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When a man loves a woman…or a man…or both…

9 Feb

So for those of you who don’t live in Chicago or aren’t familiar with the various neighborhoods of Chicago, I live in Boystown. It’s a subsection of Lakeview, and I would try to explain what specific part of Chicago constitutes Lakeview but it doesn’t really matter and I don’t really want to explain something that I don’t fully understand. Regardless, Boystown is the part of Lakeview that I live in, and it is (t0 be blunt) the “gay man” area of Chicago. Chicago has two specific neighborhoods that are considered “gay,” which would be Andersonville (considered the lesbian neighborhood) and Boystown (the gay man neighborhood). I’m not stereotyping here – you can ask any Chicago native about these areas and you’ll get the same answers.

Every neighborhood here has a stereotype –  Lincoln Park is considered upscale yuppies with 1-2 kids; Logan Square is broke hipsters who can’t afford to live in the better neighborhoods but who require the credibility of a Chicago address to survive; Wicker Park is where those aforementioned hipsters move once they have a slightly higher income and/or they want to get robbed in broad daylight in front of Penny’s Noodles (seriously, this actually happens); and Boystown is the Mecca of gay partying in Chicago and also one of the highest rent neighborhoods outside of the Gold Coast. I happened to luck into my apartment here and I don’t plan on leaving until I’m dead because there are few places that a 28 year old straight girl with no children and few responsibilities should live in Chicago outside of this neighborhood. Until last year, the Pride Parade went down the street in front of my apartment. This neighborhood is amazing, and the people are even better (for example, I have the greatest neighbors ever, and that’s my way of transitioning into a reason to show the three of us from this past Halloween):

IMG_0949

Anyways, the point of this is that living in this neighborhood has been the best thing to ever happen to me, and it also has brought me into the front line of the gay marriage debate. See, my neighbors Cody and Marshal (with me in the above picture) have been together for a few years, and they are one of the sweetest couples I know. I have seen them get into fights (hell, I have played middle man and mediated their fights before), and I have also seen them surprise one another with flowers or a nice dinner for no specific reason. Basically, I have seen them act like EVERY SINGLE OTHER COUPLE I know, both straight and gay. After this past election, Maine legalized gay marriage, which was a huge victory for these guys because Cody is from Maine and this meant that they could finally get married legally, and Cody would be able to have his whole family there (Marshal isn’t very close to his family but Cody’s family have just brought him in as one of the family which is amazing). I remember the day after the election, I was sitting outside with Marshal and smoking a cigarette while celebrating the victory in Maine. Marshal turned to me, and told me how he wished he could personally thank every single person in Maine who voted for gay marriage because, as he put it, this was a simple issue of popular vote – there wasn’t an electoral college deciding this, so this was basically the majority of Maine citizens saying that they are okay with the love that Marshal and Cody (and all other gay couples) share. He had tears in his eyes when he told me this, and it really added a huge level to the gay marriage debate that alot of people don’t get to see.

I’ve always supported in gay marriage, because my belief is simply, “love is love.” If I’m feeling more cynical, I might also say that since the divorce rate in this country is already over 50%, then let the gays get married so they have the same opportunities at marital misery that straight couples have. The point is, this whole argument over the “sanctity” of marriage is significantly skewed and biased. I don’t doubt that marriage is a sacred union, but I view it as sacred in the sense that you are committing to love and become joined to another person through all of the good and especially through all of the bad and shitty stuff that might come up in the future. This kind of commitment isn’t reserved for a man and a woman only; the arguments that marriage should only be between a man and a woman because they can procreate makes marriage into nothing more than a production contract between two business entities. My mom and dad weren’t married when I was conceived (though they were by the time I popped out), and despite being divorced, they have both been ever-present in my life. I was raised by my mother, but she made damn sure that I had an equally close relationship with my dad. Now, according to the argument that groups give against gay marriage, that kind of situation is more acceptable than two men or two woman who truly love one another being able to marry and celebrate their love on the same level as their straight neighbors.

I know that the biggest argument is that the Bible says marriage is between a man and a woman. First of all, the Bible also says a man may sell his daughter at his whim so we’re not going to go down the path of the literal religious argument right now. In fact, I fully support anyone’s right to believe whatever they want. However, like it or not, this country is not an explicitly Christian country, and in fact, many of our founding principles are based around the idea of separating church and state. You can argue that the first people to come here (depending on which history book you read) were the Pilgrims and they were Christian. Well, TECHNICALLY, the Native Americans were here first, so if we want to be specific, we should be following their religious belief system. We don’t, though, because there is no official national religion. Hell, we’re fighting so many damn wars in the Middle East against the very thing that we’re using to dictate these laws here at home. So you can believe that gay marriage is evil, and that gay people are going to Hell. Equally, I can believe that everyone should be able to marry someone they love, regardless of gender. We’re both allowed to believe that. But if the only thing substantiating your argument are religious passages, then take it to church and keep it out of the legislature. I know Illinois is on the verge of legalizing gat marriage and when it happens, I will be celebrating in the streets with all of my friends, both gay and straight. At the end of the day, the moment we derive joy only by denying joy to someone else is the moment we need to stop and look in the mirror, because that’s not who we are, nor is it who we should be. Gay marriage should never be a victory because that means there was a chance of it being defeated. It should be an unquestionable right that doesn’t distinguish between people who love someone of the opposite sex, and those who love someone of the same sex. Love is love – stop making it a battle, and start making it a celebration.

Besides, do you have any idea of how much gay weddings will help our economy?

In closing, here’s a picture of Sawyer sleeping, which was taken about 20 seconds before I woke her up and made her grumpy…she was so cute, I had to snuggle her:

2013-02-05 22.33.03

Holla!

Andrea

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There IS a difference between laziness and narcolepsy

23 Jan

So who’s familiar with narcolepsy? For anyone who isn’t, the definition according to Wikipedia is:

“Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder caused by the brain’s inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally.[1] People with narcolepsy often experience disturbed nocturnal sleep and an abnormal daytime sleep pattern, which often is confused with insomnia. Narcoleptics, when falling asleep, generally experience the REM stage of sleep within 5 minutes, while most people do not experience REM sleep until an hour or so later.”

Additionally,

“The main characteristic of narcolepsy is Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS), even after adequate night time sleep. A person with narcolepsy is likely to become drowsy or fall asleep or just be very tired throughout the day, often at inappropriate times and places. Daytime naps may occur with little warning and may be physically irresistible. These naps can occur several times a day. They are typically refreshing, but only for a few hours. Drowsiness may persist for prolonged periods of time. In addition, night-time sleep may be fragmented with frequent awakenings.”

Now, you might be wondering why I’ve gone all Bill Nye the Science Guy right now, but there is a point so bear with me. See, I have narcolepsy and it’s surprisingly not at all fun in any way. The reason I’m getting into this is because I’ve been applying for a lot of jobs lately, yet I am well aware that having narcolepsy makes working traditional hours extremely difficult to do on a consistent basis. The worst part of this is that people tend to misconstrue an actual medical issue with simple laziness, and I doubt you’ll find many employers who don’t subscribe to the same philosophy.

To give you an idea of what it’s like, let me pose a question: how many people have slept for 27+ hours straight with only a single five minute period of wakefulness to go to the bathroom during that entire time? How many people have awoken from that lengthy slumber just as exhausted as they were when they initially fell asleep? Anyone besides me? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Continue reading

How hard is it to start a blog?

11 Jan

I’ve wanted to blog for a while, but I feel like you can’t have a blog without also having an Etsy store and a penchant for scarves and Arcade Fire. I don’t necessarily think I have any specific purpose for blogging but it seems that chronicling my life online will be cathartic for me if nothing less, and it might possibly enlighten someone else who’s dealing with the same daily crises that I live with. So with that in mind, here’s a little intro into who I am:

My name is Andrea. I’m 28 years old, and I live in Chicago. I specifically live in Boystown, which is an area of Chicago inhabited primarily by gay men. I am not gay but I do love this neighborhood, and my neighbors have also become some of my best friends in the world so I wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else. I am currently unemployed because I have narcolepsy, and no matter how much FMLA (Family & Medical Leave Act) and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) protection I have through the government, my employers still find loopholes that allow them to fire me without penalty. I have a B.A. in English from Monmouth College in Monmouth, IL (class of 2006) where I was also a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority. I currently attend Full Sail University for my masters degree, and I was previously studying Internet Marketing but now I need to select a different program at that school for a variety of bullshit reasons (which I will get into at a later date). I also have two cats named Sawyer and Finn, and I am giving you fair warning now that I love them more than anything and I will probably talk about them more than necessary. In fact, here’s a picture to get started:

kittens resized

That was when they were only 12 weeks old, on the night they came home from the shelter. They’re 4 years old now and fatter, but still so adorable that it causes me physical pain.

I was raised by my mom, who divorced my dad when I was 2 years old. I am still very close to my dad and they are both good friends, even after my mom married my stepdad in 2003…on Valentines Day, in Las Vegas, by an Elvis impersonator. I watched via webcam while doing tequila shots in my friend’s dorm room. It seemed like a healthy reaction. My mom is one of my best friends, and I honestly tell her everything I do. My stepdad and I had a great deal of friction when he first entered my life, and although we still clash on things, we have definitely developed a great relationship. My dad and I are frighteningly similar so we argue a lot, but we have gotten closer as I’ve gotten older. He’s currently recovering from prostate cancer, as well as living with diabetes and PTSD, which can all be traced back from Agent Orange poisoning when he was a Marine in Vietnam. Continue reading