Friday, June 28, 2013

A Second Poem to a Second Pom

Years ago, my ex and I decided to get our dog a dog.

We thought Simba would like a companion to play with as we had just moved into a new house, and after two years the cats still hadn't taken to him. So we decided on another black-and-tan Pomeranian. A matched set. 

We contacted the breeders who had brought Simba into our world and as it turned out, they had an eight week old black-and-tan male available. We drove the two and a half hours to Southern California's wine country and met him taking Simba along with us so he could meet his future playmate, and so the breeders could see him, two years later. 

Simba wasn't impressed with the puppy, but it was love at first sight for us. While we were there, someone else called expressing interest in the puppy, but the breeders deferred to us as we were there first.

"Are you taking him, because these people want to know if they can have him?"

"Yes, he's ours."

And we took Mufasa home with us Labor Day weekend, 2003.

Mufasa passed away last week at the very young age of ten due to complications of kidney failure. 

Ten years old? I lost my best friend and companion at age ten? I feel cheated. There is a misconception that for every one human year, a dog ages the equivalent of seven because of their already shortened lifespan. This is not true for all breeds, and the reality is the larger the breed the shorter the lifespan. Ten human years to a Pomeranian is 56, but 66 to a Great Dane or similar breed. Every additional year thereafter the small breeds age an average of four years, but the giant breeds age anywhere from 5-7 years on average. 

So, Mufasa was only 56 when he died. He had just turned 56 the week before.

Yes, I feel cheated. Cheated out of a few more years we could have had together as the average age for a Pom is 12-16 years. 

But, also I feel blessed for the ten wonderful years we had together, with the last two being just the two of us as Simba passed in 2011. I'm not counting the remaining cat, Xena, in here as she is in her own feline world and graces me with her presence when she's hungry or demands attention.

Mufasa, foreground. Simba in the background.
Yes, I will miss Mufasa. I will miss his barking when I left for work, when I took either the laundry to the garage or the inside trash to the cans outside, or when I went to check the snail mail. I will miss his barking when he thought he heard someone at the door, and alerted me to check. I would, there would be no one there, and I'd ask, "Now, don't you feel silly?" as he looked out the door puzzled. I will miss his barking when someone called from the gate and I would buzz them in, his barking continuing until they came to the house and then his running up the stairs to hide. I will miss his barking as I entered the house after a long day's teaching, and his "I'm so happy to see you! Now let me outside, then feed me" greeting.

I will miss our other rituals. I will miss his running in circles when I would bring him his breakfast or lunch. I will miss his reminding me when it was time for his carrot, the barking until I got it and the zeal with which he snapped it from my hand. I will miss his Pomeranian habit of taking three or four kibbles in his mouth, walking away from his bowl, dropping them, and eating two, leaving the rest for later, which never came. Mostly, I will miss the 'family time' we had each night before bed. He would edge to the stairs as it got darker, looking back at me, "Are we going upstairs now, Poppa?" his eyes would say. I would tell him to go ahead, and he'd wait for me at the top of the stairs. I'd get ready for bed, he'd wait eagerly and when I'd start getting the bed ready, he'd look up at me, his little shoe-button eyes asking, "What about me?" I'd pick him up, place him on the bed and he would sniff around to see if the cat had left something of her treat behind for him. She never did. Intentionally.

I'd then climb into bed, grab the iPad, and remote, and we'd sit there for an hour or two, checking email, listening to a DVD, cuddling on the bed, consoling each other every night since the ex left. Before Simba died, he'd join us from time to time, and after that it was just Mufi and I. And Xena, when she was so inclined.

Mufasa was my gifted child. He was very intelligent. We hired a trainer when we first got him and he would anticipate her instructions. She finally got him to sit and stay, and when he saw her forming the letter 'o' of 'okay,' her release word, he'd be off. He eventually learned he had to hear it, not see it. He had several  cookies, each for a specific reward. He had his greenie cookie for when I left the house. He had his morning cherry cookie with his morning meds, (cherry and cherry juice is supposedly good for joint issues as he had luxating patellas, typical of toy breeds.) and his "I'm learning to pee outside/it's time for bed" peanut butter cookie. And he knew which was which. Once, when I gave him his cherry cookie as I was leaving for work, he took it, dropped it and looked at me as if to say, "That's not the cookie you give me when you leave, and you know it!" I gave him his greenie. All was forgiven.
Mufasa's leg bandaged from his granuloma.

I'll miss his reminding me to give him his evening meds and his constant searching for the other two, as he was used to getting three in the morning.

Mufasa was very loving. If you came to my house, and sat on the sofa or recliner, he'd jump up to greet you, and climb into your lap, check you out, curl up and lie down. But, only after trying to lick the tip of your nose.

He took the divorce just as hard, if not harder, than I did. I could vent my emotions at my ex or here in this blog. Muf could not. Instead, he took it out on himself, licking his foreleg raw. He licked all the fur off, and then the skin, giving himself what looked like a canine hickey. The vet called it a "lick granuloma." It's common in dogs with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. During our 'family time' he would often just lick my hand, he needed  that release.

Mufasa was high spirited, a typical Pom. During his last few days, the doctor told me how much he noticed how Mufasa wanted to recover, he was fighting. Yet, his body had other ideas. The night he passed it was obvious to me and my friend who was with us, he didn't want to go. He wanted to stay with me. For me. But, his body was shutting down, for in addition to his failing kidneys, he was developing pancreatitis and he'd been on long term medication for hypothyroidism which may have caused him to lose his coat. In the end, it was his body that won.

We went through a lot together with the divorce. He was always there for me, and even more so after Simba passed on, quite unexpectedly. I will take comfort in the fact Mufasa loved me, and others knew it. He wanted to stay, he wasn't ready to go, his body forced him to go. I will miss my sweet little boy. 

May he Rest In Peace.

He will rest in my heart forever.

My little Boo.
My favorite picture of him, in full coat.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Like many people growing up in the 1970's I was very fond of disco. I know, it seemingly lacked lyrical sustenance. It was shallow, to some. But, it was also catchy. Its rhythms and beat got people moving and dancing.  I was one of them; I would dance around my room listening to many of my records. (Or around the house, on those rare moments when I was home alone.)

One of my favorite groups was ABBA. I openly admit it. I was, STILL AM, a proud ABBAholic. When I eventually came out, I was a true Dancing Queen! I bought every vinyl record of theirs that came out, eventually converting them to CD when the technology advanced.

I was devastated when they broke up.

I tried to follow the careers of the individual members but it seems they had more success in Europe, than here. I remember stumbling across Frida's LP, Something's Going On, in 1982, just post break-up. It was a bit disappointing; it lacked the ABBA-ness I was used to and therefore expecting. But, it was an impressive solo effort, I thought. And then she disappeared from my radar. Later, I would google them periodically to see what they were up to. There was talk of reunions, of movies, of all kind of appearances, but none came to fruition. The rumor was, one member had become very reclusive and wanted to recuperate from that time in her life. It had been so overwhelming for her, Agnetha just wanted to hide.

(Note, the four band members were eventually photographed at the Mamma Mia movie premiere in Stockholm, Sweden on July 4, 2008. This was the first time they had appeared together in ten years.)

Agnetha has returned. I recently discovered two newer CDs of hers. My Colouring Book, (2004), and A (2013). She had released others since the break-up, but these two seemed to garner the best reviews. I downloaded both of them.  Both are wonderful CDs showcasing her beautiful voice. Both have a variety of songs, some slow, some fast, some happy, some sad. The songs she has chosen reach deep into the listener and her rendition shows her vulnerability as an artist. I was not disappointed.Yet, there is one song I can't listen to without tearing up periodically, depending on my mood.
 Past Forever from A is a reminder of who I am: a hopeless romantic.
"If I could give what you gave me,
Your beating heart, unselfishly,
The kind of love that lasts
Past forever."
It goes on:
"And that's a long long time,
That's a long long time
What can't be broken
The kind of love that lasts
Past forever."
"And I should thank you endlessly
For the way you made me see
It's not the destination,
It's the journey."
The past tense of the song makes me think this is being sung on the singer's deathbed. It's the kind of love that lasts beyond death; the love where two lovers give of themselves so unselfishly, it transcends death. Or perhaps, a looking forward into a relationship just beginning, with the singer very cautiously optimistic, yet still unsure of what she (or he) is able to bring to this relationship.

The opening lines of the song,
"If I could leave one thing behind,
Let it touch the hearts of others,
Make a difference in your time."
also suggest this duality; someone either dying and wishing his or her life would touch the hearts of others and make a difference in his or her own time. Or, letting go of his/her fears and making a difference in someone else's life by living by the example of letting go and moving forward. 

I'm leaning toward the more positive imagery, though both are very powerful and moving.

And that's the kind of love I'm looking for. And yet, I'm not convinced I'll find it. I am beginning to think today's society is stacking up against romance and commitment. I mean, if people are calling it quits after a mere fifty-five hours of wedded bliss, what is the point? Maybe I'm just jaded at the moment, maybe it's too early in my new journey to be thinking this way. But, now that I've identified what it is I am looking for, maybe I just need  this song to remind me. And not to settle for less, this time.

After all, it's not the destination, it's the journey.
"And that's a long long way, It's what we live for."
Tak så mycket, Agnetha!

Both My Colouring Book and A are available on iTunes.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


When my ex first left, and I accepted the fact I was now divorced, something I never wanted to be, I eventually came to believe there was another relationship out there for me. I absolutely knew it would be better than my last one. 
Now, I'm not convinced he's out there.
Nor, am I sure I want to look for him.

Or if he comes looking for me, am I ready for him?

As I watch the few single gay male friends I have navigate the treacherous waters of dating, I'm convinced I'm not ready to take the plunge. Nor will I ever be. Nor do I even want to. 

For now.


Because who can say what the future will bring?

Before my ex left, I had no gay male friends in my life other than him. We had been in a few gay organizations, but over time we drifted from them and eventually from the friends we'd made there. So, now being single, I set out to make new ones. But where does one go to meet friends, while not looking for anything else? Social settings, like organizations, are one way. Volunteering would be a great way to meet people in a stress free setting. Yet, there is always  that undercurrent of attraction, of something more possibly being there. And if it would develop, that would be okay. But, I didn't want anything more, at that time. Or, better said, I wasn't actively looking, but willing to explore what might happen. Bars and apps also offer the opportunity to meet friends, but there usually are hidden agendas, ulterior motives, and other surprises in these arenas.

I have made a few gay male friends in the nearly three years I've been single. As I met many of them via social networking like Twitter and Facebook, and even a dating app or two, most of them are long distance friends. While we've not yet met face to face, I count them as very dear and supportive friends. And, I'm not sure how actively the single ones are looking for that special someone. The few 'local' gay male friends I've met have also been great support, but are hardly what I'd call 'local' in the truest sense of the word as the closest one lives about forty miles away.

Of the ones I chat with more frequently, one had his heart broken so severely this last time, he said he was done with life, and wanted to end it all. Fortunately, his attempt was unsuccessful, and he is getting the help he needs. Another has dated a series of men who have either played him or turned out to be not quite the knight-in-shining-armor he thought they would be, leaving him hurt, broken and more disillusioned with each subsequent break up.

While I don't think I would end it all over a broken heart, I remember only too well how devastating it can feel to be hurt and broken time after time. So, I'm not looking to repeat that feeling again any time soon.
So, I'm not looking for a relationship. 

For now.

Well, maybe I am. 

Maybe three. 

With me, myself and I. 

A single threeway, if you will. 

I surrendered so much of myself in both my long-term relationships, I don't know who I am anymore. What do I like? What pleases me? What doesn't? What do I even want? (And yes, I am referring to both in and out of the bedroom.) 

Relationships give us insights into ourselves, if we approach them with that in mind; what will I/can I learn about myself from this encounter, be it social, sexual or maybe more?

From my first partner, I learned anger frightens me. He would come home very angry at someone else, or something that happened elsewhere, and I felt responsible. I did whatever I could to make him feel better for fear he'd leave me, or worse.

From my ex, I learned I am too much of a caretaker, an enabler, a giver. And that I can't hurt someone else's feelings, so I stick it out to the very bitter end; often to my detriment. And, yes, even to his.

From The Man I Met, I learned I am capable of very deep romantic feelings for another man, that I am not emotionally dead, and that there are good men out there, if you are willing to look. Right now, I am not willing.

From The User, I learned I am not a plaything to be tied up and passed around and then handed off to someone else when he's through with me. I have way too much dignity to be used like that. I also learned that if the situation arises, I will end it. But, in this case, there were no feelings involved as we'd only just met and chatted a time or two, so maybe that doesn't count. But, the lesson does.

So, while I do need to meet men to get to know myself better, and figure out more of what I want from life and relationships, I'm still discovering and learning to appreciate the fine qualities I do possess. I am learning to enjoy being me, whatever that may be, and to enjoy being on my own, alone but not lonely.

Single, But Not Looking.

Actively looking, that is.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I need to learn and practice the fine art of thought stoppage.

Or, I will keep myself getting into trouble.

It's not an easy thing to do.

The thought stoppage, that is.

Getting myself into trouble is quite easy.

Thought stoppage sounds simple to do.

Just stop thinking.

Okay, done.

Because if I don't stop, I could think myself into either depression or anxiety, both of which have trapped me before.

Way back in the day, a couple of years ago just post divorce, I trolled the apps looking for friends, and I stumbled across a very handsome face. A nice bearish, masculine man, with close cropped beard and broad shoulders, whose profile name indicated he was also in education. I sent him a wink, or a woof, or a growl; whichever belonged to that particular app. He replied with the same, and we began chatting. He was a principal of a small elementary school about fifty miles from my house, and  we began comparing our respective schools, educational philosophies, and the like. We talked about meeting over spring break, and I was ecstatic! Here was this very handsome man, wanting to meet me!

All was well, except his spring break was two weeks before mine that year. Well, maybe something would work out. After all, on my break, I could drive down his way, if he had to work the next day, but who would watch my dogs? (I had two at that point.).

We didn't chat for a while, as we both got busy with work, and as his Spring break approached, I asked what plans he had. He was spending the week in Palm Springs.

Ah, Palm Springs, the gay mecca for Southern California. The land of sun, sand and easy sex.

For those who want it.

I was hurt because I imagined him having all sorts of fun out there when I thought he wanted to have some fun with me. I mean, he did send me a crotch picture of him in his underwear. What else was I SUPPOSED to think?

Later, I had been chatting with someone on Facebook, who indicated he might be moving to Los Angeles. By all appearances he seemed to be a genuinely nice guy, and we seemed to share similar political views and senses of humor. He was dating someone at the time, which meant he was off limits. (He was also much younger which underscored the off-limits part, in my head.) We agreed to meet on one of his trips here. I must say I wanted to meet him as a friend, as I said I knew he was off-limits. And because he was moving here, he'd need a place to stay. Besides, it would be nice to have someone around to talk to, to share political discussions with, and just go out for a drink or a meal. And, yes, his boyfriend would
certainly be welcome.

I was so intrigued by this idea, I began to imagine it. I imagined it so much, I wanted it to work out.

It didn't.

I need this on my forehead, for certain thoughts!
I was hurt.

In both cases, I ended up hurting myself. I had allowed my thoughts to run ahead of me. And therefore, this produced anxiety and worry.

Hot Principal was out in Palm Springs having all sorts of fun, when I thought he was interested in me. The cheating tramp!

Potential Roommate didn't want to meet me because...well, I still haven't figured that one out. He just stood me up. Maybe I came on too strong. I don't know and I really have stopped trying to figure it out. Seriously.

The truth is, neither just wasn't meant to be.

Like with The Man I Met; the first man I fell in love with post-divorce. He possessed so many of the qualities I want in a partner; he was my age, he was educated, he had his own career (not teaching), he seemed to have his head on his shoulders. And he was very attractive. My friends even thought we looked like we belonged together as a couple. I also began to imagine us working things out; becoming friends, then lovers, then husbands. It felt wonderful.

I thought a lot about being his boyfriend, his lover, etc. But, when I saw on Facebook he was having dinner with another man, he was cheating on me! And we hadn't even held hands, or kissed yet. Days would go by with no text from him, when he'd drop me a message almost daily the week before. To top it off, when he actually friended Hot Principal on Facebook, I was devastated because he found someone more attractive than me. So, he must be done with me!

Moving forward into dating will  be dangerous territory if I have us married after the first date that goes well! I will need to rein in these thoughts, and follow the second most important piece of advice I got from Al-Anon;

One Day At A Time.

Gods help me!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A letter to my bullies

Me, 12 years, sixth grade
Like many people, and almost all LGBTQI people, I was bullied. In an effort to reclaim my power, I want to now address those who were my tormentors. A fellow gay writer, Kergan Edwards-Stout, wrote a letter to his bully; and yes, that partly inspired me to write this one. While his letter addressed his primary bully, I cannot do that. My family moved quite a lot through my school years and I seemed to be a target wherever we lived, so I had multiple bullies in multiple places. I detail this in a prior post, Sticks and Stones.  So, I address all of those who harassed me between fourth grade and today.

The other inspiration came from an article by a gay therapist, Ken Howard, who stated we might not necessarily truly overcome the hurt and pain from abusers and tormentors; however, we can attempt to move beyond it by honoring those who stood with us.

So, here goes....

To all of you who teased, tormented, picked on, insulted, bullied and threatened me, I thank you.

For years, you teased, tormented, harassed, called me names like "fag", "faggot", "queer", "sissy", "Missy", "geek" and "nerd" among others.  For years, I endured shame and self-loathing, fearing that what you were thinking and saying about me was true; that I was a fag, a faggot, a queer, or a sissy. In the end, you were right. I am what you saw and loathed and belittled. I am gay.

I'm okay with it; you don't have to be.

For years, I endured the pain and the hurt of never knowing, of never understanding why you all hated me so. Just because I was a little different? Because I was not quite the 'boy', the 'man', you felt I needed to should be in your eyes? For years, I have given you that power over me. I have wondered what I had done that was so unbelievably offensive to you. I was only being myself, nothing more, nothing less. Yet, it wasn't good enough for you.

And I say now, just being myself IS good enough for me.

And that's all that matters.

I could rationalize why you all acted this way; you were threatened by my differences, you were afraid of your own latent homosexuality, you were afraid I'd make a pass at you and turn you 'queer' or you were simply assholes and bitches. But, I'm not going to waste more of my time or energy on the likes of you. In the end, it is not necessary that I understand why. What's done is done. While these acts of yours have left me hurt and scarred, these scars tell my story. I honor them. I own them. I thank you for making me who I am.

A survivor.
High School graduation, 1976

I will admit there were times I almost didn't survive. I was so unhappy and miserable because of what you said and did, I almost didn't make it to today. I couldn't escape, you wouldn't stop. I felt the only way to make it stop was with the ultimate escape. And yet, something, somehow, some way prevented me from picking up that knife, from taking those pills, from driving off a cliff. Maybe I was too afraid to actually die. Maybe I was too afraid I'd be unsuccessful and then have to answer my family's questions. Maybe, back then I didn't realize my own strength and/or that the Universe had bigger plans for me.

For whatever reason, I am grateful to be alive. It does get better.

Recent life events have stirred up these fossils of my past and the pain buried deep within that you caused. It is now up to me to move beyond that past without forgetting it, without dishonoring it and to look forward to the future because of it.

While I may not be able to completely erase the pain and hurt from my emotional memory, I do not have to let it control me.

And I won't.
February 2013

Believe me.

To view my post, "Sticks and Stones" click here.

For Kergan Edwards-Stout's letter to his bully, click here.

For Ken's website, click here.