Surrender

kveikurI’m never been much for podcasts. I can’t tell if that’s my own biases against being introduced to a new medium or a problem with the medium itself. Did people dismiss early cinema as nothing more than a novelty because they hadn’t yet seen what it could become? It’s quite possible. A lot of podcasts, to me, sound like a bunch of friends shooting the shit. That’s it. I’m sorry, but you need to have more than that if you want me to listen to it. I don’t even have that many friends and I think listening to other people and their friends talk about nothing is boring. Seriously, I don’t get it: What is the appeal of listening to people you don’t know go on random comedic tangents for an hour or more without ever coming to a point? I’m not trying to be dismissive here, but I honestly do not understand why people like some of this crap. This American Life is about people’s lives, and the stories are organized around a theme. Savage Love is relationship advice. WTF With Marc Maron is interviews, although he opens with a story. Even with a podcast, there has to be a point.

Maybe I’m weird, but I like to think of everything as a potential learning experience. Even if I’m just going down the street for a burger, I feel like I’m cheating myself if I’m not looking for a chance to be enriched, entertained, or educated. A lot of new media doesn’t do it for me: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. That probably does have more to do with the fact that those platforms are relatively new, but I don’t particularly like any of them, which means that I’m kind of an old fuddy-duddy even though I’m in my 20s. I’m getting left behind, but admittedly, it is by my choice. Since I’m straying into well-trod territory here, let me shift gears and talk about a story that is constantly updating: LGBT equality. Specifically, let’s talk about the wide world of sports. More and more athletes are coming out, and while very few of them are doing so at the professional level, it’s only a matter of time. I think what’s holding us back is that even though there are parallels between the gay rights movement and the civil rights movement, there are some differences, and we have to acknowledge that as well.

There is something very primal about sexuality that race and possibly even gender don’t touch. It’s not something that you can often tell just by looking at someone, and that confuses a lot of people. More importantly, it causes a lot of LGBT people to think that there is something special about them if you can’t tell just by looking at them. Sometimes you can, but that’s not the point. It’s been such a lazy stereotype for so long that gay men aren’t into sports that now that we are learning that some of our athletes are gay, we need to stop acting like it’s that big of a shock. Yes, some gay men love sports. And some straight men love fashion. Could you seriously not have figured that out on your own? It’s ironic that sports are typically held up as a bastion of masculinity, because really, what is gayer than slapping on tight pants and shoulder pads and slamming into other guys for a while? Football’s pretty gay too, come to think of it.

I’ve learned by now that people will never leave you alone if you let them do it on their terms. This does not mean that you have to shut everyone out for fear that they will hurt you, only that you have to own your own words and actions, whatever they are. As I’ve probably said before, I have a million regrets. But I’m not sorry for anything. I just don’t have the time. You can roll your eyes when I say that I’m the greatest human being who ever lived, but as far as I’m concerned, I am, and who are you to tell me I’m wrong? It’s all about living in the present, not that I’m all that good at that. I spend most of my time brooding in my room. The only person I can name who hated humanity more than I do is Bill Hicks, and he died at 32 because he didn’t take very good care of his body. I’ve heard multiple people quote George Carlin as saying, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that leave you breathless.” Bullshit. Carlin didn’t say that. That’s from a chain email that somebody claimed was written by him. He would never have said something so trite and meaningless.

I have decided that there is one thing about California that I’m going to miss when I eventually get out of here, and that’s In-N-Out Burger. There is no other fast food chain that compares to it. It’s not the best burger around, just the best burger you can get for under $10. Double-double animal style, there is no competition. New York has Five Guys, but aside from the fries, there’s nothing too remarkable about them, and I say that as somebody who used to eat there pretty regularly. We all have our fast food, I suppose.

I’m not a very good judge of what will take off and what doesn’t. This blog has never climbed very far about 1,000 hits per month, and even then very briefly. Whatever. What I have to say these days doesn’t quite fit into this format, and maybe that’s for the best. Because I want to push outward. I want to find out just what I can get away with and what I’m capable of. And when that’s done, I want time to watch season two of Orphan Black. I go at my own pace, is what I’m trying to say. Don’t try to stop me.

Water

water

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but my mother and I had an argument a little while back in which she told me that she was worried that I was spending too much time alone. That’s probably true, but it’s not my fault. I still have a social life. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve hung out with anyone, but I’ve gone for months at a time like that and while I wouldn’t want to live through it again, it remains that I don’t need to go out partying every night to stay sane. Just every so often. What frustrates me is the feeling of having to go way out of my way to find someone to spend time with. It’s usually I who reach out, not the other way around. That needs to stop. I still don’t know what to do about it.

The irony is that my mother was correct when she said that she thought I might be “venting [my] frustrations on the internet”, but not in the way she thought. What do you picture when you hear that phrase? I see somebody leaving racist comments on YouTube. I’m not a troll. I can be a mouthy bastard, but I don’t say shit just to piss people off. More than likely, I’m the guy who mistakes a troll for somebody who is actually trying to start a discussion. They’re easy to spot on YouTube, less so on Facebook. I don’t use the Book of Faces quite as often as I used to (although I still check it multiple times a day—baby steps, people) because most of the interactions I have tend to be negative. I commented on a friend’s post about something, some friend of hers took exception to what I’d said, and when I said, “Who asked you?”, he said, “I could ask you that same question.” What is this, a fucking playground? I should have known better than to fall for that “I know you are, but what am I?” bullshit, but I hadn’t realized until then what a dbag he was. So I deleted all my responses to anything he’d said so that it looked like he was arguing with himself. Ha ha.

I don’t have to explain why what he said was obnoxious, do I? If you don’t get it, don’t bother to say so. I hate it when people try to resolve an argument by dragging you down to their level. Instead of responding to what you say, they just deflect it, as if both of you being wrong somehow makes them right. It’s the logic used by Aaron Eckhart’s character in Thank You For Smoking, and in case you were still on the fence about it, let me assure you that smoking is very, very bad for you. The person who benefits from stalling rational discussion and preventing anything from getting done is the enemy of the world. (“The Enemy of the World” is my favorite 2nd Doctor storyline. I had to work in a Doctor Who reference.) The tricky part is that nothing is very, very good at masquerading as something. Look at the Keystone XL Pipeline. That’s a whole lot of nothing. No, it’s not something. If you think it is, go away. That, or read a book not written by a right-wing nutjob. Please.

There is one thing that I have learned about relationships despite having never dated anyone: You don’t have to compromise on everything. Maybe I’m an asshole for saying this, but I get a little dose of schadenfreude from watching smug couples fall apart. It’s not that I’m parading around laughing at them or anything, but really, is there anything more irritating than somebody who acts like they’ve got it all figured out because they’ve found someone? They see having a partner as the endpoint, and everything after that is just coasting downhill. Happily partnered people, back me up here: It’s not at all like that, right? Being in a relationship doesn’t mean saying goodbye to all of your problems so much as seeing all of them played out on a larger scale. I’ve heard people say that they think of the period of their life prior to meeting their One and Only as a completely different phase. Of course, you can’t go around auditioning people to be the One; you kind of just find people you’d like to know better and go from there. If you choose the right one, you’ll want to keep knowing them better. I guess.

I refuse to think of what I’m doing these days as “finding myself”. I don’t know what that means. It sounds like something affluent white people do in big cities after graduating college in every TV show ever made. My problems these days are not so very different from the ones that I dealt with as a child. I still suffer from crushing existential dread much of the time, although my attitude might have altered slightly. Things have been a little slow lately. There might be a shakeup in the staff at the restaurant, which could be tough for me to adjust to. Also, we just had the slowest night I’ve ever seen. Nobody came in, except to get takeout. Nobody. I bring a book to read on my downtime and even I think that’s boring.

As Dr. Seuss once said, unslumping yourself is not easily done. I just have to double down on learning how to use my alone time. Because I will take that over being surrounded by the wrong people. I hope I never get desperate enough to let that change. In the meantime, I must ask you all to stay strong and, if you haven’t yet, check out Orphan Black. It’s a really, really, really good show. What’s more, nobody watches it, so you’ll look extra cool once everyone does (which they will). Mazel Tov!

fucks

Bloons

shelterThere is something to be said for comfort food. I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog criticizing certain YouTubers, along with various films and other pop cultural artifacts that I feel portray the LGBT experience in a sanitized light. My churchgoing, progressive Catholic mother really liked Dallas Buyers Club, a film that takes an important story about AIDS and prejudice and filters it through the perspective of a straight character whose real-life counterpart was almost certainly bisexual. She also liked Shelter, one of those sweet coming-of-age dramas that makes coming out seem like simultaneously the most important thing a gay person can do and not that big of a deal. I suppose in a sense it is. But that doesn’t make the film any more true-to-life. Would that all of our coming out experiences could be spurred by meeting a handsome, slightly-older gentleman who is already out and inexplicably attracted to us. Thing is, it’s all I can do not to watch that movie over and over.

You can’t really convince people that they’re wrong. All you can convince them is of is that whatever they want from you, they’re not getting. Sometimes that’s enough. Alec Guinness said that people should strive to be useful rather than happy, as true happiness is the sort of thing that you’ll experience no more than a handful of times in your life. I agree with that sentiment. I’m not very good at being happy-go-lucky, nor am I any good at convincing people. But I am good at work. And I have a lot of it to do.

I find that blogging is useful for tying together the disparate strands of my thinking. In that sense, it’s therapeutic. I don’t have very much to distract myself. When I was in grad school, I hung out with a grand total of two friends over the course of a five-week winter break. That’s a pretty long time to be all on your own, even if you’re seeing family in there, too. My mother worries that I’m spending too much time alone. She doesn’t seem to realize that I’m only doing that because I don’t have any other options. And it’s not like time spent with her and Dad is an improvement. But you can’t make people who are intent on seeing you one way see you the other way. People won’t learn. Unless you make them.

I used to hate myself for needing to check my FB and email constantly. These days, I’m starting to realize that it isn’t my fault. What the hell else am I supposed to fill the gap with, exactly? I’m not usually proud of myself for not doing things, but I am proud of myself for not owning a smartphone. My father has offered to buy me one multiple times and when I went to buy a new cell phone after stupidly allowing my old one to go through the wash last year, the salesman told me that even his grandmother has a smartphone. I’m so glad I don’t. I’m also glad that there are no nude photos of me, although I am not for a minute judging people who take nude selfies. Sometimes I leave my phone behind when I go out. Technology is fine, but mostly from a distance.

There is a YouTuber I’ve been following for a while now who baffles me. He’s a gay marine who, about a year ago, broke off his engagement upon finding out that his fiancé was cheating, took down all the videos that they had done together, and disappeared from YouTube for several months. A few months after returning, he had a new boyfriend and was making videos with him. When that ended, he swore he wouldn’t let that get him down. Back in April, he posted a FB status saying that he was going to focus on himself for a while and let his love life take care of itself. Not three months later, he had moved in with his new boyfriend. We all know someone like this, don’t we?

I’m starting to think that there are differences between Red Staters and Blue Staters that run deeper than mere politics. Russ is a liberal atheist, but he’s a kid from rural Indiana (I think), and as such, there is something parochial about his thinking that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully wrap my head around. I roll my eyes when I hear people say that they don’t have a problem with the gays but don’t trust Obama and his socialized medicine. It’s the 21st century, guys. Get with it.

I’m not sure what I’m trying to make myself into, but I’m very convinced that it’s different from what I am and what people believe me to be. Somebody will have to trust me, not just support me. But whether they do or don’t, I’m not going to change.

That probably sounded like a conclusion, but it wasn’t. I have one more thing to say: I can’t remember where I first heard that when you catch up with old friends, the years just melt away. Turns out that’s true. When I saw a bunch of my high school friends recently, it was amazing how quickly we fell into our old rhythms. I’m really not a theater person anymore, but any good cast, as the cliché goes, will eventually develop a sense of family. And you can’t ever completely outgrow that. I haven’t seen a show at my high school since everybody I knew there graduated. I have no intention of returning anytime soon. If they want to give me an award for being a distinguished alum someday, maybe, but that’s about it. Right now, I’m trying to get better at being idle. Even then, I’m still fairly productive.

Heart of Glass

You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.

—Harlan Ellison

I find that I am deleting stuff more and more often these days. I’m not sure why. Part of it is probably just general fatigue. I have had that feeling lately of being stuck in a rut. I’m a long-term planner by nature; I always have big, lofty goals, and no idea as to how to achieve them. I’m not really sure why I started this blog, besides the need to have a space to vent about shit. It might be nice if we had a little bit more traffic around here, but since I don’t know how much, I’m not sure what I’m really complaining about. Let me put it another way: If you watch The Daily Show, you might remember a recent segment in which Jordan Klepper (who is proving to be a worthy addition to the cast so far) went around talking to conservative upstarts who were trying to unseat a Republican Congressman for not being conservative enough. The problem is that for these people, there is no such thing as “enough”. No matter how much you hate the gays or love guns, there is always somebody who hates the gays and loves guns just a little bit more. So I try not to be like that. I try to have an endpoint in sight. I may never meet it, but at least I have an idea as to when it will be time to move on.

I wonder if other people see me as passive. I’m not really sure what to do about that. I used to go to work with the intention of just giving people what they wanted, but I’m starting to think it’s a little bit more complicated than that. Apparently, you are allowed to be an individual, even when you’re just a damn barista. They used to stick me on register all the time. I would show up to work, somebody else (who often had not been working there as long as I had) would start making drinks, and I would be stuck saying, “Hi, how are you?” over and over again for hours. That needs to stop. So one day, I just jumped on bar. They told me to get back on register, but I think they got the hint anyway. Maybe they just assumed that because I never complained, that must mean that I like being a cashier? Being a cashier is draining. I spent a summer working at KMART, and at the time, I had never hated anything more than that job. I’m not in a hurry to get out of this and move on to the next thing, I just think that no matter where you are, you probably need a little variety to stave off boredom.

If things go this way for much longer, my job at the coffee shop will be the longest-running job I’ve ever had. I hate it when people say, “Oh, those last four years just flew by!” when talking about high school and shit, so instead, I’ll say that there have been a lot of boring passages, but I don’t intend to give it up anytime soon. Perhaps that’s why I’m having second thoughts about the job I interviewed for yesterday. The interviewer was perfectly nice and it seemed like a lovely business, but even though it was part-time and they were flexible about hours, I’m not sure if I’d be able to comfortably work it into my current schedule. My hours change every week at the coffee shop, and my manager has promised me more once I get better at making drinks. Maybe I should wait a little longer before taking on another job.

It’s only now that I’m starting to realize how deeply people are socialized to believe that they are incomplete without a partner. Basically every fucking movie, book, and TV show teaches you that the ultimate joy in life is being coupled. Bullshit. Maybe what has been holding me back all these years is the fear that if I got a boyfriend, I would have to spend all of my fucking time with him and tell him everything about myself. I have no intention of doing that with anyone at any time, ever. It doesn’t matter how wonderful you are; even if we live together and you’ve had your dick in my mouth, the odds that I won’t still sometimes want to go to my room, close the door, and spend six hours not talking to you are exactly zero. Deal with it.

singleness

My mother doesn’t seem to understand me. I think it’s because she thinks that because she lives her life a certain way, so should I. There is nothing more dehumanizing than being told that this is just how the world works, and you’ll be so much better off once you accept that. No, I don’t. It’s been over four years since the dam broke in my head. I dream almost every night (everyone does, but I’m talking about the ones you remember) and I still spend way too much time either pining for shit I don’t have or being angry at people who wronged me years ago. Someday, I might reach a point where I don’t do that. But I won’t get there by sharing things with my mother just because she shares similar things with my dad. He often complains about all of the shit she doesn’t tell him, so clearly, she isn’t being perfectly honest here.

I don’t really have a conclusion here. I think part of the reason I’m so afraid to leave Facebook is that I’m worried that if I leave, I’ll never see most of these people again. Of course, I really don’t want to see most of them again, but there is a part of me that wonders why nobody from work has added me yet. From what I hear, young people are moving on to other forms of social media. I think this will be the last I ever want with it.

Life is actually not that short provided that you use your time wisely. High school did not fly by, nor did college, nor have these past twenty-plus years. It just feels that way because nostalgia has a way of sugar-coating everything. I choose to believe that there is a middle ground between being pretending that you don’t have a past and trying to live in it. I’m still working to understand my past so that I might finally be able to plan my future. Let’s go exploring.

Wilhelm Scream

Having four years ago gone through Stage 3/4 cancer, my experience has been that within pain, there is usually a nugget of evolution of a new consciousness. See whatever you’re going through as something that can be about your enlightenment as opposed to a pointless horror. —Eve Ensler

I’m thinking of deactivating my Facebook account, if only for a week or so. I notice a lot of my friends are deactivating or even deleting their accounts, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of it, at least not yet. There are still people on there whose phone numbers I don’t have and who I would like to see in real life again someday. It used to be that I stayed on Facebook because it was impossible to get rid of and organizing events tends to be easier on Facebook than anywhere else, but that’s not true anymore. Now, I stay on because I still don’t think I’ve built up enough of a social life that I can do without it. Hopefully, I’ll get there someday.

I find that I am spending more and more time on Netflix these days. That’s probably a good thing. I have this subscription, so I might as well use it. One thing I notice is that I have a weird anxiety about my queue. Since my subscription is streaming-only, it shouldn’t matter how long my queue is or what order the stuff is in. And yet I do worry about it a lot, which is weird. The fact that I’m even making use of this thing that I pay for is a good thing, but now I worry that I’m neglecting it whenever I watch something on Hulu or wherever else. It’s weird. (Somebody is probably saying “first world problems” to themselves, to which I respond: Where do you live, Uganda? By the way, there is a really good documentary about homophobia in Uganda called Call Me Kuchu on Netflix. Check it out.)

It takes energy to do more than just sit around and be useless all day. Even getting up to grab the remote takes at least a small amount of motivation. So even if all I get done in a given day is reading a couple of New York Times articles or leaving a message for a friend that they don’t return, I do consider that a better use of my time than lying in bed and watching YouTube videos. I really would like to get a second job, but finding places that are hiring, then winnowing them down to places that will hire somebody who is available only part-time, whose schedule at his other job changes every week, and who does not own a car, can be a bit difficult. So be patient with me, everyone. I still have flashbacks to that night when my psychotic Queens roommate threatened to kill me. I still wake up at 5 am feeling nervous for no goddamn reason. And of course, I’m single. Have I mentioned that enough?

Thing is, when I don’t have the energy to engage with someone, I don’t have the energy. My mother typically calls me about once a week. After our fight a little less than two weeks ago, I haven’t taken any of her calls. Is that really so bad? From her messages, I get the impression that it’s wearing on her. But how is that my fault? I have friends who live within driving distance of me who I have not seen in months. I ask them when they’re free, and they don’t get back to me. I kind of feel like if I could just get my mother to fret a little bit less about whether or not I’m talking to her, my friends might be able to find the time to see me. So yes, I am somewhat blaming my parents for the fact that I’m single. I don’t want to turn out like them. I’m not the spitting image of either, nor am I half of one and half of the other. I know people who take after their parents in ways so obvious that you could guess they were related even if no one told you. I don’t feel like that’s me. And if it is, it means I’m doing something wrong.

I was never a huge fan of the American version of Queer as Folk, but there was one episode that I found moving. Michael discovers that his real father was not, as his mother had told him, a war hero, but a drag queen whom she had dated as a teenager when he was still in the closet. When Michael visits the drag queen, the queen tells him that the only truth that matters is the one he chooses to accept. So Michael decides that as far as he is concerned, his real father was a war hero. It makes sense to me.

I spend a lot of my time snarking at shit on the internet. It’s fun, and it gives a sense of perspective. 90% of the internet is porn; the other 10% is nostalgia. We can’t spend all our lives reminiscing about our childhoods. Mine wasn’t even that much fun to begin with. So I do somewhat believe that life gets better as you get older. But I don’t necessarily believe that the years go by faster. I think it is possible to age at exactly the speed that you want. I just haven’t figured out how.

I’ve had Skyrim sitting on my desk for about five months now. I think I should just play the damn thing already.