Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I’ve been floundering trying to figure out my gratitude list. I think we’re all in agreement that 2016 has just been a complete shitshow of heartbreaking celebrity deaths, the rise of White Nationalism, terrorism and shootings, school bus accidents and personal struggles. I’ve spent most of this year in an anxiety spiral, bursting into tears at the drop of a hat, not sleeping and hoping that today isn’t the day I die from a ragestroke.
But I love Thanksgiving! I love cooking all of the foods. I love staying home on Thursday and maybe visiting family on Saturday. I even like going shopping on Friday. Most of all, I like reflecting on the year that has passed and finding my joys. It is an accounting we all do far too infrequently and that’s what makes this holiday special to me, even during terrible times. And in that spirit, here are the things that I’m grateful for right now.
Editor Note: Trigger Warning/Explicit Content – this is a detailed account of one man’s rape. It is brutal at times, as is the case with rape. It is also wonderfully written and we are incredibly proud to give him a space to share his story.
Our guest contributor is Christopher. He is a great lover of food and music, but not necessarily in that order. His favorite thing is being alive. In fact, he intends to never die.
My story isn’t one that I’ve seen or heard too often, but I’m sure it’s happened to other men, and maybe they could benefit from this. This is a rape story. This is my rape story, and I’m still getting used to applying that term to what happened to me. We think of rape as something disgusting that happens to women and children, so when it happens to a man, it becomes a story of emasculation, of weakening, a story that should probably be shouldered or tucked away someplace dark and silent. I chose a different technique. I turned my story into a comedic narrative and delivered it to a live audience in the form of a stand-up routine. I got a lot of laughs, and the live performance filled me with adrenaline and bolstered my confidence. I don’t like horror movies; never have. Typically, when I’m reluctantly watching a horror film, my instinct is to laugh at the highest points of tension, to giggle with glee when a scene startles the piss out of me. It’s not surprising that I turned the horrific story of my rape into a comedy. Sadly, this is also somewhat of a coming-out story, as this rape was my first sexual encounter with another gay man. This guy knowingly took my virginity. He took advantage of my inexperience and he premeditated this sexual assault. This is the real story, without the strategic timing and pauses for anticipated laughter.
It was 2001, and I was an invincible 22-year-old. I was a freshly-minted homosexual in that I’d come out to a modest handful of close friends and a few siblings. In truth, I’m one of those men who have always been gay, or at least since I was old enough to understand that I was different. I’d dated girls in my late teens, but by my 22nd birthday I was ready to be my true self. Only I had no idea of how to proceed.
I was working as a server and bartender at a chain restaurant. I was living in the DC-Metro area. I just needed that first door to open. His name was…I guess I can’t say his actual name. He had one of those names that should have been an immediate red flag, one of those names that always pops up on a 15 Most Douchey Names list. So let’s call him Trip. Continue reading
There’s a growing sense of dread that’s come to sit on my shoulders. I know I’m not the only one. There’s an uneasiness that lives somewhere between my stomach and my heart, a churning ball of anxiety and rage and sorrow. There is an unshakeable tension between my shoulders and a slight tremor in my hands. I’m becoming terrified of our world, our country, our society.
I don’t have to spell it out. Your fear might not have the exact same triggers as mine, but it’s there in all of us right now. All of us who pay the slightest attention to the world outside. Like a old Maine fisherman, we’re sitting on our front porches, looking at the sky and muttering “Stahm’s a’ brewin’.”
Underneath all of that scary, there sits a tiny shred of hope, though. I can’t help my streak of optimism and I’m trying very hard to focus on it, nurture it now when it is needed most. My hope comes from seeing Bernie Sanders almost pull off the upset of the century and reminding Democrats what liberal is. My hope comes from watching crowds gather in solidarity around victims of violence. My hope comes from national outrage at reduced sentences for the affluent white male. My hope is that more and more people are waking the fuck up. Continue reading
● Upon reading a brave young lady’s account of being sexually assaulted at a metal show,
I was reminded of the time I confessed to a past boyfriend my deep dark secret of being
assaulted myself. And how he called me a liar. Same boyfriend a few months later got
angry at me for yelling at one of his customers at the bar he worked at because the
customer grabbed my ass, and was equally handsy with other ladies at the same time.
● Taking a walk last night, I was hollered at by an SUV full of young men. Contrary to their
intentions, I was not flattered, only thankful I was on a busy street so if they tried to
physically assault me, at least I was in public and would maybe get help from passers by. Continue reading
I hate a lot of things. Like. A lot. Mayonnaise, Michael McDonald, abortion protests, peep toe booties, the months of July and August, pets, dirty dishes, Pretty Woman, overbearing parents. (An abbreviated list for sure.) But in that “overbearing parents” category is the “mama bear.” And to the mama bear, I say, “Ugh, shut the fuck up.” Continue reading
I’ve discussed the fact that I (probably) can’t have kids, and how much it sucks. I mean, I’ve mostly come to terms with it – but there is a neverending grieving process involved. I want a daughter who’ll kick ass and end up running the world. I like to imagine her, this funny, smart, brave kid – and all of the things I want to teach her. Since it doesn’t look like I’ll ever get that opportunity, I still want to share my philosophies with y’all, because they’re a damn good way to live your life and I think every child, especially the girl chirren, should have these words of wisdom spoken to them from birth.
Don’t let others define you. Your life is going to be full of people attempting to tell you who you are – they’re going to try to label you so you fit into a category in their life. The problem with that is you can start believing the labels, tailoring who you are to fit someone else, everyone else. You are your own person, you define who you are, labels are bullshit. Embrace all of the wonderful complexity of you and defy anyone who tries to simplify you – their inability to accept life fully is not your problem, don’t reduce yourself to make things easier for the unimaginative.
You make your own joy. Every day, every moment, is filled with choices – choose joy as often as you can. Don’t rely on others to make you happy, you’ll always be disappointed. But if you’re already happy, you’ll shine brighter than everyone around you. Find what brings you peace and happiness and pursue it fiercely. Encourage others to do the same. Be a beacon of joy.
Don’t hide from pain. You’re going to get hurt – physically, mentally, emotionally. Don’t let the fear of pain keep you from chasing life. You might end up with some scars, be proud of them. A scar means you won, you survived, you’re still here. Scars are never ugly. Protect yourself as best you can, but at the end of the day, take the risk for what you want. Continue reading
This blog entry will actually be about putting your damn pants on, no matter what kind of pants they may be. Plenty of people wear pants, and more often than not, those pants are put on the same way by all kinds of different people.
I am a runner. When running, my pants (or shorts) of choice are primarily made of lycra and/or spandex. This is not an uncommon selection, no matter where your gender identity lies (which is on the female scale, for me). When I run, I don’t like to have loose fabric weighing me down or creating wind resistance. Minimalism in clothing is important in running, ranging from shorty shorts in the summer and tight pants in the winter. While I am nowhere near elite status, you will see this type of clothing amongst the most decorated runners.
When I run, I am disgusting. I sweat, I wheeze, I spit, I wipe my nose on my shirt. Any sort of “ladylike” manners get thrown out the proverbial window when I run, and I don’t care. I have a mission to complete. Over time, I have added another non-ladylike mannerism to my oh-so-appealing running persona – the middle finger.
The name’s Jen and I work at a nonprofit clinic that deals specifically in reproductive issues (guess which one!). I own two cats and a dog and we all like ice cream and cheese. I’ve lived in RVA for 10ish years and lack the gumption to move but that’s not on my mind. I’m a single childless lady and all I really care about at this point in my life is where the nearest pizza is.
Trigger warning: rape
Online dating sites are sketchy. We all know that. You’d think I’d give up the ghost after my dates with not one but two ex-heroin addicts, the guy who told me he loved muscular ginger hunks, the homeless man and the fellow who only talked about tree frogs. Yet, for some reason (boredom, intrigue and self-loathing with a touch of hopefulness) I keep logging back on. At the very least I have some peculiar stories to tell.
So here we go again, I have re-activated my account and as this ain’t my first rodeo I know to expect very little. I’ve gotten some charming messages so far:
“Luv ur tat.”
“You should smile.”
“You are funny and girls are not funny.”
Anyway, it’s a fun thing to look at when you’re in between conversations at the bar. In fact, that is exactly what I was doing this weekend when suddenly the “fun” came to an abrupt halt and I almost fell out of my seat.
The man who raped me in 2011 appeared under my top matches.
You guys, I’ve been staring at my monitor for way too long trying to figure out how to say everything I want to say without offending anyone. Abortion is such a delicate topic and it’s so personal and touches so many nerves and it’s just fucking tough to discuss rationally. And I think that’s one of the reasons the pro-choice side seems to be losing everywhere. It’s a lot easier to hold up pictures of mangled fetuses and scream at strangers and to murder doctors – and to convince people that these extremist actions are needed to protect the babies. I can’t do the equivalent, there is no equivalent. So we on the choice side make carefully worded arguments and try to hold debates and sign petitions and lose the battle of showmanship.
It’s easy to throw our hands up and simmer in our rage and gnash our teeth with every new law restricting our rights and to feel just completely useless. And I don’t honestly believe that reading this post on this little goofy blog is going to convince an anti-choicer to join my side, but I can’t stay quiet. It’s not how I roll, y’all. So, I’m stealing an idea from John Oliver (which, if you’re not watching Last Week Tonight you’re missing out, it’s brilliant), I’m going to write a whole bunch about an uncomfortable topic and if you read all the way through to the end, you’ll be rewarded with a video you want to watch. Like of tiny animals being tiny and adorable. Deal? (Yes, you can just scroll down without reading, but that would be a total dick move.)
You guys, I’ve missed you!! I’ve missed writing – life has been a giant can o’ crazy this year and PYDPO has been a casualty. I apologize. I’m hoping that things will be settling and I can get back to sharing way too much personal information with strangers on the internet very soon. There have been so many things I’ve wanted to discuss with y’all recently! But every time I’ve started to write about MRAs or #NotAllMen or Rihanna’s ass, the rage has overwhelmed me and I’ve had to stop. So today I’m going to ignore all of that shit and talk about something much more important: all of my gray hair.
I turned 33 this year. I’m in the middle age zone – I’m all settled with a partner and kids, I have a career, I long for home ownership, I worry about retirement and life insurance. While all of that makes me feel like an adult, what makes me feel old is my hair. Years of slathering on Water Babies to avoid sun poisoning coupled with lots of extra collagen has left me fairly wrinkle free so far, but my roots show my age. And what used to be one here or there has turned into the fact that I’m definitely, totally going gray.