Friday, December 28, 2012

Resolutions 2013

One of my all-time favorite series of books is Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City. In the second book of the series, More Tales of the City, Michael Tolliver, the lead gay character, (or is he the gay lead character?) makes a list of Valentine Resolutions he calls his "Dirty Thirty." And yes, there are thirty, and yes, they are for Valentine's Day, so there is an air of love/sex/romance about them, albeit from a young, single, gay male perspective; e.g. "3. I will stop expecting to meet Jan-Michael Vincent at the tubs." Or another example, "11. I will not cruise at Grace Cathedral," or my personal favorite, "22. I will not fantasize about firemen."  I don't see a problem with that one, but evindently Michael did. 

I have never been one to keep resolutions, because to me the words 'resolution' and 'resolve' are so definitive about solving a problem; as opposed to changing a habit which, to me, is not necessarily a problem with a definitive solution. Therefore, many of us make resolutions we could never keep, so we are guaranteed to fail whiccan then trigger a feeling of failure leading to lowered self-esteem, often becoming an endless cycle. Therefore, I resolved to stop making resolutions, and even that one, I haven't been able to keep. Because, during my weight loss period, I resolved to continue to eat better, to attempt to exercise more, and to focus more on just being healthier. By putting those modifiers in, I could count myself successful as long as I felt I was continuing, attempting, and doing more than what I had been doing in the past. Until recently, I was at least attempting to eat better. But, when life throws you curve balls, survival mode kicks in, whether it's physical, emotional or financial survival and you do what you need to do. My weight is up a bit due to emotional eating, so it's time to get back on the wagon, or at least the scale, monitor my eating habits and attempt to exercise more.

As this is also the time of year to reflect on the past one, I first want to show my gratitude for the blessings I have received;
  • my health is good;
  • my friends have stood beside me;
  •  my first novel, Out of the Past, was published and seems to be selling well;
  • my mortgage was refinanced, so my finances will improve, and I'm not in danger of losing my home;
  • my dog and cat are relatively healthy in spite of their ages;
  • my house is now mine; financially, and physically, though it could still use some of MY artistic touches;
  • my job is secure;
  • I'm counting down to retirement, a projected 7 years, 183 days as of this writing!;
  • the election provided needed revenue to California schools, so I won't take a pay cut for the first time in over three years.
While I am still struggling with some personal issues, and a few professional ones as well, I am hopeful 2013 will continue on in a positive mood. And with that, and Michael Tolliver in mind,  I would like to propose my "Dirty Dozen" for 2013.
  1. I will work on being more positive this next year (and beyond).
  2. I will work on marketing my book and therefore myself.
  3. I will work on finding myself acceptable just as I am (to quote the old Baptist hymn).
  4. I will work on not worrying about what others think of me.
  5. I will work on making time to read more (by limiting my time on the social media).
  6. I will work on making time to write more (by limiting my time on the social media).
  7. I will work on decluttering my house by getting rid of fifty or more items over the year.
  8. I will work on decluttering my emotional house by letting go of past hurts.
  9. I will work on not being afraid of meeting someone.
  10. I will work on not letting people take me for granted.
  11. I will continue to work on my weight, and my emotional, physical and mental health.
  12. I will take time for me.
And if by some chance, I do meet some nice guy, I will attempt to leave judgements behind and just see where the journey takes us. And I will not freak out.

And if this journey brings us closer, I will attempt to let my guard down and let him see the real me. And I will not freak out.

The hell I will. 

But then, I can work on that.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Me-Date No. 2

From a mural in West Hollywood
I take it as a bad date when you come home with a headache.

But, what if the date you have is a date with yourself and you still come home with a headache? That can't be good.

It started out with a massage. I booked it at a massage salon in a strip mall, one I had been to before, and $39.00 for a full hour is not a bad price. Now, this wasn't a spa, but it had done the trick before. I had requested a combo of Swedish and some deep tissue work, due to the painting and stress I had been under. The masseuse had barely touched me when she noticed how tight I was and offered a full deep tissue, really deep, for only $10.00 more. I agreed. She climbed up on the table, and began using her heels to dig into my back. She walked up and down my back digging into spots near my spine, and shoulders, all the while commenting how strong and tight I was. (I know, this is beginning to sound like a bad porn novel.) After a while, she switched from her heels to her knees and eventually to her elbows. She eventually finished with a light Swedish and the hour was up. While on one hand, I did feel some relief from the tension I'd been carrying, I knew I wasn't completely relaxed.

From a mural in West Hollywood
I then drove to my favorite vegetarian fast food place, Veggie Grill. I took along a notebook to do some writing, either for one of a few ideas for novels or for jotting ideas for my blogs. I am not vegetarian, but occasionally feel the need to be more healthy. I also chose Veggie Grill because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do next and it wasn't in the Valley. Perhaps I would take a stroll around Hollywood, West Hollywood, or head east into Downtown L.A., or even to another favorite place for me to go and meditate, Greystone Park in Beverly Hills, all are just a short drive from Veggie Grill. I placed my order; a veggie burger with added Portobello Mushroom, and sweet potato fries with Chipotle dipping sauce. Finding a table wasn't difficult as the place was nearly empty and I sat down and jotted notes for a blogpost. Yet, there was some unease still around me. My muscles in my back and shoulders were still sore from the deep tissue work, and a faint headache was beginning.

The food arrived, and I ate and wrote, glancing around me at the patrons nearby. A couple to my right, I think he was gay, and she his best girlfriend; two women on my left, one with an accent and the other was speaking too softly to hear. A trio was eating at the table in front of me, two young men, very gay, and a woman- all eating salads. As I was writing, something was gnawing at me, and I couldn't discern what. A pent up emotion, but what? Frustration over a toilet I was having difficulty repairing at home, general malaise at the encroaching holiday, or a surprise shock from an unexpected email, stirring up old wounds and bittersweet memories? A bit of all three, perhaps, with the latter being the heavyweight.

Back to my me-date, I finished eating, (the food is always good at Veggie Grill) and was feeling a bit guilty taking up space at a table while not eating. Now, the place was not hurting for tables, there was no line out the door.  But, the headache was building and I thought some exercise might do me some good. And I must admit, the call to fix the toilet was deafening, as was the sister call to finish touching up the recent paint jobs. So, I left to continue my me-date, resisting the urge to rush home and keep working.

Trilingual signs in West Hollywood
I ended up driving into West Hollywood wanting to get in touch with my gayself. I found cheap, decent parking, a post-Apocalyptic/Holiday miracle in itself. I paid for two hours of parking and walked up to Santa Monica Blvd. Now, I had been there just a few months before, so nothing new was happening for me to take pictures of. But, I tried. Maybe it was the general mood I was in; the pain of the massage, the paint jobs calling me, the toilet dripping on the floor (well, I did know how to turn it off at least). But, the idea of leaving something unfinished was irksome, especially after I'd tried to fix the toilet and having no success.

I wandered around Santa Monica Blvd for a while. Feeling no particular pull, except for coffee, I headed to the one and only Starbucks I knew of in WeHo. I got my order and walked back to my car and drove home, running errands on the way. All in all it was an okay me-date. I mean, I'd still do it again, but I think I'd pay better attention to my moods. Though, I think getting out did me some good, if only for the benefits of walking, of seeing something other than my house and neighborhood, of breathing fresher air outside, of breaking my routine. 

While getting out of the house was, and is, a good thing, it doesn't necessarily take my mind off all the things I need to do either for my job, my house, my kids, or myself. It does serve as a temporary reprieve from the boredom of coming home and constantly working, or surfing the internet. All work and no play makes Jeff a dull, gay old man.

And who knows? I might meet a handsome, hunky barista who knows exactly how hot to make my latte.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

To You

I cannot tell you how sorry I am neither of us got what we wanted from each other, or wanted to give the other. I know how much you wanted us to be friends and be there for me. I wanted that too, and to be there for you, however I could. But, I was also open to the possibility of more.

Perhaps, we misunderstood each other. Perhaps, we misunderstood ourselves. And here we are today, unable to be anything to or for each other.

Except a memory.

And a lesson learned.

We must let go.

We must move on.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Parable of the Old Man

Once there was an old man with a kind, gentle spirit. He would put food out for the wild animals who lived near him; he often helped his neighbors when they were in need. He expected nothing in return, the joy in their faces was enough for him. When shopping in the village, he greeted everyone he encountered with a smile. Some returned his smile, some looked at the old man questioningly. He was respected by all those who knew him.

One evening, a handsome young stranger appeared in the old man's village. The old man, tending his garden, greeted the handsome stranger and inquired as to the younger man's business. 
"I am just passing through your fair village on my journey further south to attend to business." 
"If you wish, you may lodge here in my home for the night," offered the old man.
"I'm sorry, but I must decline your kind offer, as I am in a hurry to see my business concluded." A note of wariness in his voice, for the young man was also of a gentle spirit, but had grown wary of strangers, often wanting more from him in repayment for their kindness toward him. 
"Suit yourself, but every traveler must rest, and it isn't often safe outside at night around here. Are you sure you wish to carry on? You are safe in my house, I pose no threat." 
"Yes, I wish to go on for I am young, strong and can take care of myself." He replied, his wariness growing. 
"Fare thee well, then!"
"I shall, old man. Be well, yourself." And with that the young man turned walked away into the night, never to be heard from again. Whether he arrived safely is not known. 
The old man entered his home, bolting the door behind him for the night. Shaking his head, he asked himself what it was about him that some people seemed not to trust. Was it his age? Did he appear too eager to help at times? Too nice to be real?
A Leopard can't change its spots!
He vowed to try and appear less eager next time, more guarded.

That might be difficult, for it was in his nature to be kind. Though, sometimes he was too kind. 
And one's nature can't be changed.
Not easily.
And not without price.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

On One Hand

I have been so overwhelmed lately. And I'm not sure what it is that's overwhelming me.

My house overwhelms me.

On one hand, it is my security. I have a home to come to after a long day teaching, I have a place to come in out of the storm, literally and figuratively. If the housing market ever rebounds, I will have some financial security.

On the other hand, it takes a lot of work, time and money to maintain. And the weight of the responsibility can be daunting, and I'm not always sure I know what I'm doing in terms of the minor repairs or exactly how I want to decorate. And I am the only one to take care of it.

My dog overwhelms me.

On one hand, he is very loving and sweet. He is sitting in my lap as I am writing. We have to have family time every night before we turn in to sleep. I love sitting on my bed reading a book, playing on my iPad, or watching a DVD with him lying next to me, after his compulsory hand licking.

On the other hand, he is very needy. He is sitting in my lap as I am writing wanting to lick my hand in order to satisfy his compulsion. He may have developed this need because of the divorce, I don't know. He also gets nervous easily. Few people come over but when someone does, he wants to be held and reassured he will be safe. He is also aging, which requires medication and a strict diet. And I am the only one to take care of all his needs.

My cat overwhelms me.

On one hand, she is very loving. Sometimes. After all, she is a cat. She gives kisses when SHE wants to.

On the other hand, she is very demanding. After all, she is a cat. She wants attention when SHE wants it. She sometimes joins me and my dog for family time and then tries to come between me and my book or my iPad or even between me and the dog. She is also aging, is allergic to chicken and fish (just try and find a cat food without chicken and fish by-products in it!) and she also requires medications, and attention to her litter box, which is not always pleasant due to her bowel problems. I know, gross. And I am the only one to take care of her.

My job overwhelms me.

On one hand, I enjoy interacting with the students. I like hearing their stories, I love seeing their progress, I love watching them learn HOW to think. I appreciate it when they confide in me. I am also the Gifted Coordinator because gifted students are very often a misunderstood and oft overlooked sub-population of schools and advocating for them is a cause very close to my heart.

On the other hand, I dislike hearing from the students, like when one student described how she found out last summer that the man she thought was her father really wasn't. Or I hate it when the students describe how a relative was gunned down right in front of them. I hate being the strict disciplinarian when the students act out and interrupt my lessons. While I get an extra stipend for the coordinatorship, it is not enough for the amount of time and energy in addition to my regular teaching that I put in in order to advocate for this group. And the current trend in public opinion toward teachers, especially those of us in public education, is very dispiriting.

Life overwhelms me.

On one hand, I am learning to be me again after so many years of surrendering myself to my two former partners. I'm not sure who I am and what I want or need from people, especially from a husband, or even from myself.

On the other hand, I am enjoying what I am discovering about myself even if it is painful. I am learning to let go of the past. I am discovering I am stronger than I believed myself to be. Had I known my ex would leave me and with all he left me with, would I have believed I would survive? Probably not. But, I have and I am. And I will. And I am the only one who can make the journey for me.

The thought of a roommate overwhelms me.

On one hand, it would be nice to have someone other than my dog and cat to talk to. It would be nice to go out with a friend who lives closer than 25 miles away, to just go to Starbucks for a cup of coffee. It would be nice to have someone help me ease my way back into the gay community. It would be nice having a little extra money coming in to add to my new budget. It would be nice knowing someone is in the house if I needed assistance.

On the other hand, it is nice having my house to myself where I can listen to the music I want when I want at the volume I want. I don't have to worry if my dog barks at 6:30 in the morning when I leave for work or take out the trash at 7:30 at night. I just turned my guest room into a meditation room and don't want to have wasted the time and money for nothing. And knowing that I have twice fallen for the wrong man just because he was convenient makes me a bit nervous.

The thought of a relationship overwhelms me.

On one hand, it would be nice to lean back against his chest, sip some wine while watching a DVD together while sitting on the sofa. It would be nice to walk hand in hand on a beach. It would be nice to know he would be there if I needed help. It would be nice knowing I am loved.

On the other hand, it can be a pain having someone underfoot all the time. It can be emotionally taxing trying to negotiate household chores, decorating and sex. I'm tired of compromising. I've compromised myself too much for far too long. I refuse to be taken for granted, AGAIN.

The thought of dating overwhelms me.

On one hand, the idea of meeting new people intrigues me. I like people. I enjoy learning their stories, their histories. I could always use new friends.

On the other hand, I have great fears of dating. I am extremely guarded right now, I don't trust men easily. I hate trying to figure out what he is trying to tell me with those secret coded messages he sends. Grow a pair, cut the crap and just effing tell me you want to get to know me better! With everything else I am trying to sort out and take care of, do I even have the time and energy to get to know another man while getting reacquainted with myself? And knowing that I have twice fallen for the wrong man just because he was pleasant and said the right things at the right time makes me very fearful.

Sometimes I want to throw both hands up and just scream.

And sometimes I just fold both hands together, take a deep breath and try to let it all go.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Remorse Redux

After my ex and I bought our house nearly ten years ago, I remember getting a case of 'buyer's remorse;' "What have we done?","Are we ready for this step?", "Can we afford this?" I remember thinking this throughout the relationship, especially when finances were low.

Now, that the library is pretty much finished, except for some artwork and one small repair, I am experiencing it all over again. When I finished the library per my own decorating decision, I realized I am now alone. I am in this house by myself. I am solely responsible for its decor, its repairs and its bills. I can depend on no one. It all hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks square on in my heart. And while on one hand it is quite liberating, on the other hand, it is quite frightening and intimidating.

And then more of it hit me; the anger of being in this position against my will resurfaced, the anger of how he ended the relationship, the anger that I am the one with our two remaining four-legged children watching them age, and being the one responsible for their health and well-being. Other evidently long-repressed anger joined the anger directed at him, anger at the people in my life who have hurt me in the past, willingly or not; my father, for not being around post-divorce as much as I would have liked; my stepfather, for the emotional abuse he hurled at my mother the instability of our family life; The Man I Met; The User; the Politicians who are blaming teachers for ALL the maladies of public education and those public figures who make such idiotic denigrating remarks against the LGBTQ community.

While there is very little I can do about what happened in the past, I can do a lot about how I react in the present, in the moment. I can confront the individuals involved and unburden myself. I can let them know how I feel, but in a positive and constructive, non-threatening way. (Well, I can present the information in a non-threatening way, I can't control how they interpret my delivery.)

But, how much will this help me?

I had conversations with The Ex over my feelings in the past while we were together, and history taught me he didn't know how to react to my feelings. We even spoke after our divorce, and I came away from each conversation feeling relieved I expressed myself, but feeling like he still didn't understand why I was angry with him. I spoke with my father when we first reconnected and he shared he didn't always have our newest address and phone number whenever we moved, and we moved QUITE frequently. And across state lines, three times. My stepfather may have not been aware of his abuse, but I doubt it. The Man I Met explained his case quite clearly; I said I wasn't looking for a relationship. But, that doesn't explain the mixed messages he was sending me, causing me to rethink the idea of a relationship with him. And would the User really care that I am angry that he wanted to use me for his own pleasure? More than likely not. Well, maybe I can let that one go. At least I stopped that one before it got going. As for the Politicians, what can I say? They all seem to have their own agenda anyway. And we do have some allies in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. Those public figures are just plain idiots.

So, I feel I have tried in all cases, but not succeeded to the level of satisfaction I may need. Maybe those are the responses the individuals may be prepared to give and nothing more. So, I'm looking for alternatives to alleviate this anger and frustration.

Perhaps, it just takes time.

So, for seven years, this room was his office. Now that I have painted out the tangerine color and begun to make it into my library, it will take a while to adjust to the difference. I haven't gone in there to read and relax, yet. In time I will. In time, the anger will subside. All of it will.

To paraphrase Christopher Robin,  "I'm braver than I believe, and stronger than I seem, and smarter than I think."

After all, I have survived two years on my own. And I have survived a lot worse before this.

I just need to remember it.

All of it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

With Thanksgiving approaching, I decided to revisit my post of a year ago to see where I was and where I am now.

I am thankful for all the 'traditional' things; family, great friends, my health, my job, my dog and cat.

I am deeply grateful to Mother Earth for all She has provided, and to the Universe for the gifts given and lessons taught.

I am still thankful for what I said then. I am grateful for the pain of the divorce, the pain of the Man I Met, the disappointment from the User, for all of these have allowed me to grow and see the strength that I actually have.

I am also thankful for the place where I am for I am further along on my path to me. I have a better rate on my mortgage, so finances will improve. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel growing larger. I am thankful for the financial difficulties for I have learned to do with less. And now that I am a little more comfortable, I don't need to buy what I don't need. I have what I need and I need what I have. Except for a guest bed. But that will come later. And maybe once in a while, I can treat myself to something nice.

I am also thankful for, and overwhelmed by, the success of my novel, Out of the Past. And very thankful for those who have read it and reviewed it.

I am thankful for the sore muscles I have for I have taken back the room in my house, MY HOUSE, that my ex used as his office.
He never finished the room.
I always hated these colors, but the theme was 'fire.' He loved  them!

The color is a smoky gray in keeping with the 'fire'  theme.
I did keep his drapes. Ironically they went with the accent colors I chose.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Date Night

I went on a date the other night with a pretty nice guy.


Yes, I am calling it a date, not just going out for something to eat.
My favorite restaurant had opened a second location just ten miles away instead of twenty and I wanted to check it out. While the second one doesn't necessarily have the same ambiance as the original which sits half a block from the ocean, and is quite newer, only four months versus thirty-eight years, it was the food that I was craving. And I wanted to compare it to the original. After all, saving ten miles of wear and tear on my car when I'm craving authentic fish and chips, or bangers and mash with a black and tan to chase it, is worth it. The big drawback is the newer location doesn't have the gift shop/bakery next door. So, I will still have to make the trek into Santa Monica for British goods, though I am sure I could find some things locally, if I looked hard enough. Being so near the ocean, though, is a nice bonus for those treks into Santa Monica.

Back to the date. It was a pleasant evening, I enjoyed the company and just being out of the house was incredibly relaxing. In fact, after dinner, I didn't even want to go home. When I had finished the meal, Irish Beef Stew-the Saturday night special, I ended up driving along Ventura Blvd. and eventually went into a New Age bookstore I knew. Not finding anything of interest, with the need for coffee calling, and perhaps something sweet as well, I headed off to find the nearest Starbucks. As I was out of my neighborhood, I had only a faint idea where one was, and I eventually found my way there. This particular one had a counter, so I sat there for a while, sipping my latte, pondering my next move. It was still early, 7:30 PM or so, and any gay clubs wouldn't be opening or getting going for a while, possibly not even for at least an hour or so. I'm usually ready for bed around that time, especially during the school year. Even though this was a Saturday night, I had no excuse for not staying out late, but fatigue was indeed creeping in. To be honest, fear was too. While I seriously thought of going to a club, there are no nice ones here in this part of  LA. And if I did, what if someone started talking to me? Was I ready for that? I know I can refuse any unwanted offers, but the bad luck I've had with guys lately has only encouraged me to choose to remain single. I'm not ready for my heart to be a doormat, again. I went home.

In time, I may change my mind about staying single. My past lessons have taught me the more I look for something, the less I find it. I recently misplaced my checkbook and I looked everywhere for it; the place where I knew I last used it, the place where I thought I had taken it, the place where I usually keep it, and when I stopped actively looking; voila, it turned up. Ironically, it was in one of the places I had looked several times. Isn't that the way it usually works out? Stop looking and you find it.

I had a great time on my date with me. I enjoyed being out on the town, so much so, I think I'll do it again, and maybe next time I may take in a movie.

Or even go to a club. Maybe.

There are people who couldn't do what I did; go on a date with themselves. I'm not sure why. Perhaps they're embarrassed to be seen alone in a nice restaurant. Perhaps they might think others might think there's something wrong with them because they're alone in a nice restaurant. Perhaps they can't be alone with themselves or with their thoughts. It is strange, I admit. But, with (almost) everyone having a smartphone these days, you can read a book or a newspaper on an app, or get caught up on some game you're playing.  Learning to be alone with yourself is important. It gave me time to look into myself in a setting other than my house, because at home I get distracted by the memories of the past, or the dog and cat need or want attention, food or their meds, and by my future decorating plans. This also gave me an opportunity to relax. And, by treating myself to a night out once in a while is one way I'm learning to love myself again after a couple of difficult years.

After all,

God Save the Queen(s)!

Monday, November 12, 2012


I was raised to treat others as you would have them treat you. It's a Christian thing. Or, at very least a decent thing to do. But, I am beginning to lose respect for people who don't/can't respond to some form of contact within a reasonable amount of time.  I do understand we are all busy with our professional and personal lives, but that is NO excuse for NOT responding to a message, email, text, or voicemail within a reasonable amount of time. Well, maybe there are some excuses; like accident, hospitalization or death, either yours or that of a loved one. So, what is reasonable?

I have sent out a couple of requests to groups who review books and asked them to review mine and have not heard back from them. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Maybe they're trying to find someone who wants to review it for them. They didn't even acknowledge my request. Maybe this is part of the business. I don't know.

I'm also talking about personal messages. I have a group of friends and we get together frequently. Sometimes it can take them a week (or two!) to respond to an invitation, and I know they are busy. We've had this conversation. As I love them dearly, I have come to accept that this quirk comes with this group.

But, what happens when it's someone new?

In the past few months, I've suggested to a couple of different guys I've met online that we actually meet. I am trying to increase my social circle and not necessarily date, at this time. With one of the guys we had decided on a place but not a definite time, and with the other we had settled on a day, but no time or place. Both times, the men have indicated their interest in meeting up with me; "Sounds great!", and "I'd love to!" and one guy even asked me, "When are you available?" Both times, the men have not followed through to my last message. So, they've left me hanging. What's up with that?

The messages have gone through Facebook, which lets me know that they have seen the message, so they can't say they never received it. I even know what time it was when they read it. One of the guys suggested we meet when his schedule freed up a bit. It hasn't freed up in over a month. Really? And he hasn't contacted me suggesting he's still interested in the outing, or not. The other one never confirmed the location or time. He saw my last message the day before we were to meet. As of today, I have not received any explanation, or apology. So, I feel he stood me up. Can you be stood up if it wasn't a date?

I don't understand this way of communicating. In the stone age, before all this new-fangled gadgetry and instant communication, there was always the possibility of messages never being received. Now, with smartphones, I see no reason why messages can't be returned after a reasonable time. But, again what is reasonable? After all, the smartphone has access to email, voicemail, text, and Facebook, all right in your pocket or purse. And there is a calendar built in (usually) to the phone. Many of us work, whether at home with the family, or at a job of some sort. We have breaks, it is the law. Take the phone into the restroom while you're on the john. No one needs to know. I just don't get this lack of common courtesy.

One of my gay friends says this is the way it is. Get used to it and use it, he says, to separate the wheat from the chaff. But, does it have to be this way? Is not returning messages the new rejection?

I'm not innocent in this, I admit. There have been times where I have stopped communicating with people, but that was because I felt uncomfortable, maybe threatened. Maybe I had gotten what I needed from that person and it was time to move on. So, I did. Maybe too abruptly, maybe because I felt there would be no good in expressing my opinion, maybe I felt there was no longer anything in common.

Maybe I'm too sensitive, perhaps I should develop a thicker skin. But, I'm afraid I'd become jaded if I did. Maybe I'm trying too hard to simply make friends and expecting too much. Like civility. Like communication. Like courtesy. But, if this is the way things go in platonic situations, what happens when it's a bit more stepped up, like possibly dating and revealing your vulnerabilities? What then?

It sure makes me want to remain single.

As for what is a reasonable amount of time; I say, a day or two, at the most. What say you?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dangerous Times

My house, just before moving in, 2003.
Now that my house is all mine, the loan is finished, the election is over and California voters passed the proposition to raise taxes a little to fund schools which means no more salary cuts (!), I find myself in a dangerous place. I still have my financial windfall and a house that needs my touch. MY touch. Where to begin?

I live alone in a four bedroom house of approximately 1740 square feet. Well, I live alone except for my dog and cat. One bedroom stands empty, except for a dresser, night stand and lamp. I cleared out this room for a potential roommate before applying for the loan modification the first time. I'm not sure where this roommate thing is going, maybe it's not meant to happen, quite yet. In the meantime, it sits empty, unused....yet full of promise.

What to do with this room?
I have always loved the color of the room. It is a turquoise/teal reminiscent of tropical waters. In fact the name of the paint color is 'Cozumel' and 'water' became the theme for this room and the second bathroom, and they became our guest suite. One of the options I'm considering for this room is to buy a bed and have it available for guests, though no one is planning to come visit anytime soon. I got bored last night and went furniture shopping. A salesman had also suggested a sleeper sofa, (hmm, interesting idea) that way I could just go sit up there and read or meditate. (I like that!) On my way home, I thought of a futon. Again, I could go read or meditate, instead of lying on the floor. But, there is a problem....

I am planning on converting his old office into a library. I am thinking of painting it a soothing gray, with some dark blue and  brown accents. Why gray? 'Fire' was the theme for this room and orange was his favorite color and now that the fire's out, all that remains are the ashes. And with gray I stay true to the theme of the bedroom colors being based on one of the elements; my bedroom and bathroom is painted in 'earth' colors; sage and forest greens with cinnamon accents and my office is 'air', the lavender of sunset with accents of the cobalt blue of deep night.

My future library, but in gray
When he moved out, he left his recliner behind. I'd donate it, but it is very comfortable, as is mine. I may move his up to the library as it will fit into the color scheme. Or, I may donate it to a charity and buy a different one, starting over. It's just that it's soooo comfortable. Either way, I will have nothing downstairs in the living room but a tattered old sleeper sofa which is slip-covered, my recliner, a coffee table and plant stand.

Being as I don't know when or even if I will have a roommate, I'm leaning toward making the water room into my meditation room. So, here's what I'm thinking; I want to paint the trim black. Just the trim. Then I want to get a futon and a decent dock for my iPod. That way, I can go in, close the door, and meditate. Hopefully, my dog will go lie down and my cat will not howl for food during that time. If I meet someone who I feel would make a good roommate and he has some furniture, maybe I can move the futon into the library. So, maybe I should donate the recliner (tax deduction!), look for a smaller chair for the library, possibly a wingback and perhaps a footstool of some sort. Just some thoughts.

One other area that needs attention is the garden and the front garden in particular. I have a small bed on one side of the walkway to the front door, as is evident in the top photo. That picture was taken when the house was new. The bed today is dirt with about three plants in it. My idea is to create a bed of California native plants that can tolerate the heat and less water. The problem with the bed is that it faces east, so it gets only morning sun. I guess a visit to a nursery is in order for some plant ideas.

So, here's the dangerous part. I have money. I want this ALL done tomorrow. When we bought this house, we were counseled not to rush into buying everything we needed (wanted) for the house. Did we listen? Sort of. We waited but ultimately grew impatient. The two projects I've mentioned here are small. Yet, they aren't the only ones, the oven doesn't work, the refrigerator is over 10 years old, the kitchen sink is beginning to show it's age as are the toilets, and dishwasher. The powder room also needs a paint job, it is painted peach right now. Ewwww. (It was a compromise.) The tree outside between my house and the neighbors' house needs attention as it interferes with their satellite reception. And I want decent window treatments, as the temporary vertical blinds are becoming permanent. Some artwork that reflects my taste would also be nice.

I also have some personal projects/needs as well; my laptop is beginning to fuss, I'm thinking of joining the 21st century and getting a smartphone. And, I want my own iPad as it's a bit annoying when I'm using my current one (provided by my school) in class and I get notifications while projecting the educational image to the board. (I'm just glad the notifications aren't of a, um, sensitive nature.) Yet, I need to learn to save for these and other upcoming concerns as my property taxes aren't impounded into my loan anymore, and my four-legged children are aging. With my mortgage payment now lower, I can save and learn to control my impulse spending. 

I really don't need all of this done tomorrow. I'm just an impatient person with some money and a house that needs attention.

Maybe that's my lesson in all this....

After all, patience is a virtue.....

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Training Wheels

They say if you learn something and don't use it, you lose it. But, if you begin to use it once more, it's like riding a bicycle. It will come back to you. Maybe.

I studied German in high school and college, until I transferred to a state university that didn't offer it at the level I needed, because in Southern California, there is little call for German. Spanish, yes. And Asian languages come in handy, being we're on the Pacific Rim. So, I didn't use my German frequently enough and ultimately forgot most of it. Therefore, I was both excited and nervous when my ex and I went to Germany in 1998; excited to try and practice a language I hadn't used since 1978 or so, and nervous as I didn't want to make mistakes because I prided myself on being an excellent foreign language student, since I had studied several of them throughout my educational career and they came relatively easy to me. Languages had always fascinated me as a child, and I even studied a few on my own. I have since forgotten most of them as I have not used them, again because of living in SoCal. About the only things I can remember from my year of college Russian is "I love you", "Where is the restaurant?", "Kiss me" and "I'm gay." Some very useful phrases to use in Moscow, to be sure!

Well, we arrived in Germany, and I was very disappointed. Everyone spoke English, Scheiße! Everyone, but the older generation, seemed to refuse to speak to me in German, try as I might. They wanted to practice their English.  But, in those situations where I did get to speak German, it was indeed like riding a bicycle. It came back, ein bißchen. A bit. I wobbled a bit, fumbling for a word I knew that I knew but could not recall at that moment. But, at least I was able to make myself understood, and I could comprehend most of what I heard.

As I look at my life today, a single gay man at mid life, I have realized something which traumatized me. As I begin to think about contemplating the possibility of commencing to start to wonder about when I might be ready to consider dating, it dawned on me, I DON'T KNOW HOW! There, I have said it. I don't know how to date. I have made a few vain attempts to meet men post-divorce, and I have cataloged two of the could-be four attempts here in this blog. Though some may argue that the first attempt I have described here  was not an out-and-out dating situation because we never actually had a real date. (Actually, this was the second man I had met, as I haven't really talked about the first one.) But, to me, after meeting Second Man in person, I ended up hoping it would turn into one. Epic fail. Oh, well. And I'm not even sure what to call this last attempt, being that we possibly might go out sometime, maybe, in the future when his schedule frees up. I asked him over two months ago, and he's still busy. 24/7? I get it. Fail number two, or is it three? Hell, it's number four.

When I last dated, over 26 years ago, we didn't have smartphones (I still don't have one), cell phones didn't even exist in those dark ages. And without smartphones, there weren't any apps. There wasn't even the internet. (I feel like such a dinosaur!) You actually had to physically meet the man in some geographic location; a friend's party, a gay community center, a bar, or a back alley. Now, it seems you can meet someone without leaving home, thanks to all the apps: Grindr, Scruff, Growlr, Jack'd, u2nite, idate, Mister, Hornet, Cybermen, to name just a few. (I no longer have a profile on any of them. And that is just fine with me.)

I have commented before in other posts that the rules of dating seem to have changed with the arrival of this new technology. So, where does one go for a course in learning how to date again in this frightening new technoworld? I feel like this isn't a bike I'm trying to relearn to ride, but a motorcycle. It goes very fast, and if you're not careful, it will take off and leave you in the dust and then fall on you crushing your spirit, and maybe breaking a bone or two.

Perhaps, I should consider the four attempts I've made at dating as training wheels. Perhaps, even the two long term relationships I've had should also be considered training wheels. After all, isn't a relationship about learning about yourself? About how we see ourselves in relation to others? Aren't they a mirror into our inner soul? They are if we see how we are reflected in them. They're training us for either the long term or the next relationship.

As some of the physical difficulties that have affected my life post-divorce are now settling; the mortgage refi is done, the book is out and doing well- though I still need to promote it more, teaching is still difficult due to the nature of this class and politics surrounding education in general, I may be ready to get back on the dating bicycle motorcycle soon.

Once I figure out the new rules.

And once I'm ready to take a chance on falling off and getting bruised. Again.

Which is my next hurdle to cross.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Lately, I’ve been walking around feeling like I just want to fall apart. I’m not sure where it’s coming from, though I suspect it may be from feeling overwhelmed, not with what’s been happening lately; the book launch (it seems to be selling well), the loan refinancing (all papers are signed and I received the closing documents and overpayment), as well as teaching with some very disrespectful, unruly, and immature students, but mostly a feeling of uncertainty around the upcoming election and its potential effects on my personal and professional lives.

Part of all this, I feel, is the overwhelming feeling of responsibility I have for the house. It’s all mine. MINE. In the long run, it will be a financial plus. I should be elated. And I am. Grateful, too. Really. But, it’s all mine. I am solely responsible; financially and physically. I can paint the rooms the colors I want; I can put up the artwork I want where I want when I want.  I can plant what I want in the garden. I schedule the repairs and handle the maintenance. But, as it’s all mine, I am financially responsible for it. Only my paycheck. I have no one else to rely on. And I want to make these changes, but I can’t at least. Not until after the election.

I also have the sole responsibility for the dog and cat. Sure, he helps out financially. A bit. And he takes the dog, ONE weekend a month.  Don’t misunderstand, I love my kids. But, I'm the one who cleans up after them; the vomit, the accidents, the hairballs. I'm the one who makes sure they have their meds and the pill pockets to more easily dispense them, so they think it's a cookie, not a pill. And I'm the one who has to research an allergy formula for the cat. She can't eat chicken or fish. Try and find a cat treat that doesn't contain chicken or fish by-products, I dare you! But, I do love the evening family time my dog and I have before lights out. We lie on my bed, he licks my hand while I am trying to write, read or play on the iPad. If not, he licks himself raw because of some undiagnosed condition, though my vet thinks it could be Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Poor guy! Sometimes the cat joins us on the bed if she can tolerate coming up the stairs due to the arthritis in her hips. She demands to be petted, often while the dog is licking one of my hands. So, both my hands are then occupied, which makes it harder to write, read or play on the iPad.

The fiscal crisis affecting California (and other states, as well) has had numerous effects on city and county government positions, in addition to services and programs. Over the last couple of school years, teachers in my district have had to take some furlough days, and I know friends of mine in other districts and government areas have had to as well. This current year we are taking ten unpaid days. The schools will be closed for five of them, and five are other paid days we are giving up.  As of now, the students are losing five days of education, as well as other programs in schools, like art, computer classes, etc.

There is a proposition on the California ballot to extend the sales tax and raise income taxes to provide funds for the schools. If it fails, and it’s looking likely, my district plans to cut another ten days from the students’ education. Professionally, I am appalled these kids will lose out as they have lost at least four days per year for the last three years that I can remember. It could be more. Personally, I will lose another ten days’ pay. The uncertainty of the election prevents me from making many of the large-scale necessary changes I would like to make to MY house, like; repair the washer, repair the oven, paint out all the orange in the house (his favorite color), and redo the front flower beds. There are also some things I’d like to get for myself; perhaps upgrade my cellphone to a smartone; maybe my own iPad so I don’t sit in Starbucks or some other place hiding the “Property of LAUSD” sticker on the back. School districts are known for buying less than the best quality merchandise or taking whatever hand-me-downs are offered, it’s cheaper that way. My laptop is also acting up so I either need to repair or replace it. I also need some new shoes, and I am kind of particular.  I may just need to wait it out and trust this will all turn out for the best. In time.

And there is another attack on me, personally. One possible outcome of the election will continue the advancement of the Human and Civil Rights of LGBTQ people. The other possible outcome will set the clock back for us to the late 1950’s or even earlier. Certain laws will be targeted for repeal, like marriage rights, job discrimination, and hospital visitation rights to care for ill and dying loved ones. I’m surprised the idea of concentration camps for us hasn’t been proposed again. It’s sad to say my family doesn’t see it this way. Most of them see only the economy issues, not my personal life. They haven’t had to suffer as I have. I guess the only way for me to get over this mood is to do what I can to see the correct outcome comes out, and then just wait and see. Then, take it from there.
Not my favorite color.

Maybe it's not so much the responsibility, but the uncertainty of everything. I have been waiting for my situation, mostly the financial aspect, to change, and now it has. But, I still can't do what I need (or want) to do to improve the quality of my life. Maybe, I need to find a different, less financially dependent, way to move forward. Maybe I just need to learn patience. After all, the election is very soon.
He never finished painting the second time.

But, damn it, I want to make these changes in my house now!

But, I've waited two years, a few months more won't hurt. After all, I can just prime the walls to cover the orange. And that's not too expensive.

That gives me an idea.....

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Just Once

Just once I would like to go to sleep one night and wake up the next morning feeling refreshed, like in those television commercials and not feel like I need to go to back to sleep again to get over the sleep I thought I just had. The trouble is, I am so adjusted to my work week that my mind and body are used to waking up at the same time every day, including weekends and holidays, no matter how exhausted I am. So, I still end up stumbling ever so groggily to the bathroom at that time, and then back to bed if only for a little while, but usually I can't get back to sleep. Because, by this time, I have awakened the dog, who hates being penned up all night and starts to fidget wanting out of his run, and the cat begins to howl from downstairs, because she knows there is no food in her bowls, even though she hasn't gone to check for herself. (There's always plenty of kibble for her, but that's not what Her Highness wants.) The dog never got used to going outside for his business, so he is paper trained, and after I clean up after him, my mind has already begun thinking of all the things I need and/or want to do for the day, whether it's for school, home or personal or some combination of all three. Or my mind takes me on a journey of all the mental and emotional roller coasters I've been on lately.

For example, I knew September would be a rough month as I was preparing to release my first novel, Out of the Past. I was also in the midst of a home loan modification or refinance which had me jumping through hoops and worrying I would be declined yet AGAIN! I also had begun a new school year and I have so much to do to prepare for the year, both as a classroom teacher, and GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) Program coordinator at my school. And as a result of my financial woes, I had volunteered for a pilot program at school for a small stipend and my 40-question self-assessment was due at the end of September. No wonder I couldn't sleep!

In terms of the novel, I had no idea what I was doing and I am a man who likes to know exactly what to expect. No surprises. But, going into the editing process, I didn't know what to expect this time, and I survived. Yet, now I need to learn to market the book, and myself, which is another new unknown path for me to wonder about. Am I doing it right? I must be, the book is selling very well!

The loan papers were finally signed, the closing costs came in WAY under estimate (SURPLUS!!), and the loan was indeed funded! Now I just have to worry about not spending all the extra money frivolously. My house is ten years old, my car has 92,000+ miles, my dog is 9 and has hypothyroidism and OCD, and my cat is 15 and has hyperthyroidism and arthritis. Fortunately, I am in good physical health. But, now I have begun to look at all the little things I need (or want) to make my home mine and remove all traces of You-Know-Who, like turning his orange-colored office into a soothing reading room!! I'm thinking of a soft blue-gray.

(He had painted it orange in keeping with our elemental theme for each of the four bedrooms; earth, air, fire, water. And orange is his favorite color. I'm going with the blue-gray to keep with the fire theme; you know, ashes, after all the fire has gone out.)

The school year is off to a start, maybe not a great one, but at least it has started. I did finish my self-assessment on time, I'm just waiting for my principal to agree or disagree with me about my teaching habits. The big GATE project was postponed until mid-November as the people above the Central GATE Office haven't done their job in order for the Central GATE Office to do their job so the school GATE Coordinators can do our job. But, it will happen.

Now that it is October and most of what had been worrying me has taken care of, and I did indeed survive, and things are doing well, maybe now I can sleep and wake up feeling refreshed, if only my inner alarm clock would just turn off on weekends and holidays!

And if I stop thinking of how different my life is becoming and just let it become what it is to be.

Maybe then I can sleep in more.

Just once, at least.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Downsizing is great. I have so much stuff that I have been wanting to get rid of. Whether it's games I no longer play, toxic clutter from the garage or memorabilia I used to collect but no longer do, it's all taking up space in my house or garage. It's got to go.

I have been reliving a lot of memories lately, mostly painful or uncomfortable ones surrounding people in my life, e.g., a few friends who've drifted away because of the changes they've gone through and where we no longer see eye to eye, or men I had met and no longer am in touch with. I'll admit though, it's mostly the men I've dated over my gay lifetime who keep coming up. Maybe it's because my plate is so full right now, one more thing will push me over the edge, and I'm trying to maintain some sense of stability that I am having these thoughts. I try to keep the painful memories out of my head and heart, but it's not easy. I do have those moments where I just want to erase or downsize them. But, then I remember the good times with these guys and try to hang on to those memories. But, does this mean I haven't let go of the men? Am I truly ready to move on? Emotionally, at least?

Remembering the good, reminds me there is good in everyone. Sometimes, I have to dig deep to find it.

It's those difficult and painful memories that cause the most trouble. Then, I force myself to stop and remember, this person came into my life for a reason, if only temporarily, and probably for me to learn something about myself. I may not learn that lesson immediately but I know in time I will.

Going through my iPod and non-iPhone the other day, I noticed several contacts I hadn't heard from in over a year. Some of the names I would recognize and others I wouldn't. Most of the ones on the phone were those men I had contacted when I was on the apps but had now forgotten who they were as I had no last name for them. A few of the special contacts had actually made it to the iPod, and my feeling was if I hadn't heard from that person in over a year, and he wasn't family, DELETE.

How do I feel about downsizing my contacts? I'm fine. I hardly remembered what I had chatted about with some of the guys. And if the memories do come back, they do. I'll take it as just that, a memory. 

A memory, like the corners of my mind, a misty water colored memory of the way we were.

And nothing more.