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.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

come on, we're goin' for a sled ride, christmas time is here again. . .

My eighth Christmas brought with it a huge, uneven rectangle package wrapped in Poinsettia wrapping paper behind the tree. I had no idea what it was, but it was big! Its turn finally came. I tore into it with my normal ferocity. It was a huge, black sled. It was made from hard Rubbermaid-like plastic. It had hand breaks on both sides. Normally, such a gift would not being something that I would even look twice at, except to be polite and say how much I loved it. However, for some odd reason that day, it looked fun.
We still had a few hours before we needed to be at my grandparent’s house for lunch. Mom and Dad had all they were cooking in the oven already, so all we had to do was wait. We decided to go outside and break in the new sled.
It was one of the occasional Christmases where it actually snowed on Christmas day. This always put the magical feel to the day over the top for me. We took the sled to the back yard and sat it on the top of the slight hill. It was the same place we set up the Slip and Slide during the summers. I got on the sled and got situated.
I was nervous. I never did anything this athletic or risky. It would be two more years until I leaned how to ride a bike, mom, pregnant with Ted, running beside me trying to keep me steady. She had always been a tom-boy and knew how to do things like play ball and ride bikes.
Mom and Dad gradually pushed me the first few steps. Soon my body weight took over and I was off. I hill was only twenty feet long, but it was quite a journey. The snow flying in my face, blurring my vision. The cold air stinging my nose and ears. Our dogs frolicking beside the sled. I was flying. It was thrilling.
Suddenly, I became aware of the destination my sled had in mind. I pulled up on the brakes. They just made a new path in the snow. The sled kept hurdling forward. I screamed. I pushed harder on the breaks. The right one broke. I screamed louder. In a flurry of powdery snow, my body arrived at my sled’s objective. I crashed into my merry-go-round (yes, I had my own merry-go-round—spoiled, remember?). Technically, I guess I crashed Under my merry-go-round. My right leg intelligently stayed where it was meant to be. My more adventurous left foot caught the edge of the merry-go-round and whipped my leg up to rest beside my face. My fat belly wedged into the space between the cylinder of death and the ground and brought the Christmas sleigh ride to an abrupt halt. Thank goodness for obesity. I lay there, my bottom half (at least most of it) wedging under the merry-go-round; my top half, next to my left leg, stuck out in the snow, bellowing. I was stuck. I couldn’t move. The wedged fat was making it hard to breath. I was going to suffocate. I knew it. I was stuck. I found the strength within me to scream even louder. I would be pinned there for hours, until the Jaws of Life came to release me from the all consuming dominion of my playground equipment.
In less than thirty seconds, Mom and Dad had managed to yank me from under my prison, with much grunting, I might add. My leg was sore. My sled was scratched and missing a break (which apparently wouldn’t change anything anyway). My belly red from where it stopped the incredible journey. I never used that sled again. I would be damned if that evil fucker would ever ensnare and trap me again. I didn’t blame the merry-go-round, for some reason. We had been friends for a long time. I knew its involvement in my capture was unintentional. It was as much of a victim of the sled’s vile plans as I was.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Stress is nothing new in my life. Being a perfect, golden child is a stressful gig. Fredrick (my afore mentioned cousin) was one of the few people I did not feel stress with. We had an unusual relationship. On certain days, we were best of friends, and other days we would fight with the passion of mortal enemies. Truth be told, we were enough alike that we probably worked on each other’s nerves. You see, Fredrick was a golden child too. He could have taught Beethoven a thing or two by the time he was seven. Our grandmothers were sisters. Our grandfathers were related too, somehow. Hey, we lived in the Ozarks, as long as it is not your first or second cousin, get hitched, it don’t matter! Fredrick and I were born the same year and spent our first eighteen years together. We would loose contact for ten years, until we would rekindle our friendship via MySpace. Who says good things don’t come from fads?
Every year, our Christian school would have a fundraiser in the form of candy bar sells. Every year, Fredrick and I were the top to sellers in the boy side of the competition. In all actuality, our fathers were the top sellers. Fredrick’s dad took the candy to his medical practice and mine took the candy to his printing factory. Fredrick and I simply collected the prizes. It was a good thing we had going. Mutually beneficial, I am sure. One of the traditions of our school was to have a big party at the skating rink to announce the candy bar winners. The closest skating rink being in the town thirty minutes away. They had the movie theater (that we were not allowed to go to—sinful), Wal-Mart, the skating rink, and, believe it or not, a Chinese buffet. They had everything!
I loved the skating parties. I would do back flips, skate in figure eights, and skate with one leg over my head. If you believe that, you may want to go back and re-read up until this point as you obviously have not figured out who is talking to you. I couldn’t even use the break pad on the skates (still can’t). I was the fat kid you saw skating as fast as possible, arms flailing to stay balanced, and slamming into the wall that shook the foundations in order to stop or turn the corner. Still, I loved it. The neon lights, the disco ball, the limbo. Sigh. My first gay club.
Fredrick and I had our own tradition. Every year. In true perfect child and golden boy fashion, we considered ourselves better than the masses of rabble that surrounded us. We had our own exclusive club. Oh, we never had meetings or membership or anything. We didn’t need to. We were the only ones good enough to be in it, duh! We also, as any Protestant steeped in Fundamentalist tradition, loved to gossip. We would skate around, pretending to enjoy the childhood delight of skating. We had them fooled. We were really watching people out of the corners of our eyes and eavesdropping over the blare of the music. Once we had something juicy, we would catch the other’s eye and with a raised eyebrow and a twinkle, head off to our secret meeting place. The boy’s bathroom. It was dark and small. I would always slam through the door and crash into the wall. Fredrick, ever the more graceful and athletic, would make less of a spectacle of himself. In hushed tones we would relay the information we had observed. Goose bumps would cover our skins and tingles would run through our bodies in our pleasure of the precious details we would share.
We would then sneak back out of our meeting place, as low to the ground as we could get. Sometimes we would split up like the Hardy Boys (Fredrick already liked to read books; I liked to color) and go off on our separate missions. Other times, we would team up and peak over the ledges out onto the skaters who were so unaware of the secret service observing every more. We would also creep along the wall, flattening ourselves as best we could (again, Fredrick was better at this, as he did not look like he ate all the candy he sold) and we would spy on our parents, skate rink employees, and other adults. At a glance from the other’s eyes, we would rush back to our hidden meeting spot giggling and giddy with delight.
It never entered our realm of possibilities that people could see us as we spied on our targets nor that we did not become invisible when plastered against the wall. Those were all details never to be trifled with. We did not worry or stress about all the possibilities that could go wrong with our missions, we simply threw ourselves in the quest with abandon. Since we did not worry about being caught or noticed, we never were. Neither were we distracted from our ultimate goal. Oh, the nuggets of gossip gold we uncovered, polished, and stored in the vaults of our minds and friendship.


It seems the majority of people I meet in this world (not that I meet people from other worlds, often anyway) do about as much self-introspection and analysis as an ant. Although, now that I think of it, I have never really spent much time in deep discussion with an ant, maybe my assumption is unfair. Either way, the point remains. Seemingly, the vast majority go through life without a thought any deeper than what happens to be flitting through their pretty (or not so pretty) little minds at the time. They give no contemplation of the effect of their actions on others or the world around them.
So what if Bob hears that I called him a slutty whore? Like he has feelings. Like it matters that if he really is a whore or not. Who cares if saying such things effect his reputation or his relationships. I am irritated that he forgot to call me on my birthday, therefore, Slutty Whore!
So what if I continue to sleep with Sheryl? No, I don’t have any real feelings for her. I know she has a crush on me, but that is not my problem. She is offering it, it is there for the taking—I’m no fool. I can mess around with her until I find someone I really want to be with. She’s a big girl, she can deal.
So what if I get wasted every night? The drugs help me unwind a little and be freer. The alcohol helps me not worry about everything going wrong. No, I don’t remember who I slept with last night or where I was, what’s the big deal? So, I got into another fight and wrecked my car again? I am young. I am having fun. I have to live life, man. One is all you get! So where are we partying this weekend?
Most of the people I surround myself with seem to be fairly deep. It is a trait I look for in my friends. They are all deep in different ways. Not all are brilliant. Not all are polite. Not all are humanitarians. However, all of them give thought to the future, to consequences of their actions, to things outside their own little worlds and experiences.
Having been in therapy for five years and then being in a helping profession in the mental help realm, I have become the king of introspection. I understand most of the reasons I choose to do what I do. I understand how the things that have happened to me in childhood have affected who I have become. It is now nearly impossible for me to simply enjoy a wonderful experience without analyzing every little detail and picking it apart to see what horrible thing could possibly come from it. I admit it. I am sick. I have determined to enjoy the moment, simply love the people around me, and not question what could ruin the love I am experiencing. Now, I over-analyze my over-analyzation. Dear God, I need to go back to therapy.

feathers and shame

Murdel was my first true pet. She and I were inseparable. She was a brown and black speckled Bantum hen (that’s a chicken, for all you native city folk). She would let me pick her up and carry her everywhere. She would follow my three year old legs all around the yard. She would even come into the house with me. Throughout all of the eighteen years I owned chickens, she was the only one that ever was deemed worthy of that privilege. I still have a little stuffed animal that looks exactly like her that my parents bought for me when she died.
I am not sure why I love chickens so much. They are strange, rather stupid animals, although, they have an intelligence all their own. Did you know that chickens hate mice? If they see a mouse, they will attack until it stops moving. Being pecked and stomped to death is surely a very unpleasant death. And, you might think raising chickens is a rather passive pastime, but have you ever faced down a pissed off cock (rooster, for all you city fags out there)? They are terrifying and can leave you one big, bloody mess. They leap off the ground, fly at your face, and slash their spurs at your unprotected skin. Spurs resemble one to three inch “fangs” on the back of their legs, in other words, Ouch! Still, there is something so endearing in the way they waddle and cluck. They can be very dog-like in their loyalty and excitement to see you. True, it is all based from who feeds them the chicken feed they crave, but everything is conditional. If you feed me, I will love you too. Why should we expect more discernment from a chicken than we do ourselves?
Sorry, I seem to have drifted off topic. Anyway, Murdel. I loved her. I loved all my chickens. If I could figure out a way for the city to allow me to have chickens in my back yard in the city limits, I would. Damned noise and sanitation laws!
One of my greatest thrills as a kid was waiting for some of our new breeds of chicks to come in the mail (yes, you can order chickens; they have entire catalogs and everything). There is nothing quite as loveable as little yellow, brown, and black balls of fluff tottering around on little stick legs, chirping and tripping. It was also quite exciting when some of our grown hens would lay eggs and have babies of their own. We would write my friend’s names and favorite Disney characters on the eggs before they hatched. Pre-named babies.
One day, while Murdel was off looking for worms or something, dad sat me down in the yard and gave me a couple of eggs to hold while he and mom snapped my picture. I don’t know if they were Murdel’s eggs or someone else’s. Sure enough, the pictures turned out adorable. I did not yet really understand what eggs were. I knew there were baby chickens inside of them, but I didn’t quite comprehend how they got there or why they just didn’t come out. I have always been helpful. It seemed like a good thing to help the baby chickens out of their enclosures. After the pictures were taken, I decided to free my baby chicks. With one egg in each hand, I separated my hands apart. I quickly brought my hands back simultaneously and struck the eggs together. Sure enough, the shells cracked and released my chickens. Nearly formed baby chicks fell from their shells and onto the grown. There was slime and blood all over them. I could see their little hearts beating beneath their finely feathered breasts as they began to die. (They probably would have hatched on their own in less than a week.) I began to cry. I had not meant to hurt them. I simply wanted to set them free. I did not know what I was doing!

My senior year in high school. It is almost time to move to Colorado. I have the track team over for one last shebang before the season ends. By shebang, of course I mean pool party. Complete with burgers and ice cream. Yeah, I throw the wildest get-togethers.
There are about fifteen of us in the back yard. Many of the kids had never been to my house before. We swam, ate, jumped and did tricks on the trampoline, and took pictures. It was already sweltering hot for a day in May, even by Missouri standards.
Soon, one of my good friends and I are taking a freshman girl, Ashley, on a tour of the yard. We go into the chicken coop and introduce her to the chickens. She squeals and flitters back and forth on her toes because she is afraid of the chickens also because of the stench of the coop. They ain’t bottling the sent of chicken shit as a fragrance any time soon, I can tell ya. We pick up the chickens and hold them close to her. She squeals and giggles all the louder, in enjoyable fright. Soon all three of us are laughing so loud we were probably disturbing the others that were swimming. We tell her how dangerous chickens are. When you breathe in their dander, it scars your lungs, and it is irreversible. If a chicken poops in your eye, you can go blind because of the toxins in it. Both of these statements are true, or at least we think they are, they could just be farm legend. However, I have had more than one doctor tell me that my lungs are indeed scared, and when I told them I used to have chickens, they just nod their head and murmur, “Yep.”
The more Ashley screams and jitters, the more we laugh and torment her. Soon, my friend is holding Ashley’s arms behind her back and she is jumping up and down trying to get away, still laughing.
We decide to up the stakes. I get some chicken poop on my fingers, and begin to put my hand close to her face and draw it back. Ashley’s laughing and yelping increase with each taunt.
After the fifth such repetition, I go for the gold. This time I don’t take my hand away. I smear my fingers across her cheeks and on her neck. Ashley still laughs but her screams increase. Tears are rolling down my friend’s and my face as we try to catch our breath from the laughter.
“What are you doing?” I had never heard my mom’s voice so angry and so much like a growl. I turn around to see her normally beautiful face contorted in fury and disgust. “Mom,” startled, “we are just playing, we’re not trying to hurt her. We are all having fun. It is no big deal.”
“Let. Her. Go.” Mom clinches my arm so that it hurts. My face goes a brilliant red. I have never been embarrassed like this in front of friends before. “This is NOT going to be the end of this; are you trying to make her go blind?” again with the low growl. She turns to Ashley, “Come on, Sweetie, let’s get you cleaned up.”
After the scenario plays out, it is completely forgotten for years afterwards. It is not until I am going through one of my photos albums and find pictures of that party that it is brought back to my mind with vivid detail. It seems like another person with Ashley, it was so unlike my normal behavior or even contemplation. There have been several nights where I have struggled falling asleep stressing over what may have happened if I had gotten any of the chicken feces in her eyes.

Friday, October 26, 2007


I never wanted to live anywhere but El Dorado Springs, Missouri. I had never lived anywhere else. For seventeen years I had lived in the same house, and I loved it. My friends and I had grown up together, we were family. I was related to half the town. My grandparents lived there. At least my dad’s parents. We did not see my mom’s parents very often. I was convinced that I was a meant to be a country boy. So, what if there were no job prospects outside of working on a farm, in a factory, or at the grocery store. Superfluous details. Good people live in small towns. Decent people live in small towns. My kind of people live in small towns.
When I was a little kid, I would go sit on the hammock in the back yard after it got dark. The humidity wrapped around me like a blanket. The violet sky above was filled with stars, no smog to obstruct the view. The breeze would gently flutter the leaves of the walnut trees above my head. The leaves painted themselves in a multitude of Ozark colors that could inspire Norman Rockwell. The chickens, doves, pigeons, turkeys, and pheasants would already be at roost for the night. Sometimes I would sneak in and scare them, just to hear them squawk. Other times, there would be one of those damned opossums waiting to make me squawk instead. One of our many pets would be close to my side and I swayed in the hammock. Fireflies filled the space between earth and clouds. Don’t try to convince me there were not fairies playing tag with them. Every so often a bat would swoop overhead to obtain its feast. The locus, crickets, frogs, and toads would sing so loud that speaking would be impossible to hear. The sounds surround the senses and block out the noise of the man-made world. The thunder would rumble in the distance, preceded by splintering lightening. The smell of rain was never too far away. All of this defined home. All of this was safety. All of this was where I was right in the world. All of my secrets and fears vanished in the ravages of the overload of stimuli of our yard. The world would pause, lie still. Nothing else would matter. Only the moment. Only this tiny enchanted world around me.
My parents, especially my dad, had always wanted to live in Estes Park, Colorado. He had visited there ever since he was a little kid. It was where mom and dad had spent their honeymoon—in the Big Thompson Canyon, before the flood that would later destroy their hotel and many other landmarks of that region. I never really thought they would go through with it. They might as well have been planning to move to Saturn. Everything was in El Dorado. Why would we every leave? Colorado was fine and dandy for vacation, but Missouri was home. Period.
Evidently, my parents disagreed with this evaluation. During my junior year of high school, my folks decided to move to the long desired Estes Park. I begged. I pleaded. I presented my case of the glory of our small town. It worked. I was allowed one more year in our home. We would all stay until I graduated from high school.
I entered my senior year filled with excitement and terror. I made it. I remember looking up to the seniors when I was a freshman. They were so grown up. So cool. So masculine. So sexy. Now, I was one of them. We were going to rule our little high school kingdom. I also knew the countdown was on. The days quickly fell away and the axe poised to sever all the ties to my roots and home angled ever more downward.
Graduation came and went. Many hugs and tears with my friends. None of us had really wanted this to happen. We had longed to grow up, to be able to live our lives. Really, though, we wanted to stay where we were. Eternal childhood. Eternal security. Eternal fantasy. Intrinsically, we all knew the idealic (albeit imagined) euphoria of our childhood was over. As much as we might pretend that our bonds could stand the test of time and distance, we knew better. Those years were placed in bottles and sealed, becoming the adventures and loves that endear Peter Pan to a heart becoming an adult.
Less than a week after graduation, on my eighteenth birthday, we loaded the final items in our cars. Selah and her family would make the trek with us. Her dad and mine, her sister and my brother in our van. Her mom and my mom in our explorer. Selah and me in my teal ’94 Probe. I had never driven farther than thirty minutes away, now I was to drive over a thousand miles, leaving my home behind. Leaving all my friends. Leaving my church. Leaving the grave of my grandfather. Leaving all my chickens. Leaving all the flower gardens dad and I had planted. Leaving everything that made up the few bits and pieces of me that I was sure of. While I was thankful for Selah’s presence with me, I could feel parts of myself die as we traveled further and further from home. It never really occurred to me to stay in El Dorado by myself. Where my family went, I had to go. There was no option. There was no alternative. It may have been my eighteenth birthday, but I still operated with the mindset of a twelve year old. That day marked the beginning of several months were I would cry everyday and fantasize of how to return to my home.
Looking back, it was the right decision. I have been afforded many opportunities than I ever would have experienced. I have become a die-hard city boy. If I had remained in ElDo I would have been married with children by this point. I would be working in some mundane job. I would have still been living in fear that someone would find out my secret. I would still be living with the fires of hell constantly at my heals.
I have returned to my hometown many times since. It was several years before I could leave it without weeping. My childhood home was purchased by a different family. It has fallen into disrepair. I have visited the graves of my grandfather, and now grandmother. I have returned to the annual carnival the town hosts every July. I have seen and spoken to many of my old friends. Whoever I was then has died, or at least entered his chrysalis and emerged a different creature. I would never be able to live there again. In all honesty, I probably would not even be welcome there again. The secrets that darkened my childhood have made me an abomination to many, now that I have brought them into the light and embraced them. I would not return to the suppression of childhood for any reason. I enjoy my aging process and the wisdom that comes with it. Every year gets better. Every year I experience deeper pain. Every year I am able to love more. Every year I become more of whom I am meant to be.
Even so, that period of transition marks the beginning of when I first began to understand that life is pain and there are not ways to change that. It was a birthday gift I never asked for, and one that caused my childhood to flee to Never-Neverland, never to return—whether it be for my demise or flourishment.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

an outting

Lunch at Macaroni Grill with my folks and then going into work. This would be the safest birthday yet. There was no chance that my twenty-second birthday could be screwed up. It was just going to be a normal day. I had just gotten out of one of my therapy sessions that morning—high ho, high ho, its off to straight I go—then headed over to the restaurant to meet my parents. Carbs, olive oil, and cheese, can’t go wrong. This was going to be the most laid back birthday ever. We would have a little get-together with presents over the weekend when my brother would be out of school.
We sat down at the table. Dad and I immediately picked up the crayons and begin to draw on the paper table cloth with a flourish. Soon blue, purple, and green swirls combined to create a modern Art Nuevo masterpiece to enhance our dinning experience. Mom had long ago gotten accustomed to having entire conversations with the tops of our heads anytime we would eat at a place with any possible outlet for our repressed artistic expressions.
As always, mom was pleasant and warm, easily carrying the weight of the conversation as dad’s hands put professional artists to shame. We got through the salads and appetizers in familial harmony. Soon the main entrées arrived and hid the differentiating yet blended stylings of father and son. The meal was progressing fine. There was always an undercurrent of unease and walking on eggshells, but that was normal. I was used to that. Ever since I began college four years before, I had started to argue with my father, about everything. I was always on the lookout to jump down my dad’s throat about something, always waiting for him to even come close to saying anything I considered out of line. Saying as little as possible seemed to keep the peace the best.
Half way through the main course, Mom put her fork down. Shit, I knew the easy going birthday was too much to expect. Mom, always pleasant and warm, and always direct and strong. I knew something was coming but I had no idea what.
She took a breath and looked up at me. “We need to talk about something. We don’t want you to be upset or think that we were trying to snoop into your private life, but we want to be honest and be upfront about everything.”
No, no, no. We can not do this. This can not happen. It can’t. I have protected it too perfectly for too long. You can not do this!
“When you and your brother went out to the movie the other night and your dad and I stayed at your apartment to help finish packing up your things, we came across something that we need to tell you about.” She paused and took another breath. I had just graduated from the Christian university at the beginning of May and took my job at the residential treatment center a few days later. In keeping with the transition in my life, I also decided to move from my apartment that I had occupied during my college years. Time to start my adult life. My parents are nothing if not constantly helpful and self-sacrificing—so they helped me with yet another move. “Anyway, we were packing up the things in your bathroom and a piece of paper was on top of stack of magazines and we happen to read it.”
Paper. Paper? I don’t own porn. I am very careful about what I write. There can not be anything that bad. Ok, you can handle this.
“It was one of your notes from therapy. It said something about a safety plan.”
Oh, hell no! Please let me die!
I had just finished the first of my five years in therapy to face my same-sex attraction and embrace my natural straightness. A safety plan was something my therapist and I created to give me options and healthy choices to choose from when I was faced with a temptation to act upon one of my same-sex desires.
Mom took another breath. “We know that you are struggling with homosexuality.”
Dead air. No talking. No chewing. Nothing. Where are those crayons?
“We are very worried and disappointed. We had started to worry that was the secret you were keeping. We hoped we were wrong.” Her voice did not shake, but tears filled her eyes. She did not sound angry or disgusted, just matter of fact. “We love you and we will support you. We know how amazingly strong you are and we have all the faith that you will be able to overcome this. God will see you through.”
My world span. I was not sure if I could continue to breath. My entire life just crumbled. Every ounce of my being had focused on keeping this affliction hidden. And now, here it was. Pulled out from under the table. The beautiful birthday wrapping paper shredded, the box ripped apart, and my hideous, dark shame laid naked upon our table, souring our meals and dulling the colors of our sketches.
Dad’s fork shakily pushed his pasta around his plate. He looked nearly as miserable as I felt. The rest of the talk sounded as if it were being transmitted over a static filled radio as white noise filled my ears. The meal finished, the bill was paid. Mom hugged and kissed me and told me she loved me. We went to our cars. I put my truck into drive and headed to work. My emotions overtook me as I left the parking lot. I had no idea what to do. What would this mean now that people know? Now that my family knows? How do I put it back in the box and repair the sparkling tatters of gift wrap? Shouldn’t I feel some relief that I don’t have to hide it anymore? Shouldn’t my load feel lighter now? Right. I should. This is a good thing. Can’t even do this right. I don’t feel relief, I don’t feel lighter, I feel completely lost.
I get through most of my shift at work. I have only been there a couple weeks and am not yet very good at the job. Meryl and Marissa were still trying to evaluate if I was going to be able to be an asset to their team. Still, they provided a birthday cake so we could all celebrate with our kids.
A little after the party, as we were getting the kids ready for bed, Aster, one of our more unstable kids, began to have one of his tirades. He started to throw things around the dorm and scream, curse, and threaten at the top of his lungs. We were able to get the rest of the kids into their rooms as we began to restrain Aster. We got him to the floor, on his belly. Meryl had his left arm, Marissa his right. I was on his legs, doing my best to hold him still. He screamed and began to bash his head into the floor. He laughed, his voice filled with hysteria. Aster was in complete control of what he was doing and was enjoying the scene he was creating. His body thrashed and jerked. We were sweating from our efforts to keep him safe. He gnashed his teeth at the girl’s hands as they held his arms down, trying to bite them in-between his onslaught of “Die, Bitch, Whore, Cunt. . .” He started to gag trying to make himself vomit. He quickly bored of this and began ripping out the carpet with his teeth. This was my first restraint to be involved in, and it was the worst that I had witnessed yet. Aster and I had a good relationship. As I was new, I had not set many limits on Aster, and I was not a hated woman, so he liked me. Suddenly, his body stilled, and his voice became quiet. He craned his neck around so that he could see me. He made eye contact. “I am sorry to do this on your birthday; I did not want to ruin it. This is not about you.” He turned his head back around. He told the girls his preferred method of killing them and then screamed. His body thrashed. His face bashed itself into the floor. I held his legs down as tight as I could. I began to sob.

dream a little dream with me

It is the afternoon of my sixth birthday. I am going to have a huge party with all of my little friends. There will be lots of presents. Lots of fun. I am in the house I was born in, which is strange, since we moved into our other house when I was one year old. The hard wood in the living room gleams a warm, glistening amber. The sun streams through the kitchen window and radiates into the living room. I fix my polka dot birthday hat on top of my head. I hate how the stretchy band snags the flesh under my neck. The day is beautiful. With a roar my father tears into the living room through the door behind me. I whirl around. His eyes are huge and filled with hate. His silver hair is blown away from his face with the speed of his entrance. I have never seen anyone move so fast. A shimmer catches my eye and I focus away from his face. He holds a huge meat knife above his head. I let out a cry and begin to run before I even get fully turned around. The front door seems a thousand miles away. I don’t know how I can ever make it. Still, I bolt for the door. The room morphs into the hallway outside the bathroom with the scary toilet and the door to the attic in the house that I currently live in. I am disoriented by the shifting location, but am quickly brought back to reality by my father’s bellowing. I rush through the hallway and bound down the stairs to the living room. As I run, I catch glimpses of all my friends in their matching colorful pointed birthday hats. There are balloons of red, yellow, and blue all over the room. Dad is getting closer. I quickly make my way through the library and into the kitchen. More of my friends. The kitchen table is completely covered in brightly wrapped packages. I don’t see mom anywhere. I would love to open those presents. I see dad slash his knife out of the corner of my eye. I take a quick right and rush down the next hallway swatting balloons out of my path and appear in the family room. The sun pouring through the windows onto the next group of friends awaiting my arrival. I manage to make it through the living room. I reject the option of running up the stairs to the playroom. It is a dead end. I make a quick left and stumble down the stairs. Just get through this door and into the garage and then outside and I will be safe. A neighbor will help me. They will get me to safety. I make it to the door and twist the handle. It doesn’t turn. I jerk it ferociously. Nothing. I emit a groan and twist again. Still nothing. I turn back around. Maybe I can make it back to the playroom and hide there until I can get somewhere else. Dad is at the top of the stairs. His eyes as wild as his hair. He now holds the knife above his head with both of his hands. He screams and throws himself down the stairs. My back presses into the wooden door. The handle still won’t budge. The knife arcs down towards my face. The hate filled screaming reverberates in my ears.
I don’t know if this dream was a foreshadowing of horrific birthdays to come, a warning to be wary of my birthdays, or the beginning of a self-fulfilling prophecy. No matter what it meant, the majority of my birthdays have brought me nothing but pain and disappointment. I have learned to dread them. I am always relieved when they are over and life can move on, un-cursed for another year.


I have never been a good speller. The older I get, the worse my spelling becomes. In fourth grade, in an extremely rare act of rebellion and dishonesty, I decide that is all going to change. We would have a spelling test of about twenty words every Friday. The teacher let us know that if we got a perfect score on every spelling test for the entire year, then we would get to skip the final spelling test. She could not have offered anything more appealing to me. There was nothing I hated more than spelling at the time, except maybe reading.
Each Friday, at one ‘o clock, we would clear our desks and pull out one sheet of lined paper and a pencil. Miss Sellek would read off the terms one at a time and we would scribble them down our pre-numbered papers. It was an excruciating process. At the end of the painfully long process to spell all twenty words, we would pull out our spelling books and grade our own papers. I would prop my spelling book up on its end so that it covered my paper. I would erase every word on the page and rewrite them. I was not going to take that last spelling test. For a boy who can get in trouble the very first time he jaywalks, it was a miracle from Satan that I was able to pull this off for an entire year. I did it! I did not have to take the last spelling test. The three of us brilliant students who were able to spell better than the rest sat at a separate table able to talk with each other or read while the rest took the last spelling test. I was consumed with anxiety and guilt. During the award ceremony, I wanted to melt into the floor as I went up to accept my perfect spelling certificate. Mom and Dad would talk about that award for years to come, their son may not be able to spell, but he was perfect at it at one point. Maybe taking the test would have been a more pleasurable option. God has had His revenge, since I still even misspell my own name at times. Someone reading my writing would assume that my education stopped around sixth grade and would never guess that I am actually a well educated man. I experienced guilt around this choice for nearly twelve years. I was a senior in college before I admitted to my dad how his son received that blessed award.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

views of life

“Confess your faults to one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16

Confess your faults. Confess your sins. Pray for one another. Love one another. The very fact that a person should hear your faults and pray for you and in essence help you (if that person is indeed righteous) indicates that it is good for us to be completely open with others (especially fellow Christians) and expect them to show us love and support us through it all. Maybe not accept everything we say and do as good, but, nevertheless, love us and validate our value (way to use the same word in two ways!) and worth as a human being. Thankfully, this is how it always works, every time. And, yes, I did grow up on another planet.
“Brother Jim, thank you for meeting with me today. I am heavy burdened with angst, temptation, and affliction. I am so thankful for your graciousness that allows you to hear my confession and supplications. You see, I am cursed above all men. I desire to lay down with another man. Yes, I know, the very reason for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. I do not take this lightly. I do not want to be the instrument of my fellow man’s demise. Your virtue is widely known and endorsed and I am assured that your support and interceding on my behalf will alleviate this accursed misery upon my soul.”
“Oh, dear brother, erase the guilt upon your heart. Let not the shame and confusion cloud your eyes. Your value in the Lord and to your brothers and sisters within the blood is secure. This thorn of the flesh does not take away the intrinsic value of your person or soul. We shall beseech the Good Father on your behalf that His Will be accomplished through you and that He may receive glory from your deliverance. None here shall judge nor condemn you, for you face a plight that few of us have been deemed sufficient to carry. Let us wrap our arms around you and encase you within Love and bring you before the Healer that you may experience the intrinsic value of who you are and who you shall become.”
Please forgive me, faithful reader, I think I just urinated within the brown corduroy bellbottoms I am wearing due to the abrupt laughter that just erupted from me. Let me clean up, I’ll be right back. . .
Let’s just say that if you even half-way are under the impression that you will receive such a flowery endorsement of your worth if you tell someone of your desire for another man (or woman, if you happen to be female) you might as well mess your pants and continue to wear them for awhile and just skip the other process. Don’t get me wrong, there are many who will accept you for who you are and love you unconditionally. Most of those will not be the traditional fundamentalist, or the typical male of the species. Although I have met several who are contrary to such a personality.
“Mrs. Jensen, I greatly enjoy the opportunity to teach your son. He shows great intrinsic talent and aptitude in the area of Biology and other life sciences. . . What’s that. . . You heard that I am gay. . .Why, yes I am. . . No, I don’t think of your son as attractive. He is a very nice boy, but he is still a child and my student. . . No, ma’am, being gay doesn’t mean that I like all males, just like being straight would not mean that I would be attracted to all females, even younger ones. . . yes, ma’am, I am sure the school would meet your request to have your son instructed by another teacher. . . I don’t really think that it would be necessary to inform the other parents of my students; I teach the science, nothing about sexual orientation. . . no, I won’t stop you from telling. . . I am sorry you feel that way ma’am. . .”
It was drilled into me as a child that we never tell people anything that is overly negative. We don’t talk about what we have done wrong. We don’t talk about the arguments that go on within the house. We don’t talk about things that have happened in the past. We don’t need to confide such things to others. All we need to do is confess it to the Lord. He can keep a secret. Others will tell everyone else and use it against us. Others will use it as gossip and ways to hurt us. And, never, never, ever, even in a diary, write any such information down. It will ruin your life. It will be publicized from every corner of the world. Keep everything within the family. Period.
I was brilliant at this. When people said I was the perfect child, they weren’t wrong. I was perfect, in every way. I followed every rule. I did not argue back. I got straight A’s, nearly. I never resisted going to church or praying or hearing the Bible read. I was pleasant and engaging with adults, and I kept my mouth shut about things that should not be known. When people said they loved me, they should. Why wouldn’t they love me? Perfection is lovable. If someone didn’t love me, something was dreadfully wrong with them. Luckily, everyone did, so they were all sane. The problem comes in that I knew I was not perfect. I knew there were parts of me that no one knew, even my family—one part in particular (that part where I am gay—don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret). Therefore, I was never really loved, never really good enough. That perfect little boy was loved, by everyone, by God, by himself. I knew I was not really that little boy. There was no such love available for me. I also knew I would never be that perfect boy. There would never be such love available for me.
Once I began to open up and tell people my dark secret, everything else came pouring out as well. The flood gates have opened and the torrents have not begun to ebb. If I am to be known and assured of love, then I have to make sure that the people close to me know every aspect of my heart, every nuance of my thought process, every worry, fear, concern, idea, everything. Nothing can be kept private, because maybe they will stop knowing me and when they say they love me, it will not be me they are referring to. Ok, as a group now, let’s say it together: Over-compensation: Excessive compensation, especially the exertion of effort in excess of that needed to compensate for a physical or psychological characteristic or defect: Over-compensation. Good job, class!

Note on 10.21.07: Going back though the book has been so very interesting for me, even if it has not been so enlightening for others. I have laughed aloud many times at some of the private jokes that I wrote about in the midst of my pain, and I have consequently been amazed that I was able to have a sense of humor at the time, albeit a bitter humor. I look back on those many, many months in my life and simply see a black pit that I was stuck in. At the same time, despite the loneliness that I felt, there was a strange sense of safety that surrounded me. In some way, my hurt and anger protected me from the rest of life. All that mattered was my pain and my desperation. While I never want to go back to that place, it was simpler at times. I could narrow everything down, back to black and white. A lot of what I wrote, I still agree with, and at times find surprisingly insightful—pain really does make for better writing. However, other times, as with this entry, I am impressed by the blinding anger that was in me, and while much of what is said in this section I still believe to be true, it is tainted with bitterness. While there are many, especially some of the ‘most righteous’ that have indeed been willing to crucify men like me, there are just as many who are willing to love, if not accept, and touch my life. I have seen more of God’s love and grace since I have been living life as a fallible human gay man than I ever did as the emblem of ‘Christian’ perfection.

Friday, October 19, 2007

the bff

We had attended school together our whole lives. We knew each other intimately. We didn’t always get along, but each of us had our role and we played it out. Some of us had been together since kindergarten, the rest arriving in second grade. The six of us knew that we were chosen. Chosen to be smarter, harder working, more musical, more creative, just chosen. Divine choosing—not predestined or anything, just chosen. God had huge plans for us. He was going to use us dramatically to increase His kingdom. All we had to do was prepare and wait to see what would happen. Seventh grade had a surprise for us. Seventh grade was when Ashton thought he could simply join in on our chosen status. We played the role of the stereotypical private school exclusivity to perfection. I played it best, truth be told. I am and always have been fiercely loyal to the people and places I love and know. I thought that meant protecting from new, outside influences. At the beginning of seventh grade, in walks Ashton, from a town nearly thirty minutes away, acting like we were all going to be fast friends. What a chump!
Ashton: I hated him. I hated everything about him. The way he talked, the way he looed, the way he moved. Hate. Hate. Hate. I could move into a monolog directly from the Grinch’s own mouth, but I will resist the temptation. Let me tell you this fact though. We had this picture of a monkey in one of our school books. While I have always loved animals, there has always been something revolting about monkeys to me, on a primal level. Well, Ashton had a talent. He would hold up this monkey picture to his face, then press his lips together and fill his mouth with air. His lips would balloon up to where his upper lip would nearly cover his flaring nostrils. In addition, he would pull out both his ears so that they were at right angles to his face. Put a little fur on, and he would have been the missing link. Wouldn’t you hate this disgusting, stupid primate of a boy?
To top it off, Ashton chose me to be the one he would emulate. The boy would follow me everywhere, like a monkey that thought he was a little cute puppy dog. That monkey was damn wrong. He would always be cheerful and friendly. He would go out of his way to be nice to everyone, especially me. He would tell jokes and people would laugh. I would scowl. Oh, oh, oh, he played chess. Not only that, he played in chess tournaments. And WON!!!! Disgraceful. It is bad when a short red head, recently fat, with thick glasses, braces, and the world’s most intensive case of acne thinks you are an embarrassment. That is when you know you should accidentally throw yourself in front of a stampeding herd of elephants. How I wished he would do that. It would be an appropriate end to such an obnoxious little monkey, don’t you think?
Of course, Ashton sat right behind me in our class, all day long. I could feel his infested germs slithering, lumbering, and pole vaulting from him over to my desk and into my soul. I would not stand for it! I took my perfectly sharpened pencil and turned it backwards in my left hand. I brought it forward and then slashed it back behind me in blind furry. I felt it sink into his fleshy calf. I jerked my pencil down so that the lead remained embedded in his leg. For ten years, you could still see the penetration point. I never do anything half-heartedly.
Not all of my defenses were predetermined. One day while we were on the merry-go-round (What? Merry-go-round in seventh grade seem strange to you? Get off your high horse. You need a lesson in humility, obviously) we were all straddling the bars, tempting fate and gravity. I took my bread stick and swung it at Ashton’s face, trying to hit him. He blanched backwards. A little too hard. He flipped over the side and his head collided with the edge of the merry-go-round. Isn’t that a lovely picture? Monkey boy’s feet above the merry-go-round, his head nowhere to be seen? We all jumped off and gathered around him on the ground. Blood was everywhere—all over his hands and face. I shot off like a rocket. I found a teacher and she came over to inspect the drama. He had to go to the emergency room. He sent a message back to me that he was not upset, that he knew it was an accident, and he didn’t want me to worry. Well, fuck him. I was not worried. Well, I was, but only that I might get in trouble. Where was that herd of elephants, anyway? To this day, when he gets his hair cut short, you can see this three-fourths inch scar across the back of his head where hair refuses to grow. It still makes me smile.
Something happened in the middle of seventh grade. Something I still am not sure how it transpired. Monkey faced Ashton became my very best friend I would ever have. We pledged our eternal friendship to each other. We promised that when we went to high school that we would help each other stay strong in the Lord and win souls for Him. Indeed, through all the hell that I faced my first two years in high school, Ashton was one of four that stayed by my side—not matter what grief that could have caused them.
Ashton left Missouri and moved into my apartment in Denver, just a few months after we graduated with our perspective Bachelor degrees—his in business or some such nonsense and mine in youth ministry—so much more useful.. After my therapist and my family, Ashton was the first person I told that I was gay. Well, kinda. I spent over an hour sitting by him on the couch simply saying “I have something to tell you. I’m not. . . . I’m not. . . I’m not. . .” for over an hour. By the time I finally got out the word “gay,” it was a relief to him, since he had figured out what I was going to say about ten minutes into the conversation. I think the final installment of that sentence was. “I’m not gay, but I struggle with same-sex attraction.” I thought I would loose my best friend. We were raised with the same views and beliefs so I knew what this information would mean to him. He promised that he would help me with it and reassured me that he loved me. I should have let him stab me with a pencil and breadstick to show my gratitude.
In the sixteen years that we have been friends, Ashton is single handedly the friend who affected my life the most. He challenged me to think, to have faith, to be more open to people, to remain true to God. He is the definition of what a true friend is. The two years we lived together were two of the most magical years I had ever experienced. We would discuss the true meaning of life and plan all the great things we were going to do change the world. We would go on trips and adventures ranging from camping to Hawaiian vacations to five-star dining. It was the first time in my life where I felt I could be completely honest, mess-up, and still be loved.
I knew he was going to leave me about six months before he told me that he was going to move back to Missouri to be with his family. I did not know how to stop it, I was in a constant state of desperation and near panic. It was just a feeling. A feeling I combated with much prayer and fasting. It was just a feeling, but almost all of my ‘feelings’ prove themselves correct. Ashton was all I had. I could not survive without him. The day came when he moved back home to the Bible-Belt. Feelings are not always just feelings. Ashton left me. He chose something else over my love and companionship. My world crumbled. I would never let myself be in the position to have someone leave me again—promise. If I was, I would leave first. Try and stop me!
At some point in the weeks that followed, I realized that I had been and was still in love with Ashton. While I always knew I would have devoted my life to him if he had asked, this was a new thought. It was disgusting. Not only because it was sinful and wrong, but also because he was my brother. I never had any sexual attraction to him, but I was in love with him as surely as anyone. In fact, for a Christian boy, it was not really that bad of deal. I could be in love with my straight best friend. He would never need to know and I would never have to go to Hell because my feelings could never be acted upon. What does it matter anyway? He moved away. He left. He left me—his best friend. He left me, the man who loved him. He left me. Everyone leaves. Everyone.
I am no longer in love with Ashton. I love him as much as I ever have. He is now married to a wonderful woman and they just had their first child, a son. That’s right. Monkey Face has a child. Actually, Monkey Face grew into an attractive man. Go figure. While we only get to talk every other month or so now, it is a friendship that means as much to both of us now as it did when we were twelve. It is good he moved. He found the woman he is meant to love. Now, I have the chance to find the man I am meant to love. It for sure will not be some straight guy. Been there, done that!


. We have lived together for a year. I thought his art would have taken off by now. He keeps creating it, and it is wonderful, but he will never take the next step and try to get someone to invest in it. Rejection is too much of a risk. His temp jobs make him feel inferior, so instead, he stays home, sleeping, watching porn, doing art (sometimes). I was barely making it financially on my salary before, even then I would have to ask my parents for help sometimes, and that was when I only had to take care of myself. Trying to take care of Carlos and myself is more than I can do, unless I get a new job. Massage therapy will take care of that one day, but I am still in school and can’t make any money on the side yet.
Right before Carlos and I got together, I bought a computer from a place that claims to have the “Best” value of electronics anywhere. That may be, but I can attest that they have the worst customer service and respect of any electronic company out there. I purchased the computer under one of their “buy now, pay no interest for eighteen months” deals. Well, the eighteen months are ending and I can not afford to start paying interest on the monthly payments. I have been saving a little so that I can pay it off when the time comes. I have also been paying more attention to what I bought at the grocery store; my CD and DVD addictions have been put on hold.
When Carlos and I went to get our groceries at the store for the week, I was standing at the checkout station, all the groceries bagged, a line of impatient customers tapping their toes behind me in line, when the sales associate hands me back my credit card and tells me it has been declined and asks for another card to try. There were no other cards. I had to leave all our food on the counter and leave the store. I made it to the car before the tears came. While my family was never aristocrats, I had never had to wait to afford something. My grandparents and parents worked extremely hard and their work had paid off, and I got to reap the benefits. When I could not put food on the table I knew I was failing to be the man I should be. Carlos felt bad too and was embarrassed with me. I had begun to sell off my DVD collection at the secondhand store so that I could afford gas to get to and from work. I could have asked my parents for help, but I never would. They did not know that I was paying everything for Carlos and not charging him rent. I could not use their money in ways that would hurt them. Carlos would get a job, he would start trying harder and things would get better. If not for himself, then because he would see how much I needed him to.
I had sent in my check to pay off my computer. I was so proud I had gotten it finished—all on my own, in spite of everything. It was done. When the bill came in asking for eighteen hundred more dollars, I thought it was a mistake. Carlos was making lunch in the kitchen while I called to figure out where the mix-up was.
“Yes, you still owe eighteen hundred dollars. While you did pay off your computer, you missed the deadline by a week and a half. Now you owe on the interest.” Am I talking to a woman or a machine? Could we maybe have a little inflection in our voice?
“I will definitely pay the interest. I did not know I was late. I am sorry. But, how can it be eighteen hundred dollars worth of interest in less than two weeks?”
Inflection! Bored and condescending, but inflection, nonetheless. “The interest is not for the week and a half. It is for the entire about of time you have owned the computer. If you had paid it off in time you would have owed nothing for the interest. Since you didn’t, you owe all the back interest that you would have paid.”
“I was never told that I would have to do that. They said I would not have to pay any interest for the eighteen months and then, if I did not pay it off, I would then start to pay interest on the payments. That is why I have worked so hard to pay it off now.”
“You were late.”
“Not even two weeks, and I was never told I would have to pay all the previous interest. Why would I try to pay it all off right now if I had known that?”
“It does not matter what you did or did not understand from what the sales associate stated to you. You signed a contract and it was quoted in that.”
I remember the contract. It was about twenty pages, and the clerk had explained to me what it said. “Do you really expect anyone to actually read every word of that? I would not even understand what it was trying to say! That is why the person I bought it from explained all the detail and had me initial as we went along.”
“That is not the issue sir. You made an agreement; you signed it. You are responsible for that payment.”
I am starting to lose control. My voice is raised and I am crying. “How do you expect me to pay for this? Especially when I am barely late? I can not even afford food right now. I am selling stuff to get gas!”
“Sir, if you do not control your tone, I will end this call. You signed the contract, no matter what you think you understood. You are responsible for the payment. You were late.”
“How can you treat a customer like this? I paid over three thousand for the computer and accessories. Don’t you even care about keeping my business?”
“Sir, I am ending this call.” Click.
I crumble onto the table. Choking on my own tears. I had thought I was soon at the end of it and things would start to even off and maybe even get better. How was I ever going to pay for this?
Carlos sits beside me and places his arm over my shoulder. “Sweetie, don’t worry. I love you. I will start working the temp jobs again. We will pay for this together. You don’t have to do it all. I love you and I will help.”
I feel better. With both us of, we could do this. No question. He understands what he needs to do to help us survive. He will do it to help us. To help me.
For the next three day, when I come home from work, I find Carlos in the same state as when I left—in bed.
Every night: “Were you able to get any work today?”
“No, I did not feel up to it. Can you quit asking me all the time. You are just like my mom!”
Every morning: As I walk out door, Carlos hollers from his bedroom: “Have a good day at work. I love you!”

Thursday, October 18, 2007

a day in the life of two years

I wake up at 5:45AM. I am half way through my internship for my massage school. I hate that I have to get up so damn early. Who gets massages at seven in the morning? I get ready: shower, shave, do my hair, put on my uniform. I get ready to fly out the door. Where are my keys? I always am loosing my keys. Always. I search everywhere. Frantic. If I am late, the sessions will not count and I will not get to graduate in time. On a whim, I go out to my car, although I know they can’t be there since I was able to let myself in to the house last night. My car is locked. I put my hand up to the window and peer in. My keys are laying on my car seat. Seriously?
I go back into the house and go into Carlos’s room. “Babe, you can you wake up?” He turns over and looks at me, bloodshot eyes—didn’t sleep well. . .again. “Did you use my keys last night?”
“Oh, yeah. I did. I left something in your car. I had to get it. Oh, I locked your keys inside your car. I didn’t want to wake you?” Groggy, unfocused.
“You didn’t want to wake me! I am going to be late! I can not be late! You should have woken me up!”
“I was trying to be nice and let you get some sleep. Quit being a jerk!”
“Fine, I’m sorry. I’ll figure it out. Go back to sleep.” He rolls back over as I shut his door.
Luckily, I belong to AAA, and they get there in record time. He unlocks my car and I am on the road, flying down the highway. I am going to make it. I can not believe this. Luck really is on my side. Gut feeling happening. I hate that. My gut is rarely wrong. I pick up my wallet that I always keep in the side pocket of my car door. “Oh, shit.” Do I really want to know? Just leave it where it is. Don’t bother with it.
I fish out my Visa card, flip it over and dial the 800 number on the back. I really don’t want to know this. A service lady picks up the phone. “Hi, I know this is a strange question, but I was wondering if there was any activity on my card in-between midnight and now?”
Long pause. I can hear the clacking of the keyboard on the other end. “Yes sir, around four this morning there was a charge of $74 dollars applied to your Visa.”
My insides feelS dead. “What was it for?”
“It was charged from a pornography site in India.”
“Is there any name on the account or password?”
“Yes, sir. It is your name on the account and the password is: ‘donkeylove.” Dying a little more inside every second.
“That is impossible. I was not even up at four. I did not make those charges. I am not going to pay them. Is there anyway we can fight this?”
“Yes sir. We can. However, I have to let you know, if you know anything about this or who did it, you will be charged with attempted fraud. Are you sure you don’t know who did this?”
“No, no one I know would do this.” It is the first time that I can remember lying since the fourth grade.
I manage to get to my internship in time and get the five hours of massages done. With each one, my dread of what is to come builds. I pack up quickly and speed home.
Carlos is still in bed when I get there. I go into his room and wake him up. “We need to talk about this morning.”
“What now? I am trying to sleep. We have already talked about this morning. I am sorry I didn’t wake you up. Geeze.”
“I am not talking about that. I called my credit card company. There were charges made this morning to a porn site based in India. At four this morning.”
“There is no way you are going to accuse me of this? I just got something out of your car that I left in there. I did not touch your wallet.” Growling.
“She said the password was: ‘donkeylove.’ We both know who uses that password.
Carlos sits up, eyes flashing. “That doesn’t mean a thing. Computers get hacked into all the time. Just because someone used my password doesn’t mean it was me. Some of my friends have had this very thing happen.”
“What I don’t get, Carlos, and what hurts is that you felt you had to steal from me. Why? I am paying for your school, your food, half the time,S your gas. I don’t make you pay any of the mortgage. All you would have had to do is wake me up and ask me if you could use my credit card to get porn. I would have said yes, and you know it. Instead you steal from me, put it back, lock me out of my car, don’t even tell me, and then go back to sleep!”
Yelling: “You are just like my mother. Always accusing me of things, never trusting me. You say you love me and then you accuse me of shit like this. We have nothing together if this is the kind of stuff you are going to do to me. You are crazy. You are making all this up and trying to blame me!”
We go back and forth for nearly half an hour. By the end, I am in tears, of course. I know what really happen, but I suspend what I know and accept the impossible. “I am sorry. I was not trying to hurt you or accuse you. It just didn’t make any sense. If you say you didn’t do it, then you didn’t do it. I am sorry.” I crawl into bed with him and gradually quit crying.


Human beings are the most amazing, fascinating creatures that consume oxygen on the planet. When a dog is craving a bone, he will search until he finds it. I have yet to see a dog, upon finding said bone, have terror flash across his eyes and turn tail and run. He is not stupid. Delight fills his K9 features as he falls upon his long awaited treasure with a relish and devours until he is content.
There has not been a bird in the history of the world that discovers a fat, juicy worm on a rainy day and stands over his feast and contemplates if this worm will satisfy him or if this worm is truly the worm he was supposed to eat this day. Maybe this worm is one he is meant to eat in three months.
A plant never rejects the sunshine when offered. Indeed, it will grow at any angel so that it can best consume this precious commodity. It will alter its very being and essence to embrace the existence it craves.
We, the human animal, are completely different. We work our asses off to get a promotion or a new job. When we achieve this goal, do we sit back and bask in the glory of our ambition fulfilled? Of course not. We jump up and down in celebration for seven minutes and fifteen seconds and then scheme out the next course of action to achieve further promotion and career glory. We go on vacation to relax and see new corners of our world. When we arrive at those two weeks, we run from place to place to squeeze in as much as possible. We return to our daily lives more exhausted than when we left and feeling as those we never got to truly see anything. We were always too worried about what we will see next to enjoy what we could have been absorbing in the present. I can not even begin to count the number of dining experiences my family and I have taken part in where we are constantly plotting where we will eat for the next meal and what we will order there. Chances are, we were not even sure of what was actually sitting in front of us due the visions of cuisine to come. The person who is dying of loneliness chooses to shut themselves away from others and wallow in their own presence and ache that the phone never rings. If you don’t have people around you, who is there to let you down and force you to truly face your loneliness?
Every homosapien I know is desperately searching for the ‘love of their life.’ We spend our time on internet dating sites, frequenting bars, churches, and places of employment, searching. We read novel after novel containing epics of lovers, watching movies that end with the beautiful prostitute capturing the heart of the handsome billionaire, listen to music that tells of timeless love and enduring passion. We work out to sculpt our bodies and become as alluring as we can. We attend therapy to become the person we should be so that we can be adequately matched with our soul-mate. We vomit all our angst and frustration of the absence of love in our overflowing journals and diaries. Yes, we may eat, drink, work, sleep, party, pray, engage in social activity, employ self-improvement techniques, and live our busy, busy lives—all the while searching. Always searching.
Why are we searching? What do we want? Someone to love. Someone we find attractive, intriguing, stimulating, compatible, good, someone who helps us feel loved and alive in return. Hopefully, someone we can love and that can love us too. We expect it to be magic. Ariel’s tail split into legs so that she could find her true prince. Eric had to kill the sea-witch to redeem Ariel’s love. That is how it should be. Heaven and Earth should move. The stars should assemble themselves to show that the person we have in our arms is the one meant for us. When we kiss that person, all our doubts, fears, insecurities, and past baggage disappear in an explosion of star dust. Anything else is confusing and doesn’t seem right. There are not supposed to be doubts, hurts, questions, or things to overcome. The person is supposed to be the definition of perfection. Period.
So, what happens when we are with someone who loves us? We are content in their arms. We sigh when they kiss us. We look forward to the next occasion we will get to be in their presence. In addition, unfortunately, our baggage not only remains with us, but also un-zips itself and throws our dirty underwear all over the bedspread. The stars do not move, and God does not send us a letter of confirmation. We have to use our own brains and hearts. How fucked up is that? We have expected to fall in love with a different species other than human. Instead, we fall for someone who is fallible, imperfect, and has doubts. Neither do we become the shining emblem of perfection; we remain who we are. That is not what was supposed to happen. When we find love, we don’t devour it. We tear it apart, analyze every aspect, run series of tests, and then build up walls so that the other person can not just walk on in shattering all our oh-so-perfect visions of what love should be.
I believed in a one true love. I knew everything would be made clear and perfect. I knew that when our eyes met across the room, we would just know.
What a complete bunch of horse shit! There is not one perfect person. There are people we are compatible with, whom we can love and trust and devote ourselves to. We choose them. We choose the one. They choose us. That is not supposed to be good enough. Guess what, not only is it good enough, in it’s imperfection it is perfect. However, it requires us to not act like ourselves. We have to open our minds, take risks, be committed, honest, strong, and weak. No part of it is easy. However, the pay off is we get to spend our life with a human that can understand our humanity: both the beauty and the hideousness of it—and love us because of both.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I am, undeniably, the most spoiled person that has ever walked the face of the Earth. I get what I ask for. I achieve what I set out to achieve. There is no maybe. When I make up my mind, it simply will be. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t get everything I want. Far, far from it. Still, I am the most spoiled person I know. Some people can brag about getting the nicest car for their sixteenth birthday. Others can boast about trips to Europe for summer vacations. Several may even be able to say that they will never have to work a day in their life and still be able to afford anything they desire. I still win. I wanted a person. I got a person. The main reason a person exists in this world is because I wanted them.
When I was nine, my “little sister,” Selah, was five. Selah was not really my little sister, but our folks were best friends, so we have known each other our whole lives. On this summer, our families took a vacation to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, together. One of the places we visited was this old Victorian home that had been turned into an aviary. Each room had different species of birds. It was beautiful. Our parents let Selah and I wander around by ourselves for just a few minutes. In that time, we found this small room that had a little wishing well in it. We both ran and found our parents and asked for pennies. We got them. Back to the wishing well we went. We threw them in at the same time. Selah wished for a little sister. I wished for a little brother. By the time I was ten and she was six, I had my brother and she had her sister. Later, when we would be annoyed by our siblings, we would often look at each other and ask, “Why didn’t we just wish for a dog?” I wish I knew where that wishing well was today.
Now, this may seem only slightly remarkable, and may appear as if it has nothing to do with me being spoiled, only lucky. Well, Selah may be lucky, but I am spoiled. When I was born, my mother had toxemia poisoning. She became very ill and nearly died. In fact, the story is one of the most moving tales I have ever heard. I would tell you, but you would not believe it. I know miracles happen because my mother and I are both alive. I was born a month early, which is not all that dreadful, I was fine. The doctors had called my dad in so he could say good-bye to my mom as she died. God does exist and He can do miracles. Mom’s life is one.
Now, the thing with toxemia poisoning is that it is commonly believed to only affect a mother once. Typically, she will have a normal delivery for the second child. I inherited my superpower of worry from my father’s side of the family. He would never consider having a second child because he did not trust what the doctors said. What if mom got pregnant and got sick again? Dare we expect two miracles? I am sure mom wasn’t in any rush to undergo the experience again either.
I beg and beg and beg for a little brother for ten years. I wanted him more than anything in the world. I dreamed that somehow I got switched at birth and one day my real family would show up and take me away. There I would be reunited with my long lost older brother, twin brother, and little brother. Heredity has shown and I am now fully convinced that I truly did inherit mom and dad’s DNA. No long lost brothers. All the begging and pleading and desperate prayers paid off, though. While they could not provide an older brother nor a twin brother, at the risk that dad’s fears may become actualized, my parents decided to fulfill my request for a little brother. I got my little human. I even got to help name him, Ted. Sure enough, dad’s fears were founded. Mom did indeed get sick again. Ted was born two months early and did not even weigh four pounds. This time, ten year’s advance in medical knowledge, medicine, and divine intervention made the process a little less dire. Many times, when we get what we ask for, we often want to return it. While we fought like all brothers growing up, and drove each other crazy at times, he has always remained, and will continue, to be one of the very most important people in my life. My childhood is divided up into BT and AT—Before Ted and After Ted.
A common misconception is that people who are spoiled think that they deserve everything to be given to them, and never grateful when it does. Well, maybe most are. As we have already discussed, though, I always have within me two very different and conflicting personalities.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Journey of One Man

When I was a little boy, I wanted to be girl. As I have stated before, I understood girls. They made sense. They liked me. Boys, on the other hand, turn into men. Men are mean, cruel, untrustworthy, hurtful, selfish, what are the seven deadly sins? Well, men are all of them, plus three more. I was not going to be one of those!
I had tons of Hot Wheels, Legos, Mini-Micro Machines, He-Man figures, and GI Joes. I even had the GI Joe convoy tank. I chose it as my reward for quitting sucking my thumb. I also had probably over one hundred My Little Ponies, not to mention their big Day Care Center Playhouse where all the baby ponies could go. I had all the Strawberry Shortcake and Rose Petal dolls. I had Rainbow Bright (what perfect foreshadowing—I love it!) and her Rainbow Horse, Starlite. I had many Barbie Dolls. Ken is hot. Great definition. I would kill for that stomach. You will be sorely disappointed if you remove his clothing, however. I never thought that was fair. Barbie gets these huge breasts (yawn) and Ken gets what? Every cross-dressers dream pack job? Great California hair? I would tape all my doll’s legs together to form mermaid tails. This was pre-The Little Mermaid (which would later be, hands down, the most magical hour and a half of my life), so there were not pre-formed mermaid dolls available. Little gay boys have it so good right now, and they don’t even know it. I had the Barbie bust the allowed you to focus on hair and makeup. I had these beautiful little dolls that had refillable yarn hair so every little fag could style until he got carpal tunnel.
I wanted to have the longest, thickest black hair you could ever imagine. When the wind blew it would billow behind me and whip alluringly around my face. I would put a towel around my hair and toss my head in front of the mirror—Don’t hate me because I am beautiful. I would use towels as capes and dresses and jump off things or run in front of mirrors to see them flow out ever-so-gracefully behind me. On the outside, I may have been a fat little red-head boy with inch-thick glasses and shiny braces, but on the inside, I was this gorgeous mermaid with black hair that glistened blue in the sun.
Somewhere around seventh grade, I realized that I did not want to be a girl. I was thrilled to be a boy. I have no idea what changed, but it did. I wanted to be the most masculine, handsome, sexy man in the world. I had practiced being a girl for the first twelve years of my life. It was not easy to switch genders overnight. TV became my teacher. I emulated men’s talk, how they moved their hands, how they walked, and eventually, how they had muscles. I must say, it is probably one of my greatest accomplishments. It is completely natural now and I couldn’t sashay even if there was a gun to my head. In fact, most people have said I am one of the most masculine acting men they know. That is, until you uncover my mermaid obsession, manners, respectful treatment of women, and my flair for interior design. Even then, some just chalked me up as a Renaissance Man. Cause they were straight.
I was Good King Wenceslas in one of my school’s Christmas plays. I had to wear a robe (what if someone was able to see up the skirt?), stockings (good grief, they itched), a crown (too small for my big ‘ol head), and a cape (joy of joys). I got to keep the cape. Merry Christmas to me! I loved that thing. No more playing with towels. It flowed all the way down to my ankles. I was beautiful. I could even put the neck hole over my head like a head band. Instant hair. I would wear it in my toy closet (not one word, not a single word) so that no one would see me wear it. When my mom would run out to do an errand or have to run to her antique store I would get it out and flounce about the house in it. One day, I was not careful enough. I did not hear the garage door open in time. I whipped the cape off and threw it on the floor in the playroom, hoping no one would notice and I could slyly hang it back up later. My parents are nothing if not always on top of everything, I have no idea how they are so observant and intuitive. Well, mom found the cape. The two of us sat down. We talked about how the Bible talks against cross-dressing. How I am not a girl, I am a boy. Things like this ruin people’s lives. (Just read the tabloids—how many celebrities are exposed as gays and cross-dressers—never to have their own daytime talk show again!) These behaviors can tear up families. “I would rather my son be dead than gay.”
It was one of those sentences that is said without malice intent, truly. It is also one of those sentences that never leaves your brain. Nearly twenty years later, Mom would beat herself up for saying that and apologize profusely. She really never needed to. She would give her own life many times over to spare me the slightest hurt, if she could. This I have never doubted.

Your only daughter is dating a serial rapist/murderer. You have seen the police reports. You have heard witness’s testimonies. You have seen the photos of the mutilated bodies. So much blood. You have heard him brag how his is going to do the same thing to your daughter and he will send you pictures.
Your daughter doesn’t believe he really did all those things. Sure, he has been in trouble with the law, but he has changed. She feels you just don’t understand. You were raised in a different generation and need to learn how to forgive. Times change. Values change. People change. So should you. If you want to keep your daughter in you life, she has made it clear that you will have to accept her choices and trust her.
What do you do? You love your daughter and you want her in your life. Well, you have no choice do you? You have to respect your daughter’s wishes. She’s an adult, it’s her choice. You keep your mouth shut and kiss your daughter on the cheek and tell her how much you love her and respect her.
Like hell you do!!! What kind of jacked up parent are you? You badger your daughter until she listens. If that doesn’t work, badger the police until the arrest him. If that doesn’t work, kidnap your daughter and take her to another country. If that still doesn’t work, you blow the fuckers brains out! Your first and only priority is your daughter. You do whatever you have to do to save her. Anyone that tells you anything different should not be allowed to have children.
My Mom and Dad face a terror that many other parents in this country face. There child is going to Hell. Despite all the good intentions, all the prayers, all the hard work and training, despite all their love, their little boy is going to burn for all eternity in flames. They will be separated from him and never see him again. They will be in paradise and he in eternal torment. They did not choose this or cause it, even though they believe they did. Everything they have ever been told, taught, believe confirms that their little boy is damned. No matter how much therapy they have paid for, no matter how many apologies they make, no matter how many prayers or how many tears they offer, they will loose him forever. They cannot save him and he will not save himself.
Should they take me in their arms and say, “We are so happy for you—We are so proud that you are accepting your true homosexual identity—We can not wait to welcome the man you love into our family?” As long as they believe that God will punish homosexuality by damnation, then they had better not. They might as well buy a butcher knife for the daughter’s psycho husband for a wedding gift. So many parents don’t know how to save their children. Everything they try either hurts their child, pushes them away, or simply makes no difference. Yeah, those parents who are trying everything they can to save their child’s soul sure are bigoted, intolerant assholes. What would you do to save your child from Hell?
Christmas was always the best time in my family. Yeah, we got tons and tons of presents. Even more than that, for about two months, we decorated, put up lights, watched Holiday movies, ate amazing food—we were just happier during this part of every year. For those two months, we really were the Brady Bunch, but better. I was around six or seven when I saw a Christmas present nearly three times as big as I was under the tree (or beside it, how could it fit under the tree?). It was the last present I got to open, except for the ones Mom would find months later that she had forgotten about—as she does every year. I tore it open. I never have understood the whole gradually separating the bow and paper to reuse. Shred it! Make some noise! It’s Christmas! In front of me was the biggest, softest teddy bear I have ever seen. It was built like a bear rug, except it looked alive, not skinned. I was in love. I snuggled up to it all morning. I stayed by the tree and our little space heater and dozed while Mom and Dad got food around to take up to Grandma and Grandpa’s later that afternoon, as was tradition. I was so warm. I could sleep on this bear and be so safe. What could possibly get me while on this huge bear? The smoke smell woke me up. I was a little disoriented, but quickly remembered it was Christmas morning and I was on my new, wonderful bear. My bear whose left front paw was resting against the little heater. My bear who’s left front paw was on fire! I scrambled off the bear and pulled on its hind legs to get it away from danger. I ran around to his head and began to blow on his paw that was in flames. The fire went out. All that was left of my bear’s golden-brown paw was a charred black mass. Shame filled my chest. I had ruined my bear! I ran to the bathroom, turned off the light, shut the door, and hid behind the toilet. Sobbing.
My parents must have smelled the fire because they came running into the family room where my mutilated bear was. They began to call my name. They could not find me. Panic filled their voices. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Mom came into the dark bathroom and peeked behind the toilet. They hugged me and cried with me. They bought me a new bear the next week. We kept both for years to come. I still have the new one in the guest room downstairs.


It’s Friday. It is 10:37 AM. I am not teaching! There are not even any children in sight. Alternate universe? Went on welfare? Called in sick? Nope. We have a comp day since we had parent teacher conferences the past couple nights until 8PM. It is wonderful. I am at my coffee shop. It has been so long, that they have completely redecorated (just in case people thought it was a straight coffee shop)—they painted the walls chocolate brown, so of course, I am in heaven. And, I am typing on my new MacBook. My Toshiba broke, and the Microsoft world tried to rape me. Don’t even ask. Therefore, Mac. So far, so good. I am not sure how to right click yet, so I am a little lost, but what the hell. I feel twelve times smarter, edgy, and urban cool. All I need to do is loose about a hundred pounds (or gain three hundred), read anarchical literature, quit bathing, and I will be able to really join the club. I think I might even get a sticker to put on the top of my white computer. You know, something dark, something manly, and earthy. Probably a mermaid of some sort.
I am very excited, it is almost November first. I have been waiting for months for this. Chad is anxiously anticipating getting to see his boyfriend in his true state of being. I have been preparing him for this time since we started dating (soon to be ten months—feels like five years, or two weeks). Of course I am talking about the annual tradition of setting up the Christmas tree on the first weekend in November. I have never had anyone special during this time of year, at least no one I really wanted to be with who would also help decorate and be willing to start watching Christmas movies and listening to Christmas carols. It will be so fun to be able to have the man I love by my side as the tree takes shape and have him add his own touches to the décor (swiftly to be changed when he isn’t looking, of course). I can not wait to determine what color theme of wrapping paper I will finally settle on. I have been debating for quite some time, and I still am not sure. Part of me is leaning to butcher paper and string, but not sure. Maybe red and silver. Unfortunately, there will not be as many gifts under the tree this year, as I have never been quite so broke before. Of which, this MacBook did not help the situation any. Not that gifts are the meaning of Christmas, but I will severely miss the wrapping. I might have to pick out household items and wrap them up, just to satiate the craving.
I do plan on enjoying Halloween though. JS always throws the best parties. I have not decided what I am going to be this year. It is a little bittersweet, as last year I was in the best shape of my life, and didn’t really realize it at the time. However, looking back on the pictures, I must say. Damn, I was sexy. Unfortunately, thirty-five pounds tends to limit the amount of whorish costuming. Well, for some people it apparently doesn’t, but, nevertheless, it should. Halloween is so much more fun as an adult than it ever was as a child. Plus I am now strong enough to incapacitate any fool who may come at me with a mask on. That helps. (side note: fall is so wonderful. i am looking around in the coffee shop and people that would normally not be attractive look so nice in their earthy tones, layers, and varying textures. especially in the gay world. so many assume less is more. well, that may be true, however they should also remember that about their bodies—less is more)
Well, I really did not have anything to rant and rave about, simply wanted to ramble out into the universe. While I have missed my normal blogging activities, it has been nice to sort back through past experiences and thoughts that I captured in my book a year ago. Apparently, I am addicted to therapy, in all of its forms. So, until next time…..

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

love? live. learn!

Tell a child from the day it is born that is wonderful, that it is loved, that it is beautiful, good, and important. While that child will not grow up to be perfect, it will, more than likely, grow up with an amazing sense of self and display many of the afore mentioned qualities—as long as there were actions that validated the words. Tell a child that it is worthless, stupid, purposeless, and revolting. While that child may not live up or down to each of those standards, it will struggle its entire life with feeling like those words were as good as prophesies. Trust me, I have seen it over and over again with the beautiful kids I work with.
Now, tell a society that a certain subset of the population is an abomination. Tell them that those people are damned, and damned for good reason. They are drug addicts, deceivers, liars, disease infested, whorish, unable to love one person truly, in short, evil—of course they are damned. Now continue to tell those things to an entire society when you are unsure which part of the population they will become. Is it any wonder that so many a homosexual person grows up with feelings of self-hate and revulsion? Is it any wonder that they feel they must sleep with anything that moves in order to feel something? Is it any wonder there are so few monogamous relationships in the gay community? It is any wonder that homosexual teens are winning the race in suicide? Tell someone that they must smother who they are if they are to be loved by God. Tell someone that God loves them, but, unless they change, that love will send them to Hell. Tell someone everyday they are hideous, broken, corrupted, evil, fucked. Now expect them to be well-adjusted, happy, and moral.

I met Carlos when I was twenty four. He told me he was twenty-six. I found out later he was really twenty-nine. I was still in therapy trying desperately hard to be straight. I had never had a relationship with anyone. I had decided that I wanted to know and find out first hand what a relationship would look like.
We had our first date. He stayed the night. He stayed for two years. After that, he moved back home with his parents. There was no courtship, no ‘getting to know you’ phase, there was nothing. Just two hurting, lonely men wanting to feel loved and special. Now there you go, judging again. Yes, he moved in on the first date. Blah, blah, blah. I know, those zany gay people. You think that doesn’t happen in the straight world? Let’s ask Brittney Spears, J. Lo, and Charlie Sheen. Oh, not normal enough examples for you? Well, who am I fooling? There is not one part of this that was normal, intelligent, or real. However, I had no frame of reference, and he had his own demons he was battling. He was a very sweet man, at times. He was and still is, to this day, one of the most talented artists I have ever seen. He could be great, if he ever chooses to.
I was in a delirium. I had a boyfriend. I went from twenty-four years of being single to having a boyfriend, not even a girlfriend, but a boyfriend. He called me sweetie. He was home when I got home, most of the time. He called twenty times a day. He let me take care of him. He told me he loved me.
Within the first week, I had to leave work in the middle of the day to rush him to the emergency room. He thought he was having a heart attack—in the middle of a screaming match with his mother on the phone. There were several times he thought he was having a heart attack. Apparently panic attacks can often resemble more deadly malfunctions. In addition, they also have the power to stop the entire universe and draw all the attention and importance upon the recipient. Starving children in Africa? Sorry, no food for you right now. There is a panic attack happening, go play with a mosquito. Maybe I should be more kind. I have had a few horrific panic attacks myself. They are scary; however, life still goes on when they are finished. He also started not feeling so well on our second day together. We had to go home and cancel our plans while he tried to sleep it off. I loved every minute of it. I had someone to take care of. Someone needed me. Someone who cared if I came home or not. After all, I had placed the sign in front of my condo five months ago and no one had answered until Carlos: “Available: short red-head. Doubles as a doormat. Flourishes with mental stress and manipulation. Will stay by your side as long as you consistently name call, take advantage and dictate. Full money back guarantee if not fully satisfied. Sign on bonus if you have the ability to be verbally abusive and make him apologize for brining it upon himself. Apply today. Supplies limited.” I had written in with rainbow glitter. Shocking it took so long to get a response.

I went to meet Douglas during his lunch hour from the bank he managed. We ate at a Noodles and Company. Douglas has been one of my dearest and most trusted friends for several years. We both have similar family backgrounds based around church and Christianity. We also had spent the majority of our lives battling our sexuality and doing everything possible to be healed and discover our true, God-given heterosexuality. Douglas had even gone so far as to have had an exorcism to free him from the demons that bound him. Either there are no demons or their lease upon his soul is not yet up for renegotiation. He is the type of person who at first glance, most people think of as shallow. He is pretty. He has done modeling. Therefore, brain-dead and soulless, or so you might think. We would discuss philosophy and emotions for hours. We would go out to eat and explore our lives with each other. We would watch “Friends” at my home until we both were asleep on the couch. I would watch in bafflement as Douglas switches from a dignified banker to a ridiculous goofball who makes elephant noises with his mouth to startle people. He has always been a consistent dose of sanity and joy in my life. Once I started living with Carlos, my time with Douglas (and everyone else) came to a near screeching halt. This lunch was almost like seeing a person who you used to know so well, but now felt a melancholy sense of loss around. I was the one who had changed, not him. I could feel him trying to find his old friend in this shell who looked like someone he used to know.
We were nearly done with lunch when my cell phone rang. It was Carlos. I almost answered, but Douglas and I were wrapping up our conversation and then he was going to show me his new branch. It would take five minutes, tops. I had already taken so much of my friendship away; I could not be rude right now. It went to voicemail. We pay for lunch and he begins to show me his new branch. The phone began to ring again. Carlos. I started to get nervous. I knew this was not good. He was going to be so mad. In one of my rare defiant moments, I again did not answer the phone. He knew I was having lunch with Douglas; I had told him. He could wait two more minutes. Still I could not focus on anything Douglas was saying. I just wanted to get to my car so I could call Carlos back before some damage was done. I rush through the last few minutes and nearly sprint to my car. Please don’t let me be too late. Please don’t let me be too late.
“Hello!” My voice sounds cheerful and pleasant. Not a trace of the panic that is happening inside.
“What were you doing?” Harsh, angry.
“I just had lunch with Douglas, remember. It was really nice. We have not got to hang out in so long.”
“Whatever. I’m not stupid. You were not having lunch. You didn’t even answer your phone. You didn’t even have it on you!” Click. Dead air.
Damn it!!!! I knew it. I was too late. Tears are coming. I call him back. “What do you mean I didn’t have my phone? I just didn’t answer it. We were about to wrap up and he was showing me his new branch. I didn’t want to be rude, so I knew I would call you back in just a few minutes.”
“You and your dumb ass friends. They are so fucking white. I can’t stand Douglas, or any of your gay friends. Either way, you are such a pathetic liar. I know you were fucking around. Either with him or with someone else. You’re an ass!” Click.
He would not answer his phone. I call again and again and again. Still no answer. I am completely panicked. He is going to leave me. Why didn’t I just answer the damn phone? This could have all been avoided. I am such an idiot. I drive as fast as I dare to get back to the condo. I pray he is still at home and that he will talk to me.
I run up the stairs to my condo and fling open the door. He is not in the living room. I tear into his bedroom. He is in bed.
“What are you doing? Why the fuck are you even here? Go off to one of your boys. Go fuck one of them.” His face to the wall.
“Carlos! What are you talking about? I am not cheating on you. I was with Douglas. I am sorry I did not answer the phone. I am sorry. I wasn’t trying to ignore you.” I sit on the edge of his bed, tears streaming. I touch his arm to have him face me. He jerks away and sits up.
“Fuck you!” The look of disgust is one I have seen many times from him, and it only hurts worse every time. “Do really think I am this stupid? You are just like my last two boyfriends. They said they loved me and were fucking around on me too. You are just like them. Lying, worthless piece of shit! Fuck off and get the fuck out of here!”
“Babe, please. Just listen to me. I am sorry. I have never cheated on you. I don’t want to. I couldn’t even do that. Please just calm down.”
“Why are you so mean to me all the time? Why don’t you trust me? Everyone trusts me. Everyone knows I don’t lie. Ever! Why is it that my boyfriend, of all people, is the one who doesn’t really even know who I am and know that he can trust me!?!” Sobbing.
“Just go fucking die and get away from me!”
He never stayed angry for too long. While not done intentionally, he never really liked to see me cry, and if I cried long enough, he would come around and believe that I was not lying and cheating, or at least say that he believed. He considered his jealousy to be a product of his love for me and his passionate Latino blood. I was white and could not feel emotions as truly and deeply as he could. He always loved my red hair and my pale white skin. I also think I he hated my pale white skin. At least, it kept me from being as good of lover and person as he was.