Startedliving Hits a Snag

I started this blog one month ago today with the intention/desire to force myself out of my shell and into the world and to chronicle the events along the way.  Unfortunately, that has not happened the way I had hoped. 

Yes I had my three radio show related outings but they have come to an end and have come with their own setbacks, the most grievous of which being that I spent more money than I would have liked and wound up being short when it came time for other expenses.  I went into this last pay check in the hole for over $200.00, with my rent, therapy bill, and all of my household bills due.  Needless to say there wasn’t enough money for all my obligations.  I had no choice but to write a “hot” check for my rent, knowing that the bank would cover the check, but that I’d also be starting out in the hole again, this time around.  I get paid tonight at midnight, but my account is overdrawn $237.00.  I will owe my therapist $270.00 for the last three weeks of sessions, my car payment is due, $386.00, and I still have to pay bills, buy gas and groceries, wish for a social life and try to find some way to get back ahead of the game.  I am literally living paycheck to paycheck right now.  I really hate living this way. 

The other setback was a blow to my ego.  First at Summerthing, the concert in Golden Gate Park, when Unsvelt Girl Who Runs couldn’t get M&M and Me into the VIP section.  We had been given every reason to believe that we’d get in and even though UGWR did her best, she still couldn’t make it happen and it still sucked.  And then of course there’s the birthday party at Matty’s house.  Apparently, nothing has been said about the party and may not really even happen.  Seeing as how Matty’s birthday is today, and Marjority’s birthday was Tuesday, I’m thinking probably not.

So my belief that I can’t really afford to have a social life, or to date has been re-enforced and, I feel, even prooved.  How am I ever going to stop being socially inept, start making new friends and God-willing, find a partner boyfriend (I had typed “partner” but since we’re allowed to get married here in California – at least for now – boyfriend seems the proper term since I’m in no way from looking for a lifetime commitment right now), if I can’t even afford to get out of the house?  I really hate living this way too.

Round two

There was another, and I think truly, final event for the morning show Producer (Matty) last night.  Next week is his last week on the show so I suppose there’s time for one more spur of the moment event, but I doubt it.  I went with my friends Unsvelt Girl Who Runs and M&M.  Marjority  and Tag-Along came and M&M brought a co-worker, who, to me looks just like Anna Gasteyer.  I seemed to be the life of the party sort of, which is really strange to me.  I’m told that I have been accepted into the inner sanctum.  Matty hugged me when we were leaving (I’m pretty sure he hugged everyone) but UGWR said, “You must be in.  Matty touched you.”

Now understand that this post is less about my sexuality and the fact that this guy may or may not have “hit on me” last week and more about my own lack of self confidence and social fears that usually prevent me from putting myself in these situations.  Don’t get me wrong.  Matty is cute and he got his hair cut again and it looks even better.  And he’s lost a lot of weight and looks better than he used to…  But he’s still a pudge.  And that’s not what this is about anyway. 

The minute I walked into the venue, I made eye contact with Matty and he mouthed something to me.  The only word I got was “head” which sounds better — or worse — Or better…  Well it depends on your perspective…  than it was.  I was simultaneously trying to figure out what he had said, AND trying to show my ID to the lady at the door and get my hand stamped.  So I missed what he said and absent-mindedly held my hand out to the lady with my ID still in my wallet which was in my other hand.  

Later, as Matty was running by me, I asked him what he’d said, “I like your head” was the response I got.  (I started shaving my head earlier this year and it was still somewhat fresh looking last night…  But I had shaved my head last week too.  Not sure he remembers that.)

Mostly, I’m just not accustomed to being noticed and acknowledged by “the cool kids.”  Now, he has “snuggled” with me, hugged me, complemented my head AND I’m invited to his house for a joint birthday party for him and Majority.  OK, technically I’m invited to Majority’s birthday party… By Unsvelt Girl… But it’s still at Matty’s house and I get to go.  And apparently Matty lives in a gayborhood so maybe I’ll meet some new friends…  Maybe not.

I don’t know when this party is (except that it’s in July) and I’ll likely start freaking out again by the time it gets here, but whatever.  I’ll cross one bridge at a time. 

Invalidated Fear

So, as many people probably already knew, my fears last Thursday night were not justified.  I actually had a really great time and managed to feel, if only for a brief moment like part of the “in-crowd”.  The event was rescheduled to be from 5-7 p.m. instead of 6-8 p.m. as originally planned.  I, of course could not arrive at 5:00 because I had to be at work untill then.  I decided at the last minute to drive to the city instead of taking Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART, and I ended up arriving a little after 6:00 by the time I got into town and found a place to park. 

The location was a restaurant called Jillians (http://www.sfstation.com/jillians-at-the-metreon-b10452) which is located at the Metreon complex (http://www.westfield.com/metreon/) in San Francisco.  So I walked into the restaurant and almost immediately found my friends.  Unsvelt Girl’s husband, whom we call “Majority” (because Marjority rules), is kind of hard to miss, what with the enormous wheel chair and all, but ironically the first person I saw was UGWR’s friend the Tag-Along.  I sat down with them, had a couple glasses of Shiraz and enjoyed the festivities.  When the scheduled event was over, the management essentially kicked us out.  We were, after all, taking up their profit center.

The puprose of this event was to bid farewell to the executive producer of my favorite morning Radio Show, this cutie right here, http://www.radioalice.com/pages/79194.php, who is leaving at the end of his contract, later this month.  Ironically, they decided that day to have one more “going away” party for him, next Thursday.  I believe my friends and I will be attending. 

When the event was over, the male host, “No Name”, and the executive producer, Mattty, decided they wanted to carry the “party” on at another location, Dave’s, located at Third and Market streets.  Matty was standing on the sidewalk outside the Metreon trying to contact his wife on her cell phone.  She was supposed to be taking BART into the city to pick him up and drive his car home but he didn’t want to go home yet.  While Unsvelt Girl and Tag-Along left to go to the restroom, Majority and I stayed on the side walk talking to Matty. 

Initially, Matty was on the left side of an outer doorway, I was on the right side and Majority was across from the door.  Majority and Matty were talking and the subject of Matty’s dog came up.  Matty has a dog, roughly a year old which he named “Kelly Clarkson”.  I asked if they called the dog by her full name and if she actually responded to it.  He said that they do and she loves her name and that Kelly Clarkson is quite famous at the dog park.  About that time, I recalled that Matty hasn’t spoken of his very old cat, which used to be a regular topic of conversation on the morning radio show.

I asked Matty, “I haven’t heard any mention of ‘Colonel Fuzby’ lately.  Is he still around?”

 

Matty chuckled while crossing over to stand next to me, now standing on my right side.  “That cat,” he said with a grin, “that cat hates Kelly Clarkson.  Colonel Fuzby gets completely ignored now.  He sits in the corner glaring at Kelly Clarkson and cursing her under his breath.  Looks at my wife and me as if to say, ‘Hey!  I’m still here!’

 

“But the minute we go to bed at night he’s all over me.  The minute my head hits the pillow he’s snuggling up next to me, right here.”  He said patting the top of his left shoulder.  “He starts nuzzling his way into that space as soon as I lie down.  Like…  Well… Like this.”  And with that, Matty leaned in toward me and pressed his left cheek against my arm about halfway up my right bicep.  He then proceeded to rub his way up to the top of my shoulder where he lay his head for a good five seconds.

 

So ok.  Yeah, I was already kind of horney.  After many months of medicinally induced impotence, I’ve recently begun to… well… regain my mojo.  Now that “things” are starting to work again, I’m kinda like a 16 year old kid, EVERYTHING MAKES ME HORNEY!  So yeah, I was already semi-hard before this happened and it felt reeeeaaalllyyy good to be touched but I didn’t really think he was coming on to me.  An on-line friend of mine insists that’s just what was happening, and had I played along, I just might’ve gotten some that night.  Fortunately, just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I don’t have morals, and a married man is not for me…..  even if….  well… NO!  A married man is not for me. 😀

 

Anyway, my Friends and I ended up not going to Dave’s that night.  Instead we went to Powell Street and the Cable Car Turnaround where Blondies Pizza is to get a slice.  It was chilly and most of us were discussing other food options, but Majority wanted pizza and, well, like I said, “Majority Rules.”  When that was over, it was time to call it a night.  My friends had taken BART and we parted ways at the Powell Street BART station.  I had to walk five city blocks to my car.  With my inhibitions behind me, I have never before been so acutely aware of the highly attractive male population of the city.  ‘Twas, in a way, a torturous experience and yet delightfully freeing, all at the same time!

 

In fact I was so horney that night that I did something I couldn’t resist, just for the hell (and the danger) of it.  Before I even backed out of my space in the parking garage I took off all my clothes and drove all the way home (about 25 miles) totaly naked.  There were nearby sidewalks, and rolled down windows involved and much to my amazement (and maybe a little dissappointment) no one seemed to notice.  Not even as I was driving down Market Street.  That of the middle of the road bus stops, putting people on either side of the car!

A Timely Find

In surfing through another website I’ve been a member of for some time, I found the following article.  It seemed rather timely given my anxiety about tonight’s events.

Build Your ConfidenceWallflowers take heart. It only takes a few simple steps to achieve confidence and it is never too late to be a social success.

By: Hara Estroff Marano

Perhaps the single greatest source of mental energy is positive interaction with others. Even if you were the class nerd in high

school, it’s never too late to achieve social success. You can develop social confidence by following a few simple steps.Schedule your social life

To hone your social skills you have to invest time in them. Practice makes perfect, even for the socially secure. By surrounding yourself with others you create a rich supply of opportunities to observe interactions and to improve upon your own social behaviors.
Stop turning down party invitations and start inviting people to your home. Plan outings with acquaintances you’d like to know better.

Think positive

Insecure people approach others anxiously, feeling they have to prove that they’re witty or interesting. Self-assured people expect others to respond positively—despite the fact that one of the most difficult social tasks is to join an activity that is already in progress.

Engage in social reconnaissance

The socially competent are highly skilled at information gathering, always scanning the scene for important details to guide their actions. They are tuned in to people’s expression of specific emotions, sensitive to signals that convey such information as what people’s interests are, whether they want to be left alone or whether there is room in an activity for another person.

To infer correctly what others must be feeling, you must be able to identify and label your own experience accurately. That is where many people, particularly men, fall short.

Good conversationalists make comments that are connected to what is said to them and to the social situation. You don’t have to be interesting. You just have to be interested.

Enter conversations gracefully

Timing is everything. After

listeningand observing on the perimeter of a group they want to join, the socially competent look for an opportunity to step in, knowing it doesn’t just happen. It usually appears as a lull in the conversation. Tuned in to the conversational or activity theme, the deft participant asks a question or elaborates on what someone else has already said. The idea is to use an open-ended question that lets others participate. “Speaking of the election, what does everybody think about so-and-so’s decision not to run?”Once the conversation gets moving, back off and give others a chance to talk. The goal is to help the group have a better conversation.

Learn to handle failure

Everyone will sometimes be rejected. The socially confident don’t take rebuffs personally. They don’t attribute rejection to internal causes, such as being unlikable or an inability to make friends. They assume it can result from any of many factors—incompatibility, someone else’s bad mood, a misunderstanding.

Self-assured people become resilient, using the feedback they get to shape another go at

acceptance. When faced with failure, those who are well-liked turn a negative response into a counterproposal. They say things like, “Well, can we make a date for next week instead?” Or they move onto another group in the expectation that not every conversation is closed.And should they reject others’ bids to join with them, they do it in a positive way. They invariably offer a reason or counter with an alternative idea: “I would love to talk with you later.”
Manage your emotions

Social situations are incredibly complex and dynamic. There’s all kinds of verbal and nonverbal cues, such as facial expression and voice tone that have to be interpreted before you decide on the best response—all in a matter of microseconds. No one can do all that without a reasonable degree of control over their own emotional states, especially negative emotions such as anger, fear, anxiety, emotions that usually arise in situations of conflict or uncertainty. The trick is to shift attention away from distressing stimuli toward positive aspects of a situation.

Defuse disagreements

Conflict is inevitable; coping with confrontations is a critical social skill. Instead of fighting fire with fire, socially confident people stop conflict from escalating; they apologize, propose a joint activity, make a peace offering, or negotiate. Sometimes they just change the subject. Managing conflict without aggression requires

listening, communicating, taking the perspective of others, controlling negative emotions, and problem-solving. Even just explaining your point of view in an argument is a helpful move.Laugh a little

 

Humor is the most prized social skill, the fast track to being liked. There’s no recipe for creating a sense of humor. But even in your darkest moments, strive to see the lighter side of a situation.Psychology Today Magazine, Jul/Aug 2003
Last Reviewed 4 Jun 2008
Article ID: 2858

Psychology Today © Copyright 1991-2008 Sussex Publishers, LLC
115 East 23rd Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10010

 

 

I’m still feeling quite anxious about the events of the evening but I am going to stick to it.  I found out yesterday that the timing of the event was changed.  It was originally scheduled for 6-8 this evening and now its’ been changed to 5-7.  This is sort of a good thing because it’s understood that I’m not going to leave work early to go.  Since I have to walk to the BART station and then take BART to the city and walk from there I probably won’t get to the event until after 6:00 anyway.  So the torture (if that’s what it is) won’t be for so long.

 

A Goal

I had therapy yesterday and talked a bit about my fears about tomorrow night.  Deb suggested that I should set a goal for myself.  Make sure I live up to that goal.  If I surpass it so much the better. 

So…  what is my goal?  Hmmmm.

It shouldn’t be anything too easy, but it shouldn’t be anything too hard either… It could be a number of minutes I spend there.  It could be finding something worthwhile to talk about with Unsvelt Girl’s husband.  It could be finding one stranger to talk to.  Maybe it could even be getting through the evening without drinking more than one adult beverage.  Nah.  Not that one.  That’s not much of a challenge anyway.  I still have to drive home afterward and I’ve already gotten one DUI in my lifetime.  And believe you me, one is enough.  Actually it’s more than enough, but that’s a different story for another time.

Maybe my goal should be to just be comfortable with myself regardless of what happens and be content just to watch the festivities if I’m not talking to anyone.  I don’t know though, is that really beneficial, or is it just hiding in a crowd? 

I think my goal will be to try to carry on one brief conversation with a stranger.  At least two minutes, without panicking and without putting too much pressure on myself.  That seems reasonable, right?

Social Ineptitude

So one of the things that holds me back from living my life is I am socially inept. I don’t know how to make small talk with people and when I’m standing around in a crowd and not talking to anyone I get very anxious. I have naturally very pale skin and I turn bright red with little or no provocation. So I have this image of myself standing in a crowd with my hands in my pockets looking around the room with a stricken look on my beet red face, breaking into a sweat and wishing I could shrink away to nothingness. I hate it.

I have this friend, an Unsvelt Girl Who Runs – her words not mine, who has asked me to go out with her and her husband on Thursday evening. The three of us all listen to the same morning radio show and they have regular after hours events they call “Bar Nights”. To quote a favorite movie line, “I like a name that tells you what it is”. Anyway, I don’t normally go to these events but the location is fairly convenient and I’ve sort of already agreed to go. Unsvelt Girl Who Runs and I have been work friends for a long time. I’d like to think that we’re more friends than that, but we don’t really have a lot in common as far as things to do together outside of work.

The last time I decided to go to an event for the radio station with UGWR and her family, I changed my mind at the last minute and M&M and I decided to go to a comedy club to see DL Hughley instead. Seemed perfectly reasonable and innocent to me. UGWR on the other hand was very upset with me and said she’d never invite me to anything ever again. Needless to say, changing my mind now is not an option.

Thursday, is my birthday, which means very little to me. In fact I tend to prefer to pretend it’s not even happening, but I stupidly made a comment about how nice it was for the radio station to throw me a birthday party and UGWR said, “Yes it is. You should come and I’ll buy you a drink for your birthday.”

But there’s more. UGWR’s husband has a degenerative muscular (I think) disease and is in a rather large wheel chair. Through no fault of their own, they are a significant spectacle no matter where they go. I know her husband and he is a nice guy, but I don’t really have much to talk to him about. He’s all about Cal Berkeley Football. I couldn’t care less about any sports, let alone football. The only other thing I can think of to talk to him about is his disability and his chair. Doesn’t really seem right. She also has a Tag-Along who goes everywhere with her. An old friend form Arizona who moved to California a couple years ago and has done nothing but alienate people and make UGWR miserable. I actually think, she likes being miserable. Well, as I’ve learned in therapy, “likes” may not be the right term. I think she is comfortable with being miserable. It’s familiar.

So I’ve committed myself to going to this big socializing event with one person I don’t like to be around, one person I have nothing to talk about with and one person with whom I have to walk on eggshells – sometimes – while being in the middle of a large crowd of people who I do not know but who will be seeing our group and I’ll be wishing I could shrink away into nothing. I have butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it.

I want to go. I really do. I want to be part of the “in crowd”. I want to work on being a more social person. I’m certainly not going to be able to live this “new life” I’m talking about if I don’t. But I’m scared. And it would be a lot easier to go home instead. I hate this aspect of myself.

Along these lines, I’m never going to be able to live my life the way that I want if I don’t find ways to get out into the world and meet new people. Something my therapist, Deb, and I have discussed is that I should meet new people and give them the chance to know me and be OK with the real me, in order to help me feel better about being the way I am. That seems backwards to me. Seems to me that I need to be comfortable acknowledging my sexual orientation for myself, before I can put myself into new situations and feel comfortable telling people, “I’m gay.”

I’ve tossed around some ideas of what I can do, and one of the first things that comes to mind is volunteer work. The problem is I’m lazy and a home-body and I don’t feel like I can fit it into my busy schedule of over-sleeping, “working” late, going home and watching TV. There are a lot of things I don’t feel like I can fit into that schedule. Like exercise, eating healthy, drinking less alcohol (although in fairness I’ve cut back a lot) and generally making healthier decisions for myself.

I guess it’s something to keep working on if I’m going to be successful in living this new life and if this blog is going to be worth reading.