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.)

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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.

A Bookmark of Life and Loss

When I first met the man that I would refer to as my “bear cub” I hated him. I thought he was a narcissistic douche bag that I did not find the least bit funny. He thought he was hilarious. He came into my high school theater class making off-color jokes and being generally obnoxious just as I was getting out of it, and I would not see him again until we participated in a show down in LA called “You Make Me Physically Ill.”

For whatever reason when we reconnected, I fell in love with Jacob in a very non-sexual way. I felt this intense need to protect him and would defend him with my life if it came to that. I jokingly told him that my husband and I were going to adopt him, even though he’s only a couple years younger than me. (We have a habit of taking in strays.) Because I felt like a mama grizzly whenever anything pertained to him I would henceforth refer to him as my “bear cub.”

Yesterday I found out that he took his own life. The moment I got the text my eye caught sight of just his name and I already knew. If there was anyone who would commit suicide it would be Jacob. He dealt with the darkest of demons that I could not fathom what it must have been like to reside in his head. I think that’s why I found this need to protect and care for him. He, in many ways, reminded me of my father.

Now I walk the path every person who has lost someone to suicide travels: I am thinking of how I let him down and how I could have done more to keep this from happening. I feel shame in that I never spoke much with him after he moved to a different state, even though I did think about him often. Most recently he’s been in my thoughts because the upcoming Pokemon game is a remake of yellow and that was his favorite of the games; because you could get all three starters. I meant to reach out but I didn’t. I don’t know what stopped me. And I don’t even know that if I had, if that would have made any kind of difference. The thing about mental illness is that it is unpredictable and the best of intentions can sometimes be fruitless. Yet, we still have to try.

I can’t lend any new perspective or advice to the situation. In the end, it is what it is and nothing can be undone.

I will miss him.

A brief snapshot

Social media is something that simultaneously astounds and appalls me. At times it brings out the lowest common denominator in some, and yet for others it coaxes out a true humanity and the love we all have inside of us.

There is a gentleman I follow on Instagram whom I have never met nor have ever conversed. It has become apparent with his recent posts that he is going through a breakup. At first it was all subtext (a lot of selfies and cheeky butt shots) or the sporadic vague post about “going through stuff.” He finally disclosed his and his husbands break-up in his Instagram story and my heart broke for him. I have watched with interest as this stranger shared his life through photos: spending time with his boyfriend as they travelled the country, to their marriage at the site of a plane crash (no joke), and as they spent time together with their son. I have “hearted” almost every snapshot into his life. And now as he goes onto a new path I eagerly watch hoping and praying for his happiness, all the while never really knowing him.

I have been blessed to have been on the reverse of that, as people who happen to read this little blog or follow me on twitter have asked me how I’m doing. They barely know me, yet something compels them to care and reach out. Their little messages bring a lot of light into my world. And because of their loving curiosity I find myself wanting to share more.

As of late life is good. Wonderful in fact. Things with the husband have greatly improved since our little Palm Springs excursion, during which we laid out all our bull shit on the table for he other to inspect. I will admit, after all the sordid disclosures it took me some time to get through the following mess of emotions, but I have since arrived at a happier place. One in which I don’t ever want to leave. There is power and peace in rigorous honesty. And the communication since has flourished.

Then there is my awesome boyfriend. He is the kindest, most understanding person and I don’t know how I lucked out twice to get such amazing men in my life.

I shared all of this with my therapist during this last Tuesday’s session. She participated in my joy, but like any good counselor she didn’t just accept the good she also asked probing questions. For whatever reason, the one that stuck with me the most was: how do I not compare the two. My immediate response was that I don’t. The two of them are so different that there is no way to hold one up to the other in comparison and to do so would be a disservice to each of them.

After having more time to mull over her inquiry, my answer is still the same but I am more confident in my response. I truly can’t compare them because neither has what the other offers. It is trite to say but they’re like little unique snowflakes. And what I realized is that to break it down into such black and white ideas is not how this works. Polyamory (if that is what this is) is more complex. There are levels and layers to affection, emotions and multiple relationships that can’t be easily described in terms of “oh he’s so much better here.”

I don’t have my fears like I did. The thought that I would somehow be replaced by my husband’s boyfriend have left me. And my fear of us “just fooling ourselves and drawing out the inevitable divorce” has waned. It still lingers at the back of my mind, but it is a faint nagging that I scarcely ponder. Much like the zen attitude of just enjoying the moments with either one, I don’t let these negative thoughts cloud my present.

So, if you’ve wondered or worried over this stranger, as of right now there is no need. But your concerns have touched me more than you’ll know.

A Seer Reads the Stones

It’s going to be hard, but doable, not to read into the actions and words during this time. When I’m left with no answers and my mind is searching for some sense of stability or ‘realness’ I begin to look for the answers around me. Like when Charlie sleeps on the complete opposite side of the bed, where he used to hog all of it, is that a subliminal message that he’s trying to get away? Or when the last two days he’s been chatty and we’ve spent the evening holding each other and talking, and then it doesn’t happen is it different? Did something change?

The answers I divine to why are all stupid and probably not true. The further proof of this fact is that these are all my interpretations of perceived realities. For all I know the bed just feels bigger because of how I feel right now. I feel small and insignificant. Thus the spaces in between are vast and seemingly unending.

Then, like last night, charlie was tired and spoke very little and quickly turned around and fell asleep. Not at all like the past two nights. I could see that as he’s getting closer to this other dude or it was just that he’s a 40 year old man who is currently juggling a husband and a boyfriend. I could very well see how that in itself is exhausting and when you’re tired, you’re tired. (Not saying 40 is old.)

The thing about reading our own meaning into anything is that the pendulum can swing either way. It doesn’t matter what the facts are, they can be read in such a way that it is misinterpreted as negative. Case a point, Charlie was reading into my actions as wanting him to end the relationship because I couldn’t do it myself. In reality I was angry at him because I knew about the Derek thing and instead of talking to him or asking him about it I chose to keep it to myself which further drove a rift into our relationship. I was angry. As it also turned out, I was genuinely furious with and blamed him for our dog Klause getting out of the yard back in November. It was these things that made me angry with him and I was very cold to him as a response. It had nothing to do with me wanting to end the relationship, but that’s how he saw it.

Instead of talking to him and voicing these fears I kept them bottled up inside. They festered and made me feel something else entirely. If I had just done the “adult” thing and had a discussion about all of it, none of this may have transpired. My reality may have looked totally different. Yet, even that, right there, is me reading into it.

I want to think that “looking for answers” is a natural human response. It is our way of attempting to take the control back in a situation in which we feel we have none. We don’t like uncertainty and living in a “zen-like” state of letting life wash over us is against our usual factory defaults.

It’s a Brave New World…

…At least that’s what I keep saying to myself, and have been since December when I asked for an open relationship.

My husband doesn’t recall our conversation, in January, when we agreed to close it. I can specifically remember the location and how I felt in the moment in which I snapped and agreed. I then changed all of my stuff on all the apps and went back to that mindset. As it turns out, he was under the assumption we were still open which is when he started talking to this other dude.

We have talked a lot since our initial conversation on Saturday. What I have since learned, was that the reason he spoke to his mother about the state of our relationship and telling her about Derek (his boyfriend) was because he thought it was over between us. He had planned on ending things with me that night because he thought I was waiting for him to pull the trigger. However, when we talked on the car ride home from my parents, after St. Patrick’s Day dinner, his mind changed. What I told him was I wasn’t done. And I’m not. Like I mentioned in my previous post, regarding my midlife crisis, I was on the fence of what to do. I wanted to be single but I also wanted to stay in my relationship because at my core that is what I want. But, I also want to be single. Evenly distributed. (I’m kind of fucked up.)

After our conversation last night I have found further peace with this arrangement, which is basically a polyamorous relationship. I have my boyfriend (I hesitate to use that word for the baggage it brings) and he will have his. At least, for the time being. (It should be noted all four of us have deleted grindr and scruff, further upping the ante.)

A friend of mine, back when we were wrestling with it just being an “open relationship,” told me that we both have to be in agreement, and if one of us isn’t in it, the situation has to end. He is/was right. Which is why I have informed the husband that at the moment he is uncomfortable (and the husband said “I agree”) I will not hesitate to pull the chord on this arrangement. Now, whether he still feels that way in a few weeks, months or years (however long this fucking lasts) may be something else entirely. I just can’t be too concerned with thinking that far ahead. (I can hear the voice of my besty, Shelby, and her subsequent eye-roll, informing me how I’m being stupid.)

I have made peace with the notion that if he ends up ‘head over heels’ with this dude and would rather be with him I will be okay. I mean, of course I will. It will hurt like a mother-fucker, but I will remind myself I set this situation into motion. As he likes to remind me, I chose this. I asked for it when I wanted the open relationship and I chose it (yet again) when we talked the day after the car ride home. He set forth 3 options and I chose the ‘keep things the way they are and stay together but see these side pieces’ plan for only 5.99 a month.

I have no illusions to the contrary that this is absolutely playing with fire. Emotions WILL run high. And someone will be hurt in the end. The gamble is, who is going to be hurt. In the effort of full disclosure I have let my guy, Josh, know everything. I have not hid the fact of what is transpiring. I even want to send him the contact info of my previous ex for further reference to the agony that comes with dating me. I am trouble, plain and simple.

One of the changes I am making, to keep myself sane in this insanity, is to not read into the actions he takes and any assumed underlying message in what my husband says to me. My previous post was me reading into what he said way more than I should have. My therapist said that if we do this there has to be trust and I am just going to trust that he will be honest with me. What he says is what he says. If it turns out that there wasn’t any honesty in his words I imagine I will find out by our relationship ending.

I just find it odd that my husband, who has such anxiety about the future and how things will play out, is okay with this. For once he’s living in the moment and that is some major change. We’re both changing evidently.

The one thought I came to today was that we had previously known of similar situations with other couples in the past and we poo-pooed them and judged. I think we were just belittling them in an effort to tamp down our own desire for something similar. I probably shouldn’t be thinking that because it’s reading into things I shouldn’t. (It’s going to be a hard habit to break.) I just can’t help but look at it the same way I did when I was denying my sexuality. I vehemently hated gay people because I thought if I hated it enough outwardly it would kill that part of myself inside. Well, we see how that worked out.

I probably shouldn’t be airing my dirty laundry, but I have only one story to tell honestly and speak on with certainty and that is my own.

Stay tuned for further episodes of “Gays of Our Lives.”

Living in the 10%

I’m 90% sure that my marriage is over. It’s just that he and I refuse to see it and don’t want to go through the long arduous task of tearing our lives apart.

It became abundantly clear to me as I lay thinking about our entire conversation that took place over the course of the day and the tiny pieces of what he’s done that give reveal to a very large picture I can’t bear to see.

For the longest time Charlie has always kept his personal life to his self. We have gone through some major fights and on my part some major infidelities. I have fucked up this relationship, and it would appear beyond repair. But he always kept these things close to his chest for fear of how his family would view me if we were to reconcile and try again. Well, this weekend he told his mother everything, including the details of the new guy he’s been seeing. So tomorrow, I am supposed to go to his niece’s birthday party but I truly don’t know if I can knowing now that his mother and sister (and most likely everyone) will be looking at me like some kind deviant idiot, wondering to themselves “why is he here?”

While that alone tells me more than I will ever need to know about where he is in the situation, the other final point of obvious reality is that in our talks he has mentioned many great things that would benefit him if we were to divorce that he wouldn’t be able to do while together. He could file for bankruptcy and bring himself some financial peace. As a single income person, they would adjust his student loans accordingly and he could pay them off. A month ago he even mentioned about moving and getting out of town if we were to split. In the end… He would find the happiness I know he needs and deserves. So, why can’t I just do what I see is right in front of me?

Now, don’t think I am some kind of saint. The last thing I want is to appear like I am trying to be the victim in the situation because I am not. Far from it.

I too have a quasi-boyfriend thing. At least I have been talking to someone other than my husband. In fact I’ve probably done that multiple times over the 15 years we’ve been together. When my husband and I initially got together I wasn’t even looking or wanting a relationship, but he told me he loved me and that was the first person to ever say it. Being young and dumb I said it back without thinking of the consequences of my actions. From then on I caused him nothing but heartache. I have been a horrible person to him, never once deserving the love he gave me. I have been selfish and unkind. And I wonder if I ever returned to him the love he showed me.

As it stands now, we have decided to stay together but see these other people on the side. Even as I type this I am laughing for how absurd it all sounds and how dumb we’re being. I don’t know if were doing this because we are holding out hope that the spark is in fact not dead and we’ll realize that at some point, ditch the side pieces and focus on each other. Or, its just a temporary band-aid until we both come to our senses and realize it is indeed over. (For Christ sake he said tonight about giving his side dude more attention because he’s been giving so much and then referred to us as glorified roommates. Jesus…)

It’s so obvious. I know it is. I’m just not ready or willing to accept the reality. And neither is he, or he is just making me the one to bring the ax down onto this marriage.

For further disclosure: we have literally been in this situation once before. This isn’t our first rodeo. In 2008 we “broke up” but continued to live together and see guys on the side. So maybe we’re hoping to recreate the result which was us getting back together.