Tuesday, April 22, 2008

B'more Random Musings

This past weekend, I was one of twelve bloggers who attended the first annual Blogger's Family Reunion. I was nervous about attending since despite my blogging for over three years, I felt I'd be the most unknown entity. I'm the only blogger of the twelve that has no form of identification on my blog. My initial reason for not disclosing my picture was fearing someone I know would recognize me and my gay secret would come out. After a while though, that fear was gone (especially when the ladies I came out to both said they knew) and I enjoyed the idea of hiding behind a cartoon. It mirrored my life perfectly. I'm the guy behind the scenes that is rarely noticed and is always trying to blend (not always successfully) with my surroundings. It's my preference since I tend to avoid a lot of drama (aside from my own manufactured drama) that way. Sometimes I'll try to be more adventurous and carefree but that's usually after cautiously weighing out the pros and cons.

I realized that by coming to Baltimore I would no longer be able to hide behind the cartoon. Sure some of my blog family has seen me before. But none of those visits were big planned events where lots of photos would be taken and posted on their blogs. I knew I wouldn't be able to stop that from happening. I wavered back and forth over whether I should go or not. But I decided to fuck it and just go. I knew it'd be great to meet everyone else and also visit the Baltimore area again. I used to live outside of Baltimore years ago before moving to Chicago. Of course I was young and naive back then and was in deep denial about my gayness. I wasn't doing much in the straight arena either. But that's for another entry. *LOL*.

I'm definitely glad I took Friday off since work has been ten kinds of stressful. I'm adjusting to a new project and manager and both have been challenging. Not to make light of women having babies but this project has bought moments when I wished I were nine months pregnant so I could take a three month leave.

So Hemingway I packed lightly (too lightly) and after Southwest's usual delays, eventually arrived in Baltimore around 4:50PM. The first blogger I met was Norris. Norris had the distinction (at that time) of being the only blogger of the remaining eleven that I've met personally when he visited Chicago. He was nice enough to pick me up from the airport and hook me up with a sweet hotel deal at Hammond Inn. (Unfortunately I had gone to hotwire and booked another hotel at Westin that I couldn't get my money back for. But I figured since I wouldn't be renting a car while in Baltimore and the deal I got wound up being about the price I'd pay for a rental Hemingway that it was all good.)

Norris dropped me off at my hotel and promptly went back to his hotel to take a nap. I stepped into my room and chilled for a bit. I chatted with Rock for a few minutes, who himself was at his Mom's place putting together her new Bose surround sound system while she was visiting her sister in Springfield. I was telling him how nice the room was and how I wished he could be with me. The room was even nicer than the one Rock and I stayed at when we visited St. Louis a couple weekends ago (I have to blog about that too...so behind in blogging..thanks to my stressful job).

I received a text later from Norris telling me that Cocoa Rican was also staying at the Hammond and he gave me his room number to call. I promptly called his room, curious to chat with him. He didn't pick up however. I later learned that he was with Mr Jones getting all the party favors for the night.

I entertained myself with logging into my laptop and surfing the Net. Eugene called to shoot the breeze and we killed time talking about various topics until my stomach started to rumble. I told Eugene I needed to go find out when dinner was happening. I only had Rice Krispies cereal and Chex mix for food that day. I called Norris but he was still sleeping. I totally understood since he drove ten hours from Atlanta to be at the event. I realized that I would have to take matters into my own hands and made my way to the Harbor, which was only three short blocks from my hotel.

Figuring that we'd all go to dinner later, I simply bought a greasy pizza from S'barro's. I also beforehand stopped at The Gap for a t-shirt but balked that there weren't any real sales (even if they're perceived) to be had. As I finished up on the pizza, I got a call from Norris that he was getting ready to pick me up. I made my way back to the hotel and quickly showered and got dressed.

I met Norris outside in his car and he mentioned that we're also waiting for Cocoa Rican. The man himself eventually came and we greeted each other. My first impression of him was that he's short and fiery. I could definitely pick up on his New York accent, which made me think of The Nanny. I got the impression from his banter that he could be quite the character.

We later arrived at Homewood Suites and made our way to the 11th floor. We walked towards a corner suite and as were were arriving, a friend of Mr. Jones, Nia was leaving. I saw Mr Jones and another blogger (I assumed) that I didn't immediately recognize. I introduced myself and immediately went for some chips and I may have had a rum and cranberry. A question on where the other blogger was from led to conclude that Lauderdaleboi1500 (Andre) was in the house. My first impression of Andre was that he was a very friendly guy. He seemed to be in awe (like I was) of the guys in the room. He looked like he was about 18 and I held that assumption since I didn't recall him fixing a drink.

I enjoyed the variety of banter that mostly Norris, Cocoa, and Mr. Jones were giving. Nia soon came back as well. I was curious if we were still going to dinner but gave up on that idea when remembering that more guys were coming and it was hitting close to midnight (though truth I lost track of time).

Two more bloggers came into the mix, neither of whom I immediately recognized. I introduced myself to Joey Bahamas and j_shanlin (Jared). Joey was quite the fashion plate, appearing like he could walk the runway. Jared as I would learn was the youngest of the bunch and I swear I've read his blog before but couldn't find any comments from me. Jared was cute and goofy and his various antics were among the evening highlights. He later left to go get Promiscuous X, who I was mixing up with another "X" blogger (who's blog is defunct and replaced by another weird blog...so I guess he's not blogging anymore).

Then the guys termed as the "Jersey Crew" arrived. All three blogs I've recalled and I was excited to meet them, especially ShawnQT, who reminds me of a smaller Rock. I also remembered ShawnQT's better half Fuzzy and their friend Ty. Both Shawn and Fuzzy displayed a playful nature and I enjoyed seeing how they took care of each other. Ty came across as very level-headed and the brains of a successful corporation. Fuzzy made a comment that Ty and I dressed almost similarly and as I looked closer I realized that he did.

Jared returned with Promiscuous X. I think I responded to an entry he had mimicking the popular Who Wants To Be A Millionaire game. He straight up had the dl-thug look going for him. He did exude a certain swagger about him and it was cool seeing him interact with the rest of the crew.

Eventually the last of the bloggers, Darius, showed up. It was cool finally meeting since we've talked of meeting in our hometown but never materialized.

The conversations ranged from different experiences certain bloggers were going through to the numerous clubs that bloggers have gone to. As one of only two older bloggers (I won't reveal the other one...*LOL*), I felt a bit old and behind the times of the twenty-something majority. Of course I know you're only as old as you feel.

I was extra excited seeing snippets of a couple reruns of Half & Half. I "let that be the reason" I named my blog Half & Half, Tit & Tit. It made me angry again remembering how the show got killed before its time. I can only hope they release the entire series on DVD eventually. It might take another twenty years, though.

It got quite loud at different points of the evening and I started wondering when we'd get the knock or phone call from hotel security telling us to keep it down. But neither came and it was hilarious seeing Mr. Jones remind everyone to use their "inside voices" every fifteen minutes and then proceed to be just as loud. Guess in our group it was the only way to be heard. That could explain why I wasn't heard...*LOL*.

It was close to the witching hour (actually way past it) and we needed to decide as a group what was happening tomorrow. Mr. Jones suggested we all get together at noon for a "communal breakfast".

It was 12:30 PM on Saturday when the first group got together. It comprised of Mr Jones, Norris, Cocoa, Andre, Darius, and myself. After a debate between eating out and buying breakfast foods, it was decided to do the latter. So the six of us walked a couple blocks to where Mr. Jones parked his rental. We drove to a "Whole Foods" like store (can't remember the name) where we proceeded to buy eggs, breakfast sausage, bacon, OJ, and potatoes and Darius picked up a few extra things that he felt would make breakfast complete.

Before arriving back at the hotel, Mr. Jones got a call from the other blogger half stating that they were at the hotel. We arrived a little bit after 2PM. There was a bit of debate over who'd cook breakfast but Fuzzy immediately stepped up to the task. I went searching for pots and only found one so Norris went down to the front for some more. Eventually I quietly stepped up and with Fuzzy's assist turned on the portable grill and cooked all the sausage and bacon. I'm proud to say that I didn't burn any of the bacon...*LOL*. I texted Rock afterwards and told him that I owed him a cooked breakfast. Fuzzy cut up some potatoes and onions and cooked those up to rave reviews.

We then spent the afternoon watching the Phoenix Suns against the San Antonio Spurs. Ty mentioned having a crush on Tim Duncan but nobody else was really feeling him. He'll be happy to know that the Spurs beat the Suns 117-115 in double overtime. Of course the discussion centered on the difference between straight men watching the game versus gay men, with the latter instead of focusing on gameplay and scoring focusing on asses and who got the sharpest look.

It was decided to meet back in Homewood around 8:30PM and head out for dinner. I had just enough time to run back to the Harbor to pick up a couple t-shirts and some socks. We wound up going to Burger King's instead where I was forced to buy a Whopper (mostly cause I was hungry...*LOL*). Norris was nice enough to get me a wrap from McDonald's earlier that I was hoping would tide me up for a real sit-down dinner. We got that sit down dinner but little did I know that sit-down wouldn't happen until 3AM...*LOL*.

The game plan was originally to go to a club that I can't recall the name. We wound up not getting in due to Jared being so young. ShawnQT cracked me up with his description of the guys being too "DC looking" (or something like that). I took it to mean ugly and I got that confirmation when I asked him how many drinks it'd take to make them attractive and Shawn said none. I was pleasantly surprised when Fuzzy gave me his phone and it was Soldier. I had forgotten that Soldier was friends with Fuzzy and ShawnQT. Soldier was basically checking in with me to make sure I was having fun. It was totally cool hearing from him.

We wound up going to a sports bar thanks to the suggestion of Joey Bahamas. He wound up having a hook up there who made sure we had our drink on. I was even surprised when my glass had an "E" shaped piece of ice on it, which I had Ty capture in his still shots. I swear it was a sign from above. Ohhh...I guess you might see a picture or two of me in there as well....*LOL*.

Joey Bahamas came to the rescue again suggesting a great 24-hour breakfast diner spot. By then, though, I was thinking that my early morning flight wasn't sure a great idea. I was just hoping that I wouldn't fall asleep and miss my flight. I was feeling a bit cranky by then and it showed. But the morning picked up when a drag version of my favorite character on Half & Half BDD made an appearance. He even had an entourage of really hot B-boys around him. I would've said something but luckily the rest of the crew interacted and I believe Mr. Darius managed to capture a picture of him in his stills (among other pictures). I swear that put a smile on my face and eventually my hunger returned as Joey made suggestions on what to order.

My medium-well steak turned out perfect, though Darius and Mr. Jones's similar ordered steaks weren't to their liking. Luckily things were eventually fixed to their satisfaction and eventually we exited the restaurant.

By the time we got back it was after 5:30AM. Knowing that I might oversleep, I sent Rock a text around 2AM telling him to call me at 5AM his time (6AM mine) to wake me up. He wound up calling just as I was exiting Mr. Jones car. I chatted with him as Cocoa and I made our way to our respective rooms.

I wound up staying up since I didn't want to risk falling asleep. The original plan was to have Norris drop me at the airport but since Norris needed to drop different folks off himself and had the pleasure of driving ten hours back to ATL, I told him not to worry about it. I had the hotel call me a taxi and by 7AM I had checked out and made my way to BWI.

That ended my adventures in Baltimore.

I smiled a bit reading a few recollections of the weekend and how I was perceived (or not perceived at all...*LOL*) by a few bloggers. For the most part, I am a low key individual. I enjoyed listening to everyone banter and occasionally when asked, throwing a few words or two. I just am not an overly animated person that needs to be heard (and actually when I did speak I couldn't be heard anyway...*LOL*) or perform antics to get noticed. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just not my thing. When things got really loud, I definitely wasn't up for shouting myself. I was too worried about the people trying to sleep in the other rooms around us...*LOL*. And the fact that I wasn't shouting or performing antics wound up getting me noticed anyway. Promiscuous X a couple times came up to me asking how come I wasn't speaking and at times seeming shocked when I did. Mr. Jones and to a lesser extent Cocoa (except on his assessment of me on his blog...*LOL*) also kept checking to make sure I was okay. But I was just fine. If nothing else, Norris and I from time to time nonverbally communicated with each other in between his own antics with the group...*LOL*.

Sigh...back to work hell. I so need to play the lottery.

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Blogger Darius T. Williams said...

Great assessment of the weekend. Please you MUST come to San Juan and we have to get these other Chicago bloggers involved.

8:52 AM, April 22, 2008  
Blogger Promiscuous X said...

E...I definetly hear you loud in clear now...As I was reading your blog...since I know what your voice sounds like now....It was like some sex & the city shit while I was reading it lol

Yeah like darius said you gotta come to San Juan next year...You kewl in my book man...I texted you sunday to make sure you and norris and everybody else got home..but no response from you or him

I guess I'll get to know you more threw your blog now


12:23 PM, April 22, 2008  
Blogger That Dude Right There said...

I'm soooooo glad that you did decide to come. Now everyone (at least those who were there) knows who you are!

It was also good to see you laughing and interacting because I know that you are a low-key and introverted type of person.

And if nothing else, I was not going to let you miss that flight!

12:44 PM, April 22, 2008  
Blogger Andre J. Allen II said...

it was good gettin to know you E you a kool dude the talks we had while in the car.

2:46 PM, April 22, 2008  
Blogger yet another black guy said...

i was wondering how the meet up turned out. yours is the first post i've read about it, thanks! hopefully, i will be at the next one with something worthwhile to contribute as well.

8:17 PM, April 22, 2008  
Blogger ShawnQt said...

Who is this Rock Guy? Do I have to go back and read up on this guy? See this is what happens when u stop reading blogs!

I remember always going to your blog and reading earlier on, but they started becoming so long it was hard for my eyes to keep up! LOL. When you have a million and one blogs to read, the long post get "schemed", lol.

But I shall make a better effort in keeping up with the E world, espcially since I adore the cartoon character, as well as the guy behind it.

You made a comment that I was quiet like you... but what really happened was there were two many loud quee...STRONG PERSONALITIES that overshadowed us! LOL.

(nobody through rocks at me, please!)

8:54 PM, April 22, 2008  
Blogger Cocoa Rican said...

Awwww...it was great meeting you! I love quiet -especially when I'm loud and even a "Nanny" soundbite at times! LOL
We all remembered you, we loved ya' and we hope to see ya' again...hey, like any family, each member of our blogger family is different and you represent one of our introverted family members...that's cool with us!

9:17 PM, April 22, 2008  
Blogger E said...

Darius - San Juan sounds intriguing. I look forward to finding out the details.

Mr. X - Sorry I didn't text back. I was knocked the fug out from my wild Saturday night..:-) Heh...I'm picturing myself as Carrie now.

TDRT - I know you had me covered Norris. I definitely appreciated you looking out for me. And you're so hilarious to boot..:-)

Andre - It was cool chatting with you as well. I agree with X that your blog is not work safe...not that I look at any blogs while at work...:-)

Royce - I definitely missed not seeing you but totally understand. I can't wait to meet you later this summer.

ShawnQT - Heh...if only I talked the way I write...*LOL*. Honestly I'm more of a one-on-one type of person. In large groups, I tend to fall back a bit and I guess you're like that too.

If you want to read up on Rock, my first entry on him was sometime in mid-November 2006 called Brand New Man. And of course you can click on the Rock label and it'll give you the last 15 entries on him.

It was definitely a pleasure meeting you.

cocoa - You were a riot. I wish I were as quick witted as Norris and you. I have to remember to roll up my windows when we ride out just in case you're about to cut somebody..:-)

11:07 AM, April 23, 2008  
Blogger Ty said...

Love hanging out with you. You are a man of many words when it comes to writing but of few words iin person. The good thing is that they are words of quality.

I loved half and half. I would run over someone to get home in time just to hear the theme song.

5:55 PM, April 23, 2008  
Blogger j_shanlin said...

OMG!!! who knew?? you; are such a genius when it comes to paper! Well, I guess that you've heard all that jazz before :)
I didnt get that much time to interact with you, but the times i did catch you getting your life were great enough for me! (clit-or-ous). I was with you when you found your E shaped ice so that either means 1 of 2 things: it really was a sign from above, or we both were really FUCKED UP! I'm gonna keep reading your blog, that is unless you call me a raggedy messy bitch or something... lol j/k. I hope to see you in San Juan, and you better get over that shyness because I am SURE Cocoa will have us ass out on some nude beach somewhere

Stay sweet
; )

11:03 PM, April 24, 2008  
Blogger j_shanlin said...

oh yeah and that drag queen did have an eerie resemblance to that woman from half and half... hmmmmm tee hee

11:04 PM, April 24, 2008  
Blogger Mr. Jones said...

E!!!!! So glad you decided to come to Baltimore for the weekend. It was really fantastic having you. Oh, and my steak was just fine. It was that needy bitch Darius who had the problem with his steak...and his knife...and cheddar on his egg opposed to American. LOL.

Until next year!

11:00 AM, April 26, 2008  
Blogger Ladynay said...

It took about 3 visits to read all all that! I am so happy you came from behind the cartoon!

12:36 PM, April 28, 2008  

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