Thursday, May 31, 2018

LORING PARK SERIES FINALE: To My Readers

I moved out of Loring Park-adjacent (a.k.a. Stevens Square) this week. My grandpa and I spent 90 minutes at the dump and my grandma fell down at the thrift store. Word to the wise, people: Hire movers and don't call in favors from your 80-year-old grandparents like an asshole.







Thursday, May 3, 2018

Loring Park Episode #72: The Long Farewell

This episode begins on New Year’s Eve, because I am a garbage person and now apparently take four months to write. Defensive teenage girl voice: But a lot has been going on, you guys! Stuff that’s harrrdddddd.



Taylor Swift is embarking on a stadium tour this year and tickets to see her are roughly half my rent. For a low price of $10 plus tipping money, I went to a drag brunch at Union in which drag queens performed the “Reputation” album straight through. I think I got the better deal. Also, I love that album. Do not at me.



Sasha Cassadine was the emcee and went right up to our table and asked if I was feeling sexy! What? I told her I would have to drink first. “Wait, you need to drink before you feel sexy?” she asked me in front of the entire sold-out room, including an Instagay that I was engaged to at the time (buff and brunette) but I have since replaced him with another Instagay that is my future ex-husband (tall and blonde). “You don’t love yourself.” She then turned her attention to the companion next to me at a table of four. “Is this your man? Is he not making you feel sexy?” I declined to answer. This was UNCOMFORTABLE.

I was very nervous about the evening. I had asked for New Year’s Day off months in advance and was still scheduled to work! I asked a co-worker to switch shifts with me so I could come in later, but she declined. This is the same co-worker who I have switched with maybe eight times on her behalf, so no good deed goes unpunished. I wanted to go out and do something that wasn’t just The Saloon. Also, New Year’s Eve last year was when it all fell apart, and January 2nd was the day I was supposed to fix everything, and that didn’t really happen. (The opposite, really). I am being cryptic and annoying again, so my feelings can best be expressed by Taylor Swift lyrics.
But you weren't thinking
And I was just drinking
Well he was running after us, I was screaming 'Go go go!'
But with three of us, honey, it's a side show
And a circus ain't a love story
And now we're both sorry (we're both sorry)
I need to stop before I do the entire freaking album. DON’T THINK I CAN’T DO IT.


***


I decided to go to First Avenue by myself for a Flip Phone event with Raja and Raven of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame. I checked my coat and then realized my phone was in one of the pockets, and I had paid $10 for express coat check and was worried I would have to pay again to get my phone! I walked in circles having a silent nervous breakdown for a good half hour. I didn’t know anybody. Why was I so insistent on going by myself? I should have just got a hotel room and stayed by myself like I originally planned. 
The guy at the coat check stand ended up being very nice about the whole thing, and I left shortly after 11. I saw Raja from the first floor, and regretted being too anxious to enjoy the moment. Everyone at The Saloon was blowing up my phone, including my roommate and The Broski(™), and I didn’t want to wait outdoors in line in the bitter cold. One year, Erin and I went to a James Bond theme event at Solera (R.I.P.), and we had to wait outside forever, and then another forever to check our coats, and finally a European man mesmerized by Erin’s cleavage let us put our coats in the utility closet.
Broski walked in just as I did, having attended dinner across the street, and he wasn’t wearing a jacket despite the subzero weather. “What is wrong with you?” I chastised, both giddy and nervous that it was now going to feel like we were attending together (we weren’t). Then he broke out in his Donald Trump impression, and I was disgusted enough to stop compulsively rubbing his hands in failed attempts to warm him up. The night wasn’t about him, anyway. He was there to be with other people and so was I. (He would leave my life again shortly thereafter anyway, our friendship never safe from circumstance or the telephone game) Joey was there with his boyfriend, David; Steve and I were to be there with our posse. When I briefly kissed someone at midnight, I was grateful for the recognition that 2017, my thirty-first year, my most painful as an adult, had finally ended, and I vainly hoped that my self-destruction would be over.

It wasn’t.


In the immortal words of Akon, I’ll be the reason for your pain, and you can put that blame on me.
I got in a stupid drunk fight with Steve about oxygen and then I missed the New Year’s Day Comedian brunch for the second year in a row. At least this time I was missing it because of work.

***

Here were all my bullshit experiences as to why I quit attempting life:
-My therapist moved to Green Bay and I resisted the idea of giving her the information of Joey’s relatives and my college bestie Stephanie. I never went to my follow-up appointment because my father was in the shower (I was staying at his house because it's closer to the clinic) and I looked like crap and didn’t want to show up disheveled and that was my excuse. I have yet to find a replacement. I told myself I was fine, even though my mother and Steve both told me I should reconsider.
-I had a half-birthday which was another reminder that I am closer to death.

-Erin moved to Europe in January, but we were able to celebrate the Golden Globes together, where we also mourned The Star from “The Star”, written by Mariah Carey and Marc Shaiman, losing Best Original Song. Sooooo goooood!!!
-I kept making plans with Jared and they kept getting delayed, in part due to our endless winter. Steve had to push my car at least seven times this year.

-I missed Ron.

-I love Ron, I would tell myself when pouting. He was the perfect person to drunk text because he was not emotionally invested in me and lived two hours behind.
-No, I do not love Ron, at least not that way. You can’t just love someone because they’re beautiful and full of life and think you’re funny and write “Hahaha” instead of “lol”. If he lived here, I would go insane. Even more so
I graduated from my debt consolidation program but then did not alter my spending habits and felt like I was right back where I started!

-I became the kind of drunk I never thought I would be. I was never a mean drunk. A drunk, sure, but I was always fun and could talk to anybody. I became the drunk who screamed and yelled on a nightly basis, to myself or to others. One night I fell down in the bathroom and cut my head on the toilet and because I saw blood, I was convinced I was dying. The neighbor came downstairs and I didn’t even need stitches. The scar is still there and it is lightning-bolt shaped. It’s like if Harry Potter grew up to be a bitter alcoholic and also accidentally drank a potion to make him resemble Ron Weasley.

Danielle, my favorite astrologer on Twitter, once wrote that “the things that trigger us are the parts that have not healed yet”. The excellent astrologer Chani Nicholas wrote in my horoscope that I had to decide if being happy was more important than being right. The latter was my downfall. I had spent far too much time and energy convinced that my feelings were not warranted or valid. I sat down and shut up and got kicked when I was down. The situation quelled and the bridges were mended, but the feelings of resentment, embarrassment, and ANGER were still penetrating the surface.

The world is LuAnn.
I think we all just want to be heard. A raving lunatic screaming his head off at two in the morning is the same person who just needed to be told during the day, stone cold sober in the springtime and crying in his car, that not everything was in his head after all. 
 
I have been so cryptic since this all started (Sunday, July 31, 2016, at approximately 11:10 A.M. in the young men’s department at Nordstrom; if this was gay Clue it would be The Broseph at the Mall with the Bombshell) and writing less and less, because it wasn’t just my story to tell. “It isn’t about you,” Reid would tell me, and maybe that was the problem.


But if you’re interested in a fictionalized and stylized account of dramatic shenanigans in a comedic play about growing older, evolving friendships, and gentrification, please come see Welcome to the Gayborhood in the Minnesota Fringe Festival this August. I am hosting auditions on Sunday and I haven’t even started writing the script. /shamelessplug


***



Oh, and guess what else happened? I GOT THE FLU!!!! Me, who has the immune system of a toddler! I first sensed it the day before Valentine’s Day, but I was booked to appear at a speed friending event hosted by Misha Estrin (later to be a City Pages cover story!). I told him I wasn’t going and was gonna go to the Minute Clinic, but the show was at LUSH which I literally passed on the way to the Minute Clinic, so I bit the bullet and went! The event was fun and I got to listen to a speech from Sen. Scott Dibble, meet the talented photographer Brent Dundore, and even do some speed friending myself! I left early, though, because I wasn’t feeling very friendly, and also because I was pretty sure I was dying.
When I woke up the next day, my body knew, and she was crying. I called out sick and went to the Minute Clinic, where the kind of cute doctor didn’t think I had the flu but if I really wanted, he could go ahead and test me. So they stuck the giant Q-tip up my nose (not a good time), and it turned out I had Infleunza B! Influenza B is a rarer strain and only affects human and seals, which explains why I am always reaching out my arms and clapping.
The pharmacy technician did not help matters as she rang up my Tamiflu. “You’re what, 32?” she asked loudly.
“Thirty-one,” I said with more salt than anticipated. My Instagay crush could have been nearby!
“Oh, you poor thing,” she said. “When I was thirty, I had the worst flu of my life. I thought I was gonna die!”
I sadly told Steve that I could not attend our Valentine’s Day show starring legendary female entertainers CeeCee Russell and Chad Michaels, who I had planned to reminisce with about Denver during our meet and greet session. “OMG,” Steve texted. “I can’t believe you’re ditching me.” I wasn’t ditching him because of a better offer, I was ditching him because I was sweating and shaking at the same time! Can you imagine if Chad Michaels became deathly ill because I gave her the flu? My reputation would never recover as fast as my organs hopefully would. She’s even tinier than I am! The timing was horrendous, and thankfully, Steve was able to go with Reid, instead -- sick as I was, I should have been thoughtful and given Steve a lot more notice than three hours. I would have got a flu shot earlier in the year, if I could turn back time.

I stayed in bed for three days straight. It was horrible! Poor Steve was assigned in the role of caretaker, which basically meant burying me in blankets all day and turning the heat up to 100 degrees. After the second day, I realized this was too much of a burden to place on one’s roommate and went to my mother’s house because she is a nurse.

“Enjoy your youth,” I would whisper to Steve as he left for work. “You’re too young to spend all your days taking care of me. I’ll be fine.” Then I would roll my head to the side and rehearse my imminent death.

After three days of slumber, I felt recovered enough to go to bingo with Joey and his sister! And I did not win and I think I overdid it, because then I felt like crap for the next week but I gutted through it. I had already called in sick three days in a row! My voice got extra raspy and my stomach looked the flattest it had all year.


***
I was able to check off “stage mom” on my list of accomplishments when Reid made his stand-up comedy debut! Sarah McPeck has hosted The Big Fat Comedy Hour at LUSH for over a year now (a year is a huge milestone for any club show), and one of its features is “Virgin Sacrifice”, in which someone performs stand-up for the very first time. Previous sacrifices include improvisers, radio hosts, and drag queens. Reid had always expressed interest in the art form, and I thought this would be a perfect opportunity. We worked on his routine for a solid month. By “we”, I should stress that he wrote all of his own jokes. I was just there to help him bounce off ideas and decide the best order. He was doing a three-minute set and it reminded me of my ACME comedy contest days; three minutes doesn’t give you time to flirt with the audience and do the “Hi, how y’all doin?” routine. You have to be brisk and punchy with your material. Selfishly, it also helped me make sure our routines weren’t too similar! We both date younger men and had jokes about younger men not realizing we’re losers (but he is a daddy and that’s a whole different complex and another can of Flintstones vitamins). I paid someone twice my fee to record me for YouTube but I am too technically illiterate to upload it. Such is life. Reid did great, by the way! I sat behind my parents and even they were laughing! I thought he did a really good job of being self-deprecating, true to himself, and walking that fine line between racy and vulgar.


***

I had a tearful reunion with Jared on St. Patrick’s Day. I hadn’t seen him since November! He got off the train and yelled “RHODA” and I jumped in his arms and we walked to Sean’s apartment in the north loop. It was great to see Sean and Casey. I had attended their mutual birthday party with Steve and Charlie a few weeks prior, but I was too anxious to enjoy myself. It was a stupid anxiety about nothing. You should see my nails. But, wait, you can’t see my nails, because they’ve been tattered to the base. I bought Christian Dior nail treatment and still haven’t opened it. Will I use it before the coconut oil I bought for whitening my teeth two months ago? Tune in to find out!

Dane and I went to the casino with a bunch of people from high school! We are at the weird age where I’m not sure if people can still get it. Child, all of them could! The boys and the girls! But I’m also at that weird age where it’s not really as fun when the boys flirt with me. I brought my laptop to write my script but I got there late and spent way too much money and got sad about stupid stuff. (And I was late getting to the pool because I wanted to shave my chest for some reason) But the water slide was fun! I was in third out of fourth place in bowling but then Dane beat me in the very last frame because brothers will always be brothers.


***





Were I still in my narcissistic mode of pretending life was a sudsy primetime soap opera, I would entertain previews in my head of Loring Park: The Farewell Season. Maybe I will move a block away to Jared’s old building. Maybe I will join Diva in the North Loop. Maybe I will even move back in with my parents! If I do that option, it won’t be like last time where I do it “just to land on my feet”, because when I did that, it took me four years. I was a different person then. Children, Loring Park itself didn’t start until I was 25! That is barely younger than Joey and Jared now, and a year older than Steve! For the longest time I excused my excessive bar-hopping as “making up for lost time”, but after six years, how much time did I really need?  
I loved my little green house in the middle of the street. I will never forget my surprise party thrown by Steve, turning away from everyone so they wouldn’t see me cry. My get-togethers before Thanksgiving. My Pride parties, which weren’t luxurious at all -- a tiny backyard, one bathroom, it’s not like we had a pool or a huge deck or anything -- but in my heart they were because I cultivated a life for myself with such a variety of people that I loved very much. The random kikis at 2 in the morning. The mouse that I named Rascal! Okay, maybe I won’t miss Rascal. Or his less cute siblings.

Of course, it’s not like I’m dying, I’m just moving. Three years ago my grandparents helped me move in, which is just embarrassing. Jared and I still worked together. I had just had my heart broken, again, by the same dude, but this time I had deserved it and was good with God, and  the world was still full of possibility. And my age had a “2” in front of it.
 
 
My father fell ill the night before Easter.  
 
He looked so terrible that my mother drove him to the hospital and they left bingo 
early!

It has been a month and he still hasn't come home yet. I stay over at the house
quite often and every time I hear a car drive by in the wee hours of the evening,
I still think it is going to be him.
 
It is one of those awful things that makes you put things into perspective. You
think your parents are ageless, and that, by extension, you are, too.
 
We expect him home in a few weeks. He will always be more famous than I am.
He has received cards from everyone at Big Louie's and from relatives far away
because Grandma Shirley is the original Facebook. Things have not been
the same without him.



Thursday, December 28, 2017

Loring Park Episode #71: A Christmas Letter

Season's Greetings, everyone! I hope you had a fulfilling holiday season.

I went to so many great shows! Dane and I went to the WWE Money in the Bank pay-per-view at the newly renovated Target Center. They had to re-book the entire show on the fly because of real life illnesses, so it turned out be a really exciting show (Kurt Angle's first WWE match in 10 years!). I was really excited to see the WWE debut of Asuka, who was the NXT Women's Champion for 534 days and vacated the championship after injury. Unfortunately, my dumb ass was getting donuts at the time because I didn't think her match would be the first one (or the curtain-jerker, as they say in the business). Siggghhhh.




I had an existential crisis about which toy belt to buy and decided to buy the WWE Women's Championship belt instead of the men's one because it's what I wanted, damn it, and then I paraded it around The Saloon to annoy everybody. Some men took pictures with it and I didn't have the heart to tell them it was the women's belt. I mean, title. Vince McMahon doesn't want it to ever be called "the belt" for some reason.




(YOU CAN SEE ME IN THE AUDIENCE SO MANY TIMES IN THIS VIDEO OH MY GOD)



 Steve and I went to Queens United at First Avenue, which was Phi Phi O'Hara's brainchild and raised over $80,000 for Puerto Rico relief! Like, forty queens from RuPaul's Drag Race were there! I was going to take notes so I could write a big blog about it. I got too drunk halfway through, so here is what I have:

Wendy Ho - Government makes a mess and we clean it up (she was the show opener and I talked to her about luggage at The Saloon- very gracious)
Ginger - Continental plus/harvey fierstein (Ginger Minj won Miss Continental in Minneapolis and it is dear to her heart)
Lady marmalade - Mariah, Pheonix, Jiggly, Phi Phi
Phi Phi Speech
Speaking of dicks and ass, BeBe 

I quit taking notes because tequila, but I did somehow end up way in the front row and got to hand dollars to some of my favorite queens like Trinity K. Bonet, Katya, and Jade Jolie, who did an amazing Taylor Swift. 

Then I don't remember anything after The Saloon, when Madame LaQueer asked two of my companions if they were having sex and I had officially felt THIRD-WHEELED. Then I had a meltdown at home that was so bad, Alaska Thunderfuck herself would have told me that I needed to chill out. I had even gone to therapy that afternoon, and then the bank to get fifty ones, and we stopped at Ria and Micah's Christmas party. The night didn't need to end like that.



Really, it was an amazing show, full of so much talent and love, and I wish I would have remembered a lot more of it. Ginger Minj and Naysha Lopez were amazing hosts, as hilarious as they were competent, having the local queens open the show was AMAZING (they got bigger cheers than anyone!), Phi Phi came out as Christina Aguilera during a "Lady Marmalade" number that slayed me, and I hope she was able to take a deep breath when it was over, take all of that love in, and be very proud of herself for what she accomplished.



Sarah McPeck and I saw Sandra Bernhard at The Cedar. It was marred only by a horrible drunk woman sitting next behind me who wanted to "WHOO!!!" at everything Sandra was saying, as if we were at a Def Leppard concert. I would have said something, but my ticket was free because Sarah had a press pass from TwinCitiesGayScene.com, and who was I to complain? At the end of the show, Sandra sang "My Love is Your Love" which is my favorite song in the entire world and I decided it was the Lord's way of telling me something, and what that was I haven't figured out just yet.

***



We went to a Beyoncé-themed Halloween party, so I wore a marigold hoodie with holes in it and went as a boy version of Beyoncé. Somehow I got to bring my toy bat into the club even though eveyone else's got confiscated. It was only worth it for when "Hold Up" played. I don't even know where I put it.

We were dancing with my friend Sander, who is an excellent dancer of mixed race. I only bring up his race because we were in the basement when "Bodak Yellow" came on. "Ugh," he groaned. "Now watch all these white girls pretend to be black. Yeah, you think it's fun NOW, don't you?" I am from St. Anthony, so I think that means I will have enough white guilt to last for a lifetime.



We stopped at The Saloon after the show, and The Broski™ was standing at the bar by himself. Last time I saw him I cried like a big idiot, and the last time I had seen him before that was when he told me "I'm gonna need a few days" and never spoke to me for two and a half years. I didn't know what to do. I looked around for Steve, but he had already been stopped by his friends, so I decided to channel my inner Beyoncé and be a strong and independent woman, and also hoped that he wouldn't notice that I was wearing eye shadow.

"Nice costume," I smirked. "What are you supposed to be? A suburban father of two?"
"Fuck you," he smiled, and that SMILE. GOD DAMMIT SON OF A BITCH. I maintained my composure by hitting him with my toy bat for the rest of our conversation, because I am an adult.

I felt a strange kind of sad when I got home after that. I told him he could call me with the knowledge that he never will. And I'm fine with that. Two and a half years is a long time, children. Despite the fact that I was a paranoid garbage person dumpster fire for most of 2016 and a binge-drinking manchild for most of 2017, I still think I grew up a little.

And in some ways I really regressed.

This was the hardest year of my adult life.

And yet I wouldn't call it the worst.

2016 was the worst because I wasn't dealing with anything. When I was mad at Jared, I moved out for a month. When I was mad at Steve, I told everyone about it but him. I kept all my paranoia and fears to myself so that they could fester. 2017 was the year in which I tried to fix all the damage I had created. I'm not sure how I well I did.

Jared and I reconciled, but I don't see him nearly as much as I used to. I miss the days when he was the wacky neighbor who would just stroll in on random afternoons. I don't miss that sometimes our yard was his storage locker for a while, but we worked through that.

I had to learn that people are responsible for their choices, but also that they have the right to make them.

"I don't want our friendship to be over because of a dude," I had said to someone very close to me in January. "That's such a cliche." And then that happened anyway! And I was really sad! But it wasn't just because of a dude. I framed it that way because it was easier to deal with than having to realize that I caused a lot of pain to others and admitting what I did. It was easier to deal with than having to realize that I hadn't progressed as a person in years and was still trying to live like a 25-year-old club kid when most 25-year-olds are trying to act like adults anyway. It was easier to deal with than having to realize that sex is currency and I was bankrupt. It was easier to deal with than getting sober. It was easier to deal with than having to actually tell people how I felt about everything.

I even had a boyfriend this year but I didn't know what I was doing, or when he was actually my boyfriend, because we never really figured that part out. "I don't want to put a label on it," he had said a month into it when I was crying and asked him what the hell to call him. That was a fair and valid answer, especially considering he is younger than me (they always are! Hashtag ocelot problems). Then I didn't even know what I wanted anymore, and we both remained bewildered and angry. (And it's a copout, but it is partly why I didn't blog as much this year. I wasn't gonna be writing about ... That. Writing about silly nights at the bar and unrequited romance was the majority of my adult life, and actual relationships? That gets kind of dicey. It's only my side of every story, not his, and to put that all on blast wouldn't be fair. It's not easy being Mr. Jakey Emmert.)

I was so focused on emotionally preparing myself for the ending that I wasn't able to enjoy the beginning and the middle. I don't know how to be a boyfriend. I want him to be with someone who is nice to him and was born in the '90s and has a tight ass and doesn't drink very much and enjoys sex multiple times a day and doesn't yell at him about stuff that happened a long time ago. I can't have nice things.


***



I was lucky enough to have shows at the Comedy Corner Underground with Rana May and these two very talented comedians from Chicago. Steve graciously drove me to the first show, where Shelly Paul kicked two drunk guys out right away! A girl that was at the show ran into me at Target last week and delightfully reminisced about this. Also at the first show, I again won a gold medal in the Space Cadet Olympics because I left my phone at home and I didn't want Steve to have to drive back because a) it wasn't his fault and b) parking would have been atrocious, so I drove his Hyundai back to the house like Mario Andretti and Rana let me go on last.  Erin came to the second show, and for some reason I was talking about Chyna (from wrestling) and National History Day, and when the show ended, Rana played Chyna's entrance theme music. My career had peaked.



Don't treat me like a womannnn
Don't treat me like a mannnn
Don't treat me like you know me
Just treat me for who and what I ammmmmmmmm


***

I decided to host a pre-Thanskgiving party at my place! I was nervous because I had to work all day and Erin AND Greta AND Diva couldn't attend, so I didn't know how much food to buy, et cetera. Thankfully (ha!), Steve took a half-day and took care of most of it. Carla was the first person to show up, and then Reid, and then Chuck, Marco, and William came, but all we were doing was playing Trouble and I was worried that nobody was having fun. Jared was there for a little bit so me, him, and Reid all walked to Wendy's to get ice.

Then Jack showed up and looked gooood. He was wearing an outfit that is kind of Indiana Jones, but I am reticent to call it that, because last time he was wearing it I told him he looked like a sexy film noir detective.

"Oh my god, thank you," he said. "Everyone else keeps saying I looked like Indiana Jones."
"How lame," I rolled my eyes/swooned.
"Oh my god!" Carla then cried, as she hadn't been listening. "You look like Indiana Jones!"

We still kept running out of ice. Then I was worried that my friend Ron wouldn't show up but I didn't want to be sad about it because we had so many other people there and I wanted to focus on the is and not the isn't. Ron lives far away but was visiting for the holidays, and I am burying the lead, which is that he looks like a 2004 Abercrombie & Fitch bag and thinks I'm funny.

About half an hour before we were to leave, Ron showed up without knocking and with three girls; one of whom I met briefly last summer and the other two were total strangers.

"Excuse me, sir," I said as I stood to greet him while most of the jaws in the room dropped. "I think you have the wrong house."
"No, I don't," he grinned. I stood up to greet him and walked into the kitchen to make cocktails.
"Hey," he smiled again. "I want to lift you up."

Then he lifted me up and spun me around and I thought about turkeys being slaughtered to prevent myself from getting a boner.

Jack valiantly tried to get my Polaroid to work, but it was to no avail, and I enjoyed the fact that he was in my bedroom anyway (my brain was being a slut that night!).

Our group split so Steve, Ron, Carla and I went to honey and Jack, Reid, went to The Saloon. As for the lesbians, I let them stay in the house as long as they promised to lock up. You may call that irresponsible but in my defense: a) Steve was also cool with it, b) I work with the aunt of one of them, and c) NOTHING was stolen or messed with the next day, not even my Adderall. Lesbians are our planet's most noble inhabitants.

We danced the night away at honey, and then got to The Saloon at 11:50. I saw Reid talking to an attractive man and instantly wanted to introduce myself.

"Hi, Reid," I chirped.
"Not now, Jakey," said Reid, clearly swooping in for the kill. "Shut the fuck up." Reid does not do fake and I respect that.

The Broski™ was at The Saloon and I tried to get him to think that Ron was my boyfriend, but Ron was oblivious and I was being immature anyway. Joey, who had a front row seat to this shitshow in 2013 (!), was staring daggers at me from across the room. When Wesley left, I drunkenly ran up to him.

"He's not in my life," I said. "He just showed up."
"He better not be," said Joey.

The next day, Reid, Steve, and I went to The Saloon to watch the Vikings game SKOL VIKES SKOL. Reid was going to Thanksgiving with me in Blaine but changed his mind, which was totally fine, but I didn't tell my grandparents about it so when I got there, they were a little perturbed. I still like watching the games because of all the yelling.

***

Steve went to Mexico with his mother as a Christmas present. I brought my mother peridot earrings for Christmas that were $30 after my discount. I was supposed to have peridot as my birthstone, but I was early so she had to settle for ruby instead. Settling for Rubies will be the name of my fifth memoir.

Erin and I saw "The Star" featuring the song The Star written by Mariah Carey and if it does not win at the Golden Globes, I will spend more hours crying in the fetal position than usual.

Sean invited us to an ugly Christmas sweater party! Casey and his boo were there, as was my friend Billy, whose phone number I had about five phones ago. Billy is dreamy but was really tanked when we got there and kept trying to lift everybody up and it was soooooo annoyinggg (meaning, yes, I was all for it). Charlie couldn't come until the very end and we listened to sad songs, but I still wanted to go The Saloon. It was 1:45 A.M., my phone was dead, and Steve was wasted. So did we go home like sane people? Of course not! I hailed a cab and we got there right before bar close. Then it turns out that The Broski™ was there, and he was angry at the world, which included us. I went into full Mom Mode and he crashed on our sofa, which would have made 2013 Jakey pleased as punch but just made 2017 Jakey kinda sad and made 2017 Steve irate. At least he paid for his Uber the next day. Then Steve and I met Charlie at the HiLo Diner and I felt just like Adele.

On Christmas Eve Eve, we went to MARIAH CAREY CHRISTMAS DRAG BRUNCH!!!! It was legit the best afternoon of my life and I couldn't believe it all worked out. Loretta, Erin, Steve, Reid, Lane (our fellow lamb!), Carla, and Ron were my table. Ron didn't know my mother was going to be there and wore an ugly Christmas crop top, which I guess is the West Coast version of an ugly Christmas sweater. I wore a red suit from Opposuits that I look rather fetching in, but I didn't think it would be hot at Union, and by the halfway mark I realized I was sitting in a pool of my own butt sweat. Lane wore a fetching blazer and Erin and Carla wore festive sweaters. Kamaree Williams did a "We Belong Together/Don't Forget About Us" medley. I bought presents for everyone. Ron sat at the end so a certain drag queen practically made love to him in lieu of lip-syncing. We all ki-ki'd  at my house after, which was enjoyable, except I had too much tequila and everyone else was too drunk to play Trouble. Also, Steve bought an Alexa and Carla kept requesting songs but then kept changing her mind every fifteen seconds. It reminded me of being in the car with Jared.



***

I didn't write as much as I wanted to, but I got into performing again. I had to remind myself to fall in love with it.

I never put the New Year's Eve episode back up.

I dunno.

I thought after all that I was going to do the whole "new year, new me" thing. But when I entered the house with that new attitude on January 2nd, what was literally my worst nightmare was right there in front of me, and I didn't know how to deal with it. So I just drank and told myself that alcohol wasn't the problem. I often felt like I was on the sidelines or on the periphery. Any aggrieved parties have since moved on. The hatchets have been buried, the olive branches accepted. I don't know what is still wrong with me or why I am always so angry.

I chose to be alone on this New Year's Eve. It used to be my favorite day of the year but I ruined it for myself. I'm not flying solo to punish anybody or to be a martyr. I just don't want to be around anyone I know. I'm going to a crowded event where I can disappear in the balloons and glitter and heterosexuals. At 3 A.M. I will go home by myself and listen to "New Year's Day" by Taylor Swift and hug a teddy bear. I have already made peace with this.

I got a letter in the mail yesterday saying that my therapist is leaving.

I wasn't as scared as I thought I would be.

There's glitter on the floor after the party
Girls carrying their shoes down in the lobby
Candle wax and Polaroids on the hardwood floor
You and me forevermore

Don't read the last page
But I stay when it's hard, or it's wrong
Or we're making mistakes
I want your midnights
But I'll be cleaning up bottles with you on New Year's Day

Hold on to the memories, they will hold on to you
Hold on to the memories, they will hold on to you
Hold on to the memories, they will hold on to you
And I will hold on to you

Please don't ever become a stranger
Whose laugh I could recognize anywhere
Please don't ever become a stranger
Whose laugh I could recognize anywhere

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.

Xoxo,
JME