For you, Aaron

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At first, I hated that everyone was posting tributes to you on Facebook. It hurt me to open up my app, needing that quick dopamine hit of a Like on a picture, and instead seeing your smiling face with friends who miss you.

Then several people, including your mom, mentioned how they found comfort in reading those posts. They show what an impact you had on so many lives.

I guess I had to let myself begin to process your death before I could resume enjoying your life. So, here goes, friend. My tribute to you.

You were the off-key bass-line to my college and post-college experience. You filled out the song of my life, bringing harmonies and eccentricities I never could have imagined without you.

Our story, like your story with many people, begins on a hot Kirksville summer night with too much booze and just enough college listlessness. There were video games, and records, and Chinese symbols… but I was intimidated to hang out with you at first because you were SO COOL. I mean… Earthbound tattoos up your leg? How many people (outside of Japan) even know that game exists? So I don’t think we talked much that first night, but I did lay on your lawn and look at the stars for awhile.

After I came back from Spain, our friendship intensified over nights of Drabble and DRisk and DR-Clue and you ALWAYS kicking everyone’s asses no matter the game. When Sarah left for Arkansas and I found myself profoundly alone, you took me home and let me watch hours of Wonderfalls with you while I ate your shells and cheese (with hot sauce, of course).

You always made sure I knew that I had a place to feel loved and just be. You were there for me, especially when I battled my own bouts of depression through the years. If I felt sad, or mad, or joyful, or whatever, I’d come over. Then I’d request “Uncontrollable Urge” by DEVO. You’d set the needle on the vinyl and then we’d bounce around swishing our glorious heads of hair, screaming “Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah YEAH YEAH!”

One time when you, Kelsey M., and I played Mario Party Pirate Island, I was losing THE WHOLE GAME… until the end when Toad awards the “nice try” star. The star tipped me into VICTORY. YOU WERE PISSED. I laughed so hard, gloated so hard, and took another sip of Bud Light, I’m sure.

I remember when you ran late for your Senior Seminar presentation and Dr. Betsy sent me to fetch you from your apartment (we both thought you had overslept! TYPICAL). I ran (kind of) down High Street from the Student Union… only to find that somehow we’d crossed paths and you WERE at your presentation already. You delivered an incredible paper about Japanese folktales (that you pulled together in basically three days. TYPICAL).

One summer, I asked you to teach me how to bind a book. You patiently tried to guide me through the steps, but I got as far as cutting the pages before I gave up because I have the craft skills of an untrained chimpanzee. You and Sarah made fun of me for that (also TYPICAL).

After I graduated, I moved to KC for work and you followed me soon after. You just couldn’t stand being away from me (kidding!). You would always tell me how much better St. Louis was than Kansas City because Kansas City was built on a grid system and didn’t have the winding-street character of St. Louis. Such an arbitrary reason that I never understood, but accepted as you. I could never convince you to experience the KC I know and love, but that’s ok. You’re back in St. Louis now.

Anyway, in KC, we basically resumed our college antics of drinking, playing games, and listening to high-quality music together. I loved every time you’d pull me up from a chair, leading me in a tilting off-beat dance step while singing along to some song from the Buffy musical episode.

We never agreed on which Decemberists album is the best. I maintain Crane Wife, while you always said Picaresque or Castaways and Cutouts. How many times you dashed into your living room, put on Picaresque, and surprised me with the ridiculously quirky intro horn sounds of “The Infanta.”

I think you’re also to blame for half of my cheese habit and ANY of the times I ate Domino’s. Because, Ew. But for you, I ate it. With ranch, naturally.

Last summer and fall, you tried really hard to get me into Magic and would get frustrated with me when I wanted to leave before the game was over (at like 1:30 a.m. on a Tuesday/Wednesday night, mind you, and I had to be at work by 8:30 that same day). Hate to tell you, I still don’t understand Magic. I BOUGHT CARDS. AND I TRY. But I prefer Sentinels of the Multiverse, as you know.

You also hated when anyone would quit Risk before you had destroyed us– even when we could ALL tell you would take over the world. It would always get down to you and one other person… unless we all ganged up on you to take you out early. In the opening round, you invariably set your little troop dudes on Oceania and decimated anyone who tried to invade through Indonesia. Then you’d quietly build your army of troops, infantry men, and cannons, and soon you were threatening MY MEN. ACROSS THE WORLD IN BRAZIL.

As your health declined, you began to fold 1000 origami paper cranes, because the practice is said to grant you a wish. You folded a lot. They cover your table still. You got so good at it, I’d watch you complete them in around 30 seconds– your fingers moving deftly as they created creases and shapes and ultimately, a tiny work of art.

You offered to teach me how to fold one and I laughed at you and reminded you of the book binding fiasco. You laughed too and we went for a smoke again. You pulled out your red Pall Malls and I pulled out a cigar.

Right now, I’m considering learning how to make the cranes. In addition to granting wishes, they’re said to bring wisdom and help with healing. As I fold each little bird, I will wish that they will teach me how to heal from the heartbreak of losing you.

I thought we had many late night game nights ahead of us. I thought you’d re-watch Battlestar Galactica with me. And finally sit me down and make me watch Wizard People. I hate to tell you this, but I am only so-so on Harry Potter. I wish we could have danced more and I could hear you sing so far off-key that you kinda harmonized. Also, I really wanted to beat you at Mario Kart. JUST ONCE. Also, I need you to take the controller when I play Earthbound and I accidentally eat a mushroom and it sits on my head and it fucks up the directional pad! What will I do now? I will wander directionless.

The Sunday after you died, I didn’t really know what to do with myself and my time and my thoughts. But I felt drawn to a Buddhist service. You told me you were a Christian, and I think you knew that I entertain a smorgasbord of religious thoughts. At the service, the monk discussed our humanly flawed understanding of reality as dual– us/them, you/me, good/bad, here/there.

I considered this interpretation and fell into believing that maybe the concept of “life and death” is a flawed duality. Maybe we’re always both alive and dead and really just beings that exist beyond the physical limits of our world. Who the fuck really knows? We know so little about the universe, so I get to think that I’m right. I get to think that you’re as alive as I am dead and vice versa… because it all exists at all times.

The concept brought me comfort. It also explains why I SWEAR you’ve made jokes to me (in my head) and why I think I may have felt you touch my shoulder yesterday when I sobbed about losing you for the zillionth time this week.

If you can, please help the ones you love to heal. None of us wanted to see you leave so soon. But here/there we/you are.

I love you so much, Aaron Roberts. I always will.

Missing you,

Meg

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Monogamishy is Squishy

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Friday night I made out with a hot, blond, civic-minded woman… and my hot-as-hell partner-of-two-plus years, Novia. All parties were aware of the activities and all were super ok.

Some of you might be like “WHOOOOOAAAA, slow down, ya filthy sex maggot… If you’re attracted to other people, then you’re not REALLY in love with your partner. When you find the right one, you won’t want to be with anyone else. Ever. Like never ever. It’s kinda like you don’t have eyes anymore. Or like your heart is in jail. But it’s like… a posh-Martha-Stewart jail and you enjoy your incarceration. Sigh.”

And I’d be like “Whatever, brah, you do you. This works for me. ALSO Novia is the hottest most sensitive amazing brilliant magical being to ever grace this world with her presence. So of course she’s the ‘right one.'”

Novia may be “the right one”… but she doesn’t have to be the ONLY one. I mean, for Sappho’s sake, I’ve only been *ahem* active for a few years. How could I promise my next 23 decades to one person? (I’m assuming they figure out how to slow down the process of aging at some point in my lifetime).

Let me paraphrase/probably mis-represent Dan Savage here really quick. To rely on one person for all of your needs– emotional, sexual, spiritually, etc.– is a lot of pressure to put on that one person. That’s why we have friends!

Because we have friends, we have people to eat dinner with. We have people to cry though the last season of Parks and Recreation with. We can meditate or worship or dance fire dances with friends who share our spiritual practices.

Friends enrich our lives in many ways. Why can’t they enrich our sex lives?

Since becoming a grown ass woman, I’ve enjoyed a proclivity to and penchant for seduction. I also love being in relationships. So I’ll seduce people into relationships, seduce them while IN the relationship, and then seduce other people into at least random make outs, maybe some drive-in movie theatre fun times in a car with no center console (as a random example I just now thought of).

With Novia, I’ve been open and honest about my crushes and trysts. As she has about hers. But I haven’t always played it this cool. I treated previous relationships recklessly. I’d get drunk, get on a woman I wasn’t dating, wake up the next day and nurse two hangovers– alcohol and guilt. I pretended I had infinite “Get Out of Jail Free” cards and found ways to justify my encounters to myself, and to my hurt girlfriends.

In hopes of heading off all the tears, hand-wringing, and sad drunken naked sessions, I started charging what Dan Savage calls a “Price of Admission.” It’s simple– if you want to be in a relationship with me, you have to be ok with me being into other people sometimes. But mostly I’m just into you.

Here’s the issue. People have a funny habit of agreeing to whatever they need to to get to that thing that they want. You have to sign the dotted line to get the loan to get the shiny new motorcycle. So people would hastily agree “Ok, fine, I get it, you want occasional make out privileges,” before taking me for a test drive. Then they inevitably fall in love. Because I’m awesome. And then one night, I’m out at a bar or a wedding or wherever else hot people hang out and I’ll make out with someone. Then comes the tears and hand-wringing! I have to drag out my proverbial relationship contract and say “LOOK HERE, LINE 56, IT SAYS: ‘MONOGAMY NOT GUARANTEED’!!!”

Novia and I went through this song and dance a few times. She’s more conservative than I am and prefers her relationships just so. We started off in an open relationship. Then we closed. Then we opened it for two people. Then we closed again. Believing that my “price of admission” was not being paid, I considered breaking up with her on several occasions. But I’d always remember that she’s the most magical being anywhere and I couldn’t leave her ever.

And a year or so goes by. My hair gets more greys, my cats get more fat, but many Americans are still denying climate change.

Like people, relationships are never stagnant. They learn and grow and change as those in them learn and grow and change. Novia and I developed crushes. We told each other about our crushes. I realized how much I like that other women find my partner sexy. I mean, you guys, I really really like it.

So, with arm inflatables, flippers, and nose plugs on, we have gingerly waded into the ever-changing river that is “Monogamishy.”

I recommend taking the plunge.

Back to Friday night. We were out barhopping with some friends and I met a friend-of-a-friend who checked off all my attraction boxes: Brilliant, empathetic, and gorgeous. I mentioned this to Novia and she said something like “Do what you wanna do. I just wanna dance.” She did her thing, I did mine.

Saturday morning, I woke up next to Novia in our bed. I cuddled up behind her, kissed her neck, and whispered, “I love you.” She sleep-grunted “Iah Luh Yew.” And all was well.

Composer

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Humming drumming fingers

cadence lingers.

How rude of you

to open mouth

and send electric waves

of erratic energy 

burrowing into my being.

You changed my beat,

less bold and sure.

more syncopated,

anticipated,

dripping in languid forms.

Slow back beat.

You added dissonance

I had not mapped out

in chord shapes and resolutions.

You can’t hear 

the music in my head.

But you made it better

by complicating it.

Un-Coming Out, Part 1 of 1 (Maybe? Probably? Who knows.)

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This feels a little ridiculous, but I need to un-come out about one of the things I had confessed in my 3 part coming out saga.

I should probably never make grand sweeping generalizations about my identity, because if there’s one grand sweeing generality about my identity I could make… it would be that it’s continually evolving.

It changes not just in subtle ways like “Oh, well, I no longer obsess about how the members of NSYNC shave their faces to look like topiaries.”

No. It’s a more dramatic pendulum swing. It’s like I’m out walking… “La la la… it’s so nice to wander in a general northeasterly pattern. BUT SOUTHWEST IS BETTER I KNOW IT!” And I aboutface and happily go opposite of the way I was headed.

For this particular about-face decision, it took a substantial amount of belly-gazing. Slowly, the very primal part of me solved a complex problem for me. The same part responsible for the impulses of eat, sleep, drink, fuck… gave me relationship advice.

Suddenly, I understood the value in the cliche “Trust your Gut.”

Novia and I have tried various permutations and formulations and equations of polyamory and my gut realized it didn’t like it anymore.

My brain had sketched out entire playbooks of how to Hail Mary a pass into the endzone of sexytime with as many wide receivers as possible. And suddenly my gut was like “Where did you learn to coach? From Romeo Crenel??? How about you punt your stupid ass down the field? Eh? How does that feel?”

Once my gut stopped being condescending, I invited it to have a few beers (it gets a little more forthcoming with higher BAC). Then I looked it straight in the belly-button eye and asked:

“Gut, do you want to be polyamorous or not?”

It wrapped its blubbery arms around my shoulders in a warm embrace and cried: “Thank you for asking. NO. I DON’T WANT TO BE POLY ANYMORE!”

“Haha, ok, it’s ok,” I said, awkwardly consoling it. “We can make that happen.”

So I slept on this idea of monogamy. Just me and Novia.

I wanted to make sure that if I proposed it, I really meant it.

So then I proposed. “Babe, so um… how would you feel if we, ya know, became monogamous, ya know, and like… um…we not date or see other people?” Sometimes when something’s really important to me, I get super shruggy and inarticulate. 

Despite my un-smoothness, Novia’s face exploded into a smile. She got these big eyes of squishy-stardust-lovey-dovey goo and said “I’ve wanted that since the first month of knowing you.”

And so we lived happily ever after… at least that’s what it looks like from up here on Cloud 9.

 

8 Words Worth Resolving to Use More in 2014

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A toast to word nerds! 

8. Effervescent: Say it out loud… doesn’t that just feel good on your lips? It’s also a sexy way to describe your champagne tonight.

And maybe once you get home tonight and find yourself drunk-reading (which is surprisingly difficult!)… Maybe you’ll encounter a…

7. MacGuffin: Ok, this definition I’m pasting here because it’s just so badass: “An object, event, or character in a film or story that serves to set and keep the plot in motion despite usually lacking intrinsic importance” – (From Merriam-Webster). Also Alfred Hitchcock is credited with coining it, adding to the badassery of this word. I wish it was “McGonagall,” though…

6. Nefarious: A word as evil as it sounds, this weapon should only be wielded in the most dire situations. Like when naming your next comic book super villian– DR. NEFARIOUS!

NEWNEWNEF

 

 

 

 

 

 

(source: Youtube)

Speaking of nefarious…

5. Sexism: Hey ladies, how would you like to be treated like a human being and not some lesser spawn-of-Adam shit? It’s time we call out sexism more vocally and frequently. It’s a sickness to eradicate and the vaccine is awareness. There’s a disturbing trend on Twitter (a glimpse pictured below) of saying that a male athlete who made a mistake during a game “sprained his vagina.”

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Unless these Tweeting men are concerned about a transsexual athlete hurting themselves, this needs to stop. Most concerning, it’s degrading to women, but it’s also degrading to the tenacity of professional sports.

 

4. Tenacious: [Insert Beyonce Here]

Image

(source: Youtube)

And because she makes many a pant tighter (including mine…)

3. Heteronormativity:  Like sexism, we need to call this out. The other night, I parked my car slightly askew to avoid glass in the street and a random guy sitting in a car with his girlfriend(?) belligerently hollered at me to try parking again. Bewildered as I was by his sudden concern for my car(?) I supposed I’d park more “straight” next time. But then he found a way to call me a “lesbian” in a derogatory way. Again, bewildered at his presumptuous, albeit astute, observation, I casually said “You’re just jealous cuz I use my fake dick better than you use your real one.” (Kidding, I wish I had said that, but I just wanted to get home).

2013 was an interesting year for the gays. We’ve got the recriminalization in India, the Russia/Sochi Olympic controversies, but we’ve also got Utah allowing same-sex marriage.

utah

 

 

SURPRISE!

 

(Source: Youtube)

My sexuality is accidental, inconsequential, and I usually try to pretend it doesn’t exist. I wake up every day having to “deal” with it, not be proud of it. How can I take pride in something I’ve never wanted and didn’t choose? That’d be like me being proud of having the gigantic big toes I was born with. They get in the way often, but mostly they just ARE my toes.

So, back to happy thoughts…

2. Antidisestablishmentarianism: Back in glass-bottle-glasses 5th grade, it was cool to A) Know this word, B) Say it really fast C) SPELL it. Using this word, you could ally with the best geeks around and get deals on their Pokemon trades (before the administrators banned Pokemon trades). I still don’t understand what this word means.

But I do love it…

1. Love: The best word to use more in 2014. LOVE.

Saying “I love you” dilates your arteries, allowing more blood to flow into your genitals. I just made that up, but that would be really cool and a great way to fend off a heart attack. But seriously… Use the word “Love” often. Tell it to people who need to hear it. Use it to show what band you’re passionate about. When you want to say “I hate him/her” try replacing the word “hate” with “love” and see how your perspective of that person changes. That guy who used “lesbian” as a derogatory word, I really wanted to hate him. And a day later, replacing “hate” with “love” I realize I will probably make a drunken, mean mistake like that sometime (and I placate myself by reasoning his girlfriend had probably just dumped him, because we’re only human, right?).

The world needs less hate, bitter hate and more love, sweet love. So use it well, use it often, and LOVE THE HELL outta your new year!

The Chosen One

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     “Babe, we need to talk.”

     “Uh… Right now? Breaking Bad is on soon.” Sheila’s face blowed red in the TV light.

     “Um… I guess it can wait,” Brett picked at his nails, sitting anxiously close to her on their patchy second-hand couch.

     With a melodramatic sigh, Shelia switched the TV to record, then off.

     “What.” She clicked.

     Brett shifted. “No, no, it can wait. It’s fine.”

     “I already turned on the DVR. So, shoot,” Shelia settled.

     Brett shot. “Well, you know how I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately?”

     Sheila didn’t know. Sheila slept very soundly.

     “Well, I have,” Brett continued. “I’ve been waking up, sneaking out of bed past you, watching TV until I hopefully fall asleep again. It’s these dreams. I’ve been having these really vivid dreams. Like… uncomfortably vivid. And they’re always the same.”

     Sheila propped herself to face Brett, tucking her hair behind her ears. “Why didn’t you tell me earlier? We just studied dream analysis in Post-Freudian Theory class!” With that, Sheila bolted from the room and brought back a book by the title Post-Fruedian Theory. “I can interpret them. Or at least we can laugh at what they supposedly mean.”

     Brett shrugged. “There’s nothing to interpret. They’re very straight forward. Very real.”

     Sheila pushed out another melodramatic sigh. “Well, what happens?”

     Brett looked her straight in the eyes. “This glowing man appears. Then he says ‘We’re coming to take you. You’re the chosen one.'”

     Sheila blinked once. Twice. Then burst into a cackle. “What, like an angel shows up?”

     Brett, visibly taken aback and slightly hurt said, “I shouldn’t have told you. I knew you wouldn’t believe me.”

     Sheila finished her cackle. “Oh Brett, I believe that you dream that. What I find hilarious is that you seem to be taking this… premonition? Vision? That you seem to be taking it seriously!”

     “How else could it be taken?” Brett incredulously retorted.

     “It could be taken like a DREAM. Like any other night of random neurons misfiring. Like it means nothing.”

     Brett was full-up offended now. “You’re the one studying dream interpretation.”

     “No. I’m studying Post-Freudian Theory. It’s just an easy way to get an elective psych credit. I thought it’d be fun to IRONICALLY interpret your dreams, but you’re taking them seriously, which makes it UNIRONIC.”

     “Fine. Just, just turn the TV back on.”

     Sheila softened, and placed an ambiguously patronizing hand on Brett’s shoulder. “Brett, I didn’t mean to offend you. I just have a little trouble believing that a college guy from suburban Des Moines, Iowa, is the chosen one. Shouldn’t you be from, like, some place in the Middle East?”

     “Maybe THIS chosen one is from the Middle WEST.” Brett countered, knowing it was a lame counter, but countering nonetheless. He liked to think he could be the chosen one, whatever that means. 

     Sheila chuckled and clicked on the TV. “Alright, Muhummad.”

     Brett shifted his attention to the screen with a big frown.

     The next morning, Sheila woke up after a typically restful night of sleep. With sleep-filled eyes half-open, She reached over to snuggle Brett. 

     Suddenly, her blood-curdling scream ripped through the apartment. Looking like a deflated float from the Macy’s parade, Brett’s body and clothes lay in the bed beside Sheila.