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.

Deep

Someone asked me the other day, “why I don’t talk about deep subjects like I used to.”  Well, I guess the answer is I grew up. lol

My blog started all those years ago as a coping mechanism. It turned into a path to enlightenment. And it worked! I confronted, challenged, and defeated many of my childhood insecurities and failings. I put them in their proper place in my id and moved on with life. Don’t get me wrong, I still have some but they aren’t the overwhelming plague they used to be.

I got a good birds-eye view of some of my old writings while I was merging the old and new blog together. I always like reading my past rants. It’s almost like reading a different person in some ways. It brings perspective to  where I am now compared to where I was.

Anyway, I’m sure there are still a few “deep” subjects left in me. hehehe  If one surfaces, I’ll be sure to put it all out there. Ironically, for someone who didn’t feel very moral, I find these days I tend to comment more on the failing morals of society at large. There’s a kick to the rubber pants if there ever was one.

Family

This post has turned out to be a lot harder to write than I originally thought it would be. I’m digging into my past again and stirring up old memories. It is no secret I’ve never had very close family ties beyond my younger brother. I keep in loose contact w/my other siblings but my younger brother has always been the glue holding me to the family.

In a moment of ‘something’, I recently added my little brother to my FB profile. This of course creates a gateway to the rest of the extended family that he routinely communicates with. I’m still mixed up about it but I think it is time to either open the bridge to the extended family or tear it down completely.

Backing up a bit for a little history lesson, I was adopted as an infant. My foster mom died when I was around 5 years old. My dad re-married a few years later, my younger brother’s mom. I love my younger brother and I never once resented him but after he was born my step-mother changed. I never understood it then and I still don’t now. After his birth any feelings she had for me turned to resentment. And in that resentment she made my life a living hell. There are no words to explain the mental torment she put me thru on a daily basis for years. She was, and still is to a degree, the only person I ever truly hated in this life. She tormented me so much that at one brief moment somewhere around 10 or 12 I almost poisoned her to death. I covered the gory details in a previous post years ago. To this day I still bear the shame that I could even consider such an idea. But as a child then it seemed like the only escape. Even a child’s id eventually snaps. My younger brother of course doesn’t remember a lot of what I went thru. He was simply too young. And I know it hurts him to hear it so I’ve always avoided the subject with him.

It should come as no surprise now to know that when I did leave home it was freedom! I was finally free and she would never be able to hurt me again.1  Leaving early cost me as much as I gained. I spent a couple years being homeless in pursuit of stability. But even that wasn’t enough to send me back. I don’t think there was anything that could have driven me back. Frankly, I would have rather lived on the streets for the rest of my life than go back to the misery of before.

Later, after I moved to SF in my early thirties I struggled to find myself. Having finally gained some financial stability, I turned my attentions inward in an attempt to discover what type of man I wanted to become. I felt like a blank slate waiting for an imprint. I spent the better part of a decade conquering the insecurities and demons from childhood. I replaced self-loathing and abandonment with confidence and integrity built on the knowledge of who I am. I shed the ignorance and fear that crippled me for so long in my life.

For all my struggles over the years, I’ve kept a wall between myself and my extended family. It wasn’t hard. Distance, time, and logistics made it easy.  And to be honest, I resented them for many years. It doesn’t matter now that that resentment was misplaced. I was a child. I resented them because they saw what she did to me. In my eyes back then they saw what she did and yet did nothing. I can remember time and time again feeling elated and excited when the extended family would visit. It meant a reprieve from the mental abuse and I got much needed interactions. God, I must have looked so pathetic back then. This doe-eyed child practically begging for any scrap of attention. I also remember the absolute despair that would grip me when they left. When they left to go home it meant my reprieve was over. I guess it is no surprise I resented them somewhat.

But I am a man now and the pains of childhood are a distant memory. I harbor no more resentments. I harbor no fear over their acceptance of me, or not. They will or they won’t. That is their path. My life is my own and I will live it honestly and without fear.

Ironically, and on somewhat of a tangent, most of the extended family I miss were on my step-mother’s side. I learned many years later my adoption created a rift in my foster family. My foster mom’s family was very much against it. However, since it was my foster mom who made the decision, you can see why thy were distant. My dad’s side was more connected but living in a remote rural area and most of them being poor meant less contact. My step-family were a tad better off and we saw much more of them over the years. I guess it makes sense.

Back on point, it is time to shed the last of my walled gardens, so to speak. No matter the outcome, I will still be standing.

And you should know what I’m about to say now. hehehe 

Hope springs eternal…

  1. Sadly, even that turned out not to be true. []

Engage

image
Moby and The Pup's Engagement rings

I’ve been MIA here as of late due to my work schedule. If you’re here via the web, you’ll notice the new template. This is the one I will most likely keep for awhile. But in other news and if you haven’t heard by now, I got engaged!

For the first time in my life I’m engaged to marry. The historical importance is not lost on me but that is a rant for another day. Today is about how happy I am to be eagerly awaiting such a big event. This is truly a life event for me and I couldn’t be more excited. Being with The Pup has taught me what it is like to be so in love and completely compatible with someone. He is my best friend and my lover and I have no hesitation tying the not with him.

Everyone keeps asking how I did it? The Pup and I are both gamers. I rent games thru GameFly, which is like Netflix for video games. The envelopes come pretty much the same as they do for regular dvds. On a tangent, we’d already decided a while back that we wanted to do two sets of rings. One set for the engagement and then a complimenting set for the actual event. Anyway, knowing he would kill me if I did anything big or hugely public, I settled on a more subtle surprise. If you’ve ever rented thru Netflix you know how the game sleeves work. I managed to get the cardboard cover and game out of the envelope without actually tearing it open. The disc comes inside with it’s own protective fiber sleeve that also has the game name and info. Well, I decided to apply my own sticker and made it look like the game sticker as a close as possible. Except where the name and description were I had my proposal instead. And instead of a game disc, there was the ring. With some effort I got it back into the envelope and put it back in the post box.

I contrived a small chain of events that led to The Pup opening the game and examining it. Of course, he saw the proposal and to my delight said yes. It was a very personal and shared moment for us. I don’t think anyone around knew what had just happened. I honestly thought it was perfect. I wanted to surprise him and still not embarrass him. And he really liked the way I went about it. He had no idea it was coming either. hehehe 

We don’t have a date for the big event yet. It will most likely be another 3-4 months before we set a date. Both of us are content with where we are and don’t feel the need to rush it. And while I will invite friends to be present, it will not be an overly dramatic event. lol Neither of us are into the whole big-wedding sort of thing. Something simple and local will be more than sufficient to officialize what we already know and feel.

It’s an exhilarating feeling to be honest. Knowing that this will be my last LTR makes it seem even more right that this is the first time I wanted to and could legally marry my partner. If you’d told me a year ago I’d be proposing to someone, I’d have probably laughed or shrugged it off. It’s funny how you can meet someone and they totally change your world.

As I always say, ‘hope springs eternal..’

Edu-ma-ka-tion

After almost 2 decades, I finally won a battle against my technical school, that may sound like eye-tee-tee, and the DOE (Dept of Education).

In a nut shell, I attended said school for a whopping two semesters before dropping out. I dropped out because I was misled by the school and the recruiter on the necessary prerequisites required. The ploy was the class didn’t require 2 years experience yet all of the instructors expected you to have it and taught based on that assumption. I’m smart but I could not overcome a 2 year difference between what was expected of me and what I had. After going thru the process, I was supposed to only be billed for the two semesters.

Fast forward to the end of my loan, I was notified I still owed more. Apparently, the school had billed me for the entire first year, or more to the point,they billed the DOE. I disputed the amount and sent in the documentation showing my attendance and termination. I heard nothing and assumed it was done.

Fast forward again to the mid 90’s, while I’m living in Colorado, I get a collection bill for the outstanding amount plus interest. It’s been almost 10 years atthis point and having survived a bout of being homeless, I could not find my copies of the original records. I call, go thru the process, and request my records from the school. The school first refuses then sends me everything but my attendance dates. I submit everything and once again hear nothing.

Fast forward one more time to earlier this year. I get a new collection notice along with a new bill for interest which is twice the actual amount being billed. I am like, “oh hell naw!” I call and dispute yet again. I get the same run around as before even after they admit they can see all the original documentation notes. Yet, w/o any of the actual copies they are unwilling to proceed. I languish in limbo while attempting to have them contact the school and get my attendance records, since the school will not send them to me.1  A few months go by and I hear nothing. This time I am unwilling to just ignore the problem. I call back and get more excuses. I’m feeling very annoyed and not at all content with this nonsense.

One day, I happened to be digging thru some old papers in an unrelated attempt to clear some clutter and what do I discover? My old documentation. It had somehow survived in the two boxes I managed to keep all these years. Color me surprised. I notify the DOE, get to the proper forms in the mail, fill them out, attach all the documents, school records, etc. The school of course tries to dispute it, but being on their original forms they were unsuccessful.

I was notified today that not only am I no longer expected to pay the outstanding 2 semesters, I am also due a check for just over $500 from an overpayment! Reading between the lines here means that school will have to cough up that money. I’m absolutely tickled.

  1. Having made a dispute, legally the debt – holder has to show proof the debt is valid. []

Role

I think I’ve commented on the confidence I’ve found in myself in recent years. I bring it up now in a different but related perspective. I’ve had more than one rant about the lack of role-models in our culture/community. The last being one about my disillusion with a role model I’d found here in SF. I’ve also mentioned in various posts about my frustration with being able to find guys that have reached a level of personal growth that I feel I need to have a functional and successful relationship. All of these things tie into a rather recent epiphany I’ve had.

I’ve realized that I can be a role model to others. And that is not from the perspective of me trying to elevate myself above others, but one of me sharing what I’ve learned and hopefully influencing other gay men into getting onto their own path of growth and contentment. Looking back over my life, I have survived a shit-storm of drama and managed to find the person I want to be within myself. It was no easy task and I can understand why so many fail at it. And lord knows, I am not thinking I am perfect or above reproach. None of that applies to being a role model IMO. Humans are imperfect and flawed. To be a role model doesn’t require perfection.

My new pup (the two legged one) along with a couple of other guys I’ve interacted with lately has taught me that I can be a role model and I can share a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. To see someone embrace an ideal or philosophy and literally blossom under it is something I never expected to witness, especially one of my own doing. And having seen something like that has really made me see that I have gone from being that lost wayward gay boy who needed a mentor or role-model to being one. And maybe mentor is a better term. Role-model seems a bit confining and limiting so maybe I’m becoming a mentor to others.

Sitting in a friends car having a heart-felt conversation about his struggles and absolute eagerness for direction was very touching. To see said person start tearing up when offering him that mentorship almost broke my heart. I’ve become so wrapped up in my own growth over the years, I’ve completely missed the idea of being able to help others grow and evolve. It was like an electric shock to my brain to realize I’ve been inadvertently denying that to others thru my own selfish focus. And I don’t mean selfish as mean but simply being self-focused.

The confidence I’ve found as man is truthfully something I thought I’d never have. If you’d ask me 10 years ago I would have laughed at you. Not because of the intent but because I was so crippled emotionally back then it was a completely foreign idea. And that is not to say I no longer have insecurities. Of course I still have them. But they drive me less and less and that is the key. And the confidence I thought I’d never find has found me. And just as I am drawn to it in others, I think others are drawn to it in me. Honestly, I think this is where a lot of my new found attention comes from. Oh, yeah the new muscles help but they aren’t that big of a draw. lol

My last post with the pic was significant as it lead me to this post. The physical changes you see in the pic are the tiniest fraction of the changes I’ve undergone since then. I’m a completely different man now. Actually, what used to be a lost boy has turned into a found man. I’ve let go of this idea that I have to act in any way to be accepted. I am just me and most importantly, I accept myself. This was the key to my confidence I believe. It jump started the whole process by simply learning to love myself.

It brought me no small amount of joy to realize I am in a position to offer others what I so desperately needed as a young man. There was no one for me to turn at the time so I can’t be too angry. But I am present and accounted for. And it is time that I start helping out. And it can be argued I’ve been doing it a lot thru my blog and it’s probably true to a degree. But the in-person interaction and mentorship cannot be replaced by print. Be it as a sir, a daddy, a big bro, or just a friend, it is time for me to teach while I continue my own path of learning. I don’t have any preset rules. I just plan to share what I’ve learned and how it has helped me.

Wish me luck.

Model

I’m realizing that I put too much emphasis on the integrity of others while devaluing my own. It became abundantly clear to me recently after being incredibly disappointed by someone I looked up to. It had nothing to do with me and the person could probably care less about my aspirations. He didn’t ask to be my role model so shame on me for putting too much emphasis on it. To be clear, by role model I’m referring to an every day person, not some celebrity or personality.

I grew up with no role models and while I’ve always found people to admire, I’ve never really found anyone I’d considering modeling my behavior after. I guess after finding someone I would model my life after and subsequently being disappointed by said person’s personal agenda, it was a huge let down. Now I think I might understand how a kid might feel when his hero turns out to be a fraud. And maybe on some level I still see it that way. I never had heroes growing up so I’m just now getting a taste of that disappointment. On the surface that must sound profoundly sad. Maybe it’s why I was so upset over it.

Anyway, I digress. Afterwards, I realized I don’t value my own system of morals enough. I think partly because not catering to the whole puritanical restrictions on sex and oh yeah, being gay too. lol Seriously though, I grew up feeling like my brand of integrity and morals weren’t good enough for others because they deviated from the norms. They worked for me, didn’t hurt others and gave me goals to strive for. For a long time that was enough for me. But not anymore.

I’ve struggled most of my adult life to be a better man. And depending on who you ask, I’ve done a pretty good job of getting there. Or at least I think so. And I need to aspire less to be like others and more like the man I am. I am not perfect by no means. And lawd knows I’m an incredibly flawed human being. But I try and that is the point. I’m guilty of having selfish wants/desires. I’m guilty of indulgences on said desires/wants. But I’m also able to distinguish between what is my own agenda/desires and what is right. I admit to myself when something I’m doing is not necessarily in line with my goals. I accept it and work to over come it. Frankly, that objectivity has been a defining feature in my blog for the last 9 or so years. It took me awhile to see it. Having it pointed out to me repeatedly by others over the years has certainly helped me see it more clearly.

As I move beyond my disappointment, I find I no longer have a desire to find new role models. Besides being 42 years old and well into adulthood, I am content with my brand of integrity and morals. And as I move forward, I will aspire to be more the man I want to be and live by example. I no longer need a role model. I am the model and that is just fine with me.

Better

Today is the anniversary of my almost suicide over 20 years ago. Well it’s actually the day I chose to remember it. I never remembered the actual day but it was late April/early May. When I started looking back on it I decided to make May 1st the day to remember. Anyway, I’m glad I didn’t take the final step. Even though life wasn’t perfectly rosy afterwards, there was so much I would have missed out on. It really did get better for me.

To say it was a dark time in my life would be an understatement. I’m always grateful and humbled by the memory. I always seem to get a bit moody around the time of year w/o evening realizing it. I don’t know if it’s some sort of internal trauma clock going off or just my brain’s funny way of dealing with it. Regardless, I had a bit of a rough day today. Nothing bad, I just was overcome with the memories. The pain has dulled over time but the reasons behind it are still fresh in my mind. I always try to forget the pain. I don’t want to remember the anguish that poisoned my soul. No one should ever have to go thru that. Instead I focus on the singular moment when it all changed. When I was overcome with the pure indescribable joy that flooded my soul. I’ve always said, I touched the divine that day. Not the made-up hypocritical faux God taught in le Bible but the real thing. I didn’t find it by looking out but within. I found it deep within me. It was there all that time just waiting for me to touch it. And when I did make contact for only the briefest of moments, it was truly indescribable. There are no words for the lightning bolt of joy that was given to me in that singular moment. It washed away the sorrow, the pain, and the hopelessness. Don’t misunderstand, it didn’t ‘fix’ me. But it washed away the poison that threatened to kill me. To this day the joy is still with me. I wake up every day to that little spark that still resides in my soul. It gives me purpose and reason to continue. It drives me to push past the pain and disappointments of life. It teaches me the struggle to be better is the point.

Some might consider it odd to mark the anniversary of such a traumatic event but I don’t. It reminds me of not only where I came from but how far I’ve come. My life then and now are polar opposites in many many ways. I am not that naive abandoned little boy anymore. I grew into a man that I am proud to be. And while there is always room for improvement, the marker serves to give me renewed hope every year of my life.