Comics and Recaps and Podcasts, Oh My!

I’m feeling the urge to write because I know I need more practice. And practice and routine are two things I’m not very good at. I wrote about exactly this, over a year ago when I announced I was starting a blog because I suck at routine and how I need to be more disciplined and this was my opportunity and my proof to the world that I would be better about it. Since then, I’ve written two blog posts and not much else. So, I’m trying again. I don’t want to make promises but I also want to forgive myself for being human. I want to be better, just like everyone else on the planet.

Problem is, I don’t know what I want to write about. I’m sitting on the edge of my couch, hunched over my work computer on the coffee table that I just cleaned. I have about an hour left of nothing to do until my boyfriend gets home from work and we leave for his dad’s house for Sunday dinner.

I woke up early (and abruptly) to drive my boyfriend to work, something I’ll typically do on the weekends when he has an AM shift at the restaurant. And since I usually can’t go back to sleep after doing so, I end up with a mostly full day to myself. When I’m in the car driving back, I have grand plans in my head of being productive, maybe writing something or even going to the gym. But 95% of the time I wind up on the couch under the blankets, watching TV and beating myself up for being lazy. Today was a 5% kind of day. (Maybe I’ll be able to change the ratio soon but again, I’m not making promises today.)

When I got back, I spent a good two hours laying on the couch (stick with me here) re-reading Thor: God of Thunder (Volume 1) by Jason Aaron. I highly recommend it to anyone who thinks they may be interested in the character of Thor in Marvel comics, because this series really deals with the fantastic elements of his nature as an immortal god and how that effects the very long course of his life. Many people have spoken highly of Jason Aaron for his work on the character of Thor over the past few years, so if you’re interested I know you can find out more about him online. I’ll just say that he’s the guy who created the new female Thor and that it wasn’t something completely out of left field from Marvel to fill a diversity quota. The female Thor’s storyline stems from the God of Thunder storyline. Aaron has been creating a vast, interconnected story about Thors and Asgardians and Mjölnir since 2012 and it’s incredibly fascinating. The artwork is detailed and grandiose and helps convey the sense that you’re consuming an epic story (in the Classic sense of the word, like The Illiad & The Odyessy). I’m excited to get back into it and pick up the other volumes that I haven’t yet had the chance to read. I’m trying to diversify the content I consume because I’ve been focused pretty heavily on TV for a while now.

Case and point: after some time reading and then surfing the World Wide Web, I ended up watching a nearly twenty-minute recap video about Game of Thrones. A video all about certain swords in Game of Thrones and their history/whereabouts. And I absolutely loved it. Has it sunk in to you yet that I am a gigantic geek?

But then I decided to be productive once again, so I did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen while listening to the first two episodes of a new podcast called Nancy. I’ve only just started to get into podcasts in the past few months, but I really enjoy how they can take you on a journey while you accomplish other things, like cleaning or driving or completing mindless tasks at work. Podcasts are perfect for multitasking.

Anyway, Nancy is hosted by a gay man and a gay woman. Episodes are about a half-hour long and are about the modern LGBTQ experience, but I know people who don’t identify as LGBTQ would enjoy them, too. The first episode, in which the hosts talk to their parents about what it was like for them when their son/daughter came out of the closet, brought me to tears. The cord it struck  was that even though I’ll be learning to accept who I am and will be coming out for the rest of my life, others around me will always have to deal with it, too. I still don’t know if my parents have fully, 100% accepted who I am. They are supportive and loving and are two of the most wonderful people in my life. Bringing my boyfriend home is no longer an awkward situation. But I know it’s still difficult for them on some level. It took a while to get to this stage because most parents need time to mourn the person they thought their son or daughter would become. It’s hard to accept that their vision of my future (with a wife and kids) will not fully come to be. I can’t imagine going through something like that. And I’m really happy that this podcast was able to address and articulate this in a direct and honest manner.

So, this all may seem like a dis-jointed rant or a self-interested “here’s what I did with my day, don’t you want to read all about it?!” kind of blog entry. But for me, today and this blog are about the many forms of content I consume. There is so much good stuff I want to enjoy that it becomes overwhelming. I feel like there’s no way I’ll be able to get to all of it so sometimes I freeze up and just spend hours with what’s already familiar—re-watching episodes of Parks & Recreation or It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia until I can’t keep my eyes open any more.  But what’s really going on is that I’m procrastinating the various forms of content I want to create.

I’ve tried a lot of them (blog-writing, movie-making, novel-writing, starting a YouTube channel, developing an aesthetic on my Instagram profile) and haven’t started others (podcasting, reviewing TV shows, actually writing the book series that’s I’ve been thinking about since high school). But I never fully follow through. I’ll get excited about something, get started, and then it either feels too hard or I get bored. I need to attempt to follow through on at least one of them.

On the other hand, I don’t want to focus all my energy in just one area. There is a lot I want to do and I want to be able to jump from thing to thing. Different content will evoke different feelings and hold different meaning. Talking about a comic book series or a television show may not hold the same objective importance as talking about the reality of being a gay man in the modern world, but I think they both hold value.

Maybe all I need in order to start being successful in whatever outlets I choose is to continually think of myself as a content creator and a storyteller. Maybe then, the action will follow. Or maybe a shift in the way I think about myself is the best I can hope for right now.

In any case, this is me trying. I don’t know how good of a job I’ve done today—especially because I can’t for the life of me think of a proper way to end this blog—but I’m going to keep trying. Hopefully I get better as time goes on.

(You can hear Nancy online or however you listen to podcasts. You can follow Alt Sift X on YouTube if you want to fall deeper into the black hole that is the world of A Song of Ice and Fire. And if you find any of the Thor stuff interesting, I’ll let you borrow the books I have—as long as you promise to keep them in good condition. I’m a freak about the way books are treated.)

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On The Pulse Nightclub Tragedy

Obviously, everyone is talking about the tragedy that occurred at Pulse nightclub last night in Orlando and while I don’t want anyone to think that I’m just adding to the noise or using it to promote my own writing, I literally am not able to sit by idly and stay quiet. We need everyone to speak up and speak out about this. So yes, I’m going to make this personal, but we all need to make it personal. If we all continue to stand by and simply say that we have become desensitized to news of shootings, nothing will change. The terror will continue because all shootings are acts of terror. We are all in this together and we all need to work to make sure change actually happens.

I have not kept up with this blog and I was already considering writing a new entry because I made a very large life change this week: my boyfriend and I officially live together. I know there are many people who were in my life at one point that didn’t even know I have a boyfriend, so I need to be more vocal about it.

Here goes: I met an incredible man two and a half years ago. We were immediately compatible. The thought of actually dating a man scared the hell out of me, but I pushed that fear away and took a leap. We’ve grown closer as the years have gone by and I can honestly say that I have never been happier. I love him with all my soul; sometimes thinking about how much I love him makes my heart actually ache.

Everything I have gone through in the past few years—hiding this relationship from my family, finally coming out to my parents, dealing with the extra year it took for my father to really become accepting, introducing him to family and friends—are things I never thought I would have to deal with. My younger self would have never believed that I could handle it. But I have been able to do so because of his support and his love and his understanding. In certain ways, it has not been easy and it will never be as easy as for those who are straight. While many can take a girlfriend home after a couple weeks and introduce her to extended family shortly after, he didn’t meet my whole immediate family until about a year in. He had to meet my mom one-on-one with me at a restaurant because my dad could not handle it yet. Meeting my extended family took an extra year.

That is not to say that I have not felt love and support from those around me. The majority of my friends and family didn’t bat an eye when I first mentioned that I had a boyfriend, but those words never came easily out of my mouth. I simply don’t have that luxury. The words come easier now, but I fear for all those who will never be able to speak them.

As a country, we have made incredible strides towards equality for all people. As a 24-year-old, I have experienced a great deal of acceptance and love in my lifetime about my sexuality. Had I been born thirty, twenty, or even five years earlier, this would not have been the case. So when I woke up this morning, in bed with my boyfriend, and checked my phone as we all do, I was absolutely floored by the news of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. The fact that this can happen terrifies me and baffles me. I simply don’t understand how hate like this still exists. I could quite literally be killed because the love I hold in my heart does not align with what somebody else believes I should be allowed to feel.

We are no different than anybody else. We take more time agreeing on something to watch on Netflix than actually watching it. He cooks dinner and I do the dishes. We go out to new restaurants to expand our culinary horizons and then get drunk at a dive bar with our friends. I let my alarm go off in the morning to the point that it wakes him, so he has to kick me out of bed. We sit in silence with one another, both browsing Reddit. We fight, we laugh, we tease one another, and we celebrate one another’s accomplishments. And today, we sat on the couch together, watching the news reports of the Orlando shooting while reading more about it on our phones.

I drove him to work and we barely spoke on the way there. Because even though we do not have as many problems as the gay people in other countries or in other time periods, this vitriol continues. It exists right here and now. I don’t know how long it will continue but for as long as we have to deal with it as a society, our hearts will ache. There are people who could be our neighbors that want nothing more than to destroy our happiness and the life we’re trying to build with one another. It’s mind-numbing.

I know we will continue to move forward with our combined life in spite of this. He is on his way home from work as I make a simple dinner so we can watch the new Game of Thrones episode. In the coming days, we will hang pictures and artwork on the walls of our home. In a few weeks, we will throw a party in the apartment. We might even move into a new home in the further future. But I will do better to be more vocal about my love. Because at the end of the day, I know that hate will never defeat love. That is something we all need to remember and act on.

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