Friday, January 22, 2016

Loring Park Episode #56: The People I Met

Because it has been so long since I have done an episode, we are going to buck tradition this week month whatever.

I have met the most fascinating people over the past two months, in my continuously erratic and messy life.

And then I'm gonna blog a lot more often and we'll get back to normal! I promise.

The Comedy Section

I had a show at The Mounds Theater in St. Paul with my good friend Elizabeth Ess and the talented Pat Bauer and Cici Cooper. It is an old movie theater where they now do comedy shows.

There were five people in the audience and the Mike & Ikes were stale. Of those five people, one was my father and three were my friend Chad and his two friends.

Elizabeth would book the venue the following month and they had it half-full. Show business is the devil.

Still, I enjoyed walking to the convenience store with Cici as she remarked that the neighborhood we were in reminded her of New York.

Last Comic Standing



My mother and I went to go see the Top 5 of Last Comic Standing at Mystic Lake Casino. Andy Erikson was a major source of encouragement in my early career. I went to her wedding reception. After the show, all five comics were graciously signing autographs and merchandise. I was too shy to talk to any of them. Even Andy, who, I like, know. I finally got a picture with her. I wanted pictures with other comics but I just clammed up for some reason. I get like that sometimes. I was like that with Bianca del Rio, too, but that was a week after I had a major personal relationship fall apart and I would have been sad about anything. All five were hilarious and we had a great time. I had lost my debit card TWO DAYS BEFORE so my mother lent me $60 to lose on slot machines. I never paid her back, either.

I have borrowed so much money from her. Two hours ago I got another overdraft notice. It never ends. She tells me that if nothing changes, nothing changes. I am beginning to realize she is right. I'm not just realizing it, I'm just in less denial about it.

I have come to realize that I am not addicted to alcohol nearly as much as I am addicted to people. And people cost money because Uber costs money and then there is cover and then I am going to have a drink or two or three.

And the people. Oh, the people I have met.





I was lucky enough to perform in the 10,000 Laughs Comedy Festival this year. It is the third year that the Twin Cities comedy scene has put it on, and they invite comics from all over the country. Because I am horrendous about checking my e-mails, I had assumed I was only performing in the Thursday show of that week. It was not until I chose to Google myself like an asshole that I realized I WAS IN TWO SHOWS ON SATURDAY. WHATTTTTT.

My co-worker Annette graciously switched shifts with me on Saturday so I could get to the Comedy Corner by 7. Work was crazy busy and I left early without permission. Not only that, but I was supposed to drive Jared home and he was going shopping and instead of waiting five extra minutes for him I told him to take the train, because his dilly-dallying (to use a phrase of my mother's) had negated my leaving early and now I was going to get in trouble with management for no reason. When I got to The Corner Bar, I wasn't on the list to perform in the first show. This was all karma. My diva antics caught up to me. I was a nobody and show business continued to be the devil. Bob Edwards, who helps run the festival, caught the error and fixed it, and all was well. I did a show at 8 and then a show that didn't start until 12:29 A.M. It was COMEDY, it was fervid, and I wonder what everyone thought about the strange little man huddled in a hoodie in the green room for most of the night. I went to The Saloon after 2 and texted my bartender of my drink of choice so that he could make it before serving was officially stopped. This is why I am broke. Why can't I ever stay home?????

The comedy shows were sandwiched between my high school reunion, an event that I was dreading but actually enjoyed. I went to The Saloon when that was over, too. Why? Why, why, why???? Tales of An Aging Bar Star Who Did Not Get a Degree and Does Not Work at Target Corporate.  I didn't change very much from high school. I still have a crush on the dumb jock and the devout Christian guy, the latter of which I didn't talk to until the end and I am sure I absolutely terrified his wife by inviting myself to the baptism of their first child whenever they have one. Evangelicals don't even have baptisms. They have dedications.

Boys Boys Boys






I went to Halloween with Piano Man. He was in my bathroom in gold lame underwear trying to put on his sexy Pharoah costume. He is tan and chiseled and I got the vapors.

"Jakey," he asked. "Can you help me?"
I declined because I was about to faint and also because I have the fine motor skills of an infant.
"JARED," I declared. "Will you help Piano Man with his costume?"

Jared saw the show and was also at a lack of words.

"Jared," I said, "Remind me to call the plumber tomorrow. I think that pipe burst and now the basement is flooded."
"Oh, I checked already," Jared said. "The basement is very flooded."
"Oh no," said Piano Man. "Can I help?"
"No," I said. "You have done enough damage."








We gallavanted to First Avenue for the Flip Phone Event and met up with Joey and his sisters. There was a sexy Swedish Chef from The Muppets and no one knew who it was. That made me sad. I danced with Under Armour because he was wearing a coconut bra and not much else. I LOVE GAY HALLOWEEN.

The next day, Jared's boss had a question about his Facebook post. "What happened to your basement?" she asked with wide eyes. Flushed with embarrassment, I didn't stick around to hear his answer.

***

I acquainted myself with a couple who explained they were in an open relationship. I was sitting next to an adorable twinky singer and a boy from Montana who was a Wilhelmina Model. He would later tell me that he hated modeling and he wished he didn't have to do it anymore. The boys in the relationship were explaining how open relationships work, and while I certainly had my own opinions, I realized I would learn more if I shut the fuck up. I never saw the model again. I see the singer a lot. He hangs with a different (read: way younger and prettier) crowd, but he's good people.

I fell in love for exactly 48 hours.




We were at The Saloon, of course. There was a boy there who was a broski epitomized, with his Ralph Lauren button-down and olive skin and tall, lean but muscular frame. Everyone's jaws were dropping. I don't know what it was -- the stimulants mixed with the tequila, the viewpoint that life is short or what -- but I felt like saying something instead of being an open-mouthed wallflower.

"Excuse me for being so forward," I said, "But you're very handsome." You're very handsome is classy. You're very handsome is not OMG you're sooooo hottttt. You're very handsome is not please fuck me.

"Thank you," he said. Even his teeth were perfect. He kind of reminded me of Kevin.

At the end of the night it was time for the sidewalk sale while we all waited for a cab or Uber. (The sidewalk sale, for the uninitiated, is when people wanting to get a hook-up wait outside the bar at closing time. These have lessened in the age of Grindr. Nevertheless, my sidewalk sale days are long gone. I am expired goods in a sea of fresh meat.)

The impossibly beautiful broski was off to hail a cab.

"Have a good night," I said.
"Aww, that's my DUDE," he said.
"Let's broski hug," I said.
"Nah," he said. "Let's hug for real."

We hugged and for three point five seconds I was literally dead. I would have told myself that I had a good run. I laughed. I loved. I saw Paris.

The next day, we somehow ended up at Jetset. It was a Saturday and so Joey, Jared and I decided to venture to The Saloon anyway, because The Saloon stays open until three even though they stop serving at two and we were still feeling social. Also, we must have started really late for some reason Maybe we worked. It is not important.

What is important is we were out on the patio that night when a crowd of gays were around a tall specimen and you could almost step in the drool on the cement. And mid-sentence, he stopped all that was around him ...

"Hey," he said with a concave grin. "My buddy."
"Hiiiiiiii," I said, and I could feel myself turning red.
My friend from high school asked if he was straight. I hate when gay guys do that. When women do it, it's okay, like when my friend Kate and I were at Honey and found out the cute bartender was bisexual.
He said he was straight but I didn't care as this was an eighth grade crush and I was going to have the best of it.

I talked about myself and life for as long as I could and he wouldn't stop smiling.

"Are you always like this?" he asked.
"He is," Jared said, almost sadly.
"I've just never met anyone that's so ... animated," he smiled.
"It's exhausting," he said.
Joey could not stop laughing. "You always use that dumb 'bro' voice for every straight guy you meet," he said. "But he actually sounds like that!"

We went to the dance floor and a Stage Five Clinger of a woman kept trying to dance with him. "Dance with me," he pleaded. "Just say you're my boyfriend."

I danced but not too close because I didn't want to get a boner. Then his friend who was short but muscular tried dancing with me. I didn't know what to do. I felt like I was on display like Melissa Gorga. Was this a test? For once, Joey and Jared were staring at me as if I was the belle of the ball. I didn't dance with his friend. The beautiful straight man left, but I gave him my number and told him to come to my next show. He did not come to the show and I would later lose my phone that had his number in it. Maybe he was a unicorn or all a dream. For an early Christmas present, my mother gave me a phone that is the size of a small doberman.

That was the only person I saw at the bar that gave me heart palpitations.

Well wait.

There was that one night ...




My mother told me not to go the bar.

 The whisper told me not to go the bar. 

I went to the bar an hour after I said I would be there thanks to a delightful wave of IBS and OCD that blended in a Saturday evening alphabet soup. The gentleman I was meeting was on his way out when I got there.

My friend calmed me down and fixed my shirt. He called me pregnant an hour later but I wasn't even that mad about it.

And at the bar, he stood right by me. Swigging a beer. Same flannel wear, same raspy voice, same smart blue eyes always hiding something. The whispers had been right. But here we were, for the first time in six months since he emphatically (and understandably) left my life, and it was meant to be, and I was going to conduct myself like an adult. I would not cry. I would not shriek. I would not swear. I would only say hello if initiated.

"Sean!" he yelled. Well, of COURSE he knew the gorgeous engaged heterosexual I had just met. I was now ready to throw away everything I had just said and unsolictedly bust his balls. "Of course you know Sean!" I was ready to cry.

...And then in a double-take later, I came to realize it was a different person. Looked and sounded damned similar, but close only counts in horseshoes. Or something. I don't know.

The movie in my mind had many different beginnings and endings.

In real life I got a most lovely beginning. The ending sucked but it was at least an ENDING. Some people don't even get that.

And on we go.

Maybe that's okay that it wasn't him. After all, this is what I looked like that night:







UGH. Also, I have no idea who that boy is. Doug wanted me to take a picture with him and I didn't argue.

Before I know it, I will be at the one-year mark when what seemed like the never-ending story finally ended -- as I said, it was a bad ending, but it ended. I can only accept it. Unlike the last big estrangement, I have only had one memorable dream about him. We were at a Starbucks in Dallas and I met who I assumed was his partner. We were cordial and he seemed very happy. I rarely drink coffee and I have never been to Dallas, unless you count the time I was stuck at the airport for eight hours and my aunt was so delirious she insisted that there was no such thing as Texas anymore.

***

My New Job






After seven years, I got a new job.

I am making a lot less money but I am a lot less stressed out and everyone tells me that no, eventually, I WILL make a lot more money, it just takes time and effort and hard work and all that fun stuff. The schedule is great and I am surrounded by gorgeous men all day. A girl could have it worse.

***

Marin

I went to a fancy dinner party at Marin Restaurant that I couldn't afford. My card got declined. People used words like "penthouse" and "cabin". When I got there I ran into the plexi-glass and that was when I was stone cold sober.  I had no business being there but I did sit across from the owner of Tiger Sushi and she was SO nice. I am forever a fan now.



Also, one Monday night Steve and I were going to Marin for Happy Hour but went to The Saloon, as we always do, and NICK AND JOE JONAS WERE THERE. I cannot have nice things.


***

Jared has a boyfriend. He stays over about eight days a week. He cleans up after himself and I like him well enough. I am trying to remain positive and think about that if we ever had a home invasion, it is one more person likely to attack the intruder. I stay at my parents' house a lot more often now. One time I wanted to stay over at Joey's but he had to work in the morning and I typed in all caps how hurt I was. That was an embarrassing 9 A.M. "Oh my god I was drunk and stupid" text that followed.

I have gained ten pounds and feel like a lonely and angry marshmallow.

30 is looming.

This is my new reality.

On we go.

***

And I will try to write MORE because we have so much to talk about next week.

Like Christmas
And New Year's (my favorite time of the year)
And my return to acting!!!! I got cast in a play. So exciting. So scary.

I wish you all a happy and prosperous 2016. Let's hang out more often this year.

Xoxo
Jakey

Monday, October 5, 2015

Loring Park Episode #55: Blue is the Grossest Color


Hello, children! Again, we are three months late. Since my financial situation is screwy again, I am hoping it leads to more nights in of blogging. I'll have less to write about it, but maybe it'll even out, no?

July began with our hot water being turned off! Apparently when you move to a duplex instead of an apartment, you have to establish a water bill. I am lucky enough to have parents who live nearby and I had no problem using their facilities. While waiting for the Centerpoint representative to arrive, I spent an entire afternoon reading a Forbes article about the wealthiest person in each state. Wisconsin's is the owner of Menards and he's a total Republican, but I found it interesting that he makes everybody (including executives) clock into work. Neat!

***

I enjoyed myself at Drag Queen Game Night with Piano Man. Piano Man moved further east of the Cities and I don't see him very much. We were going to exercise around Lake Calhoun (ha! last time I went I wore flip-flops and Steve and I walked around the whole lake and I had disgusting blisters for a month), but our schedules got delayed, so I convinced him to accompany me to Drag Queen Game Night. Piano Man is one of those men who is really attractive but since I don't see him very much, I forget about it until I'm in his presence. He picked me up in his car and smelled musky.

"Should I wear my glasses?" he asked. He was wearing a basketball jersey.
"Sure," I said. "You look smart."
"Or should I wear my hat?" he asked, and put it on backwards. "I know you like your broskis."





None of us got called up to play games (Drag Queen Game Night operates a Price is Right-format where your name is announced). I still enjoyed the show, as they rotate their cast monthly and I had a heck of a time being in the show in May, where I may or may not have sold the most tickets by a cast member. Hashtag humble brag.

We sat across of drag queen Jamie Monroe during the show and got our picture with her later. She enjoyed the view of Piano Man's biceps. Is that your man? she mouthed. I blushed but told her no. I used to do that thing where I would hang out with a cute boy and let people assume things, but I realized that it isn't fair to people to do that anymore. Piano Man went home with somebody else and I wasn't even mad. I got to sit by him for two and a half hours, dammit.

Former high school classmates of mine had a house party, and I attended before going to Big Louie's bingo (addiction is real). I enjoyed seeing everybody, even though it was jarring knowing that our ten year reunion is coming up. Some of us are a little paunchier. Some of us got hotter. Some of us have kids and dogs. A ridiculously attractive broski who announced he was voting for Trump was there, and I wanted to hate-fuck him for Bernie Sanders. Just my luck I would feel the bern. Of gonorrhea.

No, I'm kidding! He was perfectly nice and weighed 220 pounds. I shamelessly invited everyone to my shows the following week, because I was lucky enough to be working for a whole week at House of Comedy!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Loring Park Episode #54: The Pride of Stevens Square


Today wasn't fun.

I'm trying hard to get excited for Pride. Maybe it's because I think I'm getting old or have a gut or don't feel like I can afford to go anywhere (not that such a thought will stop me. Did I mention I'm in debt consolidation? And that I am not in debt because of hardship but because of serious impulse control problems?) I must remind myself that this weekend is not about looking good in swim trunks but about freedom of expression, self-acceptance, and being lucky enough to spend time with supportive family and friends.

While driving to South Dakota last weekend, I put in a mix CD called "Songs About Leaving", that I made when I knew I was leaving UW-Stout (ultimately one of the saddest chapters of my life, but that's for an entirely different novel). I had no idea what songs would be on there, only that I knew none of them would be older than 2007 (I am OLD, my children). Track #9 was "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts. I remember my mother loved that song and encouraged me to put it on CD mixes for all the young people in her life. And even though our relationship was absolutely terrible at that time, I had appreciated her for thinking that, and resented myself that I was too blinded by anger to see her the way my friends did.
And then I bawled my eyes out until the song was over because even though I didn't graduate from either of the colleges I went to and I'm *still* being helped by my parents on the edge of 30, I was driving four and a half hours by myself to a venue in which I was going to get paid because people believed I was actually talented and good at something and worth the amount I requested.

I never saw the contract until after the trip and I was supposed to do a lot more work than I actually did. Lesson #300: Always check your e-mail if you're going to be a professional, and being worried about a Christian radio host replying to a novel you sent her at 3:11 in the morning is not an excuse to avoid your e-mail. In a tangent, she wrote me back and it was absolutely breathtaking. Her name is Susie Larson and her show is called "Live the Promise" and today the topic was about avoiding WORRY. I am sending her a Christmas card, but because this is me, she probably won't get it until February.

I have been missing somebody to the point of insomnia, chest pain and gastric distress. I am learning it's okay. From the first time we met I had been convinced that this person greatly needed ME, but now I have realized how self-centered such a notion is. This is a person who needs God and a good therapist, and there's not a damn thing I can do about it. Our last conversation ended with "I'm gonna need a few days" before the car door shut and sped away in the darkness. That was 57 days ago. Not that I am counting.

A month later I would have a nervous breakdown in the parking lot of a hospital and a nurse in a yellow sweater found me and walked me to my appointment. If you are going to have a nervous breakdown, do it at a hospital. Everyone acts like it's totally normal. Yellow is a calming color. Rosie O'Donnell has written essays about yellow, how it is the color of everything that is real and how she felt fame took it away from her. I tweeted her about my meltdown and that the nurse wore yellow. "Nurses r the best," she wrote back. My mother is a nurse. This is not a coincidence.

I have no idea where I was going with this.  -Facebook rant, June 24th 


I was in a strange mood as Pride loomed. It wasn't just about my body. I mean, yes, I should work out, and I was never fat, nor was I ever ripped in years previous, but this is my last summer of my twenties (kind of) and maybe I was projecting.

The first omen that things would turn around happened when my boss said I could be off on Friday! I was leery of asking for Thursday and Friday off since I had asked for every other weekend off in June due to the Sioux Falls gig and my uncle's wedding. Jared wanted to host a big Pre-Pride party on Friday and I had planned on working until six o'clock and coming home to bitch at everyone.




I used this same .gif during last year's Pride episode! Thursday night I met Jared and Joey at Honey for Flip Phone, which is one of the first unofficial events of Pride. Just like last year, I totally forgot how long the line was going to be! I was late because I was Nairing at my mother's house. "Jacob!" she cried. "That smell is going to burn down the house!"

 Joey and Jared let me do cutsies and I immediately felt the rage of those who were behind us and pretending to be our friends. It still took us 45 minutes to get in because the club was at capacity.

"This line is longer than my last relationship," I lamented.
"If this was your last relationship there wouldn't even be a line!" cried Jared.

It should be noted that my Grindr profile says I just got out of a really bad non-relationship and I still think that way.

It took us about 45 minutes to get into Honey, but once we did, it was its usual blast. I did the "Heartbreaker" rap while dancing with Under Armour and he was impressed because he hasn't seen me do it 50 times like everybody else has.

Little did all of us know how our lives would be changed forever the next day.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Loring Park Episode #53: So Sioux Me

Previously on Loring Park (Adjacent) ...

Jakey and Jared moved to their new home across town.


June was such a busy month! Summer is meant to be that way, I suppose. We are enjoying our new house and new adventures. I ended up bonding with the upstairs neighbor, but she moved. I am hoping for frat boys.


***

I had a nervous breakdown.

Before you all get nervous and worried, I should specify that I did it in the parking lot of a hospital, where I was going to have my butt looked at. I had stayed at my mom's house the night before, and she didn't wake me up. She had no reason to wake me up because the appointment was at 2 P.M. and I am 28.

I called to get my appointment delayed by half an hour. When I showed up there I was bordering on being late. Also, I wasn't wearing any underwear because I was staying at my mom's house, and I was worried about being sweaty. This was a big deal because they were going to be pulling my pants down.

I walked into the medical center in Maple Grove, realized I didn't know where to go, walked back to the parking lot, called my mother to yell at her (as if that would somehow solve everything), then sat on a bench and kept bawling.

A nurse in a yellow sweater walked by and asked if I was okay. Since this place also had an oncology center, she assumed I had received "bad news". There was no bad news. I just had to have my asshole looked at and I didn't know where to go in this big building, and I overslept, and my phone never works and that's why I can never make an appointment with a therapist and Lord knows I should be on Xanax by now ...

...She very calmly walked me to my appointment, up two floors to an elevator and dropped me off at the station. I realized I didn't have my wallet but they let me sign in anyway. After the appointment was done, my wallet was on the outside of my car but nobody had stolen it. God is real, children.

Yellow is the color of calm and all that is real. Rosie O'Donnell has written essays about yellow, how it was all of those things that fame took away from her. I tweeted her about the nurse. "Nurses r the best," she wrote back. My mother is a nurse. This is perhaps not a coincidence.

***

The next Friday was pay day, and I reunited with my friend Julie! She was on her way back from a business trip in San Francisco and she and her boyfriend Adam came to my house for Thai food. "Did you know you live just 3.7 miles from the best Thai restaurant ever?!" she exclaimed. They were delayed, which was unfortunate, since my parents were at The Saloon to help my friend Greta in her fundraiser for an AIDS bike ride.

After a few glasses of wine, we headed to The Saloon where I just missed my parents! This is the life. Adam was generously buying me a few drinks, and next thing I knew I felt the need to change shirts with everyone.



 It was all fun and games until I lost my keys. Even though I wear them on a lanyard and I get made fun of for that all the time. I cannot have nice things. I didn't notice they were gone until I was in the cab with Julie, Adam, and a boy with a bun. Then we had to bang on the door and wake up Jared, who was not a happy camper. I wasn't a happy camper, either, but then me and the boy with the bun went, erm, camping. We, um, pitched a tent or two.

"How old are you?" I said while we were making out.
"24," he smiled. "How old are you?"
"Like I'm gonna tell you," I said, and then I took his pants off.



The next morning when you're naked in front of someone is rather liberating. Julie and Adam left in his car, and Julie let me drive her car to work. (And we had to drop off my trick. Who lives above a coffeehouse. My very first hipster. I should cross it off a list. He would cut off the bun a week later. I felt like Delilah. The one from the bible, not the lady I like on the radio who would not approve of a story so salacious.) After my shift was over, I picked up Julie in her car and she drove Jared and I to Big Louie's to play bingo. Julie lives in Apple Valley. I am nominating her for canonization.

Not only did we fail at bingo (which was a 60-number coverall), but Loretta, irate about my lost keys, read me for pure unadulterated filth.

"I don't go out in public and get drunk and take my shirt off and trade clothes with people!" she cried. "If I did that everyone would think I was a big idiot!"
"No, they wouldn't," I said. "You'd be the life of the party. Like, 'oh, that Loretta. She is so wacky.'"
Loretta was not having it. I had as much luck swaying her opinion as I did winning at bingo. I haven't won in forever. My gambling addiction has been about as fruitful as my alcoholism.




I was lucky enough to attend The Reapies, which is like the Emmys for local comedy. It was my fourth consecutive year of not being nominated for anything. I still had a good time. This is Rana May, who told me that I am a stupid little baby. I enjoy her immensely. A comic who is almost 7 feet tall named William Spottedbear suggested I jumped on his shoulders. I did, and then I totally strained that spot where my pectoral muscles are supposed to be. Comedy is all about pain.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Loring Park Episode #52: And the Rest is Drag (SEASON FOUR PREMIERE!)

Previously on the series finale* of Loring Park ...

Jakey had an illuminating card reading! The boys found a new apartment! Jakey lost his wallet AND locked his keys in the car.





We said good-bye to Loring Park.

We live by Stevens Square Park now. It doesn't sound as sexy. I just call it Loring Park Adjacent. It's not necessarily a new show. We still have the same friends, work at the same job, and take the same exit off the freeway.

And we have a million shows on our TV which means I should stop going out all the damn time. I should buy a yoga mat to tell myself I will do crunches, but in reality I'll probably just end up eating nachos. I'm going to the Lake Calhoun pool party over Pride weekend and even though Chad Kampe (DJ Fancy Restaurant) told me they do "no body-shaming", I'm still worried I am going to be mistaken for a buoy.

***

"I trusted you," he said, and even next to me he sounded distant.
"I know," I said. "I'm sorry."

Sorry is about as effective as epsom salts for a headache. Despite any benevolence in my intentions, I had lied. And then I lied about lying. As Judge Judy says, you have to tell the truth because you eventually won't be able to keep your story straight.

He dropped me off at my parents' house at 3 AM where I promptly peed about a gallon on their front lawn.

"Text me when you get home," I said.
"No," he said. "I can't talk to you right now. It will be a few days."

It has been a month now. I am okay.




By "okay" I mean that my heart physically hurts and I have spent the last month walking around feeling like I have an open wound and I haven't been sleeping and even when I was in the same room as one of my personal heroes (we'll get to that later), I couldn't stop thinking about it. Out of anxiety, I have bitten my lips to the point that I resemble Angelina Jolie if she had canker sores.

I am sad. So damn sad. But integrity has to trump your own emotions and preferences. He might not ever speak to me again, and that would be entirely his prerogative. I coped by listening to Christian radio and eating a lot of gummy bears. The hole in my heart transferred to a hole in my stomach lining.

I also listened to "Infinity" over and over, because I will always have Mariah.

And if I forget about this whole thing, May was a pretty damn good month.



***


For one thing, we moved! My grandparents helped out and it wasn't nearly as arduous as I thought it would be, but moving is still never fun. I'm convinced that our rent will go way up next year, but if it doesn't, Jared and I are staying here until we are 40 (unless he gets married or I decide to move back to New York). Also, you will be shocked, just SHOCKED, to learn that in the moment we were to turn in our keys was also the moment that I locked my keys in the car. Again.


The stress of moving was so great that I went back to the closet. #muffintop


We live in the bottom half of a basement in Stevens Square. It has been a month and I still haven't made any dumb jokes about us being bottoms. The lady upstairs is also the caretaker of the house. Jared has met her and says she's really nice. I have never met her but I didn't know that our driveway was shared and on the very first day, I was greeted with a note that read:

Please park all the way to the right so I don't have to park all the way in the trees. Seriously. Who does that????

My very first passive-aggressive note! Never change, Minnesota.



Friday, April 24, 2015

Loring Park Episode #51: Roll with the Punches (SERIES FINALE!!!!*)

Previously on "Loring Park": TJ the bartender moved across the world! A friendship went off the rails! Terri Runnels!

Lessons in Comedy

March began with me doing three shows in a week! I loved how busy it all felt. On Tuesday, I was invited to do a showcase at the VFW, on Thursday I performed at Bryant Lake Bowl for the LOL/OMG show, and Friday I had an awesome time slot in the Die Laughing marathon, where I got to do a half-hour set (that's the fundraiser for which I did "Brunch with Jakey" last year).

Show business, it seems, is kind of the devil. Yet you are always learning when you are in the trenches, and that is what I love.

First of all, the VFW show is really fun because they have a DJ by the stage and you can kind of riff with him and it's like having your own Paul Schaeffer. Bryant Lake Bowl was fun because I got to work with my friend Chris again, and Jason Schommer always puts together an eclectic and fun group. And Die Laughing was fun because of what I made out of it.

Other than my mom coming to the Bryant Lake Bowl show (which I really appreciated), nobody else I knew came to any of these gigs. Which is fine because no one owes you anything. I always believe that! But when people on Facebook insinuate they're going, and say they're gonna bring four of their friends, and then they don't, it becomes kind of a letdown. It especially felt his way at the Die Laughing Marathon, because I was led to believe that several folks from my high school were coming. I even brought my old yearbook! Also, the room was held in a HUGE banquet hall, so the audience of less than 20 looked even smaller.

But right before I got onstage, I realized the lesson. It does not matter how big your audience is, or who necessarily is in your audience. I mean, work certain angles if it makes the show better, but don't obsess over it being all women or all dudes or young/old whatever. It matters that you do your best to better yourself as a performer but more so for the people that are there. I let go of my disappointment that none of my friends showed up and had a damn good time on that stage. I was happy to learn that Fearless Comedy Productions achieved their fundraising goal over the weekend. Without them there would have been no Fringe Festival show for me, and I will always be grateful.

I walked to my car and made the drive back downtown. I realized it was a Friday night at 9 and were this just a week ago, I would have called Sean. We would have pre gamed at his apartment and maybe done Jetset or Saloon. Later in the month, Entertainment Weekly would do a full-length article on Delilah, the sappy radio DJ we both admired. It was an abrupt loss that, while certainly not romantic, was nonetheless difficult to process.

I had a paid gig that was cancelled a week later when I was the one who noticed the venue was advertising a completely different show for that evening. The booker felt bad and I didn't take it personally. Still. Show business is the devil.



I did the Tuesday Night Showcase the following week. I didn't do as well as the previous week because I was arriving right from work and was all frazzled and didn't have a clear routine. The crowd was still really cool. After the show, Gabe Noah, Isaac Witty and I went to The Saloon and drank Fireball and watched Latina drag queens and judged everybody doing karaoke. Life does not always have to suck.



My friend Sarah McPeck was the first ever female celebrity guest on Drag Queen Game Night! I was so proud of her. My friend Markie noticed my gut on this evening and later in the month an acquaintance grabbed a fat roll and on Easter Markie (again) would tell me to "suck it in". As stressed out as I have been lately, I am hoping some of it will lead to accidental weight loss.
     


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Loring Park Episode #50: The Milwaukee Show

Here we go, children! This week's episode begins on location, because my friend Charlie and I trekked to beautiful Milwaukee!



Charlie and I are kindred spirits for a few reasons. We are both Cancers. We are both deep thinkers. We can both quote Alanis Morrisette at the top of a hat (him more so than I -- I can admittedly only do so for her first three albums). And while he is six years my junior, we both love that era of WWF/WWE that was the "Attitude" era, especially when the women are concerned. My favorite will always be 7-time WWE Women's Champion Trish Stratus, and his will always be Terri "Marlena" Runnels, who had a remarkably long tenure in the business for a woman. While Terri was never a wrestler (although she *did* win the Hardcore Championship once), she worked tirelessly in different roles, as a glamorous silent manager to Goldust, a shrewd businesswoman in "P.M.S.", a horny little she-devil in a rivalry with The Kat, and finally as an interviewer who would occasionally get thrown into the ring to make one of the bad girls look even meaner (see the times Victoria or Molly Holly/Gail Kim beat her up to get the crowd to boo).

"Do you want to go meet Terri in Wisconsin?" Charlie asked me months ago.
"Sure!" I said. I thought nothing of it. I went to school in Menomonie, WI (about 70 miles east of Minneapolis), so Wisconsin wasn't a far away land to me. I didn't ask any follow-up questions. I assumed we would have a lovely day trip in Eau Claire.

"I'm so excited to see Terri!" Charlie said months later. "Did you take the whole weekend off work? It's in Milwaukee."



My trepidation was quelled when I found out Sean would be there that weekend, too! His family is from there and he was going to be in the city at the same time as us. Charlie and I booked a two-night stay at the Hilton. I felt bad for missing Jared's birthday party and suggested that my mother go on his behalf.

"I'll go if he's not so drunk he can't keep his eyes open," she said. "Maybe next year when he outgrows that kind of thing."





Charlie is from South Dakota and is used to driving for hours at a time with no interruptions, but when I wasn't complaining about wanting to sleep, I was complaining about wanting to pee! We stopped in Menomonie, Wisconsin, so I could relive my college days. We stopped at The Acoustic Cafe, where I was impressed by their gender-neutral bathrooms and horrified by coverage of Scott Walker. Scott Walker is the dirt worst. He is so bad that Republicans from Minnesota are writing letters encouraging businesses to open up shops in Minnesota. True story.

In the car, I asked Charlie for chap stick. "I don't share that kind of stuff," he said. "You need to trim your nose hairs, too."
"Oh, no, I didn't bring my nose hair trimmer!" I cried. "Can I use yours?"
"Ew!" Charlie scoffed. "No."
I understand not wanting to share a nose hair trimmer (and I thought I looked like Cousin Itt until I looked in the mirror and realized that it wasn't that bad), but the chap stick thing threw me for a loop. Charlie would later apologize and I told him it wasn't necessary -- I just found it an interesting quirk. I think of myself as someone who shares everything, but I suppose I am in between the extremes of Charlie and my friend Jacey, who will walk up to you if you are eating ice cream and ask for some and when you tell her you don't have a spoon, she'll say "I don't care" and use yours without even asking. I love her, by the way.



We had a few stops before the hotel room. We had to pee so we found a Burger King and both ordered a small fries. We were the only ones there and it took five minutes. I was going to ask for ketchup but one of the girls behind the counter was crying and I decided my ketchup could wait. Then we went to a store that was part liquor store, part grocery store, and part convenience shop where you could pay your light bill and things like that. We were going to stop at a vintage store Charlie had seen on Yelp but it was all boarded up.

"This is ghetto," said Charlie, who is from rural South Dakota.
"Stop saying ghetto," I said.
"Why?"
"It just ... doesn't seem right," I said. Yes, Milwaukee is 85% African-American and most of its income is in the greater suburbs, and therefore the public schools are not very good, and there are some neighborhoods the police don't even patrol anymore, and this was the first time I had been panhandled walking outside of a Walgreens. Still, I do not feel comfortable using the term "ghetto" when describing an impoverished, mostly black neighborhood. It feels icky.



We finally arrived in downtown Milwaukee. Any fatigue I had left when we were greeted by handsome men in full formal military apparel. Our hotel was having a military ball!!! God is real. My favorite things are ladies in pretty dresses, Marines, and a good love ballad.

Sean was visiting with his parents and joined up with us about 10:00, while Charlie and I enjoyed the WWE Network (and being ripped off by the hotel which tried charging both of us for Internet access. Ugggghhhhh).

Charlie started drinking earlier, but I wanted to wait. If I'm going to be out at 2 AM, I don't want to be half in the bag at 11, y'know? We watched more wrestling and listened to sad Alanis and Mariah song, and Sean was our chaperone for the course of the evening.

First we went to a club called .... Liquid? ... They blur together. We saw some drag queens. It was nice. Then we went to La Cage, which had cash only cover. I was bitching about this because just before our trip Wells Fargo had completely decimated my checking account. It was between these two venues that Charlie was getting belligerent.

I played darts with Sean and two of his friends. A shot boy walked around with a tray.

Sigh.

I am the last person to make comments about somebody's body. When I take my shirt off, I look like an albino 16-year-old girl who is growing slight chest hair because her body is eating itself due to anorexia.

That said, I am not a shot boy. In Minneapolis our shot boys are people like my friend Tan Man who works at two different gyms and is 9% body fat, or my friend Robin who is a classically trained dancer and is 9% body fat. In Milwaukee, the shot boy had man boobs, stretch marks, and was wearing grey Hanes. If you would have asked him who Andrew Christian was, he would have probably thought you were drunk and talking about two of your friends.

Charlie somehow finagled a free shot. And then he continued being rude. He wasn't throwing drinks or anything, but he kept talking about how bored he was, and was generally acting like a 15-year-old girl that you bring to your grandma's house on the lake for a weekend. Also, at one point he made fun of someone's hair and apparently that person has had five rounds of chemo. Whoopsie.

In a surprising showing of maturity, Charlie agreed to go back to the hotel. I paid for his Uber and it was less than $5. And then I was able to see what Milwaukee is like on the town!! By which I totally made out with that shot boy. You can't shame the shameless.

Sean and I ended our night at This is It, which was really quaint and reminded me of the 19. And I met Season 7 RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Trixie Mattel!


No, she was actually there. I didn't just talk to a poster. She was out of drag and was super nice and friendly, and I'm sure I mortified her by trying to present myself as a peer ("I'm a performer, tooooo ....)". I'll be rooting her for this season (And Max, of course, because local girls gotta stick together).

Sean and I went to Toppers Pizza and I ate the whole damn thing. I think I gained a good ten pounds in Milwaukee.

                                            ***

The next day, Charlie felt terrible, both in terms of hangover and shame.

"Was I really that mean?!" he kept asking.
"Text Sean about it," I said. It was between the two of them. As embarrassed as I was about Charlie's behavior, he hadn't said anything mean to me, and I'm much more willing to forgive bad behavior if someone is trite about it immediately.
"That's why I don't drink that much," he said.

I do find this fascinating. I drink, um, a bit -- okay, a lot -- and I don't get mean. The worst thing I ever did was slap that kid's ass when he wore the Adrian Peterson family because I thought it would be funny! (Turns out his last name was Peterson and his boyfriend did NOT find this amusing). And there was the time a boy who was a thousand times better looking than me was going to sleep with someone I was in love with and I said "I know the score". Okay. Nobody is perfect, certainly not me. However, I don't get mean! I don't understand the concept of being a mean drunk. You drink to dull your pain, not maximize it. If you're a mean drunk, stay home or drink club soda.



On a lighter note, this is the AMAZING card that Charlie made for Terri.* How creative is he?? We went to Walgreens to buy 99 cent Wet 'n' Wild lipstick, and clearly Charlie is a better kisser than me. Then, on the inside, IT PLAYED TERRI'S THEME MUSIC.




*I suppose I can write here now a note about code names. By using real pictures and even evidence of real names, you might wonder why I am still bothering with the use of code names, at least for this particular "character". I can only suggest that, for this particular person, it is a matter of striving for consistency. There are few people who have never had code names, and they will stay that way. 

In the card, he wrote her a beautiful and heartfelt letter about how he was a gay kid from South Dakota and he found strength by doing the "Terri pose" against his fence (when Terri would enter the ring, she would lean against the ropes and do a kiss-face to the crowd, with her back leg raised up in coquettish fashion -- I would do the same thing climbing my bunk at summer camp). He wrote that he was here with his friend Jakey, who was also gay, also a Cancer, and also a fan of all things Divas.

He then wrote that he would love to take her out to dinner and gave her his phone number.

"Is that too much?" he asked.
"Well ... I wouldn't," I honestly said. Truth. I could be in an elevator with Channing Tatum and act like I didn't know him. "But it's also a now or never thing. When will you have this opportunity again? You are braver than me."

Of course, getting to the arena took forever because I left my debit card in the room, the ATM at the hotel wasn't working (but we did get to walk past the Broadcasters Hall of Fame plaques, and there was a guy whose name was legitimately Dick Record. I loved it!), and it was snowing! We arrived and the line to meet the wrestlers was a good 200+ people long.

The other wrestlers were Matt Hardy, King Kong Bundy, and Kevin Nash, the latter of which I was going to have sign my copy of "Magic Mike" and I forgot it. And I have two of them!! While in line we stood next to a young woman and her niece, and she went on and on about who she met and invited us to indie shows she was working on. While I don't follow wrestling nearly as much as I used to, it reminded me of conventions I would go to in Las Vegas with people on the forums of wrestling observer.com -- and as dorky as it sounds to someone not familiar with it, there is this instant connection of kindred spirit and brotherhood that happens with a fellow wrestling fan. Charlie and I driving six hours to meet a particular woman was ample evidence of this.

To meet the wrestlers you had to buy tickets to the hockey game, so we were at the Bradley Center, where the Milwaukee Admirals were hosting the Rochester Americans. The first period ended while we were in line. While I have never seen a hockey game, I was kind of bummed. Those tickets weren't cheap, and when would I ever see a hockey game again?"

"How long is a period?" I asked Charlie.
"Like ... a woman's?" he asked.
"No!" I cried. "In hockey!"
"Oh, I don't know," he said. "Probably shorter than a woman's, though."
"Well, no shit, Charlie," I said.

A burly man came up to us as we neared the pillar. The signing went from 2-4, and it was about 3:40.

"FOLKS!" he cried. "At this time there are NO PICTURES!! JUST AUTOGRAPHS!"

My heart sank in my chest. I had begun to think this trip had all been a bust. What if I had had cash on me to begin with? What if I hadn't forgotten my debit card? What if Charlie had come back from lunch with his professor friend earlier? Would we just get her autograph, smile, and walk away?

Matt Hardy was up first. He can still get it, girls. King Kong Bundy didn't say anything but smiled. Then. Oh crap. Here we go. Terri Runnels.

"Hi, Terri," I said in lightning fast fashion and handed her the card. "I made this for you." I totally lied! Charlie made it!

"Open it," I cried. "It plays your theme music!"

She was elated. "Oh my god," she cried. "Oh, just get one picture."

WE TOOK THREE BECAUSE CHARLIE IS MUCH MORE CONFRONTATIONAL THAN I AM AND ON THIS OCCASION IT WAS FOR GOOD. THE GUY YELLED AT US THE ENTIRE TIME.



Amidst the yelling, Kevin Nash graciously signed an 8 x 10 for my mother (who loves him!), and Charlie and I hi-fived like Terri and Jacqueline of Pretty Mean Sisters.

Then we were finally ready for the hockey game! Charlie was too much on a high from the Terri moment to focus, but I wanted to relish the moment. I decided that I LOVE HOCKEY. I think I was spoiled because the game itself was really good and went into overtime. But I also loved the aggression of it. 85% of my love for hockey was heterosexual, but there was a 15% equivalent of me hoping that at one point the dudes would take their masks off and start kissing.

Nevertheless, my newfound passion of hockey only led to positive things, BECAUSE THE ADMIRALS WON IN OVERTIME!!!



They actually won 6-5, but that's the picture that came up. Okay, then.

Charlie and I prepared for a quiet night in, watching the Grammys. My favorite performance was Rihanna w/Jay-Z and Paul McCartney. I loved Sam Smith's speech about thanking the man who broke his heart. It was just like when I wrote a show in the Fringe Festival only not at all. Also, I have realized my celebrity doppelgänger is Beck and I am not sure how I feel about that.



We invited Sean out for Round Two, but he decided to stay in (a decision for which I couldn't entirely blame him). As the Grammys came to a close, Charlie's phone went off from a Florida area code.

"Who is ... oh, crap," he said. "I think it's Terri!"
"Answer it!!" I cried.

Charlie did his best impression of a teenage girl who is finally getting asked out by the star quarterback for spring formal.

"Hello?" he asked, trying to keep his voice from shaking.
"Hi, can I ask who I'm speaking with?" the demure voice on the other end said.
"This is Charlie," he said.
"Oh, good," the woman said. "This is Terri. I just wanted to call and let you guys know that I fell in love with you two from the minute I saw you, and that card was so creative and warmed my heart. I just got back from dinner with Kevin Nash."

We invited her out to the gay bar but she said she was too tired. Maybe next time.

Oh, but this was the best part.

"If you guys ever need anything, let me know," said Terri Runnels. She, who kicked Marc Mero in the nuts and formed the first ever female stable in the World Wrestling Federation. She, who was sprayed by a milk truck by Kurt Angle. She, who had The Fabulous Moolah in her corner at WrestleMania 2000. She, who in the very building we had met her, was tarred and feathered by Stacy Keibler after a lingerie pillow fight and legitimately almost died because one of the feathers got stuck in her throat from the syrup. Okay, they're not all glamorous.

I decided to let Charlie keep her number under lock and key. I don't need to be texting Terri Runnels at 2 in the morning next time I'm sad about a dude.
But I love him, Terri, I will write. Even if he comes and goes like inclement weather.
You need to find a man who will be like Florida, she will write. Always warm and comfortable ;)

A boy can dream.

Oh, also, this:



                     ***




I was so saddened to find out that we had lost Linda Reed to esophageal cancer. I have worked at the Mall of America for six and a half years, and Linda, who was a cashier at Holiday on the first floor, was always a highlight of my day, especially on those in which I was sleep-deprived or hung over or crabby or broken-hearted or all of the above. She genuinely *loved* that job and the people she interacted with every day, and there was not a mall employee who wasn't affected by her genuine joy for her customers and occupation. They had this posted on the counter for about a week. I was most moved by the discovery that she had a family. I had no reason to think she *didn't* have one, but to all of us she was Linda. I had no idea she was a "wife of", a " mother of", a "sister to", or that her father was a reverend. I will think of her every day.