Monday, October 5, 2015

One month down!

There have been challenges and moments of frustration. Times when I didn't know what I was doing or what to do next. Having to figure it out and go through it all by myself.

But the freedom and independence make it worth it.

It's been exactly a month since I moved out on my own.

The newness of it all is slowly wearing off yet it still feels so new to me.

The commute to and from work has been a breeze, I'm enjoying having my own space, and I've been going to the lake as often as possible (now that I live across the street from it).

I still get overwhelmed and nervous and lonely and still don't have a couch or a bed to sleep on but I will manage.

Little by little it's coming together. I don't know what the end result will be but I look forward to experiencing it firsthand.

And I may or may not have been dancing to this song at my new place…

Monday, September 21, 2015

Feather heart!

Less than two weeks ago marked the passing of my Uncle Harry last year.

I wasn't particularly close with him but it's still sad to think he's gone. Hardest hit was my Aunt Nancy (my youngest aunt and his wife).

Due to work, I wouldn't be able to see her during the anniversary of his death, so I sent this Mail Art instead…

Feathers on archival backing board - roughly 5" x 5" (NFS)

It's similar in concept to the one I made for my Aunt Diane after my Uncle Bill passed.

I cut backing board (used for comic book storage) into the shape of a heart. Colorful feathers were hot-glued to the front with sparkly fringe lining the edge. 

I think the softness of the material loses the heart-shape a bit but it's still clearly defined on the backside…

The address-side! 

The back was lined with origami paper because I prefer the address-side to have a pattern so it's not so plain-looking.

And since the concept of Mail Art is the artwork itself is the actual mail, once the stamps were placed on, this heart was sent as-is in the mailbox.

My mom did question if it was safe to send the piece like that. That it may get damaged or lost. 

"That's the whole point of Mail Art," I replied. Arriving there is part of the process!

Thankfully my aunt let me know the heart arrived that week safe and sound.

Love was delivered to my Auntie Nancy!!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Four years already.

All of these anniversary posts are becoming redundant but I wanted to note that today marks my fourth year working at my university job!

It continues to be a safe-haven and a place of comfort for me--very much like a second home.

And my coworkers...especially my student workers, keep amazing me.

Behind the front desk.

I feel like I've grown so much there and it's led to my second part time job with the university. I'm truly grateful for all of it.

Happy Anniversary, university job!!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Someplace of my own.

There was this mix of trepidation and excitement in me.

I didn't know how to feel but I knew I finally made it.

I moved into my studio apartment over the weekend!

My time was mostly spent buying the necessities:  groceries, dishes, pots, pans, towels, etc.. I made several trips to the grocery store, went to Target twice, and even made a quick pick-up downtown.

Thankfully I was able to buy some of the previous tenant's furniture so that helped the place not feel so bare.

And I keep telling myself I just moved in and that it's okay if it takes a while to get settled.

For right now I'm just enjoying getting to pee with the bathroom door open--how liberating!

And the location and the independence…and finally having someplace of my own.

The view from my window--the lake to the right. Sigh.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

August 29th...

It's been the longest-running (and most frustrating) job I've ever had. With that said, a part of me has grown partial to it...and protective of it.

It seems so insignificant an occurrence now that I'm only there on Sundays but...

Today marks my five-year anniversary working at the arts-and-crafts store!

Now that I'm working full-time at my university job(s), I don't think I'll stay at the store much longer though.

Our latest assistant store manager is being sent to another store this week and the rumor is our store manager will be transferred at the start of the new year.

Soon it will be my time to go too.

But for now…Happy Anniversary, crafts store!!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Blue Dime!

Here we go again.

While doing the deposit at the crafts store over the weekend, I came across another painted coin.

This time it was a dime and it was painted blue.

The glaze was thin enough where the silver still came through, giving the blue's appearance a lovely metallic quality.

I wonder if I'll find any other colorful coins at work.

Painted money RULES!!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

That yellow chair.

It sat there quietly all these years.

Broken, worn, and marred. A bit like me. Perhaps that's why I've kept it for so long.

We have this vintage yellow chair stored away at home. I think my father brought it from some job-site of his decades ago.

The cushion (long gone flat) is badly discolored--several shades a dingy yellow, with golden-brown blotches scattered about. (The Scotchgard stain-and-soil-resistance label is still stapled on the side. Ha!)

The chair's underside crumbles into a powder where the seat and frame join together.

The wooden back is covered with paint-drips and the left armrest has fallen off (you have to push it back into the nail holes).

But for all its problems, it still functions and serves its purpose.

An old soul that's seen better days.

Most would view it as damaged, laugh at its condition, and not want anything to do with it.

God, I know what that feels like.

I have visited this chair many times. Sometimes to sit on it and ponder things, sometimes to play with the armrest and see how soon it'll dislocate from the rest of the chair, and sometimes just to stare at its charm.

For it has character to it and a story to tell!

I won't be able to take the chair with me when I move next month but hopefully my family holds onto it for me.

There's something very special about that yellow chair.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Changing the trajectory of my life.

I knew I was getting closer. That I'd finally be free and on my own.

After looking at multiple places for rent these past couple of months, I finally found one! I signed the lease today.

It's a studio along Lake Shore Drive but spacious for the price. And it has a lovely view of the lake.

But it's not perfect by any means. The kitchenette is tiny and dated and the bathroom is a disappointment but I do believe I can make it work.

And it's located minutes from Boystown so my chances of meeting someone should skyrocket dramatically just from living in that area. We shall see though.

But I do know this will change the trajectory of my life…hopefully for the better.

*happy dance*

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Something nice.

Now that I'm working steadily at my university jobs and my income is a bit higher than it was in past years, I've been looking at apartments and condos again.

One I saw earlier in the week was a completely remodeled condo.

A small studio but the nicest showroom-quality kitchenette I've ever seen.

 This could've been mine. 

It was just off Lake Shore Drive, a high-rise, and on the 54th floor. The view of the lake and city could not be beat!

But another person saw the unit the day before me and offered to buy it (instead of renting) and it was sold later that day.


It was a bit out of my price range anyway.

I told the agent I've been working with that I want something nice. Something beautiful to come home to.

Growing up, the family home was a dump and still is. It's almost 100 years-old and falling more and more apart each year.

It's very depressing and embarrassing still being there and I guess that's why I'm being so selective and not just picking anything.

I don't want to go living in one run-down place to another.

But it seems everything really nice is beyond what I can afford and what I can afford isn't all that nice.

*sigh again*

The search continues...

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The games men play.

The last guy I went out with told me I was full of love but then said we weren't compatible for dating. I guess he was looking for someone full of hate?

I've gone on dates with men who've been put down for being Catholic, not liking alcohol ("You don't drink?!"), and not frequenting gay bars/clubs.

The "catches" are already taken, not interested in me, or straight.


That's been my dating life since, like, forever.

The heart illustration below lists some of the things men have said to me.

Marker in Moleskine journal - (NFS)

They tell you want you want to hear but when they don't get what they want from you (sex) or it's not convenient enough, they're gone.

It's very discouraging and with each failed date, I feel more self-conscious and less "datable".

When will I find a man looking for something meaningful--for real love?

Love is about accepting the other person's faults, weaknesses, and differences and still wanting to be with them. Putting real effort into it. Most men who are part of the gay scene can't comprehend that.

Why can't being myself be enough?

Maybe I'm just destined to be alone.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Getting it all out.

I've cried a lot these past couple of days. A person can only hold it in for so long.

Self-sabotage. Disappointment. Loneliness. 

When will I be done with them already?

There's the life I have and there's the life I want. I fear the two will never meet.

When I go to work, I'm thankful to be there and for my coworkers. At the same time, the positions I have are as far as I'll be able to go. Besides my art, I have no other skill-set and my simple income has pretty much plateaued. At 36 years-old, that's just discouraging.

And I have yet to find a man that will accept me as I am and love me with everything he has.

I'm ashamed to be me and doubt my life will ever become what I dream it to be.

It's moments like these that make me wish I killed myself long ago.

Here's a self-portrait I did this weekend expressing all of it:

Pen and marker in Moleskine journal - (NFS)

There was too much sickness in me and it screamed to get out. I felt a release and relief when this was completed. Thank God.

Sadly, this'll be be my first real piece of art created this whole year.

I wish things were easier. I wish I knew what to do. I wish I wasn't alone.

Deep in my heart, I still love you though, Dean.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Yellow Quarter!

It popped among the everyday pennies and nickels and dimes.

A quarter with the heads-side painted yellow!

I discovered it at work while finalizing this morning's bank deposit for the crafts store.

I felt compelled to take it and swapped one of my own quarters for the sun-colored one.

I love the way the letters and profile are (for the most part) visible with only the background painted. It almost looks like it was created that way.

Who knew 25 cents could have such an impact!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Wearing Jesus.

It only cost me a few dollars online but it's one of the most important purchases I've made.

A simple wooden cross to wear around my neck at work.

Normally I don't wear jewelry at all so it felt odd putting it on for the first time yet it felt so right.

So much has been coming at me lately. The training period at my new job (university call center) came to a close three weeks ago and now I answer the phones myself. Add dating drama to the mix (or rather, lack thereof) and it's just been a stressful and draining time.

I find myself pressing the crucifix to my chest during those overwhelming or sad moments. A reminder when I'm discouraged by life and feeling alone that at least God is with me.

So far I've only been wearing it at my university job(s) and on days I need it most.

And it has become a bit of an announcement to all who see it that I try to keep God close.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Buying flowers for work.

Normally I pick out a bouquet for myself.

This time around, I bought flowers for my night-time university job. Here they are!

Sunny chrysanthemums, inviting daisies, and soft carnations to greet students as they leave and enter our department.

I think the blooms add a punch of color and life to the front desk and they make me smile when I walk past them. Why not share that with others?

Getting (and giving) flowers RULES!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Dancing at the grocery store!

The rhythm caught my ears. My feet seemed to shuffle on their own with the beat. My thighs dropped down then back up. Compelled to move, I found myself "almost-dancing" at the grocery store!

Normally this happens when I'm working at the crafts store but this time it was while shopping at the supermarket--in the cookie aisle.

The song on the overhead speakers sounded like house music from the 90's but it's relatively new. I liked it so much that I bought the CD online when I got home.

Here it is. Listen to it and honestly tell me you wouldn't be twerking too while buying Oreo cookies.. :)

Sunday, May 10, 2015


Growing up, me and my brothers took her for granted, took advantage of her, and at times treated her poorly.

At one point she was working three jobs yet still managed to make dinner, clean the house, and do our laundry when she got home...without complaint. I don't know how she did it back then but she did.

It wasn't until I started working in my 20's that I realized how much my mom did for us--and still does.

As an adult, I try to be a good, responsible son and want to make her proud of me.

Here are the flowers I got her today for Mother's Day…

I took a standard bouquet and mixed in a dozen yellow roses (her favorite).

One day I hope to give her so much more than that. For where would we be without our mothers?

Happy Mother's Day to everyone's mom!!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Without me there.

After over a year of waiting, our store was finally audited last week…and we passed!

When I heard the news I was happy for my store manager and assistant store manager. They were determined not to fail (their jobs being on the line).

A part of me felt like I missed out though. Because of my new job, I only work at the crafts store on Sundays now, and wasn't there when the auditor showed up.

Originally my role assisted in making the store audit compliant. Now I only do a fraction of that.

And here the store did just fine without me there.

I wonder if I make much of a difference one day a week. Am I really vital to the store anymore? I no longer think so.

As I become more immersed with the new job and my new coworkers, I'm slowly feeling a disconnect with the crafts store.

I used to say that nothing stays the same or lasts forever in retail.

In time, that'll even include me.

Thursday, April 30, 2015


Something was up when I got to work. I just didn't know what exactly.

Today is my 36th birthday and my coworkers at my university job threw me a party! There was pizza and snacks and pop and delicious cake…chocolate cake!!

The wall in the back office at work.

I was overwhelmed by their generosity and kindness--all for me.

Even my student workers brought stuff in, saying I'm always bringing stuff in for them.

My face hurt from smiling so much.

Today made me feel like I was someone SPECIAL and I haven't felt like that in the longest time.

Thank God for my coworkers. I am truly blessed to have them.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Sorry everyone for not posting here but these past couple of weeks kicked my butt.

The new university job has been exhausting. Soooo much to learn and memorize. The person training me even commented I looked tired…a few times.

And I recently had two unsuccessful dates with two different men.


Just a very disappointing and draining time right now.

I'm hoping things fall into place soon and it'll all come together in the weeks ahead.

How have all of YOU been???

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Two becomes three…again.

I've waited a LONG time for something better and it finally happened.

I got a new part-time job!

It's in another department of the university I already work for. The afternoon shift. Perfect because I can work the new job and literally take one floor down to my night-shift at the second job (I'm allowed to work in two different departments).

The best part is, because both jobs total 40 hours, I'll now qualify for benefits!

And of course, I can finally say goodbye to the crafts store once and for all…sort of.

I gave my two-weeks notice last Friday but the store manager asked if I'd work just on Sundays to complete the time edits for payroll.

The university jobs are both Monday-Friday so it wouldn't conflict with anything and I think the store manager likes the idea of me being around so I can train my replacement and help troubleshoot should they run into problems.

As much as that job frustrates me, I've worked at the crafts store for almost five years. It's hard to let it go and all the people I've come to know along the way.

So in two weeks I'll be working three jobs. I've done it before--I know I can do it again.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Love is out there.

Another LONG week working in the city.

Freshly-fallen snow crunched at my feet as more showered down between the skyscrapers.

Across the street were three construction signs, lined up one after the other.

Someone had drawn a heart on their snow-covered faces.

Someone still believes in love, I thought.

It has become increasingly discouraging for me being alone and single (more than usual).

At times I've given up hope of meeting someone…of finding love.

How fitting I found the hearts.

Three signs (literally) reminding me love is out there.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Vacuuming on Valentine's Day.

I asked several of my coworkers what their plans were for Valentine's Day.

All of them said spending the day with their boyfriend/girlfriend.

When they asked me in return, I replied, "Vacuuming at home."

Sadly, that's the truth.

Even though Valentine's Day can be hard for those of us who are single, I'm still very happy for the people who do have someone to love and be in love with.

They are truly blessed in that way.

I hope to be so lucky.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

"Justin's heart" (Shared Journal - Page 6)

He was standing across from me. An inner peace and happiness warmed me.

I wanted to tell him everything my heart felt but didn't know how. So I said nothing. That was the last I saw him. Gone from my life as if never being there at all.

::: Step one - Pencil drawing :::

At one time I thought he'd be the one to marry. How naive of me.

I've already mourned the loss of him but still wonder how he is. Hard to believe it's been five years.

This is one of my entries for the Shared Journal I'm doing. The sketch book felt a safe spot for it.

::: Step 2 - Underpainting (watercolor and ink) :::

He will always hold his first husband in his heart--as he should. So long as he's not shutting out others who will love him now.

Surely he's started a new life for himself and he deserves that. Wherever he is, whomever he's with, I hope he's healthy and happy and whole.

God bless you, Justin Sullivan.

I love you.

::: Step 3 - Completion :::

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Shared Journal--the beginning.

I just went along with it. It was all his idea.

Fellow artist, David K. Small and I started a Shared Journal!

A journal we'd each add to and then mail back to one another once our page(s) was finished. Back and forth until the journal was completed.

David thought it was a good way for both of us to draw and paint more. And I like to think we'd feed off each other's creativity.

This is the sketch book that was purchased:

(Bee Paper - Aquabee, spiral-bound, mixed media - 9" X 9")

And here's the cover after I added texture medium and then David painted it…..

Love that stylized "D", David!

Here are several of David's entries so far--mine will be in a separate post:

::: Inside flap :::

::: Page 4 :::

::: Page 5 :::

There are no real rules we're following in terms of medium or subject matter, so it'll be interesting what we come up with along the way.

It's been hard giving up control knowing someone else will want to do things their way (I'm argumentative and stubborn…sometimes). But I guess that's the whole point. Letting go and creating something amazing--together.

Let's go for it, smallville!

[To see more of David's artwork, art quilts, acrylic paintings, and MORE, be sure to follow his facebook page. And don't miss out on his art giveaways there either!]

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Mr. Gordon.

The department at my university job not only serves students but also the general public. We get our fair share of crazies and homeless from time to time.

One of our "regulars" is an older alum that feels compelled to tell us (loudly) what's going on in his life--everything from bed bugs in his apartment to his bank putting fraudulent charges on his account.

He mainly comes in to use our computers, looking at street level views of google maps, sometimes hours on end.

I've seen him searching through the trash, he mutters to himself, wears the same overcoat everyday, and is always dragging carry-on luggage behind him.

Whenever he'd come up to the front desk, I'd be polite but engage as little as possible, not wanting to get caught up in one of his drawn-out stories (he tends to latch onto you otherwise).

He's more of a nuisance than anything. At times I'd mimic his thick city accent and repeat his stories to my coworkers. Making light of the situation--and the frustrations of dealing with him, but at his expense.

Shame on me. Growing up in school, I was made fun of and harassed just for being who I was. And now I'm essentially doing the same thing.

He came up to the front desk the other day before leaving to wish me a good night (as usual).

Out-of-nowhere he added, "An hour from now, fourteen years ago, my mother had passed."

"I'm sorry to hear that," I said.

"Well, that was a a long time ago," he replied, brushing it off. But there were imperceptible tears in his eyes. "It still gets me even now."

In that moment it hit me that for all his oddities he's still very much a human.

I smiled and wished him a good night as I always do. "Take care," I said.

Forgive me, Mr. Gordon. From now on I will try looking at you in a new light.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Exploding Doughnut turns SIX today!

With social media ever-evolving, I don't know where that leaves my blog(s), but it's still here--for now…and I'm glad about that.

Thanks to everyone who has supported my art and words this far.

This blog would be nothing without all of you!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Shake-up at the university.

Oh shit!

Let's just say I was disappointed when I heard the news.

But as the poem goes, nothing gold can stay.

There are changes taking place at my university job.

When I first started over three years ago, my supervisor was a bit of a nightmare. Impatient, aggressive, mean at times. I'm convinced she has demon-blood in her veins. Thankfully she was relieved of watching over the Loop location about a year-and-a-half ago.

Well there's been another restructuring and she's back in charge of the downtown campus where I work.

Because I work the weeknight shift, I'll rarely see her but just knowing she'll be around at anytime puts a damper on things.

We were also notified a full-time colleague will be permanently sent to the Northside location.

To top it all off, of the nine AWESOME students working for us, eight are graduating this year and new ones will have to be hired to replace them.

It feels like we're loose pieces in a snowglobe that's just been shaken.

Hopefully those of us that remain can adapt to the changes once everything's settled and not lose the amazing dynamic our department has.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Married Engagement.

There was happiness on her face. She showed me the ring. Engaged. My God.

One of my student workers told me her boyfriend of five years proposed over Christmas break. They're still quite young but are planning for a long engagement and a wedding when they're both done with school.

And the other day, the department-head at my old city job e-mailed me saying him and his partner of 17 years got married last month.

Both my student worker and former coworker are AWESOME. They totally deserve it. It warms my heart to hear their news yet I'm a touch saddened it's not my news.

Don't I deserve it too?

I LOVE this!!

How does love find some so easily and effortlessly but for the rest of us, we wander, adrift and alone? I don't think I'll ever understand that.

Will I ever meet a wonderful man who will propose and marry me one day?

God, I sure hope so.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Tagging cats!

You know if I end up in hell one day, I'll be scratched non-stop by cats for all eternity.

That's what I get--but it'll be worth it. .;)

Another year over, another cat calendar defaced at work.

Here are my favorite sharpie "enhancements" from the past year courtesy of my office space…



Cool cat.


Maybe she's born with it--maybe it's Maybelline.

Ah, the memories.

Which do YOU like the best?

I've done so many of these, maybe I should add "cat-tagger" to my resume.

Tee hee hee.