My New Norm

A few months back I wrote about attempting to date again. A lot has happened since then.

There were challenges. Finding even the time to date was very difficult. I went on a few dates, though nothing felt right. And then I met Norm.

Norm was a single parent as well. He was very tall and funny and kind and also very busy. He had also gone on several dates with women he had met online as well and nothing ever felt right to him, either. I knew it was difficult being a single mother, but I realized it wasn’t easy being a single father, either.

“The childless women always said how ‘cute’ it was that I was a single dad. That they loved kids and thought it was really ‘great’ that my kids were a big part of my life. That really annoyed me. Why is it ‘cute’ that I’m doing what I’m supposed to do? Why is it ‘great’ that I enjoy being a father to my kids? That was pretty depressing.” Continue reading

free space

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I am constantly reading anything new that pertains to the LGBTQ community. I mean this is MY community and I want to know when we take a step forward, when someone stands up for our rights and even when someone tries to break them down.

One of my favorites to check out is Huffington Post and go to the gay voices section.  It has the news and the fluff.  It makes me laugh and makes me cry.  But there has been this one headline over the past few days that I have been avoiding:

Continue reading

Happy 30th Birthday, Neverending Story

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Lots of you know that I write movies. But what you might not know is that the single greatest influence in my life as a screenwriter is a dark children’s movie that came out in 1984, when I was six years old. That movie is The Neverending Story.

Let me tell you why.

On the surface, the movie is about a troubled boy who dives into a fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book.

But it’s so much more than this.

SO. MUCH. MORE.

It’s dark. Depressing. Horrifying. It’s got strange creatures and an ivory palace and a princess who’s got no jurisdiction whatsoever. It’s got a flying dog dragon who likes to have his ears scratched, and ice statues with full-on boobies and laser eyeballs.

Weird, right? It should be noted that this movie was produced in Germany. I don’t mean to stereotype an entire people but… somewhere in between backpacking across the world keeping hostels in business and trancing out to house music, these Germans came up with a delightful tale about the metaphorical destruction of the imagination.

I know. You’re so excited about this.

Where do I start? What’s the entry point for something that has sunk so deep into your psyche that you can no longer remember a time before it? My life began with The Neverending Story and it will likely end there, too. I’ll be the lunatic at the nursing home with The Neverending Story on a loop in my room. My last word will be “Moonchild” as my roommate chokes me to death for calling her “Morla” one too many times.

OK LET’S DO THIS.

Continue reading

In Support of Science

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This is me, reacting to the spate of anti-science news that is hitting us in America these days:

Beware the bunny side-eye!

The fuck was that?

Truly, I am not sure I can take reading one more article that suggests that deciding not to vaccinate your children is a reasonable parental move or that creationists should get to debate their views on science with actual scientists or that birth control and pregnancy tests have some bearing on fetal alcohol syndrome. It blows my mind that there are people out there who are thrilled to ignore the entire branch of study known as science. I cannot wrap my brain around that (figuratively speaking, that is. I know thanks to science that brains don’t actually wrap). Continue reading

Getting Schooled on Private School

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We’ve all been reading a lot about the cost of education. Is college worth the money? Why is it so expensive? But I haven’t heard nearly as much on the debate about primary and secondary education. Is the cost of private school worth it, especially when the public education just isn’t up to par? Living in DC has been, no pun intended, an education.

I was very fortunate in growing up in a liberal, wealthy college town. Boulder public schools are excellent, so there was never really a question about public vs. private. Unless you were a kid with special needs, pretty much everyone attended public school. Not the case in DC. In fact, the lack of affordable elementary education has created a city with virtually no middle class. If you are a family of average income and your child reaches the age of 5, chances are you are headed out to Arlington, Bethesda, or another suburb in Virginia or Maryland to look for a good public school system. But obviously someone is occupying those lovely row houses in Dupont and Georgetown, so where do they send their kids? Well, as 25% of American schools are now private, there’s your answer. If you live in DC and have money, your kids go to a private school.

I recently started working in one. Continue reading

Knowing Your Type

The way the gay male community self-types has always interested me. Most men, it seems, can be separated into a few basic categories: bears, otters, wolfs, cubs, bulls, pups, foxes, twinks, etc. Each one of these offers not only a suggestion of how a person looks, but also how he dresses and possibly even acts. In addition, gay men have systems to signal which of these types they are attracted to. For example, simply go to a club wearing the correct scarf color, and you’re telling the entire club what type of man you are looking for. Your type is sorted for you.

I got to thinking about this. What if, for once, tall bearded men started talking to me at bars? What if I could avoid all the short lawyer types by simply wearing a piece of jewelry or a colored shirt? How nice would it be to avoid the awkward (and sometimes forceful) rejections women must give every time they’d like to walk on the dance floor or grab a brew? I wondered if I could stop all the online shenanigans altogether and try to meet someone in person using this method.

Why does this not happen? Why don’t we straight men and women find a way to signal to each other in a clear, basic way so we would understand what we are attracted to? Hmm. I’m not really sure. Is this too crass for the women, or is it that straight men would find it takes away the chase? But think for a second….I could pass the men who like petite redheads to my lady friend, and she could be on the lookout for the guys into blondes for me. The gay men have already set the stage for how to classify men; the problem is: how do you classify women? Continue reading

On Being a Writer, Part Six: The VIDA Count

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I started off this week feeling like I was going to tackle the world. Is it too early to admit that my to-do list is defeating me?

To be a little more specific, there is this thing that I have to do for work that I really honestly have no idea how to handle. It involves writing an essay about myself. “But I don’t WANT to write an essay about myself!” my brain screams at me each time I try. “Give me another subject!” But no, that is the assignment, and there is no other. I can’t get out of it.

I can procrastinate with the best of them, however. Right now, I’m doing it by reading up on the VIDA Count 2013, and all of the subsequent media reactions to it. (In case you’re not familiar with it, since 2009 VIDA has done an annual round-up of the number of men and women published and reviewed in various magazines and literary journals, aiming to see if there is gender parity in the mags.) As a longtime writer and a sometimes submitter, I was pleased to see that several lit mags I enjoy very much did well, and unsurprised but still annoyed to see how many of the top mags utterly failed yet again. The difficulties of being a working writer, of submitting or pitching a story when you know that you have a very high likelihood of being rejected, are such that it matters tremendously that the playing field is as level as possible going in. Obviously it can never be completely equal because people’s unconscious biases have a way of creeping in. But as I’ve said before, it should be possible to judge writing and ideas on their merits and not based on gender. Continue reading

I Want to Want Less

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DSC_2119The gap between The Have and The Have-Nots is widening. Debates about raising taxes and raising minimum wage rage on. I have opinions on all of these things, but one thing sticks out to me that really isn’t being discussed. One simple solution that could potentially drastically affect a lot of people’s personal economics for the better.

We need to stop wanting so much stuff.

Yes, it’s been touched on before, and no it’s not a fix-all. But it is a huge part of our problems as a society. We want too much when really we don’t need much at all. How do we close this disparity?

But more tangibly, how can I stop wanting stuff?

Because I suffer from this as well. I don’t spend my money on manicures or facials or cosmetics. I have one blush, one powder and a couple eye shadows that I’ll use until they’re gone then buy another one of each. I just don’t see the point of having a ton of make up or hair products. But I do like shoes. I haven’t bought new shoes in a long time, but I used to buy them more frequently. They were fun, they were a treat, it felt good to wear a new pair to work. Foot candy. But I found that the shopping and choosing and purchasing was more satisfying than the having. The necklaces and earrings hanging up in the store always looked so good until I picked out a pair, bought them, then put them away in a drawer, only to be worn once or twice every couple of months, when I remembered.

Today, I left my scarf in the restaurant where I had lunch. Continue reading

The Fiction of Children

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As you know if you know me at all, I love to read. I’ve loved it since I first learned how to do it, and before I had kids I wasn’t happy unless I had three or four books going at once. I liked to test my memory by switching back and forth among them several times as I plowed through each story, trying to keep all the characters and plot threads straight.

But that was Before, and now that it’s After, I’ve decided that fiction has failed me in one important way. So I’m going to call it out: Fiction, you never told me what it’s like to have small children.

Obviously, fiction doesn’t have a real responsibility to me or anyone else on this score. But I rather naively thought that it would tell me The Truth because in my experience it has told me The Truth, in all its complexity and ugliness and glory, about so many other things. From small specific things like what it feels like to twist sticks of hay to burn during a blizzard so you don’t freeze to big things like the power of human decency in the face of horror, fiction has challenged and informed me. And because kids are kind of a big thing, I trusted that fiction would get it right, presenting at least some sides of the crazy story of what it’s like to parent a little kid.

However, there is a lot missing from stories with children, and in most cases it’s the actual children themselves. Much like the convenient babies of TV (exhibit A: Dexter’s son, Harrison, who randomly showed up to convince us that maybe Dexter could love after all and promptly disappeared without fuss into the arms of his nanny because let’s face it, Dexter would have killed any kid who behaved like an actual kid), the offspring of fiction are not as – let’s politely say – multi-facted as the the offspring of reality. In fiction, they seem to be almost invisible until they get old enough not to need anyone to wipe their butts. Continue reading

Let Me Know When You’re in the City Again

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“When are you going to be in the city again?” 

I hear this a lot.

I lived in “the city,” for over ten years. I was raised in a suburb about 30 miles outside of city limits and moved to Chicago at 18-years old to go to college. I lived all over Chicago. Rogers Park, Wrigleyville, Humboldt Park, Little Italy and Ukranian Village. I worked as far north as Evanston and as far south as South Chicago. I love Chicago. Of my limited travels and my unabashed bias, I declare it the best city in the world. To me, at least.

Chicago hasn’t been the only place I’ve lived. I lived in small towns, too. As small as a fishing town in Paraguay to a couple of small towns in central Illinois (one college, one non). They each had their pluses and minuses, they each drastically changed my worldview in different ways.

After I had my daughter, I moved back to the suburbs where I myself was born to raise her with the help of my family. Like all new places, I had to start over, make new friends in my new (again) community and a build a new life. I’m very happy here. At times my life in Chicago seems like yesterday and at others, light-years away. 

“We’ll get together next time you are in Chicago!”

As if The City were this necessary, delicate ecosystem where our PH-balanced friendship could survive. Outside of it, even a mere 30 miles, it would turn inside out and die, like a virus on a toilet seat. Continue reading

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