Friday, October 30, 2009

Trying to "Get It"

Poetry is personal. I even want to compare it to the bible because it has so many interpretations and possible meanings to it. Each person who reads one poem will have a different take on it after they have read it. I’ve always found myself drawn to the type of poetry that has a bit of play on words and a grip on the heartstrings. One of those types where you can say, “everyone can relate” type of poetry. I’ve been to poetry readings, finding myself tilting my head sideways like a Golden Retriever wondering if this person is trying a bit too hard to construe their words into a bundle of challenging metaphors and words hardly ever used in the English language. During a trip in Provincetown, MA, I found myself grimacing while it got more politically offensive as I was the only one sitting amongst extreme liberal lesbians standing on the right side of the room. I had to decline an invitation from my friend Lisa during that trip to go to another poetry reading. I had told her to meet us at the restaurant afterwards. While waiting and waiting and waiting, I decided to call her to see where she was.

“Deb---I’m so sorry. I’m still at this weird poetry reading. This lady is pouring fake blood onto the stage, demonstrating her hatred for President Bush.”

Poetry as well as writing is an expression. It’s our personal way to purge of our emotions and our extreme opinions in an artistic way. Whether you’re offended by it or not --it’s pure entertainment. If you love literature, as well as acting, it’s a beautiful thing to see, even if you find yourself cringing over some of it. But see, that’s not my problem---my real problem about poetry is, “What the hell are they trying to say?” Maybe, in not so many words, it can be directed about a lost love or someone desired; a hidden meaning of sorts. I’m sort of a black and white person - give it to me the way I like my steaks---raw. (Ok, just a bit rare...) Once you burn poetry with meanings that most would not understand, but pretend to, then you have lost your audience, at least most of them. Just like my trip to The Museum of Modern Art, I walked past a couple who were mysteriously staring into the depths of a painting with their arms crossed and one hand rubbing their chin, nodding, as if they totally “got it”. It was a painting of a black dot. Give me a fecking break.

Sometimes someone will show me their work of art and if I don’t particularly care for it or just don’t “get it”---I’ll blurt out, “Oh I like the shading and colors.” It’s my way of saying, “My 4 yr old niece can paint better than that!” Again, art is an expression. Not everybody is going to like your poems, your writings, your paintings, your photography or your ability to play an instrument that have dogs howling at night, but you can rest assure that some people are always going to be coming back to your work because they totally “get it”.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Empty Nest

A long period of my adult years were spent living in a little apartment above from my parents, if you want to call it that. Granted, it had two bedrooms, two living rooms an office, plus a full bathroom, but when you walked downstairs, it was lacking a door to separate the two sections in order to make it officially private. There was a huge deck that overlooked three neighboring towns and a lake which was breathtaking. The fact that I’m pretty close with my parents, and best friends with my mom made it that much nicer. The only problem or, (problems) were that #1. My parents both smoke like chimneys, which made it difficult in the winter when my asthma flared up and #2. My mother never really took my writing seriously. She thought freelance work was something retired people did - not for someone in their late twenties begging publishing houses to at least read their manuscripts. But it was okay for a while. It helped a great deal to stay home for a while and save some money as well as get closer with my parents. I saw more of my family too, since their house was the main house for family gatherings.

I’ve never looked at my situation back then as a negative thing, I just thought of it as a stepping stone that was very much appreciated. I’ve noticed that there are many people who look down on others if they live with their parents or live with other family members in order to get by to help one another out. Plus, most families who do this are usually close-knit or it would be complete chaos altogether. Many Italian families have the umbilical cord still attached, which is one of the many excuses I use as well. The parents never want their “babies” to leave the nest. Call it the empty nest syndrome or call it whatever you’d like, but sometimes it works out better for some. In my case, it did for a while, until I knew that I must leave the nest once and for all. It was more about having my complete dose of privacy. Sometimes it’s nice to close the door to your home as well as shut the entire world off, if that’s what you feel like at the time.

I use to get flack from other people, which I had then noticed, were not very close to their own families. They’d lecture me about being in my late twenties into my early thirties about still living at home. There was no problem on my side or my parents’, but there seemed to have been a problem on those people who looked down on it. And now, looking back, those people who criticized me were the very ones who were envious over the close-knit bond my family had. They’d always want to come over, and some felt as if they were part of the family. These very people either had no family in the immediate area or they had volatile relationships with their parents and siblings. The ones who were close with their families always thought it was great that I lived in an upstairs apartment in my parents’ house. There’s something to be said about that.

More and more people are settling into relatives’ houses to save money due to the economy. I see nothing wrong with it if the parties involved are happy and content with their environment. Even before I dated Madelene, I dated people who were always ten years older than me, who still lived with their parents, and not even in their own little apartment from them. They lived in the same quarters. I never minded it. I actually thought it was quite charming to see them getting along so well and living along with one another so nicely. For the people who mocked them for not having their own place at the age of 25 was sort of lame. There are people who choose to and there are people who have to sometimes. There are people who absolutely have no choice but to live on their own without the help of family members, or more so, the company of family members. Maybe it’s the mix of resentment and past history that makes them think differently which makes them appear bitter toward people who still choose to live with their family members? Or maybe it’s just my own opinion that I see nothing wrong with this?

With that being said, I’m just glad I had the opportunity to live with my family while I was growing up, as well as into my adult years. I don’t regret one day of it, yet I am happy to say that it made my life much sweeter when I left the nest. And sometimes, I even get homesick a little.

Gotta go, mom’s on the phone...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blaming My Reflux

Maybe it’s the reflux problem I’m having, but people are annoying me more than ever lately. I do realize that I get very irritable when I feel sick or extremely tired, but sometimes, there is just no excuse for certain individuals. I’m going to start with dipshit #1. There is this guy that works for our management office who is absolutely bizarre and traveling along his own world. He’s about 60 years old or so, kind of muscular but a bit ratty looking. He arrives at the office about 7am with heavy gangster music blasting from his Dodge Durango. The man has white hair for the love of God and appears to be either Irish or ---just really white. Anyway, aside from my judgmental views of him, I’m watching him take a broom and push the water off the walkway that leads into management office. As he’s pushing the water aside, the heavy rain is falling back down to replace it all. I feel like opening my window right now and yelling down some a few choice words. Go inside and listen to your gangster music. All I hear is, --swooooooosh---swooooosh---swooooosh.

Dipshit #2 was in my doctor’s office. She was clearly sicker than a dog and had her little girl sitting next to her. Of course, I was on the other side of the room, trying not to breathe in her swine or whatever it was she was plagued with. It started when her phone rang very loudly. She fumbled around inside her purse to find it, as it continued to play the most annoying canny music that would have dogs miles away lined up at the door. If that wasn’t bad enough, she talked as if no one else was in the room. A few people started scratching their heads or rubbing their eyebrows in disbelief of her very loud conversation that spoke about coffee pots and linoleum floors. I felt like saying, “Must you?”  Some people really don’t give a rat’s ass about anybody’s comfort levels in public.

Which brings me to Dipshit # 3 & 4. This was a seemingly new couple displaying their passion in public. I had to walk inside a CVS pharmacy to pick up a few things. When I had gotten in line, the couple in front of me were groping one another to the point of it being illegal. Of course the cashier had problems up front, which made us stand in that dreaded obscene line even longer. I looked over at the other girl waiting behind me and she popped her eyes out at me as if she was saying, “Do you see that?” I’ve never quite understood public displays of affection to that extreme. I can see two people holding hands or maybe a peck here and there, but when it gets downright obnoxious, it’s just rude.

Other than that, I haven’t really gone out all that much because of my stomach problems lately. I seriously think when I’m not feeling well, I notice all sorts of annoying stuff around me, but when I am feeling good, I don’t notice all the b/s that goes on. There might be something to that. Just like when people are having a shitty day, they’ll take it out on people. I guess I’m doing that on a blogosphere basis.

I’ll blame it on my reflux.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)

It’s almost 9am and I’m sitting here with a cup of hot tea with honey and some toast. I can barely swallow because it hurts. I’ve always had a problem with heartburn in my life. I had an ulcer years ago which healed under a doctor’s care, but last night those pangs of agony struck again, as I found myself clutching my neck and chest screaming in pain. It was then I noticed that my scream was more like a loud whisper. I had lost my voice a bit and the burning sensation was awful. I took a Zantac to reduce the acid and it seemed to calm down a tad. Now I’m sitting here with the damaged goods, trying to swallow toast and having a difficult time.

Acid Reflux Disease, also know as GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) is so common among many people, but if left untreated can be actually really dangerous, in fact, even deadly. It can range from having surgery to even esophageal cancer. Most people pop an antacid and forget about it. But, it’s been way too long and I’ve had my share of every single OTC meds to meds prescribed by a doctor to tell me something is seriously wrong now.

Because I have had this problem for a long time, I have always advised other people suffering through it what to do. I basically masked the pain with all of these antacids and reduced a lot of my calcium intake. Whenever I stop taking the meds and begin eating the spicy foods I love, drinking my strong coffee in the morning and enjoying a cocktail every once in a while, it will hit me like a ton of bricks. So until I heal, everything I love is off limits. It’s going to be a very bland few weeks for me. It’s also going to be a quiet home for Madelene since I can barely speak. I think that’s the upside for her at least.

I can use a few prayers right now...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mombasha Nostalgia

The good thing about blogging is, when I’m transferring clips into other programs or onto an external hard drive to save, it can be quite time consuming. I sit and wait...and wait...and wait. Luckily, I have this blog to kill time with, and of course, waste approximately 5 minutes of your life as well. Being that freelance work pretty much means that you have to be disciplined if you want to make any sort of money out of it, I have to push all temptations aside, like going out to breakfast with a friend or if I’m rambunctious, heading off to the gym. This morning I was invited to go canoeing with my friend Barbara who runs a nearby restaurant called, Al Laghetto right on Mombasha Lake, which enables her some flex time in the mornings which is great. I read her message and stopped everything. I wanted to go, but I had so much work in front of me that I was all geared up to do. If I would have left it, it would have sat for another 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 days. The foliage is at its peak, especially in the area where we would be canoeing, which is right near my parents’ house. Unfortunately, I had to take a rain check for later this week. I hope my friend’s offer still stands!

Her invite alone reminded me of my childhood. The lake itself, where I grew up is just amazing this time of year. It’s beautiful anytime of the year really. There are so many memories on that lake for me that just tapping into just a small part of them makes me long to be a kid again. I remember my friend Paul and I would take his canoe to the other side of the lake, where there were ‘little mountains’, more like huge rocks where you can sunbathe on. We’d sit there until sunset, talking for hours. Over at my mom and dad’s house, they have a beautiful view of the lake because they live on top of a mountain, which gives you a smaller view of it, along with gorgeous and vast mountains surrounding it all. I woke up to it everyday as a kid. I remember someone saying, “This view is so beautiful! You probably don’t think so because you’re so used to it living here all of your life...” I looked at her and just explained how everyday, the view changes and is never the same. I never got sick of looking at it. Each season gave the view a different feel. Each time of the day there was a special look to it. After the rain, you’d sometimes see a rainbow encompassing the view and the back of our house as if it were all connected.During the winter as a child, my friend Pam and I would walk down to the lake and her father would meaure the thickness of the ice with some tool. When he gave us the “ok”, we would walk out far along the lake, over to a camp area that had a homemade stone barbecue pit. I remember us sliding along with our sneakers trying not to slip and fall as we made our way over to the other side. There were times I would take my quad and ride out on the ice, doing donuts, being crazy because of all the free space - more so, margin for error. I would pull my friends on weird homemade sleds or tubes and have them cruising at speeds that were just plain wrong. Luckily, it never cracked the ice, but even if it did, the tires were like huge balloons that sort of gave you some allowance time to get the hell out of there. But, back then, I was braver than a daredevil. I didn’t care. Nothing was going to happen to us. I wish I had this mindset today.

Another memory I have is of my sister Dawn and her old boyfriend taking me out on the lake ice-skating. We brought a thermos full of hot cocoa and headed out in winter hats, gloves and scarves. Her boyfriend was like a big brother to me - always including me, even though I was this bratty 12 year old. We’d ice-skate until our noses turned bright purple. We also used to go motorcycle riding around the trails that surrounded the lake. Unfortunately, a small tree had fallen right in the middle of the path and he smacked right into it, making him eject from his bike and having it flip about three times until it finally came to a stop. He was okay, but pretty bruised up from head to toe. But those memories I will always have because it was the most fun I had as a kid growing up in that area.

Even though I didn’t move too far away, I still miss having that beautiful view of the lake and mountains to wake up to every morning. I still have a view of the mountains from where my apartment is, but it also has views of the city lights and big plaza malls, which gives a different feel to it all. It was especially breathtaking at night when the full moon would rise and reflect off of the lake. I would sit out on my deck either alone or with my partner and just take in this magical sight that God created. So, no matter what time of day, what time of year, what type of weather we were having, this view will always be special to me.  No matter what, I will always return to Mombasha.

(All photos were taken by me over at my parents' house.) 

Saturday, October 24, 2009

True Wealth

This morning I woke up early, brewed some coffee and made breakfast for Madelene. She works on Saturdays, which are her high-intense sale days. I always feel bad she has to go in on Saturdays, so I am always up when she is, trying to make her feel at ease before she rushes into the world of rude rich people and nasty customers complaining about their $100k car. She has a lot of pressures at work, but finally, she is at a place that respects her time and pays her what she deserves as a hardworking woman.

She sometimes hides her stress from me when she comes home at night. Her reasoning: because she doesn’t want to bring work home. But if she can’t vent when she’s home, then where can she vent? Her stories about her line of work is interesting because everyone buys or leases cars every so often, and they like to hear the ins and outs of a car dealership. I’m always trying to make our home a place of peace; a place where she can walk through the door, see the fire roaring, warm up and be handed a cocktail before her dinner is served. During the summer, we sometimes eat dinner out on our deck with candles and enjoy the beautiful scenery before we retire for bed. She needs that little slice of serenity, because I know when she returns onto that showroom floor, it’s going to be a different story.  

After working 8-12 hr shifts at high paced and demanding corporations, I decided to do freelance work back in 2003. I was on disability for quite sometime because of my panic attacks and depression. I couldn’t cope anymore. Madelene helped me so much through this terrible time in my life. I started doing things like eBaying and working part time jobs bartending, which were all fun at times, but I needed more. I wanted something for “me”, but I didn’t want the turbulence of being stuck in a cubicle feeling strangled of all my strength and stifled of my creativity. There had to be more to life than just sitting there, waiting for it to be 5 o’clock, and sometimes, 8 o’clock. I wished my life away. I kept a journal which eventually turned into my book. I kept writing, and writing, and then, writing some more. It took over five years to finally make any real money out of writing. The book sold somewhat, but it was more like trickles here and there. I didn’t write the book for money though - I wrote it to get my heartfelt words out there in order to help people who were struggling with what I had gone through. When it finally paid off, not only in the monetary sense, I felt a sense of satisfaction with my life. It was then it dawned on me: I didn’t need to be in a cubical to make a life for myself, as well as for my partner. I didn’t need to be in the middle of a herd of sheep.

I’m finally doing things that my heart is in sync with. Madelene asks me all the time, “Why do you get up so early on Saturdays with me?” I get up with her every single morning just so she can feel at peace in her own home and have some time to just sit, have her coffee and do absolutely nothing. I also get up with her because I love talking with my wife. I love our morning conversations over coffee. Sometimes, I have to literally tell her to get up and get dressed because she left herself with only ten minutes to primp. Sometimes, our two hour conversations feel as though it were only ten minutes. Sunday mornings, when the both of us are off, we can sit there from 8am till 1 o’clock in the afternoon and not even realize that our morning is officially over. I love that.

They say that time flies when you’re having fun. Even our vacation went by too quickly. I hope that doesn’t happen with our lives though. I hope, just because our time together goes by too quickly because we enjoy one another so much, that our lives don’t slip by in the process. My father said to us once, “I love that you two do things for one another and especially that you do things together.” He’s very old fashioned and believes that you should do everything with your spouse. He’s also a little hip because he’s okay with Madelene and me being together, despite the old Brooklynite Italian views upon being gay. She has not only been accepted by my family, but taken in as my family. My mom calls Madelene her daughter - not even thinking twice about explaining why there seems to be a fifth child in the mix. My sisters have welcomed Madelene so much, which I’m so thankful for. She feels like she’s apart of a whole other family, besides her own.

I guess I’m writing all of this down because I’m so incredibly thankful this morning for having Madelene in my life. After 14 years of being together, I would have thought the feelings would have faded out a touch, but they only had gotten stronger, with a deeper sense of affection. We’re not the perfect couple by no means, being that we had separated twice in the past, but during the times of separation, we had discovered that we no longer could live without one another. That’s why I believe everything happens for a reason. We don’t have a huge house with a white picket fence, a few kids and a dog running amuck, but we do have a small apartment with an overwhelming amount of love and acceptance. I couldn’t ask for more. And that, is my idea of true wealth.

Friday, October 23, 2009

In My Opinion, Blah, Blah, Blah...

There are times I find myself being surrounded by people who love to argue, just for the sake of arguing. They can’t let it go. I’m not even talking about heated arguments - I’m talking about people who just disagree with you in order to challenge your beliefs or factual basis’ upon certain issues. I found myself sitting in my shrink’s office, when he had asked me, “So, have you been keeping up with current events?” He knows that my views are a bit extreme to have a “normal” conversation with someone who may be leaning toward the left, as well as those who are not of the Christian faith. My politics go hand-in-hand with my beliefs in Christianity, so I just keep tightlipped about it these days. Instead of politics, I just rambled off the news I had heard that day regarding three people dying in a sweat lodge over in Arizona.

“It’s two.” He said, in a very irritated tone.
“There were two people who died - not three. Where do you get your news?”
“I heard three.”  I said, calmly. 
“OK then, two.”  

I just wanted to keep the peace, but it wasn't the point I was trying to get across.  He seemed so angry that I said three people instead of two, that my point of the conversation was totally lost. I then remembered it was my questioning of why people wanted to sweat like pigs in a crowded tent, knowing that the swine flu is among us. But, instead, he irritated me greatly, even more so once I had arrived home finding out that I was right the entire time.  There were three people who died. Maybe my shrink needs to step out of that stuffy office or get himself a little transistor radio and keep up with the current events that way. I’m "the patient" so I must be wrong.  My facts must be up my ass. I know he reads my blog to analyze what he thinks I’m not telling him in his office. My message to him would be: I WAS RIGHT! IT WAS THREE!

Okay, he’s gonna up my dose after that rant.

Secondly, I know my blog posts sometimes rants about people in my life, but please, those people in my life who read me -- it is not about you "personally".  I may refer to something you may have said or brought up and tie it into a sometimes complicated point that I’m trying to make, but when you start taking my blog posts so personally, it makes it hard to really write honestly on here. I write about everyday life or whatever I’m feeling.  Sometimes, I’ll jot down a bit of what’s happening on the news and rant about my opinions on it. It’s different all the time. But my best writing in my opinion, are the things I experience everyday. It’s the people I come across, the interesting conversations I have with random people or interactions with a stranger.

On a post dated on October 2nd, entitled, “A Deeper Found Uniqueness”, I was asked by a friend why I had brought up the question she had asked me. In exact words, I had written, “The other day I was asked if I had any “straight friends”. It was apparent that this person had not seen beyond the small scope of my sexual orientation, but rather, she chose to see what she wanted to see.”  She was offended by this, and I do apologize, however it gave the post some meaning and explanation of certain things that had happened in my life. We had discussed her initial meaning of that question, and it turns out that she wanted to know if there was jealousy on either sides, whether straight or gay: does someone within a coupled relationship or marriage get jealous over an outside friendship? I want to tackle that issue on my blog today, with the risk of being asked later on, “Why’d you do that?”

I think it’s safe to say that no matter what, straight or gay, it depends on each individual relationship. In my opinion, if there is too much jealousy inside a relationship or marriage, then something has to be communicated about and sort out right away. With Madelene and I, we don’t get ‘that close’ in order to develop complicated feelings, or feel emotionally attached to a friend in order for bizarre things to transpire. However, we have had, male and female friends who have taken a liking to either one of us on more than just a friendship level. It’s immediately stomped out by our marriage and our invisible “line” that we don’t let people cross. It happens, not often, but it does sometimes. Another question was posed that if one partner goes out, does the other get intimidated by the close bond or friendship that has developed. With excellent communication that Madelene and I both have, we know how we feel about one another, and we also know how the other feels about each one of our friends--we’re very honest--bluntly honest in fact. This is one of the main reasons why Madelene and I hardly ever have jealousy issues of any sort. And it’s not that we don’t love one another enough - it’s because we love one another unconditionally and know that we’re only human.

Here’s another argument or, ‘debate’ I had with an old friend regarding jealousy... She was so upset that her boyfriend was ‘thought to be’ looking at another girl while walking through the mall. She voiced her strong opinion about this and said, “How can he do that to me?” Well, she better get a huge funnel and drain all of his testosterone out. She asked if that had happened to us, with Madelene being right there to hear this entire conversation. We explained, that when we go out, Madelene and I both admire women together. I even point out good looking men when I see one. We may be married, but we’re not dead yet. Usually, our tastes are a bit different, so sometimes she’ll shoot me a look and say, “Are you kidding me”, but sometimes, we’re staring at a woman thinking, “Wow she is gorgeous.” I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, in fact, the more open you are with your partner or spouse regarding seeing others as sexually attractive, the more closer you become. It becomes more honest and real. I’ve always found that to be true, even while dating my ex-boyfriend years ago. We did the same thing. We also had the same thing in common: women. It made it a lot of fun to go out and compare tastes in various types. We never took a woman home - it was just a nice little game we played and seeing what catches my lover’s eye.

Unless you put blinders upon your mate and drain all the hormones out of them, you can be sure whether you like it or not, the eye always roams. You cannot control human nature. There is a fine line between admiring and gawking of course, but the limits are solely up to the couples involved, in my opinion.

So yet, another wonderful topic to bring up due to a conversation had.  Without the raw honesty that goes into this blog, it would be purely fictional.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Gift Box of Happiness

Happiness doesn’t come in a gift box guaranteeing you a lifetime warranty full of bliss. I know this, because I suffer from bouts of depression from time to time and more often than not. I guess with age, I’m realizing that happiness starts with “you”. I’ve noticed that if I view the world (or my world) in a positive way, my attitude becomes just that. It’s easier said than done. I’m trying. I used to focus so hard on the ‘extreme-type’ of happiness, like finding the perfect higher paying job, owning a big house or obtaining the perfect relationship, but instead of focusing in on the monetary and uncontrolled types of things, I've tried just being content with “me”.  For me, it wasn’t about controlling or stifling your emotions, it was more about seeing things for what they are. It was looking beyond the happiness that “may” come out of all of these things and looking outside admiring the foliage on a crisp cool fall day, or enjoying a hot mocha latte from your favorite cafe.   Surely, that’s not going to get you a house or the perfect spouse, but it does relieve the pressures of worrying too much about the future and too much of what we don’t have.

We still worry about the past.

Who doesn’t? Who doesn’t look back and dwell a bit on the things gone wrong in the past? It’s human. It’s almost like a sense of self-torture: we dwell until it’s almost back into the present time again. This is why many people refer to it as, “taking a step back”. We brought the past right into current times, making our emotions feel the same way it once did when it happened way back when. In my opinion, and only in my opinion - I believe that the human body and mind practically enjoys feeling both extreme emotions. Think about it: why do so many of us like listening to sad songs when we are mourning over a past love? It’s the intensifying of our emotions or, purging for some. To embrace the sadness when it comes is good, but to welcome it for life is another thing. I almost did that, and it nearly killed me each day that I let it. We give the pain of the past permission to linger subconsciously. Sometimes, when we still long for someone of our past, that statement can be quite different: sometimes we need to let go in order to see what’s ahead of us. It’s like holding onto a 5 ft rope that’s tied to a dock and trying to move forward 10 feet. Cut the rope.

Whenever the past comes to haunt me, I’m trying to remember all of the good aspects of what had transpired, and view the things I choose to. I want to remember the fun times, the laughter and most of all, the good in every person I have came across who has hurt me. Whether they have hurt me intentionally or not, ---this does not matter. There’s always a reason to everybody’s madness. I remember someone once saying to me, “Does it really matter”, as I kept asking, "why why why..."  I remember the frustration because I wasn’t receiving an answer to something that really...didn’t matter anymore. I see it clearly now, as hindsight is 20/20, but back then, I wanted answers. I wanted detailed answers of why this happened and why that had to take place. Sometimes, when you’re in that type of predicament, you have to ask yourself: “Will this matter a year from now? Two years from now?”  And at times, we tend to focus on the "hopeful" outcomes. 

It would be nice to receive a gift box full of happiness to ensure our well-being for the rest of our time here on earth, but it’s highly unlikely. We can try to simulate it by distracting our negative thoughts by surrounding ourselves with family and friends, laughing more and seeing how beautiful life really is. I remember someone telling me, “Squish the ANTS!” (Automatic Negative Thoughts). My mind goes through this especially when I’m plagued with an anxiety attack. Negative thoughts can be so detrimental to someone who is trying to heal, which is why some people mourn longer than others. I’m one of them. I’m learning that every single day of my life is not guaranteed, just like my gift box full of happiness with a lifetime warranty.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Warning Against Swine Flu Vaccine?

In fear of sounding like an alarmist, I just want to say that I’m only asking questions here and that I don’t necessarily feel one way or the other...just yet. Yesterday, I went online and checked out the schedule for my local pharmacy’s flu vaccination times. I have acute asthma, which is triggered greatly by the flu or irritants, such as smoke, mold spores and chemically induced vapors, especially pet hair and dander. I sometimes even find myself in the emergency room hooked up to a nebulizer machine and electrolyte and anti-inflammatory bags, along with a high dose of steroids. With the wonderful combination of uppers and downers provided, it’s enough for me to say: “Gimme’ the flu shot NOW!”  The thought of the H1N1 virus is quite alarming to me, as to most of us, however from what I’ve been hearing, this vaccine isn’t something to take lightly.

While Googling through many websites, I’ve found tons of what it seemed to appear as anti-conspiracy theories of many articles and videos regarding the swine flu vaccine. They all said pretty much the same thing: DO NOT TAKE THE SWINE FLU VACCINE! They were telling stories about the past when the pandemic hit the world back in the 1970’s and how people were affected greatly by taking the swine flu vaccine. It caused such nerve damage to some, that they were at times, paralyzed for life. Others had died from the vaccine, and now, they are blaming Baxter, the pharmaceutical company for a huge scandal for distributing the wrong vaccine which had the H5N1 virus with a deadly human version of the bird flu. There are many other claims of scandals to which the Baxter representatives have either lied to protect the company or have came out to the public telling people the “truth”.  But, who’s lying? Are they disgruntle ex-employees or are they people who truly want others to know the truth about this vaccination and the horrors about their company?

I found another video by a 37 year old female army engineer. She stated she had information that was quite alarming while being on a drill. Her theory is: in time, the government will force us to take the vaccination and then place a shackle or, “bracelet” around our right hand indicating that we have received the swine flu vaccine. If we refuse, we will be taken off into quarantine, or for a lack of better words, a “concentration camp”, as this woman described it. Now, this woman on the video below is a Christian who believes that the antichrist has arrived and that we are going to be marked with the number of the beast on our hands. Basically, she feels that we are at the end of Revelations - so take this video with a grain of salt, but take it as you want to. That’s up to you. I have mixed feelings about this, due to my faith in Christianity as well as government anti-conspiracy theories that I sometimes find myself wondering: is this really true?

The next video is from 60 Minutes back in November of 1979. Does history repeat itself?

Through everything I've written on this blog post and with your very own personal opinion, will you be taking the swine flu vaccination this year? Will you be letting your children take the vaccine, knowing the uncertainties that are still lurking among us? 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Unwanted Friendship

Have you ever made a conscious decision to maintain friendship with someone you particularly don’t care for? What I mean is - have you ever stayed friends with someone out of reasons of guilt, or feeling that you “should” be friends with them because they’re inside your circle of friends? There are people that we’re going to like and not so like. It happens. Sometimes you just have to wonder: is it all worth it?  See, my problem is that there are people in my circle of friends that I may highly disagree with on certain topics, but when it gets down to brass tacks and that person starts preaching to me as if it was the end all be all ---I tend to run. I understand that I’m always going to find myself disagreeing with certain things about opinions and whatnot and vise/versa, because let’s face it - that’s life, but when someone is so in your face about something, it’s time to step out of that circle and pluck that one weed that’s been strangling your daisy.

Facts are facts and opinions are opinions. Mix them up in a bundle of philosophical bullshit and you get exactly that: bullshit. It’s merely a way of twisting an opinion into a downright fact, in “their” opinion. When someone tells me I “should” do something, because it would be better for me, maybe fact would have it that it’s part truth and of good intention, but if it’s not an option for me or my lifestyle, then that so called “truth” becomes a mere suggestion. I love writing and feel that it’s a therapeutic outlet for me. I also feel it may be for other people, however I’m not going to shove the art of writing down anyone’s throat, just as I wouldn’t shove Christianity down anyone’s throat either. It’s a matter of preference.

My mother thought I should go and marry a Jewish doctor. My teacher thought I should be an accountant because I was good with numbers. My art teacher suggested I take something else up because I was failing his class, yet I was an artist and other people have liked my work. Other people are so good at suggesting what’s best for “you”, yet they have no clue what’s best for themselves. That’s baffling in itself.  Another pet peeve I have is when someone takes over an entire conversation with self-righteous believes/bullshit, I tend to drift off and automatically push the proverbial ignore button. It’s just like trying to convince a liberal left wing patriot that recycling is no good and global warming is only a myth.

Preach it to another choir.

I’ve always thought I was a ‘good ear’ when it came to listening to my friends or just being there to help them with whatever they were going through, however lately, I’ve been finding out that there is a continual process of draining every bit of energy I have by the nonstop pity parties that I’ve been invited to. I understand people have problems and they need someone to talk to. Get a therapist like I do. It’s okay to vent and get some good feedback from a good friend, but remember, while you’re doing this, you may also be stepping the boundaries of friendship. Friendship doesn’t necessarily mean “free therapy”. Keep in mind that your friend may be going through his or her own thing and may need some space in between your bouts of drama.

It’s all about balance.

There are some friendships that allow for more ‘therapy time’, and that’s solely up to the two people involved. It’s just a known thing between the two of them. But if you are one of those types of people who find yourself telling your life story to a new friend or a mere acquaintance and you’re wondering why people are not hanging out with you as much as you would like - try being more considerate and leaving your drama, self-righteous suggestions and preaching at home.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Raw" Footage

It’s been a couple of days of taking a vacation from our vacation. Although we loved where we stayed, it was also nice to sleep in our own bed again. The one thing I’ve noticed is that during our stay in MA, everywhere we went, we had lots and lots of walking to do - which was great. We lost some weight on this trip, but still managed to indulge in seafood galore up to our gills. Now I’m just trying to keep up with the walking the best I can in order to maintain it. I have to admit, it’s hard when you don’t have street entertainers or a few drag queen and comedians to pass by, but I’m sure something amusing will cross my path, me like that goddam pug every once in a while in my neighborhood.

Our filming project was better than expected. I managed to get a lot of footage. I haven’t even started the editing process as of yet because I’m still organizing each interview individually and placing them on CDs as a ‘to do list’ at a later date. Some of the interviews were very emotional and heartbreaking, while others were encouraging and quite edifying to those who needed to hear some positive reinforcement. Although New York will have plenty of fish for me to bait, I will be making a trip into the south to film those who feel repressed because of their surroundings being in the great bible belt of the USA. That should be the fun part.

I received a few emails from my readers and acquaintances asking me why I had changed the format from ‘busting stereotypes’ to filming more about gays and lesbians of faith. I’m not going to just film about gay Christians; it’s more about how they reconcile their faith vs. their sexuality, especially if their religion deems homosexuality as “unnatural” or more so, “sinful”. The reason for this is mainly because this project is now closer to my heart. My book was my first baby, and now this project will be my second. Christianity comes before my sexuality, so I know that more heart will go into this. Another reason why I’ve changed the format, is because many people I have asked to interview had misled me and their lifestyle and/or were not exactly what I was looking for. I had a few awkward encounters with the transexual community, to which they thought it would be ‘just another documentary about their struggles’---but it wasn’t going to be about that, it was going to give them a positive voice to explain the successes of their journey. So, if you’re one of the people who wanted to be apart of it, yet were a bit hesitant about the content, I do apologize. I wasn’t out to display the oddities of our lifestyles - it was more about the joys of our journey into accepting ourselves and busting the stereotypical views and judgments people may hold.

Aside from the project, I do want to make a note of something on this post. While on the trip, I came across quite a few lost souls along the way. There were so many heartbroken and jaded women on that trip, that it was so hard to even tackle some of the issues that dealt with my project alone. It was Women’s Week in Provincetown, so the bulk of the crowd were mainly young ladies and mature women all searching for something, yet not wanting anything. There were hardly any couples I noticed. Usually this is because at this time of the year, the single ladies come out and try to “hook up” all they can like a huge buffet on a cruise ship. I had spoken to a couple of the ladies who were a bit older, 40ish or so. (Madelene is going to bust my ass for saying that.) They were single and of course, still angry at their exes for whatever reasons. In fact, they halted on any sort of “real” intimate relationships with other people because they didn’t want the emotional torture of what they had gone through before. They seemed bitter and resentful, yet willing to tell their story to the world. “My ex is an asshole”---was the theme of their anthem. Everybody’s ex is an asshole I guess. But this was to the extreme, and I’m talking not 1, not 2, but like 10 women telling me the same story I have heard the entire time while in PTown. Through intoxicating and boisterous voices of these single older women, I also heard cries of agony of what they had gone through. I also heard the clenching of bitterness they were holding onto so tightly. I had to wonder: Is this why they’re still single? Do people intentionally sabotage future relationships or encounters through the fear of getting hurt again or do they destroy it by simply still holding onto the past in a negative way?

I’m no stranger when it comes to being tortured by my past - I have my own demons of other natures to deal with, but when it comes down to the lack of forgiveness and the bulk of bitterness that people hold, I think it’s safe to say that other people will pick this negative vibe up and simply run away. “Ah well, just another asshole”, they’d probably mutter as they plunge another shot of tequila down their throat. After a while, they start to get the good ol’ fear of abandonment issue and start the process of “dumping them before they dump me” syndrome. I think that’s why people are so quick to give up on fairly new relationships or seemingly start fights over nothing just in order to push people they care about away. It’s almost like testing them in some strange way. “Will they stay if I do this? Let’s see...” Some of you will nod to this and some of you will think this is just a crazy form of a disorder of sorts, but it is happening everywhere. I’ve even experienced it myself.

So, not only was this trip our vacation and anticipated project, but it was also a learning experience and awareness of just how many broken hearts are out there. Between the rejection of religion and the rejection of someone once loved, it’s hard to film people when their hearts are still aching, yet it makes it better for interviews, because it’s just so raw.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I'm Back!

Today I am taking a vacation from my vacation and spending some time at home just resting, but I wanted to throw a couple of videos to show you how much fun Provincetown, MA is. We had a great time, a wonderful anniversary celebration and such an incredible filming experience as far as the documentary. In fact, we have changed our entire theme of our documentary to cater to gay Christians, including a heartfelt interview with Rev. David L. Clarke, our minister who married us. We're so excited about this more than ever, because this will give a voice to those who have been struggling with their sexuality and trying to justify their religious beliefs to those who condemn them. I'll be traveling to different locations filming bits and pieces of this, but it'll be all worth it! It may take months, but I'm putting my entire heart and soul into this, because this is something as you all know, that I hold close to my heart.

But for now, enjoy some of the fun clips I have taken with my little cam on the streets and cafes of Provincetown!

Here is Ellie. She is a 77 year old street entertainer who is always there without fail! She sang, "New York, New York" - you'll love it!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Calling all LGBT Peeps!

The time has come where we are approaching out big project - our documentary about stereotypes and labels, and how it affects many of us. This film will show how unique each individual is, regardless of gender, orientation or religion. We're trying to grab our audience's attention and trying to show them that being transgender has nothing to do with sexual orientation. We're trying to bust the myth that all bisexuals are polyamorous. We are seeking one bisexual male or female who is strictly monogamous with whoever they are with. We're also seeking a feminine lesbian who gets comments such as, "Oh she's not a 'real' lesbian", just because she's a girly girl. We have gay ministers as well as guest star appearances which is going to make it that much more fun! So if this describes you - please email me at ... We'll be leaving this Thursday for Provincetown, MA do start out project, as well as enjoy our anniversary.  You will all be missed, but we leave you with a video, and a very bizarre blooper reel at the end of our little clip.

Friday, October 02, 2009

A Deeper Found Uniqueness

The other day I was asked if I had any “straight friends”. It was apparent that this person had not seen beyond the small scope of my sexual orientation, but rather, she chose to see what she wanted to see. My answer of course, was a “yes”, however my wife and I mingle with anyone who we click with - not just because of a sexual orientations.   Many heterosexuals feel that the gay and lesbian community only surround themselves with “their own kind” - which kind of sounds like some bizarre species of sorts, but that is so far from the truth with me. In fact, most of my interactions and are with straight people and not because I choose to, but because I focus more on the person and not their preferences.  Most of my readers are straight. But the thing is, I never even thought about it, until this person had asked that question.

For me, I don’t think, “gay”, “straight”, “bisexual”, “transgender”, or “polyamorous”. I don’t care what people do, or who they choose to love or even if their orientation changes for whatever reason that may be. Love is love. Friendship is friendship. I don’t intentionally go out looking for gay and lesbian friends. That goes for religious backgrounds too. Even though I’m Christian, I like to spend my time with people of various faiths or even, the lack thereof. I spend time with people of extreme political views as well. I do this also because I learn so many things from different people.  I learn a little bit every day by the different views and lifestyles people have. It’s a big world out there, why limit yourself?

Another big assumption I have found with many straight women is that lesbians, whether they are in a monogamous relationship or not, or if they solely seek mates that are “true lesbians” (because many of them prefer that), --straight women always have in the back of the minds, “Will she hit on me?” Of course this is all depending on the individuals involved, however I can only speak for myself as well as some people who are close me: no.  We hardly ever hit on straight women--ever.  I do flirt in jest sometimes, letting somebody know “wow you look hot in that” - but that’s just my personality. If I think someone looks good, I will throw them a compliment. This does not mean I want to throw them into bed. I had a few straight women feel that I had a crush on them all because I complimented them. Automatically they thought I was after them. Some even made sure they looked good around me in order to fish for compliments. Some, even tried making me their guinea pig.

I even want to tackle the big “no no” of all time. Men: Do not tell a woman who is a lesbian that you could change her around. I don’t care if you are Julio Iglesias or Adrian Grenier, you are not going to change our sexual orientation. (Ok, well maybe Adrian can do it for me...) Personally, I think men are beautiful, just as women are. I’m just not sexually attracted to men. But the assumptions that come from “some” men are stunning when they think they can change us around. I’m sure some of you men can do that, but if the woman's orientation is stable and they are not bisexual, it is going to be that much difficult. Please note - not ALL men do this, I know that.   Just a few men who are pretty self-absorbed do, which really lights a fire under my ass.

So moral of the story? If you are trying to get to know someone on a friendly basis as well as on a personal level, try looking beyond their lifestyles, orientations and outer appearances and realize that there is much more to a person than what is presented. If you only judge by what you see, you might lose sight of their deeper found uniqueness.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

What's Life Without Passion?

For me, writing has always been a great therapeutic outlet. It has also been a great sounding board to where many other writers and readers will interact and tell their opinions about whatever the topic is about. During the years, I have been friends with Tamar, a long distance runner, who had decided to put her running experiences and short stories of her own onto a blog. We initially met as coworkers at the phone company back in 1999. I remember Tamar showing me her short stories printed out on a piece of paper, or written in an email about what she had experienced while running on the trails nearby. I couldn’t put down the stories - I was addicted to her writing. She then had written other stories that I was so excited to read because through her experiences, she made it entertainment for everybody reading it. It was then I suggested that she should write it all out on a blog and have a little site to jot all of her incredible stories on. It’s not all about running either, there are dating stories and more personal revelations about who this wonderful woman is. Tamar and I became friends, but more so, became family. She has shared many Christmas Eves at my home, while celebrating Chanukah along with my family. Long talks over sushi and sake and fabulous get togethers at many places have been so much fun with her. Her passion is running, as well as many other things, such as writing, painting and traveling.

It was then, I had met Myriam, another long distance runner, a mother of two and also, a cancer survivor. She is a director of an important running club and has raised funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In Myriam’s blog, she writes about everything, from her personal emotional struggles to the challenges of running. She has a talent of collaborating her personal life stories with the goals and achievements, as well as the rewards of running. She’s not afraid to put her heart out there. We’ve become close friends this past year, and have had long talks over wine, inspiring one another with the many posts we have written. Through getting to know one another, we have developed this warped sense of sarcasm in our joking around that makes other people wonder if we’re really serious. It’s funny to ‘pretend bicker’ with her in front of those who don’t 'get' our humor. Myriam has made me laugh so hard at times that I nearly pass out. She has helped me with many struggles of my own. I don't know what I'd do without her! (Yes Myriam, that hurt to write that on my blog!)  Her passions are running, writing, a good glass of red wine, and most of all, celebrating her life with her family and friends.

It was then, I had met Todd through blogging as well. Todd is also a long distance runner. He was initially friends with Tamar first. That’s when we began reading one another’s blogs. Tamar, Myriam and Todd all know one another through running. We all live within a close proximity to one another which makes it all the more easier to get together. I’ve had a lot of good conversations with Todd. His writing reflects his personality on every level. He’s deep and very spiritual, always questioning life instead of defining it. Todd’s stories about his encounters with people are always fascinating because he not only experiences funny things, but analyzes human behavior in a comedic way. He never mocks anyone while writing about them, but he likes to get a grasp on why people do the oddest things or why people are sometimes mean-spirited. Todd usually holds a bright smile when you greet him and always up for a good intellectual conversation. His passions are running, his two boys, Conor and Brett, writing, spirituality and life to its fullest.

And last but certainly not least, is Parveen. This is one of my strangest encounters, because for one, I had mistaken her months ago for being my wife. See, we live right across the street from one another. One evening as she was walking toward her building, I thought to myself, “Why is Madelene going into that building?” I really believed it was her! And then, as I found out it wasn’t.  I realized that this woman across the way was my neighbor. She would walk her dog every evening around 7pm, while I sat on my deck sipping wine. We never bumped into one another oddly enough. On my last blog entry, that dealt with the neighbors who live behind me, I had received a comment from her, indicating that she was my neighbor too. We then became Facebook friends, exchanged numbers, realizing the friends we had in common.  Parveen is another runner. She knows Todd and Myriam as well.  Small world.   She also just started a blog that is very interesting with various topics. She is a 3rd grade teacher and has been for thirteen years. She is originally from Canada and has moved around six times after that, with her last stop being in New York, right across the street from me. Since I have just met her, I have yet to get to know her. She seems like a wonderful person, who I may be meeting for the first time this evening if my schedule allows me. Her passion, as far as I know right now is running, writing and the ability to teach and help kids.

So I encourage you to visit each of their blogs and see for yourself how much passion they have for what they do in life.

Growth Spurts

Yesterday, someone shared a quote with me that resonated with me so much. She said, "Just remember, trying to hurt me by bringing up my...