Apocalypse, Eventually: What Counting Down to Doomsday Taught Me
In the manner of a hipster, I’ve spent the past twelve months dismissing the hype about the coming end of the Mayan calendar on December 21st with not just faith in scientific thought and cultural misunderstandings, but also an “oh that, I’ve known about it for forever” eye roll. I’ve known that date since before it was cool. Forget about global catastrophe related to ancient, obscure numerological artifacts from cultures Western nations systemically wiped out centuries ago – I’ve known that date since long before we were even worried about the possible catastrophes of global warming. In the Olympics of thinking about this coming apocalypse I’ve been practicing much, much longer than you have, so basically what I’m saying is, give me all of the gold medals, now, please. Thanks.
I Don’t Know What To Do Now, Yet I Think I Know One Path: Hello Post-Grad Life
My name is Yvette and I just finished my college career. And for once in my life, I don’t know what to do. Yes, I know that I want to pursue a career in film, I was in Los Angeles for the past few months interning and taking classes for fuck’s sake. But really, I had my whole life planned up until now. I knew that I wanted to join a few clubs, spend a summer in Prague, and finish my last semester in Los Angeles. The current song in my head? The opening song to Avenue Q : ‘What Do You Do With A B.A. in English?’ (Only this time with Film). For the most part, I feel under qualified. But then again, that’s just the uncertainty of it all. I was considering just staying out in LA and find a place but at the same time I haven’t really given myself much of a break since I started school three years ago. So, I decided to come back home to Chicago.
Before the Story: Identity Crisis
It’s a question I’ve never known how to answer. Whether posed in a social or networking setting or even a romantic one, I have a hard time articulating my career. Sometimes I’d simply say barista or whatever dayjob I had at the time and other times I’d say writer or comedian. Is there a right answer? Does it depend on how much time you spend a week or years in the career or how you pay your rent? My philosophy as of late has simply been to name my pursuit, not my progress. I may get the majority of my income from live show production right now but I almost always answer, “Writer.”
A writer is what I’ve been since I created elaborate plots with my action figures in my parent’s basement circa age 8. It’s what I was when I was closeted in high school, writing teen romance stories I’d never live. It’s what I am now in my freetime. Being a writer is why I enjoyed the streamlined storytelling of stand-up comedy. Though I enjoy every other job, gig and hobby I’ve amassed, writing is what I’d pick if I had to choose just one. Writing is what I see myself doing in my elder years. This may change. But for now, I am a writer.
Especially in this New Year’s season, when everyone makes a resolution (quit smoking, start working out/eating better, read more, get in touch with old friends) only to find themselves a few weeks/months later living like nothing ever happened, how to you personally make sure a better habit is formed in your life. You can use personal examples if you wish.
Click on the link, comment with your response, and let’s get the discussion going!
I started dating my ex-boyfriend the summer of my sophomore year of college. I had recently gotten out of a 5 month long relationship with an attorney who liked to pretend that I was invisible and tell me that my life’s passions were stupid and pointless (who gives a fuck about phenomenology anyway.) So, when my ex showed up, a gorgeous hunk of man who did nothing but tell me how beautiful and smart, I was… well let’s just say it wasn’t very long before I was completely in love with him. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as free to love him as I would have liked.
The problem with loving this man, who I was sure was the man of my dreams, was simple: he already had a boyfriend. Not just a boyfriend. A partner of 6 years. The terms of their relationship specified that they were allowed to sleep around to their hearts content. Loving and being loved, however, was strictly forbidden. So, I did what any rational twenty-something would do: I continued to shop around and sleep with other people. He encouraged me to do this as well, but secretly. Jealousy would later become our favorite bedfellow. (Cont.)
Social Networking and Why I “Like” Phenomena
Sometimes I toy with the idea of saying ta-ta to Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr. Other times I purr around the notion of becoming a vegan, quitting smoking and swapping those after-work cosmopolitans for an ice cold ginger ale. The latter collection of healthy aspirations, while almost certainly improbable when put into practice for a prolonged period, seem utterly more obtainable than the former.
Why? Because I, like the vast majority of humanoids rumpachumping through the 21st century, have become so obsessed with my self-made brand that I just can’t bring myself to shut it down. Worse still than that, I have developed an almost crippling fear of missing out; I want to know it all and I want to know it now.
The fact is, given half a second, social networking sites will grab you by the goolies and refuse to let you go. They are addictive, which is absolutely scary yet, oddly, completely compelling. What starts with: ‘Oh I’ll just see what the hullabaloo is all about’ soon turns into what can only be described as borderline mania: ‘We really must check in so the world knows we’re having a super jolly time at this expensive cocktail bar.’ At this point, everyone is on their phone, nobody is talking but at least the world is aware of what a good craic life can be. (Read More—>)
Notable Assholes: On Being Called A “Shemale Stripper”
I ran into quite a few notable assholes and bigots while touring. They were absolutely the exception, far outnumbered by the people who – in person, on Facebook, and via email – told me how much they enjoyed my work, and how important it was to them. I heard from allies, friends and family and partners of trans people, trans people themselves, and those who had never before encountered someone who so strongly questioned society’s gender assumptions. And yet, I also encountered some assholes and bigots.
Cincinnati was the first fest, and the fist asshole, with a volunteer asking if she could call me by my old name, and later that you “can’t erase a Y chromosome.” For more on that, check out these three posts.
Kansas City had the following delightful interaction:
Call Me Maybe is playing loudly in the background.
ME: This song reminds me of camp. My campers sang this song constantly, and I had the chorus in my head for weeks.
HIM: Who the hell would let you near campers?
Of course, he quickly backpedaled: He wasn’t speaking for himself, just on behalf of others. He would never doubt my qualification to work with children, but wouldn’t every other person on the face of the planet? (Read More—>)
America, the dog days aren’t over after all. If you’re a big fan of the Florence + the Machine song on which this pun is based, you can rejoice in the news that producer/front man Ryan Tedder has brought them back. If you’ve listened to Tedder’s new single with OneRepublic, “Feel Again,” it’s like they never left. You can rest easy.
Released last month, “Feel Again” is just beginning to gain wide radio airplay, and Tedder’s earworm single has “hit” written all over it — because it sounds exactly like a song America already loves. Originally released in the UK back in 2008, “Dog Days Are Over” became a surprise smash in the U.S., even before Glee‘s Ryan Murphy got his auto-tuning paws all over it. (Note: Florence Welch should stay away from all people named Ryan. Flo, if you see Paul Ryan, just run.) Everyone in the known universe adored it, even your great-grandmother you didn’t think could still hear busted out her tambourine and flowy skirts to jam along.
So, when I heard that same tambourine rhythm in “Feel Again,” I experienced a feeling that was equal parts déjà vu and “Oh, no she did not!” Judging from the critical responses to the track, I wasn’t alone in seeing that one of these things was exactly like the other. Not only does Tedder gun for the same four-quadrant inspirational uplift that’s a hallmark of F+TM’s music (see: “Dog Days,” “Never Let Me Go“), Scott Shetler of Pop Crush noted that “its urgent hand-clapping and swelling vocal hooks…[sound] so similar to “Dog Days Are Over” that the band might as well add a ‘Featuring Florence + the Machine’ credit.” While Christina Lee of Idolator also cited their similarities in drum beats, vocal tones, style and composition, Bill Lamb of About sensed an equally strong influence from The Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done.” I personally would have welcomed the use of a psychedelic gospel-choir breakdown during the bridge, but Tedder probably consulted his high school plagiarism guide and felt that would have been too much. None for you, Brandon Flowers.
Home Is Where the Vagina Monologues Poster Hangs: Life in an Intentional Community
I moved to Chicago sight unseen. No prior visit, anecdotal prior knowledge, and light Googling. Thankfully, I arranged to live at one of University of Chicago’s intentional community houses and hadn’t had to long-distance apartment hunt.
I waffled back and forth on this living arrangement vs. a small studio by myself, but the decision was made by my finances–low-rent, the house was walking distance from school, my room came furnished, and I would have access to an industrial kitchen–and by a little bit of FOMO. How easy will it be to get know people if I live alone, in another part of the city?
What gave me the emotional sense of finality about the transition between college dorms and my house in Virginia occurred two weeks before I moved to Chicago. My cousin moved into my parents’ house, into my former room.
Moving her into my room erased the sense of another space besides my room in Chicago. Obviously, I’ll sleep in the room when I come home for the holidays, but her clothes will be in the closet, her books on the nightstand–as it should be, she needs a space of her own at the house too, a place where you are alone are in charge of the way of life behind the door. Outside is the real world, but in your space, it’s your dress or undress code and you’re the DJ. (Read More—>)
Making Room for All God’s People: Why I Stepped Down from UMC Ordination
Little did I know that a private message I received from a fellow member of the Gay Christian Network nearly four years ago would drastically change the entire course of my life. I’d been a part of the online community for a short while, and at the time, was not involved in any sort of faith community. My previous home church, a Baptist church in west-central Indiana had asked me to step down from all ministry activities and suggested I stop attending services because of my identity as a gay man. These events led to a spiritual drought and a six-year hiatus from any church.
In winter of 2008, I received the aforementioned private message from a GCN member who lived in one of Chicago’s many suburbs and whose son lived in the city. He’d read many of my posts, and felt led to tell me of a church community on the edge of the Lincoln Park and Lakeview neighborhoods, Holy Covenant United Methodist Church. It would take a few more months before I could muster up the courage to take his advice and attend a worship service at Holy Covenant, but finally, two weeks before Easter of 2009, I woke up and made the trek down to the red-bricked, mural-emblazened building that would become my home, my refuge, my safe haven away from a world that told me it didn’t want me, not as I was at least. (Read More—>)
Kind Words: How I Take Care of Myself and My Body
I talk to myself, a lot sometimes. Hell, every now and again, I even respond to myself. Sometimes the words I have to say are meaningless banter. Sometimes they’re harsh criticism for something I’ve done, words I’ve spoken, or for simply just being me. But every so often, I speak kind words to myself. It’s a rare (but ever-increasing) occurrence. After realizing just how hard I am on myself, I’ve begun to understand the value of self-directed affirmation. There are a few ways that I do this…
Last year, one of my dearest friends made a suggestion to me. I’d been struggling with both my body image and my intellectual capabilities. Additionally, my personal faith had been struggle. Her suggestion was a simple one, but more powerful than I would have thought. Every day, at least once, I was to look in the mirror and tell myself, “I’m sexy. I’m brilliant. I’m a Beloved child of the Divine.” If speaking it wasn’t enough, then I was to plaster my apartment with post-its filled with similar words. It sounded silly, and while I don’t do it nearly as often these days, I’m able to discern when I need to reestablish this habit. When I do, it usually ends up being just as powerful. (Read More—>)
It Gets Butter: Real American Cheesecake
Nothing says “thank you” like cheesecake. Chocolate and flowers are nice and easy, but impersonal. I had a brief stint as a hostess at the Cheesecake Factory in downtown Chicago my sophomore year of college, and that job made me despise the dessert. The truth is, though, I wanted to make a better version to show up my past. And that version would be New York style.
When I came back to Paris for work in August, I spent my first two weeks with a family very close to me that helped me through all the faux-pas and idiotic blunders that culture shock entails. I thought I’d never be able to pay them back.
Authentic American cheesecake is hard to find in France, even in Paris. To get the real thing, you need to shell out some hefty euros, and you have to know where to go. The French version of cheesecake is a lukewarm joke. My friend from Boston (cream pie) recommended a recipe to me, and I hesitated. Would the Frenchies like this indulgent Yankee treat? (Read More—>)
The Morning the Moon Was Tattooed On My Ribs
“Oh my g-”
“Yeah this hurts, I fucking warned you. Just like, angle yourself towards me and don’t flinch”
I am shirtless, stretched out on the couch in the living room of this house I share with 5 other queer kids. Orange light is streaming through the curtains, catching dust in the air. Every piece of furniture here was at some point found on the street. Posters proclaiming our veganism and politics cover most of the wall space, and stacks of zines sit in the corner. One of my housemates is kneeling on the floor beside where I am laying, tattooing a crescent moon onto my ribcage.
Ne isn’t using a gun, but a long hollow needle tied to a pencil. The tip of the needle is repeatedly dipped into a tiny palette of ink, and then the design is stippled into my skin, one poke at a time. It hurts. It , but I don’t react. I clench my fists and say nothing. Like most tattoos, this is about more than just the picture it will leave. I want to prove a point.
I have had a bad, bad year. I’ve lost parts of myself I can never get back. 2 months ago I had to pare all of my belongings down to what fit in the back of a cab. There were times the hurt was so bad I couldn’t understand why I was still breathing. That kind of heartache should kill you, but it just doesn’t. Your heart keeps beating and your lungs keep breathing, mocking you with their durability. Your body doesn’t relent, and time moves forward, and you survive. (Read More—>)
I had a pretty terrible date recently. I visited my home state of Iowa for a few days and seeing as how there’s not much to do, I spent my time catching up on reading, watching season 5 of Gilmore Girls and chatted on dating sites. This meeting, back in Chicago, was the result of one such correspondence. He was smart, funny, fun, fit and had big beautiful eyes. By all accounts, he was a catch. But he had a secret.
I’ve always maintained a social circle of varying political stances. I can recall many a heated conversation at dinner parties about contradicting beliefs. Once, a bartender friend of mine told a public teacher friend of mine that 30 students per teacher sounded fine and if you liked your job, you should be able to do it. The teacher replied that if the bartender had fewer kids in his class growing up, he might have had a better education and could get a job that allowed him to keep his shirt on at work. Inevitably, by our second drinks and the arrival of our entrees, our differences seemed farther away. The baiting, shouting, laughing and earned respect for each others’ differences was always more enjoyable than the food.
So I felt like a hypocrite when my date told me he was a Republican. “I’m sorry, what?” I asked as though I must have misheard him. “I’m a Republican,” he repeated. “Is that a problem?” “No, of course not,” I assured him and myself. “Just… uncommon among gay men, that’s all.” (Cont.)