My Real-Life Version of ABC’s Hit Primetime Drama Nashville 

Y’all. (And I do mean y’all.)

Can we talk about how obsessed I am with the new ABC drama Nashville after having seen just two episodes?

Yes? OK, good, because this ex-Nashville resident is hooked. (Yes, I refer to myself as an ex-Nashville resident even though I only lived there for a single summer.)

This brilliant series has inspired me to reflect on the real-life version of the show that I lived through just a year and a half ago.

For anyone who wasn’t reading during that era of Keychanges – here’s what went down:

This blog was actually created in Nashville after I moved there for a summer of meetings with various music publishers to explore a potential career as a country songwriter.

After being validated by music executives in the sense that I was great but not great enough to cut the forty-thousand-aspiring-songwriters-trying-to-make-it-in-Nashville line, I got all depressed and started Keychanges (does the name make more sense now?) as a way to work through the pain of being told that I’d have to pay actual dues in the music business.

(Fun fact: to create a vague sense of anonymity, I originally added a “K” to my name and blogged under the incredibly ineffective pseudonym Nick. Clearly, that desire for anonymity was never very strong, and has since gone out the window entirely — but Nick kind of lingers on in other areas of my life. In fact, the other day I had an IM conversation with a coworker about the spelling of my name and I was all like, “You know, I was just thinking about how stressful it’s going to be to pick out what my engagement party banner will say, because of all of the potential spellings of my name! Like, do I want ‘Congratulations _____ and Nic,’ or ‘…and Nick,’ or maybe, ‘…and Nicolas?'” and then she was like “Oh! Are you engaged?” and I was forced to respond with, “No… I’m totally single,” and then she thought it was hilarious but I was kind of offended by the fact that she thought I was the kind of person who would be engaged and choose to creepily withhold his fiancé’s identity from her by putting a blank where his name should be in a hypothetical engagement party banner scenario — but I didn’t say anything about it because I didn’t want to come off as confrontational and/or inadvertently create a hostile work environment.)

I realize that was the longest tangent ever, and I sincerely apologize. Back to Nashville.

After a few weeks in town, I started frequenting Nashville’s (two) gay bars and realized that I’m a total prude.

Then I realized that I had unintentionally led my new found blog audience to believe that I was a virgin, so I felt the need to clarify that I would totally sleep with an ER doctor if the opportunity presented itself.

Then I started watching Heroes on DVD and blogged about how Hayden Panettiere almost makes me feel like a straight man. (Freakin’ crazy because that’s now happening again on Nashville… Full circle, anyone?)

Then I read a few books and reviewed them, which led to the revelation that I’m basically just a Mormon gal trying to find love in the Big Apple.

Then I got hit on by a drunk guy fake-named Charley and tried to quell the awkwardness by telling him a totally false, convoluted story about how I’m Jewish and sober and spent two months on a kibbutz in Isreal and couldn’t sleep with Charley because I have a Jewish boyfriend, and the whole situation somehow led to the discovery that maybe I didn’t hate New York after all.

Then I left Nashville but couldn’t find a new apartment in the city, so I lived with my mom for a month and had a severe emotional meltdown after finding a box of condoms under the bathroom sink.

Wow. Where the hell was I during the series development stages of Nashville?

Because this is all pure gold.

 

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Someone Called Me Fat — and I Survived

If you’ve ever read a blog post of mine, you’ve probably noticed that I sometimes like to write about how I seem to love feeling inadequate — especially when it comes to potential husbands. As a result, I’ve been confronted by a few close friends for being too hard on myself and putting myself down too often in my writing.

I usually respond to this criticism with, “But my low self-esteem is what makes me me! Without it, I’d be totally worthless.”

(Please let that remark simmer for a moment so you can fully appreciate the irony.)

Let me assure you, my low self-esteem is admittedly exaggerated in this blog (I swear I don’t hate me). Still, I do sometimes have to remind myself that the gallon of ice cream I guzzled the other night doesn’t make me entirely unlovable. This is why I have these strategically-placed post-its in front of my desk at work:

                                   Repeat out loud in sets of five for best results.

When not convincing co-workers that I’m weak and emotionally fragile, these affirmations can be a huge help and are highly recommended for anyone else who occasionally guzzles ice cream and feels unlovable.

Speaking of ice cream, let’s discuss the sole source of all my issues — my fatness. (Note: I am referring to gay-fatness, which is its own, effed-up scale. Straight people often tell me I’m thin, which, coming from straight people, unfortunately means nothing.) This fatness (along with my body image issues in general) has been the main focus of my life for the past several days — mainly because this was said to me last week:

“I mean, you’re not that fat. I still wanna have sex with you, or else I wouldn’t be here.”

Seriously, that happened.

It was during a conversation between myself and Lou — a guy I had been spending time with over the past month in spite of the fact that on our first date he openly admitted to only wanting a casual friendship with benefits (something I think we all know I’m incapable of by now; see: any past blog post).

I think I ignored my better judgment with Lou because he’d kiss me affectionately and feign an interest in my feelings every once in a while, so I was at least able to pretend that he cared about my well-being on some distant level.

For the sake of my mental health, I’m going to refrain from recapitulating the entire fat conversation. I’ll just say that it started with Lou helpfully suggesting that I stop drinking beer on a nightly basis, eat healthier, and start going back to the gym. It ended with the above-quoted declaration of my fat-but-not-fat-enough-to-be-rejected-for-sex-by-Lou status.

Because my work post-its clearly weren’t enough to combat the severity of this situation, I went into full self-hatred mode and actually went to the gym with Lou a few days after the incident.

I’m still sore from that workout (both physically and emotionally).

Here’s a tip: If you’re ever craving a traumatic experience, simply go to the gym with your super-in-shape non-boyfriend and allow him to coach you through various weightlifting exercises while you cry on the inside and fantasize about him getting killed in some kind of freak bench pressing accident.

First of all, Lou was lifting about three times as much as I could. This added a horribly quantitative element to how much better than me he is. Secondly, whenever he’d spot me, I had this whole how-many-reps-until-I’m-good-enough-for-you?! thing going on in my mind. (Answer: Infinite.)

Despite the trauma, though, I woke up the next day feeling better about myself than I have in a while — and I couldn’t help but wonder if Lou is some kind of evil genius.

By doing what he did, he has provided me with the following revelations:

  1. I got called fat — something that I’ve lived in complete fear of for all of my gay years — and I survived. The world kept spinning. No puppies died, I didn’t fall out of a window, and Manhattan didn’t burst into flames or sink.
  2. My diet kind of was crap. While I made healthy choices whenever possible, there’s no getting around the daily beer consumption and penchant for buffalo wings that Lou unabashedly called me out on.
  3. At some point in my crazy-busy life, I stopped going to the gym altogether — and I did feel less healthy because of it.

Thanks to Lou, I’m now more motivated than I have ever been. I’m eating healthy and being the most active I’ve been since before I went to grad school and gained twenty pounds. It’s kind of awesome — and I swear the impetus behind it is not to gain the approval of a gym-obsessed gay man; it’s to feel better about myself and maybe decrease my odds of heart disease down the line.

So in the end, despite the fact that I wanted to cry hysterically and stab Lou in the eye at the time of his fat comments, I’ve come to realize that — even though he was being insensitive — he was not being intentionally malicious. He’s just a health fanatic with a hot body who couldn’t help but comment on the fact that I am not living up to my healthy potential.

That or he’s just a judgmental prick — which might be okay, since I love feeling inadequate anyways.

 

Finding the Jewish Boyfriend Within

I’d like to preface this story by saying that going to bars alone is a fresh skill that I have only reluctantly developed as a result of moving to a new city for six weeks.  But it has so grown on me.  Sure, the first half of the night usually involves the following:

  • General awkwardness
  • Irrationally strong feelings of jealousy and/or hatred directed at people who have friends
  • Frightening premonitions of future cat-lady status

But then you get approached by a hot guy and life is suddenly worth living again.  You just have to suck on the sour to get to the sweet — like eating a lemon drop or performing oral sex as a means of receiving it later.

  • Note: all names mentioned herein have been changed to protect privacy.

So Friday night — it was the start of my last weekend in Nashville, and I found myself back at the gay bar where I met the blogged-about older hottie Martin over two weeks ago.

This time around, I ended up meeting Charley — an adorable and deliciously muscled all-American looking guy whom I typically would’ve melted for upon first contact.  However, it soon became apparent that he was drunk off his ass.  At 11:00 pm.  This threw me for a loop, as people generally don’t start slurring their words until at least midnight in New York.  This isn’t to say we don’t get drunk at all hours of the day — we’re just able to disguise it by forming whole sentences.

I was completely sober while talking to Charley.  The result was an excruciatingly uncomfortable conversation that needed to end as soon as possible.  In an effort to get him to lose interest, I turned off my charm and avoided eye contact.  It didn’t work, which I’ll go ahead and construe as evidence that I’m irresistible.

Eventually, Donna — his sassy Southern wing-woman — showed up and started rambling on about some Australian guy she was sexting with.  I feigned the urge to pee and excused myself.

As I took the long, around-the-entire-square-footage-of-the-establishment-twice way to the restrooms, I was secretly hoping to run into Martin, whom I hadn’t heard from since I responded negatively to a booty call text he sent two days after we met.  A part of me was aware of how pathetic it was to fantasize about running into him, but the other part of me wanted to get all up in his face and yell, “If we had gone on at least three dates and participated in a joint STD screening over the past two weeks, maybe we’d be sleeping together tonight!  Your loss, a-hole!!!”

It’s probably a good thing that he never showed up.

I started looking around for more potential suitors.  Only two people were catching my eye:

  • A shirtless bartender with a strangely endearing Luigi ‘stache who slightly resembled a founding member of the Village People
  • A lesbian who was wearing the same outfit as me

I decided to keep to myself.  For a moment, I became suddenly aware of the absurdity of the fact that I ended up at this bar yet again despite my staunch inability to sleep with strangers.  Then I ordered another beer and got back to scanning the room for hotties.

A basic lack of man-candy made my mind begin to wander.  My internal dialogue:

  • I miss 90’s Mariah so much.
  • I think I want Indian food for lunch tomorrow.

Before I could finish my next thought (which I’m pretty sure involved veggie samosas), a now-even-drunker Charley reappeared out of the freakin’ blue.  Without saying a word, he grabbed my hand and led me to a secluded area outside the women’s restroom.  The following bizarre exchange then occurred:

  • Me: “What’s up?”
  • Charley (directs my attention to his right bicep, which he’s now flexing): “And I’ve never even done porn.”

I wasn’t sure how to respond to this unsolicited declaration.  Charley broke the silence by going in for a (ridiculously sloppy) kiss.  My sobriety was making this whole situation feel about as natural as heterosexual intercourse, so I immediately pulled away.

  • Charley: “Why are you pulling away from me?”
  • Me: “I don’t know… I feel guilty… Umm.  I’m Jewish.”

Random, irrelevant, and oh — totally a lie.  Though I do sometimes get mistaken for being Jewish, I’m actually Italian and Catholic.

I know a lot of people get a kick out of lying to strangers at bars, but honestly, I had never engaged in the activity until this very moment.  If I were ever to premeditate a spicy bar alter-ego, I doubt I’d go with with real-me-except-Jewish.

In any case, he proceeded to share that he loves Jewish boys.  Some sick part of me must have been loving the attention, because I suddenly heard myself saying things like:

  • “Yeah, sometimes I wonder what it would be like to celebrate Christmas, but then I remember how awesome Hanukkah is.”
  • “Oh, Israel?  I’ve totally been there.  I spent two months on a kibbutz last summer, and it changed my life!”

I was just about to share some of my awesome bar mitzvah memories with him when Donna emerged from the bathroom and matter-of-factly said — in the Paula Deen-iest of accents, mind you — “It’s time to leave.  Y’all are going home together.  K?”

The fact that she’s a horrible friend won’t be discussed, as this post is already too long.

To easily get out of the situation without having to explain myself, I invented a New York boyfriend and apologetically told them about him — “He’s perfect for me and I just don’t want to mess it up.  It’s not worth it.  I’m sorry.”

And then I left.

After reflecting on it over an episode of Sex and the City and a Fiber One bar, I believe there may be an allegorical quality to this whole made-up boyfriend situation.  Perhaps he is representative of my true self.  Or the dreamboat ER doctor that I mentioned here, who’s still waiting for me to stumble into his life.

Either way, it’s time to go back to New York and find him.

There Really Needs to be an “I” in Team

I must confess.  After re-reading my last post and its subsequent comments, I realize that I may have inadvertently led people to conclude the following:

  • I have morals
  • I’m a virgin
  • I’ve never had a one-night-stand

None of the above statements are true.  Kidding — I totally have morals!  Which is why I can’t deny the fact that I did indeed experience my own condensed version of the “slutty college years” before landing on my current set of conservative beliefs.  Granted, they were months and not years, as I spent most of undergrad in two separate long-term relationships… both of which involved frequent lovemaking.  I love getting naked; I just associate it with silly things like intimacy and feelings.

Anyone who is celibate for any reason — I totally respect you.  Anyone who gets around like a bicycle — I totally respect you as well (just don’t give me herpes).  I’m in no position to judge.

Ultimately, what I’m trying to say is that if you read my blog and you happen to be a 29-year-old, 6’1″ dark-haired ER doctor with lean muscle mass and a flawless bone structure — don’t think I won’t sleep with you.  Because I will.  I’ll just insist that we get married, buy a raised ranch, and adopt a Guatemalan baby afterwards… No big deal.

But enough about gay sex!

On the career front, I have a co-write session booked this Friday morning on Music Row with an awesome up-and-coming folksy-country artist originally from Indiana.

I’m hesitantly coming to terms with the necessity of co-writing.  Pretty much everything on the radio these days is co-written.  It’s why whenever Beyoncé has a new single out you can expect to hear 5-10 different writer/producers referring to it as solely theirs while the other 4-9 end up posting angry, misspelled tweets.  And so on.

Here’s the thing: I secretly hate working with others.

This is not to say that I’m some kind of disgruntled misanthrope… though that’s sometimes true.  I’m just obsessed with the perfection of any final product that has “by Nick” attached to it.  This applies to group work in school, where one of two things invariably ends up happening:

  1. I basically complete the entire project myself and pretend that allowing the other student(s) to take equal credit is no biggie.
  2. I give up control completely, detach myself from the final results, and allow others to do all the heavy lifting while I daydream about Josh Duhamel in his undies.

Needless to say, I’m obsessed with my GPA (not that it matters in grad school).  So unless my partners are more brilliant than me — I’m such a douche — I generally stick with option number one.

This approach is not viable when it comes to songwriting.  Reasons being:

  • The point of co-writing is to incorporate different backgrounds/styles, thereby creating something better than one could come up with alone.
  • If one person sat around not contributing it would totally kill the vibe in a “why are you even here?” kind of way.
  • If the song actually goes somewhere commercially, there’s money at stake.  When splitting royalties, it helps (for general being-able-to-sleep-at-night purposes) to know that all parties indeed contributed equally.

In 2009, famous choreographer Twyla Tharp wrote a book called The Collaborative Habit, in which she discusses how imperative it is to work well with others.  After unabashedly judging the crap out of her for writing the book alone (and then realizing that I was wrong and she had a contributor), I gave it a skim.  I quote:

Collaboration is how most of our ancestors used to work and live, before machines came along and fragmented society.

Am I supposed to feel like a bad human now?  Seriously, Twyla, get a Facebook!

                                                     Slightly Recommended

But for real, I understand that Rome wasn’t built by a single person.  (Yes, I modified that saying to suit my blogging needs.)  Granted, writing a song is different than building an empire.

Nevertheless, I do recognize that writing alone involves limitations.  I play piano, my co-writer plays guitar; this is an opportunity to get outside of my box.  I also recognize my need to get over myself and accept the idea that accomplishing something with someone else doesn’t make it any less of an accomplishment.  Thus, I’m looking forward to Friday morning.  It will be just my fifth co-write ever, and five is a great number for change.  A key change! Oh snap.

I will be going into that writing room armed with the following:

  • An open mind and willingness to collaborate
  • A few unfinished ideas that I have no strong emotional attachments to
  • A liter of Evian

The recipe for success, am I right?

Oh and one last thing — if you happen to be that above-mentioned ER doctor and you’re still reading, please don’t think that my issues with working together carry over into the bedroom.  I promise they don’t.  Call me!  (Though I might lead you on, back out at the last minute, and then melodramatically blog about it later.)

The Hardest Part of Hooking Up

Allow me to preface my second-ever blog post by saying that I’m already a little addicted.  The more I read about the lives of strangers, the more I’m overcome with the kind of concern and fascination I usually reserve for myself and the Kardashians.  This could be dangerous.  I can see myself a year from now wearing the same pajamas for days at a time, laying in bed — MacBook on lap — and rapidly gaining weight while living only vicariously through the blogosphere as I guzzle half-melted Ben & Jerry’s pints and eventually have to be removed from my bedroom via crane.

Then I remember that blogging is two-sided and if I want people to read about my life, it would help to have one.  Which brings us to this past weekend.

  • Note: all names mentioned herein have been changed to protect privacy.

In my inaugural post, I half-seriously mentioned something about “exhausting Nashville’s two gay bars.”  I half-ended up at one of said bars at about 10:00 pm on Friday night.

The last time I went to this establishment, I was approached by and spent two hours in conversation with Brian — an attractive and charismatic black thirtysomething contractor in town for 24 hours on business.  Eventually we were making out in a dark hallway in the back of the bar when he tried to get me to go back to his hotel room.

Enter my puritanical inhibitions.  While promiscuity is as natural for most gay men as, say, listening to Madonna or breathing, I am cursed with what I refer to out loud as “self-respect.”  Really I’m just too insecure, prone to developing feelings, and — most of all — deathly afraid of any and all STD’s.  I blame my Connecticut education and Google Images.

I tried to drunkenly convey my concerns to Brian.  He assured me he was clean and equipped with protection.  Still, I was apprehensive.  To my surprise, he was super understanding and offered a completely-on-my-own-terms hookup, saying we can do as much as I’m comfortable with and nothing more.  In the heat of the moment, I said no — opting instead to go home and eat a Fiber One bar while watching Chelsea Lately interviews on Youtube and Googling ex-boyfriends.

I’m so used to saying no in these situations that he probably could have offered to Saran-wrap his entire body before it came into any contact whatsoever with mine — and I still would’ve declined just out of comfort.

                          My life as printed on a women’s baby tee. (cafepress.com)

Back to Friday.

This time around, I decided that I needed to be more open-minded.  Along comes Martin — a forty-year-old UPS driver who lives here in Nashville.  I had previously sworn off much older men after a debacle in 2008 involving a ridiculous ex named Jose, but Martin had it goin’ on.  Masculine, tan, in better physical shape at 40 than I am at 23… generally tall, dark, and handsome.

  • Sidenote: Martin’s real-life first name is actually the same as my dad’s.  God’s sense of humor disturbs me.

Our conversation was filled with just the right amount of intellect and inappropriateness.  After sharing that he donates to charity and plays in a rugby league on the weekends, I was pretty much ready to introduce him to my entire extended family.  And/or bear his children.

We made out a little, manhandled each other, and exchanged numbers.  Despite the intense physical chemistry, there was no one-night-stand pressure.  It was wonderful.  Now, three days later, a big part of me really wants to see him again… if only I could find a way to reconcile my coital needs with my previously-mentioned neuroses.

I texted my best friend Felicity to get her advice:

ME: I made out with a hot older man the other night.  I think I may give him my flower if we ever meet again.

FELICITY: Keep calling it your flower and no one is ever gonna take it.

Not helpful, but this is why we’re friends.  Major props to anyone who gets the 90’s sitcom reference!

In any case, the sad truth is that it may be ultimately impossible for me to sleep with Martin in a way that I could ever be completely comfortable with. I’m the kind of square whose prerequisites for rolling around naked in bed with someone include things like being in a committed relationship.  And I’m fully aware that I could never have that with someone who:

  • Lives 900 miles away
  • Is almost 20 years older than me
  • Responds to my texts of “What are you up to tonight?” with “supposed to go to a bday party.. unless u want sex.”

Yes, please!  If only.

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