Rain to Rainbows

Pride 2014.

I ate frozen yogurt with gummy bears, and my day was brightly colored and cold. We cheered a truck with an 8-foot pink sign: “Queer Community, NOT Gay Capitalism.” The SDCC credit union tipped its great big blue inflated ship to fit under the traffic lights at University and Richmond.   I walked a lot, in heavy combat boots, and I drank a lot, mostly Alesmith’s Horny Devil.

In Balboa Park, I sat in a swing and twisted the chain, over and over, so I could spin in circles. So I could grope for the delight in momentum. I did so much spinning. My friends devised a high-five chain and we rotated like gears, teeth meeting or hands slapping. I remained with just one friend; the rest fell away dizzy. I could discern just his hand as the only interruption in the horizontal lines. No matter how much I spun, I could not gather enough centrifugal force to spin my malaise out of my ears. No matter where I followed my friends and which delights I encountered, I could not stop leaning on the wall that held back tears.

So much walking made my feet blister. Mostly, I focused on not complaining about my feet hurting. Maybe my face was full of pain. Are you okay, Sami? “I don’t know. I don’t know.” When we got back to our friend’s house, I snuck away to the courtyard by myself and put my forehead down on a table.

I cried slow tears into my hands. Neighbors interrupted me. “I’m just sad.” Who broke your heart? “I’m just sad.” My friends found me. Are you okay, Sami? “I’ve been better.” Do you want to talk about it? “I don’t know. I don’t know.” I started really sobbing. Do you want to go lie down? “Yes.” So I was taken to a bed and spooned.  I sobbed, and I said, “I don’t want to be this person right now.”

Pride 2015.

I grinned and gripped my friend’s torso as I ducked in closer under our shared umbrella. The rain was warm, like the air. I walked a lot, in borrowed galoshes over thick fuzzy socks, and I drank a lot, mostly mimosas and tequila. We watched the Bears San Diego truck drive past. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, in full-face makeup, seemed unfazed by the wet weather. When thunder boomed, the crowd screamed in fright and excitement.

It always mattered to me, to be granted the symbol by my society that is marriage equality. Yet it did not land heavy on my shoulders like the honor of a sacred mantle — no it burst with scattered feathers to the big sky. I had been living in unwilling rebellion, a part of me deemed “illegal” by my country, like I were a fugitive. Now, I feel weightless, and I know that this July, San Diego has seen its biggest summer rainbow.

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My First San Diego Comic-Con: It was OK

The first highlight of SD Comic-Con 2015 was getting a free coconut water. A few blocks after I stepped off the trolley, a Vita Coco employee in a blue minivan said, “Want a coconut water?” and I said “Yeah!” and she gave it to me and then I kept walking. Sami getting free stuff and perking up after marching through crowds of nerds is going to be a common theme.

I was surrounded by nerds a lot; it was ok.

I was surrounded by nerds a lot; it was ok.

I am going to be using the word “nerds” quite a bit. I prefer it over the (probably) more accurate descriptor, “geeks,” because it has more dignity. I call these convention-goers nerds not because I think they are uncool, but rather out of deference to their superior knowledge. You see, I am not nerdy enough for San Diego Comic Con.

Write your own blog post about SDCC by filling in the blanks!

Write your own blog post about SDCC by filling in the blanks!

I am nerdy about birds, and words, and throwing theme parties. I am not nerdy about movies, videogames, and definitely not comics. When it comes to movies (and actors, and directors) I have to tell people to pretend I grew up Amish, because I don’t know anything. I have a game I like to play when someone mentions a title I don’t recognize: Describe the Movie in a Convincing Way So People Don’t Make Me Watch it Because They are Stunned I Have Never Seen it.

Wait, you lie about movies you’ve never seen? Do “Wag the Dog”

Yeah, it’s that movie where the emotions of one person screws up everything for everyone else and it makes you wonder about systems of control and…I’m totally off, huh?

No, actually, that’s pretty accurate.

SD-comic-con-giant-sriracha-bottle

I heart Sriracha but I didn’t heart how many booths seemed to be reselling cheaply made goods from China.

Videogames are pretty cool. I watched my brother play them growing up, and I have clocked enough hours in The Sims to have built an actual house. Same goes for Minecraft. More recently, I enjoyed GTAV and I even have a little murder song I sing under my breath when I kill innocent civilians for petty cash. I’m on kind of a lifelong binge-and-purge cycle with viddy games and, by keeping no gaming systems at my house and using OSX, I’ve remained purged of these time-sucks for a very long time — long enough to be totally out of the loop with real “gamers.”

Wait. Does anyone really enjoy a person listing their interests, especially when their interests are things they can do in their pajamas? Next I could prattle about the webcomics I read, and how at Comic-Con I stood near Dumbing of Age creator David Willis and took a bookmark from his booth, and didn’t say anything to him because I didn’t have anything to say. A person getting their caricature done asked Willis if Joyce, the main character, was based on anyone real, and the answer is Yes. It’s all there, it’s all in the website and the comics and there’s really nothing to ask David Willis because he makes quality art and quality stories and just pay goddamned attention.

I was grumpy because my free bookmark wasn’t nearly as satisfying as the free Mad Libs booklet I got earlier. The emotional cycle of feeding a swag addiction was getting to me. I wanted good swag only, and I didn’t want to carry a lot of it, and I also didn’t really want it — I was just bored. One of my favorite swags was ice cream, even though they made me take a selfie for it, simply because I got to throw the trash away when I was done with it.

Another cool swag I got was this hat. It also required a selfie -- with this attractive woman.

Another cool swag I got was this hat. It also required a selfie — with this attractive woman.

Some of the nerds had these giant swag bags. Katelyn explained that they fill them with “trash” (flyers, cheap posters, cards with advertising on them) and then put them in a corner of their bedrooms for several months before throwing them away. I admit this sounds like a strange custom to me, despite being pretty happy about this Mad Libs booklet I will hold onto for a few weeks in case it becomes fun for a party, be disappointed, and throw away.

She also explained that Comic-Con used to be the place to get rare comics and other nerd stuff that you couldn’t get at your local comic stop, as well as a place to see exclusive previews. Nowadays, you can eBay and also videos of previews go online about an hour later. She didn’t buy anything or preview anything, but I can only assume that going through every single row gave her some ideas for her nerd shrine.IMAG1212

It seems, to this newcomer with no nerd cred, that SDCC suffers an identity crisis. If buying cool comics has been replaced by buying overpriced junk, then what is it? Is it a cosplay event, a chance to meet celebs, a place to play pokemon, great for geeky photo opportunities, an art show, the home of [adjective] panels (I did not go to any of these), a nostalgia circle-jerk, even worth it at all? Not for me, not really. I’d rather just go home and decorate my bicycle because even though that’s what I do for fun, I’m just not nerdy enough for Comic-Con.

You say black I say white You say bark I say bite You say shark I say hey man Jaws was never my scene And I don't like Star Wars

You say black I say white
You say bark I say bite
You say shark I say hey man
Jaws was never my scene
And I don’t like Star Wars

Never been? You can:

  1. Not go at all, and enjoy the convention from the comfort of home by watching it on snapchat!

:)

How to Throw a Passive Aggressive Notes Party

10153710_10203537055131676_771742438_nIt’s nearing the second anniversary of the Passive Aggressive Notes Party (actually, it’s almost exactly two months late for that but it turns out no one cares) and boy am I excited. Last year, my ma and pop were out of town and I wanted to use their sweet digs to throw a rager. They didn’t exactly say I couldn’t, but they didn’t say I could, either. I recalled the helpful notes around the warm and welcoming home of the Pu’uhonua family during one of their Splash Up events, and I wanted to the theme I chose to incorporate instructive notes on how to not trash my parents’ house. With an evil chortle, I went over to www.passiveaggressivenotes.com for inspiration.

1173803_10203537246096450_1083177518_nThis theme is not only a delightful excuse to encourage your friends to be mean to each other, but it is also convenient to organize. For supplies, you will only need sticky notes and/or construction paper with tape (painter’s, as to not take off the house paint — your guests are going to leave cheerful little messages in the strangest places, which you will not discover for many days), and markers/pens. I also got a lot of joy out of a stack of self-stick name-tags. My friends gave out charming monickers such as “Jizz Wizard,” and “Unwitting Hipster.”

I enjoyed posting notes on the proper use of the stereo, such as reminders that household pets might not appreciate loud music the way we do (It’s ok, the birds don’t mind if you increase the volume to INHUMANE levels <3) or not to play music that I hate (You know what this party NEEDS? Some top 40s bullshit!!). My guests delighted me with a note on the mirror that read, “That used to look so good on you!” and a thank you note written on a card stolen from my mom’s stationary set: “Thank you for sending your parents out of town, but instilling so many rules it feels like they never left anyway…”

thank-you-passive-aggressive-note

Many of my friends, however, struggled with the concept. Adorably, these kind kids could not grasp how to mimic passive aggression. We discussed formulas to generate notes. One consistent combo is to tell someone to do something you obviously don’t want to them do, and add “please,” hearts, or both. “Please throw your trash all over the floor, thank you.”  Another pattern is to explain a simple concept as you would to a three-year-old. “GUESS WHAT? It turns out if you tap on the glass it stresses out this pet snake and she doesn’t want you to do that. Let’s be nice to the snake, ok? :)” You may also just rely on the passive aggression inherent in leaving a note rather than confronting someone about a problem. Extra points for anonymizing yourself or your target. For example, we kept a ledger on the fridge of money owed by friends to others.

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If you didn’t get an invite, don’t worry. You don’t have to miss out on the fun. Simply leave me a passive aggressive message in the comments!

(P.S. Ok, jokes aside, if you didn’t get an invite, it’s because I hit the population limit. Out of respect to the people I live with, I’m going to have to wait for some more “no” RSVPs to come through before inviting additional people. For some reason, people think it’s hilarious to say “maybe” instead of “yes” so it is making it a bit difficult to do my party math this time around…)

How to Judge a Facebook Event Invite by the Numbers

I’ve been using a very basic set of formulas to figure out how big a Facebook party is going to be, based on these numbers:

facebook-invite-party-numbers-attendance-example

# Going, # Maybe, and # Invited, that’s all I care about.

Here’s the math. It’s simple because I may have a pre-party whiskey in my hand when I need to use it:

Going × 80% + Maybe × 50 % = estimated attendance

and

Invited ÷ Going = desperation index

1 = they only invited their good friends….or their only friends. 3 = approaching desperate, or they might just be popular. 5 = this is the only big party they have ever thrown, plz come!!! 10 = goddamnit promoters.

Some of you smarty pants types may have already crunched the numbers from my initial example, and found very promising figures. Indeed, I would say those numbers just about represent ideal. While it was a great party, there are a few factors I’ve left out.

RSVP Inflation

RSVP Inflation occurs when people feel some sort of obligation to go…or at least say yes. I haven’t figured out an exact number to subtract in these cases, but I do know people are lying liars and will say yes and hope the host doesn’t notice they didn’t make it. (Ummmm…so sometimes I say yes because I want show my support, since maybe just seems disappointing.)  Here are common causes:

  • Housewarming party  <– this is our example
  • Going away party
  • Birthdays
  • Anniversary party (an event that happens every year)
  • Inconvenient but exciting party
  • Ridiculously well-themed party

Ultimately, I don’t think this factored heavily in the attendance of my example. I do think attendance was near or exactly 57.5 people. (Half person = child?? or..) Yet the practical attendance (a.k.a how the party feels to me during the actually-relevant-to-my-life hours of 10pm-3am) was about 15 people lower. Which brings me to my next point…

Time Dilution

Time dilution occurs when the event spans additional, unconventional party hours, such as starting in the afternoon. This happens with:

  • Ambitious housewarming parties (<–)
  • Parties that start as a BBQ
  • Parties thrown by lonely people
  • Parties thrown by people with kids, or who have a lot of friends who have kids
  • Summer parties (I know it is summer year-round here in San Diego, but June-August months are just treated differently, you know?)
  • People who are really into day drinking

You’re just not going to see the people who leave early. It’s ok. They’re not your type of people, anyway.

Making An Appearance

The making an appearance factor has the same basic effect as time dilution, and of course occurs when the event or the attendance-base lends itself to briefer party visits. Either people are making their obligatory stopover before leaving to sleep/take care of kids/return to their lairs of introversion, or they are popular kids doing what popular kids do: party hop.

For example, take a look at this:

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 10.22.32 AM

What is this? More maybes than going?? What is the meaning of this anomaly?

The desperation index seems high, but actually what is going on here is that a popular person has invited his very popular friends and, oh, wow, they’ll make it if they can, they really hope so. Looks delightful, I so want to be there, xoxo.

Umm, eff yes I’m going. No, not to brush against popularity and hope it rubs off on me, but because attending an event where dynamic, gregarious people are coming and going as they make their Saturday-night rounds is a revolving door of delight for me.

Many of those 97 weren’t sure they could commit to even a maybe, or swiped yet another Facebook invite out of their mobile notifications, but still found the event when they were buzzing around town on party night looking for the next bit of excitement. And many of those 30 did, in fact, make their appearances.

My Weird Friends

This is why I’m writing this. I am all mixed up. When I throw parties with my best friends, at my house, the math just doesn’t work. Here’s what I see:

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 10.25.07 AM

Desperation index makes sense. I’ve invited only my best friends. But actual attendance was somewhere around 30.

It seems like all goings go, and most maybes make it, and the rest of my weirdo friends who totally ignore their Facebooks somehow get the memo that there’s something happening tonight, come over.

Love you kids <3

Cases I haven’t Examined

Here are party-types I haven’t examined because I don’t friggin go to them:

  • Baby showers
  • Weddings
  • Fundraisers that are really fundraiser-y
  • Most board game nights
  • Movie nights
  • Video game nights
  • Gender-themed parties (such as “battle of the sexes” or pearl/tie parties) that aren’t awesomely queer and/or subversive

How to Find Your One True Friend

In a courtyard of an odd, multi-unit residential property (house and apartments) in Normal Heights, 30 or so people gathered on the flagstone, clipboards and drinks in hand. Periodically, one of them climbed a ladder to stand above the throng and announce pairs of names from a laptop computer, and a single question. The crowd swiftly reorganized and, nearly manic, shared their answers.

This gauntlet of extroversion lasted from 8pm sharp to midnight. Never before at a party had I connected with so many people so deeply, and, paradoxically, to find my one true friend. You see, we sought to answer the question:  “What if you could only have one platonic friend?” You could take on as many romantic partners and lovers as you want, sure, but pretend you only get one friend.

This whole party premise may just be a joke by and for polyamorous folk.

This whole party premise may just be a joke by and for polyamorous folk.

The event was called “Speed Friending,” and we referred this idea of our “one true friend” as our, “monoplatonic partner.” Much like in speed dating, we rated our time-limited interactions and organizers planned to use computer algorithms to crunch the numbers. (I’m told one organizer wrote the algorithm himself; if there is interest I’ll see if I can provide it.)  One of my friends potential monoplatonic partners disagreed with the premise of rating people he cared about with a number, and participated sans clipboard. “Really,” I had texted him, “the only ethical thing to do is burn all the ratings at the very end.”

For the questions, the organizers chose the 36 that are meant to make you fall in love. That is how I found telling someone that night a self-truism I’d carried with me for a long time, but not really ever voiced out loud, about whether I’d rather be rich or famous. (Seems like I’ve always thought I wanted to be rich, but everything I do seems more geared toward famous. Certainly not rich.) “So to answer the question, yes, I’d like to be famous. A famous writer.”

The rest of us, including myself, did submit the ratings after all. Blank ratings threw wildcards into the system, and some had to leave before data entry concluded and the results could be shared. I made a friendship bracelet while I waited. My monoplatonic friend, actually, was one of the people who left, and so I left that bracelet on a table. Someone seems to have picked it up when I wasn’t looking and, ostensibly, wears it now.

News from the Resticles (Post Update: Burning Man 2014)

Deborah Colotti found my affectionate description of her Burning Man art installation and sent along some pictures.  She says:

I created the Resticles for Burning Man.
A few years ago I created BreastStop, a similar artwork with two smaller trampolines, and two not-dyed parachutes (they arrived pink from the surplus British military)
 
Here are a few images….
 
So very glad you enjoyed them so immensely.
Best,
Debo

I absolutely enjoyed them. 1. Comical premise felt appropriate in the festival context. 2. Excellent construction made them sturdy against the wind and clambering campers. 3. They created a must-needed bit of shade out in the deep playa. 4. Despite resembling hairy sacks of balls, they were very pretty.  See for yourself.

Resticles.Overview Resticles.PeekViewResticles.night Resticles.Day.CloseUp Interior View1

Please visit Deborah Colotti’s website for more art (frequently made from Barbies).

http://www.dcolotti.com/


…My first foray into deep playa, with my friend Alexis, was also on bike. I don’t have bicycle muscles. Soft playa is impossible. The word “disaster” stood out among jagged pieces of painted-black plywood and I moaned that that was where we belonged. “We can make it past disaster!” Alexis said and steered us toward what appeared to be a hairy purple caterpillar. I just wanted that caterpillar to eat me right up, it looked so friendly.

Correction, not caterpillar; balls. Two huge testicles, dubbed “Resticles.” We crawled inside the giant genital orbs and “hung out” in the lower sack for at least 2 hours. The scrotal skin, a dappled purple and pink, shimmered beautifully above me. Goddamnit, my first deep playa art was a gargantuan pair of bollocks and I really fucking loved them. I returned to this installation at least two more times during my burn…

(Read the original post sdsurvivalguide.com/2014/09/03/burning-man-2014-before-and-after/)

Festival Packing List

A festival must-bring: tuna salad with crackers. Looks like sparkling cat barf, tastes like home sweet home.

A festival must-bring: tuna salad with crackers. Looks like sparkling cat barf; tastes like home sweet home.

Things You Bring But Never Use

  • 4 extra friggin shirts
  • 2 extra friggin blue jeans
  • Book for “downtime”
  • Pee funnel
  • Towel

Things That Prove You’re THE MOST Prepared

  • Toilet paper
  • Extra headlamp
  • Hot pink duct tape
  • “Portable bowl” (sandwich box from dollar store) and spork
  • Parasol
  • All of the sunscreen
  • All of the zip ties
  • Like 17 carabiners
  • Magnets to put up decorations / MOOP bags on your tent walls
  • Solar powered string lights from Amazon so you can find your tent at night
  • Hand sanitizer AND
  • Wet wipes AND
  • Mini spray bottle full of rubbing alcohol

Things You Took Out of Your Duffel at the Last Second (and Wish You Didn’t)

  • Dust goggles because this isn’t Burning Man
  • Dust mask because this isn’t Burning Man
  • Your extra zebra-print furry coat that you could have totally loaned to the shivering cutie you met at Ego Trip

Things You Forgot

  • Re-usable drinking cup. Shoot.
  • Scissors. Dammit.
  • Earplugs. FUCK.
  • Air mattress. FUCK FUCK.
  • Your super comfy galaxy-print leggings. 3X THE FUCK.

Things You Say You’re Going To Bring Next Year

  • More mixers. Way more mixers.