To 14 Year Old Me…

You guys, I wish this was a post that was going to deliver laughs by the bucket load.  I wish this was a post that would bump everyone up a few levels on the happiness scale without having to first take a dip… believe me, I do.  BECAUSE OF THAT, I will end this with one of the most adorable puppies you have ever seen and I promise that I will build from where this starts so that you never dip too low… I just ask that you trust me and take that first step.

14 year old Justin.  He was a piece of work.  TOTALLY socially awkward and with the WORST luck ever (even to the point of being “Bad Luck Brian”).

funeral erection

That was basically me as a meme when I was 14.  A decade later and ya never know… there are some pretty hot cadavers out there….

But I digress.  14 year old me.  Wow….

See, up until I was about 12, I was the luckiest dude on earth.  I had this group of friends who were all a good 3-5 years older than me.  They knew me (sometimes better than I knew myself) and despite whatever beliefs they had, they loved me.  Laura, Dan, Tony, Josh… those four…. Nobody in the world could have ever asked for better friends.  And here I was at 14 – 2 years later.  I was in a different city and playing the ever so familiar “I don’t need anybody/I’m gonna do this on my own” angsty teenager game.

And they stood by and let me go.  They let me be this idiot kid who had to do what he was gonna do because they knew what I would go through and they knew I would come out the other side.  I’ll never be able to thank them enough for that.

Hell, I was in 8th grade and I remember having a talk with Laura about being gay.  It would take me 6 more years to admit it (and then another 6 to confuse the hell out of what I really am) and still that night… I was so close back then and it was a casual, two sentence exchange of a side conversation…

Anyhow, all of this reflection is brought about because I read an article on ESPN today.  It was a “letter to my 14 year old self” or something or some sort.  Aaron Rogers wanted his younger self to not dive for a ball in a pick up game of basketball.  Andy Murray wanted his younger self to appreciate the feel of the racket, the bounce of the ball, and the pace of his heart.  And then… Robbie Rogers… Robbie wanted himself to know that he was not going to be alone.

And, being the sometimes sappy and emotional sort that I can be, I suddenly realized what I failed to see back then.  I wasn’t alone.  I may have had to be on my own for a while but I was never alone.  In my awkwardness, in my occasional suaveness, and in my killer dance moves (because SHOW CHOIR!), I was never truly alone.

And so I started thinking of what I would say to that gawky, 14 year old boy, who had no idea how to put an outfit together, let alone how to make it through a day without herp-derping something insanely awkward and maybe even tripping up a flight of stairs.  I came upon a nightly ritual wherein I remember I would clutch onto my pillow and have an inner discourse about the existence of God combined with prayer to change me back to straight.

Ladies' man?  Derpapottamus?  You pick...

Ladies’ man? Derpapottamus? You pick…

There’s nothing I could say to him that would keep his future – my present – what it is now.  I couldn’t tell him that I’d discover what it means to feel “Love” through the pain of heartbreak.  I couldn’t tell him that his classmates already know.  I couldn’t even tell him of the Seattle Sounders, the Emerald City Supporters, the USMNT, Tanya, Ryan, Brady, Eric, Nick… All I could tell him would be a simple “Stay the course.”

And so when all the eloquence of words fails me, that is what I come to.  If I were given the chance to talk to my 14 year old self and help him rest easier at night, that’s all I could say.  “Stay the course.”

Upon a decade’s reflection, I can’t even begin to quantify the things I have discovered about myself and the people I hold dear.  I’ve gone from dreamer to musician to wannabe lawyer and then back to musician before finally swinging around to writer.  I’ve been a boyfriend, a best friend, and I’ve even managed to grow from the mistakes I’ve made.  And all of that, I had to do on my own.  And a part of me wonders if that’s what Laura may have seen a glimpse of on that night so long ago…

And so here I am, thinking back upon the last decade of my life and what I would say to that boy who tried so hard to hide and would wait another ten years to figure out who he truly is – beyond just a word.  I look around to the friends I’ve made and the friends who have been there all along and realize just how blessed I have been.  I have music, soccer, writing, movies, and even the occasional heart to heart all wrapped up into 24 hour doses that repeat every single day… That is what 14 year old me has to look forward to.

So what would I say and how would I say it to him?  Well… despite the fact that I no longer play an instrument, this is my corps.  This is the corps I auditioned for and this is the piece of music that made me truly fall in love with music and performing.  There will never be another feeling in my life like running through this piece with them in the arc… and it says all it needs to.  14 year old me would listen and he would begin a journey of understanding that even a decade later, he is still unraveling…

“…But the fighter still remains…”

And oh what he’ll find.

He’ll find a brother…

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He’ll find a family…

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He’ll find something he loves…

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“Are you Tanya? We’ve heard you’re kinda awesome…”

And he’ll even find people who won’t even realize the impact they truly make on him…

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So why spoil all of that?  What else could I say to keep him going yet not reveal all the wonders and surprises to come?

 

“…Oh lord I wanna be in that number, when the Yanks go marching in…”

KC Outlaws Section

Phew… we make it through that okay?  Everyone still here?  Good.  Here’s a puppy.

happy puppy

Until next time.

See you, Space Cowboys.

I’m Home and the Party’s Already Going!

Cue up the AC/DC, boys and girls!  I’m back!

So it’s been a few months.  First off, I’m glad to see you’re all doing well but let’s be real, I’m just glad you’re all back to shower me with views and accolades about letters in patterns that I put on the interwebz because it makes me feel good and I love attention (and SLIGHT sarcasm… but I mean… attention’s kinda my thing too).

So I’m back.  And it’s good to be home.  So that’s where I’m gonna make a segue…

It's a pun... and I've been watching a LOT of Arrested Development recently.

It’s a pun… and I’ve been watching a LOT of Arrested Development recently.

(GET IT? GET IT?!?!  I’ve been watching a LOT of Arrested Development… sorry for the pun)

The past few months have been pretty awesome as I’ve started to explore a ton of things about life, writing, nerding, soccer, and myself and a through-line that began to emerge is this idea of “Home.”  Now this is not to say that Home is not where my family is (because it is) but I’ve come to realize (or I’ve maybe just DISCOVERED) that my Home encompasses a whole lot more than where Mom and Dave live.

The concept has begun to feel like a living, breathing entity more than a simple building.  It’s taken on the form of a worn in spot on the left hand cushion of my best friend’s sofa, the chat window on Facebook belonging to my other best friend that is filled nearly daily with some of the best conversations I’ve ever had, any place my brother is, and any place there is soccer.  It doesn’t stop there as all things living will eventually grow and expand and change.

Probably one of the coolest gifs on the web

Probably one of the coolest gifs on the web

I make no secret some of the stuff I’ve wrestled with over the past few months, specifically a feeling of “displacement” as well as a struggle with defining myself to a set term or word to explain something.  So, like all writers and creators who come up against a brick wall, I started to find ways around it and explore “the scenic route.”  For the first time in a loooooooong time, the long way around felt like it was the RIGHT way.

I’ve developed some of the best friendships I have had in my life (even though sometimes, there can be patches of turbulence) and even learned to be a bit more patient – instead of worrying, finding things that matter me to put my attention and effort into.  And, of course, I’ve found the one community that has truly felt like a community or a home for strange, weird, slightly-off-kilter, me.

I'm an odd one, I know... I still find this HILARIOUS.

I’m an odd one, I know… I still find this HILARIOUS.

The most recent thing I’ve been involved in has been the formation of a brand new chapter of the American Outlaws (USA Men’s National Team [Soccer] Supporters) – this time, in Iowa City.  In the space of two games (and a span of barely more than a week), I’ve been blessed to meet scores of new people and be in two different bars in Iowa City where the world basically stopped when the US scored.  Everybody is different and everybody comes to the community from different histories, pasts, and backgrounds and the most amazing thing about it is that our uniqueness feeds our camaraderie and our camaraderie makes us Family.  Just like how I have discovered that my idea of Home is more than just a building, Soccer in America is more than just the game (and more than “just soccer”).  It’s a common bond, a Crest to wear over your heart, a flag to fly high, a bar stool to stand on and sing, and the people you meet who love it as much as you.

… This is where I’m supposed to put the Chapter Picture of all of us, right?  So about that… we all forgot (for the second game in a row) to take one so NEXT Tuesday, I’ll be either putting up a new post or just editing this one with the picture we’ll get there… sorry about that one.

Through the turbulence, the fun, the not so fun, and the everything in between of the past few months, I’ve found myself in a place where the things I once had concrete ideas of are being entirely redefined and I think that’s something to take away from the whole of Life for everyone.  Nothing is ever as simple as we try and make it and the moment we open ourselves and our minds up to that fact, we begin to find the truly special things that we will carry on for years to come.

To the soon-to-be Founding Members of the American Outlaws: Iowa City Chapter, I am Proud to be counted among you.  To all Outlaws, Emerald City Supporters, Green Brigade members, and soccer fans/players/coaches in general, I thank you.  I wrote in a post for a friend’s blog about how I feel I’ve finally come Home.  Thank you all for letting me walk into my Home to find a party already going!

Playlistin’

There’s this thing about music that – for the majority of people – makes listening to it one of the most evocative and emotional experiences.  We can be moved to great elation or tears with a simple progression of chords and yet… this is not going to be about the “healing power of music on the soul” as that’s way too…. vanilla…. of a topic.

This is also going to be short(er[ish{maybe}]) than my other posts.

What we listen to at different major points in our lives can actually tell us a lot about one another… For instance, when I get my first real job, the song I will immediately play will be Frank Sinatra’s “This Town.”

There’s this big thing about playlists though… they tell a story.  Whether it’s a story of entertainment (eg. party playlists) or studying (mostly classical) or maybe… it’s just a playlist for your life at that moment.  So here’s my story from this past week:

“We’re In This Together” – Nine Inch Nails

“Outsider (Apocalypse Remix)” – A Perfect Circle

“Totally Fucked” – Spring Awakening

“When the World Ends” – Dave Matthews Band

“The Day the World Went Away” – Nine Inch Nails

“Nice Guys Finish Last” – Green Day

… and here’s the big, climactic, and hopeful shift!

“21 Guns” – Broadway Cast Recording of American Idiot

“Letterbomb” – Broadway Cast Recording of American Idiot

“Whatsername” – Broadway Cast Recording of American Idiot

“Fat Lip” – Sum 41

“First Date” – Blink 182

My point in all of this is that we look for different ways to tell our stories.  Some of us write, others talk or design/draw/paint/sculpt… but the one thing we all do is look for ways to relate our stories – our lives – to other things that provides a “shoulder to lean on” (even when we’re happy… then it’s all “hey bro! lemme lean up on you and laugh/smile”).  We look to TV and Movies (characters, stories, scenes, etc) but often we get the whole “This song is about ME” because, well, we’re geared that way.  Next time you make a playlist, make it end happy… no matter what… make it end happy.  Something tells me it’ll make a difference.

Alright I’m out.  Check out the Broadway Recording of American Idiot because it is ungodly amazing… People knock Green Day for their super plain chord progressions (I-IV-V-I pretty much every song) and for the general lack of both rhythmic and melodic complexity… but you realize that that allows composers so much room when treating/arranging it and when you “Broadway-ify” their music… OH MY GOD!

Uh… you guys fine with no pictures today?  I’ve gotta get going here real quick… something tells me you’ll live…

 

Ugh... Fine... here you go. I love this more than life itself sometimes.

See ya, space cowboys!

Let’s All Get Married

Oh lordy, lordy, lordy, kids… I had a metric BOATLOAD to write here.  You have NO IDEA.  The source pool was literally the size of Tetsuo at the end of Akira.

So like this... only not as gross.

But seriously I had a whole philosophical/science-y post lined up.  I had a “reconciliation” post lined up (and written)… and then California went and was awesome today. See I know I post a ton of stuff about sexuality and “coming out” and what have you but this is different.  I grew up simply accepting that I wasn’t allowed to marry the man I loved, if and when the time came to think about that.  It was really just something I approached as, “well, it’s life.  Whatever.”  Then Iowa’s Supreme Court went and ruled in favor of legalizing Gay and Lesbian unions… while I lived here.  Talk about a weirdly awesome day, that happened on my birthday (I think… I can remember the text from the person I was seeing having to do with both “Happy Birthday” and “Go get married” [in hindsight, “Let’s get married” would have been a good sign… that… not so much]).  That was cool and all but I remember more being in a state of shock about the whole thing.  Today, I had the exact opposite reaction. I sat on facebook on my iPod, scrolling through news stories and status updates, listening to the Dark Knight soundtrack, and reading an X-Men comic (yes I know… Marvel/DC blending… my bad)… and then all of a sudden it was like “BOOM” and Prop 8 had been deemed unconstitutional by yet ANOTHER court.  There’s still one left but at that point, I really could do little more than tear up and think how ridiculous it must look to see this lanky, tall, Scots boy wearing a plaid shirt that looked more like a drag queen vomitted all over it than.. well… yeah… it looked like that… who was sitting at a table in the mall reading a comic and holding back tears. See, there are times when you just know there’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with you, despite what people tell you.  People still say I’m going to hell, that I shouldn’t be allowed to get married and have equal rights under the law as straight people, and that I am a “scorn of society” or whatever… today was reaffirmation of what I have known, in my heart, to be true.  It was another step in people saying, “Hey, let’s not be dicks.”  It felt fucking GOOD!

EXCITEMENT!!!!!!!!!!! (courtesy of Torchwood: Miracle Day)

So there’s this fundamental thing about being um… well about Loving someone.  I don’t really understand it but holy shit my life would be SO easy if I did.  You love your friends, your family, your pets… that’s all one type of love.  Then, you get to Love… and there’s a whole lot that goes into it.  Sex is something that, on a fundamental and almost so basic it is animalistic and instinctual level, feels good.  We are designed to interpret the stimulation of our organs used in “procreation” NOT ONLY as a way to further our species by said procreation, but to improve our individual well being.  It covers both species procreational urges AS WELL as the impact on our personal psyche… which, whether right or wrong (bring yo shit, Darwin), is more important.  Sex is not necessarily Love HOWEVER Love does involve sharing the act of sex.  We’ll touch on that later so don’t worry, you won’t miss it.

You. Won't. Miss. It.

But first, a bit on the sex.  Scientifically speaking, there are a TON of ways to stimulate the correct nerve clusters and cause pleasure that is considered “sexual” in nature.  This stimulation is not contingent on sexual orientation.  Orientation has more to do with the emotional and psychological side of things than it does the cold, hard (giggity), act of stimulating nerve endings.  Herein lies part of my problem with anyone who doesn’t believe ALL HUMANS should be treated equally.

There’s something more about Love.  There’s something ethereal and almost mystical about Love and who we Love and share our Love  with.  Love exists almost as an evolution of our quest for companionship.  Religious beliefs aside (I don’t argue with Religion or Faith… they are important yet completely intangible), how can anyone DENY another recognition of said quest for companionship?  Screw the whole equal rights under the law thing because when someone tells me my love of a man is not actually recognized, they make attempt to make me un-human.  Last time I checked, I have one heart, not two… and even the man with two hearts still registers on an emotional level as human.

This guy, right here.

The quest and desire for companionship is as innately human as the ability to feel physical and emotional pain.  It fulfills a sense of “pleasure” in a very Hobbes-ian sense in that the lack of companionship is manifest as a type of pain – Loneliness.  Saying that the companionship I seek out is wrong and thus treating me like I am inhuman relegates me to being a creature of burden, filling a place in the world and contributing to society while only being allowed to ever know pain.  That is FUCKING WRONG.  I would almost go so far as to say that those who desire that life for others are far less human than I am.  Condemning someone for who they love is to attempt to force them into only knowing pain.

SO MANY PEOPLE are afraid of who they are.  Gay, Lesbian, Bi, or any of the other myriad of orientations that exist.  They have– WE have lived in fear of ourselves and fear of who we are in society because of attitudes like those of the people supporting Prop 8.  Accepting a future without the possibility of having your companionship and Love acknowledged kills a piece of who you are and try as you might, it makes you less “alive” or less Human.

Now for the sex.  Everyone makes such a big deal about what goes on behind the closed bedroom doors of homosexual couples… guess what, it’s none of anyone else’s business.  The act of sex in a committed relationship is intimate, personal, and an experience of truly opening up to one another and thus is a necessary part of a healthy relationship.  I don’t see a GOP representative standing in my doorway when I have sex (… not that often to begin with but let’s be honest… Nothing could kill a boner faster than GOP people) and probably wouldn’t find it too kinky if that happened.  Basically, stay out of my bedroom.

In conclusion, how about this: instead of worrying about how two women embracing as a couple or two men holding hands could “DESTROY OUR HOLY AMERICAN OF JESUSLAND” way of life, you just choose to see the thing you have in common with us; the capacity for Love.  How about instead of freaking out and shielding your kid’s eyes to things like that, you teach them to celebrate our ability as a species to make companions with such close emotional bonds?

How about you just fucking let us get married already?  Sound good?  Guess what, change is coming.  It will happen and I cannot WAIT to bust out the McNeil Kilt and Tux for my wedding… Just like my hero…

I seriously love these two guys. I want my wedding or civil ceremony to be JUST like this, kilt and puppies and all!

Yes, this would not be a Justin on Gay Rights post without Mr. Barrowman… this time, with his partner and his dog.  I love these men and what they mean to me as gay men and a symbol of our future.

Love who you are gonna Love and don’t ever worry about yourself or how others view you.  Change is coming and it is coming fast.

Until next time,

See ya, Space Cowboy.