Tuesday, November 2, 2021

I Am Your Neighbor Episode 10 - Mimi Marks

Twenty-some years ago I began frequenting The Baton Show Lounge in River North with a group of gay women from The Closet, my local lesbian watering hole located in the heart of Boystown in Chicago.  I'd spent my early 20's hanging out in drag bars in Indianapolis, where I eventually forged friendships with many of the girls who performed there, so it was a natural step for me to keep that up once I moved to Chicago.

I don't know if it was the drama of the costumes, makeup, numbers, or the attraction to the performers themselves that initially drew me to the scene, but I know that I kept coming back because I felt comfortable there, among the various stages of transformation and expressions that butted against cultural norms.  I felt a sense of belonging and safety with these humans, despite not sharing the actual trans experience with them, as I had always worn the cloak of normalcy over my bohemian spirit, while living amongst a world of the Jones'.
Mimi Marks - StacySaysIt - I Am Your Neighbor
It made perfect sense to me that I ended up in a long-term relationship with a woman who also loved the women of drag, and she introduced me to the iconic Mimi Marks, whom I befriended immediately.  Our friendship has endured our combined myriad of life stages, and she is a constant presence in my family.

Her unique story of living her own truth is one I envisioned sharing when I was trying to conceptualize the idea of I Am Your Neighbor years ago.  A beautiful full life circle appears complete as I present her interview to you as my final show. 

I've enjoyed sharing with you my own wonder over the extraordinary ways people live their lives so authentically.  Both the enthusiasm and unshrinkingly candid way my guests have conveyed both their ideas and lives is infectious; I promise to carry on the torch for each of them in doing the same with my own.  Thank you for your support over the years.  

I am Stacy Snyder.  I Am Your Neighbor.

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Last Time

StacySaysIt - Stacy Snyder - The Last Time

I washed the familiar smell of him off my neck and shoulders for the last time this morning.  It pained me to think of his lips working their way down my body as his scruff implanted its scent into my skin.  It was less than a day ago - just a few hours really - that marked the last kiss I’d share with him.

I think I knew it at the time, even though we were passionately making out and he was teasing me to the point of craze before abruptly stopping to say “Later,” that it would be the last time I’d touch him.

The last time to feel his embrace, the last time to look him in the eye, wondering what he saw when he looked back, and the last time to wonder where this relationship was ultimately leading.

I’ve had a lot of last times this last few years.  Each time I learn a little bit more about men, about women, about the world, and most importantly, about myself.

The excitement of dating again after my almost 20-year marriage ended, now has become a little commonplace.  Having made the acquaintance of upwards of 150 people in the last few years through text, call, meeting, or dating, I saw my initial hope for sparks and mystery quickly morph into desire for realness, then the want of conscious living within diversity, and finally the NEED for emotional intelligence in another human.  

He embodied most all of that laundry list, yet came with a cigarette addiction, a snore that could wake the gods, and a geographical distance of 188 miles.  While any one of those things could have been a dealbreaker, I stretched myself wide open to the possibility.  What started as just a physical attraction transformed into thorough enjoyment of company, mutual admiration, dual personal growth, and respect for one another in just a few short months.

For the first time since the breakup of my marriage I could finally see myself trusting another human being enough to want another potential partner in life, instead of just a date, a casual fling, or a fun person with which to hang out.  I thought it could be with him.  We both moved mountains to see one another every few weekends, despite the distance and different lifestyles and commitments and priorities.

Long distance relationships come with issues, such as the pressure to enjoy every minute you have with one another, as the time spent together is far and few between.  Our 5th weekend together came with stress….a storm that cast a fallen tree on the roof of his house, his house that needed prepped for a Father’s Day celebration, a first meeting with his family, and my own get-together with my father.  

While none of those things got in the way, a few lifestyle habits of drinking and sleep schedules reared their ugly heads of difference and caused me much distress.  My hot buttons got stimulated and I ran and terminated, despite the potential of working through the issues.

I know it’s the right decision, despite my sadness.  The last time hurts.  It pushes feelings to the surface.  It prompts internal conversation.  It makes me doubt my choices and reconfirm my values.  It also makes me recognize that I’m a human in constant growth and that ends are necessary in order to have new beginnings.  I miss him already.  But I would miss myself more if I compromised my needs.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

I Am Your Neighbor Episode 9 - JBird Art

Jay Sterling, Jason Sterling, JBird...they all lead back to the same talented soul that has been decorating the streets of Milwaukee with his art and murals for 40 years, both individually and in tandem with other artists. Jay was lucky to get his start as a youngster helping established local artist Reynaldo Hernandez, learning the depth and creativity of mural painting.  

I Am Your Neighbor - JBird Art - Stacy Snyder
He's supported himself through art ever since, sometimes in corporate endeavors, but more often than not, as a working street artist. Jay's passion for creativity bleeds into humanity, as he seems not to know a stranger in Milwaukee. It makes sense, as he's partnered with small business owners, artists, and youth, to promote commerce, community, and mental health with his work.

I Am Your Neighbor - JBird Art - Stacy Snyder
I Am Your Neighbor - JBird Art - Stacy SnyderIn addition to showing us his mural depicting the 12 steps of AA in the meeting room at the MKE Alano ClubJay 
took us around the city and showed us his wares on storefronts, buildings, and even on bottles! The coolest thing about Jay is that his art depicts what's in his mind. He thinks in the same way that he draws and paints and curates, which makes for a super unique human. Check out his story in I Am Your Neighbor Episode 9 - JBird Art and view his collection on Instagram.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Get Back To Class

As I read through the email from my daughter's calculus teacher, alerting us that our teen didn't seem to be present during her 7th period calculus class each day, despite being physically logged in to the online class, as she has been each day for the full year of classes, I couldn't help but recalling the old-school riposte of No Shit Sherlock!  

Stacy Snyder - Get Back To Class

Nearing the end of her 3rd quarter as a senior in high school, she has yet to step foot into the classroom, not whispered about the cute new kid in class, nor complained about the crappy food in the cafeteria.  She has not attended a club meeting, decided whether to go to a sporting event, nor hit up the local coffee shop on the way home from school.  There's no senior memories, camaraderie or competition.  She's plum out of motivation and I'm proud of her for sticking it out as well as she has.

I sent my youngest off to school today after 1 full year at home.  While I was so stoked for her to have social interaction and eye contact and live instruction, I couldn't help but worry about my eldest, who will not be returning to school this year at all, despite being in the same school district as her little sister.  Not only will she miss out on the in-person interactivity, learning, and stimulation, but she has also lost her ONLY touchable interplay during the school day, her younger sister.

It's been a rough year for everyone, yet most detrimental to my eldest daughter in our household, not necessarily because she's been hit harder by it, but because she's of an age, 17, where she's supposed to be out there with her ride-or-die friends, annoying classmates, pain-in-the ass-teachers, random people she's never met but may, and adversaries, figuring shit out and trying to make sense of the world.  Instead of "coming of age" in color, she's doing it in black and white at home by herself; it sucks. 

But she's freakin' doing it.  She's getting the school work done, living a colorful life at work by getting the socialization she needs, and pushing her family to see and hear her.  Bit by bit, she's teaching herself how to work the system, when to stretch the boundaries and how far she can actually roam before upsetting the apple cart of life.  She's learning how to advocate for herself, push her agenda, and make herself known.  She's discovered that her presence matters; she's part of the world.

We see you girl!  We're overjoyed with your growth.  Your teacher sees you and is throwing out a life preserver.  The world sees you too and it wants you to live.  

Now get back to class!