Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Witch With an iPhone

Nestled into the corner of her store, the psychic pulled a curtain sequestering us from the non-existent costumers. We sat at a two seat table, facing each other as the midday sun spilled onto us.

For my birthday, a friend bought me 15 minutes with one of the psychic in one of the many Wicca/mystically themed shops downtown. She's a firm believe in the idea there's more to this world - ghosts, God, and a host of other possibilities exist for her. For me, I'm cautiously skeptically but I'm willing to suspend my belief for a while.

The psychic, Amanda, began the session by saying that she wasn't going to say anything general, that she wanted to help me. Then she handed me a deck of tarot cards and told me to shuffle. It didn't matter how, I was getting my aura on the cards.

She looked at me, through bottle cap glasses and said, "oh! Let me set the alarm and then we can begin." After pulling her iPhone out of a pocket hidden in her robes, Amanda set an alarm and turned to me.

"I'm sensing a cracked aura. You're frazzled and not sure where your life is headed," that was her first general statement.

I'm sorry, I'm a 22 year-old who looks 15, sitting in a witch story midday on a Tuesday. You don't need powers to understand I'm not sure where my life is going.

She then took the deck from my hands, cut it into three piles and started flipping cards, explaining them as she went. Apparently, I'm at a crossroads in my life where I need to decide to do what I love over financial security. That my lack of faith is stopping me from moving forward and I tend to hold in my emotions instead of sharing them.

Some of that is true. I let wounds fester; I doubt if I'm worth the oxygen I use; I want to love my career, but I also want to pay rent. But I'm sure those statement could be applied to a number of people.

She asked if I had a specific question I wanted answered. I told her that my dad and I have been fighting and if there was a way to mend our relationship. A few cards later and I was told that I had to apologize and try to see it from his point. That he's a stoic man and giving an olive branch would help. She clearly passed Advise Columnist 101.

The alarm buzzed and she slid the cards together. She said if I wanted to, I could buy another 15 minutes. It felt like a poorly attempted sales pitch.

I realize that this is her business, that this is how she makes money. I also realize that my skepticism may have stopped me from committing 100% to what she was saying. But as I walked out of the store I was left thinking that I had wasted my time.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Who I am

The following is a companion piece to an article to be published in the Fall 2013 Salem Statement, the alumni magazine produced by Salem State University.

I'm gay. Let me explain what that means exactly, because I can almost guarantee that you've made some kind of assumption based off those two words. The only thing being gay means is that I generally find men more attractive than women.

What it doesn't mean is that I like the color pink, have sex with strangers, that I'm sassy or that I don't like sports. I happen to not like the color pink - it's too bright. I won't have sex with anyone unless I know their favorite color and what fruit they would be. While I have my bitchy moments, it's always done with love. And hockey is my favorite sport because it toes the lie between violence and grace.

What I'm trying to say is that I'm complex and there's more to me than my sexual identity. And yet, sometimes I feel like I'm reduce to simply being "the gay guy." Last July 4, I was hanging out with friends when one friend commented that she was innocent and had angel wings. I jokingly said, "Oh you have wings alright, but they're the leathery bat kind."

Without missing a bit, a third friend commented that I had fairy wings. But I don't, I'm not that kind of guy. The image doesn't really match up with my personality - at least I think so. I bring this up because on Monday I attended the second annual LGBT Elders in an Ever Changing World conference. There was a "Coming Out Late in Life" panel where four homosexual people shared their stories.

LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual) baby boomers are often called the silent generation because at that time there was rampant homophobia and being yourself could mean being fired, disowned, beaten and possibly murdered. And while those heinous crimes still happen today in America, at least now when it happens it causes an uproar

As a society, we've made huge leaps in acceptance in the last decade alone. However, I have to wonder, if people are still being boxed into one-dimensional cut-outs just based on sexual identity how far have we come? Sure it gone from intense hatred to an all encompassing acceptance, but I just want to be treated like a person. Nothing more, nothing less.


Friday, January 4, 2013

The Sound of Silence

For the first time in a year, my apartment is quiet - the only sound is little swishes as a fan circulates air. I had to make an emergency return from my mother's house. It was late, the moon high in sky, and after I unlocked the door, I brushed my teeth and went straight to bed. Since I was only staying for the night (I'll be heading back to her house soon), I decided to leave my three cats with her.

This morning was miraculous. I didn't wake up to an eight-pound heat machine on my chest; didn't watch my glass of apple juice with a wary eye - no fear of reaching paws aiding gravity; didn't have lithe limbs darting in-between my legs as I walked from room to room; didn't count heads after closing my pantry; didn't hid headphones and chargers after using them; wore black without feeling self-conscious; for a couple hours it was just me. Just me.

With a smile and strut I headed to center of town to complete some errands. First was the post office, then the bank and finally the ophthalmologist to order more contacts. Nothing stressful happened. The mail carrier was friendly, the teller and I joked and the receptionist entered my order without a hitch. The walk home was uneventful. All in all, it was like every other day in the city for me. Except when I open the door to my apartment I was greeted with that blessed silence I had relished in earlier.

Since moving into my place, every single time I opened the door at least one cat would greet me. It's usually either Cinnamon waiting by the door or Meowington resting in their bed next to the coat closet. I would say hello to whatever kitty choose to greet me, take my coat off, walk into the bedroom and pet the other two. But today, there was no one. And while my heart didn't pang from the emptiness, I did feel a taste of the loneliness I've been fleeing from since my first break-up. A glimpse into my future if I can't find someone to love me.

At 22, I know I shouldn't worry too much about love in relation to the rest of my life, but come March I will have gone a whole year without going on a date. I know I'm romantically challenged - some it is my fault, some of blame falls on the men of this world and some of the problem is caused simply because life is life. But I'm so fucking afraid that despite surrounding myself with cats, for the next 60 years I'm going to be greeted by darkness and stale air. Alive in my crypt.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

The best of the year!

Since we're entering 2013, I want to share the 13 best things that happened to me this year.

In no real order, these are the best moments of my year:

He's home! (#1)
1. My marine brother coming home from deployment undamaged. No physical injuries, and minimal mental scars. Best Christmas gift possible.

Drinks with the girls (#2)
2. Drinking with BL and GD. Both nights were amazingly fun, I got to grab two boobs and slap someone really hard! Plus, there was the drunk Scottish boys ;)

3. Dating Paul. He wasn't the best boyfriend and a shitty lover, but it was nice to have someone and good to have stories.

Just one of the stories
I wrote (#4)
4. Getting hired as the intern for my university. I have had the best the time working in that office and it's made me feel so much sure of my skills. Submitting press releases and having them printed; writing copy for a magazine; editing copy; doing research; interviewing people - students, professors, and other professionals.

5. Storm chasing with SMC. It was crazy and not something I would have done alone, but it was super fun and I'm glad it happened.

6. Taking glassblowing. I'm not great, probably the worst blower in the class, but making things has always been a phenomenal experience and glassblowing is like seeing magic.

My birthday cake :) (#7)
7. Surprise birthday picnic in the commons. I totally didn't see it coming and BL and AW made my "perfect birthday" even though it was a crazy request. Ahhh, friendship really is magic.

8. Concert with my mom. My mom had only been to one concert her whole life (she's 55). At 22, I've already been to 15. She totally didn't like the show, but it was great exploring Boston with her afterwards.

The water isn't safe
anymore. (#9) 
9. Getting a shark's fin. See pics, but I think I invited a hair style and that's amazing. It also inspired a project. Plus it's badass and now I'm a predator. hahaha

10. Competing in the AAF regionals. Fuck man, working on a campaign for 9 months only to get beaten by the worst idea ever, really makes you feel like shit. But I loved that CG and her fiancĂ©e came and that was the first time I heard "Call Me Maybe." So it was a great day. Plus, I looked dapper with my blue tie.

Titanic style! (#11)
11. Going on a cruise with EL. It really solidified out friendship, being able to talk about boys and dancing with her. And I love being on a boat! haha

We saw deer, rabbits, fish
birds, and cats. (#12)
12. Visiting CG and spending the night with her. Again, it solidified the friendship and I loved seeing her town and her cats. It was also great to be back in a sorta natural place. I'm a child of the woods, living in the city.

13. Getting inspired to photograph again. Three years of not touching a camera was rough and crazy of me. The Jerry Uelsmann exhibit and doing action shots of hockey games were the perfect catalyst to restart that passion.
Uelsmann is called the
"Father of Photoshop"

Chasing the puck!

Here's to 2013. Hopefully I'll have 14 great moments to share next Dec. 31. Thank you all for being a part of my life. I love you.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Legend of Korra, the True Disappointment

WARNING: Spoilers Ahead!!

Before I begin, I just want to state that I liked "The Legend of Korra" the summer squeal to "Avatar: the Last Airbender" (AtlA). Despite its faults, the plot was engaging, the changes in the Avatar universe were believable and refreshing, the bending battles were really cool, and it expanded the original characters' stories without relying on them. In short, the 12 episode-long story was worth the (about) 6 hours it took to watch.

However, as others have pointed out the season was not flawless. There were mistakes and dropped opportunities that had events gone differently, "Korra" could have been truly amazing. And while most of the reviews focus on failed plot points I think it's almost important to note a bigger failure in "Korra" i.e. the lack of social commentary.

For anyone who hasn't seen the shown (watch it!), "Korra" tells the story of Avatar Korra. A woman in her teens who can "bend" three of the four elements. When we meet Korra, she has mastered water, earth and fire, but is having trouble with air as well as the spiritual side of the being the Avatar - the only person in her world that can bend more than one element.

Realizing that the only way she's going to learn how to bend air is to travel to the large metropolis Republic City, Korra takes control of her destiny and travels to the large city. However, she quickly discovers that all is not well in Republic City. A cult-like movement headed by Equalists, is trying to rid the world of benders - especially the Avatar.

After 12 drama-filled episodes, Korra defeats the Equalist leader and (debatable-ly) fully realizes her Avatar abilities. However, in order to truly understand my main complaint with "Korra" we have to discuss how AtlA handled social commentary.

In AtlA, episodes tackled sexism ("The Warriors of Kyoshi" and "The Waterbending Master"), racism (any fire-bending central episode), holding grudges ("Jet" and "The Great Divide"), class division ("The Blind Bandit"), the concept of justice ("The Puppetmaster"), self-confidence ("Sokka's Master" and parts of "Tales of Ba Sing Se") and the effects of war ("Imprisoned") to name a few.

AtlA blends these very real social problems that viewers face/will face while advancing plot and not seeming like a Very Special Episode. A rare treat  in television programming that should be celebrated.

"Korra" does this to an extend, but not nearly as well as AtlA. And more often than not, the solution is a joke or worse, the problem is answered with violence. The very premise mirrors prejudice perfectly. Benders vs. non-benders. People are being judged and hated simply because of traits that they cannot choose. There's even a moment were some benders are abusing non-benders and a non-bender tells Korra that she "is their Avatar too."

This could have been a great time for Korra to grow as a character and try to understand life as a non-bender. To see a different side of an argument and to use that knowledge to try to close the gap between the two sides - something the Avatar should do. Instead she using her Earth bending to threaten the benders to leave the non-benders alone.

The same can be said of pretty much every time Korra interacts with an Equalist. And yes, drama makes good TV, and no one wants to watch two characters talk it out. However, there could have been a moment when a captioned Equalist shares his/her beliefs, and then the next scene is Korra mulling over what she learned. But that never happens because Korra defaults to violence and that attitude isn't healthy for real world counterparts to absorb.

Another problem is how homelessness is depicted. When Korra first arrives in Republic City she is surprised to discover a man living in a bush. This character later returns to help Korra and her friends go underground. Again, this could have been a great moment to discuss the very real problem of homelessness, but it's made into a joke. When the characters are forced  to eat "squirrel soup" it could have a statement about how desperate people below the poverty live. Instead we laugh at Asami's awkwardness.

To its credit, "Korra" does handle family dynamics really well. The father-daughter, brother-brother, abusive father-sons, and traditional nuclear family relationships are accurate and very real - an aspect missing from AtlA.

There is a second season of "Korra" coming, so maybe the show will tackle social issues more effectively in the coming year, but as I said, the first season was a bit disappointing.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Path Ways

Right now, I'm waiting for the pilot episode of "Cougar Town" to load. The show had its third season finale this May, and despite positive reviews, it never really caught my attention. That is until I read blog updates from this guy.

He was writing about the highlights from my new favorite TV show, "Happy Endings" and "Modern Family," which I also enjoy. I was only interested in the HE and MF section, but since the highlights for all three shows were lumped together, I figured why not? Reading never hurt anyone (hehe).

But now I'm wondering, what got me here? I wanted to see a specific dialogue of HE but I couldn't remember what episode it was in. I Googled and the Please Welcome Your Judge blog appeared in the results. That explains why I'm watching Cougar Town, but why was I searching for HE quotes. Well, I only started watching the show because it was on after MF and Eliza Coupe was in it. I started watching MF because I saw an episode with my cousin while talking to her mom and I know Coupe from "Scrubs" which I only started watching while living in NC because TV was my only friend. I was living in NC....

You can see where I going with this. No moment just happens. Everything is connected. This sentiment can be seen everywhere - from MIB 3 to Stephen King novels.

The point of all this: Stop what you're doing and take a moment to think about how you got there. Now marvel at the ripple effects one little change in your life can have.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Anime Boston

It was amazing. Everywhere I looked was something new and exciting to see. But if I stared too long at one thing, I was sure to miss another. This was my second time attending Anime Boston – a convention dedicated to everything and anything anime-related. The good panels are informative, fun, and worth the thirty minute line wait. The bad ones, notsomuch. But the real beauty in the con is the cosplayers.

Cosplaying is when someone dresses as a character from a TV show, movie, game, comic, etc. Some people go full force and act like their chosen character, while others are only wearing a costume, sort of like Halloween but in April and for a weekend instead of a night.

Strolling around the Hynes Convention Center’s three stories is a treat for the eyes. The colors alone inspire infinite ideas. It is as if a Crayola Crayon SuperPact box and a rainbow had babies. The darkest black of Batman could be standing next to the neon yellow of Super Saiyans with everything in-between only a turn of the head.

The people are just as inspiring as the colors. This year there was a Catwoman in skintight leather, and it was if skintight leather was invented for her. Not only did she have the body to rock something so bold, but she had the curves to fill the suit. I’m gay and proud, but even I had to say, “Damn!” There were treats for girls and certain boys too! Shirtless Mad Hatter (above) had everyone desperate for a photo and gave my cell phone a new wallpaper. There were some people in “did-you-really-think-you-could-wear-that?” attire, with buttons straining against rolls of flesh. But in the spirit of the con, you take a photo anyways.

Some outfits were obviously store bought, others painfully homemade, and still several that were surprisingly completed in living rooms. It didn’t matter though; every person helped fill the air with electricity.

The hallways were full of the scent of activity. Not the pungent smell of body odor (though that could be found), but the smell of passion and adventure. Similar to the morning of the annual beach trip, excitement flew from person to person, gaining momentum. It was easy to get swept into the exhilaration and ignore grumbling stomachs and aching arches. Those were trifle emotions; I fed off the energy in the building and every adventure needs a battle wound.

I couldn’t stop; there were too many pictures to take, too many people to talk to, too many memories to make.

All models over 18.