Monday, April 30, 2012

A Neon Penis

I went out to a gay bar again last night but with a different group of friends. But, I almost didn't. I began having an anxiety episode and wanted to cancel, but as it was originally my idea to go to this bar, I felt it would have been cold of me to do so. My friend was driving over fifty miles just to my house and then another thirty or so more to this particular bar.

After thinking, maybe even over-thinking the situation, I went to meditate with my Spirit Guides for some direction. They unanimously said, "GO!" With my head and heart both saying not to, and my four Spirit Guides encouraging me to go, I felt outnumbered. So I went. I enjoyed myself. Sort of.

I did enjoy the company of my friend, his boyfriend, another friend of theirs I had met once before, and the man he is currently dating. So, I was the only single man there. The fifth wheel. Yet, I never felt like one.

I am venturing back into the gay community after a long absence. Why have I been absent? Who knows and it is a long story. Maybe I'll save it for another post. But, the bar we were going to has a reputation for being a bit on the rough side. It attracts the levi/leather crowd. It's not a pretentious crowd like West Hollywood can be. The men are men and more my age and, according to my friend, more of what I seem to be drawn to; masculine, muscly bears. Sounds nice, so where did the anxiety come in? Maybe it was the bar itself? What if someone approached me? Was I ready? What would I say?  Have I overcome the trust issues from the last man I met? All of the above?

I don't feel like I fit in the gay community. Sex is not in the forefront of my brain. I'm not even comfortable hooking-up for a one-night stand. It's not the main part of what I look for in a partner. Friendship is. The size of his brain is more important than the size of anything else. And yet, sex was all over this bar. There were multiple video screens all showing the same porn clip, over and over and over and over. Some of the patrons were even engaging in discreet activities unbeknownst to the bouncers, yet not the crowd. And the biggest bright pink neon penis adorned the main wall above the bar. It would move back and forth from a flaccid position to an erect one and big white neon drops would spew out of it.

Also, I have never been a bar person as I am not a big drinker in the first place, plus the throbbing music (although it was a good seventies and eighties mix) gives me a headache especially when combined with the smells of pot, cigar and cigarette smoke wafting through the area. Even though we were in the patio, it took a while for it all to dissipate.

And yet, I'm not sure the anxiety was because of the bar itself. A lesbian photographer friend invited me to her first ever showing which was being held at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. I felt the same anxiety there, too. But, why?

Have I overcome the trust issues from the end of my marriage and meeting the first man afterwards? I'm not sure. Maybe not completely, and that, coupled with the other issues I have; no time, no money, no energy, I feel it's not time for me to be considering dating. It will all happen on the Universe's schedule, not mine. So, if I go to bar or event and someone does approach me, I'll start a conversation and see what path that takes. Friends first.

So, where's the anxiety coming from? Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm coming out again. I'm venturing back out into a community I lost touch with, a community I feel differently from, a community whose values seem to be different than mine. Maybe it's all overwhelming.

My friend tried to ease my anxiety. He said, "The bar is what the bar is. Just take what you want and leave the rest."

It's funny how things from the past cycle back to remind you of lessons once learned. Life is all about taking what you want and leaving the rest behind. Like an Al-Anon meeting; "Take what you want and leave the rest."

Will I go back to that or any bar? Probably, now that I know what to expect, and I'll just take what I want, leaving the rest to the others.

As far as easing myself back into the gay community, I think I'll take baby steps.

And listen to my Spirit Guides a little more.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday 4/29/12

Six more sentences from another little idea I'm working be completed sometime in the future....

The Stranger knelt down beside Lance and studied his face.  As Lance looked in the Stranger's blue eyes he saw they were bright and gentle, not broken like many of the other homeless people he saw in West Hollywood.  Even in the dim light he thought he could detect a slight smile in them, in spite of tonight’s events.
The Stranger stood and walked over to a trash dumpster and disappeared behind it, soon returning with a small bundle and a cloak.  Retrieving a small vial and a cloth from the bundle, he dabbed some of the contents of the vial on the cloth and proceeded to wipe at the cuts and bruises on Lance’s face. The physical pain seemed to dissipate as Lance relaxed at the Stranger's gentle touch, the emotional pain would take longer.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Seized a Moment

A good friend and fellow author, Gregory G. Allen, recently published his book "Chicken Boy: The Amazing Adventures of a Super Hero With Autism" which is based on his own godson who is autistic. During a recent discussion with my advanced group of sixth graders a question about autism came up. Coincidentally, we were finishing our unit on Response to Literature. Like any good teacher, I seized the teachable moment. I read the book and asked them to simply respond. I also asked them to rate the book from one to five stars, though it appears some forgot (or didn't hear me.) Their comments and ratings appear below.

“This story to me shows a great way to explain autism… I like it.” 5 stars

“I feel bad for Gabe. I feel this way because he can’t talk to a lot of people.  So I’m guessing that he doesn’t have a lot of friends since some children might be scared of him.” 3 stars

“I thought that this book was REALLY cool because I saw the view of a person who has it.”

“This story can happen to anybody and it’s not something to laugh at so it’s a good book to show that people with autism are the same as everyone. So I like this book.” 4 stars

“I think this book is trying to say the even if you have some type of illness you are still the same.”

“Now I understand that the kids that have the sickness are still normal but in a different way. Everyone is normal in a different way.” 5 stars

“I really enjoyed the story. I now understand autism. They are not weird. I give the story a 4.5 because it explains to the reader what autism is. Very good book.” 4.5 stars

“The story is good because it teaches young readers about autism.”

“I thought the book was very funny and interesting. The book was also very warm hearted. This deserved to be published.” 5 stars

“I like this story because it’s showing me that having autism is nothing different than anyone else. We are all the same.” 5 stars

“This is a nice book about autism. Because it tells us how autism is through the eyes of someone with autism such as “Chicken Boy.” Autism is when someone loves inside of their own brain. I hope that all people with autism find a cure and live happily.” 4 stars

“To me it makes me feel like now I know what to do when I see a child with autism. Or a grownup.” 3 stars

“It’s a really nice book. It really helped me see what autism is in a very nice way and funny as well.”
“This book depressed me as well as made me laugh. ‘Chicken Boy’ is autism in the eyes and thinking of an autistic boy. The boy has a superhero “Chicken Boy”. It also makes me understand now autistic children.” 5 stars

“I didn’t really enjoy the book. I thought the book talked more about autism not about a boy with autism.” 2 stars

“I liked the story because when I was small I used to be in my own world.” 5 stars

“This story talks about a boy who likes chickens. He also has autism. He is also living his life to the fullest because he can’t cure the condition. The story is good because it teaches young readers about autism. The character is actually a real person with autism.” 4 stars

“I think the book is cool because he is being unique like Chicken Boy. He doesn’t really care about what other people think.” 4 stars

“The story shows how people with autism live day to day.  Also from their point of view. How they feel.” 3 stars

“I think that the boy is sort of being bullied because people judge him by how he looks and they don’t get to know him.” 4 stars

“Chicken Boy is a fascinating story. I did not know they felt like that.” 5 stars

“This story makes me feel glad to not have autism but sad for all the people who do.” 4 stars

“I am not like him, but I would like to be his friend because he has a very different personality than others. I feel that he is having a pretty great life with autism because he must really have a lot of friends that might think he’s weird and all that but can be really great.” 5 stars

“I really like this book because my cousin has autism. I hope you write more books like ‘Chicken Boy’.” 5 stars

I agree with the last reviewer, Greg. I hope you write more books like "Chicken Boy."

"Chicken Boy: The Amazing Adventures of a Super Hero With Autism" is currently available from and other retailers.Click here to purchase from

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

Cafe, West Hollywood, CA
We are faced with decisions every day. Some are somewhat inane (what to eat) to the more serious (whether to end a relationship). But all are personal and all have consequences.

Every Sunday, I make either waffles or pancakes, and I make a full batch. After I've eaten my share, I prepare the rest of the batch and freeze them for the work week. I've experienced with different varieties from sweet potato to double chocolate chip banana. (I need to work on the lemon blueberry ones.) What or where to eat for a meal is a personal decision; after all I live alone and can eat what I want when I want if I want.  The only consequences here are weight gain.

I have to give my ex credit for having the courage to end our marriage. It was floundering and had been for a while. He recognized it, maybe not for what it was, but he knew something was wrong. I suspected it was me, after all I was fighting depression. And losing. Little did I suspect he was the cause, not my stagnant career as I thought. I had been teaching twenty-seven years at the same school when he announced he wanted out. I am a man who likes challenge. My career was no longer challenging enough, and I was tired of the commute. Or so I thought. I was just unhappy at home and unwilling to accept it.

I have had to make some difficult decisions and face the subsequent consequences as a result of now living on my own. I am not going to revisit my financial picture yet again. Nor the whole dating/fear of intimacy thing. Even I am tired of singing that song here.

For every decision, however painful, I had to reach deep inside and do it for one person and one person only; me. Does that make me selfish? No. While the Universe will provide me with the tools and data I need to make the decision, ultimately I am responsible to me and must accept my Karma for my choices. That has been a powerful lesson for me to learn so late in life. I never have truly put myself first. I stayed in relationships longer than I should for fear of hurting the other person, or because of what others would think of me if I left. Or what I might think of myself. I only ended up hurting myself in the long run.

In the coming months I will be facing some difficult decisions. And I am comfortable knowing that I will make the best decision for me at the time I make it. Some of the decisions are irreversible once made, but none that I foresee are permanent, just long-term. Some will take me into new territory along a new path in my life, and therefore are more frightening, yet intriguing. Others will take me deeper into myself and as a result bring me further out into the light of recovery. I am fully prepared to face the perceived consequences, and face the challenges that arise from the unforeseen ones.

I will prevail. I am a phoenix.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday 4/22/12

Here are another six sentences, but these are from a different novel in development. It is tentatively titled, Inn of the Four Winds. It is scheduled for completion sometime in my lifetime.

Mark stretched, got out of bed and hurried to turn off the alarm, as it was Alex’ first day off in a while, and he needed the sleep.  Standing in the doorway to the adjacent bathroom, Mark looked back at his sleeping husband illuminated only by the moonlight streaming in through the open window. Due to the pleasant night weather, Alex had tossed the sheets back exposing his well-developed copper-colored chest, a result of his mixed Mexican-Native American heritage and years in the construction business. Mark’s eyes grazed Alex’ chest starting at the wolf paw tattoo above the right pectoral, down through the valley between the twin peaks capped with the brown nipples, down along the abs to the navel and followed the treasure trail to the hem of the sheet.  Alex stirred, stretching in his sleep, causing the sheet to slip a little further south, revealing just the tip of the erect treasure at the end of the trail. Mark contemplated crawling back into bed to play with the treasure; after all, he did have the time, but tonight was their date night and reluctantly, Mark turned and closed the bathroom door.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friends, Blessings and Curses

I love my friends. They have stood beside me in my divorce. They have encouraged me to get back out there and meet men, yet still suggesting I be cautious. They have given me money-saving tips since I am on a very strict budget. They have offered me shoulders to lean on when my romantic entanglements have gone sour. And for that I love them.

They can also drive me crazy. They have challenged my thinking when I have been down, and wanting a good old-fashioned sulk. They have forced me to change my attitude when it's been negative, telling me I'd only attract more negative energy. For that I still love them. Even after I have cursed them for being right and ruining a perfectly good pout.

They have also given me food for thought. Some of which has become a post here. Like this one.

One friend, who is going through some similar shit like I am, shared with me this perspective. "Our problem is that we're poor! We wouldn't be so unhappy and negative if we had money." And I quickly agreed but, upon reflection, later had to retract my position. At least partially.

Maybe I would be happier. Maybe I would feel better about seeing a movie once in a while. Maybe I wouldn't be on pins and needles thinking something might go wrong with my car or something could break around my house knowing I couldn't afford the repair. Maybe I'd treat myself to a night out once in a while and not feel guilty about it. Maybe I'd drive a little farther just to get out of the house once in a while. Maybe I would enjoy life a little more. Maybe.

But, I'm not convinced I'd be happier overall.  I still have issues about dating. If money weren't such an obstacle, time and energy still would be. And with dating comes, the other part. The, um, afters. And that is a whole different can of worms for me. Or a series of sessions with a therapist. And blog posts, maybe. (Sorry for the lack of details, but this is still a family blog. I think I have underage readers who personally know me.)

Am I ready to date again? Only time will tell. I've addressed some of my concerns here, so I'm not going through them yet again. But the Universe has its own timing and I need to surrender myself to that. If it took four years to get my novel in print, and on the fluke of a tweet at that, then the Universe will send me someone when it's time. After all, everything happens for a reason at the time it is supposed to happen.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday 4/15/12

 Here are six more sentences from my upcoming novel, "When Love Calls Your Name," scheduled for release in October 2012.

I drove to his place, which turned out to be a townhouse, found a parking spot, and walked up to the door. As I went to ring the bell I hesitated. The butterflies were now flapping their wings violently against the sides of my stomach. Yet, even with the butterflies there was still something unknown urging me onward. Gina and Reggie were right; I didn’t have anything to lose at this point. The doorbell rang; it seemed some invisible hand had pressed my own hand forward to ring it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Return to Catalina

Isthmus Cove, Catalina Island, California ~Our ship sits at anchor

I'm not sure where this post is heading, but here goes.

I just returned from chaperoning my school's annual sixth grade field trip to Catalina Island. We sailed from Long Beach, California aboard the American Pride for a four-day marine science study trip. The children were taken snorkeling, kayaking, and tide pooling. We set foot on land only twice, once our first day, and then all day the day before we return to the mainland. I posted about this trip last year and discussed conquering some of my fears. (June, 2011; Catalina)

This year, I did not conquer any fears. I was not motivated to. Do I still have some? Yes. Did I feel like conquering them? Not really. I had gone snorkeling once before. I did not attempt it here. Last time, it was not a pleasant experience. I was on vacation with my first partner in Walt Disney World at one of the water parks, Typhoon Lagoon, which has a swim through shark tank. I had minimal instruction, barely five minutes, and was told to move along to make room for the next group. I kept trying to breathe through my nose, which is not advisable since the mask covers your nose. I didn't have the time to practice breathing through the snorkel. Needless to say, I swam quickly through the tank. So, why didn't I try it again here? Maybe I didn't want to relive that past experience, and was afraid to panic in front of the students, many of whom were panicking themselves, either out of fear of being bitten by a Great White Shark or some other critter or a fear of drowning. How can I comfort them when I am panicking myself?

Last year, I didn't go kayaking and swore to myself I would the next time. So, why didn't I? I had two opportunities. Once, when we were on the beach at White's Landing, I could have taken a kayak out alone in a protected cove, in clear view of the ship's crew and students and practiced. The second opportunity was when the students went out with two of the crew for about an hour in the open water. Why didn't I go?

I have never been one for swimming in non-chlorinated water or where I couldn't see what I was stepping on, especially after stepping in some slimy algae-like stuff that oozed up through my toes as a child. As an adult, I should just get over myself and wear water shoes which, ironically, I have. And last year we went in June when the water was just a little warmer. This year, we went in April.

So, why didn't I take advantage of those opportunities to conquer these fears? Maybe I wasn't ready to.

Or, as the sole male chaperone, I slept aboard ship in the same cabin as the male students, and therefore would be with them for up to eighty consecutive hours. At school, I do get a break from them and they do go home at the end of the day. So, maybe I just needed a break from them.

Or, maybe I just didn't want to get wet this year.

Sunrise over the Catalina Channel

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday, 4/08/2012

Here are another six sentences, from my upcoming novel, "When Love Calls Your Name," due in October 2012 from Seventh Window Publications.

In my earlier packing I had avoided one of the two closets in my bedroom, whether deliberately or subconsciously, I don't know. I now approached that closet with sadness, but a sadness laced with purpose. I had to do this to move forward.  I moved aside some boxes on the top shelf and removed a small box from the back of the closet. Trembling, I opened it. Tears began raining down my face.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Questions and Answers

I am a mess. I have been dealing with a lot lately which has left me with a lot of questions. But, do I have the answers? We'll see.


I hate it right now. Well, not the teaching itself; I like interacting with the students, sometimes. I have come to hate what has become expected of us as teachers. Many parents don't know how to parent. The child is in control and by the time he/she is in sixth grade, they have come to believe they are in control of every adult they meet. It's sad when teachers who have no children of their own are teaching parents how to be a parent. So, when can I retire?

Also, some parents have come to have false expectations of their child's teachers based on what prior teachers have done. A colleague was sharing with me that one of her parents asked her why she didn't tutor students after school. After all, the teacher last year stayed at school until 5:30-6:00 PM(!) to tutor children, and often took them places on weekends. Aren't you the parent, here?

I feel very different about this year's students than I did about last year's class and yes, I know, every group is different. And here I must say there are quite a few variables in play. First, last year I was self-contained, meaning I taught all subjects all day to the same group of kids for six hours; so I had a chance to really bond with them. This year, I teach one hour of science to a group, and then one hour of Language Arts to each of three different groups of kids. It's like, wham, bam, thank you, next, repeat! I'm bored. I miss math and history and diving deep into literature.  I must also say last year was quite unusual in that I had moved from fourth through fifth to sixth with eight of my students and then from fifth to sixth with another nine, so I had seventeen of my twenty-nine students for more than one year and they were an exceptional group of kids; they gave a lot back. This year I have eighty-five students for the first time, some for just one hour per day; and many of them don't seem to take pride in their work. This year I haven't had the opportunity to really know the students. Is it me, them, the schedule that's responsible?

Next year's sixth graders are supposed to be just plain mean. My fifth grade colleagues and those who had these students in fourth are advising me to get out of town. Or at least out of sixth grade. I have the right per my Union/District contract to request a grade change and my principal must come up with a compelling reason not to honor my request. Grade requests are assigned by district seniority, and I am number one at my school. This means I get to teach the grade level I want to teach or the principal faces a possible grievance. Now, do I want to pack my classroom and move to another grade and room, buy materials I may need (with money I don't necessarily have) to supplement the district-provided curriculum, get reacquainted with and plan for a different curriculum again, and possibly cause a domino effect displacing other teachers from their grades? Or do I stay where I am and do this all over again with an allegedly mean group of kids?


I'm venturing forth on a new adventure; author. New adventures are often scary. And exciting. And I'm not even sure how this all came into being a reality. When I wrote my novel back in 2008, I wasn't sure if I wanted to, or how I would, get it published. And now I am. But I still have doubts. Maybe it was (or still is) a lack of confidence in my ability as a writer. Maybe it's first time jitters. After all, I've never done this before. But, then neither did Grandma Moses when she started painting, so I have a role model. When I sat down to write it, the dam burst and the story just flowed out of me. Other ideas came bubbling up from the soup, floating to the surface and are now stacked up like 747s waiting to land. I've tried working on them, yet seem to get only so far before I get blocked. How do I get back to a place where the stories just flow?

I'm also going to have to learn to promote myself and my writing. And it's uncomfortable, because I was always taught to be meek and humble, (Christian values) or maybe it's something more internal, more emotional (self-esteem over parents' divorce or coming out issues). Obviously, the Universe, my publisher, my editor and the few others who've seen bits and pieces think I am good at doing this, so I now have a lesson to learn in trusting in others. And in myself. So, how does one build confidence?

Teaching is not an eight hour job. It's more like twelve. Or sixteen. I have the students for six of them, and two more are supposed to be planning and grading papers and recording them. But, in those two hours, I also must fit in parent conferences, meetings with colleagues, counseling students, and any other odd jobs the principal asks. Also, I spend many hours wondering how can I get my students, some who are reading at second grade level, to comprehend the differences between metaphors and similes; or even what an adverb is, and then USE them in their writing? Or I may wake up with the piece that was missing from my lesson on the theory of Plate Tectonics so I can do a quick review of yesterday's lesson so the foundation of today's lesson will be more solid. A lot of my weekends are spent around what doesn't get done at school mixed with household chores. So, how do I fit in time to write and bring these 747s in for a safe landing?

Dating and Love or at least a Social Life

I think I've covered enough of my emotional demons on this topic in past posts so, I don't need to rehash them here, yet again. But, if making time for writing is a problem, making time for dating would also be an issue for me. Teaching is not a profession to make money. Being a single teacher with a mortgage and two sickly pets I don't have much, if anything, left over for fun and socializing, let alone romance. Teaching is also tiring. I'm on stage 'performing' five hours per day, and I'm exhausted after commuting home. I don't have a lot of energy at the end of the day and by the end of the week, forget it. I don't feel I have the time, the money and the energy to date. What do I do?

So, I guess my answers lie in one basic word; trust. John Burroughs once said, "Leap, and the net will appear."

Here goes.

As for the photo, I don't have an answer for you, except it's a mess of shells and rocks stuck together buried in the sand. Kind of like me. Except I'm trying to dig myself out, not lay there subject to the whim of the elements.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Things Unsaid

I don't know how many of those mass e-mailings I've received over the years about "If I had known it was the last time I'd see you I would have said 'I love you'."

I'm sure we all have things left unsaid, particularly to our friends and loved ones who have passed on. I know I do.

But, I'm going to talk about those things we leave unsaid to those who are still among us; perhaps a parent, a child, a sibling, a friend, an ex, the one whose heart you broke or the one who broke yours.

I can think of something I want to say to someone in almost every category above. As I have no biological offspring, I will substitute 'student' for 'child',  as I consider my cat and dog my 'kids' and I'm not convinced they would understand the concept. As long as I feed them, love them, play with them and clean up after them I know they are happy. Also, since this is a public blog, I have no intention of airing my really dirty laundry here.  (I know you were hoping for some really good dirt. Sorry.) Okay, so maybe I'll air just the slightly soiled load.

As I sit and contemplate what I want to say to whom, and if I want to actually say it, I have to ask myself a few questions; Why? What good would it do? Would it settle things or stir them up?

But, the ultimate question is; Would it be good for me in the long run?

And if it is, I should say it, right? But if it does me no good, or I suspect it wouldn't, why waste my time and energy, right?

Here goes:

To my mom; It's not your fault I am gay. If you are holding on to that, please let it go. I love you.

To my father; I wish we'd had more time together, but this is where we are now. Let's move forward.

To my brother; I'm glad we made amends, let's continue on this path. I love you.

To my students; I hope I have prepared you well enough for your life, both academically and otherwise.

To my students who later came out; I wish I'd had the courage to come out to your class to be a positive role model for you. I just hope you are happy and healthy, both physically and emotionally.

To my friends; thank you for being there. I love you.

To my first partner; I know I promised you I wouldn't let you die in the hospital, but you started failing so rapidly, there was no time to make it home. I am sorry.

To my ex; I am truly happy you have moved on and found someone, I can only hope you will learn to listen to him better than I feel you listened to me.

To anyone whose heart I broke; I am sorry.

To the men who broke my heart; I am very grateful for having known you for however long we knew each other, as you have left an indelible impression on my heart and soul. Thank you.

As for the photograph, I'm not telling.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday, 4/01/12

Here are another six sentences (slightly modified) from my upcoming novel, "When Love Calls Your Name" coming in October 2012 from Seventh Window Publications.

The bell was about to ring and Gina and I needed to get supplies for our afternoon lessons.  She and I had spent hours talking about my potential coffee date, now it was real.  Gina had pushed me into meeting Mr.-Hot-Attorney, and now he had a name, Javier Villalobo.  And now I was getting anxious; was he going to call? Did I not impress him? Now that we actually had met what had I done wrong to scare him off?