Posted in Life, Sexuality

June is National Pride Month, and This is my Story. 🏳️‍🌈

Warning. Passion, conviction, and profanity all ensue. If you’re easily offended by those things, I urge you to reevaluate.

This has been adapted from a post on my personal Facebook.


Since June is national pride month, I’d like to tell (reiterate) my story. This may very well be the first time that most of you, as my readers, are hearing it. Thank you in advance for listening and following along.

I knew that something was different about me from a young age. In fifth grade, while others were beginning to notice girls and experience embarrassing bodily functions in accordance, I felt like I’d missed that train. I felt self-conscious, uncomfortable, awkward, which I’d say are pretty typical, but all the while I was looking at other boys. In a curious manner, mind you. At this time, my demeanor and mannerisms had started to be affected by my sexuality, as all the kids in elementary school made disparaging remarks and comments. Faggot. Gay, in a pejorative sense. Homo. Fairy.

Years later, it turns out they knew before I did. Isn’t that something?

I felt perverse. Unnatural. Disgusting. Like I wasn’t normal. Like I’d rather die. I neglected to share this with anyone, as I felt that their response would be similar. I was ashamed. I wasn’t like everyone else, and I wasn’t at an age where I recognized that that was OK, or acceptable, or where I was able to embrace it. I wanted out.

To this day, I still have trouble. I regulate the way I speak and act, albeit it probably subconsciously, if I feel even an inkling of a lack of acceptance from the other person. I withdraw. I get weird. I go quiet, dark.

I’m nearly 30, and assuming I’ve lived about a third of my life by now, why the fuck has it been so difficult? Why were the formative years, the most crucial and pivotal, so gut-wrenching and impossible to navigate? Why has ONE THIRD of my life been wasted, wishing I were someone else? Wishing I weren’t here? Is it due to internalized self-loathing? Is it societal influence? Is it a mix of both? Is it just me?

That’s not to say it’s been all bad. And much of the conflict has been internal, or intermittent.

I’m at a point, now, where I’m as proud of myself as I’ve ever been, but I still have a long way to go. I love differently, that’s literally the only difference, but there are still groups and individuals who want me blacklisted. I’ll never understand.

No matter what I say, I know there will still be some who challenge me, who think they know better, who tell me I’m wrong. You don’t know a damn thing. How arrogant to think you do. My goal is not to change minds, but to hopefully make you think. If you have realizations or epiphanies or decide to align yourself with me, that’s on you. I’ll just plant the seed, and hope for growth.

For those who’ve been in my corner this entire time, I love you beyond measure. Please stay.

Happy pride month. Be who you are. Love uninhibitedly. Let your colors show. And fuck the rest.

🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈

Posted in Poetry, Writing

Kouign-amann

Baked goods, snake hood

Repeat every kilometer

Salt shake, malt shake

Offbeat metronome

Little guy off his leash

Spike in the thermometer

Barking happy notes and beats

Soaring overtones

Take a bite (crunch, ahh)

What is it you’re after?

Silver gilded affirmations

on a pastry platter

Happiness sold by the ounce

Smiles seen across the floor

Laughter channels cleared to flounce

It couldn’t matter more

It couldn’t matter more

Balls of feet, soft concrete

Grass between the toes

Fisheye lens, make amends

Skyline half asleep

Severance dance, nimble hands

Caffeinated lows

This is cause for celebration

So take your faith-filled leap

Take a bite (crunch, mmm)

There’s candor in the middle

We speak of things without much time

to infix joke or riddle

Refreshments, conversations flow

Human biomes center stage

The joy we’ve grown will come and go

Once it flees its cage

This story knows no age

This story knows no age

One more bite (crunch, ahh)

My queen is called Amann

We see to it that mutual respect

will still live on

There is understanding playing

as our hearts rewrite the song

It won’t be long, now

It won’t be long

Posted in Song Lyrics, Writing

Deconstructed: An Introspective Look at the Thoughts Behind the Writing

It’s May 29th, and today must be the start of my New Year, because I’m making a resolution.

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That fell flat.

I’m resolving to—at least occasionally—be more transparent about my writing. I found my niche in metaphor, and I tend to mask my intended meaning in implicit wording and shy away, then, from explicit lyrical or poetic content. I often neglect to disclose the meaning behind the words, because I like to leave it open to the interpretation of the reader (or listeners, should my endeavors ever turn musical, like I hope). Let your imagination run wild. Find a meaning that makes the most sense to you and which allows you to relate. That’s one of my goals as a writer. Another is to write in such a way that is evocative.

My last post contained a snippet of some lyrics I’ve been working on, for a song called Throwaway Phrases. I wanted to share what I was working on, as well as fill the void between more “substantial” posts—rather, subject matter that’s more in-depth and which takes more time to write, if you will. The good news is, since that entry, I’ve finished it. The bad news is, the root beer is in the fridge, and it’s over there, and I don’t feel like getting up. But I guess I will. Ugh. Please hold.

Okay, I’m back. Refreshing.

That being said, I thought I’d share the finished product now that it’s complete. I also had the idea to take a look at each stanza, and analyze it to its core. I’ll explain what I wanted to convey in my writing, and the guise under which I hid the true meaning. It’s all relative, I like to think. And the best part is that I’ve superimposed each verse on a cool, watercolor ass background, to break up the otherwise train of text blocks. It’s easier on the eyes, and I got to channel my artistic side, in a more literal sense.

Throwaway Phrases DEC title

See? Like that. 😌

Throwaway Phrases is about casually tossing around (hence ‘throwaway’) words and phrases without fully coming to understand their heft, depth, or true value and meaning. This could be due to naivety, and in the song, I liken it to someone who’s learning a new language, and thus doesn’t know the proper usage or the weight of their words. It is written from the perspective of the person being pursued, and chronicles their progressively waning interest in their admirer.

If you’d like to read it in its entirety first, without analyses interspersed, click here. Otherwise, let’s break it down, part by part.

Verses 1 & 2

Throwaway Phrases v1

The first two lines, I think, are rather self-explanatory. It brings to mind one’s attempt at using a recently-learned word or phrase in another language, but doing so inappropriately. The lyrics begin with the recipient of such throwaway phrases (e.g. I love you) retaining their composure, and being calm and understanding enough to coach their pursuer.

I’ll leave the oil out at midnight

to burn away the fever

This line refers to the expression burning the midnight oil, which means to work all through the night. I wanted to express here that the naïf in question is hypothetically losing sleep over his new love interest, and perhaps burning through the hours of the night trying to work out his true feelings. More specifically, the subject is accommodating and giving him the time to do so.

Syntactical overdose

Bookmarks and paragraph prose

Syntax is defined as the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences, so this emphasizes the obsession one has with saying precisely the right things in the very beginning of a new courtship, amidst the butterflies and infatuation.

Bookmarks and paragraph prose is based on my own habit of frantically looking up new French vocabulary, and subsequently bookmarking these web pages in my phone, after which I try to use them in my writing.

The final two lines of the second verse are simply ones of encouragement; it’s believed that the pursuer is on the cusp of grasping his own feelings in regards to the situation. As it stands, though, and much to the chagrin of the pursued, no.

Refrain 1

Throwaway Phrases r1

I’m especially happy with the first four lines of the refrain; they came naturally to me and I think they flow really well. 😃

A launchpad in the margins

to propel you even further

While I’m reading, in English and especially in French, I make annotations in the margins. I highlight words, phrases, and concepts that I’m unfamiliar with, so that I can better understand and make sense of them, and refer back to them later if needed. That inspired the first part of the refrain, expressing that the suitor is taking (mental [or maybe physical, who knows?]) notes to help him along.

There’s no passion without conviction / without a little fervor is one of my favorite lines of the song. It’s pretty literal—passion requires believing in something (hopefully multiple things), and firmly believing in something means you have conviction. Fervor is another word to describe intense, passionate feeling. Redundant, or emphatic? You decide. (Hint: It’s emphatic.)

I’d rather that you not say …

It’s a rather throwaway phrase

The ellipses here represent ambiguity, and can be replaced with anything, really. You can relate this to your own personal life and experience by filling in the blanks yourself. Is it too soon for the person you’re dating to say that they love you? Would you rather your best friend not tell you she’s proud of you, if you feel it’s rooted in obligation instead of sincerity? It’s up to you. The line that follows hearkens back to the song’s title, and insinuates that the words have no real meaning or value if said tactlessly or carelessly.

Je crois pas que t’en es déjà là

Mais tu ne comprendrais quand même jamais

This translates to: I don’t think you’re there yet / But you’d never understand, anyway. Resentment is beginning to build and set in for our subject. While these words aren’t actually being said out loud to whom they serve as the object of affection, they’re rather an internal monologue, citing some frustration that they have to play the role of a teacher, thus offsetting the balance in this would-be relationship.

Verses 3 & 4

Throwaway Phrases v2.png

I did quite a bit of tweaking on these two stanzas before settling on what you see above, and I feel good about them now, as is. They’re a bit more metaphorical than the first two verses:

You’ll grow into the feeling yourself

Upon dispersal of your tanks

As soon as I wrote this, I knew I wanted to keep it, and build the following lines around it. Here, some continued internal monologue: the subject asserts that their admirer needs to mature naturally into any romantic feeling he may harbor, if that’s what’s written, and that it can’t be forced. Tanks in this case is a sort of abbreviation for think tanks, alleging that (internally) there’s a panel of people who do the thinking and bidding on the pursuer’s behalf. Not such a fun gig to be on the receiving end of, and now the whole of it’s becoming a nuisance.

(Turns out) a poetic flotation device

could help to fill the blanks

I love wordplay. A poetic device* is something used to enhance or intensify a poem’s meaning or message. I threw in flotation as an infix, to convey that the circumstance could very well make one feel as if drowning. The second line simply means that staying afloat, at the very least, could help matters.

*⚠️ Note: I’ve just realized as I’m typing this that poetic license better expresses the idea I was originally going for, but this still works. I’m not worried. Nope.

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Nah. Not at all worried.

this-is-not-fine-004-4f0492

Uh, back to reality we go.

Try it like this, this time

wiping the slate clean of old

Guess what? If you guessed more word play!, you’re right. If you guessed chicken butt, you’re wrong. And dated.

Formerly, the second line was forgetting everything you think you know, but I played around with it to save a few beats, as well as to more closely follow the ABAB rhyme scheme. And of old expresses that same idea—that in order for this to have any remote possibility of working out, our naïf needs to dismiss his instincts, since they aren’t doing him any favors.

I see you’re making waves again;

the water’s pooling in my soul

Another line I’m particularly fond and proud of. Making waves means to make a significant impression, or to cause trouble. I think both apply here, and regardless of whether or not the subject wants to admit it, they’re in deep, and feeling the effects of it (hence the water’s pooling in my soul).

Refrain 2

Throwaway Phrases r2.png

Home base docked in the footnotes almost repeats the meaning of the first line in the first refrain (A launchpad in the margins). More literary references, because I love that shit. Originally, I’d written Makeshift home docked in the footnotes, but I felt it was too wordy, and this edition came to me on the fly. It describes, again, the idea of figuring things out as you go along, in this case by way of metaphorically annotating.

Wherein they think for you builds upon that earlier idea of ’employing’ mental think tanks. Though the admirer means well, his execution doesn’t bode well for him, as it doesn’t come naturally.

giphy[1]

I don’t know what that is, but I like it.

They feed you lines in nursery rhymes

and even dress you to the nines

This coupling, for some reason, gives me a bit of anxiety. It sounds slightly awkward to me, perhaps because it breaks to ABAB rhyme scheme I was working with. But, hey—that’s that poetic license I mentioned earlier. I’ll take it. 😏

The nursery rhymes bit reaffirms our suitor’s naivety, and contains a nuance of treason: his think tank has grown tired of doing all the work, and since he doesn’t know better anyway, they can manipulate him and he’d be none the wiser. Also, I enjoy the expression dress to the nines, so it found its home rather nicely here.

Since this is a refrain, after all, the following two lines are the same, with some slight aggression thrown in for good measure:

I’d rather that you not say …

It’s quite* the throwaway phrase

*Our subject has evolved their choice of words from rather to quite. Maybe earlier, they were trying to be nice and save face, but now, they’re mostly fed up. And the tension just keeps building:

Tu me regardes quelques minutes trop tard

Mais tu n’comprends toujours pas, non, jamais

This translates to: You look at me some minutes too late / But you still don’t understand, no, never. As I wrote this, I pictured our admirer looking to his love interest for validation, but to no avail, as they’ve already decided that this isn’t worth the undertaking.

Middle 8

Throwaway Phrases middle8 (1).png

This translates to:

“It’s in the bag,” they told me

But they fell silent when the words came out

You will never be more than a friend

And on second thought (all in all),

I don’t even think I want you as a friend

Unless you get your shit together

Get your shit together!

But you won’t …

Unbridled anger at its finest. The admired has made up their mind that this is much too big a headache to be worth it. Under the microscope, the subject initially had the support to pursue this courtship, but when it fell to pieces, so did the support system. The middle 8 serves as a definitive ending to the pursuer’s hopes and dreams, and hopefully sets into motion a period of reflection, so the same mistakes won’t be made the next time around.

Side note: there are six S‘s in rassaisisses. Just thought you should know.

Coda

If this were a song, like I’m hoping to turn it into eventually, an outro would follow the middle 8, I decided.

While parts were inspired by my own experience (and I won’t disclose which role I took on 😒), Throwaway Phrases is mostly a work of fiction. These lyrics have taken on a whole new life in my eyes, now that I’ve deconstructed them. I only just became aware of certain meanings and nuances buried beneath each line, and the story itself unfolded as I analyzed it. This piece has evolved from a hollow endoskeleton, to a full-fledged, full-bodied work of art, that it brings me immense, unparalleled joy to share with you.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I’ve enjoyed breaking it down. If you’re interested, I’ll probably do more deconstructing in the future. If you’re not, I’ll probably do more deconstructing in the future, anyway. Either way, I may choose to space out the writing and editing of these kinds of posts going forward, as this one took me about eight hours collectively to compose.

What? I’m easily distracted.

///

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Posted in Pocket Poetry, Writing

Throwaway Phrases

It can’t be used like that

And not like that, either

I’ll leave the oil out at midnight

To burn away the fever

Syntactical overdose

Bookmarks and paragraph prose

You catch on quickly

You’re getting so close

A launch pad in the margins

to propel you even further

There’s no passion without conviction,

without a little fervor

I’d rather that you not say …

It’s quite the throwaway phrase

Je crois pas que t’en es déjà là

Mais tu ne comprendrais quand même jamais

Posted in Life, Writing

The Friendship Dichotomy: Finding Diversity in Polarity

“Is there anything I can pray for you for, Todd?” Lauren asked me.

This type of question typically turns me off, but the fact that she asked in a genuine tone, rather than throwing a religious tract at me, felt less uncomfortable. She sounded like she cared. And she did.

I was just about to begin school again, for the fourth time, after years of off-and-on enrollment. The interim periods were full of indifference, meandering, and general wishy-washiness. Naturally, I was nervous to go back, under the assumption that it would be ill-fated like all my previous attempts. I offered that as my answer, and she displayed further investment, asking me then what I would go on to study.

The conversation was a pleasant one. But her devout predisposition and faith in God were evident from that first question, and suddenly there was a disconnect. There’s no way I would ever be able to break ground with someone so vastly different—starkly opposite—from me.

I finished the transaction. Lauren went on her way, and I thought it’d be a one-off encounter.

Some time had passed, and I ran into her again. A coworker was helping her this time, and I recognized her. I almost walked by, but I decided to stop and say hello.

“Hi Todd, I confess I had to look at your name tag, but I do remember you. How have you been?” We chatted again. This interaction was more time-sensitive, but it set into motion what would become a worthwhile connection.

Routinely thereafter, we would catch up anytime she happened to be in the store during one of my shifts. We formed a bond over time and even exchanged contact information. I learned that her extended family owns and operates a local olive oil company. She learned that I am gay.

That’s what I was afraid of.

Even so, I was the one who offered the bait. I fishhooked my sexuality into a conversation during which we were getting to know each other. She asked if I was a believer, and I took my opportunity. I explained my religious upbringing, and I explained that it evolved into an adoption of irreligious beliefs as I got older. I shared the root of my dissociation being the negative view of homosexuality that the Christian church imposed.

Lauren was neither surprised, nor disappointed. In fact, she was rather supportive and nonjudgmental. She didn’t try to change me, and she didn’t try to dissuade me from my way of thinking, or living, or doing things. She didn’t make me feel isolated, or perverse, or unnatural. If anything, she made me feel loved exactly as is, and if there is a God, she insisted that I would be accepted the way that I am.

That was a defining moment for me.

That moment cemented my belief that it’s possible for two people with opposing views to get on harmoniously. For so long, I’d wanted to believe that. But I was constantly discouraged by the state of affairs between the church and atheistic society. And this, in turn, only further solidified my resentment. I wondered periodically if I was simply naive, or if my theory had any merit whatsoever. Then, she came along and challenged the accuracy of the perceptions I’ve held. Although it’s not an end-all be-all solution, it’s the framework, the proof I needed.

Most of our communication has been via text message, or in limited quantities while I’m working. Always fleeting moments: the time crunch of being task-oriented and on the clock, or the ease with which text conversations trail off into oblivion when in-person distractions and obligations arise. Fortunately, I got the opportunity to sit down and have lunch with Lauren before I left Buffalo. Minimal distractions, no restrictive engagements; just the two of us and a wonderful, fluid, heart-to-heart conversation that I’ll never forget.

As she began in a Facebook post at the closing of our lunch date:

A gay man and a born-again Christian walk into a diner …

No, really.

It sounds like a joke, but the punchline is comedically anticlimactic. Her phrasing sets the scene nicely: there we were, two polar archetypes of our respective truths, sharing a booth and a love of Greek food, as we lay the groundwork for connectedness and mutual understanding. All this despite our stereotypically and staunchly opposing identities and tendencies.

The term polar opposite carries a nuance of clashing; it suggests that two given things oppose each other so greatly, that they’re mutually exclusive, and could never hope to coexist. But there’s a certain beauty in polarity: the diversity of it. Lauren and I were seemingly separated by flames, and came together to quell the fire. Now, we’ve joined forces amidst common ground, and nothing stands between us anymore.

That is our “melody.”


Sometimes the most harmonious melodies don’t involve music.

💡 Tell me about an unlikely companionship you’ve made, whether recently or not, in a comment. This could mean platonically, romantically, professionally, or otherwise, depending on how you’d like to answer. Leave it in a comment, or ping back to this post. 😄

Posted in Poetry, Writing

Chasing After Dark

I can’t stay in here forever

Best to cover up these welts

If I let a word slip off my tongue

I’ll bring him the belt

It was just a Tuesday

There was no occasion

I’ll say I fell and that’s

the cause of the abrasions

She’s sharper than that

But she’s dull in execution

Her tactics are dissimilar

in that she thinks it’s an illusion

Won’t someone remember

that I’m a living, breathing being

And if you can make sense of that,

then I hope you’ll stop these things

Formally, I am

Chasing after dark until I can’t

Chasing after dark, until I can’t

I choose expressions wisely

My syntax is at war

My bruises are emblazoned,

my speech an underscore

She tells me I still love him

Or if I don’t, I should

Internally, there’s enmity

On the outside, cherry wood

Won’t someone remember

me, the way I smiled

A happy image to affix

to my bluish skin- my “style”

Formally, I am

Chasing after dark until I can’t

Chasing after dark, until I can’t

I wear these faces well, I think

but my body is rejecting

the transplant

I was chasing after dark, until

I slowed up the pace

Now I steady towards an outlet,

before I once again make haste

Posted in Poetry, Writing

La Moitié (3 Over 8)

Scanning for defining features
Birdsong fills the amphitheater
Open air and open heart
Playing target, game of darts

Do your worst, in a sense
I only dream in perfect tense
and when I wake up out of sorts,
the open window’s heaven-sent

Mental notes and update systems
I can’t see the difference in them
People gather where there’s nothing,
so they feel a part of something

I was younger once, you know
I’ve archived that identity
It wasn’t all that long ago
that I would oscillate with the anemone

So do your worst, he says
He only dreams in perfect tense
And if the lights are out ahead,
you’ll know he once was interested

No detected fever there
Projected in the theater, where
there’s wreckage in an envelope
Signed, encrypted, sealed with hope

He’s half of who he wants to be
Half-and-half duplicity
Watered down and passed its prime
Half himself away each time

He gives half himself away
Sets half his heart ablaze
He’ll be whole again, one day, he may
He’ll be whole again,
One day

Posted in Writing

an{notations}

I am evenly split between

careful and careless

I am three parts panicked,

and two parts scare-less

Armed with psychosis,

perched upon my shoulder

Pecking at my brain;

keeping me

the same


I’m writing a book of poetry, and above is but a small excerpt of the content therein. 😄

I’m going to scour through years of writing, collecting anything that jumps out at me. Maybe I’ll make some editions, to reflect a more current version of myself and my identity, and juxtapose both the original and the update. I’ll tie up loose ends, finish the unfinished, wrap up the cliffhangers, and throw in some free balloons for good measure.

Just kidding on that last bit. OR am I?

an{notations} coming sometime in the not-so-near-but-eventual ass future. Check back for updates that I may or may not post.

 

 

Posted in Poetry, Writing

Antithesis

I’m forcing these words out

like square pegs in round holes

Shave down the sides

so they’ll find their place

without their souls

Where are my keys,

and which doors do they unlock?

If I make it upstairs,

can I rearrange your thoughts?

Come join me down here

parce que j’ai peur

And cultivating discontent,

c’est pire que n’abattre des fleurs

Antithesis

I am your opposite

I never wanted this,

I never wanted this

Artificial intelligence

Whatever the pretense is,

Disproven hypothesis

that I never wanted this

No,

I never wanted this