And My Descent into Insanity has Begun (Aka: National Novel Writing Month)

Okay, so maybe not literal insanity, but definitely some resemblance of it.

But yes! National Novel Writing Month has started! I’m so excited to be working on a novel, and this time of the year is definitely a great way to get motivated! Essentially, the goal for all the participants of NaNoWriMo is to get to 50,000 words by the end of the month, which isn’t necessarily a full novel, but is definitely a giant start. I’ve participated twice before, and only succeeded one of those times, so let’s hope I can do that again.

I’m so pumped about this event, that I wore this shirt on the first day:

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There has never been a more honest shirt, out there. 

As I’m writing this, it’s day two of this month of non-stop writing, having written only 506 words on the first day. But hey, this is fine! I’ve got time, and given I work 40 hours a week and have obligations at home, even just starting is a great step! It would be nice if I could meet that daily word goal of 1,667, but life happens, so we just gotta roll with the punches and work harder when we have the time!

Something I’ll be trying to do this month is specifically set time to write a few times a week, time where I won’t go out with friends, get interrupted by TV, and just write. What I’ve learned is that, if you take your independent creative projects seriously, and set the time aside for them as if it was an actual job, then those around you will also take it seriously. Incorporating that into this goal of getting to 50,000 words by the end of the month is definitely something that will help, not just for times like this, but in a life of content creating, in general.

For all those out there who are participating, I bid you good luck, and an endless flow of coffee/caffeinated beverages of your choice! Even if you don’t get to 50k words, at least you started! Starting is the hardest part, and that’s what this month is all about. No need to feel discouraged if you don’t reach the goal; you already achieved something huge just by jumping into it!

If you’d like to be writing buddies with me, here’s my NaNoWriMo profile! I’d love to see what everyone is writing during this crazy (but exciting) month. 

Also, if you want to see snippets of my novel as I’ve been writing it, please feel free to become a patron via my Patreon page! I’m doing a ~special~ where $3+ patrons will get all snippets/NaNoWriMo related content during the month of November, that way it’s a little cheaper (it’s usually $5 a month for sneak peeks of my work) to be a part of. Don’t feel obligated, though! Your support would be very much appreciated, but not required!

And lastly (sorry about all these plugs!) if you’d like to know what kind of content I’ll be posting during the month of November due to National Novel Writing Month being a thing, check out my latest video!

 

Happy NaNoWriMo, everyone! It’s guaranteed that we’ll all go a little bit insane during this month, but be sure to take breaks when necessary to avoid a total descent into that abyss. Again, no guarantees. 

Meeting Celebrities at Phoenix Fan Fest!

I made the last minute decision to go to Phoenix Fan Fest this past weekend, and I’m beyond happy that I made that I did! I wasn’t sure how to feel about it at first since it doesn’t get as much press as Phoenix Comicon (which is another local convention that I’ve attended a few times), but I figured since David Harbour and Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things would be there, as well as Brett Dalton and Elizabeth Hendstridge from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, the event had to be at least somewhat close to the quality of Phoenix Comicon (which I thoroughly enjoyed). So alas, I rallied up a few friends and we headed out to Fan Fest!

 Da Phoenix Fan Fest Crew! Me, Tori, and Maddy! 
Da Phoenix Fan Fest Crew! Me, Tori, and Maddy! 

 

It was definitely way less hectic than it was at Phoenix Comicon. Most of the events/panels were located in the east half of the convention center (I don’t think anything Fan Fest-related even happened in the other half), and there was significantly less people at this convention than there normally is at Phoenix Comicon (way less than half, that’s for sure). I wasn’t really surprised, since this event didn’t seem to get as much press as other conventions, but it was definitely a plus to not have to barrel roll our way through crowds of Harley Quinns, Overwatch heroes, and Deadpools just to get through one door. 

The exhibitor’s hall was less impressive than I was expecting, but it was combined with the autograph booth area for the celebrity guests, as well as the area for interactive displays (the combination most likely as a result of the event being much smaller than large-scale conventions). However, the one thing I DID appreciate in this exhibitor’s hall was the ratio to people selling handmade goods/art to stores or companies selling mass-produced products. I feel like every other booth I saw was an artist selling prints or a stitcher selling hand-sewn plushes, and I appreciated that these exhibitors seemed to be highlighted way more than they are in bigger conventions! Typically they’re stuck in a corner of the exhibitor’s hall called the “artist’s alley” where there doesn’t seem to be too much traffic, but at this convention, they were mixed into all of the rest of the booths! I feel like it should be like that at the bigger conventions, because all of those artists deserve way more attention for how much talent they have!

The biggest reason I went to Phoenix Fan Fest is because of two of the headlining guests, Millie Bobby Brown and Elizabeth Henstridge. I paid for a photo op with Elizabeth, and my friends were nice enough to let me hijack their photo op with Millie. The Elizabeth photo op happened shortly after we arrived, so we browsed the exhibitor’s hall for a bit until it was time for me to head over. Apparently I got there just in time too, because despite getting to the photo op at the designated time, the staff told me that she was going to be leaving in ten minutes. I still had to actually get my photo op ticket printed out, so they assured me that she would still be there after getting my ticket printed. Now that I’m actually thinking about this moment while writing this, no one ended up being behind me in line, so I’m wondering if they kept her from leaving so that I could still get my photo…which was very nice, on their part. However, I felt a little gypped, because it felt like this change in scheduling happened without any notice. It’s still all very confusing, to be honest. Despite all that, I still got this incredibly dorky photo!

 Cheesin' with Elizabeth Henstridge (AKA: Jemma Simmons from  Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D !
Cheesin’ with Elizabeth Henstridge (AKA: Jemma Simmons from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D !

 

Mind you, when I say “dorky” I meant that I’m the dorky one. She was incredible.

This moment is/was/always will be a blur, and it was not at all how I expected it would be. The staff told me where to put my belongings, I entered the photo area, saw that Elizabeth was there and she appeared to be talking to someone, and that’s when I was like “oh snap it’s actually happening.” This is where the blur began. I remember her complimenting my shirt, to which I said “she (Peggy Carter) is my hero,” and then Elizabeth basically said she felt the same. There was then an awkward pause where I could have probably been like, “let’s do a crazy cool pose that will make you think your fans aren’t all awkward dweebs like I am,” but no. I just stood there, put my arm around her, and made sure to muster up the cheesiest of smiles. After that, I think I said something like “nice to meet you,” which I remember feeling weird about, because having an interaction with someone for less than thirty seconds doesn’t necessarily constitute “meeting” someone. 

Long story, short: a photo op isn’t an ideal way to meet your favorite celebrities, but it’s a great way to make sure you look as embarrassing as possible with them.

After that split second of my life was over, we explored the exhibitor’s hall for a bit longer before heading down to the Stranger Things panel with David Harbour and Millie Bobby Brown! I wasn’t able to get any great pics because of how far back we were (which makes me regret not bringing my good camera) but oh my goodness, these two humans are absolutely incredible. Their dynamic felt a lot like he was an older brother who desperately wanted to embarrass his younger sister, and she desperately wanted to not be embarrassed. They’re not allowed to talk about Season 2 of the show at all, and David decided to taunt Millie for a good cumulative 10-15 minutes of the panel by saying things like “YOU GUYS, I JUST WANNA TALK ABOUT THE FIRST FIVE MINUTES OF SEASON 2 OH MAN IT’S SO GOOD,” to which she’d be like, “NO DON’T DO IT.” It was hilarious because she so genuinely believed he was about to spoil it, but you could tell he was messing with her so hard.

Also, Millie held a stranger’s baby. I mean, what other twelve-year old actor would do that? She’s also incredibly mature for her age, and that was so refreshing to see. I have high hopes for her as a rising star.

Immediately after their panel was over, we had to head upstairs for the photo op with Millie, where we waited in the HUGE (but not necessarily intimidating) line. My friend and I decided that we should come up with a solid plan for a pose, given my lack of preparation earlier that day resulted in a dorky face that probably broke a world record, so we decided “gang signs.” 

Funny enough, that’s all that my friend could say to Millie once we actually got into the photo area.

I feel like Millie was too confused about what we were trying to set up for, because she kept trying to figure out what exactly was going on. That’s when my friend uttered those words (which was more than I could do at that moment, so props to her) and we snapped right into these incredible poses:

 From left to right: straight up gangster, valley-girl gangster, and sassy gangster.
From left to right: straight up gangster, valley-girl gangster, and sassy gangster.

 

Of course, Millie happened to be the most adorable out of all of us. No surprises, there.

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D panel with Elizabeth Henstridge and Brett Dalton was up next, and I was pretty excited for it, considering they both seemed like pretty incredible people. I already knew that Elizabeth was hilarious through her social media posts, and Brett had kind of a dorky charm from what I see on his Instagram every once in a while, so I figured it would be a hilariously fun time. 

Somehow, they managed to exceed all of my expectations. 

They handled a few pretty gross questions with incredible professionalism, which I’m sure they’re trained to do, but I was surprised at just how gracefully they did it. One in particular I remember was a guy saying that Brett had the height/build to play Nick Fury for some sort of spin-off series (which made no sense, since Fury is already played by a different actor in the current Marvel universe), and asked Elizabeth if she’d be willing to play the girl who has sex with him.

I’m not even joking, that’s basically how he asked the question.

But aside from that, they were dorky human beings who made me smile to the point where I regretted not paying for the photo op with both of them. Most of the answers they gave to questions started out as serious and well-meaning, but went off into hilarious tangents, one of which somehow turned glitter into a sexual innuendo. They definitely ended at least half of the questions by asking the person if they even answered their question, so that should give you an idea of the nature of these tangents. However, it added to their charm…somehow. 

I was even surprised to hear someone ask Brett about what it was like to play Mike in Until Dawn! I wasn’t sure how many people at the convention would know of his role in it, and considering it’s one of my all time favorite video games, it was cool to hear him talk about the production of it. Also, apparently everyone in the cast loves the guy who plays Fitz in the show, Iain De Caestecker. I mean, the guy seems like an adorable person, so I guess I can see where they were coming from.

Shoot, Elizabeth even had a moment where she made sure to remind Brett that men are also attracted to him when he brought up that he had an “effect on women.” I have quite a soft spot for celebrities who destroy the notion of heteronormativity, so this made me respect her on a WHOLE new level. 

The last part of our Phoenix Fan Fest experience consisted of us spending money on all the things we saw that, in our minds, we couldn’t live without. Believe me, I could have spent five times the amount of money I actually spent at this convention, but I managed to not dump most of my bank account onto these vendors.

Here’s a pic of me trying real hard to lay out all of my Fan Fest swag in an aesthetically pleasing manner:

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I could NOT pass up that Stranger Things print, which was made by one of my favorite artists. I absolutely LOVED the square prints of Sailor Pluto, Katara, and Sailor Venus, and the wonderful and talent artist selling them was doing a sale on them, so I had to snag them. And I mean, who could pass up those adorable buttons? Resistance was futile, when it came to these items.

As you can see, most of the things I bought were prints or handmade items, which is definitely a result of most of the booths being ran by artists! Even that Captain America shirt was made by the vendors themselves, using Puffy paint to make the designs on the shirts (which apparently means that it won’t crack or fade in the washer/dryer!) I usually make it a point at conventions to buy from at least one artist, but because there were several talented artists at Phoenix Fan Fest, I ended up buying from multiple. I feel better knowing that my money is going toward supporting their career of doing what they love.

Overall, I definitely loved attending Phoenix Fan Fest. It was all the fun of Phoenix Comicon without the stress of trying to battery-ram through crowds of people. We got there at about 11am, did two hour-long panels, waited in line for a photo op, and saw everything we wanted to see before 6pm. The only reason I’d go for the whole weekend is if both days had panels I really wanted to go to, since the small-scale nature of the event made it easy to experience it all in just one day. Regardless, I had fun, and I would seriously consider going again next year.

And if next years guests are people who I want photo ops with, I’ll think harder and prepare better, as to avoid any embarrassing faces. If you’re reading this, Elizabeth (let’s be real; you probably aren’t) I’m sorry my face decided to be dorky right upon being in a photo with you. I wish I could say it’s not you, but like, it was kind of you. So…sorry ’bout it.

Are LGBT People Obligated to Come Out? (For National Coming Out Day)

I’ve always found National Coming Out Day to be a powerful and inspiring day of the year. It’s a day that’s representative of the community saying “if you come out, we’re here for you, and you have nothing to worry about.” It’s a day that serves as a reminder to anyone who may be struggling with coming out that they aren’t alone, and that if they choose to come out, they will still be supported no matter how bad it could go for them. However, with how powerful it is to be out and to represent a community, it begs the question: is there an obligation for members of the LGBTQIA+ to come out? 

It’s hard to say what an exact knee-jerk reaction to this should be, because the word “obligation” puts a lot of pressure on those who might not ever be ready to come out. Sure, it’s important to come out to show the masses of intolerant straight people that we’re here, queer, and not likely going to disappear, but those same straight people who want to erase our existence also create the society that makes it terrifying for so many members in our community to even think about trying. Coming out can be dangerous, and losing sight of that would be a harmful misstep. However, society doesn’t make it any less scary by how aggressively it suggests that people should be out, putting out a rhetoric suggesting that we don’t have a choice in the matter.

Here’s an example: when rumors about a celebrity start swirling around about them not being straight, media outlets and people all over the web begin their own private (or sometimes very public) investigations. As a society, we do all we can to try and get that celebrity to just admit to whatever identity we think they are, as if they aren’t allowed the autonomy to keep it more private. We create the feeling of necessity in these poor people who might not be ready to let the world know. On some level, I think that they have more of an obligation than some others because of their potential impact on a larger chunk of society, but at the same time, it’s a more daunting decision for them because their audience is so large. Since they’re in the public eye so often, coming out would make for a powerful statement, and it could inspire anyone who’s struggling with their sexuality to do the same. However, treating them like they’re obligated to come out is incredibly unfair to them as a human being. We’re so quick to tell them to “just come out already,” but we don’t know whether or not they have aspects of their lives barring them from doing it safely. We don’t know if they have family members who are against it. We don’t know what kind of people they’re working with to where being out could be potentially dangerous. We don’t know what kind of fears they have in regards to their sexuality becoming public, and we have to respect that. When we’re antagonizing people to come out before they’re ready, we’re forgetting just how terrified we were to come out, ourselves. Treating it with such simplicity ignores the fact that it’s a truly daunting experience.

We even see the sense of creating obligation for people to come out in the subtle ways we talk about how we felt about our own coming out stories. So many LGBTQIA+ people will say that they felt like they were “living a lie” before coming out, as opposed to “waiting for a safe time to do so.” There’s this attitude that “staying in the closet” becomes equated with “not living your life authentically,” which is incredibly straining to the person who is struggling with coming out, especially when they might be in a situation where coming out could be unsafe. I’ll admit, coming out really does allow you stop “living a lie,” and it definitely helps with living a more authentic life. However, depending on the person’s current life situation, living authentically could come at a price that they’re not ready to pay. Whether it’s parents who have said some bigoted nonsense about gay people, or even something as simple as a friend using the word “faggot” nonchalantly, there are small moments around every corner that can make a person question whether or not it would be safe to expose such an important aspect of their identity. 

I’ve said this in many other pieces of content I’ve put online, but I’ll say it again: I still get nervous when I have to “come out” to people who don’t yet know I’m gay. There’s always that chance that the person will be against it, because reactions aren’t always easy to predict. Though I have a sense of obligation within myself to make sure my sexuality is visible to those around me, it’s still hard to make that leap over the wall of anxiety to make sure my homosexuality is out in the open. Granted, I don’t run around talking about being gay (that’s a hilarious visual, though), but in situations where I feel like I need to make it visible, I get anxious about whether or not it will be received positively. When I “come out” to people today, I’m not sweating with anxiety like I was when I hadn’t yet come out to anyone, but even that little bit of nervousness says a lot about how hard it could be for someone who doesn’t have it as easy as I do.

Coming out is a process, and it’s not just a one-time deal. Most often, you come out to friends and family first, but after that, you could be coming out almost daily to people you meet at work, school, social events, or wherever it is that your everyday lives take you. The family and friends part could be hard while the rest of it is easy, and vice versa. It could all be easy, or it could all end with losing connections and getting alienated. Because coming out can be such a gamble, it’s already a nerve-wracking journey to think about, much less actually put into practice. To act like we’re all obligated to act against this fear as soon as possible, despite possibly losing people we love most, starts to look insensitive after looking at all of these possibilities. Though it’s really easy to say “well screw ’em, you don’t need them if they won’t accept you,” that doesn’t change just how destroyed you could become when doing something as vulnerable as coming out.

To put it simply: no. No one is obligated to come out. Though coming out today in our country is definitely easier than it was ten or twenty years ago, it doesn’t mean that 100% of the people in your life will wave the rainbow flag in celebration of your sexuality. It’s one of the most vulnerable times of an LGBTQIA+ indivudual’s life, and because of that, even just one sign that the person doesn’t accept their sexuality could be damaging. In some parts of the world, it’s still a crime to be anything other than straight, and people get beaten senseless, even to death, just for being a part of our community. That’s enough to show just how terrible human-kind can be to us. Though coming out and becoming voice of representation would be a necessary way to combat discrimination like this, suggesting that people must come out against their own fears isn’t the way to go.

It’s no one’s job to force people out of their closets. Our own relationships with coming out will always be different from the next person’s, and no matter what that relationship is, the obligation has to come from within ourselves to be out and proud. Dragging everyone into coming out suggests that we all must be the same in order to stand in solidarity; acting on our own obligation to stand proud as who we are is what really shows the strength behind LGBTQIA+ community. 

Because this post speaks heavily about coming out, I thought it would be appropriate to put out some reminders in regards to coming out:

  • Come out ONLY when you’re ready, and when it’s safe.
  • Do NOT out anyone. That is their choice, not yours.
  • Do not come out as straight as a joke. It’s not funny.
  • If someone comes out to you, your reaction will matter. Make sure it implies nothing other than acceptance of their sexuality, and love for them as a human being.

To anyone who’s thinking about coming out, but still needs some guidance on how and when to do it, this article should definitely help. Having a support network is a big one when it comes to making the decision, though. Even if it’s just an online forum of people giving you advice, it’s more than enough to help gather your thoughts about coming out in the safest way possible.

No matter what you decide, whether it’s to come out tomorrow, in five years, or maybe not even in the foreseeable future, just know that you’re loved, accepted, and you have a giant family who will always have your back. You’re never alone, and I hope you always remember that.

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Stained (Creative Nonfiction)

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The day I drove one hundred and twenty-six miles to visit you, I noticed a tiny white line of only two centimeters in length on my favorite pair of burgundy shorts. Where it came from is shrouded in uncertainty, and what substance dared to try and desaturate them is still a mystery, but it took only moments of being in your home before it made its debut. I was in distress, making it known with the tone in my voice and a lingering, disappointed gaze at the stain. I heard a similar tone in your voice, but when I looked into your eyes, I didn’t see that tone in the way you looked back at me. I saw a deep, but distant ocean in those eyes, a harsh contrast to the radiant glow of the hair on your head and the beard that framed your face so perfectly. It was then that I felt the stitching of that singular strand of time come undone; I wished that you had felt it, too.

I started forgetting about the stain while you kissed me gently, holding me in your arms before we ventured to explore the area you lived in. The stain was less of an issue when we were both sweating in the one-hundred degree heat, a choice we should have known we’d regret. The stain was an afterthought while we drank raspberry rose iced tea, both a reasonable and futile attempt to cool down as we continued to sweat on the way back to your humble abode. The stain became a non-issue by the time you took me out for Indian food before fighting a sudden rainstorm to see a sci-fi movie that interested you more than I. Maybe kissing in the rain before seeing that lackluster movie would have washed the stain away for good, but neither of us even remembered that the stain was there.

The stain was out of mind by the time you told me “I think I just want to be friends,” words that snipped through me like scissors through silk. Those words separated the threads holding me together, the thought of us on our way to a deeper connection being torn before it could even reach the seams. The tears that followed only stained the moment after I read your text message while sitting in my parked car, though I knew this stain would bleed into other moments to come. It was then that I learned how frustrating it was to be stained by something as invisible as a stream of clear liquid coming from your eyes, your own body making it known to the world that something deep inside of you has become more jaded. 

After I thought I removed those stains, I noticed the white streak on my burgundy shorts, sending a small, panicked pulse through my nerves as I held them over the laundry machine. Not sparing a single moment, I grabbed the stain remover and sprayed the gel-like substance onto my shorts with the intention of destroying the white streak; I wanted nothing more in that moment than for that stain to just be gone. I attacked it with the rubbing motions the bottle expected of me, the feeling of rejection rearing its stupid, ugly head again because I was about to let one god-damn mother fuckin’ piece of shit stain get the better of me. I’d be damned if I let a two-hour drive I made just for one boy, a weekend only one of us thought was worth my efforts, and one moment of having my guard down taint something I loved with a simple little stain of only two stupid centimeters in length.

Days passed one after another, making the stain less and less noticeable, but only because life with the stain became more and more habitual. Through many stain-removing applications and agonizing anticipation as I spread the shorts out to be analyzed, I still see it there; I still see us there. I remember noticing it, I remember hearing what sounded like feigned concern in your voice, and I remember trying to lick my thumb and wipe it away, as if that was the simple, one-step that would keep the stain from ever existing. Though the white streak is still visible, the temptation to remove it has vanished, replaced with a sort of comforting hopelessness, knowing it was never meant to disappear. It was just an arrogant little stain, daring to suggest that my happiness couldn’t exist alongside it.

It sucks that I’ll probably always see you in that white smudge every time I pull those burgundy shorts out of the bottom drawer of my dresser. It sucks even more that it will probably always sting, not just knowing, but also feeling that you remained spotless. 

Attention | Stories of Self-Love

When I was younger, I lived for the attention of anyone whose attention I craved. Not so much in the “everyone please pay attention to me” sense (I was WAY too introverted for that), but in the sense that I wanted them to talk to me and focus on me in the hopes that they’d eventually think I’m cool. You know, whatever that meant, at the time. That went on pretty much through all of middle school, and then through high school, and then a few years into my time in college. I can’t pinpoint exactly when I snapped out of this desire to bother people I admired for attention, but I’m glad I did, because it’s one of the things I know was holding me back from having a decent level of love for myself. 

I would crave attention from certain people, whether it was a crush, or just someone who I really wished was my friend, to the point where I would legitimately get upset if they wouldn’t talk to me. I’d send them texts, Facebook messages, AOL or MSN messages (oh boy, remember those days?) all in the hopes that they’d just talk to me, even if I only got just one response. Believe me when I say that, sometimes, the attempts for their attention got very desperate, to the point where I look back now and still feel the pang of regret.

Let’s just say that I messaged one guy so much, that he actually told me to stop. I’m cringing just thinking about how it went down.

It never occurred to me that, you know, they were possibly just busy and had more important things to worry about. I never thought that maybe they just weren’t in the mood to talk. I never once thought “y’know, maybe they’re just not interested in talking to me,” without allowing myself to be okay with it. I wish I had known then that I needed to work on that the most, rather than working on what I could say next to guilt them into responding to me. Yikes.

My journey into “being okay with it” started a bit negatively. It began as a feeling of being worthless, as if not getting the attention of this one person (or group of people) meant I was less worth-while as a human being. I would get into these moods where I thought no one liked me, and that I was a bother just because just a few people showed no interest in talking to me. It clouded my judgment enough to where I couldn’t see that I already had several kind, thoughtful, and supportive friends that would give me the love and attention I craved. Of course, it took years to come to the realization that I had this right in front of me, but I have no regrets about realizing it sooner rather than later. I’d be a damn wreck if I still thought that way, let’s be real.

Though the feelings of insecurity linked to attention-craving, for the most part, have been banished, a bit of it still seems to linger. Sure, I’m more secure about people not talking to me when I so desperately wish they would, but not to the point where I feel emotional impairment over it. I might feel a little sting of rejection, but then I try to recognize that the rejection isn’t necessarily a reflection on me, especially because there’s only so much that one person can do to start some sort of connection with another person. It’s natural to want the attention of those we admire, but there comes a point where you’re sacrificing who you really are just to get any sort of recognition from them. If you’re not normally a super socially assertive person when it comes to meeting new people, there’s no need to force yourself to be that way when an infatuation kicks in. If they’re not already noticing you for the dynamic and complex person that you are, there’s no need to compromise that by being something completely different. If it takes a great deal of work to get someone to pay any sort of attention to you, to the point where it feels like far too much effort, then that’s exactly what it is.

Once that realization starts, I feel like that’s when things really start to get better.

Presently, as I spill my heart out onto this blog post, there are still people/love interests that I crave the attention of. However, throughout the years of getting to know myself and develop my feelings of self-worth, I know that building these relationships is very much a two-way street. I still get kind of shy, not really knowing how, or even if I can try to start conversations with them, but still doing my best to reach out in the attempts to start something. I’ve now reached a point where, if there’s not much reciprocation, I respect the progress I’ve made in the way I interact with others, and I have enough love for myself to just leave it alone. There’s more kindness in putting my attention toward people and aspects of my life that are more enriching than a potential friend/significant other that won’t try to see the beauty in what makes me who I am.

Through all these trials, tribulations, and nights of intense self-loathing, I’ve gained the ability to recognize when people are showing no interest in me or the journey I’ve traveled thus far, and that this is a sign pointing me in the direction of a more serene path for the rest of life’s adventures. No matter how much the realization of a potential friend/relationship turning to dust could hurt in the days to come, I hope this ability I’ve gained is one I can hold onto for as long as I live.

You might be struggling with something similar to this. Maybe you found someone that you have a huge, giant, teenager-esque crush on, or maybe someone you’re drawn to because you feel that they’re what you need in a friend. Maybe you try to talk to them, sending them a text or trying to chat with them through some social media account, hoping to either pull them into your world, or get invited into theirs. Maybe it works, and in that case, that’s amazing! Maybe it doesn’t, though. Maybe they don’t answer your messages, try to find reasons to not spend time with you, and ultimately put out the vibe that they’re not interested at all, which you might not feel too secure about. Maybe you start going through all of the things I talked about earlier, thinking it’s your fault, and that you deserve this treatment because you start thinking that you’re not all that great, anyway. If that’s how it were to go, I’d hope you at least know that you deserve the love and friendship of people who want to make you feel like your efforts are worth something. I’d hope you would know that, when someone doesn’t pay you any mind, it doesn’t mean you’re any less beautiful or deserving of the attention you’re looking for. You’re worth more than anyone can put into words, and have so many nuances about you that make you beautiful. Only the people who are meant to be in your life will be the ones who are willing to see that.

To quote Aibileen Clark from The Help, the movie that always succeeds to get me all teary-eyed, “you is kind, you is smart, you is important,” and no matter where you are in your journey, I hope you never lose sight of this.

Trash Can (Creative Nonfiction)

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I’ve been the boy by the trash can several times before; the feeling was familiar. Put me in a room with a trash can during any type of social event, and I’d feel the Sisters of Fate guide me over to the garbage canister before I could even see where it was. Finding myself placed near another one was just part of the game I never agreed to play. Maybe it was destiny, but let’s be real: destiny didn’t want anything to do with my hopeless ass, that night. 

And despite this dimly-lit, Indie Rock venue swarming with happy faces and lively conversation, I was the one by the trash can, the only trash can, in that entire room. I lingered by it in the same way that you linger around your only friend at a party full of strangers: feeling like I should break away, but feeling safer because I didn’t. However, since trash cans can’t give you a side-eye, it just offered waves upon waves of sour beer fumes, as if it was trying to shove me out into the crowds. Sadly, it just made us both smell like urine.

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Who was I impressing by standing by a plastic can full of beer cans and flimsy, plastic cups? I certainly didn’t impress the guitarist with the dark-colored beard and the tattoo sleeve, the one smiling face in that room that seemed bright enough to pierce the first hole in my world of trash-colored darkness. With one look at how his smile charmed each person he talked to, I knew he didn’t, and wouldn’t, talk to guys who stand near trash cans. He’d only talk to boho hipster chicks with flowing hair and hipster guys whose hair looked as disheveled as it did put-together, both parties most likely having a decent Instagram following of people they’d hope were following them for something other than their looks. I imagine it was programmed in him to avoid boys wearing slouch beanies to hide their unkempt hair and baseball tees stating that they’re an introvert, who were debatably willing to be associated with the scent of trash. But when you put hipster royalty and geek trash in the same room, the universe would have surely imploded had he approached me, instead.

It wasn’t until I saw the bearded, tattooed guitarist that I decided that I didn’t want to be the boy by the trash can, anymore. Being the boy by the trash can, which was just as uncomfortable as it was comfortable, no longer had the same appeal that it had when I was young, when having to talk to new people felt like navigating around a series of bear traps down a long, narrow hallway. I wanted to move away from the stench of garbage tainting how I saw the world around me. I wanted to be among the hipster kings and queens of the kingdom that I was missing out on, if even just to see what made their smiles so damn ethereal. Even in that dark venue, light seemed to dance around them, undoubtedly generated from their boundless unconventional enthusiasm, but maybe everything seemed so much brighter when I was used to the darkness of a world beside garbage.

As it became time for the bearded, tattooed guitarist to join his band of Indie Rock royalty, I watched him walk past me, climb the steps to the stage, and sling his guitar across his torso, knowing my status as the boy by the trash can had taken its toll yet again. I never hated it more than in the moment when I saw him sway to the rhythm of a song made from the magic of his own talent; it was then when I felt that ethereal glow welcome me into a world away from where I was no longer fully comfortable. It felt warm, but it a kind of warmth that came from inside me, as if the passion in him created a spark that ignited a flame that burned as bright, or maybe even brighter than the crowd I envied.

It was the first time I remembered smiling while standing by a trash can.

Can Adults be Pokémon Trainers, Too?

If you haven’t heard about Pokémon GO, the newest craze in trying to “catch ’em all,” I’d either be very concerned or highly impressed, since it takes very a strategic and intentional effort to ignore what’s going on around you to miss this giant, hyped-up piece of news. However, since I don’t judge, I’ll still give you a quick run-down. It’s essentially a mobile app where you play as a Pokémon trainer, walking around different parts of the real world to find and catch different Pokémon! The game really relies on you actually leaving your house to walk around and explore different areas, as different types of Pokémon are easier to find as you leave your neck of the woods. 

It’s been a giant source of nostalgia for those who played it upon it’s first release in 1998, as well as a brilliantly innovative way to enjoy the series for any age group. However, there’s quite a large number of people who will shout their opinions disapproving of the game, often in the form of sharing memes. Here’s one that somehow links playing Pokémon with not being an adult:

And here’s one that makes the assumption that you can’t play Pokémon GO while also having a job:

So, adults can’t comprehend that it’s an enjoyable pass-time, and apparently, the only people that play Pokémon GO are unemployed. Hm, yes, I see. Very sound logic, indeed.

Believe me, there are plenty more, but I’m not about to rifle through more of them to expose you to just how bitter people can be about something that bring people a lot of happiness. You don’t need that stress, I don’t need that stress, and they don’t need that kind of attention. 

What gets me about comments like these is that, somehow, the people who have this attitude about Pokémon GO don’t stop and think that this is just a fun way to pass some time, whether you’re ten, in your twenties, somewhere in your forties, and so on. Most of the people playing it grew up with it, so there’s undoubtedly a nostalgic factor to it. Our child selves always wished we could go out in the real world and find our favorite Pokémon, and the beautiful creators at Nintendo and Niantic made that possible. Not only that, but this game encourages people to actually get outside, walk around, and even interact with other people who play this game. Social events have been popping up everywhere with people meeting up to go hunt Pokémon, which are now bringing people together that might not have ever met without it. People are getting some exercise, getting out of the house, and making some social leaps. It’s even helping immensely with people combatting their anxiety and depression. If it takes a mobile rendition of an adult’s childhood passion to accomplish all this, is that really something we should be making people feel bad about?

My biggest problem, however, is with the assumption that adults who play Pokémon GO either…

A. don’t have a job and are wasting their life away with the game, or

B. stop being productive at the job they have because of this game.

And while both outcomes are entirely possible, it takes an incredible amount of negativity to make those kinds of assumptions about people. Had this game been released when I didn’t have a job yet, I’d still play it about as often as I watched shows on Netflix, played other video games, and whatever else tickled my fancy at the time, while still knowing I had to buckle down and get through some job applications FIRST. To assume that someone doesn’t care about their financial stability/career opportunities just because of a video game is highly degrading, in my eyes. We all need a break, whether we’re still looking for jobs or are already employed, so some time to walk around and catch some digital monsters doesn’t have to mean we’re sacrificing productivity. 

I’m able to work my full-time job while still enjoying Pokémon GO on my free time, and would you look at that! I’m still at said job, working hard and being productive. In fact, my boss knows I play it, and regularly asks me if I’ve “caught any new critters.” I don’t let it get in the way of what I know needs to be done at work, and I reserve the hardcore playing of it for when I’m away from work. I’ll admit, I check it every now and then to see if a rare Pokémon has creeped its way into our office, but no more than that. I would never leave the office to go track it down, because as a responsible adult, I know having a career and financial stability is more important than a video game…but that would change if a Mewtwo wandered into the area. (I’m KIDDING. Kind of.)

Whether or not the people vocalizing these opinions about Pokémon GO intend for it to be a joke, it’s still evident that there’s a clear disdain for adults playing this game. In no way do I believe that everyone has to like the game, but to assume that playing it makes you a less productive member of society is absolutely outrageous, and speaks volumes about what certain people think we’re allowed to enjoy. Pokémon GO has given me more incentive to go explore more places in my city, its given me another way to connect with new and/or existing friends, and it ultimately gives me a certain joy that I can’t get from other video games. 

I guess it’s good that, as grown-ups, we know that people who are trying to bring us down are the one’s with the problems, not us. If we know we’re still working toward our goals while also catching 100+ Rattatas, then those who judge us for it aren’t doing much other than wasting their energy complaining about a video game that encourages exercise and exploration. You know, things we’re encouraged to do no matter what stage of life we’re in.