Party planning: then and now

 

I’ve taken joy in planning parties since I was young. Whether I go the extra mile staying up ’til 2am the night previous building an obstacle course in the back yard to just thinking up a clever event title for Facebook, my prep efforts are always rewarded. Nowadays I plot everything on our fav’ social sharing site, but I used to write list after list in my diary.

Themes

Then:Party-planning-theme-big-kids-18th

 

Theme planning took up at least one whole page in my journal, if not several. Ideal themes lent themselves to a slew of activities, decoration ideas, and costume suggestions, though I frequently chose them by my own whimsy. Did I want my mother to make the carousel cake I saw in American Girl magazine, with animal crackers frosting-glued to straws and a big paper canopy? Time for a circus theme party. Did I want an excuse to build a giant furniture fort in the living room? I’ll make it look like a ship and have a pirate party.

Candyland was the obvious choice for my “Sweet Sixteen” but I have to admit I was most excited about making giant lollipops out of balloons and cellophane.

I read a lot more craft books when I was a kid.

Now:

This part of party planning hasn’t changed much for me. Unless the party is last minute, I put a lot of effort into the theme, as evidenced by the theme notes below. I planned to make buttons that said “I went pinky up for Sami’s 21st.” (Yeah, that didn’t happen. I wasn’t really prepared for how booze can interfere with one’s ability to execute a party. And yes I didn’t really start drinking ’till I was 21.)

Party-planning-theme-British-21stWhat has changed is that I’m less interested in forcing my guests to comply with my bizarre fantasy worlds (though a murder mystery party where I gave guests 7 pages of pre-party prep notes turned out fun) than finding a theme that’s exciting enough for people to actually show up. That’s a lot harder now. Back then I’d invite 15 of my closest friends and all but one of them would make it.

Which brings us to…

Inviting Guests

All guests received a theme-appropriate physical invitation. Jungle Party invites were written with green marker on a cut-out leaf, folded in half with the stem pushed through a slit to close. Casino Royale invites included fake money and confetti. Big Kid Party: Crayon.

Furthermore, guest selection meant creating highly sophisticated and intently coded lists for the most balanced party. Spaces were scarce – my mom had a rule I could only invite as many friends as my age number (though she allowed a couple extras as I got older). I analyzed the potential for groups to form, making sure that no guest would stand alone. I drew lines between guests to represent relationships & friendships. I drew unhappy faces for guests with ongoing fights. See that question mark, John Q? You almost weren’t invited.

Party-planning-guest-list

 

Now:

Click all the faces! But not him because he can’t hold his liquor. And not her because she probably would think it’s weird if I invited her because we’re not really friends in real life although we are facebook friends fuckit she’s cool and attractive I’ll invite her. Ah shoot I better go back around through the faces and make sure I didn’t miss anyone or else I have to awkwardly invite them late to the party. Do you think they’ll notice 20 people are already attending and it’s obvious I forgot them in the first round? Because now almost a week’s gone by and that definitely happened.

Great. I’ve invited 80 people. At least 30 are bound to show, right?

Budget

Then:

Party-planning-inventoryMy mom has a couple hundred bucks to spend! I’m going to get table cloths, crepe streamers, cups, matching napkins, food for everyone, soda, prizes, games, decorations….

Now:

I have a couple hundred bucks to spend! I’m going to get Jameson, Kahlua, vodka, ancient age, Pacifico, wine….

Party Activities

Then:

Party-planning-activities

I scoured the internet / books for inventive party games and adapted them to the party’s theme. For my sweet 16 I wrote strictly types of candy for a game of “heads up charades” (though we didn’t call it that, we called it that one game where you write things on name tags and put it on your forehead/back and try to guess what it is) and enjoyed my friends saying things to each other like, “Am I sticky?” “Do I taste good with chocolate?” Apparently 15-or-16-year-olds will play this game for like 3 hours.

Now:

Drinking!

 

 

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Writing about your friends on the internet

I bite into this apple of creative energy and there’s a worm in it; another project eats away at the time and thought I normally put into my Thursday update. I’m working on a thing that my collaborator and I avoid putting the b-word on like that’s some sort of curse, but yeah, it wants to be a Book.

(We’re basically writing about our sexy times and our sad times, framed as a series of letters between lovers.)

I’ve been somewhat hush about this writing project because I know sharing too much too soon can crush my enthusiasm. Once someone’s read it, it’s lived its purpose and I lose interest. However... The thing is upwards of 50k words by now (raw, disorganized words at times but still words) so I feel a little braver. I can almost see the finish line, and this time instead of tripping over a false sense of confidence, I’m eagerly putting one foot in front of the other to draw the conclusion closer to me.

I’m not just sharing this information as an excuse of a blog post, and I’m really not sharing this to create hype out of my writing project & 50 friends bugging me to finish it already && when can they read it? — though that may be a fun side effect. Truthfully, I just want to say it occurs to me that I’m struggling with the same thing in my writing project as this blog project, and that is, writing about my friends.

I navigate thornier ground with the b-word thing, because I’m writing about friends I’ve seen naked. Wait, who am I kidding? At some of the parties I go to I see y’all naked too. Anyway, at what point am I crossing the line between enumerating the details of my personal experience to exposing too much about people I care about, even if the law of memoirs means truth is fair game?

I think we can all agree that killing a rattlesnake, cleaning, baking, and eating it at dawn* is an occasion worth commemorating. By contrast (though proudly displaying the burn marks to all) the guy who opted to get branded with a potato masher may not want me to publish any of his identifying details. Yeah, you didn’t go to that party, you don’t get to know.

Remember, though, the “list 10 friends” fad back in Myspace days? It probably started with guidelines like:

  1. Say something to the person you wish you could talk to but can’t
  2. Say something to your BFF
  3. Say something to your crush
  4. etc….

I think by the end of the meme’s lifespan, the rules disintegrated/purified to their true motivations: let’s write 10 anonymous things about each other so we can splash around in puddles of narcissism.

It was glorious to recognize myself. Perhaps I’m really fucking arrogant to believe this, but I think it’d be pretty fun to find yourself in this blog, too. Unless, of course, you said something sexist to me. And while sexists are assholes that deserve to be defamed, anyone reading this should realize my perception of reality has its limits.

FOR FUCKING EXAMPLE: I described a guy in a cookie monster onesie in a less-than-flattering context, only to realize later that I know this guy and he was chummy with me for good reasons. My bad. Guys with brown hair all look the same to me. We all have a lot of people to keep track of in this day and age — and for some reason I prioritize learning the faces of lady people…

Anyway, my dear readers, my baby birds I want to feed and feed, what’s going on here? Do you prefer reading about other people? Are you yearning for your own cameo? Are you just glad I manage to update every Thursday, like a goddamn consistent person? Like, you read me the same as you’d watch a dying TV show past its prime but you might as well since it’s still going every week, did you hear they’re making a season 6 why don’t you kill me already…

The truth is, for me, I’m just obsessed with all of you sometimes. I want to know if it’s okay to write about you. Picasso’s girlfriend probably didn’t tell him to hide away the portraits he made of her saying, ‘baby, what? I look so ugly, do you really think my nose is that big? My eyes are that..awkwardly placed in relationship to the rest of my face parts, seriously they aren’t even pointing in the same direction…??’ But I’m not Picasso and these sentences are search-indexable. I owe you your privacy, perhaps.

P.S. If you’ve been waiting for your cameo, here it is: Yes I did write this because at your party you said, “Careful around her, you might end up on the internet.”


*This occurred the night I contracted strep, but I didn’t write about it because I missed most of the rattler feast when I conked out early on a bottle of Jameson. Didn’t feel like my story to tell, which is the rubric I’ve used thus far in choosing what to put to words.

This is how you rave, babies

Rave Review

“Enter the Tech” by Rock the Discotek
March 1st

Rating: 3.5 pieces of candy
How-to-catch-James-Woods-ooh-piece-of-candy-family-guy

Negatives:

  • 18+ …still weirds me out no matter how nice the kids are
  • Some DJs were obviously underprepared
  • Too much publicity = too crowded
  • Too crowded = long ass lines
  • Too crowded = vandalism & early shut down, apparently

Positives:

  • Several projectors with visuals
  • Great sound system in both rooms
  • Most DJs were creative
  • Being able to dress up to get in for free
  • 2 rooms = less overwhelming
  • Bathrooms weren’t bad at all, if that matters
  • Casual atmosphere (e.g. friendly security)

Overall, I’d go again as long as they continue to keep the entry cost low.

I think a lot of us have been hoping for the “rave” scene to expand in SD. I’m no veteran raver but I’ve been tracking underground EDM events around town for the past couple of years and I can speak for everyone when I say we were all bummed when Gage’s warehouse basically shut down.

Since then, there hasn’t been much in the way of conveniently located regular underground events (that aren’t hyper-commercialized trash…No thanks “Somewhere Loud”) so driving to Mira Mesa actually sounded like a cinch. Event page said: “dress like Bruce Lee, get in free” which is a dumb and impossible, but Katelyn confidently put me in a cheongsam-inspired top and a tutu and said it would count.

tutu rave fishnets furry legwarmers

I did NOT know it was an 18+ event, so I was a bit stunned to see so many youngins in the line and probably accidentally gave some of my pre-party Ancient Age to a child. And it was a line. The event was over-publicized, and they invited teenagers, so it was no surprise it took at least an hour to get through. Nevertheless, I ran back to the car to grab my whiskey and made fun out of the time.

Our dedication to dressing up was rewarded when an organizer strafed the queue, shot fingers at us with a big smile and, “You are getting in for free and you are getting in for free.” Pretty much at these things if you look the slightest bit fun say to the gatekeepers “I was told I would get in free because of my costume” and gesture emphatically. It’s worth a shot. There were tons of dudes in gray sweatshirts and jeans without even a speck of adornment, not even Mardi Gras beads, which is beyond disappointing. Again, teenagers.

The neat thing about partying with kids is that it makes you feel like you can reach out and indoctrinate them while they’re still young and impressionable. I felt like I needed to “community build” or some sappy shit so I ran off and collected glow sticks to put on a guy’s crutches and broken foot. It really did help people stop tripping all over him. Then I found some girl who could barely cope with reality and tried to entertain her for awhile, until I realized I was probably over-enthusiastic to the point of being scary and dropped her off with her friends.

The gig did get shut down early at 3am. Yes it was fully permitted and the noise wasn’t an issue (sounded good and loud from the inside, yet barely audible from the street), but some asshole tagged and broke windows of the surrounding businesses. I would say that’s what happens when you invite teenagers to raves, but I suspect it was the 30-something guy I saw trying to sneak in, pissed he couldn’t trick his way into the over-packed venue.

It didn’t occur to me that shutting down was what was happening, so when the music stopped I sat in the middle of the floor and shouted, “MASSAGE CIRCLE.” I was going to save this rave. 2 people joined me. “C’mon babies, this is how you rave,” I yelled. Soon we had about 10 people and next thing I knew we were playing some sort of crowdsurfing leapfrog hybrid.

crowd-surfing-leapfrog

Katelyn had seen the cops, so she came in and told me it was time to leave. “Do we have to?” I said. Boy, I would have liked to see that thing go til 6am.

5 Conversations Women Should Stop Having, Really

I saw an article, “5 Conversations Women Should Stop Having,” by HuffPo and got excited to get my feminist morning-read on, but….what was I thinking this is HuffPo. Of course it’s just “5 Conversations People Should Stop Having” …if they want to stop being boringgggzzzz.  Everybody talks about being stressed out, “traumatized” by their parents, annoying people, where to eat dinner, and clothes. This article is not news.

Good on HP for not resorting to all-out disgusting stereotypes, but if this was supposed to be an appeal to female readers it was weak. Actually, no. Shame on HP for implying that these conversations are only problems, only annoying, when they are had by women.

These are the 5 Conversations Women Should Stop Having, Really:

1. I am not a feminist, because… You’re actually some kind of feminish. Fine. We get it. There are so many different ways to be a feminist, and so many disagreements about those ways.  Some of us take CGS classes. Some of us raise boys up to be good men someday. Some of us burn things. Some of us just try to go about our day without ruining anyone else’s. But unless you truly believe that women don’t deserve equal rights with men…you’re a feminist. Pretty much.

I’m not going to argue with you; you can self-identify however you want, but you’re wasting precious breath that we could be spending on “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” That’s all feminism is to me.

bra-burning-is-a-lie

2. Your body is amazing/beautiful/perfect but my body is sad/horrible/flawed. Actually, I do think there can be value in comparing our bodies and our feelings about them so that we can learn and grow. But I’m sick of impossible compliments, sick of the whiplash of first trying to process the nice thing you said about me and then the gloomy thing you said about yourself.

HOWEVER. I am trying to teach myself to hear the little plea in such statements: “Please see that you are privileged and acknowledge your advantages over me because you are socially recognized as attractive.” Because I know I’m a minx with glorious hair (er, actually, that I don’t face discrimination for my weight, physical health status, and race), I think I hear this plea and I try to answer it when I can.

Sometimes, though, it isn’t so obvious that I might have a particular privilege and it really just comes across as another beautiful lady telling me I’m more beautiful-er than she. Um?? Girl you’re amazing. I guess I’m just supposed to say, “Stop it, no you are.”

Here’s the conversation I’d rather have: “I’m dissatisfied with _____ part of my body and I’m reaching out to you as another woman to help me contend with that. Maybe I just need you to boost me up, or maybe I need you to agree with me that you are fortunate to not have this problem and that it’s ok for me to feel disadvantaged sometimes.”  And I’d also like to make time for this super special conversation, “I am proud of _______ part of my body and I’m reaching out to you as another woman to help me celebrate that.”

shut-up-prettier

3. “She needs to stop wearing the Hijab.” One woman will say, the Hijab is a symbol of oppression, and muslim women (in America) should not wear it. Another woman will say, it is her choice, her freedom of religious expression: “Don’t bother her.” The two will argue, neither side will concede.

Which of the two will also say that revealing clothing degrades women? Which of the two will counter, it’s her choice, let her wear those daisy dukes and boob toob? (It’s not always a predictable pattern.)

We should not argue over how much or how little cloth we use to cover our bodies. We should instead agree that what is more important is our freedom to choose for ourselves. Whose eyes do you feel when you get dressed in the morning? I’m a femme lesbian; I feel the eyes of women who might think I should put on a flannel instead of a frock. I feel the eyes of women who see the advantages of my femme invisibility, and yes I acknowledge and understand them to be true. I ask them to see the loneliness in my femme invisibility, too.

Can’t we just agree the whole point is to have the freedom to wear what you want? Please let the communities who wear particular items of clothing discuss within their own communities about the symbolic significance and/or necessity of those items, and shut up and enjoy your high heels and/or combat boots.

Bad-feminist-fuck-it

4. I’m not like other girls because…. You. Are. Not. Like. Other. Girls.  I know. Thing is, we’re all incredibly different from each other.

Don’t tell each other this, don’t believe this. If you form a friendship on the basis of, “It’s ok, we’re not like the others,” you won’t make it through those moments where she is like all the others. You’ll be sniffing out each other for signs of the enemy, The Conforming Woman. You’ll want so badly to be seen as Not A Typical Woman that you’ll erase yourself, you’ll erase entire identities.

The only time we should see each other as fellow women is when we are on the same team, when we are sharing in our suffering or our growing, when we’re listening to the experience of someone who is going through “woman” differently than we have — or soul-touchingly “the same.”  Otherwise we should see each other as other human beings.

Which leads me to….

5. I have all guy friends because I don’t get along with (normal) women (but you’re an exception).  If this is a conversation you hear yourself frequently starting, you need to Just. Stop. Go stand in a mirror and practice a new conversation: “I don’t understand why I’m insecure in my ability to relate with other women. I need to heal this in myself.” I get that it’s tough sometimes to form relationships with women when the patriarchy often pits us against each other, but if you believe it’s only other women that are the problem, then you’re part of the problem.

This conversation breaks my heart more than all the others. When a woman starts this conversation with me, I wonder, does she think she’s not getting along with me? Does she think we have reasons to be enemies simply because we’re both women? “I’m not like other girls, don’t fear me,” she says as if it’s a truce.  Excuse me, but I like women. I love women, actually. You can’t take that away from me. You can’t make me some sort of “not really a woman” woman.

And if she knows I’m gay, do I not count as a woman, because I might look at her the way a man does? Does she think I’m not capable of valuing her as a person rather than a person I’d like to touch naked?

Does she realize the poison she is spreading between women by perpetuating this conversation?