Tuesday, July 17, 2018

To Become a Star

We had to vacate our Airbnb in Kyiv by 11:00, which was unfortunate because our train didn't leave for L'viv until about 12 hours later. Despite our best attempts to pack lightly, at least two out of the three of us decided to bring with them enough clothes to start a new life over here. I'll let you guess which two out of the three are guilty by smelling us.

I thought the best option might be to wander to the hostel down the street and ask them if we could just pay a little to store our bags for the day. I should have been deterred by the hundreds of google reviews that warned me of the five-flight stair climb and very average Eastern European customer service. But I wasn't. And when I entered the place and asked my simple question I was met with several eye rolls and half a dozen phone calls to Stalin-knows-where, during which the hostel employees attempted to negotiate an international peace treaty for the foreign travelers in front of them.

When homegirl got off the phone she informed me that we would have to rent a room for the day, which was $10, but then she warned me that she wouldn't dare leave anything whatsoever at that hostel because "it's more dangerous than prison in this place."

I asked her to repeat herself several times, sure that there had been a miscommunication. But each time she did, the warning became starker, finally ending with "I don't even bring my wallet to work."

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Kyiv's Raccoon Man

We landed in Kyiv on Saturday afternoon and found a taxi to take us to our apartment. "She's Got It" by Venus was playing on the radio.

Taxi Driver: Vat zis mean, she got it?

Eli: It means she has something special.

Taxi Driver: Vy zey not just say "she have somezing special?"

Eli: It's just a saying in English.

Taxi Driver: Vat so special about zis voman?

Eli: I don't know.

Taxi Driver: Vy he sing about her if he don't say vat so special.

Eli: Look. I haven't slept in like 40 hours. I'm incapable of engaging in philosophy at the moment.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Grammar Book

I'm going to Ukraine on Friday.

And don't even try to break into my house, robbers. I've got house-sitters and they're all angry former cops with complicated pasts and uncertain futures. Go break into my sister's house. She's going with me and she has a much better collection of alabaster pots and sewing supplies.

The house-sitter situation is necessary because keeping things alive at my home in July is an unrelenting job. For the last four weeks I've just been engaged in a constant loop of pot watering where I start again from the beginning the moment I finish giving a drink to the last pot. I haven't had a single break in days. I'm typing this with my toes right now. (Yes, Tami is literate).

Finding a responsible house-sitter is a challenge because it requires you to make a list of all of the people you know who have nothing going on in their lives and can easily pick up and move into your place for as long as needed, and then identify one person on that list who is reliable.

Thank God for all of those former cops.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Won't You Be My Neighbor

My two older sisters hated it when Trolley started making its way back to Mr. Rogers's house from Make Believe Land.


Every episode had the same simple format. Mr. Rogers would come through the front door of his tiny and simple home, singing about it being "a beautiful day in the neighborhood," asking viewers to be his neighbor, and changing into a sweater and more comfortable shoes. He would introduce the simple concept of the day. Music, or creativity, or sadness, or inclusivity, or whatever. Various cast regulars and special guests would come by to help demonstrate the lesson of the day. Then Trolley would go off to Make Believe Land.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

International Spy

Skylar treats state-issued IDs like you might treat chapstick.

Don't remember where you put the last one? That's ok. Just grab another the next time you're in the checkout line at the grocery store.

Keep one in your car. One at your desk. Send a couple through the washing machine in a dirty pair of pants.

The problems with this habit, though, are obvious.

State-issued IDs are not chapstick.

They are supremely more inconvenient to collect. And the more you have, the more likely your identity will be stolen.

Since I met Skylar in 2015, I have seen him lose at least 4 driver's licenses. That's one a year, y'all. And you know I don't even say that.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

You guys. Jurassic World. There's another one.

Last week Meg told me there was a new Jurassic World movie out, and then she threatened me to see it with her.

This is an activity that makes sense for us because our relationship is basically based off of the first Jurassic World movie. When that one came out I wrote a recap about it that was, how do I put this, somewhat critical. If you go to that post and look for Meg's contribution in the comments section, you'll find the birth of our friendship. Just three years ago we were commiserating over hating Jurassic World and now I'm 8th in line to get her children.

Mark my words: I will do what it takes to ascend that list.

Which is maybe why Saturday afternoon I showed up at Century 16 movie theater at 3:00 in the afternoon to meet Meg. What happened over the next two hours will be hard to explain. But I'll try.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Elk in the Woods

As you know, earlier this week I DECIDED TO BE GAY. Now every morning when I wake up the soundtrack to Rent is blasting through my house from speakers I haven't yet been able to locate and Judy Garland keeps calling me.

No one warned me this would happen.

Skylar keeps telling me that even though he doesn't support my lifestyle, he still loves me. Which is true. He absolutely does not support my lifestyle. This fall he's starting medical school so I have a very sad feeling that I'm going to be supporting his for the next eleventy years to come.

Matt has been texting me variations of "WHY DID I HAVE TO FIND OUT YOU WERE GAY ON YOUR BLOG I THOUGHT I WAS YOUR BEST FRIEND," even though I met Matt over four years ago when mutual friends of ours set us up on a date.

By the way, for our first date we watched Jesus Camp together. I knew Matt was different when he sided with the camp leaders by the end of the documentary, screaming at me in his strong southern drawl, "WELL WHAT'S WRONG WITH JESUS?"

Except the way he said "Jesus" it was a much longer name than I had learned growing up. It was more like JeeeeeauauauasssssuauauauIreckonuauauauas.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Thing I Decided I Want You To Know

I'm pretty gay.

I know. You're all shocked. NO ONE guessed this. I'll give you a moment to recover.

This is something I just never thought I would really address on Stranger because I never felt like I needed to.

But several things have changed for me. The most important one is the mounting internal pressure to be more open about this because being open about being gay can literally save lives. It opens dialogue, and it helps people who feel alone feel less alone. Honestly, in recent years a part of me has felt a little selfish for not being open.

Coming out as gay to anyone is kind of a scary thing. Even in 2018. It took me many many many many years to come out to the people I'm closest to. Like, 29 or so years. A lot of this was because I didn't exactly grow up in a community that has a great track record when it comes to treatment of The Gays.

Flashback to a very gay boy in the 90s sitting in many lessons at church in which the teacher explained that no one is born gay but the wicked choose to be gay and for that reason their souls are lost.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Good Toilet

Last year when the essential oils people descended upon me and nearly destroyed my home, I decided that I would take a possibly-permanent break from Airbnb.

I changed my listing to no longer allow people to automatically book the place. Instead they could send inquiries and I could decide from their picture whether or not they looked like they practice witchcraft.

This was going fine. I got very few inquiries for several months, and I mostly declined the inquiries for one reason or another.

And then last week I got a message from Bill and Brenda. (Names have been changed).

"Hello. We are driving to Salt Lake City from Idaho for a small procedure. Please let is know if your space is available."

I was intrigued about the procedure and Bill and Brenda looked to be about my parents' age so I thought what the hey, and I accepted their booking.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Pray For Arnie

You guys.

I've been really stressed about something on the Internet.

Well, I've been really stressed about a lot of things on the Internet because I'm not a sociopath and I have Internet access. But there's one specific thing that I'm going to tell you about today.

For some time I've been obsessively checking all of the animal rescue websites in Utah to see who is looking for a home. I don't know why I do this to myself. For about a thousand reasons I can't take in another dog right now.

So all I do is look at all of these doggies with their sad doggy eyes and their sad doggy mouths and their ratty shelter doggy hair and I can hear them crying and saying "why can't you love us? You could save me but you are choosing not to. Why?" and I start getting choked up and part of me is like "TAKE THEM ALL, ELI" but then another part of me is like "YOU USED TO HATE ANIMALS WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU" and then the first part of me is like