23 Unorthodox Ways To Spend Your Thanksgiving Break

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The classic Thanksgiving dinner. Photo courtesy of Delish.com 

And now for something completely different.

Thanksgiving break is a magical time for the students of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Those two long days off that we are granted for this holiest of holidays are for many an opportunity to finally return home after several months of intense studies and reconnect with their families.

This break is also an exciting time for families of freshmen in particular, who get to see that wide eyed and enthusiastic little kid they dropped off at the beginning of the semester return as an unrecognisable bearded freak.

Sometimes though, this break can be very overwhelming to those who want to get the most out of their time away from the shackles of this intellectual prison. The thought of even losing a minute of their finite break shakes them down to their very core.

So, out of the goodness of my heart; I have compiled a list of not one, not two, but 23 unorthodox ways of spending Thanksgiving break. Fair warning though traveler, for some of the items on this list may be seen by some as “purposefully silly” and they “shouldn’t be taken too seriously because they’re jokes”… Continue reading “23 Unorthodox Ways To Spend Your Thanksgiving Break”

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The Loneliness of Being a Gay Man in 2017

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Learning to Fly with Broken Wings and Learning to Love with a Broken Heart


I’ve oft discussed this phenomenon on my radio program (‘Trev,’ Wednesdays from 8:30 – 10:30 PM CT on uicradio.org and the mobile app Radio FX, also soundcloud.com/trevshow), one in which LGBTQ+ youth in particular struggle to fit in with a group that truly meshes with their identity and damaged sense of self. You see, the one thing that truly unites queer people is a certain level of damage. This damage can arise from a variety of sources and circumstance.

Paradoxically, gay men in particular find very little difficulty attaching themselves to individuals physically, sexually or romantically. What results is a very isolated and unstable foundation of support. Placing all bets on a single, extremely flawed individual is a sure fire way to return not only to the loneliness with which one was accustomed to before, but in fact an even deeper, darker sense of isolation. One fraught with the always-difficult transition from companionship back to solitude. The transition in and of itself is not one containing smooth or stable components.

The underlying issue is that, by their nature, gay men are, frequently, incredibly damaged. Indeed the basis of a romantic, male, homosexual relationship is one between two parties who haven’t been shown much love in life and yet are expected to somehow know how to do it. The results speak for themselves. I do not think it is a stretch to say that the extremely high rates of suicide among queer youth can be directly traced to this sort of all-or-nothing level of support.

See, when a heterosexual goes through a breakup, there is an entire community of support waiting for them in the wings. Mom, dad, sister uncle, all universally relate and empathize with the heartbroken straight boy. Conversely, homosexuality, even now, is something that at the very least isn’t spoken of among even the inner-most core of a family structure, even if it isn’t vocally opposed. Adding to this is the media’s frequent portrayal of happy, fulfilled gay couples (primarily white and male in nature).

The overused cliche of puberty is one of a caterpillar turning into a beautiful, transformed butterfly, which older butterfly creepily comment and make advances towards, but that’s besides the point. (These are the butterflies who could end up violently splattered on the grille of a car without even a modicum of remorse on behalf of literally everyone. Good riddance, you pervy rainbow moth). Gay puberty features significantly more bumps along the way.

Imagine, instead, of a caterpillar in its cocoon being ripped from the branch, stomped on repeatedly, and somehow managing to emerge, broken, but alive nonetheless. This damaged larva begins its post-transformation existence with broken wings, attempting to the best of its ability to assimilate into the life and culture of its peers. Often failing to do so, a fellow damaged monarch approaches it and offers, at once, a sense of familiarity, unity and aid. Finally, someone who gets it.

Instead of insects, imagine that damage lies within the heart of a human being. A heart that has faced dogma and violent opposition of its own kind. Mothers, grandparents and “friends” alike. The heart of a young, gay man is one that has been stomped and bruised since its inception. While it continues to beat, through lens of judgment and basic survival, it fails to empathize with those even within its own community. Infidelity, internalized homophobia, and all sorts of destructive behaviors are fueled by an overwhelming sense of self-hatred and guilt. Things that are not intrinsically or naturally a product of its lifestyle, but rather the environment with which it so inefficaciously tries to perform. A gay man is a butterfly with broken wings trying its best to fly. A gay man is a human with a broken heart, trying its best to love.


Trev Richards is host of the weekly talk program Trev on UIC Radio; Live, Wednesdays 8:30 – 10:30 PM Central Time. Follow/listen on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, iTunes and SoundCloud

The Englewood Fairytale

The most charming cliché graced my Sunday morning and I want to tell you all about it.

I showed up at Ogden Park at 8:30 AM to pick up my bib and aqua-blue t-shirt for the 3rd annual Englewood 5k. I was by myself and spent the 2 hours until race time reading, pretending I’m good at stretching, and watching the whole community turn out for selfies and hugs. It was equally heart warming and alienating for someone who showed up solo.

Come race time, everyone passed under the timing arch, jogging to the beat of the Legends Drumline, which is objectively the greatest running music ever created.

Continue reading “The Englewood Fairytale”

Blahsmopolitan No. 12: “Last Teenage Sleep” AKA “I Drifted Through Space for Twenty Years and All I Got Was This Gross Body”

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This is Blahsmopolitan, a column about one sophomore’s misfortune as he navigates his New Adult Life in Chicago. This week, our columnist turns twenty, thinks about his place in the universe, and learns how to type the long dash in hopes you can learn from his mistakes.

last week i had a panic attack on the treadmill at the gym because the belts were moving too fast and creating too much friction so it started to smell like burning rubber and i read this article that said people who have strokes say they smell burnt toast right before they have the stroke but i felt like maybe i could’ve misread the article so i sat on the floor of planet fitness and said “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” out loud to myself ten times because when my grandma had a stroke she said she couldn’t form sentences and i wanted to make sure i could still use every letter in the alphabet and when i finally calmed down i still felt fat so i switched machines and stayed for another 30 minutes

i’m 20 years old tomorrow and i texted my mom and asked if my birthday dinner could be popeye’s which makes me feel maladjusted

none of the “wonders” that humans made off the backs of slaves are really even that cool to me- the only things i’ve ever found quote-unquote beautiful are things that would’ve existed with or without us which makes me unbelieve and believe in God, respectively

if i was born on accident then why am i the one being punished Continue reading “Blahsmopolitan No. 12: “Last Teenage Sleep” AKA “I Drifted Through Space for Twenty Years and All I Got Was This Gross Body””

Blahsmopolitan No. 11: “Friendly Creature Double Feature” AKA “Home Is Where the Shart Is”

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This is Blahsmopolitan, a column about one sophomore’s misfortune as he navigates his New Adult Life in Chicago. New stories are posted every other Thursday alongside an audio reading and a curated Blahsmo playlist to take the journey yourself. This week, our columnist has skips class, has digestive troubles, and goes home (whatever that means) in hopes you can learn from his mistakes.

 

My mom used to go to the movies alone.

She was sixteen years old and very, very cool. I mean cool in the sense that she was tough, a girl that nobody wanted to f*ck with, but a girl engulfed in so much effortless mystery that you wanted to know her with every fiber of your being. Digging through old stuff before I left for college, I found a picture of her from 1992, a little before my time, crouching down in shiny black Doc Martens, high white socks, french tip nails, a messy bun pulled up high, and a huge leather jacket with nothing underneath it, staring directly into the camera, looking like she had something to say.

Continue reading “Blahsmopolitan No. 11: “Friendly Creature Double Feature” AKA “Home Is Where the Shart Is””

A Fine Line Between Literacy And Love.

When I gently flip open the worn out pages someone else has written, chaos still flows around me, but all is calm in my mind.

I go through the routine motions of my everyday: walk, bus, sit, listen. Searching for the perfect times to put my headphones in and read, and scribble in the margins.
The day and night pass, almost unnoticed to me, while my pierced nose is still stuffed in the pages of different worlds and eras, with unordinary characters that comfort me more than the people I call my friends.

When I put pen to paper
Or my fingers to the keyboard,
All the thoughts passing through my mind shine through and I’m set.
I’m free, I don’t have to be outspoken as long as I’m not out worded on my word doc.

I haven’t forgotten about you, my most honest friend, sometimes the only one I can turn to. you know everything, there are no limitations between us except maybe the limited word count on my text message drafts or memo notes, where I can easily and quickly write down my thoughts at 2, almost 3 am, before they slip away.

Why do you write if no one reads it?
I write for me.
How many thoughts do you have jammed in your mind?
I’ve lost count.
Picking at my mind, I comfortably reveal beliefs, and disbeliefs I didn’t even know I had.

All I hope for is to carve out letters, form words, create sentences, and paragraphs to calm his mind as well.

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Blahsmopolitan No. 10: “Urbana-Champaign for My Real Friends, Real Pain for My Sham Friends” AKA “You Can Lead a Horse to Water, But You Can’t Make Him Show His D**k”

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This is Blahsmopolitan, a weekly column about one sophomore’s misfortune as he navigates his New Adult Life in Chicago. New stories are posted every other Monday, alongside a curated Blahsmo playlist, and an audio reading, to take the journey yourself. This week, our columnist meets the four Fates of U of I, crosses paths with a probable murderer, and goes skinny dipping in hopes you can learn from his mistakes.


I hear people tiptoeing around me. Floorboards make little creaks and doors are opened and closed ever so gingerly. All talk is kept to a hushed murmuring. Am I still wearing my boots?

Ohmigoddddd, how are we gonna fit the Omega through the dooooooor?”

“I don’t know, Sylvie. I just don’t wanna chip it. The girls were up so late painting it last night.”

God is doing the Hoedown Throwdown on my skull and has injected fire ants into my temples.

Continue reading “Blahsmopolitan No. 10: “Urbana-Champaign for My Real Friends, Real Pain for My Sham Friends” AKA “You Can Lead a Horse to Water, But You Can’t Make Him Show His D**k””

Donald Trump Isn’t The Problem


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Donald Trump did not create the current awfulness of our politics; he is the product of it. Every evil, nasty thing you see on TV with the name ‘TRUMP’ attached to it is not his idea, not his creation. Trump doesn’t have original creations. He is just a name, a name to attach to other people’s creations, be they buildings, golf courses or horrific, life-ending legislation. To quote HBO’s John Oliver, he was (initially) a ‘sh*tty lifestyle brand,’ nothing more.

I say this because I have a very real fear that if Donald Trump leaves, so will people’s interest and awareness of the mess in this country. It is because people failed to be interested for so long that Donald Trump became president. It is because of passive disinterest, not active evil, that he came to power. All-too-common attitudes like, “I don’t care about politics,” ultimately gave him way more leverage than the minority of people who chanted, “Make America great again!”

Studies have shown… what the rich want [politically], the rich get, and when it comes to the rest of us, tough luck!

State and local community issues need to become a focus, and they are something we can start focusing. on. now. Both Democrats and Republicans alike have betrayed us, to varying degrees, for favor of the upper class. Studies have shown when it comes to actual results and enacted policies, what the rich want, the rich get, and when it comes to the rest of us, tough luck! This is oligarchy. Donald Trump isn’t the reason Illinois doesn’t have a budget. Donald Trump isn’t the reason colleges are in danger of shutting down. Admittedly his decisions are exacerbating all of this, but these dilemmas existed well before his rise to power. If Hillary had been elected, we would still be dealing with our problems closer to home (and many/most of the national ones, as well). It all originates at the top.

There’s no reason for it to be this way. Way more of us exist than them. Waiting a potential four (or god forbid, eight) years for one human’s time to be up is a strategy for brutal loss. This is something Bernie has been practically screaming from his old, tired lungs ever since the election started. Just as Trump can’t be solely responsible for the bad, as many before me have desperately pointed out, Bernie (nor any one president/figure) can’t be the sole source of good. It is our responsibility to fix this mess at all levels, continuously, as collective Americans. I don’t have all the answers. I just know what isn’t the answer. And the answer isn’t to start and stop our activism with Donald Trump. 🇺🇸


Trev Richards is host of the weekly talk program Trev on UIC Radio; Live, Wednesdays 8:30 – 10:30 PM Central Time. Follow/listen on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, iTunes and SoundCloud

Note To Self

“this is an open diary. this gives my insides a voice through visuals and poetry; this is me spilled out on paper.”

Typically on this blog you’ll find album reviews and updates on everything new in the music scene, but for right now I would like to do something different and talk about a book.

Books and albums are pretty similar. They’re both a form of art, they both tell stories, and they both can be used as a mental crutch.

I’ve recently finished reading the new book, Note To Self, written by Connor Franta. Connor Franta is a YouTuber, New York Times bestselling author, entrepreneur, and a LGBTQ+ philanthropist. This is Connor’s sophomore book following his memoir, A Work In Progress.

Note To Self is a collections of poems, memories, thoughts, and essays that come from a deep and vulnerable place. Connor Franta allows readers to see the world from his perceptive as he opens up about love, heartbreak, and dealing with mental illness. Note To Self gives us an interior look into Connor’s life that cannot be seen online.

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This book is real. A lot of these pages I read with a heavy heart and truly could empathize with Connor. I found myself reading a line and thinking, ouch, that really hits close to home.”

But then there were the pages that left me feeling hopeful and inspired. They were reminders that I’m not alone with my feelings, and to always keep an open heart and an open mind.

Connor Franta wrote this book for himself (hence the title) as a way to reflect on his past few years. Through this self-reflection, Connor has opened a gateway for readers to come in and find their own meanings and to find comfort. Through the highs and the lows, this book made me feel something; it was something I could relate to and something I could find a sense of ease in.

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I highly recommend everyone picks up a copy of this book. It’s a great read, and it offers a little something for everyone. You can buy a copy of Note To Self Here.

I also had the pleasure to meet Connor Franta at the Chicago stop of his book signing. I will also be attending the Note To Self Tour in Milwaukee, which includes visuals from the book created by Connor, and a Q&A and discussion session. You can buy tickets for the tour Here.

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Tips for Music Festival & Concert Goers

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A couple of useful tips to keep in mind when attending some of those awesome festivals and concerts I mentioned in my last blog post:

Stay hydrated

Don’t be that person that gets carried out from the crowd during the show 😦 it makes us sad and you don’t get to enjoy the show.
Whether it’s water you’re sharing with the people you’re with or water bottles some of the nice security guards offer – drink it, stay hydrated. No, beer doesn’t count as staying hydrated, neither does juice – H2O bro.
Also, if water is allowed during the entrance bring more than one bottle! If not, drink your 8 glasses before going to the concert / festival but also use the bathroom first – Porta potties suck.

Wear appropriate clothing

Don’t wear a jacket because it’s cold out — I made this mistake once. I wore my north face windbreaker to a concert and regretted it one song in because I was front row and everyone’s body heat almost made me pass out even though I was drinking water. When it’s hot, wear clothes you’ll be comfortable in (for example tank tops and sports bras).

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Wear comfy shoes

It’s hard figuring out what shoes are best. I’ve worn running shoes to concerts before but I made the mistake of wearing NEW running shoes…to riot fest…after it rained a whole day. Those new white running shoes are now brown. I also wore converse to some concerts and even before the headliner performed – my feet were killing me! I had waited hours standing.

Be nice

Don’t be the jerk to start a fight because someone accidently pushes you, I’ve made so many friends just by apologizing before and after a concert to the people around me if I was pushing them or if my hair gets in their way. Everyone is there to enjoy themselves and have a good time.

Purses

Always a purse with a zipper ladies you don’t want people being able to open your purse without you noticing and stealing your phone or wallet. Side purses are my go to because I don’t need to be bothered during a show holding my purse. Also a book bag!! Especially for music festivals, essentials: water !!
And…

Portable chargers

These are life savers. Make sure to fully charge them before a concert.

Lastly,

You don’t need that merch

The merch table is always exciting, and the merch guy is always charming but don’t spend your paycheck on merch like some people (I’m pointing at myself).

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