Monday, November 27, 2017

I Am Your Neighbor Episode 6 - Paul Nickerson

When my friend Kim of Kim's Welcoming Kitchen first told me about feral cats as a potential solution for rat control in outdoor residential areas a few years ago, I laughed at her.

Stacy Snyder - I Am Your Neighbor - Paul Nickerson
Photo courtesy of Steve Dale Pet World
"Only you would consider such an insane idea to adopt wild cats that live in your back yard!" I scoffed at her, convinced that her modern hippy way of life was behind such a preposterous thought. "You couldn't use your yard because of the cats, the'd jack up the surroundings with their refuse, and it would be expensive as hell to feed them," I taunted. She silently let me grandstand that day while targeting her as the butt of my joke.

A year later, after having tried everything in the book to try and rid our back yard of rats, Paul Nickerson of TreeHouse Humane Society stood in my back yard and corroborated the benefits of feral cat colonies as a solution to Chicago's residential rat population. Poison, traps, exterminators, steel wool, bait, bb guns, bombs, nor wire mesh worked. The idea of stripping the lush yard of all vegetation and cementing the ground into a patio did not appeal to us, so instead, tail between my legs, our family adopted 3 feral cats to man our abode.
Stacy Snyder - I Am Your Neighbor - Paul Nickerson
Check out Episode 6 of I Am Your Neighbor to learn about the ins and outs of city cat colonies as a means to rid your neighborhood of rodents.

On a side note, I am so pumped with the new intro of I Am Your Neighbor, created by Mike Coleman! I need more faces on this collage, though.  Who should be next? I'd love your input for interesting neighbors to feature. Please post your ideas here or send me your connections via email at

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

I Am Your Neighbor Episode 5 - Candace Jordan

Meeting Candace Jordan was the highlight of my year in 2015. I topped that in 2016 with executing the talk show I'd always dreamed about, I Am Your Neighbor.  This year's a double whammy as I've got Candace on my show! Remember the scene in Annie when Daddy Warbuck's secretary/girlfriend Grace runs through the big house singing WE'VE GOT ANNIE! making it into a number?  That's how I feel right now!  Enjoy this great interview with Chicago Tribune society columnist, Candid Candace blogger, Candid Candace TV creator, and charity spotlight Candace Jordan.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

No Quiero Taco Bell

When I was a teenager, Taco Bell was one of my favorite fast-food restaurants as my friends and I could order tons of food after practice for dirt cheap, and I’d still have enough money from a fiver to order my mom the priciest item on the menu, a taco salad, to take home to her. As a young adult I remember going through the late-night drive through after picking up the girls at the end of their drag shifts and ordering a family-pack of tacos…for just the 2 or 3 of us in the car.  

Living in Wrigleyville in Chicago I lived a mere block 2 blocks from one of the only fast food joints in the ‘hood, The Bell.  After the 4am call had been made at the bars, if my roommate Michael and I hadn’t asked the cab to take us through the drive-through at Checkers on the way home, one of us might suggest, “You fly, I buy,” and the unlucky one got to stagger down the street for nachos and bean burritos to sop up the alcohol from the night before.  

But somewhere along the line, my body started reacting to the food adversely.  A little sour stomach here, a bit of diarrhea there….you get the picture.  Maybe it was after kids or maybe it was when I started to lose weight and eat better and exercise, or possibly even after our family gave up fast food almost entirely, but at one point I started actually rejecting the food altogether and deciding not to eat it, as it more-often-than-not made me drastically ill. 

But every 2-5 years, I get the urge for a Taco Supreme or a Beef Chalupa.  I try to push down the want and I usually slide through the craving unscathed as I remind myself of the nightmare that will ensue after the great taco taste.  Sometimes though, I fall prey.

This past weekend I had my 14-year-old daughter at bay to cheer me on with my hankering, as she loved it too, having only had her first Taco Bell just a few years ago.  Not only did we get Taco Bell after having eaten some snacky stuff as a form of dinner earlier, but we ordered it from a delivery company, as it was 9:30 on Friday night and we were snug as a bug in a rug binge watching Arrested Development.  We had both zonked out on the couch by the time the driver showed up an hour and a half later, but we still managed to throw down a few bites (in my daughter’s case or all 3 of the items ordered in my case) before hitting the sack.

Before I even hit the sheets, I was sick as a dog with massive stomach distress that kept me up all night and lasted through late Sunday morning, which yielded me unable to leave the house all weekend and a 3-lb head-start on next week's diet.

Lesson of the day:  A 'run for the border' is never a good idea in the long run.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

I Am Your Neighbor 4 - Bill Brashler

I only knew of Bill Brashler as my neighbor and contractor who pimped out my unfinished basement into what we consider the Taj Mahal.  Who knew he was a critically acclaimed author and journalist with one book made into a major motion picture with Richard Pryor and James Earl Jones?  His 10+ year hiatus from writing is now over and he's back in the saddle researching and writing away!  Find out what he's got in store for us next.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

I Am Your Neighbor Quick Chat - Booking Guest Candace Jordan

A stalker says what?  What?   EXACTLY.  Check out this funny Quick Chat about the two years leading up to my interview with Candace Jordan.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Southern Hospitality Part 2

Stacy Says It - Stacy Snyder -Southern Hospitality Part 2
“I can handle this,” I thought.  “It’s not a big deal.”

Our first “big deal” arrived in a word-of-mouth package from one of the Oklahoma transplant neighbors, Sarah, who had admitted to us that she’d never thought she’d actually be friends with a gay woman, much less a gay female couple and that she was proud of herself for treating us like anyone else, even though she knows other people don’t feel that way.

Like any couple with a new baby, our first line of business was forging a relationship with a babysitter.  Although forward in her admission of having no lesbos in her friend base, our neighbor couldn’t help but present herself as salt of earth. She was friendly, funny, non-judgmental, and would do anything for you; thus, a friendship sparked.  She had kids who were surrounding the age of our daughter, so I asked her for referrals for babysitters in our ‘all too perfect’ neighborhood, as she and her husband went out frequently and left their kids with a sitter.  She gave me a few names off the top of her head and said she’d get back to me with contact info.  After a few days, I asked her again and then yet a third time to no avail.  Finally, on a walk one day, I asked her what the scoop was with the sitters and she said that she felt badly, but that she felt obligated to contact the teenage babysitters’ parents in the neighborhood to make sure it was okay to give out their number to a lesbian couple in the neighborhood.  Once warned, the parents decided that they didn’t want their children to babysit, so as not to be influenced by “our situation.”  Just like that, the neighborhood sitters were out.

To this day, I don’t know if it was Sarah projecting her lack of comfort regarding “the situation” to the parents or the parents actually said that.  Hell, I don’t even know if she ever called the parents, as we quickly learned that Sarah, like many of the residents in the neighborhood, had a tendency to “stir the caldron” at warped speed in an attempt to cause a ruckus and render attention.  Bottom line, I felt like shit about the situation and got a bit of a chip on my shoulder from that point on.

The babysitting incident led to lots of discussion between me and Katie, me and my family, and pretty much every person I ran into that would listen, as I was just flabbergasted.  I'm assuming it either had the same effect on Sarah, or else she was excited to finally have something of interest to talk about.  She was a stay-at-home-mom, always looking for things to happen.  It wasn't two weeks later that Sarah referred me to Eduardo, the hairdresser (gay, of course) in a neighboring city that might have some connections for me in the babysitting world.  It was just like being referred to Bruno at the back bar of a gay club in the 90's, whom you ask if he has any video head cleaner and he provides you a treasured bottle of poppers for $20 - except different.  Since I didn't have a local salon to frequent, I decided to take a chance on Eduardo.  He hooked me up with a new Dallas blond "do" as well as two families' phone numbers that had kids who babysit for gays.

I never made it to the second family to call, as I hit the jackpot with the first.  The family matriarch, Tisha, had three daughters, all within babysitting age range.  I felt as if I were Uncle Tom rapping on the door with the secret knock as I explained to Tisha how I had gotten her number and why I was calling.  As if she got this type of call all the time, she started into a rehearsed speech that began with a personal apology for all the people of Texas and the way they would treat me and my family.  She went on to say that her sister is a lesbian and ultimately moved to Austin, as the climate in Dallas was just not conducive to her same-sex relationship with her life-partnership. Tisha told me Austin was much more gay-friendly and that her sister didn't have as many problems there.  I thought the speech and its content a bit dramatic, but I clearly was not prepared for what lie ahead.  Tisha's teenage girls ended up being very conscientious and sweet girls, perfect for babysitting with one exception...they lived one town away!  This meant we could have a night out, but we couldn't catch a buzz, as we had to drive one of the girls thirty minutes home and thirty minutes back to our house, which couldn't be done safely with a few cocktails under our belts.  Dammit!  We used the girls a few more times before we tapered off our affiliation due to the sheer distance and pain-in-the-ass drive.

Luckily, my sister lived right down the street.  She was ‘with child’ when we moved to Texas, so not much into going out, and happy to hang out with her niece.  She and her husband gave us a few nights out on our own during that first few months while they watched our daughter.  Later, after they had their first child, we got into somewhat of a routine of switching off weekend nights or any night, for that matter, with babysitting back and forth, as we all missed our freedom. More than that, Katie and I missed our network of friends always willing to babysit our daughter, as she was such a precious addition to a group of gay women that hung out at The Closet, where our pre-baby lives consisted of working, socializing, drinking, and partying with our friends.  Don't get me wrong, we missed our friends for the sole purpose of having good friends, too...not just for the babysitting.  However, we were still basking in the newness of suburban living and still hopeful for the potential of new and improved friends in Dallas.  Basically, we were too stupid to miss what we had in Chicago, as we thought we could just recreate a new community of friends as good as the last.  Not so much.

----excerpted from my yet-to-be-published memoir Y'all Are Gay? How I Made It Out of Texas Alive, which chronicles all the crazy, ass-backward people and things my family and I encountered in our five year residency in a northern Dallas suburb.  The real story, though, pokes fun at my own ridiculous ideas of what the world is and how I fit into it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Life is Fragile

Stacy Snyder - Stacy Says It - Life is Fragile - ParenunpluggedYou’d think we’d further question our own mortality attending the funeral of a child or visiting an incoherent spouse in the nursing home.  Seems like a no-brainer:  life is short, so make the most of it.  The problem is, life happens so fast and when one company merger butts up to the finality of a divorce, which is wedged in between the school acceptance letter your child has been waiting for and the incarceration of a loved one, you don’t always have the time to acknowledge the fragility of human life.
You don’t notice the emergent yellow buds on the half-yearly dormant tree in your yard.  You don’t hear the birds chirping as you blow your horn for the car in front of you to “move it buddy!”  And you certainly don’t acknowledge your child’s sheer bliss over wearing shorts for the first time since spring has started to bloom.  These snippets of animation are here and then they’ll be gone. 
Sometimes it takes an external slap in the face to remind us to pay attention:  an associate you haven’t seen in a few years is in a near-fatal accident and has been rehabilitating, not easily, for months.  You decide to join that softball team and utilize your legs while you have them at your disposal.   Or you attend a 50-year-anniversary party for an old couple and decide to re-devote your dwindling affection toward your spouse of five years.
Do what you want, there’s no right or wrong way to live.  But just don’t let the days, weeks, or years pass you by without notice.  Pay attention, as the scenes from your life and others’ are playing right in front of you, in all their splendor and wretchedness, and they won’t last forever.  You may live to be 19 or 90.  The years don’t matter, but the moments do.  Slow down and take stock of your senses and your interactions.  Appreciate the beauty and ugliness alike today.

Friday, August 18, 2017

I Am Your Neighbor Quick Chat - Dry Run

Doing a Dry Run is the exact opposite of how I like to roll.  I truly enjoy just wingin' it more than anything, but personal experience has shown me that in almost every realm, practice makes a little more perfect than shooting from the hip.  Recording, producing, and publishing your own DIY web series turns out to be no exception to the rule.  Learn how rehearsing before the real event can help!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Date Night on the Cheap

Parents need date nights on a regular basis.  It’s not a question, a suggestion, or an idea; it’s a fact.   To keep a relationship afloat with your spouse or partner, you need quality alone time.  That time comes at a cost, though, and if your household is anything like mine, you don’t always have money growing from trees to use for dinners out, shows, and babysitters.  All is not lost, though, as a little creativity and planning can save the day.  
Date Night on the Cheap - StacySaysIt - Stacy Snyder

  1. Don’t plan a date around drinking.  It’s expensive to buy liquor out, so either don’t drink on your date, plan a daytime date where drinking is less the norm, or have a drink before you go on your date or after you get home.  If you want to go to dinner and have a drink, plan to visit a BYOB establishment where you can take your own wine or beer and make sure to pick them up at Aldi or Trader Joe’s where the going is good and cheap.
  2. Attend free events on your date.  Pack a picnic and attend a free movie in the park, downtown or at the library, check out a free concert in the park or in your city’s freespace, or boogie down with free dance lessons offered throughout your area.  Subscribe to your city’s free newsletters to get the most up to date info on free events in your area.  If you’re close to a beach or body of water, pack a blanket and a frisbee or paddle ball and go chill waterside with your date.  Go to book-signings for authors you both love, attend art exhibits, or watch the sunrise or sunset with some romantic music piping through your phone.
  3. Use discount sites to purchase discounted food, events, and performances at restaurants, theatres, and venues closeby.  From LivingSocial, Groupon, Cheaptickets, and your city’s local free and discounted sites and newsletters, there’s almost no reason to ever pay full price. Buy discounted items when you see them and let them accumulate to choose from at a later date.
    Date Night on the Cheap - StacySaysIt - Stacy Snyder - Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  4. Don’t spend tons of money on babysitting.  While of course there’s always a “going rate” for babysitting, you don’t have to pay what the Jones’ do.  Establish a rate you’re willing and able to pay and when contacting childcare professionals or babysitters, verify that they can work for that rate.  Recruit younger sitters that are not already enmeshed in working and help them learn to be a good babysitter in exchange for a lower rate than a tried and true professional.  Utilize older siblings, friends, family, and coordinated playdates at other playmates’ homes when planning childcare for your date.  If all else fails, put the kids to bed early or sequester them to another part of the home, while you have your date night right at home….dance to your favorite music, watch a flick, cook a romantic dinner together, or play a game of cards.
  5. My last, and probably most favorite date trick is to exercise together.  If you already have a gym membership, utilize it and go take a class together or switch off weight circuits, or work out side by side on a machine.  No gym - no problem.  Take a long walk, bike ride, or run; rent a paddle board, kayak, canoe, or surfboard to work the water.  Dancing is fun and cheap.  Many venues don't charge a cover and don’t force you to eat or drink:  just go and dance the night away! 
Living Large can be so easy with a few tweaks from the norm!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Southern Hospitality

Y'all Are Gay?  How I Made It Out of Texas Alive - StacySaysIt - Stacy Snyder
The South.  Never had I really spent much time there, outside of coastal vacation spots.  Maybe, subconsciously I knew there wasn’t anything there for me.

Four years into living in Texas, residing in a north Dallas suburb with an above-average median income, an over-the-top approach toward lifestyle spending, deference to giving children whatever they want, and ignorance toward diversity, I was ready to get back to reality.  I didn’t want to “start working on it” or “get the ball rolling.”  I wanted to run like hell back to a city, a real metropolis with diversity and multi-cultural dynamics.  

My girlfriend, Katie, and I moved ourselves, our infant daughter, Isabelle, and golden retriever, Hoosier, from Chicago to the Dallas area in the early summer of 2004. No matter how I phrased it (partner, girlfriend, life-partner, lover, domestic partner, etc.) no one in Texas could understand our relationship.  

Nine times out of ten, southern folks would say, “Nice to meet you.  Now who is your husband?”  

After introducing her or telling them about my girlfriend, they’d smile, and then ask, “But who is your husband?”

Sometimes I’d get questioned two or three times for clarification, and then when they finally showed a morsel of understanding, they were speechless.  Occasionally we got people who never understood at all and ended up calling us sisters.  Then there’s the parent at our daughter’s school who always referred to me as “that other woman who says she’s Isabelle’s mom.”

Even though our friends and family from Chicago and San Francisco told us we were crazy and we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, when we moved we were still shocked at the lack of understanding regarding our relationship from our new neighbors, co-workers, and the general public at large in Texas.  Both Katie and I had lived in various cities around the country (Indianapolis, Chicago, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Portland) and had thought nothing of picking up and moving again, even though we each had spent more than a decade in Chicago.  I'm a Midwest girl from Indiana and Katie was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Our acquaintances warned us about discrimination, hate crimes, good ol’ boys, and other roadblocks holding up our success in the red state, but we truly were not worried in the least bit.  

After all, it’s part of the United States, right?  Texas isn’t a third world country or a dictatorship… was just another state….just another state of its own that we quickly found out operated like its own country (or continent for that matter) and actually had a huge following of residents who whole-heartedly were prepared to secede from the union of the United States!

I had moments of feeling comfortable in my surroundings in Texas, but they were pretty far and few between.  The original transition to Dallas brought about the desire to sample the local scenery, from mechanical bull-riding at the famous Gilley’s, to concerts and two-stepping at Billy Bob’s in Ft. Worth.  Texas and The South in general, would throw me these little nuggets of exclusivity every so often that I cherished.  I wouldn’t trade in those experiences for anything:  to wear a cowboy hat with your swimsuit, to jack your hair up sky-high and paint yourself for the back row just to go to the grocery store, or to pair cowboy boots with your cute little dress.  It felt a little like fitting in, but only cosmetically, as you’d still have to drive home on the George Bush Turnpike and pass the anti-gay marriage signs posted in your neighbor’s yard at election time.

----excerpted from my yet-to-be-published memoir Y'all Are Gay? How I Made It Out of Texas Alive, which chronicles all the crazy, ass-backward people and things my family and I encountered in our five year residency in a northern Dallas suburb.  The real story, though, pokes fun at my own ridiculous ideas of what the world is and how I fit into it.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

I Am Your Neighbor Quick Chat - Equipment Failure

Equipment failure can definite punch a hole in your boat on any project, but when it comes to DIY webcasts, the whole ship can go down!  We're so lucky that we can use a basic smartphone to do most anything these days, even recording, editing, and publishing your own web series.  But what happens when the phone goes dead or the mic fizzles out?  It is not a pretty picture.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Badge of Honor

StacySaysIt - Badge of Honor - Stacy Snyder
Button available at 
I can explain the division of our country in one powerful sentence excerpted from a conversation with my dad on the phone tonight, where he stated, “You and Katie wear your being gay like a badge of honor, and make sure everyone knows about it.”

I didn’t know I had a badge, much less one of honor, but now I know what it looks like to some.

As were furthered our conversation I realized that his comment was not born of hatred or anger or even embarrassment, but simply founded from fear…..fear of the unknown….fear of something he’s never seen percolate to its finale.  Maybe if he had been surrounded with more non-traditional relationships growing up, he wouldn’t think as he does.  Maybe if he had been subjected to more loving relationships, he wouldn’t be as afraid.  But the truth of the matter is that we’re all just a product of our own small worlds and what we think we know to be true.

It’s fear that keeps us separated as a people.  It’s fear that keeps us from fully listening to a contradicting opinion, for it may hold an ounce or resemblance to our own.  It’s fear that chokes us into believing that we can’t give freely to someone else for panic that it might deplete our own supply.  It’s fear that keeps us from accepting one another because we don’t know what it would look like, and it’s fear that makes my dad think when I introduce my wife as my partner, other mother, or wife, that I’m trying to be militant about being gay.  
StacySaysIt - Badge of Honor - Stacy Snyder

Entwined in an almost-20 year relationship with my wife, with whom I’ve shared 5 feral cats, 3 apartments, 3 dogs, 3 homes, 3 fish, 2 children, 2 pregnancy losses, 2 hermit crabs, 1 frog, and all of our history, family, and friends, I do wear a badge of honor, that of love.  I am damn proud of it too, not because Katie’s a woman or because we were allowed to get married or because I bucked the system, but because this shit is hard!

To maintain any relationship is hard, but to not only maintain, but sometimes almost overturn the boat and other times rock the hell out of this marriage, is a pure miracle, peppered with a lot of hard work.

Thank you, Dad, for sharing your thoughts with me.  I’m a better person because of our conversations, even though I don't always like them nor their topics.  I don’t judge you or feel angry with your comments, as I know exactly where they came from….the only thing you know, same as all of us.  But now it's time for all of us to see something different and challenge what we know, so that we can see the world for what it is....filled with a variety of people different than us.

Friday, July 21, 2017

I Am Your Neighbor 3 - Maria Rivera

Maria Rivera is the bomb diggity of making the world a better place through speaking up, caring, helping, teaching, and activism.  She was the same caretaker chick twenty years ago when we saddled bar stools next to one another at The Closet and discussed life and love while cocktailing.  She took care of people in the bar, their pets, their homes, and allowed them to take care of her in return.

Stacy Says It - I Am Your Neighbor Maria Rivera - Stacy SnyderToday, she teaches at CPS and 826CHI, participates in Chicago Shakespeare Theater with her students, volunteers her time and energy all over town, and recently appeared in the documentary The Homestretch, which chronicles the lives of Chicago homeless teens.  She took in teen Rocque to live with her and her family and shares the struggles for underprivileged kids in the documentary.

Maria's own childhood contributed to who she is today and how she views and interacts with the world around her.  If I were to choose one person in the whole world that most embodies the concept of neighbor, I would choose Maria.

Please check out her story above, the anecdote about making the video below, and if interested at all in keeping up with I Am Your Neighbor, please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

I Am Your Neighbor 2 - CK Perez

Y'all I thought I had this Octogenarian thing covered, as I've spent a large chunk of my life hanging with people 20-40 years older than myself, as I truly dig my elders.  From teachers and grandparents to my parents' posse, to friends and mates I've custom-picked over the years specifically because of their accumulated worldliness and sophistication, I feel like I'm in tune more than most with the seniors.

I Am Your Neighbor CK Perez - ParentUnplugged - Stacy Snyder
Photograph by Adeline Sides
But CK Perez, this mighty mouse ball of physical energy that my co-host, Tammy Azzarello has known for over twenty years through the YMCA, took me by surprise!  While I expected from her a powerhouse of strength from years of swimming, lifeguarding, bodybuilding, dancing, rock climbing, and biking, I did not expect it to be backed by so much self-reflection and scattered life experiences.

Bottom line, after hearing about CK's impact on Tammy, I hoped for a neat little package of connected dots that all led to an end result of an 80-something-year-old human with life's purpose securely emblazoned on her chest.  Instead, CK showed me - through weeks of scouring our interview clips with her - that just doing for the sake of doing for yourself, is a perfect representation of chasing your happy, at any age.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

This Is How We Do It

Stacy Snyder - ParentUnplugged - This Is How We Do ItI made a rare appearance in church a few ago to attend my youngest daughter’s First Communion rehearsal.  My cradle Catholic wife, who took the sole responsibility of ushering our 8-year-old back and forth to CCD and church every Sunday for the last few years, was out of town for her new job training, so I filled in.  To be honest, I didn’t want to go.

Despite converting to Catholicism a few years ago after completing RCIA, I never found the immense comfort in the church and its rituals that my ‘growin’ up Catholic’ counterparts touted.  In fact, I still feel the exact opposite in mass…uncomfortable as an outsider.  My daughter’s excitement during the rehearsal and nervousness over the upcoming milestone reminded me of my purpose, though, and I relaxed and leaned into the pew.  

After the coordinator gave the specific instructions to the kids on how to act, when to walk, and where to sit, Father Grassi, our longtime pastor who is retiring at the end of this year, grabbed the mic and gave the parents some ‘helpful hints’ about how to make this event go down smoothly.

“Have your kids here at 9:30am.  Not 9:40, not 5 till 10, not quarter of, but 9:30am.  Parents, don’t make your kids suffer on one of the most important days of their lives because of your inability to be on time.  They need time to calm down, pray, and prepare for this monumental day in their lives.  Don’t put your schedule above their needs.”

Bam.  He told us.  And I heard him, loud and clear.  I’d never considered the ramifications of my own tardiness on my kids.

“And pictures, I’m going to talk about pictures.  They are not allowed during the mass.  Have some respect for the celebration and your child.  Take part in their special day by praying for them as they walk in instead of flashing a light in their eyes.  Be present.”

He went on to say that he would halt mass and ask people to leave if they take photos, which I thought was pretty awesome that he was so firm in his conviction.

The rehearsal ended, the real deal took place the following Saturday, and us parents all did as we were told and the first communicants entered the next phase of their lives with flying colors, and life resumed as normal.

However, Father Grassi’s words still stick with me and seem to apply in every situation I’ve encountered since.  Not the tardiness and the camera stuff, but the idea of taking the time to give the “this is how we do it” speech in a way that not only sets up an expectation, but also explains why said expectation is set.  

I told my daughter that it’s not acceptable to have her beau in your bedroom alone with the door closed, as it can create too much opportunity and blur the level of formality that a young relationship typically has, as well as give a very specific impression to others when done with a group of people around outside the bedroom door.  She needed to know.

While we can agree that kids need this for sure, I don’t think it’s really any different with adults.  We need to set boundaries and intention for others, as well as hear and acknowledge others’ expectancy.  Of course people don’t always meet our expectations, nor us theirs, but by spelling it out each and every time, there’s NEVER a moment when we don’t understand why something went sideways.

Think about it in terms of a job.  We’re usually given a title and a job description and training on how to execute those tasks.  If you don’t meet the written expectation, there’s no surprise when you get written up or fired for lack of performance.  
Stacy Snyder - ParentUnplugged - This Is How We Do It
Photo of Father Grassi courtesy

How about as a spouse, a mother, a friend, a patient, or a mentor?  While these don’t traditionally come with a pre-printed playbook, they run a hell of a lot smoother when we take some basic stabs at formulating rules of play!

While most people subconsciously seek boundaries, even if for the sole intent to cross them, we  have difficulty dishing out those same rules of engagement.  Why is that?  Are we afraid of ridicule, or worse yet, rejection?

As an adult with a decent education and prolonged exposure to society, business, culture, diversity and their respective norms, I still need some schoolin' from time to time on something as simple as being late. That I can accept.  Yet it’s not as easy to draw out the lines of expectation for others.  

Can I ask someone to leave when they’ve overstayed their welcome?  Can I tell a client we can no longer work together over respect issues?  Can I chase a new passion even though I have not yet fulfilled the last?  

While these questions reek of discomfort, each is answered with a resounding YES when your hand has been laid out.

I’m tired and have a long day tomorrow so it’s time to wrap it up.  I can’t do my best work when I’m distracted by the way you treat everyone around you as less than.  I need to be heard in order to survive so I keep testing the mediums until I get it right.

It all comes down to my favorite topic, which is living in the world of reality versus adhering to the stories we tell ourselves based on our own insecurities.

My favorite author, Armistead Maupin of Tales of the City, says, “The world changes in direct proportion to the number of people willing to be honest about their lives.”

This is my mantra.  This is how I roll.  Thank you Father Grassi for teaching me a lesson while existing within my world. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Letting It Go

Stacy Snyder - ParentUnplugged - Letting It Go
Stacy Snyder - ParentUnplugged - Letting It Go
I had an episode at the gym a few month ago where I had a meltdown of epic proportion over a personal trainer that wanted to use the equipment I was using for her own client.  I've let the anger simmer for months, always on the verge of boinging over each time I enter the gym, to the point that I've wondered about the impact of gym anger while working out, as I sometimes feel like I'm going to explode when I'm there.

I finally decided that the increased heart rate and most likely high blood pressure I experience every time I go to LA Fitness is not worth the amount I pay in monthly fees, so I finally cancelled my membership and decided to do hot yoga for a while (Om on the Range fits the bill quite nicely).  After cancelling and breathing deeply, I felt so much better, and I decided to write a letter to the officers of the company to describe my experience and offer my suggestions for better customer service in the future.

I consternated over the letter for weeks, but finally a sense of relief washed over me as I mailed off the 3-page letter, complete with pictures of where the current roped-off training area resided and where the proposed spot should be moved. I was convinced that I had done my part to ensure the future betterment of LA Fitness while concurrently getting the anger off of my chest.  

Each time I went to the gym over the next few weeks until my last membership day expired, I wondered if anyone was looking at me funny because I had written that letter.  I imagined the CEO passing it down to the the Regional Operations Manager, who who convey its contents to the District Manager, who would share the wisdom with the Manager of the Lawrence Avenue club.  Surely the  implementation of my suggestions would take place before my last day of membership.

After work one day I retrieved the following pieces of mail from the entryway:

Stacy Snyder - ParentUnplugged - Letting It Go

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I Am Your Neighbor 1 - Circus Guy Matt Roben

Episode 1 is ripe for the plucking.  Matt Roben lives the life we all fantasize about...the one that actually feeds his passions.  Check out his anything-but-vanilla world by clicking the arrow above.

Please let me know your thoughts on the show and ideas for upcoming shows or offer to help if you're so inclined (Tammy Azzarello and I currently need someone to help with filming and editing).  Get new shows delivered to you when they come out by following my StacySaysIt blog or typing in your email address to the right under 'subscribe by email,' or by subscribing to my YouTube channel. Or just follow me on Facebook or Twitter and check in when you want.

Whatever you do, do it because you love the show, not because someone told you to do so, including me.  As maid Aibileen told baby-girl Mae Mobley each morning in The Help, "You are kind. You are smart.  You are important."  Take that and run with it and live life the way you want to live it, as you don't need to fit into any mold, blend in with any group, or seek accolades from any society.   

Be bold.  Be strong.  Believe in yourself.  It's enough.  

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I Am Your Neighbor Introduction

On the 4th of July in 2016, I met a new neighbor in my 'hood and instantly thought, 'we should create a talk show together.'  Over cocktails and fireworks, a loose idea was born for I Am Your Neighbor.  Tammy Azzarello and I crafted the concept of tracking down and chatting with people that live authentically, without trying to do so, as we feel that completely represents who we are.  We realized that between the two of us, the only similarities we share are natural curiosity, loud mouths, and thick black books overflowing with acquaintances that would qualify for our Chicago-based show.  We are your neighbors.

Having worked in radio as a producer and talk show host 20-some years ago in Chicago and Indianapolis, I know how to put a show together.  I've tried over the years to do my own gig, partner with old co-hosts, and even sent a Stacy Snyder demo into the OWN network, hoping for my big break into television.

None of those things worked, but they all taught me loads of lessons.
  1. I don't need a job that pays me to be a talk show host.  I can simply do it if I want to.
  2. I don't need credit after credit under my belt to be taken seriously.  I love what I do and I will be taken into account by those whom I affect, byline or not.
  3. Every thing I've done up until now has led me here and this place will lead me to the next, such as:
      ParentUnplugged - I Am Your Neighbor - Stacy Snyder
    • watching Oprah haul the 67 lbs of fat onstage in a wagon on The Oprah Winfrey Show
    • getting fired from the only job I ever LOVED, LesBiGay Radio
    • moving to Dallas to be close to family
    • losing a baby boy mid-pregnancy and processing the grief with a lack of financial stewardship
    • fleeing Dallas in an attempt to avoid becoming that which I despised
    • actively choosing a life that matters to me instead of chasing the one I think others think I should live, which only resides in my jacked up brain
    • trying and failing at getting my book published, Y'all are Gay?  How I Made it Out of Texas Alive  
    • keeping track of, i.e. sometimes stalking, every friend that has ever means something to me in my life and not giving up till they tell me to back the freak off
Today I'm happy as a lark.  I don't need anything from this show, I just want to do it and it matters to me:  simple as that.

This is the introduction.  Stay tuned for regularly updated shows, each featuring at least one Chicagoan living life to the fullest by doing what comes naturally, pursuing a passion that may or may not have relevance to any other human being!

ParentUnplugged - I Am Your Neighbor - Stacy Snyder

Please let me know your thoughts on the show and ideas for upcoming shows.  Offer to help if you're so inclined (do you know it took over 20 hours of video editing for me to come up with 5 minutes of airtime?).  Follow my ParentUnplugged blog where I write when I cannot speak effectively one-on-one, subscribe to my YouTube channel and/or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

Whatever you do, do it because you love it, not because someone told you to do so, including me.  Know that you are worthwhile just as you are.  You don't need to fit into any mold, blend in with any group, or seek accolades from any society.   

Be bold.  Be strong.  Believe in yourself.  It's enough.  

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Same Thing Only Different

Same Thing Only Different - ParentUnplugged - Stacy Snyder
Traveling through England for the first time in my life I ran into so many well-wishers that asked me what I wanted to see while I was there.

“Not much,” was my standards response.  “I’m not a classic culture seeker.  Museums, art, and history are not my best companions. I really just want to see how other people live.”

As I circled back at the latter end of my trip to some of the lovely new friends I had encountered early on in my English travel, the question repeatedly came up, “What did you think?”

Similar to the classic response of the waitress at a Chinese restaurant I visited fifteen years ago that has been in my lingo rotation every since, when I asked the difference between #22 and #23 on the menu, "Same thing only different."

My theory is that people everywhere are essentially the same.  We all have different customs, nuances, barriers, freedoms, languages and dictions, yet inside we’re all people just trying to make some sort of connection with life.

I’m always looking for the connection with people.  I need to interact with others, whether it be with words, activities, gestures, or even just direct eye contact, which to me, is the acknowledgement of I see you and you are just as integral a part of the world as I am, no matter the differences.’

The differences often are debunked upon closer inspection. Take, for example, the blokes my girlfriends and I encountered in a Manchester pub.  While sharing boisterous conversation over wine and lagers at our own table, 3 gents, each pushing 70 and standing in a cluster at the bar in the next room over, decided to add perspective to our girls’ night exchange.  One of the men made what appeared to be a goofy-as-all-getup come-one line toward my friend.  Another made a big deal about us four of us being gay, and all three of the joes razzed us relentlessly about Trump.  Our initial impression equated to chauvinistic, albeit it jovial, drinking mates, trying to strike something up with the womenfolk. Before we began our natural ladylike habit of writing them off as assholes, the most outgoing of the three men made an attempt to relate to us by acting as the mediator between his rather outspoken top dog group leader throwing out Trumpism after Trumpism, and our revulsion at his suggestions.  After a few runs at it, the rusty middle man developed a common ground for all of us….practicing tolerance of one another.  

Same Thing Only Different - ParentUnplugged - Stacy Snyder
He discovered I resided in Chicago and pointed out that his other buddy, who was sporting the Neil Diamond look, had children living in Chicago. I tried to bridge the gap with Forever in Blue Jeans by initiating a conversation about his grown kids - where did they live, what did they do, how old were they, etc.  While his shirt was unbuttoned half way down his chest, his spirit appeared to be zipped up tight.  He wouldn’t make eye contact with me and seemed unwilling to talk about his offspring in Chicago at all.  As a last ditch effort, I asked him if he’d visited them there, and he said no, that it would never happen.

“”Why?  Do you all not get along?” I probed.  “It seems like a perfect opportunity to spend time with family with all of them in one city that you could visit in one trip.”

“They come to visit me every so often.  That’s enough,” he snapped.  End of story.

“You should visit them,” I pushed forward against his stonewalling, “I bet they would love it.”

“Oh rubbish,” he swatted me away.  “I don’t want to.  I’m a 68-year-old man. What am I going to do going in Chicago?  They have their own lives, they don’t need me.”  Bingo.  The truth of the matter.

I stopped pushing and shared with him what I guessed to be a similar situation with my own father in which he doesn’t find it necessary to come visiting to Chicago, even though it’s just a few hours drive for him from Indianapolis.  

“We don’t see eye to eye on anything,” I laughed.  “His 75-year-old opinions on politics and religion and almost everything else in life makes me often wonder if I was raised by a pack of wolves, as it so acutely juxtaposes my own 45-years-in-the-making value system.” 

But he does visit and it’s meaningful.  It feels good to be acknowledged by a parent during a visit as a grown person with my own life, even if it doesn’t overtly overlap his at all.

I left Song Sung Blue and hit it to the bathroom, thinking about how we all share the bullheadedness of convincing ourselves that the fictitious stories we create in our minds to address those things in life that we’re fearful of, is real. 

Guessing he won’t be coming to America anytime soon, I thought to myself.

As I headed back to my own girl group of four, Solitary Man held up a picture on his phone and asked me to take a look.

“This is my daughter,” he beamed as he gazed at the lighted screen showing her social activity from Facebook.  “It says she’s at Sheffield’s in this picture. Have you heard of it?”

So happens it’s a mile away from me in Chicago.  Susanna is his daughter’s name.  She’s beautiful and used to be married to an English chap and now lives the single life with a girlfriend in the states.  His boys are close by and enjoyable company.  He shared the bare minimum with me; he connected.

“Maybe I could still make the trip over,” he considered.  “What time of year is best to visit?”