The Night I Met My Husband

On this November the first, I celebrate my husband’s and my 4 year wedding anniversary and 14 years as a couple. It’s weird to think about how much time we’ve been together, yet here we are. And what’s most peculiar is how we were introduced purely by accident.

I have told the story numerous times on my blog, but I will do so yet again because it is one of those tales that intrigues me for the utter random happenstance of the whole thing.

Picture it, it was the height of AOL days, 2004. I would spend my late-teen evenings chatting with my friends online through IM or through a typical chatroom known as BakersfieldM4M. My friends and I would log on and broadcast one large conversation in the room, while simultaneously having our own individual private chats. This is where my now husband, then unknown, logged into the room and happen to see my username: MelancholysChaos. (Yeah, I’m rolling my eyes too.) He then confused me with someone else and decided to message and inform me that indeed he and Diego were still together. Being the sarcastic almost-eighteen-year-old I was, I acted as though I knew what he was referring to and carried on a conversation until I got bored and flat out asked him who he was. He told me his name, Charlie, and I added him to my buddylist after I learned that my very recent ex, Travis, had been a big fan of his. However, Charlie had not been attracted to my ex in the slightest, which brought me joy. (And when I say recent here, I mean a week to a couple days.)

For whatever reason, I would message this stranger whenever he came online, which wasn’t that often. Almost a week after letting me know he and Diego were still a thing, he let me know they weren’t. To which he proceeded to ask me out on a late night date to Denny’s.

It should be noted that I was still living at home and attending high school, in my senior year. So, for me to do a late night date I had to sneak out of my bedroom window and “borrow” the station wagon. To give the illusion that I was still in my bedroom, and not out galavanting around town, I put a coat hanger on my door-knob to where it slid in between the crack of my dresser and the wall. It was the most white-trash lock I could concoct but it served its purpose. To add to the illusion of my presence, I put on one of my favorite Disney movies, Sleeping Beauty. I quietly backed out of the driveway, started my car on the street, and made my way across town to Denny’s.

Again, for whatever reason, that night I chose to wear a pair of kahki’s and a red polo shirt with blue stripes. I tell you this because it was VERY out of character for me at this stage in my life. I was very much “goth” at the time. I wore nothing but black t-shirts, black dickie’s, black converse, and black eye-liner. I even dyed my hair black to match how I felt on the inside. (I was going through a phase.) Like I said, for some reason I did not wear any of that. As I later learned, if I had our relationship would very much have ended that evening. My husband liked him some preppy boys. Anything that remotely deviated from that path was shunned.

I pulled into a spot facing the empty street and as I got out of my shaggin-wagon I saw this white mustang drive by and turn into the same shopping center. Somehow I knew that was this dude. He hadn’t even told me what kind of car he drove but I was certain of it. (Those are the kind of thoughts one has when they encounter fate.) And I turned out to be correct.

For the next hour we sat in a booth having lame conversation as we attempted to get to know each other. He had a silver Motorola flip-phone that he kept spinning nervously in between his other facial tics. He kept rubbing the middle knuckle of his index finger along the side of mouth, like someone does when they have a goatee. Later I found out that he had briefly had one and developed the habit. My husband also has a tendency to twitch his nose in the most adorable way when he’s nervous and that night it didn’t stop.

As the evening wore on, neither of us having eaten anything at Denny’s, (I imagine he got a diet soda, his drug of choice) we decided to go back to his place.

I don’t remember if I messaged a friend to say I was going over to a stranger’s house in the wee hours of the morning. I want to think that I did, but more than likely not because I was (and still am) an idiot that thinks nothing of potential dangers.

He lived in this old brick face building downtown that had once been an elder care facility back in the day. It was also located across the street from a former morgue-funeral home (which is where we would later hold our wedding reception.) He lived on the second floor, at the front of the building with a beautiful view of downtown. Bakersfield isn’t much, but the view he had was wonderful.

He fancied himself a collector of DVDs at the time and was showing me the small tower he had amassed. The film he chose that night for us to watch had been decided at Denny’s when I told him that I had never seen “Philadelphia.” Now, he claims he had never seen it too, but I distinctly remember him saying that it was one of Hanks’s best roles. He popped the disc into the tray and we watched the 2 hour long movie about a man dying of AIDS. How romantic.

A remnant of my former relationship with Travis, some thin rubber wrist bands, chose that evening to break and I ended up throwing them away. I think they split when he discovered that I was ticklish and I was wrestling to get away. What a surreal picture to make a romantic connection with someone as we watched a man waste away from a deadly disease at the height of its terror.

When the movie ended he walked me to my car, like a gentleman, and I kissed him. I was annoyed that, that was all we ended up doing, but he wanted to wait until I turned 18, which was only a few weeks away.

I drove away that night thinking I would probably never hear from him again. Oh, how wrong I was. The dude blew up my phone. He was an over-the-road trucker at the time and had looooong hours of nothing to do, so he would call me and keep me on the phone late into the evening.

Looking back, I was so young and stupid. I had no idea what I wanted or who I was. Yet, we seemed to work. It is true that our lives have gone up and down over the past fourteen years. Nothing is ever perfect. For a brief year we ended our relationship yet continued to live together and sleep in the same bed. We were crazy and confused. But, there is truly no one else I would want to go through this with than Charlie. He is perfect in the strangest ways and we compliment each other like a broken window pane. Apart we are two jagged pieces of glass, but together we make the other whole. It’s sappy, but it’s true.


Unexpected Thought Provoking Projections

Every person has that one musical artist that they identify with and call their own. Each song they sing sounds like the words from their own heart and they hold that person up as some mystical creature to be cherished. For me it’s Robbie Williams. I know, weird. I came upon him in my most formative days of my youth when I was obsessed with anything and everything British. I so badly wanted to live across the pond and when the music video of an ex-boyband, turned bad boy, showed up in a random cluster of music videos, singing about the “Millennium” I was entranced. I bought his album”The Ego has Landed” and found myself entranced by each track and even a little frightened at times to where his music was taking me. The song “Karma Killer” made me feel so uncomfortable, because it was such a departure from what I had been listening to.  It was dark and curious.

I have followed the man’s musical catalog since then. I even went online and purchased his UK only releases and a great many posters to decorate the wall of my American home with this British singer. He was a god to me. I’ve loved (almost) every one of his albums. (Rudebox was just not my cup of tea.) I have found that since he parted ways with Guy Chambers I haven’t been a slob for his music as I had once been. Now he has to really try to get me rocking out in my car.

His most recent album “The Heavy Entertainment Show” is pretty good. There a few songs that make me go, “meh” but overall I’m belting out each lyric in my car as I speed down the freeway. While I was working today, I chose that one to blare on my car speakers and there are two tracks that he wrote for his children that brought up a topic in my head I couldn’t shake.

The songs are great. The one to his daughter is “Love my Life” and is this beautiful melody that wins me every time. The one for his son is “Motherfucker.” Don’t let the title mislead you. The song is a rock-ish romp about how everyone in his family has a past where they have battled their demons. It’s really good, and it’s super fun to sing “motherfucker.”

The tracks made me realize how parents tend to project these ideas, personalities, personas, and lives onto their children. Before they have truly developed their own identity, Robbie wants his daughter to have a charmed life where she loves every facet of it. That idea in itself is strange because no one, no matter how pampered their life has been, will escape the harsh reality of “human experience.” But I understand the want for your child to find joy. We all want that. But it’s silly to think that’s even achievable.

The other song  is projecting this idea of masculinity or rebelliousness on his son. He very well may be just as rambunctious as his father but then again he may not. It’s interesting to me how he would even consider that as something his son would have to fight, but not his daughter. He even calls his wife crazy in the song as a reason his son will be a “bad motherfucker.” Shouldn’t she have the opportunity to battle the shadows of the past?

I know he meant nothing harmful in these songs. It’s beautiful that he would even write something for them. I just think it brings to light a problem we have as a society.

In addition, this notion was exacerbated for me when a friend of mine posted a set of photos that were “gender reveal” cakes. And on them were the most stereotypical ideals of what it is to be a boy or girl. One was “Lures or Lace” and another was “guns or glitter.” I like none of those things. Do I have no gender identity?

I think we as a collective look at our children to fix the mistakes that we made or expect them to not have any at all. I think it also perpetuates this idea that girls are delicate creatures that bruise at the slightest touch and boys are tough as nails and up for a fight. And it begs the question, do we grow into these stereotypes that our parents project onto us, or are we our authentic selves?

When I look at my own life, I don’t know if my parents had any kind of expectations of me. Other than me being a good person and marrying a woman and having hundreds of babies, there was nothing else they wanted of me. (Boy did I let them down.) They never forced me into sports, they always encouraged my artistic side. They let me develop as I went along.

I know that if my husband and I do adopt (which we better fucking do, goddamnit) I want to make sure they know they can be and do whatever they want. I will hold no other expectation out of them than to respect those that are around them, and to treat others with courtesy, no matter how terrible they find themselves being treated  in return.

I will say, if they don’t love Robbie like I do, I may have to disown them. However, I let my husband’s dislike of him slide. So, what’s one more under the wire?

I’d rather be hung than ‘hanged’

This week it came out that at some event Trump made an off-hand joke that Pence wanted to hang all the gays. Now some probably will and may argue that it’s just a joke (a shitty one) and that it was intended not to be taken seriously, but the essence of what makes comedy good is that one can always find a nugget of truth. That’s what makes it comical. But no matter how you look at it it’s not funny. At all. 

The main reason it’s also not funny is because Pence believes that conversion therapy works. He’s a proponent for it. His picture even graced the wall of the pretend conversion camp that Jack’s son Elliot sent his son on this weeks episode of Will & Grace. 

When I was younger and confused about my identity, I quite literally made statements that all the gays should be killed. (Or get their own island. And the problem would “solve” itself. I was such a douche.) From my stilted Christian perspective, I thought that they were vile beasts destroying the world and felt that the only way to cleanse this planet was with their elimination. Some may say that this is just hyperbole or that I’m making it up but I unfortunately am not. I was filled with so much rage and hate because I believed that if I hated it enough at others it would go away in myself. 

Today my mother asked me if I knew that I was gay in Christian school. To which I told her yes, but I never would admit it. Instead every night I would pray, in tears, that god would make me normal and take away these thoughts and feelings, but it never happened. The fucked up christian part of my brain pipes up some times and says, “that’s because you didn’t want it enough” or that “I just didn’t believe enough.” At the time I did. I pretended as much as I could to be straight but it’s not me. I want to be friends with women and never see their naughty bits. 

Soon after that, my mother also began to make a statement about how we choose our sexual identity and I stopped her right there and told her that it was that wording or idea that is completely wrong. Why would anyone deliberately choose to be ostracized from their friends and family just for some gay sex? It’s ridiculous. I should have followed up her comment with a question asking when she made her choice to go after men and not women. 

When I told my husband this he said, “ it’s funny because this kind of thinking comes from religion which is the only thing that can be changed.” 

I sometimes wonder what if I had told my parents that I had wanted to go to a conversion camp, would they have sent me. It pains me to say it but I’m sure they would have. They didn’t know any better. Religion makes and keeps people stupid. And being gay eveidently goes against everything in the faith, however they’ve changed their minds about premarital sex, tattoos, liquor and smoking. 

If someone believes that faith can somehow curb your sexual desires all I can think is that person is hiding themselves in a lie. Which makes me convinced that Pence is gay. It’s because of that idea that it’s a choice that in my life I have encountered a great many married men looking for man on man action. They have their fun (because it can’t be denied) and then they beat themselves up and say “never again.” And I know because I was there once too. 

Damming the Depression

Like many Americans I suffer from depression. I was diagnosed when I turned 18 however I think it had been an issue for some time prior to that. As an adult I realized my true personality, which is that of an overachiever looking for recognition of my intelligence. I was also this way prior to puberty but during my teenage years I couldn’t have cared less about anything and everything. It could have also been because I was grapling with my sexual identity from the perspective of a devout Christian but who knows.

Either way I was prescribed anti-depressants from that day on.

My relationship with these pills has waxed and waned frequently over the years. I go from thinking “I can never not be on my meds” to “maybe this is what is keeping me from writing?” It is this cycle that I live my life through. It would appear that I am coming to the moment of “I can never not be on these pills” again. But have I taken them? No, because “they keep me from writing.” Which is funny because so does depression.

I made an appointment with a therapist for Monday. And I am genuinely looking forward to it. I’m curious if I’ll like her and if she’ll call me by my actual name. (I had a therapist that went in for the “come to Jesus” message of the session and botched it by telling me I should ask myself “what does Jason want.”)

I want to like her and I hope it helps. The thing about therapists is you have to find the right one that works well with your personality and shares somewhat basic ideals. I have seen a few in my day and it took some time before I came to one that could keep up and seemed to like me. He is also the one who has since ignored my subsequent calls. Yet, as I outlined in my earlier post, it could be because I kept bouncing my checks.

Prior to this, and on a different insurance, I started seeing this addiction therapist and she had a very dry almost cold personality but there was something about her that intrigued me. Maybe it was because I could tell from the lines on her face that she herself had battled addiction and knew what she was talking about. Unfortunately I had to let her go because we switched insurance and I happen to get the day of my appointment mixed up in my head. (Happens often).

As the days go on I become frequently sadder. My Facebook feed being the biggest instigator of these emotions. It should be noted that I have since deleted it from my phone.

My husband this morning remarked that his Facebook feed was nothing but recipes now and I retorted, rather jaded, that mine was nothing but trump. The man is destroying everything in my eyes and I can’t help but feel soooooo insignificant. There is nothing I can do without buckets of money or power. Of which I have none. My husband, in an attempt to make me feel better, said we are all insignificant. He’s sweet for trying.

The thing that has really been upsetting is this dick had decided to side with the religious Reich and build his new platform under family values. I laugh sometimes because the hypocrisy of him taking a stand for them is hilarious and them accepting it is a downright riot. Yet here we are. Two cruel and callous forces combining their lights to take on the evils of the homosexual agenda.

These thoughts inevitably lead me to the realization that some of my friends and family voted for this monster and because of him they could potentially (and most fucking likely) take away my rights as a gay man. They may have not done it intentionally but they have when they elect someone that has an agenda that wants to destroy my community. I know that they find me repulsive, they say so in all of the literature and words, and it is from that knowledge sprouts two paths of thought, I either return their hatred or do what Christ says and turn the other cheek. I may be agnostic but I was raised in the faith and my mother (who exemplifies what it means to be a Christian) taught me well.

So another day I drift closer to a dark depression. I try not to be so maudlin, for instance I am currently out in the sunshine, taking a break from bike riding. It is that exercise and the return of Will and Grace that has brought me the most joy. It’s pathetic and it’s true.

Seeking Help

It has become quite clear to me that I need to seek out a counselor. My emotions need some release and validation from a disinterested third party. Yet, when I go to search I am stopped. A thousand questions run through my mind: who I should pick, will they like me, will I like them? And the most important, will they be okay with me being gay?

I live in a very conservative community. Dangerously so. All the doctors I have sought are all marriage and family. I just want a fucking therapist to go and vent to and find out what makes me tick. But I don’t know if they will harbor some sort of resentment toward me because I’m gay.

This fear of mine is exacerbated by a former counselor of mine. He was really good and I liked him. His name was Dr. Strange, however he wasn’t a PhD. I just added the title because it was adorable. Anyway, when I was seeing him the husband and I were on a break, yet we were still living together and sharing a single bank account. He would make purchases that would then make my checks bounce. I tell you this because I want to believe that when I went to reach out to Jake Strange years later for help and when he ignored my calls it was because he didn’t want to deal with the unpredictability of being paid for his services. The jaded side of my personality believes it was because he was religious and wanted nothing to do with a faggot. (I hate the word but I added it for emphasis.)

Since then I have been uneasy when it comes to finding a therapist. Even now… I am mortified. I tried reaching out to one yesterday but haven’t heard back at all. A simple “we’re not taking new clients” would suffice. At least then I could move on to the next on my list. In my mind I’m in some weird counselor database saying I bounce checks and am gay.

I tried the next on my list regardless of an answer and when I was faced with his voicemail I froze. I couldn’t do it. I was terrified. My voice caught in my chest and I instead just hung up. He presented himself as a marriage and family counselor. I was going for me, not my marriage. Did I search for the wrong thing?

So I attempted another number and I responded the same way. I couldn’t leave a message. Now I am wondering if I am just scared to actually get help. Maybe this is me making excuses NOT to get better, you know what I mean?

In a final attempt I reached out to my former Psychologist for a recommendation (per my husbands advice.) Now I wait again.

AOL Days IM Nights

Technology is dated the moment it comes out. By the time it’s been mass produced, packaged and shipped it’s been outdated by newer and better technology. It’s just kind of how the digital age works. Things appear from nowhere and disappear just as fast. For those that enjoyed the item while it was there, it will hold a special place in their heart that can never be outdone, no matter how well the thing that replaced it performs. For me the item from the digital age that deeply affected my life was AIM.

Now, I never actually used just the AOL Instant Messenger. I had the full aol shebang all because of the movie “You’ve Got Mail.” Like a lot of preteens I was chasing that silver screen fantasy of finding someone special. Funny now that I think of it, that it did in fact do just that. Just not right away.

Being a fat, pale, shut-in with no friends the internet opened up a whole new world for me. I got to meet people from all over the world and talk with them. The conversations were vacuous and silly but it was a way to connect when I felt so alone.

AIM gave me that opportunity.

I still have one friend from that time, Heather. She was my “shopgirl” before I realized I really just wanted a “shopboy.” Well, I knew I wanted boys I just hadn’t accepted it because of my religious background. AIM let me “have a girlfriend” without having to actually touch or kiss another girl. It was all about words and creating an illusion. Honestly I did love her. She was sweet and I enjoyed talking to her. She lived in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

When my husband and I went back to New York last years, I had wanted to meet with her (since she has moved) but it wasn’t possible. One day I hope to see her face to face and give her a friendly hug.

My real “shopboy” (btw this is a reference from “You’ve Got Mail” you must get to understand) came in the form of a dude named chuck77393. That was my husband’s old AIM name. And the first thing he ever said to me was “yeah, Diego and I are still together.” I of course being the troublesome 17 year old I continued on the conversation like I knew who he was and what he was talking about. I added his sign name to my “buddy list” and proceeded to message him until he and Diego called it quits. That was 14 years ago.  Crazy.

Though AIM also offered some not so good or nice things. It helped facilitate the meeting for my first sexual encounter.

I was 14 years old when I messaged Trucker93313. I’m not positive, but almost certain this man was in his mid to late forties. He and I arranged through IM that I would meet him at the end of my street and he would take me back to his place, which turned out to be the sleeper of his semitruck parked in a Rite-Aid parking lot. Gross.

I justified it at the time because I wanted to know whether or not I was really gay. I had been looking at pornographic websites and feeling so much shame. (Never once did I check out women by the way.) I needed an answer and this strange man agreed to meet with me to provide one. I lied and said I was 16, like that is somehow better than 14 when the dude is sitting near a half a century, but whatever. The logic of a pubescent brain.

I walked away from that event feeling disgusted and certain I was DEFINITELY not gay. As it turned out I am most certainly a homosexual it was just this dude was that disgusting. He’d have to be to meet with an underage boy.

When I think about it, this man could have murdered me. I knew nothing about him at all and if he had my parents would have had no idea what happened to me when they woke in the morning to find that I was gone.

With the announcement of AOL ending AIM after 20 years, it has made me reflect on all the hours I spent at the computer, conversing with strangers. It really and truly changed my life on which it had a profound affect. It helped me realize and understand my sexual identity and it got me the man I would spend the rest of my life with.  I will forever be in its debt.

Jaded Surfeit Ramblings

So I finally missed a Friday. I wish I could say that it was because I was doing something so exciting and time consuming that it slipped my mind, however I was in fact watching the new episode of Will & Grace three times in a row (bringing the grand total to four.) The thought that I had to write even crossed my mind at nine o’clock but I shrugged it off. The desire just wasn’t there for me. Well, only partially missing, but it was the one that won the scrimmage in my brain. When I try and figure out what happened all I can think is that I am just super depressed. The world has spun out of control and I never know what is going to happen. The worst part of it all, is the depression has jaded me more than ever before.

I jokingly called my blog “Journal of a Jaded Josh,” mainly for the alliteration but primarily as a joke. I have some ho-hum views about perfectly mundane things. But it can’t be stressed enough that it was a joke. However, it isn’t anymore. I find myself increasingly driven to this dark perspective about life and living. My longing for the past when President Obama was in office has reached new heights. At that time I never read the news. Politics bored me. I just wasn’t interested in anything big because in the back of my mind I knew that everything would be taken care of. We would move forward with good leadership and a cool head. That sense of security has long since faded. Now I’m terrified NOT to read every piece of news and know every facet of every situation. My fear is that I’ll miss something crucial and find myself in a camp.

My loved ones think I am jumping to extreme conclusions when I say my husband and I are going to be rounded up and put into camps because we’re gay. They don’t see how that could possibly happen, but who would have ever thought it would have happened to the Jews. This administration doesn’t rely on it’s word. At all. They say one thing and literally turn around and do the complete opposite. It’s a mad house. And just recently it was announced that they want to make it legal to fire someone for being gay. I mean… I don’t think that would happen in my normal nine to five, but who knows. You learn who your true friends are when the rules no longer apply.

I get frustrated beyond belief with republicans. I truly dislike them. Yes they’re good people. They want to live a happy life just like me. And they may not agree with the vilification of gay people, but it is the fact that they elect people of power who do. That is where I draw umbrage. They look at this person and don’t think, “Well, I like what they have to say but not the gay stuff. But I’ll go ahead and vote for them anyway.” The excuse I hear ad nauseam is “Well I had no other choice.” That is bull shit. There are always other choices. There are hundreds of choices. You just happened to look at the R and ignore everything else. It’s despicable. I have zero patience for it. Hillary would not be a bumbling buffoon who can’t keep her trap shut, who at the end of the day is worried about only one person.

I still hate politics. Especially more so. I hate the lies and deceit and the money that truly runs things. Every one of them is scum and nothing can fix it, it seems. The people who have the heart to do the people’s will end up corrupted by money or pressure from their peers. Even now, given a seemingly insane individual, they rather stick to party than politics. The health care bill alone is just a way to fuck the people and help only a select few. Power and wealth corrupts. And one would think at a certain point those without the two would see the corrupted for what they are and revolt, but these sons of bitches (that’s right, not kneeling protestors), have somehow magically manipulated the masses into fighting against their own self-interest to protect their claim to wealth and power. I genuinely applaud them for their skill. That alone is astounding.

It is in this rage and futility that I finally see what drives a person to extremism or the desire to lash out. When you feel like there is nothing left to lose you are willing to watch the world burn around you.

While I saw Obama as the second coming of Christ (not literally of course because many claimed he was the anti-christ) others saw him stripping away… something. They built up this fictitious world in their mind that said he was destroying all that they held dear and in that they began to loath the system and turned on it, deciding to give it to an outsider that bragged about assaulting women and vilified minorities. And in that knowledge, I begin to wonder myself, have I built up my own fantasy? Yet when I see that people in Puerto Rico are dying and he’s bitching about peaceful protest in the NFL I realize I am justified.

So, all of this has made me jaded. I have no want for violence (however honestly it does cross my mind from time to time) because I am a pacifist… or a pussy. Whatever way you want to look at it I am want to avoid confrontation. It’s not me. Instead… I rather wallow in my misery and avoid things that give me life. And it is clear that writing gives me life. I say that it was that lack of desire that kept me from writing, but here I finish probably one of my longest posts to date.

The one good thing about this admin is it is exposing one’s true self. And when there are so few things to look forward to, that in itself is something to treasure.