Category Archives: LOL

Answering the same questions at 34 I answered at 17

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I recently rediscovered the online diary I kept as a teen. While I don’t have access to all the entries I wrote (the Internet Archive didn’t archive most of them), some of them I do.

One of those old diary entries – this was before the term “blog” was popularised – included this “survey” that I took in the summer of 2003. I was 17, had just finished my junior year of high school, and was living seven miles outside the small town of Hyden, Kentucky. Suffice to say, my life has changed a lot since then. As I stare down the barrell of 34 (my birthday is later this month), I thought it would be fun to answer the same questions I did as a teenager. Let’s see if 17 years has changed anything.

1.How many times have you had pizza delivered to your house?
2003: That’s like asking me to count a google.
2020: That’s like asking me to count a google.

2. How do you like your toast?
2003: Toasted.
2020: Pretty crispy.

3. What kind of milk, if any, do you drink?
2003: I’m not a big milk fan, unless it’s chocolate!
2020: I will not drink milk, even if it’s chocolate.

4. What do your dishes look like?
2003: Aww hell, I dunno. Flowers and white and stuff methinks.
2020: So my dishes are black and red, but they’re in storage. Those “flowers and white and stuff” dishes? My grandmother still has them.

5. What utensil do you eat mac ‘n cheese with?
2003: A fork.
2020: A fork.

6. Do you know what anti-aliasing is?
2003: No, but the girl I stole this survey from sure did. It has something to do with taking away the jagged edges of circles on a video game.
2020: Not a fucking clue

7. Have you ever been in an airplane?
2003: Yes.
2020: Oh God, more times than I can count. For a while it felt like I lived in the air.

8. Have you ever played a full game of golf?
2003: Uh, no.
2020: Still no.

9. Describe your feelings toward Microsoft Windows:
2003: I’m impartial. Don’t like the monopoly bit, but…yeah.
2020: At this point I wouldn’t want to use anything else. It’s the only OS I’ve used for 25 years. But that monopoly bit still bothers me

10. Do you usually remember your dreams?
2003: Yeah, I do.
2020: I’ve noticed that as I get older I remember them less frequently and in less detail, and that when I do remember them it isn’t for as long.

2003

The author in the summer of 2003, aged 17. Photo: Kathy Jordan

 

11. How big is your bed?
2003: Twin size, because I like it small and cozy.
2020: You lying bastard, it was not because you liked it small and cozy, it was because that’s the bed your grandparents gave you and it was sleep in that or on the floor. The bed I have now is a full sized bed. Largest I’ve ever had was queen sized. One day I’ll get that California king

12. What’s the coolest thing on the surface of your workspace?
2003: My fiberoptic lamp and pictures.
2020: My workspace is wherever I want it to be. Right now it’s my bed, and the coolest thing on my bed is probably my John Lewis duvet cover

13. Describe your current hair style:
2003: The Federico! lmao
2020: Long, shaggy, pushed back

Federico_Martone

Federico Martone, a contestant on Big Brother 4 (UK). Apparently I once had his haircut.

14. Where is your computer?
2003: The living room.
2020: This is one of the biggest changes over the past 17 years. Laptops weren’t unheard of in 2003, but at least where I lived, they weren’t the norm. I got my first laptop in 2004, when I began university. Right now my computer is in my bedroom, but it can be literally anywhere I want it to be. And if you count my phone, I always have a computer on me.

15. Are you an avid gambler?
2003: To an extent. A few bucks every now and then.
2020: I never gamble, save the occassional lottery ticket.

16. Quick! Say a fantasy of yours!
2003: To be in [Ryan’s] arms tonight…more than you’ll ever know. ::sigh::
2020: To publish my debut novel. Of course, I wouldn’t kick Leonardo DiCaprio out of bed.

17. What web site(s) do you visit on a normal basis?
2003: TOD, channel4.com/bigbrother, yahoo.com, beliefnet.com, jimverraros.us, FOD, Google (I love to play with the image search!)
2020: Wow, remember when Google image search was a novelty? Anyway, now it’s Twitter (hands down the biggest waste of time I’ve ever found), the Independent (natch), Washington Post, Digital Spy (I read their EastEnders coverage obsessively), and Instagram

esq060119cover004-1558471471

Daddy. (Photo: Alexi Lumbomirski/Esquire)


18. Who’s your daddy?

2003: Steve?
2020: I’m actually kind of relieved that I didn’t understand this question at 17. It shows I still had some innocence left. Anyway, I wouldn’t kick Leonardo DiCaprio out of bed.

19. What’s your favorite Jackass segment?
2003: I still crack up about the part in the movie where the guy shoved the car up his ass.
2020: I haven’t thought of this show in years, and I’m mortified that I once admitted to enjoying it. I don’t actually remember watching Jackass very often. The only thing I remember is that Johnny Knoxville got papercuts on the webs of his toes once. I’ll go with that.

20. Do you watch sports on TV?
2003: The horse races, but that’s about it. Sometimes I’ll order a Chelsea or Manchester United game on Pay-Per-View, too.
2020: No. I did watch the Super Bowl, and I like the Olympics. So I guess sometimes.

21. When was the last time you were sick?
2003: During the Louisville trip with FBLA last month.
2020: Last winter. I didn’t get a sinus infection this fall, which I usually do. Touch wood, I’ll stay well.

22. Describe the jewelry you are currently wearing:
2003: Class ring, shell neclace, watch, St. Sebastian neclace.
2020: No jewelry. I haven’t worn jewelry in years. I lost my class ring in 2004 (somewhere in my Dad’s house, but we never did find it). I lost that St. Sebastian necklace the night of my senior prom. Dustin Sizemore and I were in a car accident after prom, and I had to go to the hospital. I lost it somewhere between the accident seen and the emergency room. I’ve always assumed St. Sebastian stayed with me just as long as I need him and then went to help someone else. (As an aside, Dustin himself passed away in 2011.)

23. Do you like 80s music?
2003: OMG Yes!
2020: OMG Yes! Except now I have a deeper appreciation of it and how pivotal an era it was in the development of modern music and popular culture.

24. If you drive, how often do you speed?
2003: I don’t drive; that’s part of my problem.
2020: I drive, but I don’t speed. Two speeding tickets in college cured me of that.

25. Are holiday lights seasonal?
2003: Oh my gosh you’ve hit on the biggest pet peeve I have! I can’t stand it when people leave their Christmas lights up past 1 January! I mean, it bugs me so much! I flip out on them and I don’t know why! It’s just so tacky. I love Christmas, but to leave lights up all year is just WRONG. I mean, if they’re white lights inside, that’s okay. Cute, even. But outside or in a living room or something? Nope, it’s tacky. And it kills me. It absolutly kills me.
2020: I have remained remarkably consistent on this. I’ll allow your holiday lights to stay up maybe until Epiphany, but after that, you need to take them down. It’s tacky.

26. How often do you floss?
2003: Floss? I do that sometimes…I guess.
2020: Floss? I do that sometimes… I guess… okay not really. I don’t floss. There. I’ve said it. Don’t @ me.

27. Do you spill often?
2003: Not nearly often enough. 😉
2020: Gross, teenage Skylar. Fucking gross. God, teenage boys are awful. But no, I am not a toddler, I don’t spill things very often.

28. How many windows are in your bedroom?
2003: One
2020: One

29. What’s the most disgusting food you have ever eaten?
2003: escargo or however you spell it. Screw it…snails.
2003: Still escargot. #NeverAgain

30. Does you breath smell?
2003: Yeah, I just drank a Pepsi.
2020: Yes, I just smoked a cigarette

31. In a perfect world, we would have no:
2003: religion. I know that sounds horrible, but religion has caused more problems for humanity than anything else. In a perfect world, we’d all worship the diety (for I feel the diety is the same for all religions) in an unoranized fasion, in our own way, on our own accords. No organized religion.
2020: …racism or misogyny. This one has actually changed a lot. I still think religion has caused a lot of problems for humanity, but I also think it’s one of our greatest gifts. At university I found the Episcopal Church – and thank God I did – and, through it, religion. I find peace in reading the Bible and comfort in prayer. I think religion, even organised religion, can be a force for good. It can also be a force for bad, but I wouldn’t want to eliminate it from the world.

32. What’s your favorite shoe color/material?
2003: I like brown leather sandals.
2020: I still like brown leather sandals. Also Sperrys.

33. When do you usually eat lunch?
2003: Depends on when I wake up…
2020: I frequently skip lunch.

34. Do you have a cellular telephone?
2003: Nope, and I don’t care for one either (who in the hell would call me?)
2020: WOW. No answer could more represent just how different our world is now than this one. In 2003 I didn’t have a mobile phone and it didn’t bother me. In 2020 I can’t imagine 1) not having a mobile and 2) someone calling me on it. I just bought a new iPhone 11, and it is always on my person. Wow.

That’s it. What memories do you have of 2003, or of being 17? Do you think you would answer these questions the same, or has your perspective shifted as an adult? Let me know in the comments below!

Skylar Baker-Jordan has been writing about UK and US politics for more than a decade. His work as appeared at The Independent, Salon, Huff Post UK, and elsewhere. He lives in Tennessee. Follow him on Twitter or become a supporter by contributing to his Patreon account.

Skylar’s Naughty and Nice List 2019

naughty and nice 2019

It’s the time of year when we deck the halls, don our gay apparel, and kiss under the mistletoe. Yes, from carol singing to your one drunk relative getting a little out of hand, Christmas is a time rife with tradition. One of my favourite traditions is my annual naughty and nice list. After a year away, I’m back, ready to judge the fuck out of people, which is what Christmas is all about.

naughty

Lindsay Graham

It’s really hard for me to pinpoint the exact moment Lindsay Graham sold his soul to the devil, but it was sometime in 2017. Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina, used to deride Donald Trump as someone who “lacked the temperament or judgment to be commander in chief,” but now he’s besties with the mango Mussolini. “I have made up my mind on impeachment,” he recently said, adding “I’m not trying to pretend to be a fair juror” in the president’s soon-to-come Senate trial. From principled leader to spineless Trump acolyte, Lindsay Graham’s descent into the hell that is Trumpism has been remarkably sad to watch.

Rudy Giuliani

Named Time Person of the Year in 2001 for his response to the 9/11 attacks, it has likewise been a swift fall from grace for the man once hailed as “America’s Mayor.” Whether going on Fox News and spreading what can only be called state-supported propaganda for Donald Trump or running a shadow State Department in which he conducts the president’s nefarious business dealings with foreign governments—including, yes, Ukraine—Rudy Giuliani has cemented his place in history as exactly what Saturday Night Live portrays him as: a vampiric villain willing to suck dry the lifeblood of American democracy.

Boris Johnson

An unlawful proroguing of parliament. Having the police called following an angry and allegedly violent row with his girlfriend. The fact that he has a girlfriend yet is still married. Hiding in a fridge to escape journalists. A refusal to sit down for an interview with that notorious lefty… Andrew Neal. You’d think Boris Johnson had a bad year, yet the man just won the biggest Conservative majority in parliament since Maggie Thatcher. He’s going to singlehandedly drag the UK out of the European Union next year, which is what he’s wanted forever since he discovered he could hitch his wagon to racism and xenophobia and end up in Number 10. Bully for him, I guess.

Jo Swinson

Much like a Tinder date, Jo Swinson started out promisingly but quickly fizzled to the point I was asking why I even bothered. Elected leader of the Liberal Democrats in July, she started by positioning herself as a prospective Prime Minister and finished the year as not even a Member of Parliament when the voters of East Dunbartonshire sent her packing—for the second time. Lots of things led to Swinson’s swift downfall, including her promise to rescind Article 50 and end Brexit which most voters found patently undemocratic. She will be most remembered, though, as a woman who was pathologically incapable of explaining what a woman even is.

Jeremy Corbyn

No one deserves more credit for the Tories’ recent electoral victory than, ironically, the Leader of the Labour Party. Whether it was watching gleefully as his acolytes vilified and purged the party of anyone to the right of Marx, turning a blind eye to antisemitism within the Labour membership and party apparatus, failing to articulate a coherent Brexit policy, or ignoring warning after warning that he was going to lose yet another election, Jeremy Corbyn has consigned the United Kingdom to five more years—at least—of Conservative rule. Well done, Jez. You royally screwed us all.

Dishonourable mentions: Justin Trudeau, Kanye West, Matt Gaetz

nice

Gina Miller

There are few public figures on either side of the Atlantic as tenacious as Gina Miller. Once again dragging the Government to the Supreme Court—this time to make sure Boris Johnson couldn’t unlawfully prorogue Parliament to force through his Brexit deal—Gina Miller has continued to be the most vocal and effective champion for parliamentary democracy. It’s ironic, really, that an arch-Europhile has become Parliament’s biggest cheerleader considering parliamentary supremacy is supposedly what Brexit is all about. But then, this entire decade has been an experiment in horrifying irony.

Taylor Swift

She dropped a banger of an album—her best since 2014’s 1989—including the instant classic “You Need to Calm Down,” which has become the newest LGBT anthem. It is her fight for artistic control and women’s rights, though, which has landed Taylor Swift on this year’s nice list. Taking on Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta, who have control of the master recordings for her first six albums, took some serious guts. Swift didn’t even blink. A true role model and trailblazer, T-Swift has steadfastly stood up for the rights of artists, especially female artists, to control their careers and the work they produce. I look forward to hearing her new masters when she re-records her back catalogue in 2020.

Jess Phillips

Jess Phillips has been one of the most sensible voices in Labour since she was first elected to Parliament in 2015. Her blunt analysis of Labour’s defeat, written for the Guardian, is essential reading for anyone wondering just what went wrong with Corbynism. “I can’t help but think that the fact we saw only a tiny swing away from Labour in my seat was because of our ability to disagree well, with good humour and a shared vernacular,” she wrote earlier this month, adding that “you don’t have to agree with every word someone says if you have good faith in their intentions.” Phillips’ calls for Labour to stop talking down to the working class and her call for civility in political discourse—especially on social media—is a breath of fresh air and one that should be heeded by all sides of every debate on both sides of the Atlantic.

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman and Dr. Fiona Hill

There were a lot of heroes to arise from the Ukraine scandal, including the as-of-now anonymous whistleblower and former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Vindman and Hill share one trait in common, though, that makes them both unique among those who testified about Donald Trump’s abuse of power—they’re both immigrants. Lt. Col. Vindman immigrated from Ukraine to the United States as a child, while Dr. Hill, originally from the North of England, became an American citizen in 2002. Listening to these principled national security experts and erstwhile presidential advisers detail the corruption within the Trump Administration while espousing their own patriotism was inspiring, especially at a time when the President and his supporters demonize immigrants.

The Hong Kong Protesters

At a time when democracy is under threat around the world, it is inspiring to see a movement for freedom accomplish so much and sustain itself so well. It started back in June over objections to a bill allowing extraditions from Hong Kong to mainland China, but it has mushroomed into a movement for democracy, including universal suffrage and an end to police brutality. China, an authoritarian state which does not tolerate dissent, has responded by gassing protestors and labelling them terrorists, but these freedom fighters are not backing down. Obviously the issues at play here are far more complicated than I can explain in one blog, let alone one paragraph, and I encourage you to check out Lausan, a website dedicated to bringing the voices and perspectives of protestors to the wider world—and support them any way you can in 2020 and beyond.

Honourable mentions: Wes Streeting, Nancy Pelosi, Chris Cuomo

Who made your naughty and nice list this year? Tell me in the comments below! And from my blog to yours, a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. See you in 2020!

Skylar Baker-Jordan is a freelance writer focusing on UK and US politics. His work has appeared at the Independent, Huff Post UK, Salon, and elsewhere. He lives in Tennessee.

Skylar’s First Impressions of the 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates

Watching the Sunday shows this morning, it occurred to me that I haven’t really commented on the 2020 election. That’s mostly because I think it’s stupid to talk about something that won’t happen until January 2020 in June 2019. I hate America’s perpetual election cycle.

But as I get back into political writing, it behoves me to get up-to-date with the coming election. So, in alphabetical order, here is my first impression of each candidate for the Democratic nomination:

  • Mike Bennett, Senator from Colorado – No name recognition. Who is he going to appeal to that someone better-known won’t? I can’t imagine him getting a lot of traction. Imagine he’ll drop out early
  • Joe Biden, former Vice President from Delaware – Seems to be the frontrunner right now, running as the “beat Trump” candidate. Name recognition, veep to a beloved president, blue collar appeal and a helluva politician. Plus, he really wants this. Like, you don’t know. Joe Biden has wanted to be president since he was an embryo. The one to beat.
  • Cory Booker, Senator from New Jersey – he once saved a person from a fire. Turned Newark around. Pretty cool backstory. But he’s not the most progressive, and in a field where Biden is going to run as the moderate, how does he really distinguish himself? Could win big in South Carolina if Black voters turn on Kamala Harris for her record of incarcerations or don’t warm to Biden – but that last one is a big if
  • Steve Bullock, Governor of Montana – Running as a Washington outsider, which is a pretty smart strategy considering how many of these candidates are senators, congresspeople, or former members of the executive branch (or all three, in the case of Joe Biden). Could bring that salt-of-the-earth heartland vibe that resonates with voters in Iowa, and could do well as a fellow westerner in Nevada. But I don’t know much about his record. Still a longshot – though worth noting that governors historically do better winning the presidency than vice presidents or senators
  • Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana – I’ve been a fan of Mayor Pete for years, and endorsed him from DNC chair in 2017. But is he ready to be president? Yes, he did wonders for unemployment in South Bend and helped save a dying city. He’s young (if elected, he’d be the first Millennial president, and the youngest full stop). He’s good looking. His husband—yes, husband—has a cracking social media game. Would be the first openly gay president (second gay president; RIP President Buchanan). Refreshingly, that could be a benefit and not a hindrance in a primary. In a general election, is America ready to vote for a gay president? I don’t know. And more pressingly, is being the mayor of a small city qualification enough for the Oval Office? And will Democrats go for a moderate like Pete when Biden’s in the race? He’s probably seen his moment in the sun already this cycle, but could be a dark horse worth watching
  • Julian Castro, former Secretary of HUD from Texas – the less exciting of the Castro brothers. I don’t have much to say here. Could surprise people in Nevada, but I don’t see him as a top-tier candidate
  • Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City, New York – from what I understand, New York City hates him. Why wouldn’t America? He’s a progressive who I probably agree with more than anyone else as far as policy goes, but I just don’t see him as a serious contender
  • John Delaney, Congressman from Maryland – seriously, who? I know nothing about this man
  • Tulsi Gabbard, Congresswoman from Hawaii – Thank u, next
  • Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator from New York – I once said that if Kirsten Gillibrand ran for president I would quit my job and work on her campaign. I haven’t done that, and her campaign has failed to take off the way many thought it would. I’m not saying there’s a correlation here, but… in all seriousness, though, don’t underestimate Kirsten Gillibrand. She’s probably the fiercest proponent of women’s rights and really shined when #MeToo took off, especially in condemning Bill Clinton’s behaviour in the 1990s and before. That took guts. With abortion becoming the issue of the summer, expect her profile—and prospects—to rise
  • Mike Gravel, former Senator from Alaska – perineal candidate. Has about as much a chance as an Alaskan snowball’s chance in hell
  • Kamala Harris, Senator from California – Kamala, more than anyone, deserves to debate Donald Trump. It would be amazing. She’d show him for the moron he is. But she hasn’t taken off the way I thought she would. That might be because voters are turned off by her record as Attorney General of California, where she was known for locking up low-level drug offenders. In the era of Black Lives Matter and prison abolitionism, that’s not a good look. Still, don’t count her out
  • John Hickenlooper, former Governor of Colorado – If Joe Biden wasn’t in the race, I’d say John Hickenlooper would be the one to watch. A plain-talking white man from middle America is usually a shoo-in for presidential nominations, but Hickenlooper is stuck in the shadow of Biden, and so similar to Bullock that they could split the same voters
  • Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington – Running on the climate, Inslee could capture Millennial and Gen-Z voters, the oldest of whom will be able to vote for the first time in 2020. But is it enough? If he gets a high-profile endorsement (say, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), he could see some wind in his sails. But that’s a big “if,” I think. Another western governor means he’s competing with Hickenlooper and Bullock
  • Amy Klobuchar, Senator from Minnesota – her announcement speech was the stuff of legend, given during a snowstorm in a brutal Minnesota winter, but it was overshadowed with accusations she bullies her staff. Leaving aside the sexist notion that women asserting authority are bullies (and not at all commenting on the accusations, as I’ve not researched them enough to know if that’s what’s at play here), Klobuchar just hasn’t distinguished herself in this field. It’s early days, but again, if voters want a moderate, Joe Biden seems to be their choice. Klobuchar could find herself running for veep.
  • Wayne Messam, Mayor of Miramar, Florida – lol who?
  • Seth Moulton, Congressman from Massachusetts – a decorated war hero (he’s an Iraq veteran), Seth Moulton is a young, telegenic candidate who could surprise us all. His service to his country and dashing good looks stand in stark contrast to Donald Trump, who risks looking like Nixon debating Kennedy, except without the Nixonian brain (if the Nixonian instincts for corruption). But does anyone know who Seth Moulton is? No, not outside political junkies and his constituents – and the latter is iffy given American apathy. Might not be his time, but watch his star rise
  • Beto O’Rourke, former Congressman from Texas – Oh Beto. We barely knew thee. Could surprise us, but I think he’s more likely to go back and fight a statewide Texas race sometime in the near future. I don’t think his political career is over, but I don’t think he’s going to win the nomination. Not this time.
  • Tim Ryan, Congressman from Ohio – Good Democrat, but I can’t think of anything that distinguishes him from the others in the field
  • Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont – Wish he’d go away. HE’S NOT EVEN A DEMOCRAT. But he could win, and to my mind is the biggest threat to Biden. I’m closer to Sanders’ politics than Bidens’, but something about him irks me. I think it’s that HE’S NOT EVEN A DEMOCRAT and won’t join the party unless we let him lead it. Still, voters like him and he has the wind in his sails from 2016 which could propel him to the nomination. (Watching a debate between him and Trump would be like nails on a chalkboard, though, both of them so gruff and brash)
  • Eric Swalwell, Congressman from California – Staple on MSNBC, but beyond that, not much of a national profile. One of the fiercest critics of Trump in the House, Swalwell could benefit if the House impeaches Trump, but considering Biden’s running on the “gotta-beat-Trump” platform, I don’t think that’ll be enough
  • Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts – Elizabeth Warren could beat Joe Biden. She’s got the background and expertise and record to take him on when it comes to financial regulation, consumer rights, and all the things progressives don’t like about Joe Biden. She’s extremely popular in the Democratic Party and has every chance of winning this nomination. Can she beat Trump? No idea. But she would certainly be a stark contrast – an intelligent, educated Harvard professor who campaigns for the little people against a dumb, ignorant con artist who didn’t pay his workers
  • Marianne Williamson, activist from California – Umm, do I know you?
  • Andrew Yang, entrepreneur from New York – Not really familiar with him. Know some of my friends are really excited about him. Concerningly, they’re kind of conservative or libertarian leaning, which leads me to think he’s not my ideal candidate. Cute though

 

What do you think of the 2020 field? Can anybody beat Biden? Will there be a dark horse who emerges in the debates? Or in the early primaries and caucuses? Is it too early to talk about any of this? Leave your comments below!

30 Things I’ve Learned at 30

 

30 at 30

The author at 24 (photo: Kat Johns)

In many ways, turning 30 is less of an existential crisis than was turning 25. I turned 25 crying on the floor of a fraternity house bathroom. I turn 30 with health insurance, a budding writing career, and a guy who makes me smile every day. Things are good. Sure, there are a lot of regrets. My 20s were a series of bad choices and unfortunate events. But I’ve learned a few things along the way.

Before I fell down in a puddle of tears and urine on that Formica floor, I composed a list of 25 things I had learned at 25 and posted it to Facebook. Now, the night before I turn 30, I’m publishing it publicly for the first time, along with 30 more things I’ve learned in the past five years. Do with this information what you will: take it, scoff at it, ignore it. But I have to say, I wish I’d known all of this ten years ago.

25 things I’d learned at 25

  1. Despite what you think at the time, it is possible to laugh through tears. And it feels amazing.
  2. You are lucky if you have 5 true friends in this life. Not at once; at all.
  3. Everybody has their own problems, and if you could see theirs, you’d be glad to keep your own.
  4. The world is kinder and gentler than we make it out to be.
  5. There’s a reason why it’s cliché to eat ice cream when upset: it works. It really will make you feel better.
  6. The best friends are the ones you sit in silence with and it isn’t awkward.
  7. Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. You never know who you have the power to destroy.
  8. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does
  9. Keep all your receipts and balance your cheque book. It’ll save you a world of hassle.
  10. If you have to justify a purchase to your friends, you probably don’t need to buy it.
  11. Even if you can’t excuse someone’s behaviour, you should look for an explanation. You may just find some compassion that way.
  12. University is really very easy—if you make school your first priority.
  13. Beer really is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
  14. We all have our vices. The trick is not to let them control us.
  15. Sometimes it is okay to change who you are for somebody, so long as you’re changing for the better.
  16. Nothing is scarier than the day you realize that your parents are human, too.
  17. If you’re in a relationship that must remain secret, you probably shouldn’t be in it.
  18. Honesty is NOT always the best policy. If a lie is harmless and can make somebody happy, lie.
  19. If your friends can’t or won’t put their differences aside for you, they’re not true friends.
  20. Blood is not always thicker than water. Blood is blood. We ought to say that LOVE is thicker than water. (Only that doesn’t really make sense.)
  21. There is no shame in asking for help, and almost always someone willing to give it.
  22. Anything worth having is worth risking it all.
  23. Anybody who says they have no regrets is lying or an emotionally-stunted Neanderthal. Plain and simple.
  24. Something can be both right and wrong, good and bad. Most things exist in a grey area.
  25. We are the masters of our destinies. In life, there are no answers–there are choices.

And here are 30 more things I’ve learned in the past five years.

  1. Comparing yourself to others is the most counterproductive thing you can do. We all have our own journeys, and we all start in different places. You also don’t know what hurdles they’ve jumped to get to where they are.
  2. Unless you are a Kardashian or married to one, it’s a safe bet that no one hates you as much as you hate yourself.
  3. Don’t hate yourself. Forgive yourself. Every day.
  4. The people who remain in your life will sometimes surprise you. People you think are fleeting friends will prove to have remarkable staying power. People you think are your besties will disappear forever
  5. Losing touch with old friends is an active choice. You’re tired, and all you want to do is pour a glass of wine and watch Scandal. I get it. Pick up that damn phone and call your college roommate. She misses you.
  6. If a straight man tells you he’s straight, believe him. Even if he holds your hand as you walk down the street. Even if he drunkenly lets you run his hands up his shirt as you dance to Charlie Puth’s “Marvin Gaye.” Even if he kisses you cos he’s always wanted to know what a beard feels like.
  7. You’re probably not in love with your old friend. You probably just think you are because you’re having a quarterlife or midlife crisis and reaching for the most familiar man.
  8. Love is a goddamn scary thing, and it doesn’t get any easier as you get older. Sex and the City had it right. Does he think about me like I think about him? I don’t know. But that’s the exciting part.
  9. Find one artist who speaks to you and stan hard for them. Seriously. There’s something remarkably comforting about listening to someone’s music grow and evolve along with your own life. (For me, this is Adele.)
  10. Sometimes, it’s better to address bigotry through verbs rather than nouns. He isn’t homophobic, what he said is homophobic. You have no idea how much more receptive people are to being called out when you’re calling out their actions instead of their personalities.
  11. Tribalism is what makes politics so goddamn ineffective. Talk to people who oppose you. Befriend them. And if you’re in Congress or Parliament, for God’s sake, work with them. Effective governance is bred in compromise.
  12. Social justice warriors are often just as closed-minded and obnoxiously vile as the bigots they oppose.
  13. People fuck up, but that doesn’t mean they should be destroyed for it.
  14. Clean your damn apartment because you really never know when someone is going to stop by. Or you’re going to get laid. Also, always have Febreeze on hand. (Preferably in seasonal scents.)
  15. If you can avoid it, never live anywhere without a dishwasher. I mean it.
  16. In the immortal words of Jen Lindley, “anything you look forward to for too long is invariably a disappointment.”
  17. Being content doesn’t mean you’re happy, and you should never confuse the two.
  18. It really is okay to say “no” to your manager, to friends, to family, to Donald Trump. The world won’t end.
  19. Work to live, don’t live to work.
  20. For the most part, your colleagues are just that—your colleagues. They are not your friends. There are rare exceptions, but keep things as casual and professional as possible. And whatever you do, don’t sleep with a co-worker.
  21. Everything you do online can come back to haunt you. For a solid year a comment I drunkenly left on a YouTube video pulled up if you Googled me. I befriended a writer who, two years later, found a comment I’d left on an article about her. Think twice before you tweet.
  22. Pizza is as addictive as crack. Something to do with the combination of the fat and grease. But seriously, this is science. Limit your intake.
  23. They all got just as fat as you have.
  24. Never be the drunkest person in the room. Always find the drunkest person in the room, gauge how intoxicated they are, and be at least two drinks behind them.
    24.5 Unless it’s an open bar on a corporate dime. Then bombs away.
  25. If you’re drinking alone, ask yourself why. Then find a very good therapist to help you work it all out.
  26. It’s worth dropping the extra money on a good bottle of wine.
  27. Stop buying expensive clothes. No one looks at what you’re wearing after you graduate college.
  28. Just because you don’t “get” something doesn’t mean it’s invalid. Your opinion is but one of billions. And if your marginalised friends tell you something is important, listen. They may actually know better than you.
  29. The world doesn’t exist as we think it should; it exists as it is. Work to fix the things you can, but be prepared to work with what you’ve got.
  30. Your grandmother was right about everything.

24 Answers America has for Britain

Over at Buzzfeed, Robin Edds has posited 24 questions his country has for mine. As someone who fancies himself an expert in this matter, I thought I’d do him the favour of answering.

Q 1: Why must we be so patriotic?
A: Cos freedom.

Ron Swanson

NBC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q 2: And why would anyone live somewhere it gets THIS cold?
A: Cos this is freaking awesome:

(As a Chicagoan, I actually laughed that a Brit thinks -31ºC was cold. That’s cute.)

Q 3: Why do so many people give [President Obama] a hard time?
A: Erm. 

Adam Zyglis/The Buffalo News

Adam Zyglis/The Buffalo News

And we’re the lucky ones? Really? How quickly you forget.

Q 4: Was this setting really necessary?
A: Damn straight

Gif: tumblr.com/chaosinconverseee

Gif: tumblr.com/chaosinconverseee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q 5: Does alcohol taste better if you drink it out of a gun?
A: To be fair anything tastes better when you put a gun to my head. And in America, there’s a real possibility that could happen.

This is a real thing you can buy here: http://www.mgdirect.co/Alcohol-Shot-Gun_p_2054.html

This is a real thing you can buy here: http://www.mgdirect.co/Alcohol-Shot-Gun_p_2054.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q 6: Why is everything so much bigger?
A: I honestly don’t know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q 7: I mean, it’s a good thing this car park was empty
A: That’s a parking lot for all my American readers. But seriously, there’s nothing hotter than a guy in a pickup.

Lions Gate, c/o Glamour

Lions Gate, c/o Glamour


Q 8: Do you actually have any of your own actors or are you just going to keep stealing ours?
A: You. Tell. Me.

ITV

ITV

tumblr_m4hnq5dR1S1r65l0f

Lime Pictures

Jeremy-Piven-as-Harry-Selfridge

ITV

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, so admittedly your stars are bigger than mine (and I may be the only American not related to PJ Brennan who’s heard of him), but we’d really like Nicole Scherzinger to come home.

Q 9: What do you have against the letter “U”?
A: I’m with you on this one, mate. My compatriots seem to forget that without “U” we couldn’t chant “USA! USA! USA!”

Coed.com

Coed.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q 10: What exactly does freedom taste like?
A: Like chicken nuggets washed down with beer from a gun and chased with a shot of liberty.

Flickr

Flickr    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Actually, this is the closet I ever came to literally tasting freedom. It was saccharine, decadent, and a bit too rich for its own good, which basically sums up America.

Q 11: And why are your streets so boringly predictable?
A: Cos I like to know where to board the bus and how to get from here to there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicago’s grid is a work of art. And while we’re talking about this…

 

londonbus

Christopher England        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What the hell is up with this? You’ve got like 10 different bus stops all at one spot, and then you have to navigate which bus to get on? I have literally pissed myself in the middle of Islington trying to find the right night bus. Unacceptable.

Q 12: What’s with the whole “being happy and confident and talking to strangers” thing?
A: Dude that’s freedom. It feels good. Give it a whirl.

Universal/WorkingTitle

Universal/WorkingTitle   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Okay, Joni Mitchell is technically Canadian, but they’ve always had more in common with us than they’ll admit. Just don’t tell them; it’ll hurt their feelings.)

Q 13: Why must you confuse us thankless Brits with the concept of tipping?
A: Shush. You’re starting to sound like this bloke:

meme: keithpp.wordpress.com

meme: keithpp.wordpress.com

Q 14: You know this isn’t bacon, right?
A: I do. I definitely do. Sadly, my own father disagrees.

We haven’t spoken since.

Q 15: Why are your t.v. commercials for drugs so batshit crazy?
A: You lot literally sent a woman over here to sell us poo-covering air freshener. Stop.

(But really, America, can we talk about this one? The NHS sounds wonderful.)

Q 16: Why must all your cups be red?
A:  

Q 17: And why do your toilets have so much water in them?
A: The same reason you sent that woman to spread the gospel of Poo-Pourri; see also my answers to questions 4 and 6.

Q 18: While we’re on the subject, why are there giant gaps in the toilet?
A: I’ve been trying and I just can’t answer this one.

imgur

imgur   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q 19: How do we get in on this whole breakfast pizza thing?
A: You can do what a lot of Americans do and make one yourself. There’s even a recipe for a Full English breakfast pizza!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q 20: Technologically, you’re up there with the best of them. So why do you still have to sign when paying the bill rather than use chip and pin?
A: And let Big Brother Obama watch us even more? I don’t think so!

obama-big-brother

 

 

 

 

 

 

Actually, The Guardian ran a very good piece on just this issue last year.

Q 21. Exactly how many countries take part in the World Series?
A: The only one that matters. 

Contrary to popular belief, the World Series isn’t named for the defunct New York World newspaper. It really is just American arrogance. Who knew?

Q 22: And how is it possible that this is a college football game?
A: Mate, if you think that’s impressive, I want to take you tailgating at an SEC (that’s Southeastern Conference) football game.

It’s basically a giant, inebriated party before every football game, sanctioned by the university and celebrated like its bloody Christmas.

Q 23: How did Miss Florida NOT win Miss America?
A: She slapped a shark?? WTF???? I’m still reeling from the time Miss Oklahoma gave a cow a pedicure. Mind. Blown. 

Also, have you heard about our senator who “grew up castrating pigs on an Iowa farm?” Louise Mensch loves her.

Q 24. And finally, people aren’t actually called Randy, right?
A: Randy Quaid. Randy Jackson. Randy Travis. Yeah, they kinda are. 

Comedy Central/imgur

Comedy Central/imgur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well Robin, there you have it. God bless you, and God bless these United States.

 

Skylar’s Naughty and Nice List 2013

naughty and nice

It’s Christmas Eve, which means Santa’s making his rounds. While I expect coal-and hopefully some condoms-in my stocking, not all of us have been quite so naughty this year. With that, I revive a holiday tradition, and give you my naughty and nice list for 2013!

naughty

5. Katie Hopkins

Whether calling X Factor winner Sam Bailey “a fat mum in a tracksuit,” expressing her belief that Scots will do “anything to avoid working until retirement,” or slagging off ginger children as “harder to love,” this may well be Katie Hopkins’ naughtiest year yet-and that’s saying something. Despite a litany of inane ramblings throughout 2013, it was her controversial classist statement that she wouldn’t let her children play with other kids called “Chardonnay” or “Tyler” because their names imply a working class background which propelled her from annoying gadfly to unbearable git. Maybe I’m just taking this personally, as I am a chubby gay ginger called Skylar, but seriously, I need her to sod off in 2014. As that’s unlikely to happen-she’s tipped to enter the Big Brother house next month-I think I’ll just get a tattoo to spite her. Maybe one of Russell Brand.

4. Russell Brand

Just kidding, that man’s a dick. I mean, I know you did a lot of drugs Russell, but Ozzy Osbourne is more coherent and decipherable. This year’s verbal masturbation champion, Russell Brand has suggested a revolution of…? He’s rambled on and on about the need to have a banker-bashing orgy and the needlessness of voting, but here we are at Christmas Eve and I’m still waiting for his point. His talk is pretty and makes you feel good, but much like the Justin Bieber blow-up doll, there just isn’t much depth.

3. Justin Bieber

Speaking of the Biebs, much like his inflatable doppelgänger, he needs to take a seat. Seriously boy, what have we done to you? The first time I ever heard of Justin Bieber he was 3 years old talking to Chelsea Handler. That’s where it began. Nothing good can come from talking to Chelsea Handler. And then we let Usher raise him, and look what happens. From pissing in a bucket while sneaking out of a restaurant to visiting Brazilian brothels to playing naked guitar for his gran, it’s been a bit of a year for Justin. His worst act, though, was by far stepping on the Blackhawk head. Unless you’re a Chicagoan, you won’t get this; if you are a Chicagoan, don’t let the reminder ruin your Christmas. This boy needs to check it before he wrecks it.

2. Robin Thicke

Another man who needs to check something-his privilege-is Robin Thicke, the End Violence Against Women’s coalition Sexist of the Year. The only acceptable “blurred lines” are the ones the cops will likely make me walk tonight after my eighth eggnog. I just can’t.

1. That guy who kissed me by the Serpentine under a pale moon

😉

nice

5. Tom Daley

He’s Britain’s sweetheart, isn’t he? I mean seriously, how can you not just want to give this kid a pat on the back (or the bum)? Sure, he didn’t cure cancer-another LGBT kid did that-but in coming out, Tom not only gave hope to countless kids around the world, but blazed the trail for other high profile LGBT athletes to follow. Make all the jokes you want about diving being the second gayest sport in the summer Olympics (after gymnastics, duh), but sport is rife with homophobia, and Tom’s decision was makes him one brave little toaster.

4. Kellee Terrell

Journalist. Activist. Filmmaker. Kellee is a jill-of-all-trades, and has done so much in the past 12 months to further causes of social justice. Her short film, Goodnight My Love, takes a nuanced look at the last few minutes of a black lesbian couple in a zombie apocalypse, which in itself is awesome enough to land her on this list. But beyond this, her outspoken advocacy for HIV awareness has helped further break the stigma of the disease, and her unwavering support as an LGBT ally has helped shed light on the plight of queer people of colour. Kellee is the only person on either list who I can also claim as a personal friend, having met her at an Oscar viewing party last winter, and her wisdom, guidance and encouragement have been instrumental in my return to writing. I can’t thank her enough.

3. Jennifer Lawrence

God I just love this woman. She’s a feminist. She’s from Kentucky. I mean we’re practically besties right there. But seriously, Jennifer Lawrence has been eschewing conventional stardom for something with substance, taking on Joan Rivers and Kelly Osbourne for tearing into women’s appearances and telling the Guardian it should be illegal to call someone fat on tv. She’ll say what she wants, do what she wants, eat what she wants, and no shits are given. I fucking love her.

2.The British Twittersphere

You lot. Nothing sums up my experience on Twitter better than the time Louise Mensch and Laurie Penny teamed up to take down transphobic tweets. My followers aren’t many, but they’re proper quality, and my return to commentating on British life and politics has been met with a warm welcome home. Despite being an American and living in Chicago, y’all have welcomed my input and opinions as valid and, in some cases, worthy, never dismissing me or critiquing my imperial American privilege. I’m well aware that a foreigner constantly commenting on your politics can seem condescending and presumptive, but you have willingly engaged me and encouraged me. As one follower said, and I’m paraphrasing, “you know so much about what’s going on I forget you’re not here!” It’s tweets like this that make getting up at 3:00 AM to catch the British morning news cycle worth it. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

1. Caroline Criado-Perez

Whilst my followers are cracking, the same can’t be said for all the Twittersphere. For her resilience and sheer tenacity, Caroline Criado-Perez is the nicest of the nice this year. When the Bank of England decided women weren’t worth £5, Caroline led the campaign to keep a woman on banknotes-and to officially recognise the contributions of women throughout British history. Owen Jones has called her “a brilliant fighter,” which might well be the understatement of 2013. Caroline has put up with threats of rape and violence all year, but her voice is louder and clearer than ever before. When Caitlin Moran organised a “twitter silence” to protest, she acknowledged the show of solidarity but said that she would not be silenced by anyone. A true role model to all of us campaigning for social justice, Caroline has inspired me beyond most anybody this year.

I hope you made Santa’s nice list, and that all your Christmas wishes come true. To all of my readers, both here and at The Columnist, I wish you nothing but joy this Yuletide season. Thank you for making my return so rewarding. See you in 2014!

’tis better to give than recieve. That’s crap. But here’s a present anyway.

coalforchristmas

 

Last week, I published my Christmas wish list, and kindly expected y’all to deliver. What can I say? Greed is good. Boris says so.

Still, they say the greatest gift is giving. This is, of course, rubbish, as the greatest gift is cash so I can avoid returning whatever hideous or useless gift you thoughtlessly picked up on your way to the Poundsaver till. But still, in the spirit of the season, here’s my gift to Britain this Christmas:

  • I give the gift of vibration to Lord Heseltine. Get your head of the gutters, you lot. Not that sort of vibration (though maybe 50 years ago…). Phone vibration. This way, the next time his wife rings him as he films Question Time, Dimbleby needn’t be bothered.
  • Guido Fawkes brought to our attention that Boris’ hair is receding along with his credibility. I can’t do much about the latter, but as to the former, I gladly give Boris a box of Regaine.
  • To the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, I give the gift of babysitting. Prince George is adorbs, and I have five nieces and nephews so I can totes handle this, babes. You deserve a bit of a date night, don’t you?
  • I give Lynton Crosby to the University of London Union. He’s great at turning out he votes, and you not so much. I also give solidarity.
  • David Cameron gets a selfie with me, since he’s so keen on being seen with Americans. And since he’s got the Regaine now, Boris can be the flirty blond.
  • Angela Merkel gets a telegraph, since that seems to be the only way she can safely communicate electronically.
  • Putin gets donkeypunched by Uncle Sam. If you don’t know what that means, Google it. Warning: NSFW.
  • I’d like to buy Anjem Choudary a pint. Seriously mate, you need it.
  • Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy gets this children’s book. Remember what happened the last time Spain messed with a Queen Elizabeth.
  • I give British Gas customers Jack Wills jumpers. You might not be able to afford you energy bills, but you shiver in style with these fashionable fleeces!
  • Katie Hopkins gets a map of Asia. See that big country down to the south? That’s India. It’s a place, you see. And if you look to the northeast, you may be able to locate a lovely Japanese town I think you ought to visit. It’s called Fukue.
  • Alan Rusbridger gets a class on journalistic ethics taught by Louise Mensch. I’ll even throw in a freebie on investigative reporting, since she seems to be the only one uncovering just how badly you’ve British national security.
  • That being said, Edward Snowden gets amnesty here in America, but only if he brings home the documents. And marries my best friend, cos she’s kinda keen.
  • Russell Brand gets a haircut and perhaps a bit of substance, provided he doesn’t abuse it.
  • Laurie Penny gets a mini American flag to waive, as she seems to be here more than I am. You’re not a proper American until you waive the stars and stripes at a street parade. And also eaten a deep fried Twinkie.
  • Rand Paul and Shia LaBeouf both get an English 101 course, which should teach you how to properly cite your sources. And perhaps form coherent sentences. But baby steps.
  • Greg Rutherford gets all the television appearances he wants, and perhaps a new kit deal. Seriously. A boy’s gotta eat.
  • Alex Ferguson gets a villa in Spain or Cornwall or wherever pensioners go to sun themselves. Just steer clear of Florida. It’s like Duck Dynasty down there.
  • Gay and lesbian Londoners and Chicagoans get marriage counselling. We now get to be as miserable as straight people. Ah, equality.
  • Single gay and lesbian Londoners and Chicagoans get tequila. It’ll help numb the nagging this Christmas. Suddenly we have no excuse when grandma asks why we haven’t settled down. Damn.
  • Justin Bieber gets a copy of a biography, any biography, of Michael Jackson. I cannot stand aside and watch history repeat itself. He even had a monkey, for Christ’s sake! No. I won’t be party to this. Justin, we’re here to help, buddy.
  • Chris Ramsey gets my apologies for gratuitously lusting after him, and also an American tour so I can do it in person.

Finally, to all my friends, family, readers, followers, and everyone who has helped make my return to writing this year an enjoyable if tumultuous ride, a massive thank you. I’m still finding my voice, but it’s great to be back. 2014 is going to be tremendous. I can’t wait.