Vermont has been everything that I dreamed it would be. But I am not destined to spend the rest of my life here.
I’m going to start with the positives. Vermont has brought me out of my comfort zone, and opened my mind to new ways of looking at life. I came here claiming it’s the “Wisconsin of the north east” and while I still believe that, there are a ton of differences here that I never envisioned. The hospitality and warmth of the people here is just as much as that famous “Midwestern hospitality” that I grew up with. I’ve met some great folks who have taken me under their wings and shown me some beautiful things about this state.
Vermont’s beauty truly rivals the beauty that I loved so dearly of central Wisconsin. Everything that I thought I would experience as a resident of Waupaca I feel as though I have experienced here. Vermont ended up satisfying the “countyside” in me so much that I’ve started to yearn for a bigger city.
I managed to finally achieve something higher than my high school diploma. CCV was a wonderful experience, and while I didn’t “Bianca Del Rio” it, I came fairly close.
UVM would have been wonderful. But unfortunately things didn’t work out. Two different departments advised me that the only way to get in-state tuition at UVM was if I submitted a birth certificate from Vermont, a marriage license from Vermont, or a property deed from Vermont. Because I didn’t have any of those, tuition would have been $19,000 per semester for me. I applied for private loans, knowing the big hole that would put me in (roughly $82,000 for two years worth of school!) and in the end I was denied. What I take away from the experience was that I was still accepted to UVM, so a public ivy league was willing to give me a chance. For the longest time I never believed I was capable of anything big, at it was a nice glimmer of hope. It gave me a renewed sense to try again.
The gay community here is so much smaller than Milwaukee. It’s also much closer knit than Milwaukee or even Chicago’s was. I can definitely appreciate that everyone knows each other but at the same time, it’s hard to break into that circle. I was also a little disappointed to find that the annual Pridefest in a state that has practically led the nation in LGBT equality was only a single Sunday afternoon, compared to the whole three-day weekend that Milwaukee throws each year. Again, I would imagine that it has more to do with the smaller community than anything else.
So what’s next?
For the longest time I was looking at Portland, Oregon. I made several references to moving there and was following some local news. It seemed like the perfect fit. What killed my interest in it however, were the riots that broke out there after the 2016 election. The fact that so many people would cause so much ruckus and harm over Trump, while they admitted they didn’t vote in the election just left a sour taste in my mouth. The other piece that Portland was missing was the concept of me finishing a bachelor’s degree.
When I came to Vermont, I wasn’t honestly sure how my education was going to play out. I knew that CCV was my first stop no matter what because of my record at Parkside, but I honestly didn’t have a plan for what to do when I got to UVM. Finding out that Business required Calculus just to qualify for the major, I panicked and tried to come up with plan B. Luckily, I really started to enjoy my time at my first hotel, and started to wonder if there was something more too it. When I got to really taste the hospitality industry at the Hilton level, I really started to believe more and more that this could be the kind of career advancement I have been searching for.
I just wanted to quickly add: when I lost my spot at UVM, I definitely had a good long thought about even trying to finish my bachelors. I have been disappointed in myself for not finishing in 4 years, although I’m comforted to know that it’s becoming the national average for 20-year-olds to spend more than 4 years working on their degree. What changed my mind about it was actually a book I read in my final year at Parkside, titled What Is The Purpose Of A Banana? It’s written by a man who went for his doctorate degree, just to prove he could do it. Obviously a bachelor’s degree would open up so many doors for me, but I’ve reached the point in my life where I want to prove to myself that I can finish my bachelor’s more than what the degree can do for me.
All my hotels had planted the idea in my head of going for a bachelor’s in hospitality management. UVM didn’t offer that program, and the closest they could come would have been Parks, Rec, & Tourism. Not a bad program, but considering the price tag it wasn’t going to be worth it. I found out that both of the hotels closest to my heart had founders with colleges named after them. Days Inn, started by Cecil B Day is reflected in the Cecil B Day School of Hospitality Administration at Georgia State University, and Conrad Hilton is honored in the Conrad Hilton School Of Hospitality Management at the University of Houston.
Now, both of these colleges are located in the South. Everyone who has met me knows how important having four seasons is a year is to me, and going to either of these colleges would break a 28+ year mental tradition. While I have absolutely enjoyed my experience with Days Inn, I am more attracted to the luxury of the Hilton brand. Houston is a far bigger city compared to Atlanta. Tuition for the Hilton College of Management is actually thousands of dollars less expensive than the Cecil B Day College. Hilton offers so much more to it’s own employees as well. There’s a reason they have consistently won the Fortune 100 Best Companies To Work For award. I keep telling anyone who asks that my experience at Hilton Garden Inn is “my Drag Race” and “this is my going on TV to compete for $100,000.” I think that getting the Hilton College stamp of approval & bachelor’s degree would be me “winning” my “Drag Race.”
From this, I’ve been doing a scan of the Houston area. I’ve been asking the exact same questions I asked myself 4 years ago about Vermont: Can I live here? Would I be happy here? What does this area have that I don’t have here? What is the purpose in moving there? And so on, and so on. No matter what, I know that when I leave Vermont I want it to be a completely new-to-me area of the country. I want to go through the experience of starting at square one and building myself up again. It’s a challenge that I think has really shaped my ability to be an adult, and I want to grow like that again. I can already tell you which places I’d like to work at in Houston, I have three different apartment finding apps giving me a general feel for the cost of rent, and I’m looking into daily life like grocery stores and gas stations I’d be frequenting. I’m also watching the weather forecasts there regularly enough to get a feel of what it’s really like.
Being Houston, the events I’d want to see would all likely be making a stop there – The Welcome To Nightvale live shows, HUMP & Savage Love Live by Dan Savage, and live performances by more of the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race. All of these big shows that feel so out of reach to me in Vermont would become accessible again. I’ve even peeked in at the Houston UU church to get an idea of what being a regular member there would be like.
Furthermore, with my own political views shifting (note that I consider Milo Yiannopulous to be an icon of mine), Houston would be an ideal spot to grow on that more. Not that Vermont political parties aren’t active, but I feel like I’d have a more involved learning experience in volunteering for the Harris County parties. There’s also much more selection for community theaters in Houston as well, plus a wider range of professional theaters to enjoy. I’ve been patiently keeping my stage management days on hiatus, but I’d like to go back to them someday. Being in a hotel where I’d have a set schedule (of sorts) I also feel like I’m in the right industry to go back into community theater again. I still stand by that it’s a great hobby to stage manage, since it wasn’t going to be a career for me.
In an ideal world, I’d like to celebrate my 30th birthday at the start of my post-Vermont life. Since 30 opens the door to a new decade, I’d like that decade to start in a new location for me.
And that’s where I currently stand on my future.
Why it’s important:
For the past near-decade now, I keep saying that my news reader app, Feedly (Though I used to use Google Reader) is the most important app on my phone. It’s the one I check constantly, it’s where I learn so much about what’s going on in the world and understand what to be looking for when I leave the house.
Twitter has been a piggyback on that for me – most journalists are on twitter, news breaks on twitter, and I have several mentors and close friends whom I first met on Twitter. I’ve learned about men’s fashion from the Tie Guy, progressive politics from Shoq, and how to look at the world differently (and interact with it) from You Too, Can Be A Guru. A close friend who works for a TV news station and I first met on twitter at a conference years ago.
At the end of the day, it all comes back to constantly finding the latest story about the world. I pride myself on being a storyteller, and it’s my spiritual belief (as a Unitarian Universalist) to spend time listening to other people’s life stories and making my own life better for hearing them, that it’s only natural that I’d be drawn to the news.
How I Got Started:
I first got hooked in 2010 when I discovered what an RSS reader is and does. I learned through “the magic” of Google that website updates can be organized chronologically and like a magazine to be read at one’s leisure and bookmarked to pick up right where you left off. That was Google Reader. After starting my college education in 2006, I started trying to soak up as much of the world as I could like a sponge, since I spent much of my childhood in denial that there was a “rest of the world” out there. I made different categories for the different things that interested me – LGBTQ Issues, Politics, Technology, Finance, ect. I even found out how to plug in blogs and Facebook/Twitter feeds from friends, to keep up with them better. Eventually Google closed down reader, and I’ve had a home at Feedly ever since.
Over time, I refined my sources. The two sites I first ever plugged in were JoeMyGod (LGBTQ Issues) and Mashable (Technology). From there, I kept looking for new sources. I started with the places they quoted from. I found David Pakman on iTunes and started looking up his sources, like Raw Story and Think Progress. The point was to learn. The point was to know what was happening at any given moment. I started looking up local news sources like the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and eventually Seven Days and the Burlington Free Press. There’s a number of people that come to me with technology questions, and the only reason I know how to answer them is because I’m armed with information from places like TechCrunch, Business Insider Tech, and MacRumors.
Bias In The News & Media:
As I continue to grow in my reading, I have come to see more and more about media biases. The bias in media isn’t “Liberal” per se, but rather money. Taking a cue from David Pakman & Shoq Value, I agree that the media market seems very controlled. There is an excellent infographic that can be found here that demonstrates this point perfectly. I make a specific point to seek out independent news sources whenever possible. I have rarely been to the website of a mainstream TV station (or seen a broadcast) in the past 6-10 years.
Money talks in media. The common reference is that “Fox News is owned by the republicans” and “MSNBC and CNN are owned by the democrats.” Here’s some evidence behind that. I think it goes even deeper than that. It comes down to the advertisements you see while browsing the web, on your phone, ect. Yes, I do have a specific political leaning, but part of my journey when I came to Vermont was to open my mind more and look at the world from a different perspective.
Bernie Sanders brought up this very point in his book, Outsider In The White House. He says:
Positive stories are ignored, negative stories are played up…It’s hard to win a fight against someone behind a TV camera. We need to keep thinking about it.
The context for this quote is that he’s talking about a local Vermont news channel’s bias against him in a 1996 election, but the idea applies in so many different ways. How often do you hear any happy news stories being played, not only on TV but online and in print? Happy stories don’t bring in viewers and page views, but negative and “shocking” stories do. Fox isn’t the only station that uses this technique to hook in viewership. Bernie goes on to talk about the media blackout of opposition to the Persian Gulf War in the 90’s.
Furthermore, specific people and companies tend to be shown more favorably on different media channels, and it’s because there’s an exchange of money for it. I don’t blame news companies, per se – they are businesses too after all, but it does make it difficult to take journalism seriously when you see if time after time after time.
There is a major difference between News Reporting, News Opinion, and Entertainment. Corporate media blurs the lines between all three of these. For the longest time, even I was blinded to the differences. I used to see the two political opinion show hosts I follow (David Pakman and Rachel Maddow) as political reporting, when in fact they are opinions and not strictly reports. And yes, Rachel Maddow is part of the corporate conglomerate that is MSNBC – I do see that. What I enjoy about Maddow is that her show (in my opinion) falls on that blur between news opinion and entertainment.
It wasn’t until a friend of mine began working for a local news station that I watched regularly, that I started to understand what actual news reporting is. Of course, local news channels aren’t independent, they are franchises of their corporate versions, but for the most part, I feel they get much closer to actual reporting. Watching FOX 6 in Milwaukee is a different experience than watching the national Fox News network. Generally speaking, there’s not nearly as much effort to make local news pieces controversial. In my lifetime, I’ve noticed the subtle things that media will do to make events seem more controversial than they really are, in an effort to hook as many people as possible to them. I have been trying to train myself to speak objectively in as many situations as possible, and this blog will become virtual proof of that, assuming I ever get around to not talking about myself and my own life on here.
Another media platform that is sometimes overlooked is radio. While 40% of the world’s population has internet access, more people have access to an AM/FM radio, which is where the radio industry originates from. Now, many radio stations have obvious corporate backers, and independent radio stations have risen up. The David Pakman Show started out as a radio program. RuPaul and Michelle Visage got their start in radio. This is part of why I get so excited about Podcasts, which I feel is my generation’s way of bringing radio back into the mainstream.
The bottom line is that I want my time and consumption dollars to be spent on media that’s not funded entirely by corporations that are only using the media to further their own interests. I believe that journalism should be about telling the story because it is compelling enough on it’s own, not because a reporter is being paid to tell it through a specific lens. And before you comment – I do recognize how “idealist” this sounds. It’s just my opinion.
Every so often, I go through a cycle of cutting off some of my sources, if only for a little bit. I experience news fatigue. There’s just so much information coming at me in my own feed (Feedly, Facebook, plus Twitter is quite a lot), that I can’t handle all of it on the level that I used to. I actually tried to watch Pakman on TV instead of keeping up with his show via Podcast, and it got too overwhelming to constantly have to go in and add his videos to a playlist before I could watch them.
I’m curious to see if that rings true when/if I do go back to regularly listening to Pakman.
The news will always be important to me. For a brief period, I even considered changing my college major to journalism/communication to pursue it as a career. As I continue to look to it for my information, I will continue to improve my reading not only the articles themselves, but reading between the lines and seeing where the story is coming from and who wants it known. I’m looking forward to continuing to look at different sources, listening/reading about life from different perspectives, and expanding the way I see the universe.
I am the kind of person that needs four seasons in a year.
Why do I need four seasons? It’s because I have a need for constant change, constant evolution. The changing of the seasons is a perpetual reminder that time moves forward and we are always growing and moving on. Each season is special, but also finite.
I’ve noticed that many people in this world can’t stand cold and snow. If they are born in an area of the country where it’s a normal occurrence, they complain about it and hate it whenever it happens. I love it, in it’s time. I chose to move to Vermont from Wisconsin because I still need that time of year where the ground is covered in snow, the chill exists in the air, and the peaceful silence is there for reflection.
Winter is my favorite time of the year to go outside walking. It’s great for reflecting, for listening, for stillness and getting rid of stresses in peace. Poetically, it’s a metaphor for death – the end of a previous life. We celebrate the end of each year during the winter (at least, in my hemisphere of the globe). During winter I like balsam and cedar candles, wood scents, peppermint in my coffee.
Spring is the poetic metaphor for birth. It’s a time when the light is coming back. It’s a time for the green grass to take over again. It’s a time for new beginnings, the birth of a garden. For me, spring is captured in the floral scented candles, images of flowers, caramel and sweet creamers in my coffee. Spring is also often “the penultimate test” for me, because it ends with school graduations. Having spent so much of my life surrounded by academia, I’ve always though of spring as “the end” of a year, which is why I’m always telling people that my “New Year’s Day” is somewhere between May and June.
Summer is the metaphor for life. It represents happiness and joy to so many people. It’s the “normal” for much of the world, and it’s what those who hate the cold dream of every day of their lives. I capture it in citrus scented candles, lemonades on the porch, hazelnut creamers in coffee. Summer is always the beginning of the year to me, both because it’s just after the end of a school year, and also because my own birthday is toward the later end of the season. The older I get, the more I appreciate summer’s warmth and beauty. Who knows, perhaps I’ll end up in a place where it’s summer all year long?
Fall is the most beautiful season to me. In poems it represents dying and decay, but the colors and energy are so vibrant that it’s hard for me to picture it that way. Fall feels more like a beginning (once again, because of my academic life always starting in September), and I capture it in the cinnamon and apple candle scents, the cinnamon and spices in my coffee creamers, and the sheer beauty of the land around me. The real privilege of living in Vermont is the absolute painting of the landscape around me in the fall. I’ve been awestruck by how much of a firework show is put on by nature during the months of fall.
At this point in my life, I can’t picture living in a place without the changing of the seasons, just like the changing of the guards.
The original version of this post was written in January 2014, and I’ve preserved that underneath my addition. A second post was written less than a month after I arrived to explain why I chose Vermont. That’s also preserved below.
Vermont has been very good to me so far. I’ve seen state parks, I’ve had two different jobs, learned about a whole new industry, and successfully made my way back into school. Vermont has been both exactly what I expected, and not at all like what I expected at the same time.
What I expected was the feeling of a fresh start. I’ve made an entirely different set of friends since I moved here, I’ve lived in both an apartment with a formal landlord and a house with landlords who have also been counted as friends. Vermont has given me the chance to live out my Waupaca dream, in a rural setting where I can go out walking at night and not have to worry about being mugged or killed.
What I didn’t expect was to find a diverse group of people and experiences. People say that Vermont is “granola and liberal” but I’ve found much of the opposite. “Liberal” and “conservative” also have different implications here. I was used to “conservative” being associated with “anti-gay” whereas here, gay and straight people are very integrated. Gun culture is huge – most people own a gun and know how to use it. I feel like hunting is bigger here than it is in Wisconsin, and that’s saying something. There are more options for healthier food sources, but it’s not as pushed as it appears to be on the internet. Vermont still has an Olive Garden, several McDonald’s, and plenty of other junk food places, alongside the Healthy Living, Trader Joe’s, and organic sections in the grocery stores.
I used to think that “being stuck” where one grew up was a Wisconsin small town thing, but it’s everywhere. There’s plenty of people who were born and raised here that never left the town they grew up in. Some people are happy with that, others complain about it. It’s a fact of life. I got sick of being one of the complainers, which is why I made the decision to move.
I’m starting to see the world a little differently as I continue to spend time here. I hear stories of, and have met people who lived in rural trailer parks, people who knew heavy drug users, people who go back and forth from Canada to their homes on a regular basis, people who can guzzle hand-tapped maple syrup like it’s water. Most folks out here are county-oriented, and love the outdoors; skiing, hiking, camping and the like.
I haven’t fully decided what I’m going to do after I get my bachelors. There are parts of Vermont that I love and there are parts that I’ve definitely had my fill of. At the end of the day, Vermont was the right choice for me in 2014, but who knows where life will bring me come (presumably) 2018.
(Originally posted, May 2014)
Since so many people ask why I have come to Vermont, I’m making a post about it.
Reasons to be in Vermont:
- Legal Equality.
- If I do plant my roots here, I won’t even have to worry for a moment about getting married and having kids.
- State natural beauty.
- Vermont is one of the greenest and earth-friendly areas I know of.
- To experience state culture.
- Vermont has a uniqueness to it that really interests me, as someone who is proud of my own uniqueness.
- The UU Church.
- I have so much of my own spiritual journey in front of me.
And in general it’s a place for me to start again. I lost my ambition and passion about 4 years ago, but have found it again here.
- I have so much of my own spiritual journey in front of me.
My goals to work towards while I am a Vermont resident:
- Achieve a goal weight of 165 pounds.
- Create and maintain a balanced diet, including recognizing and utilizing proper portion sizes.
- Expand my palette so that I can understand food in different cultures.
- Walk/Jog 2 miles a day.
- Pay off my Credit Card, and close that account.
Put money away to go back to college.
- Put away six month’s worth of income in savings.
Know my credit score and continue to work to improve it. Apply for a charge card to continue working with my credit rating, but not fall into a debt cycle again.
- Finish my bachelor’s degree, after
re-starting with Community College. Polish and continue to improve my online article database. Manage and execute a proper reading list. Continue to polish and improve my online skills, starting with blogging and continuing through all social networking.
Define a list of TV Shows and Movies that I have backlogged to view. Define myself, my needs, and my ideas more completely.
- More specifically, develop my identity and passions more fully.
Create andexecute my own unique adult fashion style. Refine what social networking means to me, which ones I use, and which ones I will grow with.
- Learn how to shoot a gun.
- Define Project #BeyondVT2018 and what the next step in my life will be.
(Original posting, January 2014):
It’s been over a year and a half since I last wrote an original post on here. That was 2012, and it’s now 2014.
My life has truly changed in a lot of ways. I’ve changed jobs, I’m single, and most importantly, I’ve developed a lot about who I am and what I stand for and believe in.
I feel like I’ve hit a wall here in Wisconsin. I’ve established a work history, a credit history, and have really felt the effects of letting myself fail out of college the first time around. At the same time, I’m thankful for how life has played out, since I wouldn’t be the person I am without the struggles I’ve gone through. I’ve taken the roots I started with about myself at Parkside and have a budding forest of trees worth of personality, beliefs, values, and interests now.
If you haven’t heard yet, I’m planning to move to Vermont this summer. I vacationed there last summer and absolutely fell in love with the place. Legally speaking, I can get married, have kids, and keep a job without anything interfering with any of those. That was the first thing that drew me there. During my trip, I learned plenty about the culture of the state, the charm of the people there, and the absolute beauty of the land. I can see why it’s considered to be the escape land for New Yorkers, just like how Wisconsin is the escape land for Chicago people. I’ve toured the Community College, and the public University, with plans to be on track to be back in school by Fall 2015.
I’ve come a long way since leaving Kenosha nearly 3 years ago, and I still have a long journey ahead of me. There’s plenty more to come.
Pacifism: opposition to war or violence as a means of settling disputes; refusal to bear arms on moral or religious grounds; an attitude or policy of nonresistance.
That’s the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of pacifism. There’s actually quite an extensive commentary on different specifics of the philosophy of pacifism as a whole. Urban Dictionary opens it’s definition with:
“A political or religious ideology that stresses peace over violence or war. A central tenet of many Eastern religions, and also surprisingly widespread in modern-day Europe.”
What bothers me about Urban Dictionary (since I’m almost always a huge fan) is that it closes the definition with:
“…those adhering to pacifist thought do not consider the alternatives to the war, and instead, as is typical, provide baseless or biased rhetoric as to why it is better to die like a dog than fighting on your feet.”
This particular phrasing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The Wikipedia entry is a little more hopeful, referencing that pacifism is a common belief in many world religions, including some denominations of Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, and many others. Broadly speaking, some form of pacifism exists in many people’s faith system.
What is a Pacifist?
In doing the research for this post, it’s come to my attention that the actual definition of the word pacifism and my interpretation of the word are two somewhat different things. “Mother Google” seems to be telling me that one who identifies as a pacifist is on the extreme end of non-violence and non-confrontation.
I just want to put it out there that this is not me. It used to be a long time ago, but I have come to a different way of thinking since then. The key change in thought here is the gravity of extreme non-violence. Opposing violence and war purely for the sake of opposing it is on the extreme end of pacifism. Let’s take the Oxford Dictionary definition of a word commonly associated with pacifism, non-confrontational:
“Tending to deal with situations calmly and diplomatically; not aggressive or hostile.”
This is something closer to what I can get behind and refer to myself as. This article (you’ll need to subscribe to view the full post) from Philosophy Now really starts to hit home for me. I believe that whenever it’s possible the best course of action is to diplomatically resolve any issues between two parties. That being said, there’s a quote from one of my favorite childhood games (Amazon Trail 3rd Edition) that says another belief of mine accurately: “There are evil people in this world. You did what had to be done.” This is spoken by the Jaguar guide after your character fights against a ruthless historical figure who left much bloodshed in his wake. Having seen evil people in the present time and space myself, I fully believe that it’s not justice to let these evil people rise to leadership in the world and rule.
The Stanford Encyclopedia has more wonderful reading on the discussion of what makes up the term, pacifist. It also goes far more in-depth than I can do here on this blog post.
To quote from Bernie Sander’s book, Outsider In The White House (Page 140):
“I am not a pacifist. I believe that there are times when when war is legitimate, when the alternative is existence under a horrendous status quo. I think those instances, however, are much rarer than most government leaders admit.”
I really like and identify with this quote.
With all of the above being said/written/presented, I’d like to point out that my views, which are based in my Unitarian Universalist principles and morals, is that the first choice in any conflict should always be peaceful negotiations. If that should fail, one should not be afraid to stand up for what is right and bear arms to defend oneself, or whatever it is that one is fighting for. For example, if someone were to break into my house brandishing a gun, I think the right choice would be to have one of my own guns to defend myself with. Again, from Bernie Sanders: “You don’t need an AK-47 or an Assault Weapon to hunt deer or protect yourself.”
I do think that trying to reason with someone who is so far over the edge of sanity that they are using violence on innocent people is not a successful path to take. It is for that reason that I identify (at least a little bit) as a pacifist, but I also plan to learn how to use a gun and own at least a single one in those times of emergency.
One of the biggest things I enjoy about life is the moments we spend making ourselves better people. Sometimes these moments are small, other times they are massive. It’s the massive moments in our lives that we refer to as our “breakthroughs” and they can be very humanizing and humbling to experience.
I have gone through a series of these moments in my own life, and I look at life knowing that there are many more yet to come. On this blog, I have written about people and characters who I consider to be my inspirations, and two particular people who I’ve based much of myself on have had breakthrough moments that gave me real hope for life.
Back when I was in high school, I modeled myself greatly after Kai Hiwatari. Kai had his (first) breakthrough moment in the first season of Beyblade in Episode 45: Breaking The Ice. It was there that Kai realized that his thirst for power had corrupted him to the point where he was isolated, and the people who called him friends proved their place in his life by defeating the source of his power-lust, a.k.a. Black Dranzer.
Kai had an emotional breakdown on the middle of Lake Biakal in Russia, where he was defeated by his teammates-turned-friends, the Bladebreakers. Kai was so distraught by his loss of his old, power-hungry self, that he was willing to drown himself in the lake in shame. Thankfully, his friends reached out and pulled him out, saving his life. From then on, he knew to be grateful for their influence in his life.
Seeing this moment on TV lead to a moment I had in high school where I saw how important it is to have close friends who you can trust and lean on in good and bad times. Until I was 18, I considered myself a serious loner who didn’t want to have a circle of friends, but rather to be by myself – always growing and learning on my own. I had a select group of people who I considered myself to be close with, and didn’t want to expand on that. Seeing Kai open himself up to having people in his life inspired me to open my life up to having other people in it. To this day, as an introvert I still struggle with letting people in, but I have gotten much better at it.
My next breakthrough came on June 17, 2006 – the day I officially came out of the closet. I had been fighting and struggling with myself about accepting who I am, and that was the day I got the courage to speak up about what was going on. Most people who knew me before that day and after could see the enormous difference it made. I was more outgoing, I was happier, I was free. For a good year or so, it felt like a birthday, since I’ve evolved so much as a person leading back from that beginning point.
To quote from Jerry Renault, in the book, Beyond The Chocolate War:
“How many Archie Costellos are out there in the world? Out there. Everywhere. Waiting. A thought crept into his mind: it would be nice to avoid the world, to leave it and all it’s threats and unhappiness. Not to die or anything like that, but to find a place of solitude and solace. Nuns retreated to their convents. Priests lived in rectories, separate from other people or in monasteries. Was it possible for him to do the same?”
Breakthroughs aren’t always a happy experience, surrounded by love and friends and family. 2011 was the year of my most difficult breakthrough, and what I consider to this day to be the lowest point of my life. I had put all of my thoughts, attention, and effort into moving from UW – Parkside to the rustic city of Waupaca, Wisconsin. In particular, I fought as hard as I knew how to purchase the Red Mill of Waupaca, and live there. In the end, my efforts were in vain, and I allowed myself to fail out of college in my attempts to move to Waupaca. That dream began with the happy memories of childhood vacations, but for a long time that area (which was my very first “happy place”) was a reminder of how drastic of consequences failures can be.
What made that breakthrough particularly painful is that I felt alone in my experience. I was dating someone who at the time was in the process of graduating college, nearly all of my friends were graduating, and here I was, failing out. I also had no person or character on TV to turn to to feel solace with, and go through the emotions with. While my boyfriend at the time was supportive, there was a sense of isolationism that I just couldn’t handle at the time.
Some time passed, and I found a television moment on a TV show I grew to love that I connected with on that moment. On the Third Season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, contestant Yara Sofia had made it to the final four where they competed with three different looks for the “Make Dat Money” Ball. Overwhelmed with emotion after being placed in the bottom two, Yara had a total meltdown onstage, disappearing into tears and pain of defeat.
Watching that moment, my heart went out to her. I felt her emotions about losing a major dream and was able to finally process my own feelings about losing Waupaca. In the end, it goes to show that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” which is what I took to heart from the whole experience. Life moved on.
2014 was a big positive for me. I was inspired by Bianca Del Rio (whose voice I still think in!) to pick up my life and go to a place where I could be a better person. I moved out of Wisconsin to Vermont, and began to journey to go back and finish college. I continue to aspire to be as strong of a person as I see Bianca to be in my mind.
With all of this being said, the bottom line is how important it is to have breakthroughs in one’s life. I got to thinking about how major of an impact these moments have as I was listening to early episodes of the podcast, What’s The Tee? The discussion arc of this concept began with Becoming The Observer of Your Mind, continued into the episode Personal Breakthroughs, and some final thoughts were discussed on It Gets Butter.
One of my views on life is how many things are cyclical. History has a reputation of repeating itself, and I know that I have more breakthroughs coming in the next few years of my life. Turns out, I didn’t end up becoming a student at UVM – tuition was too expensive and UVM wasn’t interested in granting me in-state tuition to make life easier. But the important thing is that I learned from that experience and continue to develop a new plan for the future.
The breakthroughs I’ve had now have shaped so much of who I am and what in life I can handle, and I can only imagine the kind of growing and elevating I’ll be doing as the next years of my life come to pass.