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Leave (Get Out) of DC

Leave (Get Out) of DC

I have the amazing power to find the negative in anything. It’s a curse more than anything, but I think that I’ve improved the severity of it over the years. Still, I find myself super discontent with life at times and always striving for something that I don’t have.

This grass is always greener mentality hit me hard while I was in DC. All throughout college, and pretty much life, I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to get a real job, live in a big city with a fancy apartment, wear nice clothes, work out all the time, and have a really nice body. Some of this happened in DC. The body’s still a work in progress.

 

I liked a lot of things about living in DC once I finally made friends. I loved being around other young, driven, international-minded people who were intelligent and could actually understand what I did at my job. I loved brunching and going to happy hours and playing kickball with my posse.

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But eventually everything kind of fizzled out. I no longer had a friend group that regularly hung out. My two best gay friends moved, so I had no one to commiserate with about how terrible being in a city filled with gays can be.

Me and my gays

My kickball friends stopped hanging out altogether. And a lot of stuff just plain sucked. I would stay home on Friday nights and watch TV by myself. That was fun the first time, but it got really lame after that.

In February, my job offered me the opportunity to travel to Nairobi for a week, but not until September. So, despite my urge to leave the city ASAP, I stuck around so I could get my free trip. Once I got back from Africa, my plans to relocate were put into action.

At first, my goal was to find a job that allowed me to work remotely. Maybe DC would be more bearable if I could periodically take extended trips and not have to deal with office morons. But, most remote jobs seem to be aimed at people who have actual skills, so no one was ever interested in hiring me because I don’t have any. Thanks liberal arts degree, seven internships, and two full-time jobs! The internal deadline to leave DC I had set for myself was the end of 2015. When I didn’t hear anything by the beginning of November, I knew it was time to enter the world of teaching English abroad.

I had tried to avoid becoming an English teacher for as long as I could. I went to school to study international relations and wanted to do something relevant to my degree. A lot of people with my major seemed to use teaching English as a fallback plan for when their dream job proved too hard to get. So, I associated teaching in foreign countries with not having any alternatives left.

I thought I was lucky to find an internship in Armenia with the UN and then a couple of jobs in DC in international development. But then I realized that I hate working in international development and the non-profit sector. So many people just suck at things like basic office technology. My supervisor at my last job once made hand corrections to a Word document, scanned it, saved it on our shared drive, and then told me where on the shared drive it was so that I could make the corrections in the Word document. And Webinars! Jesus God, no one knew how to do a webinar. I began to think that I had no alternatives left, so I embraced that teaching English abroad was now a legit option for me. I could live in a different country, travel more, and hopefully save up some money. It had to be better than sitting on my butt all day and doing nothing.

My older sister is in the Air Force and received an assignment to be in South Korea for a year. Although I was looking for any job that would start by January 2016, I thought it would be neat to find something in Korea so that sissy and I could travel/hang out together. We hadn’t lived in the same place since high school, so Mary-Kate and Ashley could finally be BFFLs again.

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with our beaus

After several intense weeks of scouring job forums, sending my resume to sketchy email accounts, and buying a Groupon for an online teaching certificate, I finally started receiving job offers. Chinese companies were super eager to offer me positions. I was a white American, which, it became obvious, is all they are looking for. But, the jobs seemed to be in random towns or in big cities that had smog warnings.

South Korea seems to hold prospective teachers to a higher standard. Although being white is also a big plus for them, they like candidates to have some sort of qualification or teaching experience. I volunteered as an ESL teacher for adults in DC, but that wasn’t necessarily enough to easily get a job in Korea. I had no experience, or truthfully any interest, in working with kids. I wanted to continue to teach adults. But, I took the first job that offered me a start date I wanted and a good location in the capital even though it would mostly be teaching elementary and middle school-aged kids.

When I decided to tell my job in DC that I was leaving, I expected a reaction along the lines of “What a surprise! No one can replace you. You’ve been such a good employee”. I was one of the few guys in the office, and people always commented on my sense of humor. But the vibe I got was more “Ok, bye. You’re replaceable.”

The last two or three weeks I worked there consisted of me listening to Serial and preparing to move abroad as fast as I could. I had to move out of my apartment, sell my furniture on Craigslist, and get my documents in order for Korea. I made my last day of work the same day as the office Christmas party, so that it wouldn’t be as awkward of a goodbye. It was still awkward though. We had a White Elephant, which one overbearing employee decided to make stressful and not fun. After that, they said here’s your going away present but open it fast because we have a meeting in here in five minutes. Some people didn’t even say bye to me. In an office with about a dozen people, it’s not that hard to just stop by and say bye on your way out. Maybe they just didn’t want me to see them cry.

Once I submitted my documents to my school in Korea, I had to wait for the immigration department to process my paperwork in Seoul before I could drop off my visa application in DC. Although I had quit my job and sold my bed, I had no ticket to South Korea or even a for sure idea of when I would leave. I was nervous that my job offer would fall through or be rescinded for whatever reason. But I really didn’t care that much. It was a godsend to sit in my apartment all day and watch tons of TV. Almost reluctantly, my approval came through and I bought a one-way plane ticket to Seoul that left in less than a week. Time to GTFO.

I’m in Love with a Drag Queen

I’m in Love with a Drag Queen

I got hooked on RuPaul’s Drag Race during its second season in 2010. Two different friends recommended it to me on two different occasions, so I felt like I had to give it a try. The show was pretty barebones back then. The winner only got $25,000. But, the concept was golden: drag queens competing against each other. Duh, I’ll watch that.

Here we are in 2015 and I’m a mega fan of the show. I’ve been to the crownings for the last two seasons (in Las Vegas and New York City) and I watch past contestants’ webseries at work. To me, drag queens on TV are bitchy and funny and I think some of them are cute as boys despite having shaved off all their body hair and overtweezed their eyebrows. But, I never thought I could date a guy who did drag. However, one queen this season made me question that because I realized I was attracted to her both in and out of drag. Ok, I mean I think she’s funny in drag and that I have a crush on her out of drag (I’m not into sex with boys IN drag).

Her name is Ekaterina Zamolodchikova. But you can call her Katya.

She’s a scrawny boy from Boston who speaks fluent Russian and does the splits like none other.

This is her boyself:

Yaaas kween!

She made it to the top five of the show and was the only contestant that I could see winning. But, she was unfairly eliminated and then I gave up on this season. I didn’t even really care who won despite being in New York at the crowning. I was still on #teamkatya.

Katya came to DC back in April when the show was still airing and she hadn’t been eliminated yet. I saw her perform on a Saturday night at a gay club and then was going to see her the following Monday at a gay bar where they host RuPaul’s Drag Race watch parties. As I was walking up to the bar, I passed a Holiday Inn and saw her sitting there smoking a cigarette in full drag. I went up and talked to her for fifteen minutes or so until we both walked over to the bar. Unfortunately, she didn’t fall in love with me then, so I wrote her a love letter expressing my feelings:

“Dear Katya,

I know you’re a big deal, but I hope that you’re not so busy/illiterate that you can’t read and respond to your own fan mail. A part of me hopes you don’t because I’m pretty nervous about writing a love letter to a drag queen, but I do hope that you/someone will respond.

I had the privilege of meeting you in person and talking to you for a little bit when you were here in DC in April. You were going to co-host the Drag Race watch party at Number Nine and I was headed to the bar to watch with my friends. After a long day of hooking a.k.a. being a stupid DC young professional, I was walking to the bar looking a fool with all of my bags and my bike helmet. I saw you sitting outside the Holiday Inn, smoking a cigarette. My heart started racing because I’ve developed not only a fascination for your drag but a huge boy crush on you. I knew that I had to go up and at least say hi to you.

I was nervous to interrupt your smoke, but (being Mom) you were a big sweetheart and actually look good in drag in person. Drag queens in DC are typically pretty scary looking up close if you haven’t noticed. After you clocked my business casual khaki on khaki look, we sat on the bench and just chatted for fifteen minutes or so until someone came to take you to the bar. You talked about how attractive guys in DC are (which I don’t 100% agree with). We also discussed how you wear perfume in drag, which I was always curious about because how far does drag go? Do you wear boy deodorant in drag? Boy underwear?

The owner of Number Nine finally came, and we all walked to the bar together. I felt like such a groupie walking in with you. People were actually looking at me and wanted to know who I was. You also remembered my name and said it when you were hosting. It was a mega dream come true for me.

I tried to say bye to you that night but you were swarmed with fans wanting to take pictures with you, which is understandable because you’re the best. I had joked with my friends that I was going to download Grindr and scroll Craigslist when you were in town to try to hook up with you or, at least, buy you a cupcake or something. So, it was perfect to just stumble across you outside Holiday Inn.

I hope that you will come back to DC sometime soon. I will definitely come see your show and continue to dream that we will one day get together. Even though I’ve never brought anyone home to meet my family (because boys suck), I’ve already mentally worked up the courage to let them know that I’m planning to marry a drag queen. I usually think that being around queens non-stop would be exhausting, but I am 100% ready to quit my job and be your groupie/boyfriend whenever.

I will continue to watch your webseries while eating lunch at my boring office job and follow you all over Instagram and Facebook. Continue being you because your fanbase is ridiculous. Your humor is super sexy and I will hold out hope that I will get to know someone romantically who makes me laugh as much as you do.

I hope that you or a member of your posse will write back.

I sincerely love you.

Peter Jones

Let me know if you want me to send nudes.

Instagram: pitajones

Twitter: pitajones2

P.S. Here’s a picture I found in Colombia that reminded me of you.”

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I got a response only a few hours later.
“Peter!
What the heck!!??? I would have rubbed my scabby dick all over your biz-cas khaki kombo.
You better let me do sex to you next time I’m in DC.
Xoxo.
Ps- send me nudes”

 

Do I think this was really Katya replying? No. If it was, do I think she remembered me? Not really. But, I had to try to make this relationship work! So, I responded:

​”Yaaas kween! Scabby dick all o’er my body. Here are some teasers. Will send nudes when the swelling goes down.”

 

I sent some of my modeling pics. They’re not that scandalous. I never got a response. I guess we’re not meant to be right now unfortunately. I think she might be afraid of commitment.

Love me I like I love you, Katya!!!
 
Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty

My family pretty much always had cats growing up. When my parents were still together, we had a rescued greyhound until I was three or so I think. Then my parents divorced and my mom would only agree to cats, probably because she would be the one taking care of them most of the time. So, we had Smoky and the uniquely named Spot (I named her). We were living in Alabama, and I was in the first grade. When we moved at the end of the school year, the movers left the doors open and the cats ran away. I didn’t mourn for too long because I was young and didn’t care that much.

We moved to Nebraska after that. (My mom was in the Air Force, thus the moving). After a few years, Carol Ann once again agreed to let my sister and I each get a cat. We went to the local animal shelter and there were three sisters: one dark and striped, one gray and striped, and one with long hair. My sister wanted the dark one, and I wanted to the long-haired one. But, my mom jumped in and took the gray, striped one with shorter hair. I thought this was supposed to be my cat, Mom? I’ll never know what happened to that third little kitty with long hair.

On the way home with our new pals, my sister Melanie named her cat Tigger and I thought of the creative name Bubbles. Don’t ask me why I chose that. No, it’s not from the Powerpuff Girls. The two cats lived with us through several moves. Tigger died while I was in school in Costa Rica. My mom sent me an email saying that she was in “kitty heaven”. Bubbles survived a few years longer, but they had to put her down because she was sick and losing too much weight. Carol Ann called me and told me that she just hoped Bubbles had a good life and was happy. She’s buried in my parents’ backyard in Virginia. They have three other cats now, so there’s no shortage.

I was never super into any of these cats growing up. They didn’t want to lay in bed with me. They didn’t want to take a bath with me no matter how many times I pushed them in the bathtub. I also didn’t want to take care of them. So, I probably wasn’t the best caretaker. Does this explain why I don’t have a boyfriend? Possibly.

It took a huge bout of depression and loneliness in Armenia to get me interested in having a cat again. While I was bored in my lonely apartment in Yerevan, I remember scrolling the pages of the Humane Society in DC, imagining my life with each of the cats there. Pretty sad, huh?

After moving to DC, I still struggled to commit to a pet. Most apartments charge for them if they even allow them. Then there’s the cost of food and litter and shots and cute outfits that I would obviously make my cat wear. What if I move abroad? What if the cat gets sick? But, I still fantasized about coming home to a little furball that would love me unconditionally (or at least, I’d tell myself it would).

I think my sister sensed this desperation for a pet. She’s in the Air Force now and was living in Louisiana with her fiance who is also in the Air Force. They have a dog and a cat but needed to relocate them because they were both deploying to Guam for six months. My sister asked me if I wanted to take in the cat Fenway. Fuck yeah, I did. But, my lease prohibits pets. I thought I’d at least ask my landlord to make an exception. The worst he could say was no. I tried to use the patriotic angle, saying that my sister is in the “military” and is being “deployed” (I didn’t say to a tropical island and not a warzone) and that I would only have the cat for a couple of months (or six). To my surprise, he agreed.

All my dreams were coming true. This was like a rental cat. If I hated it, I could give it back in six months.

So, my sister flew up in February with Fenway. It took some getting used to, but I think she and I get along now. She likes to lay in bed with me when I’m falling asleep and sometimes sits on my lap while I’m watching TV.

My sister thought the easiest way for me to feed Fenway would be to buy an automatic food dispenser. It dispenses a certain amount of food everyday at the same time. It’s good for me because I’m sure I’d forget to feed her one day and then realize it at work and feel like one of those parents who left their kids in the car overnight. It also prevents her from becoming obese or “fluffy” as all of my parents’ past cats have been because they eat as much as they want.

The feeder, however, led to our first fight about a week or so into Fenway’s stay with me. Although there’s the same amount of food coming out of the dispenser everyday, Fenway will stick her paw up into it trying to get any loose food that might come out. It creates the most ANNOYING noise and she KNOWS I hate it. One weekend, I was trying to sleep in and I just kept hearing this scratching sound and I ran up to her and clapped in her face and said “STOP IT!” She hissed at me and wouldn’t let me pet her when I left later that morning.

She still does the same thing, but I think it’s a combination of I’ve gotten used to it and she’s not as bad at it. I also have just accepted that if she’s going to fuck around with the damn tray, her cat food’s just going to go on the floor, so what’s the point of putting it back on?

How her food dispenser looks when I leave for work
How her food dispenser looks when I get home from work

I love having Fenway though. I think she likes me enough and I like that whenever I have people over, even my mom, she runs away and hides. She only feels comfortable with her Uncle Peter. Though, there was this one time I brought a guy home and she jumped in the bed with us. That was very unusual of her and inconvenient for us.

My mom, being the forever cat lady, has taken it upon herself to look out for Fenway’s welfare. One time, I went out of town for three days, and my mom wanted to stay at my apartment for two of them. “What if she gets lonely? What is she going to do?” I don’t know, Mom, the same thing she does all day everyday. This past visit, my mom was shocked that I didn’t leave my air conditioner unit on all day so that Fenway doesn’t get too hot. This is an apartment not a pet spa.

The weirdest part of having a pet is being naked in front of her. Walking around after taking a shower is ok now. I used to lock her out of my room when I needed to be “alone”. Now, I don’t mind as much. It’s just weird if we make eye contact while it’s happening.

So, like any annoying person who has a pet, significant other, or child, here’s a collection of photos that I want shove down your throat:

Blooper
Doesn’t she look like the moon emoji?
Hiding spot when it’s time to vaccum
One of us was drunk. Both of us were starved for attention.
Home Alone

Home Alone

I left home when I was 17 to go to boarding school in Costa Rica. From then until I was 23, I lived with roommates. After a horrible and lonely six-month stint living alone in a studio apartment in Armenia, I moved to DC and lived in several group houses. In total, I have had 31 roommates. 31! By far, the worst was Princess, my gay overdramatic, anorexic train wreck roommate that I shared a wall with for the first months I was in DC. But, overall, most of my roommate experiences have been enjoyable with little hiccups here and there.

With time, I learned things about myself that made me a better, stronger person. The most important lesson I took away from cohabiting is that God has given me the power to hate everyone. Ok, hate is a little strong. But, everyone at least has the power to get on my nerves. I think most people feel this way too (at least sometimes). Being around the same people all the time makes you realize all of their irritating habits, like stomping up and down the stairs, taking too long in the bathroom, and not cleaning EVER. Once you pick up on those one, two, or many flaws, you fixate on it/them and every time you see that person, you think “I FUCKING HATE YOU FOR SPILLING BLUEBERRIES ON THE FLOOR AND NOT CLEANING THEM UP FOR FIVE DAYS!”

That negativity just leeches into your entire life and you can’t escape it. So, after more than a year of saving money by living in non-glamorous group houses in up-and-coming neighborhoods with short-term leases, I decided that it was time to make another adult decision and live by myself.

I think that living on my own is also, in part, for the good of society. The paragraph above shows that I deal with a LITTLE bit of anger, so not forcing that rage onto others should totally be a tax break or something.

After viewing many studio apartments that made me incredibly claustrophobic and filling out multiple applications that were handled by incompetent people, I found a great deal for DC: a ONE-BEDROOM apartment cheaper than some of the studios I was looking at. It’s five minutes from a supermarket and it’s in a neighborhood I like. I moved in at the very end of August and and have enjoyed pretty much every day of living by myself (and currently with my sister’s cat Fenway).

Pros:

Pants are never required and are in fact, discouraged. The moment I come home, I take my pants off. Especially now that it’s summer/swamp season in DC. Sometimes, I just get naked and lay on my bed straddling my no-longer-oscillating fan, hoping that the heat rash “down there” will go away.

Farting, masturbating everywhere. One of my friends told me he thinks my apartment smells like farts and tears and half of that is true. It’s pretty gross, but that’s why there’s Febreeze.

Bathroom door never closes. 

Eat without judgement. Sometimes I have food smeared all over my face while I’m watching TV on my computer, but I don’t wipe it off because I have no one to impress.

I think to myself a lot. About what I’m going to write my book/TV show about. About why that boy never texts me back. About how many cats is too many.

Only mess I have to clean up is my own. Except for when I go to work. Then it’s like living in a group house all over again.

Boys always want to come to my place over theirs. Once they hear no roommates, they’re sold. Except in the winter when it’s hot as fuck. (See below)

 

Cons:

Live on first floor. Can’t walk around naked with the blinds open.

Directly above the boiler room. My apartment is the hottest in the building. In winter, I would sit around in my underwear while there was snow on the ground outside.

My neighbors next to me and above me suck. My bedroom shares a wall with the people beside me. I either hear their TV or obnoxious laughter all the time. I did work up the courage to ask them to be quiet once. The bitch upstairs I swear just moves furniture all day. I’ve never met her but I hate her. I also hear her have sex pretty regularly. More reason to hate her.

Expensive. It’s like 50% more than some of row houses I was living in. But, I think it’s worth it.

Sometimes lonely. I think that I have enough friends in DC now that I can socialize when I want but stay home when I want too. Sometimes, it just works out that everyone’s busy/doesn’t want to hang out. So, some nights (like my birthday), I have to stay in and convince myself that I wanted to.

Had to furnish myself. Because I was constantly moving every few months in DC, I was hesitant to invest in any furniture. Signing a one-year lease for this place was as close to setting down roots as I could commit to. But, the drawback was that I had to get every piece of furniture that I wanted. Everything in DC is expensive for no reason, so my solution was to drive down to my parents’ town in Methville, Virginia (not the real town name), buy cheap shit at thrift stores, and drive it up in a U-Haul.

Have to pay for laundry. In quarters. In the basement.

No dishwasher. And I hate washing dishes by hand.

If I die, who will find me? My number one fear is dying while masturbating. (I’m sure that has happened to someone). Who wants to be found with a fleshlight and a bottle of lube next to them? Very unflattering. But then, I was rewatching a 30 Rock episode and Liz freaks out about choking to death in her apartment. I hadn’t even thought of that! Now, every bite I take is a gamble.

Things you find on the internet

I’ve loved living alone so far. You know who also loves me living by myself? My mom. Whenever she has a late meeting or has a work trip and lands after 7pm, she wants to stay at my place. Which I like, but:

1. The first time she asked me what city I live in. WHAT CITY?!

2. She practically moved herself in. The first time she stayed here, she left a blow dryer, her razor(?), and coffee grounds. Exsqueeze me! Boundaries, Carol Ann.

3. One time, my mom stayed at my apartment when I was out of town. I had to make copies of the keys and send them to her hotel. I was worried that she’d find some of my “things” in my closet, but the biggest thing I had to worry about was her wearing my clothes.

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IMG_0488

Like mother, like son.

Analysis and Conclusion (Date Lab: Part 2)

Analysis and Conclusion (Date Lab: Part 2)

Since my last blog post was a huge hit (with approximately 17 views in one day), I put off writing the second part of my Date Lab experience until now. These past few months have been crazy busy for me due to the stupid classes I signed up for thinking that I would enrich myself. I mean I took a proofreading class by choice. Who does that?

Anyways, I’m back on the blogging scene with lots of new material to write about. But, I figured, it’s only fair that I finish what I started with Date Lab and Riley. For a refresher, read this.

I ended up being pretty drunk when I got home (ALONE) after our date. I woke up the next morning still with no word from Riley. For the record, I was pretty sure I had put the ball in his court. So, when I had to do a post-date phone interview that morning during work, I figured I’d play it safe and answer cautiously to avoid making a fool of myself if Riley trashed me during his interview.

I thought the lady reporter was really nice and easy to talk to over the phone. She seemed to do this a lot and understand how awkward blind dates can be. We laughed about stuff as she ran down her list of questions. I went straight after work that day to do the video interview. The Washington Post staff had told me to wear a dark shirt because it shows up better on the screen. Having been a model for about five seconds, I also dabbed some concealer on a few problem areas because you never know who’s going to see the video when it comes out.

The video interview went fine as well. It was awkward to try to look straight at a camera lens one foot in front of my face, but lady who conducted the interview told me I gave good facial expressions. I’ve never had any complaints.

Riley and I did end up texting a little bit that day about how our interviews went. I tried to move the conversation to something other than Date Lab, but it just never really happened. This being the week of Christmas also made it harder to stay in touch since we were both going out of town. I knew that the story was set to be published in about a month and a half, but I didn’t hear anything from the newspaper for several weeks. Then the print reporter had a few “follow up” questions that she wanted to ask me:

  • What did he say when you told him you had a blog?
  • Do you remember him telling you about his trip to Germany for October Fest? What did you think of that?
  • You said personality-wise you had a lot in common–that you were both easy going. What other personality traits do you think you have in common?
  • He mentioned that you play for a kickball league and that he asked you if it was a gay league. What did you think of that?
  • When he said stuff during the date and in the taxi about your buying him a drink–did you think that was sweet or did it make you uncomfortable in that he was presuming a lot? This is where I realized homegirl was trying to sniff out a story and create some drama where there wasn’t any. 

I started checking the Date Lab section of WaPo mid January to see if it was the week our article would be published. Finally, on January 23, it happened. And my self-esteem would never be the same.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/date-lab-two-tall-guys-will-they-see-eye-to-eye/2015/01/13/0384e814-8a29-11e4-8ff4-fb93129c9c8b_story.html

I woke up one morning to see that the article had been published and I read it in bed before getting up for work. I didn’t think there was anything that scandalous about it. He hardly ever talked about dinosaurs but that apparently makes him a fucking “dinosaur enthusiast”. And I’m “looking for a hotter version of Bill Gates” which, for the record, I did say, but I feel like I elaborated on that a bit more. The whole article isn’t really a narrative; it’s just our answers to questions but without the questions included. I think that’s misleading, but I guess this is what I signed up for so I have to take it as it is. For example, she asked me if there were any dealbreakers. I said not really, but I guess him playing video games might be one because that’s not really my scene. However, the article makes it look like I brought up that I didn’t like that he plays video games. You spin that story, Nina. Spin it.

We both had to rate the date and I gave it a four because he hadn’t texted me the next day and I didn’t want to look like a loser if he gave me one star. Like I said though, none of this was really scandalous or embarrassing.

Then I watched the video.

Despite having put make-up on my face, you can still all my zits.

It’s always a little nerve-racking to watch a video of yourself or hear a recording of your voice. But this was terrible. I think I look terrible with a dark shirt and that horrible backdrop that they chose to use. Couldn’t they get some cool unicorn special effects going on back there? Using a damn WHITE background. Is the Post broke?
Is this how I really look?
It looks like I’ve washed that shirt five million times.

And then there were the comments. I was warned to take them with a grain of salt. I expected at least some to be homophobic. Although this is DC, where gay feels like the majority at times, I still have been called a faggot to my face twice (once by a crazy homeless man so maybe that time doesn’t count).

The comments were way different than that, but still not entirely pleasant to read:

  • “The entire episode seems kinda creepy.”
  • “The VERY first thing that caught my eye was how totally different both guys look from the instagram photos than they do in the video. They dont look like the same people… And I dont think Riley ever really left his dad’s garage…”
  • “That was so boring I don’t even want to read the comments later today.”
  • “He’s into dinosaurs and video games? I think Peter needed to lighten up and relax!”
  • “I think Riley needs to grow up.”
These comments, man.

People get crazy when they’re able to post anonymous comments. Like when you read the comments on a Justin Bieber video, and people start talking about Nazis. You’re like, “how did we get here?” According to these anon commenters, I’m stuck up and Riley’s a loser that never left his parents’ house. And we’re both boring. None of this is true, but there’s no use trying to defend either of us now.

Here are my two favorite comments:

  • “good looking gay boys using date lab? this must be a prank. Peter should move to NYC, where I and all my gorgeous gay husbands are from. he is a better fit there than for DC. I don’t know a single good looking gay man who is into video games (they have no time for that) …. so, ummmm. not a good match. but then again, as the classic joke goes ‘what do lesbians do on the second date?’ (they show up with a U-haul.) what do gay men do on the second date? (what second date?)”

I think he’s saying I should move to New York because I’m hot. Okay…I’m feeling it.

  • Snog: Peter. Marry: Riley. Avoid: Datelab.

SOMEONE WOULD SNOG ME!!!

On top of all this, Riley wrote a post about the whole experience for DCist, and it got published the same day the Date Lab article came out: http://dcist.com/2015/01/i_survived_the_posts_date_lab.php

Luckily for me, he didn’t say anything about how I came across as disinterested in my interviews. He mostly focused on the whole experience. He even texted me a link to his article, which is a polite thing to do. Some comments on this one were a little more scandalous because people speculated about whether or not we “banged”. (We didn’t.)

After all was said and done though, I’m still a huge fan of making fun of people including myself. I posted the link to the Post article on my Facebook and even circulated it around at my office. It was a big hit and a conversation starter for awhile. Even my landlord saw it. It did take a huge toll on my self esteem for some time though. No matter how many people told me I looked fine in the video, I still didn’t feel attractive for a good two months after that. But, thanks to more random hook-ups and boys starting and stopping talking to me without reason, I’m back at my normal personal worth level of just below average (only kidding). But, I don’t regret going on Date Lab. It was something different and good overall. Maybe someday I’ll end up famous with a huge penis like John Hamm and people will find this old Date Lab article and laugh because I’ll be beautiful and famous and in a relationship.

 But most likely not. Time to invest in some more cats.
Question, Hypothesis, and Experiment (Date Lab: Part 1)

Question, Hypothesis, and Experiment (Date Lab: Part 1)

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”

I always modeled my life around this saying any time I was in a new place. I wanted to get the most out of things and have as authentic an experience as possible. So in Turkey, I used Turkish deodorant that had 30 minutes worth of coverage before kebab starting seeping out of my pores. In Oklahoma, I stopped wearing jorts because apparently, that’s not ok there.

Even Blake Griffin agrees.

In DC, I signed up for Date Lab.

Date Lab is a weekly feature in the Washington Post Magazine that recounts (both in print and now in video) a blind date. My friend’s dad first mentioned it to me last November. I was asking him for advice on getting into writing on a professional level. The point he was making was to find some sort of niche or special interest that I could cater to that people would want to read. He described the concept of Date Lab and how readers in the metro area eagerly await each new story since they so rarely lead to anything substantial and because there are some super awkward encounters.

Being perpetually single, I thought what’s the worst that could happen if I filled out an application? So I did, never expecting to hear about it again. The very next week, my boss mentioned how Date Lab was her favorite part of the paper and that she looked for it every Sunday. That made me further realize how many followers Date Lab has, at least in my parents’ age category.

About a month later, I was in New York for the day with some of my coworkers on the way to our annual staff retreat. Checking my email while waiting for the subway, I saw a message from the Washington Post stating that they had someone in mind to set me up on a date with. Since when did my life become a sappy romcom? My colleagues heard my audible guffaw while reading the email and asked what was up. I could have easily changed the topic but decided to let them in on my date. But I told no one else because like any mature adult, I believe in jinxing things by discussing them. So, I tell no one about job interviews, grad school applications, and especially dates until after they are over. I guess the main reason is that I’m scared of people seeing me fail and I already overanalyze things too much myself, so I don’t need anyone else to add their perspective to the equation.

I responded to the message to let the producers of the date know that “my circumstances hadn’t changed” meaning I was still single as fuck. Although I expected them to tell me that my prospective date had bailed or worse, was now in a relationship, the process continued to move along. I had to sign a media release, which of course I didn’t read. It probably said that I have to go on the National Date Lab Registry and tell all my neighbors that I’m a registered DL alum. The Post asked me for days that I would be free because they are the ones who arrange the date. The day I came back from the staff retreat in Connecticut was my birthday and, sadly enough, I had absolutely no plans. I thought it would be too embarrassing for me to go on a blind date then and too much pressure for my date, so we decided on dinner the following Monday, the week of Christmas.

The person who scheduled the date emailed me and the other person but only used our first names. I found out his name was Riley, a pretty uncommon name for a guy. I searched in Facebook to see if anyone came up in the DC area. It turns out I have two mutual friends with a guy named Riley, who goes to Georgetown and looks like a young Jimmy Carter. I was worried that I had “unblinded” my date and that he was going to be a preppy douche.

The day of my date, I got an email asking me to answer a list of “superlatives” (my favorite music, thing I’ll never eat – stuff that you’d find in your high school yearbook). I think it was then that I realized the people who would eventually read my answers would have no context of me as a person. I doubted they would get my sarcasm, so I played it safe and answered boringly. I said that my favorite team is the Oklahoma Sooners (what?) rather than Team Little Dick (sarcasm). Though I did say that my favorite app is Candy Crush and my favorite movie is Drop Dead Gorgeous, which are both true (but sometimes, Mean Girls is my fav).

The date was for 7:30 that evening at a restaurant I would never take anyone: date, friend, or family. My mom thinks anything more expensive than Chipotle is just absurd. The Post was giving us $125, so I browsed the menu ahead of time and was aiming to do some damage because worst/best case scenario, this guy would hate me and leave early so I would get to eat for two. Things weren’t really going well for me before the date. It was raining, I hated all of my clothes, and I was running super early. I HATE being early. I like to make an entrance.

But thanks to the amazing metro system of Washington, DC (more sarcasm) I lost 20 minutes and showed up right on time. I told the hostess that I was there with the Washington Post, like I was instructed to do, and the hostess replied as awkwardly as she could have: “The uh, other person is already here”. Are you leading me to a date or a glory hole? I followed her to the table and there was a completely different Riley than the young Jimmy Carter I was expecting. He had dark hair and glasses. What a relief!

Dat face (mine)

We shook hands and began breaking through the uncomfortable situation that we were in. We talked about the basics: where we work, where we’re from, why we signed up for Date Lab. He told me that he had initially applied five years ago. I had submitted the application the month before. Why had we been matched together? We picked apart our common interests to see if we could find out. We’re both tall (he’s 6’4″; I’m 6’1″). We like to travel. We have similar senses of humor. We both like to write. (He actually makes money for it though). Nothing obvious stood out as to why we were paired up, but I enjoyed talking to him nonetheless. The conversation didn’t feel forced or insincere.

Foodwise, I ordered the steak because SOMEONE ELSE WAS PAYING!

I’m not that hungry. I could go for a snack.

We also had a few rounds of drinks and some appetizers. The waitress was super nice. It was one of those situations where she, Riley, and I knew that this could be a super awkward situation if we let it be. The two of us were on a blind date and she was serving us and had to act like the restaurant staff weren’t taking bets on whether or not we’d “bang” later that night (stay tuned). She brought out champagne, an appetizer, and eventually dessert that was compliments of the chef. I wish the chef at Taco Bell would do the same and drop a few extra chalupas in my order.

One stipulation of the date is that we had to take at least six pictures each to document our time together. So, we received a manila envelope with two DISPOSABLE cameras. As if this situation weren’t already tricky, we had to draw further attention to ourselves by pushing the battery button and snapping some cool shots with these things:

My grandma doesn’t even use these anymore

The three inches Riley has on me must make his tolerance for alcohol much higher than mine. I was good with one maybe two drinks, but followed his lead and made it up to three or four. We stayed until the restaurant closed around 10 and realized that we had better get going. It was a Monday after all. I had planned on metro-ing home to be my frugal self, but Riley mentioned taking a taxi and I thought we could share it because my place is on the way to his. We continued talking during the cab ride, and I eventually worked up the guts to ask for his number. I texted him mine and thought that put the ball in his court to make the next move after the date. When we got to my place, I didn’t have exact change but he said that I could buy him a beer our next time out. Ok, sure, I thought. I’m down for hanging out again. We left things with a hug. Once home, I discovered that I was tipsier than I thought (which would explain my face in that photo above), so I quickly feel asleep without giving my mind the opportunity to replay and analyze every aspect of the night.

The morning after the date, a writer from the Washington Post was going to call me over the phone and ask how the date went. I also had to go into their building to do a video interview with another staff member. I still hadn’t heard anything from Riley, so when I got the phone call, I thought the date had gone well but how could I be sure that he had felt the same?

To be continued…

Job Search

Job Search

I have found applying for jobs to be a soul-crushing yet somewhat addictive process. My first cycle of going through the job application process lasted for about a year and a half. It took me through three internships and left me feeling that my college degree was worth nothing and that my personal value was less than that.

After finally settling into my job as a contractor with the U.S. government, I quickly realized that work sucks. I hate work. I had always justified it to myself before as Oh, these are just internships. Real jobs will have something to do besides busy work. False. My main complaints at that office were the following:

1. I had nothing to do. I would say approximately 6 hours out of the 8-hour workday were completely for personal time. I caught up on my email, bought LOTS of stuff online, and knew everyone’s Facebook statuses by heart.

2. Who was my manager? Even when I got offered my new job (see below) and had to give my two weeks notice, I was like Who do I have to tell? (I ideally wanted to tell one person, pack up my office, and leave the same day). Since I was a contractor, I had my contract manager,  I also had a team leader, and her boss who was the division leader, and THEN I had the people that actually passive aggressively interacted with me daily. They tended to favor one of two management approaches: a) I don’t want to teach you/wait for you so I’ll just do it myself. b) I don’t know how to do my job so can you do it, but if you screw up, I’ll blame you?

3. People were weird. I found out over a year after I started working there that one of my colleagues had kids. Don’t you want to talk about your kids? I still don’t know where most of my former colleagues are from and/or went to school. I hate networking but I just want to connect on a personal level. In college, I knew that my boss lived with her brother and had a friend with 20+ cats. At my old job, I only knew who the guy was that always had something stinky for lunch.

4. My salary was 50% more than I asked for. Most people would think this is heaven and tell me to stop bitching, but this is international development. You don’t go into this field to get rich, or at least, that’s some of the Kool-Aid I drank when I signed up. We’re allegedly “working” to alleviate hunger, disease, and other crises, but we have to maintain a lifestyle where we shop at Whole Foods and use pink lava salt on our food?

Dat ain’t right.

5. No travel. All of these flaws would be excused if you paid for me to travel somewhere.

 

There were some positives of the job though:

1. I had a lot of free time. I trained for a half marathon, a lot of which I did during work. One time, I ran 10 miles while on the clock and no one missed me. Several blog posts have also been written and posted entirely while I was at work.

2. Time off. I didn’t have a ridiculous amount of vacation, but in the year and a half I was there, I went to Peru, Puerto Rico, San Francisco, Oklahoma, Miami, Phoenix/Grand Canyon/Las Vegas, Reno/Denver, and Connecticut/Boston. Not too bad, yeah?

3. Living solo. A lot of the money I saved up while working there and living with (mostly) good roommates helped me afford living on my own (future blog post).

 

When I started, I really had no intention of leaving this job for at least two years. Searching for a new job sucks and it was a dream for me to work at this office. But even after only six months, I was ready to go. Once I realized that this position had no advancement potential, I slowly eased back into the job application process. For the record, I do hate applying for jobs, not because I’m bad at it, but because everyone on the receiving end of job applications is dumb. Seriously though, come on, HR people. Get your lives together.

I think that one of the main reasons it took a while for me to get a real job in DC last time was because I wasn’t physically in DC. No one wants to pay and wait for you to relocate. You’re not worth their time. I also didn’t have much experience in the field yet. Although my resume is impressive, there are thousands of people just like me here.

For this job search, I think my biggest drawback was my pay. At times, I was willing to take a pay cut just to get out of my position. But, $10,000 less? No, ma’am. So, my first job actually kind of stunted my career growth. I didn’t have the skills to move up, but my salary expectation was what some managers earn. To make a long story short, from November 2013 to August 2014, I applied for hundreds of jobs. I probably don’t even want to know how many. If I wasn’t applying for jobs, I felt guilty. No one was going to just come up and tell me I’m beautiful and say they love me and feed me. In the same way, no one was going to come up and offer me a job. I had to scrape my bitch ass through this backwards job search, one mediocre cover letter at a time.

And some people were interested in me. A lot of the organizations I applied to received money from the agency I used to work at, so hiring one of their former employees would be a big advantage. But finding a job with the salary I wanted was tough. I interviewed for 30 jobs. THUH.URR.TEE. Sometimes, they were phone interviews, sometimes in-person, sometimes on Skype.

 

This is how I looked when I interviewed in-person:

 

This is what I wore when the garbage man hollered at me 😉

This is how I looked when I Skype interviewed:

Pants-less for success

And, because my past internships and jobs have taught me that when in doubt, make an Excel spreadsheet, I made one of all the jobs I interviewed for! (Click to make it bigger)

Job Interview Spreadsheet-page-001

As you can see, some rejected me, some I rejected (or stopped the application process because they couldn’t meet my salary expectation), and all of those ones in white never got back to me. If you’re going to make someone interview for a job, you at least owe them an email saying they didn’t get the job. If you don’t send them an email, you are, what we call “an ASSHOLE” and I hope the same thing happens to you in the future.

The job search sucks also because:

There were 3.6 million job openings at the end of 2012. About 80% of available jobs are never advertised.

I made this gif.

The average number of people who apply for any given job: 118.

I also made this one.

“You will have to invest energy in learning this process and remember that any frustrations encountered in the job search don’t relate to how valuable you can be on the job.” -Alan Carniol

This means that your viability as an employee does not necessarily indicate whether or not you will get a job. Applying for jobs is a skill in itself, and guess what, they don’t teach that at our overpriced higher learning institutes. I quickly realized that applications were all about quantity, not quality. Why spend hours perfecting your cover letter or tailoring your resume to a certain organization when they are just going to hire internally or their resume filtering system will rule you out because you didn’t mention one of their buzzwords.

Which brings me to the grand finale. I applied for the job I currently have in July. I interviewed by phone at the end of the month. A few weeks later, I was offered an in-person interview and a subsequent phone interview with a manager at an office in Connecticut. While I was still in the interview process there, I heard back from a different organization. The position there offered a much higher salary and seemed like interesting work that I was qualified for. So, I was interviewing for two potential jobs simultaneously. The first place, following all of the proper etiquette, offered me the job and a decent salary. I really liked the staff when I interviewed there, and it seemed like a welcoming environment. Without committing completely, I filled out the hiring paperwork and gave them a start date for a few weeks later. The day after the first job offer, I had a second round interview for the second job. I really wanted that salary. I thought the interview went well, and I told them about my first job offer. I said I preferred the job with their organization and asked them to give me an answer by the beginning of the next week.

Waiting, waiting, waiting…

They finally replied that they were hiring someone internally. Bummer, but at least, I didn’t have to Sophie’s choose between two jobs. So, I committed to the first position, finished my last days at my government contractor job, and booked a last minute ticket to Sri Lanka (a reward to myself for being done with that job). While on the beach in Sri Sri, I get an email from HR Lady at the second job asking me to call her. Why would she want to talk to me? Wasn’t rejection enough? Always curious, I asked if we could correspond by email. She responded that the internal candidate they offered the job to (a week and a half earlier) had turned down the offer. They were interested in maybe potentially hiring me. Are you fucking kidding me? It was the Friday before I was supposed to start my new job and you MIGHT offer me a job eventually? It stressed me out, especially the salary part, but I had to turn the job down. It was a half-assed offer too late and I had made my mind up that the first organization would be my next job. I declined the position in a very professionally way, I thought. HR Lady responded:

“Dear Peter, It’s never too late.”

Yeah, I made the right choice. I want a job not an inspirational quote, thanks.

 

I’ve been at my current job for just over two months now. It’s a non-profit, so it’s a completely different style of work for me. Sometimes it’s hectic, sometimes people are still passive aggressive, and sometimes people are just dumb. But, I like it. I really do. And life is so much better when you don’t hate the 40 hours of your week you spend at your mindless job and the infinity hours you spend outside of that stressing over how much you hate it.

In conclusion, I just want to say…

(dramatic pause)

(takes a breath)

It’s never too late.

Hating Dating

Hating Dating

***Warning: Graphic images and language used below. Not suitable for children or lame bitches who can’t stomach a harmless dick pic. Do not read the Grindr section on a work computer.***

Dating isn’t something that has really come naturally to me. I say that not to feel sorry for myself but rather to show that the few brief relationships I have participated in have not been initiated by dates. So how have my relationships started? I fell in love with my best friend. I slept with my Guatemalan friend’s bestie on spring break because he was hot. A guy left his live-in boyfriend (maybe just a little bit) because of me. You know, the usual.

After moving to DC, I decided to put myself out there and try to date seriously. This was not Norman, Oklahoma where the gay population is incestuous and options are limited. This is not Armenia where the gay bar gets fire-bombed. This was the gay Mecca, where all the short, pretentious boys of all races flocked to realize their political dreams of working on Capitol Hill, and end up temping at a random law office and being a part-time barista.

OKCupid

I started using OKCupid at my friend Courtney’s suggestion. She met her current beau on it and the pair have been together for about two years. The site is a like an eHarmony or Match.com for younger people who don’t want to pay for dating or haven’t reached that level of desperation yet.

I assumed there was no harm in putting myself out there. OKC’s clearly for dating and not hooking up in terms of the questions it asks users. I had to list “the six things I could never do without” as opposed to my “tribe” (see Grindr below). After having a presence on the site for a little over a year, I think it’s a smart concept but DC gays have yet to figure out how to use it effectively. Or maybe, it’s not them; it’s me. From my recollection, I have met up with four guys that I started talking to on OKCupid. None of them went past the first date and that’s cool. I just wanted to put myself out there and meet new people. Find out what I’m looking for in a guy. All that Bridget Jones shit.

Pros:

Not for hookups

Shows height of guys (I’m a tall glass of water and like my prospective significant others to be the same)

Cons:

Others can see if I viewed their profile (awkward when you accidentally do it multiple times)

Guys decide their body types. That means even though I can see your gut and man boobs, you can still call yourself “fit”. Sure, you are.

Overall, I rated a lot of guys. A lot of guys rated me. Sometimes, we messaged back and forth. More often than not, one of us gave up responding and that was that. Of the guys I went out with: one was too pretentious, one was a terrible kisser, one had an annoying voice, and one was a hot Turkish guy that stopped talking to me. Two out of five stars.

Tinder

This app became all the rage at the end of last summer. I learned about it by glancing over my friend’s shoulder at a bar while she was using it. For those who don’t know how it works, you browse through prospectives’ profiles that show their name, age, picture, and a little blurb about themselves. You can choose to either swipe right if you like the person or left if you’ll take a pass. If you and the prospective both swipe right, you’re matched and can begin messaging through the app. It uses your location and tells you how far away the person is from you. Some people think it’s a superficial concept but I’m in favor of it. If you’re at a bar, you want to go up to someone who’s attractive and who looks like they have their shit together. Tinder just mirrors that logic.

Pros:

Does awesome things for self esteem. If you feel ugly, just open up Tinder and swipe right a lot. Someone else will do the same thing and then you’ll both feel a little more attractive that day.

The app can be connected to your Facebook account, so it shows if you have any mutual friends or interests. This can be a good judge of the person’s character. He’s friends with a cool girl you know from college? Might lead to something. He’s friends with that pretentious asshole you met at a networking event? Probably should swipe left.

Cons:

Doesn’t show height or weight. Have to assume that if someone only shows photos from the neck up, a soft body is lurking out of frame.

I swear to god if I see one more picture of a guy who did the Color Run or holding some random baby, I will lose it!

NO ONE TALKS TO ME!! I have come to the conclusion that guys here just use it to boost their egos. Over the course of almost a year, I have matched with 311 people. I’m guessing that over 200 of those guys have not messaged me once. It should come as no surprise then that I have never met up with anyone from this app not because I didn’t want to. I have found the guys on here, like many in DC, to be flaky, non-committal, and just overall douchey.

It has become sleazy. I know it has pretty much always been that way for straight guys looking for girls. But a casual conversation about something very important for me (height) can turn into this:

Yeah, Connor. It was. That was the end of our messaging. Lately, I’ve only used Tinder for when I’m riding the porcelain throne and have a good internet connection. One out of five stars.

Grindr

The king daddy of all gay apps. It is known for being purely a hookup app, although some guys attempt to find dates or friends using it. Others, seem nice enough and then just send you a picture of their dick like, want it?

Like, whaaaat?

Nice to meet you too!

There’s not much to describe in terms of how the app works. It uses the location of your phone and finds other guys nearby. You can post a picture (must be approved) and enter basic information like height, weight, age, etc. Funny story about profile pics: I tried to use my main modeling pic, and it got denied TWICE!! Really? Half of the people on here use a shirtless torso pic, but I’m restricted from having a tasteful undie shot? What’s wrong with this gay world we live in? My Amer-I-Can Take it off photo, on the other hand, was ok by their standards.

On Grindr, you can also choose your “tribe”. Some of the options include bear, clean-cut, daddy, jock, leather, otter, rugged, and twink. Despite all of the progress that gay activists have made in previous decades, fighting for equal rights and acceptance, the gay scene has deemed it necessary for gays to be categorized into tribes, many with animal names. How are we supposed speak out against being treated like second class citizens, when as gay men we identify both ourselves and the type of guys we are attracted to as “bears” and “otters”? Ugh, one of my many frustrations with the current state of gay affairs in America. I also don’t see myself as any of these tribes so that could also be the impetus for my bitterness.

Pros:

Lots of people to talk to. In Armenia, there were about ten guys within one hundred miles who used this app. After that, the closest guys were in Georgia (the country) or Turkey. In DC, you can’t walk fifty feet without running into another gay guy. But, with so many poodles in this city, you get a lot of weirdos.

I seriously have never heard that before.

Cons:

Guys really don’t know how to make conversation. Like, I just…can’t.

A very productive conversation.
Manners.

This made me want to take four showers in a row and then go to church.

I eventually gave up trying to find anything serious on Grindr and jokingly made my profile headline something along the lines of “Will put out for pizza”. My personal goal when I go out is finding a guy who will buy me pizza at the end of the night. We don’t even have to hook up. That would even be preferable because who feels sexy after eating pizza? I noticed a significant decrease in the number of people that were interested in messaging me for either no strings attached hookups or otherwise after this profile transformation, which was kind of a bummer. My faithful blog followers (all 7 of you) know I like attention, both romantic and weird.

I know what I want.

 

This guys’ profileIMG_0870

IMG_0861IMG_0862

I was so close to at least getting a cheeseburger out of this guy.

Most people either took it as a joke or stopped talking to me immediately. Then there was Roberto: For the millionth time on Grindr, I was left at a loss for words.

Nothing can compare to my convo with this 19 year old from Bethesda, Maryland though. While having a little kiki with my friends by the pool, I drank a little too much and decided to mess with this guy. His response though makes me embarrassed, both for myself and for this guy who #1 not only thought that a guy would believe he could get pregnant but #2 was still interested in dating that guy.

IMG_0877 IMG_0878

Someone needs to give that boy a lesson in self respect. You are worth more than that.

Grindr, I can’t even use the five-star scale to rate you. I hate you and love you at the same time.

In the end, none of these apps have brought about any positive change in my life. If anything, they have lowered my self esteem because I have made passes at so many seemingly attractive people that have gone mostly unreciprocated. I have also become dependent on these apps and constantly look at them for gratification. Oh, no matches on OKCupid or Tinder and no one’s messaged me on Grindr today? It must be because I’m unattractive and don’t deserve anyone. FALSE!!! I don’t like preaching but this needs to be clear to all the single people who feel they are not good enough: Dates, dating apps, and other people do not determine your worth in this world. People in relationships are not better than you. Being single is not the end of the world. You is good. You is kind. You is important.

A couple of weeks ago, I tried to talk to my mom about relationship stuff. (She was actually very understanding when I went through my Oklahomo drama.) I had gone to the club and met a boy who was tall, handsome, older than me, didn’t have an annoying voice, all the qualities I look for. We exchanged numbers, but after a few back and forths, it became clear that things were never going to move forward. Being the sensitive little bitch that I am, I took it personally and just needed to talk about my feelings. Despite wanting to talk about my sister’s menstrual cycle, my mom did offer a few key words of advice: “If he’s not interested, fuck ’em.” This, ladies and gentlemen, is my mother Carol Ann and I will make her words my life motto. (I recommend you do the same.)

I will be sending a link to this blog post to all users mentioned here and then deleting these apps. I know that I will miss them, especially when I come home drunk and like to aggressively flirt with random guys in my vicinity while aggressively stuffing my face with anything in reach. But, even though I receive instant gratification from my browsing/rating/messaging these random guys, I always wake up the next morning, hungover and ashamed for not being able to resist the temptation.

Goodbye, OKCupid, Tinder, and Grindr. I’m over you, at least for now.

Shantay? Sashay? (Modelland, Book #3)

Shantay? Sashay? (Modelland, Book #3)

This is where we are at this point in Modelland:

1) I mustered up the courage to try out for DC Fashion Week and made the cut.

2) I had a photo shoot with a photographer who specializes in nude and erotic photography.

Immediately after finishing my photo session with Dave the photographer in Arlington, I booked it back to DC. All models were told to report to the Washington Post building at noon. The night before, the stage manager had changed that time to 11am but that was just a joke. The first show wouldn’t start until 7pm. What were we going to be doing for 8 hours?

I walked in the door and of course, there was the typical asshattery that I’ve come to expect at all of my DCFW castings. All of the girl models were walking on the runway, the director was yelling stuff and getting stressed, and no one knew what to do with the male models. I finally figured out that there were some designers who were still picking their models because they had just flown into the country. They wanted to see all everyone walk AGAIN. As expected, none of the designers had any menswear. Therefore, the guys just sat and looked stupid. I just sat.

Once the designers had picked their models, a shitstorm broke out. There were girls running around, getting fitted for outfits in the back. I saw more nipples and pasties than I ever anticipated/wanted to. The director was trying to organize a “Do It for the Vine” video. And I had no clue what to do. I just assumed someone would call out “Model #83!” at some point. During the last rehearsal (or whatever you want to call it), I was picked to wear an outfit for a men’s collection. Because hardly any designers had men’s clothes, the fashion week director had managed to get a local mall to lend clothes for us to wear. So, I was going to be wearing mall clothes in a fashion show. Not something I wanted to shout from the mountain tops, but experience is experience. They even assigned me to wear a suit, which meant I was way more important than some of the other guys who only got to wear a sweater. I was told to bring a gray tie and a black belt for the fashion show. All the big models accessorize themselves, right?

But, that Saturday none of this happened as planned. After about the first hour of waiting, I began to get suspicious. I sat and waited. And sat and waited some more. It was exciting just to be backstage at a fashion show, but it was disheartening to see some people getting all the attention while I just was left on the sidelines. Eventually I got fed up with this waiting bullshit and went to Subway for a footlong. The casting director had ordered all this pizza for the models but by the time I got there (two minutes after it arrived), it was all gone. “Please don’t feed the models” is right. Those bitches.

After waiting for HOURS for no good reason, the male models were called to get their makeup done. I was all about this and knew that getting your makeup done professionally was a sign that you’d made it as a model (or drag queen). But of course there were the expected “dudes” that were hesitant to wear makeup because “that’s for chicks.” With my signature eye roll, I tuned out this bro-shittery and surrendered to the makeup lady. This is how I looked: That’s right, I look exactly the same. Where was my smoky eye and lip stain? Guess you only get that at NYFW. #modelreject

As I mentioned previously, the show was schedule to start at 7pm. By six o’clock, I was beside myself that no one was going to ask me to walk that night. Some of the other male models and I discussed whether we were required to stay any longer. I had woken up early that morning for my glamor shots and then had wasted a good part of a Saturday sitting on my butt watching teenage girls run around in their underwear. A straight guy’s paradise, right? Not mine.

At some point, I went up to a DCFW staff member and politely asked if we were needed at all that night. She told me that we were free to go and that the mall collection was happening the next day (Sunday). This was news to me since we were told that the mall collection was in the Saturday show. Come on now, peeps.

Walking out that night, I had to seriously think about whether or not I would come back for Sunday’s show. It was the last fashion show, but who knew if I would walk for any designer or even be acknowledged the whole day?

After sleeping on it, I decided to try again. I went to the location of the Sunday fashion show and prayed that I could make my modeling debut. Only an hour or so after arriving (that’s like 5 minutes in model time), all of the male models were asked to go upstairs to be fitted for the director of DCFW’s collection. The director is the one who I thought was explicitly gay from day one. However, his collection CorJor is named after his first two sons Corey and Jordan. So, that threw me. Regardless, I wanted to be in ANY show even if that meant walking for a closeted homosexual. I followed all of the other guys upstairs where we were immediately told to take our shirts off. The guys with the most muscular bodies were picked to model underwear. Obvi, I was not selected. The rest of us stood there hoping to be assigned one of the ten or so other “looks”. I don’t know what sober person would wear these outfits that he created, but fashion is fucking weird, y’all. Here’s an example of what we were competing to wear:

 

DSC_7078-X2
Like…what?

As I stood there clenching my entire body, the director picked each outfit off of the rack and then pointed at one of us. After about eight other models were selected, it wasn’t looking good for me. However, for outfit number nine I got a finger pointed at me and a “you”. I hurriedly took off my pants and tried on a pair of deep purple pajama pants that looked like they were sewn by a 70-year-old Chinese woman in 30 seconds. The director gave me a quick glance and told me they were too baggy on me. In that instant, my dreams dissolved. I was shelved once again and watched as all of the outfits were fitted and given to other more muscular, ethnic guys. Ugh! I thought, I had made it this far but wouldn’t be walking in any fashion shows.

I walked down the stairs with the other guys and gave myself some time to process my thoughts and emotions. When it got to be an hour before showtime and I still hadn’t heard anything about the mall clothes, I decided that I had better things to do on a Sunday than watch a fashion show be put on without me. I gathered my things and internally gave an ANTM farewell monologue that went something like this:

I’m so proud of myself for coming this far. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be right now. But, this isn’t the last you’ve seen of me. I’ll prove you wrong, Tyra. I’m gonna be big. 

The following week I received an email through the DCFW distribution list with links to all of the media mentions of the shows. From there, I found photos of the shows that I wasn’t picked for. Here are a few select outfits/models with my objective comments:

Who is this guy? He didn’t come to any of the castings. He just showed up the day of the fashion shows and got to wear all the clothes. Guess I’m going to have to get some weird tattoos to have a shot at walking next season.
This was the designers’ favorite male model Justin. Sure, he’s a good looking guy and has mastered the cliche bored model look, but I see that bright orange thread dangling from your package. Now, about that outfit, what the hell is it and where the hell am I going to wear it? “Oh, a quinceanera? Perf, I’ll just throw on my sleeveless black leather v neck! It’ll look so quiche.”
To the designer, what part of this did you design? You took the leftover scraps from some of your dresses and sewed them onto a garbage bag. #WNB (will not buy)
Serving up permanent stank face realness and a sweater inspired by that one time Uncle Dan got drunk on Halloween, ate the jack-o-lantern, and then threw it up. Slay, mama. Slay

To my irritation, I discovered via the pictures that the mall collection I was picked to walk in DID happen but that I was replaced. I don’t know how the DCFW staff pulled their heads out of their asses long enough to organize this part of the show, but apparently, they work well in a time crunch.

This is the suit I was supposed to wear. Notice the huge tag still on the sleeve (because it had to be returned after show). Also, the model is 5’6″ on a good day.
This poor 17 year-old girl. She was the darling of every designer and nicknamed “Calvin Klein” by the director because he said she could model for them. But this IMHO is an example of how beautiful people do not always translate into beautiful models. I don’t blame her though. Whoever did homegirl’s hair and put her in that god-awful headcage clearly didn’t have her best interest in mind. Sidney (that’s her real name), finish high school and then move to New York or something where your stage mom can’t ride your ass any more and where fashion exists.

In sum, I didn’t walk in DC Fashion Week Spring 2014. Frownie face. But, it was a really great experience and I learned a lot throughout the process. Here are some of my major takeaways:

1. I have way more confidence in myself. I thought that I could never been taken seriously for my looks. The DC job search and gay scene has pretty much shredded every ounce of self esteem I have. So, it was nice to be allowed to sit at the pretty people’s table for a little while (even if sitting was all I did).

2. I have some cool professional photos and an actual modeling portfolio. I’ve even been solicited by other local photographers and not all of them were scams. This is big, you guys. Who needs Vogue Italia when you can go to some sweaty obese guy’s apartment and have him take pictures of you wearing props that he bought at Michael’s?

3. I learned about the fashion industry, especially the DC scene. There’s a reason DC is known for its monuments and not its fashion. But, DCFW does pride itself on allowing emerging designers to showcase their talents and break into bigger markets. I think that’s great.

Will I try out again? If I’m still in DC for the next season’s shows, sure why not? It was interesting and maybe there will be more mall clothes for me to wear. And this time, I’ll wait around even longer so that I’ll actually be in the shows. Until then, I’ll keep lighting incense and praying to the model gods for my big break…

Ready for My Close-Up (Modelland, Book #2)

Ready for My Close-Up (Modelland, Book #2)

The story continues:

After making it through the only round of auditions to get into the final group of models for DC Fashion Week, I was thrilled but also lost in a world of wannabes. Rehearsals would usually start with the director or one of his assistants/favorites giving a speech (more like a rant). Similar to everyone I work with day-to-day, they could use some public speaking lessons. Don’t ramble. Don’t think outloud. Speak ONLY if you have a purpose. I did try to pay attention to anything that could be relevant to me.  When I heard “get yourself some good headshots and full-length shots,” I made a mental note and googled area photographers.

Because DC is not known for its fashion, surprise! it’s not known for its fashion photographers either. No, I don’t need engagement photos or real estate headshots or pictures of my five cats (one day though). And the money I was expected to lay down for this stuff wasn’t cheap. $300 and I had to wear my own clothes and do my own makeup?

Basically, all I wanted to do was pay $20 and then step into a real-life episode of ANTM, but apparently you can’t search for that on Yelp. However, I did stumble across a generic sounding photo studio in Arlington that specializes in men’s photos. Perfect! I went ahead and emailed the studio with my photos like the website suggests and waited, expecting to hear that they would offer to do my photos for a couple hundred dollars and that I’d need to provide my own camera. But, to my surprise, I received a response almost immediately from the guy who runs the studio saying that he was interested in doing a session with me FOR FREE and I would get to keep the photos afterward.

Right on! I thought. This is way easier than I expected it to be. I went to the studio’s website to see some of the other models and photos that this place typically does. All of the models were male, some more attractive than others, and of course there were the standard suggestive pics with no shirts or low-rise jeans (no undies). When I started scrolling through the site, everything was SFW, which was good because I was at my office at the time. However, I reached one pic where the guy was mostly naked but there was something covering up the front. I clicked on the thumbnail to enlarge the image trying to decide what was covering up. Some fabric? A pillow? Nope, there was nothing covering up that penis. It was a full-on nude male on the screen of my work computer. If HR actually gave a shit at my job, I would be written up so many times for viewing inappropriate images. However, I admit that this is not the first penis that I have stumbled across at my desk and it probably won’t be the last. So, I did my usual turn-around to see if anyone had seen what I’d seen…nope, I was in the clear. That was my first concern. My second realization/concern was that I was going to do a photoshoot with a studio that specializes in nude male photography. Am I okay with that? I asked myself.

 

I guess…I mean as long as I, Peter Mustafa, didn’t take off my clothes, this would never come back to bite me in the ass when I’m 60 and a single gay government employee that hates my life, right? It made sense to me, but I still had my reservations about going through with this. See, I really wanted those photos so that I could officially call myself a model, but was it worth the risk? I repeatedly tried to push my appointment with the photographer to later until it was the perfect moment. Finally, I ran out of reasonable excuses and decided to prepare for my closeup.

The day of the shoot, I woke up early, took the metro to Arlington, and waited to be picked up my a man named Dave. I knew that if this man abducted/killed me, my parents would just shake their heads and think to themselves, Man, that Peter was a dumbass, getting in a car with a stranger. But, I had reached a low point in my life and needed a change. If getting in this stranger’s car was going to make me feel better about myself than rotting at a desk day after day then by golly, that’s what I was going to do!

And I did. Dave actually turned out to be a really nice guy. My biggest fear was that he would look at me and change his mind about wanting to take my pictures. Your photos made your body look…tighter. 

Alyssa Edwards

Ok, let’s be real, my actual biggest fear was that he’d pressure me into taking off all of my clothes and post tacky porn photos of me all over the internet. Like, I think I’d be okay with porny pics, but they have to at least be flattering and tasteful. Seriously, penis in a hot dog bun? Nope, even I’m worth more than that.

So, neither of these things happened in reality. Dave was great and very helpful. We picked out a few outfits and backdrops together. Then the magic started. I became a top model. Okay, so not really. I felt really stiff and awkward at the beginning of the shoot. All of the poses I had thought up in front of my mirror went out the window. No arched back. No legs in the air. No hair extensions. Every so often, Dave would show me some of the photos he had snapped and I wasn’t really impressed with myself. The lighting and backdrop were great so no disrespect to Dave. I just realized this was harder than I had expected.

But, I eventually loosened up and became more comfortable with the camera. I realized being critical of myself wasn’t making the photos any better so it was best to loosen up and keep things simple. I was also surprised at how comfortable I felt not fully clothed. No shirt? Okay! Only undies? Okay!

After about an hour, we decided that there were enough photos to choose from, at least for an initial shoot. Dave said he would edit and send them to me in a few days. Although I wasn’t 100% satisfied with my performance, I was happy that I had put myself out there and excited to get back in front of the camera again. Here are some of my favorites that Dave sent me:

Photography by Images Male
Photography by Images Male
Photography by Images Male
Photography by Images Male
Photography by Images Male

Dave posted my photos to a gallery here. I’m also the image for his “Youthful Fashion” section of the “Super Models” page. Yaaaasss!

If you look closely, because I know you will, you may see a little sunburn on my arm and a little skin peeling on my neck. This was my souvenir from Miami. Next photo sesh, I’ll be sure to coat myself in foundation so that everything is evenly mixed. For my first time, I’m really happy with the results. I’ve added them to my Model Mayhem page here and I now have 11 friends! Still waiting for an agency to discover me though.

This photoshoot was just the midpoint though. I had made it to the finals of DC Fashion Week. I had the new photos for my portfolio. Whatever came of the fashion shows? After this shoot, Dave drove me back to the metro station, and I made my way to the Saturday show for DC Fashion Week Spring 2014…