Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Loring Park Episode #70: Is This Thing On?

Hello, dear readers! I know this has been my longest hiatus from writing ever. And I don't really have an excuse. I would tell people the following:

*Life got a little messy and I didn't know how much of it was okay to share.

*It's okay for me to talk about my own screw-ups and drama, but to divulge details about others veers into gossip; I didn't want to be a loudmouth but I didn't want to be cryptic either. I was fixated on an idea of the group, and who I was in the group, and once the group dispersed and went in ways that did not fit my comfort zone, I had a really hard time with it.

There is no group. Was there ever? I had to learn to focus on individualized friendships -- what is my relationship with Person A? Person B? Person C? -- instead of obsessing about the group, being popular, being Queen Bee, knowing everything about everyone, being obsessive if Person B was having a relationship with Person C or if Person D was no longer speaking to Person E or if Person F and Person G really didn't like Person H all that much.

*I just got lazy. Depressed? Lazy. Lazy with a spackle of depression. I thought the worst was over and for a while it wasn't.

So let's recap what the hell happened in the last five months, shall we? And a lot of this is gonna sound terse and like I'm blowing it off. I'm not, but we have to fast-forward so I can get back to updating biweekly/monthly and not doing it in this style. I'll try to do everything in order:

  • Our friends Ria and Micah had a housewarming party for their new house after a tragic fire last year. It was a reminder that love and friendship is what is truly valuable. We drove with the hilarious Sunny Kiriyama, so I was living.
  • My sexually ambiguous crush came to town and when he came over to pre-game, I thought he was going to bring a lady friend but he was just by himself, in his 6'2" bronzed movie star glory, and when I found my wallet after I thought I lost it, we broski-hugged. He went home with a supermodel that night. The next day at The Eagle, he made kissie faces at me in the bathroom and tried to push my head under the dryer. Nothing happened unless you count putting my arm around him in the Uber. "I'm obsessed with you," he smiled before leaving, and he kissed me on the forehead. I am 30 going on 16.

  • Dane and I saw Everclear do their "So Much for the Afterglow" show at Treasure Island Casino. It is one of my favorite non-Mariah Carey albums ever, and was very formative of my youth. The songs were frank about fractured relationship, drug use, and mental illness. It made a lot more sense to me as an adult.
  • Erin and I got our tarot cards read and Cassandra immediately saw mental illness. I tried to explain without explaining the events of last year. "You allowed yourself to believe very negative things about yourself that are not true," she said. 

  • My uncle graciously bought tickets to the Twins game and it was the longest game in Target Field history!! I had to leave early because I had a mental health fundraiser at LUSH that night. I performed in my bathrobe and framed it as a "fireside chat".
  • Steve gave me an ultimatum before going to Denver about drinking and I wasn't mature about it. Because he had not ruined all his interpersonal relationships via alcohol abuse, he still got to drink and go on dates and I didn't think it was fair. Erin, her husband, Jared, his boyfriend, Loretta and I all went to the Mariah vs. Ariana drag brunch at Union and it was heavenly even with my Shirley Temples! Sometimes I wonder why people don't live in Minneapolis. Later we went to bingo and nobody won. I felt like a very ashamed homosexual, as if my people had let my family down.

  • We went to Denver Pride and saw Chad Michaels, Aja, Alexis Michelle, and Peppermint. They have some great local talent in that city, too! Taylor Dayne sang too hard and she couldn't hit the high notes when she finally got to "Tell it to My Heart". I would later find out from our local bartenders that she was rude when she was here.
  • We went to the marijuana dispensary to see what it was like but I didn't inhale.
  • At the mall, I ran into a woman who complimented my rainbow Converse shoes (exclusively from Nordstrom!) and she knew the name of the owner of the gay bar we went to every night, but now I forget it. I thought of an alternate reality in which we moved to Denver and made it our own.  
  • A Facebook crush of mine whom I have never met was at the same club we were at, and I texted my friend Angie to make sure it was him. She verified he was there and encouraged me to say something, but I always feel some kind of way when I am on vacation. 
  • We almost missed our flight on the way back so I signed up for CLEAR and headlined LUSH that night. It felt very "show must go on".
  • A week later, was OUR Pride! We had the party on Thursday instead. I am always amazed by how many people we invite over and how many of them bring food and how lucky we are.

  • I only let myself be sad about who wasn't at the party for just a little bit.
  • The weather sucked this year.
It might be my age, but I realized that while I was happy to have gone to Denver Pride, doing two Pride weekends back-to-back is exhausting.

  • I had two shows at Sisyphus Brewing with Matteo Lane who was hilarious and DREAMY! I got to chat with Grace Thomas before she moved to Chicago. Jason Schommer and Matteo shared stories about celebrities they knew and I was in heaven!
  • After the show, I realized that I had been living off nothing but Red Bull for the past two days and my colon exploded. I still went to The Saloon at 1:30 A.M. because I had already paid for the weekend pass. What's a little explosive diarrhea?
  • I went to my cousin's grad party that Saturday and there was a torrential downpour and my aunt Jen was heroic in saving the furniture and decorations.
  • We went to bingo because it was at 60 numbers but the cover-all still didn't go and I won, like, $25. 
  • I was in the parade and completely over-exerted myself. I couldn't walk or talk for three days.
  • I lost my ID. Because it's always something. 
  • I wanted to do a pre-gaming house party for my birthday and was encouraged by many to not do a birthday. I still went to the library and made bingo sheets and Erin and Jared went to the thrift store with me to buy tacky prizes. No one had responded to the Facebook event and I realized I was probably being greedy because we had just had a house party for Pride, but it's not my fault that my birthday is in the middle of July and Pride is at the end of June!
  • I was getting a Brazilian wax at Waxing the City on Friday the 14th, and when I was going to come home from it, Steve and I were going to a fancy art show. He kept keeping tabs on when I was coming home and his Virgo-ness was getting really annoying. Then Jared called right before I got home and I figured he probably needed to borrow my car again (he had turned our house into his own storage locker that summer, but now he is renting a garage and is rather lucratively refurbishing household items and furniture -- I admire his entrepreneurial spirit).
  • I pulled into the driveway and Jared was outside. "Steve's waiting for you," Jared said. "Tell Steve to calm down," I said. "Traffic was bad." We walked into my room from the backyard. Our apartment has a weird set-up where the entry to the backyard is connected to my bedroom (which is why I usually have the driveway), and then my room is connected to the kitchen and living area. I say this only to set up the scene that while I was stressing out about running late even though I was trying to be on time and I just wanted to take a shower, when I opened my bedroom door to the kitchen, I was greeted with a loud "SURPRISE!" and two little boys I had never met spraying me with Silly String, and there were so many people I couldn't even see them all at first (and I turned around and took a few seconds before going in because I didn't want anyone to see my face), but I had seen Steve (who had masterminded the whole thing), and Erin (who went to the store with me! Traitor!), Reid, Charlie (who made the cake), and my father ...

Nick Lachey could getttttttt itttttttt

  • About 30 people were there when all was said and done. I knew Steve did PR for his internship but I still don't know how he pulled it off. My parents knew about it. My aunt and uncle showed up! I was truly surprised. Lee did a video later on Facebook of everyone with the Mariah cake saying "I don't know her" about me and I still watch it when I need a pick-me-up. And I loved the people there, how diverse they were in their walks of life (not just in race and age, but that, too), and it made me realize that maybe I had done something right in these 31 years of life.
We went to Betty Danger's and bingo on my actual birthday. Lee was the only one who came to the "real" party, which was okay.

  • The next day was Charlie's birthday and I was exhausted but I went anyway and had an anxiety attack at his dinner. It's the weirdest thing because once I got to The Saloon, I felt relaxed! I hadn't felt well that whole day, but Charlie's birthday is literally the day after mine, and it would take a real narcissistic asshole to be like, Um, thanks for coming to my surprise party on Friday night and my Bingo brunch on Saturday afternoon, but I'm too tired to do YOUR birthday now. And it was all in my head, because the dinner was delicious and his friends are perfectly friendly.  I am still an asshole, though, because I lost his favorite Alanis Morrisette shirt and didn't try to replace it until he finally called me to the carpet eight months afterward.
  • Reid got a new job. Steve got a promotion. I almost got fired.

  • I performed at my friend Anne's birthday party and my brother sat next to a broski gay I've had a crush on forever! I think he did it just to fuck with me. I wanted to present a cougar theme, so I came out to Sable's music. In a weird way, it felt like I was both doing stand-up and cutting a heel WWE promo.
  • Some drunk man came up to my brother and me and was convinced we weren't twins. At one point I wanted to tell him he was right, and how grateful I was that he was in the hospital that night to verify the truth.
  • My crush gave my brother a wet-willy. I wanted to die!
  • I finally patched things up with the worst heartbreak of my adult life, which is a credit to his maturity and not mine. While I hate the saying "It is what it is" because it's creatively and intellectually lazy .... it is what it is.

  • Speaking of heartbreak, I ran into all three of my fake ex-boyfriends in different intervals. I ran into Kevin and it was lovely until I tried talking to him about a controversial shooting and verdict, which maybe wasn't the best topic when I was tipsy and fired up (then again, what is?) Paul Ryan and I went to a Fringe Festival show and an after party, but I was embarrassed for crying in front of him about something else, and I was terribly under-dressed when we went to The W. I ran into Wesley and for years had my speech prepared, but then when I first saw him I was surprisingly calm and told myself I wouldn't instigate anything. I did my usual froot loop and he grabbed me by the shirt and said "Hey" in that gravely voice behind those sad and glassy blue eyes, and I felt all the things I always did, and it was an absolute disaster. He is never going to change, and I am worried that I won't, either. Quinn was there, too, and the whole thing felt like I was back in 2013 all over again. I texted Jared the next day. "I knew it," he said. "I could feel it in the wind as I was walking by." The next week Quinn saw me and said, "I saw him that night, too, and I get it," and I said "Thank you," and maybe it was four years overdue, but we finally acknowledged that we were both good people who got hurt and that our pain was valid. It was easier to be mad at each other than be mad at the dude who had played us. We would be lousy women. It's like Tyra Banks's talk show never even happened.
  • Steve and I went to the State Fair and only stayed for three hours. Maybe I'm not a fair person? I felt bad because it's such a hassle to get there and everything. Maybe I'm not doing it right. My friend Katelyn goes, literally, every day of the Fair and is never bored. Did you know I met the real Sweet Martha at my work? She is, like, the nicest lady. Were I not a better man, I would even describe her as sweet.
  •  We went to Chicago for Steve's birthday. My favorite things were the ferris wheel, the Writer's Museum, running into Celebrity for the 500th time (and he still doesn't know he's in love with me yet), meeting friendly locals, and the Nordstrom on Michigan Avenue. I want to live there. I am always grateful for the lapse of time when Steve is eight years younger than me instead of seven, because it just sounds so gross. But then I am reminded of his youth when he admits certain things, like how he has never seen Chicago!

I saw Coco Peru by myself. I was nervous about going alone, especially for meet and greet, and I even said so on Twitter. "You won't be by yourself!" she wrote. "I'll be there!" And her show was all about living your own dream, and not being afraid, not having regrets, all of that. The meet and greet was onstage in front of your fellow VIPs, so I felt really self-conscious. One of the best tricks that anxiety plays on you is convincing you that everyone is looking at you/making fun of you/thinking the worst of you. The reality is that people don't care about you -- not in a callous way, but they're paying attention to their own thoughts and surroundings. They see you but that's it. So I was nervous, and getting in line to go on stage was like that awkward situation when your plane has landed and you're not sure when to make a break for it to get in the hallway.

I babbled and told her about the tweets. "Oh, that was you!" she smiled. She was warm, genuine, and lovely.

My father turned 60! This is me taking a candid. It took the waitress 10 times to take a picture that was to my mother's liking. My brother complained the entire time. It's like he has never met my mother and grandmother before. This happens every time they are together, that the night ends in a prolonged photo session. In the immortal words of Shea Coulee, "Why are you acting brand new? Who's after Peppermint?"

Speaking of that season, I spoke with Alexis Michelle on the patio of The Saloon about the meet-and-greet in Denver. I felt so professional!

I hope to write a lot during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and get back to performing again and, I don't know, showing up to my life. I look back and I really do have something there, y'know? I guess I am trying to say that I am grateful for and love each and every one of you.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Loring Park Episode #69: A Boy's Best Friend is His Mother

Previously on Loring Park: A five-year friendship took a break. "Moonlight" won Best Picture. Ariana Grande sang "Moonlight". Jakey didn't drink for six days.

I am happy to inform you that I survived April. It's a recurring theme of my life that things go sour in April (remember last year, the height of my passive-aggressively running away from conflict?). I had spent so much of my life identifying with what "group" I was in, or who my best friends were, and while I'm always grateful to have abundant friendships in my life, it was important for me to learn I could hang out by myself and still have a good time.

Steve went to San Francisco for five days. It was a present he bought for his mother. Do you know what I got my mother for Christmas? Lotion. On a credit card that she helps pay for. I instead got an Armistead Maupin book from the library to have my own San Francisco experience. I happened to have that Saturday and Sunday off, so I was ready to be a single girl about town.

I went to The Saloon to watch RuPaul's Drag Race. I sat by Liam and Tofu at their table (Tofu isn't his real name, but he goes by it). Everyone at their table was gracious, but I couldn't enjoy myself. I kept seeing _____ and his posse and one of them even got their raffle ticket drawn and got to play Plinko! I booked immediately at 8:01 P.M. My friend Billy asked where I was, but I told him I had already gone home to get pretty and that I might head back out later.

Carla wanted to go the '90s with a friend, and I thought it would be a great idea! Her friend had a crush on the ridiculously muscular bouncer. Well, who doesn't? The girls came over at about 10 and we pre-gamed until a little after 11. I didn't realize that Carla's friend was driving. I then forgot how horrendous driving downtown is on a Friday night, especially when a concert is just ending at the Target Center. It took forever! We finally parked somewhere on 1st Street, in front of signs that said "NO EVENT PARKING". Carla and I thought this was fine because the event was over, and the car would be fine.

The '90s had a long line, but if you paid cash you could go in the side door. About ten minutes in, I realized that Carla's friend was drunk and shouldn't be driving home. I asked Carla if she wanted to call a dry drivers service or just come back at 8 in the morning. She said she would take care of it. I then decided to stop worrying! I hadn't been to the '90s in forever, and I loved seeing the bartenders and queens that I knew during my nine month stint of being the Sunday night hostess (I miss the gig and I miss the money, but I also don't miss having to always carve out those two hours a week, especially if I had other plans. I get Sundays off a lot now, whereas before I didn't, and it was easier to go home from work, get ready and then do the '90s, and not be tempted to get too drunk or tired at brunch). The muscular bouncer, Muscle Chris, was his usual friendly self and at one point I was massaging his back without realizing it.

I told Carla I was gonna head to the Saloon -- it was 1:30, so I could have a drink there and then stay a bit later (they close at 3). The minute I got there my phone rang, and I spent my entire night standing outside on the patio. I heard yelling in the background. It turns out Carla's friend's car did did towed, it was apparently all Carla's fault, and that Carla had her keys in that car so she needed to stay at my house that night.

I am never going to get laid.

The cab stopped at The Saloon to pick me up on the way my house. So much for my Friday night. Carla's friend was still bitching and swearing at her and insisted that the cabbie drive her all the way home to Anoka. Carla was trying her best to calm her friend down, but it wasn't happening. I told her to go to the door, and I told the driver to call me when he got to Anoka.

"You're saying things you're really going to regret in the morning," he kept telling Carla's friend. She wouldn't have it.

I have been the person who has acted poorly under the influence of alcohol and said horrible things to people who were my close friends. I wanted to believe the best in people, and that she would feel bad enough in the morning. I also didn't want her in my house! What if they fought and argued all night? Carla put on some of my pajamas and we attempted sleep, but we were both too rattled to relax. Oh, and Carla's phone was dead and she has an iPhone and I have an Android, get at me, motherfuckers.

We woke up at 9 and kept calling until 11, when her friend finally answered the phone. After a morning full of coconut water and Red Bull, we were recovered enough to head to Anoka. (Also, Carla watched lame women's wrestling matches with me, so I forgave her for anything). My mom graduated from Anoka High School! Go Tornadoes!

We got to her friend's house. She said she was on the way down. Then she came outside ten minutes later. Then she enjoyed a cigarette for ten more minutes. On the way to the impound lot she apologized a few times but was also throwing Carla under the bus. I completely checked out at that point and dropped them off at the impound lot.

Oh! The freeway exit was closed! So my normally five-minute drive home from the impound lot turned to 25. I was already over this day! When I was about to leave, Carla told me that her friend didn't have any money and they had no way to pay to get the car out. I knew if I would have paid it, it would have been on my credit card, meaning Loretta would have been paying it! I finally was able to say "no" to something, and I went to LUSH to play bingo with Markie (Carla told me they later worked it out; I encouraged her to hang out with people who treated her better). I didn't win, but there were cute boys and cute dogs there. Lee was having one of his bi-weekly house parties, and I texted him saying that I wouldn't go because I drank too much at bingo. I had only had two, but I didn't want to drive to Plymouth, especially at night.

After attempting to take a nap, I looked up how much an Uber would be to Lee's house and it wouldn't be as bad as I thought. Plus, after a night of dealing with squabbling girls and their drama, I needed boys! At least when gays have drama, I can look at them.

I was still a little nervous. Lee is always a gracious host, but I didn't know who would be there, other than that I was going to be the oldest person there, and would I Uber home right away if it got awkward or would somebody drive me home ...

It was, of course, pitch black when I got there, and a boy who I have seen on Grindr for years (don't judge! My mom lives somewhat close to the U!) got to the house at the same time I did.

"Can I walk in with you?" I asked.
"Sure," he smiled.
"What's your name?" I asked.
He responded with a super broski name and I was already feeling nervous.

There were about 15 boys there, ranging in ages from 21 to ... 24? Oh, God. Brexit was in the kitchen and I have a schoolboy crush on him so of course I talked to everybody else but him because I am a lady.

The broski quickly changed into a wrestling singlet and Lee pulled me into his room.

"Debby," he said. Lee is Ruth and I am Debby.
"Debby isn't here yet," I said.
"Okay, fine," Lee said. "Jakey. Who do you have a crush on that's here?"
"What? No one," I said while trying to be coy.
"I like the wrestler," said Lee.
"I like Brexit," I said.
"He has a boyfriend," said Lee.
"Aww," I pouted.
"It's okay," Lee said. "You're still cute."

We went to the living room and Brexit's boyfriend was doing yoga poses that involved putting his head behind his leg, and I began to understand their entire relationship.

I supervised beer pong downstairs with the children. Speaking of children, Bruce showed up! Bruce stayed with us last Halloween weekend and I feel like his mother, even if he is 6'2" and ripped.

Debby eventually emerged. At 3 AM everyone took their shirts off, including Brexit, who has pectoral muscles I could live in. No one asked me to take mine off but I did anyway. (Also, I ended up talking to Brexit and he's nice and smart and more than just a sex object in my head. Good grief.)

"Ew, you're scrawny," said one of the children. I passed out on a couch. When I woke up there was a gorgeous nerd-cute boy wearing glasses asleep on the neighboring sofa. I did not get his name or penis.

I am never going to get laid.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Loring Park Episode #68: After Winter Must Come Spring

Hello, children! I know. It's been a while. We'll talk about why in a little bit.

There is no Previously on Loring Park for Episode #68. I took Episode #67 down for a while. I'll put it back up eventually -- it's an important part of our story -- but that chapter, when shit really hit the fan and got dark, doesn't need to be out there at this moment. I also understand that there's no takesies-backsies in real life, but at this point it is important for me to be present and look forward instead of the other way.

Now we're gonna listen to Lauryn Hill and see if I even remember anything from the last two and a half months.

February started with stand-up! I did two shows at Ric McCloud's Comedy Cabaret, which is in the basement of a tavern in Arden Hills. I house-sat for my parents' that weekend, although the gag is that I stay there all the time anyway and I wasn't even attempting any kind of responsibility. This meant I had to miss Jared's birthday party, but I had to open the day after it anyway and nobody could have switched to me. Of course I had fomo*, but I had to get my coins! The crowds were a lot of fun and I had great conversation with the real Ric McCloud after the show was over.

Speaking of comedians, my mom and I went to Andy Erickson's birthday party at Sky Deck! How fitting that I look horrendous in a picture with a star of Scream Queens. We sat by a family who she met through her work educating the world about Marfan Syndrome, and they were incredibly kind. The mom's name was Ruth and that killed me because when I go out, I am Debby and my friend Lee is Ruth. After twenty minutes of discussing Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer, she begged the table  to stop discussing politics. I was fine with this because I had spent a week fielding calls from angry Trump supporters at work (no guessing my day job, y'all). I also made an ass of myself when I introduced someone to my mom as "______'s wife, _______." "You can just say I'm ______," she said. "You don't need to introduce me as _____'s wife." It was a good lesson. Sometimes I think because I'm a gay man that means that I am automatically going to be woke as hell about everything, and I'm really kind of a social dunce.

On the way back to the car, my mom and I ran into Paul Ryan, who has some kind of a corporate job at the mall right now.

"Hello, Jakey," he grinned.
"Hi," I said. "We were just at Smash."
"This is Smash," he said.
"I meant Sky Deck," I said. I was all flustered!
"He's such a charmer," my mother said when we walked away.
"That he is," I said, and pretended to flip my hair even though I don't have any. Damn you, Paul Ryan and for how good you look in a Hugo Boss suit!

I wasn't stressed out about being single on Valentine's Day because I had a big gig that weekend.

The show at Running Aces was sold out, and I was nervous as hell. The contract said I had to do a "clean-ish set." What did that mean? The crowd was predominantly Caucasian heterosexual couples in their forties. Not exactly my demo, but what can you do? Also, when you're the emcee you're the first person up, so it's up to you to figure out what kind of crowd they're going to be. I debated if I was going to do a joke I've done for years that's kinda dirty. Would it take away from being "clean-ish?" Will they like it? What if they hate me? I debated for twenty minutes and was full of anxiety.

I did the joke**. It took them a while to get. Most of them laughed and one guy yelled "Gross." My job was done. Sherlonda Sharp was the feature and John Bush was the headliner and they were great. John was super nice and asked for my contact info and I left before giving it to him because I am a dumb shit. It was an incredibly professional atmosphere and I loved it.