Wednesday 03.26.2014

1958190_10203083110186152_757754188_nI’ve been having sleeping problems again. The weather the last few months has made me super grouchy, so I’m assuming that’s playing into it. Despite having woken up early today, I find myself in bed with Julia conked out next to me, Bailey sleeping in his wee little Baileybed and me wide awake. Once I get to sleep- probably around four am, I’ll have four hours to sleep before the construction resumes on the house next door. After seven years of living here it’s finally sold; from what I understand to someone who had no idea what state of disrepair it was in. For his $60k he’s got himself a house that has a hole in the roof and a tree growing through the back door. His three man refurb crew are working tirelessly from 8am till about 5pm ,every day. Honestly, having entered the house questionably a few years ago, I don’t really see how they’re going to be able to do it. It’s beyond disrepair; even gutting it seems like it would be a risky proposition. Either way, I’m trying to get used to the constant hammering, sanding, knocking and nailing. I’m trying to make the most of the insomnia; editing video for Sacred Debris, working on a Big Book of Fun(tm) for Orlando, writing the intro to (redacted. More info soon) and trying to put to bed an article on the 1995 Amsterdam Tattoo Convention for a friend’s ‘zine. If I’m going to be awake, I should probably be doing more than just watching 1980s movies (currently: MEATBALLS.) and mindlessly surfing the Internets.

I’ve been trying really hard to get into the whole ‘Spring’ vibe, despite it being late March and as of earlier this evening, still snowing. Over the last few Garbage pickup days I’ve taken out several x-tra large bags of clutter culled from multiple closets; things that were just taking up space that served no purpose other than to take up space. I have a lot more to get to- books especially. Having finally given in to the while iBook thing and being able to host all of the Harry Potter books in the space of a few megabytes, I find myself not really needing the space-taking thick as all hell books. I found a box in my guest room closet of books I didn’t even know I had, books that I haven’t read in years so it’s not like I’d miss them if they were gone. I’m going to make an AIDSTHRIFT box in the next few days and get everything dropped off. Julia has been doing the same; I think it’s a nesting thing on both of our parts since she’ll be moving in permanently in just a few weeks. She all but lives here now, but I think that having all of her stuff- or at least what she chooses to keep- will make it seem more real. By the time she’s 100% moved in it’ll be our year anniversary. We’re still obnoxiously, goobery in love with each other (even when she falls asleep during Coraline) so our #neverendinghoneymoonphase tattoos kind of paid off.

animal-kingdom-villas-story-01-v1Speaking of, I’m going to try to convince her that we need to get a vacation tattoo when we go to Disney in a few weeks (54 days) to commemorate another rad family vacation. This time Robert, Carmela and B4 are going to be joining us, as will a cadre of BME Weirdos. We’ve been crossing the Ts and dotting the Is over the last few days- getting the hotel stuff squared, getting our park passes set up, flight information sorted out… it’s been keeping me  occupied as the last dregs of Winter fight for a little more time. All that’s left to do is figure out where and when we want to use our Fast Pass+ options- three per day -and then we’re done. We bought five day passes (and are going to add the Park Hopper option) so there’s a lot of fun to plan. I’m really looking forward to the Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain, Star Tours and the surreality of wandering around the Disney family of parks surrounded by Storm Troopers, Jedi, Sith and the Weirdos who’re joining us on the trip.

Once all that’s sorted out… there’s Vegas for APP. Last year I promised my friend Bethra that I wouldn’t do my traditional ‘I don’t think I’m going next year’ thing for the 2014 Conference. I had a really great time last year despite the sombre task of delivering my friend Shannon’s eulogy at the Banquet. This year I’m going with very few set plans. I might take a few classes if they grab me; might go see Penn and Teller again, might just sit by the pool reading and bs’ing with friends.

I’ve been trying to do the same locally, too. I had a really great brunch with my old friend Lauren the other day at Cantina. We hadn’t done that in years- sit down and have dinner, shoot the breeze and just hang out. It’s always weird to me how friendships can just sort of pause for a while. Lauren and I were really ‘there for each other’ a few years ago when we were both going through a rough patch at the same time so I was worried that having brunch would dig up those memories for me; instead I found myself laughing with an old friend and hoping that we’ll be able to do it again soon. I’m also trying to make plans with the always-busy Natalie for some catchup time. Once the weather gets nicer I’m going to try to make seeing local friends a bigger priority. There’s no excuse not to see the people I love when they live so close.

There’s been a lot going on since the last time I updated; planning my 40th birthday party, finally getting my John the Baptist tattoo worked on in a few weeks, J and I got into a minor car accident… life has been and continues to be full of adventure.

Photo: Sansom Street wall. 

Wednesday 01.01.2014

1535735_10202436329977051_1842024595_nHappy New Year, Internet.
Julia and I watched the New Year roll in quietly, nestled in our house with Bailey, sipping a celebratory champagne and being really thankful of the eight great months we’ve had as a couple and thinking about all the adventures that the rest of our lives has in store for us. We had discussed going out, but with me working in a bar-which is to say socializing for a living- the idea of a quiet ‘just us three’ night really appealed to us. As my new blog issued it’s first three scheduled posts (more about that later) we kissed and hugged and were all goobery with each other. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer night.

My 2013 had radical ups and downs.

My friend Shannon Larratt killed himself. There’s so much to that whole situation that I respectfully keep quiet about, but at the end of the day I often find myself missing my friend and sometimes enemy, and thinking about Rachel and Ari and how much worse it must be for them. Between the Stay Calm event we threw to support them/remember him and my TIFF visit that found me saying my peace at his old apartment I’ve found closure, but.. still a kick in the nuts.

Even more so losing Josh Burdette the same way. At the event, Josh and I were able to stand around and just bullshit about things, and his thoughts on Shannon’s suicide would have never given me cause to think he’d go out the same way. I choose not to dwell on how he died, but how he lived, and when I think back on my friendship with him the good memories far outweigh the bad.

And then Dennis Clegg. Dennis was a friend I made at the bar. Our senses of humor were eerily compatible, as was our love of cookies and Italian Greyhounds. I’d go months at a time without seeing him but could count on him leaving pleasant or sarcastic messages on my Twitter account, day and mood determining which it was. I saw him the night before he died, and in an uncharacteristic and possibly Jameson fueled bit of sentiment, he kissed me on the temple and told me that he loved me and my family. The next morning he left a note on my Twitter telling me I looked like a ‘Russian Serf’ and a few hours later died of a fatal heart attack at swim practice.

This year has served as a sombre reminder of the fragility of life and why I should enjoy it.

And enjoy it I did in 2013.

ggbridgeI started the year in Boston with my good friends Vee, Pat, Ed, Larisa and Dave. The rest of the year found me in San Diego where I got to hang out with Shain, Dustin, Ed, Heng, Chris and Pushead and then up to San Francisco for some touristing time with my friend Zoe who turned out to be an amazing hostess and tour guide. I got to have dinner with my old Florida friend Kristen as well as Hilary, Brooke, the lovely Kelly and Robin and her fella before braving Oakland for a latenight visit with Mr. Joyner. I made my yearly Vegas trip which was my best yet, spending time with Jenna and all of my amazing friends. I visited Toronto and not only saw JODOROWSKY’S DUNE at the Toronto International Film Festival but had the director dedicate the screening to me in front of the whole audience. I was able to visit Jennifer and Richard Stell at their great new shop in Tulsa Oklahoma, make friends with Jennifer Billig (who I’ve looked up to for years) and help roast a hog while hanging out with a lot of great tat-bros, had a crazy round trip visit to Providence, Rhode Island and finish off my travel season with a trip to Austin Texas where I was able to see Bethany for a second time this year as well as a bunch of other friends that I see way too infrequently.

That could have made for chaos, but all of the trips were perfect; cathartic, relaxing and full of adventure.

1507965_10202511466055406_1005943212_nMy greatest adventure in 2013, however, was breaking a promise I had made to myself earlier in the year. I made a pledge, as part of my health/fitness/mental health initiative, to stay single for the remainder of 2013 and into 2014. To have fun. To not get serious and to go on a bunch of first dates. I had committed to it and even when Julia and I agreed that a first date was something she and I needed to do, I was still 100% behind my pledge. By the second date I was ready to propose. As I type this, she’s asleep at my side, curled into an adorable little ball of sass and long black hair and we’re about to celebrate our eight month anniversary. I’m happy to report that every day is still a first date and now that it’s 2014 I guess I can finally give up on the no dating thing and covertly make an honest woman out of her. The three years I knew her before our romantic relationship started couldn’t have prepared me for how we’d fit together as a couple and she continues to impress and humble me every day that I’m lucky to be with her. We know we’re “that couple”- and have the matching tattoos to prove it- but neither of us mind very much. And if you the pleasure of meeting her, I have no doubt you’ll find yourself understanding the smile that’s permanently on my face these days.

1374075_709363687906_1460643889_nIt was a great year for other kinds of firsts, as well. I ran two 5ks in 2013. The first on almost no sleep the day of the STAY CALM event, the second on almost no sleep for the AIDS WALK PHILADELPHIA where our team raised well over $3000 for people in our area affected by HIV/AIDS. The first race I ran with Erin, the second with a team who all braved an early morning wakeup call to get our asses out and run for people who aren’t as fortunate as we are. It felt great. Every mile of it. I’m not sure if I’m going to do the charity portion this year; I think I pushed my friends and loved ones to the breaking point with my aggressive fundraising, but I’ll absolutely be doing more team runs. Hell. We even started a running club at APP in 2013, with folks getting up for a 7am run-time to run a few miles in already oppressive heat. Fun can be found where you make it.

I’m thankful for all of the good times that 2013 brought me, as well as the bad ones. I did things that in previous years I would have never thought myself capable of- running 5ks, maintaining a friendship with a former girlfriend (of course, Natalie is so rad that it’s pretty easy to adore her) as well as introducing her to Julia, having a healthy stable relationship, healthy stable friendships and a allowing a stinky dog that loves me unconditionally to stick around despite him forgetting how to behave from time to time.

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 7.53.17 PMI ended the year by finishing up the final touches on a new project I’m working on that, as always, documenting and archives something. In this case it’s Body Modification History and the blog is called Sacred Debris. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, you should check it out. Right now it’s light on content, but hell, it’s only four and a half hours old. As we move into the new year I’m going to be adding tons of content to make sure that a major part of my formative years won’t just disappear.

Thank you, so much, to everyone who made my year amazing, and I look forward to starting 2014 knowing that we’ll have more adventures to come!

Monday 06.24.2013

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I’m in travel planning overload, Internet.
I’ve been searching flights for my San Diego > San Francisco trip and am pretty surprised by the costs. I just paid $101 to go from Philly to Austin Texas, but the cheapest flight I’ve found from SD to SF is $117. Such is life; I probably should have booked earlier, so I’ll take what I get. I’m getting super excited for the trip; Three days in San Diego and two in San Francisco. Pushead Collector buddies, tattoo buddies and adventures. Can’t really ask for more than that so I won’t complain too much when I book the ticket tomorrow. I think I have most of the lodging situations worked out for both legs of the trip and soon I’ll start looking into public transport options- San Diego Airport to the city, etc. Usually I’m much more ‘seat of my pants’ than this, but I’m trying to be an adult about it and have all of my ducks in a row before I get out there to hopefully thwart any last minute chaos.

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 7.53.17 PM

Girlfriend | Good Friend | Best Friend

Non-travel related, things have been coming up Aces in my life lately. I feel like the last year of therapy and working on myself has really paid off; my relationship with Julia is amazing. Lessons I learned the hard way are coming easy now; hard conversations are a breeze since we’re working with mutual respect and understanding. I’m really lucky to have the life I have. Even had a bit of a milestone the other day- Julia met my good friend (and former girlfriend) Natalie and they got along swimmingly. I’ve never really been able to stay friends with an ex before much less introduce them to a current love, so this was kind of new territory for me but it worked out just fine. I keep deviling the recently blonde Natalie about my fear and dislike of change, but if change means that I can keep up a friendship with her, I’m all for it.

Other than that I’ve been keeping pretty low-key of late. Saving money for the trips has kept me pretty boring. Movies, hangouts with Julia, movies with Erin, walks with Bailey. I have the life I want right now. Stable and fun with little bits of travel, adventure and chaos.

Photos: Hex Sign (inset: Julia, Natalie and Erin)

Tuesday 05.07.2013

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What a difference a year makes, huh?
A year ago today I wrote the following update to my Facebook page:

Shawn Porter
May 7, 2012 near Philadelphia
This is really hard to say, and I’m asking for a little space on this- I appreciate the support but I just kind of need time to process all of this… Claire has decided to end our relationship. The wedding has been canceled.  As of a few hours ago, she’s moved out of the house.  …Claire had no faith that we can change. Maybe that I can change.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year. My life is so different now than it was when I posted that. I’ve grown leaps and bounds as a person (while also shrinking; I like the dichotomy) in the last year that looking back on how things were is so very strange. I’ve spent so much time trying to own MY issues that I didn’t really deal with the reality of hers. I blamed myself. I blamed her. Instead of healing I was blaming. Instead of moving on I was making leica jokes.

So instead of letting things get me down knowing the ‘big day’ was coming, I spent yesterday helping out Natalie with some move-in stuff for her new place. I’ve never been able to stay friends with a girlfriend after the romantic relationship ended, but things with Natalie and I are going great. The same comfort level that we had as a couple is there with our friendship. We drove up to KOP to pick up some furniture, then made an IKEA trip to buy her a new bed and she treated me to pho that had so much tripe that it was insane. And amazing. I had worried when we first started hanging out again that it would be ‘weird’ but it’s been perfect. Obviously I wish we would have been as good at communicating when we were dating as we are now, but I think things worked out like they were supposed to and I’m really happy to still have her in my life.

I told her, sincerely, that she was the first former girlfriend I’ve ever cared about enough to want to stay friends with and while I don’t want to be too self congratulatory for behaving like a grownup, I do find myself proud that I’m able to get over how I normally deal with loss and separation when a relationship ends and to see someone as a person and not an ‘ex’.

I spent today seeing Iron Man, working out and inviting a crush over for dinner and a movie. It was nice cooking for someone, watching Beauty is Embarrassing and fooling around like teenagers. I like how our friendship is filling out; we’ve casually known each other for a couple of years but we’re just now getting to really know each other and it’s been really great.

People come and go out of our lives. It’s a fact of life. From the day I met Claire I wanted her to be in my life for the rest of it. That didn’t work out and it derailed me for a little bit; but as I grow and learn I realize that she’ll always be a part of my life- a story or anecdote, a reminder of being the catalyst for changes I’ve made- not FOR her or because of her but still tangibly on the edges of the memory. Ultimately, the greatest thing she ever did for me was to leave and for that, I’ll always be thankful.

For my part, I want to thank everyone who I’ve leaned on over the last year, who listened to me whine and lament and dealt with the hurt, the anger, the disgust and finally all of the obnoxious PMA and health/fitness stuff. I know it’s been a crazy ride, and I want to thank everyone who’s stuck with me for doing just that.

Photo: Home Cured Duck Prosciutto