Friday, August 31, 2012

Today's Must-Have Accessory: The Comment Box

"Life cannot be edited." I heard that at a recently attended performance of Chaplin, on Broadway at the Barrymore Theatre, and it struck a chord. Words are spoken. Moments happen. Once they're out there they can never be taken back. Apologies can be made. Mea Culpa's confessed. Lines can be struck. But you will never be able to unknow what you now know.

So here we are in 2012, status updating, liking, tweeting, blogging, essentially living our lives on display. We know that people can see the things we are posting and liking. Isn’t that why we do it? Aren’t we, in some cases, seeking validation of some sort? Aren’t we inviting response? Why then should we feel so provoked when someone calls us on our social media antics? Flummoxed at the prospect that anyone actually saw what we did or cared enough about it to be offended.

Freedom of expression goes both ways. What one person likes may offend another. However, the First Amendment gives each of us the right to express ourselves and Facebook and Twitter make that expression easier than ever.

Once we put it out there it’s no longer ours alone. It belongs to everyone who can see it. What they choose to do with it is out of our control. We have to know that. We should know that.

When our beliefs are shared openly on social media and then called into question or shared more publicly than we would like what are we to do? Hide from or own what we believe in? Are our beliefs easier to own in the shadows of privacy than in the light of the public domain?

My beliefs are constantly in public view through my writing. They are constantly sent into cyberspace where they will live an eternity as a reference to who I am, or was at that moment, and what I believe in, how I feel/felt. 

I realize I’m in control of my persona. I can write myself into the hero position of any topic of my choosing. I can be the victim. I can be the comic relief. What I’ve been told I do is write very honestly. That is a compliment of the highest order. I strive to write from an honest place. If I’m telling a story about my life I don’t leave out the details even if they make me look selfish, stupid, frustrated, funny, or ridiculous. I want the reader to identify with me as a real person, an honest person who will show the truth of himself even when it isn’t pretty.

When I choose a topic such as bullying or religion or homosexuality I approach it with the utmost desire to get my point across. Sometimes I have to ask question within the piece because I don’t know the answers. I’m honest about it. I weave moments of my life into these pieces. To me, sharing my own experiences on the subject puts a face on the situation. I try to humanize the situation. It makes it real. 

We have to be prepared for the consequences of our actions when it comes to the ease at which we can do things on social media. We want to be true to ourselves and try to friend up with like minded people, but what happens when the news feed fills with things we don’t like and we learn things we didn’t want to know? Do we: ignore? get angry? lash out? 

Don’t we have to own our beliefs, our comments, our likes, our photo scenarios? If I’m going to put it out in the world for all of my social media friends and acquaintances to see then I have to be prepared to defend my choices. A few weeks ago after the first preview of Into The Woods playing at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park, a tweet by an actress who was seen on Broadway earlier this year caused quite a stir. She stated her opinion on the performance she had just seen. It did not paint a pretty picture of the show. She was immediately crucified by others in the business for not supporting the community. She was criticized for bad mouthing the quality of the production after the first public preview. She removed the tweet. Deleted. Should she have done so? It was her thought at the moment. She sent it out into cyberland. She was called on it and deleted it to make it all go away. Mea Culpa. Mea Culpa. Maybe she should have been smarter about what she was tweeting. Maybe she tweeted what she tweeted to incite discussion. I question what kind of response she thought she would get? I would bet money that she didn’t expect the backlash. I also question why what she had to say mattered so much to so many. 

Facebook and Twitter are outlets that allow people to do and say whatever they feel. Sometimes my Facebook news feed in nothing more than word vomit. I’m not trying to bite the hand that feeds my blog readership. Believe me. I deactivated my Facebook account for six days and in that time published a blog entry that found no audience because the bulk of it comes from Facebook. I’m now dependent on it. Almost like it’s a drug. I need it even though I don’t want it.

Is it really calling someone out about their beliefs if they’ve posted, liked, or tweeted the information already. Isn’t their belief already out in the world? Is anger really the choice when someone: points it out? asks you about it? makes you defend it? Does the anger come from embarrassment? In today’s world of immediate response nothing gets swept under the rug, hidden for weeks, only to be discovered when the moment is past its prime. In today’s anyone-can-say-what-they-like world, the meat doesn’t have time to spoil because people seem to either like it or hate it before it reaches the table.

When are we going to learn that if we’re going to be honest via social media we have to be prepared for the feedback? It’s not as simple as liking something and thinking no one is going to see it. It’s not as simple as status updating about a political view or religious position and thinking that someone who opposes won’t challenge. It’s not as simple as writing about what you believe and thinking someone won’t call your beliefs into question. We’re human, we disagree, and now it’s easier than ever to tell everyone how you feel. Who could possibly get their feelings hurt? We think we can hide behind the words and actions because there is no human interaction. Wrong. 

Look, I don’t like to be called out on my beliefs, thoughts, likes either. I don’t like confrontation. I am also aware that I can’t hide behind my computer screen. I’m even more aware that I may be contributing to someone else’s news feed word vomit. Am I prepared to defend my writing? Am I prepared to compromise if need be? That is a gray area. I don’t live well in the gray area. I like the rules of black and white, but there are no set rules. I do know that I have to take responsibility for all the moments in my life. Staying true to myself is the goal. My freedom of speech is the same freedom of speech that everyone else has. I know that my writing can sometimes be provocative. I know that I can push buttons. My dad used to call me an instigator. Maybe I am. I also know that pushing those buttons means that I’m giving people the opportunity to push back on mine. Call-and-response in written expression instead of vocal. Response is more than a religious ritual; it’s communal participation.

There are no locked doors in which to hide behind on the Internet. Social media is connecting, updating, and publishing constantly. You can’t turn out the lights. There is no darkness. If you don’t want it out there keep it to yourself because once it’s out there anyone can ask you why. 

We have to be ready for the repercussions that social media readily gives everyone the chance to bestow upon us. The Facebook and Twitter communities are not going away so as long as we keep traveling down the freedom-of-speech trail and doing and saying whatever we want, we sure as hell better be ready.

Gird your loins, prepare your statements, ready your game face.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Return to Winthrop St. - Part 8

Awake didn’t mean fully functioning. He was groggy. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and sat up. The sleeping pill-and-a-half mixed with the cough syrup had sent him straight into a nightmarish world that left him less than rested and more uneasy than he cared to be. He stood and looked around the floor for his shoes. Through heavy-lidded, half opened eyes he found them at the foot of the bed. Having slept in his clothes he needed only slip them on and then slip out the door. He didn’t know where he was going, but he didn’t want to be inside his room. Anywhere else was better than his room. He wanted air, fresh air. He thought that being outside, walking and breathing, might wake him up; might shake free the dark images of Kinlin and Bobby that curled through his thoughts like black smoke.

Standing in the elevator of his dormitory he closed his eyes and swayed, like a heroin addict stuck on pause, as it slowly glided down to the first floor of the building. When it stopped, the ding of the opening doors followed by the brighter light of the lobby slowly reanimated his swaying body. He opened his eyes, feeling a little more in control of himself, but just barely.

He made his way across the small lobby, past the sofas where unexpected guests waited for admittance, past the reception area that seemed to have no purpose at all, and walked through the doors. The cool California night air hit his skin and the nerves of every exposed area tingled and came alive. His lids became less heavy. Each step became more energetic. His brain settled on his next move.

“Coffee,” Atwood said to himself in a beleaguered exhale. “I need coffee.” If I can’t sleep I might as well be fully awake he thought to himself. 

About a block from campus stood a 24-hour convenience store that he knew could be counted on to have coffee—black coffee that had probably been sitting for hours evaporating toward black sludge, strong and undeniably caffeinated. An island of neon and fluorescent lights sat like a carnival funhouse that could have been part of the fucked up world he’d just awakened from. Moths buzzed around the lights at the doors. Too many moths—and other bugs—drawn to the light, flying into the glass, unable to get through, unable to stop trying, desperate for entrance to the kingdom of light.

Once inside, he noticed that there was only him, the clerk, and one other customer; a guy, maybe a couple years older the he was. The chiming of the door had caused the customer to look toward the entrance when Atwood walked in.

He could see the food section in the back left corner of the room—over cooked hot dogs spinning under an orange heat light, nachos that allowed a person to cover the chips with too much cheese, frozen slushy style drinks in jumbo cups that would give even the most tolerant sugar addict a buzz, black gold in a clear pot. Atwood made a beeline toward the whirring frozen drink machine and the sound of sizzling meat.

Large cup, four sugars, and lots of cream made the coffee tolerable. It was as he’d suspected, old from hours of sitting unwanted in the middle of the night. 

Taking his second sip before placing the lid on the cup he glanced around the room and noticed the lone customer quickly averting his eyes. Atwood felt a mix of uncomfortable and excited. He didn’t know if he was being checked out or scoped out. Being checked out would be nice considering what he’d experienced in the last few hours. It would be a boost to his ego. Being scoped out was something he just couldn’t deal with at the moment. He’d done nothing to draw attention to himself; he’d walked across the room to get coffee. Some people just wanna hit somebody and he didn’t want to be that body.

He briefly looked in the direction of the solitary customer and noticed that he had moved a row closer to where Atwood stood. Atwood’s heartbeat quickened. The man then shyly smiled at Atwood before looking down at whatever Combo’s style pretzel snack or motor oil brand happened to be on the shelves of the aisle in which he stood. 

Atwood hadn’t smiled back until the man had looked away, but he smiled nonetheless. He walked to the cash register and paid for his coffee then threw a glance back in the direction of the silent man whom he felt certain was checking, not scoping, him out. The man saw the glance and within moments of leaving the convenience store Atwood heard the chime ding indicating that the door had opened again. 

Without turning around Atwood heard the steps behind him. He was walking slowly as if instinctually giving the man time to catch up with him. He didn’t know if it was the drugs in his system mixing with the two sips of coffee, but he wasn’t scared. He was alive. The foot steps got closer prompting Atwood to stop and turn around.

He stood shivering slightly. The chill in the air was enough to warrant a jacket, but with his abrupt departure from the room of his nightmare he hadn’t taken the time to think. He brought the coffee to his lips and took in the hot liquid, holding the cup with both hands in an attempt to warm both the inside and outside of his body.

The man stopped in front of him.

Atwood smiled. The guy smiled back. There was an awkward moment of staring at each other before the stranger spoke.

“I’m Patrick,” he said.


Patrick smiled. “Nice to meet you, Atwood.”

“You, too, Patrick.” 

In the glow of a nearby streetlight Atwood could see that Patrick was indeed around his own age if slightly older. He was handsome like a man, not pretty and twink-like. His features and body language were manly and bold. The streetlight reflecting off his brown hair showed it was on the lighter side and parted on the left. He had a horseshoe mustache that shouldn’t have worked on anyone in this century, but if possible, made him look even hotter. Atwood couldn’t quite make out if his eyes were blue or green, but they smiled when Patrick smiled. He exuded sex appeal. It surrounded him like the invisible fragrance cloud of a spicy cologne; dark and musky, filling the olfactory senses with messages of desire that exploded in the brain sending sparks to the necessary body parts. Atwood looked at Patrick’s lips. They were perfectly shaped, almost meaty in their fullness. He wanted to kiss them and without thought to prevent himself, did so.

Patrick pulled Atwood to his body as the kiss deepened on the deserted sidewalk. Atwood felt his body engage. He wanted to fully embrace Patrick as well, but the coffee he held in his hand prevented him. He threw it to the ground, toward the curb, away from their bodies. He registered the splash of liquid as it hit the pavement.

It was Patrick who pulled out of the kiss first, staring into Atwood’s face. His smile made Atwood hungry for those lips again on his own, on his body.

“Do you live around here?” Atwood asked.

“Yeah, in a dorm room, but I have a roommate and he’s home,” Patrick replied.

Atwood scanned their surroundings. There was an alley between the convenience store and the building next to it. It had no security lights and there were large metal trash containers. Large objects and darkness would provide plenty of cover. His brain was working quickly for someone who’d just been jolted awake from a drug induced nightmare. He seductively bit his lower lip.

“We could go over there,” he gestured his head toward the alley, “it’s pretty dark and private.” He looked at Patrick, waiting for a response. Patrick smiled and took Atwood’s hand and then lead the way as he walked the two of them into the darkness.

Rapid fire sensory explosions of fear and anticipation shot through Atwood. Absorbed by the darkness, Patrick pushed Atwood against the wall of the convenience store between two of the trash containers. Pounding hearts and throbbing cocks. Touching, kissing, groping. It was dangerous. The danger made it thrilling. The possibility of being caught heightened the drama. The potentiality of someone in the darkened building next door watching from their window increased the excitement. 

Patrick let Atwood go down on him first. He moaned and thrusted, but didn’t seem to be as into the blow job as Atwood had expected. Finally, Patrick pulled himself from Atwood’s mouth and put his hand under Atwood’s chin, gently lifting him to a standing position. He kissed Atwood then lowered himself to his knees.

Immediately, Atwood could tell what Patrick had been waiting for. He seemed to have an insatiable thirst that could only be quenched by Atwood’s cock. Not even Bobby had sucked Atwood with so much ferocity and vigor. Atwood’s breath quickened. He couldn’t stop himself from cumming. He barely had time to warn Patrick.

“I’m cumming,” he said through shallow breaths, mere seconds before exploding. His knees nearly buckled under him as Patrick continued to suck his dick. With each thrust into Patrick’s mouth he unloaded. Patrick took it all. The wet mouth spilled nothing. Atwood could barely withstand the sensitivity of his cock as Patrick’s tongue and lips continued to tease him.

Patrick could feel Atwood’s body shuttering. He heard the sharp intake of breath as he slowly worked his lips to the head of Atwood’s cock before releasing it from his warm, wet mouth.

He stood and faced Atwood. Their faces moved toward one another and their lips locked. Patrick parted Atwood’s lips with his tongue and Atwood reacted to the salty substance that entered his mouth. The realization was immediate. Patrick had shifted Atwood’s own cum into his mouth as if it were nothing more than swapping gum.

Before his could do anything Patrick pulled out of the kiss and said, “Hold it.”

Something in Atwood’s brain tried to make the act disgusting, but something else overrode the feeling because nothing in his sexual life had been hotter than that moment.

Patrick leaned in to kiss Atwood again and without warning pulled his lips a fraction away from Atwood’s and whispered, “Now swallow.”

Without thought Atwood swallowed his own cum. He could feel Patrick’s smile before their mouths become one again.

The two men emerged from the dark shadows of the alley, spent and sexually satiated. They parted ways at the sidewalk. No numbers exchanged. No last names. No backward glances.

©2012 Michael Rohrer

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hateful Ch(r)i(stia)cke(n)s

Something is stirring, shifting’s just begun. Edges are blurring all around, and yesterday is done. Feel the flow, hear what’s happening: we’re what’s happening. Don’t you know? It’s our time, breathe it in: worlds to change and worlds to win. Our turn coming through, me and you, man, me and you! [1]

I have so far staid my opinion from social media on this subject, choosing instead to ask questions and express thoughts in dialogue with friends and coworkers, but when my (relation removed upon request) “liked” the I Support Chick-fil-A page on Facebook last week, my heart fell. It felt like a slap in my face; a blatant disregard for me as a person. He knows I’m gay and he doesn’t approve. I don’t deny him his feelings, they’re his feelings. It doesn’t make it hurt any less.

I’ve known about Chick-fil-A’s anti gayness for years. I express my distaste at their practices by choosing to exercise my freedom of choice and not eat there. I haven’t patronized a Chick-fil-A in so long I can’t remember the last time I tasted one of their waffles fries. 

Here’s what I don’t understand: would we (the gay community) be completely disgusted if Boston’s mayor, Thomas Menino, suggested that Boston wasn’t necessarily the right place for a gay owned restaurant? By saying in a letter to Chick-fil-A founder, S. Truett Cathy, “I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston” and “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it,” he sounds as if he’s discriminating. Isn’t it discrimination? Shouldn’t the owner be able to believe what he chooses whether we agree or not? I’m honestly asking. What happened to “Judge not lest ye be judged?” What happened to “Live and let live?” What happened to “Live together, Die alone?” Discrimination is discrimination, right? 

We will not all agree...ever!


My parents do not believe in gay marriage. Does that mean, should I ever meet a man and fall in love with him and choose to commit my life to him, with the exchange of rings and vows, they wouldn’t be there? I don’t know. Maybe if that ever happens they will have a softening of the heart and show up anyway. Maybe they will change their minds and just be happy for me. I can’t worry about that (even though you know I do). It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that they love me as a person, but disapprove of my life. I can admit that. But the person I am and the life I live are connected. I know they love me, but knowing they disapprove gnaws at the back of my head more than I wish.

It doesn’t change my longing for them to choose me, their gay son and his feelings, over dining at a restaurant whose owner views me as less than the person he is. 

I often question how my (relations removed upon request) will feel when they finally learn the truth about me. Will the guidance of Christian parents who disapprove overpower their willingness to accept and love me for who I am? Because they are so young and I’ve always been in their lives, will I be the difference, the example, to them that I never had growing up?

Should I shun all the friends I have who don’t agree with equality as it translates to basic rights or marriage? Should I cut them out of my life? No!! What I’m prone to do is cut them from my Facebook news feed. We don’t have to agree on politics or religious views. That’s my freedom of choice. 

I saw these words in my news feed on Facebook recently, “...Family values is not hate speech.” Every person in the world is allowed their own belief in what constitutes family values. To some it may be a married man and woman having children and going to church three times a week. To others it may be an unmarried couple buying a home and sharing a life together. And yet others may see their homeownership and parentage of a child with a same sex partner, married or not, as the most joyous of family values. What constitutes a family is a gray area. It's not always black and white. I understand the gray area is difficult, believe me, but there isn't always a set rule.

“I wish we could all get along like we did in middle school...” Remember that line from Mean Girls? Okay, maybe we didn’t all get along in middle school, but jeez this constant bickering between the pro gays and the anti gays is exhausting. Pretty soon we’ll all just have to cook at home because the anti’s will boycott anything that supports gay people and the pro’s will boycott anything that doesn’t. It’ll be segregation all over. We’ll be planting gardens (good for the environment) and raising chickens (bad for the chickens) and making our own clothes (bad for everyone).

What if Verizon started supporting hate groups, but Sprint didn’t? Would I have to switch to Sprint? Would I be expected to cancel both of my American Express cards if I suddenly found out they were anti gay? How can I find out to whom the farm that grows my organic blueberries donates their money? What about Johnson & Johnson and their slogan, "A Family Company?" What if I'm not part of their "family" idea. Would "No more tears" be nothing more than a Donna Summer/Barbra Streisand duet? When does it stop? The point is, there’s probably something within each business that each of us can find to disagree with.


Someone is on your side, someone else is not. While we're seeing our side, maybe we forgot. They are not alone. No one is alone. Hard to see the light now, just don't let it go. Things will come out right, now. We can make it so. Someone is on your side. No one is alone. [2]

All we truly want is to be treated as people. Human beings. Everyone equal. Everyone with the same rights as the next person. How is anyone affected by the union of two people? I don’t understand that. It seems so simple to me. If two people want to get married what does it matter? When my sister got married I didn’t lose her. I gained a brother-in-law. When my cousin Leah got married I gained a cousin-in-law. When my cousin Casey gets married, I’m gaining another cousin-in-law. Their lives are their lives. Deciding to join their life with another person should do nothing more than bring me joy. 

Why does it have to be so difficult? Why are we fighting so hard to get our way? Both sides are doing this. Butting heads and hating. Everything is out of the closet. The haters stand on the corner with their nasty signs spitting their hate speech and the ones fighting for nothing more than equality in humanity are spitting back. We’re all covered in spit and we need to take a shower. We need to get back to remembering that this country was created by people who wanted freedom. This country was founded with the desire that all men be equal. ALL! That is all of us. No one can speak for how our founding fathers would react to our nation today. They’re all dead.

The Bible cannot be used to decide policy in America. It just can’t. Believe the Bible or don’t, but it can’t be used to determine my rights or your rights. I can’t be governed by the Bible. The Bible tells me I’m going to Hell. I can’t believe that. I made no choice to be gay. I made a choice to believe in God and Jesus and live the best life I can live. I made a choice to try every day to do unto others as I would have them do unto me. I don’t always succeed. But I have goals. Tomorrow I try again. What makes my life worth living if I am to believe Hell is the only thing that awaits me?


No more giants waging war! Can't we just pursue our lives, with our children and our wives {or husbands}. 'Til that happy day arrives, how do you ignore...all the witches, all the curses, all the wolves, all the lies, the false hopes, the good-bye's, the reverses? All the wondering what even worse is still in store? All the children? All the giants? No more. [3]

We’re fighting with each other except this time instead of Yankees and Confederates we’re Pro-Equality and Family Values. It’s a Civil War fought with words and picket signs and images. Christians are not superior. Heterosexuals are not superior. Homosexuals are not superior.  

I am frustrated that with all that goes on in our world on a daily basis we’re provoking each other over a restaurant that serves chicken and waffle fries and is closed on Sunday. Of course, this is not about chicken. It’s about where the money goes and the hate it is used to fund. I don’t have time to worry about this restaurant or its founder. I just don’t eat there. My money is not spent there, but I can put my money toward anything promoting equality. That’s my choice. So he gives his money to hate groups. Let’s give ours to love groups. 

Should the gay rights activists stoop to the level of the haters? No! It’s my opinion that we are a kinder, more loving population, striving to push this country forward. Yes, we have to push back against them. We can’t be wall flowers bullied by the majority, but we don’t have to instigate the argument. We don’t have to provoke the Palin’s and Bachmann’s of the world back into the spotlight. 

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” Words by Maya Angelou. She’s right. There’s a lot a hate going on right now. I think fear causes most of it. Being uneducated about people of different creeds, races, religious beliefs and sexual orientations freaks people out. Those who choose to stay uneducated let that fear, that creeps in from lack of knowledge, boil until they seethe with hate. Take a second. Learn something. Try to understand someone else. Knowledge truly is power.

So, Mr. Cathy is a family values-oriented Christian man. That’s great. Good for him. I will not patronize his restaurant. Not because he’s a Christian, but because he thinks I’m not. What I can do is patronize his competitor. What I can do is give money to organizations that I believe in, organizations that believe in me, organizations that support equal rights for all.

Through every generation there has been disappointment and progress. Hate groups are a disappointment. The right to marry the man I love in New York City is progress. For all the progress Pro-equality is making the Family Values team is fighting back. What would happen is this country if we didn’t fear each other? Didn’t worry about the bedroom antics of each other? What if we didn’t judge? What if we lived and let live? What if the Bible was treated as a guideline instead of the rule book? What if everyone believed there was a higher power who loved each of us for who we are and wasn’t sitting on a throne way up in the sky hidden behind the clouds shaking his head, waiting for the moment he could take revenge? What if love one another meant love one another not just the ones you deem worthy? 

I’m worthy. I’m trying to live the best life I can live on a daily basis. I’m trying to show anyone who will see me, read my words, or listen to me that I’m just a normal man, who laughs and cries, walking through this life like everyone else. So what if I’m gay? Being born white, being born black, being born gay, being born straight, being born female, being born male, being born with blue eyes, being born with crossed eyes, being born with brown or blond hair was not in my control. I was born at 12:28pm on June 8, 1971, a gay, white baby with blue eyes (the left one crossed). My hair was blond initially and by about 3 years old it was well on its way to brunette. I had no control over any of it. I’m worthy. I’m striving to love myself and be proud of myself every day. The vile haters in the world do not make it easy, but with time comes strength and with strength comes courage. 

I have the strength and courage to say that Chick-fil-A will not receive my money. I will not protest with a gay kiss-in in front of one of their locations. I will love who I love and say that I do. I will not be ashamed of the way God made me. I will continue to believe there is a higher power that supports me. I will believe that my beautiful (relations removed upon request) will have a better understanding of me and that I’m not a threat to them or anyone else just because we’re different. I have to believe that as slow as it’s coming, change is afoot in our country and in this world. Change for the better.  

People make mistakes. Hate is a mistake born out of ignorance. Hate is learned. My hope is that one day those who learn tolerance and those who learn to accept other people's differences overtake those who learn to hate on the bar graph of life.

[1] lyrics from “Our Time” from Merrily We Roll Along by Stephen Sondheim
[2] lyrics from “No One Is Alone” from Into The Woods by Stephen Sondheim 
[3] lyrics from “No More” from Into The Woods by Stephen Sondheim

Monday, August 6, 2012

Giardia ruined my Julydia


Honey, I hesitated whether to tell this story or not. Then I thought about all the things I’ve written about on this blog. Nothing has really been off limits so I thought why not. So I had a run in with the big D and I don’t mean Dallas and I don’t mean Divorce.

Montezuma took his revenge on me for the entire month of July. Days off, days at work, days on vacation, days that turned to night waking me from sleep. Back and forth toilet runs. Flux pouring out of me like water. Trotting, trotting then trotting some more. I was the most glamorous human being ever with my ill fitting clothes due to weight loss and my lack of energy due to dehydration and lack of appetite. Yes, honey, as Emily says in The Devil Wears Prada “I'm one stomach flu away from my goal weight.” Except my goal weight did not include losing my pecs and ass. This must be how women feel when they lose weight and it’s in their boobs. Ugh!!

July 2nd. Let me take you back. I didn’t have much of an appetite that day. I got up that morning like normal and made my coffee and poured myself a bowl of cereal. I drank the coffee and ate most of the cereal. It’s unlike me to not finish off the bowl of cereal. I love cereal. I’ll take cereal over bacon and eggs any day. I could tell my appetite was experiencing technical difficulty. I didn’t eat for the rest of that day. Just didn’t feel it. I could hear this voice in my head telling me that it was not good to skip meals though and decided by evening that it was important and necessary that I put food into my system. 

We have a fantastic option here in New York City for ordering in. It’s called You put in your address and all the restaurants that deliver in your area will show up in a list. It’s amazing. You can search by ALL or select the type of food you want (i.e. American, Chinese, etc.). Of course a restaurant has to be part of the community. But then most are. Why not increase your revenue wherever you can, right? Anyway, I searched through all the listings on and just wasn’t feeling anything. My favorites, saved from repeated ordering, weren’t doing it for me. I’ve got to eat, what do I want to eat kept running through my head. Lack of appetite does not make food appealing. Nothing seemed to fit the requirement. Then I settled on pizza. Papa John’s pizza. I love the Garden Veggie and convinced myself that pizza was better than nothing. 

I ate a couple of slices of that pizza. It tasted like it normally tastes. It was filling. I did not go to bed hungry, but I went to bed slightly off. I didn’t feel sick, but I think I know my body well enough to know when it’s not quite right. 

July 3rd. I woke that morning lethargic; the coffee didn’t help my energy materialize nor did it help clear away the clouds that had formed in my brain. I was awake and walking, but I wasn’t completely present. I was frustrated and concerned, but took myself to work with no breakfast because my appetite was still gone and honestly, cereal just didn’t sound good. Slowmo walk to the train combined with a slowmo walk from the train and I’m at work. I’m not feeling it. My frustration continued through my lack of energy and focus; the clouds that had grasped my brain refused to let go, their wisps wrapping every section in a murky blanket.

Tasks that I do everyday took thought and took longer to accomplish. My boss could tell something was wrong and asked if I wanted to go home. Being a trooper and a person who is rarely sick I said declined his offer. I went to the grocery store and bought crackers and a banana. By then, my stomach was a little more rumbly and annoyed by more than hunger pains. I ate nearly a sleeve of crackers, but didn’t touch the banana. A couple of hours later, I decided to say accept the offer to go home. My functionability was so affected that at one point I was sitting at my desk holding my head in my hands. That was the moment home seemed like the best place for me to be.

A stomach in question is not something one wants on a crowded, fast moving, bumpy subway train. It was my only option other than sitting in traffic in a cab. The subway was the fastest choice for my 5pm departure. I sat as still as I could and breathed. I don’t remember the last time I concentrated so hard on breathing. Focusing on each breath. In with the good, out with the shit. Deep, relaxing breaths. Shallow breaths. A twenty minute subway ride filled with too many people and breaths that filled my lungs but didn’t really calm my stomach.

Something was wrong. Something was churning. A cold with congestion and maybe a bit of mucus in the lungs is the most sickness I’ve felt in many years. I’ve been fortunate to be healthy. I have an immune system that works for me every day. You can imagine how a sour stomach might impede my ability to live my life in my normal way.

Home. Sanctuary. Safety. I took my shoes off at the door, turned the air conditioner on and dropped my clothes at the foot of my bed. I then climbed into my bed, pulling the covers to my chin, and slept. I hate naps yet I slept for three hours. My energy was depleted. That was the night the sickness hit. It reared its ugly head first by the expulsion of the contents of my stomach. I couldn’t stop it from happening. I could tell it was going to happen by the way the muscles at the back of my throat held a new tension every time I swallowed. Try as I may, no deep breath would stay the sick. No desire to hold on to my saltine lunch was strong enough. I was thwarted at every turn. Worship at the throne of the toilet god was inevitable. My mind was reeling from the fact that this was happening. I was shocked. I’m so consistent with washing my hands after exiting the subway and after a bathroom visit. I am a clean, healthy person. I don’t have a roommate. I’m not one to hang around children. How could this have happened? 

Moments after the emptying experience, however, I was back in that room with its cold, faux marble tiles only this time my feet were feeling the cold tile instead of my knees. I took up residence as the King. That night my reign began and it didn’t let up for 28 days.

Dehydration became the scariest factor in this situation. I was losing more water than I could drink. Partly because I had no desire to drink. My brain was sending the alert signals that I needed water, but my body had put the emergency broadcast system on mute as wasn’t paying attention. I didn’t want to drink it, I did, but it wasn’t nearly enough. 

I tried to work. I tried to eat. I slept on my sofa. I slept in my bed. I started the night in my bed and moved to the sofa or vice versa. I didn’t get dressed. I barely ate. I tried jello and applesauce. I tried chicken noodle soup. I called my sister, the nurse. Sitting in my apartment alone, feeling the rumblings of my bowels, knowing that I was getting neither enough water nor nutrients was alarming. Then came a break in the pattern.

July 6th. Three days in I was solid again. Rock ‘n Roll Sign of the Horns lifted high in the air. I was so happy. The three days of watery discontent had ended. Whatever had been causing the problems had decided to move on. I celebrated by eating watermelon. It’s full of water and my dehydrated body needed all the water it could get. My false since of wellness was nothing more than the beautiful mirage a thirst ridden desert traveler sees as the sun beats down upon the sand while he slowly moves across the desolate terrain toward death. A few hours later I was kneeling back at that thrown while the desired and needed watermelon made its grand reappearance.

Okay, something was wrong. I knew it. This wasn’t a twenty-four bug. It wasn’t a 48-hour bug. On Saturday and Sunday, the lack of appetite and the rumbling of the stomach and intestines continued; movements emptied my body with a deluge from my ass.
July 6th. Fear and commonsense came together and I finally went to Urgent Care. Thankfully, they were open on Sunday’s. I knew all the details. I knew when the vomiting had started (approximately 10:31pm on Tuesday, July 3rd). I knew how many times I had vomited. I could recount what I’d been eating. I knew how many movements a day I was having. I gave clear and concise information to the person I trusted to help me.

I felt a sense of relief when the doctor said she thought I had a viral infection. She came to this conclusion based on my timeline of events. Said timeline helped her rule out bacterial infection which would require an antibiotic. Basically, I was told that this would have to run its course and I would suffer through the watery episodes until it did so. I was hooked up to an IV and given two bags of fluid to replenish my dehydrated body (a first for me). I was given anti nausea medication in the bag as well as a Pepcid AC to swallow for control the acid that was bubbling in my stomach. 

Knowing what’s wrong with you goes a long way toward making you feel better. There was more pep in my step as I walked home from Urgent Care. I felt a sense of relief by the diagnosis and my energy was on the mend thanks to the two bags of fluid. I just had to wait it out and all would be right with my world again.

July 7th. Monday would prove another false moment of recovery. Solidity appeared. My attitude improved. When the doctor from Urgent Care called to check on me we both felt that my wait was over and that the virus had moved on.

July 8th. Tuesday, a week since the beginning, Niagara rushed again. All the happiness and confidence that had been present on Monday got flushed right down the toilet. I was scared, but I thought I just had to keep waiting.

This is, of course, where I began to wonder if I have cancer. Shake your head at my leap. It’s okay. My grandmother lost her battle with cancer that was found in the lining of her abdomen. I was suffering from liquid evacuation and I jumped onto that cancer train faster than it could pull away from the station. Fear is why I did that. Fear of the unknown. 

July 9th - 22nd. Through another week at work then a week of vacation I suffered through this disgusting chapter in my life. I knew it was time to see my doctor. The Urgent Care doc had done a great job diagnosing me based on the information I had provided, but it was time for some real answers. It was time for blood tests, stool samples, something to put a name on this thing that was gripping me from the inside. Reminded of the expression “Shit or get off the pot” I was ready to get off the pot. Something was not right. This had been going on for too long. I needed answers. I needed peace of mind. I needed to get off the throne.

July 24th. I sent an email to my doctor’s office pleading my case; begging for a spot in his busy schedule. Three weeks after life took a drastic turn toward Liquidville, I had an appointment. It wasn’t to be with my doctor, but it was with a physician’s assistant in his office. Relief washed over me. Now, I thought, I’ll get some answers.

July 25th, 11am: I rehash my story to Kelly. She was great and I was comfortable telling her all the details. I knew them all, of course. Every detail of what I ate, how long I held on to it, the Urgent Care diagnosis, the amount of sleep, the color underwear I was wearing when it first happened (not true). I was thorough. The keys clicked as she typed these details into my file. Then she gave me the bag of vials; three vials that I was to fill with my stool. I couldn’t help but laugh. This was going to be another moment told for comedic effect in my life. 

July 26th, Thursday. How was I going to catch the evacuating contents of my colon? Bowl? Bag? Milk jug with the top cut off (eew)? A bag it was. 

Having finally figured out how to catch the liquid I was ready. The plastic bag was positioned under the toilet seat with its handles on the outside so that I could hold onto them thereby preventing the bag from sitting in the water. I needed to fill it with my water not let it sit in the toilet water. What if the bag had a small hole I couldn’t see? The instructions were clear. The vials could only be filled with contents from the bowels. The toilet water would have contaminated the specimen. I had to make sure my penis was on the outside of the bag too so that the toilet caught the urine while the bag caught the rest. No contamination of any kind. Now to the fun part. I was back on my knees at the throne only this time I was armed with a spoon smaller than one used to feed a child its baby food. Seriously, it was a spoon that was slightly larger than what a pixie might use to slurp up berry soup. Thankfully, I only had to scoop about a quarter inch worth of waste into each vial. With a spoon that small though it took scoop after scoop after scoop....

Honey, this was comedy. Who ever watches my story on their digital screen, light years away in outer space, had to be laughing. I should get notification any day now regarding the Galactical Emmy I’ve been nominated for as Best Actor in a Comedy Series. 

With the contents stirred and shaken (what kind of shit martini was this?), I placed the three vials back into their plastic bag and put them in my backpack. I had to get them to the doctor. For thirty minutes I carried shit in my bag in New York City. I am so proud!!

After dropping it off at the diagnostic testing center all that was left was the waiting. 

For those of you keeping up this is three weeks and two days since the start of this life alternating experience.

July 29th, Sunday. I got a call from another doctor who works with my doctor. I’d been compromised!! Small amounts of the parasite Giardia had been found in my cocktail. A parasite. I realize that I live in New York City, but I am a clean, healthy person. And this is America. My brain began its index file search of where I had been that I could have picked up a parasite. A parasite. I had a parasite. When was I in Mexico opening my mouth in the shower? (Charlotte York Goldenblatt, anyone?) After the initial shock, relief again washed over me. It was treatable with an antibiotic and I could actually start it that day. Three times a day for seven days I would take this drug that would kill and flush this parasite from my body. After that, “I have a parasite” became a joke shared among friends and family.

The commercials for Mucinex depict the mucus family and friends taking up residence in the lungs and just hanging out like they own the place. Just like the mucus, the parasite Giardia took up residence in my intestines, setting up a parasitic palace where they continued to party for nearly 31 days. I was hosting a party that I hadn’t even been invited to. What’s up with that? How rude!! 

I learned that Giardia is the easiest parasite to get rid of. I learned that it can take anywhere from two days to two months to show itself. That means I could have picked it up anytime between May and July. That could have been anywhere. 

Since the diagnosis I have become an even more stringent hand washer, and fruit washer, than before.

August 5th, Sunday morning, I took the final dose of antibiotic. The party is over. Giardia has left the building. As the host of a few human parties in my time, this one was my least favorite. A host should have fun at his own party, but this party was full of selfish guests. They took and took and took from me giving me nothing in return for my accommodations. Montezuma may have taken revenge on me, but I got the last laugh with revenge through eviction on Giardia.

Later guys. All future parties in my body have been cancelled. Peace out!!