Baptism by Baltic

“I feel like you have found home,” my friend responded to my Instagram story. Oh, if only I could call this majestic scene of my cousin’s cliff side manor home.

Where is home, though? This question has haunted me for years; I’m sort of everywhere and nowhere all at once. My things are in Missouri with the greatest mommy in the whole wide world, attached to a permanent address for all official purposes. But even before this new gig, I was rarely home by design. That’s ok— I’ve been a self-proclaimed vagabond long before this bout. I spent more of my adult life in Seattle than anywhere else, pandemic notwithstanding, and I feel more connected with the Pacific Northwest as a whole.

The plan had been to save some money for a down payment and eventually move to Missoula, Montana where my grandparents and a smattering of other family live. The draw of Montana isn’t hard to process; Big Sky country is increasingly popular, and Missoula has a darling hippy vibe. And, much to my dismay, this has been reflected in property values. The real estate market everywhere is nuts, and I was naïve to think that this would be an easy foray into homeownership.

I’ve decided to suspend my housing endeavor, only because I simply can’t afford it. That’s embarrassing and frustrating all in the same. I want to be somewhere. I’m not asking for a McMansion or a sprawling estate— I just want a cute dwelling, one to put my dumb little trinkets and perhaps have a guest or two stay. Lord knows over the course of the past decade, I’ve mooched off benevolent friends, sleeping on couches or occupying extra rooms. I only wanted to return the favor, and now it’s exceedingly out of reach. I feel indebted and ashamed that I cannot give back in the way that has been graciously extended to me.

I’m also in that weird spot where I don’t want to pay rent anymore—I want my money to go toward something useful, particularly when I’m not home half the month. It would be a different story if I had a 9 to 5 and utilized the space, but I was not destined for that. When I envision my future, I still see myself being nomadic, perhaps leading an intercontinental lifestyle (preferably north of 47º of latitude).

Rewind a bit to my time in Sweden. I had hours upon hours to gaze at the sea, and something called on me to jump in. I’m bizarre, I know. But I’ve heard of ice baths for a long time, and their supposed health benefits seemed helpful— a reduction in anxiety and depression, plus a circulatory system shock. So what the hell. Why not.

I eyed it for a few days. Of course, I was nervous— about the cold, about walking down a treacherous slope, about how deep it was, about the current washing me away, about swimming back to shore, and well, about the walk back up the cliff with slippery shoes.

But then I did it. And my body panicked as I plunged and resurfaced. I was gasping for air, swallowed some sea water, but I begged myself to give it a second. And then another. And then another. The ladder to the dock was right there, and I regained control of my breathing. “Ok. Ok.” I told myself. All the sensations, my skin tingling, my heart racing, came into view: surrendering isn’t so much giving up, but more of letting go.

While I’m bummed to put Montana on hold for the moment, I’m open to other possibilities. I still just want to be somewhere, though, and put some roots down; cultivating community (that isn’t online) is far more difficult when one is continually on the road. And this is the life I’ve chosen, let’s be clear, but I’d like to find the middle ground of being in one place and being all over the place— how easy it would be to dissolve into the ether that is this job.

I even floated for a bit, just to see if I could stand it. The water couldn’t have been more than 45ºF, as the summer sun hadn’t had time to heat it up. This Baptism by Baltic was a lesson in ceremony, that anything can have an applied meaning. On the outside, I looked like a lunatic jumping into the sea, but internally it was washing me with a renewed spirit— to let go into the unknown and, eventually come back. I’ll come home someday.

Belated Birthday Obituary

Obituary — My 20s

A Twitter friend had a funeral for her 20s— when she turned 30, she had a full on ceremony in Cancun, wearing an elegant black veil and swimsuit coverup, dumping ashes into the ocean. The spectacle was as dramatic and extra as one could hope. As I make my own transition into a new decade, I offer you an obituary of sorts, with lessons learned and celebratory moments.

My early 20s were dedicated to establishing myself in my career and finding my people. I sought out community in the gayborhoods of Chicago and Seattle. When I wasn’t working or home, I was globetrotting. I went to professional networking events and have met some incredible people in aviation. Life was pretty good for awhile.

And then the most tumultuous period later in this decade has been the pandemic. I’ve mentioned it in previous posts, but I lost my job due to my own mistakes, and I was thrust into an especially volatile time for my beloved industry. I didn’t think I’d fly again, given the projections of what the virus was doing to travel. I was extended an olive branch to get back into the game after nine months of despair. I’m thankful for that experience in charter, seeing a side of aviation that I never expected— or desired to see.

But now, across the board, I’m doing pretty not bad. I’m in class at a cargo carrier based in Miami, learning my all time favorite airplane, the Boeing 757 (and the formidable 767!). I’m ready to get back in the world again!

A bad bitch strikes a pose in a Rolls Royce

I didn’t think I’d make it— not in some pitiful way. It just never occurred to me that I’d be here, at 30. From a young queer growing up in Mid Missouri, blithely unaware of how lower middle class we were, I did not expect to occupy the spaces I’ve had the pleasure of gliding through. When I’ve met celebrities or simply sat in Business class crossing an ocean, I get a bit of Imposter Syndrome like I’m not worthy of the situation. But mostly, when I find myself in an incredible moment, I find it absurd, because people like me usually don’t get to experience such things, or it’s a once-in-a-lifetime. But it is, and I am, making my own glorious space. In some ways, I feel like I haven’t done anything in the previous 30 years, but factually this is untrue. I became an Airline Transport Pilot. I’m a Registered Yoga Teacher. I’ve been to nearly every continent, hiking volcanoes and diving with sharks.

This existence wouldn’t be possible without the Greatest Mommy in the Whole Wide World whose unconditional love has carried me when I didn’t think I deserved it— and the additional, otherworldly love that comes from my best friend Kate, who is more sibling than friend and certainly family.

And you, dear reader, who no doubt plays a part in shaping my world. I’m blessed to have friends from all over, from all walks of life, virtual friendships to In Real Life. We are all connected in some way or another.

My 20s are survived by many lessons learned, but not near enough. How I can only affectionately call my sordid romantic history is that I certainly was “fun loving” and a stranger to few who wanted to take part. My regrets are few, but I’ve learned that I need to be careful to whom I allow access of my body and spirit.

But the most invaluable lesson happened when I ended my first tried and true relationship. The aftermath, in which I’m still rumbling months later, is a battle within. We enjoyed a brief but brilliant long-distance relationship, wherein he taught me intimacy and compassion; he loved me at a time when I certainly didn’t love myself, nor did I think I could deserve it. In turn, though, I brought my full self to the table and loved him fully, but I also knew when to let go— I don’t give myself enough credit for that. Some people string along their partners or remain in situationships for mere companionship, but it ultimately hurts more in the long term. Many years ago, an esteemed mentor told me, “You’ll have your heart broken, but you’ll break some hearts, too.” I didn’t believe him until now. I can only hope I did it as gently and with as much integrity as I could.

If I could surmise the previous decade as an era of cultivating intimacy, I hope my 30s are about finding commitment— to myself, foremost, but to larger areas of life. I’m not concerned with “finding” a relationship as I once was. I’m more interested developing myself, and whoever wants to come on that journey is more than welcome. Despite having done some things, I still have unchecked boxes: projects and passions that remain in the ether. As I become stronger in mind and body, garnering the inevitable wisdom that comes from time, I can only tell you that I’m feeling optimistic about what’s to come. I don’t mean that in a cheesy way (though I am cheesy), but part of the magic of aging is cutting through the bullshit and finding direct and lasting joy.

I was blessed to spend a last minute birthday bash with one of my best friends and damn near birthday twin in Key West. Cole and I had a blast at an all-gay resort where we let our hair down. On my day, it couldn’t have been better: I scheduled a two hour massage and body scrub, followed by a kundalini yoga class. As the well wishes poured in at dinner, I teared up no less than three times from all the love I felt from y’all. We met some fabulous people on the island— I’m generally not a fan of Florida, but there’s a kindness there that emanates from their unofficial motto: One Human Family.

And now, I’ve retreated to my cousin’s place outside Stockholm, Sweden, where she’s graciously let me squat during a break from work. I’ll have more on this experience soon, because I think I’m finally emerging from my flop era and moving into a more meaningful existence.

In lieu of flowers for my 20s, please donate to any cause that is near to your heart (so long as it doesn’t undermine or disenfranchise any previous progress the world has made). My favorite organization is Sisters of the Skies should you choose to make a donation in my honor.

In the wise words of Lizzo’s new song, a fellow Taurus, “I got a feelin’ I’m gon’ be ok…It’s about damn time.”

Soundtrack: Lizzo – “About Damn Time”

Renewed Debut

Over the last year, amidst a pandemic, I kept quiet on social media as I waged a battle within— for reasons that I won’t delve into unless you’re incredibly nosy, I lost my job due to my own actions and subsequently fell into an abyss of shame. I gained more than 20 pounds, which hindered any progress I was making on my already fragile body image. And despite all this, I had a relationship with an incredible person with whom I recently ended things, so he could flourish on his own.

While I have a knack for self-sabotage, my intentions and motives were pure. I learned so much in my first go at a healthy, committed relationship. I hope I taught him as much as he taught me— never having been on this side of heartbreak, it has been tough to navigate my feelings. There’s never a “good” time to end things. But seasons change, and so too do I. There is no comparable feeling to having your quirks not only tolerated, but embraced. For that, my Bug, I am forever grateful.

Now, I feel more lost than I ever have, but with that comes a sense of freedom. Of course, I still have high aspirations for myself, even if they seem illogical, out of reach, or impractical. I feel everywhere and nowhere, all at once, conflicted and content all the same. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, I am but a scraggly, singed pigeon, making a renewed debut.

I share this not to sound pitiful— know that I’ve had my fair share of pity parties to which absolutely no one was invited— but to illuminate that we all, bluntly, have our shit.

For now, I’m healthy, still flying (on an albeit crazier side of aviation than the airlines), and happy enough to keep on keeping on, despite *gestures at the world*. I could never have come out the other side of a continuing saga if it weren’t for my saint of a mother, my always present shoulders of my best friends, and the spark deep, deep within me that can never be extinguished.

The Gods Are Fighting

I’m not into conspiracy theories. But when this rumble first started, I wondered what powers were in play— someone in some realm far above my own is upset and caused this kerfuffle to rain down upon us.

Mostly, I feel trapped. Before, I could dream about an adventure and eventually make it a reality. But now, it stays a dream until an indefinite time to be realized. April is my birth month, and I had a big trip planned to Sweden— starting out in Gothenburg, traveling north to Luleå and Boden to visit my ancestral homeland, and finishing up by imposing a weekend at my cousin’s cliffside manor. But that is postponed for the time being. Even if I wanted to take a small venture to celebrate my 28th lap around the sun, where would I go? Would it even be open? I’m going stir crazy; I bebop from my friends’ house in Chicago to work and home in Missouri— that’s it.

This pandemic has all but shut down travel, both for business or leisure. I’m still flying, though not as much; many of my fellow crewmembers have graciously taken Leaves of Absence so that others can keep their jobs. At my company, we have capped the number of hours allowed for the month— when just a few months prior, they were begging us to work more. While I support our frontline workers, I notice that pilots and flight attendants are left out of the small, mentioned list of “essential personnel.” I fear that this only adds to the trope that air crew, especially pilots, are somehow invincible in all aspects of life. Passenger counts are next to nothing, and I would imagine my risk to exposure is decreasing. However, with the failed leadership across the board, I worry for my colleagues and myself.

Dating during COVID-19 is not fun— not that I was pursuing it much anyway. I’ve been dabbling on Facebook Dating, which, honestly, is not much different than any other swiping app. It’s proximity based on a set location. I have it set to Chicago, since I’m there more than any other place, and the dating pool is broader. (There’s also a “Secret Crush” feature with Instagram and Facebook friends, so perhaps you’re one of nine delightful people I’ve chosen!). Love and romance in the time of Coronavirus is anticlimactic and leaves a lot to be desired— even myself.

I’ve also started nesting— or at least the idea of owning a home has suddenly become attractive. I’m in the midst of some escapism, admittedly, and maybe I have no business getting a mortgage at such a young age (millennials don’t buy homes, right?). But I want something to call my own; I want to cultivate my own space, a welcome spot for friends and family, as I’ve been welcomed all over. I’ve been scoping out little condos in Missoula, Montana, where my mom’s family is from— I have no idea how that would work with my current base or commute or in this overall economic environment. I’d still continue the vagabond lifestyle, but at least I’d have a solid investment. It’s but a dream at this point. But y’all know I make my dreams come true.

And now for the woo woo:

The health and wellbeing of our populace is at stake. And I don’t want to diminish the lives lost amidst this tragic time. However, is this an opportunity for the world to reset? Is it The Universe’s not so subtle nudge to put things into perspective— to prioritize the people who really matter, the passions born from our lack of distraction, and the tasks that bring the most joy from idleness?

Bottom line:

I’m waiting for that beaming light of hope to reappear, for the dread to dissipate, and for the sheer magic of human touch to reinvigorate our world. I’m fully stepping into the reality that this is far beyond any minor inconvenience and a step toward a forcibly different future. The heavens have mandated a course change. This is our contemporary’s second chance to reevaluate where we were heading as a society— and ask for better directions. Be well, stay safe, and remember to put on your mask before helping others.

Soundtrack: Maribou State – Glasshouses

That One Thing

I walked into Target this holiday season, only to grab a few toiletries, and oh boy, was I instantly overwhelmed! All I could see, for as long as the aisles went, was junk— Christmastime illuminates how material things have a stronghold in our lives.

If you’ve ever moved, you never realize how much stuff you have until it’s causing you acute anxiety, throwing it into boxes, only to schlep it to your new abode and shove it away in yet another closet.

We like stuff, though. Let’s take a Facebook ad, for example: it catches your eye, and somewhere deep in your reptile brain, you decide that you NEED it. From the genesis of having that desire, to the research and comparisons leading up to the purchase, we feel so good when we swipe our credit card, walk out of the store with a fresh box of whatever it is— or even come home to packages delivered by Amazon. The dopamine rush is addictive!

And I am so guilty. I love things. My materialism addiction goes beyond my Taurean proclivities and back to my socio-economic status: suburban white middle class midwestern millennial. Your character is not judged upon what you do but what you have. It means you are successful, down to every bell and whistle on your car to the sheets you slip into every night. People have made entire careers on peddling exactly what they use in daily life— it’s called being an influencer. Through the use of social media, we survey and assess what the “cool” people are using, because—obviously—if I use that, I’ll be cool, too. (Plot twist: I’m already cool.)

The lie of consumerism is one of hope— the ad agencies, the marketers, the product promoters, they’re all conspiring on you. That one thing? It’s going to change your life. It’s going to make everything better, pat you on the back, and instantly throw your life into a new trajectory of success and prosperity. That fresh meal subscription, that gym membership, the new iPhone with all the apps to make you a more productive, well-adapted person: it’s all a lie. They prey on you, planting the seed that your life is a sham without this, that it is lacking now without this thing; you’re going to look back on your life later and wonder how you ever survived without it! Lies. Sure, products work. But it all starts with you. That’s where the cycle ends, though, and the buck stops— with you.

The realization that YOU are the only thing YOU need to become the best version of YOURSELF will break their bank. As we move into the New Year, I’m being realistic about minimalism. Not only is having less a simplification of an already hectic life, but it incorporates sustainability for our very sick earth that we continue to neglect. Sometimes, less is more.

Bottom line:

That one thing won’t fix you. Only you can use those tools to fix yourself. And it’s up to you how and when to use those tools.

Soundtrack: Britney Spears – Gimme More

Falling In

Over the past few months, I’ve been nearly everywhere. And I promise to delve into those travels (Gothenburg, Stockholm, The Hague, Dublin, Bucharest, and Paris) at a later date. While I was gallivanting, I had a lovely time with friends and family alike.

But there are aspects of life that aren’t so rosy— I’m a little bit unsettled at the moment. After a romantically tumultuous summer, I tried to mellow out by doing these travels. And I loved every second of it. Having the financial flexibility to work a little and play a lot has been rewarding.


Earlier this summer, I applied and interviewed for a board position with the NGPA; I was not selected. I’ve been grappling with this rejection, as it’s an organization that I held dear. Over the years, I’ve twirled around on stage during the flagship events, which has been fun. But in order to step up my commitment, I thought a place on the board would be a good fit for my insights and talents. They did not feel the same. However, it’s a blessing, because I don’t think that I would be well received with the current dynamic at play— my flamboyance is more than just entertainment. I wanted to sink my teeth into the challenges that face our membership, as well as the elephant in the room that is our image issue— we’re much more than a group of vapid, shirtless (and overwhelmingly white) pilots in hot tubs.

I feel sympathetic to the cause, still, but very much removed from any of the goings on. It wouldn’t hurt so much if it didn’t mean so much to me.

The City Search

I’ve moved home to Jefferson City, but I’m rarely home by design. Either I’m traveling for work or traveling for pleasure. And while living mostly rent free with my mom has been nice for my wallet, I crave my own place again. However, it doesn’t make sense financially. And where would I live? I don’t feel the pull to live anywhere except the Pacific Northwest, New York City, or Europe. None of those places is right for me at the moment, though. The rent is too damn high— and any smaller city is uninteresting, even if it is “affordable.”

The vagabond life is cute for a while. But I’m the type of person who needs her craftily curated space, a retreat from the extensive travels. Bluntly, though, I can’t afford to live alone in any of the aforementioned places in which my heart thrives.

The Yoga Studio

The Yoga Studio closed its doors in my little town. Admittedly, I feel like I squandered an opportunity to flourish as an instructor— I was too busy busting my butt all summer and gallivanting around the world this fall. To date, I haven’t taught a class, which was a big draw of moving home. I failed on that front.

I’m keeping my options open, because the practice is still there. It’s always there, welcoming back with a simple breath in and breath out. And I’m willing to share it with whomever wants to deepen their consciousness.

Bottom line:

I don’t really know where I fit in; I mostly feel like I’m floating along, contentedly but without roots. I’m scattered, like a pixelated picture waiting to load— there’s some semblance of what completeness looks like, but I have yet to get there. Wherever that is.

As an aside, I dated someone for a short while (meaning a very quick month). It wasn’t successful, but it did teach me a lot about what I need and who I am in a relationship— I go out of my way to be accommodating, and perhaps I’m too loyal. Overall, what I’ve been searching for this entire time is intimacy; that’s not easy to accomplish when I’m fleeting and mobile.

In this trough of discomfort, nothing is extremely bad. I still love my job, adore my friends, and demand to live life to my absolute fullest. I’m reminding myself that anything is a possibility— that I will fall in to the right crowds, home, and arms of a lover. The whole world is in my hands.

Soundtrack: You’ve Got the Whole World in Your Hands

Queer in Cape Town

The faint outline of a mountain shone through the window, but we were too busy screaming over our bougie Airbnb— that would have to wait until morning. Cape Town was off to a good start.

I needed to get to Africa before I renewed my passport, and I had just been displaced off a trip, leaving me with a good chunk of time off. Why, though? Because I had been to every other continent (except the obvious Antarctica), and I wanted the last one in my first passport. So, in true Robbie fashion, I did it.

I chose Cape Town, because getting to Morocco and calling that “Africa” would be, in fact, correct— but too easy. The logistics weren’t all that simple. United doesn’t start their direct service to Cape Town until December, not that I’d even have a chance in nonrev hell of getting on that flight. The big European carriers don’t do daily service, which left options slim for a cohesive transfer; otherwise, I’d be spending a long layover and wasting precious time.

My methodology in travel is this: make the plans, and whoever else wants to come can follow. I learned long ago, from my study abroad experience, that group travel is exhausting. You can’t please everyone, and it’s easier to do what I want to do on my own schedule— but it is nice to have a travel partner. That’s why I was delighted when my friend Cole said he was coming with me. Not having traveled together before, this would be a good test of friendship.

I’m happy to report that we’re good travel buddies. When it came to overall coordination of flights and airlines and load checking, I had that down. But the day to day plans were up to him, and he did an excellent job of picking and choosing when and what to do.

The Stay

As I mentioned before, we couldn’t get over how luxurious this Airbnb was. I got it for a steal since this is Cape Town’s off season: two bedroom, two and a half bath plus exotic views of Table Mountain— it couldn’t be beat. It was staged in my tastes with Eastern adornments and a massive crystal that I held for most of the first morning there. We were centrally located for the most part, and we Ubered nearly everywhere; it’s ridiculously cheap and the best option if you’re feeling a little uneasy. We didn’t feel unsafe, though. We’re tough broads— on our last day, we walked through the brightly colored Bo-Kaap neighborhood. When we left a restaurant, the waiter said, “Don’t go down that road. It’s not safe.” Little did he know, we had pranced up and down it earlier in the day, checking out the sights and sounds. Ain’t no thang, chicken wang!

The Food

We didn’t skimp on the cuisine. Cole and I like to eat, and we’re adventurous at that.

Brunch started at Lola’s, where we both got a smoked salmon benedict. It was a cute little café nestled in the City Bowl, an imaginative neighborhood that had interesting architecture á la Bourbon street, surprisingly.

After a failed attempt to ascend Table Mountain due to an impending and indefinite rain shower, we took a long but cheap Uber to Constantia Valley, where many wineries call home. Our new gorgeous friend, Luke, taught us about the Buitenverwachting wines; he would check up on us in between giggles and gossip over some charcuterie. The sad thing, though, is that he’s disgustingly straight with some girlfriend whom he loves— our single selves loved the wine. It’s significantly underappreciated, in my opinion, but I’m also not a wine snob per se.

The next night, we met up with another new friend, this time a fellow homosexual. We went to Nelson’s Eye, a steakhouse that had nothing to do with Nelson Mandela. The other gay, Sean, got an ostrich fillet— I had a piece, and I didn’t regret my steak; however, I’m getting my own ostrich fillet next time. It was just the right amount of gamey flavor, but not overpowering. My steak, on the other hand, was v delicious. I was being melodramatic and torn between that and a local fish— but the waiter sassed me and said, “Why would you come to a steakhouse and get fish?”

Our final meal was at Bo-Kaap Kombuis, a Cape Malay restaurant overlooking the city. As suggested by our Airbnb host, we both got sampling platters. There was no way we could finish it all, but the flavors coming out of each dish was enough to make me scream. Cole couldn’t look at me and say, “I’ll have what she’s having,” because he already was. Of particular note was the classic Denning Vleis, a sweet and savory lamb stew that tasted like nothing I have ever had before— and I’ve eaten a lot. It was the perfect way to leave a city: full and satisfied, but wanting to come back.

The Crazy

With limited time, we had to capitalize on our experiences in South Africa. We were on the wrong side of the country to go to the famed Kruger National Park, so we opted for a private game reserve. The odds of seeing the Big 5 (lion, buffalo, rhinoceros, elephant, and leopard) were heightened due to the constrained space. But the vast acreage could’ve held the critters away if they wanted— we saw four out of five, the leopard being the elusive one.

I mean, I grew up with The Lion King, and I’ve seen National Geographic. But it’s a whole ‘nother thing to be a Midwestern American casually looking at two elephants in the quasi wild. Cole and I also lost it altogether when we saw the giraffes— they might as well have been unicorns! (Geoffrey and co. seem to be doing just fine on unemployment.)

The following day was NOT my idea, but I warmed up to it after the wet suits were off: we went shark diving. Leaving early in the morning for a venture to the sea, we hopped aboard a vessel that took us just off shore, where the crew “chummed” the water with fish guts in the hopes of attracting sharks. They divided us into groups, and we lucked out— not only did we catch our first glimpse of a Great White while we were above deck, we also got up close and personal as Shaunette splashed her way around the cage. Our guides kept yelling for us to go “down down down!” to see the sharks below the water, but the visibility was so poor that it was better to be spooked by the fins moving about. This is all the name of conservation and research, and the data collected helps to understand what the shark populations are doing as their existence wanes.

I’m not sure I fully realize the extent of what happened— to me, diving with sharks was exhilarating, but I wasn’t seeking the adrenaline rush. This brush with extreme nature felt structured but wild at the same time; after all, these are apex predators in their own habitat. Behind the bars, I was a guest in their home. They were, however, chomping at the bits to eat our guts— quite literally.

The Bottom Line

South Africa is a culturally diverse country— with a sordid history, reeling from the wounds of Apartheid, I find it in the midst of a crossroads. While tourism seems to be its main industry at the moment, I think there is a huge, untapped potential in a nation abounding in lively and lovely people. How everyone, mostly, lives in harmony is a feat that perhaps our own country could recognize. And Cape Town offers a lot of bang for your buck: the lodging is inexpensive, the food is decently priced and delicious, and the outdoor activities will leave you with stories of a lifetime.

Though the journey to the other side of the world was long and our stay short, it was worth it. You may not understand why my trips are quick, but I’m a woman on a mission— and a time crunch.  Of course, I learned a lot about myself— but I made new friends and deepened my friendship with Cole. He’s my gürl, the realest of the real, and a fellow Taurus (we’re actually 10 hours apart in birth, as we discovered). We both know, undoubtedly, that it’s spaghetti in there. We parted ways in Amsterdam; he was heading back to the US, and I continued on my travels for a much-needed stay in Europe. I had only started to conjure up some thoughts and feelings about our country’s status on the world stage, but that portion of my nearly two-week journey sealed the deal. More on that, though, in a coming post.

Soundtrack, for obvious reasons: Toto – Africa

A Quiet Summer

(me, unbothered, sipping my tea)

“So, how’s life in Jeff City treating you?” they ask, with overtones of another question. Why the hell did you move there? is likely the root inquiry.

To refresh your memory, I relinquished my apartment to a friend in Seattle, transferred my base to Chicago O’Kurr, and changed my permanent residence to Jefferson City, Missouri. I’m a native of the town, and I’m back— on my own volition. I did this because it wasn’t financially prudent to stay in Seattle, and my base was shrinking. Overall, my quality of life was rapidly decreasing.

And to be fair, I’m not in Missouri all that often. I’m striking while the iron is hot, grabbing the fun and well-paid trips of the summer; seniority sure has its benefits. However, when I am home, I’m keeping a low profile and working on myself.

I had a little bit of a tumble when it comes to romance— while it’s somewhat of a broken record for me, this instance was particularly devastating. I met a darling individual at an event, and we hit it off. The whole song and dance ensued: butterflies, texting, long phone calls, and grandiose summer plans— I even bid my entire month of July to overnight in his new city. We really connected, and I was given all the signs that this was something meaningful and had potential to last. And then it took a nosedive.

It turns out, he’s not physically attracted to me. I don’t have the greatest track record when it comes to body image (read deeper into my blogs, and you’ll see it’s not an issue from which I stray). And I don’t even fault him for that; you can’t force these sorts of things. It’s typically not something develops over time— either you are or you aren’t. You know it within minutes of meeting someone; however, this primal instinct is cutting when someone decides, “No, you’re not the one for me intimately.” And while I am no stranger to this type of rejection, I felt blindsided, especially since at no point did he clarify this with me. I was, for better or worse, full speed ahead, all systems go.

(me, glowing in my natural habitat)

Luckily, I am very comfortable with being vulnerable and wearing my heart on my sleeve. It’s stitched into my identity, sewn into the fibers of my being, and it takes a lot of courage to do so. I do not regret one thing I said, even in my heartfelt, handwritten letters.

Chalk it up to his youth, perhaps, but the lesson learned here is that it has nothing to do with me. That’s difficult, because I almost always think I’m culpable for some part of a SNAFU. Through this experience, at first glance, I wanted to shift course and not put all my cards out on the table. I wanted to throw up my hands and be done with romance as a whole— and that’s exactly what I’m not going to do. I’m going to love deeply, even if the outcome doesn’t turn out in my favor. This is who I am, and this is who I will continue to be.

If anything, this has given me the fire within, the “agni” as we call it in yoga, to press on. Lizzo has been the queen of my empowerment anthems. While this might be a low-key summer for me, I’m recalculating: I’m getting quiet, listening to my truth, the Source, and shedding everything that which does not serve me. This includes, but is not limited to, rocking out some yoga teaching, making strides for that next career move, and finding pure joy within myself and others. As I’ve anguished over the past couple weeks, three questions came to me that I’m attempting to answer at the end of each day:

  • What have I done for my spirit?
  • What have I done for my body?
  • What have I done for others?

Hopefully, these will quell any self-nagging that creeps up from the anxiety surrounding a minor heartbreak. I’m trusting the process and embracing the journey, for what seems like a setback is really a liberation.

Oh, and I finally bought a car. After months of research, test driving, and downright lusting over the right vehicle, I introduce you to Gustav Mazda-San. While loving material things isn’t particularly advisable, I love the hard work I’ve put in to afford and deserve this. Zoom zoom.

Soundtrack, litrilly every lyric: Lizzo – Truth Hurts

Springtime Transitions

The cherry blossoms are popping, and so is my booty. Springtime is here, as indicated by the sunshine and my allergies. It’s time for changes and rebirth— and speaking of, it is the month of my birth, so all rejoice in this heavenly presence of The Queen!

If you’re in the market for making change, it doesn’t have to be drastic or dramatic to have a positive impact on your life— even though my recent life changes have been slightly drastic and dramatic.  

I’ve had a lot of feelings since I left Seattle a couple weeks ago. My heart got a little tingle the other day when I saw a Seattle-bound flight on my walkaround. The thing I keep reminding myself: this was all my choice. I left under my own accord for the necessity of growth. I hold my friends there in my heart, and keep them close via social networks and the like.  

Your body knows much more than the mind (read: ego)— but the mind has more control. It wants to hold onto familiarity for its own sake. But a flower bud in nature knows exactly what to do. And in a day’s time, it opens up to a beautiful bloom, at its own pace and without much fanfare. Our bodies are open to this intrinsic playbook, too. That’s how change can be: rapid with little notice. And it explodes day by day, supporting the illusion of time; it isn’t as linear as we think. As we train our focus, we observe the peaks and valleys of time, soaring through the immeasurable vast that is experience divided by intention— but I digress.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve spent some time on the farm, a plot of land that has been in my family for several generations. I learned a lot out there: how to drive, hunt, rotate tires, and raise livestock. This might come as a shock to you, since I present my fabulous self as some sort of city folk— and it’s true, because I’ve forgotten a lot about country ways. (Rewind a week ago when I high-centered the four-wheeler in muddy tractor tracks).

I have a lot of ideas and plans for the farm. Other than a few cows, tended to by a family friend, it remains unoccupied. The Shop, where my grandpa fixed most anything and everything, stands in a snapshot exactly as he left it, albeit covered in dust since his earthly departure. Going through some of his things is overwhelming and saddening, because I seek his advice on exactly what the hell to do with all this…stuff. It will take years to get this place in order, what with my job and schedule that take me in and out so often— and how nice would it be to find a cute ranch hand to refresh my memory about all things farm!

Maybe I’ll have a vineyard or have bees or build a yoga retreat center— any or all of these endeavors excite me. And I’m definitely building my dream house here. What terrifies me, though, is the time it will take to commit. On the other side of these grandiose ventures is the harsh reality of success. The good thing is that this place isn’t going anywhere, if I can help it.

Despite the affront that pollen has had on my sinuses, spending time in nature is a huge blessing. I went mushroom hunting; there’s no cell signal anywhere, except two bars worth on a hill— just enough to make a phone call if needed (but don’t call me). As I scoured the hillside for this springtime delicacy, I couldn’t help but notice how loud it was. I expected quiet stillness, but the racket of swaying branches and chirping birds was enough to make me think I was downtown Chicago. That noise, though, is so rejuvenating.

Last night, I fell asleep to a springtime thunderstorm, another noise that I haven’t experienced in quite some time. And this morning, when I awoke, I looked out into the backyard, delighted by the dark, wet bark juxtaposed by the verdant, budding leaves.

This is all to say that it’s working out so far. The commute to Chicago, with the help of benevolent friends, isn’t as bad as I imagined. And being home in Jeff City has yet to sink in— aside from going to yoga and grabbing food, I haven’t ventured out into the public eye. I like it that way, figuring out the answers to the questions in peace and on my own time.

Something so illustrative to this new chapter is buying a car— eventually, I’ll need my own vehicle, as I can’t mooch off my family (their words in jest, not mine) for much longer. As I consider the options of leasing, buying new, buying used— not to mention various opinions of brands and projected reliability— the question becomes “How long do I intend on being here?” That question had historically been answered with, “As soon as I can get the hell out.” But now that I’m back, I’m facing that discomfort head on as the great opportunities abound. In a sense, I will always be here, even if my job takes me elsewhere— the What Ifs of life are nothing more than a distraction to the current moment.

All in all, I escaped so that I could come back— and therein lies an indescribable power, managing my own fears on my own time. Now someone help me build a house and buy a car. 

Soundtrack: Anywhere But Here – Hilary Duff

Like Yourself

“I like you Freddie. Call me when you like yourself,” Jim Hutton told Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.

That line stung. I knew why, but I put it away for the rest of the movie while I sobbed over the renewed wound of losing an entire generation to AIDS— I really know how to pick the most emotional movies on flights.

The journey to my self-worth has been long and arduous, but I’m picking away at letting my light shine.

So then fast forward to a recent trip— I was doing the walk around when I caught my reflection in a window to the terminal. That little voice inside my head, the one always babbling, said for the first time in a really long time, “I like the way I look.” I did not expect this, because this voice rarely says anything nice to me. But there I was, twirling around the plane in a mix of emotions, a small grin and tearing up over the confidence and dapper feeling that is ever elusive.

Not too long after that epiphany, NBC News published this article with the headline, “Are sexy gay Instagram accounts fueling disordered eating?” It goes into detail of Thirst Traps leading the masses to alter their eating habits in order to obtain a body similar to that of the accounts (a thirst trap is an account that mostly posts shirtless/revealing photos, highlighting one’s taut physique, and you are “trapped” there from gawking so much).

Little Ace of Base enjoying Palm Springs sunshine with Uncle Bobbie

Months ago, I stopped following accounts like this, because, although I didn’t have an eating disorder, it was causing me to compare myself to nearly unattainable Adonis-like bodies. Having always had an issue with my body image, it was out of self-care that I focused more on health instead of image.

And for a long time, I scoffed at thirst traps. I called them vapid, cliquey, and exclusive— but I’ve changed my narrative. While some of these guys are certainly not the nicest or most welcoming for people of my body type, they, too, harbor the trauma that is being gay in the modern world. Specifically, white gay men are higher on the privilege pole than most other minorities, and they do an amazing job at masking their pain under the guise of professional success, creating a fanciful image of their lives. Underneath all that, though, is still the brokenness and confusion of being queer in this age. Sometimes, Thirst Traps are posting to thwart their own insecurities; it might take them as much courage to post a shirtless picture as it does for me, even though their body fat is way less than mine. They might be more accepted, but it doesn’t make it any less difficult for them.

That’s a tough pill to swallow, because it’s easy to be mad at them for their shortcomings. It’s easy to accuse them of being pompous and egotistic, but all that does is reflect on us for assuming that their path is trouble-free. What’s even more difficult is to embrace and love your body the way it is, exactly in this moment no questions asked, unconditionally. Society tells us otherwise, because there’s always something we could do to improve ourselves. In the grand scheme of things, of course there is— but it’s not at all urgent.

Mask4Mask Self-Care is so masculine

At the end of the day, the infighting amongst our queer family over who looks better is petty at best. I call on our community to put down our arms and find a bit more compassion— mostly because our battles are not suited with each other, but against the onslaught of disparities of our QPOC (Queer Person of Color) family members and trans* family. If we could get past the fat shaming and build each other up, we would be poised to use our privilege for the entire breadth of the queer community.  

In that moment where I saw myself in the window, it didn’t fix the years of stress and stigma I’ve put on myself. I don’t even necessarily feel that great about myself today; this is not a linear journey, and there are certainly ups and downs. But it was a glimpse of what I have found to be capable in myself— satisfied and comfortable in my own skin.