in my feelings or whatever

If you know me, you know that I’m passionate. You know that I care deeply about the things that I care at all about. You know I’m prone to fits of anger. You know that when I’m excited about something, it’s all I can talk about. If there’s something wrong, it’s also I can talk about.

I cry. I laugh. I pout. I poop. I feel. Literally everyone does.

LITERALLY EVERYONE DOES.

Feelings are a good thing. They are your brain’s way of saying “Hey!!!! This is proof that you’re alive!!! So be thankful for that, you fucking prick!!!!”

Feelings make us human. Being a human may not always be fun, but here we are in the thick of it. So we might as well make the best of it and feel those feelings, those little reminders that we’re alive.

Sometimes, being a man and being emotional don’t go well together. I’m not saying it’s anywhere near hard being a white straight male. My life is about as easy as it gets. I’m afforded many privileges because of things about me that I’m not in control of. BUT. If there is one thing that’s at all challenging about being a man like myself, it’s that I’m not supposed to have emotions. I’m supposed to be a robot. I shouldn’t feel anything. No ecstatic glee. No crying. Maybe frustration, mixed with a little bit of horniness. That’s it. No other emotions.

Well that’s not me. And that’s not most men. At least the ones that I know, the ones that are cool with letting their emotions show.

When I entered elementary school, before I had been taught that emotions (specifically crying bouts) were bad, I quickly learned that I wasn’t supposed to feel. My classmates constantly made fun of me for the basic human function of crying. And throughout my time in school, I went from being labeled a “cry-baby” to a “pussy” to “gay” to “sensitive.”

Sensitive is my favorite. It’s like the politically correct way of justifying my emotions. Because my emotions need justification. Because I’m a straight dude. And normal straight dudes shouldn’t cry. If a dude cries, he’s obviously gay. If he’s not gay, he’s just sensitive. When I was in fifth grade, my dad told me that if I kept crying like this in middle school, I would get beat up. Because crying is socially unacceptable for a real man.

In middle school, people told me I was “psycho” for getting angry all the time. I challenge anyone to act “normal” with pubescent levels of hormones raging through their bodies. It’s impossible.

Then in high school, I found the cure to my problems. If I ingested enough weed and alcohol in a short enough period of time, I actually no longer felt feelings. It was perfect. Finally, I could be a normal functioning member of society.

And this is all because I had been taught from a very young age that having emotions is not okay. It’s only over the last few years of sobriety that I’ve come to accept the fact that I am going to cry every now and then, and that that’s okay. It’s actually a really good thing. Feelings are dope, guys.

There’s no shame in crying. In my opinion, it’s a basic bodily function. Much like urinating. Or sex. Or eating donuts.

I’ve been crying a lot lately. I’ve also been really happy lately. This is normal. I used to alter my brain chemistry to deal with any emotions, positive or negative. Now, I’m not ashamed to talk about my shit. I’ll tell you how sad I am. I’ll tell you how happy I am. I’ll tell you to fuck off if I’m pissed.

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Scout Coffee, Stuart speaking, how can I help you?

Today’s my last day working at Scout Coffee Co. in San Luis Obispo, California. When I first walked into Scout on my third day in town, I had no idea what was ahead for me. I sat up at the bar, and having already fallen in love with the place, I immediately asked my now close friend Randy if they were hiring. He gave me the same semi-bullshit answer we always give: “We’re always accepting resumes.” I asked when the owner would be in, and he told me maybe tomorrow morning.

The next day, I walked in and basically got hired on the spot. Here I am, over a year later, and I don’t know what the fuck to say. I’ve learned so much from my bosses, coworkers, and customers. I’ve developed lifelong friendships and met the coolest people. I found new loves in coffee and people. I’ve become comfortable and confident in my own skin. My friends might say that I’m too comfortable now. Fuck it I’m on one.

Jon and Sara, my bosses, have taught me so much. Hard work does pay off. Sleep isn’t necessary. You can survive off of espresso and pastries. Don’t text your boss at 5 am and ask for makeup to cover up your hickey. Positivity is everything. Don’t let shitty people (on Yelp) bring you down. And above all else, life always works itself out. Thank you for the opportunity to get into the coffee industry, and thank you for the priceless lessons on life.

My coworkers have taught me just as much. Communication is key. Work should be fun and enjoyable (most of the time). Matching clothes is always a good idea. Whether or not you know it, each and every one of you has made my time in SLO and at Scout what it is, and I can never repay you for that. Thanks for taking this dumb kid from Missouri in and showing me how to make coffee. Sorry if I can pour prettier lattes than you now. Thanks for being my friends.

And to the customers and regulars of Scout, I thank you the most. You people have showed me more than you could ever know. Small talk doesn’t have to suck. Kind and considerate people make this job worth it (Erik). Sometimes the people you would normally not fuck with are the ones you like the most (Walker). For some reason, being a barista scores major points in the dating scene, as shown by how often my coworkers and I get hit on ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

What started as a part time job to finance my adventures around California quickly turned into a passion, a family, and a growing experience.

I leave for San Francisco in less than a week, how fucking nuts is that? This move has been in the works for so long, and now that it’s here, it doesn’t feel real. If my experiences in SF and at Verve are half as good as those I’ve had in the last year, I think I’ll be just fine. Cheers to the new year, a new city, a new job, and new people. Love you guys.

Thanksgiving thoughts

Very often, I find myself *in my feelings* around this time of year. Thanksgiving. The time to give thanks. For me, being thankful for everything and everyone I have in my life leads me to feel guilty and upset with myself because I don’t deserve everything and everyone in my life. Guilty for being a shithead. Upset with myself for not doing more for the people I love and care about. I think these feelings are the ones that come most naturally to me. Most of all, though, I’m sorry. Really.

Friends and family, I am sorry.

I’m sorry I am the way I am. I’m sorry “kindness” and “love” don’t come as naturally to me as they do most people. My first instinct in most situations is to look out for my own interests. I’m selfish to the bone, and I’m sorry for it. If you ever find me doing anything nice, I promise you there was a long dialogue in my head in which Bad Stu was talked out of his plans by Good Stu.

I’m sorry I’m so judgmental. I’m sorry I’m so self centered. I’m sorry I’m so fearful. I’m sorry I’m a scumbag. I’m sorry I’m so stubborn.

To Mom and Dad: I’m sorry I don’t call enough and I certainly don’t say I love you enough. I’m sorry I don’t make more time for you. I’m sorry I moved to the other side of the country and you don’t get to see me.

To my friends back home: I’m sorry I don’t call enough or text you back within a day. I’m sorry I don’t keep in touch as much as I’d like to. I’m sorry I haven’t come back to visit and see you. To be fair, wouldn’t you rather visit me in California instead?

To my coworkers: I’m sorry my first instinct is to tell you what you’re doing is wrong. You’re great. Don’t change. Ok maybe you could change a little, but I’m sorry for not being nicer about it. I’m sorry for not praising you when you deserve it and encouraging you.

To my friends in San Luis Obispo: I’m sorry for leaving so soon after moving here (is it self centered to assume that you’ll miss me? Maybe, I don’t know). I am so so so thankful to have met you people and I’m sorry that I’ve decided to leave you. I’m sorry that I take you for granted. I don’t deserve such incredible people in my life.

To my future friends in San Francisco: I’m sorry you’re going to meet me and decide to hang out with me. I don’t know what sort of wrong doing I’m going to do to you, but I’m sorry for it in advance.

To any woman I’ve ever gone out with or dated: I’m sorry for not texting/calling you back. I’m sorry for texting/calling you too often. I’m sorry that commitment scares me. I’m sorry that I scared you away.

I’m sorry I’m too much of a wimp to say these things to your faces. I’m sorry for all bad shit that I’ve done and all of the bad shit I’m going to. Just know, that I’m trying to do more nice shit. Thankful for all of you. Happy Thanksgiving.

Moving on up

Life feels so crazy right now. I’m a fluster of emotions. Today marks me being in San Luis Obispo, California for one year straight. I truly didn’t know what the fuck I’d be doing at this time a year ago. I was just a Missouri boy looking for some uncertainty and a change of scenery. I’m such an emotional mess right now because I’ve decided to leave SLO to make the move up to San Francisco. I saw a position at Verve Coffee Roasters’ upcoming SF café, and I knew that I would hate myself if I didn’t apply. Well I got it. My head is filled with excitement, sadness, guilt, and fear.

In the year that I’ve been here, I’ve seen more of California than most of my friends from here have seen, made some of the best friends I could have imagined, learned more about coffee than I thought I ever would, and picked up tons of dope hobbies. I’ve only been here for twelve months, but I feel like it’s been twelve years. I walk down the street and see at least three people I know. SLO has become the best home I’ve known so far.

Words don’t come close to adequately describing how stoked I am about this. I fell in love with San Francisco when I first visited back in 2012. I can’t explain why I feel the way I do about the city. It’s been the dream to live in SF since my first visit. Stop fucking telling me it’s expensive and foggy and dangerous and cold. It’s also probably the most geographically beautiful city in the country. The weather is perfect. The food is the best. The people are the coolest. Shit is gonna be “hyphy” as the locals say, I think.

With all good things, there’s always a tradeoff. I have to say goodbye to the some of the best people I know. No more perfect sunny weather year round. Hello traffic. Hello long commutes. Hello being broke as fuck. But it’s cool, I’m cool with it. I see it as a challenge, a welcome one at that. These last few months I’ve felt pretty stagnant, and I think this is just what I need.

Thank you to my friends and family here in SLO that have taken me in as one of their own. Thank you to my friends and family back home that have visited me here in California. Thank you Scout Coffee Co. for taking a chance on this Missouri boy and teaching me about coffee. Thank you Verve Coffee Roasters for the opportunity. And thank you to my future baby mama that I’m gonna meet in San Francisco.

Cheers to the next adventure. Cheers to growing. Cheers to making coffee in a new city. Cheers to another year in California. Talk soon.

 

 

 

~*friendship*~

Friendship is a really weird thing to me. Always has been. Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that people actually like me and want to be around me. I grew up as the weird kid. I wore shitty clothes at a school where the 7 year olds wore designers (panda panda panda panda). I died my hair tomato red in sixth grade. I was also a really emotional kid, crying a lot for no reason. I was a bully’s wet dream.

I always had friends, but not many. Never a best friend, just a few close ones. The friends I saw as my closest friends didn’t see me as their closest. And I definitely wasn’t good with girls in my adolescence. This isn’t even on some my-life-was-so-hard-what-did-I-do-to-deserve-this type shit, this is just me telling you how it was. Facts.

Now I have more than enough friends. Friends that live in SLO with me. Friends that have moved to other parts of California. Friends that still live in Missouri. Friends that have moved to Texas, Georgia, New York, etc. The only problem I have now is losing contact with all of my friends around the world.

My closest friend back home and I text most days, not necessarily about anything important. But we’re connected. My closest friend I made here in SLO just moved to Seattle, and nothing about our friendship has to change. We may not text every day, or even every week. But I know that when I see her next, we’ll pick up where we left off. Because that’s all a friendship has to be.

People get so upset when their friends move, or vice versa. But we live in an age where you can stay connected through communication via like seventeen different apps every day. You can obsessively stalk your friends’ locations at any time of the day with Find Your Friends. If that isn’t friendship then I don’t know what the fuck is. Just because you don’t live in the same city, state, or country, doesn’t mean you have to lose touch.

Conversely, the dopest part about me moving to California or friends moving to other states is the ability to cut irrelevant fuckboys out of my life. As far back as I can remember, I’ve had people in my life that I’ve called my friends, but these people have done nothing but bring me down and infect me with their bullshit. They don’t treat me or others with respect. They take me for granted while bringing absolutely nothing to the table. These kinda people are not my friends. They are irrelevant and they do not belong in my life. It’s funny because now I’m in a position to choose who I’m friends with, when I used to take whoever I could get. Options.

Friendship is whatever you make it. You can keep up with friends in many ways. Maybe that just looks like sending a random text every now and then, just checking up. Maybe that means having a weekly Facetime appointment. Maybe that means flying halfway across the country to see your homie. You can also cut people out of your life if you want to. That’s the beauty of it.

I’m pickin and choosin friends, and I suggest you do the same.

Make America Great Again

Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing Michael Moore’s newest film, “Where to Invade Next.” The general premise of the film is that Moore travels to different countries around the world and “steals” great aspects about these countries. Obviously no country is perfect, but Moore comes “to pick the flowers, not the weeds.”

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but what about the weed??

Having seen a couple of his prior films, I was ready for Moore to do his typical “fuck the U.S., fuck Republicans, fuck Fox News” type shit. Instead, I walked out of the theatre feeling more inspired and positive than I’ve been in a long time. It was potentially one of the most moving and powerful movies I’ve seen in recent memory. I teared up, I laughed, and thought deeply about social, ethical, political, and fiscal issues.

Even though most people know that America is decades behind many countries on many serious issues, I will put a SPOILER ALERT here in case you aren’t already mildly conscious of how most of the Western world is light-years ahead of this joke of a government running the U.S. Here are just a few examples of this that are discussed by Moore:

In Italy, employers are HAPPY to give their employees eight weeks of paid vacation (even though they are legally required to).

The Slovenian government pays for college for anyone that wants to attend… even American citizens that want to attend their universities instead of getting fucked by the U.S. “education” system.

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Finland at one point ranked near the bottom of student performance (as bad as America is now). They decided to do something about it. They got rid of standardized testing, as well as most homework. The country gives children more autonomy and more time to be kids, to do things that kids should do. The result of such an obviously silly idea? Finland now leads the world in education.

Schoolchildren in France are given what we would call gourmet meals for school lunches. In the U.S., pizza sauce is considered a vegetable in school lunches by Congress. By fucking Congress. All just to save a buck. The French treat food as something critical to success of children.

The prison system in Norway treats criminals like humans that need to be rehabilitated, not like slave labor. No isolation. Good food, sunlight, autonomy (within the confines of the prison property), and respect. The maximum prison sentence one can receive is 21 years. Even a Neo-Nazi man that went on a 54 person killing spree. The result of this system: the low rates of convict re-arrests upon release of 20%. This rate in America is almost 80%.

Lastly, Portugal decriminalized the use and possession of all drugs (420 blz it lol). Instead of cracking down on users, the government increased funding for treatment centers and support for addicts. Since then, drug overdose deaths and continued drug usage rates have plummeted.

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I left the movie theatre inspired, yet discouraged at the same time. How the fuck am I gonna make a difference? In what way can I contribute to the very necessary change that America needs to undergo? I’m just some fuck with a nose ring and a donut tattoo. What can I do?

The main theme of the movie was the radical idea of treating humans with respect. Most of the countries Moore “invaded” stressed the importance of loving your neighbor. Of course every citizen deserves affordable, if not free healthcare. Obviously a woman should do whatever the fuck she wants with her body. It should go without saying that everyone should be able to marry whoever they want. You’d think it would be common sense that companies should treat their employees fairly, and not focus solely on profits.

Just treat people with respect. It’s so fucking simple.

I figured another small, but impactful thing I could do was write this. Maybe someone who reads this will feel as inspired as I do. Maybe he or she will share it with friends. Maybe someone who’s going into politics will read this. Maybe this will change a Trump supporter’s  mind. Maybe not, but it’s worth a shot, right?

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She was only 25

On February 26th, 2016, my cousin Shaina took her own life. I got the honor of speaking at her funeral today. Here is (roughly) what I said.

                      

Growing up, I never really got to know Shaina very well. Up until September, our two immediate families probably visited each other no more than ten times. They lived in California, we lived in Missouri. That’s just how it goes.

I came out to SLO and started crashing with my Uncle Scott and Aunt Diane in September. Around that same time, Shaina came back to live at her childhood home. She had two months sober at that point, and seemed to be happier and more focused than I had seen or heard about in years.

After living under the same roof as her for an extended period of time, I can now say what a shame it was our interactions were so limited for most of our lives. With that being said, I am beyond thankful for, and will always remember the time we spent together here in California, living in the same house.

One thing Shaina pleasantly surprised me with was how considerate and caring she was. On several occasions, Shaina would text me short and sweet messages, wishing me a good day, and letting me know how much she loved and cared for me. Even near the end, as recently as two weeks ago when she was under considerable stress, I woke up to such a text. Shaina never had a problem with expressing her love for her family. I think most of us could take a page out of her book.

With a girlfriend, fulltime job and classes at Cuesta, Shaina not only made time for me, but actively sought out opportunities for the two of us to spend time together. She was very deliberate in making plans to hang out. At the beginning of the week, she would plan out each day of her week, and set time aside to do something together. It didn’t always work out each week that we would be able to get together, but the thought was always there on her part.

Shaina also was one of the most grateful and appreciative souls I’ve come across. On one specific occasion, Shaina asked me to take care of her iguana, Billy, for a night while she went camping. “Taking care” of Billy meant spraying some water in his cage to keep him hydrated once at night and once in the morning, and throwing a few crickets in there for him. “Taking care” of Billy for one night probably took less than a minute, all in all. For this, Shaina thanked me endlessly and showed so much appreciation. The next day, I walked into my room to a $20 bill on my bed. After I refused to accept such a thing, she made me agree to let her take me out to lunch instead to show her thanks. Another time, Shaina almost got upset that I wouldn’t accept money for helping her with a few math problems. Shaina was so generous by nature. She made me want to give back more to those I love, not only with money, but with love and kindness.

It’s no secret that Shaina lived a hard life. Struggling with substance abuse issues and chronic depression from an incredibly young age, she came an incredibly long way. But as is evident, there is no hard and fast cure for mental illnesses of this nature. Shaina was in considerable pain for most of her life, struggling to find lasting happiness. In no way, shape, or form am I happy about this situation, but the ONLY thing that brings me ANY comfort whatsoever is that she no longer has to hurt anymore. I hope you’ve found peace, Shaina. I just wish you could be here to see all the people that you’ve touched throughout your time here.