Tell Me Again Why We’re All So Competitive?

My daily morning journey typically consists of the following three checkpoints: Gym, train station, work. (Think GTL but with less sunburn risk and more general real-world bleakness.)

My gym (which is actually just a workout room conveniently located in my low-rise apartment building – which, yes, I realize has everything to do with my forthcoming complaint) is about the size of an airplane bathroom. So when there are more than a couple residents in it at the same time, the competition for machines is fierce. Like, RuPaul’s-Drag-Race-with-a-side-of-Scar-from-The-Lion-King fierce.

And then there’s the Metro-North train, which I take from Connecticut into New York City. I start out standing amidst a sea of fellow commuters on the platform, all of us solitarily minding our own business – maybe even bopping our heads along to whatever motivational morning music happens to be blasting through our headphones on any given weekday (angsty female country for me, please!) – but then the train shows up and the scene turns into the freakin’ Hunger Games as everyone tries to push and shove their way inside first to snag a coveted three-seater.

And then there’s work, which… Well. I work in Manhattan. Enough said.

And so I don’t mean to sound whiny, but seriously – why? I get that there are only so many machines in a gym, and only so many seats on a train, but I can’t help but sense that all of this speaks to a much larger issue at hand.

The first time I heard about the dreary concept of a “scarcity mentality,” I was watching a conversation between Marianne Williamson and Oprah on Super Soul Sunday, in which they talked about pie. (Metaphorically, mostly. I think?) You see, pies are cut into slices, of which there can only be so many, and so if someone else gets a slice, then we might not get a slice for ourselves, and so therefore – thanks to pie – we are all conditioned to be in competition with everyone for everything.

Fun!

Except not, because exhaustion. (And disappointment. And detachment. And disenchantment. And… I could keep going with the D-words, really, but I’ll stop now before I get carried away and spiral into what Mariah Carey would call a “woe-is-me diva on a tangent moment.”)

So back to Super Soul. Marianne and Oprah eventually got to talking about how the rules that exist for physical things (like pie) don’t necessarily hold true when applied on a spiritual level. Which means that, on a spiritual level, we can ALL. HAVE. PIE. We can even have multiples slices of pie! We can have multiple pies! (If you’re into that kind of thing.) It doesn’t matter.

1084924_789639823882_1123041889_o

You get a pie! You get a pie! YOU get a pie! (Also, a doughnut, it seems.)

When I watched this conversation for the first time, it resonated deeply. I felt liberated, like a lifetime of restrictive thoughts and dead weight had been lifted off my shoulders. This means I can let go of my irrational fear that all the authors in all the land are going to publish their (subpar) books before I do! I proclaimed to myself. There’s room for us all!

But then I kept running into roadblocks on my path to publication, which forced me to recognize that I always seem to love new age wisdom when things are going my way – but then bitterly return to Self-Pity Central once something (a literary rejection, for instance) comes along and screws with my plans.

Still, though, one has no choice but to recover and continue growing. And as I get older, I can feel the moments of self-pity lessening in both frequency and intensity. I can feel myself getting more and more confident in the fact that there is an infinite amount of pie – if we just have the right perception of it.

In other words, the pie probably isn’t the thing we need to compete for. I mean, how many times do we learn this? Me, I competed against a lot of people to get into a super-selective graduate program four years ago – and I got in! And? It didn’t make all my problems go away. Then I competed against a lot of people to get an internship at a hip television network – and I got it! And? It didn’t make all my problems go away. Then I competed against even more people to turn that internship into a full-time job – and I got it! And? It totally made my problems disappear once and for all. LOL — kidding. It actually created a cute little army of brand new ones.

And so it seems that the task isn’t to get consumed with competition for the things we think we need to complete us (be it a treadmill, seat on the train, job, or book deal), but rather to redefine what the pie is in the first place. Is it something that other people – “decision-makers” – have the power to control for us? Or is it something that we can control and generate from within? Does it require external validation? Or just a little self-love?

Some combination of all of the above?

Frankly, I’m still trying to figure it all out myself. But the one thing I do know for sure is that whatever it is, it’s not going anywhere. And we don’t have to compete with anyone to get it.

 

Advertisements

Sassy Gay Apologies: A Querying Disaster

So I wrote a book (think Eat, Pray, Love except less international and more riddled with penis references) and lately I’ve been doing this thing that writers have to do in order to get books published, which is query literary agents. It’s not as fun as actually writing books, but it’s like, “a necessary next step” or something, and so it must be done.

The good news? I have two ridiculously talented fellow authors, Julia and Steven, who are also in the throes (or soon to be in the throes) of the querying process to help guide me along the way.

I don’t know where to begin with Julia, but I guess I’ll start by saying that she is the best thing to ever happen to me as a writer—the woman has read not one, but two typo-ridden drafts of my manuscript. Her eye has been invaluable, providing no-nonsense feedback and always urging me to dig deeper. For example, in my earliest drafts, I’d write things like, “…and then I had sex with my ex-boyfriend after having been estranged for two years,” and she’d be all up in the margins like, Um. This is kind of a big deal. Explain?

Julia has helped me grow. And? She’s basically me. Except heterosexual and female and (only slightly) less profane. Read/follow/worship her here. Steven, meanwhile, is also basically me—except he has a boyfriend and harbors an inexplicable hatred toward (the goddess that is) Christina Aguilera. Read/follow/worship him here.

So, querying. The other day I was sending out some letters, infusing every line with equal parts positivity and personality (and absurdity, of course), when I impetuously hit Send on an e-mail to an agent whom, for the purposes of this blog post and the protection of her real identity, I will refer to as Natasha Toestor.

Why was this a big deal? Because I forgot to proofread and accidentally addressed the e-mail like this:

Dear Ms. Toaster,

…I know!

It was an instant debacle. My heart flipped and my palms moistened and I cried like Taylor Swift circa “Teardrops On My Guitar” as I watched my credibility with this agent disintegrate into the ruthless black hole that is Gmail’s lack of an “unsend” feature. (OMG, remember that function on AOL, though?)

Before making this heinous mistake, I had been chatting with Steven on Facebook in a separate window, so I promptly clicked over to get his advice—but of course Firefox froze and happened to be NOT fucking RESPONDING in that moment, and my panic escalated more quickly than you can say Ctrl+Alt+Delete. Meanwhile, Internet Explorer (where I had my Gmail window open) was functioning dangerously perfectly. So in a dramatic, hazy moment of desperation, I decided to frantically follow-up with Natasha on my own accord.

Here’s what that looked like:

Dear Ms. Toestor,

My sincerest apologies for misspelling your name the first time around! I’m sure it drives you crazy when writers make this (major) faux pas.

Nic

Then Firefox started working again.

  • Nic: OH
  • Nic: MY
  • Nic: GOD
  • Nic: I just queried an agent. Her name is Natasha Toestor. And I wrote in my query, “Dear Ms. Toaster.”
  • Steven: oh no
  • Nic: SO THEN
  • Steven: …
  • Nic: I MADE IT WORSE by sending an immediate follow-up

[Steven reads my apology email]

  • Steven: omg
  • Nic: I don’t know who I am
  • Steven: My entire life is
  • Steven: I just
  • Nic: WHAT DO I DO?!
  • Steven: I am experiencing ALL the emotions
  • Nic: I’m that guy
  • Nic: I’m THAT guy
  • Steven: I am laughing hysterically… I am cringing…
  • Nic: Should I send a third e-mail saying, “Dear Ms. Toestor – again, I’m so sorry”?
  • Nic: Should I have kept going in my original follow-up e-mail?
  • Nic: I’m so fucked
  • Nic: with her, at least
  • Nic: hello?
  • Nic: Oh well
  • Nic: Just gotta #KeepItMoving
  • Nic: #DearMsToaster
  • Steven: omg
  • Steven: please
  • Steven: stop

The next morning…

  • Nic: Twitter has just assaulted me
  • Nic: ASSAULTED
  • Steven: ?
  • Nic: my e-mail notification popped up, and I was all “Oh, an agent!”
  • Nic: but it was one of those Twitter suggestions e-mails, based on whom you’ve recently followed… and I kid you not, it was “Suggestions similar to Natasha Toestor”
  • Steven: OH MY GAWD
  • Nic: she is my demon
  • Steven: “Dear Ms. Toestor, My sincerest apologies for the misspelling of your name the first time around! I’m sure it must drive you crazy when authors make that (major) faux pas”
  • Steven: I’m STILL dying
  • Nic: and, by the way, the “sincerest” was in ITALICS
  • Nic: it’s almost like I was mocking her
  • Nic: like, “Oh I’m SO sorry, bitch”

[Author’s note: I swear, I wasn’t mocking her at all. That apology, with the italics and all, was just my honest-to-God knee-jerk reaction based on years of being a certified crazy person.]

  • Steven: LMAO
  • Steven: I’m dying
  • Steven: it wouldn’t be so funny if you didn’t SPAZ the fuck out and e-mail her right away with sassy gay apologies…
  • Nic: Sassy Gay Apologies! That is so the name of my next book.

So, yeah. That’s how good I am at querying.

Pray for me?

 

The Dildos Are (Not) Coming!

So this one time at a holiday party in New York City, I had a melodramatic breakdown in front the entire room. We were playing this weird anonymous gift-exchanging game, and when it was my turn, I somehow ended up publicly unwrapping a package that featured a thong-wearing topless woman with a Kardashian-esque ass on the box. Realizing that it was clearly a sex toy, I turned bright red and panicked and threw the gift on the table in a really theatrical, over-the-top fashion – all while screaming, “I CAN’T DO THIS. I’M FROM CONNECTICUT!”

So a few days ago when marketing people for sex toy-selling juggernaut Adam & Eve asked me if they could sponsor a guest post on my blog, I thought one thing: What a great opportunity to “pull a Miley Cyrus” and shed my virginal good-girl image!

And then I thought about how it would be great to have some new energy up in here, especially since I’ve been regrettably absent due to the BOOK THAT IS TAKING OVER MY LIFE.

But then I thought about that episode of Sex and the City when Charlotte discovered vibrators and became addicted to the Rabbit – to the point where an intervention was required – and I asked myself, “Do I really want to contribute to someone else’s potential Rabbit addiction?”

I also asked myself,  “Wouldn’t letting a sex toy company write a ‘guest post’ for me essentially be like selling out? Selling out for a dildo?”

And that’s when I realized that as much as I believe in the healing power of dildos, I’m not quite sure Keychanges is the place for them to be unironically pimped out. And if it is the place for them to be unironically pimped out, they’d have to be pimped out in a straightforward, ad-on-the-side-of-the-page kind of way. Not a let-me-deceive-Google’s-search-mechanisms-by-letting-a-company-steal-my-voice-for-a-post kind of way. I’m basically the Little Mermaid in this scenario.

Not that I mean to call Adam & Eve Ursula, but I mean, if the shoe fits.

Ultimately, I guess what I’m trying to say with all of this is that (a) I have integrity, (b) I may or may not be a mermaid (or a “mergayd,” if you will), and (c) I just saved y’all from a potential dildo invasion.

Aren’t you loving me so much right now?

(Note: If you’re actually really into dildo invasions, then please don’t answer that question. And I apologize for ruining your day.)

 

I’m in Therapy AKA Writing a Memoir

So, I feel like I’ve been too absent from blogging and it’s making me all like, lugubrious (my favorite word).

I mean, it’s nothing like the Grad School Hiatus of Early 2012, but I’m definitely not blogging frequently. And the weird thing is that I’m writing more than I ever have. For instance, I wrote this Advocate article about how gay men are Mean Girls and we should maybe try to be nice to each other at bars. (I wish I were kidding, but this is actually a foreign and controversial concept.)

Also, I told myself that I’d finally finish my book this year – a resolution that you can so thank me for later after it comes out and you have the pleasure of reading 70,000 words about my relationship history and it makes you feel better about your life by providing you with the comfort of knowing that you’ve never passed out in your ex-boyfriend’s car and peed all over the backseat as a result of an argument that started over whether or not he was in love with your female best friend.

You’re welcome in advance.

Despite the fact that I’m busily writing, I do kind of feel like I’m failing as a parent. Like, I really hope that when I become an actual gay dad, I won’t just start forgetting to feed my kid for weeks at a time because I’m too busy writing a book. That would just be effed up. And it would totally give gay dads a bad name, since the story would probably make national news and then crazy anti-gay pastors and chicken restaurants would be all like, “YOU SEE THAT? Gay dads starve their children so they can write books!” And so basically what I’m saying is that I don’t want to set civil rights back ten years just because I decided to share my story with the world and inadvertently become the poster-child for child abuse, so I’m writing this blog post as a way of feeding my child. Because I believe that all children should be fed regularly — you hear that, Chick-fil-A?

…Where the hell was I going with this?

Oh, right! The book.

I’m about halfway done at this point, and revisiting my past in this way is proving to be way more therapeutic than any therapy that money could buy, I think. (I say “I think” because I still haven’t actually succumbed to the pressure and scheduled that inevitable first appointment.)

Seriously, it’s like I’m living my life all over again.

For example, I just finished a chapter about a much-older foreign man who was the Alexander Petrovsky to my Carrie Bradshaw back when I was twenty and therefore a dumbass, and – as I wrote about the experience while on the train en route to work – I legitimately cried in front of strangers.

So then I thought to myself, “WHOA. Do I still have unresolved feelings of anger, unworthiness, and shame from that whole situation?” and a part of me answered with, “Yeah dude,” but then another part of me was like, “Nah…” and then the rest of me was like, “LEAVE ME ALONE, I’M JUST TRYING TO WRITE A DAMN BOOK!”

Me at 20... When I had a 42-year-old boyfriend who recently made me train-cry as I wrote about him. Are you intrigued?

Me at 20… When I had a 42-year-old boyfriend who recently made me train-cry as I wrote about him four years later. Are you intrigued?

Stuff like this has been happening a lot.

Also? I haven’t been dating at all. Which is actually kind of awesome. (Okay, how shocked are you that I of all people just wrote that?) My abstinence has been allowing me to just like, focus on me and write and work and go to breweries and eat lots of carbs and it’s lovely.

So… I’m not sure what I’m trying to say with this post, other than I’m still here. Just less frequently for a while.

Oh and I’m also trying to say that if you’re a gay dad and you’re reading this – STOP RIGHT NOW AND GO FEED YOUR CHILDREN BEFORE WE LOSE THE FIGHT FOR EQUAL RIGHTS!

 

Speaking of Key Changes… I Changed My URL

Hey y’all.  This isn’t a real post — just an announcement regarding my new URL.  In an effort to keep things consistent, I changed my blog URL to https://thenicolasblog.wordpress.com.  Fifty-one percent of me stands by this decision.  The other forty-nine is having trouble adjusting.

Imagine my horror when I discovered that all comments I’ve previously posted still link to my old URL, which I totally destroyed with one impulsive click!  I had no idea what I was doing.  I’m slowly coping with the loss by telling myself that this will be better in the long run — this way, people can remember my blog by its name rather than by the fact that I’m from Connecticut and my name is Nick.

Did I make the right decision?

…Normal people don’t obsess over these things as much as I do, do they?

Either way, please keep reading and tell all your friends!

Smooches.

P.S. — if you’re looking for my most recent post (about my Oprah-esque fascination with personal memoirs) it can be found here.

Books That I Love in an Oprah Kind of Way

At the risk of being hated by responsible grown-ups everywhere, I’m gonna go ahead and admit that I’ve been sleeping in a lot lately. Except for yesterday when I woke up at 6:00 am with my roommate so we could beat the rush for the kickoff of Super Doubles at Harris Teeter. All coupons with a face value of up to $1.98 were doubled… It was GLORIOUS. But my newfound couponing obsession is really deserving of its own trilogy of blog posts, so I won’t get into that right now.

When I’m in New York, my life is as follows: I wake up early to go to the office, I attend class at night, and I do my graduate work on the weekends… all while still finding the time to abuse Facebook, overeat, and drunk-text ex-boyfriends. Impressive, I know.

But what to do when all of these responsibilities melt away in the summer heat for three months?

Read!

Yes, before Heroes (and sleeping, couponing, and blogging) took over my life, I spent much of my free time reading about other peoples’ lives (in print, like the olden days). I thought it would be fun to share some of my new favorites. I’ll try not to get all Oprahbookclubby on y’all — though I pretty much do love these books as much as Oprah loves Dr. Phil, The Secret, and pre-debacle James Frey.

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker.  This memoir finally answers the age-old question, “What do a neurotic Mormon woman from Seattle and a gay Democrat from Connecticut have in common?”  As it turns out, quite a bit. Also, Elna is an NYU gal, so that helps to mitigate the fact that we fundamentally hate each other.

Here’s the thing: I adored this book. I found myself relating to her humor and overall struggle as she ran around New York City losing her innocence and desperately searching for the love of her life — only to meet him and find out that he’s an atheist! Elna, girl, I know the feeling. Granted, my version of this would be the time I met the man of my dreams and discovered he was into water sports.

Moving on.

I Am Not Myself These Days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell.  This is one of those books that’s been recommended to me many times, but I always avoided it because people tried to sell it to me by using the phrase “fish boobs.” I know, right? Happens all the time. But I’m glad I finally came around, because it is truly the best thing I’ve read in a long time. An incredible and somewhat heartbreaking story, yet it is so hilariously told that I nearly peed myself about 17 times throughout.

Is it too soon to joke about pee after just making the above water sports reference? If so, I apologize. In any case, this book ultimately serves as further proof that I absolutely love things like prostitution, drugs, and alcohol abuse — as long as I’m not actually involved.

Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever by Joel Derfner.  Yet another NYC memoir. Joel Derfner is hysterical, and I’m jealous of his awesomeness. There’s so much truth on every page — like when he writes about wanting to get sex over with so he can eat some raw cookie dough, and then follows it up with, “I worry that my priorities are misplaced.” Basically, if the entire book-reading world turned gay and had my sense of humor, this would be an all-time bestselling sensation — right up there with What To Expect When You’re Expecting.

Borrowed Time: An AIDs Memoir by Paul Monette. I stopped reading at page 50 because that’s when I started awkwardly sobbing in the middle of Starbucks. Monette recounts his experience as the last-man-standing from his entire circle of friends — including his long-time partner — until he himself falls victim to the disease. I don’t know what it says about me as a person that I can’t bring myself to read about one of the darkest periods of gay history, even when it’s this beautifully written, but I can’t. Maybe someday — when I’m really depressed, perhaps — I’ll be able to finish it and contemplate life’s big questions. Until then, I’ll stop acting like I know anything about what it means to feel hurt and start thanking God for the daily blessing we call life.

…Is that something vaguely inspirational I just wrote? Damn you, Oprah! Sorry, everyone — I failed in my attempt to not get all Oprahbookclubby.

Just kidding about the “damn you,” O. I love and worship you always.

  • Formatting side note: I miss bullet points.

Alrighty. If anyone found this entry to be boring and/or irrelevant, worry not. No one misses reading about my life more than I do! My next post should be somewhat interesting, as my week ahead involves things like returning to the Nashville gay bar where I met Martin (who, by the way, hasn’t texted me since I declined his offer), driving 900 miles, and finally reuniting with my real boyfriend, New York City.

%d bloggers like this: