Stuff

I haven’t really talked about my ‘stuff’ lately, or not in the sense I used to here. And that is totally a good thing! For over a decade, I’ve used my blog to air out my doubts, fears, demons, and general thoughts on life. I started out blogging for fun. It was new, exciting, and totally inline with a desire to chronicle my life. It quickly turned into an outlet to work on my failings. I felt adrift in so many ways for so long and finding an outlet that gave me an opportunity to focus on myself was a life-saver. I don’t say that casually. Thru my struggles here I have become a better person. And as I age and move thru life, the new habits are becoming set and I am stronger than I’ve ever been.1

*Note – This started as a quick update and Jesus, Mary, Joseph, & John it turned into a long winded rant! Grab some coffee*

Lately, in almost a weekly occurrence I’ve observed or experienced small happenings that I would have reacted to in a completely different (read ‘bad’) manner in the past. And I am continually grateful that I can see past things that would have also hurt me in the past.2 If anything, I’m feeling a little sad at how many people I encounter who are so adrift in life like I was for so many years.

I used to think what I did wasn’t really that unique. I’m discovering it really isn’t that common at all. And I’m not sure what made me unique. Was it the resilience I developed from years of mental abuse as a child? Was it learning how to be introspective? Was it blind fate? All of the above? I don’t know. It is hard to express outwardly how far I’ve come. I’ve gone on and on here ad-nauseam about it I’m sure. I struggle to put into words how my mental framework has shifted over the years. And to see me in person, you would notice some differences but you probably would never know otherwise.

I’ve always been good at hiding my personal demons. Call it an unexpected gift from childhood. Not many folks, even my closest friends, really knew how hard it was for me to get by at times. On a related tangent, as hard as my early life was, I was so rarely depressed. The brush with suicide gave me a renewed energy and to this day I can’t help but wonder if that one moment saved me continuously over and over. Now that I think about it, not being depressed made it quite easy to hide everything else. Back on topic, my crippled little id hopped along adapting or borrowing coping-mechanisms as fast as I could find them. The best and simplest exampled involved crossing the street. Yeah, you read it right. I would develop so much conflict in the act of crossing the street at an intersection when cars and people were present. There was this prevailing idea that every person in their fancy cars could see how worthless I was. And they were judging me for my failures and inadequacies. Inadequacy was at the heart of my existence then. I felt unworthy of the simple act of existing. And lest you think me joking, yes I felt that every time I crossed a f**king street alone!

Now imagine the conflict that ensued when my logical and not too terribly unintelligent mind ran into that every time I engaged in life events. Going to a bar was an experiment in how well I could hide the pain while desperately seeking someone to fill the void of loneliness, thru sex or companionship. Picture me trying to reconcile that I’d rather be a top in bed but felt so unworthy of the act I made myself bottom for others. Oh yeah, shit just got real! lolol I made myself into a stereotype (on varying levels) just so I could feel accepted. Most people would kill to avoid being a stereotype and there I was molding myself into one.

It easy for me to laugh now. And even though words fail me at times, these are the examples that really demonstrate the degree of dysfunction inflicted upon me. And to have successfully dragged myself out of that will always be my biggest life’s achievement. One might think it a low bar but such a simple change in focus radiates thru everything I do and am now.

Now I find myself struggling with a way to share this with others and help them grow. Trying to explain it doesn’t seem to do the trick. I’ve tried a few times and it didn’t work. How do you help someone see something they aren’t yet ready to see? I don’t have the answer for that one….yet! *scratches head*

Hope springs eternal…

  1. Who says a bitch can’t work on the outside AND the inside?! heehee []
  2. Hurt is such a simple word but covers a whole host of sins we inflict on ourselves or allow others to inflict upon us []

D&D

Today marks the anniversary of my Mom’s death. She died when I was young. For some reason this year I’ve been thinking of her a lot. She always pops into my mind around this time but this year it seems more insistent. It has been almost a daily occurrence for the last few weeks. A memory will randomly pop into my head or something will invoke a memory of her.

It has been long enough now the memories are beginning to get fuzzy. Some of them used to be crystal clear and others were always fragmented. I was so young at the time. There are a still a few memories that feel so real and vivid. I think I’ve mentioned different memories in past rants. For whatever reason, I have a lot of good memories of her sewing. She enjoyed it so I think I picked up on that. Anyway, she’d be sewing away and randomly look up to see what kind of mischief I was into. On one particular day she paused and looked up at me and to her surprise, I was looking back at her rather intently. She asked what I was doing and I just stared at her. She smiled, I smiled and the moment was gone. She went back to her sewing and I went who knows where to get into mischief. I wasn’t thinking anything overly important or specific. I’m not even sure why this one memory is still so strong. I might have been 3 or 4 at the time. I wasn’t 5 because that’s when the cancer diagnosis came and my life went crazy for awhile.

The anniversary of my dad’s death is only a few days from hers. While my dad’s death is much more recent, it doesn’t seem to invoke the same type of memories for me. While he and I patched things up at the end, we were very distant for a good chunk of my life. I’m sure that is why the memories are different. Anyway, I remember my mom’s hair, the scrunched up face she would make during moments of deep concentration. I remember her kind smile and even the thin line her lips made when she was angry. I remember she always liked having me with her. She never made me feel like a nuisance or a hassle. I had a habit of walking into the kitchen and just snuggling up against her leg rather absent-mindedly while she was cooking. I remember my little rocking chair that I absolutely loved. It was in the shape of a horse and it was one of those fixations that kids sometimes get with certain toys. I remember it breaking in the middle of the night one time and I cried and cried. My mom made my dad go out that night and find a piece of wood to fix it. He took it in the back room, patched it up and even fixed one of the little eyes that had come loose. I was beyond gleeful and grateful.

I don’t really know why she is on my mind so much this year. I miss her though. I wish she’d had a chance to see me grow up. I can’t say how she would have taken my being gay but I can’t help but think my life would have been better back then had she been around. She always seemed to be the warm spot for my dad. Oh they fought and sometimes like cats and dogs, but they always made up. Ironically, the best memories of my father are the short years between my mom’s death and him remarrying.

There isn’t any sense romanticizing about what might or might not have happened. My life is what it is and I am where I am because of my life. I talk about her here is so I don’t forget her. She is alive in my memories and if I keep those alive, she will live with me. And even though I probably view her thru the eyes of a small child, I still remember and that is enough for me.

45

Guess who’s year older today? Me!  lol  Forty five years old and still going strong.

Funny, in a lot of ways I don’t feel 45. I’ve always felt young for my age so that really isn’t a surprise. I thought I would have grown into it by now though. haha  In other ways, I definitely feel 45. After my last rant about my back, I’m clearly not as spry as a I used to be. My body, against my best wishes, is starting to show its age. The grey that used to be just in my hair has taken over my beard and is encroaching on my chest. Is it normal for grey hairs to travel down the torso as one ages? I always thought it started at the bottom and worked its way up? My wrinkles are a little deeper and a little larger in number. Anyway, I don’t mind my age. I certainly don’t resent it. I know a lot of gay men start missing their youth to the point of distraction around this time. Not me. Sure, I wish my body was still younger but aging is part of the human condition. I like my wrinkles and grey hair. And unlike some, I don’t feel inferior or less relevant as an aging gay man.

But let’s face it, much of our original culture revolved around being young and attractive.1  Actually, it’s even simpler than that. It revolves around sexual attraction. In that regard, when you delve past the differences, straight men really aren’t that far removed. I realize I’m generalizing here. I’m not attempting to marginalize all of us into one category. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, a lot of guys around my age and older grew up fighting for an identity as well as being accepted. Of course, also being men into other men, sex and sexuality was a big part of our emerging culture. Sadly, many of us developed coping-mechanisms to compensate for our struggles. Many of those coping-mechanisms became wide spread and part of our culture over time. But being part of our culture doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy for us. On a tangent, it isn’t surprising really. We had to overcome stereotypes that portrayed us as weak and inferior on top of fighting to find acceptance in society. Our ‘culture’ grew out of abandonment, rejection, and an underlying need to belong. And mixed in with all of that was fear, anger, loneliness, and desire. The sexual freedom became a trap many of us couldn’t escape.

For myself, I was very insecure as a young man. I found my validation thru sex. And without realizing it, it became a very compulsive habit. It was a fix for a need I could never satisfy. It became a viscious circle and I consider myself very fortunate to not only have discovered this in myself but also be able to overcome it. A success due in no small part to my blogging. And most surprisingly of all, I found strength in myself.2  That strength allowed me to let go of detrimental coping-mechanisms and move on. I can tick off a list of areas in my life where I found the most growth. Realizing my self-worth should come from within instead of how I was perceived by others was one of them. Frankly, I see gay men all the time who have yet to realize this. You can’t overcome what you don’t see as a problem. They often just grow bitter with age over what they perceive to have lost and resent it. Or more astutely, they resent those who still have it.

So here I sit a 45 years old. My life isn’t perfect and neither am I. But I like my life and who I am. I have regrets but they are overshadowed by my accomplishments. I still look forward to my future. In the best of ironies, when I was younger I never thought I’d live to be very old. Now I find myself looking forward to old age.

  1. I say original culture because it is definitely changing now []
  2. To this day, I still get a little surprised to have found it in myself []

Runaway

I took a call the other day about a runaway child. For whatever reason, it reminded me of some of my own attempts to leave home as a child. I can’t remember if I’ve ever mentioned it here but I ran away a few times when I was young. Ok, more than a few, 4 times total before finally leaving for good. Are you ready for this? The first time I was around 5 years old! That particular time I wasn’t running away so much as running from my oldest sister’s house to my aunt’s house, where I believed my dad was. It was right before my foster mom passed away. I was feeling particularly lonely considering my dad spent all his time at the hospital. As a child I couldn’t rationalize the fact my mom/dad couldn’t be with me. All I knew is I was left w/my very mean older sister who didn’t seem to like me much and salvation wasn’t far away. Obviously, I made it fine, but it is not the actual story I wanted to share today. hehehe

Fast forward many years, my dad had remarried to my step-mother and things were not good at home. I was still in junior high at the time. If I remember correctly, I think I was in 5th grade. It was 5th or 6th grade, I can’t remember for sure at the moment. The point is I was bored in school so I routinely cut up in class. I was mischievous and hyper active so it shouldn’t have been a real surprise to anyone. And being bored meant poor grades. My dad also had a temper and was prone to fits of rage when he felt he was being challenged.1 He knew I was smart so he assumed I did it on purpose. I’d previously survived a round of whoopings due to said grades and he told me if I got any more F’s on my report cards, I was in for a doosy of a beating. And trust, I believed him! He’d been particularly thorough in his last attempt to set me straight. I knew if I came home and showed him my report card w/three F’s on it, I was in for a good whooping. The kind that left bruises and made me walk/sit funny for a few days.

Report card day arrives and I get off the bus at the road that leads to our place.2 I was alone that day and the fear took over. With no thoughts to how, why, or even where, I ditched my books and fled. I didn’t stay on the paved road as I was afraid my parents would drive by and see me. This was the piney woods of East Texas. There wasn’t much development back then so it was easy to just run through the woods to avoid being seen. I remember making a diagonal line to avoid subdivisions that I knew existed. At this point I’m driven by fear of the coming beating and a little excitement. I loved being outdoors so had little fear of the woods. I knew what the woods held and not much scared me.

I made it about 3 miles the first day. Having realized I didn’t bring anything with me and it was getting chilly, I meandered back toward places I knew where people lived. I spent the first night in the a ceramic storage shed behind the house of one of my school mates. They rode rode the bus to school with me every day. Having been there before with my parents for ceramics, I knew there was plenty of stuff to keep warm so I settled on hiding out there overnight. I covered myself in shredded paper used to stuff boxes. I can still remember giggling at the idea of being a hamster. I got a nice surprise the next day when I found a box of twinkies that made for a lovely breakfast (It is odd how certain moments stick with you over time).

I start out the day knowing I have to head deeper into the woods as I’m approaching more populated areas. It must have been close to winter because I had a lite coat on and it was definitely chilly out. I remember at one point ditching my very tiresome cowboy boots at a rest stop that was along several of the paved roads I had to cross along the way. They were my favorite boots but I was tired and couldn’t bear taking them with me. It helped I had my gym shoes in my school bad. I zigzagged through the woods for most of the day. It wasn’t until I started getting hungry that doubt crept into my mind. I trekked on until it started getting dark again. I’d now been gone more than 24 hours. I started getting cold and hungry. It was then I realized I had no idea where I was going or how I was going to survive on my own. My fear of getting a whooping shifted to fear of my future. I had no idea where I was going. Of course, a kid that young can’t really rationalize properly. I started crying and decided to turn myself in. I remember thinking that to myself. lol

I made a bee-line for the closet rode and by the time it was almost completely dark I made it. I’m only about 10 miles from home by car. Considering how much I zigzagged I probably walked over 15 miles. The first car driving by stopped and picked me up. I was crying and they managed to get it out of me that I ran away and wanted to go home. I pointed out the way and they drove me all the way there. Good lawd was there a ruckus going on! There were 3 game-wardens, a sheriff cruiser, and several other random cars parked by the road side. They had passed out radios to people and a lot of really nice people were looking for me. Apparently, the way I ditched my books turned out to look very suspicious and everyone thought I had been abducted. God what a mess I had created. The lovely folks who picked me up were super sweet. And in the midst of all this fuss, I can remember the very handsome man riding shotgun that let me sit in his lap! Even then I was incorrigible.

My dad arrives in short order and is overwhelmed. Even my stepmother looked relieved to see me. Anyway, I kept my mouth shut as to why I fled; I was afraid my dad would get in trouble. As everyone left and things returned to normal, my dad came back to me and we had a talk. I told him why I ran away thru tears and a death grip on his neck . It was one of the few times I saw my dad look vulnerable. He hugged me, told me he loved me, and told me he never wanted me to scare him like that again. I promised I wouldn’t.

So, in the end I actually didn’t get a beating. lol Even more amusing, my siblings were all amazed I made it so far on my own. I think they saw me as weak and didn’t think I had it in me. Now that I think about it, both my older brothers treated me a little better after that. There was less teasing and being treated like the annoying little brother. My older brother actually left home for good not long after that. I always wondered if he felt I had one-upped him by running away.

*

Wow, that was a lot. I didn’t sit down to write all that out. It just sort of came out the more I thought about it. It amazes me how fearless I was. I don’t think I ever realized how ballsy I was back then. I can also still remember the color of my cowboy boots. Which by the way, we went back for the next day and they were still there! This led to another conversation about how far I made it.

Oh, and the call I took? The kid was fine. He ran away because he was mad at his mom for taking his xbox away. He took MUNI down to the Metreon for the afternoon before being returned home. These youngin’s today. If they only knew. hehehe

  1. Ironically, I never referred to it as rage but looking back on it, that is pretty much what it was []
  2. We were a mile from the paved road []

Thanks

Well, today is the holiday and while I don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving in the traditional sense, I do find time to be thankful for the things in my life. If you had told me 15 years ago, I’d be at this place in my life now, I would have laughed in your face. The idea that I could come so far, as a person, in such a short amount of time would have been unbelievable. But here I am.

I have a lot to be thankful for in my life. And as much as I get wrapped up in the minutia of day to day drama, my life is pretty good at the moment. I’ve finally accepted it is possible for me to be this content and have so few worries. It’s taken a couple years to sink in but I’m getting it. Most days, life is deliciously boring. No drama, no tragedies, no failures, just boring day to day interactions. Gym, dog, work, home, hubby, video games, dog, sleep, repeat.

Like Madam used to say, "It’s been a long climb to the middle." For some being grateful for such a life might seem odd. It is probably a starting point for many. I accept that and good for them. I used to regret my life and how hard it was. Over time I realized the struggles I faced helped make me who I am. The odds were definitely against me getting this far. So many things could have gone different, even slightly, and I wouldn’t have made it. I’ve lost count of the small chance occurrences that kept me sane, well, and even alive.

I have the good fortune to be in a good place in life. I try my best not to take that for granted. I am grateful for good friends, a partner in life who gets me, and a slobbering farting bulldog who lives for me. I crawled out of debt this year. I’m overall pretty healthy. Again, all pretty normal things to be grateful for but reading the news and seeing the tragedy here and abroad, I’m still grateful for it all. I bitch and moan about my first world problems but I keep it in perspective. Wherever you are this year, find joy in the good things in your life, no matter how small. I think happiness is found in those ‘little things.’

I’m working as usual. I’ll be stuffing my face at work with a large feed and keeping the officers and city safe as best I can with my coworkers. If you’re not doing the family thing and feel like you are alone, volunteer for a shelter (Human or animal). You’ll be surprised how less alone and bad you feel about your own life. Whatever you do, find some way to pass on the gratitude you have in your own life to others.

Be safe my friends. I wish you a warm, fuzzy, and "stuffed" holiday.

Two

Well, it now seems that dastardly Cajun, brettcajun has given up on blogging. I saw his last update ending his blog and I was a little teary-eyed honestly.1 It seems homer and I are the only two left of our original crew. I miss all of them. I used to spend a huge chunk of my reading every day catching up on personal blogs and getting to know folks thru their writing. It was awesome and made me feel connected to the gay community at large in a way I never thought possible. I’m a bit sad to see a lot of that come to an end. Everything has its purpose I guess.

Granted there are plenty of prolific bloggers out there. But most of the ones left seem focused on trying to make a buck or be famous, neither of which has ever been my goal. I still remember the first blog I ever followed. It was a handsome fella out of Wisconsin. He moved to Chicago after his blog ended and we lost touch after that. I remember feeling a bit foolish reaching out to him at the time. I was worried he’d think I was a stalker. If I’d only known. hehehe

Luckily, homer shows no signs of slowing down. If anything, he is doing better than me at it. I tend to have larger gaps these days. Life gets in the way more now. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep at it, but he itch hasn’t left me yet. I will always have a fondness in my heart for it. My blog and my readership seems to have leveled out over the last few years. I don’t blog near as much about random stuff as I used to. Most of that gets captured on social media. I always see an uptick in readership around the first of the month for some reason. But the averages are pretty even month to month. It does seem like more locals and coworkers read my nonsense more than ever these days.

Ironically, my photo site gets about twice the traffic as my blog. I’m sure there is a joke in there somewhere about a pictures and 1000 words. I originally set it up as a catch all for my online pics. Who knew it would be so popular? It gets consistently solid traffic. I blame Cooper. He is just too cute to miss out on.

I’m still at it though. To all who have gone, you are not forgotten.

  1. No, Brett not because of you. []

Feet

Every laugh at how a random conversation will trigger completely unrelated memories? I was making small talk at the gym the other day after my workout and somehow we got on the subject of feet. My buddy Tom mentioned something about a guy’s feet.1 He shared how much he hated going on dates with guys that don’t take care of their feet. I’m sure it isn’t an over unique fetish but it triggered all kinds of memories from my childhood.

As a child I hated wearing shoes. I grew up in the piney woods and my only impression of shoes wasn’t a positive one. I felt they were a nuisance. I refused to wear them anywhere except school or hunting.2 Naturally, it wasn’t uncommon for the bottom of my feet to be calloused with very thick hard skin. It didn’t matter where I was, if I wasn’t fearful of thorns, I was barefoot. There were no concrete sidewalks for miles and miles and that meant no fear of hot surfaces or burnt feet. I even ran track in high school barefoot. Or, at least I did once my coach noticed I won more races when he let me race w/o shoes.

Of course, as an adult I take decent care of my feet. They stay clean, clipped and overall cared for; gone are the heavy callouses. The soles are now a bit sensitive but I still walk around barefoot on most flat surfaces. I often have to remind myself to wear shoes when running out around the block with Cooper. But that has more to do with not wanting to track debris back onto our new carpet.

Thinking back, it does seem a bit gross but back then I never thought anything of it. I’m sure my buddy Tom would have found me particularly gross. I neglected to share the flood of memories with him. heehee

  1. Apparently had a slight fetish []
  2. Hunting meant going into areas of unfarmed land full of briar patches, thorns, and all manner of sharp objects step on []

Axiom

I used to have a scrolling marque on my blog that ran thru a list of my favorite quotes and phrases. Some were my own and others were ones I always found inspirational. I randomly discontinued it in my never ending tinkering with my blog themes. One of my favorite phrases is "what you think of me is really none of my business." It has become one of my daily axioms. I mention it because I often say many of said phrases in conversation.

Just such a conversation came up recently. I had chance as part of one of my training assignments to interact with a couple coworkers whom I’m not overly close to. I know them well enough but we just aren’t besties at work. We rarely spend much time talking beyond specific work duties. Anyway, through our conversations one coworker caught me saying my phrase above and really latched onto it. She found it to be very "deep", as she put it, and felt like it was a great mechanism to learn by. This led to more talks and how the struggles in my own life led me to the phrase. We shared several life stories and connected in a way we never had before. It very uplifting.

It is also why I never close myself off from such random chance moments. Beyond being Southern1 , I’ve always felt simple human interaction is the key to most of our societal woes. It is much harder to objectify and marginalize someone when you know them personally. You can’t just disassociate yourself from them and act as if it doesn’t affect you. Anyway, I digress. My coworker really liked the phrase and hopefully she applies it in her own life in constructive ways. It came up in such a way regarding one of her own views and I think hearing it really made her feel good.

On a side note, it was also a great reminder of how far I’ve come as a person. I probably harp too much on my personal growth but I’m damn proud of it. I used to be a mess! lolol Back then, I’d never have thought anyone would value my advice or opinions. I didn’t value them so how could others? I’ve discussed here several times how finding my inner confidence2 changed me in so many small ways. I forget those changes can and do have ripple effects. They radiate out from me and change forever how I interact with others. These are often subtle cues but it is so profoundly gratifying to still recognize it in myself.

And now, another very popular phrase I’m fond of, "Hope springs eternal….."

  1. being friendly to strangers is in our blood []
  2. the realization was quite the epiphany for me at the time []

Twelve

Well, here we are moving into year 12 of this here blog thingy.  Who woulda thunk it all those years ago when I started? Twelve years!

I’ve made many awesome friends along the way and said goodbye to a few as well. As I slowly pulled myself out of my immaturity and into adulthood, I got a chance to share my struggles with others. It was and still is my hope that others can gain insights from my struggles and be better for it.

I’m still at it . I went from answering questions of “What is a blog?“, to “OMG you have a blog too?“, to “You still blog?” and still at it. Hehehe I assumed it would be that way way back when. I kinda took to it right away and instantly expected to be doing it for years.

My favorite responses are often via Facebook when someone tells me they don’t read blogs but proceeds to go on and on about my Facebook post shared from my blog. I get on tickled.1  Anyway, moving into year 12 I hope to be a little more consistent. It seems life, laziness, and video games routinely interfere. I know, how rude?! 

I was looking back the other day and just sighed heavily with so many emotions. I didn’t think I’d ever find this point in my life. I never dreamed I’d find the contentment in my soul or the level of happiness I’ve achieved. It is still a bit much at times to accept it.

After so many struggles, so many battles, and so much angst, a boring daily life can be such an amazing blessing!  Here is to year 12!

  1. It is the little things in life, ain’t it? []

Crave

Ever get in one of those moods where you just crave a certain food for days?PotPie

Last week I had a craving for a potpie. It hounded me to the point where I finally gave in. I grew up with the little Swanson ones that used to come in the metal tins. They were crust meat, veggies, and sauce. You threw’em in the oven for about 30-40 mins and presto! Delicious gooey and never good for you. haha  Fast forward to today and potpies are disgusting globs of over overly processed dough, very little filler, and a tiny bit of veggies and meat in an effort to accommodate the microwave. You can get larger ones that taste better, but those are so high in sodium and fat you’re doomed either way.

To offset my desire for such heart-killing food, I threw in fresh cut tomatoes, roasted chicken, extra mixed veggies, and spinach. The new unholy concoction was so tasty and no where near as bad for me. hehe  You can’t even really see the potpie at all. Well, if you look close, you can see some crust mixed in there. I had said feast three days straight until I sated the beast!

Thankfully, the craving was calmed and I moved on. It was odd though because it reminded me of growing up and making them. There were a few years between when my foster mom passed away and my dad remarried. Being a bachelor with kids, he tended to focus on food that was easy to make. Potpies fit that bill nicely. There were plenty of nights where I would beg him to have potpies and he was all too ready to agree as it meant no cooking for him. I’d start the oven, grab the pies and shove’em in the oven as soon as it dinged.  I never once failed to not burn my fingers. lol

It sort of hit me that it been a comfort food for me. So while I won’t be bringing back as a staple in my diet, it was a nice walk down memory lane.