Saturday, June 30, 2007

I Feel Really Bad...

I feel like a really self-absorbed jerk right now.

You see, I've finally sat down and read some of my other cyber buds' blogs that are listed on the side of these entries. Clearly, I've not been keeping up with them as I should have....and today I read "MY CONFESSIONS" by my buddy BIGG.

Please click over and read his entry. AND...if you are a spiritual person....and have a relationship with a higher power, please lift him up in your payers. Not only is he dealing with the gay thing as I have done....he's in the process of divorcing.....his wife is trying to have his bankruptcy status overturned so that she can get spousal support on top of child support. This is all well and good, BUT....he just found out that he has a nasty case of cancer that will require a lot of strength....money......and encouragement. This doesn't seem to make any difference to the wife....and BIGG is feeling quite stressed about everything.

I would be too.

So please....remember him and his family when you pray/meditate.

I will really appreciate your concern....and leave him some notes of encouragement too. It always helps to know that others care.

I'll post something tomorrow.....

Friday, June 29, 2007

On Being Alone

I hate being alone.

I don’t understand it.

I am an only child. So being alone or spending vast amounts of time by myself should not be anything traumatic, or of any consequence.

But I’m finding that it is.

I wonder why.

Last night I was with my cocker spaniel alone in my house. A severe thunderstorm raged just outside. The wind swirled around my house – lightening flashed, thunder rumbled.

There, 50-year-old me sat with the dog.

Afraid.

Oh, I wasn’t incapacitated, and I don’t mean to sound like Bette Davis. But a part of me was frightened. Of what, I don’t know.

In the not too distant past, I had a house full of activity – kids moving in every different direction, a wife who floated in and out of the house doing her church things, a dog, and a cat.

I didn’t give thunderstorms a second thought.

Now I do. I also pay attention to those things that go bump in the night.

It’s now just me and the dog.

But then, it’s only been five months since #1 left for El Salvador. So, I’ve only been truly alone for those few months.

I suppose it, like everything else, is going to take some time.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ten Compliments That Will WOW a Man!


I just read an article on YAHOO that lists and describes 10 compliments that WOW a man.

I decided to read these because I’m single…..and trying to catch up on the art of dating. Hey, look, I’m almost 50 years old. I haven’t dated anyone in over 25 years. As a matter of fact, the only person I’ve ever dated was the woman I wound up marrying…and on looking back on things, well, I wasn’t too hot in that department obviously.

As I ponder the gay life……gay relationships…….I am totally scared at the prospect of dating gay men.

So, why not look seriously at those 10 compliments that Yahoo says will WOW a man? Now remember, this list is written to women. But hey, I can use all the help I can get!

So, let look at what they had to say:


1. "Your arms are definitely looking bigger."
(Huh?) Yahoo says: Men can be just as paranoid about the way their bodies look as women can be. In fact, nearly 90 percent of men in a national Men, Love & Sex survey say there's at least one body part they'd like to change (42 percent saying they want a new gut). While men don't necessarily want women to lie if they're out of shape, it never hurts to notice he's looking good -- or at least trying to look better.

2. "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha." (Ha, ha, ha?) Yahoo says: Guys spend all of high school, the better part of the work day, and at least 12 times a day via e-mail trying to make people laugh. Because men value their sense of humor as one of their most important qualities, a hearty, genuine laugh is as flattering as it gets.

3. "Wow." (Hmmm.) Yahoo says: Doesn't matter whether it comes as he's getting undressed or after you've finished having sex, this short, sweet word (best done in a whisper) may just be the ultimate ego-stroke. A picture may say a thousand words, but this three-letter word sums up roughly 10,000 of them.

4. "You the man." (Is that: you are the man?) Yahoo says: Guys hear this all the time. From other guys. They hear it at work, on the golf course, and when one dude from the group buys the beer. But if it comes from a woman -- no matter the context -- the message is that, hey, we're buddies, too. Which is actually pretty darn sexy.

5. "The kids just adore you." (What if he doesn’t have kids?) Yahoo says: More than 50 percent of men say that their families -- more so than work and salary -- are what defines them most as men. So when a woman affirms that he's a familial hero, it's a compliment that stretches way beyond anything you could ever say about his haircut.

6. "What do you think?" (Lovey never asked this of me.) Yahoo says: We've all seen it a million times with long-married couples: They engage in cerebral power struggles, where neither can concede on anything -- whether it's the best way to move a piece of furniture or the fastest way to reach the interstate. I'm not saying that men should have the only say in decisions, but some guys do feel like they actually have very little.

7. "Cute feet." (Say what?) Yahoo says: Typically, it doesn't matter much to men if women like a part of their body that they don't control, like their eyes, jawline, or body hair. And typically, guys care for the word "cute" about as much as Paris cares for the penal system. One exception: The part of the body that is classified as being especially gross. Tell a guy he has good feet, and somehow he takes it as a double-bagger compliment -- that you not only like his genetics, but also that you appreciate he can keep himself better groomed than the rest of the gnarly-nailed heathens out there.

8. "Meow." (Animal noises?) Yahoo says: The stats show that 61 percent of men think their partners aren't sexually adventurous enough. While a feline one-liner doesn't automatically qualify as adventurous, it does show a bit of inhibition, and the message is one he likes to hear: That perhaps he's brought a little bit of the animal out of you.

9. "Impressive." (Keep it clean guys.) Yahoo says: Guys love feats. They love accomplishments. They love being acknowledged for their strength, power, and, simply, their masculinity. So a well-timed observation like this one -- whether it comes after he carries a TV to the family room or figures out a way to fix the pipes without having to call the plumber -- feeds into his need to feel like the family protector.

10. “I want you." (Hmmmm) Yahoo says: Women don't need to go on about a guy's eyes or hair or clothes. What a guy really wants to hear is that he's the total package, and this acknowledgement of that -- whether it's referring to bedroom behavior or relationship stability -- is the ultimate compliment of them all.

I wonder if Lovey had said these 10 compliments to me if it would have changed the course of our marriage? Probably not because these compliments are meaningless to me.

But then, I’m a gay guy.

So I suppose this list wouldn’t work on other gay guys either.

Oh well, back to the drawing board.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Choices


Just received a telephone call from Lovey.

Yes, I know it's rather late....but she had a lot of things on her mind that she wanted to talk to me about before she leaves for Nashville and #2 tomorrow. She's spending the night at her mother's which is a couple of blocks away.

She is planning a gathering at her house in the Shenandoah Valley on July 22 to celebrate her mother's 77th birthday. She and her mother and her mother's sister want me to come and be a part of this family gathering.

Now where did that all come from?

Lovey was very warm and very friendly and sounded like the old Lovey that I fell in love with so long ago.

I honestly don't know how to handle this.

I know what my parents would say. I know what my friends would say. I know wat my heart wants to do.

Do I try to make peace and "bury the hatchet"....and be friends....

Or do I just hang on to the negative feelings....the feelings of being offended......the bitterness......the anger....?????

Hmmmmm

A Revelation

I’m an awful person.

I heard from my daughter in El Salvador. She telephoned me late last night to say that she had just gotten the latest newsletter from my former church -- the church that Lovey was on staff of before she flitted off to the Shenandoah Valley.

You know…the one that had the pastor who all but ignored me during Lovey’s and my separation. Yes, that pastor who responded to my email last year with a handwritten note that said something about how he hoped I would give their church another chance…and how much he wanted to be my pastor…and how he realized that they had dropped the ball with me. He also said in that handwritten note that he had handwritten it because he wanted me to know how important he considered my “cry for help” and that he wanted “desperately” to have dinner with me and to get to know me better.

That was in October 2006. It is now June 2007.

No calls.

No dinner invitations.

No conversations.

Absolutely nothing.

Yes, him. And, that church.

Well, #2 called to say that she had read in the clergy column about how that pastor had decided to restructure things at the church. It seems that he has a burden for “hurting” people. So, he’s saddled “caring” ministries with his associate pastor.

This week she wrote a glowing column about her new duties, and #2 wanted to tell me the exciting news!

The associate said, “Much to my delight and joy, I will once again be focusing on caring for others… Because I’ve been so involved in programming, there are many events in your lives that I haven’t been fully aware of. If you have anything that you would like to talk with me about, please give me a call, and/or ask to see me!”

Hmmmmmm.

Boy, there’s a lot I could talk to her about! I would ask her, “How is it that you can have a staff member who is going through a divorce, after a long term marriage, and you and your senior pastor can’t seem to muster the grace or the “care” to pick up the telephone to say, ‘Frank, are you okay? Do you need anything? Can I pray with you?’”

Can you sense my bitterness?

Do you detect a tinge of hostility?

Enough!

I need to let it all go.

I just need to move on.

Still, the anger and hurt lurk just below the surface. If I’m not careful, it will fester and I will turn into an angry and bitter old man. This is something I don’t want!

Now this may sound strange – especially if you’re not from a spiritual/religious background, but I feel God dealing with me.

Yup, it’s there and it’s something I can’t seem to get away from it.

I think I’m being called into a pastoral ministry…sort of an emphasis on pastoral counseling. This call is growing stronger and I don’t know what to do to start dealing with it.

In order to do this….I need a few things.

First and foremost, I need to complete my counseling degree. I’d have to do this on a full time basis because, knowing me as I do, I could never be a part time student. I can’t stay focused when I have too many tasks to deal with. The grades would suffer. I would want to be at my best.

But in order to do this, I need money…and a lot of it because I would want to retire from my job so that I could focus on my studies full time.

How much is a lot?

I don’t know, but the amount would probably have to be in the neighborhood of what I make on my job for several years. Then, I don’t know what I would do. Would I pastor? Would I hang out my shingle as a counselor?

Just thinking about all this makes me dizzy.

But, I know that I could help lots of people….perhaps specialize in the gay thing and with men who are struggling as I have. Or, maybe I could help the wives of such men. (I couldn’t help Lovey though…..but…)

I need direction.

So, I just need to sit and wait. If God really wants me to pursue all this, He certainly has the ability and all the resources to make it happen.

Could those of you out there who are from spiritual/religious backgrounds remember me in your prayers/devotions?

Pray that the proper doors will open.

Pray that the resources will flow.

Pray that old Frank here will be sensitive to the answers as they come and that he won’t do anything stupid.

Another New Record!


Yesterday y'all broke another record!

I had 53 visits yesterday to this little piece of the Web.

Thank you!

I've got a lot of stuff going on in my mind and will post again later on this morning.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Symbolic Beginning...

It's amazing....but I've survived the awful separation and the final divorce action. Still, I'm in need of something to be a symbolic beginning. Something to get me going on my new journey....something to give me the umfff to begin living my new life.

I spoke with #2 about this.

She suggested that I have an open house in late August to celebrate my divorce -- actually a divorce party. But I choose to call it a "Celebration of New Beginning." It would be a time for me to have all of my friends in to help give me the send off onto my new adventure of life.

But such an undertaking offers its own drama. I can't seem to do anything these days without some drama.

I'm out to a few people in my life. Of course, Lovey outted me to all kinds of people...but I don't know who they are.....so I don't really make any assumptions. I have tons of straight friends from my office who I'm not out to. I have some close friends from other aspects of my life that I haven't discused my sexaulity with. My mother knows I'm gay, but she and I agree that it wouldn't be helpful to out myself to my dad.

So, if I throw an open house....and have my straight friends and all my gay friends from my church....well, to be honest, I'm not sure how well the two communities would mix. What do I do?

While I decide, I'm working on haveing a professional photograph taken of me that I will use for my invitation postcards. I also may bring the picture to this blog. So, stay tuned.

Aw....who knows what's going to happen in my life next?

The Wonderful World of Being a Gay Man


While in Nashville this weekend, #2 and I discussed the gay thing at length. She used that term with me that I have grown to loathe….”Having my cake and eating it too!” If you’ll scan back a year or so, you’ll see my posting about the cake issue.

Plainly put, women and men are vastly different. Not only physically, but emotionally and psychologically. So, depending on perspective, the gay issue is a different critter for all involved.

Men compartmentalize their sexual encounters and view it as a pleasureable physical act. Guys tend to be able to keep it recreational better than women. Women tend to have it represent a host of other things both physical and emotional.

I have a lot of gay male friends. Some are involved in hetero marriages, while others are single or involved in committed relationships. Even among gay men, commitment means different things depending on who you ask.

For example, a gay male couple can be committed to each other emotionally, but have all manners of sexual escapades beyond that relationship. Some establish exotic house rules the permit extracurricular relationships. For example:

It’s okay to have sex with other guys as long as you don’t kiss.
It’s okay to have sex with other guys as long as you don’t do it in our bed.
It’s okay to have sex with other guys as long as you don’t come inside him…or he comes inside you.
It’s okay to have sex with other guys as long as you don’t swallow.
It’s okay to have sex with other guys as long as you’re safe.

And so on.

Then there are a lot of the “straight guys” who identify as “bi.” They do this, I think, because it helps them to ease into the gay world a bit….a little at a time. Sadly, in today’s society, it’s a lot more acceptable if you like guys, as long as a naked woman is also present during the action.

But as diverse as the gay male community can be, the relationships that set me on edge involve those guys who say they’re “straight” but just like to have sex with men. A lot of these men, and I know many, indulge in all manner of unprotected gay sex. They then get up…go home and have unprotected hetero sex with their wives and never tell them what’s going on.

Or they willingly perform all manner of gay sex act, but they still identify as straight as long as they don’t kiss another guy…or they aren’t the bottom….
Then there are the monogamously coupled gay guys who wouldn’t think of playing around. God bless ‘em.

What an interesting world in which we all live.

There’s quite a contingent of my readers who are the wives of the men like me.

Like Lovey (sort of.)

And, because there is so much of you that isn’t like Lovey, I owe you a great big apology.

I’ve railed enough about the evil’s of women…like Lovey, Mrs. McGreevey and others who have their own agendas and who allow their anger about having gay husbands push them over the edge into bitterness, hate, etc. It makes them almost scary and unrecognizeable as the person that men like me married.

So I suppose, given the different types of gay men and gay relationships, it’s no wonder that straight wives look at this issue in so many different ways.

I have a profound sense of respect and honor to those women who have made the choice to stand by their husbands and craft a unique path to keep their marriages intact, but still provide safe zones for their husbands to act on their urges and feelings. It’s easy to throw in the towel and say that the marriage is over. It takes substantial guts to make a stand to support your husband as is and to continue to love him unconditionally.

Your husbands are very fortunate to have you.

I know that if you were my wife, I’d cherish you and the ground on which you walked.

The Return

What a nightmare!

On my last day in Nashville, while #2 and I were having a leisurely lunch near her office, we got a tremendous surprise in the form of severe and powerful thunderstorms. They were awful, but since Nashville is in the midst of severe drought, it was okay I suppose.

#2 had one of her male friends drop me to the airport in time for my 5:30 p.m. flight. By the time I had made it through security and arrived at my gate, the flight had been delayed… So we didn’t get off the ground until sometime shortly after 6:30.

The plane was packed and the ride was bumpy in spots.

We got in at Baltimore Washington International at 9:30. I was able to pick up my bags quickly and was on the shuttle for Long Term Parking B in a matter of minutes. “Oh boy,” I thought. “I’ll be home by 10:30.”

That was a laugh of the century.

As I got on the road that leads to the main freeways, I made the brilliant choice of going with the free way I hardly use, simply because it puts on you the D.C. beltway just a little further west, which is closer to the Northern Virginia section in which I live. All I have to do is cross the American Legion Bridge near Great Falls, and their I am!

Wrong choice.

There were a couple of serious accidents involving overturned vehicles and a fatality or two. So I spend about 3 hours trying to get turned around. So, but the time I had gotten home, it was close to 2am. I was up by 5:30, ready for the day! WHEW!

Today, it is everything that I can do to stay awake!

I must say though, my trip to visit my daughter was the highlight of my summer thus far. It was hot. It was tiring. But she is living in a safe and nice place. She only has to contend with one other roommate who seems very nice, very unlike the two controlling “religious” ones she had been living with, who were really making her life quite difficult in that 3 –bedroom apartment.

Before summer is over, I want to go back to Nashville and spend some more quality time with my daughter. She is also planning a visit up here when I throw my “New Beginnings” open house to celebrate my new life as a single man!

She really loves and supports me….as do all the kids….and for this I am so grateful.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Being Misunderstood

This trip to Nashville has been good for me. It's given me the opportunity to sit and to ponder my thoughts. #2 has also quizzed me on various issues about the divorce and during our discussions, I had some "stuff" to surface that allowed me to come to terms with my feelings.

I think the main problem that Frank is dealing with now is the fact that I feel so very misunderstood by Lovey. It bothers me that she continued to tell her side of things with all the misinformation. But there is nothing I can do about that.

For instance, Lovey doesn't know that I loved her in spite of the gay thing. She tells everyone that I would not allow her to buy shoes....or that I was a spendthrift and bought all kinds of electronic toys cuasing us to be in financial ruin. Or that I wouldn't let her be who she was.... Or that I made her life hell. Or, the best thing of all......she had every right to divorce me because of my being gay and being "unfaithful."

I guess all those years where I did support her and all these other falsehoods don't matter...because in her mind, her new truth is all the above.

#2 says that every time she speaks with her mom now, her mom excitedly talks about the newest pair of shoes she bought. She's blown a small fortune on her 4th new computer, her composter, her digital video projector, Word has it now that she is going to buy herself a new Iphone..... The amount of money she's going through is just phenomenal. But then, this is what she always did, and I was left to scramble with coveirng the bills. The only difference is now she doesn't have me to cover them.

I don't like being misunderstood. But there is nothing that I can do to change those perceptions she has set forth for me.

I just need to move on.

Nashville -- Last Day

I'm exhausted.

Pure and simple.

We got #2 all settled in at her new apartment. I didn't know until this weekend, that she found her new roommate on Craig's List. She's no psycho...nobody weird....just a nice all around American girl....who was looking for a nice roommate. And she found #2! They have a very cute apartment in the Brentwood section of Nashville. It's in a gated community. So, I feel really good about #2's safety and wellbeing.

It has been really good spending time with her. I got to see her record a song for a demo that will be distributed all over the place here. At least her voice is being heard by some of the heavy hitters here in the industry.

Meanwhile, #1 sent us pictures from El Salvador. My goodness she has lost so much weight! Yikes! But she's happy in her surroundings...so I can't complain about that....as long as she is doing what she feels that she needs to do.

#2 and I have had several long talks about things. She told me a lot of stories about some of the happiest and favorite moments she has to remember her growing up and her dad.... I looked at her and said, "What memories do you have of your Mom?" She paused a long while and then she said, "My favorite moments with Mom were when she would go out of town to a minister's meeting....or for a long time at school...." We grew silent.

That's probably what hurts me the most about the divorce.....and that is the lack of good memories they have with their mom. Oh, she is trying desperately to make up for those times now. For instance, she is coming down next weekend to Nashville to help #2 make curtains. But #2 knows that it's not going to be a "fun" time, because Lovey is not a "fun" person. This is very sad.

I'm just a little afraid that they are going to have some clashes. But, that isn't my problem now, is it?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Something Super Brief

It has been a virtual whirlwind here trying to get my daughter moved into her new apartment. I have had a few moments to scan emails....and I must say, I am quite touched by hearing from the wives. I seem to have quite a number of them reading this blog, and I must say, what they have said to me backchannel has left me feeling a bit shame-faced. This is primarily because I've been so one sided in my criticism of Lovey....and in her czse, perhaps it was justified. However, these women who have been suffering in silence wile their husbands discover themselves....well, my hat goes off to them with tremendous respect. I'm sure because of your support, ladies, your husband loves you now more than words can express.

I know I would have loved Lovey so much more deeply had she as been as willing to explore things.

But all hat is history. The divorce is over.

Time to move on.

Since my email situation is in questions beginning tonight....and tomorrow night...(with my daughter's new apartment situation), don't run away. I will return with normal posts beginning Monday evening or Tuesday Morning...or BOTH!

Thanks for writing....and your support.

It means a lot to get words of encouragement from you.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Off To Music City USA


Welll, I get to leave for Nashville, Tennessee this evening to spend a litle time with #2. She's moving into her brand new apartment this weekend, and I volunteered to help.

I got a big thank you from Lovey for doing this.

She makes such a big deal out of the smallest action.

But then she always did.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

One Year Ago Today...


One year ago today, Lovey took all of her "stuff" (followed by later installments) and her cat, to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and began her new life as the pastor of two United Methodist congregations.

I remember very well the pain and the absolute fear that paralyzed me at the prospect of her leaving. Looking back on all that the feelings were very real, but I don't understand them.

I've had many conversations with a whole lot of men who are married and int he closet. One man I know is contemplating marriage, even though he knows that he can't change, but he's afraid to not give it a try. (In his shoes, I'd be afraid to even think about marrying a woman!)

So what is the fear?

Is it the fear of the unknown?

The untested?

The fear of living a gay life?

In contemplating Lovey's departure, I was afraid of change. I had grown comfortable having a wife that I loved with all my heart (just not with my body). I had my house, my kids, my pets -- everything I could possibly want and in one quick word, it was history. Lovey would be moving.

It hurt.

The pain was indescribable.

I wanted to die.

I couldn't stand the thought of standing and watching the moving truck come and cart her and her stuff away...never to return.

Thankfully, Mr. Brokeback came to my rescue and took me to New Mexico for a few days of R/R. But, oh how I dreaded walking into that house the first time.

It was akin to having a loved one die and you show up at the funeral home for the viewing. You park the car and you look at the entrance to the funeral home. You simply dread what you have to do. There is no way around it. You HAVE got to do it! You walk into that place and you make your way to that open box. You look inside. Pay your respects.

Then leave.

In my case, I walked around the empty house. Mr. Brokeback and #1 were there to offer words of comfort. But I didn't hear any of it. All I could see was the empty house. That house, where once rang children's voices and the laughter of what I thought was a happy family...empty...quiet.

That period of my life has got to be the worst time of my life.

But that was then.

In looking back at that awful time I guess I was most fearful of the unknown. Given how Lovey had changed so drastically since the separation, each new day brought new drama, potential outbursts and profound sadness.

I had no signed separation agreement.

The divorce was not final.

So much was left hanging.

I was so unsure of myself and I guess that to some degree, I'm still unsure of my own abilities and strengths.

Here I am.

Still standing.

After all I've been through.

So I've set some goals for myself: I want to get healthier physically. The diabetes has got to get under better control. This is now my time to concentrate on ME.

I'm working to pay down my bills. The divorce took its toll on me financially. Not only do I have to pay alimony, but I have had thousands of dollars in attorney fees, replace furniture, take care of the house, build the deck and the fence, etc. Will I ever dig my way out?

Finally, I'm keeping my eyes open for a potential life partner. Oh, Mr. Brokeback is the one I love more than I can say, but it probably ain't gonna happen with him, given his responsibilities and family commitments. He also just found out that he is going to be a grandfather! So that's good for several more links in the chains that keep him. I must be realistic.

I'm also working to add some more fun into my life. I plan on doing some more travel. (I'm leaving for Nashville tomorrow night for the weekend to visit #2.)

So, life is looking up...at least for now.

Sometimes though it is so hard to get used to the fact that I'm all alone in the house with the dog. I call the shots now.

But, I've come so very far from where I was one year ago today...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

International Day!


Gee, I don't know how you all find me, but in the last few visits to my blog, my guests have included folks from:

Turkey
Spain
Latvia
Lebanon
Norway
Indonesia
Australia
Canada
Kazakhstan
Germany
The United Kingdom
Panama

Welcome to all of you! I hope that my little corner of cyberspace is a blessing!

An Exercise in Gay Pride


In my posting about Gay Pride and the festival here in Washington, DC, I neglected to mention that I did something I’ve not ever done before. I bought a pride ring for myself. It wasn’t very expensive. It’s nothing fancy.

It’s made from stainless steele and has rainbow colored stones on it. Very subtle, but it makes me feel good just the same.

I have kept it on all the time So,much in fact that I forget I have it on.

Today I went to my office cafeteria to get some fresh fruit for breakfast. As the cashier handed me back my change, she looked at the ring and then said, “What a beautiful ring you have there!”

I said, “Yes, it’s my pride ring. I got it at pride last weekend.”

She smiled and nodded, “It’s lovely.”

I thanked her and went to the area of the cafeteria to get my napkins, utensils, and cream for my coffee. As I was standing there, the cashier walks up behind me and asked if I had purchased the ring at Capital Pride or at a pride celebration that was at a particular hotel.

I said, “I got it at a booth at Capital Pride.” Then, as an aside, I whispered, “I just ended a 25 year marriage, and am making baby steps out of the closet!”

“Oh, I understand that completely,” she said. “My girlfriend and I worked at Pride in the hotel.”

A grin washed across my face. She was family! She was smiling at me.

I said, “Pride was so much fun this year.”

“That’s what I heard,” she replied. “I’m sorry that we were stuck inside.”

"I have tons of pictures. I can bring you a disc."

"That would be great!" she said.

Just then she had a customer at her register and had to leave. She told me to have a good day and with that, she was gone.

Monday, June 18, 2007

An Invitation to Dinner

Tonight I came home early to get prepared for my homeowners association board of directors meeting. So, I grabbed a bite to eat at a nearby buffet that I sometimes frequent. I then came home and noticed my answering machine was flashing. Due to the modern wonder of Caller-ID, I found out that someone from the O'Lovey had been trying to reach me....several times.

I also got what appeared to be a phone call from my daughter in El Salvador.

So I called #1 first. She said that she hadn't called, but she was glad that I did. While I was talking with her, the O'Lovey household tried again. I ignored the call, because my child comes first.

While on the phone with her, my cell phone rang and an IM popped up. All from the O'Lovey household. After hanging up the phone from #1, I decided I'd make nice and return the call to see what all the fuss was about.

It was Mom O'Lovey being all friendly and nice. She was inviting me to dinner because she hadn't seen me in such a long time. I explained that I had dinner...but I'd drop by anyway to see her and her sister.

So, I put down my pride and drove down there. Lucky me, I got to see the dentist again. Hmmmmmm.....he seems to be in control......and I detect a rather controlling personality. Upon my arrival, he was on the telephone with Lovey. Lucky man!

He must have talked with her for at least 10-15 minutes on his cell phone. I made sure that I gave them the utmost privacy...so he could chat with her. Maybe I'll be over alimony sometime soon and wedding bells will chime for my X.

With what I sense as his controlling personality......and what I know about hers.....if they hook up, all I can say is that they deserve each other! WHEW!

Mom O'Lovey's sister, who is now living in the O'Lovey household, is a delightful person. She's beginning to lose it due to Alzheimers, but she is a a sweet tempered lady for the most part. I enjoy spending time with her.

Mom O'Lovey was pleasant too. She wants me to come back. And, I think I will just to let them know that I'm doing fine without Lovey. The aunt looked over at me and said, "Frank, you're looking so well....and rested!" I said, "Yes, I am doing well...and I'm resting very well. The Lord has been so good to me."

She agreed.

So, I had a couple of pieces of their pizza. It was great. The company was fine. I was pleasant with the dentist.

Such an interesting evening. But I'm glad that I went.

FLASHBACK -- To a Sicker Time (December 3, 2004)

I was looking through my office archive of email traffic looking for an important document, and I came across the attached email I sent to Lovey on December 3, 2004. I only vaguely remember it. The event(s) have faded from memory, but in reading this, it literally made my blood run cold. It also put knots in my stomach. It definitely puts me right back at that time and I remember what I felt then.

Yes, this looks like the handiwork of someone who has suffered from abuse.....

Oh, it is so much better not to have to have this in my life now...

-----Original Message-----
From: Frank
Sent: Friday, December 03, 2004 12:23 PM
To: Lovey Work (E-mail)
Subject: Thoughts...
Importance: High


Lovey:

I'm not too sure what I can do or say at this point to make things better for you, but I will try through this note. Keep in mind that I love you...

SOME THOUGHTS TO CONSIDER:

I had no clue that:

You were not having happy thoughts about yourself.
You were beating yourself up for all the things you see yourself accomplishing before the holidays and before the kids' arrival.
You were suffering from issues relating to the MSM fiasco.

From my perspective, I felt that I was being "jumped on" for a whole boat load of moving targets. As I addressed each issue, the target changed and ultimately it appeared that nothing I could say or do would make it better for either of us.

When you sat down on the bed last night, and said "I am very angry right now....." right or wrong, this put me on the defensive as I responded "What did I do now?"

From my perspective, since we had scheduled the time to go to Florida for a break, I had been quizzed about a whole host of issues, i.e. what are we going to do about the dog, what are we going to do about the cat, you still haven't moved your stuff to the basement like you said you'd do, etc. When you did this, again, right or wrong, I felt like I was being challenged and made to feel like I'm a lazy lump. Futher when you made me feel like I always leave domestic chores for you, that I show no support for you even when you're ill, that I could care less when, in spite of your illness, you choose to cook and I do not eat what you prepare and so on, I felt backed into a corner...and the need to defend myself. I felt as though all my efforts had been grossly discounted.

Then, when I began defending myself, you went away and sat in the dark. That's why I came downstairs to ask, "What's going on? Why are you down here in the dark?"

Your responses made me concerned to the point of my further asking about the medications you're taking. This was out of concern...

However, I now feel guilty that I ever defended myself, because it caused you enough grief and anguish to not sleep, to be all depressed and to be on edge now. So going forward, this leaves me but two choices:

To continue to defend myself in other similar situations in the future, knowing that the same ending will result, or
To totally accept the fact that all the things you say about me are true and grow silent, just to keep the peace.

Again, from my perspective, I thought the conversation was over when you laid down on the bed. It appeared to me that since I felt I was continually reacting to moving targets throughout the previous discussion, your laying down indicated that you were through.

Now I feel like that I did something wrong because I didn't further the conversation.

So, what am I to do now?

---------------END OF MESSAGE--------------



Growth...Painful Growth

Before I get on with this post, I wanted to say thanks to those of you who wrote me about yourselves during the weekend – and for the pictures. I’m truly amazed at how easily we can connect via the Internet and then to develop very profound friendships with one another. Again, my sincere thanks to each of you who have written. It really does mean a lot to me.

Now, for our regularly scheduled post….

I just heard from another gay married friend of mine. It seems that his Father’s
Day was not as good as he had hoped. It started off good enough, but by the time he returned home in the evening, his wife was cold. When asked what was wrong, she responded by saying, “Nothing.” (Why do you ladies do this?) He has been out to her since he was outted through an anonymous letter sent to her.

To make a very long story much shorter, his 22 year old daughter had found some stuff on dad’s computer, confronted mother. Mother is getting tired of covering for dad when he spends the night out late with friends….or trying to explain his new best friend.

Now my friend is in a dither and in an emotional crisis of what to do. He’s not ready to come out to the daughter, but it looks like she already knows….and well, you know.

So, after pondering all of this, I decided to write him and this is what I sent:

I'm writing this from work, because I felt the need to respond ASAP after I read your email. I have things to say that are more rhetorical than anything. My comments are meant to make you think more before you do anything.

I guess I don't understand your wife's position of not wanting to be the fall guy any longer….or to take the heat any longer for your late nights…change in social activities or whatever it was she said.

Who asked her to do this to begin with?

And from a more blunt perspective, your daughter is 22 years old. You all are adults. Who made the daughter a parent in that your comings and goings should be any of her business?

It seems to me, that while your wife could have referred your daughter's concerns to you, she chose not to. Thus, you are where you are.

What about doing something along these lines? (I have no idea what your relationship is with your wife….or with your daughter or what their personalities are like. If they are controlling the following scenario may upset their apple carts so-to-speak….but so what?)

I (and this is purely my take on this…and should not be interpretive as a directive for you to do anything of the sort) would tell them to get a cup of their favorite beverage and invite them into the family room, deck, or whatever place is comfortable in your home for a chat.

I would then say something to this effect:

"Since last fall, my life has been topsy turvy emotionally. I'm tired of walking on all the eggshells. I need to clear the air.

"I have been dealing with a host of issues related to same sex attraction. I'm in therapy. I'm exploring. I'm trying to get a handle on this. If I don't get a handle on this, I will be a miserable and unhealthy shell of a person and totally unlike the person you have come to know and to love as your husband and father. While I understand this is also traumatic for you, as a wife and a daughter, please know that I love each of you dearly. I am not planning to end my marriage. I am not planning to end my role as a parent. I am the same person you have always known. You both just happen to now know more intimate details of what my struggles have been over the past several years that I have been too afraid to broach. I am not the enemy. I don't like feeling like I am the enemy.

"Now, how can we help each other through all this?"

After you clean up the mess of the spilled beverages…..listen to what they have to say.

Do not fall into the trap of feeling like you must make life altering decisions immediately! No one is forcing any of you to do this, but yourselves. I have found that society likes to have things in neat little packages of right vs. wrong, black vs. white, yes vs. no. Sadly, life is not conducted in safe little packages with pretty red bows on top.

There are many shades of gray between black and white. There are no role models.
Welcome to the world of uncharted waters, my friend. It will get better…but first you have to have the pain.

HUGS,

My friend wrote me back and appreciated my thoughts. He’s taking them to his emergency therapy appointment.

I could not have written this a few months ago. I guess this is a testament to the power of personal growth….very painful and very personal growth.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Comfort Zones

Today was a quiet Father's Day.

It's probably the most quiet one I have experienced in the 23 years of my being a parent...and it was the first one I have celebrated alone.

All of my kids are gone.

But I did hear from ALL of them and they are happy and doing well.

Even the marine is doing good and is expecting to come spend some time with the "old man" during the week of July 4.

So, that's cool.

Today I did one of those things that I don't like to do. I went beyond my comfort zone and and did some reaching out.

Let me describe in greater detail.

I got to church really early this morning because I was asked to serve communion. This was the first time that I have done something like this in a ton of years. It felt SOOOO good. It was a powerful experience and it felt really good to minister to people. I smile so much at this church now, that when I come home, my jaws are tired!

But I'm being honest when I say this. It is such a relief to be authentic...and not feel like someone is going to take their Bible and hit you across the face with it, just because you happen to be queer. What a relief.

After church I mingled. I do enjoy this part of things too...because I've made some very dear friends and it means a lot to look them in the eyes and tell them just how much I love them and then wrap them in a big bear hug.

For the past few Sundays, there has been a new guy attending. He is such a beautful man. Let's refer to him as blonde buff guy! (BBG) Oh, if I let myself, I could be swept away. ..and fall completely in love. He is definitely trophy husband material. I understand through the grapevine that he is single. (Why, I don't know.) I also know that there is a gentleman who has already been quite aggressive with him in terms of making his interests be known, but I also have heard that this aggression is being quite a turnoff to this man.

I've decided that there are a number of things that I never want to be accused of at my church.

I don't ever want to be accused of being one of those old trolls that hit on every new attractive guy that walks in the door. It is my belief that I come to church to fellowship with my friends and fellow believers. I'm a genuinely loving, giving and gentle person.

I never want to be accused of having a hidden agenda. I have no agenda. So I just want to be accepted at face value.

Finally, I don't want to be seen as being a desperate old troll...hitting on anything that moves. I have some standards actually. Besides, I still have Mr. Brokeback, who is very much trophy husband material himself. I'm quite content with having him in my life....it's just that he is not available 24/7. This could all change one day...but for now...it's just not happening.

Which brings me back to BBG.

I made myself go over and chat with him. He was friendly. We were both approached about being on the welcoming committee and helping with being greeters. He and I both agreed to do it. So we'll see how that goes.

But then, I took the scary step of writing down my name, my email address and my cellphone number. I invited him to call me up sometime. I told him that since he was new to the area, I know all the cool places to eat and would be delighted to have his company.

He smiled...nodded and thanked me. He said he would.

So, I'm leaving it there. No fuss. No muss. I'm not going to be chasing after him, or pining after him.

This reminds me of how sadly inexperienced I am in the art of dating. My wife was the first person I ever dated and we ended up married for 25 years. And now we see how well that all turned out don't we?

Today I went way out of my comfort zone. I probably will never hear anything from this guy because guys that look like him, rarely are interested in men that look like me.

This is hard.

Happy Father's Day!!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

And Now, Something Entirely Different


Frank has made a brand new friend.

As I have begun to shift from victim mode and emerge from the shadow of the troubled marriage, the separation and the finality of my divorce, I'm now beginning to shift my focus to others. It's like I'm Rip Van Winkle and I have literally just awakened from 20 years of unconsciousness.

My sensitivity to those around me is something that I used to have years ago. By nature, I love people...and I'm quite intuitive. I can tell when folks are themselves or when they are out of character...and when I get the opportunity to do so, I actually sit and talk with them to see if they open up and share what the dramas are that keep them awake at night.

About a month ago I met a gentleman. He's a man my age and when we met, I was basically whining about the fact that, at the time, I thought my divorce would never be final. He smiled and said that he was in the exact same boat and that he, too, was waiting for his divorce to be final so that he could move on with his life.

I then totally opened up to him....and said that I was gay and that this was just another drama that had to play itself out in my life -- one more in the very LONG list of dramas that have played out in my 25 years of marriage.

I suppose that since I told him something so deeply personal about me, he felt safe to disclose something personal about himself. As he talked, it becamse something VERY personal that I hadn't expected...something quite unique in the grand scheme of life.

He told me that he was transgendered: he felt like a woman in a man's body.

At first I was totally taken off guard.

I had never had anyone in my sphere of influence to ever have that situation to deal with and then to share it with me openly.

I was simply amazed.

He, like me, was married for quite a while....has three kids......and has been dealing with this for as long as he can remember. It turns out that I am the first person he is getting to know that is gay and he is the first person I am getting to know that is transgendered.

How neat is that?

I asked him if it is okay that I ask him some very personal questions....not to pry, but to learn....to understand.....and to offer whatever support I can. He has been so gracious and patient.

In some ways we are quite similar....but in other ways we are so very different.

For example, he loves the male species...and he loves being intimate with another man.

"So," I asked. "How do you know that you're not gay, but that you are transgendered."

He thought for a few moments then said, "I can't stand to look at myself in the mirror without clothes. I am a straight woman trapped in a man's body. I have been involved in a lesbian relationship with my wife over the course of my marriage. I have a deep need to have my body to agree with my inner self."

WOW.

While I have spent these many years whining about myself being a queer man......that's all I have had to do -- just whine.

In order for him to become who he really is, he's going through painful electrolysis treatments to remove hair from his face and other areas. He still has over a year left of these treatments. Once a month he has his arms, legs and back waxed. He is undergoing extensive therapy sessions. He begins hormonal therapy in the fall and must live and dress as a woman in the open for a year prior to his surgery. Then there is the surgery which is invasive, traumatic and a little dangerous.

Finally he must decide on what cosmetic surgery he needs in order to enhance what the hormones will do.

Because this issue is not as common as being gay, it is met with ridicule and people just don't understand. Folks in some places will undoubtedly make fun of him and he has confessed that he will need to develop a very thick skin in order to deal with all the emotinoal upheaval.

And I thought I had issues.

What he has to do to be completely happy in his life vastly differs from mine. I can only think of the old story about the farm animals who were caught up in an argument about who makes the biggest contribution to their owners' breakfasts. The chicken said with great smugness and superiority, "I'm the most important animal here in the barn as far as what I contribute to the owners' breakfasts. I give them one egg a day!"

"Hmph," the pigs snorted. "You're just making a slight contribution to breakfast. Our contribution is a life commitment in order to provide the bacon!"

The chicken shut up.

Well, in this story I guess I am the chicken. John is the pig. He's making a total, painful, irreversible, commitment to be who he is.

I am honored that he is my friend...and that he felt safe enough to share with me.

I also want to be there for him when the time comes to offer whatever support I can.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Night Late

The pizza is gone.....the movies are over.......and my guests have departed. I'm exhausted.

Tonight I hosted my men's movie night. It's my Gay Married Men's Group...(GAMMA)....and I had a number of them here. I showed two movies on the big screen: THE DYING GAUL and SHORTBUS. Both are films that were in limited release about a year or so ago...and they in some way deal with the gay issue. So we watched them and discussed them afterwards.

I always look forward to being with these men. Friends are now even more important to me than ever before. This is probably due to the fact that after I married in 1981 all my friends became OUR friends. After the marriage ended, I didn't have very many friends.

I'm not sure how or why that happened, but I just never made friends very easily. This is probably due to the fact that my gayness caused me to erect some rather high walls to go over. So not many choose to bother.

Since the first of the year, I've decided to reach out and go WAAAAAY beyond my comfort zone and make new friends. It seems to be working. So far I have made a lot of new guy friends at work.....at church......at GAMMA.....and I make myself speak to strangers in restaurants, etc.

Even at church I've hosted a bible study...and led it......and this Sunday I'll be a communion minister....and actually pray with people individually and bless them.

Yes, I'm moving way beyond my ZONE....so we shall see how it plays out.

BTW, a number of new emails have been received from my readers and believe me, I'm enjoying them. Thank you.

It Finally Surfaces


This has been a long and painful process.

Those of you who have read my blog from the beginning have seen the mountain highs and the subway train, parking level p27 lows. Now that things are over from a legal standpoint, thoughts are beginning to surface. They are bringing all the loose ends together...sort of like the season finale of one of those nighttime dramas that leave after a few years of popularity, with great fanfare.

(Probably the best series finale I have ever seen is "Six Feet Under." The worst is "The Sopranos.")

I received a backchannel email from one of those mystery readers I have posted about in the past few days under WHO ARE YOU? (I'm still looking for more responses...so get your computers warmed up....and get those fingers flying across the keyboard!) This one was an extra special post from an affected wife that uses this blog as a model of how NOT to be. Should I write Lovey and tell her that she is being used as a model of how NOT to be? Her narcissistic personality would love that anyway! LOL

She's supportive of her husband.

They have negotiated a path that works for them.

I applaud HER.....I say BRAVO to them both! I am 1000% sure that her husband loves her all the more for her willingness to work with him on all this stuff.

In my response to her I realize that there is still a lot of things I'm dealing with deep inside me. I have a lot of hurt.....a lot of anger......some bitterness......and now as I embark on this new life as a single gay man, I am afraid.

Yes, after all the drama and tears, there is one thing that I am afraid of! Big time!

The fear of growing old and being ALONE!

Oh, I know that I'll have my children.....and my grandchildren....all of whom I will love deeply with all my heart. After all this is who Frank is. Frank is a good guy....and a loving guy.....and not too ugly.

But I have to acknowledge the fact that Frank is now 49. Frank has some wear and tear around the edges. Frank's hair is beginning to go....it's graying rather fast.....the goatee is VERY gray. And, the other night, as I was getting ready for bed....I had some gray hair on my chest and in my nether regions. Horrors!

The gay community can be a vicious place. If you're not just over 20.....a gym bunny........and possess pornstar quality looks.....I think the parade is over.

Right now I'm still getting over that relationship with Lovey. I'm probably "on the rebound" and wouldn't make good partner material....at least not until I work through some of my issues.

After all that dust settles, do you suppose someone will find Frank attractive? Will someone that Frank finds attractive want Frank? Aw....sex is relatively easy to get. Every gay man on the planet wants that. In the words of my mother (slightly adapted for this discussion of course), gay men would screw a black snake if it held still long enough!

Do you suppose I'll ever find another gay man that, for a change, will put me first for a change. I'm so tired of being treated as leftovers. Is there a gay guy on planet earth who isn't moving from conquest to conquest to conquest? Is there anyone out there who would be satisfied with one true partner to make a journey through life?

Yes, Frank is afraid of growing old alone.

Birthdays and Thanks.

My twin daughters celebrated their birthdays yesterday. They turned 23 -- and they noted rather ruefully that they are now the same age I was when I married Lovey. They both agreed that neither of them is ready to make that plunge. I quipped, "And one day girls, you'll be the same age I was when your mom divorced me!" LOL

I can't believe that my baby girls are 23.

Where did all that time go?

I also wanted to take a moment for all the kind responses I have received in response to my last posts about who you all are. Some of you have included photographs that I will keep in a safe place, probably on my refrigerator, to remind me that this is a journey a number of us finds ourselves traveling. Some of you are a lot farther ahead of me, while others are just behind. Even though we're unique beings with our own shades of color thrown in, we're all very much the same. I am honored that you have found this blog and that you draw strength from my writings. I also appreciate your kindness and willingness to share pieces of your lives with me to say how this blog is helping you along your journey.

I pledge to keep this blog going on.....and I pledge to keep using my life as a springboard into sharing great truths about gay life in general.

I also ask that you continue to share your comments. Don't be afraid to do so. I won't ever share addresses or identify you. The same holds true for personal backchannel responses.

I have tremendous affection for those of you I have gotten to know. I'm sure I will develop that affection for those of you I have yet to meet.

We will resume our regular posts next time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Who Are You - 2

Well, I have heard from one reader already who included two very nice pictures of himself.....and told me where he was from.....and that he reads me often.... He also says that he is close to my age and is married to a woman who is very much like Lovey.

I'm going to download his pictures, print them out and put them on my refrigerator....so that I can remember him as I go about my daily activities.

Are there more of you out there willing to share some information about you?

Who Are You?


I am just amazed at how the numbers of visitors coming to this site are remaining constantly higher than they have been. From the looks of things, I'd say that I have a nice cadre of steady readers who seem to enjoy my writing.

You don't know what this all means to me. Some of you have written to me back channel constantly to give me cyber hugs....notes of support and comments on the entries. Still others of you have written public comments that have posted along with the day's entry. On top of this, there are others of you that when the mood strikes, you do both!

I marvel at the wonders of the Internet. Through this medium, I have met some great people I would otherwise have never met.

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy days to call up "Out of the Ashes" and make it a part of your day. I truly do appreciate it.

For those of you not accustomed to commenting or sending me email, I'd love to hear from you.

Could you please take a moment and drop me a line at the.phoenix@cox.net to let me know who you are, how you found me, and why you come back?

I'd especially like to know who my neighbor is in Annandale VA who reads this fairly regularly.

Then there's the new reader from Kazakhstan....and that one from Spain....and the other one from Paris.....and you over there in Singapore...tell me what's up! Then there's the readers from the Philippines and Norway.....Australia even!!!

Stateside we have folks from Universal City, California, South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, Illinois, Georgia, and Virginia.

The list goes on and on....

Don't be afraid to say hello. If you're uncomfortable sending me an actual email......then just post a comment to this entry anonymously. Tell me your story. I want to hear what's on your mind and how this blog is helping you. If you choose to write me a backchannel email....I do promise not to stalk you! LOL!

I figure that in order for me to get back on track, I need to now focus on the needs of others and perhaps add some posts of encouragement.

C'mon everybody. I am anxious to hear from you! Whatcha waiting for?

Frank

The Fog Named Sadness


I've had sadness and depression confused.

All during this awful period of time where I was negotiating the path of marital misery, separation and divorce, I kept thinking that I was suffering from situational depression. So, I would tell my doctor this and she would prescribe an antidepressant. It never really did the trick. I guess there aren't pills that can turn sadness into happiness. During those days, I still felt miserable....like I was living in a fog....and, well, you know.

You can read my early posts to see what I was going through during that period.

But this weekend, I came to an epiphany of sorts.

What I've been dealing with all this time is a sense of profoound sadness and loss.

But then the kicker is that in essence I've lost Lovey.......getting her back would not cause the sadness to vanish.

A puzzle!

But then, on Saturday morning, the epiphany came.

When the children were smaller, Lovey was forever going to religious retreats......or to minister's meetings......or going to school..........working on her papers........dealing with a host of ministerial issues. During one summer, she took off several weeks from her job to attend a seminary's "J" term that applied to her receipt of a Master of Divinity Degree.

At those times I not only was the dad, but I was also "Mr. Mom." I worked to always plan some fun activities with the kids. We did everything together. We would have picnics. We'd go to the waterpark. We went to the kids' favorite playground that had an elaborate wooden structure set up that they referred to as the "Castle". We went to movies. We'd watch cartoons. We'd go to the swimming pool.

We were inseparable....the kids and I.

But as the time came for Lovey to return, invariably the kids would say, "Gee, Dad. I wish Mom would stay longer." Or, they would ask excitedly, "When is Mom going away again?" Or, even one time, #2 said "Does Mom have to come back?"

And I had forgotten all this...until this past Saturday.

#2 called me from Nashville to see how I was doing. (I do declare, I feel like a little kid at times because all three of my children keep tabs on me.) I asked her if she remembered those days. "I sure do, Dad!" she said.

And then it hit me.

"#2, I think I know why I have been so sad during this terrible process. It's because I miss the olden days when you guys were so much smaller....and we did lots of fun things. We had so much fun.....and now those days are gone."

"Dad, you stil have all of us....we're just in different parts of the country/world."

"It just isn't the same. You have grown up and I'm here. All alone!"

"Well, Dad. You're just going to have to start visiting all of us more now that the divorce is history."

So, I'm going to start doing just that and do some more trips....to Nashville, to Camp Lejeune, and yes, El Salvador.

It's amazing how all our emotions can all run together. The sadness I have felt isn't related to Lovey at all....but to the fact that I'm truly an empty nester. My babies are all grown up.

I've survived gayness......coming out to my kids.....a wife who wasn't really focused on being a wife or mother.....a wife who gleefully outted me to everyone she could get to listen to her.......a group of snooty inlaws.......a cold and prickly father-in-law .....a church that dropped me........a painful separation......a brutal divorce......and the fact that my kids have grown up and left town.

But, I'm still here....putting one foot ahead of the other....continuing on my journey.

It's really time.

The sadness has gotta go.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

HIV and Me


Pardon the graphic nature of the photo accompanying today's post.

I did a search of HIV on GOOGLE images and this was one of the first images that came up.

I think it really portrays things pretty well. There's another one for the ladies....that I decided not to use...since the majority of my readers are men. So, if you are a woman, feel free to do your own search and see that pic.

I spent a good hunk of the time on Sunday at the Gay Pride Festival on Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington, DC, just a few blocks from the White House. It was quite frustrating, just from the standpoint that I took my very heavy digital 35mm camera to get some shots....and I took over 100 really good ones..... When I got home, the thing erased the disc when I ejected the memory card.

I honestly think my camera is on its last legs....after 4 years and close to 50,000 shots. So, I guess I'm gonna be looking for a new camera in the not too distant future.

I went to the festival with Mr. Brokeback.....and another gay male couple that I know. We had a grand time talking and looking at all the various booths. Of course we stopped to admire the occasional drag queen.....some real beauties out there... and the scantilly clad leather daddy. One of them was quite memorable in that he had the most muscular bubble but I had ever seen......with a thong-like strap that went right up the middle of his butt. It certainly didn't leave much to the imagination....but in it's own way it was breathtaking. Please pardon my digression!

There were booths for the gay square dancers, the gay swimmers, the gay citizen associations, cocker rescue, various gay-friendly churches, gay jewelry stores, the gay newspaper, gay magazines, gay bowlers, EVERYTHING GAY!

It was heaven to be in a world where I was boringly normal. People smiled. Men flirted. (I don't know about the women....sorry.)

There were places where you could get fresh crabcakes, ribs, sausages, hot dogs, cold drinks, ice cream.... It was definitely a carnival like atmosphere.

Mr. Brokeback and I actually held hands.....and committed a first, on Pennsylvania Avenue, in the shadow of the Capitol, in front of God and thousands of others.... We hugged each other...and kissed -- not once, but twice! I can't begin to describe what that did for me!

He and I have appeared to turn another corner in our relationship. His work has slowed down considerably. So, I think I may getting some more of his time, as in the olden days...going forward. I hope so.

As we made our way through the crowds, the gay couple we were with stopped at the Whitman Walker Mobile HIV Testing facility and began completing the necessary paperwork to be tested. Mr. Brokeback decided he would get tested, because he has gotten a lot more active during his travels.... And so, even though the prospect of HIV scares me to death, I got tested too. Although I am safe to a fault....one just never knows.... I felt that with everything else that has been going on in my life, what is one more drama?

The lady that pricked my finger and did the test was rather intimidating. The first thing she said to me was, "Now, when you get the results of your test, if it is positive, you will not hurt yourself or someone else?"

Oh God, that's so cheery to think about!

Then she proceeded to verbally ask me all kinds of intimate questions. "Do you have sex for money? Have you ever had sex while you were drunk or passed out? Have you had receptive anal sex without protection? Have you had insertive anal sex without protection? Have you had insertive oral sex without protection? Have you had insertive oral sex with protection? Do you have a partner? Is he being tested?"

And the list went on.

Normally I'm shy about such things...but I was amazingly forthright in all of my answers. And we discussed all sorts of practices without my so much as blushing! For example: I was also amazed to learn that before giving someone oral sex and you plan to swallow, you should not brush your teeth or floss for 72 hours! (Sorry mom.)

I was then ushered out into D.C. sunshine to await my results. They would be back in 20 minutes. So I stood and talked with my friends. Friend #1 was summoned back into the van. He was gone and gone and gone. His partner was beginning to get nervous. Finally, Friend #1 stepped out of the van.....went straight for her partner and said "NEGATIVE!" (The reason he was gone so long, he never sees a stranger and was talking the ear off the technician!) We chatted again...and suddenly there was a tap on my shoulder.... I was being summoned. Was that really 20 minutes?

I was ushered into the counseling room. There she was, the intimidating lady again...looking all gruff. She was grabbing some forms. "Oh God," I thought.

"You're negative," she said flatly. "This is a list of safe sex practices and a reminder to stay safe."

She circled the word NEGATIVE on my form, which became my red badge of courage. I was free to go and rejoin my friends outside.

Friend #2 found out he was NEGATIVE next.

Then, Mr. Brokeback was ushered into the van. NEGATIVE was his report too.

We all gave a sigh of relief and continued to enjoy ourselves at PRIDE.

Until the next time.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Anniversary


Here is a photograph that I snapped last night during the annual Gay Pride Parade here in Washington, DC. I don't know who this little girl is, but she really blessed me. For me she is Miss Tomorrow. She represents the next generation and wll perhaps be one of many who will usher in greater tolerance and acceptance of gay people.

There she is, wrapped in the Rainbow flag....and smiling broadly. Ah, what a wonderful world it is going to be. And, come to think of it, I have seen a great changed in the world over the last 30 or so years. We have so much to be thankful for.

The Pride celebration is always a time of tremendous fun and revelry here for me, simply because it represents the one time during the year where a whole host of gay men and women become fully visible here in the streets of Washington, DC. It's hard to describe why this means so much to me. But I suppose, if you're gay and you've experienced it, you can certainly understand what the feeling is like.

This year was especially wonderful, because I have a tradition. That tradition is that I generally attend the Pride parade with one of my children and with my Brokeback Mountain. BUT, because #1 is in the jungles of El Salvador, #2 is in the hills of Tennessee, and my son is enjoying all his work at Camp LeJeune, all I had was Mr. Brokeback.

Just getting to have that time with him meant more to me than I can say. This was also the first time that he and I actually gave each other some great big bear hugs and kissed openly right at New Hampshire Avenue, N.W. at Dupont Circle! Yes, we're coming up on 10 years of our relationship, and the love that I have for him is still as strong as ever.

The parade ended around 8pm, and Mr. Brokeback and I headed toward an Italian Restaurant to meet up with my gay friends from church. We had a ball!

But I guess the thing that stands out in my mind more than anything else is that somewhere in the midst of my dinner, Brokeback looked over at me and said, "This is your anniversary."

"Anniversary? What anniversary?"

"June 9th!," he said.

And, I had to actually put down my fork and catch my breath.

You see, I had gone through the entire day and had not given it one thought.

Two years ago yesterday, Lovey lowered the boom on me and announced her plans to separate and divorce me.

TWO WHOLE YEARS AGO!

And for all the trauma I have been through this past two years and the fact that I received word that the divorce was final! Well, to say I had forgotten about June 9 says a whole lot about my healing.

Yes, I'm still sad....and 'm working through this......

But, I think the healing has begun.

Oh God. Can it be?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Happy Pride 2007!

Friday, June 08, 2007

It's Finally Over!

I’m still numb from yesterday’s news.

Not long after I received the word, the fog started rolling in. I went through all the motions of work yesterday afternoon. But, to be honest, I can’t remember what I did.

I sent out a notice to all my friends. I was amazed at all the responses I got. I didn’t know that had that many people who were really concerned about my well being. It really made me feel great.

By the time I got home last night, I was emotionally wrung out and I went to bed. But, I tossed and turned. Finally I sat up in bed and decided to call #1 in El Salvador. They are two hours behind me time wise….and I thought I should call her with the news.

She congratulated me, but then immediately wanted to know how I was doing with it. I told her that I felt like I was in a fog…and that it was difficult.

She said that she was so sorry…..but that she loved me.

Finally, I articulated what’s been bothering me for so long during this whole thing.

“I feel like I have been terribly misunderstood during this whole thing and it bothers me that I haven’t been able to convey my side to Lovey et al.”

Really though, now, especially now, it’s irrelevant.

The divorce is finally over.

Now what?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Finis: 25 Years, 5 Months, 17 Days


It’s over.

The divorce is final.

My attorney sent me an email that said she had called the court.

It was finalized on May 29, 2007.

I was right….this is gonna be a painful hurdle. Very painful hurdle.

I’m sad…very sad…

It’s over.

The Dentist


I’ve been putting off this post for some time simply because I wanted to have a better handle on The Dentist’s role in my ex-family so that I could offer some observations. Since, though, he’s still just as myserious as ever, I’ve decided to go ahead with this post.

I’ve heard his name off and on for quite some time. Lovey’s younger sister worked for him for a few years. She met him through her church and introduced him to the rest of her family.

In fact, when #1 needed some emergency dental work done before going off with the Peace Corps, it was The Dentist who helped her at no charge. I suppose he is a good guy.

I didn’t meet him officially until late in March when my daughter from Nashville came for a visit. She was invited to a special dinner before she left, with her mother and grandmother. As I explained in my blog post at the time, I wasn’t really wanted at that gathering, but #2 sort of pushed the issue when she informed her grandmother that she had come to spend the weekend with her dad and if he wasn’t invited to this gathering, she wouldn’t be attending. (Had I known about all this at the time, I would not have gone.)

When I arrived, I immediately went out to the deck to begin grilling the steaks we were going to have for dinner that night. After I’d been there for a few minutes, the sliding glass door opens and out walks this gentleman. He walks over directly to me and say’s, “Hi! I’m the Dentist!”

After exchanging pleasantries, he proceeds to talk my leg off….on and on and on. I needed a break after the first 10 minutes!

When we sat down for dinner, he was placed at Lovey’s right hand. I was placed across the table from Lovey and #2 was to my right hand at the head of the table.

I tried very hard to discern the exact nature of the relationship between he and Lovey. But to be honest, I’m not sure if they are an item or not. It would certainly be a wonderful thing if they were an item. I could hang on to a significant amount of “change” if they were to get married – no more alimony!

The Dentist drives a white jeep. Since I’ve gotten to know him, I’ve noticed that his car is at Mrs. O’Lovey’s house at all hours. When my parents were here, it got so that I was a little embarrassed to drive past Mrs. O’Lovey’s house because he was always there. One trip out, we saw him out mowing the grass for Lovey’s mom. He’s there when Lovey’s there and when she’s not!

About five weeks ago, when Lovey was trying to get money to #1, she telephoned to see if I could make a deposit into #1’s bank account that evening because she has no access to any of #1’s accounts. In the midst of her late night call, she made it a point to say goodnight to the dentist while I was still on the phone. Obviously he had done something great for her, because she was gushing all over the place…..and she said “Thank you so very much! Bless you!”

A few weekends ago, he actually drove Mrs. O’Lovey and her sister out to visit Lovey. They stayed 3 or so days, but were very quick to say that he was staying with his children who are also in her area.

Still, it is all very interesting. Supposedly his mother died from Alzheimer’s. and he is helping Mrs. O’Lovey who is taking care of her older sister that is suffering from the disease.

Last night, when I dropped by Mrs. O’Lovey’s to pick up my envelope from Lovey, there he sat at the dining room table, with Lovey’s youger sister and her Aunt.

#2 said in her telephone call last night that from her discussions with her grandmother, it appears that they are beginning to tire of him.

Hmmmmmm

I Got My Envelope!

I did it!

I bit the proverbial bullet and stopped by Mrs. O'Lovey's on my way home last night from work to finally find out what was in that mysterious envelope that was so gosh darn important.

There were multitudes of cars in the driveway. So I knocked on the door.

Lovey's younger sister.....one of the ones who live here locally in a nearby palace, was there. She opened the door and was so friendly....and so warm......and so "glad" to see me. I amazed myself how arm and friendly and "glad" I was to see her!

She ushered me into the dining room where she, the dentist and Mrs. O'Lovey's sister were playing scrabble. I made small talk....and she kept commenting on just how "well" I looked. I told her that I was doing "well"....and that I had been super busy...and that I hadn't had a lot of time to do really much of anything else but work.

So after I spent some time chit chatting about all manner of trivia.....including telling her about my son being home this weekend...."Oh, didn't he drop by the reception? He was here all weekend and I told him about the reception!" I left. I also found out that Mrs. O'Lovey was at her church working to wash dishes from their dinner.

When I got into my car, I looked at the contents of the envelope. It was basically trash. Lovey could have mailed the really important stuff to me. ICK. Obviously she has been going through her files and what not...and have located a few of my things.

This weekend, I'm going to be spending some serious time trying to get the rest of my house in order and doing some very deep cleaning. I hate messes.

Spoke with daughters #1 and #2 yesterday. #1 in El Salvador told me that her Grandmother O'Lovey sounds a little wary of the dentist. There's some other drama there that I'm not in the mood to go into right now. #2 is doing well.

I had a great day yesterday. I felt well....and I'm getting ready for a fun day at the office now.

More later.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Mrs. O"Lovey Calls

I have a new message on my telephone answering system from Mrs. O'Lovey!

Imagine that!

I finally decided to play it yesterday. It was received sometime on Monday, but to be honest, I didn't get up the energy to play it until yesterday.

She announced that Lovey has left an envelope for me at her house. Hmmm wonder what it could contain?

I'm just trying to figure out how to go about picking it up, seeing how I have no desire to see any of those people, be with any of those people, or even breathe the same air as those people. I'm a piece of work!

But I am a work in progress.

She then goes on to say how much I was missed at the family gathering for the niece on Saturday.....you know...the one I described a few posts back where all the happy multitudes had gathered. She said that they were SOOOO happy....and they had such a WOOOONDERFUL time....and that I was missed SOOOOO VERRRRY MUCCCCH......

I'm bitter. What can I say? In the back of my mind my thoughts on all her comments were as follows:

"The newly weds are SOOOOOOO happy......Well, I've just not seen them this happy before."

Me: "Just wait until the divorce comes. We'll see just what HAPPY is then."

"They had such a WOOONDERFUL time..."

Me: "Yeah, I had a wonderful time at my wedding reception almost 26 years ago too! See where all that got me now?"

"We missed YOOOOU sov VERRRRY MUCCCCCH!"

Me: "Right, sure you did and pigs fly.... What about my making Lovey uncomfortable? We mustn't do that! After all what would the dentist say?"

I'm not perfect....I'm bitter and I'm dripping sarcasm.

I'm a work in progress.

On to other topics:

I weighed myself this morning. Normally I stay away from the scales as much as possible. But right at the time that Lovey lowered the boom to announce our separation and divorce, I weighed myself and I weighed 246 pounds. Not one of my more stellar moments, I can tell yo that.

This morning I weighed in at 221 even! So, in two years I have lost 25 pounds! Impressive huh?

I guess that's what happens when you're being picky about what you eat. My mother says that I eat like a little bird. (I just eat until I hear that little small voice say, "Enough!") So it's paying off.

My feeling is that I have to be in fine form when my prince charming arrives on his horse to carry me off into the sunset! I mean, I don't want to break the poor horse's back.....or crush my poor prince. So, if any of you see him out there....tell him that Frank is really working hard to be in better shape for when he comes to get me LOL.

(I can't believe I just wrote all that!)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Reconnection

Sometimes there are people in our lives that make such a profound impact, you just gotta find them and tell 'em. In my life there was such an individual, and at the time he made the profound impact on me, well...I didn't fully realize how important that impact was due to all my drama. Recently I was talking about him at my church.....and someone recognized the name....and gave me his email address.

He was a minister at an MCC church here in the area 10 years ago I contacted when I was in crisis. He dropped everything at the moment and helped me through a very tough time...and I never got the opportunity to thank him in person because he left not long afterwards. Here's the email I sent:

Hi Rick!

How in the world have you been? I'm wondering if you remember me?

I've come across your name many times in various publications where you have written columns. I don't know if I ever got a chance to fully share with you just how much your friendship and ministry have meant to me. You literally saved my life 10 years ago and I have wanted to say thank you for taking the time for me. I'm not sure if you remember, but I called you in crisis. My family was away visiting relatives in the midwest and I was planning to do myself in because of all the stress in my life concerning the gay thing. Thankfully, you met me and we had a meal at a restaurant and you spent some serious time with me as my crisis passed. As I recall, when the wife and kids returned...I got sucked into being the straight man again..you left the area..and that was that.

BUT, you don't know what an impact your ministry, and the fact you took time out for me have been for me. Again, my sincere thanks.

Ten years has made many changes in my life. First, I'm out to all my children...(the wife knew)..and my mother. These are the most important people in my life, and they have been incredibly supportive. Second, the wife and I are finishing up our silly divorce which has been in process for 2 years. It has been a difficult season for me, because my wife and I were together for over 25 years. She has not made it an easy task...and her personality has totally changed. The things I was accused of, and the way she has treated me has left me bitter, distrustful, angry, etc. to the point that I want no more contact with her! This is wrong. I know it's wrong. But I'm working on it.

I bought her out of the house. She took all the furniture. I replaced it all so that the house now reflects my tastes.and I have my dog. It's really weird finding myself single again..but here I am, age 49, starting all over. So, we'll see.

My wife is a minister...she outted me to everyone under the sun, including our former church, where no one will have anything to do with me. Thus, I began attending MCC in February..and am contemplating full membership. I've made a lot of friends at MCC and for once in my life I am attending a church where I feel that I am loved, I am safe, and I feel authentic and can be me without fear of the roof collapsing on my head..or someone saying I'm a pervert.

I just wanted to say hello...and reestablish contact..and to say a long-overdue thanks for what you did for me 10 years ago.

You are, and always will be a special person in my Christian walk.

Thank you for being you. Do you ever get to DC? I'd love to share a meal with you sometime.

Frank


I just received a response. He was glad to hear from me and he says that my email was a real boost to him and came at the right moment.

It was so good hearing from him....and to feel reconnected to someone that I consider to be a very dear friend...even though we haven't been in much communication over the years.

As I get older, I'm realizing how important it is to let people know how you feel at the moment. One can't assume they will always be around to hear what you have to say.

Gosh it was good hearing from Rick! He saved my life. It is because of him, that I am able to write here today.

One Step Closer


I heard from my attorney again today. The Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) has been drafted and is being circulated for approval by all the affected parties.

Let me explain.

When one is going through the painful separation/divorce action, one of the many things that have to be divided is the accumulated assets. (Liabilities and household goods have all been handled at this point.)

In my case, I bought Lovey out of the family home. She took the majority of the furniture (I hated that furniture and was glad to get rid of it!) I got certain kitchen pots and pans. She got the others. She took the Wedding China and the flatware. I got the Wedding Crystal – monogrammed glasses, goblets, etc. and the ornamental silver trays, tea service, etc. I also got other odds and ends, because Lovey knew that I would hang on to them for the kids. I think also she knows that in the ministry, she’s gonna be moved from place-to-place, while I will tend to stay in one place for the most part. Some of those items included the wedding cake top…which is sitting in my china hutch. I also got our anniversary clock, which is also in my china hutch.

All that stuff looks great with MY china that I bought myself in honor of MY 25th anniversary last December.

So, one of the other main issues that had to be decided concerned retirement funds. Lovey and her attorney zeroed in on my Civil Service Retirement. They demanded that she gets 50% of the marital share…i.e. the amount of retirement based on my high-three salaries between December 12, 1981 and June 9, 2005. My share of the annuity will continue to increase as long as I continue to work and garner performance increases.

My attorney, bless her, then turned her attention to the “other” retirement accounts each of us has. Because of my working for the government, my employer is not as generous as what some of her’s has been. Additionally, I have a 401(k) and a Thrift Savings Plan.

She spent 10 years as a legal secretary and one of the big law firms here in DC. She took an $11,000 pay cut to go be the administrative assistant to the dean. But that retirement fund manager is TIAA-CREF – a very good planner.

So, when all was said and done, Lovey had a lot more retirement funds in her plans than I had in mine. In the name of equality, she owes me $70,000 of her money. When she found this out, she went through the roof!

I held firm….my attorney held firm. Since she had dawdled for two years, she now owes all that plus interest. She went through the roof on that too!

In order to make the transfer to me of that significant hunk of retirement change, a QDRO has to be drawn up that directs her plan administrator to “show me the money” and to put it into a retirement fund of my choosing. So, it is this document that is circulating now. When approved, and the final divorce decree is entered, the money is transferred…and all this becomes but a bad memory…that hopefully, will fade over time.

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to figure out why I respond mentally, emotionally and physically the way that I do, whenever I see something from my attorney in my email box. I have the same response when I see Lovey’s name there too.

I think the rush of bad feelings come from the fact that all this is so very new to me. I feel some pressure about decisionmaking….decisionmaking that will affect my long-term future. I don’t want to screw up….and I’m so very skittish and unsure of myself.

The bad feelings I get when hearing Lovey’s voice or seeing an email from her come from the fact that I have had such negative exchanges with her on the most stupid things. Things that are only fair and just have been met with resistance on every hand and I have been made to feel like the villain.

These negative feelings have spilled over into the fact that I don’t want any further direct dealings with Lovey or her family. It’s why I am currently ignoring any telephone calls from them. It also helps that I am quite busy these days and have begun to develop my own social whirl. I’m just not at home waiting for telephone calls from them!

I honestly wish that I could sit here and say that I have this wonderful relationship with my X or that we have become the best of friends and that I love her so. BUT, I can’t say that. I don’t know that I will ever be in a place where I can ever say that. You see, I have suffered not only from the pain of the separation and the divorce, but I’m suffering from the pain of the treatment she put me through during the process.

And, I remember some of the worst times of the marriage.

You see, I’m not sure that she ever loved me the way that most wives love their husbands. Of course, the same thing can be said about me. I probably never loved her the way that most STRAIGHT husbands love their wives.

But, you know something? I did love her as much as any gay man can love a woman. I was willing to sacrifice a hunk of who I am because of this.

That era is over.