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Last week was not my favorite week ever, and has actually earned rank as one of the worst. So, as I went to bed last night I decided that I could safely assume that this week would have to be better. This seemed to be undoubtedly obvious. And so, even though I caught less than a few hours of sleep, spending most of the night and early morning staring at the ceiling, only to remember that I had a dentist appointment early this morning, only to drive a car that started smoking on the highway, only to find out that one poor tooth needs a bit of pricey help, only to come home and find my little shit of a dog, the Seal, who I love more than any four-legged creature on earth, had ransacked the place.
The point is, it is only 1:30 p.m. on a Monday and today has already been a little rough, but in the fresh wake of perspective, I have to say, I wouldn’t trade a minute of it. Not one. I am not very sure how (or if ) I will get the large smeared gobs of apple pie goo out of the carpet, but again, how lucky am I to have such simple concerns.
In case you aren’t totally sure what you are looking at here, today’s booty includes:
- one large yellow onion
- one empty pie plate that, earlier this morning was hosting a delicious apple pie
- fresh ginger (which is good for digestion, clearly she knows this)
- delicious goat cheese wrapper (in the pie plate, she is tidy like that)
- one box of unopened shower curtain rings
- a plastic dough rolling mat (now complete with ventilation holes in the form of chew marks)
- one faggy rainbow coffee mug (the coffee is all over the blanket, so you can’t see that part)
- one guiltless sleeping pirate dog
(As soon I finished typing the word ”dog’, just this second, she sat up, looked at me and burped. Nice touch, Seal pup. Way to finesse it all.)
I don’t want to be writing this post. But to offer something, which is almost nothing, to my very sweet friend, who I love so dearly and always, so easily, I am writing this post with grand hope and a deep fear of only adding something and not diluting anything by sending this out there. I found out yesterday, that someone very dear to me was killed in a car accident. Just like that. Because that is what life can do. And so, all of a sudden, I am grieving, like we do. And the high potential for all of this to sound generic and common makes me furious and terrified. So, to keep safe as much of what this is for me and for everyone whose heart has suddenly turned to sand, in attempt to protect what is original and precious and irreplaceable and sacred, that I cannot hide, that I cannot protect, that I cannot change or fix, that is all I have to say about that.
It is Cherday, no? Sorry the video isn’t here, the ability to re-post has been protected and I am not willing to settle for something else. You’ll have to take that extra step and click here.
With all of us sitting in a circle, in little plastic desks, in my old high school, there was a room full of young, springy attentive eyes, like all of the questions had all already been asked years ago and everyone was still waiting, with bated breath, for answers.
One of the two teachers that have (bravely and not without backlash) volunteered to watch over this club said, “Well, why don’t we start out by introducing ourselves.” I told them who I was and that I went to this school 40,000 years ago. They giggled. Marie introduced herself. And as the students went around saying their names and what grade they were in it was remarkable how easy it was to remember myself then- so unpolished and so young.
Two of the girls were blushing madly and couldn’t actually make eye contact with me while telling me their names. I remember that feeling too- how anything lesbian-ish at all would just set my chest on fire and make my already awkward existence even more awkward. Like the first time I heard that song, “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” on the radio. I remember the moment exactly:
I was getting ready for school, adding mad amounts of Aqua Net hairspray to my long, long blond hair when this new song started playing on the radio. The song was good, I like it. And then, all of a sudden, Sophie B. Hawkins ever so stealthily slipped in this line, “I lay by the ocean making love to her with visions clear…” And I froze. I think my heart might have stopped and I know I stopped breathing. I absolutely could not believe what she just said! I was frozen like a statue of myself. I looked in the mirror, unable to move- I looked like the statue of liberty, holding a hairspray bottle over my head like a torch. And as accidental as that last reference was, hearing that line in that song woke up a deep, dark place in me that I didn’t even know about, and set something inside of me free. Something in me, in who I was, started to move, and I felt really, really alive… and terrified, in a good way. And now that I think about it, it might have been the first time I felt totally out of control of my body’s reaction to feeling sexual. I couldn’t not feel, let alone stop, that sharp electric ripple that whipped down through my spine and physically forced me to curl forward and wrap my arms around that weirdly-good nausea feeling that had gone off like a bomb in my tummy (that I would feel for the second time ever, kissing Marie for the first time later that same year.)
Ok, back to the meeting: There are ten or eleven students, a teacher, a guidance counselor, Marie and me (sounds like the beginning of a bad joke.) After we all introduced ourselves, one boy, who I instantly adored, immediately raised his hand with a subtle swoosh while simultaneously asking me, “Ok, seriously, I need to know. Do you think your life has changed much since high school or not really so much?”
Marie and I both laughed a little. I responded, “Um, yes. I would say my life has changed very, very much since I went to this school.
A girl raised her hand and asked Marie how she knew me. We both knew this girl was really asking, “Why is this straight woman here?” Marie said, well, like I said, I am married to a man and have two kids now, right? But in high school I was dating jesse. She was my girlfriend for a long time actually, 4 or 5 years and the first person I was in love with.” And womp. Every. Single. Jaw. Fell. It was great. This was exactly why I wanted Marie to come with me.
“You mean, you were both gay in high school?!? Together!?!” A different girl asked, still unable to make eye contact. Marie nodded and explained that no one knew of course. “No one!” She said, “It was too dangerous. Can you imagine falling in love for the first time, or even having a really big crush on someone and not being able to tell anyone! Not your mom, your friends, no one.” Most heads shook side to side while a few kids made it obvious that, yes, indeed they do know how that feels.
The same boy that I totally adore raised his hand and said, “Here’s the deal. I’m Mexican, duh! And my mom knows I’m gay but I haven’t told my dad yet. And my mom always says that it makes her sad that I’m, you know, gay or whatever, cause she doesn’t want people to make my life hard. She says if I tell people I’m gay I’ll lose friends or not get jobs or get to live where I want to or whatever. She says that being gay or whatever is just going to be way hard. What do you think, jesse? Is it totally way hard? Does that stuff really happen?”
I had already decided, before this meeting, that I was only here to support these awesome kids, not to teach them really. They can teach each other but maybe I can help guide things a little. They already know a lot, they are very self aware and this is their club, their experience. But most likely they don’t have the language for a lot of things yet, that they might be thinking or trying to say, that I could help with. Like the question my sweet, fabulous boy just asked- there’s some internalized homophobia in there, right? And I don’t need to teach them vocabulary (yet!) or how to spell it, but just help them see what they already know a bit clearer. And, I had also decided that although I didn’t want to scare them, I was most certainly not going to lie – about anything.
So, I looked my fabulous favorite boy right in the eyes and said, “Well, let’s just be honest here, you worry about all of that too, right? I mean, your mom didn’t invent that worry – you think about that too and it’s freakin’ stressful, right?!” He and a few others nodded dramatically. And instantly his entire body language changed. I hadn’t said much of anything yet but all of a sudden his eyes softened and he just looked relaxed. And I realized right then, more than anything, that just by being there, just by sitting in this room with these kids, I was validating them. All of them. All of it. Not just their experiences or their confusion or fears or sexual identities – but all of it. I was proof that what they were going through was really, really hard and most importantly, that it was all very real.
I smiled at all of their sweet, attentive faces and took a deep breath. “So, here’s the deal. Here’s the truth. I have no idea how your life is going to go. But for me, in my life, I have lost friends after they found out I was gay. I have lost a job after I came out. And I know there are a few apartments I tried to rent and didn’t get because my roommate for a one bedroom was another girl. I know all of this for a fact.” And now I really had their attention. I was the adult that was telling them the truth and they were ready for whatever I had to say.
I took another deep breath and saw that even the two teachers were frozen, paying a sort of attention that I am not use to and I continued, “But here is what else I know for sure: I don’t have any place in my life for people that don’t want me. Yes, I have been surprised by a friend’s reaction and it totally hurt my feelings, a lot. But if someone doesn’t want to spend their time with me, for whatever reason – that is a big loss for them and what can I do about it anyway? I’m certainly not going to try and talk someone into liking me. And I will definitely meet other new people, the world is HUGE, let me tell you – it’s freaking HUGE- and I’ll make new friends, all of my life, and they’ll like all of me. My real friends celebrate and cherish who I am, all of me, because that is what friends do and I deserve that!.. And why would I want to rent a home that doesn’t want me in it? You know how many places there are to live?! I will find one that wants me. I always have. And I would NEVER EVER want to work for a job that doesn’t get how fabulous I am. I am totally fabulous and I deserve to work for a place that totally gets that”… at which point my sweet boy interrupts with a snap, “You are fierce, girl. So fierce!”
I laughed and continued, “So, here’s the deal, your mom might be totally right, about all of it or maybe none of it, we can’t know. She doesn’t know, she just obviously loves you a lot and wants the world to be good to you. But we also can’t live in this constant state of fear of rejection either or we’ll never get anywhere, right? I mean, you might not get a job because you’re Mexican or I might not get it because I’m a girl, or maybe they won’t like something else about us. There are a million different reasons that the world will come up with to come down on us and make things hard and being gay is totally up for grabs that way. So? What do you do about that?”
It took them a second to realize I was asking them a question. “Seriously, what do YOU do about that? What have you done? What can you do? You certainly wouldn’t be in this club if you weren’t trying to do something about that.”
The other blushed-girl started to mumble, “I think it’s just about exposure. Like, if you’ve never met a gay person then maybe you’re afraid of them or something- but I don’t know why. They’re just people too. It’s totally weird that people say such stupid stuff about people when they don’t even know.”
My brain was screaming, “AAAAAAH! You totally get it! You are right on top of the entire philosophy and structure of the perpetuation of discrimination!” My mouth smiled big, which made her blush ever harder, and I said, “I think it’s about exposure too, like getting information before you decide on something. I think you are totally right.”
And we talked about that for a while. We talked about a lot of things. These kids are on it, they are so so ready to do good work. They decided they want to start a “That’s so gay” campaign, where they would do something about stopping that expression from being used so often in a discriminatory way at school. We also talked about t-shirts for the club, that one girl suggested should all be different colors of the rainbow. They told me what it was like to go to this school now and how there was a lesbian couple who had applesauce flung on them while holding hands in the hallway. They didn’t know who Mathew Sheppard was, so Marie told them that story. They also didn’t know Ellen was ever not out. So, then we talked about coming out and what that had been like for different folks. We talked about a lot and my heart was swooning the whole way through.
As the meeting started to wrap up the students asked, in an adorable, desperate, whiny, puppy way, if I would, “Please, please, pleeeeease come to another meeting soooooon!.” And I was flattered and said that of course I would.
I also said, “Before you all leave, I just want you guys to be totally sure, in case you weren’t or were wondering at all, that you are totally incredible and you have changed the whole entire world by starting this club. I mean, the whole entire world is a different and better place, in a huge way, just because of you guys. You made my life better even before we met today, just by starting this club. And you will never know exactly how many people you make feel better, how many lives you help, but I promise you it is way more than even the highest number you could possibly come up with and it will only continue to get bigger. It is an absolute privilege to have met you all today and to have been invited to this meeting. You are all my personal heroes and I am so impressed with all of you, for who you all are. So, thank you, very much.” To which my favorite fabulous boy flippantly said, “You too girl.”
And as they all started to leave to catch the last school bus, my favorite, fabulous boy was leaving the room when he so perfectly put the gay icing on the gay cake, “And, jesse… girl, you got yourself some goooood hair, by the way. Seriously. Fierce.”
(Looking for the line? Go to 3:18)
As I pulled up to my old high school and parked my brand new car in the visitor section, where a decade and a half ago I use to park a classic cherry red mustang that my step dad bought me, that I totaled flying through a red light many moons ago, because parking in this section was much easier to sneak past the security guard than anywhere else in the lot, I saw the huge prison like structure to my left. It was my old high school, that depressing gray-blue building that use to make every single weekday feel already haunted by bad memories sure to come, and I thought, “Holy shit. If ever there was such a sight.”
With my high school sweetheart, Marie, in tow, we walked towards the huge Venus fly trap front doors. It was 3 p.m. and school was out. At first I was confused as to why so many kids were just standing around until finally Marie reminded me that these young folks were waiting for their parents to pick them up. They couldn’t even drive yet. That made me laugh.
We walked into the office, where I once spent way too much of my time defending myself against actions that had just gotten me thrown out of class. My mouth said, “Can you please tell me which room the GSA meeting is being held?” My brain said, “Ya, we all know I’m the big ol’ faggot dyke looking for the queer kids and I KNOW you know that so let’s all just save our breath and skip the small talk here.”
It was hard for me not to feel angry. High school was one of the hardest chapters of my life and the anger that I left behind in this building was clearly still somewhere in it. I hadn’t realized I had any feelings about this place at all until I could see it while driving from several farm fields away and felt my pulse shoot into my throat. As soon as I stepped into the building it was palpable.
Once I was inside, to my surprise, the old dusty anger was clear. I could smell it. Somehow, after all of these years, my anger was still haunting in the echoes of all of the locker doors slamming open and shut. I could hear it. Or it was lingering in the stampede of jocks pushing their self-declared-entitlement through the halls to football practice. I could see it. Maybe my rage was lurking in all of the seconds between some kid calling another kid a ‘fag’ and the teacher that blatantly heard the slur letting it go. I could taste it. Regardless, I walked into that building and felt like I was looking for the safe room, in a labyrinth of endless hallways, for a little speck of safe space on an enormously unsafe shore, where even though I had my own keys to a get-away car now, that no security guard could keep me from anymore, I was in full defense, like I have written before, and practiced most of my life, I was ready to slip my self into a much, much thicker skin at the drop of a threat. I could feel it.
I have learned to sense it, this threat, with all five, individually.
I was on a mission though. I was going to meet the kids; the really young, amazing heroes that have set my heart into constant flutters that only certain Cher songs have ever created, kids that somehow found the courage to go against the thick, hard grain that the fields surrounding them have proven impossible to bend, that would let them out of this hell hole fairly easily if they just went along. But instead they chose to rise up amongst an entire ocean of ‘usual small town’ affairs with a big huge thunderous bang, with grand intention and inherent dignity, to humbly create the newest undeniable dent, ding, scratch, spark, bang, boom, bam into the unsure, unsafe, unpaved path of social change.
Listen closely please: These kids started a Gay Straight Alliance Club in my old high school, in the middle of Smallmindednowhereville, which is everywhere that doesn’t do that.
This is the kind of change that could have saved me from a million demons more than a few years back. These kids, that, as soon as I entered the room, would look up to me like I knew something, with no clue that I was there looking up at them like bright little pimple faced beacons of hope, saving a million queer ships in a second. They had no idea. Their sweet, incorrigible, ignorant, fearless, cotton candy teenage brains could not, in that moment, wrap around who and what they were to me right then – what they had done for the whole world – and maybe they never would. But right then, the hate and anger and fear and resentment that I have unknowingly been toting around with me for more than any of those students’ entire lives just fell off of me, just like that.
All of a sudden, I was free.
All of a sudden, all of that hope that I hear about, that I read about, that I have studied, that I have searched for in dark and in light places, that I have seen on the side of buses, the kind of hope that one recent man made loud and clear, “Yes. We. Can.,” the kind of hope that came free as a kid, where learning to ride a bike was just one more honest-try away, the kind of hope that let’s you fall asleep at night despite everything you can’t stop knowing, the kind we mindlessly sing along to with the radio, the kind that I dream about at night, all of the time, the kind I have kissed once or twice but just can’t always seem to find when I need it, the kind of hope that I’ve always suspected is somewhere near by, and that I keep hearing has been at arms length the whole time, just like that, found me.
And just like that…
There I was.
And there were those amazing kids.
And there we all were, in a room in my old high school, at a Gay Straight Alliance meeting, just staring at each other like, “Holy shit. If ever there was such a sight.”
**Click here for part 2: part 2: jesse james goes to the old high school’s new GSA club
Today’s message is brought to you by The Gay Agenda: If we just keep pushing, eventually the whole world will be so fucking queer it will be undeniable, that in fact, and all along, Cher is God. Recruit! Recruit! Recruit!
A few weeks ago my belief that anything can happen in this world went from example 176,344 to 176,345.
This time the proof was in discovering that my old highschool, in Smallmindednowhereville, where I thought the F word was faggot until I was ten, just started a GSA club. Yes, Smallmindednowhereville Highschool has a Gay Straight Alliance. Last year when the students asked if they could start this club the principal said, of course, “No way you faggot freaks. We have plenty of “diversity” clubs. This would be redundant (and fucking gay, dude!).” And so, these small town kiddos went all higher court on the principals ass and it turned out, if he didn’t want to send his entire district to court he needed to bend over, sign on the dotted line, and suck it up. He did. Another score for team twinks!
So, today, yours truly is going to drive all the live long day to get to this high school, to meet a teacher, who is younger than me by a few years, whose older brother once asked me to a dance at this exact high school so that I can be escorted to this little GSA club and say, “Hi there kids. My name is jesse james. I’m a BIG ol’ flaming queer faggot lesbian and I made it out of here alive. Oh, and I AM SO FUCKING PROUD OF YOU IT HURTS. And then I will make out with all of them.
The kicker? Like there could be one? My high school sweetheart, the girl I dated for 5 long long long years, all through high school (plus a year), who is now married to an awesome man and has two beautiful babies… yes, we’re still best buddies and yes, she’s coming with me.
I haven’t set foot in that awful buiding since the last time I was legally bound to do so. I could never have imagined being this excited to go back there. I will, of course, let you know how it goes.
I thought FOR SURE this photo was somewhere on this blog but I just went digging around and can’t seem to find it. This one is for Jen. As you can read on her blog, quite recently and unexpectedly she lost her best buddy. And if I can have this hard of a time even typing about a dog I didn’t know, from this far away, I can’t imagine what Jen’s heart is going through. I have been showering the Seal with even more love and attention this week, for Gracie, who might be the only dog ever, to have an even bigger smile than the Seal.
May the world be nothing but gentle and kind to you, Jen. Take care of yourself,
(In order to preserve and maintain the high level of faggy queerness that I have very intentionally injected into this series, please click on the video below and count to fifteen before reading the final credits – it is just so gay and perfect that way, trust me.)
. . . . .
…And like every adventure that ever was, eventually there is – The End -
. . . . .
Tour of Fabulous: Final Credits (in order of appearance):
The oh so amazing and lovely, long time leading lady: Violet
My four legged shadow: the Seal
The reason I didn’t miss my flight: The SeaTac TSA lady that kind of hated me
Red backpack: As itself
Best hair product in the world: Not telling
Sexy smooth dude/ Ol’ school best buddy: Sinclair Sexsmith
Sweet girl that put up with Sin and me all week: Kristen
Partner in many a late night crimes, one of my very favorites, Park Slope pool survivor: Mikey
Crowd of fabulous on Friday night: Everyone that did not try to beat me up
Pool shark: Barb
Pool shark’s drunk friend: Suz
Very cool dude who threw an awesome party: JessHeIs
Lady who hypnotized me with her eyes and then fed me breakfast: Tina-cous
Snazziest dressed (by a long shot) at Jess’ party: Dr. Leo MacCool
Wonderful, sweet new friend willing to talk with me all night long: Freedomgirl
Doppelganger-Shane from the L-word: the DJ at Jess’ party
Lovely girl behind those green eyes: greg
greg’s dress: As itself
New long distance bff: greg’s girlfriend
. . . . .
TOF Director: Sinclair Sexsmith
TOF Producer: jesse james
TOF Executive Producer: the Seal
TOF Editor: Fraidy Phat the Fish
TOF Fact Verifier: Marcus the Raccoon
“Tour of Fabulous” Title Credit and Most Missed Blogger: Lady Brett
Onset Chef and Makeup Artist: Kristen
Windsor Tie Knot Maker and Hair Validator to jesse james: Sinclair Sexsmith
Cherday Sponsor: Thursday
(endless) Support Crew: Violet
Best Boy Grip: That’s what she said
*A special thanks to Sinclair Sexsmith, one of my very favorite people on earth, for putting me up and putting up with me for a week. You are a host with the most and one of my favorite ways to spend my time. And to all of you along this amazing vacation adventure, thank you for being so kind and wonderful and welcoming. I am very lucky to have met you and to have you all in my world. And thank you all for getting through all four parts with no one screaming “LIAR! I can’t believe you just said that about me!”
I very much look forward to TOF: The Sequel.
with love, of course,
Aaah greg. Sweet, charming, beautiful, wonderful, greg.
I met greg. I talked with greg. I had dinner with greg and I hugged greg. Yes, there is more to the story than this, but I thought I’d put the highlights right out there for you. I mean, if any of the just mentioned does not totally fascinate you, you also probably don’t like chocolate or puppies or having fun and will most likely find this post a snoozer… keep in mind, that means something is wrong with you.
On Sunday, Kristen, Sin and I got back from Jess’ party with just enough time to get things a bit together before greg and her girlfriend, both of whom I had never met and was quite excited about meeting, came over. Sin had errands to run and so a runnin’ she went. Kristen had long planned the menu and as soon as we got back to Brooklyn she got in the kitchen and started Tearing. It. Up.
Violet is a fabulous cook and because of this I am not just well fed but also a well trained kitchen bottom with over 4 years of experience. Yes, I’ll stick my fingers in the pesto and the pudding when you’re not looking (you totally didn’t see me, did you! Stealth), but I can slice and dice and sauté all under particular orders like a pro. This worked to both Kristen’s and my favor quite nicely.
We had two hours and some serious prepping to do before greg and her girlfriend arrived so naturally, I created a ‘Lady Gaga’ station on Pandora, and we rocked the kitchen dance club style. Chopping sweet potatoes to “Po po po poker face po po poker face” is like a natural rhythm really. And like I told the lettuce, “Baby when its love if it’s not rough it isn’t fun” as I ripped it up into the bowl. Perfect, yes? Agreed.
And the menu Kristen came up with was no small task and as time began to thin she just kept her cool and kept cooking. Somehow by the time our company arrived all was prepared, including sliced lime wedges for drinks.
And then the buzzer buzzed which was my cue to double check that my hair was perfect and that my zipper was up. Check and check (insert snapping S shaped swoosh of hand here.)
Ten seconds later there they were. In walked greg first. And anyone can know she’s beautiful and smart with knock out fashion sense if you check out her blog… I knew this. But still, folks, somehow I was just not prepared.
In the two seconds she turned away from me to take off her coat I managed to down the rest of my glass of wine (you totally didn’t see me, did you? Double stealth.) As she turned back around, sans coat, in a dress that could kill a small village, with knee high boots that would at least make a small village unable to speak coherently, and mentioned that traffic was bad, my fag-brain was screaming, “Love. This. Get. Up. Something. Fierce! Dayamn, girl. Flawless. Perfect. Hot. Love it! Love it! Love it!” My mouth said, “Sorry the traffic was bad. Great dress. Can I get you a drink?”
(I heard later that she was wearing a fabulous necklace but I was too scared. After getting caught looking at my doctors cleavage about a month ago– yes, you heard me: super fail – I have been practicing being a mature adult that can get through an evening without my eyes dropping and I did and I am quite proud of myself, except it turns out I really missed out… on some fabulous jewelry, that is.)
And then, in walked greg’s girlfriend and I was doubly impressed with everything happening. I was very excited to spend the evening in this company.
(Note: Because greg’s girlfriend isn’t really in the blog world I consider her an innocent bystander more than anything else. This is just to say that I am intentionally being overly vague. I will mention however, that if we lived closer I would try, with relentless effort, to make her like me so that I could be her friend that she would want to hang out with regularly. Also, she has a killer smile, but you could find that out on greg’s blog.)
So, I fixed them a couple of drinks. And by ‘I fixed them a couple of drinks’, I mean I stood next to Greg and watched her fix a couple of drinks, as everything she did was deeply interesting and truly impressive.
Eventually we all settled around the table and started to chat while eating some very tasty food. I was permanently leaned in towards greg with my hands folded underneath my chin in awe. I tried to ask her about anything and everything so that she would keep talking and continue to be so freaking-out-of-this-world-fabulous. greg is so engaging, so charming, and so easy to talk with. My new long distance bff, aka greg’s girlfriend, was so very fun and easy-going and made me laugh a lot.
At some point, and who knows how really, Cher came up and I tried to teach Sinclair how to flip hair the way Cher does (WHY did I not ask greg to try?!? And the regrets begin…) There was also a point where greg’s gf and I bonded over constantly being verbally attacked for… dear gawd, do I bring this up again?… gulp… both agreeing that, without any information or details, but purely on looks and looks alone,we think Sarah Palin is attractive (aaand cue the angry emails. But folks, it’s just Tina Fey’s evil twin, really. Ok, moving on! This is about greg. Move. on.)
The evening flowed rather easily for me, as maybe I haven’t mentioned or made clear enough: I was totally infatuated with our company. Throughout the evening, I again went through the brain flips of trying to separate greg from her blog. And again, as the evening progressed it became easier to do.
I hadn’t realized how many blanks I had filled in about her that shifted, of course, once we met. More so than any other blogger I had met this weekend. Even her voice. I hadn’t really considered that I didn’t know what her voice sounded like, or maybe I had created an idea of one. And so, as soon as she said hello, that two dimensional bubble popped and a new, real and in person version of greg began to filter through.
To me, greg’s blog feels personal in a different way somehow, almost like reading a journal. It’s always in the moment and it’s brave and honest, like a letter from a friend that trusts you. I’m not totally sure what it is, but I feel like she keeps me up to date on her day to day, what’s on her mind (yes, I realize it is more actuate to say us, but this is about me now). I feel like she creates a real-life context for herself, including pictures of moments that just happened. Her blog feels like it’s in real-time, like a window.
I’m not sure what it is, but I think I almost forgot that we didn’t know each other until we met. And on top of realizing all of this, I then realized that my feeling this way was not necessarily mutual. My blog, more than not, tends to be in stories about other people, other things, my observations, my version of life, and in no particular order or time frame, and not usually about me in the now, really. She mentioned exactly that at one point, saying, “So, jesse, who I know very little about, tell me about yourself.”
We also talked about many of the finer things in life, such as the Real Housewives of New Jersey. (Did greg totally reenact the table flipping scene from the last episode? Yes. Was it perfect? Don’t ask dumb questions, of course it was. Did I eventually stop asking and then immediately answering my own questions in a ridiculous New Jersey accent? Ya, I did. Did I want to? No. But we needed to move on.)
We continued to have course after course of Kristen’s wonderful, homemade meal and eventually broke into the beautiful dessert that greg had brought.
And just as I decided to sneak off and call Violet to see if we could please keep them, almost as quickly as the evening began, it started to get late. It was Sunday night and some of us still work. They needed to get going.
We all hugged goodbye and like a kid who’s being left with the babysitter for the first time, I attempted to keep a strong face as I waved goodbye- just as greg turned back and said she wanted another hug. My brain was singing, in its best Louis Armstrong impression “…and I think to myself, what a wonderful worrrrrrrld” My mouth said, “It was so wonderful to finally meet you.”
And then, just like that, they were gone.
Sometime around 10 a.m. Sinclair came into the room where I was sleeping and began attempting to nurse me back to life with coffee. Unfortunately, before we went to bed the night before, not so many hours earlier, the three of us drunkenly polished off the last of the cinnamon rolls and were forced to eat sub-incredibly-fabulous breakfast foods that normal people, who had never had these cinnamon rolls, would find perfectly fine.
Eventually we all started feeling and acting like the living kind and started to get ourselves together enough to head out. Today we were off to JessHeIs’ Bye Bye Boobies party and fundraiser. We gathered up ties and shirts and dresses and shoe that were then all hung in the Outback with care. We grabbed several different vessels to fill with water in an attempt to un-pickle ourselves from the night before.
Although I was dragging a bit I was terribly excited to get there. Tonight I was going to meet a whole slew of bloggers that I follow daily and have been oh so excited to meet.
After some serious traffic issues along side apocalyptic rain showers (that never let up) we arrived. I got out of the car and saw some dude walking towards me with his hand out. JessHeIs shook my hand, threw his arm around my shoulder and within two seconds I felt like we were old friends.
I went inside and BOOM, there they all were (and the blogger name dropping bomb begins…) Leo MacCool, Freedomgirl, Tina-cious, JessHeIs, Sinclair, Kristen and I were all of a sudden just standing in a room together like normal real life human beings. My mind went from excited little sparklers to big huge explosions as I tried to connect this online world to these faces in front of me.
I read them everyday. I check in with them and comment and care about them. I wait for their next post like I wait for Violet to call me from work. It makes my day. And when Jess asked me how Fraidy and the little guys were doing I did a back flip in my brain. This collision was amazing to me. It was so weird and so wonderful.
For some folks, I think the ability to connect these worlds might be a little easier. But for me, I have never ever had a relationship with someone online and online only. And to make the previous statement a bit truer, until I met these folks I hadn’t formally realize that I had relationships online. Really important relationships. I still haven’t totally grasped that people even read this blog, and less than a hand full of people I know even know about this space. And yes, Violet and I were long distance for a long time, but I met her in person first. We had already kissed and taken walks together – and then came the distance. This was just totally different.
Before the party we all went to pizza together. (I ate a piece of clam pizza by the way. Supposedly Jess’ part of the world thinks this is normal? But if you are like me and think this is just a terrible and strange and most likely VERY BAD idea, fair enough. We understand each other. Ditto, friend. But I tried it anyway and it was actually really good! Jess laughed at me as my face went from, “Oh god, this is not going to be ok,” to “Damn clam! Way to taste delicious!”)
At dinner I sat next to the lovely Freedomgirl and as she and I started talking about life in general, we couldn’t help but to stumble upon a lot of information we already knew because of things we’ve written. She’d start talking about something and I’d say, “Oh ya, I’ve read about that.” And this kept happening. A few minutes into dinner Jess said, “Dudes, we already know everything. We’re gonna run out of stuff to talk about in 10 minutes.”
As the night continued, eventually, I started realizing how to separate the person from the blog. It started to feel obvious the more we talked. I started to realize that the differences are (and tend to be) in the subtleties: Things you can’t read through a typed font, things you can’t express or share with letters, things you can’t know without watching it happen or without watching it being told. There is an intimacy in hearing the voice, the inflection, watching the body language. In person, there is a back and forth, a give and take.
Jess has an easy-going, brotherly demeanor and one of my favorite smiles. Tina is just as easy-going and funny and so gracious, with eyes that are almost hypnotic and full of expression. Leo has a gentle and brilliant delivery and her humor is subtle and quick and witty. Freedomgirl’s timing in her speaking is absolutely mesmerizing, it rolls you in. Sinclair has a delicate kindness and intentional endless caring, that comes through in everything she does and says.
The details fill in differently in person. The same story now has sound, a personalized tone, a laugh, eyes, gestures, body language. And just the telling of the story now has a shared context. There’s an energy created simply by being present together. And we were all present and we were all together.
After pizza we all headed back to Jess and Tina’s house-turned-blogger-hostel to get cute and shmancy for the party. Ties were tied, lipsticks were applied and then blotted and then applied again and again, hair was brushed and sculpted, suit jackets were buttoned and off we were.
The torrential downpour of rain had not even slightly let up. It was some of the hardest rain I had ever seen. The driveway had turned into a small lake and had everyone’s feet totally soaked through. And if it weren’t for our instantly flawless coordination of our magical shield of umbrellas we would have been a really hot crowd gone quite soggy in seconds. But we had umbrellas, a lot of them, and each other. So, while the rain did what rain does, we did what we do- we covered each other until it was safe.
We got to the party around 9ish, all of us dry (minus our feet) and looking like a hot little group of fabulousness. The music was blasting, the crowd was mingling, the drinks were flowing, the jello shots were rainbow colored and the cheetos were unnaturally orange and tasted perfect.
As the night progressed, eventually everyone was dancing to loud, faggy-clubby queer music that the DJ kept seamlessly rolling (while in between songs she had some girl plastered up against the wall with her mouth – go DJ, go, yo.) At one point, the sexy, smooth Sinclair busted out a hot little drag show to Faith by George Michael. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of friends that Jess and Tina have collected along the way in their life and I was totally impressed with the entire situation.
The next morning I woke up at Casa de Jess n Tina to the smell of fresh coffee and quiche. We all sat around the kitchen table, some of us feeling a bit perkier than others, and I had my last meal… for now anyway, with some truly remarkable people who double as some of the most important people in my life.
The sun, the day after the party of course, was shining as bright as a summer’s day and the sky was as blue and clear as the ocean. So before we all went our separate ways, we went outside, for the first time without umbrellas, all together, and took a group photo.
We gathered our things, and I hugged each real person, and said goodbye… for now.
(now that you are totally taken by Jess, like I am, if you happen to have an extra dollar or two or fifty or more and want to help a really amazing guy get where he’s going, your donation towards his top surgery is a really big deal and your donation is a really big help. CLICK HERE TO DONATE DIRECTLY TO JESS. Thank you!
After being greeted by the one and only Sinclair Sexsmith and finally getting to meet the oh so lovely Kristen late Thursday night, I woke up Friday morning in Brooklyn.
Kristen started our morning off with cinnamon roll biscuits from scratch (which were, without flinching in any spec of a doubt, the most delicious thing that either a biscuit or cinnamon had ever done.) After breakfast we all spent the afternoon hanging out together and being fairly restful, as we predicted correctly, this would be our last resting opportunity for several days.
That evening I had dinner plans with one of my favorite friends, Mikey, who recently moved to New York, and then we were off to meet a lovely crowd of folks at a local dyke bar in Park Slope.
Once at the bar and full knowing that we were all asking for nothing less than a wee bit of trouble, right off the bat the whole lot of us counted to three and drank our *car bombs down and gone (*a half pint of Guinness with a shot of whiskey and Irish cream.)
An hour or so later Mikey and I decide we wanted to play a game of pool. There is a back room to this bar where the pool table lives and Sinclair warned me, more than once, that she has never felt very comfortable back there. “Phshaw to that,” I thought. “It’s just pool. It is our national lesbian sport (besides camping and rugby). It is our birthright!”
Mikey and I wrote our names down on the list and waited. An hour or so later a large woman with a very serious demeanor found us up front and declared rather than asked us, “You are Mikey and jesse. You’re up against Suz and me”
We went back and the game began. It was awkwardly quiet. Both Mikey and I felt the chill right away and tried to talk to and befriend Barb a bit with absolutely no success. I mean, her disdain was so blatant and only became increasingly painful as the game continued. One of us would say something to her or ask her a question and receive absolutely nothing in return. Not a look, not a glance, gesture, scoff, not a nothing. It was really uncomfortable, to say the very, very least and it made for a long game. I whispered to Mikey, “How can she already hate us? We just got here.”
Mikey told me not to worry, that we just needed to get into the game and that things would lighten up. We both tried to keep things light. Oh how we tried.
At several different points in the game Barb switched out her personal pool stick for a different one. Switched out her very own personal pool sticks, as in plural, more than one, you ask? Yes. She was not only totally scary and wearing a black, three fingered pool glove and had made it very clear, without needing to formalize the sentiment, that we were not invited to her birthday party, she also had several pool sticks of her own.
I bit my tongue three different times but finally I decided I had a really great one liner. It was sure to crack a smile. The fourth time Barb traded out pool sticks I said, “Hey! This isn’t golf!” – aaand cue solo awkward laugh with cricket sounds in the background. She didn’t even look at me.
Mikey also tried to lighten things up with her own technique that I like to call: irresistible southern charm. She walked right up to Barb, stood beside her and postured herself exactly the same way Barb was standing: arms crossed, pool stick in the nook of her right elbow, slouched posture with a bent right knee.
Mikey (please keep in mind the butter-like Tennessee accent): Hey Barb. (NO response.) I heard y’all had a little pool club goin’ here, huh?
Mikey: Well, see, I just moved here. I’m really not great at pool but it is fun. And if y’all play here all the time. I mean, I’m pretty busy and don’t live very close by but I would like to meet people and, well, maybe I could join y’alls little pool club?
Barb: League. (long pause, zero eye contact) No.
Poor Mikey. She walked back over looking quite defeated and said, “Well, that Barb has really hurt my feelings.”
I told her it wasn’t us. Barb was made of ice and stone. We were fine and kind of suck at the game but we were having a good time, or trying to anyway. Mikey nodded.
The game continued as Mikey and I did our best to amuse each other and have a good time.
Now we were 5 to 2 (and to clarify per Violet’s request, that means we still had 5 balls on the table that we needed to get in while they only had 2.) Barb’s pool partner, Suz, was up. I loved Suz. She was short and drunk with hat-head-hair to her shoulders and a big baggy red flannel shirt that fell over her baggy jeans. All she did was giggle and snort at anything anyone said or didn’t say.
At one point she walked by me and I whispered, “I love you Suz. I don’t know what I would do without you.” She snorted and giggled as she slapped me on the back before aiming up her next shot.
Suz was a good shot, but she was also a bit drunk and not on her game.
Eventually they got to the 8 ball while we still had 3 on the table (again, to clarify, this means they were on the final ball and we were really losing.) It was Suz’s turn. Barb still looked like someone had just spit on her shoes but at this point I had decided that was just her resting face.
Suz aimed. Suz shot. Aaaaand Suz scratched…. on the 8 ball, which means they LOSE and although we didn’t really WIN, by default we WON! (And the crowd in my head went wild while keeping an eye on the nearest exit should Barb lose her cool.)
So, now we were without grumpy, scary, angry Barb which allowed our breathing to return to normal. As the winners (by default), Mikey and I played another game with a decent guy with a green goatee and his friend. We lost the game quickly and painlessly to both of our relief. We had had enough of this hard core pool nonsense.
And just like someone had cued in the final credits to our pool adventure, finally my jukebox music came on and the bar was blasting “If I could Turn Back Time” (if you are at all surprised by this there is no hope for you.) And all of a sudden, my main man Sinclair Sexsmith showed up in the forbidden back room and proceeded to dance dance dance. I grabbed a pool stick-microphone and began singing along at the top of my lungs. Yes, my throat was very sore for the rest of the night and into the next day and yes we were totally fabulous.
But mid-song, out of the corner of my eye, there she was. Barb was back. “I’d take back all the words that hurt you and you’d stay…” I don’t know much about Barb, as she was a tough egg to crack, but I do know two things for sure: She hated me and she hated me singing Cher tunes in her pool room. The only time all night that we made any eye contact was while I was singing. “If I could reach the stars…” She caught my glance and beat me up with the look she shot. But I was singing Cher, I just didn’t have room to care.
After the song was over Mikey and I lingered in the back room a bit, chatting with the few other folks that didn’t hate us and who had personalities. And then, all of a sudden I hear, “Move” and feel a pretty blunt shove to my back that jolted me forward. Barb pushed me. Pretty hard really and I knew exactly what this was. This was the white shark bump-and-bite technique: First, the shark bumps you really hard with its nose to disorient you and as a test. After that, if you see the shark again it’s because she is going to eat you.
My brain, now on a few pints of beer, thought, “What the hell?!” My mouth, also talking through a few pints said, “Listen dude, I may look butch or whatever, but I am actually more fragile and sensitive than anything. ‘Can you get out of my way’ would have worked just fine.”
I am not a fighter. I do have a mouth on me but I do not throw or get in the way of punches. Ever. (Except for that one time in the 6th grade when I beat up Jake Nepp for picking on my little brother.) Mostly, my skills are in my swift ability to talk a little shit and run like all hell. (Fight and flight, remember?)
So, I made this comment to Barb with car-bomb-confidence but as it was all falling out of my mouth I had this alternate vision of seeing the shark come back and me flying by the crowd of folks in the front room yelling, “Nice to meet you all! Gotta go now! I’ll text you when it’s safe to stop running, Sin!” Fortunately, the pool shark wasn’t hungry for an innocent-little-fag-fish right then and there was no need to flee. Barb was all bump and no bite.
At this point I was a bit jostled and a little pissed off, as any innocent out of town fish who was just trying to chill with the pool school would be. So, instead of letting my mouth get me into any real trouble I went back up front, told Sin she was right about the pool room and carried on with the night and with a wonderful group of pleasant, non-angry, interesting and fun folks.
As we were leaving the bar that night I turned back and put several more Cher songs on the jukebox, just for Barb.
The last song, of course, was Just Like Jesse James.