Thursday, February 18, 2021

Who Is Still Here?

 A quick show of hands.  Who is still following this blog?   (leave a comment)

I know it's a weird question since  the last time I posted was just over 5 years ago.  

Now that Facebook, Twitter and other social networks have taken over and people are not likely to get any notification when I do post here, I'm just wondering who actually swings buy here to check up?

Since I left Facebook in 2013 and stopped using Google+ a year before it was shutdown, I've been able to disappear in the consciousness of  the cyber-social world.  Also aided by the fact that this blog just won't show up in Internet searches without using very super specific search terms.   

 It's a dying platform anyway. 

I have no plans to deactivate or delete anything on here but I don't really have anything to say anymore.  This blog did serve its purpose as a place to find my voice, but I'm now content and comfortable with who I am and I don't feel any need to talk about my troubled past.  It's, well, in the past.  I don't think about it anymore.  It no longer haunts me.  It's just stuff that happened and no longer carries any emotional weight.  

I've gone back and read a few posts to see if my attitudes and opinions have changed.  And well, for the most part, they have not.  There are a few minor things I don't feel 100% comfortable about leaving up there but, I'm going to let it stand and I will just deal with the uncomfortable feelings and any blow back if it ever comes.  As for the rest of them, the emotions that were once very vivid and raw, have since faded into indifference.  

In any case, for those that are still here and are wondering how I've been and what I've been doing since my departure from social media, I will summarize with a timeline of significant events that happened since my last blog entry just over 5 years ago.  

2014 August - I never mentioned this in the blog but I bought a house that was closer to the ocean. Not water front, just closer.  I was able to get out of the crappy, leaky roof, mold infested, ant-invaded, shit hole rental and into a newly built house, twice the size and a million times nicer. All for the same I was paying in rent.  That is the reality of rent vs mortgage.

2016 October - My boyfriend quits his job, sells his house, and up ends his world in North Carolina to move in with me in BFE Virginia.  All the while starting up a new engineering business.

2017 August - My employer, trying to win the contract renewal, decided it was really important to move me to a sub-contractor. I got screwed over with a double insurance deductible and had to go off my med for a month until this new sub-contractor got a better insurance company.  (It sucked!) This energized me to suggest to my boyfriend that we should consider getting the fuck out of here.  Of course he would have to give up the beautiful house and the few minute drive to the ocean.  But he recognized the writing on the wall.

2018 December - Because of my boyfriend's parent's and older brother's declining health and his need to be much closer in order to assisted them when emergencies happen, coupled with the longest government shutdown ever, where the sub-contractor didn't have a contingency for paying us in the event of a shut down, we decide to actually start planning our escape from this place.  By this time, my boyfriend had been able to self employ to the point of paying off his debts and was continuing to build his business.

 2019 July - So, my former employer had ended up winning the contract and then suddenly loosing it a few months later when the government decided that the company's direct involvement with a former government employee's illegal activities who's wealthy white privileged ass prevented him from receiving jail time, was probably not a good thing so they awarded it to a different company.  The new company did not recognize the sub-contractor I was under so I had to switch employers again.  And this time I had to use COBRA (very expensive) to keep from completely loosing our insurance because of the new company's absolutely garbage health insurance and their prejudice of not allowing gay partnerships to be on the insurance together.  I started warning my bosses that these events have hasten my departure as COBRA doesn't last forever.  The idea was that I would be training someone.  Unfortunately they couldn't keep any new hires on for longer than a few months and more people were quitting.  Contract changes always cause people to leave because the new contractors won't offer people better wages and often times you can end up with a pay cut. Also many new folks leave because they don't realize what the work was like because they were misled as to what the job entails in the job interviews.  For instance, my official title is Software Engineer but I don't do anything related to that. I told my bosses several times to stop trying to hire software engineers.  This is not a software company!  But I digress.

2020 January - Sold the house within 8 days of it going on the market. (apparently the housing market changed drastically in the five years I was there.) Informed my employer that I've sold the house and I have to leave. (this was 1 month notice)  They offered me a huge raise if I would stay.  Despite the fact I already sold the house. I told them what an insult it was to be bribed like that. And asked them why it took an event like this to get a raise instead of the yearly requests I had been making to get one.  They were sort of apologetic. They cut a deal for me to do remote work full time with no raise and I accepted.  I was ready to quit and be supported by my boyfriend much the same way I supported him when he left his job and moved in with me.  But since it meant continued income and a MUCH more comfortable work environment, I packed up my desk and work computer they supplied me and I left for the new city.  15 years at a place with a vast and deep understanding and willingness to document everything made me too valuable to them.  I feel sorry for the saps that try to be secretive and don't share their knowledge thinking it contributes to job security only to be fired for being secretive and not share their knowledge. I've seen it happen a few times in this job.  

2020  February - loaded up the moving truck and we were gone.  Moved into a rental in North Carolina with the plan to buy a house within 12 months.  (Need to get that one year lease out of the way.)  It's been nearly 15 years since I've been able to safely drink tap water. No more bottled water. 15 years of only bottled water!  How much money am I going to save?  Probably not much.  The grocery stores out here are very high end and I have fancy tastes so that money saved in bottled water will just go to the fancy food now.  Oh well.

2020 April - COBRA ended and I was able to actually buy my own health insurance that wasn't tied to some god damn employer who would only offer garbage insurance that wasn't willing to cover my meds or was so fucked up that every god damn doctor and hospital with the a hundred mile radius of where I lived was considered OUT OF NETWORK. Thanks Obama! The ACA is a godsend.  Also the pandemic forced the state to shut everything down.  What a fucking mess.  Still, many people not taking it seriously including my boyfriends family much to our collected chagrin.  Also got word that my best friend in DC has died a month ago of pancreatic cancer.  We had plans to hook up again and we ran out of time.  Fucking cancer!

2020 September - Dragon Con went virtual and we were able to watch the celebrity panels on the ROKU.  It was weird.  And I missed seeing my friends in person.  Although the "Zoom" calls are actually a thing we can do now that we have real broadband Internet!  Something my home has been without for the last 15 years. (Needless to say I spent many late hours using the 1Gbit internet at work.)

2020 October - Also early voting because of pandemic.  Then in anticipation of not wanting to renew the rental, we started the formal search for a new house. This was so annoying.  House after house after house we found we didn't even get a chance.  Many of them were sold the day they went on the market. Site unseen for cash.  While we were standing in one house with our agent ready to make an offer, another agent drove up to the house and plopped a "sold" sign out front and drove off.  Apparently this pandemic and the new norm of working from home enabled many of the stinking wealthy from the the Northern states to permanently move to their vacation homes.

2020 December - Finally was able to get an offer in on a house that was accepted.   Also, I have been able to get a new and better treatment for my medical issues and I've been feeling absolutely amazing since.  Except for the worsening sleep apnea.  My current CPAP machine is maxed out at 20. I will probably have to get a different machine. 

2021 January - Closed on the house.  And got moved in. I hate moving. They say that two house moves equals a fire.  I've had two house moves with in 11 months.  I have a bit of PTSD about that now. Like wherever I move to will never feel permanent.  Also,  after several years of expensive vet visits with no answers as to why our cat is losing weight and has become excessively incontinent we finally found a vet that diagnosed it.  He has a hyperthyroid.  A treatable condition!  Even the cat was able to get better health care once we moved to the big city!  

2021 February - Almost settled. Still have to remove the remaining stuff from the rental house and clean it before the month is out.  The new house is nice.  Only two years old.  Still needs the have the radon issue fixed. But that has already been paid for and the contractors are just waiting for the weather to improve.

 TL;DRMy fiance moved in with me, then we moved to a new city in North Carolina.  And we bought a house together.  I'm still working at the same shit job I've always had (going on 16 years now) but I'm doing it remotely thanks to the pandemic.  My heath has been greatly improving ever since moving, partly because of access to better health care and insurance, and no longer being exposed to polluted water.

Incidentally, somewhere in the last few years we have been referring to each other as fiance instead of boyfriend or partner.  As for when we will be getting married?  We haven't set a date.  We need to work some logistics with his family.  We don't want a wedding and don't want to spend money on all the receptions and parties and crap.  And we are trying to find out who should be notified, and the best way to notify them, also without spending any money. 

 Well, that's pretty much the best parts.   I couldn't help but rant about a few little things.  But don't expect me to continue with that again here.  My little rants about life's frustrations are actually not cathartic so I try to channel them elsewhere.

I can't promise I'll be back here right away.  Maybe in 5 years? I don't know.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Comming Up For Some Air...But Still No Air

Well, needless to say...wait, if it's needless to say then why say it?

I'm going to ramble on with a few things.  For people who are interested in where I'm at, read on.  The rest of you who don't know me will probably not care.  It's one of those types of posts where I'm not writing anything thought provoking.  This is more of a journal entry.  So, with that being said...

When I set out to blog many, many, years ago, it was a way for me to find myself, figure out who I was and discover, if not rediscover, what was truly important to me.  It was a place to find my truth, my voice, and to express it in a place where I wouldn't feel censored for speaking it.

Obviously, over the years I had many ups and downs, most of which I never documented on this blog.  And for the most part, I've pushed passed a lot of the religious bullshit that shaped much of my insecurity and self loathing.  And now here I am, with little to say about most of that and when I do have something to say, I have little desire to express it all that much on here.  In fact, I much prefer to voice it with my own voice, face to face, one on one, with people in person.

When I first started my YouTube vlog, I thought there would be times where I would voice what I needed to say on there, but even then I didn't feel strongly enough about it to sit down and make the video.  But when times came where I had the thought to say something, and I felt strong about it, even  motivated and ready to put it out there, but a few days later the strong feelings would pass and I no longer had any interest in it.  And then there were even several times where I actually started work on the video, even recorded many things, and then, never did anything with them.   And with all that, I've found that I've been losing my inspiration for not just vlogging but other many things. 

One of the things driving this is the realization that I don't want to start arguments with people on YouTube.  A discussion, perhaps, but even then I'm not really wanting to spend the time going back and fourth in comments.  But what I usually end up getting is nothing but a few trolls posting some bullshit comment that does nothing to add value to anyone's lives.  Of all the places where some of the worst trolling happens, it's YouTube and I certainly don't want to deal with the level of bullying that goes on there.   Even though I'm a very tiny slice of that one billion plus member community,  where the majority of which are passive users, it's the tiny, narcissistic, trollish group that gets to me.

Every once in a while I'll get a notification on a comment I made on someone's video several years ago. Someone replying directly to me with a sarcastic, trollish, ad hominem.  The best I can do is just flag the comment and delete the notification.  So far, I've only needed to block a few people when they persist.  I don't ever wish to engage with people like that.  I actually feel like smacking them up side the head, but that's not practical or even possible.  In reality, I wish I didn't have to even deal with them in the first place.   For some reason, of all the social media I deal with, YouTube has some of the worst people in the world on it.

Another reason is the fact that I've screwed up the audio on several of the videos I took which made them almost useless, and that alone has killed much of my motivation for doing any more with them.  I had done a whole bunch of video for Gay Pride in DC, talking to people in the Mormons for Equality parade contingent, and interviewing an old friend from college who was there marching with them.  Only to get home and realize that the audio track was completely unusable.  Ugh!! That really sucked the life out the entire project.

Still, other reasons is because this is challenging work, and I don't have the support from any of my friends which just makes it all that more challenging.  And it's not that they just don't help, often they get in the way and even try to sabotage my efforts.  Either by doing and saying things that compromise the usefulness of the video or by just not being supportive in what I want to do when I need help doing it.

I need better friends.

I really feel like I'm entirely on my own here, and quite frankly, I don't live in an area of the country where the local community has much of a collaborative spirit anyway.   I have wondered about what it was that made this place so frustrating to live, and why everything I've tried to accomplish at work was a constant uphill battle with other egos just to do a simple task. That is, when they aren't actively working to create a crisis in order to jump in to save the day for extra pats on their backs.

Well, after 10 years, and several years talking with my therapist, I finally put my finger on it.  Up until the mid 50's-60's, this place was entirely isolated from the rest of the country.  And much of it still is isolated to this day.  The locals, in order to survive, completely relied on themselves.  They only saw others as a tools to get what they wanted.  And once they were set they didn't care what others needed.  You would think that such a place would drive a more collaborative environment but that's just not the case.  Outsiders were even treated worse and only as a possible source of money.  And even to this day, outsiders are still treated this way.  Sure, visit and spend your money but you are not welcome to stay.  I've lived here 10 years and I've found no friendship with the locals.  The only people I'm friends with out here are also outsiders like myself.

To make my point, I mentioned to one of friends here, one who had been living here for 20 years, and I asked him if they have any friends who are true locals.  They thought for a moment and realized that all of their friends, every single one of them, were not originally from the area.  Then I asked him to take note of all the people in the high level, high profile, management positions at work, many of them who were younger and less experienced and hired within the last 5 years.  Every singe one of them were locals.  Born and bred here.  What was wrong with this picture?   I've felt for a long time that I was really in a dead end position here, and there is no doubt now that it's true. 

Anyway, back to the crap.  I suppose I could be more positive, after all I've been doing some fun things this past year, what with Dragon Con in Atlanta and the Maryland Renaissance Fair.  (All activities that I have to travel many hours to attend.)  But much of it has gotten a bit overshadowed by the stress of not having a car.  The  engine died on mine and I don't have the cash-flow for a new car.  It's going to take a huge chunk of my savings to get it fixed.  I have to essentially buy a used car.  But in this case I'm buying a used car to get the engine out of it and put it in mine.  Thereby  keeping my old car for the price of a used one and I don't inherit any of the issues that come with the used car.  Sort of.

What made the whole issue so much more frustrating was that it happened pretty much the week I was to leave for Dragon Con.  I couldn't even get a rental, The rental places were all out of cars.  This place is rural and I have to use a car to get anywhere.  There is little to no public transportation out here.   I drive a minimum of 45 miles one way just to visit my doctor or buy groceries.  Not having reliable vehicles is a death sentence to one's well being out here. And in the last two years I've had to deal with a government shut down which caused me to lose two weeks of pay, then not getting any cost of living raise because my company wanted to invest it into buying out two other companies rather than support it's employees, and then a sudden influx of unexpected expenses such as hitting a deer, and later losing an engine, and a new threat for another government shutdown, I've been feeling the terror of being forever stuck with little hope of relief.   And getting a job elsewhere has not been successful in the decade I've been trying.  Every few months I look into it and I field a few calls but in the end it all dries up rather quickly.

And then more feelings of isolation come from this weekend being Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco.  I'm seeing my friends talk about it and post their pictures and I'm feeling especially left out.  I should stay off social media because, yes, it does make me fell like I'm missing out.   My 2011 trip to Folsom Street fair was an awesome and very memorable time of my life and it's something I wish could be a regular thing. And it burns me up that it's so far away and so inaccessible to me now.

God damn, as much as I've been getting really comfortable and complacent living out here, with a new and nice house and a rather lenient although frustrating job, I've been feeling more and more isolated from what I really want in my life.  People who are on the same page as me.  And for all the things I want in my life, this place has to be the furthest from all of it that one could possibly imagine.

As one, rather wise, life-coach tried to implore to me, "Are you ready to give up something good for something great?"  And I've been thinking about that for a few years now.  And I'm getting there.  I'm starting to find my courage.  And as my relationship with my boyfriend has grown immensely in the last year, I'm starting to see that I do have support in that relationship.  The trouble is, it's a long distance one.  5 hours drive between us.  It's time to close that gap somehow. 
In closing, I took this just before complete eclipse and before clouds rolled in.
It's not great but not bad for a simple snapshot camera.
The Super Blood Moon of 2015. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Anxiety Rooted in Self-consciousness

Hello, blog.  It's been a while.  Many things have happened, many changes, and many things still the same.

I've found a huge level of happiness over the years since coming out of the closet, leaving the LDS church, and essentially taking control over my own life.  I feel like I've grown up a lot, especially in the past year.  I started and ended one of the worst relationships I've ever experienced (I don't think I'll ever write about it so don't ask or wait for it), I moved to another state, bought a house, and started asserting myself at work more (I'm still working at the same place I've been for the past 10 years), which is something that I should have been more diligent at before, but there were reasons I never asserted myself and it was hard to confront it, and I'm still trying to confront it.

What I'm getting at is Social Anxiety.

It has been the biggest thing I've struggled with, and at times has turned what would otherwise be fun and rewarding experiences into complete terror.  And to the extent that I've been able to gain a level of self-awareness of it, it still eludes me in many ways. Although, I've come to realize that it has been rooted in and played a huge role in all the areas of my life where I seem to constantly fail.  (Even in this blog.)

For so many years I've been extremely self-conscious about my appearance, hobbies, interests, they way I talk, what I say, you name it.  No matter what it was, I would find a way to feel like I was being harshly judged for it, and that fear of judgement, and subsequent rejection was devastating to me. I could only find value in myself only if others valued me.  And, of course, that value from others was always fleeting.  I would end up just turning it all back on people and reject them before they had the chance to reject me.  I found solace in being alone.  Unfortunately, that solace became a prison over time, especially once I started to find myself.  I realized that even though I was an introvert, I was still very much in need of socialization, even with people I don't even know.  In other words, I'm not a strong introvert.  In the Meyers-Briggs evaluation of personality, I'm just a hair to the right of the midpoint between Extroversion and Introversion. And just for the sake of completion, my Meyers-Briggs personality type is INFP, which explains a whole lot of why I have trouble in other areas, but I digress.

For me, social anxiety is highly dependent on context and for the most part it's pretty much what I bring to the table in regards to my own personal beliefs about myself.  In talking with a boyfriend the other day, we discussed what it was that kept us both hiding in our little hobbit holes most of the time.  We talked about what it was like to be in crowds, why some crowds felt safe and energizing and why other felt draining and threatening.

I related my experiences going to Dragon Con in Atlanta, GA.  Four days of shoulder to shoulder crowds reaching as many people as 100,000 during the Saturday parade.  I feel fine for the most part, except in the elevators.  But going to Ocean City, MD in the summer time to walk the boardwalk, it's all I can muster to just get the walk over with and get the fuck out of there.  And then there are places like MAL where I have this cognitive-dissonance of feeling fine but also out of place.   What was the underling thinking in each situation?

Well, with Dragon Con I feel like we are all equals. We are all there to have fun and share in our appreciation of science fiction, fantasy and its associated pop culture.  It's a very liberal and progressive crowd for the most part, which invites creativity, acceptance and even celebrates our weirdness. And for the most part, even the ones who are rowdy and drunk the entire weekend are tolerable.

Ocean City, on the other hand is a place of very limited social diversity.  Mostly east coast working class vacationers, hetero-normative families, and often there are loud, obnoxious, young adults who binge on alcohol while cat calling from the balconies at the bikini clad girls on the boardwalk below.  Daily sexual harassment is the norm there. And the air is thick with tobacco smoke.  And as such, I judge these people harshly.  I feel as if I'm much better than they are and it disgusts me that they pollute places making them unsafe for women and gay people.

But then, events like MAL, and even in small ways, Folsom Street Fair and Gay Pride, the crowds can be a bit rowdy but they are friendly, and I feel safe.  They, after all are my people or at least friendly to my people and I know I'm one of them.  But, at the same time, and this is especially true at MAL, I feel like they are all much better than me and that I'm really not good enough to be there.  I'm not gay enough, or I'm not good looking enough or whatever I believe I don't measure up to.

The troubling thing about all this is that it's not rational to believe these things even when at times my beliefs have been validated by certain events.  The thing is, those times were because of outliers, they did not represent the group, and I know this.  But it's just so easy to cast aside the reality to reinforce the fears.  And those fears run deep, and they are strong and overwhelming.  And even though I can play logic games with those beliefs to talk myself out of them, it doesn't' always work.   And I feel like I'm not making any progress at all.   But really, I have made a bit of progress.  I've realized how I've been unknowingly contributing to the social anxiety which I wasn't aware of before.  I've learned a bit of nuance about my judgement of others and myself.  Also, medication helps, so there is that.

So, now, what's next?

I've started a new chapter in my life this year.  I'm putting myself out there a bit more than I ever have before.  I started vlogging on Youtube.  It's a way to confront my self-consciousnesses and social anxiety in a rather detached way.   I'm forced to confront myself when I do this.  I have to watch myself back while I edit the videos, I have to look at myself in a third person and know that the person I'm looking at is me, even though it doesn't feel like me.

This has been an interesting exercise to see where I have been self judging and self-censoring and where I continue to do so and what I've been doing to divert it and try to get people to focus on something else.  It's also interesting to see what ends up being the "something else" I try to use.  It's a strange thing to view myself in a detached semi-objective way.

I've been heavily editing and trying to polish my videos for the same reason I edit and try to polish my writing.  But, no matter what I do, the video shows a much rawer individual.  One prone to stammering, not talking in complete sentences and otherwise eviscerating all that is proper and eloquent grammar.  All of which are things I'm very self-conscious about.  Sometimes I'm sliding in and out of Utah/Maryland/New Zealand/North Carolinian accents.  Something that I had no idea I did until I started this vlogging project.  I'm finding it more interesting than disturbing now and I'm becoming more aware of how I'm perceived and in small ways, I'm starting to like the person I see in the video.

In all, it's been fun and frustrating at the same time.  Frustrating in that I have a very boring life with nothing to really vlog about and I'm constantly battling with technical problems such as sound problems and crappy white balance.  But its fun in that the editing process is creative yet very challenging like piecing together a puzzle.  I've always had an interest in filmmaking and this has re-sparked that interest, which I had long thought had died. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Moment to Think

I can't ever seem to shake the feeling that I'm always late to the party.  Whenever I show up, it seems everyone has had their fun and on their way home.  This isn't fully literal in the sense that I'm going to a physical party, it's just a way for me to express how I feel about coming out so late in life.  Not just coming out to the world, but coming out to myself.  And not just with sexuality, but myself as a whole person and who I am and wish to be.  I've spent nearly four decades keeping myself locked away, isolated.  Most of my childhood was in a deeply religious rural environment where my only safety was in my room with the door locked, especially when my dad was home.  I grew up with very few friends whom I couldn't often see because we lived outside of town, but I would end up losing them every few years anyway as we kept moving to new towns.

I'm quite often left with bewilderment, anxiety, and an extreme sense of invisibility to the gay community at large.  I'm not accustomed to being flirted with, hit on, touched by others or to touch others, and I'm unsure of my place and boundaries in relationships with others.  All too often, my instincts have been maligned by my upbringing so I've been conditioned not to trust them.  And in my attempt to reconnect with my instincts, I often misinterpret and I end up being impulsive in ways that bring discomfort to others.   I sincerely hope that I've not offended anyone or made them uncomfortable with how I've behaved in their presence.  If so I'm very sorry.

I know for many out there, events like MAL, are a fun party like atmosphere to enjoy what we love, but for me it's still a nerve racking experience, filled with fear, anxiety, self doubt, and an overwhelming sense of feeling like an interloper.   But I would like to publicly thank Sir, Gunny for his more than generous efforts and more than generous time he took away from his own family and friends this weekend to help me keep those feelings subdued and show me what is possible. 

Going forward, I feel some slight hope that I might see a future in this, but too much is nagging at me to know for sure if I'm ever going to have much more than what I've already been given.  I don't mean to end on a low note, but I must be realistic with myself and honest with how I feel right now.   I'm sure things will change; they have to, for better or worse, but it's difficult for me to understand what lies ahead.  I have no context for this.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Is the break over?

After over 4 years and 4 Christmas holidays not setting foot in Utah, I went back to Utah to visit this year, and become reacquainted with family and the changes that have taken place with everyone and myself.  That being said, I ended up at Starbucks for at least one day.   I actually like Starbucks, I was just hoping for something of a local flavor.  Fat chance it seemed in the northern suburbs of Salt Lake City.  

Five days in to my trip I still hadn't had any alcohol since the plane ride.  The family party, which was normally on the day after Christmas, had been moved to the following Saturday because my sister's family were still getting over their illness.

I wanted to get some alcohol for the party but I had no idea where these Utah state controlled liquor stores were and I had no GPS.  I ended up calling a friend in New York who talked me through it over the phone only to arrive and find out it didn't open until 11am and I wasn't going to wait around all morning for it to open.  So, I sent a text to my brother-in-law to pick up some Jack Daniel's Honey Whiskey on his way in later that day.  I was hoping for the single serve bottles but found out you couldn't get them in Utah.  So we had a large bottle that he and I drank from.  The other half my dad decided he wanted it, much to my surprise. 

Early in the week my mom and I went driving around the valley looking for a new winter coat as I badly needed one.  We tried REI, Cabalas, A.A. Callister, and I ended up finding some nice winter riding boots.  I had my eye on them for years.  It's hard not to buy tall boots when they are right there in front of me, and they fit.  My mom offered to pay for them but I declined as they were an impulse purchase we were there to buy a coat and we should stick to the plan no matter how much it costs us in the end.  You might get the impressing that I like shopping.  Nope.  I don't.  But having my mom there assisting, made it easier.

But one thing led to another and I realized I couldn't wear my new boots around unless I had some new Levi's to tuck into them.  I packed light this year and only brought basic pants and shirts, nothing more different than what I would normally wear to work.  So we went to look for pants.  I was quite surprised that the 501 button fly ones fit me really damn well, despite my fat thighs and butt and huge belly hanging over my belt. They made my boots look damn good on me.  I wore my new jeans and boots pretty much the entire week. I even wore them home on the plane.

I had hoped that I might get to meet up with some of my furry acquaintances in Utah whom I had gotten to know over Google+.  But they were all too busy with family which is understandable this time of year.  But I did have a chance to meet up with my friend Jen whom I had gotten to know through her blog and the Facebook ex-Mormon groups.  She has horses!  And it turns out that impulse boot purchase paid off as I got to go riding.  Well sort of, the horses were not in the mood, so we relented and let them eat.  But we didn't get off.  We sat on them while they ate.  We showed them. 

I'm so glad we sat there.  The smell, the touch, the movements, of these animals allowed me to dissipate my anxiety.  The anxiety that hit me when I pulled into her driveway.  It's hard for me to meet people I already know in person.  And this one hit me particularly hard and quickly.  In the 90 minute drive it took me to get to her house, I was feeling calm and joyful to be going.  But upon approaching the house and pulling into the driveway, it hit me hard.  I couldn't get out of the car.  All I could do was send a text and let her know I was here.  I'm sure she realized that without the text  but I sent it anyway.  Thankfully she had gotten past her anxiety of meeting me and came out to the car to get me.  And that is what I needed.  I think I had become consumed with the fear of rejection, and when she didn't reject me, I started to feel ok again.  Still, the anxiety still took time to dissipate, and I still found myself pulling back a bit, not really relaxing and letting myself be all there. 

My family hasn't been all that troublesome in my life since coming out.  They may be Mormon, but they take the religion on their own terms, which is what I wish the rest of the Utah Mormons would do.  I even found myself in a conversion with my dad and later with my brother-in-law about BDSM.  I had a brief moment when I felt awkward when my dad asked about MAL and what I did there.  But as with my mom, the conversation was challenging but never got awkward.  The conversation was friendly as I talked about what it meant to me and many people and that for many, its therapy.  Just like my mom, he gets it but doesn't get it at the same time.  Just like how I get why they remain Mormons but I don't get it at the same time.  And just like that, the conversation quickly moves to politics as we commiserate on the pathetic state of Teabagging Republican dumbasses or the embarrassment that is the Utah Governor and the stream of Attorney Generals.  There was little to no mention from anyone about the gay marriage drama happening at the time.  The few mentions were from a random nephew or my dad reading to us joke making fun of the Governor about in City Weekly.  

 Times have changed.  I would never have had the freedom to be who I am twenty years ago.  So it's good to know just how far, not only I've come along, but the rest of my family as well. And in many ways, they had passed me.  I hadn't been aware of it because I had moved out 20 years ago.

My main reasons for avoiding them was their general emotional dysfunction, co-dependency and the triggers from them and of being in Utah.  I needed the space to find and break those triggers.   And now gauging my experience over the week, it seems that many of those triggers have gone, mostly within the last year.   

But, I'm still not so sure that I'll ever move back there.  My last day there I spent the day with my brother-in-law.  We went to one of the local micro breweries in Layton and attempted to order some tasters for the beers they severed.  I sat in stunned silenced as the waiter tells me that I'm restricted to only two 4 oz tasters and then 1 beer per hour after that.  Only two tasters?  One beer per hour?  I wonder if Utah will ever legalize adulthood. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

God Damn It

Q: So, do you think God created us or did we create God?

A: We created the god who created us.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Moving Along

It does go without saying that it has been a while since I've written anything on this blog.  My last post doesn't count because I was reposting something I originally wrote for Facebook.  But, it was something that should have been posted here.

Things in life have a way of changing.  I haven't been all that busy, but I have been remarkably lost in activities of distraction, which fed my writer's block.   Not that my writer's block was a problem per say, but that I was allowing my distractions to take over, not letting myself mediate on anything long enough to develop something to write about.  In essence, I've been coasting and not doing much with myself.  Letting my job any my living situation be an excuse for not participating in life, depressed mostly.  It's been like that pretty much since July.

The beginning of 2012 right up through June was intense and left me somewhat numb.  Aside from a few outings such as Dragon*Con, hurricane Sandy, which I chose to spend with a friend in North Carolina instead of suffering through the intense anxiety I went through with hurricane Irene the previous year, and a Christmas holiday in Seattle with some friends, I basically coasted on that numbness.   But all during that time, I noticed that I have been markedly feeling and thinking differently about things.  And I've been feeling the need to get back to writing as the dawning of this new year has given me a sense of allowance for renewal and awakening.

It's been a few weeks since MAL 2013 and yet I still find that I'm decompressing.  It was, as always, a remarkable experience for me as all socially intensive situations are.  And with that I've been able to measure how far I've come in the last few years as well and get a sense for how far I still have to go.  And the results are, I've come along way, and I've got a long way to go.  And with that, I would like to put this out there as a way to say thank you to the universe and the people involved, even though I've already thanked them in person.  

It's embarrassing to admit that I walk into these social situations with a tremendous amount of anxiety that paralyzes me and overwhelms my senses.  I'm quite often frozen, inhibited and shut off during these moments.  The social anxiety is often all consuming and takes away my ability to be engaging and cheerful.  It's all driven by my fear of judgment, rejection, and dismissal, for being imperfect and lacking in knowledge and experience, and unworthy of love.  And for the most part, I think I hide it pretty wall, except from the most astute observers.  But in the end, I just end up angry at myself for putting myself in social situations that creates more anxiety. I literally shut down emotionally from that anxiety leaving me in a state of mind that I was afraid of being in in the first place.    Last year at MAL that's pretty much how it went.  Even though I left there a changed person with some new found awareness about what it meant to be authentic, I was still stuck in not accepting that I deserved a place there.

This year at MAL, I had a very different type of experience that gave me some new and profound perspectives.  I learned some amazing things about myself and what it means to be a person of love, worth and value which is allowing me to feel much more gratitude than I ever have before.  I'm feeling a shift in my outlook and in my inward look, that is permissive of myself to be myself, whatever state that may look like, in whatever amount of stress I might be under, in whatever might be holding me back from expressing my wants and desires.

I'm allowing myself to be OK with the person I become when I don't know what to say, the person I become when I feel vulnerable and scared or when I'm calm and funny.  I'm allowing that person that I am at that time, and not judging him with expectations of what he should be doing or could be doing. I'm allowing myself to be what I am and only what I am in the moment and state that I am, which is now.

I can't say that I did all this on my own. Sure, it took a large amount of self awareness and willingness and book knowledge, but it took some education and wisdom that many wonderful friends have been able to give me, and some select moments of trust with some other friends at MAL as they literally, and figuratively, held my leash through the process without judgment, criticism and rejection, giving me the permission I needed to be who I am during all those states.  The simple act of going through the motions of all these states, practicing within a safe environment, which I have all the book knowledge of but I don't have the actual practical experience, in order to start that process of deprogramming decades of self doubt and self hatred.

What happened was a profound healing experience that lifted me to a higher plane of self love.

Sometimes, it really does take someone to help.  To literally be there with me and give me the permission, safety, and respect that I need for that healing experience to happen.  I've always been taught I can only do it on my own.  But I know now that's not true and in some cases, not possible.  I'm now more willing to not only ask for that help, but more importantly, allow myself to receive that help when it is offered.

But most importantly, I've learned that I can trust again.

Thank you all.  I hope that I can carry this with me as long as possible.