“It’s the little things.”

I went on a drive this evening.  That is, I got in the car with a recording artist friend of mine and drove, for the hell of it.  We were in a local forest and stumbled upon a beautiful winding road in the hills.

This is about 20 seconds of us weaving down that road.  Personally, this is one of the “little things” that makes life beautiful.

By the way, the song playing, if I remember correctly, is “The Fox” by Nickel Creek.  It’s brilliant!

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I am not bipolar, I have bipolar disorder.

Recently I came across a post by a fellow who discussed his dealings with an illness called bipolar disorder (or manic-depression, if you speak the old tongue).  I too have this illness.  Learning to effectively manage this disease is nothing less than developing a science or crafting an art form.  It’s a massive help to share your story or to hear someone else’s, so to the fellow behind bipolarblogging, I commend you.

I’m 23, and I’ve been dealing with manic depression for the bulk of my adult life (since I was 15).  The journey has been interesting, to say the least.  I’m not crazy, but I’ve done some crazy things.  The one thing that perhaps is most lacking when in the throes of this disease is clarity.  It’s clear understanding that has been my biggest tool in managing my condition.  So for those who may not be familiar with the disorder, I thought I would deliver some, in convenient bullet-point form.

  • I’m not bipolar, I have bipolar disorder. 

What this means, in a nutshell, is that I am not defined by this illness.  It’s simply a part of who I am.  It’s very easy to label someone with a mental illness as “crazy” but this is never the case.  I may have done some crazy things in years prior, but as our presidential candidates have shown us, you don’t need a mental illness to do crazy things.

  • I may take medicine, but I still have feelings.  

Glance at this blog with one eye shut for two-point-five and it becomes apparent that I’m pretty gay.  As you would expect, I’ve been privy to many a gay-rights debate.  It’s a hot topic, on both sides of the field. A big part of this is prejudice and discrimination.  I have no problem with this, but at times I wish we could focus on eliminating prejudice towards other groups while we’re at it.  I have faced a bit of controversy in my own life because I’m gay, but it’s nothing compared to the mountain of prejudgment I’ve received for having bipolar disorder.  It’s even come down to a level that can only be described as name-calling.  Call me a “fairy” and I’ll probably brush it off.  But call me “crazy” and, while I may not show it, I can say based on experience that it will hurt.  Deeply. 

  • Sometimes, I hurt.

Bad things sometimes happen, and the result is negative emotion.  One key to understanding bipolar disorder is seeing that with the illness, emotions don’t always have an apparent cause.  Many years ago on a summer day, a friend picked me up and took me for a drive.  This is one of my most relaxing activities, but halfway through our middle-of-nowhere-adventure, I started to cry.  Josh didn’t understand, and asked me, “What’s wrong?”  With tears running down my face, I spoke only the words,       “I hurt.”  

A lonely road, indeed.

The reality was that my neurotransmitters, the chemicals in my brain that affect my mood, were not balanced that day.  As a result I was depressed.  Nothing bad had happened, but I was so deeply in pain.  Recognizing this is one of the most effective tools in my mental toolbox.  So, just as important when dealing with this disorder, as medicine, therapy, or activity, is education.

The Depths of American Imagination

Behold the 2015 Ford Mustang!  (Maybe…)

Ford’s new pony-thingie.

This is an artist’s rendering of what the 2015 Mustang may look like.  It’s just a concept, so the actual model will probably look like this photo, if you uploaded it to Instagram and applied the “much less enthralling” filter.  I think there’s just one problem though.  The new look of the pride of the American auto industry may already exist…in your neighbor’s driveway.

This next photo is of a car that you can go into a showroom and buy, today.

“Someone glued the wrong badge to it, obviously.”

…and it’s a Honda.  Would I buy the new Mustang, with actual money?  Unless it’s exponentially better than every Mustang I’ve ever driven, there’s not a chance.  If the concept for this car, the time when designers can be as bonkers, ridiculous, and creative as they want, looks like a two year old Honda, what will the actual car look like?  What will it feel like?  A Stannah Stair Lift comes to mind.

To be perfectly honest, in order for these cars to look exactly the same, all one must do is squint slightly.  Give it a try.

See?  Toldja!

The Gay Social Screen: GRINDR

Awhile back I took some screenshots from my grindr and laid out a few categories for some of the specimens that can be found on the app.  I promised to regularly post some interesting or funny grindr snippets from time to time and, well… didn’t. This is probably because, like most things grindr, I lost interest in it fairly quickly.

Luckily some interest has popped back into my head.  Here are a few snippets to make us all feel better about ourselves:

My reaction to this one caused everyone in line at the gas station to stare at me.  To set the record straight, if I did have any kinky fantasies, I don’t think I’d have a problem finding a way to act them out.

That conversation started (and ended) with a bang… Unfortunately for him, the answer to that question is a resounding “no.” Well, the second part at least.

Not exactly Jake Shears, but seemingly ordinary.

This one seemed to only register a 3 or 4 out of 10 on Jacob’s Spectrum of Bizarreness, but upon further investigation of the individual wearing the duck-printed shirt…

It shot up to 8 or 9.  Eek!!

Like whoa!!

This next one’s photo probably came from an album that had a title of something like “5th Anniversary”.

“He told me grindr was an app for coffee beans!”

I’m not sure about the most concerning part of this next one.  Perhaps it’s how enormously  a turn-off a school bus is.  Maybe it’s the fact that this dude was on grindr while behind the wheel of a freaking school bus! 

While Oprah says the car is a “No Phone Zone”, I think a bus counts too.

I figure that if I poke fun at some Grindrvillians on a regular basis, I can get on it for my own purposes and not feel bad.  So I suppose I owe a bit of gratitude to the blogosphere for making a small proportion of my sex life possible.  Thanks everyone!

Making the Impossible Possible: Dating

As I headed over to Eric’s I knew that when I left I would be filled with regret.  I had the perfect playlist cued up.  It’s called “Bursting” and among others it contains:

  • -Song for the Lonely, Cher
  • -Silver and Cold, AFI
  • -Born to Die, Lana Del Ray

I’m sure you get the idea.  With things getting serious between Michael and I (although not yet official), this had all the makings of a hookup-gone-wrong.  Eric is Tanya’s roommate – she’s a long time friend and for us things have not always gone smoothly.  He works at a gay club…as a stripper.  She has warned me about him and before today I had met him twice.  It was the perfect combination for a potentially very un-perfect situation.

He welcomed me in and we started the movie that we both knew we’d never finish.  It was at this point something odd started to happen.  That pre-hookup awkwardness – the kind that’s dispelled instantly once one grabs the other’s crotch – began to fade away and we talked.   We talked about the bad acting in the movie, what we thought about certain aspects of gay culture, and before long we were discussing personal philosophy.  I can honestly say with utmost certainty that this has never happened during this type of encounter.  Before too long we were laying in bed together, clothed.

“Why do I find it weird how compatible we seem to be?”

Just talking.

He posed this question and instantly I snapped out of whatever haze I was in and realized that this was more than a hookup.  It wasn’t a hookup at all, in fact.  Had something significant just happened?  In a place that should completely lack it, had there suddenly been meaning?  As we laid there he showed me some of his poetry.  It was brilliant – it flowed and lacked that “I’m trying to be poetic” feel that plagues most abstract writing.  Eventually we ended up in his jeep.  We had the top down despite the cold and we rode along through the city, belting out random songs from the likes of the Goo Goo Dolls and Cher.

I got in my car to leave and was left wondering, “What the hell just happened?”  I know that this entire situation has D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R written across it in big ol’ red letters.  I know that the boy I’m dating is great and I’ve been warned that Eric should be approached with caution.  Which begs the question:  Is the impossible, in this case, possible?

On losing a friend

“What is it about me working at the club that you don’t like?  Do you think it’s changed me or something?”

“Yes.”

It was then, as I spoke it, that I realized that Josh had actually changed.  Working at the club, becoming a queen, and all the while dealing with issues that had plagued him throughout his life had changed him for the worse.  He now saw things in a queen’s terms.  There were now allies and enemies, and I was an enemy.

“I feel like the Josh I’ve known for almost 10 years is being covered by something else.  I don’t understand what’s happened.  You’re as near a family member as I hold dear, and I don’t want that to change.”

“You’re not going to understand.  There’s nothing I can say to make you get it.  So I’m just not gonna try.”

With that single phrase, a world’s weight settled on me and I realized that my worst fear had been realized.  My best friend, the person I had spoken with on a daily basis for a decade, the person that I turned to when I didn’t know what to do, and the person who had truly saved my life on two occasions, was gone.

I couldn’t speak.  I was completely still and utterly shocked.  My hand rested motionless on my knee, holding a cigarette as it smoldered.  He stood over me and turned to leave.  Without a word he walked down the stairs and around the corner.  May the sound of that car door slamming, I hope with all my being, not be the last I hear from him.

Why the US can’t make a good car…

Behold, the new Cadillac ATS.  It’s a small sedan which is presumed to be luxurious and fun to drive.  That’s not what I want to talk about, though.  

I want to talk about why American automotive journalism is dreadful.  Whether it’s in video or in print, it’s all a dull-as-dishwater boredom-induced coma waiting to happen.  This video is a perfect example.  I’m fairly certain the script was made using only Cadillac’s brochure and a Xerox machine.  That’s not it’s biggest problem, though.

This brings me back to the Caddy, and why it must be a brilliant car in order to succeed.  By making it a “compact luxury sedan” GM has created a competitor with the BMW 3-Series, THE compact luxury sedan.  I once had a BMW 3-Series Coupe (two doors in black, or as some call it, sex).  To sum it up, it was perfect.  So naturally anyone discussing the new Caddy will want to put emphasis on what a car like this should do.  Simply put, it should excite.  

So back to CARandDRIVER then.  Generally, when I can’t drive a car for myself and must hear about it from some other source, I don’t want to be told things that are blatantly obvious.  I don’t care if the engine makes 4 horsepower or a million, for example. I care about how it feels.

How does CnD accomplish this?  They start by talking with a man who works at Cadillac.  This is because, as anyone who knows anything will tell you, if you want an unbiased opinion on something, you should ask the person who created it.  Then they move on to some stock footage of the car careening down a rural highway (nice, right?) and then cover it with a CHART explaining various engine options and the power they create.  A chart?!  A chart.  The whole point of a video is that you don’t have to read a f***ing chart.

Finally, the CnD man gets himself a track and starts the Caddy around it.  So now we have a “sports” car on a track, and what does he do?  He starts talking, while wearing the most absurd helmet I’ve ever seen.  All I want to see is this thing howling around a corner and instead I have to look at Csaba Csere’s face squished into some ridiculously unnecessary headwear.  At this point, I could watch no further.

It looked just like this, except in every single way.

If we, as a country, can’t talk about a car and make it interesting (a fairly easy task, if you ask me), how are we supposed to design an interesting car?  I don’t think we know what really makes a car exciting. So the simple fact is, we can’t. My BMW and I parted ways only when my little brother put it into a guardrail.  Would I have considered, even for a moment, trading it in for one of these?  Just as soon as I could drive it on a slippery frozen road in hell.

One more thing – The worst part, above all else, of American auto-journalism is that it’s dishonest.  If Csere was being honest in this film, he would have declared the Caddy squidgy and terrible and promptly replaced it with an M3.