Thursday, July 24, 2014

SPLINTERS: Relating to fictional characters

Brad and I mentioned on Monday we wanted to use this day to have a "free-style" discussion of what this book meant to us on a very personal level.

Sometimes we're in the mood to read something that's pure escape... something that will carry us away from our real life. And SPLINTERS definitely allowed us to leave our everyday world behind as we traveled to a Texas ranch and then to Manhattan for a while.

But in addition to carrying us away from our real life, SPLINTERS also carried us toward our real life. And a book that can do both of these things is a special book indeed.

You know, there's this thing about fictional characters that always interests me. I know they're creations of the author's imagination, but I always know I'm reading a special book when I start caring for them as if they were people in my real life. And while Brad and I were talking about the book, we discovered we were drawn to -- and identified with -- different characters.

We both cared very much for both main characters, but somehow whenever Duke was in the scene, I paid close attention to him (of course as seen through Al's eyes), and Brad paid close attention to Al (as seen through Al's own eyes).

Brad and I worked on this post together and wanted to share a little bit about what it made us think about. And for those of you who've read the book and related to something in it on a personal level, please feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section if you'd like.

Brad: I've written a good bit about my femme side and some of the internal conflicts I've had in fully embracing it. Over the past several years I feel very pleased and proud of myself for how I've started loving that about me.

While Matty was reading Splinters to me each night, he did this really wonderful thing with his voice. He tried to mimic the sound of each character's voice instead of reading each character in monotone. And whenever Al was on the scene, it was uncanny how much of my own real voice he put into Al's words and thoughts.

Needless to say, I loved hearing how Al always seemed so comfortable in his own skin, even when he was young.  And there was the scene when his agent/manager Elsie talks about promoting him as a crossover model -- maybe sending him to the gym to pump up his muscles to have a more "masculine" look, as opposed to how they've played off his "feminine" look.

Al tells her, "That's just not me. I'd feel like a fake all over again." And we get to hear Al's internal voice as he reflects, "I was brilliant and secure playing up the feminine or teasing at it. It was disastrous trying to be more masculine because I kept hesitating to do anything while internally debating whether it was manly enough."

I LOVED seeing how Al embraced and totally owned who he was. And I loved his honesty when he said how fake he felt when he tried to "play" being more masculine than he felt. And his conviction to always live his life honoring his True Self.

I feel like I've made light-years of progress in embracing and being true to myself. And it was so exciting to see this character as a kind of fictional role model for how to be true to all of who I am.

Matt: Maybe opposites really do attract. I've always been much more aware of my "masculine" side than my "feminine" side. It's actually a little awkward to even describe it that way because I'm not sure it totally captures how I see things.

Whenever the character Duke was in the scene, I always found myself drawn to him. There was something about how comfortable he was in totally owning his "masculinity" while at the same time not shying away from his feminine side.

There was one incredibly sweet scene close to the end where Duke is helping one of his mares give birth. The only way I can describe how I was picturing Duke during this process was to see him as a "male mother." I just melted as he was coaxing Suzy Lee (awww). "Easy, girl. That's my sweet gal."

And the scene where Al finds out that Duke takes in the stray kittens... And his sister is explaining that, "...our sweet Duke got it in his head to gentle a whole passel of kittens, name every one of 'em, and... he bought a little pink brush for 'em!" Duke is a little embarrassed, but Al is thinking to himself, "...I'm dangerously close to falling for this big, gruff cowboy who pampers kittens."

Even though I don't have a "cowboy" look, or even a hyper-masculine physique, I still identify more with my masculinity than my feminine side. But it was so helpful and liberating to see this "big, gruff cowboy" pampering his kittens with "a little pink brush" and getting to see this really wonderful "male mother" helping his "sweet gal," Suzy Lee, give birth.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

So, what about you? Were there any characters in Splinters (main or secondary) that touched you in some  special or personal way? Was it helpful to see characters who were similar to you -- different from you? Did the characters or the story change or enlarge your view of the world in any way? Are you changed in any way after reading this story -- more self-aware -- more aware of others?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

SPINTERS: Loving deeply

Is this story foremost about love? It's in the romance genre and love is the primary experience around which everything is organized in that genre, so it would be a reasonable assumption to make, right?

Yep, everything in Splinters is definitely organized around love. But what I loved about this book is how we get to see, pretty much first-hand, how the lead character (the star and diva model/actor of the story) experiences that love.

But notice I said it's a story "foremost" about love because I think it's a lot more than that. In many ways I identified with Al, one of the main characters in this story. I loved watching him bring all of who he was to the experience of loving and being loved. It's really hard for me to express this any other way.

Even though Al was full of life and open to loving and being loved, there was somewhere, maybe deep inside, a little bit of sadness. I remember feeling some of that sadness when he was giving us a tiny glimpse into his early family life -- the distance he felt from his mother and father, and how for them, he was probably easier to love from afar. I guess maybe I over identified a little with him.

But the very best part of this story was seeing the courage and determination he had to bring all of who he was to the experience of being in love. And he did this with fierce courage and conviction.

I know this is not much of a traditional review, but it really was hard for me to discuss this book without getting teary. And those tears were mainly tears of joy because I kept wanting to stand up and celebrate this young man's wonderful heart and his willingness to risk just about everything as he gave himself over completely to love.

I know that last paragraph might sound a little sentimental. But make no mistake, Splinters is not a sentimental love story. Sentimental love stories don't appeal to me. But I don't mind being moved to tears if something real and genuine and honest touches me deeply. And that's how I felt throughout this story.

I know Al is a fictional character, but I kept wanting to know him in my real life -- to spend time with him -- laugh with him -- cry with him -- celebrate life with him. He was that real.

This is an important story and it moved me deeply and I can't stop thinking about it. Sorry I didn't do a better job of describing the plot and discussing how the story developed and all the other things you're suppose to do when reviewing a book. I tried to take that approach initially but just couldn't pull it off with any justice. All I can say is this story touched some very deep places in my heart. And very, very few books do that.

I have a very small selection of books I like to go back and reread. This book is now in that selection. I highly recommend it if you want to see someone living honestly and openly and bringing all of who he is to the love of his life. There's great strength and courage in doing that. This story, to me, is about loving deeply and honestly. And that, in my opinion, is what real love is all about.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

SPLINTERS: Something new and exciting

When I finished reading this book, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to say in my review and exactly how I wanted to say it. So I went back over every single sentence I underlined (there were more than I realized) so I could decide which one or two I wanted to use to illustrate the beauty of the language.

And while I was thinking about those sentences, I found myself thrown right back into the wide open space of a stunningly beautiful Texas range landscape. The same landscape where we find Al, one of the main characters, trying to make sense of where he is and how he got there. And he's not just wandering around like some lost tourist, but is just regaining consciousness and trying to remember how he wound up alone, naked, and bound to a rough plank.

The story is told in first-person present tense, which allows us to experience what Al is thinking, feeling, and observing as it happens. Some books told in this tense just don't work for me because it seems the author is trying to cram every single detail of the story through this one character and the other characters sound rather two-dimensional. But it completely works here. Al's internal voice is pretty uncensored and refreshingly honest, and you get this haunting impression that the author is letting Al write this story, rather than the other way around.

Without giving too much away, Al (who is a twenty-three year old diva model/actor) is rescued by Duke, this cowboy who happens to ride up just as Al is regaining consciousness. Al's thoughts are all over the place, but he's able to zero in on this cowboy who is "...pretty good looking in that sweaty, rough, bite-this-leather-strap-so-you-don't-scream-too-loud kinda way..." Then he's thrown back into the reality of his predicament and his panic returns.

We start getting glimpses of Al's witty humor during these opening scenes, which you wouldn't think would really work well considering the rather disturbing -- and still unexplained -- trauma he's just been through. But having been through a very brutal attack myself where I was ambushed and roughed up, you go in and out, and back and forth between lucidity and normalcy. Then you go from panic and anxiety, to humor and familiarity. It was very realistic and totally worked for me.

A rather quick romance develops between Al and Duke. And I loved how the author made this work instead of just throwing it in there and hoping we didn't see how fast it developed. Three things in the story made this so believable:

First, Duke takes him out on the range to show him the vast landscape and they go up a little incline and Al is all of a sudden in the presence of this unique tree... the tree you see on the cover (which was beautifully painted by the author), and Al has this breathtaking realization. "All my life, I've been the leaves on this tree, shaking in the wind, trying to hold on... Duke is the roots." We get a brief, but revealing, glimpse into how shaky Al's life has been up to this point, and his realization that in this short time with Duke, he feels a rootedness he's never had before.

Second, a little later on, Al reflects on his early family life and how distant he feels from his mother. She seems puzzled and a little guilt-ridden about why Al never outgrew his interest in wearing women's clothes. And he reflects that his father couldn't connect to him because Al never liked sports and always seemed embarrassed by him when he was just being his campy self. And how I ached in my heart when he realizes, "I do believe they love me, but I'm easier to love from afar." Never having a stable grounding from his family, it becomes more believable that he's falling for this man nine years his senior and, unlike other men he's known, "...there is something new and exciting in Duke's eyes. Like he sees more." If I was in Al's shoes, I'd probably start falling hard rather quickly.

Third, there were also a number of times when we see Al's self-awareness and self-reflection, which show his depth and make the unfolding romance all the more believable and real. It may feel to him that this romance is going at high speed, but he's aware of it, thinking about it, and on top of it. And I loved his ever caring agent/manager Elsie, who keeps a close eye on him and genuinely has his best interest at heart. She's almost like a second mother to Al and I trusted her to not let anything harmful come to Al.

There are three (if I counted right) sex scenes and they are written somewhat differently than I often see. I've read so many erotic novels that I often feel I have "erotic overload" and my eyes start glazing over and I just quickly skim through them. There was no way I could -- or wanted to -- skim these scenes. Again, it was breathtakingly haunting to be inside Al's head and feel -- really feel -- all the emotions he was having. And that is what made me do something I never, ever do, which is actually go back and re-read those very scenes. Not for the sex -- as hot as it was -- but for the sex and the emotions. Breathtaking. Hauntingly breathtaking.

If you like cowboy stories, I'm sure you'll love this one. If you're not particularly drawn to cowboys, I strongly urge you to give this one a chance. You might just change your mind. I've only read a few cowboy stories myself, and I loved these two together. Hands down, Five Stars!

Monday, July 21, 2014

A week of SPLINTERS

You may remember a few weeks back, Brad wrote a post about a new book I got on my kindle [click here to read it]. It was a book we were both looking forward to reading, but since it was delivered to my kindle, we had to decide who would read it first before passing it over to the other.

Brad had the perfect solution to this dilemma. "Could you cuddle me on the sofa and read it to me?" And that was what we did.

Several people were curious about the title of the book I was reading to Brad, and I was able to successfully dodge the question with the promise I'd reveal it shortly. Well, "shortly" is here and it was Sprinters by Thorny Sterling.

We were really torn about how to make this book last as long as we could. We got the kindle edition, but according to Amazon the paperback is 168 pages. Once we started reading, however, we both wanted to make it last as long as we could. We were enjoying the dual experience of cuddling each night, and also wanting to savor how the story unfolded. A real conflict that was. Not the cuddling, but the savoring. We wanted to make reading the book last as long as possible.

Brad kept saying, "Could you go back and re-read that?" After four or five times I began wondering if maybe I was mumbling or not reading it clearly enough. When I asked him, he just said, "No, you're reading it fine. I just want to hear it again. The words in that paragraph are stunning." And there were a lot of those paragraphs he wanted to hear again. 

And a number of times he would ask me to re-read something, and it would be because he wanted to feel the excitement of the buildup to a particular scene. And he was right to feel the excitement preceding a number of scenes.

The other thing all this re-reading accomplished is that it made the book last longer. We initially planned to just read one chapter each night, and since it has twenty chapters, we figured that would make it last about three weeks. Yeah, right. That well-intended plan sort of took care of itself since neither of us could seem to follow that arbitrary plan. We did manage to stretch it out to four nights.

I know many of you have already read Splinters because the reviews are coming in. But we wanted to take this week to nudge anyone who hasn't read it yet, to get your copy. And we also wanted to take the week to share our take on the story and to give you an opportunity to share your thoughts.

So here's what we have planned for this week:

Monday (today) - General announcement and introduction to the week ahead.

Tuesday - My "formal" review of Splinters. This is what I plan to post on Amazon and Goodreads. I rarely write "formal" reviews in the usual format: Brief description, my opinion of the story, how many stars I give it, and whether I recommend it to others. I always like a more "free-style" discussion, but I wanted to take the time to write something in the usual format for certain book sites. 

Wednesday - Brad's "formal" review of Splinters, which he plans to post on Amazon, Goodreads, and other sites.

Thursday - Brad and I have jointly written a "free-style" discussion of what the book meant to us on a very personal level. We'll both be talking about how it affected us emotionally, how we related to certain parts of the story in our own life, what the story made us think about, why it moved us like it did. 

Friday - We invited Thorny to the Executive Conference Room at 2 Boys in Love Corporate Headquarters here in Boston for an Author Interview!! We asked him a bunch of questions about his book, as well as a few personal questions, and we're really excited to share our interview with you on Friday.

So, what are you waiting for? If you haven't gotten your very on copy yet, here are some sites where you can remedy that little oversight:

Amazon for Kindle

Barnes & Noble for Nook

Smashwords (PDF/ePUB/MOBI)

CreateSpace for Paperback

Hope you'll join us each day for A Week of Splinters.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sundays with Sam: Where we are now

Hello every one. It's Sunday and you know what that means. It's time for me to spend a little time with you and for you to get a little glimpse into the world of Sam-I-Am. And this week it's Sam-I-Am-Seeing-Hope.

See that little sign up there? Guess who found that for me? Yep, you guessed it. Rick, my AMAZING BOYFRIEND. You know, it still blows me away when I refer to him as my BOYFRIEND. Sometimes it sort of shocks me that I even have a boyfriend at all. That is some thing I never in a hundred million years ever thought I would have. As a matter of fact, I never had any idea that my life would amount to much at all. But I don't want to get into all that right now, because it is too negative.

Last Sunday, I wrote a post about how I was not in a very good mood one day after going to one of my group sessions where we talked in-depth about what sorry families some of us came from. And when Rick came over to visit me he could tell I was in a sad mood and he tried to help me deal with it, but I eventually ended up snapping at him and, well... you probably remember what happened next.

I saw how I hurt his feelings and I started crying and went to my bedroom leaving him all alone in the living room. It's making me sad right now just remembering that day, so I need to move on with my post, and you can click that little link at the beginning of that paragraph if you want to read the rest.

Any way, it turned out okay and we talked a lot about it and I even told him some other stuff I have been through, and I was shocked once more to learn that going through all that even brought us closer together! That was really shocking to me because in my family, if some one was in a bad mood, then there was some kind of hell to pay and nothing -- and I mean nothing -- ever got worked out and things seemed to always end up in worse shape afterwards. So you just better try hard to avoid any kind of negative feelings.

And that brings me back to that sign Rick, my SWEET AND CARING AND LOVABLE BOYFRIEND, found for me. We talked some more this week about when I snapped at him, and HE brought it up because he cared about how I was feeling. God! Some times I feel like I can't even handle being treated like he treats me because he sees more than just my bad moods.

I am so use to feeling that my bad moods make me a bad person. Like there is some thing really rotten inside me. So when he cares enough to ask how I am feeling about our talk after that day when I snapped at him, it's like ---- what do I say? I want to start apologizing all over again and feel so ashamed of my self, but he won't allow me to do that. He just says, "You already said all that. We're totally okay now. I asked how you're feeling about our talk. I still feel closer to you and just wanted to see if you had any other feelings since we talked."

So guess what happened? I told him I worried I would slip up again and snap at him when I was in a sad mood and I didn't want that to happen ever again. And I told him some more about my family and how I might be condemned to always repeat what I grew up around. And, man, he is so wise because he said it might happen again, and he might even snap at me. And, yeah, we should always try to avoid snapping at each other, but, hey, that happens some times. But we always have to talk about it when it does. And stay with it until it gets worked out because that is what you're suppose to do when you love some one.

So during this past week, he sent me that sign up there. Don't you like it? "Just because the past didn't turn out like you wanted it to, doesn't mean your future can't be better than you ever imagined." I know that is just a simple saying, right? But it almost sounds too good to be true. So what I am trying to concentrate on now is just trusting that there is some truth in it.

And I am going to keep trying to make it come true. So when my past rears it very ugly head, I will try to be aware of when it is happening. And if I do slip up again, I promise not to shut Rick out so we can talk about it and get stronger ---- together. Because like he said, that is what you're suppose to do when you love some one.

And also because like that sign says, I want my future to be better than I ever imagined.

Have a great week every one. Love and hugs, Sam-I-Am-Hopeful

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Body image

I wanted to write a little something today about body image. And this is just my personal opinion and I know others may see things differently, and that's cool.

I wasn't exactly sure how to convey my main thought and Matty suggested I just start writing and "think it through" while I wrote. He said he does that sometimes and it helps him get to the bottom of what he's thinking or feeling.

I always have trouble with that approach because I think I have this perfectionist streak that says, "Get it all worked out first -- and then put it in writing." But today, as an experiment, I'm going to try it. So, here goes. 

So when it comes to body image, I'm really tired of being bombarded with images of "desirable" male body types. Especially when the media and advertisements want us to consider certain body types to be "highly desirable" and other body types to be "undesirable." 

And then there's this subtle, or sometimes not so subtle, message that if you don't have a body type that fits in the "highly desirable" category, then, well, something must be wrong with you.

Don't get me wrong. There are certain body types I think are sexy, and I enjoy looking at guys who have a certain "look" that makes me pay attention. But what I don't like is that message in our culture that says, This look means you have worth and value, and that look means you're probably just lazy or born with the wrong genes, and what a pity that is."

I've struggled some with my body image. Sometimes I feel like the "culture" or whoever it is, creates these "categories" everybody is suppose to fit in. And you're suppose to feel lucky if you fall in one of the "desirable" categories, and feel shame if you fall in the other less desirable ones.

I guess I've been put in one of the "less desirable" categories for a guy my age. I have a softer look that those guys who get put in the "highly desirable" categories. I'm not buff, I don't have a ripped look, I don't have that "highly desirable" V thing that goes from the top of your hips down to the groin area. I'm basically "smooth" and not covered in body hair. I don't have any scruff on my face. I don't walk with a swagger. I don't look "butch," so that keeps me out of the "highly desirable" category.

For a long time I struggled with feeling bad about how I look. And don't get me wrong, I still go back and forth sometimes. I'm still somewhat self-conscious about my looks. Occasionally I imagine people looking at me and seeing a little kid instead of a man. Or seeing a soft guy instead of "a rugged man."  

Now that I've written all this down, here's what I'm thinking now:

I need to continue shutting off those loud voices that say I should feel ashamed of my body, and turn up the volume of my internal voice that says, "Nice. You look nice." Not in a conceited way, but just matter-of-factly. 

Because I really do like that version of my image. I'm probably more like the image on the far left up there. I'm not thin or skinny, but probably more "slim." And I do have a softer look. 

And who, by the way, is in charge of deciding which "category" you go into? And why do we even need those "categories" in the first place?

Or maybe those are not the right questions. Maybe the right question is, "Who gets to decide how I feel about my body? The answer: Me... Plain and simple.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Random questions

We were going through some draft posts last night to see if we could complete something we've been working on. We have about 23 drafts and the majority of them are just a few sentences long. When one of us has an idea, we start a post and just write out some random thoughts we have on the topic and then come back later to expand on it.

The ones we're actively working on but need a little more thought are:

1. The Secret Passion Brad has that we'd probably have to run by the Blog Censors first. LOL

2. How we knew we were in love.

3. The joys of outdoor sex.

4. Our first kiss.

5. Our favorite role play.


So, until we can complete some of those, we thought today we'd just ask some random questions as a way for all of us to get to know each other a little better -- but only if you want to share. 

One of the really nice things we like about the blog is how it's developed into this really nice community of people. It's so cool to see some of you interact with others, either through humor or support. Some of you occasionally share little bits of your lives that relate to things we go through, and your comments are always either very helpful to us, or just plain enjoyable to read -- and many times, both.

So today we found a draft post where both of us jotted down some random questions. Neither of us can remember how we were going to use these questions for a future post, so we just picked five questions and invite you to share a little bit about yourself if you'd like. Or you can pick one, or two if you'd like.

I always like these kind of questions because even though they're a little bit silly, they're also kind of fun to throw out there. Anyway, if you'd like to participate, feel free. Both of us gave our answers, and we hope you enjoy this.


1. What chore do you absolutely hate doing?

Matt - Housecleaning.

Brad - Cutting the grass.


2. If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to?

Matt - Zack

Brad - Jake


3. What is something you learned in the last week?

Matt - That I'm more insecure than I let people know.

Brad - That when the game "Twister" was introduced in 1966, it was denounced by critics as "sex in a box."


4. What's your favorite way to relax?

Matt - Doing meditation, especially tai chi.

Brad - Baking cookies, pies, or pastries.


5. Sweet or salty snacks?

Matt - Salty, especially pretzels.

Brad - Sweet, especially chocolate.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

And the answers are...

A. BEDROOM ATTIRE
1. "I can't stand the idea of getting into bed at night with anything on. It just seems uncomfortable wear clothes to sleep in. Plus, it's too confining. I tried wearing pajamas once, and every time I rolled over to change sides, the darn things fought back. Ugh! Naked is best."

This is MATT. The last thing I want to be doing in bed is getting into a struggle with clothes as they attempt to do their thing while I'm just trying to get comfortable.


2. "There's something really comforting about wearing something that's really soft and comfortable to bed. Plus, there's always the thrill of having them slowly (or sometimes urgently) removed when a certain someone is in the mood."

Brad here. Of those two sentences I wrote, the last one is the best!


B. MONEY AND FINANCIAL SECURITY
1. "For somebody my age, I guess I have the usual worries about having enough money for the future. But I don't lose sleep over it. I feel pretty secure knowing things will work out financially."

This one is Brad.


2. "I have been almost obsessed about making money and saving it ever since I graduated from high school. I watch every penny I make and rarely splurge on things I don't really need. I've been called a tightwad, and I can't really argue with that moniker."

Matt. Frugal Matt. I'm the one with really high anxiety about money. I know it's totally irrational, but I sometimes feel haunted with how financially successful my parents and two brothers are. I know my thinking is all wrong here, but -- it is what it is. After high school, I took a year off to work full-time so I could save every penny I could. Even now I don't have a lot of electronic gadgets and toys most people have so I can bank that money. So, yeah, Frugal Matty. That's me.


C. BAREFOOT OR FOOTGEAR
1. "During warm weather I love being barefoot as much as possible -- inside and outside. I don't know if I have a foot fetish or something, but there's just something sensual about being barefoot."

Brad again. I LOVE being barefoot. As a Waiter, I'm standing up all day and running around from the kitchen to the tables, but when I get home, the shoes are the first things that come off. Ahhhhhhhh, yes! Give those little piggies some breathing room!


2. "For me, wearing footwear always makes me feel steadier. I feel more 'rooted' to the ground and I keep my balance easier."

Hi. This one is me -- Matt. I'm a little accident prone sometimes because I'm always, always on the go. I've been told I'm always looking up and around regardless of what I'm doing, I guess because of the "H" in my attention thing. And I wear those heavy-duty construction boots for work and they're great for stabilizing my balance when I move around. I don't wear them at home unless I'm working on some building or repair project. But, yeah, I need sneakers or anything with some kind of rubber sole that will grip and keep me balanced while I'm doing my bouncy-thing.


D. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
1. "At some point, I'd love to live in a rural area. Not too far from a major metropolitan area, but not in an adjoining suburb. Somewhere a short distance from the suburbs -- like a rural area where you're not too close to your neighbors."

This is Brad. I like where we live now, which is a suburb close to Boston, but someday I'd love to live out a little further. Maybe something with a little land where I can garden and maybe grow my own vegetables for my dishes. Plus, I think it would be so peaceful to walk out and not have neighbors so close. Something with a little more open space.


2. "No rural area. I don't ever really want to live smack dab in the middle of an urban area. A suburb, once or twice removed from a major metropolitan area, is perfect."

Matt. There's always something interesting to do and see when you live close to a major metropolitan area. I'm all for Brad's idea, but I need access to all the action, too.


E. ROMANCE READING
1. "I only read M/M romance novels."

This is Matt. When I read romance, gimme men, all men, and nothing but men!


2. "I mostly read M/M romance novels, but I have a small collection of M/M/F novels which I enjoy from time to time."

Brad. I occasionally get interested in M/M/F stories. There's something interesting and different about the interaction when you have two bi men and a woman. I feel like I'm so familiar with male/male interaction, I like to see how a third person changes or adds to or challenges the dynamics of the two men. I'm not at all interested in being in a relationship with two other people, but it's just interesting to me to read about.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Guess which one?

Thought we'd have a little fun today. Kind of like a guessing game and the answers are based either on things we've already shared, or things you might be able to figure out based on what we've shared.

For each category below, can you guess which statement applies to Brad and which one applies to Matt?


A. BEDROOM ATTIRE

1. "I can't stand the idea of getting into bed at night with anything on. It just seems uncomfortable wear clothes to sleep in. Plus, it's too confining. I tried wearing pajamas once, and every time I rolled over to change sides, the darn things fought back. Ugh! Naked is best."

2. "There's something really comforting about wearing something that's really soft and comfortable to bed. Plus, there's always the thrill of having them slowly (or sometimes urgently) removed when a certain someone is in the mood."


B. MONEY AND FINANCIAL SECURITY

1. "For somebody my age, I guess I have the usual worries about having enough money for the future. But I don't lose sleep over it. I feel pretty secure knowing things will work out financially."

2. "I have been almost obsessed about making money and saving it ever since I graduated from high school. I watch every penny I make and rarely splurge on things I don't really need. I've been called a tightwad, and I can't really argue with that moniker."

C. BAREFOOT OR FOOTGEAR

1. "During warm weather I love being barefoot as much as possible -- inside and outside. I don't know if I have a foot fetish or something, but there's just something sensual about being barefoot."

2. "For me, wearing footwear always makes me feel steadier. I feel more 'rooted' to the ground and I keep my balance easier."

D. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

1. "At some point, I'd love to live in a rural area. Not too far from a major metropolitan area, but not in an adjoining suburb. Somewhere a short distance from the suburbs -- like a rural area where you're not too close to your neighbors."

2. "No rural area. I don't ever really want to live smack dab in the middle of an urban area. A suburb, once or twice removed from a major metropolitan area, is perfect."

E. ROMANCE READING

1. "I only read M/M romance novels."

2. "I mostly read M/M romance novels, but I have a small collection of M/M/F novels which I enjoy from time to time."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Just me and my dad

I wanted to give a brief update on how dinner and ice cream with my dad went last Saturday night. In case you missed my post, you can read it here: Starting over with my dad?

Like I said in my post, I got a little nervous because he called me on the phone to invite me out. He never calls me to talk live, so that was a big step for him.

After how I handled the situation with him on our visit on the Fourth of July, I wasn't really expecting him to take the next step. Matty wrote about that visit here and explains what I did: His quiet confidence.

This was going to be the first time I've spent alone with my dad since I can even remember. Just me and my dad.

The people I count on most in my life to be there whenever I need them -- Matty, my mom, and my sister -- weren't going to be there. Just me and my dad.

I was feeling about as optimistic as my anxiety would allow, but the optimism seemed to have a slight edge, which was good, because if the anxiety had been in the lead, I might have backed out.

I'm still trying to process and absorb everything that happened, but the basic thing my dad wanted to tell me was that he realized he hasn't been much of a dad to me, and he wanted to know if I was open to us talking some more about our relationship.

He said he realized sitting in a restaurant with a lot of people around wasn't really the place to get into everything, so he just wanted me to hear that he owned up to failing me as a dad and to see if I would be willing to talk about this at a later time.

To tell you the truth, I'm glad he just admitted to letting me down as a dad instead of going any further than that, like an apology or asking me to forgive him. I couldn't have handled all the feelings that would have opened up if he went any further than that. And he was right about not doing any of this in a public space.

So I didn't even respond to his comment about how he realized he failed me as a dad, and just answered that, yes, I would be open to talking some more. He said maybe we could set up a time later on to talk more, and I said I was agreeable to that.

So he asked when we could meet again, and I said, "Can we maybe wait a week to schedule anything?" He said, "Yeah. No problem." I just needed some time, and he was totally okay with that.

Then he suggested that I call him when I was ready to set something up. There was just something about that gave me pause and in that split second I didn't know what it was. But I've learned that when I feel some hesitation about something, to listen to it. So I said again, "I really just need a week. Can you call me after that and we can set something up?" He said he would.

I mean, I've been wanting to do something like this for a long time but it did feel like it caught me a little off guard, you know? When I got home I talked to Matty about it and he said maybe I was just wanting to see if he would really follow through and was serious about it. I thought that sounded right and I also realized that I just needed at least a week so I could process things and make sure I'm grounded.

My dad really seemed sincere, but I have to remain grounded and just take things one step at a time. I guess you could say I'm hopeful but cautious.

That sign up above kind of says it all for me. Go with the flow. Force nothing. Let it happen... trusting that whichever way it goes, it's for the best.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Waking up early

Sometimes I wake up at the crack of dawn. Saturday morning was one of those times. 

It was 5:00 a.m. and my brain was ready to get the show on the road. Saturday morning! You're suppose to sleep late on Saturday morning, right? Well, tell that to my brain.

There's no medication in my system first thing in the morning. My brain is awake and there's no telling it to settle down. 

It was about three hours before I took my medication, or my ADHD vitamin as I call it sometimes.


My brain:

"Wake up, wake, up, wake up. Get outta bed. Things to do. What about a 10 mile run? Some pickup basketball at the park. Maybe change the oil in Brad's car? Do some push-ups. Cut the grass. Call my mom and see if she still needs help moving stuff from the attic to the basement. Go get some croissants at the bakery. Trim the hedges. Do some sit-ups. Paint the living room. Charge the phone. Come on. Come on. Come on. It's a beautiful day. Let's get moving."

My body:

"What? What? Settle down or bring me your medication."

My brain:

"Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....."


Cuddling up and spooning with Brad helped also. That's one thing my brain and body can agree on. 

I went back to sleep.

Oh man. Matty in the morning.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sundays with Sam: The real thing

Hello to every one out there! It's Sunday and time for your Sam to report in. This week I'm going by Sam-I-Am-Capable, and I will explain what that means in a minute, so keep reading, okay? LOL

But first I just want to give you a quick update on a few things. It's still hot here, but we got some days of relief when the humidity dropped some, so that made the heat a little better to be in. But since this is the summer, we are not out of the woods yet. Next week is suppose to be muggy again, but what can you do? It is the weather and being a New Englander, you take the good with the bad, I guess. At least that's what a lot of people around here say.

Oh man, I just sounded like a Weather Reporter with that last paragraph! LOL If you go back and read it again, just picture me standing in front of a weather map with a big smile on my face like they always do. I mean, those Reporters smile at every thing. It it's snowing and there's a dangerous blizzard on the way, they smile like they are giving you good news. And if there is a tornado warning happening, you will still see a smile, but it might not be as big because I guess a tornado is suppose to be more dangerous than a snow blizzard. Why is that? Oh wait. Don't answer that. I am now losing control of my post and when Brad gets this when I email it to him, I can already picture his smiling a BIG smile, because I know him, and he is probably calling Matty to come over and look, and I KNOW he will have a HUGE smile on his face! Hi guys!! Ha Ha!
[Hi Sweet Sam. Matty and I are indeed grinning from ear to ear. ]
Anyway, now that Sam-I-Am-Your-Weatherman gave you the Weather Report, on to more important things. The other update is that things at my new home are going terrific! All four of us get along really good and I have to say it makes me SO HAPPY to live in a house where every one gets along on extremely good terms and you don't have to walk around on egg shells. For the very first time in my entire LONG life (ha ha), I feel relaxed and comfortable and safe, which I did not feel any of those things when I lived with my parents.

I mentioned before that one of the house mates is gay, too, so that make half the house Gay! Ha Ha! And the other two guys are 100 per cent cool with that, like it makes no difference to them whether we are gay or not. It's like it is on the same level of why would they care whether we have brown hair or blond hair or like action movies or whatever.

So now I am getting to the the main thing I wanted to share with you today. See, Rick (my BOYFRIEND) comes over here when he can and we just hang out together. And we like being on the sofa together and cuddling while we watch TV and none of the house mates even bats an eye. That is totally amazing to me in a good way and makes me feel even more comfortable and relaxed and safe.

Well, the other day, I came home from work and I was not is a good mood. The day before I had one of those group therapy sessions I go to and this one guy talked about his home situation, which is not good, and the counselor got us to talk about our own family life. So when we go in that kind of direction, I always get a ton of feelings about my own family and they are not positive feelings by any stretch of the imagination. I really didn't want to talk in that session, and when the counselor called on me, I said would it be okay if I just listened and maybe talk some a little later. She said that was okay, so I just listened.

Close to the end of the session I finally said some thing. I told the guy I thought he was stronger than he realized and I admired how he opened up and asked for support from us, and he liked hearing that because he could tell I was being truthful and meant it and wanted to give him support.

But the whole thing about my own parents just stayed on my mind and I couldn't shake it like I can some times. So on the night Rick came over to see me, I had a hard time just being in a good mood and I felt terrible because Rick was happy to see me and I was happy to see him, but I just couldn't get out of my sad mood.

So I told Rick about the group session and how I was still in a bad mood because I could not stop thinking about my parents. And he was extremely caring and asked if I wanted to talk about it and I said no, I just wanted to get my mind off them, and he said that was cool. So he started telling me about his day and some things about his work and stuff like that, but it was hard for me to concentrate. And then he tried to cheer me up by telling me some funny things but I was not in the mood for that either, and I kind of snapped at him. Well, to be honest it was more than just "snapped" and more like, "Just leave me alone right now, okay? I don't want to hear any of this."

And Oh My God, I looked at him and realized how hateful that came out and how he had this shocked look on his face and it was like I had just punched him in the stomach. And I didn't know what to do and all he said was he was sorry, and I said No, I was sorry, and then I started crying and got up and went to my bedroom and just left him sitting there. Then I started thinking it was the end and he was going to walk out of the house and leave me and end the relationship and that made me cry even harder. I felt like I was totally screwing it all up and one of the best things that has EVER happened to me was over and done with. And that started leading to me having trouble breathing, like I was starting to have one of my panic attacks.

Then a few minutes later I looked up and Rick was standing at my bedroom door. Just standing there. And I was getting ready for him to tell me he wanted to end things. But when he saw me noticing him there, he just said, "Sweetie, I'm here, okay? If you want to talk, I'll be in the living room. I'm not leaving unless you tell me to, okay?" So I just nodded and he went back to the living room, and a few minutes later I went out there and sat on the sofa beside him but I could not say one single word. And we were just sitting beside each other not touching or any thing and did not say any thing for a few seconds.

And then I said I was sorry for how I acted, and he said it was okay. And we sat there like that for another few seconds and then he said, Can I put my arm around you? And I just lost it because I started crying again and learned over and he held me while I cried.

I told him every thing I was feeling inside about my parents and even told him one or two other things I had never shared with him. I'm glad none of my housemates were home at the time, because we could talk freely and we did so for maybe over an hour.

We got every thing worked out and I remember him saying some thing similar to, "I'll never leave you because you have negative feelings about your parents, or because you some times hold those feelings in, or because some times you let them out. What we have is real to me, and I'm not going any where unless you tell me to leave. I'm here right now. You're here right now. As far as I'm concerned, that's all that matters."

Like that sign up there says, "A good relationship is when someone accepts your past, supports your present, and encourages your future." How did I get so lucky to find some one like Rick who is able to do that? Like he said, this feels like the Real Thing to me. I don't think I have ever had that before, and it feels like the most precious thing in the world.

I want to keep working as hard as I can on my issues because I don't want to lose him. I owe this to him. But I mostly owe this to myself.

Take care, every one. Love and hugs. Sam

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Starting over with my dad?

Just a quick update. My dad called me this week and asked me out to dinner tonight. And for ice cream at this really popular old-fashioned ice cream parlor I love.

He didn't give any reason for the dinner invite and I got a little anxious at first because he never calls me. On the rare occasion he needs to communicate something, he sends me an email and we communicate that way. It's a very distancing way to communicate, but I've always liked it on that level because I can read what he says and go back and look at it again before I reply. And it gives me plenty of time to think about my reply.

Our emails are very rare and never about anything terribly personal. The closest he gets to being personal is maybe one line where he might sign-off with something like, "Hope you and Matt are doing well. Dad"

So here's how I'm seeing all this right now:

1. He never calls me. On the phone. Where I can hear his voice and he hears mine. I saw the call was from him and almost let it go to voice mail, but what if he was calling because something had happened to my mom or sister? That's why I answered it, but I my anxiety was spiking.

2. It wasn't a long call but his voice sounded pleasant. He was a little hesitant at first, and when I hesitated because it kind of caught me off guard, he added, "And what about ice cream afterwards at [name of ice cream parlor]?" So I said, "Yeah. That sounds good." When I agreed to have dinner and ice cream with him, his voice sounded kind of relieved and he actually sounded pleased.

3. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high because I still don't know what it's all about, but I know my dad well enough to know when something bad is up, and I didn't get any of those vibes from the call.

4. I know that sign up there is very hopeful and optimistic, but I'm trying to stay realistic and grounded. But I do want to keep in mind that I have "persisted" for a LONG time with this issue. And I'm not even sure if this means my dad is interested in "starting over" or even trying to "start something new," like get some kind of discussion process going. So I'm going to stay open to see what's up.

Anyway, that's my update. I'll keep you posted while you keep your fingers crossed for me, okay?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Being true to me

I work for a general construction company in a setting where the vast majority of my coworkers are other guys. Straight guys. And the guys talk regularly about their wives or girlfriends and generally relate to each other as a bunch of straight dudes might be expected to interact.

There's no talk about some cute guy one of them might have noticed. There's no talk about aspects of the culture gay guys might be interested in. There's only one other guy I know of who is out, but I rarely see him since he's usually assigned to another team. But everyone knows I'm gay.

Currently I'm mainly in carpentry. There's not a lot of time to socially interact since we're usually on a timetable and have deadlines to meet so other crews can come in after us and do the next task in the job.

But we do have a good time joking around with each other during lunchtime, and there's even a little time for casual chit-chat while we're working, but we really have to be focused on the work we're doing.

I've never made any attempt to hide the fact that I'm gay. And I've never made any attempt to give the impression I'm straight in order to fit in. I mention Brad regularly and for the most part no one has any problem with me related to my sexual orientation.

My immediate boss is an older guy who is kind of like an uncle-figure or grandfather-figure for me. I really have a lot of respect for him because he treats everyone fairly and is very easy to work with. When I first started working there, I told him I have ADHD and sometimes have trouble staying focused and occasionally I can get a little carried away when I'm joking around. He knows I'm on medication and even shared that he has a nephew who has ADHD, so we sorta have this cool connection or understanding between us.

There were a few occasions when he had to dress down a couple of guys when he overheard them making fun of how hyper I was, and we're not talking just being playful with me, which I can always handle and actually enjoy, but they were being cruel and condescending. He pulled them off to the side and I guess read them the riot act and made them apologize to me. I haven't had any more trouble from them since.

When I mention what Brad and I are doing, everyone seems cool with that and some guys even ask questions to get me to talk a little more about whatever I brought up. I told them we went sailing a few weeks back and they asked where and wanted to know if Brad knows how to sail also... just stuff like that.

But maybe a month ago this one guy and I were trying to finish up on some cabinets we were installing and he mentioned what he and his girlfriend were planning over the weekend. We chatted about that for a few minutes, and then I told him Brad and I were going to a party with some friends, and he asked if it was a "gay party." Okay. So, I'm not exactly sure what a "gay party" is, but I assumed he meant a party where everyone invited was gay.

I could tell by the tone of his voice he wasn't being sarcastic or snarky, but there was just something about it that didn't feel right. The conversation continued and somewhere along the way he said he knew a couple of gay guys, "...but at least you're not flamboyant about it."

Oh man. That was the absolute wrong thing to say to me. There was so much negative judgment in that one phrase and I got extremely pissed off inside. There was no way in hell I was going to let a comment like that go by without saying something. But one thing I'm starting to get better at is slowing myself down internally and not reacting impulsively. When I do that, I get in big-time trouble. So I slowed myself down and thought through how I wanted to handle that. In order words, I wanted to respond rather than react.

So when we finished what we were doing -- only a few minutes later -- I told him I was really offended by his comment. And that's when he got this snarky look on his face and I just about lost it.

But I was proud of the way I handled it. Nobody else was around and I explained that there was a lot of condescending judgment in his words, and I really resented his attitude. I told him that if he stopped and thought about it, "What you said implied that there's something wrong with certain gay people who don't fit the stereotype of what a 'man' is suppose to be like." I thought I'd take a low-key approach first and see how he handled that.

Well, I have to give him credit. He thought about it and said, "Okay. I think I see where you're coming from. I don't know many gay people, but, yeah, I guess that was out of line." It wasn't a totally enlightened response, but it was a start and I thought maybe I could follow up on it later. I'd see how he handled this little chat and go from there.

I use to dread dealing with situations like this. You never know how the other person is going to handle it and how it's going to play out. It feels somewhat anxiety-provoking, but it also feels empowering.

There was a time when I hesitated to even speak out like this, but those days are long gone. This is too important to just let slide. For me there's a lot at stake. I want to always speak up when I hear people being slighted and devalued. But basically I want to be able to live with myself -- consistent with my values in life.

I still work with this guy and we get along really well. We haven't actually revisited the whole matter, but I can tell it had some kind of impact on him. All I know is that I need to continue being true to myself and my values. And maybe, just maybe, that might make some kind of difference in the world.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

More quiet times


It looks like the word of this week is "quiet." Monday, Matty wrote about quiet courage. Tuesday, I wrote about quiet confidence. And today I'm writing about "more quiet times."

It looks like this is the week Matty and I are sharing some things that involve "quiet." It's not anything we planned to do -- it just seems to have happened that way. So I'm going with it.

On Tuesday Matty got a new book and it was one we've been looking forward to reading. So after dinner was over, the dishwasher loaded, chores done, a few emails answered, we then needed to decide who was going to read it first. I'm usually more in a reading mood at night than Matty, so I was figuring I'd get the honors while he got out his woodworking tools and finished up on some projects he's been working on. He said to tell everyone he'll probably post a pic of his latest masterpiece soon.

But he said he really wasn't in the frame of mind to work on his carvings and wanted to do something more low-key -- or "quiet" -- like, well, maybe..... reading!

So I just looked at him and waited for his suggestion on how we might do this. We both have a kindle and we both have tons of books on our respective TBR lists, but we both really wanted to read the new book that just arrived on his kindle. 

And, well, I guess since it was delivered to his kindle, I saw his look of proprietary rights. But he also had an impish grin on his face, so that softened my reaction to any proprietary claim he might assert. It actually put a grin on my face but he didn't say anything. He just grinned back. It was looking more and more like a little standoff.

But out of the blue I had a brilliant idea. I changed the grin on my face to more of a sly pleading look and said, "Could you cuddle me on the sofa and read it to me?" Now I ask you. What could he say to that? 

Being read to is very special to me. Some of the loveliest memories I have of my childhood were the times my mom would put me in her lap at night and read to me. I was looking back over some posts I had written a while back, and came across this one on July 3, 2012:
I remember when my mom would read books to me when I was little. I don't know how old I was the very first time she started this, but I remember sitting in her lap or snuggled up next to her with this really big picture book and she would start telling me a story about what was happening.
There are probably many reasons why this memory has stayed with me. When I think about it now, I feel warm inside because those were times my mom would take me to another world filled with people I had never met before, but felt like I had known forever, or wanted to know forever.
And they were always doing fun and exciting things. Or they were in situations that were scary and unfamiliar and I could hear my mom tell me how they got to their happy ending. 
So, I changed into my jammie bottoms (Matty was already in his sleep pants, which he never wears to sleep in), and we got ourselves settled on the sofa. Most of the lights were turned off and he started reading to me.

Matty has read to me a number of times in the past and I always look forward to it. Maybe it's because I have really comforting memories of being read to going back to my mom or something. But the more I think about it, I cherish those times when Matty reads to me. 

He's always so active and "on the go," so when he slows down and I can see this certain "peaceful" or "quiet" look on his face, I come very close to getting teary or just melting. I literally want to hold him tight and make it last -- not only for his benefit, but for mine, too. 

So when he reads to me, he goes into this tranquil, calm, peaceful, serene space. I love the delicate gentleness in his voice when he's reading the story. I love all the inflections in his voice as he seems to almost literally inhabit one character and then almost magically become the other character.

It's one of those very, very special times I feel completely safe and cared for and loved and cherished. That he beings me into this magical space and all I want to do is never leave and stay there forever.

He's still reading to me from that book every night. And I literally can't wait to get home, eat, finish our chores, get in my jammie bottoms, and cuddle up so he can take me to this very wonderful world -- a world where I feel totally safe and cared for. And a world where I get to share a fictional Happy Ever After with him.

And the totally cool thing about all this? I know without any doubt I want my Happy Ever After with him, because I know what it feels like to have my Happy Today with him.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go change into my jammie bottoms. He's got the lights on dim and we're in chapter seven tonight. I hope this book goes on and on and on. But all I'm concerned with now is chapter seven. The rest of the story will unfold -- the fictional one, and the real one.

And I'm so looking forward to see how they both unfold.