25 by 25: Completion

Today is my 25th birthday. I would like to report that I completed by 25 by 25 list.  Here is a post giving evidence to that fact.

A few reminders about this: not everything happened in the last year.  This list is half a bucket list for my 24th year, half a bucket list for my first quarter-century of life.  Additionally, the list changed a little throughout the year, especially in the last six months as it became apparent that some things would be impossible.  I never replaced a task with something I had already done, so I think that’s legal.

1. Go streaking

This happened senior year of high school.  We were having a senior marching band girls sleepover.  We may or may not have wound up naked on the marching band field, performing our show (singing, no instruments).

The singular almost-proof picture

The singular almost-proof picture

 

2. Go skinny dipping

Eh, this one is almost a freebie.  This has happened a couple of times.  I’m convinced it’s inevitable when you spend large amounts of time next to and on a lake.

 

3. See Pacific ocean

When I wrote this list, I was in a job I didn’t like and I intended to stay in that job until the summer, quit, take a month long road trip that would involve a train to Seattle, a leg down the coast, and coming back up Route 66.  That was how I was going to see the Pacific ocean.  Instead, in October, I quit my job.  A week or two into unemployment, I had a new offer, so I took an impulse trip to visit my friend Gwen in Vancouver in my remaining unemployed time.  Vancouver happens to be on the West coast.

Not the ocean, but from the same trip

Not the ocean, but from the same trip

Recently, my dad informed me that I had already seen the Pacific ocean on a vacation we took when I was in 4th grade.

 

4. Take a road trip

In a desperate attempt to cram everything in prior to today given a lack of time off, I decided to make Labor Day weekend a Road Trip weekend.  My dad came with me, and it was awesome.  We went out to the Badlands and Rushmore and the Black Hills.

In the Badlands

In the Badlands

 

5. Get a cat

I guess I had two cats when I wrote this list, but one of them was very new to me.  And the other one is my heart cat.

Seriously, how can you resist?

Seriously, how can you resist?

 

6. Lose the v card

Check! (2010, for those who question whether it was a this-year goal.)

 

7. Learn to wakeboard

Wakeboarding is my absolute favorite thing to do in the world.  There is no way it could not be on this list.

Tearing it up

Tearing it up

 

8. Learn to drive

Yeah, I did that.  I just remember the whole process being painful.  Explicitly, I remember driving to the lake with the whole family in the car one night in the pouring rain and having a stubborn match with the parental whose side of the family is known for stubbornness.  First, I wanted to quit and the parental wanted me to keep going.  Then eventually with much yelling and crying and stuff, the parental wanted me to quit and I wanted to keep going.  I don’t really remember the details.  I just remember being relieved when I was switched out of the driver’s seat.  Plus, like, I learned to drive, so water under the bridge, you know?

Me and Ted, my car

Me and Ted, my car

 

9. Go to casino

I went to the casino in like late winter/early spring, and I came back with a return of 110%.  How?  I played a slot machine until I won, no matter how small, and quit.  It was great.  I won like a buck on the ten I put in.

Winnings voucher!

Winnings voucher!

 

10. Go to valley fair

Valley Fair is the Six Flags of Minnesota, since apparently it is not cool enough to have its own Six Flags like every other part of the country.  I went with my friend Emily this summer.  It was fine and stuff.  Average theme park.

Cats should be allowed at theme parks.

 

11. Go to concert

Prior to this year, I had never been to a non-classical concert.  My friend Jen and I went to see The Backstreet Boys.  Which always should have been my first concert.  Just maybe 12-14 years ago.

We were instructed to "Scream like you're 15 again!"

We were instructed to “Scream like you’re 15 again!”

 

12. Make french silk pie

My friend Brian and I made a french silk pie when I visited him in March(?).  It was disgusting.  I will never be using that recipe ever again.

All pie except that pie. That pie we made was gross.

 

13. Go berry picking, make jam

This was a thing I did right before my 24th birthday, so it practically counted, right?

Yummy yummy

Yummy yummy

 

14. Buzz head

Again, technically I did this just before my 24th birthday, but my 24th year involved actually living with that buzzed head and all the growing out phases following that.

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15. Go to (college) homecoming

My first year out of undergrad, I missed it so badly that it was too painful to go back to campus until the spring, and even then, the few times I did go down there, I mostly met up with friends in town rather than actually hang around campus.  So for my 25 by 25, I made it a goal to go to the formal Homecoming Weekend.  It was a lot of fun.  I enjoyed being on campus in a new, graduated adult role.

Um Ya Ya!

Um Ya Ya!

 

16. Go to Mount Rushmore

This happened on my road trip with my dad.  Admittedly, it determined the location goal of said road trip.  Anyway, Rushmore’s pretty cool.

Four heads?  I think it needs a fifth.

Four heads? I think it needs a fifth.

 

17. Get published

I have been published twice.

Once, in middle school, I submitted an article about a friend of mine for New Moon magazine’s (link: https://www.newmoon.com/magazine/) Beautiful Girls issue.  It was selected.  This has been a huge embarrassment both then and ever since because 1) they did not keep a single word of what I actually wrote and 2) I was soooo crushing on this friend and had no idea, but I knew then that it wasn’t normal, so it was weird then, and it’s weird now because it’s one of my cringe-worthy early gayball stories.

The second time I was published was in the Electronic Journal of Linear Algebra.  You can read (or try to, anyway) that article here:

MY MATHEMATICAL CONTRIBUTION TO THE WORLD

 So FYI, I am a published mathematician.  For now and forever.

 

18. Finish quilt

I finished my t-shirt quilt in junior(?) year of college.  It was a huge endeavor.  It took me many years.  I am very proud of it.  Somehow, despite the 42 squares on this quilt, I still have too many t-shirts.

No bed has these proportions

No bed has these proportions

 

19. Play ukelele

I bought a ukelele this year and learned to play it.  I love it.  I have tried to have skype jam sessions with two people now.  Those are less successful than the ukelele in general.

Ukelele involves singing. Cats are not invited.

 

20. Wildcard – anything you’ve never done before

I have no idea what I intended for this.  Here are some things I did for the first time this year: go to a Dakota, take ownership for a database, join Instagram, tweet, run a 5K without walking, buy a bridesmaid’s dress, use a 3D printer, hire a house-sitter, and break a bone.

Radial neck fracture.  And a busted up face.

Radial neck fracture. And a busted up face.

 

21. Visit Megan

I visited Megan on a whim in April and then again this summer after her surgery.  Both times we got Brahm’s.  I have concluded that the presence of Brahm’s is Texas’s greatest redeeming factor.

Brahm's, bitches

Brahm’s, bitches

 

22. Go to Europe

Did this prior to this year.  I went to London in high school with band, and then studied abroad in Budapest in college.  I also visited Prague and Amsterdam on the study abroad trip.

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23. Do a shot

I had never done a shot prior to this year.  DO NOT MOCK ME.  There is nothing wrong with not being stupid.  Anyway, I had some purple thing the same night I went to the casino with Jen.  It was fine.  Nobody died.  I see no reason to avoid or repeat the experience.

This is what I drank.

This is what I drank.

 

24. Make a real live used webpage

I think this was a late addition, because that job I started in November was doing web development.  And I wanted to be useful enough on the team that I was actually developing web stuff.  My first application got released sometime this spring.  Unfortunately, it is behind a login that y’all don’t have access to, so I can’t show it off.

Workin’ hard. Look at that 25-year-old maturity.

 

25. Ride a motorcycle

My friend Jen (boy, she was quite the accomplice for this list) said she would take me on her motorcycle.  It was terrifying.  And exciting.  Mostly terrifying.  I think I prefer jet skis — same effect, lower risks.

Riding into year 25!

Riding into year 25!

#Acceptance

The other day I went shopping for Mother’s Day cards (yes, y’all, that’s right around the corner, so you need to get on that sh*t).  I got what I needed, and I also found this:

Oh hey, Just hanging out in the Wife section

Oh hey, Just hanging out in the Wife section

And this:

Two Great Moms

Front

Back

The times — they are a-changin’.  If Hallmark is getting on the bus, the bus is getting pretty full.  And okay, yeah, there was only one partner card and one two moms card, but there was also only one card For Mom from Preteen Daughter.

I would also like to point out that the two moms card was actually For Two Great Moms.  The card I got for my mom was just For Mom.  No great (even though she is).  But this two mom thing: this isn’t Heather Has Two Mommies; this is Heather Has Two Great Mommies.  Damn right, she does!

On a somewhat related note, I am now fully embracing all “Hallmark Holidays.”

 

All the Feels

This is the song stuck in my head today:

 

 

It has been a very melancholy day.  Which is odd, because mostly today I read, snuggled some cats, and cleaned.  But I mean, this song kind of demands that you adopt a little-bit-depressed demeanure.  WordPress is trying to tell me that’s not a word.  But I googled it, and various dictionaries say it is.  They also say it’s obsolete.  This confuses me.  I know lots of people that say demeanure.  Unless I’m thinking of a different word.

 

Sigh.

 

 

Parade Day: 90+ Degrees

Today Governor Dayton signs the Freedom to Marry act into law in Minnesota: I am real today.


That’s inaccurate — I am real every day.  Today, and yesterday, and Friday, the people that hold the power in Minnesota (well, the majority of them, anyway) recognized that I am real.  My reality will be validated today, and in a good way.  In a way that stands up to do something about it: 515 rights in the right direction.


Shortly after my sister and I started blogging, my mom talked about wanting to blog, and how she’d want to write about some of this gay stuff and how it has impacted our family and me and really made things tough at times.  She said she wouldn’t want me to read it because of this, which is silly, because I know as well as anybody what my end of puberty demotion to second-class citizenship has meant.  It has changed every single aspect of my life: being gay shouldn’t make a difference, which is another way of saying it does.


A year into my adult life, I know more people personally impacted by this law than I ever have before.  I know adult couples that don’t trip on the word “partner” after 5, 10, 20 years, and hold marriage licenses from other states or countries (Vancouver seems to be a popular wedding destination).  Queerspawn, the kids raised by same sex couples, are a growing staple in my classes and friend groups.  And there are my peers, fresh into adulthood, holding on to our Millenial sense of justice and equality, expecting to be right, and we are stubborn: we will be right.


But first, we will take a moment to celebrate.  Because despite everywhere we have to be quiet (at work, at school, at the supermarket, at the doctor’s, in the mall), we have spoken up, and most importantly, others have spoken up on our behalf.  So despite the sudden heat index spike, it’s time to take a breather and look at progress: time to party.



Why Visibility Matters

Let’s talk about the red Human Rights Campaign logo that is making headlines.

This thing, that’s all over your Facebook newsfeed

I broke a personal rule yesterday: I responded in anger to an ignorant post on Facebook.

The post was from a high school acquaintance, and it said:

“I wonder how many people on facebook are against marriage equality, but don’t feel the need to post or share a picture about it. The red equal sign is stupid and annoying, and I’m sick of it.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, opinion sharing on Facebook is certainly annoying at best.  Almost as annoying as all of those statuses where people share their opinions on how annoying sharing opinions on Facebook is.

Here’s the thing with gay rights though: it is not about red vs. blue or which pop star is the best or even who used the latest meme incorrectly.  No, rather,

When one group is the oppressor and another group is the oppressed, we’re not dealing with a difference of opinion.  We’re dealing with a system of discrimination.

Which is what I said, only not as kindly.

“Not that we’ve talked in years, but I, and I’m willing to bet a lot of other people, don’t give a fuck about how you feel about seeing views other than yours. And before you call me hypocritical for going off on your view, let’s get one thing straight: your view does not just differ from my view. Your view oppresses my life.

Do you live in a society where you can’t visit your significant other on their death bed, where you can get fired for explaining who a picture on your desk is, or where people daily get beaten to a bloody pulp for being like you?

I didn’t think so. A lot of red might annoy you, but so many of us can’t even start to care — we’re too busy writing you off for ignorance and discrimination. Plain and simple.”

Granted, when I joined in, just over twenty people had already commented (pretty evenly split between for, against, and random jokes), the best of which was the very first, sarcastic comment:

“Civil rights are overrated”

So I didn’t need to get involved.  And my general rule is not to touch such things — deep breath, hands off.  Because I do really and truly believe that quick words born in anger are not the solution.  We’re fighting for love, and the best way to do that is with love.  I really value the times when you can sit down with somebody, and have a full-fledged, two-sided conversation, speaking from your heart and hopefully to theirs.

But sometimes, when the next guy to post after you goes on about how homosexuals have the same rights he has because he can’t marry a man either, you just feel compelled to say,

“Must be great to be a straight white Christian male! You guys have all the answers, and they just seem to come to you without ever having to think at all!”

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about when we’re obligated to speak up.  I often find myself resistant to putting myself out there, even when I know I’m standing up for the humanity in us all.  My first thought is too often, “It’s not my problem, let it go” or “do I have to?” even when it really is my problem and directly impacts my life — as a gay individual, if nothing else!  Fortunately, this second thought is never far behind, because it is so, so important that we don’t let our doubts and misgivings and other obligations keep us from knowing and doing what’s right.

That’s a funny thought, that maybe changing my profile picture to a red HRC logo to show my support for marriage equality might be exactly “what’s right,”  when actually speaking up with the words that come to my head (too often, “Wow, you’re a moron!”) is clearly not right.  But it highlights what I’ve ultimately come to realize:

I feel compelled to scream constantly, with every power I have, because it is so hard to be heard, not just over the hate, but over the silence.  Silence means nothing changes; silence means accepting a place as a second-class citizen, without deserving as much, like and amongst so many others.  I have to put myself forward and keeping hollering and pushing what I know to be right, because my own silence feeds my own demise.  Just like yours does.

But my figurative screaming is just as ineffective towards real change as literal screaming so often is.  So what to do?

The only answer I’ve got to this is Stand Up.  Scream with your actions — know when to speak, and know what silence means.  Take time for tough conversations.  Volunteer.  Give what you have, whether that’s time, money, smiles, or just your profile picture for a week.

Yesterday I broke my rule, and as the rule states, with angry words in a poor forum, nothing changed.  Except my fury level and the renewal of my conviction to keep having the tough conversations, volunteering where I can, and changing my profile picture whenever it feels right, no matter who it offends.  If I could have one more word on the worthless spat I’m leaving behind though, it would be:

Dear Moron,

Me and all these other people with the red pictures?  We’re glad it annoys you.  We’ve done it precisely because it annoys you, and what an awful thing, to hate love.  We’re standing up for something we know to be right, in what was a small way but has suddenly turned massive, because so many of us have chosen to stand.  How could I possibly be sorry you’re irritated by so many people taking just a few seconds to say they recognize the humanity in all of us?  And you know what?  When we stand, we’re looking down on you.

How to Navigate the Gay

My therapist, who is also gay (well, actually, I have no idea what her preferred label or lack thereof is, but she’s a lady partnered with a lady — call it what you want) sometimes tells me, “it’s still early” when gay-related stuff comes up.  This is in regards to the fact that I’ve only been out six years and I am a young’un in the world, and I think it’s supposed to be consoling, although frankly, I don’t really see how that works.  Six years is like a quarter of my life.

Anyway, this morning I was thinking about this particular comment while driving to work, and it occurred to me that I’ve been driving just about as long as I’ve been out (in any fashion), and the two — being a driver and being gay — have a lot in common:

Point One:

Some folks get their license immediately depart on a cross-country road trip.  Some folks also come out on Facebook.  Others stick to the small circles of their life for a few years, slowly expanding their range.

On the same note, not everybody makes it to the cross-country road trip.  Although it seems fair to say that generally, the longer you’ve been driving, the further you will have traveled, and the longer you’ve been out, the more people will become aware.

Point Two:

It matters a little if you’re a driver, but mostly for practical concerns, like coordinating rides.  Despite what people often act like, it matters a little if you’re gay, but mostly for practical concerns, like which state your wedding will be in.

Point Three:

More importantly, I really thinking this driving/gay thing really gets at what irks me about the “early” comment.  When driving, it does not matter if it is your first time out or if you’ve been driving for years — you might still have the rug pulled out from under you.  Similarly, you might be one of the ones who just breezes through it all.  Lucky ducks.  And while trends might suggest more vulnerability early on, there’s ultimately no way to tell where your personal experience will fall.

Early or not, there is almost certainly a guarantee that as long as you continue down either road, literal or figurative, you’re likely to encounter some scary moments.  And you’re likely to make it through.  Not to diminish the losses incurred both in driving mishaps and the turmoil that is coming and being out, but most folks drive daily.  Gay folks are actually gay more than they drive, since it’s safe to be gay while asleep, in contrast to operating a motor vehicle.  And both parties generally carry on.

(Yet Another Reason) Why Our Sex-Ed System Needs Overhauling

Here’s something that pisses me off:

Scene: Doctor’s visit, in the exam room, with either a nurse or the doctor themselves.  We are going through the normal questions — are you on any medications? etc.

Doctor: Are you sexually active?

Me: Yes.

[Dude.  My parents and like neighbors and stuff read this blog.  …Yeah, guys, I get some.  Owned.]

Doctor: Any chance you could be pregnant?

Me: No.

Doctor looks up at me with a ‘quizzical’ look that is barely disguising their “Are you an effing moron?” thought.

Me: I’m gay.

Doctor: Oh.

Me, mentally, as I watch them cross out the next few questions about practicing safe sex and skip to the next section: Are you an effing moron?

Y’all ready for my soapbox?

It’s really more of a bottle.

Because here’s the thing, you guys: Safe sex in same-sex encounters, including between women, exists, and it matters.  So what if I’m not going to get pregnant?  There are a gazillion other cooties out there that I don’t need sliding over into my holy temple (let alone secret fortress – yeah, I went there), thank you very much.

The gay-est explanation of STDs I could find.

I was lucky.  I did have sex-ed in school.  It was abstinence-only through middle school, and then “comprehensive” in 10th grade.  I recognize that out in the real world, this put me and my buddies leagues ahead of some of my peers.

Not that I ever heard the word “gay” in that class, as I filled in crosswords with various forms of birth control.  Which is ridiculous given that regardless of if you lean high or low, a statistically significant number of people in that class will* have a same-sex encounter.

*I mean, they probably already have.  We made it through college.

Thank goodness for the internet.  Because a quick google search just for “safe lesbian sex” shows you that it does exist: here and here and here and here, just for starters.  And an image search for “gay kittens” gives you this:

-Wait! Do you have a dental dam? -No, but I have some saran, we’re cool.