Holding Onto My Penis For Dear Life

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Staring up at the knotted ceiling, I imagine that’s how my back must look to some specialist somewhere. In my drug-induced state of semi-consciousness ~ thanks to a killer cocktail of Celebrex, Lortab, and Valium somewhat questionably administered by my husband and approved by my medical parents ~ I pick out shapes and figures in the knot-dotted ceiling of our guest room.

Like kids who see faces and animals in cloud formations, I sift through the abstract windings of wood and locate the duck or ostrich face that Andy showed me well over a decade ago. I also make out a wolf – a rare find comprised of two panels – its ears a pair of shirred twists in the wood, its eyes two tiny knots. On the bed, my body involuntarily contorts itself in spasms of discomfort, while my head vacillates among disappointment, resignation, and fury. This is not how I wanted our Columbus Day weekend in Ogunquit to unfold.

It began in fine traditional form ~ a beautiful and cool fall day, a dinner of fish tacos at The Front Porch, and the next morning an early breakfast at Amore, followed by an outlet jaunt in Kittery before the crowds arrived. Upon our return to town, I was taking photos of the flowers that led to the Marginal Way, when I must have bent over the wrong way. [Insert cock joke here.] I felt fine at the time, but a few minutes back in the room, I went to stand up and a back spasm promptly left me flattened on the floor. I’ve only ever experienced back pain like that at two other times in my life ~ the last being after a hydrangea-pruning incident that knocked the wind out of me. Plants are no joke, people. Some day you will believe. The quest of capturing beauty is no joke either. In fact, its price is preciously dear and dangerously high.

On this day, just the second into our vacation, I had no time for back issues, particularly one that left me unable to stand. Usually I can at least shuffle, but this one left me breathlessly off my feet. Andy quickly gave me a muscle relaxant, but it was too late. I’d have to miss dinner that evening with Andy and my parents, but the pain was such that I didn’t mind one missed dining opportunity, and as the light drained from the day, and my solitude burned into the night, I drifted in and out of awareness.

Making it to the bathroom was the tough part. As Andy wined and dined with my folks, I rolled out of bed and onto the floor. I could not move, but my bladder demanded that I do my best. Pulling myself along and crying out curse words rife with pain and frustration, I made it half-way to the bathroom before I started crying. Not just for the sheer physical hurt, but for what I would be missing:

Ogunquit is one of the only times that my husband comes to bed and wakes when I do.

Ogunquit is one of the only times these days when my parents and I can bond and have adult time without them taking care of my brother’s kids.

Ogunquit is the only place where I can walk around and not worry about whether my tie matches my pocket square.

In short, Ogunquit is usually where I can be, well, happy – and most like the man I’d like to be. Yet here I was ~ alone ~ in the way I most often am. When I finally pulled myself into the bathroom, scrunching into the bathmat as if it were a bed, I wondered how on earth I’d get upright to pee. Brief contemplation of pulling down a plastic drinking cup with a thrown towel and peeing into that was dismissed. I’d never hear the end of it were Andy to find out, and with my sketchy history there was a good chance I’d end up drinking my urine by accident later in the evening (a not-unprecedented event, but that story’s been told before.)

For now, I mustered the extremities of my pain threshold, lifted myself up and held on for dear life ~ to the wall and to my penis. When done, I couldn’t bend over to flush (sorry, Andy) but eventually found my way back to bed, where the haze of medication covered me like some enormous veil – thick and velvet-like and intricate enough to bind me until the morning…

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Before the Fall, A Brief Bit of Ogunquit

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Our annual Columbus Day weekend in Ogunquit gets short shrift this year, as you will see soon enough. For now, though, a tease of two posts ~ this first one taken in one of my favorite secret spaces of the town. Enjoy these photos, as I didn’t get to take many more…

While spring has more obvious charms, and the aspect of a hopeful season to come, fall comes with its own set of enchantments. Falling leaves, slanting sunlight, and the cozy scent of burning wood wafting on the wind.

A perfect time to pause on a bench. It’s hard to hang onto the sun and the warmth at this time of the year, but there are pockets of both. If you’re lucky enough to find them, stop and take it all in. Nothing gold can stay.

And if you’re one of my favorite people who actually enjoys seeing me in photos, take these in now, because they’re the last of my appearance in that fair town this fall…

But that’s a story for tomorrow… for today, a few more of that time before it all went askew.

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Hunk of the Day: Thomas Wolski

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Earlier today a more serious story on artist Thomas Wolski was posted. This is the fun part, when he gets crowned as Hunk of the Day. You see, not only is Mr. Wolski a talented and creative individual who expresses wonders in the art world, he’s also easy on the eyes. Where talent and beauty meet is a magical place, and while being pretty has sometimes been a burden for a serious artist, it’s been nothing but celebrated here.

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An Artist and a Gentleman

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My hat goes off to anyone who lives an artistic life, and no one exemplifies that more than Thomas Wolski. He recently updated his website here, so the whole world can get a glimpse into the fascinating world of his artwork, and it contains a gorgeous lot of gems and jewels ripe and waiting for excavation. Illustrations, painting, and photography are all on display, sometimes intertwined in glorious thought-provoking ways.

Regarding his whimsical painted photography process, he explains his vision thusly: “I see the finished piece before I have even taken the picture. It’s no good stock-piling images that are pretty in hopes of a story, the best tales are those told in the moment.”

Pop art doesn’t usually get its proper due until it proves itself worthy of standing the test of time, but true talent resonates in the moment, and Mr. Wolski manages to be both forward-looking and introspective, a powerful combination that lends itself to explosive self-expression. His work is richly varied, often imbued with witty humor but sometimes more weighty matter.

I have never been a fantastic painter, but I don’t care. For me it is the execution of the idea that is important, physically getting it down on paper to be seen by others. It’s my way of printing that big thought bubble above my head.

Witness his art installation at Hackett London below, proof that his work is living, breathing, vital and engaging. It demands a bit more of the viewer, and the invitation is inherent in the wit at work, as well as the crowd-pleasing pop culture touchstone references.

His work teases and delights, drawing in the spectator with a wry smile, a nudge, a challenge. While often instantly accessible on the surface, there are details and layers to all of his pieces, subtle hints at the complexity of the work, demanding revisits and continued contemplation.

That’s the sign of a true artist: their work lingers in the mind long after the viewing.

[Visit Thomas Wolski's website here for an in-depth look at his world - and stick around for a bit more of him later today.]

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An Epic Hunk of the Day: Philip Fusco

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After being unblissfully unaware of Philip Fusco, this blog has certainly made up for it in the last week, culminating with today’s official crowning of Mr. Fusco as Hunk of the Day. Earlier, you got to see his very first pictorial here, and a couple of days later he was the face (and more notably the body) of a weekly recap. Based on the reactions, he may be the next David Beckham or Tom Daley of these parts, with his very own Category. (Lest anyone think we’re going overboard too soon, he’s nowhere near Madonna territory, so relax.) As for this post, here’s to the first of the Fusco Hunk features – there likely will be more.

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I’ll Tell You What I Want, What I Really Really Want

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Every year I make the same vow: to finish my holiday gift shopping before December so I can simply enjoy the season and focus on family and friends. This year, I am determined to make that goal. To that end, I’ve already secured my main family gifts. Yes, I’m that organized and anal, and it’s always served me well. You may lament  or resent such fastidiousness and planning, but it makes my world a happier one.

To aid those in similar pursuits, particularly when it comes to gift giving for myself, I’m already working on this year’s Christmas wish list. To get your engines revving, and your bank account swelling, here are a few initial ideas as seen on my Amazon Wish List. Could I have made it any easier for you? Hardly. Thus far they are ranked in order of desire, but that is subject to change. In fact, this very weekend I’ll be out scoping a few of the listed fragrances to make a few final selections. Right now, Tom Ford is in the lead with his all-but-impossible-to-procure ‘London’ fragrance (to accompany a future honeymoon), but I’ve been favoring lighter scents of late, including the most recent scrumptious offering of ‘Wood Sage and Sea Salt’ by Jo Malone. Byredo Parfums have also been tickling my fancy, and I’m anxiously awaiting a session to sample their ‘Gypsy Water’ (which has so far eluded me) as well as their ‘Black Saffron‘ and ‘Bal D’Afrique.’

Wherever we may end up, it’s going to smell delightful getting there.

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Hunk of the Day: Lance Parker – Once Bitten, Twice Guy

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The title of this post refers to the fact that this marks Lance Parker’s second appearance as Hunk of the Day. That’s a rare honor, but Mr. Parker appears worthy of the second coronation. Those tan lines are worth a second look too. (I credit Tom Ford and Paul Richmond equally for my love of a good tan line.)

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I’ll Teach You How to F@&k…

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Yesterday marked the day, way back in 1992, when Madonna released her ‘Erotica’ album. It was the fall of my senior year in high school, and I was in a very dismal place. The prospect of leaving home in less than a year was a frightening light at the end of a tunnel from which I wasn’t sure I could escape. The last days of October ripped the leaves from the trees. Summer had long since surrendered. In the moments that led up to the release of ‘Erotica’ I felt like those leaves. Torn. Shredded. Fallen. Falling…

It was a dark time, and ‘Erotica’ was one of Madonna’s darker albums, which makes it one of her best. There were scorching spots like ‘Fever‘ and ‘Thief of Hearts.’ There were softer stretches like ‘Bad Girl‘ and ‘Rain.’ There were even funny bits like ‘Bye Bye Baby‘ along with under-rated, overlooked gems like ‘Words.’ And there were classic tracks like ‘Deeper and Deeper‘ and ‘Erotica‘ itself.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure I would ever hear the album. At that time, I wasn’t sure I’d need my math homework the next day. I felt on the verge of self-annihilation. In the backyard, I stood lonely sentry by piles of oak leaves, after raking the expanse of dying lawn behind the house. From my hands, cold and wet clumps of leaves and twigs dropped into black garbage bags. In the folds of plastic that was the shade of clear night sky, I looked at molten-like reflections of clouds and pine trees and the bare branches of deciduous nudity.

Sometimes I feel emotionally naked on this blog. This is one of those times. It’s always easier to take your clothes off than show your heart and share your secrets. Suddenly I want to clam up and stop the telling of this story – and since this is my blog, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. For now, at least. I don’t feel like talking about it. But it’s already been said, and written about, and if you delve deep enough here it’s not difficult to piece it together. Tricksters don’t like to be caught, but sometimes we do get trapped.

In a similar way, ‘Erotica’ was the trap that Madonna set for herself. We all do it at some point. We design situations to test, to try, to risk, and, yes, to die. Bound by the ropes we weave, tied up in chains of self-construction, she exorcised her demons publicly, brazenly baring her body in her ‘Sex’ book and aurally releasing herself in the ‘Erotica’ album. It was a piece of pop art that pissed people off, because it raised a mirror to the world. No matter how vain we secretly (or not-so-secretly) are, the world despises anyone who points that mirror at it uninvited. I did not understand that then. I don’t think Madonna did either.

Whenever someone questions me about my love and adoration for Madonna, I think back to the fall that ‘Erotica’ came out, and how she was partly responsible for saving my life. It would be foolish to attribute my survival solely to her, but she most certainly played an integral role in getting me through the rough times.

She still does.

Madonna would make it past the critical and commercial downturn that the ‘Erotica’ period became, and I would make it past that frightening fall. Sometimes, though, on rainy nights late in October, I remember when the leaves fell in 1992, and I marvel that we escaped.

Surrender to me, to love…

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A Cocky Recap

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Since this morning’s post was deliberately reserved in honor of Andy’s birthday, this recap had to wait until now. Not sure it will be worth it, but we’re going to do it anyway. Such is the way when the business of fall turns out to be so damn busy. We’ve made it over the hump of October, which is rather more troubling than thrilling, because when October goes the holiday mayhem begins. Hang on to your hats…

Despite the fast trajectory of time, it seems like forever ago that this man impelled us to make a trip to Washington, DC for his wedding. There were run-ins with a cheetah and Stephen Colbert, walks through a very pretty library, visits with some very pretty flowers, and even more pretty flowers, but the main event was the wonderful wedding of my friends Chris and Darcey. It will probably be the only wedding I’ll attend where the bride jumped in a pool with her wedding dress on, and as such it will go down in history as one of my favorites.

I’m so glad that theater is alive and high-kicking in Schenectady, NY.

The set-up for this years Ogunquit recap, coming up later this week. Get ready – it was short, quick, and painful.

Loving You is not a choice, it’s who I am.

Finally, the week was back-heavy with Hunks, who brought up their rears and pricked the site fantastic. In short order, the following fine specimens ruled the mid-October slump with their rumps:

Bryan Hawn – one of the most bootylicious gentlemen to be featured here.

Philip Fusco – in his first-ever pictorial here. Apologies for taking this long. (And yes, he will be an official Hunk of the Day soon. Very soon…)

Michael Turchin – because his fiancé Lance Bass brought his ass to the world’s attention.

Zac Efron, Tom Daley, and Dan Osborne – because, well, hello.

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The Day My Husband Was Born

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Happy Birthday to my husband Andy! Many, many years ago a baby came into the world who would change the trajectory of my life for the better. The last fourteen years have been a winding trail of adventure, fun, a little drama, and a lot of love.

He doesn’t get as much of the glory as he deserves on this site, mostly because he is a tad more private than myself (and is notoriously difficult to get to sit still for a photo.) But today is his day, so whether he likes the accolades and acclaim or not, they are his for the taking.

Happy Birthday, Drew ~ and many happy returns of the day!

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The Passion of Sondheim

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Loving you is not a choice
It’s who I am.

It was the fall of 1996. I remember the leaves. Dead and brown, crackling beneath my feet as I faced the steps to the Braddock brownstone. On certain evenings, in late October or early November, the fatigue of an early nightfall left one breathless before tackling those stairs.

On the stereo, the savior Stephen Sondheim and his critically-divisive masterpiece ‘Passion’ played to my heart’s discontent. I’d been hurt, you see, not intentionally, but motive has rarely mitigated heartache. When it breaks, it breaks, and there’s no use in talking yourself out of it or convincing anyone otherwise.

Loving you is not a choice
And not much reason to rejoice
But it gives me purpose
Gives me voice to say to the world
This is why I live, you are why I live.

My mistake was in loving, but no – no – I cannot believe it was a mistake. I saw that even then. I saw it through the pain, through the tears, through the desolate nights of solitude. I saw that my loving someone, however unrequited, however unreturned, would never hurt the world. I was made to love.

Then the world changed.

Not overnight, not in a grand sweeping melodramatic moment, but slowly, gradually, easing the need to love. Yet it would always be a desperation I carried with me. It was something I couldn’t shirk or pretend away, even if I was masterful at hiding it. Almost two decades later, it remains something one doesn’t forget. Like being really cold. Like being terrifyingly lost. Like being… in love.

In this scene from ‘Passion’ the downtrodden anti-heroine Fosca sings her final plea to the man who does not quite love her back – not yet – and in this one musical moment, set on a train near the end of a story that wrenches the hearts of some and vexes the heads of others, I felt a kindred longing, and I returned to that chilly, lonely fall.

Loving you is why I do
The things I do
Loving you is not in my control
But loving you, I have a goal
For what’s left of my life
I would live
And I would die for you.
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Dan Osborne Gets Naked, W/ Supporting Bits by Tom Daley & Zac Efron

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The Great Gratuitous Sunday Morning Post. It’s a bit of a tradition here, when all you folks who can’t access this supposedly NSFW site from work have a moment to catch up on all the fun things you missed during the weekdays. This post should be no exception, featuring Dan Osborne in his preferred state of garb: naked, nude, and grabbing his junk. These latest photos were from a dare that he jump in the pool naked. Daring indeed. I would NEVER…

The rest of the post is filled out, and deliciously at that, by the shirtless and Speedo-clad likes of Zac Efron and Tom Daley. Mr. Efron likes to do a lot of things shirtless, and I don’t think Tom Daley does anything out of his Speedo – well, except for showering in the altogether.

There, that about sums up the Sunday morning nude male post. Let’s see what the afternoon brings…

 

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Hunk of the Day: Michael Turchin

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Lance Bass recently posted an Instagram video of his fiancé’s bare-butt, a surprise shower attack that would have ended up in murder in my house, but one that’s fun to watch when it’s a cute celebrity. In this case, it was Hunk of the Day Michael Turchin’s tush that was on perky display. It’s always a joy to see couples having some cheeky fun, and Lance has had his share of fun-coupling. As for Mr. Turchin, he looks great in these Timoteo shots, and he should totally do more of them.

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A Gratuitous Philip Fusco Pictorial

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Perhaps he should have been crowned Hunk of the Day (as he hasn’t yet been so honored) but for now this is just an introductory post to Philip Fusco, because sometimes things have to be earned (or at least timed to promote a project of Mr. Fusco’s choosing should he deign to reach out to me.) I think that on a lazy October Saturday, this should be more than ample homage to Fusco, and to his back and front.

Jury’s out on which is his finest asset. Your thoughts? Opinions? Requests? We’re open to all. (And though Victoria Beckham has compared her husband’s appendage to an exhaust pipe, Mr. Fusco may be giving Mr. Beckham a run for his plumbing.)

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