Jun 25, 2013

Happiness is Edible

Ansha Kotyk (author of Gangsterland) thinks I can learn to cook. She's even given me distinct directions on cooking rice. I haven't even attempted it, which is a shame. I live with two incredible cooks. My dad is also a fantastic kitchen master.

[Insert statement about lacking the cooking gene].

I posted a few months ago about needing to overcome my fear of the kitchen. This is what lead Ansha to tell me about rice; I said I eat a lot of stir fry. In fact, I eat a lot! Ansha said, "I think there's a lot to be said if you can make your own food... any craving you have... wabam, on the plate."

I know what she's saying, but for me, it's not so much "wabam." It's much slower and more painful. There is never a "voila" when I am in the kitchen. Or if there is, it's because I cut up a bell pepper.

Today, I was thinking about all the food photos I post on Instagram and Facebook. I realized it's pretty depressing that I have not made any of it or at least very little of it. I remember my friend Thom asking me once about how I could make such gorgeous food. I laughed (and cried on the inside) about that notion.

But, what would a blog post be without an internal call to action? I'm gonna cook, dammit. What? I dunno. I suppose I should honor Ansha and start with stir fry.

Another summer challenge I've given myself is to go on at least one picnic a week. I have had four thus far, but have not made my own food for any of them. These picnics are the perfect opportunity to make some easy-breezy food.

If food makes me so happy, then I'd better learn to create my own happiness. (Head-nod from Soc)

Until then, here are some photos of inspiration:

I think I am a foodie.

Jun 17, 2013

The Perks of Being an Outcast, Part II

Where did we leave off? I think I was about 21 when I left behind a group of friends who had helped shape the fundamental way I think of myself.


So, as an outcast, it's never been more evident than in my own family. I am the brother who did not kill himself. I am the-only-son-left who may or may not pass on the nearly extinct  family name--a last name that's been quite the bane to my patience. I was the first kid to graduate high school even though I'm the fourth in the birth line. I'm recently the first to have a college degree. While these are obviously things to celebrate, I feel this strange shame over having accomplished something my four siblings did not. It's like, what did I do differently to deserve it?

I feel the exact same way about the last example I'll give about how I am an outcast. I have friends who live with their parents. I have friends who live in shitty apartments because they revel in their independence. But then there's me, the twenty-seven year old who lives in his best friend's parents house. On paper, it sounds absurd, not that it's any of your business. But, in the same way Michael Orr grew into a fine young man, I have been privileged to grow into my talents, and work on accepting them.

And so it was a week ago, at midnight, that I laid down in the middle of the field-sized backyard and waited for a star to shoot across the sky. I was in the mood to make a wish. After about thirty minutes of twinkles and blinks, I gave up on looking for a streak. But, since I was already out there, I decided to stay a little longer. I had a lot on my mind, as usual. I had guys and feelings to think about. I had this fall to think about. I had big, life-altering decisions that needed attention.

It was then, as I realized I had spent the last hour as a mosquito buffet because I am too au naturel for my own good and skipped the bug spray, that I had already made all the wishes I'd needed--AND that they had come true. I once wished to feel at home. I never did growing up. I felt more at home after being kicked out by my mom for coming out, than I did prior. I never really felt at home in my own skin either.

Lying in that field, the one I see almost every single day because it's where I park my car and where the dogs take a shit, I felt more at home than I ever have before. And even right now I feel at home. It's not the field that makes me feel at home. It's not the , it was this home into which I was graciously welcomed, that inspired me to become the person I am today.

This farm that has been in the same family since 1876, drew me out of the mind-sludge brainwashing that the suburbs of Holland had allowed me to experience--part of that dumbing myself down bit.

If I had not been an outcast, this farm would never have been available to me. I never would have become this bizarre little man who is revered by the current caretakers of the farm. I wouldn't have been humble enough to accept their invitation to this wonderland.

My friends and colleagues tell me they drive by this place and remark at how lovely of a house it looks. If only they knew its powers. My friends say they lament not being invited to Hogwarts. Fuck Hogwarts. The Radtke-Fisher Farm is where the real magic is.

I mean, look at how I went from a shadow of a person who felt as pinnable as Pan's shadow, to this flesh and bone writer of bizarre blog posts.

I intended to create a happy ending for this post, but it just didn't wrap up the way I thought it would. Really, how can one wrap up a post that has no real ending? "To be continued..." is the normal countenance for such occasions, but I used that up on the last post, for which it was a much more appropriate use than it would be here.

Instead, I'll leave you with this:
My best friend told me I need to stop thinking so broadly and get my head outta the clouds. I need to live in the moment. I need to stop rejecting the idea of a relationship and just be chill with the guys I desire to be with. I need to stop hating my job because in fact I truly love it and the talents I have discovered because of it. I need to be the Jonathon that I am in the following photos. I need to stop being who I am think I am supposed to be, and accept the perks of being an outcast. The perks of being Jonathon.

The aforementioned bff AKA Lifesaver

Jun 12, 2013

The Perks of Being an Outcast, Part I

It amazes me (and somehow I spend much of my life amazed) how many people tell me I have incredible communication skills. I do feel comfortable in most any situation, but I don't usually feel like I belong. In fact, I've spent much of my life feeling like an outcast.

When I was little, I had an prevailing desire to soak up facts from the encyclopedia and wring them out over everyone's head. This garnered me the title "know it all." I don't have an issue with that label, per se, but I have distinct memories of how those around me would confuse my knowing thousands of trivial geographical and statistical facts with me being a smart ass when I would legitimately not understand something they were talking about. This still happens, actually. I find many people expect you to just understand what they're saying even when they do not have the skills to explain. "Well, you knew what I meant!" they say. Oddly enough, this ties in with the "know it all" label--I'll say, "I really don't know what you mean here," but I usually get annoyance in response. This happened when I was younger, especially with my step-mom. I think she thought I was making fun of her for trying to nail down the actual meaning of what she was describing. This reoccurring circumstance led to me "play dumb", which I did for about fifteen years, and still exhibit for the briefest of moments.

It started when my brother killed himself. I was in 8th grade. I went from all A's, to a low-B's, high-C's student. I was finally able to mask my intelligence with real world failures. I vividly remember the relief that overcame me when I missed being bumped into 8th grade Advanced Math by two points. My teacher suggested I retake the placement exam and she'd help me study. I was so nervous that she was talking to me, I just muttered a "No, that's okay," and she went away. When my grades, and performance obviously, dipped in 8th grade, I was so glad no one noticed. My mother was numb, my dad was far away, and my siblings were in their own little worlds covered by storm clouds.

I skated through the last five years of my public education without reward and without intervention. The only thing I excelled at was foreign language.

When I was in my senior year, college seemed so far away--in distance and time. My dad and step-mom had a friend who worked as a translator for the city court. He brought me to Mexican restaurants and grocery stores where I could utilize my years of Spanish language training. I was good. The employees understood me, and even revered me. But it was too much for me. I began to resent that the only thing I was good at was speaking a foreign language--a language that very few of my friends and family gave a shit about. I was even more of an outcast at near fluency in Spanish than I was when I could list the capital city of every state in alphabetical order.

In my final year of my public school education, I no longer gave a shit about my grades. I didn't even care much about my future. I was working at the GAP and it was fun. I could just do that for the rest of my life. What I did care about was who I was, or rather, what I was. I spent much of my time stressing about my sexuality. I had already come out of the closet, by default--which I'll explain another time, but I was still attracted to girls in a way that is still difficult to explain. It took a few years (and thousands of hours of feeling like a guilty schmuck), but I finally decided that I could no longer have sex with girls. If I was gay, I had to be gay. Otherwise...what the fuck was I? Just an outcast.

I embraced my gayness by...I didn't really do anything. I just broke up with Kim, the girl I'd gone out with for a few months. She already knew I was attracted to guys. She was actually excited by that which freaked me out a little bit. If I knew then what I know now, I would have gladly accepted her acceptance of me.

So, I embraced my gayness by shutting out some of the people who had borne witness to the most vulnerable versions of me that ever existed. To this day, I feel like I betrayed Kim and our friends. And by doing so, I felt even more like an outcast.

To be continued...

Jun 10, 2013

The Feels

I've had the feels lately.

That's basically my lazy way of saying:
I have no idea what I am doing in life right now,
I hate my job,
I hate myself, a little,
I've watched my beloved desk plants wither and then at the last second I give them a shot of water,
I'm drinking quite a bit,
I'm playing heavy and melancholy music,
I'm worried about my lowered sex drive (which may actually be slightly providential given its usual heightened state),
I want new clothes (I don't usually give a shit),
and I feel the need to seek out a remedy for...who I am.

I am in the mindset that I need to cure myself of myself.

Even if none of that makes sense, I feel it. I feel it so comprehensively that I think I am a different person than I was last week.

I have the feels.

I want them to go away. I want to know what I am doing in life. I mean, I know what I am supposed to do. I know a WHOLE LOT of what I am supposed to do.

The most beautiful plant on my desk right now is a fake plant.

I want to be a fake plant

It's clearly time to color in my Disney Princess coloring book.

Another remedy: Go on at least one picnic a week. Today's picnic was spent at First Curve Beach :D

Friday at the Tigers game:

Jun 6, 2013

Is My Mind Part of Me Or All of Me?

No, this post is not about Descartes.

I am cursed with this brilliant mind.

I know. Bear with me.

I can feel ideas bloom inside me, and they feel like watching a time-capture video of spring. I can tell when I have a really good idea because I go into a full-fledged daydream (complete with soundtrack). It's even more vivid than a flashback. And I am not talking about an idea for the premise of the next Great American Novel. I come up with more tangible ideas, which I typed out in a list below, but ended up being to self-conscious to post. Anyway, they are typically for a business or community-type idea.

So, these amazing ideas. Some of them die in my mind like a pile leaves decomposing beneath the tree that used to be their home. But some of these ideas blow away and are vetted by my emotions. The idea goes through this bizarre process where I dream about it, share snippets with my friends seeking a reaction, and then I begin to write and "sketch" about the idea. "Sketching" for me is going to a location I think is perfect, snapping photos, and drawing my idea on Adobe Illustrator. It's usually at this point that I realize my idea is DUMB. And often times, the idea really is dumb.

I tend to be perfectly content with this realization. I begin having issues when I realize I have a good idea. By the way, the filtering process above has let through maybe 5% of my ideas by this point in this non-story story. So, those five percenters become a tumor in my mind that sucks a lot of energy and focus out of my ongoing real life.

More on this later, but right now, I am ambivalent. Do I let the cancer grow and change me, or do I seek a type of meditative chemo that will contain it? I already know I cannot simply remove it with a scalpel.

Okay, fine, this post is totally inspired by Descartes.