Saturday, January 28, 2012


There is an email floating around writers' circles in which the sender posts ten confessions, and then asks the recipients to do the same and send it on. Many of my writer friends are then posting their confessions on their blogs. And in that vein, I thought this shot of St. Michael's Cathedral in Sitka, AK would be appropriate.

I also thought this would be interesting, somewhat different and a little lighter than my recent posts, and give me a break from the upcoming ones that are dancing around in my head and heart.

So, here goes:
  1. I am a fan of the show Dark Shadows. I used to watch it on TV in 1972. If I missed an episode I would ask my mother to either watch it, or use my tape recorder to record the audio for me. This was in the Stone Age when we didn't have VCRs, or DVRs. I have every episode of both the original series and the 1991 remake on DVD. I am anticipating the 2012 movie with Johnny Depp, though I have reservations about his portrayal of Barnabas. In some production stills, Depp looks twelve years old and Barnabas was an adult when he became a vampire.
  2. I have self-esteem issues which make it hard for me to accept a compliment. I don't believe I deserve it even though I believe the person complementing me is being sincere. (I'm working on it.)
  3. I used to have a crush on Donny Osmond. Now, not so much.
  4. I am so sensitive to other people's feelings I am afraid to speak up for myself for fear of hurting their feelings. (I'm getting better at this.)
  5. I'm afraid of losing control of myself, which is why I don't drink to excess, and have never inhaled, ever.
  6. I have old-fashioned values. I want to be romanced and seduced, and I want to romance back.
  7. I can go into shock at the sight of blood on television. Sometimes. It depends on the scene. If there are vampires involved, I probably won't. I can also go into shock when I see someone or an animal suffering in pain. My dog threw out his knee and I nearly passed out from his yelping and limping. Coincidentally, my ex was on the phone with our vet at the time. I don't know how to work on this.
  8. I can be somewhat of a hypochondriac. I don't go running to the doctor for just anything. But, I do pay a lot of attention to my aches and pains. And then worry about them.
  9. I did some acting in college, mostly in Spanish.
  10. I used to dream of being a singer. I would 'perform' in my room, when no one else was in the house. But, I never learned to sing. I can only carry a tune when I pass sheet music to someone else.

Whew! Now that I got that off my chest, I can go back to my regular posts.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Okay, so I have established I am not actively looking for a husband. I am waiting. I mean, my eyes are open for possible candidates. But, (I feel a Whitney Houston song coming on) how will I know?

I think of my instinct as my guide along my hike. I think if it just feels right, then there must be something to him. But, it's after that when I get myself in trouble. I want to know what he's thinking. I don't want to scare him off, but I don't want to seem disinterested. I don't want to rush, nor do I want to go too slow. So, what do I do?

I wait. I trust my gut. I remember wanting to tell a guy my feelings for him were deepening. I thought he liked me too, but I wasn't sure. The next time we met, my instincts were to not tell him even though it was maddening to me. I waited even longer until it drove me to the point where I had to tell him or I would lose my mind, as I really wanted to take our friendship to the next level or at least let him know I wanted to. And see how he felt about it.

I ended up doing what was right for me. I had to take care of myself. I couldn't go on second guessing forever.

It's the same thing with sex. If it feels good; I mean, if it feels right, I do it. I don't like feeling cheap the next morning. I want to wait until it feels right for me and if I lose him in the meantime because he is in a rush; well, it wasn't meant to be, was it?

Or, I let. I like to let the relationship unfold slowly, like a flower. After all, Nature doesn't rush, and I don't feel I should either. My last long-term relationship went a little too fast for me at the beginning, and even though we weren't the most compatible couple it lasted almost sixteen years. But, I can hardly say we were truly friends in the relationship.

Good relationships take time to develop, they need to age so the couple can get used to each other. And here is where I get myself in trouble again. While geography and schedules (the time and space continuum) may assist in keeping things going slowly, the mind is not constrained by such devices. It can be all too easy to imagine him lying next you in bed reading; or sitting next to you at the breakfast table checking his email on his phone while you check the news on yours. I have done that many times; projected the relationship forward. It may sound counterproductive to project things forward, but I believe it can be a litmus test for what feels right for you and your instincts. I felt very comfortable imagining him sitting at the table with me.

But, patience has its own rewards, as it did in my shot below. I waited for just the right moment to act.


Well, that's the plan in my head, anyway. Wait and act at just the right moment.

So, why don't I follow my own plan in my heart? I become impatient when it comes to relationships. When I meet a guy I seem to like, I have a need to know where it's headed almost immediately. Why can't I just enjoy the dance? After all, you don't go to the symphony just to hear the last note.

I don't like games, unless they come in a box or use a deck of cards. I don't like feeling confused, and I feel terribly guilty if I have mislead someone. I don't like hurting people, maybe that's why I overstayed my relationships. I'm just overly sensitive that way. And trying to figure out what he means by what he says or sends to me is nerve wracking. It is to me, anyway. Why can't we just be direct with each other, instead of having to guess what the other means? Therefore, we avoid possibly misreading the signs and end up confused and hurt.

I have a profile up on an online site, hoping to meet friends. The last time I tried this I met someone and ended up getting very confused and very hurt, and also possibly hurting someone very dear to me, which is killing me and wish I could take back. For it seems, we both may have misunderstood something somewhere along the way. We both started out looking just for friends, but I started developing deep feelings for him and fell hard and fast. His feelings for me remained platonic and in order for me to heal, I have asked for time and space, thereby bringing even the friendship effectively to a halt.

So, how do I avoid this pain and misunderstanding in the future?

First, I need to learn patience, and learn it NOW! I need to slow down, take things one day at a time, and remain in the moment.

Second, I also need to not have an agenda, then if my feelings do change, it doesn't come as quite a surprise to him. If I go in open minded to let whatever happens happen, then there is less hurt and confusion for both of us. If I limit myself to just being friends, I might miss out on a hidden gem. If I go into a situation expecting something, I will end up disappointed. Expectations are planned disappointments.

Third, I need to balance head and heart. I must not analyze everything he says, which is not easy for a double air sign. And it will be even more difficult now, with my guard up. My head will be overprotective of my heart for a while. The deeper the wound, the truer the feelings, the longer to heal.

Fourth, times have changed. I need to learn the new rules. When I first started dating, cell phones didn't exist, nor did the internet. We only had landlines and answering machines. Today, I understand that texting is considered more intimate than email which outranks a phone call. This is all so confusing after all this time out of circulation. Is there a copy of gay dating rules somewhere?

Well, It seems I have my work cut out for me. But the only way for me to work on myself in these areas is to date. And I don't know if I'm ready quite yet.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I am not a Looker

While in Alaska, I went hiking along a portion of the Chilkoot trail. This trail was one of the main routes into the gold fields during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-1899. The trail is approximately 35 miles long and can take from three to five days to complete. The trail itself begins near the old townsite of Dyea, Alaska and ends near Lake Bennet, in British Columbia and the Yukon Territory in Canada. Along the trail I was able to see some beautiful scenery, and some other interesting finds. But, I had to be observant. Or, at least pay attention to the guide.
Bear Scratch Marks

As we hike along our trail through life, many of us  ultimately hope not to travel alone. There are those of us who like company for a while, and some of us who want company until Trail's End. I am one of the latter. I would like someone by my side until the trail comes to a natural end. However, I have learned I have no control over the other person and their journey.

As I continue this new fork along my hike, I have come to realize that I need to keep my eyes open for a new partner as he could come along at any time and in any place. We could be in a supermarket, both reaching for a zucchini, or we could meet in a Starbucks, I could be writing, he could be reading. But, does this mean I am actively looking for a relationship? No. When I am ready, or the Universe believes I am, someone will enter my life again. I am open to the possibility for that to happen. I have learned from my past relationships and experiences and hope I am better prepared for the moment when the Universe brings someone to me. And then we can explore our options.

Watermelon Berries
Both my past relationships came along when I wasn't looking. They just happened. I met both men through mutual friends, and both ended up not being the best match for me, but it was always my choice to stay or go. I consider both to be learning opportunities and next time I will leave if I feel the need to, but only after I have made absolutely sure I have done all I can and I will make sure it is not out of fear that I am leaving.

Fear can make us do irrational things.  Fear can also be a wall we must overcome. Fear of being alone made me stay with my partners longer than necessary, or healthy. Fear of not finding anyone better made me settle for someone less than what I truly wanted. Fear of having to settle yet again, may prevent me from wanting to continue hiking. At least for a while. 

Taiya River
While I am not actively looking for a partner, the likelihood of him walking to my door is nil. I at least have to be out on the path to stumble across him. If I hadn't been on the Chilkoot Trail, I would not have seen the scenery here. If I hadn't been hiking in Franklin Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains, I might not have seen the Western Fence Lizard.

Chaparral Trail, Franklin Canyon
So, when I am ready to resume hiking, does this mean I have to go trolling in bars and clubs or list myself on dating sites and apps because it's easier to find a gay man at a gay place? No, I don't have to, they are merely places to visit along my way because I do have to be out on the trail, if I want to meet someone at the appropriate time. What I have to keep in mind is the attitude I have. I mean, yes it is easier to find a gay man in a gay establishment, but those aren't the only places where we hang out. But, if I am expecting to find Prince Charming in one of these places, I won't. If I hope to meet people and make friends, I just might.

I know many people go to bars and clubs with the attitude of finding someone special, only to end up disappointed. Many people are trying online dating, or listing themselves on "hookup apps." But, by putting up a profile on one of these sites, am I hoping to meet Mr. Right and not Mr. Right-Now? Maybe subconsciously I am. But again, it goes back to my attitude. Many of the men on these sites are looking for Mr. Just-for-Funtimes, or at least Mr. Right-Now. I am not looking for either. First and foremost, I am looking to make friends, and if a friendship leads somewhere else, all the better. I don't expect the first guy I meet to be Mr. Wonderful, and I have been down that path of being a Mr. Right-Now before and I didn't like how I felt about myself afterwards. I don't want to go there again. Does that mean I won't have a good time now and then? Not necessarily, but I will follow my instinct and if it feels wrong, I just won't do it. And if he doesn't like it; well, then it wasn't meant to be.

And I will continue my hike.

Western Fence Lizard

Sunday, January 15, 2012


In ancient times, cities often protected their residents by building walls, like this one around York, England. These walls served to protect those living inside by keeping the enemy, or even undesirable characters, out.

In modern times, we sometimes build walls to protect ourselves.

Only we build them around our heart.

We build them to keep out the undesirable character of pain. We build them for a number of reasons, mostly stemming from relationships that went wrong.

We might build a wall around ourselves when we lose a beloved pet, so we distance ourselves from animals by not getting another one. Therefore, we can't get hurt again when it dies, runs away or your parents give it away because you are moving again.

We also might build a wall around ourselves when we move frequently, by preventing ourselves from making friends or refusing to assimilate into a new area. Therefore, we don't hurt any more when we leave, yet again.

We also might build a wall around ourselves when we get a divorce. After all, we pledged to love each other until 'death separates us.' Then we find out our partner had other ideas somewhere along the way. So, we pull back from the idea of getting married again, to avoid the emotional, legal and financial pains of divorce.

We also might build a wall around ourselves because of an abusive relationship and therefore, close ourselves off to the idea of any kind of relationship in the future because of the association we have with our former partner; and therefore, we won't be hurt anymore, ever again.

We also might build a wall around ourselves because of an unrequited love. We take the time to invest a lot of ourselves into a possible relationship and it just doesn't work out the way we hoped. So, we pull back from the idea of a relationship to avoid repeating the pain of this never-meant-to-be relationship.

We also might build a wall around ourselves because we may have misread some signals and believe we made a fool of ourselves. So, we don't don't allow ourselves to get close to anyone because of the pain, and for fear of making the same mistake again; therefore, further damaging our pride.
The ancient city walls were also built to keep the residents inside the city. But, those who did venture outside the city gates didn't often return, or if they were fortunate enough to return, they frequently told tales of strange, dangerous creatures. Walls ensured safety. We feel safe and comfortable inside our walls.

But, walls prevent us from seeing outside, from seeing the beauty of the world, from seeing the truth. The residents could only see what was within the walls, they did not see the real outside world. Our own walls can limit our vision. As we hide behind our walls, we might not be seeing a situation for what it really is. We might romanticize the situation for something that is not there, i.e., a long-term relationship. Or, we might be prejudiced by the very reasons we built the wall in the first place, and then project our fears into the situation when they don't even exist. I am partial to Great Danes, and my fear of coming home to find my Dane dead from bloat might prevent me from owning one. (A highly exaggerated example, as there are ways to prevent it, but I make my point. I hope.)

Sometimes we may not even realize we have built walls. We may move from relationship to relationship, leaving at a point in the relationship many experts call a 'marker'; e.g. the 2-, or 7- year itch. We may just go on accepting that relationships come to an end; 'one of us will leave.' So, we simply move on, often striking the first blow, using vague excuses to avoid the truth. "Her head is too big," "He isn't handsome enough for me," "What would my friends think of us?" all might suggest we could be hiding behind a wall.

And I confess, I have some up right now. I'm hurt. I'm guarded. I think of the idea of a relationship and I know I'm not ready. The idea of dating frightens me, mostly for fear of repeating the same mistakes I recently made. But, am I hiding behind a wall? Or am I allowing myself time to grieve and heal? Or am I analyzing myself and learning from my recent past? Time will tell.

In modern times, we find remnants of these ancient walls. Time has taken them down. Or, they were destroyed by some major attack on the city. Unless some big, handsome, muscly, intelligent, sensitive teddy bear of a man is going to come knocking on my door to woo and romance me, my walls will not be under 'attack' anytime soon. But, in time mine will come down as have many of these ancient city walls. I will venture forth, continuing on my path, content in letting someone in, though slowly.

I may even open the gate for him.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


My ex and I bought our house brand new. Due to our jobs and other constraints, we weren't able to see it grow from start to finish, but we checked in periodically along the way, once we had chosen it. The builder was developing a small gated community and we got on the preview list. We knew where the community was to be located, and we drove by a few times before the builder finally called us to select our house, and when we did so, the construction was already well under way.

The house sits on a reinforced concrete slab. Reinforced concrete. Sounds sturdy, strong, stable. It needs to be in order to support the exterior walls and the second story, and to keep me, my dog and cat safe from intruders and the elements.

In my opinion, relationships are a lot like houses. Both need a solid foundation on which to rest. Both take time to build and to build well if they are going to last. Both take time and effort to maintain if they are going to endure. The majority of relationship experts agree that the best foundation for a romantic relationship is to build it on a solid friendship.

A good foundation needs be strong in order to support the walls that form the framework of the house.  I have a typical house with four sides; all the exterior walls are designed to keep out the outside world, but they also present an exterior view for all to see. There are interior walls separating the rooms from each other. After all, I have four bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms where a little privacy is a necessity.

As I look at my house from the outside, I see the parts of my relationship I want visible to the outside world. I see the walls of honesty, communication, trust, and respect that I want in my relationship. These are the values I show publicly, whether to the world at large, or to a few close friends. The interior walls are those supports of the relationship I show my partner, and not necessarily to the public, unless I invite you in. These include intimacy, vulnerability, self-esteem, and accountability, among others.

Finding the right house takes time. When house hunting, we look for a house that fits our budget and lifestyle, that suits our personality and that we find aesthetically pleasing. We walk in and get that gut feeling "This is it! I could live here!" Sometimes it takes a while to find, sometimes not. Sometimes we need to date a number of people before finding someone worthwhile to journey onward with. And sometimes, when and where we might least expect it, our instinct gives us that feeling, that "spark," telling us,  "This could be him/her!" catching us off guard when it does.

When that spark does go off, and hopefully it's mutual, laying the foundation for any relationship becomes important. The foundation of friendship needs to be strong enough to support the stronger walls of the relationship. Embedded in a friendship are the very same values that form the walls of an intimate relationship. If one can't be honest or communicate with, can't trust or respect a friend, the transition to a more intimate relationship would be strenuous. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to strengthen a foundation while living in the house. Building a house takes time. If my builder had not given the foundation time to set and cure, my house could weaken over time and therefore, not be able to stand up to some of the storms that will hit it. There will be storms in any relationship, and the stronger the foundation and walls, the more comfy and cozy the inside.

Once the paperwork for buying the house is completed, we move in and start changing the house into a home. The walls themselves do not make a home, but merely a house. There are four other houses in my community that have the same exterior as mine. So, what makes mine different? The little touches inside make it my home. The furniture, the paint colors, the decor, the love and care I put into it; all transform the house into a home. So, what transforms a friendship into a more intimate relationship? Love and care do; as well as strengthening the values that are already supporting the friendship. By pushing oneself further in risking more trust, more vulnerability, more intimacy our friendship develops into a relationship. And those little things we do to show our partner we love him/her don't hurt, either.

That said, once built and occupied, houses may need to be remodeled to suit changing needs.  Relationships change and grow over time as the individuals change and grow on their respective journeys. If the friendship is strong from the beginning, as the individuals change and grow, they can support each other. If not, then difficult times may lie ahead.

There's one part of the house that I haven't mentioned, and in my opinion, it ties the whole house together because it touches all four walls; the roof. Do we really take the time to develop the honesty, the communication, the trust, and the respect if we're not committed or at least willing to explore commitment? Commitment, to me, is what keeps the relationship together. Yes, love is important, for love makes a house into a home; and love is entwined in all the values that permeate a relationship. As the values get stronger, love grows; and as love grows, the values continue to strengthen, further supporting the roof of commitment. But, to me, it's the commitment to each other that is the ultimate value that keeps the relationship going.

Just my opinion.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I've been doing a lot of reflecting lately. I guess it comes with the season; the holidays, and the New Year especially.

And maybe it's because of where I am on my journey.

Shortly after my ex moved out, a friend commented to me that she believes there are three basic types of people when it comes to relationships; 1) those who avoid commitment altogether; 2) those who will commit temporarily, bailing out of the relationship at the first sign of trouble; 3) and lastly, those who commit completely, perhaps overly so, giving their everything for the sake of the relationship, or perhaps committing even too early. This last group may even overstay the life of the relationship because of their dedication to commitment. I have to make it work because  ________________. (Fill in the blank.)

My friend categorized me as a number three. And I have to concur. But, what makes me so committed to a relationship?

Love. While I don't feel I 'fell' in love with my first two partners, over time I grew to love them enough to want to make a life with them. Maybe this wasn't enough in the long run, because during both relationships I became very unhappy for different reasons. I do have good memories of both men, but in time, it wasn't meant to be. The times I feel I have truly fallen in love, it was a very deep love; a very different type of love than growing to love someone. It felt very comfortable, very right, very connected, very real.

Values. I have old-fashioned values, which is where commitment falls. I believe in honesty, respect, and treating others the way I want to be treated. And I believe in monogamy, which seems to becoming not so important any more, especially in the gay male community. I can't even casually date more than one man at a time, which puts me in an even smaller minority, I know. Perhaps that comes from my Christian background, who knows? Maybe that's a bridge I will have to cross this time. Not the monogamy, the dating-more-than-one-guy-at-a-time. A couple of my friends have suggested as much.

Fear of failure. As I grew up, many of the adults in my life told me "Never give up!"  I have always enjoyed doing puzzles; word, logic, all kinds of thinking puzzles fascinate me, and it frustrates me when I get stuck to the point where I just can't figure it out, and I have to give up. Ugh! Or with a task. When I'm trying to get my students to understand a certain concept, and they're not comprehending, I try a second approach, maybe even a third. Sometimes I just have to give up and move on, praying they'll get it later. But it still bothers me that I wasn't successful right then. Maybe I saw the failure of my parents' marriage somehow as my fault, and therefore became determined never to let that happen to me and it stayed with me even after I came out. I was going to meet a man and we'd live happily ever after. Well, I need to let go of that now, don't I? I'm glad the artist didn't give up on the sculpture in the photo or we would not get to enjoy it.

Romantic.  I'm hopeless. A hopeless romantic. I have always been captivated by the ideal of romantic love. I still believe in it, even knowing it will fade if both parties don't take the time and make the effort to keep the relationship alive. Red roses make me melt, serving him breakfast in bed for his birthday sends shivers up my spine. Buying stupid little cutesy gifts for him makes my heart race. I said I was hopeless.

Coupledom. Most of all, I enjoyed being part of a couple. I loved knowing he was there for me, and I for him. I enjoyed the times we would cook together, or I would prepare something special for him, and vice versa. Sitting on the couch, cuddling with him, watching television or a movie, was bliss. But, after my first partner died, did this desire make me settle for someone I was just 'comfortable' with at first? Perhaps. Did this make me want to latch on to the first man who came along just so I could be part of a couple again? I don't know. This will definitely be something to keep my eye on as I move forward. I'm not going to settle for second best again.

Speaking of moving forward, am I ready to? No. I've come to realize I need time to regroup, yet again. I've crossed one bridge, there are others to cross. I'll cross them when I'm ready. Or when the Universe gives me a shove.