COLUMN | SUMMER '18

...Y'ALL!
 
 
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@PICASSOMOOORE
PHOTOS by BRENDON HAWKINS

…Y’all! I’m back! It’s been six months since I last bequeathed you my snark and wisdom, and when last we spoke, my skin was terrible, I was an aspiring twink, I was adding items to my “save for later” page on ASOS instead of going to therapy and I was typing the draft for the first edition of my column on the day it was due during my lunch break at IKEA. To be honest, not a whole lot has changed. You know what? That’s not true. So much is different. My skin is much better thanks to some wholesale Canadian serums and get this: drinking water (have y’all heard about water?). I’ve lost 13 pounds (it was an unintentional side effect of poverty and stress, but I’ll take it) and I have this new super-healthy way of dealing with my problems where I just talk to myself while I walk down the streets of New York (the trick is to wear headphones so everyone thinks that you're on a phone call), and I no longer work at IKEA (a girl hurt my feelings so I just never returned, because: #duh). See, y’all? Everything has changed. Even the draft for this edition of my column. I’m not sending it on the day it’s due; that's so winter 2017. We’re in summer 2018 now, so y'all already know…it’s three days late.


I know, I know, but change is funny that way, isn't it? It doesn't necessarily mean improvement. The idea of the future goes down easier if it’s sweet, so we tend to dip “change,” and words like it in our false sense of control and then sprinkle some powdered idealism on top because that seems so much more palatable. But the truth is that the word “change” is neutral and solely indicates that there has been motion… and y’all, since last I bequeathed you in the winter of 2017 (full disclosure: In an effort to expand my vocabulary, I downloaded a word of the day app and “bequeath” was today’s word, so it, or some tense of it, will more than likely show up in this weeks “…Y’all!” tens of times), there certainly has been motion. Picture a self-destructive humming bird with epilepsy and a kryptonite-level weakness for dom bears in their mid 50s. Thats been me since I delivered my last (wait for it)... bequeathing (told you)... constantly in motion.


Let’s see, there was IKEA, Whole Foods, Forever 21, and Zara. During and in between those coin collections there was Reggie, André, several Grindr non-anyones, Dwayne, and Tony. I spent the winter hopping from gig to gig and dick to dick. It was cold, it was sad, y’all…it was me. But then the seasons transitioned. Maybe there is something to the whole “seasonal affective disorder” thing. I mean, I’ve been dismissive of it for two reasons. One: It’s an acronym for S.A.D. and that gets on my nerves on a cellular level. Seriously, people who speak in catch phrases or riddles, or who are always offering lazy sayings and colloquialisms as antidotes to complex problems need to be given a taxation increase. And two: The people who reference how hard it is to function in the cold months are usually thirteen-year-old, white Tumblr users from Wyoming who think that “indie" is a legitimate music genre classification. But, setting my secret jealousy of the white thirteen-year-olds of Wyoming aside, I find it to be indelible that I got my happy(ish-ness) back just as summer came around the bend. (If I’m honest, I just want to go back and recapture that part of myself. At thirteen I discovered the writings of Susan Faludi and the music of Lana Del Rey and had an eruption of caucasian pretentiousness.)

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I’m torn. You’ll recall that my last bequeathing proclaimed that I am a pink Starburst—full of juicy contradictions. This S.A.D shit is a prime example. I feel that I’ve experienced something that I don't think is real. My head and heart have been like Kenya and NeNe for as long as I can recall. Both trying to outdo one another and secure the unofficial title of star of the show, rarely agreeing on anything, and making their positions on everything KNOWN. I can recall crawling off of the rock that the shelter for thrown-away baby queers calls a bed and looking out the window to see snow. There was no debate, no back and forth. There was only my warped wintery version of logic. If it’s cold outside, we don't participate in life. Logic. The darker the sky was the darker I felt, and I remember feeling so very dark. My disbelief that the weather or the hue of the city could inform my mood didn't seem to matter. I couldn't leave. Not even for money. It was just too awful outside.


During the cold months I had two relapses, an HIV scare (Word of advice: When you get PrEP you should, like, I don’t know, actually take it. Don't just let it sit in the bottle and then proceed to sit on every dick that is offered to you. Second word of advice: Use a condom!), I stopped writing, and I lost a good friend. Something about those months was particularly difficult for me but the warm months, with their beautiful kickass, golden-hour selfie light, changed everything. I had a blossoming, of 1998 Madonna proportions. I mean, a Ray of Light (side note: everyone always says that’s Madonna’s best album, but it’s actually Bedtime Stories) hit me and like a flower, or my asshole when I see a bearded dominican, I bloomed. When the sun was up high in the sky, when the coffee was put on ice, when the birds got to flapping and chirping and doing their damn thang, I was alive. Sobriety stopped being a chore and went back to being a lifestyle, I stopped being so promiscuous (— a lie by: Picasso Moore), words began to pour out of me, and new people whom I have grown to respect and adore entered my life. It can't be a coincidence that my depression began to melt away just as the ice on the streets did. Can it?

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What am I even asking? I mean of course it is. It’s totally a coincidence. Just because it tracks well as a floral or anal metaphor (which it totally does y’all. I mean, that imagery was beyond solid. Someone get me a publishing deal with Interscope records. I should be writing pop songs.) doesn't make it real. Snow doesn't make you depressed and the sun doesn't make you happy. I know that. So now I find myself wondering: What triggered that change? Speaking of change, it’s now 1:05am. My draft is now officially four days late. #cute.

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You know what? I don't think it’s seasonal. Lets scratch that. I think it’s synergistic. I was 9 when I realized that it was hard for me to be happy and I remember that it was the “circumstantial,” not atmospheric. It was this dreadful convergence of things that made me feel like I was feeling to much. I felt obligated to take care of things—of people; to function as an adult because my mother wasn't always able to. It was the pressure. The excruciating pressure to fix things that often weren't even tangible, combined with an overwhelming feeling of dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction with things that all too often were tangible. When I was a child I lusted for the comfort of things I couldn’t afford and I ached for this thing I had heard rumors about but never experienced myself: autonomy. A decade and a half of lusting and aching, that’s what initially made me sad, not S.A.D. Sadness followed me through adolescence and across state lines like a cloud. Still hovering over me after my move to New York, still casting a shadow over burgeoning love and new career opportunities, just constantly ignoring Barbra’s instructions and raining on my goddamn parade!


My mood changed when my mind did and my mind changed when I had new experiences. The months since I bequeathed the literary juggernaut that is “…Y’all!” were filled with all the the cold, sad things I mentioned, but they were also peppered with experiences that released, no, redistributed all that pressure. I’m breaking my strictly enforced no flip-flop rule and changing those descriptors because it's definitely still there. The pressure I mean. The excruciating pressure is still there but now it feels formative. Like the kind that makes diamonds (you all the way have to read the word diamonds in Maya Rudolph’s voice. In the event that you're not familiar with the way the queen of black girl freckles says the word diamonds you all the way have to open a new tab, YouTube it, and then after you finish laughing, catch your breath and comeback to read the rest of “…Y’all!’ y’all). The pressure, doesn't feel like something that'll crush me, but rather like a force that will shape me into something new. Oh, and that overwhelming feeling of dissatisfaction is ever present as well, but it’s…changed. Again, not necessarily improved, but shifted.


It started in Hudson. The team at Tenth Magazine (ever heard of them?) invited me on a production trip. We were shooting images for “The Romantics” Issue (which you should totally order a copy of y’all because I wrote a piece in it about my first love that you should read and then DM me on Instagram immediately after so I can give you his address and we can coordinate sending him hate mail together). Conjuring adjectives for what I felt leaving that trip is difficult because each one that I insert feels inadequate. Let’s just say it was a landmark in my life. Through all the disastrous-ness (there will never not be unforeseen disastrous-ness when I am involved), it was a landmark.


I was unaware of it at the time, but I was at the beginning of what would go on to be a week and a half of food poisoning. My stomach was speaking Hebrew and I spent the trip zipping back and forth in a van to various shoot locations and trying to negotiate with the mosh pit in my guts. There was also the matter of the photographer who I could not stop riding in my mind. Y’all, when I say that this man looked liked like if Power Top were a superhero… I am not being hyperbolic. Every instruction I was given by my editors had to be repeated to me several times because my attention was not where it was supposed to be. Y’all, his pants were so tight.


Then there was the dinner party that I was invited to with two editors from Buzz mutha’ FUKKing Feed and an editor from INTO at which I spent the duration of the meal eyeballing everyone's wine glass and scratching my arm instead of making a FUKKing impression. Y’all, the black queer brilliance of this table was at capacity. The conversations were so timely, lively, and cerebral they could have been dialogue from an Aaron Sorkin script. I had so many thoughts but I just sat there like a kid at the adults table. To top it all off, later, in a panic move to get out of going into a bar, I told everyone that I forgot to pack some things and took a 40 dollar Uber to the nearest Walmart two towns over only to buy some candy and the October issue of Vogue that featured a non-anything cover of Rooney Mara and, ironically, a cover story on how fashion is getting Romantic.

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But y’all, not even all of that could sully this trip. Even in the midst of a piping hot mess, the mundane still felt heightened...out of body even. The group of us walking to get waffles was just, so editorial (side note: I will kick a child if someone can get me a stack of those honeysuckle lavender waffles from MOTO in Hudson, NY). Everything was intentional. From the cruelty-free beeswax candles at the dinner party, to the minimalist-meets-rustic apartment we stayed in (it was owned by a black queen and was literally the epitome of #vibes; for real y’all, there was a trumpet set on the floor for no reason other than decor), to the images and art we were creating. I was with a group of people who had created a life of creativity for themselves. They owned businesses and homes and dressed well and were hot, and knew who to call to get access to mansions to use as backdrops for photoshoots with boys in dresses. They all had the lives they wanted and they were all like me. I had never seen anything like that before. I left that trip feeling so goddamn happy. So y’all already know…I came back to New York and quit my job.


I was feeling inspired. Like the life that I wanted to live, the one comprised of name-brand cetaphil and bottomless sparkling water, was within reach. I knew it could be mine because I had seen a group of people like me make it theirs. Joy was in me and shooting out of me… and then as quick as a cloud covering the sun, it wasn’t. As November became December and December became January I got sad again. “It’s all the dark days” I offered to myself. “The lack of sun is giving you vitamin-D deprivation and that’s why life has no flavor.” But that wasn't it at all.


I came back to the city feeling so happy that I wanted to eliminate anything that didn't add to that. I refused to settle for anything less than that Hudson Tingle (“Hudson Tingle” is the lead single off of an album I’m releasing in my mind and as such is trademarked... in my mind. I threatened this when I bequeathed you last but if you steal it, I will sue you to death). Punching a clock and spending my days helping other people make their lives beautiful made me feel like shit. I thought quitting IKEA would change things. Turns out even though sweets go down easy, they’re bad for you. It was getting colder and colder outside and I was doing the same inside. As I bounced from job to job and dick to dick, I blamed the weather but that so wasn't it y’all. The season was the backdrop but my choices were the focus of the scene. The domino effect is clear in hindsight but when I was in it, all I saw was things crashing around me.

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Of course I was sad, I’d blown up my life. I had no money so stress only makes sense. With no schedule to adhere to, it’s no wonder I spent all my time in the bed. God I wish I had the present me to bequeath wisdom upon the past me because since I got on my Kylie Jenner and started “like realizing stuff” I’m basically a child gymnastics prodigy. I’ve been hard at work trying to achieve balance. That’s what I want. Y’all know, that thing that can make it easier to send your draft to your editor on time? Balance. I want to find a way to make NeNe and Kenya understand that the show is an ensemble. That they both bring something different to the table and they can be so compelling to watch when they're on the same side.


This summer, I’ve been hard at work trying to become the person who has an inspiring week and returns home to build on their life, not blow it up. The type of person who takes responsibility for their actions and maintains control of their life. And you know what? It’s working. I’ve got a new day job at Steve Madden that I love, an actual tangible book is in my near future, lately I’ve been opting for sautéed kale over pizza, and I was finally able to shake my secret shameful fandom of Iggy Azalea. I’m becoming the person that I want to be all while maintaining the essence of who I am. I’m still violently impatient, rude, anxious, and generally a mess, but for the first time since I was nine, I’m also happy(ish). It’s not the seasons that are making me bloom, it’s me. I’m in control and absolu—oh my god it’s raining y’all. You know what? I’ll bequeath y'all in two weeks. Lemme go take a nap.