An Evening With David Sedaris from the Mediocre Seats

I had the good luck and years of bad spending habits to get hugely inflated tickets to see David Sedaris’ reading at Paramount Theatre in Denver this last Friday.

Ticket prices and gouging is definitely in the top ten of my Annoying Things right now. They sell out in seconds and are then hugely priced (and profitable….) on apps or street corners. Seeing a band or attending an event requires SEAL Team Six level planning or at least budgeting.

I was not disappointed. The best part about attending live is the whole alive part. As with bands, I would eventually have the opportunely to experience most the material in a book or recording.

My favorite part of the evening was the questions at the end. The first I rolled my eyes out as someone blurted it, nervous and breathless from in front of me in Orchestra Left (note: these people and their good tickets and bravery at asking corny questions astonish me. Some people have it all…).

“What would you like to be remembered for?” they breathed.

David didn’t roll his eyes and was very kind, but did basically shrug for a few moments. “Well… not my writing…. My writing’s not going to change the world or anything.” He actually shrugged, his shoulders high and nearly comically expressive in his blazer, looked around while pondering and almost starting in on elaborating. The audience squirmed and chucked awkwardly, sympathy echoing from from those shy, queer growing up questions like “is there any special girl at school?” or “what do you want to be when you grow up” or something.

Then he said, “You know, a few months back I was at a reading…” Apparently, afterward a women, a representative of the governor of Kentucky, had come up and made the man an honorary Kentucky Colonel. Papers were signed, photos taken and a red tie bestowed along with the privilege of box luxury at the Kentucky Derby. It’s the highest honor the governor of Kentucky can give out, and not even in person!

“So yeah, I’d like it if my obituary mentioned that I’m a Kentucky Colonel.”

If that sad story unfolds, I know at the very least I will remember the Colonel fondly, inspired by the bestselling author’s modesty and humor.

Coincidence on Trains, Strains & American Sign… oh my

I met Ann on the bumpy Amtrak from Lincoln to Denver, but her name might have been so many different options and I’m honestly not sure. I am being hopeful in deciding I wouldn’t have misread Ann, so her name is hopefully something else.

Ann was Deaf.  I was so excited to encounter a Deaf person in the real world that I signed “good morning, I’m Eric” to her, easy shit, the second after I figured it out. When one of my many majors required two years of language, I had jumped at the opportunity to study American Sign Language. I took the two years, it’s about enough communication to gossip in middle school, basically. Just enough utility to count, talk about stuff like school, stuff around the home and shopping centers, clothes and romance.

Ann’s eyebrows raised and her face lit up, “you sign?” Then she gestured to herself, tapped her fingers to sign “name” before her fingers blurred to spell something I didn’t catch that time or the times after until I let myself cross that forgetful and inept line to faking getting it.

I had this part of the conversation down, because the Deaf community is one of the most welcoming I have ever encountered. While I can count the times I’ve been able to use Sign on my fingers and toes, it has always been a genuine and warm encounter. They have usually followup and ask where I leaned to sign, how long, and if I have any Deaf friends or family. This is a nice and casual way of letting them know what basically what level you can communicate using.

I once had a Deaf Uber driver, too. We sadly didn’t get to talk much because of safety or whatever.

I had shuffled in attempted quite at 1 AM onto the second level of the train car and next to a slumbering woman with white hair, Ann. She had poked me in the shoulder to get past me to leave in the morning, and poked me awake again when she got back, too. It wasn’t until the ticket check, watching her initial confusion and then silent understanding and compliance that I worked out that she was Deaf instead of a rude bitch. We met and had our introductory conversion, in which she refused my offer to write out her words when needed.

Ann was from Denver too, and on the way home from visiting a friend she had from back in college, some 40 years ago. She stressed to me the importance of maintaining friendships, and I got the impression she was recently retired and doing a lot of traveling and catching up. I didn’t catch her husband’s name, either, but he worked at a brewery. Her tote was well packed at her feet, topped with yarn and a book. She opened up her purse and a plume of weed scent reached me and I smiled and took the peanuts she offered.

The talk was punctuated by taking turns spelling out the unknown words and then her showing me their sign. “How else will you learn?” I felt lucky for the opportunity, and we eventually settled into a lull, rattling along on the bumpy tracks.

I’m not sure if coincidences are special of if I just don’t talk to enough strangers to know if they’re common. I had signed to Ann “food cart’s open” when the garbled voice had come over the intercom announcing it, and was feeling useful when a voice from the next row over said, “hey, can you hear me?”

I looked over to see a blonde buy in a polo flapping his right hand in my direction. While Deaf people sometimes wave, raising your hand slightly and flapping your hand like clearing smoke or a fart is the go-to to get someone’s attention. Also, I personally grew up in a very anti-pointing environment. Brandishing an index finger earned sharp looks or a yell-muttered “don’t point!”

John pointed to Ann and signed “is she Deaf?”

We were all floored, the chances had to be insane that three people of any level of American Sign would be on the same train, let alone the same row of the same car. After alerting Ann, she stomped on the ground and was so excited. ASL’s grammar and meaning is really in emotion and expression, so her eyes became giant round bubbles below her sky-high eyebrows. It’s the reaction you’d want when surprising someone for their birthday or christmas, every time.

On top of the random luck, John was also studying to be an interpreter. He taught me a few signs and I could not believe my fortune.

Then Ann rooted in the tote at her feet for a pan of brownies that greeted me with a familiar dank smell that had been absent from my week in Nebraska. Using napkins as plates, I felt like there was no way I could be on a wrong path.

I’ll always accept coincidences or luck.

Being Special & Friday the 13th

The weather is fucking fine and it’s Friday the 13th.

I have developed a decidedly positive outlook of this unlucky day for a number of reasons. The loudest reason being the added conversational fodder for myself and my brethren who struggle against awkward silences in line at the mini mart. Or worse, forced conversation with someone known but avoided at all costs.

These people manage to slip in an elevator or get assigned the same table at the company party, so it’s nice to have some faux topics. The weather is always there, but on Friday the 13th, everyone has a story.

We’ve all heard the stories: the 13th a coworker discovered the cheating; the lost or locked-in keys; the ticket; the string of a bad day retold with the expectation of pity and laughs.

Who doesn’t love some self deprecation?

Like most people, I have also have an affinity for black cats, split poles and stepped-on cracks. Bad luck omens of American urban legend. The answer why is clear: it’s easier to imagine that when random bad things happens, that it’s not only out of our control, but also preordained fate — the result of of mysterious and cruel forces.

Things that suck tend to suck less if they make you special. And being able to shirk some blame or even the added hue to partial, begrudging responsibility.

Or you just fall down the stairs and ponder a bit too much in bed.

But how was your day?

 

Born Again – Coming of Age, Transparent Episode Review

“I made this deal with God. I asked him, I said, ‘If you want me to live, you will not infect me. And If you want me to die, you will. That’s how much I thought my life didn’t matter.”

Transparent’s season 4 premiered a few weeks ago on Sept. 21st, and if there is one episode of the Amazon series that I wish everyone would watch, it’s episode 5, “Born Again.” Maybe I’ll have a watching party. LMK.

There’s the standard check-in with the cast, but the central theme pivots around critical moments in Davina (Alexandra Billings) and Maura’s (Jeffrey Tambor) younger lives in which they make prayerful deals with god.

I’ll admit, the first time I watched the episode, I felt very uncomfortable, but it took me some time to figure out why. There are intense themes presented in which I personally related, but the reason extended into exploring the moments and tools we all use to become ourselves. These can be hard truths to face.

The things we decide to never to again; the multiple versions of ourselves we slowly build and try out; the things we do to survive; the decisions forming who we are said to be, whether our real, wanted and honest truth or not; who we are with our family, then our friends, love interests and coworkers.

The episode feels like spoken word at times, Davina telling her story, juxtaposed along with Maura’s. In true Transparent style, the past blends into the future – younger Maura peppering the past and blooming into the present – Davina, a spark of herself on the stage and pain of the past. Her present self delivers the lines of Candi Staton’s “I’m Just A Prisoner,” her story weaving into the lyrics to rousing applause and cheers. Versions contrasting and crossing over, born again.

Though your love / has got me in captivity / yet if you should leave me / I know I would die

“I guess you could say the fear of death made me embrace life. If I was going to die, I was going to fucking live first.”

The Boy with the Insane Clown Posse Tattoo – poem

the Axeman, a rainbow filling his insides
planted prominent and proud on his left pec
he bared it all, proud to share
the boy with the insane clown posse tattoo

he told my friend i was sexy in her boots
they fit me perfectly and came to my knees
it was some night we were all dancing and spilling our drinks
i smoked weed until i didn’t know anything and hoped he would like me

i got his number and we shared embarrassing things
the shame that comes from being different and Nebraskan
like his arm was sore from jacking off instead of meeting strangers
like the sex and love addicts meetings talked about but never went to

queer communion, sharing where you’ve been
what is not normally considered, a bridged gap
filled with death threats, snorting chemicals
we cross the world with experimentation

picking up labels for other people to use
because it’s fucking tedious explaining there aren’t rules
to fluids of sex, roles and gender
the boy with the insane clown posse tattoo, he taught me

not to judge like a goddamn fool

Guac – short receipt-scrawled poem

dear guy with the vascular arms shopping for produce

you said “hey” in your gray, thin and faded t-shirt that i could see your nipples through

lemon or lime juice can keep guacamole from browning

i think it’s a convention not to lead with an apology

so there you are. i’m sorry i’m not better at conversation

i guess i knew you had everything you needed, but you were interested in me

i should have said something about firmness and let you catch me averting my eyes

these avocados and i have the same thing in common

we may never be ready but we’re still pretty good

with the right spices, compliments you carefully chose

if we’re soft enough to settle and let you know we’re yours

‘I’m rooting for everybody black’ – Issa Rae & the Impolite Truth

First of all, Issa Rae doesn’t give a shit what I have to say, and that is what makes her an absolute champion for equality.

Let’s face it, in certain recent years and at other venues, the Insecure mastermind’s statement would not have made any sense. The #OscarsSoWhite boycott of 2016 had followed two consecutive years of white-only nominees.

Those two years and plenty of others saying “I’m rooting for everyone” would mean the exact same thing as “I’m rooting for everyone white.” So…

And it still took Leo how long?

It’s not the polite silence we’re used to experiencing, but it’s all truth. I see Issa’s remark as a celebration of long awaited representation of marginalized people, she doesn’t make her stories for me and that’s okay. Narratives, stories and views not seen or experienced, ever.

I’m glad to shutup. With the history made by the wins of Lena Waithe, Donald Glover, Sterling K. Brown, Riz Ahmed, there is much to clap, root and holler for.

We can hope that we are living in a resulted in a renaissance of racial awareness that we can only hope is lasting.

What media are you excited for that is breaking the mold? Underground hiphop or grungy artist? I was stoked to see Michaela Cole of Chewing Gum‘s new Netflix show that is happening, definitely on my list!