Verve (March 2017)

I have felt I don’t belong at the adult table – adulating, relationships, and work, comes so much easier to everyone else.  Their lives, and without actively comparing, are filled contentment, belonging, and legacy.  If I could just get a roadmap to eat, pray, love my way to those things I know the rest would fall into place, emotional security would follow.

Everything outside my goals feels foreign to me, as if I’m faking everything until I can be home and secluded.  The real word doesn’t hurt but it increasingly feels like something I’m not a part of.  There is a dissonance between how I perceive the world, how I want the world, and the way the world truly is.  I am more comfortable going through life seeing the fantastical and the speculative.  For example, when I am walking to the store and it is twilight and the lights are just turning on, and there is a warmth as the sky turns purple with twinkling stars.  To see that as less than a magical experience, and the opportunities that arise, saddens, and removes me from my neighbors.

I began feeling the greatest distance between myself in elementary school.  It was during this time that I began noticing that I was different from the world and the rest of the kids, particularly the boys.  Children are acutely aware of the differences amongst each other, particularly when there’s one who doesn’t participate in the same activities and games.  I imitated to the expectations of others when I should have been fostering an identity to grow into.  Inclusion was predicated upon adopting various skins that brought me affection and attention.

Verve (February 2017)

When I dream of ex-boyfriends, I omnisciently observe what I imagine is a typical day: wake up, go to work (nurse, hair stylist, sales), then home to their husbands.  In my dreams, I give them the happy relationship that wasn’t possible with me.  They were good boyfriends, just not good for me; they were someone else’s happy relationship.

All male friendship I’ve attempted has been with unattainable straight men, which quickly fizzled.  It didn’t need to be the most attractive guy, but the man most girls circled.  I relied on being an exaggerated clown, flirting in hopes to win over the guy to have validation-sex.  Do straight women flirt to begin male friendships?  Regardless, the speed of the friendship’s lifespan was dictated by the quality time spent together.  Homosexual or queer friendships have been very rare.  The homosexuals I met for friendship, found through my standby outlet – the internet.  The bonds that were attempted consistently had an expectation of friend with benefit situation.  Friendship or old-fashioned dating was off the table.  I found those that took that route to be overbearing, as shallow as I pretended to be, or what I used for a mask was their true personality.

Verve (January 2017)

Growing up I longed for a surprise party that was like what was seen on movies, where a home would be filled of people that wished to be there.  That dream has never come true, even in grade-school when it was mandatory to report to a classmate’s birthday.  I never enjoyed the idea of celebrating my birthday; I do enjoy getting older though.  What I feared was not getting older, but that no one would ever come to a birthday party for me.  My sister was unable to make time to celebrate my birthday, and since family waited for each other to acknowledge milestones, birthdays adhered to my sister’s schedule; my sixteenth birthday was two months late because my sister couldn’t be bothered to take time off from work.  Eventually, I stopped sending invitations out at all, choosing to ignore the celebration and take enjoyment only from cards – and then settle for Facebook birthday posts.

My birthday was where I learned to exist within the cracks, as typically during the school year it fell in the middle of Winter Recess.  Later, this became the excuse for why no one needed to hold a celebration for me.  I wanted to avoid any fuss that would draw attention from friends because if they were paying attention to me, I believed they’d peak beneath my mask and judge me inappropriate – or worse, inadequate.  Around friends, I remained shy as if they were strangers because facades kept everyone at an arm’s length.  It was simpler to cover my self-consciousness and inferiority beneath masks, that were fashioned for inclusion by adopting specific friend-interests, and sub-cultures, and abandoning my own.

Verve (5/22-5/26)

Maintaining goals’ timeline is a tricky proposition, finding the balance between what is necessary for life (job, family and/or friend commitments) with the artistic (experiences, solitude, and time).  The necessary seclusion to write runs contradictory to the desire to participate in humanity, providing new experiences to build upon.  The self-reflection I have been doing is looking backwards, which removes from existing in the moment – allowing emotion to wash over and be felt.  Those emotions provide an anchor to the everyday, dressing moments and interactions in person-specific contexts.  Without personal experiences there is not shared humanity, isolating from loved ones and strangers, removing beautiful complexity from my world.

 

Every year I create a soundtrack that can be used to act as touchstone for that year; during the year, the playlist is a living breathing thing, its songs coming and going as I change throughout the year.

2017 Playlist

  1. Secrets (feat. B.o.B.), Mary Lambert
  2. Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time, Panic! At the Disco
  3. Your Song, Rita Ora
  4. Bad Liar, Selena Gomez
  5. Nights With You, MØ
  6. Still Got Time (feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR), ZAYN
  7. Don’t Kill My Vibe, Sigrid
  8. Needed Me, Rihanna
  9. Freedom (feat. Kendrick Lamar), Beyoncé
  10. Don’t Touch My Hair (feat. Sampha), Solange
  11. Rose Golden (feat. Jaden Smith), Kid CuDi
  12. Pawn It All, Alicia Keys
  13. Cocoa Butter Kisses (feat. Twista & Vic Mensa), Chance the Rapper
  14. There For You, Martin Garrix & Troye Sivan
  15. Dear Theodosia (Reprise), Hamilton Mixtape
  16. Small World, Idina Minzel

Verve (5/15-5/19)

I crave and have been longing for something, anything, new to create and build upon.  In looking to the past I have hoped to forge new-ness.  By editing and revising my story, crystalizing events into formative moments allows for the creation of sound foundations to go forward.  Part of creating the foundation involves sharing alleviating of secrets because secrets form a warm comfortability; particularly after being kept for so long.  Growing up I could not actively be authentic, developing into chronic shame.

For myself, chronic shame came from the best of intentions of my parents when raising two children.  And they were good at it, striving to create balance for two radically different kids.  When they didn’t live up to expectations they privately, and I’m sure to this day, scolded themselves; they failed less times than they believe they did.  The majority of their concern was aimed at my sister and her uncontrollable outbursts.  My sister’s (then undiagnosed bipolar) behavior drew my parents’ attention, exhausting them, resulting in an often chaotic home life.  My parents did what they could at the time, as an adult and child I understood that, so I crafted a compliant personality designed to make life far simpler.  This allowed me to get attention when my parents sought respite from my sister.

Compliance also allowed me to go unseen, with my homosexuality never being addressed.  This self-imposed inability to say out loud that I was gay.  I had seen modelled on TV even how the most progressive of parents reacted, which was with tears of worry.  I was not going to add more concerns to their already full plate.  I vowed to be the straw that broke any one’s back.

A Political Discussion I Had Recently

ME: In today’s job market and society we have produced too many people with degrees that there is no longer a blue-collar work force, which is a factor in the shrinking middle class.

THEM: If the middle class and blue collar contingent disappears, who will be left to vote republican? Bible thumpers and assholes?

ME: Plenty of Bible thumpers and assholes vote Democrat. To believe that “the opposite” political party is made up of “deplorables” minimizes the needs of a large group of Americans – further pushing the polarized state of the country. Middle class and blue collar are often voting for, what can be loosely described, as “family values.” If you are attempting to refer to the large electoral college vote that Trump received, then it might be best to try and think “What has the country not done to support them?” The states that Trump won were “no collar” states, the miners and farmers, and those without college degrees and trade-skills, who – more than likely – saw a country that was increasingly looking beyond its borders and supporting foreign interests. Those that voter for Trump were more than likely attempting to vote for themselves, their families, and their neighbors, by voting for localized economic resurgence. What they saw was how others are getting more and more rights for very specific demographics, while their own was being maligned as “ignorant” or “racist,” which was largely probably not the case. Your statement also ignores recent NYT, LA Times, and Politico articles that are finding, in young America, a 2 party system no longer is viable. As well, there were the Bernie-die-hards that abstained from voting because Hillary wasn’t Bernie, which also cost her the election, and perhaps a more progressive government. Continue reading “A Political Discussion I Had Recently”

Playground Inauthenticity as Survival

Playground Inauthenticity as SurvivalOn the playground we are taught, as evolutionary survival, that it is important to be like everyone else, to find acceptance into the group dynamic.  From pre-historic to ancient-times, and beyond, avoiding being ostracized meant avoiding death.  This evolutionary hold-over is what pushes queer youth to hide our authenticity from others, keeping our interests, past-times, and loves from friends and families. Doing so stagnates the formation of a queer identity, rooted in beliefs, attitudes, and values.

I grew up in a suburbia that wasn’t ticky-tacky little boxes, but a nostalgic Mayberry: students walked to school, left campus to eat lunch in the village, and formed cliques based upon clothing labels; there was a dairy to buy milk fresh from the cow and boutiques that were hobbies for doctor wives.  The school district heavily focused on academic success and rigor, not grit or character; children were taught to be students and not to interact with educators.  We were academically prepared but street smarts were not taught between Great Expectations and chemistry.  The few gay boys that were known easily fit the mainstream suburbia of backyard pools, in ways I never could.  I sabotaged acceptance by defensively rejecting the labels and tokenism they appeared to willingly accept.  I deliberately kept to myself, denying myself a confidante, by refusing anyone I could divulge to because I was scared that if anyone knew my real fears, secrets, and thoughts, they’d not like me. I was different and I knew it, but didn’t wish to be separated from the herd.  By exaggerating what didn’t fit homogeneity I created a smokescreen of descriptors against isolation, hoping no one would the gay.  I allowed peers to silence my identity and interests – a little for all but not everything to one; and no one to me.

Verve (5/08-5/12)

NERDSI exist in a state of constant heartbreak, longing to be within a cozy weekend bubble with another.  In the past I sunk under the weight of pursing others like a puppy only to not be selected; my authenticity – the interests, experiences, and beliefs – has always existed on the peripheral of popular.

An element of fear of abandonment became engrained in middle school when everyone began experimenting with relationship dynamics.  Every student appeared to pair-off, leaving me feeling alone.  During this delicate time, I turned to the people around me as models of domesticity, which did not perfectly reflect what felt natural to me.  In culture role-models were Ellen DeGeneres when she came out while I was in high school, but unfortunately her breezy character became heavy, angry, and hurt  The relationship her character presented was full of drama and bickering.  Queer as Folk on Showtime presented more of the same, but this time heavy drug use was included.  I was in college by that time and finally saw healthier homosexual relationships, through Will Graham, Will & Grace, was single through the majority of the show’s run, having serious relationships after the show found success.

The domesticity on Will & Grace was not perfection, but the characters created a bubble of playing house.  I wanted to emulate the relationships by running errands, sharing chores, and cooking together.  Our existence would be dictated by shared calendars and outings.  It would be teamwork and comradery.  I crafted doctored acceptable variations of myself, believing my exposed self would not be good enough.  The knowledge my authenticity granted was deferred to others in an effort to avoid insult and derision.  Receding behind partners’ goals I built up their hopes, while exploring how to play with the truth, creating chaos that would ultimately result in the relationship imploding.

Mindy Project’s Road to Authentic Expectations

The Mindy ProjectMindy Kaling and her show The Mindy Project is the Tuesday show that has kept me afloat through its 5 years; I will miss the show after it ends with the upcoming sixth season.  Mindy Kaling has crafted a model of modern dating and goal achieving for the Twenty-First Century.  Dr. Mindy Lahiri, Kaling’s character, was raised on romantic comedies with dreams of a Sex & the City life.  As Mindy experienced dating and professional life in the 21st Century was met with equal success and zany; Mindy was not the female lead that was successful at work and unlucky in love.  The Mindy Project traces Mindy’s dating adventures and mishaps and success moving away from imposed celebrity-rom-com fantasy world to realistic expectations based upon her own experiences.

Dr. Lahiri’s dating life reflected the process that many single adults must go through as they seek their ideal mate.  Throughout the course of the series Mindy begins her dating life with big eyes and rose-tinted glasses – she was Carrie searching for her Mr. Big, and nothing less would do.  As adults go through dating our list of traits wanted in another is extremely generic, stating broad character traits such as “attractive”, “funny”, “smart”.  In her unique way Mindy, also, is specific in her list-of-wants by associating each desired trait with a celebrity.  Mindy learns to create specificity in her desirable trait-list, through the boyfriends, and husband (then ex), as she travels through the show’s run.  Mindy began the show searching for her Bradley Cooper/Ryan Gosling-idealized, an old school alpha-male that would make the decisions in the relationship, and she ended up with Danny Castellano – who manipulated the relationship to push Mindy to abandon her work goals to be a stay at home mother.  Danny’s actions acted counter to the experiences that strengthened Mindy’s character, pushing her to remain a static character.  When she learned of Danny’s manipulations, rather than shrink and lean on her fantasies, Mindy chose to lean on herself and the goals she had developed through her experiences.  She chose to leave Danny based upon the cultivated, and critically examined, experiences she accumulated in The Mindy Project‘s acclaimed run, leading to a happier, more fulfilling and honest relationship with geeky, modern, and accepting fiancé Ben; whose personality and needs better balanced Mindy than Danny.

Why We Need To Be Unapologetically Authentic

 

Art by Malika Favre
Art by Malika Favre

Authenticity is something I struggle with, so much so that I have made it my resolution for 2017.  I realized towards the end of 2016 that I covered up, diluted, or ignored the parts of myself that I thought would alienate me from those around me.  In truth, those aspects of my identity (which I am still peeling away to discover) are what make me unique and an individual.  For years I struggled with the idea that there was something false and untrue about my place in the world, only to realize that those feelings come from the fact that I was not living with authenticity – I was going to events to celebrate people I didn’t like, putting time into covering up my true ideas, and putting myself in places that I didn’t want to be.  Exhuming personalized experiences and exposing to others my personalized allows for facades to be dropped. As masks are dropped deeper connections are formed.  As I have worked through this by analyzing my past, celebrating my interests and what they mean to me, and connecting through failures, I have deepened my relationships with friends and family, resulting in an increased quality of life.  Authenticity is being politely selfish by connecting through shared hardships and joys.

 

Check out: Why We Need To Be Unapologetically Authentic