Monday, March 31, 2014

Day LVII: One and Only

They think I am too old to cause trouble. Old age is a powerful disguise.
-Katherine Applegate, The One and Only Ivan

I've been making a conscious effort with this little blogging challenge to not review books. That's what Goodreads haikus are for. I think that it's too easy to fall back on reviewing. This blog is really just about piecing together the odd snippets of my life into a hardly cohesive set of posts. But, I suppose, phrased like that, tying a book into my blog only makes sense. Books tend to be a rather large part of who I am, after all.

I don't remember when I decided to start actively reading more YA. I took a course from the Gustavus English department called "Adolescent Literature," and I think that must have rekindled my love for the genre. There is so much to be mined! What's that phrase, "from the mouths of babes?" In this case, "from the words for the young."

First, I should mention that anything with animals that is even remotely sad: my heart just falls apart in my chest. I have to spend hours reshaping and reviving my emotions because I end up spent so quickly. The Fox and the Hound, for instance, is an okay movie with a few semi-sad scenes for the average human. But when Widow Tweed has to drop Tod off in the woods--in a Harry and the Henderson's sort of way--I have to pause and dam the floodgates.

(apparently I can't even think about the scene without tearing public...audibly...)

So a book like The One and Only Ivan isn't exactly light material for me.

Ivan is a gorilla. A mighty silverback. Locked behind the glass of a mall storefront and paired, his only companions are an elephant, Stella, and a stray dog, Bob. When Ruby, a baby elephant is brought into the mall, Ivan's life finds new meaning: keep Ruby out of the same prison he's been trapped in for over 25 years.

Tenderhearted and exceptionally honest, Applegate's YA novel is a tragic and hopeful account of humanity, vulnerability, and unwavering dedication.

I don't know why the greatest lessons I've learned from reading have come through animals. Beatrice and Virgil taught me to be strong, The Wind and the Willows demonstrated the ferocity of civility, and Charlotte's Web promised a better world with the power of selflessness. For whatever reason these lessons stick, I am grateful.

Grateful for their genesis.
Grateful for their wisdom.
Grateful for their sacrifice.

When I was young, our German Shorthair Pointer, Beau, laid down beside me on the floor while my family watched a rerun of Who's Line is it Anyway? She had been on a much more comfortable bed in another room when she crept up behind me and let me rest my head on her stomach. In the middle of the episode, Beau released a strange whimper, shook, and passed on.

Perhaps this is odd, but I believe she made the choice to hobble beside me and share her last moments with our family in the center of the floor. I can't be certain (how could I?), but I like to think that small act of love was her parting gift to all of us.

She was the one and only pet our family lost together.

She was the one and only Beau, the mighty pointer.

And that's what clicked today in finishing Katherine Applegate's story. Each of us is a one and only to someone or other. And that's not a gift to be wasted. It's one to be treasured and be thankful for. To be proud of and find remarkable.

We owe it to others, and we owe it to ourselves.

At one time, you will be a memory for another.

And in that moment, you will be their one and only.

Memories are precious...they tell us who we are.
-Katherine Applegate, The One and Only Ivan

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Day LVI: After

We had company!

And now that the party is over, that the freezer is empty, and brunch has been had, it's time take a look at what transpired. I'm not sure if broken glass, half-drank champagne, and licked-clean pizza boxes is your thing, but it's good look for our abode.

Shall we catch up with a who's who of the evening?

Well I think it's pretty clear that Archie got everything he needed out of the night. He had such a good time he's licking the joy of last night out of his toes.

Don't let that face fool you, Ashley was mostly smiles last night. One of the most consistently demanding of lipsync performances, it's easy to see why she very easily livens up a party. She even sprinted down Bryant to get to the bars faster. Girl, that's commitment.

Looks like someone is still not ready for the day. Poor Bernard, he still can't shake his hangover, and he's taking it out on us with so much yelling.

Well this is about as attractive as I could manage before breakfast. One gross face, two tall glasses of water, a tank top, and a hunting hat later... nope, nothing was gonna fix that mess this morning.

Anyone else get to wake up to this face? Oh, just me? I'm the only lucky one? Ha! Looks like I win the Internet. Kirby and I were up till 4:30 having a pillowside chat and were back at it at 8:30. Needless to say, girl's tired.

I think it's safe to say that Kyle was NOT ready for this photo. Great tank choice though! After a night of reading the house down and a triumphant return to Stella's without a kicking-out, Kyle has spent the day in front of Pokemon, House of Cards, and watching me play Dark Souls 2. Sounds pretty ideal.

Oh, hey, big girl! A little pre-brunch snack at Pizza Luce never hurt anyone, right? While Seth would rather have hit up the Macy's deli, I think a slice of pep, a coke, and then an actual meal hit the spot. With a fierce hat and set of shades, it's going to be a knocked-out car ride home this afternoon.

Then we have this little crunchlet. A jar of water in her right and a hairbrush in her left, Sibley was not taking no for an answer this morning. Snarl free and hydrated: girl was ready for some brunch. And brunch we did.

I start work in a new office tomorrow! Here's to a beautiful week (for everyone who reads this)!


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Day LV: Before

We have company!

For the first time since our senior year of college, Kirsten, Kyle, Seth, Sibley, and I have gathered together for evening of elegance. And by elegance...

So I thought for this weekend's blog, it might be fun to take a look at us before the night progressed and after we woke up Sunday morning. I am not sure what to anticipate, but I think it'll be a worthwhile way to assess the success of our evening.

(as a bonus, I am including Ashley, Sibley's significant other, and Bernard and Archie, because they're effing cute.)

Archie is perpetually upsetting, so why not snap a photo that shows off his oddest traits. Gross hands, bad posture, blank stare: ish.

Only Ashley could pull focus away from BOTH of the cats in the same photo. With a look that says "you said what? about who?" it's evident that she is gearing up for the night. Plus, she's wearing a pretty shirt. Winning all-around.

The true favorite of the bunch, Bernard just can't take a bad photo. Sleeping in the sun, or prowling in the dark, this little trouble-maker is consistently charming.

The beard is back in action! As the writer, I get the privilege of taking a non-candid shot against a backdrop of windows. Clock the mole, clock the hair, clock the nose. But at least the left eye is pretty damn hot.

Sass. That would be the caption of this photo from a girl who has had it, officially. Never afraid of trends, Kirsten's fashion sensibility is on-point. Seafoam and sunshine? Check!

Serving nothing but camel-toe! (zoom in on the shirt pattern) For someone who really didn't want his photo to be taken, I think it turned out to be rather good-looking! Smile, girl, you gonna have a headache in the morning.

Seth is the diva of the group. Can you tell? Giving you boisterous laugh, crotch grab, and cigarette realness, he's never afraid to be as brassy and big as his personality affords. Can't wait to hear that loud, gravelly voice grumble the morning away.

Sibley is poised, focused, and ready to take the night by storm. In a beautiful blue top and with hair that just wont quit, this little crunchlet queen is always ready to deliver a good time. And thank god! She keeps are energy up and motivation strong.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Day LIV: Ride

It only ever happens when I am alone, and only when I’m driving:

It’s dark. That eight pm in the dead of winter dark where you feel tired for no reason. That dark where the lights from every other oncoming car could come crashing through your windshield at any moment if you didn’t hold your eyes open and your wrists rigid at the steering wheel. That dark where the radio is on—or is it?—but there’s no sound you can make out other than the mellow drumming of your thoughts. 

That dark where even the digital clock on your dash goes tic, tic, tic.

No matter where you are, all you see for miles and miles is stretching, winding road and trees that stick out like stray hairs on a bald, black landscape. And until you reach the outskirts of a city or even the heart of a busy, bustling downtown, you only see trees and banks of blustered, abused, dirty snow.  So you wake up.  You wake up and take note of people walking the streets in their black coats and pretty hats and fake conversations with dogs on leashes and kids with bells.  You see windows and storefronts and doors with wreathes.  You see candles and flames flickering with warm invitations.    

But stay in your car. Keep driving. Keep moving onward. 
Like ice flow. Like slow, slow ice pushing through water. 

It only happens when I am alone. 

It goes like this:

A song on the radio, a CD, in my head. A song plays somewhere inside the car.

It’s “Hometown Glory” by Adele, it’s “Dancing” by Elisa, it’s “The Freshman” by the Verve Pipe. It’s “Hallelujah,” by Jeff Buckley.

Somehow, you were fine one minute. You were driving and smiling and watching for deer and trees and snowflakes. You were listening to nothing and dancing in your mind and waiting for your car to stop crawling forward and just park already. You were sore and aching, and sitting too long. 

One minute you were good, dandy.

Somehow, you’re crying.

You’re listening to The Temper Trap and can’t begin to imagine a time in your life when you were this overwhelmed with unhappiness. You’re watching lights burnout in the rearview mirror while your tears rush out to the rhythm of “How to Save a Life.” 

You don’t need to pullover. For God’s sake, it’s not that bad.

But should you? 

There’s no one else here but you.  And that makes it okay.

That makes it okay to surrender. To listen to song around you and release. To let go, to run, to bawl, to relinquish control and find the one moment when the lyrics match perfectly with the tic, tic, tic of the green digital numbers on the dash. 

One minute, you’re fine.
The next, you’re alone.
And then, you’ve grown-up.

You’ve lost more of your time, your friendships, your success, your experience, your memories.

For a moment, it’s remarkable.
For an instant, it’s unbearable.
For a lifetime, it’s existence.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Day LIII: Gloom

...a gloomy peace this morning with it brings.
-William Shakespeare

The first time I played Pokemon, I was sitting a old and comfortable reclining chair in the upstairs living room of Aaron Carlson's house. Well, his parents' house, I guess. I cannot remember for the life of me if it was his copy or if it was his brother Mat's.  But I do remember an Arbok--named Edward Mon--a Wartortle, a Dugtrio, two others, and a Gloom.

©Kawiko, DeviantArt
At six years old, I had no idea that Gloom was a separate noun first, and a pokemon second. I just thought it was some sad, depressed plant that poisoned it's opponents. Or drained them of life while feeding their own dark wishes. Or paralyzed them. Or sent them into an undesired sleep. Or spit toxic acid in their face.

Only now, nearly twenty years later, do I realize that Nintendo's frightening creation is an apt representation of what it feels like to be saturated in gloom, in partial darkness, in despondency.

The snow is heavy beyond the window. 

And I worry that as soon as I take a step beyond the building, my whole body will cave in and collapse.

The dreariness of the day is frightening and gray, tastes like musk and sand. I'm not feeling optimistic about the spring. Breathe in, breathe out: it has to end eventually.

The snow and rain and cold: perfect cuddle weather.

And that's the hardest part.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Day LII: Snatch Game

The Snatch Game is one of the many ru-curring themes of RuPaul's Drag Race, but it's the show's only repeating main challenge. Sure, there are acting and singing and dancing challenges every season, but the Snatch Game is the only sure-fire portion of the competition. If you're not prepared with a sickening celebrity impersonation?

Pack your bags.

For those not in the know, the Snatch Game is a direct descendent of the Match Game, a popular game show during the 60s, 70s, and 80s. The host asks a question ("Dumb DeeDee is so dumb, she thought a Kardashian was a ___________!) and the two contestants provide an answer for the blanks. The panel of celebrities--and I use that word loosely--also provide an answer a piece in hopes of matching the contestant's response. A match is worth a point and whoever has the most points at the end of the show is crowned the winner.

Of course, this is the Snatch Game, and things are 5394 times better because it's drag queens as celebrities and celebrities as contestants.

And, I gotta say, these girls turnt it. So let's just get into it.

10. Laganja Estranja (bottom two)

Zoe thank you.
Well, okay, most girls turnt it. Some of them fell from the top of my list in a blaze of self-sabotage and crocodile tears. Look. It's one thing to let the pressure of the competition break your guard a bit and provoke an outburst or two. That could almost be labeled natural. It's another thing entirely to break down every week because you're not getting the attention you feel entitled to. I'm still rooting for Laganja because I think there is more to her than we've seen thus far. Do I think she's better than what we've seen so far? Definitely. But if she can't lose some of that entitled bullshit and quippy/attention-seeking garbage, she's not going to last.  

9. Gia Gunn (eliminated)

Kouldn't deliver
I was really hoping that Gia would slay Laganja in the lipsync for your life. It just wasn't in the cards for my pet queen. I will miss Gia's cattiness and gag-worthy facial expressions and hand gestures. I'll miss her air-headed one liners, too. But most of all, I'll miss her appreciation for all things ferocious. She's an excellent artist and performer; I hope the exposure of the show will catapult her into severe stardom. As Kim Kardashian, she fell completely flat. There was NOTHING Kim K. about her. Even the look was generic. If you can't be funny, don't look like the celebrity, and cannot embody any of that star quality, you're not choosing the right character. Was Gia destined to win this? Probably not. But last night, I was sincerely hoping she would send her friend packing.

8. Trinity K. Bonet (safe)

Nicki Minotgreat
Trinity continues to bore the piss out of me. Last night, though, we got a small glimpse of her personality and struggle when she received a message from home and opened up about being HIV positive. I thought her approach to discussing her illness was mature and intelligent and self-aware; maybe she could, I dunno, choose one to incorporate to the rest of the competition? I think she continues to impress, looks-wise, but "you can't buy a personality." And that Nicki Minaj? Is that who were trying to channel? Could have fooled me! And thank you, Bianca Del Rio, for calling that girl out on her wig-switch in the middle of the challenge. If it had been delivered properly, no one would have called it out. But it took her so long that she didn't manage to write down an answer to the question! If you're not going to innovate your own schtick, but instead copy one of the most flawless queens in the herstory of Drag Race, you better fucking deliver. Ooo, lawd, that hit my nerve!

7. Milk (bottom three) 

Recipe for disaster
Oh how the mighty have fallen! Milk has been so impressive outside of the competition. In interviews, on Instagram, in other media: she's completely flawless. But everything she's done up to this point, not including the challenge she should have won (the fist challenge), has been totally bland. Even as a pregnant woman at the Tony's she was underwhelming. Breaks my heart! I see so much talent and nerve and poise in Milk, but she's failed to deliver at nearly every turn. Julia Child was pretty terrible, but nowhere near as unforgivable as her runway look. If you're going to be shocking, at least perfect the look! Her bald cap was clockable and her makeup was a mess. I just hated every minute of it. For once, Santino was right: she could have been more shocking by delivering 100% pure RuPaul eleganza.

6. Darienne Lake (safe)

Now without racism!

Sink or swim, this is not a lake I want to be near right now! Darienne's attitude continues to grind my gears. I cannot say enough good about her humor and charm, but it's all seemed to wash away over the past two weeks, and I do not like what's left on the shore. She had some unfortunate editing this week: we never once saw her even respond to a question in the Snatch Game. Her commentary with the other queens was great, though, and her look was pretty spot on. I wish she would have stepped it up and delivered a performance that was good enough to merit all her belittling and weird attitude shift. It would have been more forgivable. She did look great on the runway, though, so I won't fault her too excessively. Step it up girl, step it up!

5. Courtney Act (safe)

Pretty hot nanny, eh?
Courtney's shining moments were not on the runway or in the challenge this week. She was okay as Fran Drescher, but that was upstaged in three words and a laugh by Joslyn Fox's. She looked beautiful on the main stage, but there were definitely better looking girls up there. She was just very middle of the road. Except when it comes to heart. Courtney has consistently been one of the most genuines, quippy, and friendly queens in the bunch. From poking fun at Bianca going home, to praising Adore for being just the way she is, Courtney is definitely the queen that's in everyone's corner and still manages to outshine most everyone. That's pretty damn dynamic, y'all.

4. Joslyn Fox (safe)

New Jersey? New favorite!
For as much as Joslyn loves Courtney Act, I think Joslyn is right up there with her. She is seriously so surprising! Her charisma is abundant, her charm undeniable. She's perfectly friendly, but not afraid to speak up. Her critiques never come from a place of anger, and she's not reactionary in a way that's upsetting or unwarranted. As Theresa Guidice from the Real Housewives of New Jersey: SHE SLAYED. I don't think she was given enough credit for her performance. I didn't laugh the hardest at her responses, but I did laugh more consistently. She's basically a shoe-in for Miss Congeniality, but wouldn't it be a lovely surprise if she also continued to rise to the top? I would be completely okay with her continued meteoric rise.

3. Bianca Del Rio (top three)

"Only Judy can judge me."

For someone who calls herself the queen of mean, I think Bianca might actually have the biggest heart of the season. From helping Laganja with her makeup or Adore with her appearance or Laganja with her confidence or Laganja with her performance or Laganja with her attitude or Laganja with... Okay, we get it. Bianca delivered a spectacular Judge Judy in the Snatch Game this week, even if she did fall victim to talking over some of the other girls. I understand that's sort of what you get with the Judge, but I didn't think it needed to be as completely crass as Bianca made it. I think what really helped her stand out this week is that Bianca's shade and reading and bitchiness all comes from a constructive place. If it's not for the purpose of fun, she's telling you how it is because she's breaking down another girl's disillusionment. I completely believe in Bianca's character and ability to keep her focus. I wasn't sure about her at first, but she's got another fan in me.

2. Adore Delano (top three)

Anna Nicole, Spelling Champion
I love this girl. She has so much spark and talent and passion: she's my favorite type of drag queen. Anna Nicole Smith was alive and well at the Snatch Game last night; Adore might as well have been a medium, that's how spooktacularly spot-on her impersonation was. She even had Ru rolling in the work room before the challenge had even started! After her awesome moment with Bianca, she looked completely flawless on the runway. I don't care if her dress didn't hit the floor, she looked like a force on the runway. I was living for her hair, for her mug, for her body: it was all on point last night and I hope she continues the trend.

1. Ben DeLaCreme (Winner)

Who's the queen to rule them all?
Girl. Girl. Girl. Have I got my eyes on this one! After (deliberately?!) making the viewing audience upsettingly nervous about her inability to do impressions or a British accent, DeLa rose to the occasion and absolutely destroyed the Snatch Game. As Maggie Smith, she was so deliciously aged and pretentious. I would call her performance one of the three best to ever grace the stage. Additionally, her RuPaul look was the absolute best of the bunch. She basically won the challenge and the runway, and is still one of the very best personalities in the group. DeLa also had my favorite moment outside of the challenge. In the work room, she opened up about his struggles with bullying and the passing of his mom when he was thirteen. It was so vulnerable and thoughtful and precious that I couldn't help but choose it as her photo for this week's screen grab. It chilled me to the bone watching her reflect, literally and figuratively, after being so confident and commanding in the challenge.  The first queen to win two challenges, I have high hopes that DeLa is here for the long haul.

Personal Ranking Week V
Trinity K. Bonet
Laganja Estranja
Gia Gunn
Darienne Lake
Joslyn Fox
Courtney Act
Bianca Del Rio
Ben DeLaCreme
Adore Delano

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Day LI: Coffee

Coffee is coffee is coffee. Except when it's not.

But if you're sitting down, enjoying a cup, and someone who is meeting you--for coffee, god, it's just coffee--is late, like, really late, like six minutes late, and you're already sweating and scared that, well shit, they're not coming, I guess it's just coffee, no room, just coffee for one.

And the bell. The bell sounds so insistent, so persistent, so sure of itself and, god, so annoying. It's a trap. A bruised and pained and aching neck. Up, down, up down, up and down. You'd think your neck would learn. ding, look, ding, look, ding, nope, ding, is it?, ding, look, ding, I get it! You're not coming to coffee. No, god, no I don't need room for cream. ding, what, ding, stop!, ding, oh.



Oh. You made it.

You made it.

The draft of cold air, freezing cold, by the way, ruffling your coat, tossing your hair. Your cheeks are blushing! Pink and cold and hard. Mouth like a Cheerio or a Fruit Loop, shocked into place, wailing "oooo, boy, it's cold!" And your teeth are so white. Like snow-white. Like milk-white. Like paper-white. Like Crest-white. Too white for coffee?

Jesus, you don't drink coffee, that's how white your teeth are. You don't drink coffee. Shit. I should have known. Of course you don't. You just wake up and look put together and act awake and are just perfect and ready and present.

It's just coffee. It's just coffee. It's just coffee.

The funny thing about lying is you can keep going and going and no matter how many times you say it aloud or repeat and repeat you'll always be missing the truth. So know that I'm not lying when I say again and again and again that, boy, yes, wow, you look like a million bucks.

And all of that, all those words and surprises and observations and questions, all of it runs through my head before the door even shuts behind you. I can tell I'm rambling--in my head, god, not out loud, I'm not nuts, I swear, I really do, I swear I'm perfectly normal, just a bit of nerves I think--because it's so cold in here all over again. That breeze, those terrible seconds of air flooding in after your entrance, they're oh-so-insufferable but wholly unnoticed.

And it's because you're here.

You came to coffee.

You said you would, but, god, I mean really, how can anyone be sure, you know?

That smile! Shooting like a laser beam! It hits me and I think, if we were playing laser tag, I would be all lit up and beeping and blaring and probably dead. That's what it feels like when you smile at me. Like we're playing games at an arcade and I don't care if I'm losing because that smile makes me feel like I've always been in first place.

When you tug at the chair, it's metal legs stuck and tangled and mangled with the table base, making so much ruckus, and you laugh--that laugh!--and create such a scene with just one chair and one table, it's no wonder that everyone turns to look. It's no wonder we all watch in awe. It's no wonder everything goes quiet except the waves of laughter bustling from your cereal shaped lips.

It's no wonder.

It's no wonder that the chair is four tables away and across from someone else.

Today it's just coffee.

Coffee, no room, just coffee for one.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Day L: Scatterbrained

It's not that I am forgetful. If that were the case, I'd have no memory for names or dates or places. I remember things, and remember them well. Significant moments and small, intimate encounters rarely escape me. Probably because I focus on them too diligently? I'm an extractor. I like to make sure I've exhausted every possible drop of insight or excitement from the situation, understanding it wholly and completely, focusing every last ounce of mental, emotional, and physical strength available until the event has been parsed into thousands of tiny memories.

Shit, I need to clean my computer. The screen is so gross. I mean, it's not gross. It's just a little, um, filmy? I suppose a micro layer of dust and spotty grime never ruined a computer, but, Jesus, let's get it together, Plattner.

Kyle pointed out last night that whenever I get upset with myself, I say: "c'mon, Plattner" or "Plattner, what's wrong with you?!" Probably conditioning. Never do I say: "Josh! Get your shit together!" or "Oops, missed again, Josh." Maybe my surname is just more discipline-able? In any case, now you all know that I yell at myself when I'm upset. So I'm sure I look incredibly stable. But, go ahead, just try to tell me you've never talked to yourself. You can say whatever you'd like, I wont believe you. Everyone does it. 

I hope.

Hope is one of those four letter words that doesn't often lead where it needs to. Have you ever thought about that? I wonder how many times we've hoped for this or asked for that, only to have our dreams and aspirations dashed by some twist of fate. Sure, there are plenty of instances where hope has led to success and joy, but don't you think the scales are stacked in favor of disappointment? The collective hope is certainly overpowered by the collective despair. I don't know how you'd measure that. Could you? Maybe my attitude is just a little half-empty?

Which is definitely the way my coffee mug looks. Empty. Devoid of hope.

Luckily, refills are on the house at Bull Run.

No joke: as I typed the above phrase, the barista at the counter behind me, Ezra, said: "...and refills are on the house." It gave me chills! I almost wanted to shout, "Jinx!"

Speaking of, Jinkx Monsoon won the Snatch Game last season on Drag Race. And this week, we'll be seeing this season's crop in action. With ten queens instead of nine, I am sure this year's crop of girls will be fighting for RuPaul's stamp of approval more than ever. My prediction is that Adore, Bianca, and Ben will be on top while Laganja, Gia, and Milk will be in some serious trouble. I'm nervous, y'all!

I don't know where I picked up "y'all," but I say it a lot. I can't remember if it's something I've always said.

But it's not that I don't remember things! I'm easily distracted! I jump from point A to B to C to Z and back to J, K, and L. I find weird connections and get distracted by them easily. I lose my keys and phone at least twice a day, but it's always precisely where you'd expect it. Kirsten, my friend and (past) roommate used to have a better handle on my personal affects than I did. 

Now that's a good friend.

I get to see her this weekend! How lucky!

And how lucky that I made it to the half-way point in #100DaysOfJosh without missing a post. I thought for sure I'd forget to post at least once by now.

But it's not forgetting! I'm just scatterbrained.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Day XLIX: Bedmaking

I feel a lot more optimistic about this Sunday than the last. Blame the weather, I guess. We all get pretty good at that this time of year. I was promised another day above freezing tomorrow, though, so it better make good.

After returning home from dog sitting--seriously, how effing cute were those pups--I joined Kyle on a long, leisurely coffee time at Bull Run. Following, it was time to get all my wares unpacked and back in to the house. Because I got to do laundry for free this weekend, I was hauling my bed sheets, blankets, and comforters back into my room. As I fluffed the fitted sheet for the mattress, the yellow fabric falling gently to the bed, a very peaceful moment was interrupted by this little brat:

Seriously, it could not have been more than three or four nanoseconds between the sheet making contact with the mattress and Archie squatting atop it. And I couldn't even be upset! Look how G.D. cute he is! Ugh. He's such a jerk. Eventually I was able to swat him away (momentarily) and get the rest of the bed done. And instead of adorably laying down, he adopted his signature sitting posture. 

Look at that face. Look at that curled paw! For a cat that's so damn cute, he knows how to ham it up.

So, yes, Archie is delightfully icky. And that's his standard. In many ways, it's nice to know that some things don't change, that a gross cat will still be just that at the beginning of a brand new week. March is wrapping up, and April--traditionally one of my least favorite months of the year--is just around the corner. For a plethora of reasons, it's completely fitting that a time of year I once loathed could not get here soon enough.

#SundaySelfie inspired by Mathu Andersen

Get out there and enjoy the week.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Day XLVIII: Dog Sitting, Part Two (the one with the pictures, duh)

I've been so spoiled this weekend.

I wasn't sure what these last few days would have in store for me. It started a little awkwardly, felt a bit crunchy, but I think it's been pretty much exactly what the doctor ordered. I've spent the last two days with a pair of chihuahuas and in a rather swankified apartment downtown Minneapolis. The warehouse district is quite the scene, y'all!

Basically, I am getting paid to hangout with dogs, read, and play video games. I got to use the gym, twice, and even took a bath! It's more or less everything that a weekend could and should be. Sure it could use a little boost of fun, but, hey, it's only Saturday, right?

Free laundry and a Whole Foods within walking distance? Sign me up! The cherry on top? Kyle brought me a cappuccino from my favorite coffee shop and Saturday morning hot spot, Bull Run. Pretty damn lucky, if you ask me.

But you didn't come here to listen to how delightful my Saturday day has been. You came to see pictures of dogs.

Max is the black one. He's a little bundle of joy and energy. He has a strange affinity for me, too, but I think he might just be a slutty dog.

Dillon is the older, white chihuahua. Don't let his eyes spook you, he's perfectly capable. He's not as energetic, but he can adorably cock his head with the best of 'em.

Look at those Yoda ears!

 Salt and Pepper

Well, more salt than pepper.

Okay, doesn't he look like Zero from The Nightmare Before Christmas?

Hope your weekend has been as easy-breezy as mine!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Day XLVII: Dog Sitting, Part One

Well, it's going to be a quiet weekend.

Looking ahead, I can already tell you that I have a rather uneventful few days ahead of me. And, actually, that's fine! I am sort of looking forward to it. This week has been rather eventful and I cannot tell you how ready I am for a few days to myself.

Well, they're not really to myself, but my guests are pretty cool. From Friday night to Sunday morning, I'll be hanging out with two chihuahuas: Max and Dillon. And I'm anticipating a very calm, very cool weekend with two crazy little boys.

I don't have pictures (yet!), but I will definitely be posting some tomorrow as our day unfolds.

Until tomorrow, I hope your Friday night is wild!

Happy weekend the Scarletta office!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Day XLVI: Faggot II


They say you shouldn't say nothin' about the dead unless it's good.
He's dead. Good!   

    -Jackie Mabley, comedienne

It's the first day of spring 2014. 

With spring comes filthiness and grit and change. And from it we are gifted rejuvenation and birth and, well, change.

On those ever blustery winds of change blew in news that Fred Phelps passed away at the age of 84. Responsible for founding and sustaining the Westboro Baptist Church, Phelps and his family and congregation have been responsible for the picketing of over 50,000 events. While some have been as inconsequential as Lady Gaga concerts, they've managed to disrupt the funerals of soldiers and LGBT advocates. The destruction and irreversible conditioning his church has engineered into hundreds of adults and children is horrifying. The suffering, embarrassment, and sadness he has created is baffling. And the bigotry, intolerance, and hatred he has vomited upon this world is impossible to quantify. 


I was fourteen the first time I heard about the Westboro Baptist. I remember the blazing red, orange, and yellow signs that flared and danced in the hands of adults and kids, kids that looked younger than me. I can hear the chanting and shouting. I still feel the damning words and raging glares pouring from the mouths and eyes of people that looked just like you and me.

And their faces lit up. I can recall how happy and proud and successful they felt when any attention was sent their way. While they cast America and its people into the immolating, toxic, eternal fires of hell, sent us into the blazing pits of fire and brimstone, and condemned us to wallow in our pain and torment for the rest of time forever-and-ever-and-ever-amen: they smiled. They glowed with joy and reverence. They were radiant in their conviction, steadfast in their hatred. 


The second time I was called a faggot--of three that stick with me--I was in 9th grade, watching Shirley Phelps in an interview on television. She told me I was going to hell. That I deserved it. That it was what happened to people like me. That when I spent the rest of eternity rotting and burning in the pits of the underworld, it would be exactly what god wanted.

She told me: thank god for AIDS.
She told me: thank god you'll burn.
She told me: fags are nature freaks.
She told me: thank god for dead fags.

She told me: GOD HATES FAGS

When you're fourteen and already hate the skin you're in. When you're fourteen and ask god every day why you have to be this way. When you're fourteen and you can't find a reason worth living. When you're fourteen and cannot figure out why. When you're fourteen and pray that you wake up in a different life. When you're fourteen and hate everything you see in the mirror.

When you're fourteen and every moment feels pointless, you start to agree that


When I read this morning that Fred Phelps had died, I stopped breathing. 

For so many years, perpetuators of hatred and religious elitism held me in the sweltering palms of their hands. I felt suffocated and frightened of the "truths" they spit into the world and understood that I was lesser and unworthy. When your church called me a fag and damned my soul: I believed you.

But it's been a long time since I've subscribed to that notion. It's been years of work and accomplishment and effort and strength. Now, I stand on the other side of that hatred with the knowledge that I am thousands of times the person you or anyone in your congregation will ever be.

When I read this morning that Fred Phelps had died, I smiled.

I smiled because the world is lighter without his hatred.

I smiled because that's one big glob of anger and intolerance that no longer exists.

I smiled because he hurt so many people around the world, and that he cannot hurt them ever again.

I smiled because I forgive Fred Phelps.

I forgive him for being a catalyst for pain and evil and suffering.
I forgive him for ruining lives and hurting families.
I forgive him for damning without right.

I forgive him because I am a better human than that wicked, wicked man. 

And I think that's what would make him suffer the most: knowing that this faggot, this fag that god hates, forgives him and would tell him face-to-face to rest in peace.

Fred Phelps doesn't deserve my forgiveness or sympathy, and he wouldn't  want it anyway. 

But I didn't want to hear him, either. So I hope, somehow, he can hear me now.

I forgive you.

While you damn me to hell, I hope you find some sort of stillness in your death. A stillness where no one listens to your cries or your words. A stillness where any thoughts or ideas you present are met with overwhelming silence. A stillness where your assertions and positions are meaningless.

A stillness fitting of the demon you played on Earth.

I forgive you. And I thank god for your death.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Day XLV: Shade: The Rusical!

When Oxygen gifted us The Glee Project--two seasons was hardly enough--we were exposed to a competition-style reality show that was exclusively focused on musical theatre. Last night, RuPaul's Drag Race gave us a glimpse of just how much better that show could have been with drag queens. Which is not to say it wasn't perfect--other than the winners of each season--but think of what it could have been!

Out of The Glee Project, there also rose a fantastic blog about the show. From here on out, for #WigWednesday, I'll be shamelessly copying Sam Donovan's blog format. Basically: it's going to be one ranked list with photos of each of the remaining queens. I think it's visual and simple and clean: a great way to continue with this recurring set of posts.

Now presenting SHADE! The Rusical.

11. Trinity K. Bonet (bottom two)

Mirroring the same face I made whenever she had screen time
I'm at a loss with Trinity. I sincerely do not find anything about her redeeming or enjoyable. Until I do, she will always be at the bottom of this list. She was especially repulsive last night. Her attitude toward the challenge was so defeatist and whiney. I often wonder if she is intentionally trying to replicate that miserable personality and demeanor of Tyra Sanchez in an effort to recall those same sort of feelings and connections to season two's ultimate winner. She's doing a damn good job of presenting herself as pouty and unlikable. 

10. Laganja Estranja (safe)

Laganja! What are you doing, girl? You're better than this! This episode was weird for me to reflect on because too many of my favorite girls fell to the bottom of the ranking this week. There wasn't much going on in the way of the performance or her look on the runway. In the main challenge, I thought she came across a little ill-prepared. She can dance for days, but there wasn't to point to in way of acting chops or musicality. In Untucked, she had a weird moment. Following a very nice video message from her mom and dad, the other queens started talking about how endearing and great it was for her to hear those words from her parents. Of course, they also poked fun at her definitely not winning the competition like her parents said she would. She got completely defensive and left-fieldy, saying the other girls took that moment away from her and weren't being sisterly. What were they supposed to do?Cry with her for ten more minutes? I dunno; she just didn't hit the mark for me this week. 

9. Darienne Lake (bottom three)

Adele's looking goooooood
Another shocker! Darienne has been one of my very favorites since day one. I love her spunk and drive and humor, but I think she's wearing herself out. I've noticed that many of the more seasoned queens like Bianca, Ben, and even Milk don't have a problem separating their drag selves from the man self. I think there is this creeping tired feeling when it comes to Darienne because she feels like she always has to be "on." But she doesn't! She's charming and engaging when she's not trying SO hard to be impressive. In the challenge she was out-done by her performance partner Gia Gunn. SHE WAS OUTSHINED BY GIA GUNN, YOU GUYS! And while I love Gia in the way I love that you love a dog that consistently shits on your recently shampooed carpets, Darienne should not be working at the same level.

8. April Carrion (eliminated)

Aww, April. I think this poor little deer was just dealt a really bad hand of cards. While she certainly has English down in a way that no other Puerto Rican queen can even come close to, it was unfortunate that an acting challenge and a singing challenge happened so soon in the competition. If there had been more emphasis on the look in either of the challenges that she found herself on the chopping block, I doubt she would have even been close to the bottom. She was a polished and edgy queen that I would have loved to see more from. Maybe they'll bring her back?! A guy can hope. (It certainly doesn't hurt April is a good looking guy, either.)

7. Gia Gunn (safe)

"You ladyboy?"
My little pet queen did a nice job this week! She got into a small shade-tossing match with Bianca, which will likely be a recurring theme, but I don't think she's particularly affected by the bitchiness. Most of the time, she's the mouth behind the berating. As a comedy queen, I thought she really delivered. A horrendous voice, to be sure, but at least she committed and powered through. It reminded me of Alyssa's performance in last year's singing challenge, "Can I Get an Amen?" Alyssa is not a singer, but she was pushing as hard as she could and managed to stay with the pack. Similarly, Gia served it. We'll see if she can keep up next week or if the Snatch Game will swallow her whole.

6. Joslyn Fox (safe)

I'm playing the butch queen.

It's weird to think back to the Drag Race preseason--yes, that's a thing--when Joslyn was one of my very least favorite queens. She continues to prove herself as bubbly, kind, and professional. I thought she was the strongest member of her admittedly weak group of three this week. In addition to consistently performing well, she's also been one of the queens with the most personality. This week, she benefitted from having the best read too! When Ru found out she was going to be the butch queen, she asked Joslyn who she was basing her butch demeanor off of. Without missing a beat, Joslyn retorted: Bianca Del Rio!

5. Milk (safe)

Another good week for Milk. She has been one of the frontrunners since her initial episode, and it's good to see her live up to her potential. Still, I think she could have pushed a little harder this week. She wasn't quite up to the same level that the top three were, even if her runway choices and fashion tastes were stronger than say Ben or Adore. Oh, and she came out pregnant! In the challenge, Milk delivered a strong performance, but she seriously looked like a bad version of Grizabella. Next time you hope a cape and some cat ears are going to keep you on top of this competition, think again. I wish Ru would light a fire under Milk to either show them some true glamor or push her oddity to even higher level. 

4. Adore Delano (top three)

Climbing the ranks to be my season six favorite, Adore deservedly placed in the top three this week. What concerns me about Adore is her lack of direction. Michelle JUST read her for not cinching her waist last week and, this week, she delivered another gown without a cinched silhouette. I fully expect her to internalize this advice eventually, but I get nervous that her desire to deliver a silly, naive persona will keep her from capitalizing on everything this opportunity can do for her.

3. Bianca Del Rio (safe)

Sums it up: Bianca up front, Trinity lagging behind.

God this bitch is mean. And, somehow, it's completely charming! Every time she throws out a read--and that would be quite often--it comes off as calculated and part of her character, rather than an attack on performance or appearance. She is a seasoned professional, too, and I definitely see her as the frontrunner at this point in the competition. As we get into some more involved challenges, I don't see how she could possibly misstep, either, because she has delivered at every turn thus far. I know we're only four episodes in, but I don't see Bianca slowing down any time soon.

2. Ben DeLaCreme (top three)

I just love this queen. Out of everyone, Ben is who I would like to hang out with most. She's kind and thoughtful, and keeps a very transparent approach to working with the other queens. As the team captain for this challenge, she stepped up in a way that wasn't even expected of her, and assigned everyone a role that they were capable of delivering. And her own performance was probably my favorite of the night. The shady queen was right up her campy alley. Her look on the runway was another versatile choice, but still very true to her aesthetic. I'm already nervous for her next week as she's very clearly not an impersonator. Keep her in your prayers, y'all.

1. Courtney Act (winner)

Fish. No, literally, fish.
While I think Ben was my favorite in the challenge, there's no way you can deny that Courtney was this week's star. She can sing pretty well, and her acting and comedic timing were absolutely perfect. Just so charismatic and professional, Courtney is basically a shoe-in for this title if she keeps it up. As for her runway look, the girl looks damn good in pink. If Victoria's Secret is looking for a new girl to kill that stage, I think they need look no further than Courtney. Can we all say it together? One, two, three: FISH.

Personal Ranking Week IV


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Day XLIV: Deodorant

It's a damn good thing I sit so far removed from everyone in my office. Because, seriously, I am a sweaty betty today. It's like, alright, self, you put deodorant on every single day of your life. You know that you need to do it. You know that you sweat like a salamander in every single situation and that it is 100% necessary for you to mask that smell with something more pleasant. Yet, at least once a week, you forget to uncap-and-lift-and-spread.

For some reason, that smell is just the icing on the cake that is this hectic day. I am wearing my favorite shirt. My favorite jeans. My hair is right. My body's right. And this face is to die for. But you take one whiff of any region surrounding the vicinity of the pits? Child, back up, and hide yo' kids, hide yo' wife. It's a certified danger zone. And it ain't cute.

You might be wondering why I would feel the need to write about my lack of personal hygiene today. And you would be right to wonder. It's weird topic. 

The reason I'm detailing this little account of my life is because of these little creatures:

Monday, March 17, 2014

XLIII: Paddy

I learned this weekend that calling St. Patrick's Day "St. Patty's Day" is some sort of atrocity. I've almost always referred to it as such, so I am going to have to claim ignorance on this one. Of course, this new knowledge brought to mind the story of the real-life Saint Patrick and his overlooked past.

British by birth, Patrick was the son of a wealthy, well-to-do family in Roman Britain. His family was heavily involved in the church (weren’t they all back then?!) and his father and grandfather were both deacons. Basically, he was a pastor’s kid. And I think we all know one of those folk…

Poor Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders at the tender age of 16. Just a child, really. His kidnappers were more or less pirates that sold him into slavery on the west coast of Ireland.  Luckily, Patrick was visited by God in a dream…yep, that’s apparently all it takes to revoke slavery. God told him to escape his captivity and travel to the coastal shore where he could board a British ship and return to the motherland. I imagine his conversation in the dream went a little something like this:

PATRICK: Man, I sure hate being a slave. If only there were some divine being that I’ve spent most of my life cultivating a relationship with who could get me out of this awful predicament. *Sigh* I sure wish god were here.
(Silence broken only by crickets chirping in a dreamy manner)
I said: I sure wish God were here…
            (stillness, noiselessness, awkward silence)
Jesus Christ! Is anyone going to help me?!

            (Boom, crash, thunder, lightening, burning bush, massive flood, etc)

GOD: How dare you use my son’s name in vain!

PATRICK: Don’t chastise me, holy spirit! You’re the one who missed your goddamn cue!
PATRICK: Sorry. Cue.
GOD: That’s better. Now, Patrick, what can I do for you?

PATRICK: Well, I mean, this hasn’t been the greatest experience of my life…any ideas how I could get the hell outta here?

GOD: Nah, Dude. Sorry.

PATRICK: Seriously? Nothing?! Why the dramatic entrance if you’re not gonna help me out?

GOD: Oh, all of that? Ha, I just tripped on my way into your dream—I’m drunk as hell!

PATRICK: So, wait, I’m stuck here in 4th Century Ireland as a slave and you’re just getting hammered in heaven?

GOD: Well if you wanna look at it like that…yep.

PATRICK: That’s so unfair!  Who does that?

GOD: The almighty!  That’s who.  (fist pumps)

PATRICK: This sucks. Why do you get to have all the fun while your human creations are stuck down here going through all the shit we face day after day after day?

GOD: Uh…Cuz I’m God…

PATRICK: Oh. Right.  (starts to cry)

GOD: Now, now. Don’t cry.

PATRICK: (sobs harder)

GOD: Oh, c’mon dude, you’re being such a buzz kill right now.

PATRICK: (sniffles)

GOD: Alright, listen. I’ll tell you what. I am feeling pretty generous today so I’ll let you in on a little secret. Tomorrow morning, on the coast, a ship is leaving for the UK. Sneak out of here, flee to the ship, get on it, and go home.

PATRICK: You make it sound so easy.

GOD: It’s simple, Patty. Just run, board, stowaway, and find your family. Not hard.

PATRICK: (wipes face) Well, I guess if you think I can do it.

GOD: Ha! I know you can. There’s just one little thing…

PATRICK: Isn’t there always?

GOD: It’s not that big of a deal, nothing really! 


GOD: Well, as soon as you get back to Britain, devote your life to me and then spend all of your time in the church singing my praises. Then, later in life, you need to develop Stockholm Syndrome and return here to Ireland because you’ll be so psychologically damaged by this experience that your repressed memories of this place will drive you to inhabit once again and glorify it as your home. 


            GOD: Great! Then it’s agreed. Now get the hell out of here.

PATRICK: But this is my dream….

GOD: And I’m still God.

And so that’s more or less what happened. St. Patrick returned to the UK and devoted his life to Christianity. He later returned to Ireland to spread the good word, where he spent a great portion of his life teaching others about the drunkenness of God. Or, you know, whatever. And so, to this day, because of Paddy’s great influence in Ireland and attachment to the color green—which was originally blue…we really screwed that one up, America—we devote a day to all things emerald and intoxicating.

PS. If you're in the uptown area, you should definitely check out Bull Run Coffee's specialty drink, the Short and Stout. It's really pretty and exceptionally tasty.

It looks like a little baby Guinness!

Happy St Paddy's Day, everyone!