Friday, October 15, 2010

Touched by....

So, that last blog post kind of threw me for a loop. It needed to be written and I'm still very glad I wrote it. But it left me unsettled and not feeling like myself for days after. When you dredge up things from your past which you've locked away and moved on from (in whatever manner and to whatever degree of success that was possible for you) it's sometimes hard to put them back in their nice locked cabinets in your brain until you've mulled them over for a while. Perhaps a long while. But, rest assured, they are locked up again. As they should be. The past is in the past and it shall stay that way.

My parents came to visit last weekend. That could be a whole other series of blog posts in and of itself, but it was good to see them. It's always good to see them. It was also tiring and I was already tired from all the over thinking I did after writing my last post so that made for a long weekend.

But, I ended the weekend by seeing Ingrid Michaelson in concert for a fifth time this year. It was the opening night of this tour so the set list was a little different than the previous four shows which was a nice change of pace. Although I did LOVE the other shows this year so I'd have been content with that set list too.

It's funny, I get this weird, inexplicable moment of sadness during a concert. Happens nearly every time I see live music, no matter the artist and no matter the venue. And it's not necessarily induced by a sad or maudlin song. It's just a wave of sadness sweeping over me for no identifiable reason. Very odd. This time it wasn't as severe as it has been at other shows which was great. But it was still there for that fleeting moment and as inexplicable as always.

Also great? Ingrid doing her a cappella cover of R.E.M.'s Nightswimming which is, by far, my favorite R.E.M. song. I have been waiting (hoping!) for her to do this in concert and was finally rewarded. It was amazing. Wait, see for yourself (the video is from her show a few days later, can't find a video from the show I was at):

Anyhow, during this song it started. Not the sad which I spoke of above, although there were tears in my eyes because I was so moved and so very happy to finally see this live. No, instead I could feel the music reaching out and wrapping itself around me, embracing me. It was like being completely enveloped in strong and loving arms. A feeling of love and protection and happiness, of everything being right in the world. I could feel the pressure of it surrounding me as I sat blissfully entranced.

It may sound crazy but it felt as though the Universe was hugging me, reassuring me I was right where I was supposed to be in my life. Wrapping it's warm arms around me and assuring me I was, indeed, on the right path. I think this is the sort of feeling that those who believe in God must feel when they say they've been touched by God. I can totally see how they'd think that even though I do not believe in God myself.

I needed that embrace from the Universe. Because sometimes (okay, maybe more than sometimes) I doubt myself. I doubt that I'm doing the right thing(s). And this not so subtle reassurance was very well timed indeed. It helped reinforce my belief that the Universe does indeed provide, we just have to continue to believe it will. And I do believe.

Words, though I adore them, can be so limiting sometimes. I cannot fully describe this feeling using only words. It's like the best hug of your life multiplied by joy and love and peace. Suffice it to say that I hope each and every one of you experiences this feeling at some point in your life. Because it is profound. Funny it should happen to me at a concert in a venue I'd never been to before instead of, oh, I don't know while sitting and contemplating life in Bar Harbor for instance. It's just another example of how amazing life can be. And how full of surprises.

And the night after the hug from the Universe? Well, that next night was awesome in it's own special way. I'm sitting here smiling just thinking about it. Nothing momentous happened that night. There were no earth shattering, mind blowing events. But it was great none the less. There was no place in the world I would rather have been than standing in Stalker's kitchen talking and watching her cook (and trying to stay out of her way).

So, thanks again for dinner Stalker, it was delicious and the company was fantastic as always. You are one of the most beautiful women I have ever met, both inside and out. Which is why (besides the fact that I have never in my life known what to do with my hands) I tend to keep them firmly jammed in my pockets or my arms crossed when we're together. I want to make sure you have the time and the space you need to figure your stuff out and I don't want to fuck it up no matter how smitten I might be (and yes, I am indeed quite smitten) (also? Smitten is an awesome word which totally stops looking like a real word the more times you read it) (also also? I am a bit over tired and rambly now) (but that doesn't change the sentiment, still smitten!). So, while you were there washing dishes or whatever I was leaning against the refrigerator smiling a goofy smile and restraining myself from hugging you from behind.

Also? I'm horrible at making the first move. Just sayin', you know, to get it on record (for the entire world to see. Go me!). (Huh, apparently I get honest and over share when I get tired. Good to know.) Besides, the ball is still in your court and it can stay there as long as you need. All I ask, all I ever ask really, is that you're honest and open with me and I, in return, will be the same with you.

The song for this post is hard for me to choose. I mean obviously I could go with Nightswimming. But there are a couple others which stand out as equally appropriate and I'm going with one of those instead. For quite some time leading up to my trip to Bar Harbor I was rather addicted to this song. It might have been played on repeat for my entire commute to and from work some days. And of course it was one of my selections for the Bar Harbor 2010 playlist. So, I give you, the beginning of Soldier by Ingrid Michaelson (of course).

I don't believe in anything but myself
I don't believe in anything but myself
But then you opened up a door, you opened up a door
Now I start to believe in something else

But how do I know if I'll make it through?
How do I know? Where's the proof in you?

And so it goes this soldier knows
The battle with the heart isn't easily won.
And so it goes this soldier knows
The battle with the heart isn't easily won.
But it can be won, but it can be won...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It gets better

I've been thinking about this post for days now. What follows later in the post may surprise those of you who actually know me. The point of this post though is, as the title says, that it gets better. Let me repeat that, it gets better. And again, it gets better.

The recent string of suicides by gay teens due to bullying is appalling to me. Tyler Clementi (18), Billy Lucas (15), Asher Brown (13), Justin Aaberg (15) and Seth Walsh (13) didn't have to die. They'd barely even begun to live. I can't believe that our society hasn't put an end to bullying and harassment yet. How can we call ourselves civilized when we still allow this to happen??? It saddens me that these young men thought their only option was to end their lives.

After watching the videos below I knew I needed to share my story too. This is the most difficult and one of the most honest things I've ever written.

When I was a teen I was just about as far from self aware as you could get. In high school I knew I was different, but I never really knew why. Looking back now, I can remember sitting on my bed when I was 16 or 17 and thinking "I don't want to be gay, I just want to be normal." At the time though, this thought seemed completely out of the blue and just plain crazy talk and so I pushed it away and carried on with high school life. I mean, it was preposterous to think that I could be gay! No way! It was a couple more years before I started opening the closet door to myself. And slowly at that.

My freshman year in college was eye opening in so many ways. I left my barely a dot on the map hometown to go to a tiny woman's college where my freshman class was five times the size of my high school class (there were 27, yes twenty-seven, of us in my high school class). I was finally exposed to, among other things, different cultures, different socioeconomic upbringings, different philosophies, different religions, and of course different sexualities.

My coming out story is far from sensational. I am one of the lucky ones and for this I am grateful every day. My family has always been incredibly supportive of me. As have my friends. I was never bullied in school for being different or for being gay (not to say I wasn't teased because I certainly was and I don't think anyone can escape some form of teasing in school, but teasing and bullying are very different in my mind). I've never been scandalously outed. I've lived a very dull gay life, and again, I am grateful for that. I know I am one of the lucky ones.

Those of you who know me in real life know that while I am snarky and cynical I am also a pretty positive person. I can find the bright side in almost anything. I'm a firm believer in every day being a fresh start. My glass is usually more than half full. What you don't know about me is that I didn't always think it would get better (but it does get better, I promise).

I started coming out to myself when I fell madly in love with an upperclasswoman who lived next door to me in the dorm the second semester of my freshman year (we'll call her T). At first I didn't understand my fascination with her. She transfixed me. I was enthralled by her. I'd never before in my short life been so deeply under someone's spell. One night we were in her dorm room and T pushed me up against the wall and kissed me. A very deep, very meaningful kiss. And that was when the light went off for me.

It would be untrue for me to say that moment was when I completely understood myself, because I didn't and I wouldn't for many years yet. But it was a very defining moment in my life, perhaps the defining moment. A point of no return if you will.

T and I embarked on what would turn into about two years of a ridiculously complicated, codependent (on my part) and somewhat emotionally abusive (on her part) relationship. I call it a relationship, who the hell knows what she might call it. I was probably more of a nuisance to her than anything else. She was, after all, straight. And she had a boyfriend. But she still slept with me.

During these two years of my life is when I first started to think about suicide. Yes, that's right I've thought, very seriously, about suicide. I've never attempted it, but I have, most definitely, thought about it many (many) times. Because I didn't think it would get better. Because I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Because I didn't feel like anyone could possibly understand me or what I was going through. Everything was so dark and heavy and my not existing anymore just seemed like the easiest way to deal with it all. You can't hurt if you don't exist right?

As I said earlier, I'm one of the lucky ones. I've been so incredibly lucky to have such wonderful support my entire life and yet I've still contemplated ending it on various occasions. What must people who haven't had this support feel like? How do the kids (and adults for that matter) who are harassed and bullied feel? I can't even imagine. It sends chills down my spine.

In some respects I think those of us who are positive in our outlooks are more at risk for suicide (personal opinion only here, not basing this on statistics or facts, just opinion). We're the ones you'd never suspect are weighing which option for offing ourselves is best as we give you our bright smiles (which don't always reach our eyes). Should I slit my wrists or should I try to drown myself or should I jump out a window, etc., etc., etc... Smile, smile, smile as brightly as possible!

We roll these thoughts over and over in our head until they seem so abstractly concrete they confuse even us as we seek clarity in our muddy muddled thoughts. College isn't the only time I've thought about saying the hell with it all and ending it. During the 18 months it took for Ms. Ex and I to end our relationship I'll admit the thought crossed my mind a time or two. And then the thought came creeping in again when I hit the absolute rock bottom lowest point in my life six months after we were finally through. Once you let the kernel of "it would just be easier for everyone if I wasn't around anymore" into your head it's really hard to let go of it.

You keep suicide in the back of your mind as an option in case it gets worse. And you never know what might make it actually BECOME worse. It's never the big stuff which makes it worse, it's the little stuff like the grocery store being out of your favorite potato chips or not being able to rent the movie you were looking forward to or someone not saying "bless you" when you sneeze at the office. You're trapped inside that incredibly dark tunnel without a light to guide you out. The walls press in on you and though your hands might be stretched out searching for something, anything, to grab hold of, you can't find it. You're there alone in the heavy darkness spinning in circles until it just becomes too much and you crumple to a heap on the ground. There isn't anyone there standing beside you lighting a match or a lighter or holding a candle or a flashlight or the iPhone flashlight app and taking your hand to lead you out.

That's what I think about when I hear about the Tyler Clementis and the Asher Browns and the Seth Walshes. I think about that feeling of hopelessness, helplessness and despair because I've been there. I've been crumpled in a heap on the floor of that dark tunnel unable to see anyway out.

The only difference between us is that I made a deal with myself that I have to sleep on it before I do anything. And if it's not a little bit better in the morning then I can think about it again. It's always been better in the morning. Maybe it's not much better in the morning, but it's always a little better and it's been enough. And it gets better every day. The point is it does get better. It always gets better.

I'm glad I'm still here to experience my life. I have known so much joy. I've gotten to experience so many wonderful things. And I know I have a lifetime's worth of amazing things still to come. I can't wait to live them all. Life IS good no matter how corny that might sound. And for those of you who know me and might be worried, don't. I love my life and I'm in no way, shape or form even standing in that dark tunnel. And if ever I am there again at any point in my life I know now that it gets better. And I know I can reach out and find a hand in the dark to help guide me out.

The tears are rolling down my cheeks as I write this. It's cathartic and yet dredges up all these dark and tangled emotions from my past. Things I've chosen not to think about for years and years have floated to the surface and they still hurt, they still take me back to those dark places in my life, to the inside of that dark tunnel where I felt helpless, hopeless and alone. But even though it still hurts, even though I know these things will be with me forever, I also know that it gets better. And I also know that I had to go through them to become the person I am today. They made me stronger and for that I am grateful.

If you'd sat me down when I was 15 and told me what my life would be like when I was 35 I would never have believed you. No way in hell could it be possible that I'd be a 35 year old lesbian with two cats and a dog living alone in a house I own in Connecticut (of all places!!!) who sits at a desk all day at work dealing with data. None of this was on my radar at all when I was 15 (except maybe the cats, maybe). And I love every last bit of my life now. It's rich and full and all mine to live.

If you're contemplating suicide or just feel isolated and alone there are resources available to you. All it takes is being a little brave and reaching out. There are people there who want nothing more than to help you. There are people there to take your hand in that dark tunnel and walk you toward the light. The Trevor Project is a place to start.

You have too much to look forward to in life to end it. Don't you want to find out what's next? Don't you want to go to college? Or fall madly in love? Or travel around the world? Or find a cure for cancer or AIDS or some other debilitating disease? Or maybe you want to write a novel or a hit song or learn to fly a plane or how to build an ark or whatever it is that you want to do?

There are so many people waiting to meet you, waiting to see your next painting, read your next poem, listen to you sing, watch you dance or score a goal or a touchdown or simply sit down with you and laugh over coffee or tea or hot chocolate. We're there cheering you on as you strive to reach the goals you set for yourself. We are out there. And we love you for who you are. There's only one you and that is an incredibly special thing. Be the best you that you can be because nobody else can be you. Hold you head high, be proud of who you are, be strong. And know you are not alone.

It gets better, trust me I've been there. I know. It gets better.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Vacation in photos

I have at least three different posts I could write tonight. But it was a long day at work. And then traffic was ridiculous coming home. And I'm too tired to put in the thought and effort that the other posts deserve so what follows is my vacation in pictures.

I've been back from vacation for what feels like months now, but is really only about a week and a half. I spent a wonderful week on Mt. Desert Island in Maine with a couple friends. MDI is home to Acadia National Park and the little town of Bar Harbor. And it's one of my very favorite places. I feel at peace there; there's not much more to say about it than that.

These are only a few of the 700+ photos I took. Yes, I am that person. I totally own it.

YO HO! We started our trip by going to a lumberjack show. Timber Tina was a bit intimidating.

Playing on the rocks and looking back toward Sand Beach. I love this part of Acadia.

Time spent at Wonder Land is time well spent.

We were told of, and found, a very awesome cave. Mr. A shown for scale.

Inside the cave we saw sea anemones, crabs, snails and starfish. And I nearly slide down the rocks which would have caused me to get swept out with the tide. Or maybe just completely soaked.

This year we decided to see sunset on Cadillac Mountain instead of getting up for sunrise.

I put myself to the test this year.

I literally have nightmares about things like this.

But the view was totally worth the fear.

This is where we sat at night to watch the stars.

Until next time Bar Harbor, jazz hands!