Friendship

not here, nor there

not here, nor there

Life has been a little weird lately, and if I’m being honest, the entire last year has been a little weird. Obviously, we all know that 2019 has essentially shaped up to be The Onion taking literal form in our actual world, but on a smaller level, so many things have happened this year that feel like they’re directly out of a sitcom or a TV drama, and I don’t really know how to feel about all that.

And I think “weird” really is the best way to describe it, because nothing is necessarily wrong. It’s just that things also haven’t exactly turned out the way I thought they were going to either. In many ways, I feel like I’ve been living in the “dirty middle” as we therapists (or therapists-in-training) say, when you’re no longer where you started, but you’re also not quite at your destination yet. I feel like I’ve written about this before, but I think it’s come to a head more recently with all the things that I’ve been an observer to, more than anything.

In talking to my own therapist, we’ve discussed how most of the time, we tend to look to the people around us for social cues and life milestones in a sort of group mentality to establish what’s “normal” or “on time” for particular life events, but what happens when everyone around you has moved along to a different part of the “life road map,” if you will and you’re the only one left what feels like several hundred miles behind?

a week with the queers

a week with the queers

Okay, so maybe the title and header are a little misleading. It was four days. And we stayed in cabins, so I guess it doesn't *really* count as camping, but the prevailing idea remains, and I think it's really important to write about it and talk about it.

As a queer person, and specifically as a queer Christian who grew up in a lot of conservative Christian circles, I went into this four day glamping trip with exclusively other queer people with an odd mix of sheer excitement, trepidation, and wonder. I mean, when you really think about it (and when I would tell people about what my plans for the end of July were), it does sound a little crazy doesn't it?

I was about to fly from Minneapolis to Nashville to go to "queer summer camp," as we had all collectively dubbed it, with about 15 other queer people that I had only otherwise met on the internet, specifically from Twitter. Sure, many of us had interacted extensively online before and many more of us had FaceTimed each other or otherwise gotten the chance to spend time together virtually, but this four day trip was going to be the first time that many of us would be meeting each other in person. And for me, it was going to be the first time I would be meeting any of these people in person.

love, the queers: finding community on queer twitter

love, the queers: finding community on queer twitter

Earlier this weekend, I called my friend Hannah on FaceTime after joyfully crying through episode 4 of Queer Eye (which EVERYONE AND THEIR MOTHER should be watching on Netflix if you aren't already), and we went on to discuss and debrief on the episode before slinging jokes and talking about our hilariously conservative upbringings. This whole time, we're also throwing back glasses of wine and shots of cinnamon whiskey.

Last week, my friend Kevin called me as he was driving home from work (also to talk about Queer Eye), and we went on to dream about creating some kind of summer camp for the queers of the internet to all meet in real life someday, since everyone we know tends to be spread across the country. I think he also asked me if I was drunk at one point because of how much I was gushing about Queer Eye, and I had to tell him that I was actually sober and just that over the top.

I have so many little stories like this from the last several months, and Hannah and I were actually just texting about just how crazy it is that we became friends and how many other HELLA COOL people we've met over Twitter. Social media tends to get a bad rap these days, but for many of my queer friends and I, it's served to facilitate the formation of some really sweet community.

the sacrifices we make, the losses we endure

the sacrifices we make, the losses we endure

Spring and fall are arguably the seasons when I feel the most in tune with my creative and spiritual energy, and this spring, I've been thinking quite a bit about the cycle of seasons and all the metaphorical wisdom there.

Around March and April is when spring typically starts to roll around in the Northern Hemisphere, and spring always brings to mind several different interrelated ideas. Renewal. Revival. Rebirth. Regrowth. Resurrection. And if you notice, all those words have that prefix re- attached to the front (sorry, everyone, this is where my inner linguist comes out), which tells you that it's a return to something, a going back to a previous state. But the underlying connotation there is that there was a departure from that previous state first, and in all those words, the implication is that there was some form of destruction or deterioration or death.  And as with the seasons, I think this same cycle tends to play out in the lives of queer people as we come into our own. I think many of us tend to wade through a season of sacrifice and loss prior to finding renewal and regrowth. 

the phone call effect

As I've been working on a couple short stories based on prompts I've been given by friends, I think my mind has also been reflecting back on a lot of the posts I've written in the past several days. Specifically, I've been pondering the effect technology has on our relationships in this day and age, since so many of us (myself included) practically treat our phones as an extension of our bodies at this point.  

At the same time, I've been trying to organize my thoughts and divert more energy to these short stories so I can actually get them done (beside the fact that I haven't written fiction in quite a while and those creative muscles are still a little stiff), but going through my old archives, I discovered this piece talking about relationships and technology that I had written several months ago but for some reason or another had just never put up anywhere. Its style is a little different and a bit harsher than some of my more recent pieces, but I think it's still relevant, and I definitely still resonate with the original point behind it as well.

 

Side note: The next couple days are going to be packed, so I'm really hoping to churn out those short stories in a timely manner, but I suppose we'll see.

 

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how we use our phones now

It’s 2016, and I think Americans have developed a new fear, one that honestly makes me a little sad. In the age of smartphones, it seems like people have become afraid of using them. Yes, we have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even Pokemon Go only a tap away, but no one really seems to use their phone for its original purpose anymore. Phone calls have become scary. Besides, why would you actually call someone if you could text, dm, WhatsApp, tweet, or Snapchat them anyway? Or at least that seems to be the mentality of a lot of people today.

 

Perhaps that’s part of the reason for the immense gravity we seem to give phone calls now. You just don’t call people anymore. Phone calls are reserved for urgent or important things: job interviews, college admissions, dentist or doctor’s appointments, or accidents or tragedies. It’s true that phone calls are probably appropriate for those things, but why aren’t they considered to be for things of lesser severity anymore? Why does your phone actually ringing suddenly imply that something major must’ve happened to warrant it?

 

I, for one, don’t really like this new attitude regarding phone calls that much of the population has adopted, but I do understand it. Phone calls aren’t convenient, at least not in the sense that many people understand the word convenient today. Texting and messaging give you the freedom to respond at your leisure and take your time in composing your response. (I’m sure we’ve all heard the stories or at least the Tumblr posts about girl squads writing text responses as a group.) Phone calls are the complete opposite. They’re immediate and on the spot. You don’t get unlimited amounts of time and you don’t get to rehearse what you’re going to say before you actually say it. Oh, and trying to get out of something by pretending you didn’t get the message or didn’t see the notification isn’t really an option in that case either. And then of course there’s the layer that the tone of your voice and actually speaking add to your conversation. The stress of it all has apparently become too much for some, who have sworn off talking on the phone and will only respond (or perhaps not really respond) to text messages and other forms of communication.

 

But why? What ever happened to calling just to hear the other person’s voice? What ever happened to endless conversations late at night? What ever happened to racking up a crazy phone bill because of going over your minutes instead of going over your data? Why does calling just to talk suddenly seem like such a foreign concept? Why does dialing someone’s number to make plans suddenly make you seem too impatient? And is it even possible to get back to a place where making a phone call might be considered a normal thing to do again? Or is this how we use phones now?

 

People keep saying that they want more intimacy or deeper connections with other people, but maybe this is part of the epidemic. We mask ourselves with screens and use our thumbs to say things that we would never say in person. All of a sudden it’s so easy to let toxic words flow from your fingertips because you’ll never see the other person’s face, while at the same time, it’s too hard to confess your love to someone standing in front of them because you don’t have a text bubble to hide behind. To me, that’s messed up. Spoken words give meaning and spoken words give life. Just think about the difference between saying “I love you” or “I’m sorry” and typing those same words. There’s a big difference in the difficulty level, whether people want to admit that fact or not.

 

So remember that the next time you reach for your phone. Obviously, texting and other kinds of messaging have their place in this world, but I don’t think that’s every place. There’s just something so unique and so special about hearing someone’s voice as opposed to seeing a block of text with their name attached to it. That might be the way that we use phones now, but it doesn’t have to be the way we use them tomorrow. So, dial someone’s number next time instead of pulling up their message thread. It might just change the way you use your phone.