Well, Either You’re Closing Your Eyes to a Situation You Do Not Wish to Acknowledge, or You Are Not Aware of the Caliber of Disaster Indicated. Ya Got Trouble, My Friend, Right Here, I Say, Trouble Right Here in River City.

In case you haven’t heard, times are very tough.

unemploymentMillions of people have been laid off from their jobs and the national unemployment rate is 7.6 percent as of January.  In California where I live it’s higher, at 9.3 percent.

The state of California is broke with a $42 billion budget deficit and it’s only getting worse by the day as the state legislature can’t seem to come to an agreement on the budget.

Can we all agree that times are tough?

I’ve known this all along but somehow I guess I didn’t really get it.  I’ve been suffering from “not me” syndrome.  “Yeah, it sucks.  Yeah people are hurting and I wish I could do something, but at least it won’t happen to me.”

Before anybody get’s too worried about me, no, it hasn’t happened to me… not yet, anyway.  For weeks, maybe even months, Douche Bag has been saying that we have to tighten our belts and cut back on spending, but he’s also been saying that we were not going to be facing any lay-offs.  “Senior Leadership” has stated that it won’t benefit The Company that Created the HMO to lay people off because after you pay severance packages you don’t realize any cost savings for at least a year if not longer.

Last week an e-mail went out from the President of Operations addressing the current economic crisis.  The e-mail said that we were facing some lean times.  It said that in an attempt to deal with these lean times they were taking certain measures to ready ourselves for the tough times ahead.  Among those measures was freezing the salaries of the top 500 employees.  This is a good move.  It proves that they are not just out for themselves and that they are trying to take care of their employees.  The e-mail went on to say that while The Company that Created the HMO was still going to give merit increases, they were reducing the overall budget for the increases by 1%.  Normally, my region’s budget is 3% so this year it would be 2%.  Not great news but livable.  In addition they were still going to give out the annual bonuses that we traditionally get in March.

Honestly, I had full expected to get absolutely nothing this year.  Not an idea I enjoy but not surprising, so it didn’t come as a huge surprise when the follow up e-mail came today.  While The Company that Created the HMO as a whole is following those measures, it has been determined that some regions will need to take additional measures, determined by the market they serve.  Northern California is one of those regions.  Not only will the top 500 Executives have their salaries frozen, but not a single one of the Northern California non-union employees receive a raise before fourth quarter when they will re-evaluate our financial status.  (Read, probably not then either.)  We will still receive our bonuses, which comes as a surprise to me but, raises will not be happening.  And then the big shocker, the e-mail stated that it will not be sufficient to maintain our 2008 staffing levels.  We must reduce the number of full time employees.  There’s no other way to read that, there will be lay-offs.  I think, perhaps, it would have been good if they’d included in that information when and how many they are planning, but at least now we know that it’s going to happen.

I’ve given a lot of thought over the last few weeks, as rumors started flying, about how I could see this playing out and there are a number of scenarios that could play out that would leave me vulnerable.  I have the most seniority in the department, besides Douche Bag, and my function is somewhat unique, in that no one else in the department does what I do.  It could be that the seniority will save me, but on the other and it could be that the seniority also makes me too expensive to keep around.  It could be that the uniqueness of my position will save me, but then again I do have a counterpart in another building that does the same thing and there was a time when our jobs were a one man operation for all of Downtown Oakland.  There has already been a proposition that the functions I currently perform should be consolidated to this other person leaving me free to take on other responsibilities.

I see three possible scenarios with that as well:

  1. Captain Oblivious will approve the proposal to consolidate the function to my counterpart and I’ll continue working here fulfilling other responsibilities – and potentially finding a way to like my job again;
  2. Captain Oblivious will deny the proposal with concern that doing this would leave me vulnerable to being laid-off;
  3. Captain Oblivious will approve the proposal and instruct that I be laid-off.

I have a peace about this.  There’s nothing I can do to change how things will play out.  I go to work everyday and do the best job I can do (when I’m not reading or writing blog entries or Tweeting) and wait to see what happens.  In the end there’s not much more I can do besides leave it in God’s hands.  I trust that he will lead me through it.

Yes, times are tough, but things will turn around.  They always do

Better Left Forgotten

Today is an anniversary of sorts. Not one that I’m proud of by any means, but one that is somehow unavoidable and unforgettable.

Five years ago this morning, I walked into my managers office, very nervous about what was going to come of our conversation.

The previous Saturday, Green M&M and I had gone to a club in San Francisco to meet up with some friends. There was some sort of event that was supposed to be happening there. I can’t remember the name of the club now but it was some sort of arctic theme which was tremendously ironic to me, because it was hotter than hell in there. Green and I had a couple drinks while we surveyed the crowd trying to find the group of people who were supposed to be meeting there. Forty-five minutes later, when we still hadn’t found anyone we knew, we decided to bail and go to another club we knew of that was likely to be less crowded and not so hot.

We spent four hours at the other club, closing the place down and then it was time to go home. When it was time to go, I did something, for which I remain completely ashamed and disgusted with myself and would give anything to undo.

The club was in San Francisco and Green M&M and I lived in Richmond, California, roughly 20 miles drive. The club was also in the South of Market (SoMa)/Mission Districts and while not a terribly frightening place to be, it was not a place I felt great about leaving my car over night, either. Plus a cab ride home would have cost a considerable amount of money.

I believed that I was fine to drive home and opted not to leave my car behind to be vandalized and broken into. At first it was no big deal. I used to subscribe to the old, “I drive better when I’ve been drinking” philosophy. I now know that the only reason why anyone can say that is because they know they’ve drunk more than they should and they’re afraid, and therefore are far more focused and “present” while behind the wheel… Sometimes.

The problem was, that as I was driving on the highway, and across the Bay Bridge I became increasingly drowsy and was having difficulty staying awake. I was on the bridge though and had no way of pulling over or exiting the highway. And then, for just the briefest of moments, I fell asleep. Fortunately, I was driving in the far left lane of the one way bridge and my car drifted to the left until my wheels hit the curb shocking me back to awareness and causing a surge of adrenaline that woke me up. Sadly, it’s likely that, had there not been any intervention, I probably really could have made it the rest of the way home safely on the adrenaline that was coursing through my veins.

Fortunately, there was intervention. The ruckus that was caused when I drifted into the curb was enough to attract the attention of the highway patrolman that I had passed a few minutes earlier and when I looked up again there were flashing lights behind me.

I was asked a number of questions I couldn’t possibly repeat. I did the “usual” tests. I’m not sure that I failed most of the tests. I never have been able to walk in a straight line, even when stone sober. No one can say the alphabet backwards. But I had no problem touching my nose. After going through all that I was given a breathalyzer test (which I kinda thought they shoulda done first). I blew a BAC of .18 (later lowered to .17 by a blood test) and was hauled off to jail.

I spent five and one half hours in a jail cell before being released “on my own recognizance” on the streets of downtown Oakland, without my wallet or cell phone, both of which went home with Green M&M who was not driving and therefore not arrested. I had to call Green from a pay phone and waited inside the front door of a local movie theater for her to pick me up.

The following Monday morning, I told Douche Bag as little as I had to and still feel like I was being honest. I had no idea what the outcome of the situation was going to be. I didn’t know if it was grounds for termination, but I knew it would be worse for me if he found out some other way. I also, didn’t know what was going to happen with me legally. I was terrified I was going to go to jail.

I didn’t lose my job (dammit) and I didn’t go to jail. I’m tempted to say that everything turned out alright but that’s taking things too lightly. This was a trying and difficult time for me and it has definitely not been worth it.

When I appeared for my court date, I was sentenced to “2 days in jail with time served.” The 5 hours I spent in jail after being arrested counted as one day. The second day was commuted to Community Service, which amounted to six hours on a municipal work crew. I had to pay a $1750.00 fine. And my automobile insurance skyrocketed. Before the DUI, I had an impeccable driving record. I had the very best rating possible with my insurance company, “E”, and after the DUI my insurance rating was “7”, the absolute worst rating. Every July, my record is reviewed by the underwriters and every year that I have no additional blemishes on my record that number decreases. Currently, my rating is “3”. Thankfully, my insurance has gotten far less expensive, but the blow to my pocketbook at the time was substantial.

Five years is a long time, and much of the time, it has felt as though the DUI was a lifetime ago. I’ve become accustomed to the insurance rates, and am only grateful when my rates go down each year. I have done my community service. I have paid my fine. Until last year when I applied to be a Big Brother, I had mostly put it out of my mind. Big Brothers and Big Sisters requires that you not have had a DUI within the last five years, and only have had one in your life. That’s when I did the math and realized it had only been four years.

So today, it is with mixed feelings, that I tick off the five year anniversary since my DUI. I’ll be paying for the damage to my record, by way of my increased car insurance premiums for three more years, but as I stated, I’m accustomed to that. Otherwise, I can finally put this thing behind me. There’s nothing left to stand in my way. I’ve learned my lesson. I know better than to take the risk. I’m glad it’s over.

Maybe now this anniversary can be forgotten after all.

Inform Your Face

They say that children are very perceptive.  That they pick up well on our moods and our attitudes. I believe that tends to be a spiritual thing as much as a physical thing.  The last time I went back to Oklahoma to spend Christmas with Scornful Mother, CPA Sister, et. al., I had a bit of a blow up with SM that resulted in an abrupt change in our relationship.  At the culmination of this exchange when SM had put her hand up in my face, potentially to hit me and I reared back, glared at her and said, “Don’t! You! Dare!”  I looked down at Precious Niece #1 and saw that she had a confused and possibly frightened look on her face.  It broke my heart to see and at the same time, I was just so angry, that I could do nothing about it.

I believe that we never actually outgrow that perceptiveness.  I think if we trust our guts and follow our instincts we will find that we are, as full grown adults, still very perceptive.  It has been my experience, since I started therapy nearly two and one half years ago, that when Insightful Therapist states (generally not asks) that I’m experiencing a certain emotion, she’s almost never wrong.  If I stop and consider what she said, I’ll usually realize that, yes, in fact, I was feeling that emotion, even if I hadn’t realized it before she said it.  She’s a therapist and they are trained, (she’s quite skilled), to be open and really listen and observe their clients during their sessions.  I’ve been learning that I have the inherent ability to pick up on these things.  I think we all do.  Especially when its someone we’ve gotten to know.

The problem is we don’t usually trust ourselves.  As we grow and we are entreated, first by our parents, and then by the rest of society, to behave in certain “socially acceptable” ways we learn to be deceptive and dishonest about our feelings and emotions.  And as we learn this we also become less sure of truth of other people’s feelings and emotions.  You’re interacting with another individual and their tone of voice, their body language, their facial expression or some combination of the three tells you, this person is angry at me.  So you ask them, “Why are you so angry at me?” and they say, with steam practically coming out of their ears, “I’m not angry at you!”

It’s the very foundation of our perceptions and our faith in our own understanding of them.  Evidence tells me this, but the person says that.  Either they’re lying to me, or I’m wrong. And even at that, it’s generally not “socially acceptable” to assume someone is lying to you – especially not your own parents – so you must be wrong.  Eventually, as you age and branch out more and more into the world, you begin to assume that your perception is wrong and that you can’t know what the other person is thinking and feeling and therefore you should not assume you’re perception has a chance of being accurate.

I can still remember, on occasion when I was but a wee small lad, Scornful Mother would tell me to stop being angry (yeah, because that works) and I’d tell her “I’m not angry.”  She would say, “Well then, inform your face.”  Clearly she was presuming to know what I was feeling.  But you see, she was in front of me.  Looking at me.  Seeing my facial expressions and my body language.  More than likely, she was right.  “Inform your face.”  That could just as easily be “inform your tone.”

I was reminded of that phrase just the other day in the Tuesday Morning Torture Session. Douche Bag was acting particularly confrontational and accusatory, particularly toward me.  In the last month or so, he’s handed out random assignments, willy-nilly and without much thought to how appropriate the tasks are for the person he’s giving them to.  He’s given me a number of tasks that are not within my bailiwick.  I used to speak up when he’d do this but he’d just make light of it, crack a lame joke and then move on without acknowledging his blunder and reassigning the task.  So there were two items on the agenda for which he had asked me to get quotes from various vendors.

He wants to replace the Elevator Lobby Directory signage on several of the floors of our building.  He’s pushing for this to happen before the end of the year, for budgetary reasons, but he hasn’t given enough time to make this happen.  He’s also been talking about replacing these for three years so it’s a little hard to get fired up about them now, but he’s been pushing me to get a quote from our signage vendor for that project.  The price per complete unit is set, regardless of the text, and I’ve informed Douche Bag of the approximate cost, but he wants a formal quote in writing from the vendor.  So I informed our contact that I didn’t have all the information I needed to place an order yet, but I needed a quote for this many of that product, installed.  The contact replied that I needed to fill out the order form and then so-and-so in the home office will price it out for me.  I replied that, as I had previously stated, I wasn’t ready to place an order but that my manager was requesting a formal quote.  He told me they don’t generate quotes based on an e-mail and they needed the order form.  So I advised DB that I couldn’t get a quote and of the reason why.

He then went on to ask about the removal of an out-of-service HVAC unit in a storage room.  This is something that has been in his hands for a very long time.  He asked me to get a quote from a certain vendor to remove the unit, to ask our engineers about who can remove and dispose of the coolant and he stated that he would put in the construction request for our in-house construction people to remove the duct-work.  That construction request comes to me and he hasn’t done it (in over a month) so I didn’t see any sense in rushing the rest of it.  He came down on me in the TMTS for not having taken care of the HVAC unit.  When I reminded him that he had said he’d do the construction request and he hadn’t done it, he back pedaled a little bit and I said, “You understand that these things are not in my hands, right?”

“Yeah, I understand,” he said.

“Because you’re acting like this is all my fault!”

“No, I’m not.  I know it’s not your fault.”

Then inform your tone.

Douche Bag stepped into my office yesterday morning with a stack of papers in his hand, pertaining to a “spring cleaning in the fall” project he was pretty much single-handedly working on, and asked me, “What’s your schedule look like today.”

“Well, I have a meeting with [Furniture Vendor] at 11:00.”

“Good,” he said, “I need you to coordinate all this stuff with the vendors today.  They’ll be here at 1:00.”

“How am I supposed to know where this stuff is?”

“You know the contacts,” He said, “ask them,” and then he walked away.  I don’t know the contacts.  I know people who may or may not be the official contacts and who may or may not have submitted the paperwork for the clean up.  Just asking the contacts, wasn’t going to do the trick.  The vendor didn’t show up until 2:00.  I gave them the paper work and the names and phone numbers that I knew and sent them out into the world.  They never checked in with me again.  I was at work until 6:30 and I never heard from them.  I could only assume they were done.

This morning about fifteen minutes after I arrived, DB came stomping into my office flopping copies of the paperwork in his hand and said, “I need confirmation that all this stuff was picked up.  There were fifteen boxes on the sixteenth floor that didn’t get picked up and the department had them stacked up on their conference table.  Oscar (one of our janitors) and I had to go down and move them ourselves, into the hall.  I want those picked up today.  And I want a quote for that HVAC unit (which he still hasn’t put in his construction request for) by tomorrow.”

I called the vendor to inquire about the work and before I finished explaining why I was calling the contact said, “Oh yeah.  They’re not finished.  There was way too much stuff to pick up in the time frame that was agreed upon by Douche Bag.  They’ll be back out there today to get the rest.”  They did not talk to anyone about that when they left yesterday and so it is largely on them but either way it’s not my fault that this thing I had nothing to do with untill he dumped it on me didn’t go right.  I asked about the HVAC unit and the contact stated that they could take it today, too.  I explained that it wasn’t necessarily part of this program but that DB had instructed me to get a quote from them to uninstall, disassemble and remove the unit.

“Oh.  That’s not what he and I discussed before.  I told him a couple weeks ago that we could haul it out, but we don’t have the ability to uninstall it.”  So first of all, DB had me spinning my wheels on this for nothing because the people he told me to talk to about doing the work can’t.  But even worse, DB has been talking to them directly about it without my knowledge and I would just have been doubling the efforts.

I informed Douche Bag of all this information and reminded him that, again he’s acting like it’s my fault.

“I know it’s not your fault,” he said.

Well then inform your tone, dip shit!  Inform your tone.

Miscellaneus, Meandering Introspections (With A Song And Dance To Boot – OK Maybe Not A Dance.)

I’m stuck. I feel completely bogged down. My mind is cloudy. There are so many things that I want to be doing. So many things that I need to be doing, but I can’t seem to make any progress. Part of it is that the things I need to be doing I do not want to do.

I’m at work, of course. That’s where I should be in the middle of a Monday afternoon, but work is the farthest thing from my mind. I really need to get out of this job. I get absolutely no satisfaction from it whatsoever. There’s a lot of busy work that I could, of course do, but I’m just not interested in it. I have tasks that Douche Bag has given me to do, but I know he hasn’t thought of them again, and honestly, if they’re not any kind of priority to him, why should they be to me? Some of what he’s asked me to do, shouldn’t have been put on me in the first place, but as usual, he’s completely out of touch and doesn’t think about what he’s doing.

My mind is just full of random thoughts about what I want, where I want to be, how I want to change, what I’d like to be doing.

Last night I lay in bed, wide awake until about a quarter two, just staring at the ceiling and wishing. Wishing I wasn’t alone was a big part of it. Not just not lonely, but really not alone. For the first time that I can recall, I had this longing to be held. To be wrapped up in a pair of big, strong arms. Leaning back into a smooth, hard chest and listening to a deep, soothing voice whisper into my ear, that things were going to be OK. It wasn’t a sexual thing, although, I’m sure it would have lead to that. It was just a need to be taken care of and to know that I was not alone in life. Not alone in my world. That I was not going to spend my life that way. I felt so small and weak in those moments. So alone and unwanted and powerless to change it.

I spent some time this week-end, trying to think of ways to change my life. Things that I could do to try and find some fulfillment. All the things that I thought of, lead to feelings of fear and anxiety. Sickness even. I feel so overwhelmed. So desperate.

It’s not the depression, Per Se. I’m not in the same place I was in February when I had to take time off of work and attend an Intensive Outpatient Program to try and get my feet back under me. It’s hard to explain how it’s different, just that it is. I feel more like I’m on the verge of something and if I could just figure out what the next step is…

I’ve really enjoyed keeping this blog. I’ll admit that some entries have been better than others and I’m sure this one will end up at the bottom of the heap, but maybe if I can write out my thoughts I can begin to pull back the veil a little. The blog has been fun. I’m finding that I really enjoy writing and it’s something I would like to be able to do more of with more talent. I’ve often longed for a form of employment that doesn’t require a 9 to 5 scenario and that doesn’t require me to go to an office for a specified period or on a specified schedule. Something that allows me to work at my own pace (more or less) and is fulfilling to me. Oh, and something that pays well. I feel like writing could be that thing. But I don’t know what to do with that thought.

I’ve done some (read: not a lot of) research on the subject of writing classes but everything costs a lot of money. I’ve thought maybe I could just try submitting some random pieces to some newspapers and/or magazines but really I don’t know what that process entails, or whether they’re interested in such things. I don’t know the legalities of it all. Does my work belong to them if I sent it to them for consideration without prior arrangement of compensation or conditions? Do they want only things that are topical? And if so, how do I know what to write about and send them when I don’t know how publishing works, and, at least in the case of magazines, a few weeks will pass before current events are written about I could be perpetually behind the times.

I’m tired of working for a manager and an employer who doesn’t appreciate me. I realize this is a common affliction but I’ve never had it this bad before. My job is not important. It’s not important to me, certainly, but it’s not important to anyone else either. Douche Bag rarely pays attention to what I’m doing. He asks me to perform tasks that should be handed off to Unsvelt Girl Who Runs or most recently Fantastical Engineer and then the only time he pays any attention is when he’s complaining or “yelling” about something. It’s not that he’s abusive or hateful. It’s that he’s oblivious and ignorant.

There is absolutely no appreciation shown for my work. And I suppose, you might say my paycheck is appreciation enough, but you’d be wrong. It’s not appreciation enough. Don’t get me wrong. Appreciation without the pay check wouldn’t be enough either, but both are really needed in order to be gratified.

I don’t want my job to be my life. Unless it’s something really great and exciting like, writing best selling novels, or being a big movie star. And even if it were, I’d still want time away from the work. I’d still want friends who really want to see me, spend time with me. I’d still want to be somebody to somebody.

Somebody to somebody… I wonder if that’s really what this is all about. Just one real connection to make all the other shit in my life more tolerable… I’m thinking now of the song by Christina Aguilera:

“Somebody’s Somebody”

Watchin lovers walkin’
Hand in hand they pass me by
Wish I was one of them
Wish I had somebody
Wakin’ up beside me
Looking into my eyes at night
I want a love to call my own
I want someone that I can hold
Want someone wanting me
Wanna feel how it feels to be

Somebody’s somebody
Someone’s someone
Some sweet lover’s lover
I wanna be that one
Someone faithful to someone faithful
Someone kind to someone kind to me
Somebody to somebody who loves me
Who loves me

Spending all of my time
Spending all my time with me
Where is that someone who
I can give my time to
Searching for that lover
With the love that will change my life
I want two arms to hold me close
I want the thing I need the most
Somebody needing me
So I can feel how it feels to be

Somebody’s somebody
Someone’s someone
Some sweet lover’s lover
I wanna be that one
Someone faithful to someone faithful
Someone kind to someone kind to me
Somebody to somebody who loves me
Who loves me

What I’m looking for
Is someone to love me more
Than I’ve been loved before
With love so right
What I need to find
Is someone to hold me tight
What I mean is I want to be

Somebody’s somebody
Someone’s someone
Some sweet lover’s lover
I wanna be that one
Someone faithful to someone faithful
Someone kind to someone kind to me
Somebody to somebody who loves me
Who loves me

Somebody’s somebody
Somebody’s somebody
Somebody’s somebody
Somebody’s somebody
I wish I was
Somebody’s baby

God, I hate the way I’m sounding right now. I’m not a needy person, or at least I never thought I was. Come to think of it, Green M&Ms mother once told me she thought I was needy, right before she physically assaulted me (there’s a story for another time). But that’s the only time I can remember anyone ever defining me that way and I don’t think it’s true. I’m also not a clinger. I don’t need to hang all over my significant other at every free moment of the day. ‘Course that may stem from the fact that the public displays of affection I’ve been a part of previously never did feel quite right, and any consideration I may have had to public displays of affection with someone who would feel right (a man) were verboten to say the least and more likely to be dangerous. Before now anyway.

No, I’m not needy and I’m not clingy and I’m not desperate, at least not in the way it’s usually stated. I’m not the type to latch on to any man who’ll look my direction, just for the sake of having a little physical contact. I want a real, lasting love with a man who will wake up beside me. Who will look into my eyes at night. Someone who will be faithful, who will want me. Someone who will change my life. I do want two arms to hold me close and I’m beginning to think the thing I need the most really is someone who needs me, because it’s not just a one sided proposition. I need to be held and loved and taken care of. But I need to do those things for someone else, too.

I’ve always heard people say that you have to be happy by yourself before you can be happy with anyone else. I’ve always chosen to believe that because it’s easier than facing the feeling that no one wants me. But I don’t believe that. In fact, I kind of feel like, you need to have an emptiness, albeit just a little bit. You need to be lacking in some way. You need to have a whole in your life, in your heart, that can only be filled by a significant other. Not by any random other. Not by a just-for-tonight other, but by a significant other who will be those things you need him to be and for whom you can fill the empty places as well. To quote a movie (and up the cheese factor a bit) you need someone who will “complete” you.

Maybe a lot of my emptiness is about being without one special person in my life who will mean everything and to whom I will mean everything. Maybe if I had that special someone to share my life with, all the trials of the day would seem like less of a burden because I’d know there was someone waiting for me at home. Maybe I’d be stronger and more able to face the rest of my fears if I had someone who was in my corner, rooting for me all the way. I don’t know.

So I lie in bed and I think about this conundrum. I need a man in my life. I need someone who will be all these things for me and for whom I can do the same… But how do I meet someone to share my life with when I don’t meet people at all? When I’m afraid of meeting people. When I’m literally scared sick of even the thought of exposing myself to situations where I might.

Insightful Therapist (I talk about her often enough, I decided it was time she had a kitschy nom de plume) has suggested a few things that all amount to social gatherings. I made the mistake a year or so ago of telling her that I thought my drinking was “a bit out of hand”, and she’s been on an AA kick ever sense. She thinks that going to a meeting such as that would be a good opportunity for me to learn that there are other people in the world who have had similar experiences as I. And that I can find other coping mechanisms besides drinking (I thought that was what I paid her for.) She’s also suggested a coming out support group. Something I have considered, and honestly since November 4, I’m more willing to do, but I’ve come up with exactly nothing as far as information and resources on the subject. I’m sure I could probably ask her for something but if I ask her, that kind of puts me on the spot to follow through.

But even in looking for the resources to consider the possibility… Sick to my stomach… Every time. I don’t really understand why it is that I have such a physical reaction to the fears that come up around this. If I’m rational about it, I know nothing physically harmful will happen and I might gain something from it. But there is a lot of emotional damage that could be done. A lot of harm to my self esteem that could come from it. And then you add the bonus fear and shame of having to publicly confess to something that I’ve kept locked away inside me for so many years (“I’m an alcoholic” or “I’m gay”) and it becomes too much for me.

So to those of you who’ve made it this far into this post, I apologize for the self-pittying, mopy, drivel. I didn’t really set out to do that… Then again, I didn’t really know what I did set out to do. For those of you who’ve gotten this far, and have an opinion, I’d honestly like to hear it. Please leave your feed-back in the comments, and if you have any resourses you’d like to share, I’d be grateful for those as well.

Getting “In The Game”

I was a painfully lonely child.  Even while most kids with siblings have built in best friends, my sibs hardly wanted anything to do with me as a child.  I desperately needed for someone to love me and want me around.  Ex Con Older Brother and CPA Sis are only two years apart and always had more in common with each other than either had with me.  For reasons I may never be able to understand, I wasn’t really ever able to make friends with people my own age, and so I spent a lot of time after school and on the week-ends being alone.

“Mommy,” I used to say to Vengeful Mother, “I’m bored.”

“So find yourself something to do,” she would respond.  “It’s not my responsibility to entertain you.”  Even Vengeful Mother didn’t want to spend time with me.

I rarely ever considered the idea of having a little brother or sister.  I couldn’t remember when my parents were married and so for me to have a little brother or sister would require someone to have sex outside of marriage and, well, that of course was out of the question!  So while, from time to time, I wished for a built in best friend like my siblings had in each other, I never really seriously considered the desire.  So I was painfully lonely.

I used to overhear ECOB And CPA Sis talk about “The Game”, and I had no idea what they were talking about.  Finally one day I learned that they had an imaginary world, known simply as “The Game”, wherein they pretended to be other people, with other lives.  Generally older than they really were, with spouses and families and friends that didn’t really exist.  And I wanted in.  They, of course wouldn’t allow it, so as usual I was out in the cold to play my own game.  So, play my game I did.

richardsimmonsI used to have great fun playing my game.  As a very young child I was completely enamored with Wonder Woman, but of course I was a boy and I knew I was not permitted to want to be a girl.  (In truth, I didn’t really want to be a girl, I just didn’t have a lot of imagination.)  So I pretended I was Wonder Man.  (I never knew there really was a Wonder Man character.) I imagined I had the little red boots with the white stripe and the slight heel.  As to the rest of my costume, well, as I just said, I didn’t have much of an imagination but I had to “masculinize” Wonder Woman’s costume for myself…  So imagine, Richard Simmons… feeling very patriotic…  That’s pretty much what my imaginary Wonder Man costume looked like, complete with the golden lasso, bullet proof cuffs and boomerang crown naturally!  Of course if I’d known then, what I know now…  I might’ve imagined myself looking a little more like this:

wondermanI used to run around the yard outside our after school care ladies house kicking my heels into my butt cheeks (because that was how Wonder Woman ran so fast, dontchaknow) and making the ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch sound whenever I’d “jump great distances.”  This, by the way was the same sound I made while “performing great feats of strength”, when I pretended I was The Six Million Dollar Man.  ECOB and CPA Sis pretended not to know me.

I used to love MacGyver.  I hadn’t taken any significant science classes at that point (and come to find out I’d suck big harry nuts at science) but I thought he was the shiz.  Plus, he was blond.  Something I always wanted to be but never was… Not naturally anyway.  He was attractive.  I could tell because CPA Sis and Vengeful Mother both really liked him.  I always got a happy feeling when I’d see him on the screen.  So at one point I wanted to be MacGyver.  (As a side bar:  With the resurgence of “old time” TV shows lately (Bionic Woman, Knight Rider, 90210) they should totally make a new MacGyver.  I’m thinking Ryan Reynolds or maybe that guy from Brittney Spears’ “Womanizer” video (shirtless at all times of course.) I’d do ‘im– er, watch him.)

I always liked The Facts of Life, and, go figure, Jo Polniaczek was my favorite girl.  I knew I was supposed to like girls and of the options, she was the least girlie, black or fat.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I always liked Jo, for real, but if I was supposed to like a girl, she was the one.  And at the time I thought I was sincere.

So for a while there, “in the game” I was MacGyver and I was married to Jo Polniaczek, living in Mrs. G’s house and sharing the household responsibilities with the other girls and their husbands (Yes.  The four of them all still lived in the house.)

For a brief period of time in 1988 I even pretended I was Mario Van Peebles, a la “Sonny Spoon” and I was married to Olympic Figure Skater Debi Thomas.  I know they say that “Once you go black, you never go back”, but this phase didn’t last very long and when it was over, it was all white guys from then on, for me.

Eventually, Ex Con Older Brother outgrew “The Game”, and CPA Sis wasn’t ready to call it quits, so suddenly, I was old enough to play.  I still remember, from time to time, whenever one of us would learn something new about someone, or find a new celebrity or character we liked, we’d change “The Game”.  At one point CPA Sis and I were both infatuated with MacGyver at the same time.

“In the game, I’m MacGyver,” I said.

“You can’t be.  I want to be married to him,” was her reply.

“Hmmm.  Ok.  Then….  I’m his twin brother GyMacver.”  I replied.  (I don’t think I really fucked with the name like that, but who knows.

On other occasions:

“In the game, MacGyver is sitting right here next to me with his arm around me helping me with my homework.”  Guess which of us said that.

The worst was when I was spending the night at my friends house (we’ll call him the Pickle) once and I thought it would be cool to let him in on the fun.  I told him about the game and that in the game I was MacGyver and I was married to The Bionic Woman, and then pretended to kiss her.  The Pickle and I were lying on the floor in his parents room playing a board game, (Life, I think) and when I finished kissing Jamie Sommers and looked back at him, he looked at me like I had three heads.  Fortunately, about three seconds later, he forgot all about my game.

He’d been playing with an electrical cord with his toes while we were playing the board game and suddenly his mother’s iron came crashing down on his head, point first.  As the blood gushed forth and down over his forehead, no longer was the stupidity of my imaginary game at hand, and never was it mentioned again!

There was a point in the late 80s where I also fantasized that I was Officer Tom Hansen as played by Johnny Depp.  This one worked particularly well, because I could go to my school and learn my lessons while pretending to be this cool, older, sexier guy that girls swooned over.  There’s one episode of 21 Jump Street that has always stood out for me.  Tom decided to become a Big Brother as in Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, but he was ultimately rejected.  It turned out that Doug Penhall had discouraged the BBBS from accepting Tom, for one reason or another…  Hey!  I was 12.  I can’t be expected to remember ALL of the details.

In late 1988 or early 1989, I had become enamored of the “Patch and Kayla” story on Days of our Lives (which I’d been introduced to by CPA Sis.)  I didn’t especially think much of Steve, but I thought Kayla (Mary Beth Evans) was awesome.  Since I had no imagination, I decided I wanted to be Steve so I could be with Kayla.  I knew CPA Sis wouldn’t be impressed with that so I didn’t tell her.  I continued to pretend I was pretending to be MacGyver because that was acceptable to her, but really I was pretending I was Patch.  (I guess this was the beginning of my career pretending to be something acceptable to my family.)  I remember the day in the late ’80s when I realized that something was not right.  CPA Sis was 16 or 17 years old and her heart hadn’t really seemed into it when I’d talk about “The Game.”  One day I said, “You don’t really want to play ‘The Game’ anymore, do you?”

“Not really,” she said.  “I’m kinda too old for it.”

And that was the end of “The Game”…  Or was it?

I’m a little ashamed to admit that I continued to play “The Game” alone, well into my 20s.  When Party of Five came out, I was head over heals for Scott Wolf/Bailey Salinger.  I wanted to be him.  God only knows why he was the preferred character for me.  I was certainly closer in age to Charlie Salinger, but it was all about Bailey.  I had a whole fantasy worked out.  I was Bailey Salinger, and (as was often the case in those days) I had an infant child which was the product of a one night stand with a girl I met at a party.  She had died during child birth (as they always did, ’cause who needs the girl around) and I was raising my child on my own (the only way I’d want to.)

When I moved to California, and had my first job with The Soul Crushing Telecom Company for whom Green M&M still works, I met a guy.  His name was Scott and he was beautiful.  I wanted him, but mostly I just wanted to be friends with him.  My fantasy  was that Scott and I (Bailey Salinger) were such good friends that we hung out together all of the time.

One day Scott didn’t come to work.  I found out that he had always wanted to ride his motor cycle to LA and back and so he took a Friday off to do this.  In my imagination, I came home from work to find him in my apartment.  He’d gotten halfway to LA and realized he wasn’t having any fun ’cause I wasn’t there, and he turned around and came back.  He couldn’t wait to tell me all this and how much he wanted to be with me.  That was the first night I allowed myself to unabashedly fantasize about having sex with a man.

To this day, when I’m feeling particularly lonely, or when I’ve got something on my mind that I need to hash out with someone, or when I’m horny and I need a boyfriend…  I find myself leaning toward “The Game.”  I’ve found it to be like an addiction.  I have a physical need for it.  Honestly!  Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m the only person in the house and that I can talk to myself all I want, I’m just talking to myself.  No one is going to answer me.  It’s not that I have to pretend I’ve got this whole alternate life going on anymore.  But sometimes I imagine both sides of the conversation/encounter and play it out.  It’s not that there’s anything wrong with this, it’s just that it’d be real easy for me to slip back into “The Game” if I let myself and I don’t want to do that.  I want real relationships.

So, yeah.  I was lonely a lot growing up, and despite my knowledge that getting a little brother would mean “unacceptable” behavior on my mother’s part I always wanted someone I could be close with.  I finally got my “little brother in 2000, when CPA Sis married Mr. Fixit who is three years my junior.  Unfortunately, my “little brother” was going to be living 1800 miles away (3000 miles now) and is nearly six inches taller than I.  Very funny God!  You’ve finally answered my prayers and my “little brother” is bigger than I.

—————————————————————————————-

About a year ago, I grew very tired of being lonely and set about looking for ways to find and make new friends.  The ancestral version of this blog was part of that plan, but that didn’t come until later and when it did, it didn’t work out the way I had intended.  I decided that I could make an effort toward meeting people, and perhaps make myself feel a little bit better by finding some sort of volunteer work I could do.  I looked into Habitat for Humanity.  I really enjoy things that have tangible results to show and what better way to have tangible results than to build something, but their needs and my availability didn’t really seem to match up.

I found myself low on further ideas for additional opportunities so I did an internet search and came across a website called Volunteer Match and I found a number of listings for mentoring.  Nothing sounded familiar to me and I felt like that was too big of a deal to enter into lightly, but it reminded me of the episode of 21 Jump Street.  I remember watching that episode in silence while secretly being tremendously affected by it.  Of course part of it was, how could I not want Johnny Depp to pay attention to me?  But mostly it was just my secret longing for anyone to really care about and pay attention to me.  To make me the center of their universe, even if it was only for a few hours a week.  I was hurting while I watched it because I was thinking, I could really use someone like that in my life.  But I couldn’t ask for it.

And while I was remembering that it hit me.  I could be a Big Brother.  I could do for some kid or kids what no one ever did for me.  I could be a positive influence in their lives.  So I went to their website and I applied.  It wasn’t meant to be at that time.  There was an obstacle that I had to over come before I could be a Big Brother, but it was a blessing in disguise.  It gave me a year to think it over and make sure, was this really something I wanted to do?  Yes!  Am I really ready to handle this?  Fuck if I know, but I imagine it’s a little like parenthood.  You’re never ready, you just do it.

Today, I had my first interview with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Bay Area.  It was nerve racking, though not as much so as I thought it would be.  The match specialist was fabulous and made me feel very much at ease.  She seemed very non-judgmental and more than once expressed her appreciation of my candor.  It was actually easier than I thought it would be to tell her I’m gay, but I thought it was important to establish that up front.

Now begins the arduous wait while they go through their process.  Tomorrow, she’ll send her reference checks to CPA Sis, Green M&M, Eve and Douche Bag.  I would have just as soon not included him, but as I recall the application asks for your immediate supervisor as one of the references.  The good thing is that DB doesn’t do confrontation, so I can rest relatively assured that he’ll say good things about me and not hurt my chances.  I don’t know what he would possibly have based this statement on but when I told him I would be leaving early today for the interview he said, “That’s great!  You’d make a great Big Brother.”  While it’s nice to hear, I don’t feel particularly like that’s praise worth it’s salt coming from him.  Anyway, while they wait for the references to be sent back, they’ll run my background check.  The only thing they’ll find is the DUI I received on January 18, 2003 and they’re already aware of that.  (This is the obstacle from a year ago.)  They can’t officially match me with a “Little” until after it’s been five years, so I have a couple months to wait.  I was informed that being gay, it will take longer to match me, anyway.  Apparently, there are a lot of parent/guardians out there who are ignorant and fearful of homosexuality and have specified that they do not want their children paired up with a homosexual.  It’s unfortunate, as it’s the “Little” that they’re hurting, but it is their prerogative.  I can’t say I’m surprised by the likely delay, but it’s still sad to hear.  Meanwhile, if I’m accepted (God, I hope I’m accepted.  What would it say about me if I’m not ‘good enough’ to work with underprivileged children) they do offer some training for me to take which will help prepare me to be a “Big”.

I’ll be honest.  I’m terrified.  My stomach is in knots and my heart is in my throat, just writing about it.  But it is important to me.  I can’t wait to be able to have a positive impact on some boy’s life.  To teach him that there are people out there who want nothing more than his health, safety and happiness.  To teach him that no matter what shit he’s going through there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel.  And, God forbid, if he’s been through some serious problems (i.e. molestation, physical abuse) to teach him that not everyone wants to treat him like that.  That there is good in the world and that he deserves to experience it.

I can hardly wait!

Seven Days? Really? Only Seven Days?

I can hardly believe it’s been only seven days.  Only seven days since one of the greatest history making moments in my life time, the election of our first “black” President.  I have to use the quotes.  It’s not that I don’t see the historic value of what happened.  It’s just that, to me, Barack Obama isn’t a “black” President.

Really, Barack Obama is 50% African, and 50% American.  (Hmmm.  I never thought of that before this moment.  I guess I can safely call him an “African American” without having the terminology grate against me.  I have a hard time calling black people “African American” because the vast majority of them have never set foot in Africa and neither have several generations of their ancestors.  And because the “politically correct” terminology changes from one day to the next and I don’t see how “black” can be offensive unless you’re just looking for an excuse to be offended.)  But from the moment the results were in and he was our new president I couldn’t help feeling like all the hoopla was a little bit of a farce.  This man is not “black

A day or two after the election, I saw something on the TV.  A handful of gang banging, pants sagging, puffy coat wearing, bandanna displaying, gold tooth flashing hoodlum type young black males, showing their exuberant enthusiasm that finally, “we will be represented.”  And all I could think was, “He doesn’t represent YOU!”  Barack Obama is an educated, well spoken, contemplative, sophisticated, only HALF Black man.  Something those boys on my TV screen will never have the capacity to understand.

I don’t mean to belittle his heritage.  That’s not my point at all.  But the reality is, stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason.  They’re usually based in some amount of reality.  And the reality is that Barack Obama is not a “stereotypical black man”.  I hope you don’t think that makes me racist, because it doesn’t.  But if you come away from this with the idea in your head that it does, well…  I think that’s something I can live with.

There’s no end in sight to the overblown propagandization of the monumental accomplishment that is the election of our first Black President and I am sincerely glad to have been a part of that accomplishment.  I really do see the greatness of that accomplishment and certainly would rather have it this way versus the alternative.  I am not sorry that Barack Obama is going to be our next President.  But by the same token, I am not a disciple of the Obama movement.  Certainly there were better options out there.  I still, to this day believe that Hillary was the right person for the job.  That she should have been our 44th President and that if a woman was going to hold that office in the next two decades it would be she.

I’m constantly reminded of the Saturday Night Live sketch from earlier this season with “Sarah Palin”, played by Tina Fey, and “Hillary Clinton”, played by a quite pregnant Amy Poehler.  The ladies were delivering a joint press conference (the “I can see Russia from my house.” sketch).  “Sarah” made a comment about knowing that “Hillary” agrees that it’s time for a woman in the White House, to which “Hillary” lost all composure and said, “Noooooo.  I didn’t want a woman in the White House!  I wanted ME in the White House.”  It was of course an extremely humorous moment but it also spoke volumes, in my opinion, to the status of this nation!  Are we ready for a woman in the White House?  I don’t know.  I’d like to think so, but I’m just not sure.  Were we ready for Hillary Clinton in the White House and more specifically in the Oval Office?  I say, without a doubt, yes.  Then again, the facts don’t seem to support my assertion so perhaps I’m wrong.  I know I was ready, but I may be alone.

It is equally hard, if not harder to believe that it’s been only one week since the devastating news that indeed, I have been stripped of a right that, honestly, up until earlier this year, I never thought I’d see in my lifetime.  The right to fall in love with the man of my dreams and fulfill that dream by marrying him, just like my sister was able to do with the man of her dreams.  Just like Unsvelt Girl Who Runs and TV Addicted Mom, and just like the vast majority of the rest of the world.

I still find the irony of the situation equal parts amazing and disgusting!  It seems as though Proposition 8 was approved, at least in part, because of the record number of Black voters that turned out for this election.  Let’s face it.  There’s a decent chance that Barack Obama would not have been elected if not for the record number of Black voters that turned out to vote in this election and yet, based on the polling data, these are the same voters that voted in favor of Proposition 8.  The reason given?  That they didn’t see the correlation between the discrimination that they face periodically and that their ancestors faced on a daily basis, and the discrimination that is now to be heaped upon me and thousands like me.

If you’ve read this blog much in the past you probably know that I am an “average white boy.”  (Although Green M&M says, “If you got a drop, your black, honey.”  Which I guess probably means that I, the original average white boy, am also black.  I got a little bit of everything in me going way back!  At one of her sisters parties a long time ago, I was referred to buy a drunk back guy as a “light skinded brother” so who knows.)  They don’t come much more average than I.  The thing that makes me not average, not part of the majority?  The thing that makes me a part of the minority set?  The fact that I’m gay.  Currently, gay individuals are still a minority.  We probably always will be.  But because this percentage of Black voters who were part of the exit polls couldn’t see how I was being discriminated against in the same way that they are, or that their parents or grandparents were, they voted to take away my rights and put me in that minority position.

There’s a youtube video from Kieth Olbermann:

that has made the rounds on the internet today, that I must say I’m quite impressed with.  But one of the things that struck me the most was this.  In his commentary, Olbermann says, that forty odd years ago Mr. and Mrs. Obama would not have been allowed to marry in 16 of the states of this great nation of which their son would grow up to hold the highest office.  Roughly a third of the country, just 40 years ago.  And the body they have to thank for that freedom is the California Supreme court and yet, seven days ago that same race of people made a major contribution toward stealing away those same rights from the likes of me.

It was not my intention for this post to be yet another political rant, for in truth I am a political know nothing. I’m just amazed to find that it has been ONLY seven days since this historic, but nonetheless tragic day took place.  It feels like an eternity to me.  I’ve been through so much in the seven days since.  And yet, really, I haven’t been through anything.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008, was a rough day for me already.  I was late for work, as usual, having overslept, as usual, and barely arriving at work in time for my 9:30 Tuesday Morning Torture Session, otherwise known as my departments staff meeting, as usual.  It wouldn’t be so bad by itself, it’s just that we have been having literally the same meeting for the last six years.  The agenda never changes.  Douche Bag is just as flippant and ignorant and oblivious as ever.  Country Dumbkin is just as late as ever, and just as disruptive as ever.  The agenda doesn’t change, and Unsvelt Girl who Runs (who at the rate she’s going will need a new moniker soon) and I continue to stare at the table and wait for the agonizing hour to end.  It always ruins our days and makes us want to jab our eyes out with our pens.

Deb, my therapist, had advised me, via voice mail, that there is a poling place near her office, and that I may need to allow myself a little extra travel and parking time (there is only street parking near her office) before our appointment.  So I had to leave work early to fight the traffic and the parking problems.  I am a Permanent Absentee Voter so I didn’t have to worry about fighting the lines at the polls, thank God!

I wish I could point out some particularly offensive events of that day.  I’m sure their were some, it’s just that there’s nothing out of the ordinary about it so I don’t remember anything in particular.

I went to my weekly therapy appointment where I asked what I felt was a simple question, “What good does it do me to know why I feel the way I do if it doesn’t make it stop happening?”  I didn’t like her answer, or anything else, much, about our visit.  I realize that happens sometimes and I’m not contemplating ending our relationship.  I’m just really tired of this stage of things and I’m ready to move on and I feel like I don’t know how to do that.  And sometimes I feel like she holds the key and just isn’t sharing.

After therapy I came home and turned on the TV.  I honestly felt like I already knew the outcome.  There was virtually know way Obama was not going to win and when I got home and turned on the tube it was already 207 electoral votes for Obama to 134 electoral votes for McCain and we were only minutes away from the West Coast Polls closing.  I was disappointed to find that no one was talking about Prop 8 yet.  I knew the out come of this one too.  I was just praying that, there but for the grace of God, I would be wrong.  And then the reports started coming in.  And Prop 8 was passing and I could feel my future slipping away.

But more than losing my future, I could feel my present slipping away.  I could feel all the confidence and certainty I had built up over the last two years dwindling.  I was being told by 52% of the voters of California that it was not OK for me to be the person I was born to be.  The person that God has made me.

A snippet of a song keeps going through my head, and while it doesn’t completely fit, the chorus and the sentiment of the singers does.  It’s from a scene in Rent when Maureen and Joanne are breaking up at their engagement party:

Take me for what I am
Who I was meant to be
And if you give a damn
Take me baby, or leave me.

So often I feel this way and want to scream this to so many people, especially in my family, but after last Tuesday, I felt like 52% of the state of California was saying back to me, “Yeah, thanks.  Given the option?  I think I’ll leave.”

I stayed home from work on Wednesday.  I did it in part because I stayed up way to late watching the returns and just hoping that by some miracle the numbers would turn around and we’d begin to see the “No”s climb before ultimately defeating the measure.  That, as you know, did not happen.  So I stayed home because I was up until the middle of the night praying for a miracle.  I also stayed home because I was, honestly and truly pouting.  I may be 33 yeas old, but I couldn’t help myself.  I stayed home to pout because I just couldn’t face anyone.  I couldn’t bare to pretend that I was fine and that all the shit that would absolutely be dished out on me at work didn’t matter.  I was hurt and depressed and I had to stay home and pout and cry and rage and generally be a sore loser.  Even now, as I think about it, I’m angry and I have tears that well up behind my eyes just begging to come out.  Because I feel impotent to make a change.  Unable to get through to anyone, and a thousand times less sure of myself and my orientation than I was on Monday, November 3, 2008.

The rest of the work week was pretty average except I couldn’t get over my hurt and anger, perhaps I still haven’t.  And then Friday.

On Friday, while I was “working” (which probably amounted to writing my all about Eve post, Vengeful Mother popped up on my computer screen, via Instant Message and said, “Why don’t you come home for Thanksgiving.”  I was completely on the spot, caught off guard and utterly speechless.  I have no desire to go to VM‘s house or spend any one on one time with her ever again.  I love her but I can’t tolerate being with her and I’m just not ready, not strong enough, to stand on my own while being around her and experiencing the vitriol and judgement that she spews.  I had to say no, but how?  So I told her as little of the truth as I had to, in order to put it to an end.  “I can’t.  I don’t really have the money, other people in my office already have the time off, and I have a prior existing engagement.”  Fortunately, it was over at that.

But Friday was just a long, hard day and it culminated in my shameful humiliation on Craigslist and my disgust with myself on Saturday.  What I haven’t previously stated is that I was up until nearly 4:00 in the morning pursuing my demise and I had to get up on Saturday morning to go and spend the day with Green M&M to whom I would be loathe to say anything about my Craigslist extravaganza.

Yesterday, already feeling like I’d lived a lifetime (albeit a bad one) in the seven days past, I was on Facebook and saw something that I think is telling, and that upsets me.  Not long after I made the, in my opinion, monumental error of setting up a Facebook profile I located an old high school friend of mine who I haven’t seen since the summer after graduation and have had very limited interaction with.  I made the effort to reconnect with her this time around and have been feeling guilty because I have been procrastinating answering her “How have you been.  Hope everything is good.” e-mail because I don’t know what to tell her.  I don’t know how honest to be with her.  And then today I saw this, “RNJ is really tired of seeing the commercial advertising the TLC show on the so-called ‘pregnant man.’  That’s not a man, it’s a woman dressed up as a man. Nasty.”  That makes it seem pretty clear to me that I can’t talk to her about what’s real about me.  And I can’t help feeling just a little more rejected by the world around me.

Seven Days?  Really?  It’s only been seven days?