Tag Archives: gratitude

67. James Hurts Like a M#th@f*ck3r!

Standard

Welp, I did it; I finally experienced something that I feel uncomfortable broadcasting on the internet. Yep. You heard right. I’ve written about how to clean out your asshole before getting railed, I’ve written about being sexually molested, and I’ve written about the guy who tried fingering me after I ate Indian food. But this, I can’t write about. But I will give you context without explicitly telling you what’s wrong with me, because frankly it’s none of your god damn business:

I am currently in the most pain of my life. Here are things that I have experienced that are less painful than what I’m currently going through:
1) Peeing out these weird crystals when I was younger.
2) Falling on a dick.
3) Strep throat so bad I wanted to drool into a bucket.
4) Broken collarbone from flying off my bicycle.

My pain has been so intense that I’ve called out of work three days in a row. I’ve never called out of work before. Ever. Even when I had strep throat earlier this year, I tried to work. I didn’t know what was wrong with me yet, but I would go to work and then get so dizzy I would lose my balance and then they would send me home. This happened a couple times before I went to the doctor. But on the second day of this current pain I was still going to work. I started my shift on Friday sitting down on the stairs sweating, because I was in so much pain. My coworkers kept checking on me: “Daddy, are you alright?” They brought me cold water and one of them made me this mixture of water, salt and lime. But by the end of my shift I was incapacitated. My abs contracted so hard that I doubled over, and I didn’t end up making it to the bathroom. My coworker drove me home, and I was thankfully able to make coherent silly conversation. When I got home, I told my roommates that I was okay and that I was gonna go to the doctor in the morning instead of work. They went to bed, but then I think Kaylee heard me crying in the bathroom. I told her I was nervous I wouldn’t make it to the bathroom in the middle of the night so she came into my room and helped me lay down a towel underneath me. I was still in an insane amount of pain so she gave me a melatonin and sat and talked with me until I fell asleep. She left my room at 4 am and then slept for two hours before she had to start her day.

The next day I texted Kelley and asked if she would come to the doctor with me. We took an Uber, because I couldn’t walk without being relatively hunched over. In my opinion my hunched-over hobble make me look like the monster from Stranger Things. But Kelley insisted on singing, “So I creep, yeaaaah,”  (that song “Creep” by TLC) every time I walked around which I also thought was accurate and hilarious. She came back into the exam room, and she was there when they told me my diagnosis. Honestly, it ended up being worse than what I had originally thought. And when I became speechless from shock, Kelley filled the void with the questions I needed to be asking the doctor. The doctor tried to make small-talk about my vegan diet, but I was already gone.

I waddled out of my Uber when it reached my front door, and I stumbled up to my apartment. Slowly, my friends started to trickle in to keep me company. I told them what the doctor said. Basically I’m not gonna die, but my life changed forever on Saturday. The medication they gave me started to make my stomach turn. Stacy ran out to grab me Pepto Bismal and ginger ale. Caity yelled at me for not asking for help every time I got up to do something for myself. But I got up anyway to do something in the kitchen and then I got stuck there; my pain got so bad I couldn’t move. I laid face-first on the counter, and then Kaylee, Stacy and Caity all just came out and hung out in the kitchen until I could move again. And then when my stomach cramped up so bad I had to lie on the floor in the fetal position, they all came and laid on the floor with me. But the whole time, they weren’t being gross and cuddly. The conversation moved seamlessly from the living room couches to the kitchen and then to the living room floor. No one commented on it; everyone acted normal about it.

But the pain isn’t what I want to write about; those are just plot points. And I don’t read books because of the plot; I read because of the relationships. And Jesus Christ I am so grateful for my relationships. Jian Li came up here from Chinatown and brought me juice, because I didn’t have the appetite for anything else. My friends have been checking in with me via text, offering to help me in ways that I wouldn’t be able to accept. Stacy offered to do my laundry. Caity went grocery shopping for me. And when I couldn’t do anything but throw pillows and scream my body to pieces, Caity sat there and let me be furious. My friends sat and talked to me when I couldn’t stop asking, “Why is this happening to me? How am I supposed to be this beacon of light when I keep getting shitted on? I want so badly to be this optimistic James who looks on the bright side and cares about people, but it’s so hard when people keep stealing pieces of me. Because I’ll never  be the same. And I feel like there are two James’. There’s Light James who loves drag queens, loves being outside on beautiful days and has a fashion sense that can only be described as Harajuku Throw-Up. And there’s Dark James who listens to angry rap music, ignores his fellow riders during Uber Pool and who has this insanely dark sense of humor. And every time something like this happens to me, I feel like I lose a little bit more control of my body; like it belongs to me less and less. And I veer closer to the Darker James. And what if he’s not as lovable as Light James? What if people don’t want to be around Dark James?”

And here’s what they said:

“This is not your fault. You are not being punished. This is science and it happens to people sometimes. We love both James’. And no matter what happens to you, Light James will always be there, because it’s a part of you. And no one can take that away from you; that’s part of your framework. And no one wants to talk to the other riders during Uber Pool; that’s natural.”

And then Stacy reminded me of a story that showed me Dark James is lovable, too:

At my grandmother’s wake the atmosphere was so dark. A bunch of us grandkids were doing our best to cope so we started whipping out inappropriate jokes. My cousin Lani asked, “Where’s the champagne?” And I said, “I don’t think there is any.” And she said, “Well, when I die there will be champagne at my wake.” And I said, “God, I can’t WAIT for you to die.”

(Totally kidding please don’t die but I do like champagne because I am a glamorous lady with exquisite taste.)

After Kelley accompanied me to the doctor even though she had plans with her super hot boyfriend, I texted her to tell her how grateful I was that I didn’t have to be alone when I was in such excruciating pain. She responded with something like, “You don’t have to thank me. It’s what friends do.”

But I know that’s not true; not all friends are even half as amazing as this. I am fully aware that I am so blessed with the friendships I’ve been given. Before all this pain started, I would end every night by listing all the things I’m grateful for. And now, I’m usually hurting so much that I can’t think about a whole list of things. But even as I lie there crying and whimpering, I still take the time to say thanks for my friends: “Thank you so much for sending me these amazing people to take care of me. I don’t know what I ever did to deserve such amazing people, and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing to keep these people in my life but please give me the foresight to keep doing whatever the fuck that is. And I know that even in these most unlucky circumstances, I am one of the luckiest people in the entire world.”

This is the James I want to be. And you can’t take that away from me.

“This is not your fault.”

“You are not being punished.”

“Champagne IS delicious.”

#DONTGIVEUP

JAMES THE  INDOMITABLE

“OLIVE: Can’t you see that I’m a mess?
ROSEMARY: No, you’re not, Olive. You’re wonderful. And you’ll handle this the same way I did. With an incontrovertible sense of humor.”
~Easy A (Bert V. Royal)

58. James’s 2014 Gratitude List

Standard

So while I was home for Christmas, my mother asked my sisters and me if we would make a list of five things we were grateful for from 2014, and she wanted us to share these lists on Christmas Day. Well, we all sort of dropped the ball on that one, and when Christmas Day rolled around we were all a little too shy to be super vulnerable in front of each other. I know it meant a lot of my mother that we make these lists so here’s mine now:

1) Career Success: The year started with the biggest high and the biggest low of my life. I was cast in my first real professional show as a dancer in 42nd Street. It was fucking amazing. I got to wear all the original costumes from the Broadway production, and I was getting paid to tap and sing every damn day! I am so grateful for that. But near the end of the production, my grandma passed away unexpectedly. I flew home on my two days off for her wake, I sang at her funeral and then I flew back to Florida immediately afterwards. It was really hard for me to be a tap-dancing ray of sunshine after that, but I told myself that she was sitting there in the front row watching me. After that, I performed every show for her with the biggest smile I could muster. Also 2014 ended with another career success for me: I was finally cast in my first professional lead role as “Burt” (or if you’re my mother: “Dick Van Dyke”) in Mary Poppins. I am very grateful for all the gains I made in my career in 2014, and just so everyone knows: it took me three solid years of auditioning in New York to be cast as a lead. So if you’re moving to NYC to pursue acting, BE PATIENT, GOD DAMNIT.

2) Stacy: When my grandma passed away, I called Stacy to see if she was available to come to the wake and the funeral since she’s basically like an honorary Hansen. When she picked up the phone she said, “I’ve already asked off.” The wake was on a Monday, and she worked a 9-to-5 desk job at the Department of Transportation. After she finished her workday, she drove for an hour to make it to the end of the wake. She then took me to the church where I practiced the song I was going to sing the following day at the funeral while she sat quietly in the pew while I learned a song I didn’t know at all. Then she drove another hour to take me home. She came to the funeral the next day, and when she tried to sit in the “Friends” section instead of “Family” my older sister yelled, “STACY. GET OVER HERE.” After hearing my big sister raise her voice at her while in the House of God, I think she was so frightened that she unintentionally shit her skirt for the second time in her adult life. But she scurried over to sit with my sisters and me. She sat next to me the whole time, and she didn’t try to comfort me too much with touch. Afterwards, she drove me back to the airport. When my parents tried to give her money for the gas, she refused. And when it was just the two of us in her car, when I no longer had to put on the façade of being the big brother who keeps the show running smoothly with jokes and smiles, I started sobbing as she drove. And she didn’t pull over to give me a hug or try to hold my hand; she just calmly put her hand on my knee while she drove. She understood the core of loss. She understood that there was nothing to be fixed or bandaged, and she let me be un-okay for a few minutes of my life. I have never been more grateful to Stacy in my entire life.

3) Caity: 2014 was a big struggle for me. I remember having just a really terrible day after a particularly grueling night of waiting tables. I trudged into my apartment, went to our room, took all my clothes off, turned on my box fan, laid down on my stomach on the hardwood floor in my underwear and just started bawling. Caity came in to see if I was alright and I remember saying, “I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be anywhere. I’m not suicidal, and I don’t want to die; but I just want to not exist for like ten minutes.” Everything finally just got to me. The unkind people, the auditioning life, my self-doubt, my wreck of a dating life, my loneliness. I cracked. And I laid there on the ground crying while Caity laid there next to me rubbing my back until I calmed down. To be frank, I’ve cried alone in my room countless times. But this was the first time it happened in front of Caity, and I’m grateful that I didn’t have to feel so alone this time.

4) Summer Vacation: For the summer of 2014, I finally gave myself a summer off. I did what I wanted to do. There weren’t really auditions happening, so I just stopped looking. I stopped working on my craft for a second. I’m sure I went to a dance class and a voice lesson here and there, but for the most part I gave myself a summer vacation. I laid out almost every day. I woke up early, took the train down to West 4th Street, walked to Starbucks, ordered the largest iced coffee they had and laid on the grass of the Christopher Street Pier until it was time to go to work. Then stumbled to work, crispy like a piece of bacon, worked a lazy summer shift, went home, passed out and did it all again the next day. I also realized I had never been to California, and I had been told by a therapist that I would enjoy it out there. So I asked friends when they were available, and everyone responded back with their finicky, specific schedules. And instead of doing what I always do which would be to plan my entire life around everyone else’s, I thought to myself, ‘Fuck it! I’m going by myself!’ And it was fucking amazing. Kaylee accompanied me for a few days, but then I hung out by myself. And I had such a good time. I am so grateful for the courage to travel alone, and I’m so grateful to have had the means to take a little vacation. Yes, it took me a little bit of time to catch up on my finances, but it was worth it for a real fucking summer, god damnit.

5) Strong Sense of Family: Most of all, I’m grateful to have such a strong sense of family within me. After the sudden loss of my grandma, I’ve made myself try harder with my sisters. It’s not that we aren’t close, but I wanted to feel them even closer. And I can feel the mutual effort. I can feel us all trying to be more vulnerable with each other. We tell each other that we care about one another instead of assuming that we all know. We reach out to each other even though it’s scary to put ourselves out there. And my New York family feels stronger than ever. Stacy sleeps in my bed every night even though she has her own room. When I’m getting ready for a date, she sits on my bed telling me how beautiful I am so I don’t get nervous. And then when I’m on my inevitably boring dates, I can’t help but think to myself, ‘Man, I’d rather be at home playing with Stacy.’ Whenever I fly back to NYC, Caity offers to meet me at the airport. Even when I ask her not to, sometimes she shows up anyway just so she can ride the bus home with me. Also, she waits up for me every damn night. Even if I get home super late from work and she has to wake up super early for work, she’ll be waiting up for me. Whenever I go visit Stephanie and Chaz, they offer me food and coffee the second I walk in the door. And we all fight at dinner when one person tries to pay the whole bill. I have long-distance friends that I don’t talk to for weeks or months, but when they call it’s as if nothing has changed. They make me laugh within seconds, and we don’t hold it against each other for being MIA for a bit. We recognize that everyone is dealing with their own shit. With all these people combined, I feel like I’ve unknowingly assembled my own team of Avengers. I have a whacky group of people who are all vehemently Team James, telling me that I deserve better every time someone mistreats me. They tell me it’s okay to be picky when selecting the people who deserve to share my joy. Team James cheers for me when I’m winning and lays with me when I’m not.They constantly remind me to be my own friend. God, I only hope that I reflect the light that they shine into my life. I love you guys, but it’s absolutely your fault that I can’t find a boyfriend that meets my extremely high standards. Thank you.

I remember laying on the beach with Alison at the beginning of 2014. I told her, “This is gonna be my year.” And she said, “Yeah? Well, good!” My spirit was definitely tested, but 2014 brought be a great influx of love. Though I wouldn’t say it was the best year of my life, I’m grateful for the things that the Universe gave me: hope, love and peace.

I hope you enjoyed, mom. 🙂 I’m grateful that you asked me to do this.

#dontgiveup

JAMES

49. James and His Dad / The Old Bitch and the C

Standard

My dad and I share the same birthday. Every year we call each other and take turns wishing each other happy birthdays. I once wrote a blog about how much I love my mommy. Now let me tell you how much I love my daddy (my actual dad, not “daddy” as in “oooo yeah daddy” like in the sexual way).

I used to be afraid of my dad in the way that I think all gay boys fear their fathers. So naturally I came out to my mother first sometime after my freshman year of high school. It took me another year-and-a-half or so to tell my father. I kept putting it off, but my mom finally told me that I really needed to tell my dad. So I mustered up the strength to come out to my father… after sobbing into my bass clarinet, of course.

So at this point in my life I am a junior in high school. It’s winter. My dad is picking me up from friend’s house in Middleton and driving us back to Waunakee. I figure I have about 15 minutes to tell him. So I spend the first five minutes of the car ride trying not to vomit and shart myself at the same time (a skill that I am grateful for today). And then I start sweating a lot and turning red. I figure my dad either thinks I’m holding in explosive diaRhianna or I just did a lot of ecstasy. Then I feel like I have a boulder growing in my stomach and that I’m slowing sinking into the passenger seat. Then I realize I probably couldn’t feel any worse, and I should probably just say the god damn words before I burst into a million pieces of rainbow confetti. I’m pretty sure I just blurted it out… and by blurted it out I surely mean I mumbled it in a way that made me sound like I had just thrown a handful of pebbles into my mouth as I was crashing HARD from my imaginary ecstasy high. After the words tumbled out of my mouth with the grace of someone freewheeling down five flights of stairs, my dad said, “Does your mother know?” And I said, “Yeah, I told her a while ago.” And he said, “Well, why did you take so long to tell me?” I thought about my response for a few moments and then eked out, “Because I was scared of you.” I know these words hit my father harder than I expected, and it took him a few moments to gain his composure. But when he finally spoke his voice cracked as he said, “Well, I don’t know what I did to make you afraid of me, but I’m sorry. And I still love you, James. You know that, right?” And everything inside me at that moment shattered into thousands of pieces and healed itself completely all at the same time. And even though I had suffered immensely by keeping this huge secret from my father, I would have willingly suffered a million years more if I could have taken away my dad’s pain upon me telling him I was afraid of him. A million billion years.

But I did notice a huge change in my father from that day onward. I mean, I don’t know if it was because of me but he voted democratic in the next election. Haha. 😉 But there were other changes, too. I wasn’t scared of him anymore. I’m not sure if the change happened within me or my father but it was significant. My dad made an even bigger effort to tell me loved me all the time. Even now when I come home from NYC, my dad will come up behind me while I’m on my computer writing a blog about some sort of slutty activity and he’ll kiss me on the head and say, “I’m so glad you’re home. Have I told you today that I love you?” Or he’ll say, “Have I told you recently how proud I am of you? Cuz I am. I’m so proud of you.” And I’ll respond with something self-deprecating like, “But what for? I haven’t done anything for you to be proud of yet.” And he’ll pause for a few seconds and he’ll calmly resolve, “Well, James, I’m still proud of you.”

My mom once told me that she really wanted our house to be a hub where us kids and our friends all hung out. Reality definitly surpassed my mother’s wish. Most of my friends just walk into the house without knocking and some of my friends even think of my mom and dad as their second set of parents. My parents have willingly taken on this role. When my friend Jian Li is in town she’ll stop in to say hello to “Mr. Marvin and Melissa”. My friend Stacy is not only welcome to all family affairs but she is asked after when she doesn’t attend a family gathering. Before Stacy made her big, big move to NYC a couple weeks ago, my parents took her out for coffee. When my friend Edward was looking for a place to live for a little bit, my parents offered up my bedroom. My parents drove two hours to my friend Maribeth’s wedding, and then drove two hours back at the end of the night.

My maternal grandmother passed away this past winter, and my dad really stepped up to the plate to be there for my mom. I was 1500 miles away but my dad gave me daily updates about how my mother was doing.

But let me tell you the most amazing thing about my father. Sometimes I get really down about auditioning, and I get really tired. I think to myself, ‘Yes, this is my dream but when will I catch a break?’ Well my dad’s dream job is to be an engineer. When he was in college, it took him seven years to earn his engineering degree because he was paying for it all on his own. And for at least the past four years, my father has been interviewing every week for engineering jobs while also working 40 hours a week at Home Depot so he can support his family. And when I get discouraged working 35-40 hours a week waiting tables while auditioning during the day, I call my dad and he says, “Well, don’t give up, bud.” I don’t think my dad is trying to be anyone that’s insanely inspirational but I am left speechless by his gumption and determination.

My dad is a stand-up guy. If I run out of the shower in just my towel, my dad will whistle at me. If you are a friend of mine at my house and you are bending over, my dad will smack your ass. And if you ever need a hug, my dad will give it to you.

I feel like I’ve spent most of my life taking my balanced upbringing for granted, and then one day I opened my eyes and realized how lucky I had it. And I thank Whomever every day for my mom and my dad.

So happy belated birthday, Dad (and Mom). Dad, I know you think the internet exists somewhere in the ether between Limbo and Nirvana but I’ll ask mom to guide you to this specific webpage. Also, Dad, when you feel like you’ve read the whole blog remember to scroll down; sometimes there’s more than fits on the screen. Also, a computer isn’t like a book so don’t try turning the page. Also, if the screen suddenly goes black make sure the computer is plugged in. And make sure the cord is plugged into not only the computer but also the wall. Also, if you want to tell me what a smart-ass I am, feel free to call me. 🙂

I love you. You’re old as F.

Love,
James the C
(Also “C” is a bad word that rhymes with…chrunt…)

“I pooped my pants, and I liked it.”
~My father’s favorite alternate lyrics to “I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry

35. James Is Painfully Poor

Standard

Friends.

I am broke. I know I already wrote a blog about being broke. But I have learned more things. Also, I have significantly less money than last time I claimed I was broke. Now, I am not homeless. So I am not the brokest. You are NOT broke and have no right to whining, “Waaaaaaaah, I have no moneyyyyy” [a la Lucille Ball meets some bimbo from the Jersey Shore] if you are any of the following:

1) You have a savings account in which you actually save.
2) You know what savings account is.
3) Your savings account has more than $96.
4) You can afford to go out to eat at least once a week.
5) You have no debt (student loans, credit card, Pokemon cards, whatev).
6) You have a sugar daddy or something of the like that purchases you things regularly.
7) You have an allowance.
8) Your parents bail you out.
9) You take taxi rides.
10) You drop off your laundry.

Now. Some people live like this and claim that they are not broke. They may be just as foolish as the people who don’t live like this yet claim that they are broke.

Here’s how you may know you are poor:

1) You are on food stamps.
2) You steal large amounts of napkins from food stands because you can’t afford paper towels. (Thanks for teaching me that, Steph 😉 )
3) It takes you 2+ hours to commute because you can’t afford a taxi.
4) You owe your parents money… and it will take you surely more than a year to pay them back.
5) You have filed for one or more deferrals for your student loans>
6) You can’t financially afford to have your own room.
7) You take Greyhounds or Megabuses (Megabussi??) instead of planes.
8) When you take a plane, you can’t afford to check a bag.
9) When taking the Greyhound, your bag exceeds the weight limit yet you can’t afford to pay the extra fee so you either try to load it into the bus on your own or you set it down and run onto the bus and hide so they can’t charge you and then you realize how ridiculous it is for a 6-foot-3 man to hide on an empty bus so you instead hide by…putting up your hood…
10) When you go out to eat, you don’t look for what you want; you look for what is cheapest on the menu.
11) Your savings account is empty out of necessity.
12) You spend on credit.
13) You thank Whoever-Is-Listening that your NEW credit card has a limited time of 0% APR. (Literally. On your knees and thank that Bitch in the sky.) [#sacriligeous #blashpemy #jesuslovesjokes #andtanningbeds]
14) You re-wear dirty clothes, because you can’t afford the laundromat (in terms of sacrificing money and time).
15) You only call people outside of your cellular network plan when the minutes are free and you text in the meantime.

Alright. I’m a rude bitch. You get the point. But if you don’t, here it is:

BEING POOR SUCKS. It sucks. It blows. And every time I think that, I have to remind myself, “I’m doing what I love, I’m doing what I love, I’mdoingwhatIlove, whatIlovelovelove.” And everyone says, “This is the life you chose.” Or sometimes people say, “Money can’t buy you happiness,” but honestly those people have never been poor. Am I f*cking RIGHT, LADIES?!?! I mean, really. It can’t? Can it not?! Let me tell you something:

I borrowed $1400 from my parents so I could afford this new apartment that I am still unsure of whether or not I can afford. I have thus far paid back my parents $365. Wee! I have not started paying a single cent of my student loans. Not one. Yes, I am aware that interest in currently accruing. Well. It can do whatever it wants. My student loan interest could get gay-married for all I care! Cuz I don’t care! I don’t! I would rather sit on the bus next to someone who I am pretty sure will rob me or kiss me on the cheek (without permission) than shell out the cash to take a taxi. I sniff the armpits of my dirty clothes to make sure that they SMELL dirty before I put them in my laundry basket. If it smells like food, eh, you can just spray it with cologne. Body odor? Well, it depends on the severity of the stench. And when I DO go to the laundromat, I shove as much clothing as I can into the smallest possible dryer (because it’s the cheapest). I would rather not wash my hair every day so I could reuse the hair product that I put in it yesterday, but now I’m seeing a cosmetologist and my hair gets nasty dandruff cocaine-like flakes when I don’t wash it regularly. DAMN. When someone asks if I want to go out to eat, I PRAY that they want to go to 2 Bros. where I can purchase dollar slices of pizza. My gym costs $10 per month. THANK GOD. I can’t sacrifice that because I’m nervous my lack of endorphins will lead to nasty, nasty poverty-induced moods. BUT. My gym hands out free pizza once a month. And Jesus-In-Heav’n, after my workout today, I ate not one, BUT TWO pieces of free Domino’s pizza. My B’way Body was MAAAAAAAAAD but my wallet was OH-SO-McHappy! I unplug all my appliances when I am not using them to save money on electricity. I don’t go to bars. A drink is like $7 and it tastes like nail polish remover… (to be specific, it tastes like the bad-tasting nail polish remover, not like Jessica Simpsons edible line of nail polish remover… [that’s a joke…although I did once eat some of Jessica Simpson’s line of edible lotion and it gave me a massive tummy ache… but that’s really beside the point… I would say it’s even further than beside the point; it’s literally MILES to the point…which will be coming back to you in 3…2…1…]). My savings account has $96. I don’t have a steady job so I can audition. I don’t know how I’m gonna make next months rent. (Hopefully I can use my security deposit from my last apartment… if I ever get it…) I recently lost my EBT benefits and I NEED them back. I need them. I can’t afford food without them. My room smells but I just put on cologne and hand lotion and leave the door open and someone with yummy-smelling farts comes in and blesses my room. I get all my music from the library. I apply for the benefits cards at every place I spend money: Pinkberry, Duane Reade, Rite Aid, Starbucks, Subway, AirTran, you name it! Because I NEED that money to come back to me, Lord. I try to only spend my credit card that gets me points that I can one day turn back into money. I try to never spend cash so I can be EARNING from the money that I spend. I wouldn’t be able to afford plane tickets without credit cards.

Woof. You get the point. And I know that halfway through this blog my mother will call me and tell me that she will give me money. But I will kindly refuse her. Because I am 23 years-old damnit. I am an adult. My parents couldn’t be better parents. But perhaps I could be a better son. And for me, that starts by taking care of me, because that indirectly leads to taking care of them.

Being poor is not romantic. It just isn’t. I’d like to believe it is, because I watch too many god damn movies. It’s not. It really isn’t. Getting judged my countless checkout clerks at grocery stores for using my EBT card: not fun. Turning down plans because I can’t afford it: not fun. Listen, I know it could be worse. Of course it could. And I’m sure– nay, I am POSITIVE that rich people have problems, too. But holy fuck, I wish they could live a single day in my shoes so they would stop whining about their silly trifles. (And I’m sure people below my income level feel the exact same way about me.)

But I have talked to people who make more money than me. I have talked to people who make at least 13x more than me. And you know what they say: “Money doesn’t make me happy.” And that’s coming from people who really can afford happiness. Financially. But fuck it, if money really doesn’t make people happy then maybe it’s time to stop waiting for a cash flow to smile.

You know what I think the real cause of unhappiness is? Variables. When I see people talking about what made them unhappy that day or the other day or the day before that other day, I think to myself, ‘Damn, this hoe has too many variables in the equation of happiness.’ Think about this: what has to go right in your day to make you happy? Maybe the subway has to come on time, there needs to be a seat on the subway, there needs to be space on the subway, you need to accomplish everything on your to-do list, you need people to say the right thing to you even though they have no idea what the right thing is, your internet needs to be working, the weather needs to be perfect, you need to have a friend to hang out with. That’s SO MANY VARIABLES! All of those things need to go right for you to be happy? Damn, when you ARE happy, it’s like a freakin’ miracle. BUT: chances are that you lack the gratitude to enjoy that miraculous happiness. Because I think gratitude is the cure to the blues. Or the everyday crabbiness. (Disclaimer: I am talking about ordinary unhappiness; NOT clinical depression or anything related to medically treatable mental health issues. DIS.CLAIM.ER.)

Yes, it would be nice to get everything you want, to get all those awesome things…and the money things, too. But let’s be honest, it’s a pipe dream. Tain’t gon’ happen. The events that get you down probably won’t go away. Like my poverty. (My father thinks I’m gonna be rich but I know better.) I’m gonna be poor for a while. And that is something I could change if I adjusted my career path, but the sacrifice is too great; I did not move to New York City to be financially comfortable; I moved here to follow my f*ckin’ dreams. And while being financially stable is a dream, it is not the dream. THE dream is to move people with my art. To cause a critical change to their fundamental being that makes them more human. And it’s hard to remember that. Because for a lot of people around me, money is the dream. The dream. But that’s not for me. Because I know it won’t make me happy.

Someone once told me, “I wish you would let things roll off your back more.” And I took that advice to heart. I bumped my head today. But I thought, “Thank God I’m not bleeding! I really like this shirt!”

I cried today. Because I felt like my journey was wrong. I compared my journey to someone else’s around me. And this friend isn’t even on the same career path as mine. But I just felt like I was failing compared to that person. And worse, I felt like they agreed. And I thought to myself, ‘What if my path doesn’t lead to redemption?’

But you can’t compare your path to anyone else’s but your own. Don’t judge yourself, because I PROMISE you other people will do that for you. But f*ck them. They don’t get you. They’re not on your path, and you’re not on theirs. So there’s no way they could understand. All that matters is this: “Am I better off today than I was yesterday? Have I progressed compared to yesterday? Or one year ago? Or five?”

Toni Colette delivered pizza.

DO. NOT. GIVE. UP. Following your dreams isn’t easy, but if you keep with it you will have a hell of a story to tell at the end of your life. There’s no shame in being poor. Think of the sacrifice you’re making and the rewards of that sacrifice. You will have your redemption. Don’t quit before you get there. Be someone who your children will be proud to call Dad. Or Mom. And remember: your parents ARE proud of you. If you’re happy, they’re proud. I mean, my mom was probably proud when I drew landscapes for her in kindergarten… and I can barely draw a stick person so I can’t imagine that “landscape” looking like anything more than a skidmark on a page. (And by skidmark, I’m definitely inferring that I shit on my page intended for artwork.)

Oh, and don’t forget to laugh. Because the Universe is telling you joke after joke after joke and it’s just waiting for you to laugh. So pull that stick out of your ass (unless that’s how you get your jollies) and LAUGH, GOD DAMNIT. Because THIS SHIT IS RICH, JESUS. It is RICH.

I may be poor of pocket but I am rich of SASS, BETCHES!

If you haven’t laughed once, imagine the sound of a queef in a quiet study hall. If you are not 5 years-old and that did not make you laugh, “A man walked into a bar. ‘Ow,’ he said. And then he died on unrelated causes. The laughed. Heartless bitch.” If that impromptu, absurd joke didn’t make you laugh THEN I DON’T KNOW. Convince someone to do the cinnamon challenge! Try to fart quietly into a toilet! Play the Penis game! But mostly, try the farting thing. And then imagine how stupid your face looks.

OK. Now as a non-sequitur, HERE’S A PICTURE OF MY ROOM:

Are you super turned on? I know I am. And here, I decorated my wall on a down day:

TADA!

Ok recap:
1) Money can’t buy you happiness.
2) Let things roll off your back; decrease the Sadness Variables.
3) Practice gratitude.
4) Queefs and farts are the composition of hilarity.

“A lot of times things don’t go the way that you planned them, okay? That happens- for a lot of us out there. But let me tell you something! You pick up the hallehula hoop and you put it back around your waist. And you work the hallehula hoop!”
~Shangela from Rupaul’s Drag Race

#DON’TGIVEUP

JAMES