August 2, 2012

Chick-fil-A

A few weeks ago, some friends and I were talking about what Dan Cathy had said about “traditional marriage” and his company’s viewpoint. I believe that they did have a right to do whatever they wanted, but that people needed to know what kind of company they supported and should be ashamed for supporting them. At the time of the conversation, my view had been somewhat mollified by a friend in that conversation saying that “Chick-Fli-A is a private company that can say and do whatever it’s wants to with the money that they receive from people buying their overpriced food.”

His statement made me think about what it was I was angry about. I had to think about why I was angry about this company coming out and saying that they were for “traditional values”. Was I angry about at them for stating their personal beliefs? Was I angry for having been a one time patron at one of their restaurants that opened near me? Was I angry that I had shaken Dan Cathy’s hand when he came into my work and I talked to him and the franchise owner? The simple answer is no, none of that was the reason.

A friend on a another social network said that he was tired of all the bullshit surrounding this. Tired of the constant back and forth. He’s gay. I’m gay. I agree with him. It’s stupid and petty and needs to stop. We know conservatives are never going to come around on the LGBTQI community, so let’s just move on to the next thing.

Except, it’s not stupid. It’s not petty. And we should be screaming at every company that does this. Screaming till our lungs burn and our eyes water. Till we run out of voice and it becomes raw and raspy. Then we will still scream by simply pushing air out of our lungs and past the vocal cords, not making a sound. We will scream.

What changed my opinion? Pictures of people lining up to eat. Hundreds of people lining up to eat chicken sandwiches from a company that promotes hate and intolerance. Here’s what got me thinking though. It was a picture of long lines at one of their stores.

Here is what I imagined:

It’s early in the afternoon and people have lined up for hours to get their food. The store is on a popular street, so traffic is brisk. The city buses run up and down this street. Taking people to and dropping them off wherever they need to go.

Because the bus stop is near the restaurant, lots of people stop by and get a quick bite to eat there most days. Now it seems that a majority of the riders are going there. Just to get a bite to eat.

There is one person who isn’t. A young man, probably 14. Could be a little younger. He get’s off the bus and walks past the restaurant. He looks at the parking lot and sees cars and trucks with pro-conservative messages on them. He recognizes a few of the vehicles, maybe even a few people in the crowd.

He walks home, in a funk because he can’t understand why people who have never met him hate him so much. He doesn’t realize that it’s because their scared of the world and how fast things change. That the people around him don’t care if they take away the rights of a “fringe group” so long as they do it in the name of their God, they are righteous.

Once he gets home, his mood darkens considerably. While in the kitchen looking for something to eat, he finds a discarded bag belonging to the company in the trash. A used relic from someone in his own family.

He’s been struggling with his sexuality for a while now. He told one friend about it and now that friend won’t talk to him. He can’t tell his family because they are part of the conservative group that hates “people like him”. Now, he sees yet another reminder of how the world hates him.

He knows he’s not alone. He knows that there are more people like him. Frank Ocean and George Takei and Chris Colfer and others. He knows all that. Yet he feels so alone at this very moment, that he does something foolish and permanent.

His parents never knew why their son died. Never knew the other side of him. All they know is that he died.

————————————————————————————————————————–

That is why I scream. To stop kids from killing themselves because they think the world hates them.

So, I will not sit idly by and let these companies do this. Declare war on me and my friends. Give money to organizations that seek to make me as irrelevant as humanly possible. I am not going to be meek while you try to squash my rights and harm others.

To the people who are “tired of it all”: sit on the sidelines of history and watch as the world passes you by. You won’t even be a footnote in the struggle.

To the people who stand in opposition of those of us who want, and will get, our equal rights: you are a dying culture. Your influence on these matters is not dying down slowly, it’s being pushed into its grave riding on a jet pack. We are not going to be silent anymore. Our young men and women are dying because they are different. More different than your tiny minds will ever be able to comprehend.

So I scream. Until my voice gives out. Until I am horse and raw and my voice falls silent. I scream into the air around me, using nothing but the air in my lungs. I scream.

May 1, 2012

The Warrior

My mother, when I was a kid, was a warrior. All of the women in my family are. She would go to war with anyone who dared to get in her way or threaten her family. She went to battle nearly every day, and she usually won.

She’s been married three times. Each husband more useless than the previous version.

Her first husband treated her like a doormat and cheated on her with every woman who batted her eyes at him. They were young and pressured into getting married by their parents and society because they were “living in sin”. After they were been married a couple of years, she got pregnant and they had my half-sister. Once my sister here though, my mom could have cared less about what her husband did. A few years after my sister was born, they split and my mom was alone.

A couple of years later, she married again. This time it was to a man who was a merchant marine. In the time that they had been married, they spent two months together as husband and wife. One time, after deployment, he came home and tried to beat on her. Saying that she was cheating on him and just being nasty to her. She fought back and kicked his ass out. When she divorced him, the judge asked her if their was anything she wanted. She said “Just my name.”

By the time my mom met my dad, it was a few years after the divorce. She was still tough, but life had started to knock her around. My dad wasn’t a good husband. Anything go wrong and he would go on drinking binges with his brothers and uncles and disappear for days or weeks. He had trouble holding down a steady job because of the drinking.

She had two miscarriages before getting pregnant with me at the age of 35. I was born with a cleft palate (my dad had one as well). A strained marriage started to crumble. My little brother was added to the family when she was 37. My brother was born with Cerebral Palsy (it only affected some of his motor skills and he has a lazy eye). That drove a nail into an already weak marriage and my dad finally took off when I was four.

As she’s gotten older, years of food abuse and smoking have started to take their toll. Worn her down physically and mentally. Arthritis, bursitis, glaucoma, migraines, congestive heart failure, hardening of the arteries, kidney failure, diabetes, and dementia.

Her medications are like a laundry list. She takes them all just to keep moving.

Now I’m having to help take care of her. Making sure she eats. Takes her medication. Doesn’t go out driving. Doesn’t slip in the shower. If she has an accident in the bathroom, can I get to her in time. Hoping I don’t get a call at work in the middle of my day telling me something had gone wrong.

After getting off work one day, I got home to and greeted her like normal. I didn’t hear her response, so I repeated my greeting. Still not hearing a response, I went and stood next to her. She was sitting at the kitchen table, eating dinner.

What I saw frightened me so deeply that I was still shaken the next day. my mother was slumped over in her chair. Food in her mouth, partially chewed. I called her name. Her eyes were glassy and I got a grunt in response.

I yelled for my aunt. She came in and looked at my mom. She told me that my mom had taken her blood sugar before my aunt left to come pick me up from work. My mom was going to make herself some dinner and my aunt left. Somewhere in those 8 minutes, her blood sugar had dropped dramatically.

So we kept calling her. We tried getting liquid glucose into her to no avail. He sugar level was still in the 30 range (she was usually 110 to 150.). She just wouldn’t come back. The glucose wasn’t helping. My aunt had to take her blood sugar level because I couldn’t do it.

I was so frightened, it felt like a gigantic beast was on my back, riding me.

We finally called the paramedics after 10 minutes or so. They came and got her blood sugar up and steady. They then transported her to the hospital, with my aunt and I in the car behind her, all the way to the hospital.

It’s been a few years since that happened.  It still frightens me. Now there is a new problem. It’s not my mom. It’s me.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like for her to be gone. Not dead so much, though I do think about that. Just not living with us anymore. Like on a trip.

When I think about this, I feel guilty. I shouldn’t want that. Think about it. I feel bad for wanting her to be dead so I didn’t have to take care of her anymore. My aunt does what she can, but she gets frustrated with mom so easily. Then she starts yelling at her and I feel powerless to stop it.

I also think about the funeral sometimes. What I would say. Maybe I wouldn’t talk. Just sit and be an emotional mess. Then I feel really guilty about thinking that.

I wish that my brother and sister were more help. I understand that their not going though . It’s complicated. My sister can’t and my brother won’t.

So I deal. With the medication. The constant questions. The shit on the floor. The constant questions. Feeling inadequate. The constant questions. Making sure she has enough to eat. The constant questions.

I’m sitting here, trying to muster the tears that I know need to be shed. They won’t come. I just can’t do it. I’m trying to find the courage to not flee in the night. I may have found that.

May 1, 2012

A Brief Note …

So, a few days ago, I started wanting to write again. Just to put my thoughts down again and see if I can make sense again of the things going on around me and inside my head. My life lately has been kind of messy, and I find just talking about things is not really helping.

So I thought I should write about it. The problem is that I tend to share what is “convenient” not the truth. By truth I mean I sanitize my feelings and don’t write about what’s bothering me, just what’s bugging me at the moment.

Then I had another idea. If I’m going to write, I’ll restart my blog. If I’m going to do it, I need to change one thing. As hard as it is for me to admit this, but my last attempts at blogging my life weren’t truthful. I never lied about anything. I just hid things that I was ashamed of or that frightened me.

If the post I was writing got to close to the truth, I would simply stop writing or drop it. I tried to avoid those places that I had come to fear, not really realizing that is where I should go. I didn’t want to upset people or make them feel bad. Even in trying to write my own feelings down, I took others into consideration.

I’m not going to do that anymore.

I will still be considerate of others. I will try not to hurt people with my view of things, but I will not change my truth to satisfy their egos. My want to fix everything will not override my need to be honest with myself or you, gentle reader.

Who’s to stop me from slipping back into old forms? That’s where you come in: if you feel that I’m blowing smoke up somebody’s ass to make them happy, let me know. Message me or drop me. I may resent bring called out, but it’s better than letting the lie fester and grow.

Thanks

April 30, 2012

How I Learned To Be Stronger

We met in an AOL chat room. Yes, that’s how far back this story goes.

His name was Joeseph* and he was a Music and Composition student at UCR when we met. He worked in the music library at the university, had a small appartment off campus and was a really talented chef. He also was my abuser.

When we started dating, it was nice and he was sweet. He appeared to every bit of the boyfriend I thought he would be. Considerate, gentle, loved to listen to me talk, and a great kisser. I felt lucky to have met him. He told me I was beautiful.

When our relationship changed, it was only in one aspect, when we were intimate. Fun and playful turned into dominating and commanding. Nothing I did was right and I would be punished for it. Bite marks, bruises and welts were my prize for not pleasing him.

And I stayed. Because He loved me and I loved him.

I started wearing long sleeve t-shirts in the middle of summer to hide is dammage. Making excuses to friends why I was all covered up on the hottest time of the year. I started feeling like I was losing control of my life. He was still the same boy I fell for in public, but in private, in the bedroom, he physically assualted my soul.

One day, after coming home from a night spent with him, I went into the bathroom to survey the damage. It was a ritual with me. He would punish me for being with him and I would stare at myself in the mirror, looking at the bruises, punishing myself for not leaving.

On that day, I stoped counting after 30 brusies and welts. My body was covered with them, some in places I couldn’t hide. I cried with shame. I cried with fear. I cried because I didn’t know how to stop.

They only thing that saved me was he moved. He left UCR and went to another university to further his education. He left me with no explanation. I was devastated. I was free.

It took me a while to get over him. The shame, the fear and my role in the relationship. I made myself learn from my mistake and grow from it. Yes, he was an abusive asshole, but I stayed. I stayed long past when I should have fled.

So now I am stronger. I have delt with the worst that could happen to me. I live through my own shame and hurt and came out stronger for it.

If this is happening to you or someone you know, get help and get out. Organizations exist to help survivors deal with the pain, hurt, and shame.

Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) was started by Tori Amos and some friends in 1994. While at first only catering to women and girls who experienced abuse, RAINN now has a mission to help anyone, male or female, recover from abuse.

RAINN can be found at: http://www.rainn.org

Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project is an initiative that helps gay men deal with abuse. From a toll free hotline to safe houses for men to escape to, GMDVP seeks to help a community that woefully under-reports acts of intimate partner abuse.

GMDVP can be fond at: gmdvp.org

There is help and there is hope.

July 31, 2010

Change Is Gonna Come … Why?

The Transformer Toy - Optimus PrimeSo lately, I have been kind of in a foul mood. Not just at work or at home, but everywhere. It’s almost like I have a terminal case of “I Hate Everybody”. I just get up irritated and go to bed pissed.

I think most of it’s due to my … inability to see past my perceived limitations. What I mean is that I can’t see past my own problems. I’ve been trying to find a way through the problems, but for every solution, I find 20 reasons not to do it. Most of it has to do with money. Sometimes it’s laziness. Occasionally I throw in “because I just don’t want to” to keep it fresh and real.

I envy people who can make change in their life easily. I make a change and it takes me weeks of preparation and study. I carefully go over all areas and possible outcomes. I tweak decisions till I feel their right for me. Talk to a couple of friends about making the change. Finally, I make the decision to change then I never do it, or I do it spontaneously.

To give you an example: I looked at buying a digital camera for two years. Looking to see what features I wanted, the megapixles, what kind of customer service the company had if something went wrong, and asking everyone I knew who had one what they thought.

I bought one spur of the moment because we had it on sale at work. It was a camera I had never looked at from a company I barely knew.

You can see how making a decision is a bit difficult for me.

It’s not that I don’t want change, it’s just that I don’t want change. I want the hard part of making a change over with so I can get on with my life. Let someone else make the decision for me and I can move on. Want to change careers? Don’t ask me, ask my handler, they make the decisions.

I know I’m going to have to make a change soon. Work has become a constant irritant for me. I registered for monster.com to see if that would be helpful in finding me a way out. If the way thing are now continues, I don’t know how much longer I can go before the whole thing crumbles.

June 15, 2010

When The Lines On Your Hands Set You Up For A Fail

Years ago, when I was 19 or so, I had my palms read. This should come as a shock to none of you who know me an know my history. Tarot cards, tea leaves, chicken eggs, there are very few things in this world that I haven’t consulted when trying to get the inside track on a relationship. Usually it leads to doom. Okay … it always leads to doom.

One of the things that I found fascinating was what is called the “Line of Marriage”. It’s the line right under the base of your pinky finger but is right above your heart line, the line that goes across the top of your palm. Anyway, I was told that I would meet my “certain special someone” about halfway through my life. That this person would come into my world at the mid way point between birth and death. No kids were seen in our future and we would be happy. Ummm … okay then.

I was startled. Meeting the love of my life halfway through my life is a scary proposition. What if I meet him at 20 or 22 or 25? I would only live to be 40 to 50 years old. People in my family live to be in their 80’s or older, when were not killed off by disease, accidents, or “other means”. Only living till I was 40 was a wake up call for me. I woke up and did nothing.

That incident though, caused me to question every guy I came into contact with. If the “relationship” lasted longer than a night, I always questioned. If it lasted longer than a week, I would wonder. If it lasted longer than a month, I started to panic. Longer than that and I went into full on crisis mode. I did this for years and made myself nuts. As I approached my 30’s, that little nagging voice went away and I eventually forgot about it. Life went on. I loved more and had my heart-broken more.

Occasionally though, I would think about that palm reading and laugh at how sometimes we make mountains out of ant hills. I few days ago, I was doing something and I had to look at my hands. I mean really look. At the wrinkles and the lines and weird little bump that I have on my left wrist that’s been there since I was a kid. Looking at them, I remembered the palm reading and the impact it had on my life.

I also thought that maybe it had another impact on me. One that was far subtler than fear. I wondered if my being told that I was going to meet the man of my dreams halfway through my life set me up to fail and walk away from relationships. Granted, I have dated a lot of assholes. A lot of them. I then thought; were some of them assholes because of a personality flaw or because I made them that way?

How did that one simple reading influence the rest of my dating life? If you were afraid you were going to die at 40, would you be more likely or less to start something that would only last 20 years and not be forever? It’s been a question roaming around in my head for a few days and I honestly would say less. I want forever to be in my 80’s or 90’s, not my 40’s. So then the next question that popped up is; how many of the guys that I have pushed away actually deserved it?

At the time of dumping, each reason was sound and valid. Had a busy career and couldn’t make time for us. He was way too immature and had no desire to change. He said it was okay for me to have a three-way with his sister and her boyfriend who was bisexual and curious. Okay the last one had to go, but you get my point.

Ultimately, what is to stop me from doing it again in some insane need to live forever and be lonely? I really can’t answer that. I have to trust that I will see the behavior before it happens and squash it. That the man who I love will see it for what it is and call me on it. That is the one hope I cling to.

June 2, 2010

High School (Or How I Learned To Love Myself And Hate Rice Pudding)

High School. It seems fitting that it is a sentence by itself. It’s a statement. The phrase draws up memories and makes some people think that the past was rose colored and filled with good times and good friends.

These people were on drugs in high school. Some pot and maybe just a hit of acid.

High school, for most kids, is a brutal, soul-crushing gauntlet of emotions and hormones that make you want to run screaming through the streets and beat trees with algebra books. As adults, we want to look back at our experience through the fog of time and relive the good times without the bad. I personally want to take the bad with the good.

I had amazing friends in high school (Angela and the whole FNL crew …  I’m looking at you). We had some incredible times together. Road trips and birthdays. Watching The Lost Boys for the first time at Jen and Heather’s house. Trevor and his thing for Phil Collins. Trying to sit in the back seat of Angel’s bug. The Rose Parade. Watching 90210 at Shrina’s house and passing around old crime scene photos (you really had to be there). These were the good times.

For me though, a lot of high school was spent being afraid. Afraid of people finding out I was gay. Afraid of not passing my classes. Afraid of not being what everyone thought I should be.

Getting out of high school was a godsend for me. I felt like I was finally free of my fears, though as an adult you just get new ones, I didn’t know that at the time. I was able to express myself, however I chose to do it.

I came out the first week of college to one of my professors in paper I wrote for a class. I got an A and a note thanking me for sharing my experience. That was an amazing experience. It meant so much.

I would have never done that in high school. I made the mistake of wearing all yellow to school one day as a sophomore. I was still a toe head at the time. My friend Robin took one look at me, snorted, and called me Big Bird for the rest of the year. There are pictures of how blond I was in my Facebook profile if you need proof. Go look, I’ll wait.

Are we back yet? Good. Did you have fun down memory lane? Good.

I want to remember high school the way it was, good and bad. It made me who I am now. I have to remember all of it, or none of it mattered.

***

The title is in reference to that our school cafeteria sometimes served rice pudding with the meals for kids who had tickets. The tickets you got once a month and allowed you to eat breakfast and lunch at school because your parents were “low income”. I never liked rice pudding before that experience and I hated it after.

May 31, 2010

Opening Up To Someone New

This is sort of a companion piece to yesterday’s post about dating. Yesterday’s post was good, but it seemed a little like me just typing the words that came into mind with no forethought about subject. I wanted to write something that was a little more upbeat and personal.  I didn’t know what that might be, until this morning, when I met Ken.

Let me begin with a little back story. I’m a big believer in online dating. I’ve been doing it since the AOL disc days. (Okay, most of what I did can’t be considered dating in the strictest sense, but you get drift.) It’s a good way to meet people you wouldn’t normally be exposed to. The problem is that your exposed to them. But that’s another post.

About 9 months ago, I signed up for a site dedicated to men of a “certain” stature and those that like them. This was how I met Alex, my now ex-boyfriend. We talked for a month before we had a “face to face” meeting. It was great, we really hit it off and enjoyed ourselves.

The relationship lasted 2 months. I thanked Alex for coming into my life and sharing it with me for a while. This of course was after months of going over every single detail of our relationship about 10 times. Blaming him for everything. Finding out it was my fault, dealing with it, and now just moving on.

This brings me to “Alan”. “Alan” is 40 as of this last March. Like motorcycles, vanilla ice cream, and mashed potatoes with brown gravy. He listens to 80’s and 90’s music, works as a nurse with Alzheimer and Dementia patients, and once lived in Seattle.

I like “Alan”. He’s warm and funny. Cute without being boyish. Mature yet young at heart. Even the fact that he lives in the southwest doesn’t seem to be a problem.

I think the problem might be me.

I caught myself wondering earlier … “Where is the other shoe?” I keep thinking that there has to be something wrong with this man in order for me to like him or for him to like me. It just wouldn’t be me if he wasn’t deal breaking odd in some way. He has to have hidden the bodies somewhere.

Am I so hurt by what has happened in my life with the men I have been with that I have become that jaded? I’m I looking for a reason not to open to someone new so I don’t get hurt? I’ve been at this a long time, have I run out of real excuses and now just making them up as I go?

“Alan” seems like a man I could like. What I have talked about with him makes me think that. It also makes me think that I’m nuts and he’s hiding something. I want to see if this is going to go someplace. I just hope I don’t get in my own way.

May 30, 2010

Dating Is Not For The Faint Of Heart … Or The Stupid

Dating is one of those things in life that I truly despise. It ranks right up there with cleaning the bathroom and going to the dentist. I would rather spend an entire day doing laundry while up to my elbow in dishes than go on a date. Okay, that might be going a bit far, but you get my point.

I have been actively dating now since I was 18. So for nearly 20 years, I have been meeting new men, having awkward conversations, stuffy meals, and pathetic excuses for a goodnight kiss. Some of them were good, don’t get me wrong. One felt like an out of body experience, it was so good. For the most part, each and every one of them was a disaster.

I’m just not good at dating.

I think I know what my problem is … expectation. I go over how I want the date to go. The types of conversation we will go into, how witty and charming I will be, even sometimes how he will respond to my wit and charm. Where we will go on the date and what I will say when he asks me all the questions he has. I want to leave no awkward pauses, only comfy silences.

It is really any surprise at this point when they go completely off the rails.

When you build something up that much, how can reality match it. If the date goes well, then were off to the races. As each week progresses, my level of expectation grows. If we get to a month, I will have us married and setting up house. I want to run every conceivable scenario in my head just so I know what to do, how to react, and how my hair should look. (Joking about the last one … really.)

Who cares if the date goes bad. What happens if it goes well?

May 29, 2010

Writing What You Know … WTF!

It’s an age old axiom among writers: “Write what you know.” Writers are supposed to pick things to write about that they know about. It helps lend itself to authenticity of what your writing. It helps you to have an “original voice.”

I have never understood what it meant. I mean logically, I do. I understand what each of the words mean. I know that the sentence is a statement and not a question. I understand all of that logically. I think where it all goes pear-shaped is in the application of said phrase to said writing.

I try and write a short story about something at work. A guest who goes off the rails or one of my fellow workmates telling me about something that happened to them when they were five. I change the identities to protect the innocent and I begin to write. Usually within a page or so, I’m bored. Bored out of my mind. So I stop. My hard drive is filled with half started projects. Some of them pre-date the last ice age.

Maybe what I’m talking about is inspiration, not work. I mean, if you find your subject matter uninspiring to write about, why would anyone want to read it? Being nice to an author you know only gets you so far.

Oh well, must toil on.