Fight Or Flight, Part 2

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photo by David Lancelle
Instagram

Part Two of Three. Read Part One here. First published in PQMonthly.

When I woke up that morning, getting into a physical altercation with a bigot was the last thing I thought I would be doing. I had been minding my own business, puttering around┬ámy house, when the word “faggot” came through my open windows on that hot day. It was barked in a harsh male baritone in the context of a conversation, and then it was repeated again. It had startled me so much to hear that ugly word in my own space, in the last place I would expect to hear that word of hate, that I had spontaneously stood up from a sitting position in the middle of my living room. I stood there for a minute, let the feelings wash over me. Continue reading

An Open Letter To My Enemy

photo by Nick Fauble .ig-b- { display: inline-block; } .ig-b- img { visibility: hidden; } .ig-b-:hover { background-position: 0 -60px; } .ig-b-:active { background-position: 0 -120px; } .ig-b-v-24 { width: 137px; height: 24px; background: url(//badges.instagram.com/static/images/ig-badge-view-sprite-24.png) no-repeat 0 0; } @media only screen and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), only screen and (min--moz-device-pixel-ratio: 2), only screen and (-o-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2 / 1), only screen and (min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), only screen and (min-resolution: 192dpi), only screen and (min-resolution: 2dppx) { .ig-b-v-24 { background-image: url(//badges.instagram.com/static/images/ig-badge-view-sprite-24@2x.png); background-size: 160px 178px; } }

photo by Nick Fauble
Instagram

Dear ___________,

Good morning! Long time no see. It still seems surreal, doesn’t it? Just one week ago, the SCOTUS ruled in favor of gay marriage. A lot of my friends have been celebrating, and even if there’s still a long way to go (like securing rights for trans persons, and the sinking realization that we’re seeking validation from an archaic, broken, systemically racist system…awkward!), it was a monumental day. Of course there’s my more cynical side that reared up and equated the rampant “rainbowing” of people’s profile pictures to a kind of armchair activism (if you care that much about it, where were you when we were marching in the streets for equality? for that matter, where was I?). But all in all it was a good thing. Progress.

I have a confession to make: I forgot we were still connected on social media! It’s been so long since we met, was it that we went to school together? Did we work at a former job together? In any case, the kind Facebook algorithms had hidden you from my feed; we probably didn’t have much in common, and we probably didn’t “like” anything from each other for awhile. I was reminded yesterday in the most jarring way, though: you posted something full of ugliness and hate, or a link to an ignorant article, or that creepy video where “Christians” (acting unChristianly) talk about feeling persecuted by gays gaining their rights. Continue reading

Laugh In My Face

(thanks to the kind strangers I accosted in the Ace Lobby) .ig-b- { display: inline-block; } .ig-b- img { visibility: hidden; } .ig-b-:hover { background-position: 0 -60px; } .ig-b-:active { background-position: 0 -120px; } .ig-b-v-24 { width: 137px; height: 24px; background: url(//badges.instagram.com/static/images/ig-badge-view-sprite-24.png) no-repeat 0 0; } @media only screen and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), only screen and (min--moz-device-pixel-ratio: 2), only screen and (-o-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2 / 1), only screen and (min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), only screen and (min-resolution: 192dpi), only screen and (min-resolution: 2dppx) { .ig-b-v-24 { background-image: url(//badges.instagram.com/static/images/ig-badge-view-sprite-24@2x.png); background-size: 160px 178px; } }

(thanks to the kind strangers I accosted in the Ace Lobby)
Instagram

I’m usually super dead inside, but I was thrilled when Hello Mr magazine and the Ace Hotel in Portland invited me to tell the tale of my worst date ever. It’ll be this Sunday, June 14th, 5 to 8pm at the Ace. There will be a DJ! There will be cocktails! There will be an opportunity to heckle me, laugh in my dumb, dumb face! There may never be a better chance to mock me before my slow, sad fade into obscurity. See you there! (Click here for event details)

Fight Or Flight

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Instagram

First published in PQMonthly.

It was a long drive back to Portland that morning; I hit traffic at Tacoma and Spokane, so I was already tired. I had been in Seattle for a few days, and spent more time downtown than I had in past visits (when you’re in love, even the downtown urine smells sweeter). And I’m sorry, but when I travel it’s like I don’t even know my own poops anymore. So yeah, I was in a strange headspace.

It was a warm day, and I had opened the windows in my apartment to get some breeze going. I made a sandwich, settled down at my desk (actually my couch…I didn’t want to admit eating on the sofa) and got ready to catch up on emails. That’s when I heard him from the sidewalk outside, just below my window. There’s a convalescent facility in my neighborhood, and often one or two of the residents would cross the street to rest under the big trees surrounding my apartment building. I’d chatted with a couple of them, they would almost always be friendly and chatty. This voice? I recognized his booming baritone; he had been in front of my building before.

The murmur of his voice outside was suddenly punctuated with words that rose out of the background noise of his speech in sharp relief: “…yeah, and all the faggots and child molesters moving into the neighborhood…” Continue reading

How It Happens

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Instagram

First published, in abbreviated form, in PQMonthly.

This is how it happens, and in retrospect it couldn’t happen any other way. You look at the dating app Scruff one day, having been single for three years, single at 41. All of these faces scrolling by. Some familiar ones occasionally post new photos, where maybe they have a little more grey, or they’ve lost or gained weight. Maybe they look a little more tired from the search, a little more cynical. Maybe they’re almost ready to press “delete” and just leave meeting people to fate and natural circumstances. Their faces say they’re ready to just trash every dating app and get on with living life, spending more time with their friends, creating more art. Maybe their weary faces say they’re a little scared that they’ve already experienced all the love they’re ever going to.

Or maybe that’s just me, you think. You open up a dating app, yeah that one, see a handsome bearded face. He has a boyfriend, because of course he does, and they’re exclusive. You chat a bit, and he won’t even flirt with you because he’s taken. He makes an impression on you but the conversation fades away after a few days.

All of a sudden, months later, Continue reading

Swoon

 

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Instagram

I was invited to give a 10 minute talk on the evolution of courtship rituals, both traditional and modern, for the JAKETalks in Seattle, on February 21st of this year. The following is a rough transcript of the talk, and the video is also below.

(Looks around at crowd) You are all less than 250 feet away from me. Haha, Scruff jokes.

I’m Michael James Schneider. I’m a writer for PQ Monthly and I write for my own wildly unpopular and awkwardly named blog. I write about a few topics, but lately I’ve been writing a lot about dating apps. In fact, so much so that people have started calling me The Scruff Whisperer. “Pause for laugh.”

In the fall of 2012, I found myself single and almost 40. I downloaded the Scruff app at the insistence of my ex. Now, I’ve been single for almost three years, I think I’ve become a professional spinster. I’ve taken the Buzzfeed “Which classic Dickens character are you?” quiz many times, change the answers I give, but I get Ms Havisham every time. Jokes.

To give you a little bit of background, what is this Scruff thing? A Scruff is a guy thinks he’s fly, also know as a buster. Wait no, it’s a dating app for bearded guys who want more Instagram followers. Wait no, it’s a location based mobile phone application that shows you a grid of available men who tend to skew to the hirsute end of the spectrum. Notice I said “available”, not necessarily “single”. I’m looking for something monogamous and long term. Not everyone is. Some guys are on there looking for friends and “workout buddies.” Me? I’m Alanis Morrisette looking for her next Dave Coulier. Continue reading

Lemonade

As with most mornings on my days off, it’s a slow roll to wake up this particular morning. I sleepily smile at the text from my boyfriend, reply to it. I pet my perpetually hungry cat, Ned. I browse Facebook for a couple minutes, watch the new Star Wars trailer, realize that Darth Vader’s helmet kinda always looks like the “gritted teeth” emoji. A friend on Facebook has lost a loved one, and I almost comment on the post but decide not to. I’m sorry for your loss, but I’m even sorrier for all the notifications I’ll get if I comment on your post.

Then I check the dashboard for my shitty-ass blog. Oh great, I think, rolling my eyes, Chad’s back.

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Instagram

I started this blog a few years ago to chronicle my experience leaving my job for a year to have an “artistic sabbatical”. Halfway through that year, I had a rough time of it and suddenly the writing got more personal. I knew then that I was making a choice to put my ramblings out into the public domain, and I also knew well enough from Reddit message boards that not everyone would be kind. Take the above comment, posted at 1:04 am to my recent piece about transparency and honesty. Chad’s clearly trying to bring “tool” back. The overall message in my piece wasn’t very controversial, just an affirmation that it’s better to be open than not. But Chad’s had it in for me for awhile: Continue reading