Thursday, December 31, 2015

Looking back.

It's the last day of the year.

You know what that means?

The annual year-in-review is here!

Every single post from 2015 has been carefully listed right for your viewing pleasure.

A perfect way to "catch-up" and for newbies to see what I was up to this year.

Let's go!


(1-5-15) Tagging cats!
(1-10-15) Married Engagement.
(1-17-15) Shake-up at the university.
(1-22-15) Six!
(1-24-15) Mr. Gordon.


(2-3-15) Shared Journal--the beginning.
(2-4-15) Wordless Wednesday - This week's blizzard!
(2-7-15) "Justin's heart" (Shared Journal - Page 6)
(2-14-15) Vacuuming on Valentine's Day.
(2-28-15) Love is out there.


(3-22-15) Two becomes three...again.


(4-19-15) Update!
(4-30-15) Surprise!!


(5-3-15) Without me there.
(5-10-15) Mom.
(5-17-15) Dancing at the grocery store!
(5-24-15) Buying flowers for work.


(6-6-15) Wearing Jesus.
(6-28-15) Yellow Quarter!


(7-12-15) Getting it all out.
(7-19-15) The games men play.
(7-25-15) Something nice.


(8-12-15) Changing the trajectory of my life.
(8-16-15) That yellow chair.
(8-24-15) Blue Dime!
(8-29-15) August 29th...


(9-7-15) Someplace of my own.
(9-20-15) Four years already.
(9-21-15) Feather heart!


(10-5-15) One month down!
(10-12-15) One man's trash...
(10-19-15) Flower wreath!


(11-5-15) "Blood Butterflies" - W.I.P. Step 3 - Completion!
(11-10-15) Both sides now.
(11-18-15) For my place.
(11-26-15) In my bed.


(12-14-15) The day after.
(12-24-15) Kiss the moonlight.
(12-28-15) Orange Quarter!
(12-31-15) Looking back.

The big things that stood out for me this year were landing my second part-time university job, which in turn afforded me to rent my first-ever apartment.

I hope 2016 will bring as significant changes…for the better.

Happy New Year, everyone!!

Thank YOU for joining me on this journey.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Orange Quarter!

Another one!

While doing the deposit at the crafts store, I came across yet another painted quarter. This time a deep pumpkin orange.

You'll recall I found a yellow quarter and then a blue dime afterwards.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. It is a crafts store after all, so that's bound to attract artsy/crafty customers...who obviously have a thing for decorating money.

What color will I find next? Time will tell!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Kiss the moonlight.

The moon locked eyes with mine. Its light called to me the way lovers do. The blackness of the water glittered like a jewel.

How gorgeous.

After running errands this evening, I walked over to the lakefront to escape the commotion of the city (now that I live across the street from the lake).

The (almost) full moon hovered over the water...

These pictures do NOT do it justice!

In my entire neighborhood, I was the only there.

It reminds me that people's priorities are skewed. How sad that no one else cared about something so beautiful.

It also reminded me I had no one to share it with.

As the waves hit the shore in silky laps, I knew I could slip into the water and let the current take me under and no one would know. There's something so lovely about that.

I stayed there a good forty minutes but when the oncoming clouds devoured the moon, I headed back to my apartment.

Even though the moment was tinged with sadness, the beauty of the scene surpassed it. I thanked God as I left for I was truly blessed to kiss the moonlight.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The day after.

I called out his name this morning. There was no reply.

He flew back home last night and my apartment feels terribly empty.

Over three years in the making, it finally culminated into something tangible--something amazing--last week.

I miss him already. A lot.

But better to have had a taste of what could be than nothing at all. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

There must be a way to make it work (there must!) but neither of us knows how just yet. I do fear it may all dissolve into the ether but we'll see what happens.

In the meantime, I hope he remains in my life, and me in his heart.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

In my bed.

The last time I had a bed to sleep in was during my sophomore year of high school.

Ever since then I've slept on a couch, a sofa bed, and yes, on the floor at home. I'd never sleep well under those conditions, often waking up every few hours to change sides--at times getting bruised on my hips.

It's hard to imagine over half of my life sleeping that way but that's the way it was…until now.

I bought myself a queen size bed!

It was delivered to my new apartment over the weekend.

It's one of the things I always longed for when I was finally on my own.

I slept in my bed for the first time the night it was delivered. It felt luxurious and comfortable and dare I say, sensual.

I bought plush pillows and expensive bedsheets. It almost felt too extravagant and I had the notion of sleeping on the floor again.

But as I sunk into the softness, I told myself I was worth it and deserved this bed!

So on this day of giving thanks, I'm grateful to finally have a bed to sleep in. For that I'm truly blessed. May all of you be as blessed as well.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

For my place.

It's been over two months and my new(ish) apartment still feels very bare and plain.

I bought flowers to add some color and life to the space.

A colorful bouquet of mini carnations!

White, yellow, and pink blooms to greet me and bring a smile to my face after long days at work.

What a lovely thing to come home to...

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Both sides now.

"Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
Feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way.

Now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way.

(I've looked at clouds from both sides now)
I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's cloud's illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all."

Maybe it was the updated, pop version that caught my attention. Or the gentle lyrics tugging at my heartstrings.

While doing time edits (payroll) at the crafts store I work at, this song came on the overhead speakers and made me tear up a bit...

"Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy, dancing way you feel
When every fairy tale comes real
I've looked at love that way.

Now it's just another show
You leave 'em laughin' when you go
And if you care, don't let them know
Don't give yourself away.

I've looked at love from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It's love's illusions I recall
I really don't know love at all."

Do you ever feel there are times when life falls into place only for everything to not make sense? Logically you think you know, when in reality you haven't got a clue.

That's what this song reminds me of. The past. The future. And hoping to God I'm doing things right in the present.

"Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say "I love you" right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I've looked at life that way.

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost and something's gained
In living every day.

(I've looked at life from both sides now)
I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life...

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's cloud's illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all.

I really don't know life at all."

Thursday, November 5, 2015

"Blood Butterflies" - W.I.P. Step 3 - Completion!

It's been SO long I actually forgot this piece still existed.

I was determined to get it done. Here's the finished painting…four years in the making!

Watercolors on watercolor paper - 5" x 7" (NFS)

In this last step, the darks were strengthened to make the muscles "pop" and I added the red on the butterflies and the splattering on the torso.

:::Close-up detail:::

It was meant to be a companion piece to "Blood Butterfly" but in all honesty, so much time has passed I no longer remember what the original inspiration was for the artwork. 

Perhaps that's why it kept getting further and further put off. There was a disconnect with the piece and it started to lose meaning--its life-source--for me.

I'm just glad it's done. Four years!! Can I get a fuckity-fuck and super-shit for old time's sake? Yes, please!

I've decided to give this painting to a blogging friend who's bought a number of my nudes in the past.

It's my way of saying thank you for all the support and advice he's given me these past several years.

And now I can finally say…


Monday, October 19, 2015

Flower wreath!

It's my mother's birthday today!

She's always on the lookout for floral wreaths to hang on her door--so I made her one as a gift!

Here it is…

I hot-glued artificial flower tops onto a store-bought grapevine wreath (18"). Pretty self-explanatory.

It had the same look of the floral heart I mailed out last year.

floral close-ups!

The goal was for the wreath to be loaded with color and so full you couldn't see the grapevine from underneath.

I hope she likes it.

And to keep it real, my brothers and I got her two dozen roses as well. After all she's done for us, it the very least we can do.

Happy Birthday, Mom!!

Monday, October 12, 2015

One man's trash...

It was propped up against a garbage can. Discarded, waiting for the landfill.

This is what I came upon while walking through the neighborhood next to mine…

Found artwork - 18" x 24" (origin unknown)

An Asian seascape of some kind. It looked a bit amateurish (probably mass-produced) yet exotic.

The fact that no one else wanted the painting made me want it that much more. It was too colorful to ignore!

I'm going to hang it up in my new place. It'll be my first work of art to go up there!

As the saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."

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.