehearsal. I told the Children's Director that Morgan's grandparents were welcome to talk to me if they had any concerns about the movement or the lyrics of the song.

I really felt for Morgan. Although it's been many years, I know what it's like to want to dance and not be allowed to, particularly for religious reasons. This restriction is even worse when an actual opportunity to dance becomes available.

I also remember what it's like, as a kid, to feel left out of things.

Maybe I should dig out my old VHS copy of "Footloose" and loan it to Morgan's grandparents.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

We Interrupt This Program

Procrastinatin' Pete is still working on his first novel, but he is waiting until the last minute, as usual, each time submissions are due to his writing group.

He shudders to think how much more procrastinating he would be doing if he didn't have a group to hold him accountable on a regular basis.

What's that D-word, again . . . 'deadline?'

I am currently out of the office this week, but only in the mornings, teaching dance classes at a kids' theater arts camp in Pasadena. I will catch up with you and my daily work duties in the afternoons.

Please do not feel personally persecuted if you think I am ignoring you, your blog, or my own blog. If it makes you feel better, I am also neglecting my workouts while somehow managing to squeeze in time to inhale a See's Truffle or two . . . or seventeen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Simple Meal

Top Ramen, yogurt, and an apple. This was the usual meal I made for myself in my "struggling artist days." Sometimes I miss it. It was simple, affordable, filling, and nutritious (if you don't count the MSG in the ramen flavor packet, and the fact that the ramen noodles were fried). I loved eating cold cereal late at night, too, three or four bowls full, right before going to bed. I swear it gave me more energy the next morning.

I didn't cook much in my early twenties. I mostly just warmed things up. I almost never bought meat, so I never really had to cook. I wasn't vegetarian back then, meat was just too expensive. I ate a lot of fast food hamburgers, too.

I remember these simple meals fondly because I was eating them when I was going to dance classes almost every night, and to various dance auditions, waiting for that first big break that would grant me the status of a working dancer, a paid dancer. Those simple meals represent the days when I was dreaming of becoming a Real Dancer.

Even though I can afford more groceries and better meals, now, I miss those meals a little, and those days. I still save money where I can, including taking my lunch to work five days a week. I'll usually chop up a MorningStar veggie patty and scramble that with eggs. And I still include yogurt and fresh fruit with my lunch.

I'm not struggling as much as I used to, financially, just struggling as a novice writer, attempting to get a first novel written. Maybe I'll look back fondly on my take-to-work lunches, too, some day.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I Saw Your Mom in Her Underwear!

I saw my friend Julie's mom in her underwear, once, when I was about seven. I'm not sure why I remember this, but I'm happy to share it with you.

One of the families we were friends with at church was the Sahlstrom family. Julie Sahlstrom was the same age as me, so we were good friends. She was a middle child, with an older brother and a younger sister. She and her siblings had blonde hair and blue eyes. The Sahlstroms had invited us to their home for lunch after church, one day. Julie and I were in her bedroom, just talking.

"I have to go to the bathroom," she said. "Come with me."

Julie sat on the toilet to pee and I sat against the wall, side by side with the toilet. I was almost behind Julie, practically. It wasn't like I could even see anything. We continued our conversation until her mother burst in on us. Mrs. Sahlstrom was wearing only her bra and panties. She must have been changing out of her church clothes.

"What are you two doing in here?!" She was surprised and upset. I didn't really see what the big deal was, even though she was half naked in front of me.

My father punished me right away when he found out. He grounded me to the couch in the empty family room. This was just about all he could do, short of spanking me, as we were guests in their home. I was not allowed to read anything, however, which was torture because the Sahlstroms had a huge collection of children's books on their shelves, many of which were new to me.

This memory may serve as a good example of why I was such a goody-goody when I was younger, and why I was such a prude for so long, as a young adult. I used to have such a big stick up my butt (and not in the good way, either, as I'm always saying to my friends). Fortunately, I learned to have a much more relaxed attitude from many people I met while working as a performer. I'll never forget Jennie, a lovely dancer from England, who never felt it necessary to close the bathroom door when she had to pee. We also continued our conversations with each other while she was on the loo.

And I'll never forget Mrs. Sahlstrom, either. I don't remember exactly what her bra and panties looked like. I probably averted my eyes, being the polite, little Japanese boy that I was. But I do remember her as a very pretty woman, with bright blue eyes, soft bangs, and the rest of her natural brown hair pulled back in a modest ponytail.

I wonder if she recalls the time when that little boy saw her in her underwear?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cool Places Tonight

The Young Adult novel I am working on, titled Scooter Boy, is based upon much of my own adolescence. Mining my past for chapters and scenes has me remembering many details of specific locations, including Grand Central Station, an underage dance club that catered to the "21 and under" crowd in the early 80's.

The club was located in Pomona right off of the 10 freeway, near where the L.A. County Fair is held. One of the drama kids at Norco High first told me about Grand Central Station and drove me there. We took Archibald Road all the way from Corona to the 10 freeway.

I forget what the cover charge was back then, but they didn't check I.D. at the door. The bar inside sold only soft drinks, no alcohol. There was an outdoor patio where underage patrons were allowed to smoke. But people did not come to Grand Central Station to get high or drunk (as far as I knew). They came to dance, and that was the perfect club for me.

There were two rooms for dancing. We never stayed in the first one because they played all break dancing music in there. It was a room full of quite a few black kids, popping and locking in crazy, impossible, coordinated moves. The dancers in the first room weren't all black, but there were always more African American teens than we were used to seeing at Norco High.

The music that was played in the second room was one of the reasons I kept going back to Grand Central Station: "Keep Feeling Fascination" (Human League), "Cool Places" (Sparks and Jane Wiedlin), "Young Guns Go For It" (Wham), "Situation" (Yaz), "Shy Boy" (Bananarama), "Our House" (Madness), "I Want Candy" (Bow Wow Wow) etc. etc.

The other reason I kept returning to the club was because of the young patrons and the way they dressed. They were different and creative and utterly original in what they wore, many of them wearing elaborate jewelry and black eyeliner, both boys and girls. And they were confident in their dancing too, wearing independent attitudes as complimentary accessories to their various outfits.

The bravest and most confident dancers would go up on the stage at the front of the club, either dancing alone or with anyone around them. One of my favorites on stage was a dark-haired girl dancing in front by herself. I remember her hair was ratted in the Madonna wannabe do, wrapped in a floppy white lace bow which matched her long white lace skirt. She had topped off her skirt with a plaid flannel shirt, knotted in the front and with the sleeves rolled up. Of course, she had the two dozen or so black rubber bangles and bracelets on one arm. The one detail that makes her so memorable to me was the red plastic swizzle stick she kept shifting in her mouth. It only reinforced how aloof she was, how lost she was in her own world of the music and her dancing, and how she didn't care what anyone else thought about her.

At seventeen, I admired her confidence and independence. I wanted to be like her.

I had a rather innocent and uneventful adolescence, but I have several good memories. I feel lucky that my memory's inventory includes such great scenes as Grand Central Station that I can use for my own writing.