Tuesday, October 24, 2017

When Damaged Goods Reveal A Deeply Rooted Problem

It was page 362. I was roughly halfway through devouring my fashion meal that is the September issue of Vogue, when I turned the page and there they were. I gasped.

This amuse-bouche was unexpected and deliciously seductive.

Three models wearing three different colors — and styles — of shoe with the same fabulous heel. In bold type I read, “Sies Marjan Shoes” followed quickly by the subheading, “At long last, the label’s lust-worthy footwear collection has arrived.”

I did lust. 

The shoe from the image that caught my attention was in a beautiful shade of blue. I immediately read the article to which the image was attached then put down the magazine and headed to my computer to do some research. 

I learned that the silhouette of the shoe was inspired by the penny-loafer; that it had a one inch platform in the front to go with its 4.5 inch heel. I learned that it was covered in Nubuck, which is the material used for Timberland’s. And that her name was Ellen. It was that heel, however, that turned my lust to love. It’s flared shape was the distinguishing feature that made it nothing short of intoxicating. (Who knew a magazine could feed you and get you drunk?) There was a twist though: the blue shoe, which might be a bit less conspicuous for a man to wear, didn’t seem to exist. Everywhere I searched Ellen Nubuck Ankle Boot it was only available in pink. Pink! 

For days the image of that shoe popped in and out of my head. I would find myself on a break at work Google imaging it. Finally I screen shot the image and saved it to my phone (duh!) so I could drool over it whenever I wanted.

MONDAY
When I awoke on the morning of October 2nd, I decided it was time to go to Barney’s on Madison Avenue and see those shoes in person. Why not? "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and I wanted to behold. Plus, it never hurts to look. 

They were gorgeous. Shocking in their pinkness. I hesitated to touch the one on display but it called to me in a dulcet tone saying, “Pick me up. I won’t bite.” The softness of the suede was like the rose petal butter cream that fills a rose-flavored macaron. I wanted them. I only hoped they had my size. After someone stripped a mannequin of her footwear I admired them on my own feet in the reflection of a mirror. I was apprehensive about the color yet exhilarated by it at the same time.

I walked out of Barney’s with those shoes in tow. Yep, I did more than look. In 20 years of living in New York City, they were my first Barney’s purchase. As I headed toward the subway to take my beautiful pink shoes home, I was floating on air. Excitement was exploding from my body. It was ricocheting off of every person I met. I wondered if they could feel it. 

It was after arriving home that the dreaded realization emerged. The shoes were damaged. The heels weren’t even. I couldn’t tell this in Barney’s as the shoe salon is mostly carpeted. But on my hard wood floors it was obvious. One rocked. One didn’t.

I didn’t quite fully panic, but my insides did get that tingly spread that happens during a panic. I went into search mode. I saw there was a pair of the shoes in my size available on the Barney’s website. So I called. I spoke with a very helpful customer service representative who connected me to Barney’s, and from there, my sales associate, Andrew. Andrew said he would get that pair from the warehouse delivered to the store so that I could try them on and make sure they were perfect, then exchange the pair that was damaged. I relaxed…a bit. 

WEDNESDAY
The bad news arrived: the shoes inside the box in the warehouse were a size 39 instead of the marked 40. They were searching for the 40’s but had been unable to locate them. Andrew was holding out hope. I was not. 

FRIDAY
Barney’s was unable to locate the size 40. I returned the damaged pair to the store. I mourned.

Then I got the bright idea to reach out to customer service at Sies Marjan. I spoke with a customer service concierge named Amena. She was wonderful. She immediately began to search for the shoes in my size in order to “rectify this problem.” 

Later that day she texted me with the “bad” news. The only other pair of the Ellen Nubuck Ankle Boots available in my size was at Selfridges in London. I was heartbroken. Yes, I know they’re just shoes. But when you find something you love and you actually have it in your possession only to lose it, there is a sense of loss and heartbreak attached. 

SUNDAY
It took two days before I finally realized that the Universe was giving me exactly what I wanted but that I didn’t like the option for how to get it. I was playing the victim, a role that I have perfected over the years even as I try to stop the type casting. There was not another pair of those shoes in my size in the United States but there was one pair in my size in London. I didn’t want to order them from London. I had PTSD from the first pair being damaged and certainly didn’t want to order that only pair available in my size from another country. What if they didn’t fit? What if the color was off? What if they too were damaged? I was prepared for the disappointment without giving one thought to the possibility that they would be perfectly, beautifully, exactly what I wanted. 

This led to a deeper discussion: Why won’t I allow myself to be happy, Why can’t I find the joy? Why is it easier for me to prepare for the gloom and doom than to live in the moment and the happiness that is waiting for me to embrace it?

I don’t have an answer to either. The universe was giving me exactly what I wanted. All I had to do was place an order. That’s all. If something happened to be wrong with the boots, I could return them. In my mind, the idea of returning something to London was such a burden. But then again, what if the shoes were perfect and no return was necessary? I couldn’t seem to give a positive outcome as much credence as a negative one.

I began to wonder if there was a moment in my childhood where I learned to feel bad for my desires, when I started thinking I didn’t deserve the things I wanted out of life. I remember my father saying that he hoped I found a good job when I grew up because I had expensive tastes. I remember feeling bad about that in the moment. That little gem burrowed its way deep into my psyche.

The shoes were the catalyst revealing something that goes much deeper. Why don’t I think I deserve happiness, joy? This issue has tentacles that touch every aspect of my life: I have a good job, what if I get fired? I love my apartment, what if my lease isn’t renewed? This guy is great, what if he thinks I’m stupid…or bad in bed? What if my next blog piece fails to connect? What if the shoes are damaged? What if, what if, what if?

They’re just shoes. I know that. But to me they are yet another step in my expression evolution. To walk out into the world, to ride the New York City subway, to show myself in pink heels elicits old adolescent fears of name-calling or maybe even physical contact. It may be an irrational fear at this point, but my adolescence — and living in the Age of Trump (even in NYC) — gives me reason to pause. My guard is always up. I often wonder how it might feel to live without that guard: to exist, breathe, express myself without fear?

I shouldn’t let any of the above keep my happiness at bay. And none of it should keep me from experiencing joy. That’s on me. Fear though: it takes a toll on us that we don’t often see. 

By Sunday night I had gotten out of my own way. 

Selfridges delivered the shoes two days later. They were perfect: a confectionary delight —no sugar, no carbs.

The day that I wore them out into the world for the first time my guard was way up, but in the safety of friends I found my joy. 

We’re meant to enjoy our lives. With this blatantly obvious reveal, I am now trying to really experience the joy that I find, live in its light. Damaged shoes do serve a purpose. Who knew?


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Enough Is Enough: Christians, Homosexuality, And The Casting Of Stones

This piece first appeared on HuffPost

I am so tired of hate speech spewing Christians. They of the holier-than-though contingent who seem to think their shit doesn’t stink. 

I am tired of my homosexuality being labeled a sin. 

I am tired of my acting upon my sexual desires being labeled a sin.

John 8:7 (KJV): “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone…” 

Ever notice how many of those stones are being cast by Christians? 

Enough with the sin talk already.

Heterosexuals do not corner the market on sex. Because let’s face it, it’s all about the sex isn’t it? That “nasty,” “disgusting,” hurts-so-good butt sex that many people can’t seem to wrap their heads around? What does it matter how two (or more) people express their love for one another? I can even take love out of the sentence and put it even more bluntly. What does it matter how two (or more) people choose to get off? There are even heterosexuals who enjoy a visit to Butt Town.

Homosexuals are not perverse as some are wont to think. And enough with the desire to round us up and kill us. Would you have another holocaust? This time on American soil? From some of the statements I read from Christian leaders in this country, I’m thinking a rainbow holocaust of epic proportions is exactly what some want. I get the feeling there would be much joy from some after an LGBTQ elimination.

I doubt that anyone who hates gay people enough to wish death upon us cares, but I’m a human being. And living with that kind of hate on the periphery for my entire life is challenging to say the least. 

What I find so interesting about hate is the part choice plays in it. Think about this. I’m the gay man. Who could possibly know better than I what I feel and who I’m attracted to? Do you know better than I what I feel because you’re a conservative, a Christian, a whatever else you claim to be? You’re wrong. But here’s what I know. You make a choice. You have chosen to hate something you can’t accept. You have chosen to believe the words of the Bible without question. You have chosen to follow the doctrine of a religion that picks and chooses what is sin. You have made a choice. I did not. 

I was born gay just as I was born with a crossed left eye and blond hair that eventually turned brown. I didn’t have a choice in those matters. It’s that simple.

If people would stop casting their stones for just one second—one second—and look, they would be able to see the LGBTQ people—the human beings—in front of them. But our country—America—is filled with pious people who think they’re doing the “right” thing, but have merely consumed the Kool-Aid laid out for them on the silver platter of self-righteousness.

Who I love, fuck, or get off with is no one’s business unless I share the details. A non-heterosexual couple who wants to get married does not affect negatively the institution of marriage. It’s time to get over that notion. That belief is nothing more than irrational delusion.

It fills me with anger when I see a video like the one posted by Theodore Shoebat calling my homosexuality a perversion worthy of death. Are you kidding me? The professed ‘Christian Militant’ (Christian Militant??) is pious indeed. This man is so drunk on the power of his religious superiority that he believes that people should be put to death merely because they are homosexual. Look in the mirror, sir. You’ve got a little bit of shit dribble on your face.

I grew up in a small town in Kentucky filled with fear and shame because I was gay. (Thank you religion.) I continue to fight against those fears and that shame every day to be the person I want to be and to fully live my life. 

Hate is taught; it is learned. Love comes naturally. I, and my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, deserve to live, to thrive, to love. I know that attitudes toward LGBTQ are more positive and accepting than ever, but I also know that hate has carved out its place in this country. 

I’m not casting a stone but…isn’t hate and the wishing of death a sin?

Hey Benham Brothers, Maybe The Message On The Winds Of The Hurricanes Is For You

This piece first appeared on HuffPost

First Kings 19:12 (KJV): “And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”

A reader of the scriptures learns in the above verse of the still small voice in which God spoke to the prophet Elijah. As a child I remember wondering what that voice would sound like. Would it be an actual voice? Would I know it was God speaking to me? Would I hear it? Would it be a sign that I would see and then take as God’s voice?

The pastor of the church I attended with my parents during my childhood would often say that God had spoken to him about a passage of scripture, which he would then use as the basis for that day's sermon. I grew up believing that God physically spoke to people in the present as I believed he had in the biblical past. I was an innocent then, a child who had yet to see how hateful people can be.

Stephen Sondheim said it beautifully with his lyric, “Careful the things you say, children will listen” from the song “Children Will Listen” from the fairytale musical Into The Woods. He’s not wrong. Children will listen, and they do. They believe. They trust. They don’t often question. But when children grow up, some of what they blindingly believed becomes glaringly untrue.

As an adult who questions everything, I find it annoying (I’m working on finding it entertaining) how God "speaks" to people nowadays. 

Let’s talk specifically about the Benham brothers, David and Jason; twins, who reside in North Carolina, and are so anti-gay that they’re basically pro-hate. They are just the latest in a line of Christians making ridiculous statements about how God sent the recent Hurricanes (Harvey and, specifically, Irma) in retaliation for equality: gay marriage, LGBTQ acceptance, Trans rights, gender identity. 

David Benham: “So today, there’s a message from God for us.”

Jason Benham: (citing Psalms 104:4 [NIV]) “God, he makes the winds his messengers.”

So according to these two, the winds of the hurricanes are messengers sent from God. And God is using these winds to say that we—the people, the nation—need to repent for our egregious sin of finally moving in the direction of equality for ALL human beings. 

If the Benham brothers’ message came from God, then I think God is a little shady. I mean, seriously…speaking to one person one way and another person another? Is he playing us against each other? Is he telling Rick Wiles, Kevin Swanson, the Benham brothers, or any local homophobe one thing while telling other people who fully accept LGBTQ humans something else? How are we supposed to know which voice is the actual voice of God? And who’s telling the truth? Is God a pot stirrer of Mean Girls proportions? Shady indeed.

I think the voice is just that of the subconscious reminding one of what he believes, telling him want he wants to hear, reassuring him of his “rightness.” Those innermost beliefs then get spouted from the proverbial mountain top in the form of words declared without hesitation to be God's own. 

I question the mental stability of anyone who thinks Hurricane Harvey bore down on Houston because of its progressive attitude toward LGBTQ people or because of its former lesbian mayor. Case in point: Ann Coulter’s tweet (click the link). Sounds like her own hateful prejudice coming out to me. But then again, she’s a pot stirrer. 

To believe that Hurricane Irma is yet another punishment for the Divided (er, United) States of America because I can legally get married is an absurd belief. One that unfortunately continues to restrict and limit too many in this country…and the world. 

As much as I’ve questioned my own religious upbringing over the years, I’ve never really stopped to think about God saying hateful, nasty, negative things about LGBTQ people to one group and then turning around and telling another group that LGBTQ people are perfectly exactly the people we’re supposed to be. Born this way! I mean I am made in his image if I'm to believe the words of the Bible that so many take as truth and law. At least the verses that are picked and chosen to be believed…as truth and law.

The people who wish to blame all of the world’s disasters on LGBTQ people should take a second and look at themselves. Let me flip the tables. Maybe God sent the hurricanes to punish you for the vile way you treat LGBTQ people. Maybe the hurricanes are your punishment for dragging God’s name into your own hateful ideals of who deserves what. Maybe the hurricanes are actually that still small voice trying to speak to you “on the wind,” but your hatred is preventing you from hearing it.

Regardless, you're wrong. Neither I nor any members of the LGBTQ community caused the devastation of Harvey or Irma. God is not punishing anyone. And how arrogant is it that anyone would claim to know God’s actions? Hurricanes happen. (Hello…global warming.) Gay is human. Love is love. Gay rights are human rights.

As for using passages from the Bible to get a point across, John 13:34 (KJV) says, “A new commandment I give unto you: that ye love one another. As I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” 

None of us needs that still small voice to tell us to love each other. But even if it did, I don’t know how many of us would hear it.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Lightening Power of Laughter

Sometimes it only takes a bit of laughter. Even the witches of Eastwick knew the power of laughter.

I've been down the dark rabbit hole of misery for much of the past week. Okay, why stop at just a week. I've been in that hole for the better part of this year. I seem to fall into it with more frequency and with much ease nowadays. I'm familiar with feeling sorry for myself and with the wallowing that comes with it. As much as I don't want to be a victim I play the victim quite often. I would rather play the dashing socialite that is impeccably dressed (even in jeans and a t-shirt), whose presence is desired where ever he may be. But alas, it is the self-perceived, undesirable victim that I most often play. Although, I'm still pretty well dressed. Even victims can have style.

The words "I hate people" often exit my mouth on the breath of an exhale. But I know that I need people. I don't really hate them. It's the behavior of many who crowd this crazy, sexy, dirty, gray, radiant, glamorous metropolis that I call home that I really hate.

Last night as I sat in a garden with friends and a stranger telling stories, I wasn't miserable. I wasn't sad. I was happy, content, cold! Glass after glass of wine or beer was filled, emptied, and filled again. The contents of a bowl of Seven Layer Dip were demolished as chip after chip scooped up the goods like a backhoe removing dirt. I was talking, listening, laughing. At one point I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. And the coughing started. You know, the coughing: when you're laughing so hard that you can't catch your breath and you start to cough. I had to stop laughing and make myself take deep breaths: in through the nose, out through the mouth. That laughter was wonderful though, even as my lungs burned. I was enjoying the human interaction that we humans are on the planet to enjoy. The interactions that I don't get when I'm down that rabbit hole, isolating. I had forgotten the lightening power of laughter.

Life changes. There is always something that we wish we had done, or wish we were doing. It's up to us to either do those things or find the joy in what it is we are actually doing. I'm currently binging Parenthood on Netflix. I often make myself feel guilty that I'm not taking advantage of everything my City has to offer. But truthfully, I really enjoy sitting on my sofa watching Parenthood. That guilt is so self-inflicted that I should wear a body condom to protect myself from its infection.

As I write this, I'm sitting at my desk listening to the cast recording of the musical Come From Away. It's a 9/11 story. A tale of fear, sadness, compassion, and friendship. This day is heavy. I may never forget what I was doing on that morning 16 years ago when my sister finally got through to me on the phone and informed me of the devastation that was happening outside my window.

As I write this, I'm thinking about my mom and how I wish I could feel her arms around me right now. Sometimes a mother's hug is all one needs to comfort him. I think about how often I don't indulge in her hug when I have the opportunity. This train of thought inevitably leads down the track of impending loss toward that someday (hopefully many years from now) when I will no longer be able to feel her arms around me. My sigh is loud and as heavy as the day. I sent her a text to tell her I love her.

Change can happen in an instant. We can all attest to that. I don't laugh enough. I'm really hard on myself. I wait for things to happen instead of making things happen. Life may seem like it's long but it isn't. It's already September and just yesterday it was June. Time is flying. My waiting and isolating and not laughing only makes what little of it there is miserable.

I have to live. I have to live. I have to live. I am here. I am breathing. I am alive. I have any opportunity I want. I can make choices. I can play the victim or I can write myself a new role. I am here. I have to live.

Laughter was indeed my best medicine. But with medicine, one has to take it in order to feel better, to heal. In order to heal, to feel better, to enjoy my life I need to laugh more. I need to spend more time with my friends. I need to speak the stories instead of just writing them. My sofa will still be there when I want to binge the next television show. But laughing with people is different that laughing at the television.

I've been too heavy lately. It's time for the lightness.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Withdrawing Into Isolation

I am alone. Not literally. I live in a city of 8 million yet I am alone. In that aloneness I am isolated. By choice I am isolated. My intention with this isolation: unclear. I’m living vicariously through the characters of my favorite television shows and through those in the world created in the book I’m currently reading. I’m comfortable hidden behind my own walls. 

My social media has been disconnected. My phone is on Do Not Disturb. I do not want to deal with the world. I do not want the world to deal with me.

I have cut off most of my friends. I have cut off my family. Do they know it? I don’t know. I have chosen to fade from their view. Is it in the hopes that they will recognize that I am no longer there and reach out? Maybe. (How childish) But honestly, I don’t want any of them to see me…like this. For I see myself as a floundering man who has been down this road—what is it, depression ?—before and in their imagined faces I see the look of recognition, that look of here we go again. In their imagined whispers I hear them actually saying, “Here he goes again,” as they take a ragged breath and plaster on a smile before opening the door and embracing me.

Is any of this true? The feeling of aloneness and the isolation is true. The feeling of depression is true. (Although I’m probably just blue, dejected, forlorn. Or maybe as Blanche Devereaux put it, I'm magenta.) The rest could be true. Or maybe it's part of the grand illusion of storytelling that I do so well. I recount stories about my life all of the time: the good, the bad, the ugly, the funny. I make up stories of fiction in an attempt to entertain. I also tell myself stories that may or may not be true. Is it a coping mechanism? Are these stories a way of dealing with my own bullshit? Are they a protective shield that prevents me from being vulnerable in front of the people I love most, (or the one who could love me most), or the people that could help me most? 

I am embarrassed to be this person. 

I’m angry and holding grudges. I’m hurt. I’m cold as stone. Yet I’m so sad...that I ache. I have a large personality that usually doesn’t go unnoticed. Yet I want to fade away. 

I cannot seem to accept that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It feels like weakness. I know that the stronger man knows when to ask for help but it still feels like weakness. Maybe I’m the weaker for sitting alone in my isolation. I’ve been a social butterfly for much of my life yet the idea of fluttering my wings right now doesn’t bring me joy. I would rather sleep. To sleep is to forget even if it’s for just a moment. To sleep is peace, if only briefly. Am I empty? Why am I here? 

Is self-pity in black and white? The role of victim that I have written for myself?

I attempt to put on a smile and pretend that everything is okay. That’s difficult for a person who wears his heart on his sleeve. I’ve never been good at hiding my feelings. 

The sound waves that carry information about my daily life have become radio silent. I am not Rohrering. I am whimpering. 

feel as if I’m too afraid to live yet too scared to die.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Death Does Not Become Me

I've been thinking a lot about death lately. Okay, not just lately. It’s more like I think about death every day. It's kind of a constant presence in my life. I carry it on my back like a cloak. It’s invisible, but it isn’t light. Thoughts of death are very heavy.

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t afraid of dying. Maybe it’s not the dying as much as it’s the fear of what comes after. I’ve been aware of a place called Hell for as long as I’ve been able carry a tune. And believe me, that’s a long time.

You see, I was raised in a religious environment where I was cautioned on the unimaginable fiery pit of Hell — or Lake of Fire. I was warned of a judgment day and of how if my name wasn’t found in the Book of Life I would be cast into that pit — that waterless lake — to writhe and burn for eternity. Eternity. That’s forever. Burning. Consumed but not. Feasted on by maggots. Consumed but not. Tormented by demons. No peace. Only anguish. And the falling. Hell, I also remember it being said, is bottomless. So, there would never be nothing but burning, gnawing, writhing, torment, and falling.

Hell scared the shit out of me as a child. 

I was educated early in the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. How he, and only he, could save my soul from eternal damnation. All I had to do was ask him into my heart to save my soul from Hell. By doing so, I would be granted entrance into Heaven where I would live for eternity in a mansion of my own in the golden street suburbs of a Utopia that I couldn’t begin to fathom. And I asked him. Then I had to believe that he actually did it. That he saved my soul from Hell.  As a child I imagined Jesus — he looked like the images that appeared in my Bible (white man, beard, compassionate expression, a nice post facial glow) — sitting on a throne in my chest. He was in my heart after all. I had asked him to come inside, and I believed he had accepted my invitation. He had to be sitting there. I didn’t quite know how, but I believed. Ah, the faith of a child.

As I got older my attraction to men began to surface from the dark shadows of my deepest desires. I began to realize that I was homosexual. Wait. What? Homosexual? How was that going to work? As long as I had know about Heaven and Hell I had known that a homosexual was not going to be granted entrance into Heaven. I mean, the Bible said so and I was taught to believe those words without challenge.

Revelations, chapter 21, verse 8: But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur.

As a homosexual many will say I fall into the category of the sexually immoral. I might also be considered cowardly if you take into account all of my fears. Then, of course, there’s the option of denying my homosexuality, which would make me a liar. Sheesh.

My thoughts of death —or the afterlife — beget quite a damper on my present life. I am alive but I’m not really living. I fear that fiery pit every single day that I breathe. I find no comfort in the fact that I asked Christ into my heart to save me from that place. I find no comfort in the fact that God is said to have created man in his image and here I am created homosexual...in his image, right? These things don’t match up for me. It’s almost as if I believe I can only have one or the other. I can be a homosexual, live my life, find happiness here on Earth ending up in Hell Or I can fight my desires and deny everything I feel in the hopes that I will find my name in that Book and get to walk through those pearly gates.

I know that not every Christian feels that homosexuals will not see the Kingdom of Heaven. But many do. America — and the world — has made great progress in the area of LGBTQ rights and overall acceptance in the past few years. But even now there are those who are pleased to see our rights being rolled back or at least being attempted to be rolled back. Being a Christian means being Christlike. I have to ask: How is discrimination and violence against a minority group in the name of God Christlike?

As a homosexual, I have lived my life under the shadow of fear for as long as I can remember. First it’s Hell. Then it’s bullies on the playground. Then it’s bullies in high school. Then it’s AIDS. Then it’s fear of familial rejection. Then it’s narrow-minded people who somehow feel better about themselves when they call me names. Then it’s the Americans who currently feel emboldened to stand strong against me on the grounds of religious beliefs.

LGBTQ people have decided that enough is enough and are now very visible. Because of that, narrow-minded people feel persecuted and oppressed. I’m sorry, but give me a break. Oppressed? I’ve felt oppressed since I realized I was homosexual. They’re not oppressed. They just don’t understand same-sex attraction. And they often get hung up on that "dirty," "nasty" sex I enjoy with a man. If they just thought about it in terms of when they realized who they were attracted to and that we realize it the same way an amazing epiphany might happen. But alas, many would rather just think of me as immoral. I’m not. 

When I came out to him even my father responded that he believes what the Bible says. In that moment I was so relieved that he said he loved me and that I was welcome in his home that I didn’t ask him what he meant. To this day I don’t know. Does he merely believe, per the Bible, that my homosexuality is wrong? Or does he believe, per the Bible, that I won’t be joining him in Heaven? Maybe I don’t want to know. Maybe I don't need to know. I can’t quite understand how people can still believe that homosexuality is a choice instead of the way we’re born. Believing it’s a choice is the choice. Not accepting what homosexuals tell you about when they knew they were homosexual is a choice. But I’m off topic.

I’m often angry. It stems from the rhetoric that was used to oppress me as a child. I was scared into believing something that still affects me negatively today. I can’t seem to release the fear. I can’t seem to release the anger.

I find no comfort in my past invocation. I have no faith. I do not trust. 

I don’t know if Hell is a real place, or if we live in hell every day here on Earth. I don’t know if Heaven is a real place either, or if it’s a story of a beautiful paradise made up to comfort us in our time of need when a loved one has died. 

Hell continues to scare the shit out of me. 

And my fear of death does not become me. It hampers me. It stifles me. It limits me. Living my life to its fullest would become me more. I just can't quite step into the sun and leave my shadows behind.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Give Up and My Stars

I feel as if I gave up. No. That’s not right. I don’t feel as if I gave up. I gave up. I walked away. I left it all in my past, a discarded but never forgotten dream. I gave up and convinced myself that what I was doing as I walked away was what I really wanted to do. I lied to myself. I didn’t have the courage to keep trying. I didn’t have the drive or the motivation. I didn’t have faith. I didn’t trust. I put my dream in a box and placed that box in the back corner of a closet. I left it there. Left it there. It didn’t die, as dreams rarely do. But it faded, and it’s barely breathing.

How often do we convince ourselves that what we’re doing is what we want to be doing? How often do we tell the story of how we came to be doing what we’re doing that we actually believe it’s the truth?

I tell the story of how I moved to New York City to pursue a career in musical theater but that I didn’t want to leave the city to go on tour or work elsewhere because I loved being in the city so much. So, I found a job in a box office. I was an accounting major when I first started college and, in this story I tell, working in a box office was a marriage of numbers and theatre, combining two things I love. I like to tell people that working in a box office kept me in the city and in the theatre community. This is true and this is bullshit.

The older I get the more I realize that the life I’ve created for myself is only partly what I imagined it would be. Still, even if I’m not going to be the musical theatre star that Stephen Sondheim writes a role for I need to be creative. I’m a creative person. But with creativity comes the desire for validation. And boy do I desire validation. Jesus!!

Sometimes I can barely breath. I suffocate myself with my own insecurities. I sabotage myself. I feel as if I have become a superficial fool who likes nothing more than to play the victim of his self-created circumstances even as he says he doesn’t want to be a victim. Moronic whiplash! I am often filled with dislike for the man I currently am.

Get up.

Do something.

Change it.

Get out of your own way.

I have forward motion paralysis in respect to making changes in my life. It’s a symptom of fear. And I’ve got plenty of fear. And because of that fear I’m pretty sure I’ve been stuck in place for years. I’ve made some positive strides in my life. Many of them in the recent past. But those strides haven’t moved me forward enough in my opinion. 

I was told once that I had stars in my eyes. It was a negative comment. But I did have stars in my eyes. And I never saw those stars as anything but joy, excitement, desire, goals, dreams. Thrills waiting to be experienced. Sometimes I feel the flicker of those stars and I remember. But most days my stars lie dormant, all but burned out. 

I wonder if I’m on the cusp of a change in my life? I feel as if I want to rip off my skin and be somebody new. Or just scream as loudly as I can until all the pent up frustration, sadness, anger, has been expelled from my body. Will I then walk away changed? Will I have stepped out of my way? Will my stars flicker again? Will I have the courage to pull that box out of the closet and open it, hear it’s beating heart get stronger, let the sunshine revitalize what’s faded?

I’m going to have to take some chances. I’m going to have to be willing to fail. I’m going to have to trust that I will get back up again. I’m going to have to be vulnerable.

I’m not good at any of that. But I really want those stars back in my eyes.