Wednesday, December 25, 2013

My Christmas Playlist

I'm taking it easy with this week's post. Between working retail and trying to get ready for the trip back to Iowa, I haven't had a free moment to sit down and bang out a real blog post this week. Sorry 'bout it.

I couldn't leave you hanging though, so I thought this week, in honor of Christmas, I'd share with you my holiday playlist. As I stated a few posts ago, I have a hard time getting into the holiday spirit at the level that I always feel like I should, but one thing that I do love every year is the music.

1. Hard Candy Christmas by Dolly Parton

My taste in music always leans towards the songs that are slightly melancholy, and Christmas music is no exception. But with the hint of sadness in this one is a nice hopefully message.

Plus it's sung by a group of out of work prostitutes in the amazing "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." So that's awesome.

2. One More Sleep by Leona Lewis

Officially my favorite original Christmas song in recent history. I've been listening to this one on repeat so often lately that I've worked out choreography for it should I ever decide to become a drag queen who performs only holiday music. 

3. That Christmas Song by DWV

This one's not for the easily offended...or the hard to offend...really anyone who can possibly be offended. It's obscene, it's vulgar, and it's everything I love about DWV. It's catchy as hell. I've been singing "Not your lame ass Christmas, different kind of Christmas, da da da da da dat's my kind of Christmas." to myself for weeks now. The video is also completely ridiculous and hilarious.

Good lord I love drag queens.

4. I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas by Gayla Peevey

And now for something completely different. We used to sell a stuffed hippopotamus at Shopko that would sing this song when you squeezed its stomach. I would start every shift by going out to grab it and bring it up to the front for me to play with all. day. And I would laugh hysterically every single time. I can't get enough of the line "No crocodiles or rhinoceroseses. I only like hippopotomuseses."

Can someone please get Gayla Peevey booked at the Verizon Wireless Civic Center for a holiday concert next year. She's totally old now, but I'm sure it'll be just as adorable.

5. River by Joni Mitchell

I'm not even sure that this song is really a "Christmas" song per se, but it says the word Christmas in it, and I love it, so it makes it on my playlist every year. Again, I love a good sad song, and Joni Mitchell can write a sad song. 

6. Home on Christmas Day by Kristin Chenoweth

I love this one so much that I listen to it year round. Any song about going home makes me all nostalgic and sentimental...until I get home and realize that there's still no place to get a Diet Coke after eleven at night.

7. Carol of the Bells by Emmy Rossum

I love hearing classic songs with a modern twist, and this is a perfect example of this. Emmy's voice is wonderfully classical, but the arrangement is modern. She released three Christmas song as a few years ago, and I really had a hard time deciding which to include on this list...

8. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Emmy Rossum I just added two of them.

9. Christmas Time by Christina Aguilera 

I really can't explain my love for this song, but I think it has something to do with how hilarious I think it is that in her transitional period between Teen Pop Princess Christina to Dirrty Sexpot X-tina, a Christmas album happened.

I mean just look at her outfit. Faaaaantastic.

10. What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? by Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Okay guys, I'm having a hard time breathing after this one. Swoon.

This is my favorite holiday song of all time, and these two being adorable in this rendition only solidifies that love. 

Marry me, Joseph Gordon-Levitt?

Now I'm off to watch funny YouTube videos with my sister and drink wine at inappropriate times of the day. You can find this playlist by following me on Spotify

Hope everyone has had a Happy Holiday season! See you next year!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dating Horror Story: Murder Apartment

When I first started this blog I vowed to myself that I was going to be an open book. No topic was to be off limits. It hasn't been a hard promise to keep, largely because I live a pretty PG-13 lifestye (and it only earns that rating because of all the strong language). This week, however, I found myself faced with a conundrum. What about the stories a bit nature?

My mom reads this, y'all.

So here's your offramp everyone, a trip down memory lane for those of you who want to keep your image of me unmarred by some drunk and slutty decision making on my part.

Remember that time I built a desk all by myself? You can check that out here!

Still here? How about that time we all had so much fun at Tall Corn Days?

Are you sure you want to keep going? Oooh, go look at pictures of when I babysat James! He's so adorable!

This is your last chance, folks. Go re-live my amazing Pride weekend!

...actually I thought I had AIDS in that last one, scratch that.

By reading on beyond this point, you're agreeing not to think less of me after I tell you the story about the time I went home from the bar with an almost stranger who had possibly developed a taste for human flesh.

It's important to me to stress that this was not a one night stand. I'd vetted this person...pretty briefly, but he wasn't a total stranger. I'd met him on OK Cupid a few months before the incident. We'll call him Carlos because he was a spicy latino with a gorgeous accent (and also because I sometimes forget his actual name when I tell this story).

Carlos was two years older than me and a med student living in St. Paul. He was a total nerd who didn't even flinch when I turned our conversation into an hour long discussion of gender roles and power dynamics in Joss Whedon shows (which I do with every potential suitor, no matter how hard I try to stop it). He was a cheerleader in college, which turns out is a huge f#%!ing turn on for me (who knew?!). His messages were all punctuated correctly, and he knew where the line was between creepy and flirty (which seems to be a rare find).

After a few weeks of messaging, he made the trip down to Mankato to go out to dinner and a movie. We had a wonderful date. Dinner conversation wasn't awkward at all, and he was nice enough to not comment on what a disgusting slob I am when I'm trying to use chopsticks (or judge me when I finally just grabbed a fork). We debated whether zombies or robots would make for a more terrifying apocalypse (robots...duh), and discussed our mutual love for RuPaul's Drag Race.

The night really couldn't have gone better, and when the date ended he walked me to my door and gave me probably the sweetest kiss I've ever experienced...

...and then we didn't talk for three months.

The obligatory "I had a great time last night" texts were sent, and then we kind of just forgot about each other. Gay men have the attention span of a four year old...after a pixie stick binge...with Disneyworld. I swooned over him for about a day afterwards before realizing that St. Paul is like a long way away, and...oh hey, look at that guy's arms.

Fast forward three months. It's boys weekend in Minneapolis. These weekends always begin the same way. We discuss how we're not going to get that crazy this weekend. I mean, we want to be classy drunk, and not klassy drunk. Sleepy eyes and slurred speech are never going to help you hook a husband.

It all shifts after the second drink though...

We lost control of the night by eight. My memory of the middle of the night is a bit fuzzy. I remember looking up and watching the shock register on my friend's face as he mentally counted out how many drinks he'd already had before 9pm. I remember wandering the streets of Minneapolis in search of a cab in -10 degree weather. There's a YouTube video that was stumbled upon randomly where I can be spotted wearing the outfit I wore that night, tipping a drag queen, and then nearly tipping over. So that proves that we were at the 90's at some point, but I can't really remember any other specifics.

My memory comes back into sharp focus at the end of the night. That's when I spotted Carlos across the bar. We made eye contact, and I yelled something along the lines of "SHUT THE F#%! UP!" We tried talking for a few minutes, but we realized pretty quickly that it was far too loud to do anything but sloppily make out against the bar.

Quickly venturing beyond Klassy and into Quassy territory.

This went on for about twenty minutes before I found my friends, told them I would see them in the morning, and made them promise that they'd avenge my death if I ended up axe murdered. 

...and they thought I was kidding.

I spent the entire cab ride back to Carlos's place animatedly talking about how glad I was that I'd run into him again. I regaled him with stories from my night and filled him in on what I'd been up to since our first date. I was witty, charming, and engaging...he was quiet and distracted.

It was no matter, I'd get him to open up. I was imagining the romantic night we'd have. I mean...I knew what was probably going to end up happening, and I was on board, but I figured after that we'd stay up all night talking and laughing. We'd form inside jokes and talk about our dreams, telling each other things that we'd never told anyone else before until one of us realized that the sun had come up. He'd joke that he had better get me back to my friends, but maybe we could stop at this cute little diner that he knows about for breakfast?

I knew the night was headed in a different direction when we got to his apartment. He let me in the door, and when he flipped on the lights I realized I was standing in a completely empty room. We're talking hardwood floors with no rugs, white walls with no pictures, no furniture, save a folding chair and a laptop sitting on a TV tray. I could see into the kitchen from the living room, and the counters were bare. There was a cabinet door hanging open revealing a shelf with a half eaten jar of peanut butter and some bread that provided the only proof that a human being had recently been in this residence.

This was obviously a murder apartment.

I was convinced that I'd stumbled into some Law & Order SVU bullshit. He clearly was living some sort of sick double life where he had a wife, kids, and golden retriever in the suburbs, but on the weekends he went on "business trips" to seduce naive young (okay...maybe aging slightly) gay boys, bring them back to the sketchy apartment he kept within cab distance, murder them, and make duvet covers out of their skin (I have always had soft skin and a nice complexion). 

I made a joke about not knowing that he was Greek (it was a whole Spartan reference that fell flat because of all the terror), and discretely checked my phone only to find that it had died sometime in the cab ride.


He explained that he'd moved from out of state to go to school, and could only bring what he could fit in his car. I pointed out that a nice framed photo or two of a lighthouse or a row boat wouldn't have taken up all that much space and proceeded with caution.

He gestured to the bedroom, so he was obviously planning on dispensing with the charade that this was something that was going to happen organically over a drink, some coy looks, and flirtatious banter. After I saw the living room, I don't know why I was surprised by the bedroom, but I was. He had a bed with no headboard, a fitted sheet, no top sheet, no comforter, a fleece blanket, one pillow, and no other furniture. 

I should have turned and walked out right then, but our first date was so good, and the kiss at the end was so sweet. So I let it progress, and we started making out.

I should say I started making out. He started trying to eat my face. His enthusiastic spirit was contagious though, and I will say I was actually super into until he whispered into my ear, "Do you like to be bit?" I like to be bit? Like for real? This is actually happening to me? He has to mean like ear lobe and neck nibbling, right? Yes, of course that's what he means. People don't just go around biting other people. I could get down with some earlobe action though. Yeah, that sounds kind of nice! 

I got as far as, "Yeah, sur..." and he clamped down on my shoulder.

He bit me!

On my shoulder!

I was so shocked by the whole thing that I didn't really know what to do. I let out a surprised exclamation, and shook him off, but he seemed to think it was part of the game, and it happened three more times before I shut it down. I told him that I was super tired, and asked if he'd be willing to call me a cab back to the hotel I was staying at. He insisted that I just spend the night. I pointed out that he didn't have a pillow for me, and he offered me his arm. So I made him promise not to try to eat me while I slept on his bony arm, and I took the entire blanket for myself.

The next morning I had planned on excusing myself to go to the bathroom, and slipping out to figure out my own damn way back to the hotel, but I remembered that I had a dead cell phone, and it was -20 billion degrees outside. So instead I just stood in the bathroom staring at myself in the mirror for about ten minutes having one of those, "Look at your life, look at your choices moments."

And you're definitely not gonna get breakfast.

I woke him up and told him I needed a ride, we sat for 10 uncomfortable minutes while his car warmed up, he delivered me safely back to my friends, and I haven't spoken to him since.

I did think of him quite a bit in the following week though...mostly during those times when I was wincing as I put my jacket on my still tender shoulders.

Lessons learned? 

-I'm apparently not suited for hooking up with near strangers that I meet in bars.

-I need to stop romanticizing people to the point that I start to disregard big ol' glaring warning signs.

-Don't send out text messages at 3 in the morning to your friends saying you're going home with some guy, and if they don't hear from you by 8, then you're probably murdered if you don't have a plan to charge your phone before then.

-I'm not into getting bit.

You live, you learn...

I'd feel bad if I left everyone thinking this guy was a total weirdo, cannibal, murderer, so let's imagine for a second that he's telling this story to his friends.

"So I met this guy online who seemed super cool, we had a lot in common, even if he is too into Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I drove an hour and a half to take the guy out to dinner, everything went super great, and then I didn't hear from the f#%!er for three months when I see him all wasted at a bar. He runs up to me and starts making out with me within like ten minutes. I figured I'd give him another shot, so I took  him back home with me. He didn't shut up the entire time we were in the cab, and then when we got back to my place he acted like I was a psycho just because I didn't have a f#%!ing couch. Just as things were getting kinda hot and heavy he shuts down and acts all offended just because I did something that I asked him permission for. Then he woke me up at 7:30am, and made me drive him back to his hotel."

What a f#%!ing dick.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's the Most Kind of Just Okay Time of the Year

I'm calling bullshit on the holiday season.

I just don't get it. People lose it prepping for Christmas, and I can barely get myself to care enough to buy hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps. I mean, I enjoy most of the trappings of Christmas. I love Christmas music. I like the sparkling lights. Cookies are pretty awesome. I don't dislike seeing my family. I just can't see what all the fuss is about though.

My life is basically an ABC Family Original Christmas movie waiting to happen.

Sarah Rue would be cast to play me (because they would immediately rewrite my character as a woman).

My super androgynous name is quite the lifesaver for the studio executives who can't be bothered to change the script.

The first half hour would be lots of scenes of me eating Oatmeal Creme Pies alone in bed by the light of my computer screen (seriously, Chris, look at your life) and drinking wine from the bottle, untangling giant balls of Christmas lights while drinking wine from the bottle, looking dejected as I try to curl ribbon while wrapping gifts and drinking wine from the bottle, and slipping on the ice while carrying giant shopping bags (filled with bottles of wine).

That all changes when I choke on a magical candy cane, or get knocked out when a mystical Christmas tree falls on me, or have a spell cast on me by a wily elf played by Tori Spelling (or really any of the cast of the original 90210), and I wake up to find that everything I've been wishing for has come true.

I've landed a job writing Dawson's Creek fan fiction. It pays great, they've given me an office right next to  Leann Chin, and they let me day drink. Nick Pitera has finally responded to one of my incessant, kind of clever, mostly creepy YouTube comments and agreed to marry me. We've got twin babies who sleep all the time unless I want to pose them for totally adorable pictures to post on Instagram (and they take direction wonderfully). My hair has never looked better, and science has discovered a way to burn fat while eating pizza rolls.

Not so fast though. Turns out "Perfect Life" Chris started neglecting her friends and family in the excitement of her fancy new life. I begin to realize that perfection is boring, and as Christmas gets closer I realize how much I had to be grateful for to begin with. I realize that maybe my other life wasn't so shitty. Sarah McLachlan will play quietly in the background as I breakdown into tears, wishing that I could go back and spend the holidays with the people I love, even if it means giving up my plush new life (it's cool, I wasn't that attached to the babies yet anyway).

That's when I wake up from a coma surrounded by everyone that I love...and all the presents that they brought me...having lost thirty pounds from the intravenous liquid diet I'd been on.

And we all lived happily ever after.

I'd watch that shit.

It's obviously not an issue of self awareness keeping me from loving the holidays. I know I have a lot to be happy about, but it's those things that I'm not happy with that I fixate on this time of year. Namely, money.

The holidays are a great reminder that I'm poor as f#%!.

I know some of you are going to say that the holidays aren't about buying presents. They're not about blowing your money on an expensive tree and buying fancy decorations. You're going to tell me that you don't need money to enjoy the holiday season.

You're living in a fantasy world.

Sure, none of those things are required but that doesn't mean that I don't want to get wonderful gifts for my friends and family, that I don't want my apartment to smell like a real pine tree, that I don't want sparkly trinkets to help put me in the mood. Realizing that I can't just go out and get these things bums me out, and that reminder makes it hard to get into the spirit.

That's where Pinterest comes in.

I decided this year to try to find inexpensive way to put myself into the holiday spirit. I'd been looking at crafts that involved old book pages and stumbled across these glittery DIY bulbs that looked fairly easy. Torn bits of book pages are mod podged onto bulbs and then sprinkled with glitter. I bought some bulbs for $4, and I had the Mod Podge and glitter on hand already. I stopped at a thrift store and was looking around for books with olden timey typestyles when I realized that I'd much rather use something a bit more the holiday themed Fear Street Book I already had at home.

It was, of course, much more obnoxious than the pin made it out to be (you can view the original pin here). Getting the pages to lay flat against a round surface was a bitch, getting an even coating of glitter proved harder than I anticipated, and it ended up taking me three hours when I was anticipating forty five minutes. 

They turned out a bit lumpier than I'd like, and you definitely don't want to look at them super close up, but now that they're on the tree (and being admired from a distance) I'm happy with them. They have character.

What I've missed most since starting to decorate my own tree was having ornaments that had a story to go along with them. My favorite ornaments growing up were always the ones that had been hung on the tree for years, and while these particular ornaments won't have as much significance as a "Baby's First Christmas" or "Our First House" ornament, they will always make me think back to when I lived in that crappy little apartment above a bar that was too small for a table so I had to do crafts on a cutting board on the floor. My life may not be right where I'd like it to be, but I know I'll look back at my late twenties with fondness, remembering especially the year that I decided to grow the f#%! up.

So I think I found some holiday spirit after all.

I think it's passed. Who knows though, I'm probably just cold. Maybe if we rescheduled the holidays for a less shitty time of year?

We don't have anything better going on in May, right?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

10 Ways to be a Better Shopper (and human being) This Holiday Season

I did it this year. I broke all of my rules. I went against everything that I believe in. Forsaking common sense and rational thought, bowing to societal pressures, I allowed myself to be talked into something so out of character for me, that I'm having trouble coming to terms with the person that I've become (and perhaps always have been?).

I went Black Friday shopping.

I work retail, you guys. I know better. The only reasonable explanation is temporary insanity brought about by the dangerous mixture of wine and tryptophan. I was in a warm, happy, Thanksgiving daze when my mother asked me to accompany her that evening to Wal-Mart. She'd just worked so hard preparing such a nice meal. By gosh, it was the least I could do!

What a fool I was.

Now, I don't begrudge anyone who actually has the disposition for Black Friday (especially when it starts on Thursday). I imagine you end your day joyously rolling around in the piles of money that you saved. I just don't have the stomach for it.

What's going through my mind on Black Friday:

What I see in the eyes of my fellow shoppers:

 What is it about entering a retail store this time of year that makes people lose their humanity?! I'm kicking off my 9th year working in customer service at a retail store, and even after all I've witnessed, I'm still continuously shocked by the behaviors exhibited by shoppers during the holiday season.

So what's to be done about this? Is society just f#%!ed?

I always try to believe that people are inherently good, and these poor misguided souls just need to be educated. Unfortunately, telling people they're behaving like douche monsters will only serve to get me fired (and we've already established that I don't have those extra piles of money to cushion that fall), so I'll just have to settle on telling the internet.

1. Before you leave the house, ask yourself, "Am I currently in control of my bowels?"

If the answer is yes, you may proceed to the store.

If the answer is no, stay home or see a healthcare professional.

I've seen things you guys. Horrible, awful things. Things I'll never be able to unsee. I've seen walls with so many feces on them that it looked like someone let loose a hose on full blast. I've seen poos so big that they had to be broken up with a clothes hanger so they would fit down the drain. I've been asked to check on someone because of the horrible noises they were making from the stall. (As a side note, every single one of these things happened in the women's restroom. You ladies are nasty.)

And these experiences all pale in comparison to the worst experience I've ever had at that store...

I was warned of a mess near our entrance by a customer. I thanked her for letting me know and let her know I'd look into it as soon as I had a chance. Obviously uncomfortable, she leaned in and whispered in my ear, "I think you're going to want to take care of this now." 

Really not a great sign.

I expected something awful. Something like spilled soda, broken glass, an elderly woman with a broken hip. I didn't expect to see a giant pile of poo in the middle of the carpet...and then a second two feet away...and then a third that had been stepped in. I followed the foot prints that were now being left to the door of the bathroom where I found the fourth pile caught under the door, smearing all over the floor as the door opened and closed. The footprints continued to a stall where I had to scrub the floor, the toilet seat, and one handprint off the wall.


Why are you people out shopping?! I just...I can't even...

2. Don't park like an asshole.

Don't drive the wrong way down the rows. Don't take up more than your allotted space. Don't try to squeeze your giant Bronco-sauruses into spots that are clearly too small, and for the love of God, don't park in senior citizen spots if you're not a senior citizen. 

There's certainly no legal ramifications for taking one of these spots. I've personally never taken notice of who is parking there, but do you know who is policing these parking spots? Little old ladies with a score to settle.

So because you're too lazy to park an extra ten feet away, I get to be harassed by a gray haired little old bitty with a walker and a potty mouth who is insisting that I page your license plate number, hunt you down, get your car towed, and get you taken out in cuffs. Then I get to have a written complaint sent in about me when I explain that unfortunately there's nothing I can do. 

And I have to smile and spell my name for her while she fills out the comment card in front of me.

3. Don't tell us how terrible you think it is that we have to be here on a holiday.

Guess what, f#%!er, the only reason we're working on a holiday is because people like you feel the need to shop on a holiday. I've made peace with the hours that are required when working retail, but when comments like that are made it makes me want to slap you on your stupid face.

4. Understand that we do not have an infinite amount of product hidden in the backroom. 

Yes, I understand it was shown in our ad (our ad that is created months before and sent out to every store across the nation), I understand that this was supposed to be a present, and I really do care that your nephew really needed that specific Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure (Michelangelo is my favorite too), but our inventory system is sophisticated enough that I can promise you we don't have any in stock.

I'd be happy to go into the backroom and pretend to look if it would make you feel better. It'll give me a chance to check my hair and complain about you to my coworkers.

5. Put things back where you found them.

I mean seriously, we learned this in Kindergarten, people. 

I'm willing to concede that putting things away can be an inconvenience. Maybe you've changed your mind about something that you picked up all the way across the store. We're happy to have that put away for you if you simply hand it to your cashier at checkout. I'll never understand people's need to hide shit that they don't want. You won't get in trouble for having a change of heart, in fact we'll be applauding you for making the mature decision to not just ditch it somewhere in the store.

The most infuriating instance of this happened to me just the other day. I was running a register, and I watched  someone look at a shirt, decide against it, make eye contact with me, and then tossed it over the top of the magazine rack...just beyond my reach.

That's going to sit there directly in my line of sight for the next forty five minutes when I'll finally be able to get over to take it down...after I've been scolded for not keeping my work area neat.

This goes for your shopping cart as well. You're going to be walking by at least one cart corral on the way to your car. Probably the same one that you got your cart from. Does it really take that much more effort to put it away than it does to leave it at the end of the register? 

6. Don't complain to your cashier about how long the line is.

They're having even less fun that you are. You've had to deal with this line for 5 minutes...they've been staring at it for 7 hours. Being short staffed makes for the most miserable day during the holiday season. Whether it be because someone called in sick, the store is busier than anticipated, or someone just made a shitty schedule, I guarantee you the fault is never with the person that's actually there checking you out. 

Just ride it out, and maybe tell the cashier that the (likely horrible) color of their work uniform really brings out the color of their eyes...they could use a win right about now.

7. Consider the behaviors that you're role modeling to your children.

Whenever an adult throws at temper tantrum in front of their child I rest easy knowing that their kid will never again be satiated by the phrase, "We can't always get what we want." 

"I demand to speak to a grandparent about this!"

8. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

In other words, don't be a dick.

Want to know a secret? We have the power to make a lot of things happen, even if they are "against policy." Return policies, coupon expiration dates, and limited quantity items all exist for a reason, even if you don't understand that reason. Rules are made to be broken though, and if you are polite, friendly, gracious, and most importantly, admit fault when you were in fact the one who messed up, I will bend over backwards to take care of you. 

If you're a dick about it?

"Oh shoot. My hands are tied."

9. Save your receipts

How can you seriously be shocked that I can't just hand you fistfuls of cash for your return if you can't prove to me that you actually bought it? You can't tell me when you paid for this, how you paid for this, where you bought it from, or if you used your savings card?

And you're annoyed with me?!

10. Consider if you're really willing to let a shopping trip ruin your day.

I read an article awhile ago that begged the question, "Are you getting bad service, or are you a bad customer?" I know that bad customer service does happen, and that sucks, but does it really need to be an experience that ruins your day. Do you really need to take to social media to vent your frustrations (btw, your friends all think you're a dick when you do this)? Do we still need to be talking about that time you got overcharged for an item a month later?

I can honestly say that, as a customer, I have never in my life had a bad customer service experience. There have been people that I've thought could be doing their job better. I've been less than satisfied when I left a store. I just can't be bothered to care about it. The energy that it would take to work myself up to the level of hysteria that I've seen in my almost decade of retail work seems downright exhausting. It's just so much easier to give a smile, thank them for their help, and wish them a good day.

It's also the easiest way to make them feel like shit. I get such a horrible guilty feeling when I've been a jerk, and the customer is nice to me anyway.

So as you continue your holiday shopping, please try to remember that retail workers are human beings. No matter how robotic our canned questions about loyalty cards, extended protection programs, or credit cards are, we've got feelings. We're not drones.

At least until Amazon gets its way.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


My mother's ability to cook has always been both a blessing and a curse. Growing up, I don't remember a single meal that wasn't well prepared and delicious. I mean there were things I wouldn't eat, but that was more about me being a little bitch than her culinary skills. Birthday cakes were homemade, cookie dough was made from scratch, and frozen TV dinners were looked down upon with scorn and derision.

But with every bite of every scrumptious meal grew the fear that I would never be able to live up to this. My cookies are never as moist. My chicken seems a bit bland. My meringue is laughable. And I don't think I'll ever figure out how to properly make an egg sandwich.

The situation hasn't been helped by, what I perceive as, my mother's complete lack of faith in my abilities. I'm sure she doesn't mean to be discouraging, but it's hard not to take it personally when each time I ask for a recipe she responds with, "Well...that one's kind of...involved."

The situation boiled over a few years ago as I was prepping for our first ever "Friendsgiving." It's exactly what it sounds like. Thanksgiving, but without all that family drama mixed in. We have it a few weeks before real Thanksgiving, and I was making the stuffing.

I called my mother to talk through the recipe, and the conversation that ensued nearly led me to a nervous breakdown.

"Now you're going to add the sage." - Mom
"Okay, how much?" - Me
"To taste."
"Okay, well I don't know what different amounts of sage are going to taste like. Can you tell me how much I'll be using?"
"A lot."
"A lot?"
"Yes, a lot."
"How much is a lot?"
"I don't know, quite a bit?"
"Like a cup?"
"Oh no, that's way too much. Don't use too much or you'll ruin it." 
"Are you kidding me right now? Use a lot, but just not too much or I'll RUIN it?! That's all you can give me?"
"Use about a third of the jar."
"But what size jar are you talking about?"
"I don't know the EXACT size of the jar, Chris, it's a little one."
"So...use less than half of a tiny container of sage...that's what you mean by a lot?"
"Please tell me that you are also hearing how crazy this all sounds, and I'm not just losing my mind."
"I told you it was involved."
"Chris? Hello?"
"...I'm here. So...I'll be using a lot?"
"Yes, but not too much."

I was a shaking, anxious mess the entire six hours the stuffing was in the crock pot, but I made it through, and it turned out wonderfully. So when it came time to start organizing this year's Friendsgiving I knew that I had the skills to once again pull it off, but I just wasn't sure if emotionally I was prepared. Nevertheless I agreed to take care of the mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn casserole, and...the stuffing.

I still had Mom's recipes from the last time I'd attempted, so I was leaving her out of it. I was going to assert my adulthood, and adults don't need to call their mommy every time they have a dinner party to go to. quick question can't hurt.

"How many potatoes should I use for the mashed potatoes? I've never cooked for 8 people before."
"One per person."
"Only 8 potatoes? Are you sure that's right? That doesn't seem like it will be enough."
"It will be."
"But they're red potatoes."
"Yes, 8 will do."
"Yeah...but red potatoes are smaller than normal potatoes, so I'll probably need a few more, right?"
"Well, you can use a few more if it'll make you feel better."
"Are you sure that will be enough?"
"Yes, Chris, I'm sure."
"...that can't be right."

It's amazing that she's never hit me.

When the day arrived, I woke up early (11:45) so I could get the stuffing going. I ran into problems immediately when I realized that I didn't know how to properly cook the onions and celery. I'd made Beth do that part the last time, and because of the sage breakdown, I wasn't paying too close attention to what she did.

So I panicked and called home.

"Hello Christopher."
"Dad, is Mom there?!"
"No, she's out."
"She should be home in an hour."
"Is it something that I can help you with?"
"Well...what do you know about stuffing?"
"You'll need to talk to your mother."
"I can't WAIT that long!"
"Well aren't the instructions on the box?"

"That's...not what's happening here."

After I Googled "How do I cook onions?" I got the show back on the road. 

I got everything in the crock pot (nearly forgetting the sage), and headed over to Jamie's where Friendsgiving was being held. We had hours to kill that I had just planned on drinking wine and watching TV during, but Jamie had other ideas. Apparently, the responsible thing to do is to prep the meal first and reward yourself after

I don't know about you, but I prefer my gratification to be instant.

At this point I was going to go into a whole long thing about how important friendship is, and how thankful I am for everything, but it's the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and I just got a little wine drunk with my family and really just don't feel like it anymore. So f#%! the rest of this blog, I'll just share some photos from the evening.

Veggie tray turkey by Emma
Cranberry dip by Julie

James by Julie and Ben
Pies by Julie
At this point I'd typically give you links to recipes or whatever, but there's another bottle to be uncorked, so let me know if you want something in the comments and I'll make sure you get it.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all! I'm going to leave you with a bit of advice my grandmother gave me after sharing the sage story.

"Don't worry about it. You can use too much sage. It'll taste like shit, but you can do it."

Now that's the empowerment I was looking for.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

15 Insights for My 15 Year Old Self

I recently found myself reminiscing over my old year books and considering just how awful High School could be. I mean, don't get me wrong, I think I had it better than most of my peers in the LGBT community (but mostly because I was just far too busy with Choir rehearsals to worry about being called a fag in the hallway), but I had my fair share of "I can't believe this is happening, this is the end of the world" moments.

Is it High School that is inherently awful though? Or was it just a perfect storm of teenage hormones, too much parental supervision, and a complete lack of wine that made it so unbearable? Would it have been much more manageable if I'd only had a bit more insight, perspective, and guidance?

Scoring a two doesn't seem like such a big deal when you realize that no potential employer is ever going to ask for the ballots from your Junior Year choral competition.

Sure, your voice is cracking, your face is breaking out, and you got an erection during a Chemistry presentation, but I just had to figure out a way to trim my ear hair, so you should probably just settle in for a long life of your body trying to humiliate you.

Do you really need to throw a fit when it's announced that you won't be taking the final bow at curtain call even though you had a lead role?

Yeah, that ones legit.

I wish I could go back in time and sit down with Teenage Chris. I'd love to tell him the things I know now and get him to really appreciate how potentially wonderful his teen years could be (I mean, is it just me, or does it seem insane that summer break used to be a thing?!). Here are the lessons I wish he'd have learned so he could have chilled the f#%! out, lightened the f#%! up, and arrived at a happy place a lot sooner.

- Cool it with the fleece zip up vests and souvenir Planet Hollywood t-shirts. You've never even been to Denver.

- Mom and Dad are pretty wonderful. Don't be afraid to open up. They can handle it.

- While on vacation in Spain, a woman is going to approach you as you browse Harry Potter books. She will strike up a conversation, but this is not a good opportunity to practice your conversational Spanish. This woman is a prostitute. Remove yourself from the situation immediately.

- Quit trying to hide the swish in your step and the lilt in your voice. It's fabulous.

- There will be people in your life that you admire but are toxic. Don't let yourself get dragged into situations that go beyond your maturity level.

- You will be shocked by how much weight you lose just by switching to diet soda, do it now while you still have your wonderful teen metabolism...I could use the headstart.

- No matter how many signals he sends, that boy is straight. Quit wasting your time.

- Speaking of straight boys, something wonderful happens in ten years. They all get less attractive, and gay men just get more attractive. It's a pretty great perk.

- Your friends now will be your friends beyond high school, and your relationships will only grow stronger. This is something truly special. Appreciate them.

- Learn how to properly clear your browser history, or start coming up with better lies. A hacker was browsing gay porn on our computer? Really? That's the story you're going with?

- Don't build your walls so high, let down your guard, and let people in. Don't be afraid to say, "I love you" and to accept love from others.

- Find the line between adorably snarky and snarky bitch, and don't cross it. Choosing kindness towards others even when kindness hasn't been earned is the most important (and the hardest) decision you'll ever make...and the feeling of superiority that comes along with it is amazing.

- Look at how much hair gel you're using. Cut that in're still using too much. I really can't even understand the hair choices you're making right now.

- You cannot wear white athletic socks with leather sandals, I don't care if you think that it "dresses them up."

- If you don't listen to any of this (which you probably won't because you're kind of a stubborn little bitch), just remember that no one enjoys being a teenager, but at some point you're going to realize that the things you care about so deeply now will be laughable a few years down the road. Enjoy these last few years before you have a real job, real bills, and real responsibilities.

'Cause then you'll really have something to bitch about.

Go get 'em, tiger!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Britney Spears is Changing My Life

(and how she can do the same for you)

It's a well documented fact that I have a problem with follow through. It's an even more well documented fact that I have an even bigger problem with just not starting things to begin with.

Whatever book I'm reading is usually more interesting than cleaning ever could be. Wine and movie nights are much more fun than picking up extra shifts at work. I could sit down and work out a budget, but that seems like a problem for Next Week Chris. And there is always, always, always something on Netflix that is better than going to the gym.

But I noticed a change with the release of Britney Spears's motivational anthem, Work B*tch.

Yes, Britney, I DO want a hot body, I DO want a Bugatti (I mean I'd probably even settle for a car that doesn't have the imprint of the bridge that I rammed it into on its front bumper), I DO want to sip martinis, and I'd LOVE to look hot in a bikini (or, given that I'm a male with a reasonable amount of body hair, some trunks)!

And you're telling me (kind of aggressively) that all I need to do is work?!

It's so. f#%!ing. simple.

I'm really great at making goals, but wishful thinking isn't enough. I needed a push, a reminder that nothing is going to change until I start taking an active role in making that change happen. I needed to be told, in no uncertain terms, that if I wanted something, I was going to need to go out and get it.

In other words, "Work, bitch!"

"I know I said I'd go to the gym, but I forgot my water bottle at home, so..."

"Prep time 25 minutes?! Maybe I'll just eat Oreos for supper..."

"I don't feel like doing laundry, I'd probably get away with wearing my 2002 high school choir t-shirt to work..."

"Sleeping 'til noon sounds awesome, but I should probably get up at seven this weekend so I have plenty of time to get all of the cleaning done that I put off all week."'re right, gurl, let's hit snooze.

In all seriousness though, it has become a fantastic mantra. I've been to the gym three times in the last week (which is three times more than the last four months), I guilted myself into working an extra shift, I started writing this very blog post three days sooner than I normally do, and I even did the dishes right after preparing a meal!

I also recently ate pasta out of a mixing bowl, so we're not quite there.

This revelation made me wonder if I've been overlooking Britney as a source of motivation, knowledge, and guidance. Are there other brilliant gems hidden in her music? I decided to take a look back at my five favorite Britney songs, and explore how each one can be used to make our lives better.

1. Kill The Lights

One of my favorite things about Ms. Spears is that she doesn't pander to the insecure, emo, disenfranchised crowd. Don't get me wrong, I love Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, and there are times when being told that I'm a Firework who was Born This Way is exactly what I need to hear. Britney doesn't bother with the "a bunch of people think I suck, but I'm going to rise above it because, gosh darnit, I'm wonderful" mindset though. Her message  is, "I'm a hot ass bitch, I know it, and I'm sorry, was someone else speaking?"

Kill the Lights is the perfect example of this. Just try to have a low self esteem day after jamming out to this song. I listen to this one a lot while getting ready, feeling preposterously sassy while I sing the lyrics, "Mr. Photographer, I think I'm ready for my close up tonight. Make sure you catch me from my good side...pick one." Have more self confident lyrics ever been written? 

Maybe you disagree, but I can't really be bothered to care what your opinion on the subject is right now.

2. Brave New Girl

Artists like Gaga and Madonna get all the credit for reinventing themselves once a year, and they certainly do make miraculous transformations, but Britney has come a long way herself (and she's got a weird British accent now too, so looks like you're not so f#%!ing special, Madonna). Some of the transformations have been a bit scary (as with all major national tragedies, I remember exactly where I was when I'd learned that Britney had shaved her head), but she's found her way back to the top.

This particular track has always been my go to "my life is feeling stagnate, it's time to make a change" song. This song is perfect for driving with the windows down and screaming at the top of your lungs, "She lands on both feet, won't take the backseat, there's a brave new girl, and she's coming out tonight."

It's also great for making you feel like you're too old to still be doing this.

3. Boys

I feel like I need to take a second to comment on this video that I just revisited for probably the first time since it came out in 2001. What a wonderful reminder of what a freaking badass dancer she was before her knee injury and subsequent spiral into the Cheeto eating, chain smoking, barefoot in a bathroom mess that we came to know and love (and her eye makeup is on point)! As fierce as she is though, I'm a bit troubled by the celebrity cameos that were included in the video. Austin Powers? DJ Qualls?! Oh, 2001...

Personally, I'm terrified of approaching people that I'm interested in, but I need only borrow half the confidence our girl has in this song to get ALL the boys! I'm seriously considering trying the "You're a sexy guy, and I'm a nice boy..." line the next time I'm out at The Saloon.

And if that doesn't work, I can just aggressively whisper, "Get Nasty..." in their ear.

4. Amnesia

Okay, finding a lesson to learn from this one is a bit of a stretch, but I needed to include it because it's my absolute favorite. It was recorded for Circus, but as far as I know, never made it on to any of her albums, and I can't imagine why! I ADORE it! It's a bubbly, happy song with an adorable quality that a lot of Britney's super sexualized songs don't have (not that I don't love every single one of her songs that feature heavy unexplained panting in the middle).

So, what can we take away from this? Sew your name in your clothes in case you meet a cute boy and get amnesia?

Works for me.

5. Phonography

A bonus track on the Deluxe Edition of the Circus album. This is both the most fun and most ridiculous song in her vast library of music. It's the most fun to dance to, but it also tries to make Bluetooths (Blueteeth?) sexy.

It also teaches us how wonderful sexting is!

Nevermind, scratch that, this one's just for dancing.

In conclusion, I hate writing conclusions, so let's just end on a gif of Britney pretending to grab Demi Lovato's ass.

God, I love her.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Just a Bunch of Hocus Pocus

Before we get started here I want to first make sure that we are all on the same page and agreeing that the end of October is the GREATEST TIME OF THE YEAR.

Seriously. Is there anything not to love about this time of year? 

The answer you're looking for is, "No. There's not, Chris." We've got pretty colored leaves, American Horror Story is on again, sweater weather, I don't have to feel bad for driving places that it's nice enough outside to walk to, and most of all...Halloween.

There are two types of people in the world; those who love Halloween and those who should do us all a favor and go fall in a hole.

I've had a serious love for All Hallow's Eve for as long as I can remember, and most of my traditions have grown up with me. I still watch Hocus Pocus every year, but the addition of wine has made it infinitely better. Pumpkin carving is an annual event, and Peppermint Patties go along with it quite nicely. I still pass out at 3 AM on Halloween night, but now it's caused by vodka and not the crash from a peanut butter cup induced sugar high.

I may not have done any actual growing up since starting this blog, but week after week it seems to bring to light troubling evidence which implies that I may be developing a drinking problem.

Like I do every year, I began planning my costume months before Halloween, but put off putting it together until a week before when I had to frantically throw something together.

This year I planned on being a raincheck.

So cute, right? 

Turns out adorable yellow rain jackets and matching galoshes are easier to find for women than they are for men (yet another example of how my life would be better if I was a drag queen). So after a few months of exhaustive (I eBayed it twice) searching, I was a week from Halloween with no clue what I was going to do. That's when I flashed back to the Girly Game Night I'd attended a few weeks before when I pointed out to everyone how gay all of the boys on Dream Phone looked.

I would snuggle Paul so hard.
...I look gay...I could be a Dream Phone boy.

So I decided to make a cardboard cutout of one of the cards, throw on some late 80's/early 90's clothes, and call it a costume. AND I could blog about my original, last minute, inexpensive, DIY costume!

I severely underestimated how much time and money this would end up costing me. DIY is only easy and inexpensive if you already have all of the stuff.

So I scoured the thrift stores and craft shops for supplies and finally got to work four days before Halloween. I started out by spray painting a piece of foam board hot pink. I briefly considered trying to do it in my kitchen (like when I used acrylic sealant indoors the last time I crafted), but figured  there was no way I would keep the pink contained, so I did it in the super sketchy area underneath my apartment stairs.

I left it to dry for a day, and then cut out the portrait area of the card. Cutting a straight line ended up being WAY harder than I anticipated, so to draw attention away from my goof (and to give it a little something extra), I added a border of glitter around the outside. I used painters tape to ensure that my lines were even, applied a layer of Mod Podge and then glitter, and left it to dry (for about an hour or so) before peeling off the tape. 

Next I turned my attention to the logo. I'm far too anal retentive to just trace any old letters on the foam board; it had to be the actual logo. I ended up finding it on the internet, zooming in to the size I wanted it to be, and tracing it onto notebook paper from my computer screen. I then cut those letters out and traced them on to colored tag board. 

It was super tedious and awful, so I left the rest of the work for the next day. 

After getting all the lettering cut out, I brushed on a layer of Mod Podge and added glitter. While the letters dried I cut out two more pieces of tagboard to serve as the border for the logo. I added another layer of glitter around the edges of the outer piece, and then glued the letters into place.

Once I finished the logo, I said f#%! it, and went to bed, meaning I had to finish the rest on Halloween day before going out to the bar. 

I finished it up by repeating the tracing, stenciling, and glittering process on the letters for my name and phone number. After everything was glued in place, I did a few coats of clear acrylic sealant to hold the glitter in place, and give the whole thing a bit of a glossy appearance.

Winking? Drunk eyes? Don't know, don't care.
I didn't decide until last minute if I was going to use my real phone number or not. It wasn't until I called my sister to ask for advice and she asked, "Seriously? Why would you use your real number, are you trying to get a date out of it or something?" 

Well...I'm certainly not trying to not get a date. Real phone number it is!

I finished in just enough time to get changed and get ready for people to meet at my apartment to have a few drinks before we went out. 

I'm just about the worst possible host. It never occurs to me that I should have things like snacks, or drinks, or toilet paper for my guests until they are already here. 

I pretty much drink like a hobo, and I mix with whatever I have in the fridge...seriously, one time I mixed mandarin orange juice and vodka and pretended that Mandarin Orange Martinis were a thing that normal people drink. At the time I was planning on shooting vodka straight and chasing it with water. Luckily I stumbled upon the bottle of Crystal Light I'd used a few weeks ago to try to make beer drinkable, and I could throw together a cocktail using lukewarm tap water and vodka.

"I don't have any ice, but you can chip some frost out of the freezer if you'd like?"

We'd planned on going out to karaoke on Halloween night, but we also wanted to take advantage of 2 for 1 drinks at The Underground before we went down. That's when I realized just how obnoxious my costume was. I really didn't account for how super annoying it would be trying to negotiate a crowd with a 3' x 5' piece of foamboard. Not only was it super hard to get around, but I kept getting stopped and asked to hold it up only to receive blank stares and confused questions. That's when I made another realization...

Dream Phone came out in 1991. 21 year olds were born in 1992.

F#%! this place, I'm out.

I got another chance to trot my costume out at my friend's Halloween party that Saturday. As I was getting ready, I noticed that sometime Thursday night the wind jacket had developed a red stain on the front (which is odd since my drink is clear). I briefly considered wearing a different costume, but then I remembered that I don't have anything to prove, threw on my slap bracelet, and headed out.

Now this was a crowd that could appreciate my costume, and by that I mean they were old enough to have voted in the 2004 Presidential Election. I set the cutout to the side while I grabbed a drink and mingled. While I left the cutout unattended there was apparently an entire photo shoot with Ursula the Sea Witch, The Predator, and Jesus Riding a Dinosaur all as Dream Phone Boys. It's been hilarious seeing the photos pop up on my newsfeed, but has caused a bit of concern over the number of people on the internet that now have my phone number (apparently not enough concern for me to edit it out of the picture posted above). 

I've decided to just start answering all unknown numbers by saying, "He looks good in whatever he wears, but he doesn't have the money to pay for whatever bill you're calling him about right now!"

The night, and the 2013 Halloween season, ended, as every night that begins with me chasing allergy medication with vodka does, with me talking a straight boy into taking his shirt off (not being hyperbolic, this is literally how this scenario always plays out). 

Sorry 'bout it.