As the Gays Say, “Thank U, Next.”

I did it. I fucking did it. I passed my Real Estate Appraiser’s License Exam.

For the past three years I have been in an apprenticeship with my boss and taking the online classes required to be an appraiser. Once I completed my 2,000 hours of experience, my courses, and the application the state accepted those and ushered me to the next step, which was to take an exam. (My approval came last June, to give you some idea.) They give you 6 attempts or a year to complete it for a reason. It is fucking tough.

This success was my third attempt. Even now, after passing, I still don’t think I studied enough. Regardless I completed the second to last hurdle. The next is a review of my work completed and after that I should receive a license.

When I got my results I literally almost broke into tears. But the two testing center clerks were right there, and a middle-aged man bawling over a score wouldn’t have been attractive. So instead I jumped up and down, while I clutched that paper with my grainy photo and the word “Passed.” My husband told me after that he wished he had filmed it because he had never seen me so happy. (“You weren’t even that happy when we got married!”)

For so long this has hung around my neck dragging me down. I was beyond stressed because for once in my life I was expected to actually complete something. My boss took me on with the understanding that I would get my license and be one of his residential appraisers. That was/is going to happen. I didn’t want to fail him and betray the trust he had bestowed on me. (Again, another first.)

In the beginning the pressure drove me nuts. I ended up diving headfirst into one of my addictions that pushed my relationship to the brink of collapse. Luckily I survived that and I found ways to numb the burden of responsibility in other things going forward.

The other dark side of this journey was that it kept me from working on my book. In my mind there was a level of tasks that had to be completed before one could begin. Whenever I sat down to work on it I would think to myself “you should be studying for your exam.” My favorite was “this isn’t as important as your license.” The “frivolous” venture of trying to be a published author was always back burner.

Now, I have no other responsibilities other than finishing up my AA and editing my book. I can return to the things that, for me, matter immensely. Not saying that the thing that is my livelihood didn’t matter. It was merely a means to an end.

So, tonight I got to sit down with my chapters and feel the creative freedom to work without guilt or anxiety. It was heaven.

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Tales of Medications

Already it’s happening.

This morning I wanted to write a piece about how my Vegas weekend with the husband and our boyfriends went, but I lost the desire to do so without even opening up a word document. I thought to myself, “why would I want to do that?” And it is all because of anti-depressants.

I started taking them last week because I was stressing about the upcoming weekend. I was worried how it would turn out, plus I had little to no sleep that week, work was(is) slow, my diet had turned into a parade of sugary pastries and bread, and the weather was total cloud cover for 5 straight days (in a community that rarely, if ever, gets rain). In my infinite wisdom I thought I should start taking my meds again, and here we are.

My mental health has been a constant battle since I started taking them at 18. The doctor deemed them appropriate because I just happened to see him after a break-up from my then boyfriend. Of course I was depressed. I immediately started taking Lexapro and that seemed to work for a while. I didn’t write anything in that time frame, at least none that I can remember. But I don’t remember it taking away my personality. For whatever reason the doctor removed me from those and thus began the sampler platter of medications. Each one more misery inducing than the last. The final one was sertraline, which I have copious amounts of, even though my doctor has removed me from all medications some time ago. I keep them around for moments when I think my depression is flaring up. However, this time I am not entirely sure it was emotional but rather situational. That’s the biggest problem when it comes to drugs. I think we over prescribe them when in fact it may just be a change of lifestyle.

My fretting for the weekend was for naught though. Everything went absolutely fine and it was a really fun weekend; other than me having a freak out on the 4 hour drive home, because I have been trained to give the driver attention and when I in-turn don’t receive the same I get irritable. But, instead of voicing my concerns in the moment I stew in them until I am unpleasant to be around and make everyone uncomfortable.

The only thing this weekend taught me was that Vegas fucking sucks. I use to love going, but it has gotten entirely too expensive. They’re pricing out the average vacationer who goes for a fun cheap weekend. Those days are long gone. And for me, so is Vegas.

Tales of Pink-Eye and Cancer

My this has been one hell of a week.

It began on Monday where I made an eye appointment because my eyes were red, itching, and would not stop crying. I was certain when I made the appointment with the optometrist that it was probably pink-eye. The doctor however looked at my eyes and deemed it allergies. I was skeptical because I have had allergies my whole life and never had I experienced JUST a reaction in my eyes, but as he was the “professional” I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

The following day, Tuesday, I finally had scheduled a CT scan that I had kept putting off because I had no time to do it. My work schedule has been (and is) hectic, so I never had the time but I figured that since I was so panicked about the blood in my underwear (coming from somewhere it should not ever if you’re a dude) I should make the appointment and follow through.

I went for my exam and during the procedure while they were injecting the dye into my vein it collapsed and instead of coursing through my body, probably, about half of it went into my right bicep. So for a couple days I had a bulging arm, much like popeye. After the procedure I felt silly going because I hadn’t had any further symptoms from the initial shock (aka blood.)

By Wednesday, the “allergies” only got worse and so I made a very quick follow up appointment. While rushing to that I get a call from my doctor. They had gotten back the results of my CT scan and it showed that my spleen and my prostate were enlarged and I was being referred out to a urologist for further examination.

After that lovely phone call, the optometrist (now a plucky, quirky young woman) told me I did in fact have viral pink-eye, the super contagious kind. This was after touching my eye with her bare hands (Smart) and swabbing my eyes with a giant q-tip. The cotton swab must have been just for fun because she did nothing with it and never mentioned it was being sent anywhere for testing. Her answer for my diagnosis was “good luck” and a referral to another optometrist.

Later that same day I got a call from the Comprehensive Blood and CANCER Center. They were following up because I was referred to them by my general practitioner (GP). They needed info to get the ball rolling, one piece of which was my blood work I had done the week prior.

The following day they called again to schedule a consultation for November where I (imagine) will be told I have prostate cancer.

To be fair, I don’t know this to be my prognosis. I am making a giant assumption but all the signs point to that and just like my certainty of having pink-eye I am certain that this is the case.

A few things come to mind, one of which (if there is one) god has a sense of humor. Prostate cancer is slow but trying to cure can result in sexual complications. I won’t die from this cancer, it will just kill any semblance of ever having sex again without the aid of a pump (hard pass).

I found out about a year ago that my uncle had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and instead of doing anything about it he let it sit and it has now spread to his bones. At the time I didn’t understand how one could do that. “It’s such an easy fix.” Sitting in the same position I can see where one would refuse to do anything, as that is the road I will most likely take.

The boyfriend, upon hearing my decision, was quiet. He didn’t really have any response. The husband however was annoyed and told me that my decision was bull shit and I was going to do whatever it took. While I respect his opinion more than likely I won’t be doing anything. What worth do I have if I can’t have sex? I know that’s such a petty thing to think but the psychology behind never having another erection is staggering. I remember a statistic about the army spending thousands on viagra, and I get it. For a very brief time I couldn’t get an erection and maintain it and it is a huge mind fuck for one to endure. (At least it was for me.)

As of right now, this is all just theory. I don’t have solid facts to determine anything or if what I assume to be reality is in fact true. The most comforting thing I do have is that I have two men who have repeatedly told me that they will be there for me and that is what’s getting me through, between my sudden outburst of tears (though those could just be from the pink-eye.)

Concerns and Observations

As I watch three long term relationships, in my tiny little social circle, coming to an end, I begin to panic and draw concern for my own. Granted, the situation is already convoluted and strange. It breaks all the social norms and we are basically treading in uncharted territory. If it is not known, I am married, have been for the past 5 years (together 15), and I also have a boyfriend, together for 6 months.

There are no secrets. Both of them know of the other. They have met a few times and once all three of us went on a “date” to see Crazy Rich Asians. Even now, as I look back on that event, I don’t recall any emotional awkwardness. It was strange in a sense because with both men there are two very different sets of actions that typically occur. What I’m referring to is with the boyfriend I am very much more “hands-on,” for lack of a better term. He is just more physically intimate than my husband. For instance, when the boyfriend (Josh, because I don’t want to keep saying “the boyfriend”) and I go to Disneyland together we hold hands almost the entire time and in general are more physically affectionate. That would NEVER happen with my husband. Not even for a second. Well, maybe, if we were in a gay bar, located in a very gay neighborhood, and he was thoroughly liquored up. Otherwise the husband (Charlie) is not a touchy-feely kind of person.

This weekend all three of us (and Charlie’s ex/current/”who the fuck knows” boyfriend) will be going to Disneyland for gay days. And for once I am filled with anxiety. Josh and I have set a precedent that will not be met because it would seem cruel to do so in front of Charlie, or vice versa. I am sure it will be fine and it will play out the way it plays out. Fuck, the whole thing is an experiment in just trying shit out and see how it goes, like some kind of emotional Russian roulette. For instance, the movie date and this other time when we all got together to play Pokémon Go. Those times were fine. Surprisingly so. Which is why I don’t understand my feelings for this little excursion.

I think part of it is linked to watching my friend’s relationship break apart. They’ve been together for 9 years and they’re now agreeing to separate. The crux of this particular relationship was that they too were in a “throuple.” My husband (ever the asshole) jokingly asked “who got the boyfriend?” Is their break-up a warning sign for things to come in my own life? But even when I go down that line of thinking I begin to wonder am I just asking this because of societal expectations of what a “relationship” is and should be? Or, in this case, is it just how it played out regardless of situations/factors. All I have to go off of is what is known, and all that exists is the common “couple.”

Then there is another couple that broke apart a year ago. Their break-up has been 100% amicable and up until a week ago were still living together, in separate rooms. What preceded their ultimate end was that they opened up the relationship. Did that relationship end because of opening things up? Or was it already played out before that and having trysts on the side was the final straw?

I like to think of myself as this scientific observer, looking at situations and trying to find the commonalities and what point brought it to where it finally fell. But, I am working with a very limited number of examples to gauge. And at the end of it all, I don’t think I want to know. Not now.

Sometimes, I think that it is SO obvious that I am an idiot for not seeing the fact that I am sitting in a pool of purple Jell-O, as I wonder where am I going to get a gelatinous dessert.

All of our pictures are the same, just the shades are different.

More than anything I want to write a blog post about race. But I feel as a pampered white boy I could never ever do it justice. It only comes through experience and sharing your own story and, even as an openly gay man, I haven’t experienced discrimination.

One time I had a good friend of mine make an off-hand comment that I had the minority corner down in regards to my column at the college newspaper and it honestly took me by surprise. I never once considered myself a minority or that I was giving anyone any kind of voice, except my own. And while I may be gay, my minority status can be hidden from view. If I code-switch and butch it up (which I do do around straight guys, it’s weird to behold) I can pass as a white male. But what is it like when you can never escape your diversity? Not saying anyone should.

The topic is more prevalent in my mind because this weekend I went and saw “Crazy Rich Asians.” I loved it, so much so I went and bought the book so I could continue with the story, just in case Hollywood deemed the other two novels not “financially worth it” to make. Seeing people of color run a movie made me happy. It made all the rhetoric and racist bullshit that seems so prevalent now, disappear. It painted for me a picture of a world where everyone has a seat at the table. We’re richer because of it. It reminded me of the joy I felt when Obama was still in office and Hamilton was exploding across mainstream culture. I felt hopeful. But, once douche-mcgee came into office and brought out the WORST in people it just seems so abysmal.

At times I get why white people would have voted for Trump. The thing about power is one is always afraid to lose it. They will do whatever it takes to keep it. And I think white people have maintained a majority for far too long. Time is up. And it is that which terrifies them.

People joke or poo-poo white guilt but it is real and they should absolutely feel it. A good majority of white people have been absolute monsters to anyone who didn’t look or sound like them. (I use “white people” as a blanket term about white Christian men/women in the most mundane sense.) So that guilt they feel bubbling inside is their humanity telling them to take a good hard look at yourself and your fellow man. And there are two ways to react and I feel that the road most chosen is to say: there is no such thing as guilt and vehemently deny that because of their race they haven’t been handed anything in life. “My life has been just as hard!” No it hasn’t, Becky. So stop acting like it has.

I think the reason white people are scared of losing the majority is because they fear that they will be treated how they treated others. And they should be.

I fear writing this because of how it will come across. I am no expert, I have no authority. I’m also worried it will actually sound racist when I’m trying to be optimistic and say I want equality at every level. Diving into other cultures is scary and exciting all at once. I think the appropriate word here should be: exhilarating.

The thing that made me the most happy from my little jaunt to the cinema (besides being seated between my handsome husband and my beautiful boyfriend) was the string of trailers prior to the film. Every one of them was starring a person of color. And for very brief moment I was hopeful that all of this bullshit will pass and we will continue to progress as a society together.

Burst of Steam/Greasing the Wheel

Every day I find myself slipping further and further into madness. The news coming out about the current administration is gut wrenching and mindboggling. Every day I ask myself, “Why is no one doing anything?” And there may be people who are, but it just feels like it is getting worse by the second. Granted, it is all about what is being fed to me through social media. My drug of choice happens to be twitter. It is there that I get most of my current events. And there I have surrounded myself with people who share the news that happens to paint a world that is falling down around my ears.

Try as I might to end the “crazy” by steering clear of these sites I cannot. I am drawn to it like a battered wife back to her abusive relationship. I tell myself that I deserve it or it’d be worse if I wasn’t informed. All the while sending myself to an edge I may very well fall over.

The problem with social media is it gives us the opportunity to share our thoughts. But that is a double edged sword. Because while you are allowed to say what it is that roams the halls of your mind, it doesn’t absolve you from the consequences. There are things no one should utter because it would put one into a world of literal turmoil. While more often than not the things I want to say are just blasts of steam building in my panic, they could be destructive for my life as they could be seen as threats to those who would seek to make myself an “example.” And these moments of rage are just that, me venting my frustrations at the lack of power I have over my surroundings.  So they’re better left unsaid, even though they would feel amazing to say them.

The one way I have developed to cope with this insanity is to welcome death. Sure, that is a bit extreme but it’s the only way for me to accept that I am a fleck of dust in the big scheme of things. It also makes it where I am not as distressed throughout the day. I’m even nihilist adjacent, saying to myself “let’s see what happens.”

There is no point to this post, mainly just venting. I am more so attempting to get the writing wheel spinning again, since it has been some time and I am really rusty.

Exhibit: Addiction

I am broken. All humans are, but I sometimes feel more fractured than most.

These past couple days I have found myself beaten and downtrodden. With all the things that are happening in the world (the cruelty, the callousness, the secrecy), to the death of my “bear cub,” to the stress of my impending licensing exam, I have found it hard to see the “bright side.” As a result, my addiction has reared its ugly head and shown me, without a doubt, that I am a sex addict.

For many, it’s not a real addiction. Supposed “sex therapists” have denounced it because there isn’t a substance in which one abuses. However, fun fact, the rush one feels during orgasm is just as powerful as a shot of heroine. So, there’s that. Regardless of the few naysayers, there is a program out there (I am apart of) and rehab centers that deal with the addiction.

I’ve been in the program since the summer of 2009. I should have been in a lot earlier because my addiction started with pornography when I was around 12. Back in the old dial-up days, I use to peruse galleries of images and would not stop until I had viewed every image. (In a gallery of 400+ pictures, that is quite the task.)

At the time, I was also a “devout” Christian and the images I viewed (and have only ever searched) were gay. So the addiction cycle of shame and guilt came all too easy to me.

Over the years it has progressed to insane levels and taken me into directions and places I never thought I could or would go. But that’s the nature of the beast.

The notion most people have is that “it’s all about sex.” And, speaking for myself, I know that to not be the case. There is something else attached to the whole situation to where I have tricked myself into thinking that it makes me feel better. It likes to make me think that it is some temporary band-aid in times of distress or sadness. When I was younger I used it to soothe my conflicting feelings about my sexuality. In the waning months of 17, I wielded it to cope with the break-up I didn’t see coming and subsequently never dealt with.

Where it becomes crystal clear, is that I have a husband and a boyfriend and my mind immediately goes to wanting to hook-up (or what we call in the program as “acting out.”) If it was about sex the need would be met, but it is still there as an “answer” to what ails me.

Some may be surprised to know that there is more to sex than just the act. There is the chase of finding someone physically attractive, the provocative and alluring conversation heightening the excitement and anticipation, the ritual of saying certain phrases or doing things in a particular order, and then there’s the ultimate goal of meeting with this person who one has deified… All of it is consuming. Yet, what follows (for me especially) is the shame and guilt, making one feel worse than they did before and thus perpetuating the cycle.

The piece I find bizarre, is the act of not doing something destructive makes me feel sick.

I attempted to break my sobriety. I reached out to someone, made a plan, and then, when I fought hard against the want and desire to do that, I found myself feeling physically ill. I sounded like a mad man, repeating the same line over and over again, “just don’t download the app.” Yet, what did I do? I did exactly that, disappointing myself. My immediate act though, was to flake on the person I had spoken to and thus ending any chance of doing something that would have hurt my husband and boyfriend, and, primarily, myself.

So, I live to fight another day!

Everyone that needed to know of what was transpiring knows.  Now comes the task of trying to find something healthy and productive to pull me out of this goddamn funk.

One of them is writing.