The Words Will Come

Just start writing….  The words will come…  Just start writing…

That’s what the great and powerful “they” always say, right?  Just start writing, the words will come.  And the truth is, the great and powerful “they” are not wrong.  This strategy has worked for me many times before.  It’s just that, there’s a lot of stuff going on and swirling around in my brain, and I haven’t quite figured out how to sort it all out yet.  How much of it to share and how much of it to keep to myself.

Despite my best efforts I’m still inclined to worry a bit about what readers of this site will think of what I put here, and yet, I’m actually quite proud of my last post.  Yes, I discussed some “mature themes” and yes I admitted to some activities that, in the past, I would have completely kept to myself, as much out of embarrassment, as anything else, but I think it’s a good thing that I posted that.  I spend a lot of time in this sort of “in-between” stage of life where I feel like, I shouldn’t do anything I’m ashamed of and therefore I don’t do anything I’m ashamed of…  Yet I’m ashamed of things I really shouldn’t be, and therefore, this philosophy holds me back.

There is an excellent chance that I’m confusing shame with fear, or shame with unfounded guilt which causes fear, or some other tremendously deep and impressive introspection that I’m not quite clear about and obviously can’t manage to articulate…

I’ve come a long way in the last several years of blogging, and even before that.  I’ve learned a lot about myself, I’ve gained a considerable amount of emotional and mental independence (not to be confused with the physical and financial independence that I’ve had since I was 22).  But “a considerable amount” can be just a drop in the bucket when you’re coming from a place of such dependence…  Or co-dependence.  There are still a good many subjects and issues about which I can hear my mother’s voice, or more to the point, her judgmental, disappointed noises.  Tsking and groaning and sighing (oh my!).  And it’s not like she even needs to know about my behavior and my activities, but it doesn’t matter if the physical being knows anything because the non-corporial manifestation of her that exists in my subconscious is ever-present and equally judgmental.  And, of course, I think I’m inclined to project that judgement and condemnation onto other people both local and afar.  I imagine the gasps and the shaking heads of the people who might read my words, the disappointment that might come from having the image of me, which they have created, sullied by the revelation of the things I don’t dare say.

I am aware, as I write these words, that I’m creating a proverbial mountain out of what many would see as an equally proverbial mole hill.  I am also aware that, while I do value the regular readers of this blog and would hate to put anyone off, concealing things about myself and allowing the fears of other’s opinions to hold me back is not only destructive and hurts me more than it does anyone else, it is potentially more destructive and hurtful than not acting because of the fear.

I’m human.  I’m alive.  I’m male (stereotype).  And like everyone else, I have needs, both physical and emotional that need to be fulfilled, one way or another. The truth is, while I’m over here hiding from that fact, all of you are probably reading this blog and assuming it; assuming that I take measures to have my needs fulfilled (trust me, I do), you just don’t necessarily want to know what those measures are.  Certainly, there is a fine line between open and honest sharing, not leaving out pertinent details, and this turning into a very different kind of blog from what it has ever been before.  

Prior to the vague implications and poorly shrouded subliminal information in my last post, I believe I have discussed specific sexual activity on my part, exactly one time on this blog.  One time in five and a half years.  Meanwhile, any regular readers probably haven’t given my sexual endeavors much conscious thought, but have unconsciously assumed that I have not lived as a eunuch.  Society, as a whole, tends to frown on free and open discussions of sex, or so I have generally believed.  Yet as I write that I realize it happens far more frequently than I am comfortable with, and I have to question why that is.

Why am I so uncomfortable with it?  Why is it so hard for me to discuss it?

Certainly, it is, in part, due to my lack of experience and a fear that engaging in such conversations will result in any number of uncomfortable situations where I can not contribute as much to the conversation as people might expect me to; something I generally prefer to avoid.  But part of it is because of that non-corporial manifestation of my mother that exists in my subconscious, which is ever-present and tremendously judgmental.  It comes from a  damaged place within my psyche that is influenced by my mother’s constant over-vilification of sex during my childhood to the point that sex scares me.

There.  I’ve said it.  Sex scares me.  It doesn’t just make me nervous or uncomfortable because it’s “new”, it scares the ever-loving shit out of me in a way I don’t even know how to combat.

Logically, I know it shouldn’t.  Intellectually, I know that sex is a perfectly natural, and healthy thing.  Through the power of study, meditation and independent thought, I have even arrived at the conclusion that I believe pre-marital sex is not only not wrong, it’s important and healthy.  Reasonable, not overly graphic discussions of sex in general, are not something to be afraid of and shy away from, particularly when they lay the groundwork for a further story…

Yet any discussion of my own sexuality (not my sexual orientation, but my sexuality) makes me very uncomfortable and self conscious.

…..

I have a date tomorrow night, and I have mixed feelings about it.  I think it’s a date.  I didn’t really think it was a date when it was discussed, but it seems that it is a date.

Everything I have said here that leads up to that revelation does not, in any way, mean I think there’s an expectation or obligation for sex tomorrow.  In fact quite to the contrary, I think it’s clearly understood that sex will not be happening.  Rather, it’s about how this date came about, and how my shame, prevented me from writing about it before now.

In this wonderful, 21st century world in which we live, there is an iPhone app for absolutely everything.  Seriously.  According to one source in October, 2013 there were approximately 1,000,000 apps in the Apple App Store and that number just keeps going up.  If you can realistically conceive of it, there is probably an app out there for it, already.  And society (and men – stereotype) being what it is, there is more than one app for on-line dating and people-meeting available that uses the GPS signal in phones to show you the profiles of any number of people within a certain distance of where you happen to be holding your phone and looking at that app’s screen.  The first time I ever heard of one of these apps, I downloaded it on my phone, because it was free, and I was curious to see how it worked.  I never had any delusions that I would use the app as it was intended.  I still don’t.  That’s not my style.  But because I have discovered that my, once thought to be impeccable, gaydar is, in actually, completely for shit, I thought it might be interesting to see the faces of other gay men in the area, see if there was anyone I recognized and might, therefore, meet organically and get to know, in real life.  Of course, I wasn’t about to post my own face, because I would be mortified if anyone knew I had even heard of the app, let alone actually downloaded it and look at it once in a while.  I rarely initiated conversations with anyone, and even more rarely did anyone initiate conversations with, or respond to, me.  When they did, it was, without exception, overtures toward having anonymous sex.

The block button is my friend.

Through all the bullshit that went down with The Guy this summer, one good thing did come out of it.  Well–  He doesn’t, by any means deserve all of the credit, it was the whole unfortunate experience with that short-lived job.  From the day I walked in the door, I was determined not to hide who I was or try to keep secret the details of my existence that have been so hard for me to freely share, verbally, in the past.  It was a fresh start in a new place, with a new group of people, and I was determined to start things on the right foot.  The Guy figured it out, or believed he did, from the very first day.  So, apparently, did my boss, though she couldn’t say so until I revealed it to her.  All she said was “I knew you were ‘family’.  Well, I was pretty sure, anyway.”  I learned to be more open about myself.  I learned not to fear people’s reactions.  (To this day, I have not had one person outside of my family react badly to learning that I am gay.)  I learned to tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may, because these people were all new in my life and if they learned the truth up front and they didn’t like it, well, there was no loss.

Thanks to The Guy, I started to feel better about myself, physically.  Again, he doesn’t get all the credit.  Over the last two and a half years, I have lost approximately 70 pounds.  The man I see in the mirror today, is definitely not the man I saw back then.  That man’s clothes don’t fit me anymore.  I still have a long way to go, but I’ll gladly take what I can get.  I’ve learned to appreciate my body in its current form, to take control over the things I can, and not obsess over the things I can’t.  But at least for a little while there, I believed that, not only did someone find me attractive, but someone who I was attracted to, found me attractive.  Due to the nature and circumstances of our involvement and the end thereof, I temper any excitement at that fact with a healthy dose of he-was-full-of-shit, but at the very least, I learned what it feels like to appreciate having someone pursue me due to physical attraction.

I posted a face picture on the app, and filled in a simple profile telling people what I was about, and what I was and, more importantly, what I was not looking for.  I tried to put the hurt and shame of my experience with The Guy behind me and see what came next.  Suddenly, out of the blue, people started initiating chats with me.  Talking to me.  Having real conversations with me.  Much of the time, those conversations end with “so when can we hook up?”.

The block button is still my friend.

Early this week, I crossed paths with a guy we’ll call “No. 1” (not for any reason you’re likely to think of, just go with it) who was deemed to be a “likely match” by some inexplicable algorithm the site uses to suggest people you might like, based on your reactions to their previous suggestions.  No. 1 had a very relatable profile, with a statement about relationships, fidelity, and where he stands on the subject that I happened to like quite a bit.  As it happened, he hit the little “like” button on my picture and I hit the little “like” button on his, and the app was kind enough to let us each know that the other “liked” us and suggested we chat.  So we did.  And he was a nice guy.  And he appealed to me.  And we exchanged phone numbers and I suggested that we should talk again.  I even considered asking him if we could meet for coffee or something sometime, but I decided against it.  The next morning, he sent me a text message and asked if I might be free on Saturday after he gets off work at 8:00.  I am and said as much, and we set up what I thought of as “meeting and getting to know each other better, face to face.”  I know. I know.  That’s pretty much what a date is.   Only, I didn’t think of it that way.  I didn’t think of it as a prelude to anything.  I thought of it as meeting a potentially nice person and getting to know him.  (Again, pretty much what a date is.)

My mind is reeling with this.  Really, it wouldn’t be such a terrible thing if it is a date.  It wouldn’t be such a terrible thing if I enjoyed our date.  It’s just…  I admit it.  I’m terribly skittish.  And it pisses me off.  It’s not fair, that this one experience with this one, completely fucked up guy, has done such lasting damage in me.  I want to move past it.  I want to put it out of my head and forget about The Guy entirely.  I sure as shit don’t want to let him affect how I handle dating going forward.

But I’m so afraid of taking another chance.

I’m not sure I’m open to a relationship right now.  I’m not sure I’m ready to date right now.  When I agreed to meet No. 1 and we settled on a time and place, I thought, “Great!  That’s that.  I’ll see him on Saturday and we’ll have lots to talk about,” and I’m sure we will, only, he continued to text and talk to me after we settled the plans.  He has texted me every day since then, and I can’t quite explain why that bothers me.  It just does.  He has made some fairly innocent comments here and there that really have me on edge.  I’m probably reading too much into it, but he has made some comments which elude to the prospect of a relationship with me and I’m so not in that place.  I mean, we haven’t even met yet.

And all I can think is, “Oh my God!  I’m The Guy!”

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Wish Me Luck

By the way, tonight is the night.  In two and a half hours I’ll be at my writing workshop thingamajig and I’ll be getting my first, formal critique/feedback on my manuscript.

The tension mounts by the minute.  I’ll be taking some Ativan later (yes the anxiety is that real).  I want to take it now, but I’m afraid if I take it too early, it’ll wear off too early and that would be bad.

In the end it will all be fine, but that doesn’t really help me much right now, so…

Wish me luck!

Holy Hectic, Batman

What a day this has been.  After all those comments I made last week about not putting off the critiques until the last minute, I haven’t been able to get around to doing them until today, even though I got the samples earlier than last week.  And I’ve only been able to do one.  The other one I haven’t even cracked open yet.

I admit I’ve really been putting off doing it because it’s just so tough.  I want to be helpful, but fair, but honest, but constructive, but nice.  This does not come to me naturally, y’all! (I can’t believe I just used that word.)

I noticed last week that a lot of people did their critiques and comments electronically, using the review options (track changes and comments) in Microsoft Word and then printing out the hard copies for the writers.  The first of the two samples and the only one I’ve touched so far, the writer asked us to do it that way.  I’m not sure if that slowed me down or if it would have taken me a long time anyway, but it took me three and a half hours to do my critique and comments on an 18 page sample.  And that’s after having read the story last night.

There were a lot of technical problems with the story and some confusing points that slowed me down and I had to figure out how to comment on those in a positive and constructive way that still said, “You need to change these things.”  It’s not easy!

In addition to that, I had actual work to do today and errands to run at lunch, and blogs piling up in my reader and my own mental blocks against doing this in the first place, all standing in the way, holding me back.

I just don’t want to do them.  Not because I’m being lazy.  I just don’t want to tell people I don’t even know what I think of their writing…  but I want them to do it for me.  And I want them to like what I’ve done and have only great things to say (which is probably too much to expect) and I want them to be supportive and encouraging.  I don’t really believe in karma or good juju, or whatever.  I just don’t.  And yet, I do believe you get what you deserve.  You get what you give. (That’s different, right?)  So I’m doing the critiques and trying to be genuinely helpful in spite of my own insecurity and my fear of coming across more harshly than I mean to and hoping that they won’t, or that I won’t take it that way.

And so here we are on Tuesday night.  I’ve done one critique and have another one to go and yet, twenty-three hours and forty-five minutes from now, I will already be in the work shop, either listening to what they thought of my sample, or telling them what I thought of theirs, and I haven’t even started on the last sample, yet.

No pressure here…

Boring Report for Sunday

Today has been less productive than I had hoped, but it was a pretty good day, all the same. I had planned to go out and run some errands, do some housework and review the writing samples I have for this week. Instead, I never left the house and I watched entirely too much television. Can’t complain about that!

When I got up this morning, I fixed myself some breakfast and sat down in front of the television to eat and watch recorded shows from my DVR. After I ate, I played some Fish Wrangler, taking care of my daily tournaments and stuff, and I made the mistake of scrolling through my on-screen television guide to see what was on. When I got my new DirecTV service, they gave me three months of all the premium channels free. Of course I have to remember to cancel them later or they’ll charge me. I will definitely cancel them because I “never” watch premium channels, or even have a need/desire to watch them. Why would I need premium channels when I have this?

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But it just so happens that HBO Family was running all six of the Star Trek (original series) movies and I got sucked into them for a little while. I watched the second half of the first movie and then turned off the TV, but I realized I wasn’t really finished with the computer so I turned the TV back on and watched the second half of The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock. I set the DVR to record The Voyage Home because I really did have things to do.

I did put my laundry away, take a shower, and heat and eat left overs from last night’s dinner at Red Lobster. I watched The Voyage Home while I ate dinner and ironed some clothes. Now I need to read my samples, but it’s almost 10 o’clock and I need to turn on the Grammys so I will be up to date with the rest of the world tomorrow morning and before anybody can spoil the results (not that they’re that important).

Since I am one of the three people whose work is being critiqued this week, I only have two submissions to go through, so I’ll do one tomorrow and one on Tuesday. It’ll work out fine.

So there’s your boring report for this Sunday. Hope you had a more adventurous week-end than I did.

 

 

The Nick of Time

Let it be known that no matter what time this is posted, I am writing it “today”.  I have managed a perfect record of posting every day so far this year, and I would hate to mess that up, but today has been rather hectic and troublesome and there simply wasn’t time to write before now.

And even now…  I’m sitting in my car outside a very nice house in San Francisco, waiting for the commencement of my second week of the Writing Workshop I mentioned that I would be participating in.  I haven’t really had a chance to talk about it before now and I don’t have time now to do it justice, but it has been interesting (and I’ve barely gotten started.)

The time I would normally have spent writing this afternoon, was instead spent critiquing other people’s writing – something I find I’m a lot less comfortable with than I had imagined I would be.  It’s difficult to critique the work of complete strangers you will, nonetheless, be looking in the eye for weeks to come.

It was especially difficult because I didn’t particularly enjoy much of what I read, which is not to say it wasn’t good, just not my speed.  And so, I needed to critique the work without being too judgmental, or insulting, which wasn’t really so difficult, but more than that, I wanted to be constructively critical, but also encouraging.

I’ve discovered that, while I’ve come a long way, personally, I’m still an inherently negative person and it’s kind of difficult to find positive things to say when I don’t really feel them.  I managed to get them done though.  And since it’s the first week of handing back critiques, we’ll see how it goes and how I did in comparison to everyone else… If comparing is even in order.  It may not be.

I did learn one thing, however.  I should NEVER put this off to the last day, ever again!

Thirty-One in Thirty-One

Check this out:

Pretty cool right?  I don’t know if I’ve ever accomplished that before.  Possibly a millenia ago when I first started blogging on my old and long forgotten, top-secret blog.  I think that’s pretty neet though.

I said I was going to make an effort to write more and clearly I did.  Some of it was fluff, but hey, I can’t imagine you want to read deep and insightful every day any more than I want to write deep and insightful every day.  And yes, I’m giving myself credit for being deep and insightful even if I’m not really.  LET ME HAVE THIS!!!  🙂

It’s been a pretty fascinating experience too.  I’ve actually seen my blog readership grow this month.  Crap! I swore I wasn’t going to do this!  I find it kind of annoying when people write about how many people read their blogs but in this case it seems kind of important.  See, I used to want to be a big famous blogger.  I wanted to have thousands upon thousands of readers and I wanted to make money off my blog and I wanted to be able to quit my job and live off the revenue.  (Oh, who’m I kidding?  I still want that, but it’s not going to happen.)  I realized that I don’t have the right stuff for that.  I don’t have an interesting enough life, nor the ability to be all cute and quippy about my life, nor an endless influx of blogging material to draw from.  I also don’t have the business acumen or the social skills to promote myself enough to make it work.  (That’s something that may become a problem for me, which I’ll be discussing further in the near future.)  And don’t even get me started on my lack of technical skills when it comes to web development and making all the different features and applications and websites at my disposal play nicely together.

So I know I’m not going to be a big, rich and famous super-blogger and I’m okay with that.  But here’s what I am.  I am a writer.  I write about my feelings.  I write about my experiences (however uninteresting or few-and-far-between they may be.)  And I write about my views.  Nobody asked me.  And nobody has to read my opinions, but that’s why this is my space and not someone elses.  And that’s all well and good, except, I AM a writer and as a writer, I want people to read my words.  So I like to watch my statistics and see the numbers growing.

Last month, I assume due in part to my increased activity, I went from four blog subscribers (2 by e-mail – and both the same person – and 2 on WordPress.com), to 29.  (Don’t be fooled by the 372 listed at the top of this page.  WordPress is being generous and including my twitter followers in that number.  I guarantee you, most of them are not coming to my blog.  Hell, half of them aren’t even people.)  In addition to the subscribers, I seem to be getting a lot of people randomly coming across my blog through search terms, or because they’ve saved my URL as a favorite instead of using a reader or e-mail subscription.  The truth is, the most hits I’ve gotten in a single day is about 45 and that’s rare, but my numbers have still climbed considerably from where they were a year ago (or even a month ago.)

Thanks to my participation in the Write on Edge community, I’ve gained some additional periodic commenters; it’s no longer limited to only Terri.  It’s awesome to see more participation on this page.  I’ve also been more actively participating on other people’s blogs leaving comments more regularly…  That may have helped with bringing people here too…  Maybe.

Anyway, it’s really been a lot of fun, this month of writing.  It’s been surprisingly invigorating.  I remember, now, that writing is something I need to do.  It’s why I’m on this earth, I think.  (It may not be the only reason, but it’s certainly a reason I can’t ignore.)

So I’m grateful to all of you who read this.  I’m thrilled that you’ve stumbled across these pages and that so many have continued to come back.  I hope you’ll tell your friends…  No really.  Tell your friends.  That’ll be relevant later when I get around to that problematic, self-promotion thing.

Lazy Saturday

It’s been a very lazy Saturday here in the Riggledo household.  I haven’t been to bed before midnight (and usually much later) in more than a month and sitting here at the end of my second week back at work since my most recent vacation, the late nights have taken their toll.

I’m sitting in my living room, in my recliner with my feet up.  I’m wearing sweat pants, a t-shirt and a fleece, Old Navy pull over.  There’s a throw blanket covering me from just below my chest all the way to my feet and it is an electric blanket which is plugged in and turned to high.  My laptop is– well, on my lap and my geriatric cat is curled up in a ball on my shins, sleeping and probably dreaming that the laptop will go away and free his preferred spot for him.  For the first time in weeks it is actually 70 degrees in my apartment and, just to be clear, that’s the warmest it’s been.  (On a couple of occasions in the last two weeks I’ve actually had to break out the space heater which I never use because it draw so much energy that my electric bills triple when I do, it’s been that cold.)

I am cozy and I do not want to move.  I’ve actually fought off sleep a couple of times already today.

It’s been a pretty good week, personally, filled with fun, social interactions, and personal accomplishments.  Dinner with Lil’B on Monday; Lunch with K on Tuesday; finally made it to the Library to pick up that book they’ve been holding, on Wednesday; Thursday I had my weekly noontime meeting with the little advisory council for my Emergency Response Team program; and yesterday I had a lovely, long lunch with my friend Chantelé to celebrate her birthday.

It has also been a week of completions. One of the reasons I’ve been up so late and getting so little sleep is because I’ve been working on a baby blanket for a friend of a friend.  Michelle asked me if I would make the blanket for someone she knows, and I’m always happy to do it as long as the requester supplies the yarn (that sh-stuffs expensive, yo!)  I finished the blanket earlier this week.

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Baby Blanket, hand crocheted by yours truly.

 

I’ve also been at the office late every day this week because I’ve been working on the first round of edits on my manuscript, hereafter called by its name, “The Teacher”.  I guess if I’m serious about getting this thing published, I should start treating it like it’s real, and that means, among other things, calling it by its name.  I found it easier to do this stage of the editing process, red pen on print out copy, sitting at a proper desk and not stretched out in my recliner.  As of about 7:15 last night, I have finished that process and now I have to go through and translate those edits to the soft copy.  And I need to get on it because I have eleven days until the first meeting of the writing group I’ve been talking about.

I’m super excited about the group, and also a bit nervous.  I won’t know anyone going in and that’s never a pleasant experience for me.  Plus many of the people involved are already published authors while I’m just a little blogger/writer with a small audience, a dream, and a not particularly mainstream manuscript.  I know it’ll be an excellent, educational experience, if nothing else; it’s just the buildup that I dread.

Tomorrow, I spend the afternoon with Lil’B and I really have no idea what we’re going to do.  I think it’s supposed to rain so we’ll be looking for something indoors.  Normally, that means movies, but I’m not sure there’s anything for us to see.  I’ll figure that out in the morning though.  For now, I’m just going to sit back, relax, and watch my Dotor Who (original series, season 21) DVD from Netflix followed by the Rock Hudson movie in my Netflix instant queue that’s about to expire, and then call it a night.

It’ll be lovely.  I’m already yawning and it’s only 6:45.