Singing and Crying

Getting drunk and crying isn’t exactly something confined to a single culture. A quick ride on the Red Line during any Chicago holiday, or a late night out in Wrigleyville pretty much drives that one home as a experience that isn’t bound by any demographic. I’m not a drunk crier, I’m a pretty happy drunk most of the time, the other times I’m slutty. But I digress…

Today I was at a house party, and like any respectable gay man who is single and well into his 30s, put away half a case of hard cider by myself. Yes ladies and gents, I go hard. Anyway, I dragged myself home just after the heat of the day had passed, walked my dog and settled in for a night of tv and pizza. To keep myself entertained while I added extra pepperoni and cheese to topping poor pizza, I put on some music. Como la Flor by Selena came on, and before I knew it, I was sprinkling extra cheddar, singing along, and tears were streaming down my face.

I’m not sure if it’s been the past few week’s work load, the excessive amount of cider sugar making its way out of my body or the fact that this summer has been hot, humid, and it’s driving everyone crazy, but there I was. Standing in the middle of my kitchen, drunk, singing, and crying. In that moment, I was a Mexican stereotype.

I don’t even know if that is a stereotype actually. If I asked my non-latino friends if they’d ever heard that when latino men (particularly those of Mexican heritage, since that’s what I’ve got the most experience with, you know, family and all) get drunk, they sing and cry, if they’d be able to say yes, they recognized that stereotype. They alos get a little handsy with each other, but that’s a topic for a whole other blog and possibly a PhD thesis or reality tv show. But I digress, yet again…

In my moment of raw emotion, when Selena was singing about how much she hurt, and about lost love, I had a moment of clarity. The men who I’d grown up around, who would get drunk on a driveway or around a fire pit in the yard, who would sing and yell and curse and cry, were putting it all out there and bearing their souls. My tios, my dad’s compadres, left behind their families, their homeland, their language, and now live in a place where they don’t fit in, not exactly anyway. Huddled around those burning embers, music and songs from their past would come on, and they would sing, and cry, and remember what they left behind. What they sacrificed to have a better life, and the people they may never see again.

That’s what I had. Those are the feelings that came flooding over me as the heat from the oven rushed over my face. I thought about my friends, my family, and couldn’t remember when the last time was that I didn’t feel totally disconnected from where I came from. In that moment I realized what the men who got drunk, and sang and cried were feeling, because I didn’t know before. I didn’t know why they cried. I didn’t know why Vicente Fernandez would trigger arms over each other’s shoulders, swaying and shouting. They too, were disconnected, but in those moments, the connection and memories would come back like a shot (after many shots), and they mourned the warmth from the memories as it slowly faded away verse by verse.

I texted Carmen after I had dried my eyes, I knew she’d understand and think it was funny, and I needed a laugh. It’s nice to know my culture is still in here somewhere. I may be living a life with no current purpose, and the only direction it is has is towards another nap, but some of my memories have a different angle to them now. It’s been a while since I stood around drinking with my family and friends and bared my soul. I should probably do that on a more regular basis, once i’m somewhere with a driveway.

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#fam

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Care Package

From an e-mail I just sent off to my mom. Last year, she was a sweetheart and made me a cookie care package. Unfortunately  she sent it to my home address and some crackhead stole it from the foyer. Then she made another one, and send it to my work, luckily, which I received and tore open with reckless abandon, only to find fudge covering the bottom layer of the cookie tin. Needless to say, I was kind of upset (I’m not a huge chocolate fan, unless it has nuts and nougat in it, and I was none so lucky that go round).

So, in an effort to avoid the fudge problem this year, I kindly requested she not send fudge, if she was going to send cookies at all, not that I expect her to, but I’m not about to turn down Christmas cookies (right? right!).

Hey Mom,

Was just thinking of you, cause Nicole asked me what my address was, and I asked if she was sending cookies. Then I remembered you might send cookies (I hope) and thought I should ask you very politely, not to send fudge. I’m not a huge fan. Just cookies. Unless you think I’m already too big, which I know dad does, cause he asked if i was going to get a personal trainer soon (I’m just getting ready for a hard winter).

Anyway, all is well here, not much to report. Not too cold yet and no snow, but hope for some soon. My snow boots are just aching to be broken in and there is no point in it being 20 degrees if we don’t have something to show for it.

Love you,

Royce

If anyone else wants to send me a cookie care package, please let me know and I’ll be happy to accept. Just don’t ask my dad for my address, cause seriously, he asked if I was going to start seeing a personal trainer soon…thanks dad.

Detox

While chatting with my Beloved Cheertator yesterday at work, I happened upon a revelation. Moving to Chicago has been somewhat of a forced Cheerleading Detox, along with the forced realization that I was firmly addicted. Since I wasn’t able to join the Chicago Spirit Brigade due to practices being on Sunday (the Lord’s day for brunch, also I travel a hell of a lot of weekends) and haven’t found an all star team that allows anyone over 18 to join, I’ve been without cheer in my life for over 3 months now. And I’m starting to feel it, and not going to lie, fiend for it a little bit.

Going from balancing Cheer San Francisco, Premier All Male and group stunt practices with Tap That, along with work, family and friends who weren’t involved in cheerleading in some way (I had a pretty damn busy life in San Francisco. I’m not even going to mention dating, cause it never happened, and now I know why.) to Chicago where I work three days a week, my only formal obligation, has been somewhat of a life shock.

Detox hasn’t been easy. For a long time the past 4 years, conversations have usually included talk of cheerleading of some sort and now, I’m at a general loss for how to socialize with the world. I’m not a total social nitwit, but I think I may just be out of practice from making new friends. That whole, finding something in common thing, proves a bit more difficult than I remember. Luckily most of the people I’ve met here are raging homos, so we can always talk about sex and Designing Women.

What to talk about with the other people I meet, I have no freaking idea.

So what did I do before cheerleading? Before watching hours of Maddie Gardner (and spending even more hours making that stunt happen) and Top Gun Allstars, talking about baskets, dance sequences and motions? I uh…sometimes I would…uh…

So what do I do now? What shall I talk about? Weather, eh. Video games, not well versed in anything other than original Nintendo and really only specifically, Super Mario Bro’s 3. Anime, negative ghost rider, never caught on to that one. Politics, God no, the last thing you want to hear about is the way I vote. Religion, fuck that, its much easier to steer clear, cause people get preachy and when people get preachy, I get punchy. Which leaves me with, Pop Culture and gossip.

Fuck me gently with a chainsaw.

The only things I’ve got to talk about are tween movies and the last time I cried watching Animal ER. FML. But, I’m a smarty, I know I’ll figure something out. I’ve been able to go out with a few different groups of people and keep the awkward silences to a minimum, and I’m getting better.

Of course, I still keep cheer videos on my phone, but they’re really only for me. But maybe I should take them off. I don’t think you can fully detox if you still have your addiction lying around in hidden places. Then again, I still haven’t given up on cheerleading, and I tell myself, I’m just taking a break. Yeah, thats it. I don’t have to fully detox, cause it’s just a break. Lord knows I need it after doing this.

The Mexican Situation – Food that is…

Now, we all know that I’m a NorCal boy through and through. Pretty well established, born and raised there, blocks from the beach in the country-hood (I really think thats the best description for my hometown, and if you’ve visited and spent time with me there, you’ll agree). Anyway, there are few food things I’m picky about, my burritos, are not one of them. To me, a burrito should have, meat, rice, beans, sour cream, guac and cheese (I don’t like salsa in my burritos, I feel like it messes with the flavor which should stand on it’s own as a good mix of ingredients, but I digress, to each their own).

When I finally decided that Chicago was the city for me, two months before I actually set foot in the city, I started doing research. What did I find? A TON of Mexican people live here. AWESOME! I was so scared that I was going to be without a good burrito somewhere in the neighborhood that I would wither and blow right out of the windy city.

Well with all the Raza rollin’ around this city, I figured I’d have my fill of burritos and I would never be far from my long adored carnitas. I was wrong…Oh how wrong I was.

My hunt for a good NorCal style burrito, one fitting of Vallarta, Cancun or Castillito level praise has not materialized, and its not for lack of trying. When I got here I was unemployed and pretty much homeless, so it was a great time to explore my burrito options. I always get the same thing on my first trip to a new mexican restaurant. We all have those foods we use to base our opinions off of, for some, Eggs Benedict, a meat scramble or biscuits and gravy…mine, carnitas…duh. My mantra is, “A carnitas burrito a day keeps the boyfriends away,” and it had really become more of a way of life than just a saying…just sayin’…but here, there are no carnitas. Thats right folks…seasoned shredded fried pork doesn’t exist in the midwest, and it’s a cryin’ shame.

As of now, that mantra has become but a distant memory. I have given up…I am no longer trying to track down good Mexican food here. Thats right…I’m done.

When Chipotle is considered good mexican food, the taqueria waitresses look at you crazy when you tell them to put rice and beans inside the burrito or they’re so shocked that spanish just flew out of the white-boy’s mouth they can hardly respond…it’s time to call it quits. Yes, I’ve been to the far reaches of Bucktown, Belmont Gardens even the north part of Clark street…no dice…except hanging from the mirror, and no carnitas either.

That being said, I will just stick true to my NorCal roots and inhale as many of my favorite burritos I can and maybe pack a few away on my return trips home…as long as TSA doesn’t think they’re something explosive and confiscate them (I would go carnival freak on them, seriously, it would not be pretty). Luckily…I did find good dim sum…more on that later.

Those summer nights

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You know, when it’s not thunder storming on my head, the entire lakeshore in summer is really something. I keep waiting for a chill to take the air and send everyone back home…but it doesn’t come. It’s calm, warm and comfortable. I’m so glad I’m here.

Homesick – Volume 1

Damn damn damn. I’ve been here a week (as of yesterday) and I already hit homesick? This is not a good sign.

I’m sure what actually made me homesick, is the fact that I don’t have a home yet. I’ve started couch crashing. Which, overall is fine, but that means you don’t have your own space and that is starting to get to me. I figured finding a place would be super easy, and when I got here, really it was. But GETTING a place has proved to be a lesson in patience and understanding of some master plan (hopefully that plan isn’t to send me packing back to the summer fog and winter sun of CA). I will press on, i’m sure to the shagrin of leasing agent who has had to put up with some nasty voicemails and mean texts from yours truly.

What set it off this bout of homesickness last night was going out. Yes, I finally went out to a gay bar, not for a date, but because my host, Dan, wanted to socialize, and socialize me to people in the area. Much appreciated. When I got there, I was introduced to a whole lot of new people, and we all know how I am with new people. But I tried to stay bright and cheery surrounded by strangers and get to know them. We had a few good little strides of conversation, but I got lost when the topic turned Apple fanboy and I ordered another drink, two actually. Not having eaten since the afternoon and trekking through the vertical swimming pool that people in Chicago call “outside”, I was promptly lit. Luckily I retained enough composure not to booty shake or tip drill at the bar, but it was difficult.

As the conversations wandered through weekend plans, the gay get away hotspot in for Chicagoans (which I still have no idea how to spell or pronounce correctly, so I’m not going to try), I realized I had nothing to contribute. If I were in SF and had no plans for the weekend, I’d head to the Port and hang with the family for the weekend. Now they’re a 4hr flight away. If I was in a bar in SF, I’d most likely be with Derrick and the Twins. We would be talking about the randoms who walked in and who’d slept with them, and what fun new cheer moves we wanted to try at practice and Lintz would be buying shots. I kind of feel like i’m gaycation, but I don’t have Ernie with me and we’re not being tourists and there is no Key Lime Pie on a stick.

So I’m homesick. I’m a total gypsy, and not loving it cause the outfit requires too many layers to be authentic and I don’t have a wooden wagon to traverse the countryside in. Something has to break soon, cause I’m not packin’ it in due to a rough patch. But it may be time for me to stop watching cheer videos and go find a team where I can throw people around. That always seems to help blow off steam.