When I Need A Pick Me Up, by my friend Ryan King

Sunday, June 28, 2009

And What's More ...

... I'm now blogging from work in Jersey. I was supposed to come and find paperwork waiting for me to update in my e-mail Inbox but it's not here. And after the time and brainspace I spent to get down here, I don't even really care about the job or the missing paperwork at this moment.

Rather, I've been thinking about my yesterday--my day off and the time I spent with my Westchester friends. The night ended on a sour note due largely to the reaction I usually have to the behavior of the Grim Jester. He's an Alpha Male and a bully. I've said all that already. I've tried to adjust to that. But last night, in an innoculous and stupid boardgame, Jester got aggressive and just so ... creepy ... about winning. It seemed, all over again, that Jester just views me as an insignificant cog in the machine created to trump up his own importance and domination. And that nothing is more important than his ascendence, his dominance, his opinion, his way. All the way up to the part where he began to lose the game, we were having a great time. We were all enjoying the sport of dice rolling, strategizing, pretending to be world dominators. We were seeing the many layers of the game design and having fun projecting our thoughts onto the gameplay. "I own all of Africa now! Motherland, I've come home!" we could joke.

But then Jester stood to lose to his longtime friend and suddenly none of us (me and the other player) mattered any more. It was between him and his rival only. We became only a means to his end, and when we dared to play our own turns as we saw fit, he grew sarcastic, angry, threatened to leave early--just very very childish in a very bullying and intolerant way. Such an ugly, ugly way to be.

And why does it keep taking me by surprise, every time he does it?

Well because I want more from him. I want him to be what I want. Which, for the length of my drive to work today, I realized what that is.

I want him to be the guy that I come out of the closet with.

Jester makes me think of the reasons why I think I am finally, unavoidably, irreverisbly gay. He's the guy that, when I like him--I REALLY like him. He's the guy who makes me think of him both in fond emotional ways and in gritty physical ways. And he's the guy that I want the most from in all my social circles. I want his attention, I want his protection, I want his approval, I want his acceptance, I want his affection, I want his trust, I want his strength, and I want his dependence.

I've harbored this knowledge for some time now, and I'm talking years. I've lit up like a Christmas tree when in drips and drabs he's given me bits of all those things I want in the preceding paragraph. And now I'm putting it in writing.

I want the guy. Just like any leading lady wants the leading man. Yeah, I'm gay. And I'm not just gay--I'm the bottom gay. The wife. The one who gets slapped, who does the crying, who pouts, who has mood swings. The feminine one. The emotional one.

I just am.

And I'm trying to learn to accept this because it hasn't changed in 30 years. I've always been this way. I've never been the jock--I've been the guy to hang out with the cheerleaders. And even though I've been trying to reframe and review what's been my motivators, my drives, my epistemological origins to being what I have been--I just still am this.

This is what I am.

And I need to stop hating it and hating myself for it.

And no, I do not ever have to do anything about it. And I'm not inclined to. I neither have to act on it or scrub it out of my soul. I don't have to seduce Jester (and face it, he'd be an extremely troublesome boyfriend. Just ask his dearly departed girlfriend who he could never do right by until her death last year. Or just ask his friends, among whom you can count on one hand. I'm not trying to be mean, I'm just weighing the evidence. I'm trying to keep myself in check and keep myself from believing a lie about the man, or believeing a lie about my future with the man. For all I know, and there is real evidence to support that the man could be in his own self-loathing closet of homosexuality--God knows he protests against homosexuals enough, and often. But as a person, either straight or gay, he's a miserable human being most of the time. So who cares that he looks like Jason Statham?).

No, all I have to do is just BE. Just be myself--and be honest with it. And while doing so, leave it up to God to judge me. I just have to stop fearing Him and what He might think about me. In fact, start trusting that He knew all this about me for the past 44 years of my life, and STILL loves me. Because really ... everything I could have tried to do about it, I've done. You couldn't ask more of a man than what I've done to be straight, love straight, act straight, stay straight and scare straight. I've faced the condemnation of Hellfire & Brimstone itself. And still, this is what I am at the end.

I'm gay.

And that's all I want to say about that, really, for the rest of my life.

Let's see how that works out.

Not Fade Away

I know that title of this post is either a book or a song (maybe a title of an album? I'll Google it later). But I use it anyway because I want to wrestle with some fear and some concern.

It the shelf life of a blog two years? Or is that the expiration date on a blog relationship?

What I don't want to do is shut a door that doesn't ask to be shut. And I don't want to assume meanings that do not exist when things are silent.

But I do want to let people go if they don't want to be kept. (No I don't. I want to fight for them. I want to sit in the middle of the sidewalk and have a tantrum and not care who thinks it's strange. I want to give in to my abandonment issues and rage against the fear.)

But hugely, I don't want to burn out a relationship with my whining. I want to hold on and wait it out and see where it gets me. See if there's anything left to salvage on its own merits.

What I think I WILL do is count the merits of life. Yours and mine. And satisfy myself in that for now. And believe that nothing has changed. And that you guys are just real busy.

Scott is on vacation right now, enjoying his son. He's busy, productive and alive.

Grizz is growing her relationship with her fiance. She's navigating an unemployed life and preparing to work with the dreams she has, working on making them come true.

Ned is vital, alive, and stepping into his own life again after a months-long scare and hiatus from the social world. He's slaying dragons and bedding maidens and doing what comes naturally to a knight of the realm.

Shades is getting married in a few weeks to the man she found again--the man who found her again.

Tom is battling the tides of prejudice, managing the grief of loss, and stoking the fires of hope and happiness.

Everything and everybody is good and every other thing is illuminated.

The Summer awaits and the sorrows of last week are in the past, irreversible.

People we miss will be missed.

People we love will be lov'd.

And that's what's going on.

Monday, June 22, 2009

So, Yeah ... Oh, And One More Thing

I finally got that haircut.

So yeah, down to the convention I went with a fellow geek riding shotgun. It was the time I was looking for--fun, frolick, abdication of responsibilities, giving myself over to the pursuit of comicbooks with no apologies.

And there was a distinct lack of a certain something--fear. Yes I reunited with people I already knew, but I was able also to meet and bridge gaps with new people (See above pic!) Although I'm the All-New, All-Expanded Alan, I didn't think I was totally out of the running to be met, to be liked, or to be friended. And I've been med-less for more than a month now. So whatever that social anxiety thing was--I'm over it. Clearly something in me realized that there's just not enough life left to waste not doing and not saying what I need to do and say.

So, yeah.

Oh, and one more thing.

There's Ned.

I'm hoping this is a full length film, not limited by Flickr or any other agent, just so that you can get a flavor of the kind of time I spent with Ned. And there was a chance--a real good, GREAT chance that we were going to have The Lunch Of The Warrior Poet, and I was going to crystallize some words forever in his heart and in mine. Now, "The Lunch" we DID have;

... but "Of The Warrior Poet," not so much because as fate would have it, my fellow geeks found us as we were on the way to lunch. So CLOSE. And while I love my geek nation, Ned and me were about to transcend but my geeks forced me to stay earthbound. Ironic, seeing as how we're geeks and all.

In much more plain terms, Ned, I wanted to tell you at lunch how much you've meant to me these past years, and how much it meant to me to have you overcome whatever gremlins messed with you and me and just ... always everything else that gremlins tend to mess with ... and drive over an hour to hang out with me. I couldn't plan what to do to make it worth the trip, except just be myself, and I don't think I did that nearly enough. The Lunch would have been my moment, but my geeks descended on us. And as I accepted the lot cast for me, fighting the impulse to reject them and make them leave me alone with my Ned, I looked for a positive side to it. Which may have been adding another layer of safety for you, and provided another view of me through them ... but gosh. When am I ever going to have this chance again, you know? You are NED. After so long!

And really, what do I want? I guess I wanted more of the dialogue, only face to face. I wanted to watch the genius working behind the eyes. I wanted to be real. I wanted to peel. I wouldn't have minded crying a little bit. Or a lot. If I wanted anything else, I'm not aware enough of it.

I can tell y'all what I didn't want! Really really did NOT want a kiss. I wanted to talk about my sexuality but I did not want to ruin Ned's trip or violate his trust. I did NOT want Ned to regret the trip down to Charlotte. I didn't want him to regret the years and all the words we've traded. I didn't want to ruin a friendship. And I did not not not want him to leave.

But what did I get? I got a guy who DID make an hour-plus trip to meet me. I got a big hug. I got a sacrifice of his comfort possibly, and definitely a sacrifice of his time. I got the attention of someone dear.

And when Ned drove his mobile up College Ave away from lil' ol' me, I heard the typed words of a commenter a few years ago in my head. "It's okay to feel sad when you're leaving your friends. It's normal." (paraphrased. Eliel was that you? Did you say it aloud at some other time?) So I told myself "It's okay." And when I didn't race to rejoin my geek nation that afternoon, I told myself that was okay too. And when I stayed alone for a little while more and didn't go find them later that night for dinner, I let myself know that was okay too. Because I knew I resented them ever so slightly for crashing my opportunity to take my soul out for a spin with Ned. And I knew also that I wasn't in a rush to plunge back into fantasy and geekdom when I'd had such a brush with reality.

And I realized just now that besides the lunch, I had a chance to do all this realness with Ned at any other time, and didn't.

Hmm. Guess I still had a comfort zone of my own to chuck, and fears in another more subtle, but still limiting form, to overcome.

Yeah, maybe at a lunch alone I wouldn't have said much more than what I did say during the other times. I mean instead of a panel of talking heads, I could've taken Ned to a pair of cushioned seats and we could have soul-strolled.

And maybe that's okay. Maybe that's how it should have gone anyway. Maybe that made it better for Ned.

Anyway, I hope so. Actually, I hope I'm thinking it to death in typical me fashion and that everything was just fine.

Any anyway, thanks Ned. I love you, my friend.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

So In The Middle Right Now

SO in the middle. Let's start with a downer. When I lived in Harlem, before my eviction, I lived on the street one block south of my closest (great)aunt. My mother's aunt. She treated me with love and affection. She had three children, and a bunch of grandchildren. Her grandchlidren are my age. Well, she passed away a few years ago and her son, who had once given me a 20 dollar bill on my birthday (with which I went flying off to see Star Wars in the movie theater to discover I couldn't get in by myself) had come to visit me in my Harlem apartment. He was the only real father-type figure in my family. The other men were older--they were my great grandmom's brothers. So this guy, let's call him Marduke, held a special fascination for me.

Marduke was the father of my closest cousins, so when I hung out with Marduke's son I'd watch Marduke too. What kind of father was he? What kind of husband? What kind of black man? What kind of adult? What kind of homeowner? What kind of American citizen? Clearly, whatever answers I found, I didn't pay attention to. I idealized him because he was in all those roles, and I thought position equated to capacity. Not so. When I was reaching my twenties, I discovered he divorced his wife, had several affairs, and moved down south to leave his children--my cousins. I activated my blind eye and went slogging through my own FUBAR'd life.

So the few years ago when Marduke visited me, he seemed like he had his head on straight. Enough, at least, to tell me a few things about himself. Like his drug peddling and subsequent habit, and his regrets, and his recovery and on and on. Still, I couldn't figure him out. I wanted him to be who I thought he was and it seemed that he now was, or was again. He had never lost his height or his manly stature. He had all his bright teeth and wolfish grin. He had my mother's eyes. But I didn't know what he wanted. He took me out to eat and he expressed interest in my life. He promised to keep in touch. I never saw him again.

On Monday, his sister called me. She had found my number in the back of her mother's address book, tucked away. Her mom had kept all the numbers I had over the years. The one I had in Missouri, the one I had in Trenton, and the one I've had ever since I moved into NYC and got my first cellphone. Marduke's sister is an intelligent, vibrant, verbal, outspoken woman who I've always been fascinated with as well as with her brother. This was another adult black person with children (my other two cousins, brothers, to whom I'm NOT that close with) and a home and a profession. She's someone who lived in NYC all her life and survived (with and then without a husband). I just never grew closer to these people because I grew up a few suburban culture borders away, across a river, and up a state. It was only 25 measly miles, but evidently it was like another continent. I'd take the bus into NYC to go find back issues of comicbooks at conventions, but not to find my relatives.

Well Marduke's sister was calling me to tell me that Marduke had died. I forget how long ago, but she described his funeral and how his kids, my cousins, had scattered his ashes on his mother's grave, and that she was upset that they did it all so privately without telling anyone else. But since this was Marduke's sister, she was going to have her own celebration of his life and draw the family back together before we were all lost. Yeah. Told you she was outspoken. And she's having it this weekend.

THIS weekend. My VACATION weekend.

Well, I'm not going to Marduke's memorial at his sister's house. I need and I want my Geektastic vacation and I'm taking it.

But here's the kicker. She described the details of Marduke's death as she learned them. Marduke was in a boat off the South Carolina shore with a friend. The boat capsized. His friend drowned. He tried to swim to the shore and almost made it but got tangled in the seaweed and lost his life too.

Now ain't that some shit. She told me this about fifteen minutes before my first client on Monday evening. Which, as the Great Scriptwriter In The Sky would have it, our session was on my client's fear of water and refusing to fulfill the sailing lessons from the weekend. I swear to God. There I sat listening to an alive person talking about capsizing a boat on purpose as part of a paid lesson while thinking of my dead cousin who's accidental capsizing cost him his life. Can't make this stuff up, people.

So Marduke's sister tells me he was in his early 70's. As she must be. Or in her late 60's. Either way, I can't get my head around any of this. How does my cousin die tangled in seaweed? How is it that he was IN HIS SEVENTIES?!? Was he seventy when he visited me? How is HIS generation in their SEVENTIES for crying out loud?

And I just can't. I intend on having myself a good time starting today at 4:00pm and not stopping until I report to work 8:00AM next Wednesday morning. Marduke's already dead. Been dead longer than I knew about it. And his children, the cousins I was closest to, didn't think or bother or want to share that information at the time.

And now that Marduke's sister called me, I'm going to go visit her next week and see this celebration of Marduke's life, and of our family, in a more private setting. And maybe what's left of our relationships will mend. And maybe the rest of my adulthood will have some connectivity to it, without the qualifier of religious reconversion to first achieve--in the absence of romance and in the distance between you and I, my internet intimates. Isn't that what family is, for better or worse? It's about being comnnected? Not feeling adrift and helpless and inhuman? I dunno. I guess I'll find out. Or not.

And that's the downer.

The upper is that remember the Day Job Girl? What did I call her? I forget. But she was the girl who used to drift by my office and say hello to me, and say other things like she heard there was this "nice guy who worked here" and blah blah blah, talking about me? And how I believed she did this because she liked me? And so I was to bring her flowers and ask her out, on Scott's recommend? And how I may have done, but now I can't remember? Well, I do remember leaving a few messages for her but she didn't respond, and so like I do, I dropped it.

Yesterday, I found her working in our corporate office! And she had these large braces on her teeth! It was as though I had caught her in mid-transformation! And when she saw me, it was very much like it was when she'd come by my office! She has this way of looking at me as if it's "Wow. He's so handsome!" I mean, she looks at me like she's 14 and I'm Elvis. I swear.

And it occured to me yesterday that all along, I could have just asked her out. No games, no notes, no phone messages left. Just, while she hovered in my doorway, trying to make small talk, sending me more signals than the NJ Transit MetroNorth line, that I could've said "Hey, you want to get some lunch?"

So yesterday I said, "Hey, you want to go get some lunch?" And she said, "That would be great!" And we went and got some lunch. Then after work I stopped by again and gave her a ride back to her place. Where I promptly lost my virginity and every ambivalence I ever had about my sexuality.

Now you know that last paragraph is not true at all. It would only be true if I were a normal person. I probably wouldn't even be a blogger if I could do the events in that last paragraph. I'd just be out living my life and not typing about how many different ways I cannot and have not lived it. And if my stops and starts frustrate you and make you turn away from these pages as it appears to have done the others, I do apologize. If it's any consolation, I wish I could do the same. But it's kind of my life, y'know? I don't get to unBookmark it and escape the frustration. I don't get to tidy it up with the "Age of Aquarius" playing in the background.

But the real kicker is that the Day Job Girl came back on my radar after I decided that girls weren't going to be for me. That because The Past Girl blew me off, that I was just inherently unsexy to women and possibly destined to have a relationship with a dude. And that if I'm to stay honest, the most electrifying sexuality I experience at first glance comes in this package;

And I've learned that there are non-penetrative ways for menfolk to do The Deed that won't drive me screaming from a given bedroom, and that if I'm going to Hell for being homosexual, then I'm going because no matter what I want to do or how I want to appear straight or live straight--no matter how much I want to avoid condemnation, judgment and scrutiny...no matter what I WANT WITH ALL MY HEART, my sexuality is its own entity. Whether this sexuality was forced on me or whether it got jumpstarted by an inappropriate and criminal adult, it just IS. It just is.

And when I face God, with all the layers of human culture and interpretation stripped away, I'm only going to open my heart and say "You know what this is and you know how hard I tried to do what I thought was Your will."

I mean what else can a person do?

Either way, The Day Job Girl can adore me. She can look at me the way I look at Jason Statham. It isn't going to change everything I'm struggling with. I might get to sex her, but it isn't going to make the 30+ years of my constant craving disappear in one puff of heterosexual coitus. Somehow I thought and hoped ... prayed ... that it would. But that just doesn't make sense to believe it will. And I guess my fallback plan was to live with the dichotomy. To have a woman know me and accept me and still be my wife. But how can I do that? Seeing Day Girl Job again, and seeing who she might be--what hopes she might have for her own life--her braces to make her more attractive, her new position to giver her a better life--am I what she deserves? Is that fair?

No, I don't think it is. Life's not fair, but I don't think I want to contribute to its unfairness.

And even as I say this, still I'd love to be able believe for the normal life. Still I'd love to fake my way through it. Still I'd love to pull it off.

I am SO in the middle right now.

But you know what?

I'm really not.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Baby Penguin

Flap-flappity flap flap flap.

So I have three more work days to finish before I get in my car, drive to Philly, pick up a buddy, and 8 hr it to Charlotte for a nice little checkout from the world at large.

I could be just a smidge more excited. But I do have to get through the next three days. I have a few more evening cases before Thursday. I have some high-profile meetings to attend in the dayjob and a boss to placate in his neverending search for paperwork. I have some Twitter addiction to resist. I have some clothes to wash--some larger clothes to buy, some bloating and fat to despise less. I'm also sporting a short fro these days because I hate cutting it or paying a barber to cut it. Perfectionist's Anonymous holla! If the cut goes wrong, I have to bear it for at least a month before it grows back. That dread is nothing unique, I know. It's the fact that I let the hair get shaggy and look raggedy INSTEAD of bearing a less than stellar haircut--now that's the rub. It's just that I've now got these long totally Reed Richards grey sideburns that I just really really like, and no matter how many times I tell these barbers "Do NOT touch the sideburns. Don't. DON'T." well fifteen minutes go by while they're yammering away and then next thing we know "zzzzip! zz-zzk-zzzzzzzzip!" sideburns gone up to the mid-ear. So yeah, I'd rather just do it myself, which I can, but I never can seem to get the hair to be even & very low on my own. My clipper ain't as sexy as the barbershop's.

Whatever. I'm just yammering away because the highlight of this trip is going to be breaking some bread with Ned and I'm trying not to let myself get all stupid and gushy about it. Remember, blog = stream of consciousness. Me not trying to say how I really feel while typing is like me trying not to think of the pink elephants that I just thought of. It'll be better to type about it after it's happened.

But I do see myself as a baby penguin right now. All floppy and small, little stubby wings that I keep throwing wide to gain my balance. Not as sleek and dark as the grown-ups, with the finely polished feathers. But no Dad penguin whose feet I could stand on and tuck out of harms way. Just ... how'd I get so damn brand new?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Revisited, Rekindled, and Refailure

Soooooo yeah. I was going to ask The Past Girl if she sent that Mother's Day thing just to my phone or was it a general send. I've had three opportunities. Timing was never right. Though I was face to face with her, she'd have a meeting soon afterwards or I did.

Today there were just too many co-workers and clients hanging around the house.

Fast forward 7 hours to now.

To mess with someone in Twitter, I went searching for vids and stumbled upon Jennifer Hudson again.

The official vid if you prefer.
And back goes my head to The Past Girl.

Please let me describe this dichotomy that I live with okay?

The same-sex thing? It's like this--you guys seen 300, right? Or Wolverine: Origins. So you know when Leonides/Logan is/are all full of power and anger and strength and passion? Eyebrows knitted, muscles writhing, jaws agape, teeth bared, faces grimacing? Yeah. And you know when you're leaning a little forward in your seat and you want to punch the air when you watch? And when you leave the theater your fists are clenched and you wish somebody WOULD say something foul right in that moment. You know that feeling of empowerment and brotherhood? That feeling of masculine identity?

Yeah. Well, I get all that. And then I think of sex. Maybe that doesn't happen to every guy. Or any guy, despite all my decades of convincing myself that it does happen to some. But it happens to me. (And I DO think it happens to others. I think society reflects the fact that other men--photographers, porn producers, casting agents, and every man who watches adventure movies that star another man--knows what a sexually attractive man looks like.) So the thought starts--"he's sexy." And then if I dwell long enough, it could go into an actual same-sex experience. (Interpret this how you may.) But in person, it never has. Because I won't think on it long enough when I'm actually WITH a dude. That's when all the circuit breakers start to flip. That's when all the conditioning takes hold. That's when the fear comes in. "if you do this ... IF YOU DO THIS ... IF YOU DOOOOO THIIIIIIS ..."

So I don't.

But now let me tell you what it's like with a woman. And let me tell you what it's like with The Past Girl.

She's curvy. She has a tickling husky laugh. She has big brown eyes, and she bats her lashes, not to be coy, but to cover up an insecurity or two. She's observing her world but she doesn't seem to want everyone around her to know precisely when she's doing it.

Her phone rings and Earth, Wind and Fire plays. Literally. "September." I react to it, dancing, and she laughs as she answers it.

And her laugh makes me want to take her by the hand and have her dance with me. I want her to press her body up against mine. I want to smell her neck and the hair around her earlobe. I want to feel her hand on my shoulder. I want to fit into her arms.

I want to become her Leonides/Logan. I want to be that same strength that if I were alone, I would fixate on differently. I want to be to her what those heroic men can be to me. I want to own the image, instead of watch others be the image. And I want to feel her react to me--a man.

When Jennifer Hudson sings her song, and she's asking "If this isn't love, tell me what it is" I get tears in my eyes. Because I don't love a man the way I love a woman. I don't want with a man what I want with a woman. I don't care where my mind goes or what my body does in the case of a man. I want that masculine/feminine contrast. I want the light/dark, that yin/yang, that man's/woman's voice interplay before, during and after.

And when I'm around The Past Girl, she's the one I want all this with. I'm drawn to her in ways I haven't been drawn since my last girlfriend. I feel new chances with her in ways that I haven't felt in years. And when she's around me, I don't want anything else. I don't want men. I don't want other women. I want her.

And that's when I'm around her.

So why not make it so that I'm around her more often?

Why not ask her out?

Yeah. Why not?

I thought to text her simply "Do you dance? I want to dance with you."

But did I?