33 of 100

29 01 2017

33. If you could go back to one point in time to give advice to yourself, when would you go and what would you say?

It’s difficult to say at exactly when I would go back to in my younger days.  If I thought I would be ready to understand what I would tell myself now, I think maybe 9th grade or the summer between high school and college.

I’ve historically been very hard on myself, and had incredibly low self esteem.  Even now I struggle with these issues, and struggle to take care of myself as well as I should.  Going back, I would talk to my younger self about these issues, and the pronounced negative impact they have over time.  Since even now I am a work-in-progress on these issues, I don’t really know if much of a positive change would result.  Still, it would certainly be worth the effort.

Growing up gay in a family, church, community, and country that relived gay people certainly didn’t help me find a good path early.  While I was closeted, of course, I now realize everyone probably knew.  But I spent enormous effort trying to deny and change that part of myself.  I was so consumed by that effort, and felt such shame, that I really couldn’t see any of the positives that I had going for me.  I was a smart kid that did well in school.  I was very healthy, tall, thin, and energetic.  But I really saw myself as ugly, not smart enough, and fat.  (I was utterly shocked as an adult in my 30’s when I visited my parents and saw pictures of my younger self.  I was rail thin.  I remember the difficulty mom always had buying pants for me – because I was too tall and thin.  But somehow I always really thought I was fat.)  I was not only ashamed of my self for not being like the other guys, but I was also ashamed of my body.  I struggle with this still today.

As a result, I became very focused internally. I really didn’t know that other people had struggles, too.  While always polite, I would never let people get too close.  And still today I it is difficult for me to build strong connections with other people.  Even as a child I was treated so differently from my straight, athletic, outgoing, golden-boy brother, as my patents always sought to isolate me.  I don’t think they had negative intentions, but – and I’m speculating – I think were afraid if other people spent much time with me, or got to know me, they would see the terrible thing inside me (being gay).  The hope that they were trying to protect me is all I can come up with in any positive way to explain why they never wanted me to grow friendships or explore the world on my own.  They only three times ever gave me permission to go a friend’s house.  Once was to stay overnight with a classmate (sixth grade).  Once was to take a girl valentines flowers and chocolates (eight grade).  And once was to hang out with classmates after high school graduation.  As a background note – I never told anyone I was gay, or had a boyfriend, or engaged in any same-sex kissing, etc, until I was almost 30.

I was also not allowed to drive myself virtually anywhere, even though my brother was allowed to go with friends on trips out of town and even stay overnight at hotels.  I was never allowed to do such things.

By the time I got to college, I was so inside-my-own-head, and in such a shame spiral, that I still didn’t make new friendship connections, even though I was on my own.  I couldn’t even imagine why anyone would want to befriend me to spend any time around me.

So, I would love to talk to my younger self about all of that, but I don’t know how much impact one such conversation would have.  I think I would need periodic visits to check in with myself and see how things were going.  A single point of attempted intervention would likely have limited impact compared to lifetime of love, encouragement, and support that was needed.


22 of 100

4 01 2015

22. Do you like the type of music your parents listen to? Do your parents like the type of music you listen to?

Growing up my parents primarily listened to our hometown radio station, which played county music. I suppose now it would be considered classic country, but back then it was just country. It would play all morning while mom made a full breakfast, and we all got ready for work or school. They had a few records, and they were an assortment of classic rock from the 50’s and 60’s, a few gospel, and a few country albums.

Because of this, I think they might enjoy other kinds of music other than county, but as the only radio station in the county was country, we listened to it.

I enjoy rock, easy listening, and country, as well as musicals, jazz, blues, folk, and classical music. The majority of my listening time is probably spent with a mix of easy listening, rock, and limited amount of crossover country. A list of ten “off the top of my head” artists is found below.

  • The Avett Brothers
  • The Gibson Brothers
  • Quiet Company
  • Matt Fishel
  • Mika
  • Rufus Wainwright
  • Cazwell
  • Dan Zanes
  • Alicia Keys
  • Macklemore

21 of 100

17 11 2014

21. Do you enjoy being with only one or two friends, or with a large group of people?

I love the energy of celebrating with 50,000 or 60,000 fellow fans in a football stadium, or a few thousand at baseball or basketball game. By nature I’m quite solitary. Still, I enjoy the occasional company of others. I seem to connect best with the other person if there are only two of us, but can be quite comfortable with groups for varied sizes.

20 of 100

8 04 2014

20. Have you ever spent a night in the hospital?

I’ve spent most of the night several times visiting and caring for someone I love.

When I was 20 (or 21?) I spent nine nights in the hospital following a terrible car accident. The accident wasn’t my fault, but was the result of a car passing me on a two-lane road, in a curve, and forcing an ongoing truck to swerve to the shoulder to avoid the passing car.

The driver of the truck lost control in the gravel on the shoulder of the road, and plowed right into me. The truck hit me so hard that it knocked my car out the road and into a dirt bank. As a result, my car was damaged on the driver’s side, the front, and the rear, and the windshield collapsed in so far that it cut my head. Also, because of my hands on the wheel trying to steer, the glass hit my hands. Mom said the tops of both me hands looked like “rats had been gnawing on them”. Fortunately I was wearing my seatbelt and survived, but it was still close. It was four days before the team of physicians working with me told my parents that it looked like I might live, but at that point they couldn’t say whether I would be a vegetable. Once I started to pull out of the “deathwatch” stage, I began to recover steadily. After I went home I spent a few months recovering, healing inside and out, and regaining some weight and strength.

As an adult, I’ve spent one overnight in the hospital as a precaution following the discovery of blood clots that had gone to my lungs, and was released the next day.

19 of 100

7 04 2014

19. Where was your favorite place to go when you were a little kid?

I have always liked to go places. The places I that came to mind when considering this question were places I went with my family. Sometimes on a nice weekend day we would load up, usually in the pickup truck so that everyone had a good view, and the four of us would go for a long drive with no particular destination. We were just out enjoying the drive and following whichever direction, road, or rural highway seemed least familiar. Once in a while I still enjoy just heading out with no particular destination, preferably on the backroads, to explore. We miss so much when we only see the world from our own neighborhoods or the expressways.

If I had to pick a specific place, it could have been to a school event – usually basketball games, or a vacation destination. There are so many great places on most travels through small town America, but in answer to this questions I’ll just pick one: Maggie Valley, North Carolina. When we went to Maggie, we were really going to be all over the Smokey Mountain area, but some of my best childhood vacation memories involve lodging in Maggie.

17 of 100

14 06 2013

17. Do you drink? Smoke? Do drugs? Why, or why not?

I often have a cocktail or two a week. And I might have more if on vacation and walking home from the place where I’m drinking. I prefer gin martinis and Manhattans, but will sometimes have a cosmopolitan or Long Island Iced Tea. If making a drink for myself, it’s usually a gin and tonic. I occasionally have whiskey by the shot or in soda. My favorite whiskey is Crown Royal. When out at a bar I’m usually the driver and then prefer a Corona Light (no lime), or maybe two of them if we’re going to be there for several hours. I don’t drink to get buzzed or drunk, but have learned to enjoy drinks socially. It is very unusual for me to drink alone.

I don’t smoke. It’s not good for you, it costs a lot of money, and it smells bad. My father smoked until my senior year of high school. During his last few smoking years he smoked 2+ packs a day. Growing up in a smoked-filled house, and enduring countless trips in smoke-filled cars can’t have been good for us kids. All those chemicals can’t have been good for my mother’s health, either. I grew up in a family that struggled to make ends meet and lived paycheck to paycheck. It was not unusual for there to be serious discussions regarding medical care before seeking it, such as having glasses for poor eyesight or visiting the doctor due to illness or injury. As a very young child I broke my nose but wasn’t taken to the doctor. I have breathing problems as a result, even after one adult surgery, and a second surgery was recommended earlier this year. As a teenager I had a broken wrist bone, but was only taken to the doctor after several days of complaining about pain. However, there was never any question that dad was buying his cigarettes. I think it was my father’s way of making sure we knew how little we mattered to him. As you can probably guess, smoking has never appealed to me.

I have never had a desire to take illegal drugs, and fortunately have never had a drink spiked with them. I also have never smoked Mary Jane. It has never appealed to me. I have enough to worry about without illegal drugs.

“Get up and dance, get up and smile, get up and drink to the days that are gone in the shortest while.” –Simon Fowler

15 of 100

3 05 2013

15. If you could pick anywhere to live the rest of your life, where would it be?

This is a difficult question. I love quaint Oxford, Mississippi, but also love Manhattan, Toronto, and Provincetown. Westchester County, New York, is nice, too, if you can afford it. With a big lotto win, probably a Westchester home would win out. It’s close to Manhattan, but quieter and more relaxed. Provincetown is great, and i would love to live there, but I’m not sure I would want to spend the rest of my life there. Toronto is amazing, and would also get serious consideration. Unfortunately, despite my love for Oxford, Mississippi wouldn’t be a great place to live due to it’s anti-gay laws. I don’t want to live in a place where my spouse is considered a legal stranger to me. On a budget, Toronto would be more fun than New York. It’s plenty large enough, and after several visits I still look forward to returning. I have friends there, and feel quite at home.

My heart will always be in Dixie, but my home will likely always be in New York.

“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.” ― Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye

14 of 100

20 04 2013

14. Have you ever read the “Missed Connections” on Craigslist? Have you ever posted one, or wanted to?

I’ve read it a couple of times, and I posted once several years ago (with no response). I think the chances of a connection being made by through missed connections are pretty slim. The thought of posting recently crossed my mind, but I didn’t follow through. There is a guy who works at the pharmacy I use who is really cute, who always has a smile, and who seems really sweet. The “sweet” part could be the result of my projecting who I think he is – or at least who I want him to be. The last time I was there we both laughed as we talked, and his eyes seemed all aglow. I’m drawn to him, but suppose I posted the missed connection and he responded. Then what? I could take him out to dinner or a show, I guess, but I’m not sure where else this could lead. I already have a husband with whom I’m madly in love, so I don’t have much to offer the pharmacy guy beyond friendship. I think it’s probably more fun for me in the long run to have my little infatuation with him run it’s course without him knowing about it. Oh, and yes, my husband does know about pharmacy guy. 🙂

13 of 100

14 04 2013

13. You know at least one person named Michael. Tell me about him.

This has been the first of the questions that I’ve really struggled to answer. I know, and have known so many people named “Michael”. The one that keeps coming back to mind is the first Michael I remember, and I haven’t seen or heard from him since school. I’ve tried to find him online, but have had no success. I’m sure we had some classes together, but my strongest memories from him are riding the same school bus. He was quiet, and thin. He was about my height, with dark hair. At the time I thought he was the embodiment of what I wanted to be. I only remember him as a nice, pleasant person, who was one of the guys without ever being rude or condescending. He didn’t have to be the center of attention. Remembering him now I suspect that he was a little shy, although not cripplingly so.

I would love to see him again. I imagine that he has a wife, two or three kids, and a job at which he works really hard for moderate income. Is he still rail thin? Does he still have an adorable smile? Is his hair still combed straight down? Does he still have a full head of hair? Does he have a beard? Is he happy? Is he a fundamentalist? Would he be freaked out that I’m gay? Does he even remember me? If he does, what did he think of me way back then?

It feels weird to write about the Michael that I probably know the least about. On the other hand, I’m overwhelmed by the number of Michael’s I know, and all that I could possibly write about them.

“The problem, if anything, was precisely the opposite. I had too much to write:

too many fine and miserable buildings to construct and streets to name and clock towers to set chiming,

too many characters to raise up from the dirt like flowers whose petals I peeled down to the intricate frail organs within,

too many terrible genetic and fiduciary secrets to dig up and bury and dig up again,

too many divorces to grant,

heirs to disinherit,

trysts to arrange,

letters to misdirect into evil hands,

innocent children to slay with rheumatic fever,

women to leave unfulfilled and hopeless,

men to drive to adultery and theft,

fires to ignite at the hearts of ancient houses. ”
― Michael Chabon, Wonder Boys

12 of 100

30 03 2013

12. Name a song that never fails to make you happy.

I narrowed it down to two, and included links so that you can hear and see them the way I do.

Who doesn’t like Heman? Careful readers will notice a reference to a previous post within the video/song. What’s going on?

And, for a change of pace, the Avett Brothers. Talk on Indolence starts out a little shouty, but the music is amazing. Even though the song has a more serious them, it energizes me. I love to blast in in the car or at home when I notice that I need a lift.

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind,
flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” –Plato