No romantic plans for valentines day.  Probably going to dinner with L, probably (hopefully) breaking it to him that I want some of my Saturday nights back (basically, that I want to have the option of doing other stuff and that some of that will be last-minute-ish).  Might be hitting the spa with D and C, though that might be Sunday.  If it's Saturday, I'll have to figure out how to handle L, since I'm not going to want to drive back up to the Valley just to come back.  Maybe I can dump him in a cab or something.  If they decide before tomorrow morning, I can of course, make L drive down and meet me or something similar.  I've told him before that I'm not his chauffeur.

I *am* getting a massage tonight, at a place near my house.  It's just a massage place, though it's called a "spa" (not one of those little store-front things; this is an actual large facility), but it's not terribly expensive. So, we'll see how it goes.  1.5h, male therapist, focusing on swedish and sports massage.  Looking forward to it: I normally only do massages on my vacations, but I haven't had one in ages.

Booked some time off for Easter weekend; theoretically, it's to go to the Grand Canyon with the hiking group, but the more I read about where they're camping, the less enthusiastic I am: it reads like putting a tent up in a mall parking lot.  Not only flush toilets and potable water, but showers, laundry(!), and major grocery stores within a half-mile(!!).  I'm just not feeling it.  So, I may head out somewhere else for fun.


I'm still riding something of an emotional high from this weekend, and I've been trying to figure out why.  I mean, not that it's bad or anything.  But why did it mean so much?

I kind of stopped dating when I was 26ish.  For one, the places I used to hang out closed down, and I had a few less-than-wonderful experiences with dates over a year or so.  I also got sucked into really stressful stuff at work at about the same time.  I don't think it was deliberate or conscious, but it just stopped happening.

I starting sortof-trying a few years ago, but even that has been exclusively digital and only half-assed.  There were all sorts of thoughts holding me back, some legit and some less so, and many of those are still around today.

But, really, the main thing is this: I've said it before that I don't really empathize with people.  It's not that I don't care, I just don't have visceral emotional reactions to people's emotional state.  It's all an intellectual exercise to me.

In a work environment, that's not necessarily bad: reacting emotionally in a professional setting is usually a bad thing.  That doesn't really fly outside the office, though.  And since I was 26, most of my human interaction has been at work, which means I've kind of slipped into my at-work personality all the time.  Even when I hang out with L, the lack-of-emotion is a good thing (or things would be even more strained than they are).  Those few events where I've tried to slip into "social me" have all been taxing social situations to begin with: generally involving L or his friends or people at work.  So, they're draining and exhausting no matter how I behave, but even worse when I'm giving any extra effort.

I've been doing it so long now that I just got into the "this is how I am" frame.

But it isn't necessarily.  I can - and do, or at least did - be friendly and personable and "faking it" enough to get along really well with people.  I have the natural advantage of not giving a shit what people thing about me, so I used to just walk up to folks and start conversations.  I had dozens of *actual* friends, people I hung out with and new and got along with really well who didn't make me feel drained or exhausted at the end.

I think, this weekend, I had that experience again.  I mean, I won't deny I was exhausted, but that was from lack of sleep and energy expenditure.  It was the activities that exhausted me, not the people.  I actually had fun being social and friendly and personable.  And I haven't done that in a decade.

It's like finding a gift card in your wallet that you forgot about.  Or, maybe better, a free membership to a place you used to go but haven't been to in ages.

The question is, what do I do about it now?  I think, first, I need to stat hanging out with L less.  That's this weekend's conversation, if I get the guts to bring it up.  He's going to take it as abandonment, and maybe it is in a sense, but it's something I need to do for me.  Saturday is when most stuff happens, so I need the option of being available.  Not every weekend, but certainly some of them.

Then we'll see after that.

Started working on the photos a bit last night.  Tonight I need to maybe do some laundry, though I also need to find out if I can use my shower again (maintenance guy said the drain was leaking into the apartments below, so asked me to hold off until I hear from him).

I survived Death Valley

... and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt.

Actually, it was fun.  Well, mostly fun in the "new experience" sense, partly fun in the "actually entertaining" sense.  Worth going, certainly.

I'll probably do a full adventure-post or two later once my pictures are all done.  It won't be for a few days, as I slept 13 hours last night and will probably sleep another 10-12 tonight, plus I have to go to my parents' tomorrow to talk about taxes, so I won't even start working on them until late tomorrow or Wednesday.

Those posts, however, won't contain certain details.  So, to start with, D and C have an open marriage; D is far more playful/outgoing that C is, and C's a bit not-quite-stuffy in most situations, but C has no problem with D going out and messing around.  There are a couple of limitations there, but the main one - which is extremely amusing to me - is that D has to send back photos or texts while doing it so that C can "participate" :)

Well, Thursday night, I crashed out early but D had something of a party in his tent with some of the other like-aged guys; stripping when you lost was par for the course, and the expected shenanigans ended up happening (I didn't find this out until Friday morning).  Apparently, D even tried to get me involved at one point when he heard me coming back from the restroom, but I didn't hear him (I was pretty zonked).

Because of all the hiking Friday, everyone headed to bed early that night; D only had one guy in his tent, someone who forgot to bring their own for some reason.  I was told on Saturday that, for specific reasons, C wasn't happy about the exact individual staying twice, so D told me "You'd better have stay with you tonight; don't worry, he's a great cuddler."

To effect that, we planned on having the Saturday night party in my tent - especially since it was larger.  As part of that plan, D moved his air mattress over.  We ended up with six guys in there total, and most of naked after a long round of strip-go-fish (don't ask) and all naked after a few rounds of truth or dare.  As it was already after 1 by then and had been another long day, people started to get sleepy/touchy-feely at that point, and I "did my duty" and slept with .  Literally, mostly, though early in the morning he started trying to jack me off.  I didn't object, but for some reason morning wood and masturbation just don't go well for me (it takes me forever to get off), and the way we were laying, I couldn't really do him while he did me (though I did as much as I could).  When my alarm went off to take my pill, we just got up and started the day.  D had stayed as well, though the other three had gone back to their tents earlier.

(Shortly before getting up, I heard one of the trip leaders walk past and comment, "Well, it looks like someone had a party last night..."  when I got outside, I saw why: the other guys had gone through 4 or 5 bottles of booze during the games, and the bottles were strewn all over the floor of the vestibule for the tent :P )

On the drive back, D and I talked a fair bit about those fooling-around sessions (as well as a lot of other things), and I got some more details about his history and his relationship with C.  I think I also may have satisfied him that I'm in the same position about such things as he is (I'm perfectly fine with fooling around with people but only when everyone involved knows there's nothing more serious happening), because he kind of relaxed and became a bit more open after that.  We'll see if this changes our interactions at all.

But in general, I'm very glad I went.  And at my appointment with the nurse today to follow up on the Truvada stuff, he reviewed the form I filled out and said, "... so, you've fooled around a bit since last time?" with a smile.  I said, "yeah, nothing major and no actual ejaculation, but it's a start."

That's probably the best summation, on a lot of different angles.  It's a start.

Time to get ready for tonight's hike - yes, I'm a glutton for punishment.  D won't be there - he begged off as having too many chores to catch up on, but insisted he wanted to go next week (C's working late and they only have one car, so I'd have to pick him up).

Eastward bound

Packing up to go camping.  This time, it's with the outdoors group I joined.  The guys who camp are apparently much different from the guys on the weekly hike - younger age on average, for one - so this'll be a mostly new group.  I say "mostly" because D is going with me, literally in that I'm driving both of us out there.

The trip runs Thursday to Sunday, and Saturday night is a potluck.  This presented a bit of a logistics issue, since that means being able to prepare something for Saturday night without ready access to a kitchen or high-grade refrigeration (I'll have my camp stove and cooler, but, like, I wouldn't want to chance seafood for instance).

But I hit on an idea that I think will be awesome: cold noodles with peanut sauce.  I've already made the sauce up, and it's pretty awesome.  The noodles are the only part I'm hemming and hawing about: it's be easier to make them ahead of time and just keep them in the cooler until Saturday, but I don't know how they'll react to storage (most pastas are fine for a few days).  So, I made one small batch last night, added a little oil, and stuck them in the fridge.  We'll see how they are tonight when I get home.  If they're not sticking or anything, then I can make the rest up and not have to worry about taking a big pot to boil things in.  If not, I'll take the pot and cook them up Saturday afternoon.

One thing I'm a little concerned about is space in the car: one of the requirements this time is to bring a coupe bundles of firewood.  When my other friend and I went camping last time, we pretty much packed my little hatchback solid, but that was 1) with bigger bags and 2) all of his photography stuff (which ended up being a not-insignificant amount).  I'm already planning on taking a smaller bag myself, and I very much over-planned last time so there'll be at least a little more room.  But I'll have to finagle the firewood thing somehow.

... Getting about $1800 back in taxes, which will be nice.  The fed one was submitted electronically (the state requires a filing fee, so, screw that; it can get mailed), and that usually gets me the refund in a coupe of weeks.

Monday is my first follow-up on the PrEP thing.  So far, so good: my GFR is down very slightly, but that might just be normal variation kind of thing.  I've actually put on a little weight since I started taking it, though some of that is muscle.

Oh, I suppose it's worth mentioning that my dad's mother died on Sunday.  She was 95.  I hadn't seen her in like 25 years, and haven't spoken to my dad in about 19; I also respond to deaths the way others generally do.  So, I'm pretty much fine.  Ironically, my strongest response was frustration/annoyance at possibly having to deal with my father, though so far that hasn't arisen (my step-sister messaged me on Facebook about her death).  I'm definitely not going to the funeral, as that would cause more problems than it's worth (and funerals are for the living, not the dead).

In happier news, L is now has a room in a townhouse on a (theoretically) long-term basis.  He's not paying rent himself this month, so he should be building up enough in savings to cover his own butt for the near future.  Either way, there's no more risk of him having to move in with me, and I'm not bailing him out in the future.

I'm also going to Vegas for a conference in March; since I haven't been there as an adult, this may be interesting.