Thursday, March 9, 2017

Sorry...

"You're too sensitive."  I heard these words many times when I was a kid.  From my father.  I could never disagree with those words.  But with those words, the conversation ended.  And I was left with the feeling that I should apologize.  But the moments came and went quickly, so I would end up leaving the house to go outside, away from everyone.  Or, if I were feeling especially crushed, off to my bedroom I'd go, to cry and listen to music (my favorite asylum).

Fast-forward to my 50's, and bubbles of my far past still come to the surface and burst, leaving me covered in yucky feelings.  My bi-polar disorder can make me unwillingly inappropriate.  My "feelings" can make me incredibly hard on myself.  Growing up in an alcoholic family made me an expert in hostility and confrontation.  I can thrive on turbulence and conflict, but then, I'm left with the feeling that I owe apologies.  And I have learn over the years that "sorry" only works a few times.  There is a great line in one of the episode of Lady Dynamite, the brilliant Netflix series centering on comedian Maria Bamford and her experiences with her own bipolar disorder.  In a session with her life coach, played by the impeccable Jenny Slate, the coach tells her "You know what they say; bipolar...bye-bye friends."

I have always worried about losing friends, always wanted more and more friends, and could never understand when people did not like me.  My mom tried to point out that I could not like everyone I met.  True enough.  But even at a young age, I was good at sympathizing with the bully who had a bad home life, or the snooty cheerleader who was only admired for her beauty and not her brains.  I didn't particularly want to hang out with them, but I didn't necessarily think that they were bad or vicious people.

Oh, and I am a pretty big people-pleaser:  probably due to the fact that I always felt out of place during my youth in a small town.  I was a peer-pressure junkie, trying too hard to fit in with my straight neighborhood buddies, my marching band mates, and my school friends.  Ever the clown, I was always seeking validation.  Even if my jokes weren't all that funny.  Hell, I was the King of Trying Too Hard.

So, when a person who knows me well points out that I am acting erratically and, rather than asking "Are you ok?" they immediately blame it on my mania (and they could be most likely correct).  They may act dismissive and arrogant; that hurts.  Or, if I mess something up by my own hand, this misstep may trigger a trip down nightmare lane to when my father was telling me that I am too sensitive.  And I'm a kid again.   And I wonder, what did I ever do to you, Dad? To make you angry and mean to me?  I was a kid.  How could have made you belittle my feelings me and brush me off?

Over years and years of therapy (you bipolar folks and I know that we're probably never getting away from therapy, because we most always second-guess our actions and reactions), I've talked about being gay in my conservative small town (now, forever ago, since I've moved on from the conservative wasteland that I escaped).  I've talked about my inability to find a stable relationship (that has been fixed by my husband), I'm just about to embark on conversations about the lousy relationship between my father and me when I was a boy again, a subject that I thought that I had come to terms with years ago.  (For the record, I've forgiven him.  He did the best he could.)  And I can't change the past.  But I'm going to start talking about not trying to please people.  I'm going to start talking about not feeling sorry for who I am.  I'm going to learn to look after myself more, and not put other people's needs in in front of my own...so I don't feel resentful or let down when I do something for somebody, when I am been the epitome of reliability, and I'm never given thanks.

And this is it.  The last time that I'm going to self-pity.  I'm going to be there for me.  And not apologize for being me anymore.

Because, as the wise David Sedaris says "If you're looking for sympathy, you'll find it between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.” 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

St. Earl

This month I am celebrating my truck's Sweet 16.  The Toyota Tacoma PreRunner that I bought all those years ago was my first brand-spanking new automobile.  Over the years, I had a Chevy Chevette (many asking "what is that?"), a Plymouth Valiant (again with a "what?"), a Chevy pick-up truck, a Ford pick-up, a Chevy El Camino ("what?"), a Ford pick-up, a GMC S-15 pick-up ("what?"), a Ford Ranger pick-up ("what?"), and finally, the fuel-injected love of my life.  See, I kissed a lot of frogs.

The first evening I drove the truck off the dealership lot, I visited one of my close friends to show off my new baby.  When I arrived at his house, he said "I have something for you."  He handed me a Beanie Baby.  Blast from the past, right? This small stuffed animal was a white floppy dog with big black ears and a big black nose.  My friend told me, "His name is Earl.  Keep him on your visor, and you'll never have an accident."  I laughed partly because my Dad's middle name is Earl, and also because the idea seemed silly.  But I did it nonetheless.

And if I'm anything, I'm a believer.  I believe in Astrology.  I believe in God and Jesus.  I believe in the teaching of Buddha.  I believe in things like serendipity and telepathy.  And I'm a believer in Earl.  I've driven my truck for 15 years now. It looks like new, thanks to covered parking at work and at home.  And thanks to Earl, who has kept me between the lines, has prevented scratches and dings from the body of the truck, and has kept me company on long drives from my home in Houston back to my hometown in Louisiana.  He has listened to me sing off-key on long commutes home in the evening.  He has watched over me on the freeways with all the bronc-busting drivers on the Texas freeways.  So I say a prayer of thanks tonight for St. Earl:  my buddy, my protector, my truck's best friend.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Hi Tim! Depression And Suicide. Getting It All Wrong.

Hi Tim,

How are you?  The holiday season has had me so busy that I blipped right over your e-mail on the 15th, regarding the Army chaplain who had been reprimanded for trying to help soldiers with depression.  Sad.  No pun intended.

Turns out that Army Chaplain Joseph Lawhorn was conducting a suicide prevention training session at Fort Benning, Georgia.  He passed out pamphlets with both religious and non-religious resources that were available to the soldiers.  Someone who had attended the training reported the instant to the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, who then, in turn, lodged a complaint with Champlain Lawhorn’s superior.  Again, sad.  Again, no pun intended.

You stated that Chaplain Lawhorn had been punished for “simply sharing how his faith in God has sustained him during difficult times.”  I’m not sure if I’d call it punishment.  The colonel at the base simply called the chaplain into his office and warned him to be careful in the event that someone could think that he was promoting one set of beliefs over another.  And I think that’s where the problem rears its head…

You mentioned that the chaplain’s pamphlet included biblical references.  Were they only references to the Christian faith, or did it include references to the Jewish faith?  If they were biblical references, I would imagine that would not speak to the soldiers who may be of the Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, etc., faiths.

Well, it looks as if the chaplain engaged a lawyer, or actually, lawyers.  So I guess it all turned into a big deal.  I’m all about what is right and fair, but maybe we’re overlooking the real concern here:  the soldiers who are having trouble with depression and who are contemplating suicide.  I think that trying to find a solution that would help those soldiers, with the least amount of conflict and hubbub, is ultimately the highest road to take.  But perhaps I’m being too simplistic here.

Myself, I struggle with depression a lot.  I have bipolar disorder, and have been hospitalized for depression and for suicidal thoughts.  No fun.  At all.  But I got help.  And the soldiers should as well.

I checked with my husband, an avowed atheist, as I’ve mentioned before.  He did not one, but two, tours in the Navy.  His take?  He would not have a problem with Chaplain Lawhorn’s pamphlets, as long as they included both religious and non-religious resources for preventing depression and suicide.  That was his take.

I use this phrase a lot.  Much ado about nothing.  Focus on the soldiers.  In Jesus’ name.  No pun intended.

Hope you have a great night Tim!

Yours in Christ,


Jason

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hi Tim! Give Us This Day Our Christmas Bread!

Hi Tim!

I got your e-mail today encouraging me to buy Sunbeam Bread.  As you said, 

Every year beginning just after Thanksgiving, Sunbeam Bread reaches out to remind its customers that Christmas is a time to "reflect on our beliefs and remember those around us, especially those less fortunate."  For 75 years, Sunbeam has put their faith into action by labeling their bread packages with an iconic image of Little Miss Sunbeam kneeling with folded hands and praying Jesus' words in Matthew 4:4, "Not by bread alone."

The image is just plain precious.




You encouraged me to send an email and thank Sunbeam for their annual message.  Not to make excuses, the Christmas season always seems to sap my strength.  In addition to all the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping and having to fight the extra traffic through town around the malls, at the office, our busiest time of the year is the fourth quarter, and I'm bushed.  I had to be at the office this morning an hour and a half earlier than my normal time.  That might not seem like a lot, but trust me, I'm no early bird.  So I'm just writing to you, and then I'm going to bed.  I'll hope that Sunbeam gets lots of e-mails from your folks.

Besides, I've mentioned, on more than one occasion, that my husband does the shopping for the house.  He wouldn't buy Sunbeam bread.  He always buys some multi-grain stuff that's supposed to be "good" for us.  He's a real nutrition nut.  And on top of that, he chunks the bread into the freezer.  He only pulls the loaf out every two weeks or so to make us grilled cheese sandwiches with our tomato soup.  So see, we don't use a lot of bread.  And I couldn't buy Sunbeam Bread this year anyway, unless I went to the grocery store myself.  And that ain't gonna happen!  LOL

At any rate, I'm off to bed.  Hope Sunbeam sells a lot of bread this Christmas season.

Here's wishing you the best, Tim.

Yours in Christ,

Jason

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hi Tim! 1 Kid And Counting!

Hi Tim!

Hope you're well.  Sorry.  I'm a little behind.  I hope you didn't think that I'd fallen off the map.  I'm all good.

I was happy to see that I didn't miss much.  The topics of your e-mail were familiar, and ones that we'd already covered:

  • PetSmart saying "Bah, Humbug" by not using the word "Christmas" in its holiday advertising.  See link here.
  • Your organization, single-handedly (the way I read it), convincing a national chain, The Regis Corporation, to allow its employees to use the phrase "Merry Christmas" to their customers.  See link here.
  • Your organization's "Naughty or Nice" list, informing us on which national chains are "Naughty" by using the word "Holiday" instead of "Christmas" in their holiday advertising and which were "Nice" by using the word "Christmas" in their holiday advertising.  See link here.
  • And finally, the "homosexual lobby" attacking the Duggar family of TLC's "19 Kids And Counting" TV program.  See links here and here.
So let's just re-cover one of the topics above.  The Duggar family.  The Duggars have a problem with homosexuals.  So I'd surmise that they would have a problem with me, if we met.  I'm not what some people would call a "flaming homosexual."  A "flaming homosexual" might be a man who is overly feminine, speak in a girlish voice, and swish when he walks.  I have some friends who are just like this.  They are FUN!  But me?  I'm just a guy.  But I am out about my sexual orientation.  I talk about my husband.  I talk about gay rights, because we gay men and lesbians simply do not have all the rights of the heterosexuals of this country and of this earth.  This is only a plain fact.

But, not to push the "homosexual agenda," which you sometimes mention, I just want to bring light to one point.  I have a son.  A son that I had in the "natural" fashion.  I was married to a woman, and we had a child together.  I was gay.  I always have been.  But I got married, in the hopes that it would change me.  It didn't.  I'm glad that marriage didn't change me.  I like me for who I am.  Everyone should like themselves for who they are.  Regardless of whether or not somebody has a problem with them.

So the Duggars have "19 Kids And Counting."  Quite a few.  I would think that many folks would think "That's too many!"  Honestly, I would have had a whole houseful too, if I'd not been gay.  So, with me it was "1 Kid And No More Counting."

BUT, a couple of weeks ago, my son let me know that my husband and I are going to be grandfathers!  I am so excited.  And my son is beside himself with happiness.  He wants a houseful of  children too.  But I do have to say that his "1 Kid and Counting" doesn't turn into "19 Kids And Counting!"

Take it easy, Tim!

Yours in Christ,

Jason

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hi Tim! A Hairdo And A Merry Christmas!

Hi Tim,

I'm running out to the gym, but I'm glad that I got your e-mail before I headed out.  I'll probably be tuckered out when I get back home.

Wow!  That was a quick resolution to the alert that you posted earlier today.  Let me sum up for those who might not be on your e-mail list.

Apparently, an American Family Assocation staff member went to SmartStyle in a Walmart to get her hair done.  I didn't even know there were salons in Wal-mart, but I digress.  Anyway, your staff member was told by the stylist that the district manager told the employees to not use phrases like "Merry Christmas" or "God Bless You."  And when your organization called for follow-up, the corporate office said that employees were instructed to tell customers "Happy Holidays," so as not to offend non-Christian customers.

In your call to Take Action, you said, and I quote:
"SmartStyle employees are not cattle or robots. They are real people, with real feelings, who want to give a genuine, heartfelt greeting to their customers."
The images that immediately popped in my mind was a stylist mooing good-bye to a customer, or a stylist making R2D2 good-bye beeps.  LOL.  And "a genuine, heartfelt greeting" is a bit vague.  All I could think was a hearty "WHASSUP?!" when a customer enters the store, or a big "Come back again real soon now, ya' here?"  But I'm just being silly here.

As it turns out, just hours later, you let me know that a spokesperson for the owners of SmartStyle, the Regis Corporation, responded with this:
"Please know that there is not a corporate-wide policy at Regis Corporation regarding greetings during the many holiday seasons throughout the year, including Christmas. We encourage our stylists and staff to greet every guest with respect and courtesy, regardless of the season or time of year.  We are also sharing this throughout the company so everyone has the correct information."
It doesn't seem to me like much of a resolution, since I guess stylists can still say "Happy Hanukkah," "Happy Kwanzaa," or even, "Happy Festivus" to the die-hard Seinfeld fans.

But you did say that no further action was needed in your e-mail.  I'm glad!  It was a long day at the office, and I'm just now headed off to the gym.  It's almost 9 o'clock!

Oh...one more thing.  Looks like the Regis Corporation also owns SuperCuts.  I went to one of those about 20 years ago, and got the worst haircut of my life.  A "Merry Christmas" wouldn't have made it better.  But a "God Bless You" might have.

Have a great night, Tim!

Yours in Christ,

Jason

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hi Tim! "Ol' Unnatural Me" or "Duggar Family Revisted"

Hi Tim!

Got your e-mail today.  Man, I'm glad I caught it.  I just got in from the gym, and it's half past 10 PM.  It was a late evening, so I got to the gym late, because I had dinner with friends.  Another gay married couple and our best friends, a lesbian couple (they're not unnaturally married...LOL..I'll explain what I mean below).

Today's e-mail was about the Duggar Family again.  We communicated about that topic on this post here.  Today you let me know that your petition had been signed by hundreds of thousands of good people, but you were missing my signature.  Sorry, but I couldn't bring myself to sign it.  

You see, after you posted your original story on the Duggar family, I did a little investigation online.  It seems that another organization was pushing a petition to send to TLC to persuade them to cancel the show.

Here's the truth, Tim.  I'm not signing either of them.  I don't watch television.  Well, that's not entirely true.  I have all available seasons of The Big Bang Theory on DVD, and I watch them over and over.  I'm kinda boring that way.

In today's e-mail, you stated that the "good people" who signed your petition refuse to be bullied by a noisy group of angry homosexual activists.  I got bullied once in high school.  Fortunately, it only happened once.  Some girl called me a "faggot" to my face.  Trust me, once was enough.

You mentioned that the Duggar family is "standing firm on God’s word that marriage is sacred and can only be defined as God intended – one man and one woman."  Even being a Christian, I follow the idea of separation of church and state.  My husband and I got married in a courthouse.  The courthouse did have a small "chapel," but the ceremony was...well, I guess it was stately.  LOL

It's not unnatural though.  It's quite nice.

As for the Duggars, I don't have much stake in their show.  Like I said, I don't watch TV.  My husband and I couldn't watch their show if we tried.  We don't have cable.  Yes.  We're cavemen.  LOL

This all seems "much ado about nothing" to me though.  The Duggars and your organization, and the homosexuals of this country will probably never understand one another.  Sometimes, I don't understand your e-mails.  But then I ask God to help me, and I just focus on things that you and I might have in common:

  • I'm married.  I guess you are too.
  • I have a child.  I would imagine that you have at least one.
  • We are both middle-aged white men (but it looks like I have more hair than you...ha, ha..just kidding, buddy)
The upshot is the Duggars television program will not last forever.  Americans have such short attention spans.  And so we're back to "Much Ado About Nothing."  

Let's just laugh.

Have a great night, Tim!

Yours in Christ,



Jason