Plus One

By the time many of you read this, I will be another year older.  Well, I won’t be a year older, I’ll be a day older or possibly even just a few hours older, but the number that is my age will be plus one.

I have very mixed feelings about this… Or maybe I have no feelings at all about this…  You see, there was a time when I didn’t think I’d live to be thirty.  I’m not dying.  I don’t have any degenerative or progressive diseases, not that I know about anyway (and if I do, I don’t think I want to know about it.) There are no curses or trends of early deaths in my family; in fact, very much to the contrary my grandparents all lived to a very old age, except my maternal grandfather who was in his early 40s when a man, distraught over his wife leaving him, wore a dynamite vest onto the same plane as my Grandfather and detonated it in the lavatory, killing everyone on board.

No, I didn’t think I’d live to be thirty because growing up, thirty seemed old.  Thirty was “too late” to accomplish anything.  I figured if you hadn’t made a life for yourself by thirty, you never would.  To this day I struggle against that belief.  Thirty was old in my mind, and I have never been able to imagine myself as an old person.  I always assumed I was alone in that feeling.  I still don’t know that I’m not, but I have found that as I get older, so does my image of what “old” looks like.

When I was coming up on my thirtieth birthday, Michelle and I were still roommates and we were about to move.  I wanted to ignore my birthday and focus on the packing and move preparations.  Michelle made a “special”  dinner (special is in quotes because she made surf and turf, which she makes anytime there’s even the slightest  hint of a worthy excuse, like a birthday, or a holiday, or a Saturday) but that was the extent of my celebration. On June 10, 2005, I got a text message from my friend Heather, who lives in Oklahoma, saying, “Happy Birthday!  I guess you made it to thirty after all.”  I replied with “Thanks!  But my birthday’s not for two more days.  A lot can  happen.”  You see, I wasn’t living in fear of dying.  I didn’t really figure at that point that I would die.  It was just  that I’ve never been able to imagine myself getting old and for a long time old was defined in my mind as thirty.

If you’re reading between the lines here, then you realize that, yes, I still have doubts about my own longevity, and I think I’m OK with that.  While my grandparents lived to ripe old ages, my Paternal Grandmother died at 86,  of cancer after a four year battle.  My Paternal Grandfather died just shy of 93, presumably of “old age” but not  before slipping into dementia and depression.  He lived four years after his wife died and all he wanted the entire time was to be with her.  And my Maternal Grandmother?  I don’t know what she died of, other than just plane  giving up.  She was a miserable woman her whole life and she was kind of determined to stay that way.  Sixty  years of Anti-depressants and addiction to Valium, followed by a 6 month stay in an assisted living facility she finally gave up and willed herself to die at the age of 84.

None of these are things I want to experience and if I’m not very vigilant I could easily experience all three.  No, I’d much rather die in my fifties after, hopefully, living a full life, than live into my 80s and be miserable and  sickly.

Wow, once again, on a major tangent.

Anyway, tomorrow is my birthday. I’ll be 34 years old.  When I turned 30, I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening.   I’m not sure how I’ll feel next year, turning 35, but for now, 34 is not so bad.  I’m still waiting to feel like I’ve built a life for myself and given the major changes I’m considering, it may be a while still before I feel like I have.  And  yes, sometimes I get twinges of feeling like that makes me a failure, but frequently people tell me, and I choose  to believe, that at 34 years old, I’m still young and can accomplish a lot in my life…

My feelings are mixed for other reasons as well.  Growing up, we never made a big production out of birthdays.   I’ve never had a birthday party.  Not a single one.  There’s never been anyone to invite to one.  I don’t make  friends easily and when I was a kid I was even worse.  In my family, a birthday “party” pretty much consists of a  dinner out, but nothing special because we ate dinner in restaurants all the time (mom never wanted to cook) and possibly a Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake.  Believe me when I tell you, Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake is not nearly as bad as it  sounds.  It’s actually quite delicious, but like the dinners out, Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake was a  regular staple in our house so that wasn’t particularly exciting either.

Michelle turned 40 this year, and her sister threw a big party for her.  There were at least 30 people at this party and they were all there to see Michelle, to wish her well, and to heap gifts up on her ancient head.  I had a nice   enough time, except for one isolated incident but it served to remind me that I haven’t, and probably won’t ever,  have an experience like it.  Poor me, whatever.

You know, I’ve written many times and verbally commented many more times, about how much I dislike contrived holidays in which you’re supposed to go through special efforts to show your affection for someone you care  about when that should be a daily occurrence.  I guess if I was honest, though, I’d have to admit that when a  birthday (and I would imagine an anniversary) goes by largely unnoticed, it is a bit of a slap in the face, like you’re deliberately telling the person that they don’t matter to you and so there’s a part of me that wants certain people to make a big to-do about my birthday, even while I know that if they did, I’d be embarrassed about it.

I’m so not sure where I was going with this post, now that I’ve gotten this far in.

Tomorrow is my birthday.  I’m taking the day off work.  (In fact I’m taking Monday off work and making a long  week-end of it.  Since my birthday falls on a Friday this year, I thought there was potential for a birthday trip or  something so I made sure I had the time for it.  There is no trip and I’m still off Monday, but I’m ok with that.)   Michelle and I are going to go run around a little bit. No firm plans yet, just a movie, probably food, maybe  miniature golf or  something.  My mother has already informed me that a gift is on its way (first time in three or four years).  It’s a book.  I would assume I’ll get an e-mail from Erin.  She’ll send it to my work e-mail and since she doesn’t know that I won’t be here, she doesn’t know that I won’t see it till Tuesday.  Heather will likely send me a text.  K will likely send me a Birthday Tweet (I did for her.) And well, now that I’ve written this whiny post about how pitiful my birthdays always are, I’m sure I’ll get a few “Happy Birthday” comments, all of which is, or will be, appreciated.  Mostly, I’m just grateful to take some time off work to relax AND clean my house… If it’s possible to do both of those things at the same time…

Happy Birthday to me!

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One Year

A year ago, I was in a precarious emotional state.  I was three months out of an “Intensive Outpatient Program” after having been in about as deep a depression as I’ve ever been able to conceive.  I was feeling better, but not exactly well.

I came to work everyday, despairing about the job that lay before me, my only solace coming from the fact that I knew no one would be watching what I was doing. I came to work and I did the bare minimum of what I had to do and spent the rest of my time playing various and sundry computer games, just waiting for the day that someone would come to my door and tell me that IT had noticed the inappropriate use of company assets and that I was fired.  I imagine a part of me hoped for that.

One day, K mentioned that she’d started a blog.  It was a secret blog and to this day, I haven’t seen it, but it started me thinking.  I started searching the internet for blogs and started reading a few.  Finally, I decided that maybe a blog would be a good idea.  Lord knows I have time on my hands.  Lord knows I like to write.  Lord knows I’ve got things to say that no one wants to hear.  I might as well say it to a blog.

At the same time, I was struggling with my own identity and sadly this struggle has been an on-going theme in my blog posts.  I had been working with my therapist, Deb, for awhile about my sexual identity and the fact that it had been so difficult for me to accept that I’m gay.  I was coming to terms with it and things were getting easier, but I still had a lot to think about and deal with… Who am I kidding?  I still do.  But I was coming up on my 33rd birthday and I was determined to stop hiding (in many ways) and start living my life.  And so I decided that my blog would be, at least part of the way for me to stop hiding and start living.  With that in mind, I guessed the blog had to start at the beginning of this story.  What follows is the very first blog post I ever wrote.  Some of it, is somewhat embarrassing and I contemplated editing it before re-posting it, but in the end, I decided to stick to my honesty policy.  Some of my personal, real life friends never knew about the original blog (which was not Riggledo) and this will be a first for them.  I’ll try and keep my mortification to a minimum.

So without further ado…  ‘Cause I can’t think of anything else particularly moving to say, here is the very first blog post I ever wrote:

*Note:  The remainder of this post is at least PG-13.  If that has you worried, please to stop reading here!

The First Day:

Today, as they say, is the first day of the rest of my life. I’m trying to start something new here and I hope it works out. Sometimes I have a lot to say and no one to say it too so maybe this will be the place. I certainly need the anonymity.

I am two days away from my 33rd birthday and I am completely alone and isolated from the world. I’ve spent most of my life dealing with clinical depression but I think I’m coming out of that now. I’ve made the decision to stop taking the medication that I’ve been on for about 5 years, but I know from previous experience that this is not something that you do quickly. The plan I’ve laid out for myself to stop taking the meds has me continuing being medicated until October 31, 2008.

Another reason why I feel that the depression is lifting is that after literally a lifetime of denial and disbelief I’ve finally come to acknowledge the fact that I’m gay. I always have been, and in retrospect I’ve always known it, but it was commonly held that being gay was the most grievous of sins and that there was no chance of happiness (let alone eternal life) if one were gay. I barely dated in high school. Due in part to the fact that I was very unpopular and had very low self esteem. (Still do.) I never felt good enough for anyone else and the one true girlfriend I did have in high school was just rebounding from her previous boyfriend. They ended up getting back together after we took him along with us on a “date” to see the school play. I didn’t have a car, she drove and they dropped me off first. Can you say “writing on the wall”?

I literally only had one other date the entirety of high school. A very sweet girl who I never thought I stood a chance with, but with whom I had shared a “moment” the last week of junior year and so I gave it a shot… It took me 5 months to ask her out and was very surprised to find that she agreed. Being the blithering idiot that I am, I invited her to a concert that was still two months away and didn’t have the presence of mind to ask her to do something before then. By the time the concert rolled around she had a boyfriend and was going with me as a “friend”.  I always wanted a girlfriend but I just wasn’t the kind of guy who bounced from girl to girl and I didn’t have the guts to ask girls out.

Meanwhile, I’d go home after school, pull my “International Male” Catalogs out from under the bed and find a good picture for inspiration while I touched myself. “I’m not gay,” I told myself. “I don’t want to be with one of these guys. I want to be like them.”  I wonder now how common that lie is among the young, closeted, fearful gay community? I DID want to be like them. I wanted to be muscular, and tan and smooth. I wanted to have a full head of beautiful hair (I started losing mine freshman year. Who says God isn’t cruel?) But I also wanted to be loved by them. Taken care of by them.  To make love with them. I wanted to see what was beneath the surface of the bulges in those skimpy bikini bathing suits and thongs on the pages. I of course never admitted any of this to myself back then, let alone anyone else.

I went on to college and decided that this was going to be where my life began. No more being self conscious or embarrassed about myself. I was going to live. I was going to make friends, I was going to date and I was going to find my future wife. My future wife! I happened to go to the same college where my sister was a senior and she and I shared an apartment.  There wasn’t going to be much experimentation there, what with us having been raised in a Christian household and even straight sex was a no-no before marriage.

There was a girl in my sister Erin’s choir that I thought was cute.  Erin said, “She’s sweet. I approve.” So I asked the girl out…she turned me down flat. A bit later I met another girl, Cheryl, also in the choir with Erin. She was also approved of and we did go out a few times. Was never officially called a date and in retrospect I don’t know if Cheryl thought it was, but I was falling hard.

The day before finals week ended, I rear-ended a Ford F-150 with Erin’s Geo Metro. There were no injuries fortunately, but the car was in bad shape and I had to pay for the repairs. As a result, no more college for me. When I realized I wasn’t going to be going back I sent a letter to Cheryl telling her that I wasn’t coming back but that I really enjoyed our time together and would like to maintain our relationship… I never heard from her again.

Shortly after that, I fell for a girl at work, Kerri. We were going to get married, but I didn’t have a car and my employment options were pretty limited. We agreed that I’d leave town for six months and live with my father in Ohio. He had a car I could drive and I’d get a job, save up for my own car and then come home. I was gone about six weeks when she cheated on me. I was devastated and didn’t recover for years… Close to ten I’d say.

In the midst of all these “relationships”, never once did I have sex. Sex! I was horny as could be most of the time. I was a male in his prime years after all… I was also terrified.

What if I did it wrong?
What if I wasn’t any good?
What if she wasn’t satisfied and broke things off with me?
What if I don’t like it? Oh, now wait! Of course I’ll like it! I’m a guy. We’re supposed to love sex. It’s all about the “pussy”, right?

My hand was my best friend… along with my International Male Catalogs.

My fiancé broke up with me when I was 19 years old. About a year later I was hit on by Kimberly, a woman who was funny, attractive and assertive.  I thought it was great! I asked her out, we went on a date, we had fun. I heard from other sources that she really liked me. At the end of that first date, I drove her back home and we stood in her family driveway for a long time just talking and laughing. It was time to leave and I leaned in to hug her (I was a good Christian boy; I didn’t kiss on the first date.) While I leaned in to hug her, she leaned in to kiss me and she won. It was cold, sticky and completely without chemistry. Immediately I started thinking, “I gotta get outta here. How fast can I make that happen?”

We had plans for lunch the next day. I stood her up. I sat in my car at the top of the hill by her house and waited for her to leave and I put a note in her mail-box telling her that she reminded me of my ex and that I thought I was ready but I just wasn’t.  Pretty cowardly… and not very smart considering she knew where I worked (at the mall) and that was where she picked up on me in the first place.

Later I moved to California.  I met a girl randomly through work who made no secret of her attraction to me. I went out with her once and we had a nice time. She wanted to spend the night but I wouldn’t let her. (I was scared.) The second date was a disaster and I never saw her again.

That was 1999. I haven’t been on a date since.

In August of 2001 I was laid off from my job without ceremony. I was given no severance other than the wages I had earned and any unused vacation time. I couldn’t even afford to pay September’s rent. I moved out of my studio apartment in San Francisco, and in with my good friend Michelle, who said she wasn’t letting me move back to Oklahoma, where I’d come from. We shared her one bedroom apartment for nine months before it was obvious I wasn’t going anywhere, anytime soon and her lease was up. We moved into a two bedroom apartment near by and lived together until this past September, two weeks short of six years.

Michelle is a very nice, caring, wonderful person. She’s also damaged in some way. She doesn’t really have any friends besides me and her large family. I don’t understand why. She’s not socially inept and she’s pretty, but she doesn’t have a lot of friends and she hasn’t dated since 1994. In May of 2003, we decided that maybe we should have a “friends with benefits” kind of situation. I wasn’t getting any younger, and at 28 was still a virgin. She wasn’t getting any younger and at 34 hadn’t had sex in 15 years. What the hell, right?

WRONG! I never really enjoyed it. It was never good for me. I could barely feel her except for when she was on top. I had no stamina and she was impossible to please. She didn’t like to “have to do the work” and the only way I could stay with her was if she was on top. I never had the nerve to explain that to her. One night in a drunken fit she got mad because she was always on top, and because for a brief moment I got distracted and lost my erection. I don’t remember what she said, but it was the final straw and I got up and walked out of the room and that was the last time we even tried to have sex. It’s been three years.

The first time we were together, I went down on her, ’cause, ya know, that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? I’d read enough to know that women don’t normally climax very easily with straight intercourse and that the “right” thing to do was to get her going first and then go for the main event. I was only there for a couple minutes, but it was long enough to know that the only kind of pussy I like is the kind with whiskers that purrs and curls up next to me on the couch after he’s eaten his fill of food. The whole experience was disgusting to me and I couldn’t do it again.

Through all this I realized a few things. I didn’t like giving a woman oral sex. I didn’t like looking at her jiggling flesh (boobs, etc.) while she gyrated on top of me.  Having sex with Michelle wasn’t the explosive, all encompassing, thrilling experience that I always thought it would be. Oh and that guy on the train this morning was sexy… Wait, that’s not what I’m supposed to be thinking. But it was. And it still is.

So there it is. I know I’m gay. I know there’s no point in denying it anymore. I’m not just wishing I was like those guys in the catalog, I’m wishing I was with them.  Now that I’ve got that part out of the way, I just have to figure out how I’m going to shed a lifetime of shame and denial and fear. How am I going to make today truly be the first day of the rest of my life? Well, to tell the truth? I don’t know. But come along for the ride and I guess we’ll figure it out together.

Blogiversary

I just realized that I’m coming up on the one year Anniversary (Blogiversary?) of my blogging life.  Obviously, I started someplace else, before starting Riggledo but it has been one year none the less.

It seems kind of hard to believe, but it’s hard to believe that it has only been one year.  It’s not so much that sooo much has happened…  Although I suppose if I think about it, a lot has happened.  It’s just that my sense of the time that’s passed, my recollection of where I was a year ago vs. where I am now, looking back over it all, I can’t believe that it could possibly only be one year.

I posted my first post on my old blog on June 10, 2008 and I’ve been going strong ever sense.  On Wednesday, June 10th in a cheesy excuse for sentimentality (something I don’t really do all that well) I will re-post for your reading pleasure, the first blog post I ever wrote.  It really is the beginning of my story.

I’m sure you’re chomping at the bit to know what it is, but I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait!

Now, get back to what you were doing.  We’ll talk again soon.

Shrinkage

Six months ago, I fired my therapist.  I said then that I hoped it was a temporary thing, more of a lay-off than a firing.  It was really hard for me to do and I had a lot of fear and anxiety about it when I did it.  I was genuinely worried that I was risking a lot, that I might not be able to maintain my emotional health on my own.

I really had no choice in the matter, however, my finances had gotten completely out of control and I had to do something:

Over the last few months I have gotten farther and farther behind on my utility bills.  My three credit cards are all maxed out and even though I keep making my payments, they’re not always before the due date and as a result I’m incurring fees on top of the finance charges and I’ve been unable to get ahead of all that.  And as the final straw, my December car payment didn’t go through because of a typographical error.  Due to my own ineptitude, or stupidity or whatever, I actually thought I had seen this payment post to my on-line banking for my checking account and that I was in good shape.  As a result, by the time I knew that the payment hadn’t gone through; I no longer had the funds to make the payment.  Now they want two months worth of a payment (and they’ve charged me a late/returned payment fee.)  I hold them partially responsible because while they have both my phone number (they’ve called when I was a day late with the payment) and my e-mail address (I get receipts for my on-line payments this way), they’ve made no effort to contact me about this other than to send me a letter that didn’t arrive for five days after the payment was reversed, but I recognize that it is ultimately my own responsibility which is why it’s so difficult for me to tolerate the situation.

For as long as I can remember I have been living paycheck to paycheck and I just can’t take it anymore.  So I made the very difficult decision to discontinue therapy for the foreseeable future (Deb, my therapist, called it a hiatus – which I much prefer.)  Starting with my next paycheck I’ll have an additional $500.00 to $550.00 a month (the Health Care Spending account – for my invisalign – deductions were pre-tax so I don’t know how that will all shake out.)  It is my intention to pay off my credit cards and cancel two of the three, and get my bills back to current and stay on top of them.  I want to get some money in savings.  I would also like to start paying ahead on my car and get that expense paid off as quickly as possible.

Recently when I decided I want to go to college and I began to contemplate the prospect of moving to New York and living with my sister and her family and what that would mean for me, I realized that I needed to get back to therapy.  I shouldn’t be allowed to make a decision like this alone.  It’s much too big.

I wish I could say I’ve learned all my lessons.  I wish I could say that the credit cards are all paid off and there’s money in the bank and I’m ahead on my car payments and that everything is fine.  I wish I could say I was a different person now.  I can’t.

I’ve gotten things more under control and I’m current with all my utilities, for now.  I’ve gotten my credit card balances paid down enough that I’m not in danger of going over the limit if anything goes wrong.  Unfortunately, the credit cards are not paid off as I hoped they would be and I have found it more difficult to make the large payments on them I wanted to be making.

I’ve gotten somewhat complacent about it.  It’s important to make these large payments on the cards, and I do, but then, I run out of money (because I spent it all paying the cards off) and so I use the cards to get through till payday.  This is a counter productive strategy and I’m already working on reversing that pattern.  But now I’ve added the cost of therapy to the budget and I’m not sure, yet, how that’s going to impact things.  Unfortunately, in my absence my therapist raised her rate and since I pay out of pocket, that really sucks but I’ll deal with it.

I had a strategy worked out regarding school, or so I thought.  And when I realized that strategy wasn’t going to work and that there were no other obvious solutions, I began to fret and things became very muddled and cloudy in my mind.  This is what happens to me when things don’t just happen, when things don’t just work, when things don’t just make sense.  I’m a very intelligent person and a lot of things do just make sense, but when they don’t it’s very frustrating and the factors become incoherent for me.  Everything runs together.  It’s like a part of my brain just wants to shut down.  Things start sounding like they’re written for someone who already understands them.  So all the factors and circumstances are bleeding over onto one another and I was beginning to lose focus… and I was beginning to lose hope.  And then the lack of focus and hope spreads, and I’m not just hopeless about the particular issue, but hopeless about everything.  This is how depression starts for me, and that is not something I want to experience again.

So I had my first therapy session in nearly six months yesterday and it was really nice.  I am, by no means, any closer to figuring out what I’m going to do, but I’m not so cloudy anymore.  I have hope.

And that feels best of all!

Move Along, Nothing To See Here

I wasn’t going to post this, and if you don’t want to read a ranting post about a crappy experience at my crappy job you should probably do as the title suggests and move along.  It does feel a little better to have gotten it out of my system  and my intention for this blog was nothing, if not to be honest so with that in my mind…  Here goes!

Passive Aggressiveness Sucks The Big One.

OMG!!! I have to quit my job!!!  I can’t take it anymore!  I really can’t!  Something has got to give.  I’m so sick of dealing with the bull shit that goes on in my work world.  I hate my boss, and I really hate the woman who works in the cubicle right outside my office door.

She is so passive aggressive it’s sickening and my stupid boss seems to choose not to see it.  Today in the staff meeting she made a blatantly hateful comment to me and he didn’t even seem to notice that it happened.  But traditionally, if anyone says anything even vaguely unkind to her, he scolds them and tells them to be nice.

GOD! I’m just so tired of all of this.  I need to change things and I don’t really know what to do.  I don’t know where to look for a new job.  I don’t want to do what I’m doing anymore, so looking for another, similar job doesn’t make sense.  If I’m going to keep working I’d really like to find a job as a writer but I don’t have first idea how to go about doing that, let alone whether or not that’s a pipe dream.  And so while I continue to try to figure out where to go from here, I just keep coming to this Godforsaken place and dealing with these Godforsaken people and wanting to put a bullet through my brain. Obviously, I don’t really want to put a bullet through my brain.  But I really, really need to get out of this situation.