Archive for October, 2007

29
Oct
07

Life…Upside Down

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There are some things a roller coaster shouldn’t do to a person. “X” at Six Flags Magic Mountain does them anyway. And believe it or not, the 3-hour wait for this 40 second adventure is well worth it.

I’ve always loved roller coasters. I mean LOVE. Borderline inappropriate, twinkle in my eye, daydream about love. But this weekend, my determination to get some coaster in my life…and my determination to be a better uncle, led me into an impromptu weekend that was a little more draining than I expected.

It started when I got a little too “family oriented” Sunday. While visiting with my sister, talking over all of life’s irritating lessons, I was seized with a mind to do for my tribe. This was probably somewhat influenced by Aunt Norma’s funeral this week, and me feeling like I haven’t been around as much as I could be for family. I invited my nephews to Fright Fest at Magic Mountain. We’ve gone to Magic Mountain several times before, just the three of us. It’s always a blast…a tiring blast. Me being the roller coaster junkie I am, and them loving coasters too and needing to get away sometimes…makes us perfect road buddies. Since I hadn’t rode a coaster in 2007 yet, and was overdue for uncle time, I figured this would be the perfect weekend to make some progress.

I didn’t realize this should have been an uncle weekend I planned ahead for.

I know I’m supposed to live more in the moment, but the full week I had made me want to live in the moment – in bed. But I had made a promise. Despite having a funeral that week, a conference, a late Thursday and Friday work night. I told my nephews I would be there at 5:30 am Saturday to start the adventure. I didn’t stress off the trip until mid-week, when I asked my sister about my nephews’ season passes. “Season Passes? We didn’t get those this year.” Perhaps I should have asked this before I invited them along. Hotel? Gas? Amusement Park Food? In the middle of a pay cycle in which I’m overdrawn. Shit. But I was going to be damned if I broke my promise, so onward I went. Trying my good friend Maliyah’s approach to money troubles. Don’t let them own you, breathe, and make an affirmation about it. Ok…let’s see. “I am excited about my investment in my nephews, and trust that everything will work out as it should”. Worth a shot.

And it worked relatively well. It just stinks to be the broke crew at the expensive park during Halloween season. I wanted to get my nephews light sabers, and tons of lemon slushies, and the hilarious souvenir photos from the rides – but just couldn’t afford to. I’m sure it put more of a chip on my shoulders than theirs…but it was there nonetheless. I hope to have made up for it with the coasters. Andrew is 9 and a braveheart. Taking on rides that flip you in 4-dimensions with a smile. Brandon is 14 and has officially noticed girls. And every moment between rides was looking for the next girlfriend. Sigh. But they are great guys, and I love them, and I think we did the park justice. the highlight was definitely Colossus – a glorious wooden coaster with parallel tracks to let the trains race. And for the Halloween season, they place some of the trains on the tracks backwards. Which is insane, but the most amazing ride…especially at night.

We had a great time. Besides our initial wait for “X”. We were excited it wasn’t shut down for once, as we have come to expect. But what we didn’t understand was why it broke down four times throughout our queue. We wanted to leave…to ride ANYTHING…but decided we hadn’t waited 1 hour…2 hours….3 hours….not to ride it. So we waited, and it was worth it (relatively).

The unfortunate thing about amusement parks, besides their insane prices and apathetic teen staff , is this concept of “Fast Track”. I didn’t know it was a pet peeve of mine until I almost started cursing people out. You know what I mean, those tickets you can buy for $25 extra that allow you to skip to the front of the line for multiple rides? So your rich ass can laugh at those of us who waited in the heat forever to ride the attraction? As my nephews and I began to call them…cheaters. Consider this. You finally see your goal. You’ve made it through turnstile after turnstile. Ignored the loud group in front of you. Been patient with the people behind you who think walking into you repeatedly will get them on the ride faster. The public displays of affection. The 5 dollar soda-machines. The slow crawl forward as you select a riding row, and watch others take off painstakingly slow one after the other. You finally arrive. You’re next in line, and some asshole who bought a “Flash Pass” walks his pasty ass into your seat – with permission? No. I hate waiting like the next guy, but that’s a part of the deal.

Anyway…the lines were scarier than the goblins, demons, clowns, and zombies parading around in Fright Fest Fog and Smoke. Six Flags made a huge investment in Halloween apparently, but some of it was really well done. Walkways with creatures…haunted houses with light shows…it was cool. So we rode what we could, got scared where we could, and then headed to Venice Beach.

My good friends Jason and Laila let us crash in their living room…and thank God for video games. I was able to get some adult time – after a day of brotherly arguing and displays of manhood in multiple lengthy lines. Woke up, had some breakfast, did the farmer’s market thing, and hit the 5 freeways on the drive home. So sitting in my house, alone finally, and tired as f*ck…I think it was a good weekend.

I only got about 8 hours of sleep total, and drove about 15 hours between it all – but I kept my word to my nephews, saw some good friends, flipped my internal organs in a thousand ways with a coaster fix, and lived in the moment. Not too shabby for an October Weekend, I guess.

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21
Oct
07

The Intervention – Volume 1


 

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The personalities are officially merging. And I don’t know if I’m crazy in the first place for having so many, or if it’s crazy that they’re trying to work together now…but either way this is going to be a process worth keeping track of.

My life hit a rather low point a the other weekend, and a few things came crashing down. I know that sounds dramatic…but I believe without a shadow of a doubt the universe was trying to kick my ass into gear. I think I’ve had enough of living my life from the sidelines.

We all know that breakups are reflective times – we want to put the file away in a drawer – taking careful note of what was our faults, the other persons’, how this story is portrayed in the media (A.K.A. the friend circle), and take away a few notes for next time. Well, when I realized just how much of my last relationship meltdown was my fault – I believe that was the catalyst for a lot more. Don’t get me wrong, I do not think everything was my fault, or that I’m 100% responsible for my partner’s experience, but I definitely am 100% responsible for sabotaging myself.

This is not about that relationship. This is about all relationships. How I perceive myself versus how I am perceived. My level of intention and commitment to my relationships. To friends, to family, and most importantly – to myself. I have put a lot of stock in relationships in the past – so much so that I border on co-dependent, which is dangerous for a Sagittarius. Investing so much in one person at a time – that best friend, or lover, or long lost friend whose life has recently aligned once moe with mine. My happiness and social life starts to revolve around this person, must to the detriment of my other relationships. I’m an amazing friend when my energy is focused on you – but what about the 90% of time it’s not? And that is one of the challenges – I love meeting new people, but have trouble maintaining healthy relationships. Possibly because I see a little of myself in so many types of people. But most likely because I inherently avoid going deeper. And yes friends, it’s about to go there…I believe this has a great deal to do with me living a life of secrecy.

For an openly gay man, I live a life full of secrets and shame and loneliness. I do not want to make this solely about being gay, because I understand there is more to me than just that. I do, however, feel that all the areas of my life I am trying to live out fully are compromised by my shame and insecurity around being gay. I have had trouble embracing more than the title with my loved ones. It feels as if I came out just so they would have an idea about what was going on when I dropped off the face of the earth. I do not live and breathe it around them. I come home to superficial conversations, skirting around religious issues, not prioritizing family functions so I can save my family the embarrassment. Yet I’m out. To all the people I meet nowadays, not to those that matter. Those who might enjoy getting to know me for me. Those who i fear will leave me and not love me, but am not giving the chance to prove me wrong.

Maybe I should warn you – this is gonna get a little on the analytical side.

I also feel like my exploration of gay identity inside my closet, made possible by the wonders of sites like gay.com and craigslist, contributed to me isolating parts of myself from each other. Never being genuine though I was always in some part being who I was. Online hook-ups, choir rehearsal, girlfriends, best friend-with-benefits, responsibility, carelessness. All these qualities had to be mutually exclusive for some reason. And I never wanted to face the truth of them all co-existing inside me.

So we have a family who doesn’t know me because my coming out was the end of the road as far as I was concerned…since I sank into the shadows. We have friends who I am fake with, and friends I am real with but insecure around so I have extreme highs and lows. If those are the templates from which I’m building my idea of a relationship, then of course the partners have some pretty hefty baggage to support, right?

And the ridiculous thing is that I found partners willing to support that baggage – and still found a way to destruct them. Granted, it might not have been meant to be….but I cut short the possibility of a more full and meaningful relationship several times. I’ve only had 5 relationships in my life. Two with women, high school, while I was still figuring things out. But they were important women, still in my life. One with a man while I was closeted – who was the catalyst for my coming out…but changed his tone once I actually did. One with a man, who was my first true love – since our relationship lived in the real world – vacations, a family holiday, housemates, life plans. And one friend-turned-more, that was at a level I’m still trying to reach in being comfortable in my own skin. All of these people are important to me, and have definitely shaped who I am – and what I think love is. But with all of them, I had some level of anxiety, secrecy, and self-shame.

I embrace now that I have baggage, as all of us have, and just need to learn to accesorize it.

So recently, when my good friend (see the unicorn tribute) moved to Australia, I lost my confidant. Dealing with the idea of damaged love, breakups, self reflection – was all too much for me to do alone. And to top it off – my attempts to be friends with exes, and prove friends who say its not possible wrong, were failing miserably. Looking through the phone of names and numbers I should have felt comfortable to call for support – I realized that different situations call for different people. But at the end of the day, it gets old to hold up so many fronts. And if that’s the case – what I have is an audience. Not friends.

And when I couldn’t find solace in family. When friends seemed too far away. When I lack the companionship I so long for. I turn to faith. God. spirit. And I realized that my spirit is weak. I have not been feeding it. My soul is tired and in pain, and longing for something. I’m not religious dogmatically, but I am very spiritual, Growing up in a church environment, though restricting at times – gave me a wonderful foundation. It’s where I learned community, how to value and treat people, right and wrong – and I don’t care what you say…we all need some starting sense of that, and lots of love. Not to mention church was where I began to explore creativity, performance, and being a leader – all things that characterize my career path now. Church is a huge part of who I am – but a small part of who I am makes me uncomfortable and un-welcome in the church. And I have not healed from this trauma yet.

But I have through the years, found God in subtle and creative ways. When traffic lights go my way, when I get an awesome opportunity at work, when money works out just right around rent time, when I get in touch with a long lost loved one. I still sing old choir songs in the shower and in traffic. I pray, in conversational ways while doing mundane tasks. I feel that I am participating in things that will make a positive change in the world, and for the most part carry myself with dignity and respect for my fellow (wo)man. I am a loving person with an open heart, good natured, sincere, intelligent, supportive, and thoughtful. I feel that God loves me. I am not sure which religion I believe in – but I believe they all come down to faith, and all that faith goes somewhere. Does something. At least serves as a motivation to do things and get through things you otherwise wouldn’t.

So I don’t want to go to church and feel pressured to concentrate on hell and shame and outing the queer people still allowed to participate in secrecy. I feel upset that my daily good life is outweighed by Sunday Christians who live sinful lives throughout the week. Sure, I do too…but I don’t judge you about it. I support you when you want to change, and love you as a human when you want to indulge. But I was taught real Christians live by example – not by institutional bullshit. But there are some real Christians at my church…who were closer to me than a lot of my family. And so much of my family are ministers, church mothers, missionaries, pastors, and various other leaders…that church and family are blended. They are all this huge network of love and tradition and standards and support that held me as I found who I was. And now that I’m the person i’ve become…I don’t have access to them anymore. And that makes it hard to feel real anymore. To have a meaningful relationship – if this huge part of you doesn’t feel it will ever be validated. And for some reason, I really want that validation. To know that it’s okay to be gay and spiritual and in love and in a meaningful partnership. One that doesn’t have to carry all this weight. That doesn’t have to live in the closet. But I’m scared that I’m going to have to learn to validate that for myself.

So feeling a lack of allies and supports – scared of friends, cautious of lovers, burdened by family, denied access to faith – almost broke me. This was the beginning of the downward spiral. And I sat there, blocked. Feeling emotions I couldn’t describe. Feeling this intense love for my friends, and needing their support – but feeling too out of the loop to seek it. Ignoring calls. Barely making it through workdays. Being way too critical of myself (yes, even more than this). Feeling a longing to nurture my soul. To get some strength. Stamina. Some way to pull me through, because I did not forsee this getting any better.

And ultimately, my multiple personalities come into play. I wonder why I’m not a libra, since there is always such an internal struggle. I always weigh both sides of situations, and even when I’m spontaneous – it’s usually in the most prepared way. So I can’t just let myself dwell in thoughts of “everything’s wrong”, and “nothing ever…”. I will always think in detail. What’s wrong? What does it really mean? What do you need to do? Where do you want to end up, and how should you start to get there? Sometimes, when you just wanna sit with an extreme emotion – it’s frustrating to have an internal personal trainer forcing you to think about how it could be worse, and get moving. But that’s a way I started relating to myself since I often find myself isolated from the friends who provide that feedback.

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The Intervention:
So the Intervention will have three phases: Self-Esteem and Internal Strength, Meaningful Connection and Love, and Embracing and Uniting my Identity.

Phase one is nurturing myself through things I love and enjoy but do not commit to or invest in. The gym, music, art, writing. Getting in touch with myself – so relationships don’t sweep me away. But I can be grounded in myself in times of solitude as well.

Phase two will be intertwined with phase one, but be focused on rebuilding and being present in my friendships. Because this is good practice, and I want to appreciate the people I love, and have them there as a resource.

Phase three will involve some form of confrontation or revelation with my family and church family. I’m not sure what this looks like, but I fear it. I fear really living the life I say I want to live – openly, consistenly, regardless of others. But I will. Even if those others are the basis of so much of my identity formation. I owe them the chance to get to know and love me. And am not protecting them by living in secrecy. I really feel that I will have to reconcile this hurt, or at least actively engage in it to get the courage I need to have the types of relationships I want. I can’t be determined by my own homophobia and what might be a false sense of obligation to people who might love me unconditionally.

The point of phase 2, besides active practice in healthy relationships – will be to build a support system in case the confrontation of family and church goes horrible. Then I will know where I stand, who my supportive family and friends are, and be able to build a life – an open life – with those who love me for who I am. So step-by-step I’ll see where this path takes me…and I actually feel freedom in creating it, because part of the plan is not to think – that has been a defense mechanism I’ve used to keep me from truly living.  It’s time to live, and embrace the challenges as they come. Not fear them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

04
Oct
07

Freedom in Chains…

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I used to think I was a good person. But now I’m not so sure. After this weekend, what I think of as “good” and “bad” is no longer so concrete. So I might still be a good person, but what it means for me to be good – is a little more complex.

This weekend was a whirlwind of life. I haven’t let go like this in a while, and I can say I had a few of those “in the moment” moments. From the Folsom St. Fair, to the Love Fest, to the people life brought my way – it was a wonderland that I’m not prepared to return from. And catching mass transit into work Monday morning, looking at dozens of people wearing the same thing, going to the same types of jobs, and living the same types of “day” lives…I realized that this wonder-weekend was going to make my daily routine that much more painful

First and foremost have to give props to Rob, a friend from DC and living proof that sometimes good people CAN come out of bad websites. It’s rare to meet people who are intelligent, well-traveled, that special kind of sarcastic, open minded, and spontaneous all at the same time. It doesn’t hurt to be cute and charming, too. My chat buddy-turned-partner in crime was planning a trip to SF for this historic weekend. I just happened to be in need of an adventure. It seemed an ideal time to meet. So we loved ourselves right on into the Love Fest, and ended up striking up a conversation that lasted through San Francisco walking journeys, dinners, leather vests and flogging, one bad-ass Madonna performance, nighttime city skyline views and bridge drives, and a sporadic trip to The Parkway Theatre. You never really appreciate where you live like you do when there are visitors around.

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But more than I was appreciative of finding a new friend…I was appreciative of finding more of myself. It sucks sometimes to realize that in the grand scheme of things…I’m a pretty mild mannered person. I mean, I’m interesting enough. I’m smart enough. I’m level headed enough. I’m decent looking. (Apparently, I’m conceited too…) But my adventures are relatively tame. Even when it comes to sex. a part of life I’m supposed to be good at – considering how much of my thoughts it consumes, I’m adequate. Don’t get me wrong…I have equipment and can use it. But the imagination part of the game, the wild and crazy side that everyone denies in public and indulges in fantasies – is the part of myself that I’m curious to activate.

This weekend I saw people who were free. Interestingly enough, they were also tied up and chained fairly regularly. The whole BDSM community. The leather scene. Puppy play. Boot Camp role Plays. Flogging. Real Tops. Real Bottoms. Masters. Slaves. Urinals. Daddys. Clamps. Paddles. Naked Twister. People living out their wildest fantasies, in oddly contained and consensual scenes. Fetishes being explored. It was crazy…particularly because until recently I never considered myself to have any.

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I’ve always been fairly “vanilla”. Enjoying the fine art of getting my groove on, but never really considering anything outside the box. I would indulge the occasional scent or foot fetish a partner had – but whenever asked what I really liked, I would answer vaguely – ashamed that the freaks didn’t come out at night in my house…just the nerds. But I’m a sensual guy. I like touch and all that jazz…I won’t go into details here, well, because, then you’d know. But being a top…I feel like I need to step my game up. Let our some of that aggression. Explore a more uninhibited side. Control and dominate a scene….really top, instead of being a passive and timid top. Easier said than done, I know. But walking through a a dense crowd of people who were doing just that, encouraged some baby steps. These people were owning and celebrating a very private, controversial, and potentially vulnerable side of themselves…and getting validation from a community I never even considered.

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I tried to keep myself open this weekend. Open minded and available to what the universe wanted to bring my way. What did it bring me? Some images that won’t soon be forgotten, introductions to great guys from around the world, the introduction of paddles, and a very (very) close encounter with a different kind of urinal. All adventures that will be stored in my memory…but not all that can blogged about. I’m not ready to go that far on the internet yet. Only the journal gets all those privy notes. But what I can say is that I gained a new appreciation for the leather community.

The Love Fest was alright, but I can’t speak to that as much since I felt like the one sober kid at a rave. I couldn’t stand the combined sound of 3o DJs simultaneously for too long. Besides the drunken 19yo USF student that wanted to be me and Rob’s BFF and “loved us”, the Love Fest for me wasn’t that eventful.

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Perhaps I should come more prepared in the future…especially considering the way I get down on the dance floor. I did wish at both events that I had dressed better. The Love Fest was so colorful and loud…and I didn’t quite think my plaid shirt and khakis were sending the message of the day. Wouldn’ t you know…the one day I forget to wear the rainbow sarong. Obviously people were decked out for Folsom…so my jeans and black tank top felt a little boring. But at least I had a leather watch (and one other small leather item) to help me feel in the loop.

The good news about being boring this year..is that my debut next year will be that much more luscious. Is it ridiculous that I already have my theme and costume in mind? I would describe it, but think I have to keep it under wraps until it happens. Look at me, I have cliffhangers now.

It was the weekend I needed. Just rowdy and random and beautiful enough to take me away from the stress of my job, and my personal life, and my neurosis. Just fabulous and creative enough to challenge me to re-invent and refine myself. It was a weekend I never saw coming, and didn’t want to leave. And now that I’ve been bitten by this new and deceptive bug…there’s nothing I can do but come back for more. I know it’s a shame. A San Francisco native who had to wait until 25 to get his Folsom Cherry popped.

But until recently, I didn’t really like cherries all that much either…

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