Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Oasis

♪ I put on some make-up
Turn on the eight-track
I'm pulling the wig down from the shelf... ♪ ♫

Oh, hi there. Sorry, I was just singing to myself.

So, choir practice is out for the summer. Who knew that choirs did this? The Southern Baptist church I sang in didn't. Not that I remember, anyway. It was over 20 years ago, though.

The reason for mentioning this is that our last big hoorah was Pentecost Sunday. We worked for a few weeks on the songs and it was a special Pentecost choir, not just the every-week one. So, I told Nameless that he needed to come see me sing this time. I actually asked if he would like to come, but there was a definite undercurrent of "you'd better say yes" to the way I asked. Being that he's the only one I told (in person) about my post-Easter meltdown – mid-meltdown – I think he understood that it was more than just a casual invitation in case he happened to already be planning on driving 40 miles from his home on a Sunday morning to attend Mass in a parish not his own.

And, I think we did a darn good job. Somehow he and Patricia (she also showed up) got it into their heads that I was going to be singing a solo. I suppose a normal person wouldn't have asked friends to come see them unless they were singing a solo, but I'm still a little delicate and I didn't want to be alone after we finished. Just in case.

After mass we went to lunch. Patricia (who will have her own little entry here soon) has been trying to get Nameless to go see the art gallery at The Oasis restaurant on Lake Travis. I had never been to The Oasis, so it seemed like a pretty good idea to take advantage of the fact that Nameless was already so close. They're always looking for galleries to sell their art in, even though they almost never want to sell their art in galleries.

The main draw of The Oasis is the view. Situated on a cliff overlooking Lake Travis, it is the self-proclaimed Sunset Capital of Texas. So, we didn't have a problem being seated for lunch, which is definitely not the sunset hour at this latitude. We ate outside under one of the 19,192 umbrellas. (Even still, my scalp got sunburned. I have GOT to remember to wear a hat!) Nameless ordered fried avocado tacos and I ordered a hamburger and we split them both between us. Patricia had a vegetarian dish, because she's a vegetarian when eating out. (This is part of a long, yet morbidly fascinating story.) I think it would be cliché to say that I'd had better food in my life and that you're paying for the location. The food was good and the view was nice. We saw islands in the lake that aren't supposed to be there (caused by the drought.) We saw disgustingly large houses. I don't think I saw any boats, but I'm not sure they are able to get on the water, again due to the drought.

I was expecting a restaurant with many patios. I got that, plus a small shopping center that apparently sprung up around it. A flag was flying announcing Oasis, TX, and that was kind of the feel. The shops were up and downstairs, and it was all very rustic.

There is a gallery on the ground floor, Texas Treasures. They had some very lovely antiques and contemporary art. An artist I know from Elgin named Greg Silkenson (Talking Wood) has work there. He has some nicely designed wooden boxes there. He might have some of his furniture there as well, but I didn't see it if he does. (I own one of his boxes. I keep hand-fabricated jewelry in it.)

The Blue Genie is on the second floor and they do have nice work. They are more contemporary. They actually have a show close to Christmastime in town. I'm not certain about their entire history; I don't think they've been in Oasis, TX very long, because I don't think it's been there very long. I don't know if they existed as a gallery before the Christmas Bazaar or if it was the other way around. One way or another, I recognized a couple of artists there. For instance, a potter named Jason Hooper.

After checking out the galleries we retired for a cup of coffee. Then Patricia decided that we were going to go sit on her friend's dock and watch the lake, even though neither Nameless or I really wanted to. She disappeared for about 20 minutes to look for her friend's phone number, because the fact that somebody says no has never bothered her for one minute.

We ended up sitting in the courtyard until around 7. In case you're keeping track, we were there from around noon until around 7. Yes, that's a very long time. We saw the line grow longer and longer as people began showing up to watch the sunset from the famous patios. Nameless was apparently enjoying relaxing and not feeling the urgent need to be doing something, a feeling that overwhelms him any time he's around his home. I'm certain that I would not have chosen to be out there that long, though it was fun and we did enjoy the courtyard and its sculptures, which we would have otherwise missed.

eArnie on the patio at The Oasis

Statue in the courtyard

Gymnast statue in the courtyard

Gymnast statue in the courtyard

Statue of Wishing Well in the courtyard

When we finally left we discovered that the line waiting for a table extended from the people waiting in line to cars waiting to get in to be able to park so that they could get in line. The line of cars went out of the parking area and up the road, and people were parking along the side of the road and walking very long distances for the privilege of enjoying the Sunset Capital of Texas at sunset. Perhaps it was busier than usual because it was a holiday weekend, but people seemed to think this was all perfectly normal. I can't imagine a sunset over a half-empty man-made lake could possibly be that impressive, but clearly there are plenty of people who disagree.

After that we went to Torchy's Taco's because upon leaving the restaurant Nameless and I decided that we were hungry. Again, Nameless and I split our orders and again Patricia had a vegetarian option. I mentioned the story behind the name of one of the items on the menu. I don't think I'm going to say which one here, but you could look up their menu and see if you can figure out which one I'm talking about. After I told them they both momentarily wondered if they were still hungry enough to eat. (They were.)

Then we went to HEB for ONE THING and ended up leaving an hour later with a miniature shopping cart overflowing because they weren't going to get a normal-sized shopping cart because they only came in for one thing, never mind that the minicart was so full that we were carrying the overflow in our hands. I did get a nice basil plant, which I've been looking for for weeks, and I ended up getting an Esperanza so that Nameless could get the 4th potted plant for free.

In the end I got home at almost 11pm. I'll have to think twice before I invite Nameless to see me sing at church again. Fortunately Monday was Labor Day and I was off from work. I might not have been in a very good mood about the whole thing otherwise.

So, that's my Oasis experience. I've only lived in Austin since 1998; that's what, 14 years it took me to eat there? That's about par for the course in my life.

I'm ready for bed now. I'll write more later.


e A r n i e

P.S. If you happen to visit the web sites that are linked from this blog, please let them know that eArnie sent you. Thanks.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Well Begun is Half-Done

So, progress on The Room. This is more than a project, it's a life-changing event. And, it's not going entirely well. Actually, it's going well, inasmuch as it's going. It's just not going very fast. I open a box and I'm flooded with memories and fumes. Art supplies I haven't seen in years and years - one of which I didn't even recognize and can't quite figure out. So, naturally I want to set everything aside and draw and paint. But, I haven't let myself do that. (This doesn't count the times that I used some of the supplies for actual needed purposes. It was just so cool that I had them and was able to use them again.)

One can't really look at this in an isolated manner; it includes everything that's gone between. Easter, the CRHP retreat, the meltdown.

I've made a couple of small purchases. (Making purchases is another bad habit of mine that I'm trying to break and it's far too easy to think that I could go spend lots of money and make this situation go away, which, of course, it wouldn't so I'm trying o restrain myself.) I got some containers/organizers for the art supplies that I'm going to keep. I have put things in them finally. This has cut down on the number of boxes in here.

New things I have to face:

The empty boxes that are behind the closet door. I couldn't really see them before because a stack of boxes was blocking them. Now I have to ask myself, "Why do I feel that I need to keep these boxes?" Probably because I have no faith in myself and my ability to maintain an apartment by myself and I just figure I'll be packing up again soon, so I may as well keep the boxes. (This is not without reason.) That's not a conscious decision, like when I was young and we moved so often that sometimes my mom wouldn't unpack stuff because she knew we weren't going to be staying long enough. It's more of a mix between inertia and a subliminal sense of futility.

The piano is out of tune, and so am I. I sat down to play and I'm not able. I used to be able; now I am not. And, the lower notes (about G through C) all sound the same. They are supposed to sound different; that's why they're different notes. This is generally not good. But, it can be fixed.

Things I want but do not need:

A camera that's thin enough to fit in my messenger bag. I was out yesterday and wanted to take pictures to post here, but I didn't have my camera with me. The one I have takes excellent pictures, but it's a tad bit large to keep with me.

A new, smaller laptop to keep with me for writing purposes - in coffee shops for instance.

Another thing that seems to be obvious is that I could take a day or two off and just get through it. I've tried. I tend to drink coffee until around noon, at which point it's time to eat and then I usually have to leave the house for SOMETHNG and then it's all over. And, if I don't leave the house I stare at the computer, transfixed on facebook/email/ until very late. I'm trying to force myself to wake up, face The Room, face my life and get through it.

That's where I am so far. I'll write more later.

e A r n i e

Piano and artword
The piano with small objets d'art and music organized.

Stuff I still need to do something with.

The unidentified art supply (on an address book). It has soft wood inside and you twist it to bring the wood out the top.

P.S. I meant to mention that as I was writing this a song came up on the Genius playlist I'm listening to. The song is called My Last Cigarette, sung by K.D Lang. I thought it was very appropriate, both in the lyrics and aesthetics. Check it out. It's on her Drag album.

Monday, May 21, 2012


May 20, 2012

I have a friend who shall remain nameless. I’ve mentioned him a few times here; I’ve called him Nameless, and he shall remain Nameless. This is his choice. I leave it to you, Gentle Reader, to figure out who he is. People who know me closely will not have a problem.

The thing is that Nameless and I dated – or I thought we dated – for a while. That didn’t work out well. This is actually my second attempt at writing this entry because the first one ended up going on and on about the relationship and the details of why it didn’t work out, but that’s not really what I want to write about – for this particular post or in general.

Nameless and I are still very good friends. He’s actually my best friend, and I’m not one to use that handle gratuitously. He’s more like a brother. I’ve met his family and they have adopted me; I’m invited to all the functions. Recently a friend of his asked if we were back together. I’ve had to really begin to watch myself that way, because it’s easy to slip into the habits and familiarity of couplehood. But, he doesn’t want to be together; he has told me this more times than I care to mention.

My point, and I do have one, is that while I’m trying to date again, it’s not easy. First of all, it’s not easy to meet people – for me anyway. Second, it’s not easy to meet people that I would want to date. I’m really just not into bars any more; I should go more often just to kind of keep that line in the water, but it’s a lot of hassle. Then there’s online dating. ***Please do not read this next sentence if you’re squeamish.*** If you create a profile on a gay dating site and describe yourself to God and everybody as a top, then you’d better have the balls and self-confidence to go along with that bold statement because I don’t have time to babysit or listen to snivelly, whiny men who ask me every 5 minutes if they’re bothering me. ***Okay, you may begin reading again.***

But, I end up comparing people to Nameless. By that I don’t mean to say that he’s where I set the standard because I’d like to think my standards are a little higher than somebody who won’t agree to officially call me a boyfriend much less a partner; I’m shooting for a husband here. But, I end up asking myself, “Would I introduce this man to my mother? My sister? My nieces and nephews? Would this man introduce me to his family and make me a part of it? Could I make this man an intimate part of my life? Would I buy a house with him? (This didn’t happen with Nameless, but I wanted it to.) The answer so far has been no… since I stopped thinking that I was dating Nameless, anyway. There were a few close-calls before him.

This doesn’t even touch on the number of friends I’ve met through him, some of whom I call my own friends. So, when I broke up with him, and said that we could be just friends, and it turned out that this meant that nothing changed except for my expectations, it left me in an awkward position. Many people have told me that I should consider just phasing him out of my life – for a while anyway. (One person told me to just burn the bridge, but she’s warped and has far more self-esteem and friends than I do.) The truth is that he’s more than a friend. When I need help with something he generally will drop whatever he’s doing to help me. (Like, when I run out of gas in the pouring rain, for instance.) He’s been with me for any important events in my life since we’ve become close. When I attended a very moving retreat at church there was a supper at the end for family members to join the attendees. He’s the (only) one who came. He was there when I was confirmed as a Catholic; he was there when I was in a car accident that left me lying on the side of the road and eventually in an ambulance. I know that I can count on him and I can’t just turn my back on that.

So, now as I meet people and begin talking with other men I feel a pang of guilt from time to time. It will be awkward if I ever do date again. But, even beyond that, coming out of that situation has left me a little fuzzy, as if I’ve been napping for ages and I’m coming into the world again, blinking in the bright sun, rubbing sleep out of my eyes and wondering what’s happened. I used to have a circle of friends (one of my own) and this and that happened and now I don’t have that circle any more, and all of my friends seem to be through Nameless to one degree or another. I’m not just in the market for a boyfriend; I’m looking for a brand new set of friends that I can count on. (Before anybody gets their panties into a wad, let me clarify by saying that this doesn’t mean that I DON’T have friends, it just means that I want more of them.) Because, every time I get to a weekend or an evening and I want to go out for dinner I call Nameless. For anything big or small my first reaction is to call Nameless. And, while I will never say that I regret knowing him or that I wish we weren’t friends, I’m never going to make new friends this way.

So, that’s my awkward little story about a very special person, who shall remain Nameless. Now it’s very late, I’m very tired and though I probably won’t sleep due to the volume of coffee I’ve consumed today I need to think about going to bed.

More later,

e A r n i e

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Vorakit Chinookoswong


Here's a piece of art I own. The artist is Vorakit Chinookoswong, otherwise known as Chin. I tried to take a picture of it on the bookshelf next to my beloved books, but the light wouldn't cooperate. So, since I had to take it outside I decided to show it next to a brilliantly green potato vine. 

I don't know Chin incredibly well, but I believe he is originally from Thailand, and was brought up to learn Japanese. (I learned this on the same evening we were in the back of my friend's [Namless] van – singing Abba songs from a Mamma Mia soundtrack.) As an artist, I believe he has been throwing pottery for about 294,794,742 years. (This has not been verified.) My artist friends and  my artist groupie friends all seem to have his work. I was whining about this heavily for around a year before Nameless finally broke down and got me a piece for myself.

His glazes have evolved through the years. I like the more subtle colors of his best. I especially like this one; it looks like it's old and worn off in places. He described the glaze to me once and it didn't stick in my brain, but I do know that he had to go out of his way to achieve that effect. 

All in all I like this piece. It makes me happy. 

More later,

e A r n i e

My Chin ceramic pot with his signature frog

P.S. I guess I should mention that Chin has a website: If you go there tell him eArnie sent you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Follow-up to Holy Thursday. Good Friday, for Instance


Well, it's been over a month since I last wrote. There's a reason for that. I've been spent, emotionally and physically.

My last post was about Holy Thursday. After that – after Easter – I wrote a post about Good Friday and the Easter Vigil; I just didn't publish it. Actually, I told myself that I would write it for myself, and then rewrite it for posting. Turns out, I didn't even make it through the first writing. I was reading it just now and it stops mid-sentence. I was crying while writing it and I think I decided to sleep on it and then finish it later. Then, I didn't finish it later. Father Larry had said that the readings for Palm Sunday and the rest of the week were bi-polar (his words) and he wasn't lying. I won't go into too much detail – because I told myself I wouldn't dwell on things like that here – but I’ll summarize.

Friday was a mix of being too long and being wonderful with dramatic songs. Saturday I rested and then went to church by 7:30 PM, ready to sing. After having practiced so much and after singing beautiful songs with a beautiful choir and a small orchestra, after a finale of the Halleluiah Chorus from Handel's Messiah and the adrenaline rush that went along with it I had a complete meltdown. At one point, I was crying in a grocery store shopping for a piece of cake to take home and eat alone. I was very lonely. My friend, Nameless, usually would come with me to events like this, but he must have been with his family that night. I don't even remember why he didn't go. Maybe I didn't ask him to. Then, nobody asked me how it went and I felt even worse about it.

Then we had a retreat to put on the next weekend. I'm sworn to secrecy, so I can't describe what is involved in a Christ Renews His Parish retreat (CRHP), but I will say that it was one of the  most moving, rewarding, exhausting experiences I've had in a while. And, I made friends that I would not have had otherwise.

However, coming as it did on the heels of Easter weekend I was very, very tired and there were follow-up meetings to attend and there were other things going on to the point that last week I had to play hookie from choir practice because I had something going on every night of the week and I couldn't take it any more.

But, I'm better now. I have gone through most of the things in The Room and though it's still not presentable, I feel better about it. I found a nice little shelf and wooden magazine holders for my piano music. I've gone through the box of artwork and I've decided where I want to put most of it.

One thing I decided to do this year was remember birthdays and I did pretty good until May. I blew it on the first few weeks. But, I think I'll be able to get back in the saddle and keep going with it. I do love writing letters (actually handwriting them) and sending cards through the mail and people really seem to appreciate getting them, so it's something I am going to keep up.

So, that's what's been going on this last month. That and visiting four relatives in four different hospitals on four different occasions for four different ailments. But, that's a different story for a different time.

More later,

e A r n i e