Words To Live By

A couple of years ago, I began reading Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City books.  For those who don’t know, the earliest of this series started out as a recurring installment in the San Francisco Chronicle, the local news paper.  I imagine it was sort of like reading a soap opera.  The books take place in San Francisco and center around a young gay man, Michael, and his naive, mid-western suburbia transplant neighbor turned best friend, Mary Ann.

One night, while reading one of the early volumes, a reference was made to an actor by the name of Tab Hunter.  The first thought that popped into my head was that “Tab Hunter” sounds like a made up name (it is) of a porn star (it is not), yet, in spite of not being a connoisseur of pornography, the name seemed vaguely familiar to me.  I never did find out why, but in my investigation I pulled up his IMDb page to see if I would recognize him, or might have seen him in anything.  While I’m sure to have seen him in some of his late career television guest roles, nothing jumped out at me, but as luck would have it, he had starred in a film adaptation of Damn Yankees!, a play I had the opportunity to see in the mid ’90s and very much enjoyed.  It also happened to have significant relevance to my, as yet unpublished (in fact, still unedited) novel I was writing at the time.

While I perused Tab Hunter’s IMDb page I noticed that he was quite a handsome man in his youth, though, to be fair, he’s not a bad looking man now, considering his advanced years.  Anyway, I became curious about him.  Along with adding several of his appearances to my Netflix queue, I also checked out a copy of his autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential, from the library.  It was there that I learned a lot of interesting things about Tab Hunter.  Most notable to me, especially at the time, is the fact that he is gay, and while Hollywood (and society) would not allow its leading men to come out publicly, in that day and age, Tab never really made much effort to hide the fact either.  In fact, he claims, in his book, that he never really gave it much thought, never questioned whether it was who he really was or what he was supposed to do or be, and he never felt the need to make a declaration about the subject either.  It was just who he was, and he never gave it a second thought.  Too me, that seems like some pretty forward and progressive thinking, even by today’s standards, not to mention in the 1940s and 1950s!  Tab Hunter Confidential is Tab’s life story beginning with his birth on July 11, 1931, in New York City, as Arthur Andrew Kelm (later Arthur Galeen) and ending with his quiet life on a secluded ranch near Santa Barbara, California where he still lives with his “partner” (I hate that word in this context) of 30 years and their many animals.

In the final pages of the autobiography, Tab describes being at his mother’s bedside as she lay dying.  His mother had been a hard and difficult woman who never quite accepted who he was, choosing instead to ignore that part of his life and never discuss or confront the situation.  His description of the woman reminded me quite a bit of my own mother and her general reaction to the news when I came out to her, and so when he describes reading a poem to her on her deathbed, a poem that I felt was very poignant, I found it quite moving:

A powerful poem I discovered while reading Tab Hunter Confidential, an autobiography.

A powerful poem I discovered while reading Tab Hunter Confidential, an autobiography.

I felt that this poem was a powerful message, and words to live by.  It became the foundation of an idea; an idea which began to shift and grow in my mind.  Over time, it began to take shape until it became something real.

I hadn’t planned to write about this, or share any pictures, until all the touch ups and augmentations were complete and it was completely healed, but circumstances intervened, and here we are.

Today’s prompt (and it actually still is today, as I’m writing this.  Go me!) is Words To Live By.  While I originally thought to find a way to photograph my favorite quote, “Stop laughing!  You can’t fix stupid!”, I decided to try for something that is hopefully a bit more uplifting.  So instead, I now present, in all it’s imperfect, incomplete glory, my fifth tattoo.  The largest, most elaborate tattoo I’ve gotten so far, and certainly the one with the most meaning and significance behind it.  (Not to be confused with the most sentimentality, which is still tattoo number four, all the way!  Which, as it turns out, I don’t think I wrote about here…  Hmm…).

I gave my basic concept to the tattoo artist who created a more elaborate, and better than I could have imagined, design.  The poem, I think, is pretty self explanatory.  The rest represents baring oneself before God, concealing nothing, and basking in the knowledge of God’s grace, mercy and love.  With this tattoo, I proudly demonstrate the certain knowledge that I am a child of God, loved and blessed, free of judgement and condemnation, and that it is not a contradiction to be gay and a Christian.

The finished product is not perfect, however.  As you can see in the third image, the first line at the top, “If I relax” the I and the r are too close together.  The artist assures me that he can fix that and I certainly hope he can.  It was definitely a disappointment when I took the bandage off after I got home and realized that the letters were so close together that it looks like an h “If helax”.  The sun rays, in the colors of the pride flag, need to extend further onto my shoulder, chest and back than they do, and they definitely need to be filled in more.  He told me as he was doing the tattoo that they would need to be touched up.  Blocks of solid color that large rarely heal perfectly on the first pass.  It is also my preference, and he says he can do it, for the colors to be a little more bold and primary, as they appear on the pride flag.

Pride Flag

Pride Flag – Photo credit not mine.

Finally, only after I’d had the tattoo for a few days and had looked at it regularly did I realize, it just doesn’t quite look complete to me.  I have an appointment for this coming Wednesday to have the touch-ups and corrections done and at the same time, I’m going to have him do some augmentation to frame the tattoo in a little better.  I’m thinking more flourishes, similar to what’s at the bottom of the poem along the sides and around my arm, meeting on the inside.  That should be quite an exciting experience since the skin there is quite tender and soft.  It does not go through a lot of abuse, being on the inside of the arm and, therefore, it will be much more sensitive than the outside of my arm was during the original application.

I’ve written about my first three tattoos previously, here, so I won’t get into them now.  If you’re curious, check that post out.  I had intended to link to the story of tattoo number four as well, but it seems that story hasn’t been written…  yet.  I will.  I promise.  It’s a good one.

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In Which I Share TMI and Try To Draw an Analogy With Facing One’s Fears (And Try Really Hard Not To Mention The Guy — Oops!)

In planning this post I thought about a recounting of all the holes in my body…  Well, the holes God did not give me, anyway.

Do you care that I passed out cold when I got my left ear pierced in 1993?  Or that I was so nervous that it would happen again that when I got my right ear pierced in 2001, I sat on the piercing stool for at least five minutes after the job was done while Heather went to pay?  (It was her idea.  She said I needed to be “balanced out”, so she paid for it.)  I did not pass out, FYI.  Do you care that when I finally made up my mind to get my upper ear pierced, something I had wanted to do for years but had been too afraid, both of the pain and of my mother, that it didn’t actually happen until just four years ago, after going to Tulsa to take care of my mother, post surgery, and coming face to face with her disdain (which wasn’t as bad as I expected) for my then three tattoos (I now have four and have an appointment for my fifth on Tuesday), I was still anxious.  I felt liberated and able to do whatever I wanted so I went for it, but I was still nervous.  And, well, you Probably don’t want Any of the details of my fourth and most recent piercing; one very few people will ever see.

Then I thought about a post discussing the number of men not named “Riggledo” who have touched my favorite appendage (hint, the answer is three– no make that four.  I have to assume my father changed a diaper or two…  No… actually, that’s five – I just remembered a trip to the doctor…)  Anywhoo…  Only one of those five men was neither related to me, nor was he being Paid, And oh look we’re talking about The Guy and I’ve failed, again.  There’s no need at this stage of things to go into that story.  It was risky and stupid, and in the end, quite possibly the least pleasant of all the experiences, and that’s including the man who, just two days ago, touched it TO POKE A HOLE THROUGH IT….

So much for vague allusions…

But the simple truth is, all of these things do directly lead back to the idea of facing one’s fears.  You see, I was afraid to do any of these things, or write any of these posts.  In the end, I decided not to write the story of my most recent Piercing, And I decided not to write the story of the “special massage” I got a week ago, before which I was quite nervous though simultaneously tremendously excited.

(It was actually a really incredible experience which I can’t wait to repeat and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before – so much more… better.. than I imagined.  So incredible, in fact, that I had no inclination to try to recreate the experience on my own before going to the body piercing shop on Monday…  Something which, judging by the aching in my dangly bits, I should probably have planned out better…)

Even the simple act of writing this post, in place of the other two, was something I was afraid to do.  I’ve put it off for two days because I feared who might see it and how they might react.  But the simple fact is, we have to do what’s right for ourselves.  I’ve just finished a six week class I’ll probably write more about later.  It’s an “anger management” class, though most people who are acquainted with me and hear that, can’t imagine why I would take such a class.  The truth is, I felt very out of place, but I needed to be there and I did learn some things from the class, the most relevant of which, at this moment, is the importance of taking care of one’s self first and foremost.

The fact is, there are people who will read this who will wish they hadn’t.  (Some of those people are unwelcome here and should have stopped reading, should  have “unsubscribed” from the e-mails, as soon as they read Reclamation.  They lack either self respect, or a shred of human decency, or a combination of the two, and therefore, continue to receive and read these posts in their e-mails.  I can’t be bothered to concern myself with such people and their reactions.)  The fear which I had to face was the idea of someone who matters thinking less of me for what I’ve had to say.  The act of writing this post is me over-coming that fear.  It’s a step in the right direction.

And it’s a step that feels pretty good.

Getting On With It

Once again, I’ve been sitting on a “post” that I wrote weeks ago and e-mailed to myself  but never posted.  And once again, I feel like I can’t move forward until it’s been posted.  Some of what’s here is no longer relevant.  That will be explained eventually.  Meanwhile, I must get this posted so that I can move forward…  somehow.

This was originally written on October 2, 2013.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

The noise and the supply of bullshit seem to be unending.  It’s abundantly clear, now, that The Guy doesn’t care about me in the least.  I shouldn’t be surprised.  I shouldn’t even be hurt by it.  But I am.  He fed me this bullshit song and dance about talking to people about the disruption, but he remains just as guilty as the rest, and just as guilty as he’s always been.  Seems like utter hypocrisy to me.  He, the one person I’ve spoken to at length about this problem, doesn’t care to be cognizant of his contribution.  So why would he believe anyone else would.

He just walked by my desk and said good morning.  Why?  What’s the point?  He doesn’t talk to me at all, except to say hi and bye.  Sure it’s polite, but we are past polite.  I can’t stand the sound of his voice.  The sound of his laugh.  I hate seeing him.  I wish I could get out of here and NEVER COME BACK.  I can’t wait for that day.

Only it has to be under my own steam.  There’s no way I can survive being unemployed again now.  It’s just not possible.  Yet, my boss is threatening to fire me, when you boil it down, because I’m depressed.  She says I’m being unkind to people, but she can’t give me an example of it.  All she says is that it’s “a tone”, it’s “intangible”, but “it has to stop.”  I really do not know what she’s talking about, as I have made a concerted effort to be as neutral as I can manage with people.  I’m not happy and I don’t have the power within me to pretend to be.  Of course it’s not OK to be rude to people and it’s not my intent to be, but if I’m doing something wrong, I don’t know it, thus, the reason I need specific examples.  (Meanwhile, I’ve actually received several complements from my customers recently, telling me what a great job I’m doing and how invaluable I am to the organization.)

A big part, maybe the biggest part, of why I’m unhappy, depressed now, is because of him.  He is directly responsible for breaking me.  I’m not saying I don’t have any responsibility for my circumstances, of course I do, but he was reckless and irresponsible and he toyed with me and my emotions.  He created this situation and I’m the one left to deal with the aftermath.  I’m trying to do just that, I’m trying to deal with my issues.  I’m doing the best I can.  But these things take time and my boss is not interested.  And now she wants to extend my probation, like that helps anything.  We’re never going to see eye to eye.  We’re never going to agree on how things should work.  We’re never going to agree on what “this industry” is like, or what “good customer service” looks like.

It’s just hopeless.

I NEED TO GET OUT!

~~~~~~~~~

On Friday, October 18, 2013, five and one half months into my six months probation, I was informed that I was “a square peg trying to fit into a round hole”, (that’s an actual quote), and that I was being “released during probation”, which pretty much means they can terminate my employment without notice, without warning, and, apparently, without any documentation of a problem.

The meeting with my boss and the HR representative (someone I had spoken to multiple times about the issues I was having with my boss and my concerns for my well-being, and who never once offered any sort of supportive or encouraging advice) took place at 3:30 that Friday afternoon.  Just half an hour before everyone was to meet up at a local brewery for happy hour to celebrate The Guy’s birthday.  Two separate calendar invitations were sent out about the happy hour and two separate calendar invitations were declined by me.  I’m sure he didn’t expect me to attend, but I can’t help but imagine that some people were surprised I wasn’t there and must’ve asked about me.  Either way, I know that my boss sent out a terse e-mail the following Monday morning informing the entire staff that I was not longer working there and to come to her with any outstanding or new requests.

I’ve never seen or  heard from The Guy since that day.  I can’t say I’m surprised.  I can’t imagine what his response was to the news.  Probably relief, though he’d act like he was sad for anyone who’s paying attention.  I can’t imagine he acknowledges any sort of responsibility on the subject, even though he does hold some.  It’s just as well really.  I don’t know what I would have said or done if he had contact me.  I need to wash my hands of him, and this is the only way to do it, but it still makes me a bit angry.

(Ironically, as a direct result of conversations that took place around the difficulties at work, I’m taking an “anger management” class right now.  That’s a whole post in itself and I’ll discuss it further later, but one of the concepts in this class is that “anger isn’t real”.  They suggest that anger is just a mask for pain whether it’s physical or emotional.  That said, I wonder why I would be hurt that someone I don’t want to have anything further to do with wouldn’t bother to check on me after finding out I had been let go?)

Regardless, I am out of that situation, away from him, never have to see or speak to him again.  I can start to “wash that man right out of my hai–”  oh.  Well, you get the idea.  (I wonder if anyone will understand that reference without clicking the link.)  I no longer have to deal with the stress of a job that was never right for me in the first place.  I don’t have to deal with a boss who is chaotic and disorganized and disrespectful, and sexist.  I don’t have to deal with the film of grit and filth that was a permanent fixture on my beautiful new car, from the asphalt plant or sand factory, both of which were on the other side of the fence from the parking lot.

All of these are good things.  Nevertheless, I am still unemployed, living in one of the most expensive parts of the country, with a brand new car (and payment, gas and insurance to go with it) and not nearly the resources I had the last time this happened.  If I don’t figure something out pretty damn quickly, I’m going to have to make some drastic and very unpleasant changes, I’m just not sure I can face.

Anyway, my first priority these days is earning money and finding a new full time job, but I think about this space often.  Maybe now that I’ve gotten the last of these written-elsewhere-and-emailed-for-later-posting posts posted, I can come back here more frequently, even if it’s just to post short updates on the current goings on in my life…  like this:

First day with full-time glasses.

First day with full-time glasses.

I Wish I Could Write Lyrics

Remember when I said all anybody sings about is how happy they are to be in love???

Today on the way to work Adelle came on my iPod in the car!  Where was she two months ago?

Here’s another song that sums things up pretty perfectly…

“Set Fire To The Rain”
By. Adelle

I let it fall, my heart,
And as it fell you rose to claim it
It was dark and I was over
Until you kissed my lips and you saved me

My hands, they’re strong
But my knees were far too weak,
To stand in your arms
Without falling to your feet

But there’s a side to you
That I never knew, never knew.
All the things you’d say
They were never true, never true,
And the games you play
You would always win, always win.

[Chorus:]
But I set fire to the rain,
Watched it pour as I touched your face,
Well, it burned while I cried
‘Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name!

When I lay with you
I could stay there
Close my eyes
Feel you here forever
You and me together
Nothing gets better

‘Cause there’s a side to you
That I never knew, never knew,
All the things you’d say,
They were never true, never true,
And the games you’d play
You would always win, always win.

[Chorus:]
But I set fire to the rain,
Watched it pour as I touched your face,
Well, it burned while I cried
‘Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name!

I set fire to the rain
And I threw us into the flames
When it fell, something died
‘Cause I knew that that was the last time, the last time!

Sometimes I wake up by the door,
That heart you caught must be waiting for you
Even now when we’re already over
I can’t help myself from looking for you.

[Chorus:]
I set fire to the rain,
Watched it pour as I touched your face,
Well, it burned while I cried
‘Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name

I set fire to the rain,
And I threw us into the flames
When it fell, something died
‘Cause I knew that that was the last time, the last time, ohhhh!

Oh noooo
Let it burn, oh
Let it burn
Let it burn

Are You Happy Now?

I’ve always liked this song, but I guess I never really paid close enough attention to the lyrics before.  It played on my iPhone the other day and I’ve been listening to it on a loop off and on since then.  I’m not sure if it makes me feel better or worse, or if it reminds me of what I lost, or that I didn’t lose anything.  Maybe I’m even lucky….  after a fashion… not to have ended up entangled with such an emotional cripple.

I really don’t know what to believe.  I do not want to believe that he was playing me the entire time.  I don’t want to think he could be that cruel.  And maybe he wasn’t being cruel.  Maybe he really is just that oblivious to how things work in the real world.  Maybe I am.  I don’t know.  I just know that he told me so many conflicting things that I can’t trust anything he says anymore.  I just know that he told me enough of the right things to think we were nearly on the same page, and in truth he wasn’t even reading the book.  I just know that I went from falling in love, to being incredibly angry and feeling just a bit of hatred toward him.

And then this song came along, and I thought….  “Yeah!  That!”

“Are You Happy Now?”
by. Michelle Branch

Now, don’t just walk away
Pretending everything’s ok
And you don’t care about me
And I know it’s just no use
When all your lies become your truths and I don’t care… yeah, yeah, yeah

Could you look me in the eye
And tell me that you’re happy now, ohhh, ohhh
Would you tell it to my face or have I been erased,
Are you happy now?
Are you happy now?

You took all there was to take,
And left me with an empty plate
And you don’t care about it, yeah.
And I am givin’ up this game
I’m leaving you with all the blame cause I don’t care, yeah, yeah yeah,

Could you look me in the eye?
And tell me that you’re happy now, oohh oohhh
Would you tell it to my face or have I been erased,
Are you happy now? Ohhh, ohhhh
Are you happy now?
Are you happy now? yeah, yeah, yeah.

Do you really have everything you want?
You can’t ever give somethin’ you ain’t got
You can’t run away from yourself

Could you look me in the eye?
and tell me that you’re happy now, yeah, yeah
come on, tell it to my face or have i been replaced,
are you happy now? Ohhh, ohhhh
are you happy now?

Would you look me in the eye?
Could you look me in the eye?
I’ve had all that I can take
I’m not about to break
Cause I’m happy now, ohhh, ohhh
Are you happy now?

 

Those two lines are struck through because they don’t ring true.  I am broken and I’m not happy.  I really don’t think I’ll ever be happy again.  I’m sorry.  Not again.  I’ve never really been happy.  I thought I was getting there for a minute, but as it turns out, I was completely wrong and only deluding myself.  But the things I’ve learned about myself, and about my disease, and about life, these last few months…  I really don’t think I’ll ever be happy.  It’s chemically, biologically impossible.

Anyway, I know it’s been a while since I posted anything here, so in case you were worried, don’t be, I’m not dead…  not yet.

The End

I grew up in a family and a world full of abuse: some violent, some physical, mostly emotional, all horrific.  I never learned how to care for myself in that world and was constantly subject to the whims and mood swings of my abusers, be they family or school mates or even the occasional teacher.  Because of this, or maybe in addition to it, I was cripplingly clinically depressed for most of my life.

Almost four years ago, I started blogging.  I didn’t really know what would come of it and it was hard at times, because the truth is, I don’t know how to censor myself or not be open and honest in my writing.  This is a good thing since I’m not really capable of being completely open and honest in my face to face communications.  I’m constantly censoring myself and holding back.  As it turned out, blogging was very therapeutic for me.  Where I’m not any good at developing relationships in the real world, I’m good at dealing with people on-line.  While I’m not able to cultivate friendships face to face, people on-line and in the blogging community are very nice, friendly, supportive people.  Obviously, that’s all about the circles in which one travels, but I managed to develop some good circles; surround myself with good, decent, honest, caring people… Or so I thought.

I let my guard down.  I began to trust people; something I’ve never done easily.  I couldn’t trust my own family, why would I trust outsiders?  But this blog and the people who have been around it showed me that there are people out there one can trust… Or so I thought.

But I got complacent.  And now this safe little world of mine has been invaded.  Now, now that my blog has really gotten a good readership.  Now that there are actually people who like me and want to read my words.  Now there are people who feel it’s appropriate to stalk and terrorize me.  People who think that just because this is a “public website” they have the right to force their way in.  People who think that they have the right to treat me like shit, just because they don’t like something I wrote on MY  blog.  People who relish taking the control over my life away from me.

I have taken the rational, reasonable measures I can take to put a stop to these activities, but unfortunately, the mechanism does not exist in this world for me to protect myself and my rights.

So I have to take drastic measures.

I have to take myself, out of this world.

A Hard Lesson

Well, this has been a kind of stressful week-end, but it paid off in the end.  It gave me an opportunity to do some introspection and really think about what matters and what doesn’t.

After growing up surrounded by unkind, uncaring, hateful, hurtful people, I have managed to make a life for myself without those people in it.  I have been isolated from that kind of behavior (for the most part) and I had forgotten that those people existed.  I guess I got a little too comfortable, a little complacent and I allowed my guard to come down a bit too far.

I had forgotten what matters and what doesn’t and I guess I needed a little kick to remind myself.  There will always be people in this world who mean to do you harm.  You can’t avoid it.  You can only take care of yourself.

But now I remember what matters to me and what doesn’t.  Being kind to humanity.  Doing the right thing, even when it’s difficult.  Taking care of others.  Being honest and fair.  Those are the things that matter.

What doesn’t matter is people who will try to hurt you.  People who don’t respect you and keep their commitments to you.  People who think they have a right to impose themselves on you uninvited.  Those are things that don’t matter.

I care about nurturing and developing the friendships that I already have and developing new ones where the opportunity arises, with people who will show respect and courtesy toward others.  I care about doing the right thing and showing support for the right purposes and causes, things that will better the world.  I care about the health and well-being of the people in my life.   I care about making the world a better place.

I don’t care about the insults or opinions of small-minded, insecure people.  I don’t care about trying to get through to people who aren’t interested in the first place.  I don’t care about justifying myself to people  and I don’t care about people who would judge and condemn, especially ones who do not know about what they speak.

This is my life and my world and I’ll live in it the way I believe is right.  Others can come along, or they can follow their own path and leave me out of it.  But I will not be swayed toward other people’s paths again.  I will not stoop to their levels.  I will not allow the behavior of others to negatively influence me.

It’s too bad I had begun to forget these things and that the reminder had to be such a tough one, but I’m better now.  I know who I am.  I know what I stand for.  I know what matters.  I know what I believe and I won’t be swayed by the arrogance and ignorance of others.