Sunday, December 23, 2012

My 2012 Christmas Eve Alphabet

Awareness of
Blessings and
Delicious and sometimes
Generally good
Health, mentally and physically.
Intimate conversations.
Joy to the World
Kindness, kin and time in the kitchen
Music, speaking of which:
Nutcracker and Messiah.
Opportunities to give and receive.
Questions and quests
Reading stories
Seeing changed hearts
Telling it on a mountain
Vitality and a sense of
Xcitement and creative spelling
Zeal even when you are no longer young

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Earth's Tilt and Mine

Friday morning at 4:12 a.m. Mountain Time the earth will be tilting as far from the sun as it ever does here in the north hemisphere. So we get the shortest amount of daylight and the longest amount of darkness and then we slowly start edging back to longer and eventually warmer weather. Of course for summer lovers the solstice could be celebrated in the southern hemisphere where they're getting the longest day.

The earth tilts and our seasons change dramatically as we get farther north or south of the equator. Is there a spiritual or social similarity. If I stay close to my values, traditions and supportive relationships will I fare better than being north or south of such nurturing? Or is change a reality to accept and embrace.

I like to think my friends and family will always standby my side. Some have. I've rarely been let down even though I have let down others. But life has bumps in the road and winter solstices. I hope I can remember to keep that in perspective. I hope I can remember that when I've heard just one too many continuous playing of Carpenter's Christmas music, that I will wisely retreat to a more private space to listen to Debussy or jazz. Or to simply sit at a keyboard and know that these thoughts can be shared at the push of a button.

Do you have winter solstice thoughts? How do you make the most of the promises of the holidays and minimize the darkness. It's one of the reasons I hang Christmas lights. I like making the world just a little be brighter. What do you? What works for you? And what do you try to avoid?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

the poem that doesn't rhyme

Bernie Taupin said it so well
"I am the poem that doesn't rhyme"
Yet I am alive
And sometimes I thrive
Such pays the way for my non-rhymes


That was fun to try to write a quasi limerick. 

Who is is Bernie Taupin? Some younger readers may ask. And what do you mean you're a poem that doesn't rhyme. I will perhaps answer these questions at some point. But here's more of a hint about Bernie. He wrote this for a fellow name Elton John.

And now that it's all over
The birds can nest again
I'll only snow when the sun comes out
I'll shine only when it starts to rain

And if you want a drink
Just squeeze my hand 
And wine will flow into the land
And feed my lambs

For I am a mirror
I can reflect the moon
I will write songs for you
I'll be your silver spoon

I'm sorry I took your time
I am the poem that doesn't rhyme
Just turn back a page
I'll waste away, I'll waste away
I'll waste away, I'll waste away
I'll waste away, I'll waste away

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Trust Limerick

Loving others requires some trust
You don't want to be left in the dust
I want to embrace
The beauty I face
So accepting myself is a must

It's been such a beautiful day, I wish I could cap it off with a beautiful, or at least a whimsical limerick, and there is a tiny bit of whimsy in the above. A pinch perhaps. I think I do better writing first thing in the morning rather than deep into the evening. Nonetheless, I'm glad for this first official day of fall. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

bi author's limerick

I love my sisters and my brothers
'Cuz I've got choices, I've got druthers
Both loves helps me fly
And somehow get by
I'll credit both on my book covers

A previous comment mentioned the catch 22 of bisexuality, that no matter which gender you're loving, there's always angst for the other. I don't deny that reality, but the upside is that there are more people to love and be loved by, if not in fact then at least in possibility.

Now about the author stuff. What's the difference between an unpublished author and a published one? I don't think it's quite as stark as the difference between on and off. I think it's more like the difference between caterpillar and butterfly. (Thank you, Carol Lynn Pearson!) It's a matter of progression. Easy for me to say as I go to work at my day job. Ok, enough of all this positive Friday morning thinking.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A man crush limerick

When I feel his touch I love it much
But is it a crutch to crave this such?
I tell myself no
I will not let go
And thank God so much for my man crush

So here's a good reason to get up and get going on my day even though I dread some of the obstacles I'll face. Get up, get going, I tell myself, because you never know what small wonders any given day might bring. One of those small miracles came my way just yesterday. I was with my good friend and there was conversation, laughter, warmth, trust and even a bit of physical touch. It doesn't happen everyday, but when it does it is still magical to me, even after all these years.

Monday, September 17, 2012

limerick of lonliness

I'm fully awake but feel quite slow
If I let myself the tears would flow
I'm not feeling grand
Please give me a hand
With your touch I'll recover I know

I wrote that this morning and writing it somehow helped me buck up a bit. I'd say my day started as a D+ and ended at a B+. Going to church helped. Having one of my high priest buddies put his arm around me helped. It was the touch I needed. And being with the grandkids helped, too.

How do you cope with the challenges of being gay or bi in a straight world? Of not being straight in the culture of Mormonism?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

to love or to be loved

If you could either be loved or love someone, but not both, which would you choose?

I related to this post because I tend to have crushes on straight guys who will never love me the way I love them. But in my case that's a blessing since I am a bisexual man married to a woman. 

Sometimes life seems like Send in the Clowns. My wife loved me in a way I couldn't fully love her in return. I have loved some straight men who can't fully love me. But I tell myself I am blessed to have love in my life. I am blessed to be able to love both men and women. And sometimes I believe it.

Send in the Clowns
by Stephen Sondheim

Isn't it rich?
Are we a pair?
Me here at last on the ground,
You in mid-air.
Send in the clowns.

Isn't it bliss?
Don't you approve?
One who keeps tearing around,
One who can't move.
Where are the clowns?
Send in the clowns.

Just when I'd stopped
Opening doors,
Finally knowing
The one that I wanted was yours,
Making my entrance again
With my usual flair,
Sure of my lines,
No one is there.

Don't you love farce?
My fault, I fear.
I thought that you'd want what I want -
Sorry, my dear.
But where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns.
Quick, send in the clowns.

What a surprise.
Who could foresee
I'd come to feel about you
What you'd felt about me?
Why only now when i see
That you'd drifted away?
What a surprise.
What a cliché.

Isn't it rich?
Isn't it queer?
Losing my timing this late
In my career?
And where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns.
Don't bother - they're here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

from seriously depressed to feeling good

Over at  Gay Sacramento Mormon Guy is unhappy enough to have tried to end his life. I remember feeling about that a decade ago. Here's what I wrote to him. I hope it gives him some perspective. I hope it gives you some perspective...

When I was suicidal I found a helpful book. It was so helpful I wrote this review of it on Amazon. I hope it can help you, too.

This review is from: Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy (Mass Market Paperback)

I'd seen this book before. I'd browsed through it back in 1991 and didn't find anything profound, but I wasn't seriously depressed at the time either. In June 2001 it was a different story. I'd been feeling suicidal since April. I was away from home on business and considered ending it all in a Minneapolis hotel room, but didn't want my wife have the hassle of shipping my body 1,000 miles back home.
I forced myself to take a walk and saw "Feeling Good" in a nearby bookstore. "What the hell," I thought, "for less than $10 this is worth a try." Back in my hotel room I took the depression test and scored 64 - severe depression. I read much of the book that night, took the self-test again the next day and scored in the 40s. With a 20 point drop in less than 24 hours, I again had hope. I got home, got counseling, got medication.

Although I was still depressed, it was less severe and I wasn't as suicidal. In July of 2001 I bought "Ten Days to Self Esteem" and went from a depression score of 25 to 17 in ten days of doing the written exercises everyday. It took about 9 months but with exercise, meds, counseling, support from friends and family, and the perspective offered by the events of that September 11, I started getting scores showing very little depression, much less anxiety and better relationships. Burns' approach has been an important part of that process for me.

(The book is still in print and is probably also available in your public library. Heck, I'll mail you my beat up copy I like.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Shaving: Chore or Affirmation?

I quite like the idea of writing daily again. Actually daily pages as suggested in the book The Artist’s Way. The idea is to just do a mind dump first thing in the morning. I liked the idea when I read it yesterday, but I didn’t really prepare for it. I should get my laptop all set up on a clean desk with it opened to a word processing program and just be ready to ease out of bed, open the cover and go. But today I at least thought about it. I got up to pee and then while I was downstairs decided to shave, but didn’t shower. Came back up and cleaned off my desk and opened this document and here we go.

Which brings me to the question of shaving. Do you enjoy it? Why or why not? How often do you shave? How do you shave? Razor? Electric? Where and when? Before showering, after showering. In the car on the way to work? What do you think about when you shave? Do you ever look in the mirror and tell yourself, "Man I'm lucky to be alive. Lucky to have whiskers and a razor and hot water. Lucky that I don't live in the age of straight razors where I could do some major damage to this handsome mug." Do you talk to yourself and enjoy the moment in the mirror, or is a more of a chore. Sure, you're using the mirror but only to see to shave, none of this introspective, self-talk, affirmation bs. 

Oh, and to go along with the amazing Steve Walker painting, have you ever been shaved someone else or been shaved by someone else? I'll confess it's happened to me three times. Once by a nursing student who had an assignment to shave a man. I was that lucky man. And twice in a barber's chair. I did it to do it, but unless I really like the barber, probably won't do it again. 

Ok and one last thing for you, Duck. I realize I've written this from a man's point of view, but I'm also interested in the female shaving or non-shaving experience. Every once in a while I'll find a razor in the shower and know that a daughter has decided to get rid of her stubble. If you'd care to weigh in on these questions, please do. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

David Rakoff, my radio buddy

David Rakoff died last Thursday. I didn’t realize until then how much I liked him. But now, I’m searching for online appreciations, for YouTube videos, and looking forward, much more than I think I ever have before, to listening to This American Life this weekend which will feature a full hour with a man, I realize now, was my friend and an advocate of my writing, my coming out, my being myself.

Why couldn’t I realize that while he was alive, so I could have at least written him some fan mail? And said, “Thank you for speaking the truth in such a humorous way. Thank you for being out, but not being out and proud so much as being out and just your genuine neurotic self. Thank you for sharing that talented, caring and cynical self with the world. You made my world better because you were here.”

If I’d have known it would have been my only chance to actually meet him, I’d have probably hung around trying to get an autograph when he appeared at Kingsbury Hall a few years ago. But I didn’t know he was going to die, and I didn’t know how much really liked him until last Thursday, until it was too late.

Or is it? I haven’t read his books. They’re no different now than they were when he was alive. And if I really believe my religion, I’ll see David again. Who knows maybe he’s already met my mom and dad and stepdad and grandparents. Maybe they’ve told him what I could not, “Our bisexual son and grandson, really appreciated you. Your voice on the radio kept him company on a lot of weekends.”

And maybe it’s not too late to learn once again to value people here and now. And, maybe, just maybe, if you love someone, to tell them. Face-to-face.

If you don’t know of David, here’s his Wikipedia bio. And here's a vid of him talking about the difficult process of writing. If you’re interested in hearing more, catch This American Life this weekend.

As I think of David, I find myself hearing an old Bob Dylan song:

While riding on a train goin’ west

I fell asleep for to take my rest

I dreamed a dream that made me sad

Concerning myself and the first few friends I had

With half-damp eyes I stared to the room

Where my friends and I spent many an afternoon

Where we together weathered many a storm

Laughin’ and singin’ till the early hours of the morn

By the old wooden stove where our hats was hung

Our words were told, our songs were sung

Where we longed for nothin’ and were quite satisfied

Talkin’ and a-jokin’ about the world outside

With haunted hearts through the heat and cold

We never thought we could ever get old

We thought we could sit forever in fun

But our chances really was a million to one

As easy it was to tell black from white

It was all that easy to tell wrong from right

And our choices were few and the thought never hit

That the one road we traveled would ever shatter and split

How many a year has passed and gone

And many a gamble has been lost and won

And many a road taken by many a friend

And each one I’ve never seen again

I wish, I wish, I wish in vain

That we could sit simply in that room again

Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat

I’d give it all gladly if our lives could be like that

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Why do I blog?

A FaceBook thread asks these three questions:

Why do you blog?

I blog for myself, for the discipline of writing for others, to create record of my thoughts, and to address an imaginary person who may or may not become a real person in my life. I also enjoy getting immediate feedback and sometimes delayed feedback when someone finds and comments on something I've written months or years ago.

Do you blog in "real time" (posting current thoughts immediately as they happen, in "tape delay" (waiting a few days or weeks before posting), or both - and why?

My blog is a mix of real time and delay. I try to proof each entry before I push the publish button, but often don't find a typo or some other needed edit, until I do hit publish, sometimes immediately and sometimes much later. On occasion, I will quote from my personal journal, recycling something that seems appropriate. Why? I guess it's because my editor role and my writer roles are somewhat in conflict. As I writer I just want to get it out. As an editor, I care about how it reads. The editor is sometimes the enemy of the writer.

If you stopped blogging, why? 

Still blogging away, although not as frequently as I used to.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Oops - Wow

Oops, I forgot to post this here after I finished it on Tuesday morning. But I can tell you this: one Facebook viewer gave it a wow. See what you think:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

knowing he cares

I found an old notebook journal as I was cleaning my room yesterday. It bears out some of the angst and hope expressed in my recent video. Here’s an entry from Sunday, June 16, 1991:

I’m sitting on the front porch now and there is a hauntingly beautiful sunset that has made the sky a kind of crimson/violet that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before and may never see again. This is how the days of a child’s life are. They are so beautiful. They are one moment in time never to be seen again. And yet they are also as numerous as sunsets and sunrises -- but are we watching ready to savor how unique these gifts of moments are?  Or are we too busy?

Yes, tonight I am supposed to be writing sales letters. Well they will have to wait until tomorrow. The wind is blowing. They other night it stormed. I thought of what Gibran said about storms and how you can feel the power of God in them.

Now neighbors are beginning to turn lights on and the intensity of that purple is slowly fading. I must have shivered a couple of dozen times today. It happened when the priests covered the sacrament table and just now when I thought of  Don. 

My feelings for Don are changing. They’re still very much in the forefront of my mind, and yet there’s a greater easiness there. There’s an intensity that’s brought on through depth and solidly knowing he cares, not so much by my admiring him--although I still do very much--it is now as if I can see him for the man he is, with many good traits, but not perfect. I’d like to talk with him tonight, but not enough to call after I know he’s had a long drive home from St. George.

I’m still trying to deal honestly with my wife. I’m trying to level with her about my frustration and confusion about her feelings for me. I can’t put aside my faith that things will work out. But I do long for a resumption of relations, and when I dwell on that loss it really leaves me feeling down and feeling pretty sorry for myself. But I must have faith. It is so much of what life is about. I can’t let all of the efforts so far just give way to defeat and cynicism.

The sky is still light but now that light is fading. Most of the light I’m writing by is from porch bulb. The kids are with their mom and grandparents. I am alone except for the dear cat. It has been a good weekend. Sure it was tough emotionally yesterday afternoon but it wasn’t a wasted day. I enjoyed mowing the lawn in beautiful weather. I have much to be grateful for.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Limerick for Duck

A writer named Duck has a blog
That helps me see out of the fog
Because she is kind
Some peace I can find
Some days are then less of a slog

Thanks to Duck and Beck for comments on my earlier post of a video about "some of my experiences growing up, dating, coming out, dealing with depression, averting suicide and trying to put it all in perspective." 

Both Duck and Beck's comments had the feeling of a big hug. Then I got this feedback on Facebook that also took the form of an embrace:

 (((((((((((Ned)))))))))) THAT WAS INCREDIBLE. I was so moved. I can't even tell you. 
It's true that sometimes we can't put into words what we're feeling. Which is kind of what I feel now. Happy July 4th.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Happy and Dark Thoughts

I responded to a Facebook post this morning with this statement: "Sorry to hear you've been feeling lonely and longing for a relationship. Totally agree that it is no fun...Here's something you can try that might open up your thinking. Write the letters A-Z down the left hand side of sheet of paper. Fold it in half. Label the first column happy thoughts and the 2nd column gloomy thoughts. Then try to come up with a word or phrase or even sentence starting with each letter. It's just a way of affirming what you like or long for and also getting the dark stuff out on paper. It's helped me many times. Of course your mileage may vary. But if you give it a try let us know what you think. Hugs and good luck."

Then I decided to take my own advice and here's the list:

a - awesome / awful
b - beauty / bad breath
c - companionship / craziness
d - dependability / discrimination
e - elegance / extreme disorganization
f - funny, fun-loving people / frustration
g - green grass, freshly cut / gangrene, needing amputation
h - hello, people who say hello to you / hell, when it's a hell of a day
i - innovation, cool new stuff / insincerity, fake stuff
j - jelly, jam and buttered toast / junk that's just clutter
k - kin who are kind / kin that don't accept you
l - love, especially the unconditional kind  / leaders who are abusive
m - men who are kind and caring / men who are jerks
n - nature that nurtures, a sunny day / nature that kills, a tornado
o - opportunities that lift / oppression that crushes
p - pretty stuff, see beauty above / petty people who piss you off
q - quality that counts / quality that's just an empty word
r - recreation with loved ones and friends / rejection
s - security / stupidity
t - trust and trees / too tired, the state of being
u - understanding / underfunding
v - victory, when you get a great win / valentines, never received
w - wonderful moments, fresh and remembered / wonderbread, stale
x - marking the spot of a treasure / when you didn't want it to end
y - you make me feel so young, Sinatra / yikes, Scoobee-Doo
z - zoos and z's, snoozing / z's not enough, as in sleep deprivation

Do I feel better? Somewhat. I thought of some positives I wouldn't have otherwise. But the same is true of the negatives. On balance, though, a good exercise in counting blessings and exploring reality. I guess another things that works about this for me is finding connections. It's easy to be black and white and just find opposites. There's a place for that. But it's also great just to riff and have fun with it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Night of Promise

When I asked her to the dance, I did not know how long the night would be. I promised her father that I would return her safely to her home. The night is not over. We've danced together several times, but not like some couples who seem to be having the time of their lives. So we've tried to make the best of this evening. She's danced with all of our children and grandchildren. So have I. She has danced with extended family, school, career and church. So have I. She has not danced with any other men or women and I have not danced with any other women or men. But I have stood alone and watched so many others enjoying the dance. I have talked with a few other men off the dance floor. We have had some wonderful conversations. Mostly my wife has stood alone. Or helped others. The dance is not over. My wife and I, although both distracted, are still on our date. My promise to return her safely to her father still echoes in my mind. Sometimes overshadowing even the best music I've ever heard.

(This is yet another blog entry inspired by Beck. Here's what he wrote that got me thinking.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

a man and amen

I was just re-reading a blog post I made two Decembers ago. I'm going to repost it here and add in my current thoughts:

Dear Heavenly Parents,

Thank you for sending me the man of my dreams. I loved him when I first saw him and I still love him today more than a decade later. This summer it will be 12 years, wow! Sometimes I feel frustrated that he doesn't love me the way I love him, but in my saner moments I realize there is wisdom in pairing me, a bisexual man who is a married father, with another married father who is straight. He is also kind and his kindness shines through in so many ways the longer I know him.
Yes, I sometimes wonder what our lives would be like if both of our wives died or divorced us, but I strongly suspect that my man would soon find himself dating women and would soon find himself in love with one and remarried. The same could happen with me I suppose, although maybe you've got another man of my dreams in store for me somewhere in the future and maybe this one is gay, or at least bisexual. As time passes though, I think I've become more realistic. It is a blessing to be married, and it is a blessing to have a such a good married friend. When he says, "I'd like to do that, but I can't this time because I promised my wife I'd..." we both understand we have other priorities, which also makes the time we are together memorable. 
But maybe this is as good as it gets and if that's the case, that's OK. Not just OK but great, really. I waited more than 40 years for you to place this jewel along my path and I realize that this may be it. Thank you for our many days and years together. He is so much more than an amethyst remembrance. He is real. He is alive. I stood by his side and enjoyed his laughter this very day and the day I'm writing the addendum as well. You've also given me the opportunity to be married to a wonderful woman and for us to be parents of wonderful children. She is alive. She is real. She is only a few yards away, resting her mind and her bones after a busy Monday at work. She's been out of town for a few days as I add these thoughts and I'm so glad to be with her again, so glad she's returned safely to our home. She is my friend, confidant, wife, mother of our children. I would not be the man I am, if she were not in my life. I love her as much as a man in my situation could love his wife and I know she loves me to the best of her ability given our circumstances.
You've blessed me so abundantly with the ability to love both men and women, to find some of my brothers and sisters here intriguing, mysterious and beautiful. You've blessed me with so much more, with wonderful teachers, neighbors, friends and extended family. I'm also grateful for the ability to find beauty in small things, like a smile, a "thank you", a "please", a Facebook "like", and the comments on this blog. 
You've blessed me with good health, with strength, with the ability to endure uncertainty. You've blessed me with a love of music, nature, art, food, sunshine and snow, darkness and light, fireworks, fireflies and fire itself. You blessed me to be able to notice and appreciate nature and human nature, the cold and the warmth, the extremes of summer and winter and the perfect days of transition in spring and fall. 
I've had a good life full of challenges and rewards. Certainly there is more good ahead, but sometimes on a cold winter night like tonight, I'd be just fine if I didn't wake up. Isn't that crazy? I know it is. It's irrational but understandable. I think I've grown a little more patient with myself since I wrote this. A little more tolerant of my changing moods. A little more aware that if I'm discouraged, encouragement is just around the corner, and vice versa. 
I have more to do. Children to be married. Grandchildren to be spoiled, to read with, to laugh with, to sing with, to color with, two swing with, to put on my shoulders, to run through the sprinklers in the summer, and zip into a winter coat when it's snowing, to lift in and out of high chairs, to buckle into a car seat and kiss on the forehead. To realize how much capacity I have to love and how I must have been loved as child and grandchild. I have a tender, strong, dear, intelligent, kind, loving, independent, talented, giving, patient wife to grow old with. 
And a married friend who I miss when I haven't seen him for three days. Someone who makes me smile just by thinking about him. Someone I probably stand too close to sometimes. Someone I bump into when we're walking together and when our hands touch just for a fraction of second, I know and wonder if he does too. Someone who is married to a woman he loves. But someone who enjoys his brothers, his buddies, his independence. Someone who is so comfortable in his own skin, that when I'm with him I'm somehow comfortable in mine. All just as true now as it was when I first wrote it. 
Why should I need someone else to feel this way? Because I'm human. We are social animals. Or as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote (and Neal Maxwell quoted) "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience but spiritual beings having a human experience." I shouldn't. And I don't always. But when I'm with my man, this magic just happens. It's as natural as sunshine. The magic remains as does the warmth. It's human, it's spiritual, it's almost as tangible as a warm shower or a favorite sweat shirt just out of the dryer, and I know I'm alive when I feel it.
I'm glad that somehow we crossed paths (probably part of some great plan you two cooked up, eh?) and that our friendship has endured. I'm glad I came across that great quote from Albert Camus, "In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." I'm glad I still know that, and that I know it even more deeply now. Thank you for all these blessings and others I can't even imagine. 
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

the illusive third way

Congratulations to Beck who has been out to his wife seven years and recently had a Capraesque moment with his wife. It certainly is relevant to those in mixed orientation marriages and helps put my couple of decades of being out to my wife in perspective. 

My three decade marriage to the female love of my life is wonderful and difficult. My decade of friendship with the male love of my life is also filled with wonder and challenge. 

I have sought an illusive third way as I know Beck and many others have. Perhaps we find it without knowing it, by keeping covenants yet seeking to embrace our full identity as same gender loving men married to remarkable women, as fathers, sons, brothers and friends, as men of faith and doubt.