Friday, December 30, 2011


What do we mean by 'closure?' Is there truly such a thing as 'closure?' Do we really close the door on the past? Should we?

To me, closure sounds very final. There's no going back. True, I close the door to my house when I leave for work in the morning, but I do open it when I return in the evening. We close the cover of a book when we finish reading it. But, we may want to reread the book. So, is 'closure' really final? Is that what we really mean? But closure on the past suggests we choose to leave it behind us. We don't want to go back. And going back, or not, might depend on the situation. But, in my opinion, most of us mean letting go of past hurts in order to move forward,  instead of actual closure. If we just close the door, the hurts will always be there, collecting in the storeroom of our emotional clutter, ready to burst forth if we ever open the door, even so slightly.

I was reminded of this just this week. A friend called to let me know a former friend from our past had unexpectedly passed away. The deceased and I had drifted apart and back together a number of times. I finally walked away again, and moved forward, in time never looking back. To me, the door was closed. Upon hearing of her death, I reflected on the times when our paths were joined, which then stirred up a lot of anger at the old hurts she had caused. Obviously, I had just tucked them away, not fully letting go.
I'm going to reach back to my Christian roots for this post. A relationship, and I include relatives and friendships in this definition, needs to be on equal footing for it to work. I remember one of my pastors preaching about "not being unequally yoked," meaning believers should not marry non-believers. Translating this point of view into this post, as we all walk our life's path, we will encounter people along the way who will be there with us, guiding us, and teaching us lessons. Some will remain on the path a while as friends, lovers, or even as marriage partners. Some will remain for a few steps, some a while longer. Some will veer off the path, only to return at a later intersection. But while traveling together, both must travel at the same pace. Once one person outpaces the other, the yoke begins to drag the lead person down and must be let go. Letting go is never easy, for each person may stumble and fall at the release, getting hurt in the process. But, in time, each will heal and pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again venturing off in their own directions. 

I think we need to do whatever we must in order to let go of the hurts of an ending relationship. When my first partner died, I knew I had to return to Disneyland. He was such a Disney fanatic, we were there very frequently.  I had to visit it without him to let go and move forward. 

It's been harder letting go of my ex because of the children. And now that it has been a year, it is getting easier. After all, I have ventured into the real world, met a couple of guys and never once thought I was cheating on my ex. But, there is still some hurt over the divorce itself, especially in the way he initiated it. And in time, I will be able to fully let go of it and move on.  For now, I have returned to places that meant something to my ex and me. I have now attached new meaning to them. I still have the memories of when we were there, but it doesn't hurt to be there.

Sometimes we must let go of hurts within a relationship. Friends or relatives may also hurt, disappoint or anger us, often unknowingly. While we can't terminate the relationship with a relative, short of avoiding them or moving away, we can end a friendship, if necessary.

 Letting go is never easy. It must be a conscious decision, a willingness to release the emotion, to venture into an unknown area, 'How will I feel after I let go?' 'Will I be ok?' Many people would rather stay with what they know than to venture into unknown territory, especially emotional territory.  Feelings can be scary.

Letting go can take time. Or not. It can either be a balloon on a string, I open my hand and off it goes. Or, it can be a handful of sand, slowly slipping through my fingers as I watch the grains fall back to the beach to be washed out with the waves. It depends on what feels right for me at that time.

We may not be ready to let go of an incident. That's okay. We all move on our path at our own speed. We will let go when we are ready because letting go involves digging down deep to determine exactly what caused the unpleasantness in the first place. 'Why did I get so upset? Why did that hurt/disappoint/anger me so?' Oftentimes we then confront something in ourselves we don't like. After letting go of some of the anger over my divorce, I discovered I had allowed myself to be taken for granted during the relationship. And then I wondered if I had allowed that to happen in other relationships. Had that become a pattern of mine? I discovered it had and I learned it early.

My stepfather was a very opinionated hot-tempered man. I can recall him saying that his opinion was the only one of our family. What he believed, we all needed to believe. His opinion was the opinion of the household. Never mind that his opinions were bigoted, racist, sexist, homophobic, get the picture? We were expected to hold the same views. So, how does a teenager, on the verge of forming his own identity, learn to express himself, without the fear of being knocked through the wall, especially when he believed exactly the opposite?  I didn't. I never learned to express myself. So, therefore in my relationships I never learned to address the issues that bothered me, stuffing them into the closet of emotional clutter.

Should we let go of our past? I think not. Irish Statesman, Edmund Burke (1729-1797) said "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it." It seems to me we should let go of the emotion and not the memory of the incident. After all, it is our history, and if we don't want to repeat the same mistakes over and over, we need to know our own emotional and relationship history and learn from it.

Now, I just need to practice what I preach.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Reflections on 2011

As 2011 comes to a close, I want to take time to reflect on my journey during this year. I initially wanted to title this post "2011: A Year of Loss." But, that sounded too negative, even though each loss provided me with personal insight. And I love the reflection in this window.

This has not been an easy year. I have been riding a roller coaster of emotions. I am ending this year as I started it, alone; but back in January, I was barely comprehending that I was being divorced, full of anger, hurt and confusion. Now, in December, I have come to understand, and accept, it was inevitable that my marriage end; though, he should have told me in a more honorable and dignified way he wanted out. And that hurt will take longer to heal. The final papers in my divorce arrived in August. Loss number one came with a mixture of both sadness and happiness that it was all over, and with a feeling of optimism that I would continue on my path on to a better future.

2011 has also been an interesting and productive year. I came to realize just how unhappy I had become and therefore the relationship had to change, or end. As a result, I learned to recognize my strengths and rely upon them as I adjust to my new life. I have come to change my attitude and accept there are reasons for everything, primarily as a learning experience, and therefore growth. I now also believe that our experiences happen at the time the Universe feels appropriate for our optimal growth potential.  I now have a better grasp on what I need to do in my next relationship to make it work better. I have also learned the Universe has plans for me and all will be revealed at the proper time.

This year, I again experienced the pain of unrequited love. With the ending of my marriage, my new single life had begun. Was I ready for a single life? No. Was I ready to meet someone? Again, no. I knew I needed time to heal, to look into myself and decide what I wanted in my next partner. I knew I wanted someone who was chronologically, educationally, emotionally, and intellectually my contemporary. I also needed someone who would take care of me. But first, I needed to to expand my gay male social circle for I firmly believe a great relationship begins as a good friendship. And in this adventure, I did meet someone, fall in love with him, but after a while realized it wasn't going to work.  I have chronicled this episode in "I Met a Man," from September of this year, so there is no need to revisit it here. My second loss brought me waves of happiness whenever I thought of or heard from him; and later, sadness mixed with hurt and disappointment when I realized it was one-sided.

Shortly after realizing that potential relationship wasn't going to work, I was emotionally wounded, albeit unintentionally, by a friend. The depth of how hurt I was told me how much I valued the friendship. Can it be saved? Possibly. In time I will heal and perhaps we can move on again. But, in friendship as in love, once burned, twice shy. I will be on my guard for any more slings and arrows, and I'm sure my friend will be as well after our conversation. The dynamic of this friendship is now forever changed, and for the moment it is painful loss number three.

This year, I also lost a wonderful friend and companion; my dog, Simba.  I still come home expecting to see his cute face, twinkling eyes, and bushy tail, all excited to see me. This, too, has been described here in "A Poem to a Pom" from earlier this month. My fourth loss still brings me sadness with touches of nostalgia.

Each of these losses, while painful, especially with the last three happening within months of each other, has presented me with a lesson. It is now up to me to take those lessons and apply them to my life and attitude in order to continue moving forward. I realized I am strong enough to survive a major life change. I discovered I am again capable of a deep emotional love. I found pain can come from where it's least expected. I learned even out of love difficult decisions must be made for the greater good. 

The reflection in the picture above is from the fill pump in the pond in front of the window. The lessons I am learning keep filling me with the experiences I need to reflect upon as I move forward on my path. Unlike the pond, where the water evaporates and those molecules may end up somewhere else, my experiences will always be there for me to learn from whenever I need them.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lessons from Lucy

I love Lucy.  She will live forever, in the reruns of her television shows, films and this statue of her in North Hollywood, California.

Lucy was a fighter, albeit in a television sitcom. But, she still fought back. When she lost the winning dollar bill in a local newspaper contest, she fell into a starch vat to retrieve it.

Lucy was resourceful. She saved half her sandwich when she and the others went hiking in the Swiss Alps. She and Ethel went to extremes to keep their husbands from fighting when their chickens weren't laying eggs.

Lucy was creative. After all, she decorated her New York apartment to look like a Cuban sugar plantation and danced around like Carmen Miranda, all to save her marriage, which wasn't really in trouble. And she wrote an operetta to raise money for her club's treasury.

And she fought, using her resources in creative ways to try to get into Ricky's act soooo many times: locking his dance partner into a closet; sneaking in in costume, and changing under a table. All of these qualities together illustrate one other characteristic of Lucy; she is determined.

I have come to realize I am very much like Lucy.

I am a fighter, just not in a sitcom, but in my life. I am fighting back from a divorce and have come a long way from the depression I was in, which may or may not have led to the divorce.

I am resourceful. I have learned to make adjustments to my life in order to survive. I have learned to focus on what I need not what I want. That's not to say, when I can afford something I want, then make that decision. After all, living your life without pleasures, isn't really living your life.

I am creative. It comes with teaching, but is also just part of who I am. I look at my writing, my photography as just two examples.

I am determined. I will get through this and be all that much stronger for it.

Now, where's my bottle of Vitameatavegamin?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Where am I?

I love the old "Road" movies with Bing, Bob and Dorothy. From today's perspective they are a bit cheesy, but still fun to watch. The story is essentially the same; two guys interested in the same woman; one guy is smooth, the other a little corny, and she is usually in trouble. And the movies all involved exotic locations; Hong Kong, Bali, Utopia, Rio, Morocco, Zanzibar and Singapore. I realize Utopia isn't a real place and therefore can't be exotic, but it does exist in people's imaginations and spirits, and therefore it's all a matter of perspective.

I, too, am on a road. "The Road to Me."

While I am not traveling to any exotic locales, like in the movies or in my photograph taken outside Talkeetna, Alaska, I am traveling to some pretty exciting ones in me.

I have discovered the Lake of Love and dipped my toe in it. I have been to the Temple of Self-Confidence and learned I am stronger than I have given myself credit. I have visited the Island of Self-Reliance and realized I have all the tools I need to continue on my journey, and always have. I have also climbed the Mountain of Self-Esteem and discovered I am attractive to other men.

But on this journey I seem to have come to a stopping point. Maybe it's time for me to rest up and catch my breath for a while. After all, this has been a year of loss for me. I lost my marriage, I lost (in my opinion) a potential relationship, I lost a friend, and I lost a beloved companion, the last three being within the last three months.

Or, maybe I'm at a crossroads and I'm not sure which direction to take. While I wait for the Universe to offer guidance, I can still catch my breath. Whew!

I do sense a new direction for me. It's still very nebulous, as is anything new. It could be a relationship, a change in my career, or something else altogether.

If it's a relationship, I must ask myself this question. Where am I? If the Universe does indeed have someone for me, I need to be in an emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically (both corporally and geographically) ready state to meet him.

Emotionally, I need to be ready to risk being hurt again. I'm just not there. This has been a difficult year as I mentioned above and I just need time to heal.

Spiritually, I need to be ready to grow with myself and with him. I think we're always growing whether we are aware of it or not, so I guess I am there. 

Mentally, I need to be up to the challenge to get to know him, pay attention to the details of what he likes, and dislikes. Plus, let him know what I do and don't like. Am I there? Maybe.

Corporally, I must have the energy to invest in a new relationship and as I've said before, this year of teaching has left me so exhausted by the end of the week, that I'm in bed usually by 9:00 PM on Fridays. And I have so much work to bring home that I have little time to do anything during the week anyway. I spend the weekend catching up on household chores which leaves little time for socializing.

Geographically, I need to be where the gay men are. Unless the Universe is going to send him knocking on my door, (FedEx deliveryman?) I need to be out there. I need to be socializing anyway.  I've tried the online route, and while I have met a couple of nice local guys (and by local I mean over 50 miles away), most of the guys I end up chatting with live hundreds of miles away. The locals mostly just want to drop in for one thing, and it's not coffee. And the locals under 25 or so think this 'daddy' has money. If they only knew! I may try the online thing again, but not for a while.  I've tried the common interest group path, joining several small groups formed around people with similar interests. At first, one group was fairly active. But, the only meetings scheduled now are for every third month. In a different group, when I've gone I've been the only one there besides the host couple. They're great guys, and maybe in time, more will show up. Another group, photography (!), has met once and that's it. I'm not in a position to be a leader at this time, so I guess I must wait for, or prod, the leaders to schedule something. There's the bars and clubs scene, but I've addressed that in another post; something about shopping, Tiffany's and K-mart. That's not to say I can't meet guys and make friends, and maybe that's an option. Time and the Universe will indeed tell.

So, where am I? I'm right where I need to be, even if it's uncomfortable. I'm sitting on a bench, resting for a while, at a juncture on "The Road to Me."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Poem to a Pom

I've had to say good-bye a lot lately. I had to say it to my marriage, to a friend, and this week to a very sweet, loyal, loving family member. But, with each good-bye there are lessons involved.

I remember first meeting Simba. He walked happily into the room, head and tail held high, panting. He came up to us, sniffed us and greeted the others in turn. He was five months old. He was energetic; yet not hyper for a toy breed. He was very friendly and had a loving sense about him. I knew he was ours.

My ex had always wanted a Pom, for what reasons, I don't know. I had always had larger dogs as a child, and my attitude towards these "little yappy things" was indifferent. My ex also had decided on a black-and-tan Pom because it was different than the typical color associated with Pomeranians.

We had decided to add a dog to our mostly feline family some years back, and actually had decided on a Great Dane. After a disagreement with the breeder in question, we realized the time may not have been right for us to get a Dane, or even a dog. Then tragedy struck. My ex's mother died, quite unexpectedly at an early age. He put owning a Pom on his bucket list, he wanted one before he died. And through a series of coincidences, Simba came into our life.

Both of us had had dogs as we grew up, but our moms did all the training. This was our first dog as adults, I knew we needed help; so, we hired a trainer to train us to train him. He tried hard to please us, but as a Pom he had a bit of a stubborn streak. (Though not as bad as another Pom I know. Right, Mufasa?) But, we were able to get him to follow some basic commands. I learned perseverance can pay off.

My ex is a television addict. He would watch for hours. Simba would love to sit on the couch next to him, or me if I were there, too. He had to lick our hands, or if our feet were accessible, he would like them. But, mostly he loved sitting next to us. I learned love has its quiet moments.

He also played us. He had a very thick coat, and undercoat, as Poms do. (Note to self: short-haired dogs require less grooming, i.e., Great Danes.) We did our best to brush him, but at the first tangle he would yelp and we'd give in. So, we turned to professional groomers. I learned to ask for help when necessary.

Simba had some bad habits. He had separation anxiety. He would bark whenever one of us would leave; either to take out the trash, take the laundry to the garage, or leave the house. Yet, when we would return, there was no mess as can happen with animals suffering from separation anxiety. I loved the fact he loved me so much he didn't want me to leave. I learned to accept neuroses in your loved ones.
He also had some quirky habits. He had a favorite toy. It started as a hedgehog, but when the company stopped making it, we substituted it with a raccoon. He would hold the toy in such a way as to suckle the nose. He would often go into a trance-like state while sucking on the nose of his toy. He held it in one specific position so that he wore the fur off, and made a big hole in just one spot. After a while, I couldn't interest him in a new one. And when I would come home late, he would greet me, tail wagging, and while I prepared his food, he would crazily run around in circles until I set it down for him. I learned quirkiness is what makes you unique among your peers.

He suffered from a number of health issues, and was on many medicines. He had a collapsing trachea, laxating patellas and a twisted vertebrae. The first two are common ailments in toy breeds, and the vertebrae happened in a fall. He was on pain meds for the vertebrae for the last five years. I learned you can put up with a lot with someone to look after you.

I will miss his "Please don't leave me" bark when I leave for work in the morning, and his "Welcome home, I missed you" bark in the afternoon when I returned. I will miss struggling with him to take his cough medicine because of his trachea. I will miss having my hand or foot licked while watching television.  I will miss having to carry him up and down the stairs, as it hurt his back to go up and down himself. I will miss him assuming his usual position for me to pick him up.  I will miss him lying next to me on my bed before bedtime, petting him, running my fingers through his soft coat. I will miss his twinkling eyes, his "smile."

I will miss you, Simba, but you've left little paw prints across my heart.......

RIP, my big boy. You suffer no more.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Gears of Life

I knew there was a post hidden here in these gears, but until now I couldn't see it.

Life (and the world) goes on like a machine. These gears are in rest, their job is done, for the moment. They are used to haul up the anchor on the American Pride, the ship I sailed on to Catalina. But life doesn't stop or rest. It goes on and on.

There are times we all want life to stop; to give us a chance to catch up to what is happening, to let us settle in for a while before we get hit with more we have to take care of.

I remember wanting life to stop when my first partner died. Didn't the rest of the world know I was grieving? Didn't they care? My friends did, bless them. But why would the rest of the world? They didn't know me. I needed time to process my feelings, to take care of his estate, what little there was. And in time, I did. I moved on.

I remember wanting life to stop when my husband left. But, it didn't. I needed time to process what he was asking for, and to understand my anger and pain. I also needed to know why our marriage failed, but I couldn't figure it out while dealing with the pain of having a failed marriage. I was the only one in my family, at that point, not to have one. We all do now. I still want to understand why, and maybe I never will. Maybe that's one lesson I need to learn; life has unanswerable questions. At times, it still hurts, but I will continue to move on.

Right now, I want life to stop while I sort out my most recent pains and difficulties; a recent heartbreak, a confusing adjustment to a new philosophy of teaching and the bits and pieces that go with it, the myriad of changes in an adjunct job I have for my school, the complex and confusing modification process for my mortgage, and now, the sudden deteriorating health of one of my dogs.

All of this is happening at once, and is very overwhelming. I know that what doesn't kill me, will only make me stronger, but I feel I need time to get through one event before having to tackle another.  The Universe, however, has a different take on the situation; I am strong enough to get through all of this. My lesson here is just to believe in myself that I can and will, and to prioritize what is most important at the time. That doesn't make it easier.

Right now, my priority is to get some medication for my dog, and some chocolate for me.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I wanted to find a picture of a bridge for this post, as bridges have become symbolic for me on this journey and I have another bridge to cross at some time. Without a picture of one, I chose a picture of Mt. Edgecumbe outside Sitka, Alaska. All will be made clear, shortly.

Sitka was the final stop on my last big physical-journey where I carried baggage. I still carry baggage on this spiritual-journey. And some of that baggage involves...


There I said it. It's in print. My next bridge but with baggage.  Well, some of my baggage anyway.

I know I need to address it, and I know I will, some day. One friend suggested I just go get laid; have fun; after all, I'm single now, live it up!  Another suggested I go on an actual date, but don't preclude the idea of sex afterwards. If it feels good, just let it happen.

After coming out, I had my share of casual encounters, and felt very empty and hollow afterwards. This was what I call  a 'delayed adolescence' many gay men go through when coming out later in life. Since we didn't or couldn't openly date guys in high school, we needed this exploration of self now that we could openly admit our attraction to other men. I was, after all, trying to discover this new side of myself and more specifically, what I did and didn't like about sex, as well as learn what two men actually did together and which of those activities did I really want to do.  All of this left me in a mild state of confusion and depression as I was trying to align my behavior with the values I grew up with. So, my early gay years were a whirlpool of emotions trying to discover my sexuality while reconciling it with my Christianity.

While I have shaken off the majority of the beliefs and ideals I learned when I was a practicing Christian, like being gay will send you to Hell, there are a few so ingrained in me I still live by them. Casual sex is one of them. It just doesn’t necessarily suit me.

As for dating? That would suggest I'm actively looking for a boyfriend or relationship. I’m not ready for anything. Right now, my emotions are still all over the place. I have too many changes going on in my personal and work lives to be worried about getting to know someone else and what he likes, both in and out of the bedroom. Also, right now I don’t have the time and energy to focus on dating someone and that’s not fair to him.

With my emotions still all over the place, I fear that if I do find someone to fool around with, I may end up becoming too attached too soon, for too long and for the wrong reasons. Been there done that, twice. Sex, for me, is more about the intellectual-spiritual-emotional connection to the guy than the mechanics, though the mechanics can be fun as well. However, separating the emotions from the mechanics has never been easy for me. 

Yet, emotions shouldn't be discounted. Fear and trust are very strong. Yes, I am afraid. Afraid of becoming too attached too soon to someone for the wrong reason. I'm still hurting a little from my divorce, though the pain is subsiding. Other recent events have left me a little shaken still, but time will heal that as well. Dare I also add fear of my performance; will I be good enough? the fear of feeling empty and hollow again? the fear of rejection; will he call me in the morning? or next week? ever?

Trust is also big with me. I just don't hand my body over to anyone to do with as he pleases. I mean, yes, I am there, too. But, sometimes things can just get out of control. Though, to some people, relinquishing control is indeed part of the pleasure. I'm not one of them.

And the biggest fear: diseases. When can you trust someone to be honest about their health? When you first meet? After a cup of coffee? Just play safely and it shouldn't be a problem? Yeah, right. It can be a problem for some even before playing. I've been out of circulation for 26 years, it's a fear I haven't had to confront in all that time.

A friend had also suggested finding a friend with benefits. A friend with benefits? Sounds like something from Social Security. "I need to see my friend for my monthly benefits." Not for me.  As I said, I’m way too emotional to separate the friendship from the benefits-ship. I eventually want a long-term partner again, so when I meet Mr. One-and-Only, how do I end the benefits-ship without the possibility of someone's feelings getting hurt? Or if both parties are agreeable to just ending the benefits, what if Mr. One-and-Only is the jealous type and doesn’t want Mr. Benefits around? I then have to make a choice. Call me Sophie. Or worse, what if Mr. One-and-Only and Mr. Benefits want to compare notes? Kill me now.

Yet, I long for the touch of another man. I won't deny the drive is there. Sometimes. But, mostly, it's the cuddling I miss; the leaning against him watching television, or reading together; it's the kissing, the caressing, the hand holding as we go to the Pride Festival, or to a club. It's the having someone to come home to after a long day of teaching, to talk to of world events; not the character development in our latest reading selection or the numerous fragmented sentences in the last essay I graded, or how am I going to explain Wegner's theory to non-English speaking students.

For me, sex is not the cornerstone of the relationship, like it is for many people. I've known couples who've fallen in love "at first sex." If the sex is great, then the rest will be, too. And, there are some couples who can separate the emotion from the sex. "Emotionally faithful but physically unfaithful;" an open relationship. I don't get it, it's not for me.  I salute those who can, if they choose it.

For me, it's the communication and the connection. The brain is the most sexual organ, in my opinion. Seduce my mind and you seduce my body.  How well do we communicate with each other? May I share my innermost fears and/or dreams with him? Will he share his with me?

I know it will happen, and the first couple of times may not be the best. After all, I will be getting used to touching another man, and getting used to him touching me, while confronting all my emotions and fears. All things happen for a reason and at the time they're supposed to happen. And then I will awaken from my dormancy, like Mt. Edgecumbe.


I have always liked Thanksgiving more than Christmas, not necessarily for the food but for the meaning behind it; giving thanks for our blessings. So, in this season of giving thanks, I think I will.

First, I am thankful for the typical things. I am grateful for being alive, being healthy and reasonably sane.

But, I am also grateful for some atypical blessings.

I am thankful for my divorce because I am moving out of an unhappy situation and along a path to peace and happiness, and discovering more of who I am. And loving him.

I am thankful for my mortgage because I have a home to come home to. And I am building credit, post-divorce.

I am thankful I have ninety-five students to teach, so I can pay the mortgage and the bills, put fuel in my car, and go out, occasionally.

I am thankful for the financial sacrifices I have had to make to prove I can, and will, survive.

I am thankful for the cat box I clean twice a day because I have a loving cat to keep me company.

I am thankful for my two spoiled Pomeranians with extreme separation anxiety who love me all the more when I come home.

I am thankful for the probing, sometimes painful, questions my friends ask to push me further along in my journey.

I am thankful for Mother Earth who has provided me with all I need for my survival; the materials for the clothing on my back, the food in my stomach and the shelter I sleep in.

I am thankful for the Universe who has provided me with the opportunities to learn what a dynamic man I am.

I am thankful to the Universe for providing me the difficult and often painful lessons to teach me to overcome adversity and learn what a strong man I am.

But, I am most grateful to the Universe for taking care of me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dichotomy, Paradox, or?

I think I am a living dichotomy, or a paradox. I'm not sure which.

Shortly after my ex-husband moved out, I caught up with a long time friend and informed her of the pending divorce. She was sympathetic and concerned over my emotional and mental well-being.  I assured her I would be fine, was optimistic about the future and had told her of this blog. She was interested in reading it, so I sent her the URL. A few months later we talked again, she asked how I was doing, and I told her I was kind-of-maybe-perhaps-sort-of seeing someone. She went ballistic. "Why do you feel the need to get into a relationship after just getting out of one? It's way too soon, you don't know yourself and need to spend time alone getting to know yourself again. Oh, and I just love your blog."

Oh, really. So, she'd read it. I think she missed some important points. And I promptly told her so. And which ones.

But, she did have a point, sort of.

There is a big difference between being alone and being lonely. And there is nothing wrong with being either. It's in the attitude.

Being alone implies a comfort in being by oneself; in being able to support and entertain oneself.  You can enjoy your own company.

Being lonely implies a need for another to meet certain needs, and not necessarily the physical ones. (Yes, we all have the need for just touching and hugging, but that's not the one I'm referring to. And you know it.)  But, the need for social interaction, mental stimulation, conversation. etc. also is a strong one. And my dogs and cat just look at me strangely when I try to share the day's events with them. 

I have always been an independent person. I am the eldest child by three years. I learned to entertain myself at a young age, and always have. I enjoyed being by myself at times. I was a reader, my brothers were not, so I needed the quiet and spent a lot of time in my room. Plus, it's part of my Aquarian nature to be independent. Giving up that need for independence is not easy for us and when we do, it's for someone who will respect and even nurture it. I am relearning how to be alone after being in a relationship for nearly 25 years. My first partner and I were together nearly nine years before he died, and about nine months later began seeing my ex. He asked for a divorce after fifteen years.

I have always been a lonely person. My parents divorced early in my life, I was 5, and shortly thereafter my mother relocated us to another city in the middle of my kindergarten year. Soon, she married again, and my stepfather was relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada and six months later he wanted to move to South Dakota where I completed the first grade at age six. We continued this gypsying around the country until I was going into the seventh grade at age twelve, when for the first time I attended the same school for the second year in a row. We lived in that community for a total of four and a half years before we started moving again and always mid-year. My freshman and senior years of high school were the only ones I started and finished in the same school. All this moving made it difficult to make lasting friendships. I grew up very lonely which enforced my wanting to be by myself much of the time.

I learned some valuable lessons from all this. First, I hate moving! Even rearranging furniture can bring anxiety unless it's negotiated carefully. (My ex surprised me with it once, I couldn't breathe for 10 minutes, and didn't speak to him for an hour!) But, I have also learned moving is necessary at times and therefore, I can prepare myself for it.

I have also learned not to attach myself to friends, as they are transient. Sooner or later, one of us will go. The length of the friendship depends on the lesson(s) to be learned. I didn't have a regular circle of friends until college. And now I don't see them anymore. They have moved on to different parts of the state and country and aren't on Facebook, that I know of. I've grown close to some of my colleagues at my school, but over time they, too, leave for varied reasons. In all the years I've been there, with all the revolving doors, I have remained frequently in touch with a grand total of two people. I'm not counting the occasional emails forwarding urban legends or prayer requests.

So, I hate moving and don't attach myself to people because they (or most likely, I) will leave due to relocation.

Sounds about right.

But, that isn't who I am.

I am a very social person. That's also part of being Aquarian.  I love having friends.  They are important. Friends can be a sounding board, someone just to hang with, or watch your back. I was always jealous of the characters on the show "Friends" because of their closeness. I have a small circle of friends now, but few close gay male friends. As I go through this transition in my life, it is that perspective I need. Yet, it can be very difficult to make friends as an adult. It's not like we have a giant playground to mingle in or someone forcing us to get along. And as adults, we have that 'other' aspect of human nature to contend with, that can blur the lines of friendships and make things more complicated.

I think before I begin moving forward again, I need to spend time learning just to be alone, not to get to know myself better, but to better appreciate my self-sufficiency.

And, I think before I begin moving forward again, I need to make sure I have the loneliness in check, so it doesn't cloud my judgement. As it did twice before.

But, first and foremost, I need to expand my gay male social circle.

So, am I a living dichotomy or a paradox?

I don't think I'm either.

I think I am just human.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

New Identity

I never did expect to have to come out of the closet again. But, I feel I am. Sort of.

As I have met a couple of other gay men and ventured into the community, I feel so lost. What does it mean to be gay and single? Or just gay? Especially after having been away from it for so long.

I recently attended the reading of a play in order to give feedback to the writer and to get out of the house.  The reading was held in West Hollywood, known for two things, lots of gay men and an extreme lack of parking. I was a bit apprehensive being around all the men, but don't know why. Maybe it was too soon for me, I don't know.  When I entered the auditorium, I selected a seat, second in from the aisle, and sat down setting my camera bag on the chair to my right. Presently an attractive man approached me, asked if the seat next to me was taken, pointing to my camera bag. I replied that it wasn't, removed my bag, and he sat down.

"I love the idea of this play, it's all about sex. Hi, I'm John."

Is that what being gay is, just about the sex?

The irony of this reading is that it coincided with a West Hollywood Holiday: Go-go Boy Appreciation Day. Seriously? Is that what being gay is? Idolizing and ogling half-naked young men? It's no wonder some people think gay men are so youth oriented and older gay men are tossed aside like used condom wrappers. Now, I must admit, I do enjoy looking at cute, young guys, but there are some beautiful older men who are just as nice to look at.

A while back a friend introduced me to a couple of his friends and we all went out to West Hollywood. It was an interesting evening as I wasn't in the greatest of moods, especially for ogling guys, but the company was great so I went along anyway. On the way home, two of them talked about Lady Gaga and Adele, which is an odd mix of singers to bring up in the same conversation! I must confess, I am not drawn to either of them. Gasp! I know. Revoke my gay card. I love Cher, and Cyndi. Ok, I'm safe.  

So, being gay is all about the divas and their music?

A gay colleague was asking me about gay themed movies to recommend to his straight-but-not-narrow friend to aid her in her understanding of gayness (I prefer the term 'gaiety') and gay culture. I had heard of, but not seen, some of the ones he'd mentioned, The Crying Game and My Beautiful Laundrette are two that come to mind. I felt awkward not being able to recommend more. I mean I have seen a few. I cry every time I watch The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; Latter Days; or A Love to Hide.
 It's nice to support these type of movies to show the industry we want to see more of them, but is it what being gay is all about?

I remember having all these same questions as I first came out so many years ago. Back then, I learned being gay meant you were attracted physically and  emotionally to the same gender, that it wasn't all about the s-e-x; that is was also about l-o-v-e.

I also learned being gay was about being true to yourself and finding that identity. And now that my life has taken a new turn, it's time to find that identity again. But, I now have the added component of age. What does it mean to be a single gay man in the middle of his life. I mean life is different at 23, when I came out. Life, at that age, is about partying and discovering yourself as an adult. At my age, I've supposedly done that. But, have I? Do we ever?

As a gay man, I don't have to get Lady Gaga. I can appreciate her for her talent, and her contribution to the community. I don't have to get Adele. I can appreciate many people do. And maybe in time, I will get her. She does have a beautiful voice. I have always been drawn to more upbeat rhythms. After all, I spent my teenage years in the disco era, and came out shortly after, but that's not to say I don't appreciate a good torch song. I don't have to see every gay themed movie that comes along. Some aren't even that good.

As far as sex for the sake of it, I never really did appreciate just getting off with a stranger. It always felt awkward. It still does.  But, maybe that's just who I am.
Maybe all of it is just who I am; a gay man who loves other men, who doesn't have indiscriminate sex, who unapologetically listens to, watches and reads the music, movies and books of his choice. 

I am who I am.

Maybe that's my new identity.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Perhaps Evil Reunion Friend was right. Perhaps it was for the best that things didn't work out with the Man I Met. And maybe money was the reason. But, not for the insidious, shallow reason she so eloquently stated:

"No man would want to date you if you don't have any money."

Or something to that effect.

Money indeed might be the reason, but not because he wouldn't want to date me, a good man would see me for who I am, but because I wouldn't feel right not being able to contribute to a date. Or, to an eventual weekend escape. (Which I could so desperately use right now.) And let's face it; part of the testing of an eventual relationship is how well the two travel together. I am barely making ends meet as it is, and there's not a lot left over at the end of the month, so any getaway plans are nixed until I get a raise, modify my home loan, or win the lottery, whichever comes first.  Plus, there's talk of at least four and maybe more unpaid furlough days, so yet a third consecutive year of a pay cut only adds to the financial stress.

And this also leads me to another reflection. Over the years I was with my ex, we drifted from the gay community. We had been part of a club, but when we bought the house, it soon ate most of our time and money, so we drifted away. And we didn't maintain any relationships with the members. So, I had no gay male friends until recently. But, even hanging with friends takes money. Movies, coffee at Starbucks (or Denny's), even free or low cost outings require fuel; all of which take money.

Lately, time has also been an issue for me. I am getting used to a new way of teaching along with a brand new program which is leaving me with more work to bring home than I am used to, and therefore robbing me of time with my dogs and cat, let alone just for myself (when the ex has them) and then to bring a boyfriend into this equation would definitely be an emotional overload just waiting to happen. As any scientist knows, if there are too many independent variables in the experiment, the results are unpredictable. And right now, I am not happy with my teaching, but I can't say what it is; the new way, the new program, or a combination of both. Or, the fact that I am used to teaching mostly high achieving gifted kids and now have a general classroom of all levels and am having difficulties breaking material down to it's smallest components for those who need it. (See, too many variables.)  I was so exhausted and frustrated this week, I actually came home this week and calculated my projected retirement date. If I win the lottery, only two more years; if not, then I will have a bit longer to go. But, as I need my job, and need to adjust my style and method of teaching, the boyfriend would probably not work out, unless he was super-understanding.

And, I'm not even going to talk about post-divorce intimacy issues. (There's a whole other blog in there somewhere. But, as I have discovered I have some underage readers, it may be a while before that one is written and published!)

In reflection, without money and time to devote to a boyfriend, I think it's best the Bear go into hibernation for a while, during which he can recuperate, recover and regroup. And when his "winter" is over, I will emerge a better person for it. And then we'll see what the Universe has in store for me. Yet, the Ferret will remain alert for changes in and from the Universe, the Sparrow will focus on survival and sing his song of self-worth, while the Dolphin will remember to balance the worlds of intellect v. emotion and work v. play.

The photo is of a reflecting pool at one of my favorite places in Los Angeles. It's in Beverly Hills, actually. Greystone Mansion is a public park and has been used in several movies and television shows. Maybe it will be my escape sometime this weekend as it is very quiet and peaceful which is good for more reflecting.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Crossing Lines

I was intrigued by the lines in this photo; the combination of the tiles below and the shadows of the pergola above. I took this photo to help explain to my class that lines are everywhere, and to help illustrate the concepts of intersecting, parallel and perpendicular lines.

And this brings me to my focus this week. Crossing lines, and in particular those lines we don't see, but maybe walk each day; the lines between friends or family members.

I had a recent conversation with a friend about that fine line we walk with friends; when to intervene in their life and rescue them from a fate worse than death, or worse, a bad relationship.

She believed it was fine to intervene when she first became aware of the friend's problem, so I challenged her. If her mother or a friend were to point out some 'concerns' regarding a guy she wanted to see, would she listen? She had to confess, no. And she would probably resent the intrusion and/or the individual.

I must also address the age difference here. I have a little bit more life experience than she does. Just a year, or two, or twenty-some-plus. I also have had experience with addicts.

My first partner had several friends who used drugs recreationally, and he did as well though on a more limited scale, both in frequency and type. He only smoked pot occasionally while the others also did cocaine and who knows what else. I had lived a sheltered life and this was my first experience with such behavior. My therapist at the time recommended Al-Anon and I attended several meetings. I learned that the old adage is true, you can lead a horse to water, but can't make him (or her) drink. The addict must realize he or she has a problem and make the conscious decision to seek help on his or her own. And I learned you are ultimately responsible only for yourself.

I contend this also applies to other aspects of a friend's life, including romance. We must see the faults in the ones we choose to date on our own. How else will we decide what we can and cannot live with? 

And I wish to add one more observation. As we continue on our respective journeys, the lessons in our lives are for us to discover on our own. I am the type of person who best learns alone. Pointing out to me what you see as my lesson won't do me any good as I need to experience it firsthand. It won't do our friendship any good, either; for most likely, I will see you as interfering or crossing a line with me, while you may think you have my best interests in mind. And there the conflict begins.

Another valuable lesson I once learned, "Expectations are planned disappointments." I expect my friends to sit by the side while I am on my journey. Some of them will want to jump in and point things out to me, believing they are helping me. But, in reality, they are not. They are only adding a distraction, and ultimately a disappointment in our relationship, creating tension. If I am lost or confused, I expect to be able to then ask my friends for advice, and am willing to hear what they have to say, but only when asked which, admittedly, is not an easy thing to do. But, please, don't disappoint me; allow me to learn my lessons by myself.

It is never easy for a friend to sit idly by, while someone they love is in pain. Ask any parent whose child is suffering, or anybody who has watched a loved one succumb to a terminal illness. I clearly recall the helplessness I felt as my first partner was ravaged by HIV until his death. I also recall the pain in the Al-Anon members whose loved ones were struggling with their addiction, whether they found help in AA or not.  The addict must hit bottom and seek help on his/her own for the help to be meaningful.  So, it is imperative to remain silent. Crossing that line could cause irreparable harm to the friendship. And bridges, once burned, are never as strong as the original.

"Don't give your advice before you are called upon."
~Desiderius Erasmus.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Last Meditation

"You are walking down a path toward a cabin. The cabin has three doors, one in the front, one on the right and one on the rear. Each opens into its own room in the cabin. You choose one door to open, and inside represents a path for your life. There is no mistake, the choice is simply yours to make."

Sunday was the last of my meditation sessions. The leader was asked for the second time to discontinue the group due to a variety of reasons. And this time there was no bargaining room for her. It had to end. We meditated on closure, which is actually only just letting go for me; of hurt, of disappointment, of anger; all in preparation of moving on.  

I open the front door of the cabin. 

I see myself sitting at a table, working on lesson plans, grading papers, focusing on my teaching.

I take it, my inner heart is telling me to focus on my teaching for now and let the rest of my life just be.

Sounds like a plan.

I will miss the sessions; they gave me focus, a place to safely explore new emotions, to ask questions about my new single life, to dive into my inner heart to seek what I truly wanted for myself uncensored by my Aquarian logic, to have a chance to get out of my head and into my heart.

I will miss the people who prompted me, who gently pushed me into seeing what they saw in me, and gave me a chance to share what I saw in them.

I will miss the leader who challenged me to go into my heart and guided me to see what I truly wanted and believed I was worthy of having.

It was here I first knew of "The Man Across the Bridge." It was also here I acknowledged I had met him, crossed that bridge, and now continue my journey. Nowhere in this blog did I ever mention The Man represented a long term relationship.  I, too, believed that is what he represented. But, no. He merely represented a relationship. And there will be other relationships, other bridges to cross.

It was also here I opened "The Box" and discovered I already possessed all the tools I needed to continue my journey. I just need to remind myself.

Things happen for a reason and at the time they are supposed to happen. So, I'm just going to sit for a while and watch what does happen. And when I am ready, or the Universe prompts me, I will get going. But, for now, I need a breather.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Déjà Vu

So, here I am again at the beginning of a school year in an emotional turmoil.  I began the 2010-2011 school year getting used to the idea my husband wanted a divorce and I would be alone for a while.

I am beginning the 2011-2012 school year getting over what I was beginning to think might be a potential relationship with a wonderful man.

So, I am essentially in the same place I was a year ago.

But am I?

Yes, and no.

Yes, I am disappointed and hurt.  Disappointed and hurt that what I thought could be a deep, new relationship with a great guy did not turn out the way I was hoping. And I'm working to let go of some some very deep feelings, deeper than I have felt in a very long time.

And no, I am a stronger person today for having survived the year between when my ex announced he wanted out and now when the new man told me he didn't love me, but just as a friend. And I will continue to grow stronger while on my journey.

Yes, it will take me some time to move on from this newest heartache.

No, I'm not escaping, but hibernating, recuperating, regenerating.

Yes, I'm tired of hearing all the cliches, "Time heals all wounds", "Everything happens for a reason at the time it's supposed to", "You'll get through this one, too."

 No, I'm not really, because as tired as they are,  they are indeed true. Time will heal this wound; it happened at this time for a reason, and I'll get through this. And move on. Again.

And yet, it feels different. Different in that I hadn't checked out of the relationship like I had my marriage; different in that I was caught off guard by my feelings for him; different in that it was at the beginning stages; different in that it was new for me.

So, the bear must hibernate a while; the sparrow will continue to sing his song; the dolphin will navigate the worlds between head and heart, work and play; and the phoenix will gather strength, for life will move onwards and upwards. Eventually.

And the ferret will be alert for a sign from the Universe......

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

With Friends Like This.....

I recently had the (mis)fortune of running into an old (!) friend. We had worked together at my school for a few years before she moved on, and then on, and then on. She couldn't stay still in one site for too long. She was the proverbial rolling stone gathering no moss.

In the beginning of our relationship she was very supportive of me, because we met as I was coming out. She encouraged me to be myself and to hell with what the world thought. This was in the mid 80s and gay rights were still coming along, and prejudices were still common, but progress was being made, albeit slowly.  She encouraged me to date a variety of men (after all, she did and a couple at the same time) in order to find out what I wanted in a partner.

After she left my school, we lost contact for a while, which was a good  thing, as I had come to realize it was a one sided friendship, of sorts. I believe in equality and fairness in all relationships, including friendships. I would suggest a movie, we'd go. I invited her to my aerobics class, she went. I would ask, she'd go. BUT, she never reciprocated. And when it became obvious she wouldn't, I let the relationship die. I still considered her a friend because of her earlier support, but realized it wouldn't be the type of friendship I was used to.

I would occasionally get a Christmas card from her, as she got my address from a mutual friend. I never sent one back. And time went on.

I first ran into her again about seven years ago at the retirement of a colleague, but we didn't get the chance to catch up, so that was that. When I got an invitation to her retirement a year ago, I decided to go, more to celebrate her career as an educator, but also to visit with her (and see if any other old friends and colleagues might be there.)

She greeted me at the door and introduced me to her husband. (Knock me over with a feather! She settled down with one man?) I told her I was married (legally), she was happy for me and wanted to meet my honey and why wasn't he there with me? (That is another post.)

Three months later I sent her an email saying I was getting divorced. She replied that she was sad for me, but life throws us curves and it's best to move on, it's all for the best, etc..... All those tired but true cliches.

I didn't hear from her again until I ran into her this past weekend at a reunion for some classmates for my school. She had been the teacher for some of them and wanted to catch up with them and some other staff members who came.

After a while, she approached me and wanted to know how I was doing since my divorce and if I was seeing anyone. I was doing fine, I've come along way since the divorce, it's now finalized and all, and no, I'm not seeing anyone any longer.

Any longer? she wondered. I elaborated on my recent situation and how I felt about him.

Oh, no. I wasn't ready for a serious relationship, I was still too needy, after all it had only been a year since my husband left. She took over nine years to be ready for another relationship, she spent all that time with herself, getting to know herself again, because after her first husband left, she immediately got into another relationship and woke up one day wondering where she was, who she was and who this man was she was with. And that would indeed happen to me because it was too soon for me since a year was too soon for her. The more I tried to discuss with her that I felt I had made tremendous progress since my divorce, the more she argued against it. It was still too soon, I still felt I needed someone. I didn't know what I wanted, she could sense my energy. Well, my energy was all confused because I was still hurting from this last man. Part of me was hoping to salvage a friendship, part of me was needing a completely clean break.

All the while I was politely listening to her, I couldn't help but think she was full of shit. Just because it took her so long to grow, didn't mean I had to wait nine years to meet another man, we all grow at different rates. Maybe she went looking for that second relationship, I wasn't actively looking for anything but a good friend when I met him, and happened to fall in love with a friend, which I believe makes for a better long term relationship than actively looking for one. Remember the butterfly? And I am very determined to let my next relationship develop slowly over time, mostly to allow a firmer foundation on which to build the relationship.

And the worst part of what she was saying: no man would want to date me because of my finances, it's a deal breaker. Oh, kick a friend when he's down. Bitch.

But, maybe, just maybe there's a tiny grain of salt in her words. Tiny. While I do think there are some men who wouldn't want to date someone in a financial situation like mine, there are some who would. They would see the value in the person, not the circumstances. But, I would feel more comfortable being able to contribute to a date, and that would make me more comfortable with him in the long run.

I did come away from the reunion feeling worse about almost everything. None of the actual students who showed up were ever in my class, but it was still nice that they remembered me from the school, and it was nice visiting with the staff members who were there. Except one. I do think my friend thought she was trying to help me by comparing our situations, but she didn't end up helping. Or maybe she did. I am reminded of a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."  And while she may have had to take over nine years to be ready for another relationship, I don't need to. And while she may feel she needs to juggle several men at once because that is what she wants from life, I don't need to. Nor would I want to. Initially I was feeling worse because of what she said, but her situation isn't mine, she isn't me, and besides the Universe, only I know what's best for me. I am not giving my consent to feel inferior, or like shit, because things didn't work out the way I was hoping.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Looking back at my earlier dating years, (gods, that was over 26 years ago!) I am terrified to re-enter the dating game for a number of reasons. One of the biggest reasons of all is sex. Now, don't misunderstand, I enjoy sex, but not until I feel some connection to the guy. And that usually doesn't happen for me on the first date. And maybe not for a while.... And sex is how many men audition their next husbands, if the sex is good, the relationship will be good. But, I don't, because as some point the bloom is off the rose, and what then?

And with sex comes the whole STD question....another discussion to have.

And, all the electronic media have changed the rules. I'm told over and over that a text is more intimate than an email or a phone call. It seems there is a hierarchy of intimacy in how your date contacts you. I would have thought a phone call would be the most intimate. But, no. The trouble I find with electronic non-verbal media is you can't discern the tone of the voice in the message, was he being serious or sarcastic?  Call me old-fashioned, I prefer voice to voice communication for important matters.

Back in those early days, I was looking for love in the bars and clubs. Where else was a newly-out young gay man of twenty-three to find love since he was new to the community? I wondered why I was striking out so much. Maybe I was trying too hard, or maybe it was partly due to the intimidation factor, but maybe there was something else, as I was not having much luck. I mean, I could get laid, but I couldn't get a second date. During a session with one of my therapists, we went over the qualities I wanted in a partner; honesty, integrity, a 'connection.' He came back with "You do realize you are shopping for Tiffany's at a K-mart?" So, I stopped looking for love in these places. But, I still went to have a good time. Occasionally.

Ok, yes, men of integrity do go to the clubs. I was in one two weeks ago. But it was wrong. It was too soon after hearing, was just too soon.  So, how do you meet a man of quality if the bars and clubs aren't the best way to go?

Ask friends to set you up? That was awkward 16 years ago. But, it worked for a while. (And I didn't ask. They insisted.) And, their idea of what you're looking for might not match your definition.

An online site? It works for many, but there's always the chance of someone not reading your profile correctly. I mean, on my profile I did put "No Hookups" but many took it as a challenge. I actually got this  message on an app for gay men I once belonged to: "Could you use an oral versatile, hairy, hot Mex bottom? I'm close by." WTF? Didn't he read my profile? And if you end up chatting with someone and decide to meet, I imagine the actual meeting can be awkward. Did he live up to his photo? Do I have a 'connection' with the living person?

Social groups? That's a possibility. But, it can also be difficult trying to discern the relationship-status of the man who catches your eye. Is he single/dating/coupled/partnered in an open relationship? Asking him directly gives you away, and what if you don't catch his eye? The next club meeting might be uncomfortable. I am reminded of a friend who was very interested in this guy from a club they belonged to. After some flirting and talking they went out and ended up back in the other guy's bedroom in his apartment. After a nice, sensual massage, and some other relief, my friend was startled by the sound of the apartment door opening and was shocked to find it was not a roommate but the lover who was returning. My friend never returned to the club again out of embarrassment.

Coming of age in the 70s and 80s I was bombarded with all these messages of self-esteem. One that stuck with me was "Happiness is like a butterfly. Chase it and it will elude you. Wait for it and it will come and rest on your shoulder." So, now I had come to the conclusion that the best relationships are the ones that come to you, building on a friendship first. But that also brings a problem. When and how do you let a friend know you have fallen for him? that the rules have now changed? And what if the feelings aren't reciprocated? Talk about uncomfortable, awkward, and a whole myriad of other feelings....This was my friend from the Bible Study. After having that conversation, I never returned, rationalizing I had gotten what I needed from the group and no longer felt the need to participate. The truth is I didn't want to run into him again. It was too painful. It was still awkward about six years later running into him at the memorial of a mutual friend.

But, I digress from my original point. The real reason I am afraid of entering the dating scene again is mixed signals. Trying to decipher what he really means from what he just said, and trying not to send mixed signals myself. As a teacher, communicating my lesson is my utmost priority. I have to make those 32 kids understand what I just taught them. Sometimes it takes 4-5 times and ways to get my message across. And after 29 years of teaching children of all ages, academic levels and language abilities, I can usually figure out what they are trying to ask. But I still can have trouble getting my point across to them. I delivered the same lesson to three classes this week, and two of them understood it in 15 minutes, the third group took the whole hour. And they were the mid-ability group. And they still didn't get it. I thought I had made myself as clear as could be. I guess I didn't. As a writer, I want my readers to follow my scene as I write it, be it a tender love scene to courtroom drama to this blog. My recent post, 'Intimidation' brought several comments, mostly private and off the mark. I thought I was clearly referring to an initial first impression of me based solely on my looks. I guess I wasn't as clear as I thought. As an Aquarian, our need to be understood is inherent within us; it physically pains us when we are misunderstood. So, I am plagued with a tri-fold need to be clear.

Recent experiences have taught me I need to be more explicit in the dating scene. And what does 'dating' mean anyway? I mean, many people can go out socially with more than one person at a time; to play the field, separate the wheat from the chaff so to speak. Not me, I tend to focus on one guy at a time, giving him my undivided attention. Otherwise, it gets too confusing for me. And expensive. Dating also implies, to me anyway, you want to get to know the other guy maybe to see if a relationship is possible for the two of you, not necessarily focusing on being friends first. I don't necessarily go out looking for a relationship, I prefer to let one develop over time arising from a friendship first. I thought I had made that clear. I guess I hadn't.

And it physically pains me that I wasn't clear.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I am going to come off either really stuck up or just really bad in this blog. 

I've been told I'm intimidating. Me. I don't see it, but hey, if someone says it, it must be. Right?

Now, I can see myself as being intimidating to my students. I am known as a strict, demanding teacher. I mean, I even had one vomit on the first day of school when he found out I was his teacher. (That was in third grade. Now, if it would only happen in sixth.) 

When I think of intimidating, I think of large ferocious animals; hence the photo. It was a little intimidating walking into a known black bear habitat. (And to answer that rhetorical question about bears and the woods; yes, they do. I nearly stepped in the evidence.)

But, I've been told I'm intimidating to gay men. Me? Seriously??

When I think of an intimidating gay man, I think of some big burly, dark haired, very masculine man, dripping in muscles, leather, chains, attitude and aviator glasses. And fur. (That means 'body hair' for those of you who need an interpreter.) 

Or, I think of a very effeminate gay man with an in-your-face-take-shit-from-no-one attitude. 

So, why me? What makes me intimidating? I'm not big, burly or any of the other. Well, dark haired, yes, but more salt and pepper. (More pepper than salt at this point.) And I don't have an attitude of either kind.

Back in the days when I went to the clubs and bars looking for a boyfriend, a few times men told me that I intimidated them. They'd come up to me, ask me to dance or start a conversation, and after a while, invariably they would tell me I wasn't what they expected. 

I would ask what they meant. 

"Based on your looks, I thought you'd be stuck up. You seem too nice, too real, too genuine."


In other words, I was too good looking NOT to be conceited; NOT to have an attitude. They couldn't handle it, and they'd leave.

They didn't know what to do with me. (And I don't mean in the bedroom because I'd rarely leave the club with someone.)

They wanted someone with an attitude?  Really?

I was just being myself.

So, I asked my best friends if I was intimidating. And who is a gay man's best friend? His straight female posse. And yes, they said I could be intimidating, but for a different reason: I'm very sexy. 
That's intimidating?

Not entirely, they said. I'm sexy because I don't know I'm sexy.

Now that I'm single, I'm anticipating this coming back up. A gay friend recently alluded to this. He said I didn't live up to the picture on my online profile. 


I didn't seem to be as aggressive as my picture suggested.


I came off more gentle in person.

That's a bad thing? No, just not what he expected. 

Oh. (Flashback to earlier days.)

All this reminds me of something someone once said to me, "Expectations are planned disappointments." (I just thought I'd throw this in.)

When I'm ready to consider dating again, which may be a while, I will continue to just be myself. And if I intimidate someone by being myself, it's his loss. That only tells me he isn't ready for the real me.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I Met a Man

Oh, no! A color picture! I'm out of my element. But this post will take a different turn so, why not a different angle with the photo?

I met a man and I fell in love with him.

Doesn't Cher have a song with that title?

No, it's I Saw a Man and He Danced With His Wife.

Anyway, we met online, and on our profiles we both were insistent, "Friendships, no hookups." I was looking to expand my gay social circle.

Over the course of the last few months, we texted, IM'd each other online, Facebooked, and saw each other four times. I thought God/Fate/the Universe was intervening to keep us from going too fast. I didn't want to make the same mistake I made with the ex by going too fast. I was determined to take the next relationship slow.

The new man was kind, generous (he did the AIDS ride), supportive (he let me vent about my ex and talk out my emotions regarding the divorce), he listened, and he had a gentle spirit. Plus, he was very handsome with a kind of Robert Downey, Jr./Patrick Dempsey look. We spoke on the phone twice before actually meeting and through it all he became a friend.

Meeting people online and then in person carries an instant "blind date" quality and the subsequent nervousness. Well, for me, anyway. But, God/Fate/the Universe intervened and we met in an extremely non-threatening way. He had finished the AIDS ride and his prearranged ride home had to work. I found out via Facebook, and offered to take him and his gear down to his home for which he wanted to thank me by taking me to dinner. On the ride down to his house, the conversation flowed freely, comfortably, naturally. We talked of our exes, and he told me of his annual party and I'd be getting an invitation. I could go on with the details of the conversation, but that's not important. It was during the dinner where I realized I could really end up liking him. The evening had suddenly turned into a date, and the nervousness began to set in. But, a different kind of nervousness. I had already realized I had been myself, not someone who just acquiesces to please his date. I was assertive. I was proud of myself. Normally, I'm not. Assertive, that is. Proud of myself, yes.

As time wore on, I slowly fell in love with him through the texts and Facebook messages. It surprised me, as I wasn't looking for a relationship because I had learned earlier on in my life, the more you look for a relationship the less you find one. I was determined to let one find me this time. Plus, I certainly didn't expect to find one so soon after my divorce. And with someone so nice, and from an online source. He even appeared in one of my guided meditations. He was the special friend who handed me "The Box."

I began to feel we were destined to be more than friends. I had had a friend before my first partner and I fell in love with him and I knew the relationship would be wonderful. So did he. After all, we were both struggling with being gay and our Christianity.Plus, we were both Aquarians, and who better to understand our craziness than another one. But, he still had coming out issues, so he couldn't return my love to the extent I deserved (his words). So, we parted ways, never to see each other again.

I was attracted more to the new man's soul, than to his handsomeness. I felt our relationship would be just as wonderful as the other one. We both had a Christian background to compound our coming out and shape our character of today. I am an Aquarian with Libra rising, and he is a Libra, and since Aquarius and Libra are naturally compatible (according to astrologers) I felt we had a very strong connection. It was just something innate with me.

Plus, he was my intellectual, chronological, educational and emotional contemporary. And very good looking, did I say that?

But, it doesn't end well, unlike the song. I wanted to move the relationship forward, and we were having difficulty finding alone time. Aside from the night we met, we had only seen each other in social settings. I gathered God/Fate/the Universe was intervening again to keep us going slow, to just let it unfold. But, how could it unfold if we weren't getting to spend time alone to get to know one another? Maybe that was part of it. By not having alone time, it would unfold very slowly. But, I was getting confused. I felt he liked me too, from things he said. I also felt he needed to know my feelings. After all, honesty is the best policy. Maybe he was holding back out of respect for me, as I was the most newly divorced, and was I ready to move forward into a new relationship? So, I told him. And he loved me, too. As a friend.

That hurt. Deeply. Just as it did barely a year ago when my ex-husband told me he no longer loved me as a husband but as a friend.

Do I regret telling him? No. For I now know what I felt for him would not be returned equally. And it's best to find out early than go on wanting what I may never have with him. He was truly sorry if he sent me mixed signals. And I have no reason to believe he did it deliberately, to play me. That does not fit his personality. He is a genuine, nice man, perhaps one of the few remaining ones out there.

I consider myself fortunate to have met him, to have learned from him and to have had his friendship for the short time we knew each other. He was very sincere in wanting me to stay in his life as a friend. But, he genuinely understood if I could not.  As he possesses the qualities I want in my next husband; supportive, generous of self, nurturing, creative, a good listener, I can't stay. I can't risk falling in love with him again, only to end up with the same result. Besides, could I keep myself from feeling those same emotions again? I don't know. So, for now it's best we part ways, perhaps never to see each other again, which truly saddens me. But, closed doors sometimes reopen.

As I have blogged before about lessons learned in relationships, I ask myself what have I learned here? First, I am capable of falling in love. And falling deeply, though perhaps too quickly. I learned I have a very strong tendency to be analytical of what people say to and do for me, to question what they said and why they said it. It's the Aquarius/Libra thing in me, two very intellectual signs who very often spend more time in their heads than in their hearts. We Aquarians have the tendency to be overly analytical of situations, and particularly of our own emotions; we are therefore guarded, but when we fall, we fall hard. And Libras have the tendency to vacillate, to weigh each option carefully before deciding, "What should I do? What should I do?" So, I have the double whammy; first, of analyzing my own emotions and what was said to me, and then weighing my options trying to decide; follow my head? follow my heart? head? heart? That's going to be hard to do, to just let go and follow my heart. I have also learned I like to know almost from the beginning where the relationship might be heading. I'm impatient that way. I don't enjoy wasting my time. But, my counselor suggested I learn to relax and enjoy "the dance" that people do when they first meet. After all, you don't go to the symphony just to hear the last note.

People enter and exit our lives for a reason. I will remember the lessons I learned with him and because of him. It was because of this relationship I learned so much more of myself. As you can see, he touched me deeply. I only hope that I touched him half as much.