Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tall Corn Days

Every year, at the end of July, comes the most wonderful event. An event that brings hoardes of us back to our hometown of Sioux Rapids, Iowa to gather for drinking, good food, drinking, reunions with old friends and family, drinking, and a celebration of the tallness of corn...and drinking.

Tall Corn Days (or TCD in the VOB as it is known by the locals)

I'm not sure that anyone who isn't from a small town can understand a celebration like this. I've gotten a number of odd stares from friends who have come from a metropolitan area when I say the words Tall Corn Days to them.
"So...everyone just gets together and talks about corn?"
" mean, there's the sweet corn feed...and I guess the tall corn contest, and I guess we did have the corn costume that one time but...well, shut up! It's f#%!ing awesome!"
While it's a cherished weekend every year, this year brought it to a whole new level. Not only did I have a reunion with my best friends from high school to look forward to, but very close to the entirety of my father's side of the family would be in town (the people I credit entirely with learning my snark). It's also the time of year that my mother decides to take all kinds of shots at my already fragile ego.

The first blow came about a month before TCD when I called to let her know I'd be coming home on Friday and going home on Tuesday. I'd only been home for one weekend since Christmas, so my assumption was that she would be thrilled to have me home for an extended amount of time. The reality was the following conversation:
"So my plan is to get home around 7:30 on Friday night, and I'll be able to stay all the way through Tuesday!"
"Well...did you get a hotel room or something?"
"...uhh...a hotel room? I kind of just figured I'd stay in my room."
"Well...I've already given your bedroom to someone else, Chris."
"Seriously? Well can I sleep on the couch or something?"
"Chris, there are going to be people walking through the living room all about the porch?" 
Luckily, she called me a week later with a genius plan. I would be sleeping in the yard.

This wasn't even the only time this year that she made an attack on my psyche. You would think that after 27 years she'd be a bit more knowledgeable about dealing with an anxiety ridden gay son, but she still sends me spiraling from time to time (completely unintentionally...I hope). For instance, all of my friends know that if I come to them asking how an outfit looks and if they honestly think my shirt looks too tight, what I really need from them is to lie through their teeth because I've just spent an hour looking at myself in the mirror and I'm only asking because I feel like I look good, and I need to be reassured that I'm pretty.

When I asked my mother, she hesitated. She hesitated! I of course stormed out of the house (because, again, I was living out in the yard) and immediately changed my shirt. I put on a tried and true shirt that I always feel great in. I wasn't even going to ask her opinion this time, but when I told her I was leaving she interjected before I could leave, "You changed your shirt. This one looks tighter than the last. Have fun!" With an impressive show of strength and self confidence, I got in the car and left without even considering changing my shirt.

Then I turned around after about five minutes to grab a sweatshirt to thrown on over top and did this whenever someone tried to take my picture.

I'm not even going to discuss the time that she took a picture (with flash!) of the spot in the back of my head where my hair is thinning and showed it to me.

After getting over the trauma of speaking to my mother (mostly just getting really, really drunk), I ended up having an amazing night at the party in the park. I was thrilled to see so many people that I hadn't seen in years, and super thrilled when so many of them told me that they were regular readers of this very blog! 

Here's the deal with me and compliments: I love them, but I'm terrible at receiving them. I try super hard to be gracious and polite, but usually just end up being self deprecating beyond all reason.
"Chris, I just have to tell you, I love your blog!"
"Oh! Thank you so much for reading. It's so nice to hear that people are enjoying it. Seriously, I basically have no marketable skills, so I need to get internet famous if I have any hope of not dying penniless and alone!"
" it was good seeing you..."
That is, until I get drunk. At that point I know how awesome I am, and am just really excited that everyone else gets to enjoy it as well.
"Chris, I just have to tell you, I love your blog!"
"Oh! Thank you so much for reading. It's so nice to hear that people are enjoying it. It's getting pretty popular, everyone really loves it. How cool is it going to be when I'm internet famous and you can say you knew me when?!"
" it was good seeing you..."
"What's the funniest thing you think I've ever said?" 
Gurl, you write about your life on the internet. Calm your pits.

Another side effect of me getting drunk is a complete loss of control over my obviously gay traits. Now I'm not saying I try to pass myself off as straight when I'm home (honey, I haven't been able to hide my fabulosity since I was 12), and I don't want to insinuate that I have any real fear of an attack if I sashay into the bar with purple glitter nail polish on. But when in a small town with a bunch of drunk people, I'd rather not invite trouble.

So upon seeing a cute boy with a mohawk and a novelty t-shirt, sober Chris would have maybe given a smile and kept walking. Drunk Chris handled the situation a bit differently and marched right up to him, tapped him on the shoulder, leaned in close enough that I might as well have started nibbling his earlobe and said, "Sweetie, I'm f#%!ing living for your hair! So. Cute." He turned to me with wide eyes and said, "Dude, are you gay?"

I of course took this to mean that he was interested and immediately envisioned our entire future together. I pictured the Christmas card photo we'd take with our teacup Yorkie (a rescue of course) named Louis Phillipe. We'd style the dog's hair into a matching mohawk and I'd be looking at the camera with an "Oh you silly boys!" look on my face. The bottom would read, "Happy Holidays from Chris, Mo, and Louis Hawk-Roberts" I responded with an emphatic, "YES, I AM gay!" and he replied, "Well sit down!! Can you help me learn how to talk to girls?!"

I suppose it was better than being punched in the face, but I seriously did not have time to be this fool's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, so I peaced out.

Sunday's hangover wasn't a fun one, and it was made less fun by the knowledge that our house was soon to be the location of a family reunion of epic proportions. Now, I come from huge family. My father has 8 siblings, and my mother has 9. Add in spouses, cousins, second cousins, significant others, distant relatives whose names I don't even know, (so on and so forth) and it makes for some seriously crowded gatherings. I thought I was ready for it, but nothing can really prepare you for a hoarde of over 50 Robertses in your backyard wearing identical bright red shirts. The belching alone (from the ladies of the family) is enough to send the weak of heart running for the door.

The whole thing was a bit overwhelming (in fact I spent most of the day just walking around saying, "This is all so overwhelming..."), but it really was amazing to see everyone. Some of my relatives hadn't been back to Iowa in 13 years, and a lot of their children I was meeting for the first time. My cousin Tara's daughter, Desi, was one of these children. I never actually spoke to Desi (mostly because I was a little afraid), but she quickly became my favorite person at the reunion. 

Desi is a gorgeous little blonde child who showed up to the reunion and stole everyone's heart with her perfect angelic blonde pigtails hanging on either side of her adorable face. The look makes you want to go up and pinch her in her little cheeks...until she turns her icy gaze on you. I have never met a child with more sass than this little girl. From the first minute you could tell that she was over. it. She was not about to fall for the old, "Don't you smile...DON'T YOU SMILE!" trick, and her screams brought the reunion to a screeching halt when Uncle Mike had the gall to try to play chase her. I was ob.sessed. 

She just can't with this group photo right now
By Tuesday I was ready to go home. The cooler that was filled with beer when I arrived was now filled with leftovers. The dirty laundry I brought home for my parents to do was clean. I had a new bag of books from the library's book sale, and I had a fresh crop of new anecdotes to share.

As exhausting as the weekend was though, I can't help but think...

Only 52 more weeks until TCD in the VOB 2014.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Facing My Fear: Sleepwalkers

My love affair with horror moves began at a young age. As kids my friend Beth and I would hunker down side by side in my dad's over-sized armchair and watch films meant for adults more than twice our age. We'd convince our parents to rent them from Coast to Coast and then shoo them from the room while we scared the bejeezus out of ourselves (I'm suddenly a bit concerned about the lack of supervision in my childhood). This has continued well into our adult lives. The only thing I love more than watching a scary movie, is watching a scary move with Beth. The shittier and more ridiculous, the better (seriously, I watched Ticked of Trannies with Knives not too long ago, Netflix it).

I've developed a pretty thick skin, even as a child. There weren't that many movies that scared me, but when there was one that did scare me, it scared the shit out of me. I decided this week to revisit one such movie.

Sleepwalkers, the 1992 movie based on the Stephen King book of the same name, brought about some of the worst nightmares of my childhood. I remember watching it on multiple occasions and having to deal with the ramifications of it for weeks every time. I bought the DVD in high school (because it was only $5, and apparently that's a good enough reason for me), but I had never so much as opened the case for fear of the damage it could cause to my already fragile psyche.

It was time to unpack the trauma this movie caused me in my childhood.

I honestly didn't really even remember much about he movie itself. I only knew that it was about cat/human hybrids whose faces alone scared the shit out of me.

I can't even.
Funny side note, while Brian Krause was striking fear in my heart, he caught the fancy of Beth and my younger sisters. They crushed on him so hard that they wrote him fan letters (that he was far too famous to respond to).

I poured myself a glass of wine, opened a bag of Twizzlers, turned off the lights, and started the movie.

**Spoiler Alert**
(don't worry though, it's not even worth watching)

The opening credits explain that a sleepwalker is a shapeshifting energy vampire that can turn into a partial or full on were-cat. They feed off the life force of virgins. Their only weakness is cats, whose scratch can kill them. 

I'm not sure if I'm totally comfortable with cats being responsible for my protection.

Cats are dicks.

We're introduced to a shirtless, hairless Brian Krause (playing Charles Brady) as he's staring at a girl he's drawn a heart around in his yearbook (he's supposed to be new in town so I'm not sure how he procured and vandalized a yearbook already). Oh, and he's carving her initials into his arm (why can't he just masturbate like a normal person?!). I fixated more on the smooth chest than I think the director intended , but seriously, he's supposed to be half cat and he has zero body hair?!

They follow up this creepiness with a whopping dose of incest as Charles goes downstairs to dance with and then make out with his mother. Mom gets totes jeals while Charles tells her about the picture in the yearbook that he's in love with, but she seems to be pacified when he tells her that she's a "good girl." I assume this means that this bitch is the virgin that they're going to suck the life out of.

We then meet Tanya, the girl of our creepy main character's dreams. Turns out she's played by the same actress who plays Dawson's dad's awful girlfriend who crushes Dawson's film-making dreams...I officially don't care if this wench dies (also she does a super slutty dance with her walkman and a broom, dressed like an extra from an early Britney Spears music video, that makes me think maybe she's not such as "good girl"). 

Charles charms the pants off of everyone in school except for the chubby English teacher who is pretty sure something is up and isn't afraid to try and blackmail a 17 year old boy to get to the bottom of it. 

He gets his hand ripped off and then eaten...which he kinda had coming.
Tanya agrees to go on a date with a graveyard, and when Charles picks her up in his blue Trans Am he opens the door for her and then jumps in without opening his door. Had I been Tanya I would have immediately banged him after such a sexy show of masculinity. Not only would losing her v-card save her life, but losing it to the new boy in a Trans Am would have given her a killer "how I lost my virginity" story to tell over cosmos (wait, this was the 90's...Zimas with Jolly Ranchers) with her girlfriends.

At this point I was about three glasses (big 'ole glasses) of wine in and starting to get a little jealous of the date in the cemetery (I've always had a weird love for cemeteries). I mean sure, the guy was an evil cat vampire, but I'm starting to think I need to stop being so picky. I started searching for pictures of Brian Krause with chest hair on my phone and kind of lost track of the movie. The only thing I remember about this middle part of movie is the introduction of Clovis the Police Cat who sees right through all of Charles's bullshit.

The cemetery date didn't go super well I guess, cause the next thing I knew Charles is laying on the couch dying ('cause Clovis is a f#%!ing badass) and Tanya is taking a long bath while her parents are being murdered downstairs by Charles's mother.

Mom kills a bunch of people, including a police officer...with an ear of corn (I'm officially calling bullshit on this entire movie).

She drags Tanya by the hair (is that really the most effective way to drag a person, I feel like it'd be easier to use the leg or something) back to her dying son's (lover's) deathbed where she uses her sleepwalker magic to reanimate him so he could dance with Tanya. I'm sure it was meant to be terrifying, but I was back to thinking how romantic dancing with a boy to Sleepwalk by Santo and Johnny Farina would be.

Lucky Clovis has organized all of the town's cats to put an end to these shenanigans. They take down the evil bitch and dance around her flaming body. Clovis and Tanya apparently live happily ever after (except her whole family is dead, she doesn't have a boyfriend, and she's still a virgin). 

I was really, truly expecting to be scared of this movie.

So, I guess I overcame that. Good on me.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Grown Up Day

A few weeks ago I looked back at my progress since starting this blog. You may remember that I'd grown a bit stagnate in my journey. I fell back into the same traps that I always do, namely, procrastination. I am the king of putting off shit that I don't want to do. I'm brilliant at convincing myself to hit the snooze button and stay in bed (I think my record is 4.5 hours of hitting it every nine minutes). There is a bag in the corner of my bedroom that is full of Christmas stocking stuffers that I really just can. not. be bothered to find a place for. I found a magazine in the back of my car from 2008 that should have been removed at some point while cleaning it out.

I don't claim to have a monopoly on procrastination. I know it's something everyone struggles with, but couple it with my extreme forgetfulness, and we've got a problem. 

My apartment was really getting out of control because of this forgetfulness. Not only did it need a good cleaning, but there were all kinds of little jobs that would take a second to complete that I'd been putting off for weeks.

So decided that a jump start is exactly what I needed. A full day of being a grown up! I was going to clean, organize, go grocery shopping, do my laundry, cook, and do all of the little odd jobs I'd been putting off.

Spoiler alert: I didn't do all of these things.

In retrospect, it was a little silly of me to expect that I'd be cool with waking up at 8 am to start cleaning. I'd been up half the night laughing at gifs from Don't Trust the B in Apt 23 and The New Normal. And I mean, it is my day off after all, I deserve a break every now and then (Morning Chris wasn't remembering the two day vacation to the cities I'd just taken). I hit the snooze for a few hours, caught up on my Facebooking, contemplated my outfit for the day, looked at my junior year High School yearbook, took about 73 selfies trying to show off my ridiculous bed head while still remaining adorable (a total failure), and then got up to shower and start my day.

I was out the door by noon to get some cleaning supplies and the groceries I needed. As per usual, it took me four stops to get everything I needed because I refuse to just make a damn list. Trying to be financially responsible, I made my first ever stop at Aldi. I hated it. It was crowded with mostly old people who were not walking as fast as I was. I'll pay the extra $5 for a regular grocery store, thank you very much. After about an hour (and a stop at Shopko, HyVee, and Cub) I was home and ready to get started.

Before I could do anything else I needed to get prepared for the tasks at hand. I took my pants off immediately, they would just get in the way. I put on an old USF Softball shirt, and donned a bandanna...cleanin' clothes.

Every time I put on a bandanna I feel like I'm serving up Sons of Anarchy, motorcycle gang realness. In reality, though, I'm pretty sure I just look like a less muscular Rosie the Riveter.

My first order of business was replacing light bulbs. Yes, that is a plural "bulbs." There were four that needed to be replaced. I'd been living in near darkness for weeks, sharing the same bulb for two different rooms, moving it around wearing an oven mitt (not even the first time I've done this). I also took the chance to put batteries in both the carbon monoxide detector (that I'd removed months ago to put in my DVD remote) and the bathroom clock (that had been dead for well over two years).

Shielding my eyes from the harsh glare of 4 new 60 watt bulbs, I started cleaning.

The bathroom really needed the most attention. I'd been putting off cleaning in there for awhile, and it was starting to look like a frat house (if a frat house had a sink coated in hairspray and glitter). Part of the reason I put off getting stuff like this done is that when I clean, I f#%!ing clean. I'm talking on my hands and knees, scrubbing the baseboards with a toothbrush. It took me three and a half hours to get it done to my liking, and now I can't stop running my hand over the clean white sink (I apparently forgot what it felt like without the hairspray crust).

I moved onto the kitchen next. The oven needed to be tackled after the last time I cooked, a task I hadn't completed in probably three years (and by probably three years, I mean most assuredly at least three years).

You guys, cleaning ovens is disgusting. I'm pretty sure I sprayed way too much cleaner, and I'm definitely sure I inhaled too much cleaner. The burnt remains of three years of cooking came off in a horrific black liquid that ran down my arms, dripped all over the floor, and threatened to stain my beautiful, beautiful fingernails forever. It took me about twenty minutes of serious scrubbing (and another ten to clean off the various black fingerprints I'd left around the kitchen). I did the dishes, swept, and took out all the trash.

Now, I was only done with two rooms, but I was f#%!ing over it, and decided to skip ahead to phase two: dirtying up the kitchen again.

You may remember my previous goal of preparing a week's worth of healthy meals on Sunday and keeping them in the fridge so I wouldn't have to figure it out last minute (and end up eating out 5 days a week). I decided it was high time to actually put this plan into practice, and found a fairly simple recipe that I wanted to try.

My friend Beth bought me a cookbook full of 4 ingredient recipes, and the one for Lemonade Chicken jumped out at me. It was super simple. 1 can frozen lemonade (thawed), a half a cup of soy sauce, a teaspoon of garlic powder, and six chicken breasts. Combine the ingredients, pour over chicken in 9" x 13" baking pan, cook covered at 350, uncover, pour liquid over chicken breasts again, and cook for 10 minutes uncovered.

It was delicious. I put each breast, along with a serving of vegetables, into a tuperware container for me to reheat for supper the rest of the week. I bought bananas for breakfast each morning and grapes (which I separated into five baggies) for lunch at work (I know, not a real lunch, but I usually just skip lunch, so it's better than nothing). I also got a box of Wheat Thins (also separated out into five portions) to take to work for a snack in the afternoon. Theoretically, I wouldn't have to spend any  money on food for the rest of the week!

I didn't get the rest of my apartment clean, and I didn't do any laundry, but I feel pretty damn great about my progress! With the apartment returned to a (semi) clean state, only minimal upkeep should be needed to keep it that way. I also felt good about my new money saving/healthy eating plan.

So good, in fact, that I rewarded myself with a box of cookies.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

In the Kitchen With Chris: Splurge Day

Last week I shared with you the story of my favorite weekend of the year, but what we didn't get into was the icing on the Pride cake...Splurge Day!

I've talked about this glorious day before, but in case you're not obsessively reading and committing every entry to memory (What, don't you love me anymore?), Splurge Day happens the Sunday of Pride when I get home and no longer care about fitting into my clothes. It ranks pretty high on the list of favorite Pride moments (mostly because it's the first time in a month that I'm not feeling just a little hungry). I usually just end up ordering a pizza and buying ice cream, dimming the lights, and pigging out in my underwear while watching Dawson's Creek (it's insane that I'm single, right?), but this year I'm a grown up who makes his own food, and I found a recipe that just screamed, "I've given up."

Grilled Cheese Pull-Apart Rolls
That's cheese, wrapped in bread, and pre-separated into convenient, easy to hold portions. I'd been eyeing it for weeks, but the carbs, the cheese, and the butter scared me off. But not on Splurge Day! I don't give a f#%! on Splurge Day!

I only needed three ingredients, so the shopping went much better than the last time I decided to make something. I ran to the grocery store to pick up 2 containers of biscuit dough, Velveeta, and butter. The recipe called for two different sizes of biscuits (to add variety), and I had a bit of a panic attack at the cooler while I tried to figure out which were the right ones. After five minutes of second guessing and holding different tubes up to the picture on my phone to see if they were right, I threw my hands up and just bought two of the Pillsbury Grands flaky layers.

Upon getting home I remembered that I hadn't cleaned the kitchen in...quite awhile. I believe my exact thoughts as I left for Pride with the counter still littered with the remains of making tacos (also a disaster) were, "Weelllll...this looks like a problem for 'Future Chris'."

"Past Chris" is a dick.

The kitchen was developing a bit of a smell too, and I was pretty sure it had to do with one of the dishes on the counter. I just couldn't pin point which one. The obvious and grown up solution to this problem is just to do the damn dishes, but I had shit to do. So instead, I did just enough of them for the smell to disappear, piled the rest of them neatly next to the sink for "Future Chris" to clean (he's gonna be super grateful that they're so well organized), and then I got on with my cooking.

I melted down 1/4 cup of butter and poured it into the bottom of a cake pan. Then I cut the Velveeta into  one inch cubes to be wrapped in biscuit dough.

I'm not sure that I've ever had to open a tube of biscuits. I enjoy watching other people freak out when it pops open, but I'd never experienced it for myself. I did my best to play it cool while pressing the spoon against the seam and waiting for the explosion, but I don't handle that kind of anticipation and anxiety well. I still have moments of panic when thinking back to playing Perfection as a child (was that game honestly fun for anyone?). It was way harder than I thought (possibly because I have the upper body strength of a kitten), but I managed to get them open without wetting my pants. Win.

After jamming all of the cheese stuffed biscuits into the pan, I poured another 1/4 cup of butter on top. There was so much butter on these bitches that it was literally pooling on top. At this point I've never been more excited to eat anything in my entire life. I mean, just look at these pictures I was being tempted with!

It's these pictures that I'm blaming for missing what I have now come to realize is a key part of the instructions.
Place your pan onto a larger baking sheet to protect your oven from any spill-overs as they puff me...Grr!
Five or ten minutes after putting the pan in the oven, while I was straightening up (Facebooking on my phone), I started to hear sizzling noises. I opened up the oven door and was met with a face full of smoke. All of the delicious butter that was pooled on top had started spilling over as the dough puffed up. There was a lot of butter burning on the bottom of my oven, and it wasn't getting any better.

As I do in most stressful situations, I decided to just ignore the problem and let it correct itself. I figured it would burn through all of the butter at some point, right? After 12 minutes the instructions said to pull them out and cover with aluminum foil and then return to the oven for another 15 minutes. Not only was the bottom of the oven covered in butter at this point, but the sides of the pan also had butter pooling on top of them, and pulling it out caused me to spill all of this excess all over the door.

As I returned it into the oven I reasoned that the aluminum foil would stop any further runoff, but the damage had been done. Smoke was literally pouring out and into my tiny apartment. A reasonable person probably would have given up and called this experiment a failure, but there was cheese filled bread in that oven, you guys, and I didn't have a back up plan. So I decided to soldier on.

My first move was to remove the batteries from the smoke detector (I was going rouge). I wasn't really sure if butter smoke would cause levels of carbon monoxide that would set that detector off (because I don't know how science works), but I remembered taking the batteries out of that months ago when I needed them for the DVD remote. I opened up all of my windows, turned the fans on, and waited.

After the fifteen minute timer went off, I pulled them out in another cloud of smoke. They were nowhere near done. The comments on the recipe said I may need to put them back in to firm up the rolls in the middle. I briefly considered eating cheesy biscuit dough with a fork before putting them back in to cook for another ten minutes. I'd already come this far. I was past the point of no return.

I did this about three more times (an additional 25 minutes of time added) before I decided they were done. They may not have actually been done, but I was getting a little light headed and headache-y so I figured for my own safety it was time to get that oven turned off.

They weren't very good.

I'm not trying to poo poo all over this recipe. I'm sure that it's great! My easy bake oven and mediocre (at best) culinary skills just weren't able to pull it off. The bottom was way too hard (probably because I baked it for what felt like 3 1/2 days), the cheese wasn't nearly as melty as I'd hoped, and it really held onto that smokey flavor. I'm considering this adventure a failure. I encourage everyone else to try and let me know how it goes (and then bring me some). Check out the recipe here.

I ended up ordering a pizza, buying ice cream, watching Dawson's Creek in my underwear, and falling asleep on the couch at six in the evening.

That, or I asphyxiated from the smoke.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Pride: Give me Glittery or Give me Death

Well, another Gay Pride weekend is in the books (my 6th now). It would seem that I'm finally getting the hang of how to do Pride without overdoing it, or it's possible that I'm actually growing up without even realizing it. I drank responsibly (and by responsibly I mean I got "Classy" drunk, not "Klassy," or heaven forbid "Quassy"), I went back to the hotel at a reasonable time, I stayed hydrated, I wore sunscreen (it was only 15 SPF, but still), and I didn't get drunk and throw a single shit fit (honestly, a big step for me).

That's not to say that the weekend was a boring one. Quite the opposite. I had one of the funniest (and most embarrassing) reality checks ever. I set personal goals for my nights (and completed them), and I experienced the most terrifying three seconds of my adult life.

Do you remember the photo of all of my Pride outfits all picked out and lined up on my couch? The crown jewel of these outfits was my new favorite pink shorts. Not only did they go beautifully with my favorite purple shirt, but they were two sizes smaller than I normally wear. I spotted them at JC Penney a few weeks ago, and I was so downtrodden when they did not have my size. I decided to try out the smaller ones just in case and was thrilled when they fit.

I feel like I really need to stress that point. These shorts did fit. I tried them on multiple times. I mean, they were a bit snug, but they weren't uncomfortable. So when the night arrived that I was going to be wearing them I was feeling a little bit smug and full of myself. A few of us were getting ready in the bedroom of our hotel suite, and I may have danced around the room singing about how skinny I felt. The singing and dancing stopped abruptly when the button flew off my shorts and across the room so hard that I wouldn't be surprised if it left a dent on the wall.

My first reaction was to pretend I'd changed my mind and decided to wear jeans instead. But I had been singing and dancing about these shorts, you guys! My friends aren't idiots. I quickly weighed my options. Stay in the hotel room crying and eating ice cream the rest of the night? Class action lawsuit against the JC Penney corporation (I can't be alone)? MacGyver them closed with safety pins, tape, and prayer (it worked with my sandals!)? I ended up just owning the shame of the situation and we all had a good my expense.

I'm pretty positive it was a faulty button though.

The jeans I had as a backup ended up working out perfectly, and I was feeling pretty damn adorable when we went out to Lollipop (the official Pride party) on Saturday night. The party was way more fun than I'd expected it to be. We saw RuPaul's Drag Race Season 3 runner up, Manila Luzon, perform, the music was fantastic, and we stole approximately 50 plastic wrist bands from the floor (I still don't really understand why).

Before going out I told myself that I needed to make myself appear more approachable. When I go out I tend to stick with the group pretty exclusively, and anytime I'm standing by myself, I've got my eyes glued to the phone. That night I took my time getting drinks to give myself time away from the pack. I made sure to leave my phone in my pocket (except when taking 4,000 blurry photos of Manila), and I tried to remember back to my Non-Verbal Communications class and not send out any cues that made me seem unapproachable or rude (not an easy task due to my bitchy resting face).

I also made it my goal to introduce myself to at least one guy that I thought was cute. I spotted my target pretty much immediately. He was adorable, tall, and kinda beefy (just how I like 'em). After some light stalking (just like an hour of discretely tailing him), I worked up the nerve to talk to him. I walked up and said, "I promised myself tonight that if I saw a guy I thought was cute, I would grow some balls and introduce myself. So hi, I'm Chris." He laughed and said his name was Nick...or Nate...or maybe Neil. I'm really not sure.

The music was pretty loud, and I hadn't really planned for what to do after I introduced myself. We had what little conversation we could manage between songs and did a little awkward dancing before he said he would be right back and I didn't see him again (I wasn't really offended as the conversation clearly wasn't going anywhere). He spotted me later in the night and waved across the dance floor, but at that point we were all getting ready to go.

I felt great about how the night went, which was good, because after the festival earlier in the day I really needed a win...

I have a love hate relationship with the festival. I love the used book tent. I hate everything else. It mostly just stems from my loathing for walking behind people who aren't walking as quickly as I am. I'm usually only good for about an hour before I start to get grouchy and heat stroke-y. It was this need to get out of the crowd that made me most want to take advantage of the free HIV testing provided (and the waiting area set aside from the meandering masses).

It's not the only reason I did it. I think every responsible adult should be tested regularly and know their status. I hadn't engaged in any high risk behaviors, so I didn't really have anything to worry about, but when it's offered for free (and in the shade), why not take advantage? So a friend and I went in, got our fingers pricked, and were sent to wait for 15 minutes for our results.

There is a small amount of nerves that are inescapable while waiting for these kind of results. I knew that I wasn't truly at risk, but I started inventing an insane scenario in my mind in which me and another person have papercuts in exact corresponding places on our hands. I mean I've shaken tons of hands in the last year, and papercuts are insanely common. It's crazy to think that I haven't come into contact with someone else's blood.

I talked myself down by the time I got pulled back to get my results. I clocked the Kleenex box on the table and thought about how horrible it would be to find out you have HIV at a Pride festival. The results guy opened the folder, looked it over, closed it, looked me straight in the eye and said, "I'm so sorry..."

My heart immediately started pounding, my hands were shaking, and my eyes opened wide in terror. There was a full three seconds of me in a complete and total panic while I tried to wrap my head around what was happening before he looked back up, saw my face, and said, "Oh...OH! I'm sorry, I grabbed the wrong folder!" I let out the breath I had been holding and said, "! SERIOUSLY?!" as he got up and rushed to get the correct folder.

He came back and was super apologetic about how unprofessionally he'd behaved, and I could see that he was shaken by the incident as well. He told me I was negative and apologized again. I told him it was no problem, but assured him I'd be sharing this anecdote with everyone I knew.

As we got up to leave, we shook hands, and he walked behind me to go get the next person. Just as I made it through the door of the tent, he stepped on the back of my sandal and my foot ripped through it. I looked back at him, and I honestly thought he was going to cry. I assured him it was no big deal and got my ass out of that tent before he tried to ruin my life any further.

As we left, I spotted the only reason I wanted to be there to begin with. I turned to my friend and said, "I'm gonna go spend some time with the books." and walked ahead with my head held high and my sandal dangling behind.

Foam Party!

The only festival picture before my phone died
I'm literally the worst person to share a hotel room with.


Emptying our pockets at the end of the night

The Dykes on Bikes for some reason bring me to tears every year.

Grand Marshall Chris Kluwe

Gay Men's dream.

Hell's Kitchen had my favorite entry.

I planned to keep this entry brief, and it's turned into one of my longest yet. I also know the rule for internet writing is to keep it short and sweet when possible or people aren't going to read, but I would feel remiss if I didn't take a moment to get a little serious and talk about how moving and important these Pride festivals are.

Growing up gay in a small town for me was a very lonely experience. I've always known exactly who I was. I never felt like there was something wrong with me or like I wanted to change, and I knew that there were people who would take issue with it, but that was their problem and not mine. I feel so blessed to have grown up with family and friends who didn't teach me to hate anyone, especially myself. But with that confidence came a longing for community, other people who really knew what I was dealing with.

Pride is a reminder every year that we're not alone in our struggles. It's a celebration of our ability to be whoever the f#%! it is that we want to be. It's an expression of gratitude to those who fought oppression, inequality, and hatred, sometimes even giving their lives, so that I can put on glittery pink nail polish and be fabulous, fierce, and absolutely fearless. Pride is proof that the times are changing, and everyone needs to get on the right side of history, because we won't sit quietly in our closets any longer.

And it's one helluva party.