Monday, October 19, 2015

Naked Heart: An LGBTQ Festival of Words.

     Over the weekend, I was lucky enough to be a part of a panel for self publishing in the Naked Heart LGBTQ Festival of Words. I met some amazing people, learned so much, and had a chance to talk about my own experiences in the world to self publishing. This is one of the reasons I love Glad Day so much; they are so supportive, and just want everyone to succeed. These wonderful workshops are so important. I really hope I'm asked to do more.

                                                                     So exciting.

                                                                 In the program.

                            (from left to right: Akhaji Zakiya, Nia King, and Vivek Shraya.

     Years ago I put my books next to Ellen Degeneres' at a Chapters and made it my display picture on Facebook, in a wistful sort of, One day, type of post. While at Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto over the weekend, I noticed that's where they house my books! 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Inapark Does Nature: Fancy Camping for Covert Sissy Gays.

My friends and I go camping at the end of every summer. It's something I look forward to with sincere excitement, but last year, while in the wilderness, I had to acknowledge a difficult truth about myself; I am a Secret Princess Gay. I'm not proud of it, and looking back to the kid who used to fish with worms, and come home filthy from a solid day of playing, I'm not sure where along the line I attained my proverbial crown. This being said, I feel as though there is a large demographic if people that can relate. Sure, we are tough and tenacious and resourceful. We capture spiders and we hammer nails into walls, and those nails are sturdy enough to hold picture frames and shelving units. We don't need umbrellas when it rains, and we don't even use band aids when our cats scratch us.

We do have a weakness though; a collective private shame. We can solider through any macho task with valiant ease, as long as we have a refuge from the elements. I'm talking, I just mowed the front and back lawn, now I'm going into my air conditioned dwelling to have a hot shower and a cold beer.

A lot of people love camping; the filth, the heat, nature attacking us with it's beauty. Breathtaking sunsets and pollen and campfires and loads of bug spray. Good on them. We are not these people. And that's okay, but we are still apprehensive about disclosing this. This glorious season, I say we stand up, and loudly proclaim to the world, "We're here! We're queer! Get us a sunscreen with a high SPF count!" Here is a guide I've put together that would constitute a perfect, anxiety free camping trip. I call it, Fancy Camping For Covert Sissy Gays.

Sleeping Quarters

I don't care where I am, I like my comfort. My body constantly betrays me in Summer because it never seems to regulate like a normal person's does. I can't wear my glasses in certain seasons because almost as soon as I put them on my face, I can see condensation begin creeping across my field of vision. It's embarassing. So, of course I would ideally covet:
- an air conditioning unit, and three backup fans
- an elevated, king sized bed
- a fish tank for a relaxing, outdoor feel
- all childhood stuffed animals
- a modest plasma tv
- glow in the dark stars (so pretty at night) 
- dressing room area (I'm not changing into my board shorts and tank top for swimming behind a damn tree. I'm just not)
- a wardrobe for every season
- and my cats

Now I'm not delicate. I certainly plan on enjoying the Great Outdoors, but wouldn't it be that much better if the mingling area had:
- a  caged animal (like a hamster, or a guinea pig- I hate when I'm right in the middle of watching a squirrel and they scamper off)
- boxes of Wet Naps, and a sanitizer station
- a Mac Book, Ipod, Ipod dock, CDs and a DJ booth
- every video game console
- fridge
- so much beer and snackies
- generator
- a desk and ink (we could go searching for quills!)
- a dingy

You can feel the sun rays on your face through the screen door by now, can't you? Lastly, the bathroom area:

- portable bathroom sink; functioning or not (I'm not adverse to walking to a communal bathroom area, but there's something comforting about just seeing a sink in the vicinity of your vacation spot)
- an array of perfumes and/or colognes
- all the bug spray
- so much makeup (Do I wear makeup now? No. Well sometimes, but that's just so people will stop asking me if I'm sick or if I was crying. But what happens if you're laying in your hammock, sipping on a vodka and Gatorade and playing Sodoku and an adorable hiker who's lost their way needs your assistance? Be prepared.)
- hair dyes, shampoos, conditioners, wigs (I actually feel like I have no real connection to the female gender, and am making wild assumptions as to what they would enjoy having there)
- one regal hat

Camp away, dear friends. Bring your coffee makers and neck pillows and and expensive astringents. Unapologetically enjoy yourselves this summer, and avoid inconvenience at all cost. In the words of Pinterest, "Happiness is a way of travel. Not a destination."

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Inapark Loves Sara Benincasa.

At the beginning of the year, I decided to say Yes to anything remotely creative that found it's way to me. I did this a few years ago, and it was the best year of my life. Glad Day Bookshop is a store in downtown Toronto that carries my books, and I adore them. The staff, the atmosphere, it's just a lovely place to be. When they asked me if I wanted to open up for Sara Benincasa, a comedian and writer from New York, my first instinct was to say, "ABSOLUTELY NOT ARE YOU KIDDING ME I WILL CRASH AND BURN SHE'S ACTUALLY A REAL COMEDIAN AND WRITER NO." So I sucked it up and said yes. It was one of the best experiences I've ever had. Aside from Sara being funny and creative and just an awesome comedian, she is a wonderful person who, in my opinion, went above and beyond to make me feel comfortable and secure in being there. I found myself focused on trying to make her, specifically, laugh throughout my set. And laugh she did, and genuinely! It was awesome. I picked up Agorafabulous when I asked her what book I should buy of hers, and I cannot wait to pick up the rest. This book is just so good. That sounds trivial but when I finished it, and was talking to my Mom, I just kept saying, "It was really really good." I loved it, love her, and can't wait to support her in future endeavours. Buy this book; especially if you have anxiety or mental health issues. It's relatable and funny and sad at some points and so honest and just really, really good.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Inapark Loves Kate Bornstein.

My heart is bursting. It's always a priority of mine to let people that I love and appreciate know how grateful I am for them, even if we have never met. So I took the time to Instagram one of my most favorite writers, Kate Bornstein, and let her know how much I adore her and what she does. She is a writer who is never near and dear to my heart, and the very next day I received this message back to me. This has made me feel a sort of validation that I have never felt before. Thank you Kate Bornstein. My joy today is almost tangible. Today is a good day.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015 Lessons on Grief From Momma Killdeer

"There have been a lot of things over the years that I have been holding onto, and have not forgiven myself for, that my grief felt as though it had taken on a physical weight."

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Love Letter To My Momma Bear. xo

I bought a notebook that had a pretty cover, and on the front it said, "Love you to the moon and back." As soon as I saw it, I instinctually picked it up and knew that I had to fill it with love and give it to my Mom. For years, I've struggled to write about my Mother because I can never seem to properly put into words everything that she means to me. It just seems too much. So even though this was going to be a secret project, I feel like my Mom deserves all the love in the world, all the time. I just finished my first entry, and I won't give it to her until it's completely filled, but I wanted to type this out for her so she knows, and everyone knows, how much she means to me.

July 16, 2015

Dear Momma Bear,

I saw this book, and I obviously thought of you. I realized that I write a lot about Gram, and Paul, and the cats and funny things that happen, and I don't have very many published pieces that I've written about you. I want to fill this book up with the reason why that is. Because try as I may, I can never properly express the sincere, intense, co-dependant (let's be honest), heart bursting love that I have for you. I have tried, and I do try, but it goes far beyond appreciation, or relation or fondness. It's an unconditional, Ride or Die, we could be the only ones left that that's alright, kind of love. I would have nothing, and not be me, without you. Every good quality I have is from you, and every accomplishment that I have achieved is because you have made me feel like I am worth it, and can do it. Every success I have is because you inspire me to want to be my best, and every forward step I take is because I want to make you proud. Every time I say something stupid and outrageous it's because I want to make you laugh, and every time I like your pictures on Facebook it's because I think you're the most beautiful woman in the world. Every time I wiggle in my seat at dinner while I'm eating is because you're the best cook ever, and every time you're sick or not feeling well I hang up the phone and cry because I wish I could take it away. I write books because I want to be successful and take care of you, and the tattoo I got of your hand writing, "Some bunny loves you", gets me by more than you'll every know. I love you to the moon and back. Thank you for all that you do and all that you are.

Sarah B. xo

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Retail Throwback: The Man With The Sassy Tees.

I found this in a draft folder today. It was a short piece I wrote a few years ago, when I used to work at a pet store that I loathed. I think my emotional state is pretty evident from my writing style. Re-reading it now fills my tummy with fire, and makes my cheeks ache with phantom pain from my Retail Smile. I remember calling my Mom and telling her this story, and her telling me that I was being an unreasonable idiot, and I needed to choose my battles. You can decide.

There is an old man that has the same ritual every morning at the mall. He sits at the same table in the food court, drinks a coffee and has a bagel. This particular gentleman sticks out to me, because he’s always sporting a different sassy t-shirt. I should be clear; I despise sassy tees. They’re obnoxious, rarely make sense, and make you look like you have a real chip on your shoulder.

We’ve had numerous interactions; mostly when he pairs his saucy tops with a tattoo sleeve undershirt, pushes his way through customers to grab my arm, shake it, and scream, “Twins!”

His shirts are pretty standard; “Fart Machine”, and “Trouser mouse likes to hang out near the basshole” (there was a picture of a mouse in a fishing boat with a safari hat, fishing; I can’t even begin to understand what the implication is.) Then there’s “FBI: Female Body Inspector”, the predatorial “Blink If You Want Me”, “Keep Calm I’m A Fisherman”, and “Save The Earth- It’s The Only Planet With Coffee”.

One t-shirt though. One t-shirt stopped me dead in my tracks the other day. It was so vile, so chilling, I immediately walked away from the customer I was helping to write this down. Allow me to set the scene.

You hang up the phone from a personal phone call, look up, and you see a senior staring at you. He is unblinking, with a frozen, glacial smile, and is wearing a grey t-shirt that says, “Lost: Dog and Sister. Reward for dog.”

To me, this is a blatant confession. He murdered his sister. This “joke” is so wildly unacceptable, even if I saw it on a cheeky five year old boy, I’d think he was a brat and I’d feel confident that I’d see his mother in Hell. I felt like that guy from The Mentalist, or a judgey Nancy Drew.

Since I acted against my impulse to perform a citizen’s arrest, I can only assume that inevitably justice will be served. So until then, I will instinctively look through the faces in the crowd, for a flashy, fossilized pensioner, eating an everything bagel, hoping that a long sleeved tattoo print undershirt is concealed by a court ordered black and white striped jumpsuit.