Sunday, February 24, 2008

Finally see the light...

I have to thank Oprah for giving me the best Valentines Day I might ever know.

On that fateful day, I felt my optimism and general nonchalant-ness of VDay start to slip. Not that I was bombarded with happy couples...well, until I went out to dinner.

My mother was picking my sorry single ass up, since it was the start of reading week and I had plans to go skiing and frolicking in the north. First, I had to write a midterm that lasted until 6 p.m. (the prof had the nerve to ask me, "What are you writing, War and Peace?" when I asked him for more booklets). I finally got myself together and met up with mom.

We wandered for a bit, then decided that we should eat dinner before making any further movements. Great idea, in principal...but after being turned away from our third restaurant, it looked like we weren't going to get anything to eat.

Finally, we found an alright place that was seating those idiots without reservations on Valentines Day (which was a crowd of mostly single, mostly mid-30's people) at their bar. We pulled up to a couple seats at a small table, no bigger than a dart board, and just chatted and caught up on things.

At some point, a woman entered my peripheral vision, and put a hand softly on my arm. As I turned, recognition flashed, and I leaned out for a hug. Why, it was a semi-distant cousin who was possibly a lesbian! What are you doing here!?

We made the obligatory small talk for a few minutes, then she had to get a seat with her co-worker (a nice blond girl, whom I hoped was her date).

After she had gone, mom gave me that look, the unspoken, "Maybe she's a lesbian, maybe that was her girlfriend." Sufficed to say, it's a long story, but she's a pretty butch woman who hasn't really ever been known to have relationships with men. Not that anyone knows she's seeing women either, but of course, small-town families being what they are, the general unspoken assumption is that she's a homosexual.

Our dinners arrived, we chowed down and talked some more. As we neared finishing, somehow we got to talking about one of mom's friend's kids who got in a fight because another kid called him gay. The poor guy, bless his heart, at 10 years of age, decided to give the bully a big lesson on what being gay means, and that it's not uncool, and that calling someone gay who isn't homosexual is wrong.

Naturally, the kid beat the crap out of him.

"Gee, I thought at that age calling things 'gay' had basically stopped," I said, admittedly surprised. "I mean, high school maybe, but that young?"

She nodded. "I was surprised too," she said, "and a little sad."

We kept eating.

"So, I was watching Oprah the other day," mom said, setting her knife and fork neatly on her plate. "Did you see it?"

I shook no, and took a gulp of beer. Where was this going?

"Well, they had these couples on. And they had had children, and were the perfect families, and all that stuff," she went on. I noticed her eyes start to dart around above and behind my head, but not really looking at me.

"Anyway, well..." she said, lowering her voice, "they turned out to be gay."

"What, the kids?" I asked.

"No, no, the couple. They both were gay, and tried to make it work, but they all came out to each other and everyone." She paused. I nodded along.

"That happens more than you'd think," I said, "people just get sick of lying."

"Well, the point of it was...and what really upset me...was how unhappy they were inside, about hiding it and pretending and forcing themselves." By now her eyes started to glaze, darting to the bottles and screens behind my head.

"I hit me just there, that I would never want that for you, that I don't want you to be unhappy." She started to cry now.

"I finally...I get it," she gasped. "I'm sorry."

My lip started to tremble as she went on about how she really understood I am who I am, and really accepts it and is at peace with it. And how she doesn't want me to be unhappy and miserable, and that hoping that I would wind up falling for a woman was silly and just unfair.

"I'm sorry it took me so long to get there," she said, "but I couldn't control that. But I'm there now."

I realized I had grabbed her hand across the table, and that I was now completely crying in a restaurant full of people on Valentines Day with my mother.

But I felt fucking amazing.

"Uh, I'm going to..." I said, and walked quickly to the men's room. It was deserted, thankfully, and I crashed into a stall and started to sob. I felt so...I don't even know how to describe it now...elated, relieved, accepted, understood.

I quickly realized I had never cried in a public washroom before, and had no idea what the etiquette was. I sat on a toilet, pulled out some paper and cried softly by myself.

Eventually someone staggered in to the urinal beside me, and I realized I had to quiet down and get out of the stall. I did, making sure I'd wiped everything away in the mirror before heading back to my chair.

She was still sitting there, eyes a little wet, our plates vanished. "Sorry," she said. "I always seem to have these kinds of conversations in malls." We both laughed.

I wondered on the way out if my cousin had seen the spectacle, wondered what was going on. Maybe she's more perceptive than I give her credit, and if she truly is a lesbian, maybe she's got me pegged too.

I wondered about Oprah, and how fucking amazing she can be, and I hoped that more than just my mom was changed the day they watched about how hard it is to lie about who you really are, and to accept it for yourself.

And I wondered if I should write Oprah a thank you letter, and tell her what kind of amazing Valentines Day she gave me.

What's that you say?...

And I'm back...

...but still in interesting shape. Thankfully I'm not really sick anymore, save a pretty sore intestinal track. But sadly I've still got issues.

As of right now, I can't hear out of my left ear. Deaf as a doorknob.

On Friday morning, I happened to be cleaning out my ears, after having a shower. Like I always do, I twisted up an end of tissue, and moved it around my ear. Right ear was fine. Left ear...not so fine.

As I pulled the tissue out, my hearing went all muffled. I didn't quite get what was going on, and grabbed a bottle of ear wash spray stuff, and gave it a shot. That was hearing went completely.

I'll admit I was a little worried, figuring I'd left some tissue behind that had now gotten stuck. So I had to tuck tail between legs and go to the doctor.

Turns out, I didn't do anything to cause this. Doc says I've got a piece of hardened impacted wax that's blocking my eardrum, making it seem like I can't hear. Great! I thought, she can just wash it out.

But me being me, and last week not being my week, she refused to flush it out since it was still 'hardened', for fear of bursting my eardrum (yikes!). So she hooked me up with...(you'll never believe this)...liquid stool softened. No joke, apparently a few drips lying on the wax every day will cause it to soften. So I've been dropping pink stool softener in my ear like mad, waiting for the moment that it softens and hopefully buggers off.

Sitting here tonight, I still can't hear much out of the left side. Well, I hear this deafening silence, actually. It really throws everything off; I have to struggle to hear things in certain directions and had to crank the TV up to hear what was going on.

So my warning to you, take care of your ears! As cliche as it is, seriously, try your best not to go deaf, because life is no fun walking around in mono.

Here's a shout out to all you boys in the medical field. Thanks for keeping us alive and well!

And if you ever need a massage, let me know.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The porcelain god...

Something has been trying to kill me, and it hasn't been pretty.

I've spent the last several days alternating between the bedroom and the bathroom...and not eating or drinking much. It's been pretty nasty, to say the least.

Definitely not the way I planned to spend my reading week.

I broke down and had to borrow my uncle's computer to check my e-mails from school assignments and reports. Seems like while I've been lying watching 'I Love Lucy' and vomiting in between episodes, the world has also slowed to a crawl. Nothing that I expected to be done has been done while I've been out of comission, not a comforting thought during the cold sweats.

Anyway I'm running on borrowed time right now, so I'll throw a few random observations from my week in.

- whoever decided to use popsicles as sexual objects, to pratice oral sex or for added feeling in other areas, is insane...they're too damn cold!

- does my mother imagine me sucking a guy's cock while I'm slurping on this banana popsicle right now?

- my sex drive has vanished...I don't even want to think about sex...well, I do, but the thought of labouring myself to orgasm at this moment makes me want to vomit more

Thankfully I've had time to think of a few interesting topics...but they'll have to wait until next week. How are you all?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy, uh...Thursday...

Well Happy Valentines Day.

I remember last year, somewhat fondly, somewhat bitterly. It was the first time I'd ever been with someone on Valentines day, and while we didn't go all out, it was still cute and fun to have heat-shaped chocolates, candles, wine and novelty sex dice. Big deal, right?

Then why is there that little twinge of regret that I don't get to do it again this year?

People are mind boggling. Everyone I talked to this week said it's just another day on the calendar, and if you can't be loving to your partner on the other days of the year what's the point in pulling out the stops for a Hallmark holiday?

I do agree in that sentiment, but I don't see the harm in having fun on Valentines Day too. Just make sure you bring flowers, chocolates, etc. on other days, guys, because everyone likes feeling special for no reason on the other days of the year.

But why is it, when the overwhelming majority feel there's no point to Valentines Day, that I had to stand in line for 20 minutes at Godiva yesterday while Lisa bought her boyfriend a box of chocolates? Why were all those people, who look haggared and weather-beaten, buying chocolate by the case with downcast, zombie eyes, simply fulfilling their duty as partner? Isn't everyone getting beyond that!?

People are obviously saying one thing, and doing something very different. Even Laura, my roommate, told me that she doesn't care. "Why should I, it's not special, it's not from the heart," she said, telling me that she's not doing anything to mark the day with her boyfriend.

Oh, I should mention her boyfriend doesn't live in the city, and is coming in tonight to spend the evening with her.

Oh, probably should also mention that there's a bag of Hershey goodness sitting on the floor near the foot of her bed.

Right. Another person who's 'not really doing anything'.

I can't say that I didn't get any Valentines messages, though. This morning my mother told me "Happy Valentines Day!" in an overly cheery manor. I just grunted.

Even though the vast view of couples is that Valentines Day is stupid, why is it still that the vast majority of singles feel that distinct singling-out on days like today? Sure, some may toe the line that being in a relationship shouldn't have it's own day, and there's noting wrong with

Last year I posted some ultra-campy lyrics from 'The Rose'. I still love the song, and yes, it's campy as all hell, but the lyrics are simple and sweet.

"...far beneath the winter snow,
lies the seed that with the sun's love,
in the spring,
becomes the rose."

And here I thought I would find that depressing today. I don't, really, at least not in the brightness of mid-afternoon. Matter of fact, I feel sorta optimistic. I'm definitely piled under a mound of winter snow, but maybe it's only a matter of time before the sun starts melting it away. Sort of a nice idea.

But come cold winter night, I might be singing a different tune.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Homoerotic advertising and you...

Abercrombie and Fitch smells like good sex to me.

Of course, I finally figured out why...someone I once knew wore their cologne. Every time I would walk by the open cabana doors at an A&F store, that scent would creep out and attack my senses, practically giving me a hard on. Not to mention the extra-larger than life, mainly nude posters they have hanging in their doorway.

I'll freely admit the store terrifies the living shit out of me. It basically screams "Store for cool kids only". I had no idea what lurked behind those black shuttered sex? Probably not, but I never cease to feel this uneasy, unwanted feeling when I walk past their doors.

One day I did muster up the interest, courage and timing to go in and visit. In some ways I understand why the clothes are so others I'm still baffled. The colours and cuts of fabric are wonderful; bright and catchy without being horribly 'faux-cheery' eyebleeders, often cut to fit close on the body. (Either that, or the guys I see wearing their stuff buy too small...but damn, it looks good!)

Of course, there is the bad how completely repetitive the selection becomes. Once you've seen one of their tees, you've seen them all, except they come in 38 different colours. On the 'yikes' side, they sell the most hideous plaid/checked pants that on most people hideous plaid/checked pants.

As I ventured into this uncharted territory, not really knowing what to expect, I felt somewhat more calm. Of the few shoppers inside, most were around my age, and most didn't look like completely ripped lunkheaded jocks. But still, I felt like I was a hobo walking through the rich neighborhood, brushing past the fake plants and racks upon racks of polos.

While I started out looking at the clothing, even finding a polo I did quite like, I became ever more aware of the decor. I did not pass by a wall that was not splashed with the photos of a bare-chested, 'all American' beauty standing on a beach.

They were everywhere...some headless, some with God-like facial structures, sometimes even in groups. Eyes already widened because of the lack of interior lighting, I gawked at the portraits hanging on the walls.

I then started to notice the mannequins set up sporadically through the store. In each case, they were cast from an ultra-defined body; not something you would think steroids created but still something so utterly unbelievably well proportioned. Again, they were all bare-chested. Some had shirts on, but unbuttoned and pulled back. Others, vests hung in a similar fashion. One had nothing at all on, except a simple necklace, and a pair of shorts.

I was either in gay heaven or straight men's hell.

But can someone explain the marketing theory behind A&F's store, print ad's and displays?

If I was trying to entice straight males into buying my clothes, I would attempt to have my models look as 'down-homey' as possible. Sure, they'd still be models, but I'd probably keep their shirts on for more of the shots. Also, by hanging a few women off of them, I would think that could help encourage men to buy my clothes, as a sex attractant.

But A&F has seemingly disregarded this entirely. Their models are so beautiful they must be practically unreal. The fact that they're almost nude also adds to the confusion...aren't they trying to sell these hundreds of shirts that are lining the racks? If so, why is everyone running around in various stages of undress?

On top of that is the sheer size of their posters. I stood beside the abs of one model, which consisted of the entire photo, and realized how huge it was...practically 10 feet across. Straight guys are getting one awfully big view of other men's bodies.

Maybe the idea is to pander to the subconscious/buried homoerotic attraction that many straight men pretend not to have.

After leaving, I couldn't get over how insanely gay the entire store is. It's practically a gay playground...all they need is a pool and a bar and they'd be set.

But why is it so damn popular? What is the point of these practically-gay-porn ad's, that are targeted at young 'straight' men?

I didn't end up buying the polo, for a few reason. Mostly, because I didn't want to spend the $70 that day. But also, I didn't want to have to try it on, to have to wait in a lineup (if you can believe it) to see if their Medium is a real Medium like I fit everywhere else, or some unattainably different sizing.

I won't lie, I'd like to believe that one of their shirts would make me more appealing. I definitely have seen guys wearing nothing but a simple A&F tee, perfectly sized on their bodies, and found myself even more interested. So maybe one day, this summer, I'll break down and buy something. It probably won't work, but hey, I do like their colours.

Until then, I'll enjoy their ads from afar.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I wanna hold your hand...

Why do you sometimes have the knee-jerk reaction to hate someone elses' happiness?

I'm not talking about hating the guy who won the lottery, or the woman who stole your promotion. It's not even a hate, really, just a mild burning sensation that you correct yourself and readjust to a more happy, pleasant tone.

Of course, I'm talking about finding out someone you know/dated/went out with/whatever is now in that magical state of 'a relationship'.

It happened to me just a few days ago. While sitting through yet another class, trying to pass the time and pick myself up out of the winter blahs, I was kicking around on Facebook when it hit me. Twice.

The first was a guy who I'd sorta been on a date with, but after a bizarre set of circumstances ended up not seeing again. He was interesting, very cute but not necessarily my type. He also had amazing hair, it just really set off the rest of his features. Of course, I never really found out what would have happened, so who knows, right?

As I was scrolling through Facebook, I noticed that happy little heart indicator sitting beside his name. For a moment, I just sat there. Then, that creeping heat crawled through my chest...huh? He's dating someone? Nay, in a 'relationship' with someone? And he couldn't have found the time to get back to me way-back-when!? Bastard!

Of course, it seemed stupid after I had this flash of disappointment/anger/sadness/lonliness/disparaging/etc., because it's a worldwide phenomenon, this habit people have of getting into relationships. I seem to have been bread with a natural relationship repellent, so I've always been jealous of random people who are happily paired.

But this...this is a different level of surprise. This was someone that things could have worked with. I could have been the other person in the relationship. Instead, I'm delegated to seeing, via Facebook, that someone else has gotten their slice of happiness.

After the initial surprise wore off, I realized how much of an asshole I was being. Through many years, all the way back to high school, I tried to maintain the positive outlook on the situation. I used to, and still do, love to see my friends happy. That includes when my friend, exes and dates wind up with someone they do really like, I feel happy for them. It's nice to see that someone gets that experience, right?

So I shrugged off my stupidity...and took wicked glee when I noticed several days later that his status had magically disappeared as quickly as it had appeared...and chalked it up to me being self-centred, stupid and a jackass.

But when it happened again in the same week, and with even stranger circumstances, I couldn't help but feel the flash of jealousy once more.

This time it was yet another person I'd seen a bit of...but one, again, that didn't really go anywhere. He fell off the face of the earth, more or less, and I just took that as a sign things weren't clicking. Two days after the first guy, his status in Facebook changed as 'in a relationship'.

I was puzzled, and again sorta hurt, in a stupid way. Why is it that yet another person who was in my life at one moment has suddenly found themselves in a relationship, right after the other guy!?

Naturally, I did the internal kicking of myself, thinking how stupid I was being and how it really didn't matter...and how I should just be happy for the guy instead of being so caught up with myself...all the while scouring his Facebook for evidence of the new boyfriend.

My jaw hung loose when I got to reading his wall, where someone had posted a comment asking if he, "...Met HER in one of your classes, or just at school?"

As the air escaped my chest, I tried to keep myself from drawing any attention. The person sitting next to me looked over briefly, then back to their screen.

How could this have happened? The most submissive of boys, gay through and through, convinced of the fact he was a 'total bottom', was now dating a girl? couldn't be. But there it was.

Again, I fought to reign in my wild imagination, my crazy thoughts and distaste for the situation. I have to say, me being me, I did a pretty good job of it, and only thought about it twice after the fact...

Valentines Day is around the corner. Yes, it's a stupid holiday. No, we don't need some 'day' on the calendar to tell us to treat the special person in our life 'extra-special', because really, if you can't do that during the rest of the year, what's the point?

Last year marked the very first Valentines that I got to spend with someone else. It was nothing sort of fascinating, complete with chocolate hearts, cards, sexy dice, candles and lots of sex. This year...the outlook doesn't seem so rosy. And it didn't help to see that not one, but two people who had made passing moments in my life had found someone else who is presently making a mark.

But from somewhere I'm pulling out my old high-school optimism, complete with naive perspective and sorta-genuine good will, for as long as I can muster it. So that means any of you in relationships, dating someone, or even in the first throws being pursued by someone should be happy for yourselves, because I'm happy for you. Realize what you've got going for you, even if you think you don't want it.

Because chances are, someone else does.

Friday, February 8, 2008

"Maybe you could..."

I was asked the strangest thing the other day - for help.

Not just any help, mind you. That's not strange, and I'll gladly give it. I was asked for gay help. From me.

It all went down at a casual get together last week. I was there with a few people I knew, and a lot of people they knew. We were having a good time chatting, and I was surprised to find myself in a few different conversations. Pleasantly, mind you, because I do love talking to approachable, open, likable people.

I of course instantly knew the gay boy in the room, who sat chatting with a few girls. He was pretty quiet through the night, and didn't really speak to me. His whole appearance was cute, in this innocent, boyish way. He was even 20, which surprised me since he looked a lot younger.

Me being me, that is to say, inept at engaging in anything longer than a "Hey" with a gay guy, sat on the sidelines of his conversation, not really paying much attention until a mutual friend swung herself over his crotch, wrapped her arms around his head and started talking to him. I laughed a little...why do women love to straddle gay guys?...that is to say, until she finished her conversation with him and promptly plopped down on my lap.

"Well hi there," I said, laughing. She giggled, and we started chatting about nothing, her hands cupped behind my neck. This didn't bother me, because I know her well enough and really do quite like her. The only problem in the situation was that she was the wrong sex...had she been a guy I may have been giving the situation a much different approach.

Time wore on and she slid off, sitting next to me and talking to other people. I went back to a conversation on my left, until I noticed that she had now lay the gay guy on to her chest, and was pulling on my arm, dragging me into the fray. All three of us were quite drunk at this point, and we were laughing and making mindless conversation. She introduced me to the guy, sitting three inches from my face and developing an interesting look in his eyes.

We talked for a few minutes like that, then all rolled off and went back to our other chats. But again, moments later, she was sitting on my knee.

"You know that guy," she said to me. "Well, he's sorta new. Really new, actually, doesn't go out much or stuff like that. Maybe you could, uh, talk with him?"

My eyebrows raised involuntarily. Wait...she wanted me to take this guy out on the town, show him the gay sights and introduce him to the community? I would have laughed out loud, if I wasn't so shocked. I mean, I don't purport to know anything about anything gay, yet here I was being asked for advice.

"Well..." I said awkwardly, glancing over at him. "I would, for sure. But see, the thing is...I'm pretty new myself. Don't know much of anything. Don't know I could be much help, but I'd hang out with him again for sure."

Pretty new as in just fell off the fucking boat
...but hey, apparently I don't broadcast that message...

She nodded and again went off. I laughed a little to myself, seeing the humour in the situation.

Things were dying down, and at the end of the night I said my goodbyes to the two of them. I gave her a hug, and him a straight look in the eye, trying to muster the whole 'unspoken understanding' thing via a piercing gaze.

"I hope I'll see you again soon," I said simply to him. He continued his eye contact and nodded slightly.

"Yeah, me too," he said, deceptively simply but with that whole, 'Bet your ass I will' feeling behind it.

I laughed for the rest of the night at the thought of me being a gay guide. But who knows, maybe if we strike up a bit of a friendship, anything could wind up happening.

But for the moment, I'll puzzle over how I became 'Steve - the gay in the know'.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Hear this...

I happened to be on the subway this morning when it was overrun with kids.

After 25 I lost count as well as the free seat next to me...and gained a bashed knee, scuffed shoe and a series of giggles and stupid looks.

They must have been around grade 6 or 7. I didn't know where they were going, and their teachers seemed less than worried about their behavior. Guess they've done this before. Hell, for me as a kid, the subway would have been a formidable opponent...but then again I'm not from 'round these parts', as the saying goes.

While I sat there, listening to my iPod and pretending children weren’t swarming me, a few observations popped into my head.

Mostly, I realized how your place in life is sometimes a nearly consistent thing. There were the dominating boys personalities, laughing loudly and smashing about like the heterosexual numbskulls they most likely are. The bitchy girls who stood in a clique near the door, talking and laughing cattily while casting glances out to the crowd. There were the quiet ones...oh, how I know about the quiet ones...who sat politely, observing their surroundings, drinking in the scene.

The kid that sat next to me was the token, slightly-chunky kind. Not to trivialize him with the label 'token', but that's what it seemed at first.

While I watched them interact, I got the sense as I have many times recently, that these kids were pretty much set in their life positions. Sure, we grow and change, and occasionally break out of the mould, but think about yourself. Weren't you more or less the same person then as you are now (albeit possibly happier now that you're older and above all that)?

During the Christmas break I had the good fortune to spend time with people from High School that I had not been with for some time. While we were sitting around the pub tables (not cafeteria tables anymore, thank you) I noticed how really nothing had changed. The ditzy girl, the one who like to be dramatic, the quite one, the agreeable one...they were all the same. The boys, too, had not changed, some still too hot under the collar, others mellow and friendly and all too agreeable.

It struck me during all of this, as well as this morning, that we must really have almost everything set into our brains at a very young age, and just read off the same sheet for the rest of life. The circumstances may be different, and our responses at time surprising even to us, but ultimately when left alone, unchallenged, we fill the same rolls as we did in elementary school and beyond.

Not that this is a depressing thing, or should be taken in a bad way. It's just an observation I've made over the past few months, in repeated circumstances with repeated different groups of people, that seems to reiterate my findings.

Of course, I look at myself. Just today, I was hanging out in a professor's office, talking about school and his retirement and how time goes by. At one point he looked at me so sincerely, in a way that I sometimes used to be addressed by important teachers in my life, with his eyes open and honest. "You've really grown these past few years," he said. "You're a lot more comfortable. It's good, I see good things for you."

It was nice to hear, actually very well timed too. I had been thinking lately that maybe I wasn't on the right track. I used to get pep talks like that every now and then from teachers I respected, and they meant a lot because it takes more than a friendly word to earn my respect. This man today is probably the single most important professor I've had in university, and to hear him telling me his honest opinion felt wonderful.

I made this argument that we don't really change from our set positions, then I naturally exempt myself from my own opinions. But I'd make the argument that actually I fill the same role as I did in high school and elementary school, more or less. I still feel like a bit of an outcast, never quite sure why I'm not in the popular, social group. I'm smarter than most, to put it bluntly, and though we all say it's a quality that we admire, the bottom line is it does differentiate you from others, and not always to your benefit.

But I feel like I've grown from that scared boy in grade 6, changed. Of course I have...we all do...but I see moments where I think, "This wouldn't have been me, my response, at other times in life."

I wanted to pull out my earphones on the subway, turn to this kid beside me and look him in the eye. I wanted to pass on something, anything that would ease his burden in life. But what would my message be? What could I say that would make him feel better, to ease him onto what I would believe is the right track?

Of course I kept my earphones on, and the kids got off a few stops later. I gave a glance to my seat-mate as he walked through the doors, a little behind everyone else. Things started to come to me.

"Take life at your speed," would be my first piece of advice. "Don't let anyone push you to do things you're not ready for. But keep an open mind, and when you're ready, dive in headfirst. You will look back on this awkwardness and see how much you've changed for the better, and how it really didn't matter. Be yourself, grow within yourself, and just learn to let go."

That was what I decided my brilliant stream of advice, heartfelt to the core, would have been. Because I believe it, when I look back in my mind at the person I was.

But if that's true, then why can I not look past the awkwardness of my life today?