Thursday, December 20, 2007

Becoming Scrooge

Long, long ago, in a land far away, there was a boy. A very special boy with red hair, a My Little Pony collection, and a mermaid obsession. All through childhood and even into college, this little boy lived for Christmas day. Towards the latter part of this period in his life, he would send out an average of two hundred Christmas cards each year. He would buy a gift for everyone he knew—friend, co-worker, acquaintance. He hated Santa, not only because he is a child molester but also because he seemed to take away from the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas spirit and magic lived in this boy’s soul everyday of every year.
As the years went by, life’s trial, tribulations, joys, and celebrations helped to form and change this child. He became stronger, better looking (at times), more independent, less optimistic but more content, more real. Christmas began to take on new meaning. It became more intensely focused on those who were walking through his everyday life with him—his immediate family his friends who became kin. It remained a firm symbol of his faith and his heritage.
One morning, five days before Christmas in his twenty-ninth year, a realization came upon him. He no longer resembled Tiny Tim, spreading Christmas joy and cheer to the masses. He had become covetous with his Christmas love, only offering to the select few with whom he shared his soul. While co-worker after co-worker brought him pumpkin loaf, chocolates, cookies, and cards, he grumbled inside, muttering of the plot against his waist line. “You’ll get no present from me, I need not more obligation to shop at Christmas time,” he chanted in his head. No more stamps for Christmas cards, no more writing people he only heard from once a year. He would walk through the halls with his head held high and his Amazon Visa firmly in place in his wallet.
Even though ‘Bah-humbug’ flitted through his mind on more than one occasion as certain obligatory opportunities passed his way, Christmas time seemed to mean more to him, in a more real and genuine way. Even Santa had become a kindred soul (with the exception of the old man’s child obsession)—desperate times, desperate measures. As he opened his email and received a card from a dear, sweet, co-worker friend, he gagged and had to rein it all back in. There, taking the form of a beautiful Christmas tree and twinkling lights glared out the reminder of the rape that has happened to his beloved Christmas time. “Happy Christmas, Merry Everything” the card read. What a wonderful way to include everyone, truly touch no one, and miss the point entirely.
He thought back to the weekend before, the annual Christmas dinner with the men in his life who had become his brothers. He remembered their love and their devotion. He thought about the annual Christmas Eve slumber party with his little brother that would transpire in a few short days. He thought about Christmas morning around the tree with his family and dogs. He thought about Christmas night exchanging presents and kisses with the man he loved. Christmas may not be the way it was. Christmas may be lost to most of the world. He, the lucky Scrooge, would be safe in the real meaning of the day, surrounded by those he loved--human, deity, and dog.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

city mouse lost in the suburbs

Chad and I had our nearly weekly date with one of my best friends last night (MS) to have fattening food and watch Desperate Housewives. We watched four episodes. It was fabulous! MS recently married a very wonderful man, and she moved to Colorado Springs, the Bible Belt of the West. MS, being even more liberal than me in most circumstances, feels like an extraterrestrial having to stay incognito in order to avoid ostracization. She is very protective and invested in the whole ‘gay-rights’ movement, as her best friend is gay and she had an uncle who was gay as well. Needless to say, finding people who are of the same frame of mind close to her vicinity is near to the task of locating a unicorn wandering around Pearl Street Mall (although, you can soon find a strip club there—crazy, huh?). I had flashbacks to childhood when she told the story of being in the grocery store after she finished school for the day—she is a teacher as well. As she was pushing her cart down the aisle, a little girl in the passing cart pointed towards the small tattoo on her ankle, looked up at her mom, and said, “Look what she has, Mommy.” The mother took in MS’s ink and looked back at her daughter. From a lowered voice, MS heard, “Yes, dear. She will be going to hell.”
I think that is the hardest I have laughed in weeks. Just one more reminder of my heritage and of the plethora of reasons I have a suite reserved with a sea of fire view.
Towards the end of the conversation, MS had a very genuine insight, one that many people never allow themselves to comprehend. She switched her position and thought about all the conservitive and traditional people who live in liberal areas (like big cities) and how they must feel like they are in a foreign land and have to be careful with every word they say. I think her empathy summed up what many people on both sides of fence experience. There was a news article by the gay press that was tearing apart a coach (I don’t remember which one or which sport—gay, remember?) for speaking at Promise Keepers and saying that if one of his team members was gay, he would speak to them about his beliefs and that he felt it was a sin. However, when asked if he would allow them to stay on the team, he said that he would, if they were a good player. What more could we ask of this man? To me, it seems like the perfect response. We all want to be open-minded and all-inclusive, as long as everyone converts to be exactly like us. There are many churches where I would not be allowed to work with children (despite my youth ministry degree) simply based on my tattoos—let’s not even think about my gayness. There are just as many places that a coach who maintains a respect for his players would be flogged and labeled a bigot/racists for simply stating his beliefs.
I have been astounded by the amount of people who have completely accepted my life and sexuality without so much as a question and have never treated me differently—I wish everyone could be like that. However, I have also been amazed by those whose very core tells them that the way I live my life puts me and others in eternal and mortal danger, and yet they have shown love, respect, and genuine tenderness. It is the ability and skill to care for and see the value in those that differ intrinsically from ourselves (on every side of the fence, if a fence had more than two sides) that embodies the true essence of Love, and therefore, the true essence of God.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

the strength of a woman

I have always hated work parties. When I worked in residential treatment, I never went to them. I am sure it came off as snooty and pompous. However, inevitably, the next day all of my feelings of hesitation and distain would be confirmed. There would be stories of co-workers showing up high, a boss that would get so drunk he would be puking, or married people making out with other married people. Have I mentioned how much I really don’t like alcohol? There is something about seeing people who work with kids lose their morality and common sense that is beyond off-putting. To see someone stoned off their ass one night and then have to rely on them to help you keep a restraint safe the next day is nauseating. To hear them preach to kids about making good and healthy decisions and give them consequences for their negative choices when I knew who they were cheating on was simply more than I could take. Therefore, no work parties.
Last night, I broke my vow. I went to a work Christmas party. Chad went with me. It was at a bar—I was worried. Most of my co-workers are white, middle (to upper) aged women, and they were bringing their white, middle (to upper) aged husband, and some of their kids. (My school is in the suburbs, btw.) I knew they were all very sweet women, but was not really sure about they type of reception that Chad and I would receive and how overtly uncomfortable the other people would be. I was not sure how this might effect my work environment for the rest of the year and how I might be received by the kids, if they hear gossip through the grapevine.
I was shocked by the amazing group of women that were at the party. They had their wine, beer, margaritas, etc, but never were the slightest different than what they normally are. Due to their ages, there are many of them that have lost their husbands to cancer, some of them have husbands that are going through cancer currently, there are women who have had mastectomies, and are going through health problems of their own. Not only did they show their strength last night, but also their intrinsic love of life. They all got up and danced with pure abandon. At one point, Chad looked over at me and said, “If we were here with our friends or other people our age, none of them would be having as much fun as these women are.” He was right. They have learned to dance despite the past and current pain and fear. They have learned to love and live in the moment and take life for all it has to offer. I watched the husband of the woman who has had the mastectomy as he sat back and watched his wife dance. The quiet love he has for his wife was clearly obvious radiating from his eyes. I will return to work on Monday with a new-found respect and admiration for these amazing women.
In addition, and it was only icing on the cake, everyone was so welcoming to Chad, and only a couple of their husbands even looked remotely uncomfortable. However, even they shook our hands. The highlight of the evening was when another of the special education ladies (a stunningly beautiful and vivacious woman) came up to me and said, “I knew it, I knew you were gay.” I laughed and said I figured it was obvious to everyone. She said, “No, not at all. In fact, the only reason I knew was because of how you came in and redecorated your classroom and how beautiful it looks.” Ah, tell-tell signs. . . The interior decorator gene strikes again.
It was a gift I was not expecting to receive. While I still don’t really like work parties (after all, work is in the title), it was such a beautiful experience to partake of the joy and love that exists in the midst of all the trials our lives have to offer.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

this moment

There are nights where I feel like everything I touch will turn to gold. I will make up my mind and bam, I will lose the extra thirty pounds and get all my muscle back. I will clean the house and keep it that way every day. I will sit down in front of my computer, my fingers will soar over the keys and my novel will emerge. I will be able to keep all those I love near to me and alive. I will be the man I want to be so badly.
Then, there are nights like tonight. Despite the blessings of my love live, family life, friend life, and dog life, that everything I touch will turn to rot, or even worse, simply be mundane and ordinary. A life spent in front of the tv. A life spent eating. A life spent breathing. period.
I look forward to tomorrow night.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

the love of the rant

When I am not listening to books on tape or to Britney Spears’ new CD (she may be having a mental breakdown, but the girl put out her best music yet) when I am driving, I am listening to talk radio. Conservative talk radio. Not necessarily Christian talk radio, but definitely right of center, without a doubt. It is the only way that I will ever listen to anything news related. It is so completely obvious that the mainstream news media is full of corruption, bias, and an inability to simply report what is happening without an agenda. True some of the conservative news is biased as well, but it is easier for me to see and identify. They do a pretty good job of presenting both sides. There are even some of the talk show hosts (some are national figures on TV and such—can’t remember their names, except Bill O’Riley) that even are supportive of gay rights and gay marriage. Of course the more right wings, like Bill, categorize that as an attack on the foundation of marriage. I think I basically listen just to give me a reason to be royally pissed off. Most of the time about how our country is making decisions around immigration, making more and more thing Spanish (language, not the people [if you wanna live here, learn the fucking language {after all, I had the courtesy to learn Gaylish before I inflicted my presence at the gay bars, and that is a lot more detail specific than English}]), altering education, and allowing, legally, people to trespass on someone else’s land and then take if for their own (look up the Boulder Land-grab—it will blow your mind and allow you to feel an intense sensation of fury [fun]). When not about how fucked up we can be as a nation, then I am pissed off by the narrow minded views of the homosexual rights and ‘agenda’ of intelligent and well-studied men, men I agree with on so many levels, that want to whittle me down to my fagotry in order to negate my importance and rights on an individual level. Chad loves it when he gets into the car after one of my talk radio sessions. Either I am in a pissed off mood or berate him with a shovel full of America facts that he probably didn’t need to know to begin with.
Before I go off on how stupid our nation is attempting to become, let me just say this: The right and ability to be stupid, make bad decisions, and have the freedom to make an ass out of ourselves is my favorite quality of America. I grew up very patriotic, and that fell by the wayside for many years due to the corruption and lack of integrity and consistency that I saw everywhere in politics and government. However, now that I have come to accept and expect the vast majority of leaders (political, educational, religious, you name it) to be somewhat corrupt or at least majorly fallible, I have found my patriotism again. We live in the greatest country in the face of the Earth, in the history of civilization.
That said, let me tell you how retarded we are (this is again the politically correct label for those with a lesser IQ score—crazy how things ebb and flow). So, Massachusetts (I think, one of those M states), apparently, likes to stick sharp metal objects up its nose and wiggle the point around in its brain. They are trying to pass a legislation that would out-law spanking. That’s right, a parent could be brought up on criminal charges for spanking their children. There are several other countries that have done this. No one really expects it to pass. However, I believe it is just the beginning. This will come into effect at some point, unless people remove their heads from their asses. What infuriates me is how this so obviously is an example of the government infringing on how people run their own homes. Completely un-American.
Now, the other side of the argument could be said that it wasn’t that long ago that people were this upset over the government saying that a husband can’t beat their wife. I can actually see that as a legitimate point. It is one I relate to. I often relate my fight for the right to marry the man I love to the time when African-Americans and whites had to fight to marry and to have greater equality. However, there is huge difference between spanking and beating. I got spanked with anything that was handy all the time, and I was never abused physically. I am so very grateful for those spanking, without them I would be a complete obnoxious, selfish ignoramus. Now, when (if) I have kids, I don’t plan on spanking them, I really believe there are better ways to discipline. For most children. There are a few (and I was one of them) that need a spanking for their own good. I have one of those types of students in my class right now. He doesn’t have anything emotionally severely wrong with him, like all the paperwork says. He is simply a spoiled brat whose parents have taught him that if he terrorizes them enough he can do whatever he likes. My heart aches for him, and that pain of adult life that is waiting for him, all because his parents are weak and don’t love him enough inconvenience themselves.
Here is the part that ‘gets’ me the most, however. It would be such a completely inconsistent law, and one that is not needed in any form. The intention behind the initiative is good. Children should never be abused or hit. I don’t consider a spanking on the butt a hit, a slap on the face is an entirely different matter, in my opinion. If this would help stop children being abused, I would be behind it. It won’t. It would be a weak law that would not address the issue at hand. At the current time, you can get in much more trouble for animal neglect than for neglect of a child. I can not count how many times I have had to let a child return to the home of the father or mother that sexually abused them, sold their bodies, or physically tortured them. Legally! One girl even tried to kill herself, and nearly succeeded, because she did not want to return to her sexually abusive father. But, the courts made her. However, we are too weak and afraid to truly face the threat that our children face everyday. It offends too many people, and it costs the government too much money. So, let’s outlaw spanking! It won’t stop any child from being abused, but it will take a needed tool away from loving, responsible parents.
See what Chad has to deal with? Be glad I don’t blog every time I listen to talk radio.

Friday, November 30, 2007

another part of me

Damaged. Irreparable. Damaged. If they had insurance for this type of thing, I would invest. (Not that insurance does much good. Did you hear about the Denver school that burnt down recently? Their insurance determined that they had too much paper on their walls, therefore, none of the damage was covered. You know, we will give you fire insurance. It will protect you. Unless there is a fire. Then your SOL. Sorry.) Ok, back to me. I am not sure which part of my damaged self is responsible for the stress in my life today, but I am sure it is one of them, if not all of them uniting in perfect harmony to produce a pathetically tragic cacophony of insanity. Maybe it is the death of so many that have been dear to me. Maybe it was rejection of the man I loved before I met the man I plan to marry. I have learned that people will leave me. They will turn around, run screaming, pleading for sanctuary. If that doesn’t work, they will even choose company with the faceless, hooded figure as opposed to suffering in my presence. Maybe I have learned that when something seems to be going well (nearly perfect, knock on wood) that things fall apart. Maybe I grasped onto the belief that God desires to keep me in some form of disequilibrium and pain in order to become more like him, or to just make him giggle. Or, maybe, I simply have found that if I create stress and something to worry about I won’t have deal with whatever shadows of my psyche I have yet to face. Irregardless (fuck off, I like this word), I managed to work myself into a tizzy today at work. I could barely focus enough to teach my lesson on ascending fraction quantities. And, believe me, if I had any hope of understanding that (let alone teach it), I needed every functioning brain synapse I possess. I almost showed a movie so I wouldn’t have to deal with faking clam and intelligence. Thankfully, my background in religious guilt paid off yet again.
What was the cause of all my strife and turmoil you ask? You didn’t ask? Well, fuck you. Go read someone else’s blog. Chad left this morning to visit family in Florida. He and his mother got on a plane and zoomed through the air. Now, I am not afraid of flying. I love it, actually. I am not even afraid of jumping out of airplanes. I have done so twice, actually. Chad survived his first twenty-five years of life without my assistance, and I have no reason to doubt that he has lost this ability in the past ten months. Still, he is now dating me. Therefore, the plane was doomed to plummet into the sea. True, there is not a sea between Colorado and Florida, but that doesn’t change the fact that it could. At the very least, he would meet some bimbo stewardess (flight attendant, excuse me), realize he is straight and that he likes blonds and never call me again. After three hours, and he texted me (fifteen minutes early) to let me know that he had arrived safely in the land of dinosaur mosquitoes and Mickey Mouse, I had to rely on deep breathing techniques to function somewhat normally. That was all well and good, but now I have the next three days to worry about every minute detail. He even texted me and let me know that his sister had told him not to go jogging (he is on get-in-shape kick—you should feel his chest, grrrr) due to the pack of wild dogs. Wild Dogs! Fuck! Come on! Wild dogs? It’s not fucking Africa or Zimbobway (Zimbabwe, for all you people who can’t spell phonetically (which I think is in Africa). Let your boyfriend get attacked by wild dogs and see how good your geography recollection is! Even if the damned wild dogs keep their distance, there is still all the driving around in their rented convertible mustang with a plethora of material that could plummet from the sky. There are hurricanes that might have scheduled a vacation at Universal Studios. Let’s not even talk about the possibilities of the plane ride back. At least if he gets plowed down by a homeless man in a run away shopping cart here in Denver, the chances are I will be plowed as well.
I would like to say that this sensation is specifically related to when Chad is thousands of miles away. That would be misleading though. It is a feeling I can’t shake, although most of the time, not played out through fear of his demise. Things are so good and I am becoming so content and happy, that I keep waiting for the axe to fall. Even when I didn’t go out in the scene, people would tell the guy I was dating that I was cheating on him, people I didn’t even know. However, as most people know, that guy I was dating wasn’t the most stable, so maybe the voices were in my head—nevertheless, I paid the consequence for it. There is so much gossip in the damned gay scene (not that it is really specific to the gays). Shit, on Halloween, one of our friend’s sister told someone that I made out with her. A girl? Gross! Seriously? If there are going to be rumors of me cheating, let’s bring in Ricky Martin or Scott Caan. Even outside of rumors, I wait for the moment when he realizes that I am annoying him too much, am too needy, am too bad with money, or _____(fill in the blank)_____. I have gotten used to the fact that my friends know who I truly am and love me in spite of that fact. It is wonderful. Still, it is a different thing entirely to trust that from a man whom I may spend the rest of my life with. Ahhh, won’t sanity be nice one day. And boring.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


The pile of dishes diminish
The counter slick with suds
Your arms encircle me from behind

Dogs race and sniff
Their leashes tangle
Your hand warms mine

My shift crawls by
Through tantrums and defiance
Your message interrupts with love

Dirty clothes piled on the bed
Press into my back
Your form rises and falls above

Life passes a day at a time
Some with laughter, all with imperfection
Your life blending with mine

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


So, that was it folks, at least all of what I am willing to share at this point. It was really nice for me to go back through all that I had written over a year ago. I am sure most people are greatly relieved that my self-absorbed wandering through the past is finished, and now I can move on to self-absorbed wanderings of my current. Rejoice, rejoice.
I have been looking forward to today for a couple weeks, knowing that I would have time to really blog again, and now, I have decided not to. As much as I love scrapbooking, I have found another advantage of my apple computer (now complete with my Harry Potter, Buffy, and Mermaid stickers)—there is a program that allows you to create photo books online and then have them printed into real books. So excited. They will not be as neat and personable as my scrapbooks, but they will create more time and save me thousands of dollars. So, I am off to learn how to do that. Yay. However, I just felt the need to blog and say thanks for taking the time to read bits and pieces of my past. Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

the end

I curled myself into the tightest ball I could possibly contort my body into. I knew that I would be too big to fit under there much longer.
“Dad, turn up the heat, please!”
I sighed in contentment as the warm air flowed over me. My belly was full from the fried zucchini and chicken fried steak we had just consumed at The Red Barn. We had about half an hour longer before we would arrive back home.
I glanced at Mom in the backseat of the van, she smiled at me. I returned to my spot on the floor, under the dashboard on the passenger side. Dad was singing along with ‘The Happy Goodman Family.’ “I wouldn’t take nothin’ for my journey, now. Gonna make it to Heaven somehow. Oh, I wouldn’t take nothin’ for my journey now. . .”
My eyelids grew heavy as the heat intensified. It made my skin tingle. As I began to drift off to sleep, I thought about one day when I was grown and getting married to someone. What would be like to kiss somebody? To have them hold me? I uttered a little prayer that I would one day have a little brother, even though I didn’t dare believe that it would come true. I decided on which ‘My Little Pony’ I was going to purchase when Mom and Dad took me to the toy store the next day. I fell asleep, snuggled up by the heater at the foot of the passenger chair, my red hair falling onto the dirty foot-mat, my skin turning red from the heat, my heart full of dreams and hopes. I fell asleep, there on the floor of our van, completely and utterly safe.

short sermon

They say that everything happens for a reason. That it all works out in the end. Well, of course it all works out in the end. No matter what the outcome, what the solution, it works out. Even death is a resolution. I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. Children are not molested for a reason. Genocide is not attempted for a reason (at least not for a good reason). Earthquakes and hurricanes are not accomplished for a higher purpose. Cheese does not grow green mold for the sake of enlightenment—it just does. Period. Life sucks sometimes, simply because sometimes life sucks. People die because, well, people die. Hearts break because that is what they do best.
That is a lie! Sorry. Breaking is not what hearts do best, if though they have a disposition that ensures that occurrence. Loving is what hearts do best. Imperfectly, clumsily, sporadically, and at times even selfishly. No matter how you cut it, though, human hearts (like Dunkyn’s) were made to love and to do so deeply.
While I have not had the most dramatic, the most riveting, the most horrific, or the most wonderful life over my twenty-eight years, there has not been one day of my life that has not been drenched in love—even when I felt none. If there is anything I want out of life, it is love. If there is anything I want to pass on to others, it is love. If there is anything I covet, it is love.

Friday, November 16, 2007

the folks

My parents were always some of the strongest, most determined people I have ever known. Once they set their minds to something, there will be no rest until it is accomplished, possessed, or fulfilled. They have passed that trait onto me, which I often use in less than productive ways. The one area they wavered in was whenever they saw me in pain. There was no limit they would not cross to alleviate my hurting—unless the hurt was for my own good or the pain could lead to better things for me.
In addition to my detest for spelling, I loathed reading anything more complicated than my ‘Archie’ and ‘Garfield’ comic books. Dad would work with me on spelling, and Mom would try her hand at teaching me to read. Both of them had their work cut out for them. Before we would go out to dinner with friends or to meet my grandparents, Mom and I would be found in the bathroom. She would be taking out the hot-curlers from her hair and brushing them out until they were sleek and smooth, curling her eye-lashes, and applying the minimal makeup she required to glow. While she undertook this process, I would sit on the floor my reading book propped up on the closed toilet lid. I would read about how the mouse used the fox to cross a river, the goose lay golden eggs, and some damned frog went on some damned adventure. By read about, I really mean blubber. I would sit there and cry and wail, frustrated by the never ending string of words in front of my that seems to be conceived with the single minded intent of my torture.
Mom would rarely get frustrated with me, although she would express her concern that I was not learning to read and how she wished I could learn to enjoy the written word. She had grown up with less money than wheat farmers who reside in the desert, and books had provided her an escape from a dreary life and with visions of a life with less conflict and torment. She would run her fingers through my hair and pat my check. She would close the book and get out a piece of paper. Quickly she would draw four different profiles, always two boys and two girls. Inside, where their faces should have been, she would construct addition or subtraction problems. Now, I liked math even less than reading, but I loved drawing, especially drawing people, so her math problems were pure magic, and I would forget about the escapades of the various animals that tried to appear interesting on paper and solve the math problems so the beautiful people Mom had created would be complete.
I think I learned to cry from my Dad. Unless I did something bad and was crying due to a hearty spanking, if I was crying then Dad was crying. There are very few animals in the world that I have not owned. Half of the time, we could have charged admittance into our house as a wild animal park. Having a gazillion animals meant experiencing a gazillion deaths. Each one traumatic. Each one earth shattering. Each one preceding torrents of tears. My new baby bunny dying in his sleep the very night we brought him home. The baby hamster getting partially eaten by their mothers. My chickens treated as a buffet by the neighborhood cats. My pheasant having a freak heart-attack as we moved her pen. My dog Ginger getting put-down due to infection. My tank full of guppies floating thanks to the gallons of fish food dumped into their water. My parrot flying away when we let his wings go to long in-between clippings. My white Pomeranian, Bingo, having his backbone cracked in half by the garage door. Well, you get the idea. No matter what the animal, no matter what the cause of death, Dad was there. Sitting by my side. Holding me in his arms. Bringing home a new animal. Always bawling as hard as his fat little son. Not because the animals were dead, but because their death’s brought me pain.
Mom was my strength growing up. Good boundaries or not, we protected each other and confided in each other. Any honor, integrity, determination, and tenacity I poses is due to her regal influence. As I have grown into a man, she has grown into a friend and a pillar of strength.
As you already know, my feelings for my Dad have been rocky, at best. I remember the first time I hugged Dad, truly. It was nearly three years ago, at Six Flags, no less. We were walking behind Ted and one of his friends, conversing over all the drama, death, and hurt our family had endured. I was overcome by the amount of changing he had done, in order to save his family, and of his own brand of love that he has lavished upon me. I was overcome by his vulnerable and loveable humanity. Without even knowing what my arms were doing, I found myself embracing him, standing outside some rollercoaster, and confessing my new found love for him. With each passing year, I see more of him in myself. His tenderness, artistic flair, and endearing insecurities. Although I live my life in a way that terrifies him, he continues to stand by his son and offer his consistent love and his tears when I am in pain.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


We were all sitting together, fairly close to the front. Well, Grandma and Grandpa were on the front row of course, but Mom, Dad, and I were only a few rows back. The morning rays of sunlight streamed through the stained glass tinting the pews and floor of the church in a radiant spectrum of color. The heat was turned up enough to warm the sanctuary despite the mounds of snow covering the ground outside, up just enough to cause the congregation to be contentedly drowsy. The voices raised in song from the children on the raised platform in the front were off-key, un-syncopated, and a little screechy—Heaven’s angels could not have sung a more melodious anthem. Sounds of Christmas from the mouths of our little ones. Sappy, over-rated, perfection.
Ted was in the front row, between his two best friends--three year old Jeremiah, and Alice, technically she was his ‘girlfriend’, but whatever. The kids are about half-way through their program, only six more songs until the reached the conclusive ‘Silent Night.’ Before they had finished enlightening us upon the fate of ‘Three Wise Men,’ Ted turns to Alice and snakes his arms around her neck in and pulls her to him. Their lips met, her chubby little arms enveloped his waste, and they tumbled from their spots in the chorale. They managed to regain their balance while keeping their lips joined—impressive, really. The innocent kisses became impassioned, and the meaning of Christmas morphed into ‘The Young (albeit very young) and the Restless.’ Everyone watched, thinking that if they did nothing, they would soon grow bored and return to their singing. After a couple awkward minutes, it became apparent that boredom would not be achieved until St. Patrick’s Day or even Memorial Day. The children’s church director finally approached my little Casanova and reminded them of the sanctity of marriage, and privacy.
With red faces and sly glances and grins to our friends and neighbors, my family continued to watch the youngest of our clan proclaim to the world that he would never walk by the lines that others lay before him. However, return to singing he did, and Alice followed.
‘Hark, the Harold Angel Sings’ and ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ fulfilled their destiny from start to finish without interruption. Something about ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,’ however, must have reminded Ted that it was cold outside. He looked down at his little legs. His knees poked out from his Khaki shorts; he looked adorable—short, dark blue long sleeve shirt and a little knit vest—simply precious. After observing his display of skin, Ted glanced over to his right at Jeremiah and took in his full length jeans, and then he pondered his own legs again. After a second, he turned his head to his left and took in Alice (even though one would think that he would have already have imprinted her upon his memory for eternity) and observed her long red velvet dress, which barely covered her shiny black Wonderland shoes.
I heard Mom gasp; always one step ahead of the rest of us. Ted returned his vision upon his naked calves. With lightening speed that would have made Santa’s reindeer green with envy, Ted grasped the edge of his shorts legs and yanked towards the grown. Sure, his knees were still not covered and his diaper was showing, but his calves and shoes were covered, just like his friends. With obvious pride and contentment, Ted returned his gaze to the people taking in the miracle of Christmas and belted out the final notes of the carol.
Even in embarrassment and compulsory humility, the family laughed as Mom rushed to the front of the church and returned Ted’s pants to the more conservative positioning, despite his vehement protests. Somehow, we all found this display an example of Ted’s budding independence, creativity, and ingenuity.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


One Thursday night, after our shift ended at eight in the evening, Marissa and I decide to walk from work to downtown, a couple miles away. We had known each other a little over a year. We had already had the long walk were I told her I was gay. She and Meryl were the first people at work that I came out to. Marissa nearly cried when I told her. I thought that she would be revolted by me. She simply told me how much she loved me and that she had an uncle who was gay. He had died of AIDS. At the time, it was like one more confirmation of where I would end up, still, it was wonderful to have her support.
Our walk downtown was only to kill time and enjoy the warm summer night air. It is the night that I believe cemented our friendship into the life-long category. We walked down Colfax Avenue, which used to be the hubbub of all that the city had to offer, and is now the hubbub of all that loose women and drug dealers have to offer. We weren’t nervous. We had to restrain angry, barely lucid teenagers who were bigger than us everyday. We could take whatever might come our way.
We walked and laughed as we told each other more stories form our childhoods and college experiences. We didn’t have a destination in mind, so we just turned any corner we felt like when we came to the downtown shopping district, know as Sixteenth Street Mall. We soon came to a stop in front of the Brown Palace Hotel. Built in 1892, it is one of Denver’s oldest and finest Hotels. It is a mix of colonial and Victorian styling. Neither of us would ever be able to afford to stay or dine at the Brown Palace.
We looked at each other, grinned, and entered the front doors in a flourish. It was like stepping into the Titanic, without all the ice and water and Celine Dion. Everything was decorated in rich, warm tones. Everything was elaborate to the most minute detail. There was a restaurant, bar, salon, shops, formal sitting parlor—old-school luxurious. We walked around the first floor area, looking conspicuous in our jeans and t-shirts to be sure. However, as the Brown Palace is a historical monument, the public is free to come, explore, and enjoy the main floor. Soon, we came to stairs with a sign reading, ‘Only paying guests beyond this point, please.’ We give each other another ridiculous grin and rush up the stairs, stooping as if not to be seen. Apparently, it worked. No one said anything to us.
We found our way to an elevator that was hidden from public view and hoped on. We decided to go to the top floor. The doors opened and we stepped out, feeling like we had stepped back in time. Both of us have a rather effervescent imagination, and soon we were discussing what ghosts might reside on this particular floor and wondering how many distraught business men might have come to this floor and thrown themselves off the railing and down upon the guests below when the stock market crashed so many years ago. We wandered down every hallway. Outside of one of the suites, we discovered a cart with trays of food on it. It had obviously been picked over and discarded. However, it was not picked over very much. It would have been simply wrong to let it go to waste. There were about eight very long, very thin, very crunchy bread sticks protruding out of a little crystal vase-like vessel. I glanced around to make sure we were really alone, caught Marissa’s eye and stuffed the breadsticks into my pocket. Giddy with glee, we giggled all the way back to the first floor and exited the building.
Once on the street again, we doubled over in laughter. I pulled out the breadsticks and we began to devour our feast. They were outstanding. It was like biting into crispy butter. For being seemingly hard and stale, they melted in our mouths. It was all Marissa could to do convince me to refrain from going back in for a second helping.
On our way back, we walked up Seventeenth Street. It is a little more user friendly than Colfax. We laugh all the way to our cars at work. On the way back, we past the bright, friendly, packed bar where I would meet Hew several years in the future. I had yet to be in a gay bar. Marissa and I looked at it in curiosity. It looked inviting. There were windows around it, and a warm amber glow seemed to emanate from inside. People were crowded out on the balcony and spilling through the doors. Laughter wafted to us as we passed. It didn’t seem like the dark, evil places of which I had heard tell. Not that I wouldn't find those too. :)

Monday, November 12, 2007


I know I told you previously that the first person I ‘came out to’ was Ashton. I mislead you, a little. The first person I told was ‘my little sister’ Selah. In my defense, I did not mean to tell her and, in fact, did not know what I was telling her.
I was six or seven. Selah as three or four. We were in the back of Dad’s van. Our fathers in the front seat, our mothers in the middle bucket seats. Selah and I on the floor in the back. We were returning home from a trip to some neighboring town.
We were playing with Selah’s dolls. I was enjoying myself much more immensely than she was. At some point, the dolls’ clothes started to come off. We weren’t trying to do anything dirty, we were just playing. Somehow the conversation turned to the subject of strippers. To this day, I have no idea how we were even aware of what stripper were, both of us being sheltered as we were—although me winning the award in that competition.
I looked at Selah and asked in all innocence, “Who would you rather see take off their clothes? A man or a woman?”
Selah pondered the question before answering in hast. “A man,” she spoke with conviction.
I looked at her and thought, although I didn’t need to think, I already knew. “I would rather see a man too” I nodded my head in confirmation. “I mean, there is nothing to even see if a woman takes her clothes off. Why bother?”
Neither of us had any clue as to what I had just admitted, and the conversation turned to other topics dealing with subject matter that were not so thick with foreshadow.
It would be nearly eighteen years later before the conversation came full circle. We were driving from Denver to Estes Park when her family came to visit us. We have always seen each other as brother and sister, but we rarely spoke deeply about present issues in our lives. If we ever delved into the more serious topics of our lives, it was always over things that had previously occurred and were no longer any risk.
For some reason, this evening was different. We both began talking about pain in our lives that was consuming us. We got on the topic of relationships, and I brazenly told her that I had been battling same-sex attraction (I was still in learn-to-be-straight therapy at this point). She was shocked. I was surprised. After all, she above any, had seen my feminine ways—the dolls, the ponies. She always beat me in an argument and left me in tears for pity sake! Nevertheless, she hadn’t a clue.
She was not angry or disgusted. She did not follow the strict religious beliefs that we were raised with. She has always been the more progressive of the two of us. She was sad however, “You know, it’s funny. We have never talked about it, but part of me always thought that after we get done with our different relationships that we would end up together.” She actually was a little teary.
“You know, I have had similar thoughts. When I beat this same-sex shit, then we will have a chance. And, I will beat it.” I wasn’t lying. She was one of the few girls that I thought of when I contemplated marriage. I loved her more than any other girl alive. I wanted to protect her. Make sure she knew how wonderful she was. What more could you want to feel for someone?
As we reached my family’s house, we got out of my truck and Selah came around and hugged me. I think she knew and accepted the real truth about me before I did. She knew at that moment we would always remain brother and sister. She spoke in my ear, “I love you so much and I am proud of you. I want you to be happy.”

Sunday, November 11, 2007

at the hearth

When I was a senior in high school, getting ready to move to Colorado, I obsessed about my friends. I made pledges to them and to myself that I would not lose them, that while we may be more than a thousand miles apart that we would continue to walk through this life together. I may be forced to move away from them, but I would never find friends anywhere else that compared to them or that I would love and trust more than they.
For nearly a year after I moved, I was on the phone often, and spent even more time at my desk in my dorm room writing letter after letter. I met many new people my first year in college. Many I grew to care about deeply, but I would not allow any of them to wedge their place into my heart and replace my original friends.
During this entire period, my father would try to impart his wisdom upon me so that I would not miss them so greatly. He has never been able to see me in pain. “The only people that will truly love you and stay with you throughout your life are your family. Your friends that seem so important now will fade away, you will lose contact, and drift apart. I understand how you feel. I loved some of my friends in the same way that you do when I was your age, but none of us stayed together. We were friends for that time in our lives, and that is good. It is ok that it ended too. Your family will always love you and be here for you.”
I told him how my friendships were different. Besides that I had never really seen Dad with friends. He never went and did things with friends. Mom and Dad had some close couple friends, but nothing that compared with the depths of my friendship. And, as far as ‘your family are the only people who will always love you and be with you. . .” As if! And if that is so, Lord help me! Talk about a life sentence.
A few months beyond a decade later, I am resigned to concede to the truth of Dad’s words. It doesn’t even really make me that sad. There are friends from childhood I talk to every few years and catch up with on the surface, and there are others I haven’t spoken to since my first year in Colorado. We broke our pledges of undying friendship. Honestly, I still count them as friends. We went through childhood together. That is a gift no other person can receive from me, and that position deserves a spot of honor. Ashton has been the one exception to that rule. He was my best friend since seventh grade and remains so to this day. Yet, we only really get to talk to each other once a month, and are lucky if we see each other once a year. Then again, he doesn’t apply to the rule: he is not a friend anymore. He is family.
I am surrounded now by friends that know me deeper and truer than at any other point in my life—men and women that I would give my life for in a second. I am aware that many of us may not be friends, or at least in constant contact, several years from now. While that causes me some sadness, it is really all right. As much as I fought accepting it, I have to admit that it is true. Some people are only meant to be in your life for a time. You are only meant to be in some others’ lives for a time. It may be brief or over and extended period of time, either way, it is numbered. You share yourself, you share your thoughts, you share your love. You change each other’s lives permanently, and then your paths separate and you go off to share love with others and affect others’ lives. A select few will remain close throughout the span of your lifetime, sharing in every joy and every sorrow. While it may not be the way I would have designed things, there is a simple yet mystical beauty to it all that seems natural and good.
I have also grown in understanding my family as family was meant to be experienced. It is no longer the fear of losing friends to other places and other people that hurts me anymore. I have a new fear, a new realization. A realization that when it occurred, proved to me beyond any other experience that I was an adult, that my childhood was gone. I realized my parents are getting older. I realized my time with them is limited. At one point in my life this would not have upset me to such a degree, at least with my father. But time and circumstance changes us all. My hate for my father turned to apathy. That apathy gradually turned in to full-fledged love. He has softened as he has matured. While we have discussed all the things in childhood I blame him for and that anger me, I can now look at them from his perspective. While I don’t necessarily think they were always the correct or right things to do, in nearly every circumstance, I can see how he was acting out of love and doing what he felt would benefit me the most.
One day, I will be the oldest generation of my family, and unless my brother marries and produces offspring, the family name dies with us, as we are the only male children in the family. One day, I will not have my mom to call when I am upset. At some point, I will not have our daily phone conversation to look forward to. One horrible day I will not be able to hear my Dad fill me in on all the family gossip and taste his fried chicken with mashed potatoes and white gravy. One day, I will have to face reality, my joys and my pains, on my own—no more constant hands, advice, or unconditional love to fall back upon. There will only be my brother and I, and we will be left to our own devices, for better or worse.
I never understood the fear of growing old before this realization hit. What if I never find a man that I love enough to spend my life with, or that loves me enough to spend his life with me? What if we do find each other and then he is taken by cancer, a stroke, or a semi-truck? What if. . . Talk about intentionally finding things to worry about.
Our lives are brief, even when the moments of pain and tears seem never-ending. We weave in and out of relationships with others. We do our best to live meaningful and happy lives. Along the way, a minute portion of the people we love join the ranks of our family. And at some point, though, even our family leaves us, even if they use the excuse of death to do so. Eventually, we are all alone.


Ava was my favorite person in the world when I was a kid. She still is one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. She is my second cousin and an aunt to Garrett. From the time I was around six years old, every few months, Ava would drive four hours from the college she was attending to spend the weekend with me. She was gorgeous. She was tall (at least in my eyes), slender, had long, thick, wavy chocolate colored hair. Her skin was flawless and set off her huge sparkling eyes and full lips perfectly. She was also notoriously late, not a couple of minutes, but a couple hours. The good part of this is that she would also leave to go back home late too. Whenever she would go back home, I would cry for days afterwards. My parents loved Ava as well, but always had mixed feeling of her coming to stay with us because of how upset I would be when she left.
Outside of my grandparents, Ava was the one person I felt like I experienced complete unconditional love. She never put any expectations on me or scolded me. Every thought and scheme that came into my head was shared with Ava when we were together. She always responded like the things I said were of the up-most importance and brilliance. She would always rave about my bright red hair and tell me that she wished her hair were the same color. I loved having red hair, namely because of her.
Ava would play with me for hours. We would color in my Cabbage Patch coloring book, play with My Little Ponies, watch ‘The Little Mermaid’ for hours on end. At times, I would get to go to her house in Kansas City. She would take me to Chucky Cheese Pizza and to Toys R Us. We would get into her little sports car and she would take me through the drive-through car wash. I had never seen anything like it, the whirling brushes, the liquids of varying colors coursing down the windshield, the thunderous water pounding against the car—it was magical. We would go swimming in her pool and then we would make chocolate cinnamon cake together. Nothing says love like food. Nothing says eternal devotion like chocolate.
Many in my family are singers, and Ava was no exception. She was in a choral group at her Christian college. I played the tape of her singing constantly, until it was worn out completely.
When Ted was born, Ava continued to come down to spend time with me, and now with him as well. She was able to love us both so completely and equally that I never felt slighted by lack of her affection or attention. She was with us when Grandpa died. She stayed with us for several days, simply being with me and playing any game that I wanted. I remember thinking that if there was anything good about Grandpa dying it was that I would get to spend extra time with Ava.
Ava got married when she was twenty-seven. I was a freshman in high school, and Ted was only four or five. She was not able to spend as much time with us as before. But every time we see her, it is like we are the most important things in existence.
Now that I am older than Ava was when she first started coming down to stay with us—hell, older than she was when she got married—I am even more struck by the relationship she had with me and with my little brother. I love kids, always have, but I do not have the gift she has. She would spend days engulfed in strange little boy land (as much as what I have described can be labeled ‘little boy’ land). I don’t think for an instant that she was enthralled with every word I said or every childish activity we undertook, but she sure convinced me she was. She is one of the examples I have in my life of what love can look like and how to treat someone you love. Her love towards me was selfless, genuine, and true. Best of all, it was real.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Being the ultra-macho little boy that I was, there was a period of time when I took my Care Bears with me wherever I went. This phase happened somewhere between the Cabbage Patch Doll phase and the Barbie Doll phase. I had many of them, but I had one that was my favorite. Grumpy Bear. He was adorable. He was blue, with a pouty little grimace on his face and rain clouds upon his little white belly. Did you ever see the Care Bear movie where they go to camp? They come across these villains who are trapping the little boy and girl campers in these crystals and hanging them in this crystal chandelier. It was wonderfully terrifying. You should rent it! Don’t watch it alone, have someone there to hold onto during the scary parts.
I digress. One evening, at my mom’s antique store, I was engaged in an angry lecture from my father. Something school related. Probably more drama around my ever decreasing ability to get good grades on my spelling tests—despite the many hours and tears (from both of us) that dad and I spent drilling the words into my thick skull. I really did try with all my might to get good grades in spelling. It wouldn’t be until college that I would discover that you need not study and read all the books, just need to know how to play the game.
Some time after ‘discussing’ the spelling test, I withdrew to a corner of the back counter and began playing with my friendly little Care Bears. As with all my toys, this occasion was consumed with my Care Bears engaged on some mythical quest, seeking to rescue a helpless mermaid, unicorn, or fellow Care Bear from the clutches of some evil tyrant holding them captive. It would not be until the Barbie Doll phase when I was eight that these adventures would also involve rousing sex scenes—often a thumb tack placed strategically on Ken where his masculinity should have been found. However, these Care Bears were the characterization of innocence and chastity.
At some point in the rescue mission, Grumpy Bear made some heinous faux pas—greatly upsetting his fellow Care Bears. They immediately turned upon Grumpy Bear and began to scold him harshly. It is a common misconception that Care Bears are quick to forgive and slow to anger. Maybe this is true in the majority of cases, but the ones under my care seemed to be made up of a different disposition. Regardless, Dad overhead the verbal onslaught directed at Grumpy Bear.
For some reason, the plight of poor Grumpy Bear was taken as a personal affront to my father. He felt as if I were calling him grumpy and being disrespectful to the extreme. Now, one could argue that Dad was indeed being grumpy; however, that had nothing to do with my Care Bear’s dire circumstance of the moment. Their dilemma was overlooked by Dad as he chose to focus on his son and the perceived name calling that was in progress. I attempted to introduce Grumpy Bear to Dad and explain the truth of the matter to him, and quickly too, before the Care Bear’s quest was in-salvable. I was informed that the fact of the matter was that the little blue bear in front of me had nothing to do with calling my parent ‘Grumpy.’
I don’t remember how long it was before poor little Grumpy Bear was returned to his owner. Unfortunately, he never again went on a reconnaissance mission. He was honorably discharged from further service. Even receiving his purple heart failed to bring a smile to his countenance.

theology games

There is a distinction of the world that I had previously been unaware existed. You see, I have been under the assumption that truth and reality were synonymous, as were falsehood and idealism. If something is true then it, by definition, has to be real. If something is false or a lie, then it has to either be simple misconstrued idealism or deception. Once again, say hello to my pure black and white thinking. How quickly that gets us into trouble. The shattering of this perception has perhaps been one of the factors that has shaken me up the most and given me a sense of disequilibrium.
It seems straightforward and simple. Most things that get us into trouble have that deceptive aspect to them. No matter what religion you look at (at least if you speak to people who wholly devote their lives to it), its followers believe it is the essence of truth. It shapes their worldview, how they live their lives, and gives them purpose and faith. To them, it is true. Completely. It is truth. Now if you line up all these major (and even many of the more controversial) religions there are many aspects and histories that are similar—if not identical. Even so, there are many more aspects that are in direct opposition to each other. There are details that are fundamentals to each faith that contradict fundamentals of opposing faiths. Ideally, if truth is to be truth, then there can only be one truth. These contradictions then, if it follows logic and common sense, negate the possibility that all these religions are true. They can’t all be true. If they are, then they cancel out the truth of each other and we return full circle to the lack of truth. In spite of this, each devoted follower of their perspective religions would be willing to die for the truth they find in their faith.
In fact, we need not look that broadly. Let us look at our beloved Christianity, shall we? We do not even have to be as broad as comparing Catholicism with Protestantism. Let’s narrow it to pure Protestantism. One major faith, right? One core set of values and beliefs that are true and false. Of course, we all know better. Even within this seemingly cohesive religious family, there are core beliefs that separate believers from one another. At times, the separation is not such a huge dilemma; at others, it can be the difference between Heaven and Hell. Once you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior and ask him in believing to forgive your sins, you are saved right? Guaranteed to enter Heaven and be with Him eternally? Well, slowdown there, Bucko, not quite yet. It depends on which Protestant faith you have fallen into. Baptist? Sure, you are set. No matter what, as long as you really meant it that first time, you are gonna go to Heaven. Good luck making reservations in Hell if you desire change your vacation destination, you have made a commitment—your Heaven-bound tickets are non-exchangeable. Methodist? Yep, you sure did make the commitment. Then you consciously tell a little white lie so you don’t have to help your mother-in-law move. You don’t even get a choice, Hell has been sprawled on your ticket where ‘Destination: Heaven’ used to be shining so brightly in baby blue puff lettering. Better pray and ask for forgiveness again real quick before that semi-truck comes hurdling your way! So which is true? Both! Both are 100% true. Just ask a Baptist, he’ll tell you his beliefs are true. Just ask a Methodist, he’ll tell you his beliefs are true. But, wait, if they are both true, then their truths must exist independently from each other, or they would contradict in such a fashion that one would be untrue. Thank goodness for that whole alternate reality theory. That must be what is going on here. Whew, figured that out!
I remember people debating the issue of interracial marriage as I was growing up (yes, I know, we were a couple decades behind the times in Missouri, shut your trap). We considered it immoral and a sin to marry outside your race. Well, Blacks and Whites anyway. White and Asian seemed to be acceptable. Maybe even a commingling of Whites and Hispanics from time to time as well. In fact, people who engaged in such sham marriages were not really married in the eyes of God. Their belief that they were actually married and in love was false. And yet. . . I have seen many interracial couples in my adulthood who have seemingly loving and successful marriages. I have even seen interracial couple who lead churches—I know, outrageous. These people would say that Christians who preach against interracial marriage are promoting a false commandment of God that never really existed. Historically, this separation of values has resulted in many lynchings and deaths. Now, both beliefs can’t be false. If one is false, then the other has to be true. But both sides say the other is false. Ok, then, they are both false, mystery solved.
The Bible clearly states that homosexuality is wrong and a sin and such acts are an abomination before God lead directly to The Pit (Hell, for those of you not as in tune with religious slang as you should be—for shame!). We accepted this as non-negotiable and as of pure truth as any that may have ever existed. After all, the Bible is one hundred percent correct, factual and infallible. Another part of that very same book states explicitly how women should stay silent in church gatherings and never take a leadership role, oh, and keep their shinning glory (aka hair) covered at all times, of course. And yet, my great-grandmother not only spoke in church, she was a preacher—as much as she could be at the beginning of the 20th century in the Mid-West. Now, about that whole gay thing leading me to the flames. . .
So, this little lesson has been presented for your enlightenment and to clear up any misconceptions you may have previously been holding onto. Truth is not simply true or right. False is not simply a deception or wrong. That would make too much sense and be too easy. There is no truth and there is no falsehood. There is, however, reality. Things are either real or unreal. There is no gray there, none. Something either exists or it does not. It can not be both. Maybe at times some of the truth that people hold onto actually is what exists in reality. Maybe at other times, some of what humanity believes is false falls into what truly does not exist in our world. However, how are we to know when this happens and when it does not? We are all too consumed by our own definitions of what is true and what is false to recognize what is reality and what does not exist in reality.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


My birth, as everything else in my life, was nothing as simple as it should have been. My parents had been married for eight years before Mom announced her pregnancy to my unsuspecting Father. Mom was twenty-eight; Dad, thirty-two.
The pregnancy was fairly uneventful. Mom did not gain much weight; most people who were not told directly would never know she was pregnant. However, one day in May, exactly a month to the day before I was to be born, things went drastically wrong. They said they had to take me early—they might still lose me, but if they did not take this measure, they would lose both my mother and me.
As we have already discussed, my mother had toxemia poisoning. In fact, I believe I told you I was not going to tell you this story; that you would not believe it. Well, chances are you probably don’t believe a lot of what I have told you thus far, so why stop now. Gay boys, as do women, reserve the right to change their minds. Just deal with it!
They were expecting everything to be fine once they removed me from my Mom via C-section. After all, she is allergic to being pregnant, in essence, so no more baby inside, no more allergic reaction. How’s that for dumbing down medical terminology? As would be the case when Ted would be born ten years later, Mom got worse after I was taken from the womb. However, in ’78, the technology for toxemia was not nearly as advanced as it would be the second time around.
They removed from my mother a perfectly healthy, five pound, one ounce bald baby boy. There were no problems with me at all. I was ready to leave the hospital at soon as I emerged into the world. I still hate to be late and wait around. My Mother, on the other hand, was a very different story. Her bodily functions shut down. She could not expel any fluids. She began to swell. Her tongue completely filled her mouth, her fingers swelled to the point to where they looked like she was splaying them as wide as possible (like jazz hands, for all you gay boys out there), she could not speak, or communicate, she was not really conscious. This went on for several days. The swelling continued. My Mother’s delicate, lovely features were contorted beyond recognition. As when both my Grandma and Grandpa came down with their respective cancers, people all over the country were praying for my mom’s life. We are well connected to God’s hotline through the prayer chain. Several days after my birth, the doctor came to Dad and told him to call the rest of the family in, that Mom was going to die within the next few hours and that everyone should say their good-byes.
Well, Dad did call the family, a broken mess. Apparently, the men in my family have never held back the hysterical waterworks when they are called for. He relayed the doctor’s message, however, put a little twist on it. He told them to forget the whole coming in to say good-bye nonsense, but, instead, to spend their time praying.
Within the next five hours, a shift change happened; the daytime nurses left and the evening ones came in. When the evening nurse came into Mom’s room and saw the woman in the bed, she looked at Dad in confusion. “I am so sorry, I was desperately hoping your wife would make it through. When did she pass?”
Dad looked up at her quizzically, “What do you mean? She is right here. She is fine.”
You see, within those few hours, Mom began to pass her fluids. They literally poured out of her. By the time they affixed a new bag to her catheter, it was filled and they had to replace it with a new one. They did this time after time. She was returned to her normal beauty and consciousness as if the previous five days had not existed.
When she awoke, she began to weep uncontrollably. Dad did not know what to do. “What is wrong? You are ok now; the doctors said you are going to be fine.”
“That doesn’t matter! Our baby is dead!” Dad held me out to her. She looked at him in confusion. “What are you doing? This is not our baby! I heard the doctors say that he was stillborn when he took him out of me.”
No one has figured out why Mom thought she had heard about my death in the delivery room. Dad was in there though. I was the baby the emerged from my mother. It took awhile to calm Mom down and truly convince her that I was really there and she had not lost her baby.
We were both able to leave the hospital the next day. On the way out of the building, Dad stopped the doctor as they were leaving to thank him for all he did for mom.
“Sir, I am not in any way a religious man, but you should not thank me. We did nothing for your wife. There was nothing left for us to do. She was going to die. She should have died. The only reason your wife is alive is God. Only a miracle could have done that. I have never seen anything like it, and never thought that I would.”

Sunday, November 04, 2007


God is just. God is good. God is all-knowing. God is perfection. God is forgiving. God is all we need. Is He? Really? Jesus loves you. Jesus loves me. Does He? Who says? Oh, that’s right it says so in that one book. The one with the gold letters on the side. The one I got my undergrad degree in. What was the name of that damned book? Oh, yes, I remember now. . . the Holy Bible. Well, then, that settles it. God really is all those things, and Jesus really does love us. Thank goodness, everything is all cleared up now. How silly of me to forget.
America may be completely obsessed with sex, but we are equally obsessed with God. Hell, often we combine the two. The act of love-making between husband and wife is the ultimate expression of God’s love for us. Sex was commanded by God to populate the world. (Thank goodness he decreed that people partake of sex—otherwise no one would ever have thought to do it!) Sex outside of marriage is a sin. What if you are not allowed to get married, like all us gay boys? We have to have sex outside of marriage, it is not our fault. Oh right, there is that other little thing: Gay sex buys you a ticket straight for hell. I wish purchasing tickets for everything was that much fun! Sex and God. God and sex. Inseparable. You can not have one without the other. Well, except for you priests and nuns. Well, you nuns, anyway. We all know you priests don’t really try to experience God without sex—don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone.
Our entire existence on this planet has been consumed by two things: achieving mind-blowing sex and understanding who God is. How many books, philosophers, and scholars have explored His identity (or Her—for all you heathenistic ultra-feminists). Wars have been fought, people slaughtered, countries divided for the quest of His name. It has all been so completely pointless. People did not need to obsess over these questions and quandaries. All they needed to do was ask me. I knew exactly who and what God was. I knew what He required and how to please him. To top it all off, I knew all this by the time I was fifteen. How sad that thousands of years have passed in this pursuit and all they needed to do was find me. When will people learn to do things the simple way?

We transformed our youth group. Actually, we transformed the entire church. We started a revival with our fellow teens and it caught on with the adults. Our church exploded with souls saved and membership increased. We did it single handedly. There were about five of us that really did it all. Ashton and I were a huge factor in it, as well as our beautiful friends Kaye and Willow. Oh, and God too. We were convicted by the goodness of God and terrified for the souls of our unsaved friends in high school. We could not let them miss the love of God and suffer eternal fire because of it!
We made a commitment to each other and to God to reach out to our friends, love, love, love them, and invite them to come to church with us—invite them until they would simply come just to shut us up. We had two adults, a young married couple, who helped lead us. They did it on a volunteer basis. They never pushed, guilted, or pressured us in anyway. They simply loved us and let us know they believe in us. When we went to them and told them how we wanted to transform our school and church for God, they did not smile indulgently and pat our back in that beautiful adult condescending way that so many would have. They took us seriously and gave us whatever support we asked for. Mostly we just wanted them to listen and be there for us. They did it beautifully.
Amazingly, we accomplished what we set out to do. Our friends came. People got saved. Kids who had made fun of God and religion, kids that were cool and popular, kids that were jocks, kids that were on the social outcast lists, all kinds of kids where coming to our youth group and church and beginning to accept Jesus as their own personal savior. The spiritual fire caught on with the adults into a revival that would last for years. Who says teenagers don’t have power and know what they are doing? Although, with all humility, I have to say, everything we did, we truly did out of love for God and for our friends. None of it was done in a better-than-thou way. It was done out of love. Of course people respond to that. Very little is done for love and love’s sake alone. When it is, It is powerful.

At fifteen, I knew God in a way I knew no-one else. I trusted in Him completely. I knew He loved me. I knew He would heal my affliction of homosexuality so that I would not have to go to Hell. I knew He could heal the sick, raise up the shamed, and use me to change the entire world for His glory. I did not have to question Him or His motives. I did not have to question His existence. There was no doubt about his goodness. People sick, dying, beaten, killed? Well, they either didn’t have the faith, did something wrong, or were being used to show God’s glory in some fashion. Duh! Everything was black and white. There was right and wrong. There was nothing in the middle, no compromises. If there was a discussion about the evil agenda of the homosexual community, I was the first one to raise my voice and tell about the lack of faith they displayed and how they needed to turn to God. If they did not, they were deserving of Hell. After all, gay people were out to convert more people to being gay and lead others into Hell with them. God would alter my attraction to other guys, and I would be able to tell others how good He is and, in turn, help others with this affliction to overcome and learn to love, worship, and fondle breasts. Within the holy confines of marriage that is.
After my Grandmother’s death, Garrett’s death, hell—a whole bunch of deaths—five years in therapy to be straight, countless hours praying and crying and believing for healing; after six years of working in residential treatment and seeing innocent children who had been beaten, sold as prostitutes, raped, abandoned and then punished and seen as bad kids when they made unsafe and illegal choices; things stopped being black and white. Things stopped being clear.
God doesn’t lie. Period. So, what about Grandma? Why was she dead? It wasn’t the fact that she did not get to live, I mean, she wasn’t that old, but she had a full and grand life—it was that I had heard God promise to heal her—Promise! I must have misunderstood Him. Maybe he meant healing as in taking her to Heaven. No, I know what I heard and that was not it. Well, even if I did mishear, still, God’s fault! ‘Come on, God, speak up! You are almighty! Is it too hard for you to not stutter and enunciate clearly?’
My kids? God loves them even more than I do, right? Yeah, people say that they go through these things to draw them to God, and it is because God has given humanity free will and we have to make our own decisions. Well, fuck that shit. I love my kids and while I will let them make their own mistakes, I do everything in my power to protect them, even if it hurts me. How much more can God do for them, how much more should he protect them? God is love, so He sits there and watches them get raped so that their mom can get her drug fix? Fuck that love!
I have spent years trying to alter myself so that I will not be an abomination to His sight, so that I will please Him. Why was I never getting straighter? They say I did not have enough faith (oh, yeah, they said that when Grandma died, too), that I wasn’t trying hard enough, that I was not being patient (right, how many of you have waited twenty-five years in misery and still retained your patience?). Well, fuck you!
I finally came to a conclusion. A scary conclusion. I had not an inkling of who God is. None. Maybe God was how I always thought Him to be, what people told me He was. That everything put forth in the Bible is 100% true. Well, if that was Him, no thanks! I would rather be in Hell than spend eternity with someone so callous that He does nothing to save His hurting children and would send me to Hell for not ‘fixing’ what He promised He would heal. Well, this view of God is too much. I can’t deal with it. I choose to believe that God is not the being I was taught to believe He is. I do believe He loves us, really loves us. I don’t believe he is able to fix everything, I don’t believe He can save my kids from all they have gone through. I believe it torments Him and that He weeps for the ones who hurt because He is not able to rescue them. If God is not completely all powerful, then I can forgive Him and accept His love. If He truly has power overall, He is a horrific tyrant. Listen to my audacity. Me, judging God. I really must be full of myself. I believe people have put their own agenda and prejudices onto God. I believe He loves me and desires for me to find happiness and love with a man. I have no fucking clue who God really is. He is less defined for me than ever before in my life, but I am more at peace with Him and more confident in our relationship that I have been ever before in my life. Many would say that I have shut up my conscience, and that I have chosen to believe things that enable me to live a sinful life and not have to deal with the guilt. Maybe, maybe not. . .

The clouds above were the perfect texture of cotton candy and floated lazily through the baby blue sky, forming and un-forming in the shapes of mermaids, unicorns, dragons, and fairies. The sun was clear and bright, but not sweltering. The grass was a vibrant green and still wet with dew, and it glittered in the embrace of the sun. It smelled like rain—damp, clean, new. The chickens clucked and the robins chirped. The breeze gently flowed over my skin and tickled my hair. The huge walnut trees shaded my eyes and protected my translucent skin from the sun.
I was in the middle of our yard, by the trampoline, surrounded by a huge patch of sparkling grass. That particular day, the patch of grass was overcome by the growth of my favorite flower. Dandelions. Yellow was my favorite color at the time—Mom and Dad had even let me pick out the color we painted our house. Our house now matched the hue found in dandelions. I loved the rich shade of yellow these flowers boasted. I loved that you could pick a dandelion and rub it on the sidewalk or your arm and draw a picture in yellow from its juices. I loved that it grew from the seeds that fell when you blew those cottony, billowing, fluffy seeds and made wishes. Mom tried to explain to me that dandelions were not actually flowers, but weeds, but I emphatically showed her the glorious yellow blossom to educate her on what a flower appears like. When people asked her four year old son what his favorite flower was, she would just smile as I would declare the dandelion the most beautiful treasure known to mankind.
On this particular day, I was overcome by love for God. How beautiful the world was, how perfect. How much He must love me to have given such a spectacular world to me. (I know you don’t think that four-year-olds think about God and His goodness, but I assure you, sometime they do.) I wanted to do something for Him. Give something back to Him. I wanted Him to know that I had received his message of love and that I returned that gift, that I loved Him too. How to do that? How could I show God how much I loved him? The answer was simple. I should love Him in the same way He loves me. I should give Him beauty.
I bent down, picked the fullest, most vibrant yellow dandelion that I could find. I plucked it low to the ground so that it would have a full stem. I held the flower at the very end of its stem and held it above my head. I stretched my arm as far as it could go. I got on my tiptoes and stretched more, getting ever closer to Heaven. Keeping my eyes open and Heavenward, I offered my gift to God. “Here, I love you.” I reached until I could stretch my body no more, waiting for His hand to come and take the beautiful dandelion from my chubby fingers. I never saw His hand, but I felt a tingle run down my fingers, into my hand, over my arm, and into my chest. He took it! He took my dandelion! I twirled in delight, clutching my dandelion to my chest.
There was a time in my life where I would be filled with anger when I thought back to this moment. How cruel God must be. Here was a little boy who loved him desperately. No one else was there to oversee; there was no harm in it. How much effort would it have been for him to reach down for one second and physically take the flower from this little boy?
I don’t feel that way any longer. I believe my four-year-old self knew more than I did when I was twenty-five. God did reach down and take my flower. He smiled brightly and tears ran down His cheek as He reveled in the complete love and adoration of a four-year old little boy. As His hand touched mine to receive His gift, He showered His love over that homely, innocent child. He is the God that would travel through this life, with all the changes, hurts, and joys of this red-head who still has nothing more beautiful to offer than a perfect dandelion.

I know not who God is and what is and isn’t capable of. I do know this: He loves us. He loves me and His love is not compromised by the love I have for a man that He placed within me. This God, the Real God, I desire to know more of and experience more of his love and offer Him as many Dandelions as I possibly can.

Friday, November 02, 2007

for the love of football

Super Bowl Sunday. My friend Skyler was having a party at his house. It was my first real Super Bowl party to attend. Luckily, the top floor of the house was showing the game, downstairs was showing a variety of comedy movies. I stayed there and avoided the game entirely. It was a lot of fun.
Skyler and I had known each other for nearly a year and had become good friends. Skyler should be a model. He is six foot three inches tall. Perfect skin. Black hair. Completely and utterly GORGEOUS! I had had the tiniest crush on him since I met him. It would have been a huge crush, but I knew he would never look at me twice. Ever. It was very simple to not think about it and just be his friend. The conversations were always easy and I never felt insecure around him, which I always found odd. This remains true in our friendship today, as well.
After everyone else had left his party, while I was helping him clean up, he kissed me. My world view crumbled and the constellations played yatzee and rearranged themselves. Since when are lions attracted to guinea pigs? We kissed for a long time and he asked me to stay the night.
I literally laughed. “Oh, yes! I am going to spend the night with you! As if, Skyler! You have been drinking and are not thinking. You would regret it in the morning. No, if I am ever to spend the night with you, it will be because there is a chance for something real.”
“I have been waiting. I have wanted to do something for a long time with you. I knew I had to figure it out first. You are not the bed-them-and-leave-them kind. You are the marrying kind. I have been talking to a lot of friends about you. They said that I needed to be sure before I acted on anything, that I could hurt you.” (I find out later, that these conversations actually took place—I know, shocking right?)
“And now you’re sure?”
“We’ll, I’m not asking you to marry me or anything, but I would like to see where it goes.”
Long story short? I stayed the night. No, I will not tell you every detail of what sex with a super model is like. Not that I wouldn’t, I guess, it just that we never had sex. Never even came close, though we would end up spending four nights together in all.
In addition to the four nights together, we went on two dates. They were, no question, the most ‘movie-quality romantic’ nights of my life. He took me to fancy dinners. We went to the theater, as in not the movies. When he spoke to me, it was like I was the only person that existed in the entire world. He put me at ease. I did not even think about how he was out of my league. I did not think about how clumsy and awkward I am. Get this, for some reason, when I was with him, I wasn’t those things. I was funny. I was quick and clever—smart even. I was desirable. Who wouldn’t have wanted me?
The four nights and two dates were spread out over a month amount of time (he goes on a lots of business trips). During that month, I felt like a different human. I did not feel five foot and five inches tall. I think I might even have had a tan for those thirty-odd days!
Did I fall in love with Skyler? No. I didn’t even think I did. However, I thought it might actually go somewhere. I had never felt the slightest inkling of that before. He wasn’t trying to use me for sex (since we weren’t having any), he didn’t need my money (he has more than me), he simply enjoyed being with me (never look a gifted horse in the mouth—whatever the hell that means!).
Everything changed while I was in the middle of a phone conversation with Meryl, telling her all of what I just shared with you—including about the text message he had sent me the night before: ‘Sigh. I like you.’ I know! I know! Just like Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail—just better looking!
I heard the call-waiting beep and saw it was Skyler. I took half of a millisecond to disconnect with Meryl and click over to Skyler. What I thought was going to be a more thorough explanation of his charming text the night before turned into: “I am so sorry. I thought I was over this guy who lives on the East coast. I’m not. I can’t do this with you. I am sorry; I don’t want to hurt you, so I have to end it now.”
As I hung up the phone, my tan faded, I shrank back to my normal height, I tripped over my shoelaces, the guinea pig once again stared back at me through the refection of the mirror.
I was a mess for nearly two weeks. I had started to believe the fantasy. I wasn’t in love, I didn’t think we were meant to be, but I thought there was maybe a chance for that after all. Maybe the crushed dreams that unsettle you the most are those that don’t even begin to flourish, because they are the ones you never even let yourself begin to formulate—out of the shear ridiculousness of their chances of coming into existence.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


I was in love with Garrett. Complete and utter love and adoration. Not sexual love, but love nonetheless. Garrett was two years older than me. Garrett was my cousin. He lived nearly two hours away, but we still grew up together. He was, and remains today, one of the most beautiful and gorgeous men I have seen anywhere, even in the movies. It is hard to believe we share the same genes. In addition to his beauty, he was athletic, funny, smart, immensely popular, and a dare devil. To top it off, he was one of the most genuinely loving, caring people I have ever met. He treated everyone like they were the center of his universe and were of untold importance—even his fat little cousin.
We would see each other every few months when our families would get together. I idolized him in every way. Often, when we look back at the people we idolized we see them for who they really were—all their faults and negative aspects. I really believe he had none. I idolize him today as much as when we were children. He is one of the people that enable me to understand why some people actually believe there are angels living here on Earth with us, to show us what life and love is supposed to be like.
It was the day after I broke up with Carlos (the first time. . . I know, hard to keep track), and I was completing an overnight shift at work. About six in the morning, I got a call from mom. I knew this was bad when my boss told me my mom was calling. She should not be up at six, let along calling me at work. I answered the phone, holding my breath. Who died now?
Her voice was soft and tentative. I could tell she did not want to make this call. Ever the pillar of strength, she called anyway and was straightforward. “I am so sorry. I don’t want to have to tell you this, but I don’t want to keep you waiting either. Garrett was killed early this morning. He was in a car wreck. He and another of his cousins, Austin.”
The world stopped. Truly it did. Garrett was twenty-six. Garrett was beautiful. Garrett was one of the few people in the world I still looked up to. I had not even gotten to tell him my secret. I had been thinking a lot about it. I knew he would love me anyway, and wanted to hear him say that when I told him about my gayness. Garrett was everything that everyone wanted to be. How could he die? How could he die like this, in such a wasteful way? How could an angel be killed so young and before he had accomplished his mission on this earth?
It turned out that Garrett and Austin had been driving home from a concert. It was around three or four in the morning. They were about ten minutes from home on the highway. Austin was driving. Somehow, their car collided with a guard rail on an overpass. Austin was thrown from the car, over the overpass and onto the highway below, many feet down. Garrett was thrown the opposite direction. A car went by shortly after the accident and saw Garrett in their lane of traffic. They were freaked out and did not stop or call anyone; they did not want to be blamed. I am not sure why they even admitted to this later. We don’t know if Garrett was still alive then or not. However, after that, two semi-trucks came barreling down the highway. Neither of them were able to stop or swerve out of the way before running over Garrett and stopping several feet away. It was they who called the ambulances. Funny way to kill an angel. . . You would think God might provide them more protection than the rest of us dime-a-dozen mortals.
I immediately left work and went home. We were going to drive to Kansas that day, to be with the family. They had already requested that I be a pallbearer. I got home, crying and numb from the shock. Carlos heard me come in. His eyes were red from crying about our break up.
I told him about Garrett. “Wow.” He looked me straight in the eye. “You are having a really horrible day. You lost a boyfriend and a cousin, all in less than twenty-four hours.”
Death is a constant companion.


I had an overwhelming and recurring fear (I know, you never would have guessed) that started as a young child and lasted throughout high school. It did not involve werewolves, ladybugs, sharks, loneliness, a global shortage of cheese (that fear is current), or that my faggotry would be discovered. It was a simple fear. I feared that someone, probably a boy, would wake up. They would open their eyes, yawn, stretch their arms over their head, arch their back, and hop out of bed, fully awake. I would no longer exist.
I don’t know where this fear came from, maybe from some TV show or childhood story. Maybe it came from the same place as the ladybugs and farm animals. Maybe it came from my tendency to over-think and analyze. Maybe it was just a foreshadow of things yet to transpire.
What if I was only someone’s dream? What if my parents, house, pets, friends, experiences were all part of an elaborate dream playing out in someone’s mind? What if every feeling I had was actually based on someone else’s subconscious? What if, when I dreamed, it was really the other person dreaming about me dreaming? What if my dreams have dreams? When I wake up, am I killing these people in my mind who were greatly enjoying their lives until my mom woke me up for school?
Everything I have worked for would mean nothing. Everyone I loved was not real. I would never go to Heaven, I wasn’t real. I would never grow up, I wasn’t real. I would never find love and get married, I wasn’t real.
My only hope was that they would sleep long enough that the dream would play out in its entirety and I would live out my full life in dream land. When I was old and on my death bed, my last breath would happen as the dreamer awoke.
I was afraid to go to sleep. It made sense that this would be the most logical place for the dreamer wake up, unless, of course, something startled him awake in the middle of a live-action sequence.
I do not dwell on that fear any longer. If someone was dreaming, surely I would be more exciting. I would be someone famous, or hunt monsters, and not have watched every episode of Friends countless times. Now that I think of it, this complacency would be the perfect time for the dreamer to wake. Strike when least expected. I should probably go to the bathroom, just in case the dreamer wakes. Who knows how long before I am dreamed into existence again. The wait will seem longer with a full bladder.

a remembered safety

I loved church when I was little. I loved the music. I loved my friends. I loved coloring on my FunPads during the sermon. I loved sitting on the front row with my Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma would trace my ears with her finger as she listened to the pastor. At times, I would sit on Grandpa’s lap. He had big hands. They were covered with age spots and his veins where huge and would stand up from his hands (a trait I would learn later that is passed on throughout our generations). I would trace his veins with my finger and push them down and watch in delight as they would pop back up again. Often, when people were sick or we were in need of a spiritual revival, we would, as a church family, gather around the alter on our knees. People would take turns praying loudly. Some would be weeping. Others singing. Others shouting. All the voices would mingle and grow in volume. It was all-encompassing. I would curl up in between the platform where the pulpit was and the alter. I would snuggle up next to the heater and close my eyes. A blanket of heat, voices, and the presence of God would enfold me. I would feel so safe and peaceful.
I have revisited the church multiple times since I have entered the world of adults. I have seen other such times gathered around the pulpit. I feel different now. The voices seem chaotic and unnerving. I can not close my eyes or feel the lease bit peaceful. I don’t hear or see God there any longer. I simply see people in desperation, feeding off of worry and emotion working into frenzy. I do not feel safe there any longer. Even so, I look at the place where that fat little redhead would snuggle up to the heater. I can almost see the shadow of him, resting in the moments of peace he could find, sighing as the loud voices block out his own raging thoughts, fears, and secrets.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

if the shoe fits

There is a moment in everyone’s life when you realize that you are not good enough and never will be. At least one moment. At times, at least one a day. Never the athletic type, I was nevertheless good at swimming. I guess it makes sense, fat floats after all! My mom forced me to take swimming lessons. I rarely wanted to go that first week in the summer. I hate having my shirt off. Every year, though, once it gets stared, I love it.
I sit on the edge of the pool, watching my nine year old counterparts take their turn doing sets of fifty bobs a piece, my belly tipping over the front of my swimming suit and resting on my legs, my back and shoulders already darkening to pink in the sun. I am good at bobs, but they always scare me too. Just out in the middle of the water, feet pointed down as you wave your arms up and down like jumping jacks. You might as well send out a cordial invitation for the sharks to attend the feast.
I feel a movement on my back. I flinch. At first I think it is another horsefly. Their bites hurt! I look over my shoulder. Two boys are at my back, grinning. “What are you doing?”
The one on my right shrugs. “I was just tracing a letter on your back.”
“Oh.” Not a horsefly. Tracing a letter? “What letter?”
“Why an E?”
“For Elephant.” With a roll from his eyes as if I should have know. Couldn’t I feel what his finger wrote on my back?
I think for a second, befuddled. “Why an Elephant?” I guess I have never known when to keep my mouth shut.
“Because you’re as fat as an Elephant!”

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Ok, I know this will sound strange. Everyone I have ever told this too just looks at me with a blank look on their face as if to say, ‘Is that all?’ I am sure you will have the same reaction, but I am going to tell you. It’s not like you understand me anyway, right? I don’t even understand myself. I don’t expect you to.
There are a few particular instances that sum up the most terrified I have ever been in my life. Terrified isn’t even the right word. Maybe petrified? Damn, I really should not have cheated on all those spelling and vocabulary tests! They are dreams. I would have them occasionally from the time I was around five years old until I was nine. Even to me, when I hear them described, they sound lame. However, they were anything but lame at the time, trust me.
Let me preface this by letting you know that I often would have night terrors when I was a child. I would wake up and still see my nightmare going on around me. Fully awake, the dream fully still happening. One common dream was, get ready for it, of the movie “American Tale.” Remember that little mouse Fifel? There are these evil cats in the movie. I would wake up and see these horrific felines crawling up my bedspread, making their way towards me. Mom and Dad would come running to answer my bellows.
There were two dreams that I would have over and over again. They were nearly identical in their structure. I would wake up for some reason and be plunged into the middle of these “dreams.” I would be standing still and around me would fall this panoramic view. Above and below would be pure black—kind of like when you watch a wide screen movie that doesn’t fit the screen. It would circle three hundred and sixty degrees around me. No matter where I would turn, I cold not escape it. In one version of this there would be farm animals within the panorama: cows, horses, chickens, ducks, pigs, you get the idea. In the other, there would be ladybugs. Nothing but billions of ladybugs. Both the farm animals and ladybugs would be traveling counterclockwise around me. They were moving as if they were on fast-forward. They were almost a blur. None of these animals had any animosity towards me. They never tried to hurt me or even touch me. I was simply in the middle of them, barely able to move. I was in slow-motion. Even when I tried to speak, it felt and would sound as if I were drowning in molasses. I would just stand there, trying to move, not able to do anything but scream and cry. When these would occur, Mom and Dad would walk me all through the house, sometimes for up to an hour, just back and forth from room to room, trying to get me to calm down. It was if this alternate reality world would transpose itself above the one I truly lived in. I could see both. I could see Mom and Dad, I could see where we were going. It was as if viewing the world from a double exposed picture. Even Mom and Dad seemed to move with the lightening speed of the animals, as it would take tremendous effort for me to even move one of my feet.
These dreams stopped after I “got saved” when I was nine. They did not return, until one night while I was visiting our home over a long weekend during my freshman year in college. It was no less terrifying as an eighteen year old than as a child. It was months until I could fall asleep without the fear that I would wake up to ladybug or cattle.
Years latter, Dad told me that he use to have the exact same dream when he was a kid, except with different subject matter than my animals. I talked to my therapist about these dreams once. We were talking about times of fear, and these top the charts. His interpretation was that the dreams were telling me that I felt that I was not prepared or capable of handling what life demanded of me. The world flies by and you can not catch up or change what is happening to me. He assured me that those dreams were not true, I am able to keep up with the world and take charge of my life, even when my these dreams say that I can not. Sometimes, I wonder if the ever-benign animal demons were more accurate in their assessment of my capabilities than my loving therapist. Who knows, maybe they are still inside my brain, constantly running on there horizontal hamster wheel, causing my mind to stay stuck and frozen in abject, paralyzing terror.