Spontaneous! 4 Days Early

At the beginning of this year, I made the goal to actively learn something everyday. Call it a “New Year’s Resolution,” call it a “goal,” call it an aspiration: to be more self-reflective in the ways I grow and change and develop and (mis)form and queer and . . . and . . . .

I realized a couple days ago that my need/instinct to control everything about my life (planning, organizing, etc.) was getting in the way of me actually living. It got in the way of me interacting with others, myself, and the world. “I learned that I am stuck in a routine from which I cannot currently escape.”

Change it up. Be more spontaneous.

Instead of planning for things a week in advance (and not allowing myself to do activities that happen unexpectedly) I stopped. WHAT?! My Google calendar is still in full force but I have open gaps that I have my “spontaneous time.” If people ask me to do something tomorrow, I actually try to see if I can fit them in or see if I have free time instead of falling back on the usual, “Oh, I need to study,” or worse, “I’m too busy.”

Instead of loathing and meditating and harboring deep angst and anxiety about unexpected changes, I’m taking deep breaths, I’m listening to Jazz, and smelling the new fresh spring smell and moving forward.

Oh! So a snow storm hits and an event you’ve been planning for months at work falls through. Move on, replan, reschedule, breathe.

Oh! So a friend asks you to coffee and you DO have a half hour. Go get coffee.

Oh! So your lover will be in a nearby building and is on break for 15 minutes. Go walk over and say hello and catch up.

Simple things. Simple changes. Simple. Simple. Simple.

Well almost simple. It’s that time of the month (full moon time!) where I set aside reflective time to reevaluate, feel myself and the world, and meditate on living (4 days to go!). And as the cliche goes: all good things come in moderation.

My spontaneity has freed me and, also, stressed me out. It’s important to have balance, and I’m working at it.

A book came to me that I need to write (while reading Virginia Woolf) last week. So I’m going to write it. I’ve never really written prose fiction, but, you know what, now is the time.

And, for me, spontaneity is allowing me to explore, create, and begin my days a new. Something that hasn’t happened for a very long time.


I’m at the point in my life/semester/being where I’m overwhelmed by living–it’s just so damn exciting. I wake up and get to learn, get to work, get to work out, get to read, get to love, get to eat, get to dance (my knee is more or less healed), I get to be.

I get to listen to 2ne1’s new album and RuPaul’s new album. AKA life is good.

2NE1_CRUSH          rupaul-born-naked-400x400

I find myself so excited, or so overwhelmed by emotion, or so confused, that I cannot breath. Akin to panic/anxiety attacks, this type of attack is, what I’ve learned, what it means for me (in this moment) to be alive. It’s like an eternal trill on pick-your-instrument. So exciting, so fast, so pretty, so alarming.

I finished (one of) my favorite book(s) yesterday. I got to jog two days in a row. I frolicked in the sun. I made an amazing meal. I met a friend’s girlfriend. I spent much needed time with a semi-significant other. And, of course, bad things happened, but it’s in this moment that I just need to celebrate the good stuff.

Tomorrow (after 4:30) marks the first inhalation of Spring Break and I’ll be holding my breath until it ends.

It’s like when you step into UMMA, wander upstairs, and see Monet *literally* just peeking at you. It’s like wandering into a club to see your friend DJ-ing. It’s like walking down the street and having someone across the intersection belting Beyonce. It’s like almost slipping on ice and then catching yourself in a bush. Pretty much the best thing ever.


So even if I’m utterly bored by still being in undergrad. Even if it surprised snowed at me after a Bio exam (#lol). Even if everyone is really a mess. Even if I will have never gone anywhere for Spring Break EVER.

I still have this one panicked breath. And that, really, is all I need.

Art of of Being Basic

1) Writing a passive aggressive blog, keeping in mind all the people that overwhelm you–with their ability to frustrate you, fuck everything up, and be real damn basic.

2) Quitting your thesis to basically watch a season of Gilmore Girls every two weeks.

3) Not living by your community’s living standards and then shunning/hating/abusing  those that called you out about it.

4) Standing up and feeling patriotic for a nation that allows for the active genocide of people in and out of its “borders.”

5) (un/in)tentionally Cutting off Black women during a speak out because you really want to share your (yes, valid) emotions.

6) Walking down the wrong side of the road and pushing someone without boots into 6 inches of water.

7) Saying “Arabic” when you really mean “Arab” all while basically making a joke of another culture because of a situation you found yourself in.

8) Saying “people of color” instead of “Black folks,” which is really what you mean.

9) Ordering off of your parent’s Amazon account just so you can get free 2 day shipping (and effectively avoiding the spending of your own money).

10) Quoting Frank B. Wilderson III and then talking over Black folks in a conversation; Quoting Frank B. Wilderson III and then calling yourself an ally to Black folks when you are in fact not Black; Quoting Jared Sexton and then non-ironically saying “multiracial”; Quoting Audre Lorde and just fucking it up bad because you can’t read the whole quote, or you forget the context, or forget that she is talking about something that can’t always be generalized or abstracted; Saying that you don’t like Beloved.

11) Assuming that because you call yourself an ally to “LGBT” people you are an ally to queer folks; assuming that because you “identify as the ‘a’ in LGBTA” that you are really an ally or really living the struggle of being “LGBT.”

12) Being a (white) scholar of South African tribal literatures and then calling “anti-Blackness” too strong of a term; ignoring the fact that global anti-Blackness is a thing.

13) Working in the office next to me, seeing me everyday in the hallway, but refuse to acknowledge my existence as you run into me because you’re too busy on your phone, refuse to say excuse me, refuse to say anything.

14) Any time the word “different” is used as an adjective.

15) (On the second night of a newly established gay night at a local bar) Hosting a “frat party” that depicts racism, sexism, sizeism, ableism, etc., in its cover photo.

16) Refusing to acknowledge the privilege you have in passing.

17) Wearing shorts in 35 degree weather, even if it is sunny.

18) Disliking Azealia Banks.

19) Flirting with someone majoring in English and Philosophy and telling them that you hate reading and thinking too hard.

20) Pronouncing my last name “Portabella” to be funny.

21) Being sex negative.

22) Calling yourself a feminist, as a man, and still using “bitch” in your everyday vocabulary.

22) Identifying as cisgender and gay/bisexual/lesbian and stigmatizing Trans* folks. Stigmatizing Trans* folks EVER.

23) Letting people stay in limbo, who are waiting for a reply from you, just because you don’t want to face reality and instead watch Netflix and go on Tumblr for a week.

24) Assuming people will help you even when you don’t ask for it, and then being mad and blaming others for not helping.

25) Not telling someone that you love them when you do; Not telling someone that you like them or want to be friends with them or want to fuck them or want to ask them out or want to be in their vicinity because you’re scared.

26) Leaving your clothes in the apartment building dryer for 2 hours while leaving other clothes in the washing machine for 3 hours.

27) Disliking James Joyce or Virginia Woolf because they are “too pretentious.”

28) When you identify as white and: always identify as a successful anti-racist activist, call yourself culturally Black, equate issues of class with issues of race, pride yourself in your “ability” to twerk.

29) Publishing a blog about your frustrations because you just can’t right now and don’t foresee any amount of can for the next week.

30) Calling out “basic” things/people/activities and not defining “basic.”

31) Thinking that Madonna invented voguing.

32) Referring to HIV as AIDS; shaming those that have sex without a condom; not being aware that HIV and AIDS still exists.

Wandering words, Wandering Mind

The UGLI/Shapiro/Undergrad (library)/Mordor is an interesting place—on one hand, it can be a “cool place to study if you are doing group work or want a louder environment,” or so I say during orientation tours by which I mean you’ll have an entire sorority house screaming about a mixer they just came from—which isn’t bad, but just a fun surprise when you’re a freshman wandering around looking for a seat to read The Odyssey and to cry yourself into an early sleep, and on the other hand, it can serve as an unusual space for a reading event.

I was running from an interview with a friend and knew I was already late; prepping by taking off my sunglasses (yes, it was 7:15pm) and headphones, I jolted through the automatic doors that always open up just slow enough so as to hit me as I slide through, and I moved a chair into the back of the audience. I once again realized how much of a beautiful stereotype/cliche/wonder I am: I flourish as I take off my circle scarf, almost fall off my chair as I get tangled in my harem pants, and gasp as I spill sparkling water on myself, all as I get my notebook out to “take notes” aka write my own poetry for when I get bored, or, more accurately, when I can’t hear writers present their work.

I was not the only cliche around. The speakers went in and out and I was positioned in the far corner, and so most people’s voices blended quite nicely into the already formed ambience the UGLI has. Some voices wafted above the chatter to sit atop like the descant line while others formed the bass line and sent a rhythm through my chest. I thought I was either in a movie or being punk’d. Either way, I came to the reading for two of my greatest friends and for me, their voices shot through the air as if I was their target.

Being distracted by life as I usually am, I noticed when the light bulb went on and off (unexpectedly I might add—no it wasn’t morse code, no it wasn’t timed, no, no, no, just a lightbulb); I noticed when people jumped down the main stairs, colliding on each of the landings; I noticed when obnoxious people walked by, stopped, and then proceeded only after pointing and talking louder about how they were “confused . . . like what is even going on here?”; while I thought it was fitting for a literary reading to be done in a library (because books), it seemed that most passersby were flabbergasted.

“What’s a sugar daddy?”

My attention snapped back to the reading.

This particular reader ended and another arrived at the podium to read a work of fantasy fiction. By this point I was noticeably tired from my day and in full blown free association mode. Why fantasy? What is the value of fantasy? *cocks head* What would it be like to be a young adult author? What aspects of life would you ignore or erase? *stroke facial hair* Why did I used to love fantasy? When did this fascination stop? *stares into the void forming in the corner* Questions came and questions went but my face remained perplexed throughout this person’s story. I quickly wrote a poem about my confusion.

All of a sudden, however, my first friend was at the podium—the announcer was too quiet to be intelligible. I heard the change of voice, the change of posture, the change in the eyes—from everyday into the writerly, readerly position; my friend owned a podium like none other. She was flawless in her delivery, I was absorbed into her poetry: into her words and stories and images and thoughts and, to be frank, her magic.

A while later, another friend (who invited me) took over and had a grace that was unmatched. Although it was now late and people were leaving, my line of sight became unobstructed, and the closer I leaned in the closer I felt my tunnel vision closing in on the sound of her voice. From history and moving into her own work, she presented fact and fiction, blending and mixing, but always remaining lucid, artistic, and full of beauty. Had the audience been not so sober (in any interpretation), I would have cat-called and snapped and hoot and hollered (more than I already did). Goosebumps were a plenty and my face beamed.

There is something so indescribable that happens when watching people you love share their art.

Readings are some of my favorite events to attend. It’s at both comforting and alarming: the creativity that is so present in people around me, and it is in this space where it can be shared, ignored, and proclaimed. I become an audience member and this becoming is overpowering. Words fill my brain, my ears, my mind, my eyes, and my fingers. This page.

So yes. Café Shapiro proved quite the event.


There is art and then THERE IS ART.

Notorious for proclaiming every damn thing in my life can be art, I am going to continue to cast my art-golf-umbrella on everyone who reads this: art is everywhere, everything is aesthetic in some manner, and sometimes everything sucks (or is so good) that aesthetics are all I can talk about without wanting to performance art myself into a plane and never come back.

Now 2 days ago I stopped writing my thesis and left the honors program (http://queerumich.com/post/75508370570/the-queer-art-of-quitting) and I’ve never felt better. However, it’s been interesting to see how people react to my news. From “TAYLOR?!? REALLY??!?!” to “I support and think that this decision will make you happy.” I appreciate both sentiments–it’s fun seeing what people do when I throw their world axis off just a smidge, and when I can surprise them. (boom.)

In the wake of all of this, I’ve received so much support and love. I’ve never felt more comfortable with a decision or more proud of myself, and it’s all because my community stepped up and validated, affirmed, and actively supported me. A community that I thought I had a solid grasp of who was in it, but, then again, I myself was surprised.

Come a month ago, while still writing my thesis, the most support I got was from my books, my tears, and “dreams . . . drugs . . . waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls” (a little Ginsberg goes a long way, no?). I’m not trying to call anyone out but the support I got while in the thesis process was no where near the level of support I have now. This got me thinking.

Support is an art form.

About a year or so ago I got in the habit of saying “I approve” at everything I wanted to affirm. Quickly, I realized that very few people need a white cisgender man to give approval–it’s weird, it’s unaffirming, and it’s just a little much, in my opinion. So I reflected on what I meant by “I approve,” and I came to the conclusion that I meant, “I support.” I support verbally, physically, emotionally, mentally; if I say, “I support _____,” you have my permission to use me and my resources to the fullest extent because I care, I support, and I want to validate and affirm you and your endeavors.

What I’m not so eloquently getting at is: support needs to be known.

Support isn’t some canvas on which I am painted. I need support to be painted on me. Covered in it, filled with it, not born from it. Support can’t be implied or unspoken because all it looks like is somebody somewhere following you or looking at you or sending some good vibes, which, don’t get me wrong, is wonderful, but isn’t really how I use or mean “support.”

Support is an action, a verb–to support. It necessitates motion from bodies and minds and hearts. It is not a watercolor. It is spoken word, it is slam poetry, it moves oceans and causes storms. I need support that will rock me to my foundation.

What stopping the thesis process has taught me is how to really support someone. I’ve learned this from those who’ve pretended and from those who’ve succeeded in supporting me. And today, perhaps, I can call myself an artist supported by fellow artists (friends, family, peers, acquaintances, coworkers, facebook strangers, grindr peeps, and people eluding my words)–with a general mission to support and affirm and validate.

Fashion a la Polar Vortex

I feel like if I were to remember one thing about 2014 it wouldn’t be me finishing my thesis (GODDESS PLEASE LET ME), graduating, travelling, whatever . . . it would be surviving not only the first polar vortex but the second one.

The first day since ‘78 that the University of Michigan has cancelled classes. We all know this but BOOM. This is/was exciting. I had a four day weekend. I went out on a Monday.

Besides these obvious points, however, there are some other things that I cannot get out of my mind: snow/cold/chill protective outfits. In short, people’s clothing is heinous. I am (not) some queen heckling on the side of the road, but people have gone absolutely off the cliff.

1. It is -40 degrees.
I have been sick for months, and just got sick again. I’m feeling better but I know I need to cover my mouth. I have maroon skinny jeans on, a maroon winter coat with fake fur, I have a maroon baseball cap on with accompanying scarf and red headphones-as-ear-muffs. I have layers of glasses to protect my eyes and gloves on gloves on gloves. And then someone jogs by me in a spandex body suit and that’s it. And then someone saunters back from the gym in shorts. And then I see someone model walk with their coat WIDE OPEN as they cross the street. I don’t know who ya’ll are but I’m judging you. You might feel like you can stand the cold but your frozen flesh-skin-ice and I think differently. I try so hard not to judge or shame people for what they do or do not wear (because really why should I) BUT ITS SO DAMN COLD I GET COLDER JUST LOOKING AT YOU.

2. It is 30 degrees.
I’m healthy and have stopped putting a scarf over my face, and so people now walk on the same side of the road as me and don’t point as I walk down the sidewalk at them (apparently I look intimidating or eccentric as all get out). I have a reasonable amount of clothing on (basically the same thing as the -40 degree weather but this time I’m less hunched over and I might be singing/breathing the cool air in). And then someone walks by in a 7-layer black body suit and a yellow neon hat pulled OVER THEIR EYES. Hello?

3. It is 0 degrees.
It’s 11:30 at night and I leave my coat in the car; I have just arrived in Ypsi for the drag show. I start to run down the road at full speed in my skinny jeans, polka-dot top, necklace flying up and hitting my face, both hands on the hair to protect it from frizzing out . . . and then I slip. I’m screaming now, full volume, as onlookers, wrapped up in 15 layers, point at the disheveled queer sliding his way into the bar. We all can’t be winners.

The Polar Vortex has come and gone and come again. Each time we are surprised and we cope differently. But one thing remains constant: no one knows how to dress when its negative-you’re-going-to-die-temperature. And that is a subtle art of surviving in Michigan. Because at least if you’re frozen, you can still be one hot mess.