Oh Man

It has been a LONG time since I sat down and wrote anything. I definitely feel a catharsis deficit as a result, which I’ve been conscious of for some time, but then I get all in my head about how what I have to say isn’t that important or impactful and then I don’t even bother opening up my laptop. I’ve written a couple blurbs here and there in the journal I carry around, but largely that’s been relegated to to-do and grocery lists, which is a shame. I’m going to make this easy on myself and just stream-of-consciousness at you for a while to get myself back in the groove. Thanks for bearing with me.

So a little of what many of my friends are most interested in: a recap of my experience of Saint Patrick’s Day (or at least the parts I remember).

I worked at the honky tonk pub the night before, meaning I didn’t get out of work until around 5am, which is actually really good for a Saturday. We ended up closing a little earlier than usual because here in Chicago, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations start as early as 7am for some people, so most people are passed out by the afternoon.

From work I went to the key club I’m a member of (key clubs are establishments closed to the general public, but open to members; this one happens to be a bar that closed down for financial reasons, but still takes cash in exchange for booze and is usually open until around 7 or 8 in the morning depending on how busy it gets) to continue the drinking I started after my shift. I meandered around for a bit, then got into a conversation about how attractive I am with a gay gentleman, who happened to also be accompanied by a beautiful woman. A back and forth about my sexual orientation took place, I carefully toed the line so as not to immediately limit my potential to stay involved in this conversation, and we ended up chatting for quite a bit.

At some point, my plans for the day came up, and I convinced them to join me on my trip to the suburbs south of the city, as I heard that was the most authentic Irish experience of the holiday. We went back to my house to continue drinking until around 11am when we got in an Uber.

I’ll say this: everybody that I ran into was very friendly, but also seemed a little guarded. I suppose the combination of me, a gay man, and a black woman was a little too city for some of them, but maybe I just looked drunk after what was about 5 hours of drinking at that point. Not sure. Anyway, none of the bars there have kitchens attached. One had a food truck “on the way,” and the one I finally got ANY sustenance at only offered me fried cheese curds covered in ranch. It was gross and delicious, and fueled my continued search for fun.

We ended up wandering around the neighborhood for a bit. I walked up to any number of random folks on the outskirts of house parties hoping that my friendly demeanor would grant me access to their food stores, but no luck. Again, maybe if I was by myself it would’ve worked, but I wasn’t.

Finally we ended up at one house party because some dude was convinced that he knew me, and who am I to argue? We hung out there for a while, then decided to head back to my place to continue hanging out and drinking into the evening. My new gay friend grabbed a case of Budweiser that had “DO NOT DRINK – PROPERTY OF [Insert Irish female name]” written in Sharpie on duct tape, and we Ubered it away from the suburbs.

Overall, I’d say it was a wonderful community experience. I saw a great parade complete with some great bagpiping and drumming, some adorable children, and some proud men in kilts. Had it not been built up as a mecca of debauchery, I would’ve probably enjoyed it more for what it was., but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it.

Anyway, cut to today. I just filled out an application to work on a golf resort in Texas. It’s secluded (200 miles from the nearest Walmart per their website) and beautiful, and the south has been calling to me lately. Am I thrilled about the average temperature being upwards of 100 degrees? I am not. That said, I do like the idea of roughing it in the desert for a while to earn the right to use a southern accent from time to time. Also, it’ll offer me and my dog the opportunity to immerse ourselves in nature while I save up for my move to the Netherlands early next year.

That deserves some explaining. I spent the better part of five days heavily researching institutions that offer Master’s of Science degrees in Psychology, taught in English, around the world. I decided that a one year program would be better (read: cheaper) than a two year program, and would adequately display my aptitude for the pursuit of a PhD. As it turns out, the Netherlands offers some of the cheapest education to students coming from outside the EU, their schools are reputable, and they have an impressive quality of life. I can use the same planning framework for this as I already put in place for Vienna, so not a huge shift there.

Biggest shift: my cousin informed me that he would be moving out as of June 1st. He got accepted to a great acting program, and that’s wonderful, but it really fucks me in terms of consistency leading up to a major move. He offered solutions like, “sublet my room out on Craigslist,” which are fucking ridiculous, and I’ll never again subject myself to roommates I’ve not fully vetted over years of knowing them. So, the question is, do I move to a new place entirely (like Texas) or do I move to a more rural area surrounding Chicago, and maintain my current jobs? It’s a tough call. I’m leaning in the direction of a new adventure, but adventuring can be tiresome and trying. Of course, that’s never stopped me in the past.

Only time will tell where I go from here. I’m trying to maintain some degree of certainty during uncertain times, but it feels like an uphill battle. I am tired, I am working a lot, I am exercising, I am not writing enough, I am constantly thinking about what I will do next, and I am having trouble staying with any given moment. I’m also sick right now, which isn’t helping my mood any.

Usually I try to leave you with a takeaway, but I don’t have one for you today. All I’ve got today is an appreciation for the time you took to read this, and the time I took to write it. Feels good.

Separately, I’m sorry for any typos or errors in this – I shan’t be rereading it for revision. Cheers!

No Foot Right

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My first year of college was spent at the California Maritime Academy – a paramilitary school for merchant marines (the military’s FedEx) – and it was paid for by the United States Navy. The plan: major in mechanical engineering, get college paid for in exchange for becoming a Naval Officer, then join Special Operations.

Though the campus was gorgeous and overlooked the San Francisco Bay (that was the view from my dorm room up there), I couldn’t bring myself to be okay with a student body of 850. My graduating class in high school had 800, and that’s not including the 400 kids in my year that didn’t pass, so I had grown accustomed to a certain level of anonymity. Also, it was about 80% men, and I like the ladies too much for that ratio.

Again, I loved and excelled in ROTC. My unit was composed of students from Cal Maritime, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, and Stanford, and we met in Berkeley for classes, drill, and Physical Training (PT) once a week. I loved my unit, and I maintained relationships with many of the people in it for many years.

I traveled with them to Reno to judge NJROTC units from Nevada. I traveled with them to Memphis to participate in an armed drill competition. I participated in field exercises throughout Northern California. I loved all of it, despite my characteristic comical whining.

Simultaneously, my roommate for my first semester away from home happened to be the coke dealer for the school. A conservative estimate would be about $10,000 of product in and out of that room while I was in it. Self restraint has never been my strong suit, so I took full advantage of its availability. On any given day, you could scrape about a half gram off the mirror on his desk for free, but with the Navy’s stipend and money from my parents, I was able to afford a fair amount. I’d snort as much as my funds and nepotism would allow, then I’d take six Advil PM or freebase Oxycontin to come back down far enough to sleep.

I was chasing highs in whatever directions I could at that point. I tried acid for the first time that year. I also bought about 25 pills of MDMA in one go, and did it with such regularity that I started to have bouts of inexplicable blindness where my vision would go completely black during physical exertion (not ideal if you’re training to be in the military). The only thing that limited usage was the weekly potential for randomized drug tests, and by some miracle I always passed when I was tested.

One night, my coke-laden prattling worried my step aunt who was the same age as me, and she told my parents. I was livid with her, but in retrospect it was the right call, as it allowed me the degree of separation I needed to survive my first year of college.

During the summer, I went down to San Diego to spend a month learning about the many things the Navy has to offer an aspiring officer. I spent one week learning about surface warfare that included a night on a ship, shooting guns off the side into the ocean, seeing a shell as big as my leg fired over the horizon, and watching a helicopter land on the deck. Then I spent a week learning about submarine warfare, and spent a night under the Pacific. Then I spent a week with the aviators and got to fly in an F-18 Fighter Jet with a pilot that had just been selected for the Blue Angels. Then I spent a week with the Marines shooting guns and physically exhausting myself in the most rewarding ways.

I loved each and every step of that journey, but I loved my artsy girlfriend and the allure of a debaucherous life more. I transferred to UC Davis, and opted out of ROTC. I abandoned the dream I had had for the better part of five years for something that I’m sure seemed very enticing at the time. I can’t recall my reasoning, but I can say assuredly that once I’ve decided something, I power forward.

I gotta say, that’s a much easier way to live when you don’t spend any time looking back. Damn pursuit of writing in my later years…