The Rob Wohl Story

For those of you not in the know, Rob Wohl is my dear friend, running buddy, roommate and straight man. He is The Man Of Many Meetings. The Vanguard Of White Liberal Guilt. The Protector Of Semi-Relevant Leftist Ideologies.  A K-Pop Scholar and much more. Here is a list of the titles for the many volumes of Rob Wohl’s Memoirs.

 

Rob Wohl

1.You’ve Made A Powerful Enemy Today
2. Our fight is freedom; the Nate Turner Rebellion: The Rob Wohl Story
3. Death Camps For Whitey
4. Unbearable Whiteness of Being
5. So Much Guilt So Little Time
6. Sophie’s Choice

sophie's choice
7. “We’ve Figured Out What We’re Going To Fight About” A Love Story
8. Maybe It Would Be Better If I Knew Less About The World
9. Kill Whitey
10. Its Wasn’t A Crime, It Was Just A Clash Of Cultures
11. It’s Been Said That Rob Wohl Is A Powerful Social Vector For Change
12. Prom King of Occupy
13. The Rob Wohl Story Vol. 6 “Its Been Real”
14. Capital 2
15. How I Saved The Bees and Other Stories
16. Just Do It Boo!
17. It Came To Me When I Was High
18. How Did You Get Into This Line Of Work [And other things I ask strippers]
19. He Said Yes. The Rob Wohl Story

angry
20. Collective Residual Anger The Rob Wohl Story
21. Fear And Loathing In Ikea
22. The Rob Wohl Story Vol 1: Destroying the Petty Bourgeois Ideology About the Political Neutrality of Childhood
23. The Patriarchy Is Insecure
24. Whatever Cracker You’re Just Jealous
25. How Can I Have Privilege If Sometimes I’m Sad: The Rob Wohl
26. If Opinion Were Ass Holes: The Rob Wohl Story
27. On The Yuppie Question

condecend

28. I’ll Condescend To Your Juvenile Politics Later
29. OWS may have failed as a social movement, but hey I got laid

30. Constant State Of Arousal: My Life With Sophie Vick
31. Die Yuppie Scum
32. Unsubscribe, Rob, Choose Life!
33. A Contribution To Hegel’s Critique Of Weed and Gundam
34. Rob Wohl Story Vol 7 “The Great Facebook Drought”
35. Full Fucking Communism
36. Hating So Hard [The Rob Wohl Story]

I Reject Your Bourgeoisie Notions and Other Potential Titles For My Memoir

Swagger Like Us

1.My life in the Smaller Yet Still Impressively Vast Left Wing Conspiracy
2. The New New Negro
3. Blacker Than Obama
4. The Blackest Man Around—Why All My Friends Are White
5. The Unbearable Boughieness of Being
6. Vegan Straightedge in the Era of Beer and Bacon
7. Vegan Straightedge [and other things I’ve tried for a month]
8. What Happens to a Dream Defaulted?
9. Why didn’t anyone comment on that post? [and other things that stress me out]
10. Faking It Till I Marry Someone Whose Made It
11. Das Yo Family [Life As “Those People”]
12. Rarified Air—Growing Up Black at 6,800 ft
13. Ashy Elbows
14. Good Morning Philosophy, its Aaron
15. Impenetrable Darkness
16. An Unexplained Fear—The Phobias That Shaped My Life
17. Charmingly Neurotic
18. Uncorrected Proof
19. If These Sweats Could Talk
20. My Presence Here Is Charity
21. Never Do For Yourself What Other Are Willing To Do For You—and other advice I gave my niece
22. Unless You Find Yourself In Dire Need of the Friendship of White Person: Avoiding Camping At All Cost
23. Get Some Order About Yourself: The Buddy Boy Years
24. Natural Born Wingmyn
25. How Not Okay Is This?
26. Rosy Doesn’t Have Black Gums—Aaron Goggans The Elementary School Years
27. “Why Are You Still Crying?”—Aaron Goggans The Middle School Years
28. “Wait, You’re On the Football Team?”—Aaron Goggans the High School Years
29. “So, Are You Gonna Comb Your Hair Or….” –Aaron Goggans The College Years
30. “Guerrilla Pooping…That’s All I’m Saying” –Aaron Goggans Campus Organizer
31. But He’s Such A Nice Guy…
32. Just Throwing This Out There
33. It’s Not Who You Know or What You Know… Its Who Knows Your Sister
34. Ashy and Unapologetic
35. I Blame The Schools
36. It Makes Sense If You Don’t Think About It

Dear Modern Day Feminists with Successful Professional Careers

[***disclaminer this satire…well…its funny and not meant to be taken seriously….unless you want to go on a date with me…then it’s kinda serious….***]

 

IMG_2116

Dear modern day feminist with successful professional careers,

I know dating is very difficult for you. You’re beautiful, intelligent and driven which means you have high standards and precious little free time to spend weeding through semi-inebriated young professionals at the crowded and loud Happy Hours frequented by your profession. I get it. I’m here to make sure your laundry gets done, cook you warm meals and take care of your [by which I mean our] children while you’re busy leaning in. There is no need for you to balance a career, hobbies, hosting parties and children…that’s what husbands are for.

I’ve read enough reviews of Sheryl Sandberg’s book on jezebel to know that one of the many problems of “leaning in” is that it makes it difficult to have the things that make life worth living, namely fulfilling and sustaining friendships and family. Yet what is an ambitious and driven young woman such as yourself to do in today’s modern landscape of 24/7 hours e-mails, virtual conference calls at 3 p.m. Tokyo time and astronomically priced [and sub-par] child care services?

Well, you can either attempt have it all and end up neurotically plunking all of your eyebrow hair every quarter or marry a man secure and strong enough to hold on to the belt of your pant suit and prevent your from leaning in too far.

 

Hi, my name is Aaron Goggans.

I am a single, childless, graduate of University of Chicago who also happens to be an employed African American 25 year old man standing about 5 feet 9 inches tall. I want many things out of life and I consider myself to be very ambitious. However, I don’t want to work [not because I’m lazy mind you]. I hate capitalism and used to view a 9-5 as the most perversely necessary and evil of necessary evils until I thought “is it really necessary for me to work?”

I would like to spend my time volunteering to help those who need it, raising children and supporting you in your chosen career. That’s right. I want to be a house husband. More specifically, I want to be your house husband.

Don’t get me wrong, I have my own goals. For instance, I’d like to write a novel [I’m a currently a freelance writer and my resume with list of publications is attached] but all of these goals are secondary to my desire to be a kind, loving, and supportive husband and father. I love children and after spending my post-collegiate twenties hopping from coffee shop to used bookstore like a character in a Dandy Warhols’ song, I’m ready to settle down and start a family. It is my hope, after reading this cover letter and attached resume, that one of you lovely women would consider marrying me.

I have very few requirements for a life partner. I am open to any race, ethnicity or religious background. I prefer high powered non-profit attorneys, human rights attorneys, politicians, successful writers and artist though I’m also willing to consider seasoned teachers, tenured professors, mid to high level civil servants. As long as my partner is an avid reader, critical thinker, enjoys open and honest communication, and is open to having or adopting children and of course, fine with carrying at least 95% of the families financial burden, I’m good.

I should say that I am an exceptional [and improving] chef, a decent [and coach-able] maid, amazing with children [taught children with special needs for two years], and very good and hosting dinner parties as well as talking up professional women at work events. I am a surprisingly good networker and conversationalist willing to be perfect First Man to your every executive ambition. I

f you are interested please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you shortly. We can go Dutch on the first three dates but after that all further dates, social events, vacations and engagement rings must be funded by your ambitious career.

Thank you for your time, and your consideration.

Your future fiancé,
Aaron Goggans

We Laugh So That We Don’t Cry

Pam B Office

 

Earlier this week I sat down to watch an episode of the Office with my roommate. It was an early season of the office, one that I hadn’t watched in few years. I had forgotten just how sexist the “Pam is so hot” subplots are in the office: Michael Scott staring at Pam’s breasts, telling her to be hotter, asking her to show more skin. I was laughing at the first couple until I realized that they just kept coming and coming. I looked over at my friend and she was not laughing. I began to feel uncomfortable at my own laughter. What was it exactly that I found funny about these jokes? Was it the outrageous show of sexism, Michael Scott’s lack of a filter, the cleverness of the writing? I think, deep down inside, I found I enjoyed the ridiculing of this female character and seeing men put themselves above her. It was sad but I didn’t stop watching…
I mentioned to my roommate that I had forgotten how sexist the early episodes of the office were. She gave me a blank look, the kind of look I have been known to give white people laughing at racist jokes. It is a look that can mean a lot of things. The umbrella meaning is best translated as: so do something about it. It is the look marginalized people give dominate groups when they look to those they oppress to take away their guilt. I recognized a few minutes later that that’s what I wanted from her. I wanted her to tell me that it was okay to keep watching, that it didn’t mean I was sexist if I thought it was funny. She didn’t and she should not have been expected to.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that moment and I’ve been replaying my roommate’s look over and over again in my head. It has caused me to think about the ways in which I ask people to assuage my guilt and the ways in which I am expected to do the same for others. It has caused me to think back on all the old habits I learned in Falcon as self defense mechanisms. I have mastered the non-threatening tone, volume and syntax to use around white people that is just Black enough for them to believe it’s real and white enough not scare them. Dropping my g’s and enunciating strategically is almost second nature to me now. I am reminded of all the years I spent subtlety perfecting creating distance from myself and those Black people.
I remember getting into a debate about crime with an older wealthy white man in my native Colorado Springs. I was a teenager in his house, in his space and desperately wanted to be accepted. I remember remarking about how I hate that every time the “Black Community” got up in arms about a police beating the victim was a criminal, a crack addict: someone who deserved it. I used the statement to segway into the fact that it obfuscates the real beatings of innocent Black men, women and children but… I realize now that the second part always fell on deaf ears.

It felt bad at the time…

It still does….

But not being welcomed in that space would have felt worse….

I realize I had mastered this Booker T. Washington like tight rope dance, mitigating white anger to try a slip a few progressive ideas through the fog of white supremacy. It gave me access to white spaces to an amazing degree for someone as dark and not-wealthy as myself while allowing me to not completely whitewash who I desperately wanted to be. I went into National Honor Society meetings, Parade of Champions award nights, and eventually the University of Chicago still proud of being Black. It seemed like a decent trade off; access to educational privilege at the cost of ignoring white racism. I remember sitting in an AP history class, the only Black student there, and seeing friends, classmates, crushes and even teachers look at me when they told a racist joke or accidently called someone colored. They gave me the same look I gave my roommate, they wanted me to tell them it was okay, that they weren’t really being racist, even though they were.
I learned in elementary school that there was only one way to respond to this look. I learned that if you said that a white person said something racist they wouldn’t invite you to their birthday party. I also learned if you ignored their racism it just got worse and they would eventually stand silently as their other friend called you a nigger and your whole class laughed. I learned if you cried they would just call you a faggot. The only thing you could do was make a joke.
Needless to say, I’ve cultivated a sense of racial humor since the first time a group of white kids laughed at their nigger. Around the same time I learned that white people don’t like it when you bring up race, you have to wait for them to bring it up first. I also learned [the hard way] that black people and white people have a very different definition of what it means to “bring up race.” For my white friends growing up, code words like urban people, inner-city poverty, “people from Fountain” [a personal favorite] were okay but saying Black was vulgar. Yet, as I mentioned before, you had to call white people out on their racism or else it just got worse. So I’ve gotten better, funnier and more nuisanced as time goes on.
I learned another funny fact about white people in the course of avoiding their anger. Liberal white people can be just as segregationist as conservative white people subconsciously. The trick to get liberal white people to say– let you join their study circle without them constantly looking at you like you are going to steal their laptop—is to make them feel guilty. Basically, the best way to combat liberal racism to make them feel guilty about it or, to continue the metaphor, to make a joke about stealing their laptop. Soon guilt will replace suspicion and they will casually go to the restroom and make a point about asking you to watch their laptop. When I really need access into a white space, like a study circle in college, I learned it was best to make my Blackness something not at all scary. Fortunately for me, and I suspect many of other Black kids finding themselves in white spaces, Dave Chappelle was popular at the time. Quoting Dave Chappelle is of course intrinsically rewarding and it is also a great way to show white people you are “down” and not going to get upset at their racism race jokes.
By the way, you can laugh. That last paragraph was funny. I laughed writing it. I laughed because, truth be told, I’d rather not cry.
If I’m honest, and I suppose I should be, I’m really angry. I’m really pissed at how often I am expected to joke and laugh away white racism. How often I’m supposed to pretend that I’m not afraid of white spaces but I am.

Yes.

I said it.

White people scare me.

I have to 25 years of experience telling me that at any moment any white person can assert their whiteness and exclude me from a space, a conversation, a job or even my housing. What scares me most is that much of the time, especially now that I’ve left rural Colorado, white people don’t even know they are doing it. They remain blissfully unaware of their power until I joke about it. Yet every day I have to deal with micro-aggressions that are only micro in a relative sense. They are only micro compared to time my brother got ran off the road by a group of white teenagers cursing at him, compared to the times I had to joke my way out of an ass kicking, micro compared to the times someone threatens to lynch my sister on OkCupid.
Every time I find myself in Virginia I have to walk to through crowds of white people who refuse to acknowledge my humanity, refuse to look me in eye and recognize I am there instead of expecting me to move out of their way. Those looks, those looks through me, terrify me more than the looks of expecting me to say something to assuage white guilt anger me. I have learned, through 25 years of being Black in America, that the look is not only a look of disregard.

It can also be a prelude to violence.

I’m tired of pretending I didn’t have to be afraid of that look or mitigate that look to prevent traumatic emotional or physical harm. I’m tired of arguing with white women about male sexual harassment vs white violence. I’m tired of equivocating my harassment by white people on a daily basis because it’s not polite or is not talked about as often as sexual harassment. I’m tired of talking about those Black people to fit in. I’m tired of worrying about what it means that these jokes are now reflexive and automatic knee jerk reactions. I’m tired of asking women I respect to excuse my sexism…

I’m tired and I’ve run out of jokes…

I’m going to apologize to my roommate when she gets home. What I did was not okay. She will probably say its no big deal.

 

She’ll probably make a joke about it…

Life Before The Revolution

Image For Life Before The Revolution

 

Booing Up When All Your Friends Are Lesbians…& You’re Not

 

 

Here it is…the moment [a few of] you have been waiting for. The debut of my play writing prowess…a comedy of queer proportions…the story my dating life as read by my friends…the hilarity that might could be the DC Queer DIY Punk Scene… one my favorite things I’ve ever created.

This play is a compilation of pieces of my life with the boring taken out, names changed and background slightly rewritten. Most of the dialogue is real. Some of the events happened. All of them could happen…at group house near you. I’m really proud of this play as it represents a lot of personal and artistic growth. Not only is is better writing but it is more honest writing. Some of the truths contained within might surprise people who haven’t talked to me in a while…if that is the case, I encourage you to ask about anything that surprised you.  I will probably write more about this play later and will post the script soon but for now…here is my first ever radio theater comedy podcast!

If you like the music [and really how could you not?] check of Spoonboy and Hot Hyms for more!

 

A Farewell to 2013

Dear Father Time,

We regret to inform you that your daughter, 2013 has died. We want you to know that our thoughts and well wishes are with you on this most difficult of days. We are so lucky to have known your daughter, even though she was a difficult person to know, we literally could not have gone on without her. Personally, I will remember 2013 as the most formative year of my life. My list of personal accomplishments and triumphs this year dwarfs nearly every other year of my life. So, I’d like to honor your daughter with my list of accomplishments:

  1. Your daughter allowed me to find myself by making me too busy to continue looking. She started her life with me being an unemployed and thoroughly depressed former educator, living with his Uncle. She forced me to decide what I wanted to do with my life and most importantly, taught me that happiness is never beyond my reach. She blessed me with a renewed connection to my Chicago Family, without whose support I never would have made it out of Chatham sane. With support from my cousins I was able to move into Su Casa which, though perhaps the single most stressful place I’ve ever lived, was fertile ground for a personal transformation.
  2. I pushed myself to create meaningful, fulfilling relationships with a diverse set of people who took me out of my comfort zone. Working at 57th Street Books proved to be an amazing experience. The people who I worked with were some of the most amazing individuals I have had the pleasure of meeting. We make each other laugh in the face of common enemies and problems too numerous to count. I was fortunate to work with some of kindest, smartest and funniest people I have ever met. I know they are all headed on to do great things and I feel so lucky to have been able to work with them. My time at Su Casa saw the renewal of a cherished Friendship with a veteran of my College organizing days as well several new friendships. Where would I be without my friend, confidant and platonic life partner the Liturgical Michigander! Would I view breakfast the same without the odd mix of hilarity and sexual harassment every morning from the Michigan’s other #1 export? Would the word Freedom instantly bring a smile to my face were it not for Simone? Would I have made it through those harrowingly stressful months without watching Jericho reruns and talking about my childhood until 2 a.m? Not to mention hundreds of Puns, impromptu performances of “Gungdam Style” and the families who taught me that laughter and love are universal languages. Or to mention Germans who proved to be capable sparring partners in fantastical debates and volunteers I met towards the end of my stay who probably think I’m crazy but can at least respect the method [and reason] of my madness.
  3. 2013 saw the rebirth of my creative endeavors and witnessed the largest creative outburst of my life. In the last six months I wrote over 50 post on this blog and sent 6 pieces off for publication [with 1 published and another accepted!] All told 2013 saw me right over 100,000 words! Yes, that’s right, I wrote over 100,000 words in poems, essays on Masculinity, essays on Hip Hop, personal journals and fantasy themed letters to dear friends. I wrote more words for fun this year than in any previous year. And, thanks to my blog, the majority of these words were read by more people around the world than ever before. I have been blessed with readers from around the world. From friends studying in Mexico and the UK to strangers and kindred spirits in Estonia, Brazil, India, Vietnam, Korea, Poland and many other countries. So, 2013 will also go down as the year my insecurities, humor and philosophy went Global! I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank my loyal followers for that. I couldn’t have done it if it were not for friends who showed me what true beauty and unconditional support looks and feels like. From friends who discussed our principles in late night walks through downtown Chicago & who read everything I sent them to my Bay Area friend who gives me a much needed dose of reality. My Oakland comrade who teaches me to strive and taught me that sometimes all it takes to succeed is to have the guts to walk in like you own the place. And of course, my Bay Area native turned Chicagoan who encourages my writing as eagerly as he encouraged my teaching when we worked together in Englewood.
  4. 2013 saw me push past my geographic comfort zone in an all-out sprint towards my dream. 2013 say me move away from my erstwhile muse into the warm embrace of another city. I moved from Chicago to D.C and was greeted by dozens of amazing new friends. From Falcons who go as hard for social justice as they do for Dancing to social innovators fighting for a more just and democratic economy. I have met some truly wonderful new people here. Including some people whose drive, passion and creativity inspires mine. Though my Chicago and Su Casa family can never been replaced, I’m excited to know that I will not be lonely in D.C. I rekindled friendships with old SummerLinks friends, proving that the more things change, the more the stay the same. I’ve been blessed live in same metropolitan area as one of my most faithful snail mail correspondents, proving that sometimes the best friendships are the ones for whom distance matters the least.
  5. 2013 saw me struggle to understand my role as both oppressor and oppressed. I spent a large potion of this year thinking about the intersecting oppressions and privileges that constitute my identity. I like to think a have grown significantly from my first foray into these thoughts from a guilt ridden man to a confident man able to check his privilege more often than not and learn from mistakes when I don’t.
  6. I actively and respectively [if awkwardly] put myself out there. Never before have I gone for it so many times and failed so awkwardly or succeeded so unexpectedly. From awkward confessions of affections to completely disinterested women over NYtimes crosswords to 4 hour long dates that turned into new and exciting relationships 2013 was the year of putting myself out there. So, I may start the this new year as single as I started the last one but I start it with a lot more confidence and comfort in who I am.
  7. I was able to maintain and build upon my oldest and dearest connections. And, given that today is traditionally the day I spend with my two friends for whom Distance matters least to, I’d remiss if I did not give a shout out to The General and House Husband with no kids. My two oldest and dearest friends without whose friendship support and shared memories I would be lost. I was blessed to see the former get married and return safety from war the same the year. I was over joyed at knowing not only that he was safe but that his faithful wife, who I am thankful to count as a dear friend, can rest easier knowing he is back. The latter musketeer finally found love and college degree, while I knew both were inevitable; I am still overjoyed that he has found what he has been seeking for so long.
  8. I grew closer to my familyI developed stronger bounds by biological and informally adopted families. It was a year for learning my about my parents and being there as my friend welcomed his wife into our extended 21st century family. I have received so much support from both my families that it breaks my heart with joy.  2013 was also the year of the Goggans Family. Our arrival was announced by Drake, and we have started our take over. My parents are thriving in one of America’s better kept secrets, my Brother is traveling the world, my sisters are getting it done in D.C and my niece is coming into her own the only way she knows how: loudly and with plenty of style.
  9. I increased my commitment to my ideals. Whether it was by refusing to work in role that was unhealthy or by redoubling my commitment to service, I’m proud that stayed true to what I believe in. I was able to grow and create better, healthier relationships. I’m not perfect and 2013 stands as a testament to that fact as well, but I continued to struggle to live my beliefs despite set-backs and moral failings. I’m living a life closer to how I think it should be lived than ever before.

So, all in all, your daughter 2013 will be sorely missed by us all. Yet, I think 2014 will be Time’s finest year to date. While I know it will bring sadness and hurt, I have no doubt that 2014 will also bring triumph and success. Who knows what adventures I will find myself having in the next 12 months? All I can say is that for this 25 year old, youth will not be wasted on the Young! I look forward to new causes and new friends. Not to mention being excited to see a few old and cherished friends in a few weeks! 2014 is going to be a year for the record books.

So that’s my year in review. How about you? I’d love to hear about what 2013 meant to you. To paraphrase a question from my friend, what did you do this year that you were most proud of?

I Got A Lot Of Problems With You People!

festivus

 

[For all of you who were unable to make it to my festivus party last night, here is my airing of grievances.]

 

My dear dinner guest. My dear Woodys and Wienberger’s, and my dear Yates and Goggans, and Dalbys, and Kollins, and Divacks, and Cohens, and Also my good Sackville-Bagginses that I welcome back at last to Bag End…Er…Anacostia Today is officially Festivus; the satirical oppositional holiday valiantly standing against the oppression of Christmas. As foot soldiers in war against Christmas we gather together all of our darkness, queerness and Marxist rhetoric to pay vitriolic homage to end of White Supremacist Christian Centric Hetero-normative Patriarchy. I hope you are enjoying yourselves as much as I am. I shall not keep you long, I have called you all together for a purpose. Indeed, for three purposes! First of all, to tell you that I am immensely fond of you all, and that I am so fortunate to live among such excellent and admirable people. I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. Secondly, to celebrate Festivus. Thirdly and finally, I wish to make an ANNOUNCEMENT! I regret to announce that- I have a long list of grievances. I know I promised to keep it short but I lied.

 

1.)       To The Snow Flake Theory: Here is to every child and grand-child of the Baby Boom Generation. Here’s to every black rimmed glasses wearing, sandaled, tattooed, pant sagging, God Fearing or Dawkins loving side show freak that wanted to the write the great American Novel. This is for everyone who refuses to conform because they feel that they were born to be different and for every conformists who does it because it’s not cool. Here’s for the teetotalers, for the drunks, the druggies, and the high-on-lifers. This for the weed smokers, the abstainers, the occupiers, the workers and couch potatoes proud to be the grandchildren of the Tool Makers, Stackers of Wheat, Players with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handlers. This for everyone who was told by their parents and grandparents, by their teachers and coaches, and by everyone who ever thought that they could sing or act that they were special. And this, is for everyone, everywhere, struggling under the daily oppression of a society that makes us think average is a dirty word. I’m here to tell you that your gut was right, that nagging feeling telling you that striving to be “more unique” is as pointless as it is absurd, was the one you should have been listening to.  We have become a generation that conforms to nonconformity and is only unique in the sheer ubiquity of our attributes. I’m sorry if I am the first to tell you this but…you’re not that special.  Do not despair. You are in great company. Your boss is also probably not special. Your favorite teacher, your mother, your mailman, your bartender, most congressmen and the lady who cooked your egg Mcmuffin are also, probably, not special.

2.)      To the Extreme Right Wing of the Republican Party, or shall I say, the Crazy Wing of the Grand Ole Party. To all the Neolithic -Conservatives. Tea-Partiers. Ironically Religious Ayn Rand Acolytes. Stop. Just…Stop. I get it. You have spent the last 30 years becoming whiter and whiter. You’ve spent all your energy fleeing the inner city and sending your daughters to Catholic Schools to insure your whiteness. And congratulations, other than your daughter who is dating the Asian woman she met at St. Mary’s and your grandson who inexplicably dropped out of his MBA program to teach in the inner city you have succeed. You are whiter than you have ever been. You make Ronald Reagan look like Malcom X. We applaud your dedication to trying to whitewash America’s Technicolor Quilt even as we hate just about every political action you take.  So, there is good news and there is bad news. The bad news you need to stop…because I hate you and because you are a dying breed. The good news is that your daughter’s girlfriend is awesome and if you stop being crazy, you’ll get invited to Thanksgiving again.

3.)      To the “Radical” Black Nationalists who wear $1,000 Italian Suits while shouting Black Power at “community meetings.” Either donate your suit to the United Negro College fund or sit down and shut up.

4.)      To my beloved family, whom I care for and cherish: If you keep taking my Apple products I swear fore God you will feel my wrath. They are not interchangeable. Mine are still in mint condition, yours are broken…that’s how you tell the difference.

5.)      Last, here is a list of things I don’t like

  1. Chief Keef
  2. Playtionships
  3. Almost irresistible urge to engage trolls online
  4. People who use fake science to justify their faith. I get it, you believe in God. So did Charles Darwin. I don’t want to hear how Methuselah lived so long because the atmosphere used to be ice. Just say you take it on faith and I promise not to question you.
  5. People who don’t understand what the first amendment is
  6. Hipster Racism
  7. Black people who refuse to acknowledge how racist the redskins name is
  8. People who think Obama is Muslim AND that he believes everything Rev. Wright ever said about anything
  9. People who wear socks with sandals
  10. Men who wear sunglasses inside
  11. People who say retarded to mean dumb
  12. Everyone who has every followed a racist statement with “…but I mean, not like you, you know…the OTHER BLACK PEOPLE.”
  13. People who start sentences with, “I’m not racist but…”
  14. People who put empty jars of peanut butter back on the shelf
  15. People who interrupt me when I talk
  16. When people don’t get my references
  17. When women tell me they once had a crush on me…after telling me they just got married
  18. People you leave facebook without telling me
  19. People who tell obvious lies and hope that I won’t call them out on it
  20. People who stick their favorite fragrance under my nose when I tell them I can’t smell
  21. People who don’t know when to shut up
  22. People who make lists that are too long
  23. People who ignore social cues telling them to shut up
  24. People who continue to talk because the they love the sound of their voice
  25. …there’s really two types of people I hate: people who are intolerant of other people’s culture…
  26. And the dutch.

Unsent Letter To All The Girls I’ve Loved

bell hooks on love

[Below is an unsent letter to every female friend I’ve been secretly in love with whom I sent really long e-mails to or hand written notes to after/before I went to college/when you were studying abroad/when I moved back to Falcon in 2008/when I moved to Colorado Springs in 2010/when you moved to a coastal city once I made it back to Chicago/when you went to grad school/visited your family for Hanukkah/ moved with your significant other [sometimes another female friend I had also once liked] back home/I moved to D.C.  If this sounds remotely similar to a letter I once sent in you in one of these moments then this was probably the first draft of a letter I wrote and decided not to send for one reason or another. I realized that this a recurring pattern in my life that I need to analyze…so I did…and what better way to process self-analysis than self-parody?]

To All The Friends I’ve Loved,

[There always start with some  overwrought and florid metaphor for whatever I’m unhappy about in the moment. In most of these letters it is my hometown] I’m not sure if a tree makes a sound when it falls in the forest with no one to hear it but I know from experience that the speed at which it falls is in direct proportion to number of observers. Falcon is not a place for me to write. Falcon is where writers are born. It is where the bigotry and backwardness drips from the lips of neighbors destined to be characters; cold as molasses and twice as black, pumping sweet visceral into an author’s creative glands.  Falcon will serve as the time capsule I use to write of time so long ago that it never really existed, at least not in the way I remember it.

In my stories I call it Mesa Valley, my Yoknapatawpha County [always includes an oblique reference to writer whom I feel an unjustifiable though visceral connection to. Sometimes I’ve only read their shortest published work but count them among my favorite authors] I write about the villains and saints of my childhood in this Mesa Valley so that the fictionalized grandiosity of the moment evokes the same emotion as the tonnage of years of microagressions and mini miracles. Put simply, the events are lies but the emotions are real. My neighbors will undoubtedly protest but I imagine my fame will soften their protest the same way their privilege softened mine. Their bigotry bit into my psyche layering trauma upon trauma [I actually had a pretty chill childhood but I thought for a while that I need to be a tortured artist to be a good artist.]

Is life so miserable? Is the darkness seeping in, encroaching on my happy moments? No, I suppose not. [almost all of these letters start the second paragraph with a refutation of the overwrought opening metaphor…insecure much?] In reality life is bland and it is that blandness that frightens me. Like Oscar WildeI live in terror of not being misunderstood. [quote is purposefully out of context. In an example of hipster letter writing, it serves as an illustration of my meta awareness] Drama and vibrancy are my heroin. In their absence I fiend for the thematic like a smoker turned niciderm addict. I lust for action with all the gusto and impulsiveness of a sex addict.  In the late hours of the night, when time seems to drip like a leaky faucet in a silent kitchen instead of flow, I try to figure out why this is. I have always had an overactive imagination and I have always been vicarious reader, living the lives of the characters as I read them. If you had asked my 12 year old self what I wanted to be when he grew up he would have said “a living legend.” Yet no childhood trauma or tendency could explain this burning desire of mine in its maturity [though, when I was 8 I used to scream “I’m going through a stage!” at my family when my siblings complained about my parents bending over backwards to not accommodate my latest fixation. I heard my parents discussing my habit of hiding eggs around the house and whether it was a “stag” or ealy onset mental illness one night and decided to use the phrase to justify my weirdness…jury is still out about early signs of mental illness]

There is an answer to the question. And yes, that is the short one. I’m doing fine. [you are supposed to assume the unasked question “how are you?” Man, is this guy meta or what?] Living with my parents has been interesting though not ideal. I am doing what I can to not waste way. When the monotone hum of prairie life turns into a tempest of passive, almost inert, aggression that threatens to overwhelm me I try to think of you and your adventures in [insert study abroad program, grad school, or new city her]. I imagine your [insert distinguishing feature] as you [insert activity that can I think can only be done where you are]. How is it in [insert colloquial/pretentious nickname for current location]? How is the air? What are you thinking about? What things are challenging you? Forcing you push your limits? What do you know now that you didn’t before? [still not sure where this habit of asking these sorts of questions to people became a thing that I do…constantly… but I can remember doing it as early as middle school]

I know you are probably laughing at my intensity. You mention that intensity often and each time I want to tell you how I really feel. [this when I show my insecurity in a self deprecating way. This portion is usually added to qualify previous or subsequent statements that were overly florid or ridiculous but I found too well phrased to delete.]  I spend so much time trying to calm that intensity for fear of scaring you away yet sometimes restraining my love for you seems more intolerable than your absence. I want you too know, finally, that I love you fiercely. [this is the part that is ALWAYS cut out of the final draft. The unspoken longings off…ugh…I’m doing it again!] When we take our walks through [insert significant place in our friendship] I’d be convinced that my feet never touched the asphalt if hearing you about what’s one your mind this week didn’t make me feel so grounded. I love the way your mind unravels in those moments. Your thoughts are distinct and intricately laced like braided steel cables supporting intellectual bridges from Kafka and Morrison to Weber and Du Bois [I always reference Kafka but never actually read Kafka until like 6 months ago.] Sometimes I am too mesmerized by how an individual thought of yours develops that forget how your smile gives me butterflies.

Your wild and frantic idiosyncratic hand gestures that increase in their assertiveness as the topic turns from history to your theory of how we constructive our identities through narratives remind me of the awkward girl I first met and not the poised woman I know now. As your passion burns through your light brown eyes I’m tempted to believe that my world has the same golden haze has its reflection in your gaze. In these moments I want to tell you that I love you. I know you would just smile and say “I know.” I know that I would have to hold your heart-wrenchingly beautiful gaze longer. I would lock my eyes with yours to add weight to my words; to tell you this was that kind of the love. The kind of love that causes me to fear that I’m losing myself in you, the terror of thinking that maybe falling so hard for you that I forget who I am sounds more like heaven than white clouds and halos. [who says that…seriously….I mean…it has a nice ring to it though…reminds me of this poem I wrote about my first “real” love]

Instead, I smile and hold my tongue. We walk miles through this city, you and I, with the secret of my love between us like a warm invisible sea. Swimming through it is the most exhausting endeavor of my life but living without it seems dry and barren in comparison. When we hug goodbye I wish I could wrap my hands around your soul instead of your waist and I pretend that my sadness is contemplation and not the awareness of the inevitability of your departure. [this would typically get re-written to something about missing you but not loving like THAT.]

[I feel like some of my friend must have suspected that I was not so secretly in love with them. Yet, I still write letters to some friends like this, long after I’m crushing on/overly-dramatically in love with them so I think most of friends probably just think its par for the course…and I guess it is par for the course. I love all my friends dearly, male or female and I’ve had a crush on like 95% of the women I’ve met who are no more than three years younger or 10 years older than me. I think if I had to put a number on it, which I don’t but will anyway, I’ve been in love with about 30% of my good female friends at some point in my life. I don’t actually think I’m using the phrase “in love” lightly here either. I have a natural tendency to love easily, deeply, quickly and fiercely. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been with a female friend and thought “we should just get married…like… right now. Why wait.” Yet for most, the timing was off or I was too shy. By the time either changed, we had changed.   But I’ve been in love with almost 1/3 of my female friends even if only for a moment and while that might seem pathetic and laughable…well…it might actually be laughable…it is not pathetic. I feel very fortunate to have befriended such amazing and beautiful women in my life.

I’ve been blessed to love women who have pushed my intellect, who have encouraged me to follow my dreams by pursuing theirs, who have shown me what it means to live by your principles, who have become teachers, and mothers, and executives and dancers and writers and organizers and PHd candidates. They are the unofficial therapist of their friends, the shoulder to cry on, fierce advocate for justice, level-headed and practical guides, the uplifting jokers and gorgeous wordsmiths of my world. I have learned and grown so much from these friendships and am so glad that we got  through the infatuation, the puppy love and the romantic love to richer and more sustaining and truly platonic love with my friends. I feel that with a few of my friends our relationship has matured into something greater than any romantic love I’ve ever experienced; we’ve learned to “love each other well.”  So to all the girls I’ve loved. From the playground to county fair to the main quad and whether I loved you for a conversation, a week or since the moment we first talked about our passions, I’d like to thank you teaching me, for bearing with my florid passion and intensity and, most of all, for accepting my love even if you were unaware of its true form. Know that every letter I send and note I write expresses the truth of how I feel about everything, even if only a part. Though honestly Erin, if you are reading this, my offer of marriage still totally stands. My romantic love for you is eternal and forever enriches my platonic love for you which is equally eternal. So, uh…call me, Maybe?]

With love [in all its varied forms and meanings],

Aaron

True Love

Tom Jones…Don’t Know What To Say

 

I don’t what to say about this video. I could talk about some racial issues going on, I could talk about some gender and rape culture issues in lyrics, I could talk about Tom Jones WTF? But mostly I want to say that I love this song. It’s cray in the truest sense of the word. As my students would say “Tom Jones is doing too much”  and I kinda love him for it.

Dating Darcy

Darcy, Moped[**Disclaimer: This account, like all the previous and future posts about my romantic life, are to be considered all almost entirely fictional unless clearly stated otherwise. Any resemblances to real life women who have been unfortunate enough to go on date with me are a result of the statistically common reactions to my many idiosyncrasies**]

Its late afternoon in DMV and I’m running late for the date. My latest addition to my healthy lifestyle involves walking everywhere and I’ve forgotten how long it takes to get to the Café from my house. I’ve walked this route every morning for a week and I can hear my father telling me I need to be more observant as I consider my next move. I debate texting Darcy to let her know that I’m going to be late. It is 10 minutes before I said I’d meet her and I’m about 8-12 minutes away. If I show up exactly on time I’ll seem punctual but I will have to walk fast enough to break out into a sweat to do so. I slow down and decide better to be fashionable late and put together than on time like a hot mess. I consider calling my friend Sam to ask if I should include an exclamation point after the sorry. I decide that Sam is probably too busy having a job and being all responsible to help me compose a text message right now. I decide that go with the exclamation point anyways. My brother always told me not to use smiley faces but I think all other punctuation is kosher.

Sorry! I’m running a little late.

She replies a minute later: no problem at all!!!

 

I pause in the middle of the street to decipher the message. I ignore the horns of oncoming traffic as I try to decide if three exclamation points mean it is really is not a problem at all or if it’s really not a problem…like…at all. As I begin walking again, the exclamation points seem to be more and more angry. Of course she’s mad; I’m going to make her wait. I debate whether or not to text her a joke about a troll underneath the 11th street bridge but I think she needs to see my face for it to be funny. I try and time my burst of quick walking with the gust of autumn air, exerting myself only when the wind will keep me from sweating. I vaguely recognize that this makes me look like a crazy person and vow to stop when I’m within eye sight of my destination. If I’m lucky I’ll arrive with a minute to spare having sent a text message saying that I would be late. That should show that I’m both punctual and considerate.

Two blocks away from the Café I slow down just as I’m starting to get nervous. I wonder if every woman I walk by is actually her. Perhaps she didn’t want to wait in the Cafe itself and is leaning next to her moped smoking a cigaret like a Parisian woman. Could she have dyed her hair, gained 20 pounds and invited her husband on the date or is that someone else? I as I start to look for her, not knowing if she will be waiting causally outside for me or take a sit inside, I marvel at how attractive D.C is. I begin to understand the value of making an effort to look nice and anxiously look at myself in the reflection of the store windows. I cringe at my overweight body made even more awkward by the only clean shirt without holes in it. Check that…my last non overly offensive smelling shirt without major holes in it.  She said that she didn’t like guys who spent more time getting ready than her and she seems to revel in that “I just got out of bed look.” At least she will be put at ease by my homeliness.  15 yards away from the Brown Bonnet, where a local feminist blogger described meeting her partner so vividly that I thought it would hold some the same magic for me and Darcy, I begin to wonder if I want her to be more or less attractive than her pictures.

I begin to think that if she is more attractive than her pictures I may start to feel that I’m not good looking enough for her. Then instead of meeting cool, calm and collected Aaron she’ll get sweaty, voice still somehow cracks at 25 Aaron and even I don’t like that guy. She’s pretty enough in her pictures that if she was less attractive in real life she’d be as attractive as me and therefore easier to approach.

I see her sitting down at the same table I imagined the blogger was sitting at. Life is imitating blog and make sure to note it for my next comment. She’s wearing the same argyle sweater that she was wearing in her profile picture from Vienna. I know I shouldn’t say that though because then she might know how often I looked at her profile. I notice that her back is too the door which means that June was wrong last night she said that the mug shot in the pictures was real. If Darcy spent time in Prison she’d never have her back to the entrance. Before I walk up to her I find myself hoping that she is in fact as pretty as her pictures. I think I could handle that. I remembered to brush my beard so I’m looking pretty good despite the stripped shirt.

I start to approach her from behind. I realize how that would sound in my re-telling of this moment and I pause trying to map out a path through the crowded café that would allow me to casually walk up to her and not seem like a creeper. Instead, my Uchicago awkwardness permeates through the moment and she senses my presence. She turns, rather gracefully I might add, to see me starting at her. I could have saved the moment with my charming smile instead I give her my “well, this is awkward…you caught me” smile.

As I see her face I realize it is worse than I imagined. She actually looks the most like her third picture, the one where she pretending to sing a Britney Spears song at a New Years party. She has the type of face that you know that most people find her attractive but you’re not sure if you do yet. She’s basically Jennifer Garner in in beginning of the movie, before you know if she is the nice character or the stern mean one. I stare at her for a second and sense my face flash the moment’s disappointment.

“Hey, I sorry, I wasn’t sure if that was you” I say knowing that it was her but finally brandishing my charming smile.

[**Disclaimer, for those you who don’t know me, you should be aware that there is no empirical evidence to suggest any difference between my charming smile and my creepy smile. The jury is still out**]

She smiles back. It is a warm smile that instantly makes her seem more attractive. “It’s okay” she says with no understood ellipses.

I take the seat across from her and as I tell myself not to do that thing where I try to figure out if someone is attractive while they are talking to me. I don’t listen though and find myself analyzing her facial features as she describes racing over here because she thought she was going to be late. When she mentions not having enough time to finish getting ready I smile and tell her she looks nice. It’s a temporary lie.

I haven’t decided if she is attractive yet but I noticed that she had brought a copy of Carcassonne and had set it out on the table. I decided that it was inevitable that I would fall for  any girl this smart, nice and with affinity for board games. I knew that eventually I would think that she did in fact look nice, so it wasn’t really a lie.

Before I begin an internal debate of the fact that because she was in fact very well dressed the statement “you look nice” would have been true even if I wasn’t attracted to her, she asks me if I’ve read any John Rawls before. I panic. I was prepared to fall for this girl slowly, with her attractiveness becoming more and more readily apparent over time. My confidence and comfort was supposed to raise as fast if not faster than my attraction. If she started talking about “A Theory of Justice” my voice would almost certainly crack.

I stare at her for a second. Only her slightly inquisitive tilt of the head reminds me that I have yet to answer her question.

“Yes” I say confidently, suddenly proud that I was able to so speak clearly to such an attractive young woman, “I have.”

She smiles again and I get butterflies for the first time since I read her message about how she is surprised at how comic book heroes have started killing their enemies after decades of calling it a line they’d never cross. I decide that she is being super generous in accepting my oddities. She must either be a closet awkward person or just a generous person. I’m personally fine with either but I’m hoping for the first. As she talks about “A Theory of Justice” I lose track of all my dating tips: I forget to manage my eye contact and stare intently into her eyes, I forget ask her if she want dessert and order so much food myself that assumes I expect her to share, and I forget to compliment her three times. Instead I forget that this is a date and allow myself to be dragged into a pleasant intellectual discussion.

The particulars of her argument matter very little to me. I get the sense that though we are both engrossed by the subject matter we a still being too polite to have a real argument. We are mostly discussing feelings about the practicality of the theory and trying to politely disagree. I am fascinated by the way her mind works though and the clarity with which she can reconstruct my arguments as she gets to see is she heard me correctly.

“You really think that democracy is overrated?” She asked with her butter fly producing smile, clearly thinking I’m being sarcastic and loving it. I decide not to press the point and lie for the second and last time that night, “no, I’m just joking. Of course I love Democracy.”

It’s ten o’clock before I realize we have been talking for hours. I’ve developed substantial if somewhat hard to pin down feelings for her by the time she says it’s getting late and she needs to go to bed. This is the moment when all the advice columns tell me I need to make my move. I am supposed to gauge the situation and go in for the kiss [except for maxim, which seems to think I should assume I’m going to bed with her].

I look at her and she has an amused look on her face and I can tell she had a good time. Yet, ultimately I decide that a mutual good time is different than mutual romantic interests. She was pretty, smart, funny, nice and interesting. I’d definitely love to see her again but our connection was one of exciting potential and not immediate lust. I raise my hand to give my signature and slightly boyish two fingered salute good bye as she sticks out her hand to shake mine.

[**Disclaimer my signature salute is not as nearly as creepy as it sounds. It is literally waving goodbye and not something from one of Dave Chappelle’s “Great Moments in Hook Up History”**]

I realize askmen.com would say that I put myself in the friendzone with that move but then I’d just say “you’re a website, what do you know” and walk away confident in my disbelief in the existence of zones…I only believe in having awkward conversations about how we feel about and will you go out with me? [Yes. No. Maybe] notes.