5 Levels of Hungover

Sometimes a fat grin streaks across my face at the thought that I default to “happy.” My depression has only been in remission for about two years, and I’m still incredulous. I think I try to kill off all this bliss with alcohol. I’m just not used to it.

"Guys, we won't get drunk if we drink tiny beers."

“Guys, we won’t get hangovers if we drink tiny beers.”

When I was still recovering from my depression, I used a 10 finger system to indicate my emotional stability to my dad. 10 fingers would represent the kind of happiness my Pollyanna mother achieves daily. 1 signified abject misery. He’d hold up his fingers and I’d mirror with mine less a digit or two, and he wouldn’t have to ask me how I was doing. That question was met with a blank stare, a grunt, a painful sigh. I rarely presented above a 5.

So, without further ado, let me present my 5 levels of hungover:

5 Fingers – Not too bad, not too good

Bleh. Everything is Bleh. I think I used up all my dopamine last night. After a cold root beer I’m mostly healed.

4 Fingers – I feel blue, but I cling to a shred of optimism

I pick through boxes of microwave meals and look for something with a high caloric content, like pizza. I need something fatty to absorb my suffering.

3 Fingers – My happiness was a red balloon and it escaped into the endless sky

This one lingers, even past dinnertime. It’s almost enjoyable, because it gives me an excuse to complain all day. I tell everyone I see that I’m hungover. PITY ME.

2 Fingers – I wish I could sleep all day, but I’m in too much pain to sleep

I’m so desperate for relief that I resort to watching television.  But then everything is too loud so I sit in a dark room. Everything is too dark so I move to a dimly lit room. My blood is uncomfortable.

1 Finger – Suicidal

I keep a running monologue in my mind to distract me from the horrible feeling that my organs will slide out of my body. I can’t even choke down mac n’ cheese, so I sip a can of Jumex (25% juice, 75% sugar water) and contemplate sobbing. But that’s too much effort and requires too much liquid that I don’t have in my dried up face so I stare stoically at the cluttered coffee table and feel sorry for myself.

Hangover cure: beer and mayo.  1. Put the mayonaise in the pantry.  2. Drink a beer.

Hangover cure: beer and mayo. 1. Put the mayonaise in the pantry. 2. Drink a beer. When I bought these, just these, the cashier told me, “I think you’re the winner.”

So I wake up with yet another hangover and wonder why I do this to myself. It’s not just about having fun. I was having fun at swig three. I didn’t need to polish off that pint of Jim Beam (don’t worry, I had helpers). I really do think I need the hangover in a way. It helps me remember the sadness buried under the fog of memory, and continue to value the happiness that I have earned. In other words, life is pretty great if the worst thing I have to deal with are my gnarly hangovers.

I’m Gonna Pop Some Tags

Let me just preface this by saying no one in San Diego says “thrift shop.”  It’s thrift store, Macklemore. Another thing wrong with that song: you won’t get leopard mink for 99 cents unless it truly is drenched in urine. But I gotta love that he’s singing about popping tags instead of bottles. It’s true, one of the joys of coming home with a haul is popping off the tags and getting a second look at those low-low prices.

I tap a yardstick against the wall. The vase is almost as big around as the circle I can make with my arms, but we had just measured its narrow opening. The hole is the right diameter, maybe too snug. But at $20, it’s too much to spend on something used and scratched. I’m annoyed with the pricing. I can tell Katelyn really wants the thing.

Everyone is your friend when you wear these sparkle dresses to the club.

Everyone is your friend when you wear these sparkle dresses to the club.

Erratic pricing is common in almost every thrift store I encounter in San Diego. A lovely peacock-patterned dress sat in St. Vincent de Paul’s for at least a month under a $50 tag because someone saw the original price. It might still be there. Meanwhile I snagged a pristine Betsey Johnson frock for less than $5. I guess it’s difficult to properly value trash that may be treasure. Or, just maybe, the volunteers / minimum wagers who sit in the back room and staple tags directly to garments (and to nylon thigh highs!!) just guesstimate with no supervision.

Weighing price against value is the primary skill to develop when thrifting. Do I like this shirt? Yes? Do I like it 7 dollars worth and knowing I have to find a replacement button? No. I used to go home with a pile of rubbish, or at least clothing that is difficult to absorb into my existing wardrobe. Now my collection is so large I can find a way to wear a pair of tights with tigers on the calves.

I still thrift primarily to impress people at parties. I try to be selective, but having a conversation starter is more valuable to me than closet and floor space. I have a silver sequined skater dress (Ross, $20, a gift) and a gold sequined skater dress (McAllister’s, $3). And if I found a black one for under $10 I’d buy that too.

The part where the upper of the pump touches your heel/ankle is called the counter.

There’s a part of the shoe called the shank! This is exciting.

I’ve sort of developed a strategy for getting through thrift stores quickly and without “splurging” too much. If my thrifting partner is easily bored, I’ll want to have at least examined the necessities — so first I beeline for the shoes. I stalk down every aisle, scanning with a jittery gaze. Pumps are easy to score because I wear size 8s. For a $3 pair of skyscrapers, I’ll jam my toes into a size 7.5 and drink until I can’t feel them. Looser heels can be made to fit with gel inserts; one is placed in the ball of the foot, and one is cut into strips to adhere to the inside of the counter (see diagram).

Next, lately, I hunt for leather in the outwear section. I’m looking for something amazing, something I’m willing to drop $30 or even $40 to own. Recently I acquired a black plether member’s-only jacket for $5. It will tide me over, but is already missing buttons.

If you really want attention for pennies, look for a ridiculous t-shirt. Since I’m lucky enough to fit into a Juniors medium or small, I shop in the boy’s section. Items of that size are misplaced there and/or boys have cool shirts. I scored both Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus concert tees on the same day, for less than 50 cents each after discounts. I thought maybe I could turn little boy shirts into crop tops, but I ruined one with sloppy scissor work. For 70 cents it was worth the experiment. Maybe I’ll find a way to save Mr. Kitty with Laser Beams Coming out of his Eyes.

Finally, I weave through the rest of the store before heading to checkout. By now I’m too eager to move on to the next store to waste my money on anything else unless it is extraordinary, like wheels I can attach to my shoes... Old Sami would have bought the Coach leather satchel for $17. New Sami didn’t because the bronze fittings don’t match her larger Coach messenger bag of the same style, the stitching on the handle seemed less than perfect, and she was thirsty and too impatient to make a $17 decision.

We’re at the large purple vase again. Katelyn is on her haunches, deciding. I want to tell her to buy it. I see the defeated look start to creep into her eyes. But $20 is not justifiable. “Manager Special” we hear come over the PA, “now all tags are half off. All colors of tags are half off, except furniture.” $10? Sold.

We get an opportunity to use the vase at a party that same week. One of Katelyn’s many hookah stems fits snug in the vase. She already had a matching purple hose. Filled with water, large as it is, the vase is heavy and stable. It looks like the caterpillar’s pipe and I’m Alice in Wonderland.

Katelyn's planning to use this purple vase with her 3 hose hookah next.

Katelyn’s planning to use this purple vase with her 3 hose pipe!

How to Use a Safe Word

If your Designated Driver is also sometimes referred to as The Handler, you need a situational safe word.  You may also be interested if:

  • You or another person in your party of party-goers does not respond to “Stop it. Seriously stop. Stop. Stop. STOP.”
  • Your wingman or wingwoman is too friendly to people you can tell will be trouble.
  • You have an ongoing relationship with someone who likes to tease you so much that you can’t be sure if Wednesday got removed from the calendar or maybe you just ate too many brownies.

I’m not talking 50 Shades of Gray, safe words here (surprisingly, the amateur soft-porn pretending-to-be kinky writer E. L James does sprinkle in the use of standard s-words ‘yellow’ and ‘red’). No, a situational safe word is a previously agreed-upon term that, once uttered, establishes I’m done here and I’m serious. No more party for you.

There's no real safe word generator as far as I can tell, but using this tool on the "somewhat Uncommon" setting is fairly effective and sometimes hilarious.

There’s no real safe word generator as far as I can tell, but using this tool on the “Somewhat Uncommon” setting is fairly comical.  Get started with your own situational safe word today! Or just use White House.

Ours is “White House.” Used in a sentence: “You were a monster last night. First you got bear arm, then I had to White House you.”

We obtained the term from two very good friends with very colorful hair. At least one of these women gets punchy when she’s had too many martinis and I witnessed the two words calm her like a tranquilizer dart. Yep, I was definitely going to steal that strategy.

For example, two boys offer to buy us bottle service. Katelyn is thinking, “ooh, free alcohol!” I’m thinking that these kinds of things are never free. We hold a retainer, discuss the pros and cons, but finally, I have to do it. White House. We walk away and I don’t have to spend the night fending off make-out attempts while guiltily sipping from a vodka cranberry.

That is merely a concise illustration and is 100% unrealistic because I would never turn down free alcohol and I’m a champ at turning down make-out attempts.

Sour cream for days.

This is what happens when you tell your friends that all you want is sour cream.

Last week I woke up, said “sour cream” and giggled. Hazy memories teased me and I spent about 15 minutes trying to figure out if I had only dreamt of clutching a soft stuffed-animal to my chest before passing out drunk.

Katelyn and I reviewed the night. Did we get mexican food? Of course we did, that is when Drunk-Sami started shouting SOUR CREAM. “But I don’t remember posting it on my facebook wall.” No, Katelyn did that as I slept. Right, so I palmed carne asada fries (with SOUR CREAM) into my face, then we went home and I dozed off?

Not quite.

Apparently I felt it hilarious and necessary to flail wildly after my friends strapped me into the passenger seat. “You threw that old big gulp against the window and got water everywhere. I had to White House you for the second time.” The…second…time?

That's kind of a cool word -- Cacao

Yep, I got the Cacao safe word from Portlandia. Click & scroll to watch episode clip.

The first time went largely ignored when she White Housed me for trying to smoke a cigarette. She had to ninja chop it out of my hands. Why did I neglect the sacred words? We figure it’s because she forgot to first use the “joke” safe word: Cacao. The joke safe word is intended to provide its target with the opportunity to cease offenses peaceably without escalating to code White House. It’s also great for tickle fights. We also realized, after analyzing the SOUR CREAM night, that Cacao is essential to the efficacy of White House. Just as yellow always precedes red, you kind of need to give Drunkee McGee a chance to slow down.

We got home without further incident. I don’t even think I shouted “woooh, party!” out the windows at pedestrians like I usually do. I took off all my clothes at the foot of the bed (which is unusual as I usually sleep in at least a t-shirt). I went to the bathroom, then lied in bed. Then I got out of bed and curled up on the floor. I started to whimper.

“Here, take this,” Katelyn said. “Fluffy bear got me through a lot of hard times, too.”


LGBT Art Exhibition

I will be performing at the Lambda Archives for the Queer Artists Project on March 15th.  My performance will start around 8pm.


Friday, March 15th | 8pm | Facebook Event

I’m imagining building a fort and plastering it with No Trespassing tape. Behind my baricade, I calmly target the audience with a mic and a video camera. Isolated sounds float disembodied through speakers and the images I gather project onto my body.

That’s what came to me last night after a brisk cold walk to the bar from my car.

I think I want to comment on the appropriation of gay culture by popular cultures.

This is my homage to Jeremy's style.  It's amazing how hard it is to find sparkly mens spandex shorts on Polyvore -- that is, until you type in the word "fabulous."

This is my homage to Jay’s style. It’s amazing how hard it is to find sparkly men’s spandex shorts on Polyvore — that is, until you type in the word “fabulous.”

A friend of mine adorns himself with glitter and nailpolish.  He minces and flames.  He’s 100% straight.

I adore these things about him.  I pinned my rainbow button to his drowsy girlfriend’s sleeve as she sat in his lap. She is trying to explore her bisexuality – I wanted her to know that I see her.  But also, in away, I wanted to say that I love and accept them from the bottom of my little gay heart.

Recently, however, I saw a picture of him with rainbow suspenders and I recoiled.  I thought of the trendiness of swinging, straight couples hunting for that perfect bisexual woman who will love both of them in a harmonious triad, and 1-dick-per-relationship policies.  I thought of dudes who ask me to sleep with their girlfriends, but insist that they at least be allowed to watch.  It’s hardly a gracious offer.

Jay is not selfish or rude unlike some people who seem to forget what the word “lesbian” means. I’m ashamed that for even one second my brain wanted to connect the dots between him expressing himself and people who suck.

I don’t own all the rainbows and unicorns and I can’t deny the fun of a threesome that lines up perfectly with your expectations and fantasies.  I know I am projecting my own fears and injuries.  I think I am bitter. The collective pressure to submit to a normative sexuality, the times when I did submit, and (when I am angry and/or drunk enough to claim) that I was “collectively raped by society,” fill my mouth with pith and poison.  I have taken man to access woman; why shouldn’t a straight pair do the same?

Here's a drawing of Katelyn murdering a unicorn.

Here’s a drawing of Katelyn murdering a unicorn.

I gave myself the power of “no” too late in life.  And so, when a man asks access to my body even after he knows I’m gay I feel forced to use my no.  It feels less like a choice and more like a struggle.  Years of all the unsaid NO gather in my fists and my eyes.  They don’t know the implications of what they are asking.  They haven’t studied the male gaze nor been pinned under it like a lizard under a curious child’s hands.  Yet every time they ask (I’ll write a post someday about the frequency zomg) I’m hit by a truck.

There is a conversation.  It is not that tourists and heteroregulars infiltrate our spaces, our bars, our clubs.  We also invite them.  I literally bring Straighty McStraight guys to my bars.  Like some kind of sadist, I toss ’em in the sea of gay fish and the evil voice in my head says, “swim sucker! Dog paddle like I have to do every day of my life.”

I'm one of them lipstick lesbians or something.

I’m one of them lipstick lesbians or something.

I am only vindictive when I am weak.  Really though, I need my rainbow-suspender-wearing friend.  He is a pioneer in this conversation as much as any of us queermos.  His choice of attire asks, “Will the straight community accept this?” and inversely, “Will the gay community let me borrow this?”

I’m a femme, so at first glance most men assume I want to bang ’em.  Kidding, but many assume they even have a chance.  I borrow femininity and receive invisibility. I access a “normal” that butch does not.  I allow the assumptions and the lack thereof.  I ask, “Will strangers accept my sexuality even if I do not perform under their expectations or stereotypes?”  I ask myself “how much of this crap will I put up with before I out myself….?”

Yet I’m not femme because I want to be a pioneer.  Like my friend I’m just trying to do what I want.  We just freaking like nail polish.  AND GLITTER.  And extra vaginas for everybody to share.  Being in this larger conversation about sexuality and freedom and agency feels less like a choice and more like a struggle.  What is my responsibility, what is his?

So the video projects on my body, but I also select it.  I target the audience, but they also see their image on my skin, can smile or frown, wave or duck.  I allow, they infiltrate, and visa versa.  That’s the idea with this project anyway.  Thoughts?

The Right to Bear Arm

Ok, so one of my friends read my last post (Hooray! I have nice friends) and said,

“Sami, what in the hell is the bear arm.  You can’t just drop something like that and not explain it. Also, kicky boots?”

Everyone seems to think I'm adorable.  That does not mean my personality has to match.

Everyone seems to think I’m adorable. That does not mean my personality has to match.

I dressed in my Spyro the Dragon costume for a party in PB, so the fireball told me I had to drink it. In fact, the fireball taunted me for not thinking of bringing my own in the first place. I mean, come on, dragons drink fireball, not Jim Beam out of a paper bag.

I spent much of the night chatting up a pretty engineer. When it became apparent I wasn’t really her type, I released some of my angst by flinging myself violently around the stripper pole in the middle of the living room (I know two people who have these. Apparently they are good for exercise. Also, dragon rage). In a dizzy combination of glee and frustration, I stomped numbly to the sliding glass door.

Outside, redditor boys with creative costumes, attractive PB women, and the usual bros had been tossing the proverbial ping pong ball across a long table into little red cups. These, and empty cans, littered the surface before me. Most of the partiers faced away from the messy cluster, save three, including myself.

Step 1: Brandish arm with menace.

Step 1: Brandish arm with menace.

Katelyn told me later that she blamed what I was about to do on a hapless witness and I got off scott-free.

In one smooth series of motions I swiped my arm across the table, swiveled, re-entered through the glass slider, and closed the door behind me. Apparently the cans and empty cups scattered dramatically. Katelyn asked the sole other witness, “Why did you do that?” Everyone laughed at his expense.

The bear arm results from the potent combination of three things. Me, alcohol, and unrequited lust.

Step 2: Flail.

Step 2: Flail.

Kicky boots are more about a general taste for violence against inanimante objects, though alcohol is also involved. Unlike the bear arm, my need to apply shoe to object can come out of the innocent place of, “look, I kick things and physics happens!” But bear arm is immensely more satisfying.

Good Bear Arm Targets:

  • Empty cans
  • Empty cups
  • Curtains
  • A structure made of playing cards
  • Streamers
  • Doorway beads (sometimes)
  • Shrubbery

Bad Bear Arm Targets:

  • People
  • Full cups
  • Glass bottles
  • Cactus

So….yeah… bear arm.  Good stuff.

You got a problem with that pussycat?

“Hey stop staring! Haven’t you ever seen a dragon before?” – (me as) Spyro the Dragon