I first came out of the closet some 12 years ago. (I say “first” because coming out is not something you do once. It is something you do over and over again your entire life.) In those 12 years I have been asked many questions about my coming out and sexuality in general. Some have been very personal, some weird and some I have been asked many, many times until I developed the ability to recognize the pattern leading up to them and mentally prepare myself to answer yet again.

One such question is “What happened when you came out?”. As you can imagine, that is quite a tricky question to answer briefly. Often I just shrug it off with a short, insufficient answer of “not much really”, so as to not get caught up in a long discussion about religion, genes, mutants, plastic figurines and chainsaws.

But today! Today is the day! This Tuesday in March is the day! This is the day I will attempt to go where no other has gone before. I will reveal secrets so secret, you did not even know you were supposed to not reveal them (if you know them that is). Today, I will explain, in great detail (because, hello my name is Neo and I can turn a simple sentence into an eight line paragraph with at least three parentheses) what happens when you come out of the closet.
There is a but though. (There always is.) Before I can give such an explanation, I must try to make you understand what happens before someone comes out. The lead up to this momentous decision in incredibly important, less so to everyone else, but very much so to the person actually saying the word “Hi World, I am hella freaking _____________(Insert LGBT subtype here)”.

So, without any further ado, let me get to explaining what it is like growing up as an LGBT kid*
*Your experience may vary.

At first you are a child like any other. You play and laugh, get in fights and fall off your bike, get scolded and comforted by people who love you unconditionally. All of this is as natural as the sunrise.

At some point during your childhood, you realize you are different from other kids. You might not know or understand how, but you just know. Somehow things are not quite as they should be. You will try to ignore this feeling. To suppress it and go on with living your life. It will work for a while, but the feeling that something about you is off somehow will keep resurfacing. It is as much a part of who you are, as your measles scars and the illogical safety your covers and favourite stuffed animal give you when you awake from a nightmare.

As you grow older, you begin to get a better sense of your self. There are things you are good at and things you cannot seem to get the hang of. In school some courses are easy, some hard and some people you get along with, some you do not. You have hobbies and friends who share them. All these things feel natural, but soon a new factor comes into your life.
Your peers start talking about the other sex in a way different from what they used to. With a sense of discovery and fear, boys and girls each try to make sense of their feelings for the other.

As with everything in life, some figure it out faster than others. You however do not seem to understand anything at all and now that nagging feeling you try to keep buried at all times comes back with a vengeance. You are unsure whether or not your lack of romantic interest in the other sex and the wrongness you have felt for so long are connected, but it seems possible. You lump them together and again try lock them away in your mind.
Still you worry. You cannot stop yourself from thinking about them and the more you think, the more the two seem to become connected. You start to see them as symptom and cause of what is wrong with you.

Soon enough you learn about people who are different the way you might be different. At first there are nasty, derogatory words thrown around the schoolyard as insults and these give you the impression that different equals disgusting. In an effort to distance yourself from what you think you might be, you may even use the same nasty words. Later in life you will rationalize that you did not really know the meaning of the words or that you were just playing along so as not to lose face. These rationalizations will not make you feel much better about it.

Slowly and with the help of some sex-ed or maybe a crush on someone your own gender, you will come to understand that you are most likely some version of gay. This will seem like the end of the world. Luckily, it is not, but what are you supposed to do with this information?
Your immediate instinct is to follow the queen’s suggestion of “Conceal, don’t feel”. You hide it and try your damnedest not to feel the way you do. You guard your secret like it is the launch code for all the nuclear missiles of the world.

While you are busy hiding yourself away, you realize that it is impossible to stay this way. You are immensely unhappy and there are a myriad of thoughts you are scared to even think. You have become a prisoner in your own mind. That is no life and no way to live.

In the end you decide to come out.

The  moment you make that decision and start planning how and to whom, an automated process is set in motion in a far away and incredibly secret location.

Somewhere, in an enormous warehouse, a computer bleeps (as computers tend to do). A label with your name and address in printed and stuck to the side of a brown cardboard box. The box, still empty of everything but air, travels down a conveyor belt from the office that holds the bleeping and label-printing computer, into a cavernous and dim space.
This room is a maze of shelving units that seemingly reach the sky. The conveyor belt runs a zig zag course between them and each is equipped with a sign and strange robotic arms.
The air is thick with the smell of oil, hot metal and dust, but the box notices none of this, since it is merely a box.

As your empty cardboard box slowly descends into this room, it first comes to a section of shelves filled with uniform green cartridges about the size of a deck of cards. The section is marked “Standard Equipment”.
A robotic arm stirs from its artificial slumber, grabs a green cartridge and dumps it unceremoniously in your cardboard box. The conveyor belt whirs pleasantly as in scoots the box onwards through the maze of sections, shelves and artificial appendages of this truly massive facility.
In some sections the robotic arms seem to disappear in a blur of activity with all the many things they peel from the stacks. In some sections they pick only a few items and in others still they remain eerily motionless, ignoring both the box and everything on the shelves.

Your cardboard box rolls merrily along through sections with signs labelling them things like “Lesbian”, “Vietnamese”, “MTF”, “Sporty”, “Polyamorous”, “Bottom” and countless more. Once it clears the very last section (I believe that is “Hindu”), it is closed, taped up, weighed, marked with sufficient postage and finally put in to a large bin with an “Outgoing packages” sign above.
Soon your very own Coming Out Starter Kit™ is in the mail and en-route to your home.

You might be thinking “Well that sounds neat, but what can I expect when it gets here?” The Coming Out Starter Kit™ contains things to help you move forward in your life as an LGBT person and as a person in general. What those things are will differ greatly depending on many factors of who you are, what you like and where you live. As such every Coming Out Starter Kit™ is unique, because we, as human beings, are unique.

That being said, here is a look at the very first thing added to your cardboard box. The green “Standard Equipment” cartridge is a basic upgrade to your person, initiated at the moment of your first coming-out.
It contains:

  • 1 full size set of thick skin
  • 6 months to 1 years worth of an extreme wish to talk about the fact that you are _____________(Insert LGBT subtype here)
  • 1 permanent wish that people would see beyond fact that you are _____________(Insert LGBT subtype here) to the person you actually are.
  • 1 Gaydar™ – Beta release (Tech support no longer available, no updates scheduled)
  • An unlimited supply of thoughts that you ought to care more about LGBT issues.
  • 1 burning wish to find others who are  _____________(Insert LGBT subtype here) like you.

In some cases your Coming Out Starter Kit™ may not reach you or it may contain the wrong equipment. All you can really do in that case, is make do. I wish you luck.

I hope this answers any and all questions anyone may have about what happens when someone comes out of the closet.
(This blog post is sponsored by The Coming Out Starter Kit Cooperation. “Out, Proud and Well-Equipped since Before Sappho got Sapphic”)

Finally we learn some stuff about the Van Houten book. I thought it would be some type of self-help book, because with a title like “An Imperial Affliction”, it sounds a lot like a Ted Talk. No dice. It is a novel about a girl named Anna who gets cancer.
Hazel is quite upset that the book ends in the middle of a sentence at the climax of the plot (understandable, seriously, who does that?). For that reason she has written many letters to the author to ask about the fate of all the characters, except one. She’s inquired about everyone from the protagonist’s mum to her hamster, but not about Anna. She just assumes Anna dies and so asking about her is a moot point.

I have not mentioned this yet, but it is clear that Hazel expects to die fairly soon. Now I do not know a whole lot about cancer (thank heavens), so it is hard for me to know whether she is being realistic or negative. Even so, how she just assumes Anna is dead, really hammers the point home.
Hazel does not think she will make it to the end of her own story (aka this book).

After hitting the movies with her mom, Hazel gets some texts from Augie. It seems he has finished “An Imperial Affliction” and is craving the same answers as her. He too comes to the conclusion that Anna has died which is interesting since he, at least outwardly, seems much more positive about life with and after cancer.

Hazel calls him up wanting so badly to discuss her favourite book with the guy she likes. (I totally get it Hazel, I want my crush to read my favourite book too, aww.) Ahem, where was I? Oh right! Augie doesn’t have time for book club meetings because Isaac is with him and he is having a doozy of a mental breakdown.
Augie asks Hazel to come over and in the car on the way to his house, she thinks about her dad. I think this is only the second time she has mentioned him, I wonder if he is still in the picture.

In Augie’s crusty basement man-cave the boys are playing vidya. Isaac is bawling and completely unresponsive. It turns out the low sensitivity in his gf’s boobs has spread to her heart. In other words: she dumped him because he is going blind and I think I speak for everyone ever when I say: Bitch!

As the boys lose the game, Isaac freaks out and starts hammering a pillow against the wall. Augie lets him trash his basket ball trophies instead, hoping being able to actually destroy something will end his rampage.
We get a nice little description of the basket ball players from the trophies being smashed apart. Just like Hazel, Augie and Isaac, their bodies are ruined.

Will Hazel’s dad ever show up? How will Augie’s parents react to the great trophy smashing of 2012? Is Anna really dead? I dunno. Let’s find out!

Hazel Makes quick work of Augie’s gory book, sleeps in and is awakened by her mom who announces that it is Hazel’s 33rd half birthday. It is a bit strange, but I guess I get it. I mean her mom has been living with the fact that her daughter might die for a long time. Makes sense she would want to cram as many birthdays in there as she could.

Hazel makes plans to go to the mall with her friend Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn pretends to be British for some reason and uses the word “Awesomesauce” in her texts. I am unsure if this is Green trying to be young and with it or if he’s taking the piss. Also they agree to meet at 3.32 which is oddly specific. Why not just 3.30ish? Is this a cultural thing? Will 3.32 become significant later? Am I reading too much into this?
You can’t just leave random numbers around and expect me not to take notice! That’s like leaving a nice rock of crack, a pipe and a lighter out on the coffee-table when you know your junkie friend is coming over.

Anyway Hazel and Kaitlyn meet up at 3.32 and go shoe shopping, because that’s what teenage girls do, right? After a while Hazel bails, using the excuse of illness to get some alone-time. No mom (who’s hiding out in the food-court), no friends, no Augie. Just her, alone with some books. It sounds delightful!

While Hazel is blazing through the even gorier sequel to Augie’s book, a young girl asks her about the oxygen supply going via cannula into Hazel’s nose. We are treated to this sweet little and surprisingly non-sarcastic moment between the two. As Community’s Shirley would say: “That’s nice!”

A short chapter this time, but a chapter none the less.

Will Hazel’s mom get a life? Will Hazel finish all 37 gory books in the main series before page 100? Will her oxygen tank suddenly explode leaving 9 dead and 5 wounded at the local mall? Let’s stick with it and find out!

Augie apparently drives like my grandma. My grandma Ruthie comes from a very strict religious background where there was no drinking, dancing, playing cards or having fun. If you were a woman you stayed home, took care of the kids, gutted fish and in no way did you drive a car. So she didn’t get her license until my grandpa died and she had no choice. She was 55 years old at the time (not that she would ever make any excuses, she is fucking bad-ass!). Augie’s excuse is a prosthetic leg. I guess we all have things to overcome.

As they drive along (haphazardly) Hazel explains her entire medical history. I won’t bore you with it (and I may have only skimmed it myself), but I think it suffices to say she was dying, then got a drug that shrunk her tumours and bought her some time.

They make it to Augie’s house in one piece (technically two pieces and an oxygen tank). It turns out his home is also The International Museum of Motivational Quotes. I bet his dad has worked 25 years at some crappy office job and brings home a new motivational poster every week. Oh yeah, they call them “Encouragements” which just sounds so creepy (and slightly cult-ish).

But behold! All of a sudden something amazing happens! Augie’s parents call him Gus and I pee a little. Remember my little tirade about his name in the last post? Well it seems like cleaning the customer restroom at Metro Convenience “The one stop shop for your needs!” is his destiny.

Poor Augie gets immensely cock-blocked by his own father, who insist he and Hazel watch their movie upstairs and not in his crusty basement man-cave. Sexy-times: 0, Hygiene: 1. You go, dad!

The pair do however dip into the basement (not a euphemism) to look at all of Augie’s basket ball trophies. He gets all existential about how silly sports are and I finally find myself able to relate to this character. I completely agree. It does seem strange to make grown men run down a track and then put hurdles in their way. Is it some form of punishment?

But enough about Augie. No seriously, I thought Hazel was the protagonist, am I wrong? The story is told through Hazel, but so far I know much more about Augie than her. Well we will know more in a moment, because now Augie demands Hazel tells him about her fetishes (no really). Instead she decides to talk about how she loves reading and she mentions her favourite book. It’s the mysterious Van Houten book from the quote at the beginning. It is called “An Imperial Affliction” and it is apparently the knees of some bees. (I’m totes hip with the fresh lingo dudebros!)

Then there is some hand holding, some movie watching and some talking in a parked car, coincidentally my favourite conversation-location. There is something about the non-permanent state of sitting in a car together that just makes for great conversation. Augie puts this magic to good use and gets Hazel to promise to call him when she has finished his favourite book (which is based on some video game).

Will Augie die in a car crash on his way home? Will Hazel hate his book? Will Augie’s mom sow Hazel her very own “Encouragement” pillow? Join me next time for the third chapter in this thrilling tale!

Before all of the hype around The Fault in Our stars, I didn’t even know Green was an author. I enjoyed his YouTube series on world history and I knew he did some other YouTube videos with his brother, other than that I knew nothing about him. But as always with a new (to me) author, I am ready to have my mind blown. So chapter one ho!

First a Peter Van Houten quote. It seems no modern book is complete without a fancy quote at the beginning. At times it relates to the story, but mostly it seems to be there just to ensure us that the author is really smart and has read high-brow literature. Now I didn’t know Van Houten so naturally I googled him. Turns out the dude is fictional. I guess he’s part of the story somehow. Dunn Dunn Dunnnn…

Oh yeah and then for good measure an author’s note to say that fiction isn’t reality. Good to know, now let’s get to the actual story (which is totes fictional you guys!).

Hazel likes to stay in bed, read and think about death a lot and for this reason her mom and doctor believe she is depressed. To me she sounds like a teenager, but ma and doc dump her in some youth group therapy. Cancer youth group therapy to be exact because Hazel has the cancer and it sucks balls (both the cancer and the therapy).

In sucky cancer youth group therapy (SCYGT) Hazel meets a boy with bad posture named Augustus, and can I just have a moment to say how bad I feel for this kid. I mean cancer is bad enough, but Augustus. Dude, with a name like that you either own it and become a roman emperor or you give up, let people call you Gus and take a job as an janitor at the local quick-mart. I am sorry to say, I am not liking his chances on the whole roman emperor deal.

Anyway Hazel uses a bunch of adjectives to describe him, but ends up deciding it’s way easier just calling him hot. She proceeds to spill a bunch of “Oh but he could never be interested in an ugly-duckling like me boo-hoo” crap which I promptly ignored and then comes a really fucked up sentence if you take it at face value.

“A nonhot boy stares at you relentlessly and it is, at best, awkward and, at worst, a form of assault. But a hot boy . . . well.”

Okay, listen, I get what she’s saying, I do, but that may not be the right way to say it. She comes off as, well, as a superficial bitch. (Wait I am not obligated to like this book am I? Are you all going to be really mad if it turns out I hate it? Oh god, what have I gotten myself into?)

Augustus reveals he is afraid of oblivion, but that’s okay because Hazel has memorized a monologue for just such an occasion, leaving Augie fanning himself and going “Well I do declare! Aren’t you something else!”. It is official; we have our Romeo and Juliet locked down by page 13. That’s efficiency at work people!

After SCYGT Augie, Hazel and their mutual friend Isaac hold a brief competition in sarcasm mostly in the vein of “Cancer really sucks huh guys?”. Isaac then bails to go get his horn on with his gf who apparently has lost all sensitivity in the chest-region. Poor girl…

Augie non-smokes cigarettes which he claims is a metaphor for living life to the fullest or toying with death or whatever. Honestly it is pretty fucking lame, but Hazel is all “hot damn this sexy bod is all deep and shit” and so they head to his house to do the funky monkey dance watch a movie.

What will our kooky teen aged cancer patients get up to next week? Will Augustus change his name to Chad? Will Hazel start smoking for real to one-up him? Will Isaac’s gf regain feeling in her boobs? Join me next week for more sarcastic fun-poking at cancer (srlsy, they do that A LOT!).

GET RRRREADYYY TO RRRRREAD!

That’s right! We are going to read, or at least I am. See I read a whole lot, so why not add that to all the fun we’re having here? So I am going to read a book that’s been pretty big in the last few years. They even made it into a successful movie and yet I hardly know anything about it. Which book?

Why this little thing naturally!

fault

What do I know about it before starting the book? Well not a whole lot. I haven’t even read the summary on the back cover. Here is the underwhelmingly short list of what I do know:

  • The protagonist is a young woman.
  • She is sick somehow (cancer maybe).
  • There is also a guy.
  • I don’t know if he is sick as well.
  • Oh and I think the young woman has to walk around with an oxygen tank or something like that?

I think that’s it. Anyway the book was recommended to me by my friend Søren and I will see what it’s all about.

I will do a chapter every Wednesday and the first chapter will be next week. Get excited you guys, I know I am!

Mind games

Posted: February 24, 2015 in Life-thingies

When I was growing up and living with my parents, my mum would bake bread every Sunday. She still does in fact, I am just rarely there to witness it. Every Sunday she would be in the kitchen, radio on, quietly humming along and kneading dough for buns and loafs. She would roll out the buns, nice and round with practiced hands. Repeating the same roll-scoot-scoot-roll over and over, like she was kneading out the rhythm of a foxtrot.

In the windowsill her wristwatch and her ring would sit glinting, the sure sign that she was hard at work. They had been exchanged for the old washed-out apron with the vertical stripes and the stains of a thousand home-cooked meals.
When a familiar song came on the radio her clear voice would search for the words and fade in and out of the passages she knew. At noon the radio station would play the bells from the city hall in Copenhagen and the smell of freshly baked bread would be wafting throughout the whole house.

The bells ring out the oldest written melody in Denmark, “Drømte mig en drøm i nat” (Dreamt a dream last night). It is not an elegant melody when played on gigantic bells, instead I always found it to be rather haunting, but a strange thing happened once I moved away from home. Whenever I hear those bells, I smell freshly baked bread.

The first time I remember it happening was on a bus filled to the brim on a hot August afternoon. The bus smelled anything but nice, more like sweat, cigarettes and diesel, but the radio was on and the clock struck twelve and suddenly the smell of my mother’s freshly baked rye bread was wafting through the air. I closed my eyes and I was standing right there in our kitchen with the cracked floorboard by the door and my father’s million bottles of oils and vinegars in the windowsill. I sniffed at the air trying to retain the image, but it only lasted for a moment and I was back on the cramped no. 41. If only the other experience had left me as quickly, it was not nearly as pleasant.

A moment ago I was watching a movie, X-Men: First class to be exact. The first few scenes has a young Erik Lehnsherr (later Magneto) in a concentration camp. An Evil Nazi German wants to experiment on him and learn about his mutation. The scene was in German and as I had not put on subtitles I had to concentrate to understand what they were saying. As Evil Nazi German spoke of Evil Nazi things, I could suddenly smell the car-deck of the old Great Belt ferries. I felt nauseous and trapped.

Now normally I have no issue with people speaking German. I might even understand some things if they speak slow and clear. I don’t recall German ever making me nauseous, but something about Evil Nazi German’s voice or inflection made me remember the frequent messages in multiple languages announced over the tin-can PA and the terror those foreign words made me feel.

I know those ferries no longer sail, haven’t for 17 years, but the fear they made me feel as a child is still very much alive inside me. The seemingly endless sea-sickness, the cramped car-deck that made you feel like you were trapped in a maze of sedans, the distinct smell of oil, seawater and exhaust and the constant fear that we would sink and die. I was utterly terrified and I just experienced all that again. The mind-numbing fear of a small child roaring through my adult head and rooting me to the spot.

Man I need a smoke!