Margins #3: Sleepless in Seattle Animal House

XXI.  Printed on a second story window of the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street is a sign that reads M. T. Lot… Say it out loud, “Empty Lot.” Walt Disney created the fake company to secretly buy land that would later become Walt Disney World. It was a cunning plan that transformed Orlando into the “Happiest Place on Earth.” Whether you love or hate Disney World, you have to admire the audacity of such a dream. Transforming Orlando was Walt’s last great plan before his death. Of course, now the name Orlando, like Columbine Virginia Tech, Aurora, Charleston and San Bernardino, also symbolizes tragedy.

XXII. Orlando hit a number of our country’s fault lines. It spurred a lot of emotions about gun rights and terrorism, while affecting LGBT, Muslim and Latino communities. A range of passionate people spoke on the tragedy that claimed 49 lives (list of victims). My friend Jeff wrote about how the LGBT community is a big family and he felt reverberations of the tragedy as a gay man in Colorado (Jeff Morton Piece). I wrote about my experience observing continued gun violence within that last year while traveling in Experience Institute (Experience Institute Blog).

As of this writing, we’ve only lost 6,000 people to death by a gun this year (gun death stats). I predict that America will again take the easy way out—anger will fade away until the next newsworthy mass shooting.

XXIII.  “Just because an easy solution doesn’t exist, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. The greatest generations in the history of the world were never innately great. They became great because of how they responded in the face of evil. Their humanity is measured by their response to hate and terror.” — Utah Lieutenant Governor Spencer J. Cox at a vigil for the Orlando victims.

XXIV. My friend Wisdom wrote about hate and the loss of his first love. “I buried the pain of six years of pubescent love, now lost, deep within and preferred internal wounds to broken bonds. I wondered if everyone’s first heartbreak came with a side of white supremacy” (read more here).

Wisdom announced that he’s working on a book, which I’m really excited about. He poignantly shares stories about race and identity in our world.

XXV. I identify as a hockey fan on Twitter. So I enjoyed John Hodgman tackling the question of why extinct hockey teams are Surprisingly Awesome (podcast). Hodgman loves franchises that no longer exist and talked about the Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques and the Hockey Pittsburgh Pirates. He interviewed a Whalers fan who dealt with the pain of losing their franchise as I child. I felt guilty. I’m the benefactor of an extinct team—the Nordiques moved to Colorado and immediately won a Stanley Cup. I’m currently in a city with an extinct basketball team, the Seattle Supersonics.

XXVI. That’s right, I’m in Seattle working for a studio inside NBBJ. Studio 7 is led by artist Sam Stublefield and includes former Ei student April Soetarman. I’m helping them work on how to brand this dynamic group of individuals within Seattle’s growing city—and yes, they’re working on the Google Spheres (article)!

XXVII. I found one option to stay when I arrived in Seattle, an Airbnb for a room in a “group house” near the University of Washington. The group house was actually a former frat house with the gang of college boys still there. The bathrooms were a weird dirty assortment of kitchens and clumped together showers. The house on Greek Row was littered with pizza boxes, discarded blunts and Chips Ahoy! wrappers. Guys would come in and out of my room to smoke on my balcony and then leave random dogs out there. I’m now in a better house with five sorority girls.

XXVIII. Oh the irony. Yes, I’m living in a house with five sorority girls after my most college project, “The Sorority Girl Quote of the Week.” At CU Boulder, I collected quotes I heard in classes and at Starbucks and then posted them on Facebook. Here are a few quotes:

  • “I’m not drinking this weekend. My last bar hookup had Superman sheets”
  • “I’m too drunk for a Wednesday afternoon! I think I just ran up and hugged my professor!”
  • “I have so much Spray Tan on, look how orange I am! I was sitting in library just inhaling the fumes thinking, is this too much?”

XXIX. The quotes were hilarious, but I did get pushback from friends in sorority. A friend started yelling at me on the Hill in Boulder one night and I walked her back to her sorority house to calm her down. Here were my disclaimers to criticism: 1. I had a lot of friends who were in sororities and respected them quite a bit. 2. The quotes were real. 3. There were no fraternity guy quotes because they never went to class.

XXX. I’ve matured. I no longer believe in disclaimers. Let your work speak for itself and if it’s misunderstood you have two options: change the work or allow it to live on its own. Some people will hate your work or disagree with your sense of humor. Looking back, I probably should have just called it “Colorado Student Quote of the Week,” but it was my survival mechanism. Sorority sisters always sat right behind me 200 person lecture halls.

Each week, Margins follows a narrative through the twists and turns of culture, media and society. The author, Derek Kessinger, is a writer, journalist and student at Experience Institute.

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